He nods. “Yeah, man, I like the changes.”

My phone sounds with a text and I swipe to read it.

Me: You got clearance to fly home yet?

Me: See you soon.

I slip my phone back into my pocket and turn to Presley. “You gonna be okay here while we perform?” She was going to watch from her seat but I told her I needed her close.

She smiles. “Yeah. Don’t worry about me, just focus on you.”

Bending my face to hers, I kiss her. God, she still has no clue how much I need her. “Sweetheart, I’m always thinking of you. You have no idea.”

Her smile grows larger and she whispers, “You always say the right things.”

I grab her by the waist. Pulling her to me, I say, “A man can only try. I know I’ll fuck a lot of things up, but I’ll always try to get shit right.”

“I know, and I love you for it.”

I still. She’s never said those words to me before, and I’m not sure she realises what she just said because she’s showing no recognition of it. Maybe it was just a figure of speech, but fuck, I realise just how much I want those words from her. I’m about to tell her exactly how much when I’m given the signal it’s our turn to perform.

Kissing her, I say, “Hold that thought.”

“What thought?” She frowns at me as I start walking towards the stage.

I grin. “The thought about you loving me,” I yell out because the noise from the crowd has grown so loud and I’m not sure if she can hear me otherwise.

The confused look on her face tells me she didn’t hear me, but she waves me away with a smile. She says something, but I can’t hear her, either, now, so I simply nod and turn my attention to the audience as I cross the stage.

We’re playing to a packed crowd tonight and it feels damn good. The screams and whistles fill the space; the energy here is electric. I look over at West. He’s grinning at me, loving it as much as I am. I then turn to Nate, the bass guitarist playing with us tonight, and he’s grinning at me too. I fucking love this job.

Looking out at the audience, I speak into my microphone. “Hello Brisbane! How the fuck are you tonight?”

They go wild, yelling and screaming again. And then Van plays the riff from one of our number one songs, ‘Grind’, and the roar from the crowd is deafening. Hunter starts the drums and then Nate kicks in with the bass. West is in there, too, and when he joins me at the front of the stage, with his trademark cocky moves, the audience lap it up.

I put my hand to my ear and yell, “Didn’t quite hear you. How the fuck are you, Brisbane?”

While they scream in response, Van comes to the front of the stage also, and leads us further into the song with an extended solo. Once he’s done, I start singing, and the energy I always feel when I perform takes over. It’s unlike any other feeling in this world. Sex comes close but doesn’t quite match it for me. I’m connected not only to my band mates but also to thousands of people who are in the moment with me, feeling the beat, and letting that beat and the lyrics touch their soul. We’re making sweet fucking music up here from nothing, and there’s no better feeling than that.

The first song ends and we go straight into our second song for the night. We’ve got time for four so we’ve chosen three of our most popular songs, and then we’re going to treat the fans to one of the songs we’ve recorded for the new album.

Our second one is a huge crowd favourite, mainly due to the drum work Hunter does on it when we perform live. He takes it away tonight with a fucking amazing solo, and Nate surprises the hell out of me when he steps in at the end of the solo and works some magic with Hunter. They extend the solo together and the fans go wild over that. We’ve worked with Nate a few times and I decide during this song that we should explore involving him more in the band. A full time bass guitarist is something we’ve never had in Crave because we’ve never found one who we all got on with enough to ask to stick around, but maybe Nate could fill that slot. He certainly works well with Hunter and that’s one of the main requirements of a good bass player.

As we finish the second song, West grabs the microphone off me and takes over while I grab my guitar.

“Who wants to see what we’ve been working on for the new album?” he asks the crowd, revving them up for the next one. They cheer and he continues, “Van and Jett might have something for you, but only if you give me something in return.”

I join him and Van back at the front of the stage. Leaning into the mic, I say, “West always fucking wants something.”

More screaming from the fans as West chuckles. “Everyone wants something, man. Can anyone guess what I want?” he asks the audience.

Women yell out suggestions and West laughs again. “Yeah, I’d take a blow job, gorgeous, but that’s not what I was thinking.” While we wait for him to tell us what he’s after, Van starts his solo off and the crowd’s attention swings to him. The song is an angry one about being cheated on. It’s one Van wrote by himself and he gets lost in the solo completely. I’ve no doubt this song is about him being cheated on by Caitlin and when I join in the guitar solo with him, our eyes meet and I see the torment he’s experiencing.

Fuck, maybe Presley was right when she said he was trying to tell me something through his anger. This breakup is obviously affecting him more than I realised.