“Almost under control,” I reply, looking around for Van. I ran into Hunter outside but am yet to see Van. “Where’s Van?”

West shrugs. “No idea, but you’re early. I wasn’t expecting either of you for another hour or so.”

I pull out my phone. “I’m gonna call him and see if he’s on his way.”

He frowns. “Fuck, don’t start something with him so early in the day.”

Looking up at him, I ask, “What?”

“You two agreed on a time for today so don’t call him and harass him to come early. And what’s gotten into you?”

“Nothing’s gotten into me,” I mutter, the pain in my head racheting up again.

“Something clearly has, because you’re here early for once, and you want to get Van here so we can get going. And I didn’t think you even wanted to make this album.”

“I’ve changed my mind. I do want to make this album, and I want to get this shit done fast.”

I’ve clearly confused West because he’s almost gaping at me. “What the fuck happened to make you do a complete flip on this?”

Agitation prickles my skin, and I shove my fingers through my hair. “My shares have taken a hit; a fucking huge hit. I’m bleeding cash, West. I need this to get done.” We’ve always been honest with each other so I lay it out for him.

“Yeah. Me too, but it’s done and I can only move forward from here.”

Van strolls in, interrupting our conversation, and we both turn to him. Dark sunglasses cover his eyes and he looks as trashed as I feel. “I’m here, assholes. My head’s killing like a motherfucker so if we could work on something that doesn’t involve loud noise that would be fucking awesome,” he grumbles as he drops onto the couch in the corner.

“I feel ya, man,” I agree, and we nod at each other.

“Why did we think it was a good idea to drink that much shit last night?” Van asks.

The couch looks inviting so I sit next to him and lay my head back. Fuck, it’s heaven. “Because you were being a dickhead and giving me grief about this goddamn fucking sound of ours.”

After Presley left, Van and I had continued our argument into the early hours of the morning, consuming a shitload of alcohol in the process.

“And you were a dick to your girlfriend. That’s right; it’s all coming back to me now.” He turns his head to look at me. “Have you heard from her?”

He sucks in a breath. “Fuck. You gonna get onto that?”

“Yeah, but not until later when I can actually form a sentence. That conversation needs me at my best.”

“I tend to agree with you on that.”

Hunter’s joined us and is standing in front of where Van and I are sitting. “Did I just hear right? Did you two assholes just agree on something?”

“Fuck off,” Van snaps at him as he removes his sunglasses and levels a glare on him.

Hunter ignores him. “Are we getting to work or are you two gonna sit around and bitch like girls all day?”

“Fuck off,” I echo Van’s sentiments and pull myself up out of the couch. Looking around the room, I ask, “What have we got?”

“I wrote a song this morning,” Van says, surprising the hell out of all of us.

“Show me,” I demand, because I know that magic flows when Van’s worked up like he has been lately.

He pulls out a crumpled piece of paper and hands me the lyrics while he reaches for his guitar. A minute later he’s playing us the song I know will be the first single from our album. And the kicker is that he’s managed to combine our signature sound with the new sound he’s so keen to try.

We work for thirteen hours straight and finally call it quits just after nine that night. We’ve recorded Van’s new song as well as another one we’ve been working on for a few days. It’s been a long day, but for the first time in ages it feels like we’re finally getting somewhere with this album.

I head out to my car and call Claudia as I turn on the engine.

“Have you got a song for me yet?” she asks. I always send her our music while we’re recording because she’s usually spot on with her assessment of it.

“I have two for you. I’ll send them tomorrow.” I put the car in reverse and pull out of the car park.

“Why the hesitation? That’s not like you?”

“We’re trying out a new sound so I’m not completely convinced. That’s why I really want your opinion,” I say as I head out of The Valley towards Presley’s place. I haven’t spoken with her all day and I’m at the point where I need her. Fuck making a phone call, I need to see her and touch her.

“Yeah, but we need to get it right, so we don’t turn fans off.”

“What are you doing now? Wanna come over?”

“I can’t. I’m on my way to see Presley. I’ve got stuff to fix with her after we had a fight last night.” Claudia knows about Presley and although she hasn’t met her yet, she’s happy I finally have a girlfriend. She’s been on my case to stop screwing around for years.