My phone rings, interrupting the fuck out of us, and I’m annoyed to see it’s Tom, my manager. “What’s up?” I ask as I answer it. I’m straddling Presley and I slide my spare hand under her t-shirt to find her breast. I’ve no intention of being on the phone for very long.
“Jett, where are you?” He sounds irritated.
“You’re supposed to be at the recording studio this morning.”
“Sorry, Tom. I’m on my way now,” I say as I move off Presley. As I end the call, I tell her, “I’ve gotta head to the studio. I forgot we have a band meeting this morning.”
Shifting so she can prop herself up on her elbows, she says, “All good.”
I pull on my shirt and grin at her. “You free tonight?”
“Good. I’m taking you out, and then I’m bringing you home to have my way with you,” I promise her as I bend and kiss her.
“Promises, promises,” she jokes, but I can see she’s down with that idea.
I grab my car keys and nod as I head out of the bedroom. “You better fucking believe it, baby. You won’t know what hit you when I make good on that promise.”
As I walk out the front door, the sound of her laughing is ringing in my head, and it’s the best fucking sound to begin the day with.
Van is sitting in the corner, moody as ever, when I enter the studio half an hour later. He stands and throws me a filthy look. “Glad you could make it.” His sarcasm drips from his lips and it pisses me off.
As I approach him, West jumps in between us and places his hands on my chest, trying to hold me back. “Can you two give it a rest?” he mutters.
Halting my progress, I scowl at Van and say, “I’m here now, so let’s get this over with.”
Tom enters the conversation. “Jett, the label wants to fast track this album. They’ve done some testing and there’s a lot of fans screaming for it.”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean we have to rush it. We said we were taking our time with this one so we could have a break.” I stop and look at him. “We’re fucking exhausted and need some time off.”
Tom nods in agreement. “I know, but the boys are keen to do this so they’re just waiting for you to give it the green light, too.”
I shake my head in disapproval. Looking around the room, I ask, “You all really want to do this? What about the decision we’d already made and all agreed to?”
Van steps forward. “The label’s offered a bonus to all of us if we do it now.”
My mouth gapes open. “We don’t need the fucking money, Van.”
He shrugs. “Why turn it down? Fuck, Jett, we’ve been doing this for so long now we can all do this shit in our sleep. Let’s just do it, collect the pay check, and then take a break.”
“Except there’s never a break after an album, dickhead. You all know an album means a tour.” I turn my gaze to Hunter. “Are you on board with this?”
“I’m down with the bonus, so yeah, for sure.”
I shove my fingers through my hair as I fight the urge to scream. This isn’t what we’d agreed but I’m the odd one out and am going to have to cave. In the ten years we’ve been together, we have avoided any major fallout by compromising and working together to come to agreements. Over the past couple of months, Van’s grown moodier than usual and has started quite a few arguments. There’s something going on with him but he refuses to discuss anything whenever I try to get him to open up.
Throwing my arms up, I concede. “Fine, we’ll do this.”
“Great, I’ll let the label know,” Tom says and then eyes me. “You got any songs ready to go?”
Van and I tend to do most of the writing for the band but we haven’t been working on anything together lately. “I’ve got a couple I’ve written.” Looking at Van, I raise my brows. “You got anything?”
He seems cagey, as if he’s holding something back. Shaking his head, he says, “No.”
I narrow my eyes at him, wondering what is going on with him. “We’ll start tomorrow,” I say, and am relieved when he nods. Thank fuck, because Van is the master songwriter of our group. For a moody prick that doesn’t talk much, he has some deep shit inside him that seems to only come out when we’re writing together.
“I’ll be here at eight tomorrow morning.” Once the words are out, I turn and leave. I can’t be in the same room as any of them at the moment.
Needing something to calm me down, I head to see the one person who never fails to bring me some peace.
Claudia turns and smiles at me. She’s madly typing something on her laptop at the kitchen table but she immediately gets up and comes to me. “Hey, big brother,” she says as she throws her arms around me in a big hug. When she’s finished hugging me, she takes a step away from me and frowns. “What’s wrong?”
My sister always did have some kind of special intuition; she always knows when I’m not quite right. “How long have you got to listen?”
“For you, all the time in the world. You know that.” She cocks her head. “You want coffee for this or something stronger?”