Taking a seat at the table, I say, “Coffee.”
She nods and gets to work. “So spill.”
I sigh. “It’s the band . . . no, it’s mainly Van . . .”
Claudia doesn’t have much patience for Van. Groaning, she asks, “Oh God, what has he done now?”
“He’s off at the moment, has been for a little while now. Probably ever since that bitch fiancé of his did the dirty on him.”
“Yeah, and it’s like he’s trying to provoke fights with me all the time. He never used to be like that with me. And now he’s pushed the band to bring forward our production schedule for the next album.”
She frowns; she knows how important a break is to me at the moment. “That sucks. I wonder what’s going on in that head of his.”
“Fuck knows, and God help us when he explodes because he’s been keeping shit tight for too long now.” I take the coffee she hands me as she sits at the table.
I shake my head. “Nope, no break. So that trip you and I had planned to the Whitsundays will need to be postponed.”
Waving me off she says, “That’s all good. I was going to cancel on you anyway.”
It’s my turn to frown now. We’ve been planning this trip for months and she’s been so excited for it that I’m confused as to why she’d cancel on me. “Why?”
A strange look crosses her face. It’s not one I recall seeing before but it reminds me of the looks Van gives me when he’s avoiding giving me a straight answer about something. “I’ve got too much stuff going on at uni. I can’t fit a trip in.”
Now I’m really perplexed. “That doesn’t make sense, Princess. We’ve been planning this for a while now and you took all your study into account. What gives?”
She shoves her chair back and stands. “I’m just too busy, okay?”
The angry look she levels on me is so out of character for her that I’m stunned into silence as I watch her walk out of the room.
“Claudia! What’s going on?” I yell out as I stand to go and follow her.
A moment later I’ve caught up to her and she’s in my arms, crying. “I’m not coping with school at the moment, Jett,” she sobs, “so I need to spend the time studying instead of going on a holiday.”
I wrap my arms tighter around her and run my hand over her hair. Seeing her so distressed kills me. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
Shaking her head, she says, “No, and besides, you’ve got enough to deal with in your life already.”
“I’m never too busy for you. You know that. So if you change your mind, you need to let me know, okay?”
We stay like that for a while. Whatever she’s struggling with is really hitting her hard because my sister never falls apart like this. Eventually, she lets me go, and I decide she needs me more than anyone else needs me today. “You wanna go to the movies this afternoon? Or do you need to stay here and study? I’m down for either.”
She gives me a huge smile. “I can take a couple of hours off. Let’s go watch a movie, but only so long as you promise to buy me ice cream afterwards.”
Movies and ice cream are good for the soul and just what I need today, too.
Just after six, I arrive at Presley’s house for our date. She answers the door with surprise. “I wasn’t expecting you so early. I’m not ready to go out yet.”
I step inside, brush a kiss over her lips, and say, “You’re beautiful the way you are, sweetheart, and besides, I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to cook you dinner and we’re going to stay in if that’s okay with you.”
Relief covers her face. “That sounds perfect. I’m beat after editing photos all day and don’t really feel like going out.”
“That’s settled then. I’ll cook while you put your feet up.” I shut the door behind me and we head into her kitchen. I’m carrying grocery bags with the ingredients I need to cook so I place them on the counter as she takes a seat on the kitchen stool.
Peering into the bags, she asks, “What’s for dinner?”
I stop and lean across the counter at her so our faces are close and ask her in a low voice, “What do I get if I tell you?”
Her eyes glaze over with desire and I know I’ve got her. “What do you want?”
“Mmm, let me see . . .” I let my voice drift off while I pretend to think about it.
“How about this?” I watch in anticipation as her fingers move to the top button on her top and undo it.
Raising my brows, I murmur, “There might not be any dinner if you keep that up.”
Her fingers stop and she moves off the stool. She has my undivided attention as she walks around to where I’m standing. “Okay, how about this then?” Her lips meet mine a second later and she steals my breath away with a kiss that deserves so much more than me simply telling her what’s for dinner.
I put my arms around her, hands on her ass and pull her into me when she ends the kiss. Grinning, I tell her, “Beef stroganoff and apple crumble for dessert.”
I figure I’ve chosen well when she reaches for my ass and pushes herself even harder against me. “Hell yes. I told you everyone needs a Jett. How did you know beef stroganoff is one of my favourites?”