“You’ve had a few job offers come through that I wanted to discuss with you.”

“Magazine shoots. Still fashion, unfortunately.” He sounds as down about it as I feel.

“Ugh, no, I don’t want to do them.”

“Yeah, I figured, but thought I’d ask just in case you’d changed your mind.”

“You know what? I told myself I would take a few months off and I really need that so don’t even tell me about jobs that come in for the next couple of months.” I should have told him this to begin with.

“You sure?” He sounds surprised. “What if something huge comes in?”

I think about it for a minute. “Nope, not even then. I’m going to take this time for me. I’m going to work out what I truly want, because at the moment I’m so confused about it all.” The only thing I’m not confused about is Jett.

“Okay, babe, your call. I won’t bug you about jobs but I will bug you about your life. I’m a little worried about that.”

“Because you’ve always been a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and where she was heading. And you’re not that woman anymore.”

I smile. He’s right. But he’s wrong about one thing. “You are so right about me not being that woman anymore. I’m a different woman now and that’s not a bad thing. Everything changed when my marriage broke up and while that sucked, it opened up this whole new life for me. And it’s a better life.”

For the first time in my life, I feel free.

Free to explore love with a man worthy of me.

Free to design a life I want to live in every day rather than one I want to vacation from.

I can’t even imagine life without her in it.

I stretch and rub the back of my neck as if doing that will get rid of the cricks and the headache I have. Of course, it doesn’t, and it won’t.

Turning, I stride across the car park and make my way up to Presley’s apartment. I collected my car from the pub this morning and spent most of the day by myself. She’s going to grill me on that, and I’m in no mood to discuss it, so I’m apprehensive about going up. But fuck, I need to see her. She has no idea what her presence through all of this means to me.

She buzzes me in the front door, and a couple of minutes later I step off the elevator on her floor and slowly walk the last few steps to her door.

“Hey,” she greets me softly, a hesitant smile on her face.

I trace my thumb over her lips and murmur, “Hey, sweetheart. You okay?” I don’t like the hesitation in her smile.

Nodding, she motions for me to come in. “Yeah, I’m good.”

We end up in her living room and I collapse onto her couch. She stands in front of me, looking down, her eyes searching mine. I know what she’s looking for, so I give it to her. “I’m alright. I spent the day at Claudia’s house going through some things and then I spent some time with Mum and Dad. You don’t need to worry about me.” I grab her hand and pull her into my lap. Nuzzling her neck, I press my lips to her skin and close my eyes, savouring the delicious scent she’s wearing. Smells like flowers or some shit, but whatever it is, I fucking love it.

She places her hands on my chest and pushes some distance between us. “Jett, I do worry about you.” Her frown lines her face and concern is etched all over it.

I nod. “I know, baby,” I say softly, trying to pull her back to me.

Although I’m trying to get her close again, she’s still holding me back. “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

My patience is walking a tightrope and I’m struggling to keep it in check. “There’s nothing I need,” I snap at her and instantly wish I could take the words back and say them in a nicer way when I see the hurt flash in her eyes. “Sorry, but you’re in my face wanting to talk about this all the time and there’s nothing to say. Claudia’s dead and nothing I say can bring her back. Can we just get tomorrow over with and then move forward from there?”

I just need to get through tomorrow.

The hurt shifts from her eyes and is replaced by sympathy. I fucking hate sympathy. “Okay.” She nods. “Let’s get tomorrow over with.”

She moves off my lap and says, “I’m going to cook some spaghetti. You good with that?”

“Yeah, sounds good. I’ve just gotta return some calls and then I’ll come help you.”

Waving her hands at me, she shakes her head. “No, you relax. I’ve got this.” She leaves me then and I feel like the biggest asshole on Earth. All she wants to do is look out for me and care for me, and all I want to do is crawl into a dark corner and be alone.

I want to forget Claudia is dead.

I want shit to go back to what it was a week ago when my biggest problem was the band.

Fuck, sometimes the problems you used to wish didn’t exist are the ones you would kill to have again.

Standing, I pull my phone out and return Tom’s call. He and the boys have been bombarding me with calls and texts. I feel like we’re in some goddamn female club together where we have to check in with each other every day.