“That’s a cop out. We all have days where we’d rather not be working. It doesn’t mean we quit.” West continues his outburst.

I want to step in and help us all come to a compromise, because that’s what I usually do, but I don’t have it in me. My life feels like it’s on a roller coaster lately, and at the moment, I’m on a sharp descent, unable to find the brakes to stop it. I just don’t have the energy. I’ve lost nearly everything that means something to me but I don’t know how to fight anymore. My guiding light is gone and I pushed my other one away.

Van and West are arguing in the background as my thoughts take over. I stop paying attention to them until Hunter breaks through their argument and announces loudly, “I think we can all agree that Van needs this time off and if he decides to leave, we need to support him on that. When we started this band, we said we’d always have each other’s backs no matter what choices we each made, and we’ve had a good ten years together because we’ve stuck together on all things. Things change, people change, and we can’t hold each other back.”

“Thanks, man,” Van says to Hunter with a look of genuine appreciation.

I catch Van’s gaze. “You’ve got my support, always. Whatever you decide.” I might not like this or want it to happen, but the one thing I’ve always stood for is supporting those who we class as family in everything they do. And Van is family.

West doesn’t say anything. He simply nods at Van to indicate his feelings.

God, what a fucking mess we’re in. Six months ago we were riding high, and now we don’t even know if we’ll ever make an album together again.

I lock the studio and start walking towards the café. I’ve been coming to the studio on and off for the past couple of weeks since Claudia died, and today is my last day here. I haven’t told anyone what I’ve been doing because this is for me; writing is my own personal form of therapy. And I’ve been writing a lot. Hell, I’ve got a lot of stuff to work through so it’s no wonder the words have been filling up the pages. They may not be my best songs, but they’ve been good for me.

A pang of regret hits me as I think about the songs. Most of them are about Claudia but a few are about Presley, and they hit me just as hard as the ones about my sister. The first two weeks after we broke up, she called and texted me a few times, but this last week, I haven’t heard from her at all. It kills me to know she’s not in my life anymore, but it kills me more to know I have hurt her. I never wanted to hurt her but I’ve done a bang-up fucking job of doing just that.

As I step through the door of the café, I see the girl from a few weeks ago; the one who grilled me about being a jerk to Presley. She sees me at the same time and recognition dawns on her face. I turn away from her and head to the counter to order a coffee. Talking with her again is not high on my list of priorities.

Once I’ve got my coffee, I find the table the furthest away from Vivienne and sit at it with my back to everyone. Mostly, I’ve found this café and this area great in so far as either people don’t recognise me or if they do, they allow me my privacy, but yesterday I had some fans approach me and it got a little out of hand. I’ve taken to not bringing my security guy with me everywhere lately but I may have to rethink that.

“Jett.” Vivienne’s voice trails over my shoulder and I mutter a swear word to myself.

I turn to find her moving past me to sit at my table. Raising my brows, I say, “Why don’t you make yourself at home?”

“I will, thank you,” she throws back at me, knowing full well I was being sarcastic.

Groaning, I say, “I just want some time to myself, Vivienne. Do we have to do this?”

“Do what?” she asks, folding her arms across her chest. I take in her appearance today, which is something I failed to do the other week. She reminds me of a hippie from the seventies with her long flowing white dress, hairband and flower in her long hair. Not my type at all, but quite pretty regardless.

“I figure you’ve come to grill me again.”

“Well, did you work it out with your girlfriend?”

“Yeah, we broke up.” I try to act like it means nothing to me but I’m sure she’ll be able to see through that.

Her eyes are relentless in the way they try to read my soul. The feeling of vulnerability I have in her presence is unnerving and I’m just as desperate to escape her as I was weeks ago. Finally, she says, “You didn’t figure it out, did you? Or maybe you did, and it was too much for you to admit.”

What is your greatest fear?

I hurriedly drink the rest of my coffee and stand. “I would say it was nice to see you again, but I’d be lying,” I mutter as I take the first step away from her.

“You can run all you like, Jett, but the one person you can never hide from is yourself. Eventually, it will all catch up with you and you’ll realise how lonely and unhappy you are on your own. Don’t let your greatest fear hold you back from having everything you want in life.”

I keep walking and ignore the shit she is trying to preach at me. Jesus, where do people get off thinking they can try and tell you how to live your life?

Thank fuck today was my last day at this studio.

I’m never coming back here again.

“Claudia would want you to have this,” Mum says, holding up the vase I gave Claudia for her last birthday.