Chapter 1

For nearly two years she had been hoping and wishing that this would happen. Jude had known for a long time the she was in love with Tom Quincy. He was the perfect match for her, and she knew that he was it for her. She wasn't sure what would happen when he asked her out earlier that day, but now that he was sitting across from her at their favorite restaurant, she knew it was the start of something great.

Things had been perfect all night long. They talked about anything and everything, simply loving being together. Though Jude knew how long it had taken them to get to this point, their date felt like the most normal thing in the world. Unfortunately, their night had to come to an end. They stood from their table, and Jude was thrilled when Tommy grabbed her hand in his. He didn't let go all the way out to the Viper, only giving it up when he shut her door.

Conversation continued the whole ride back to G Major to pick up her car, and Jude couldn't contain her giddiness.

"What has you smiling like a fool?" Tommy asked her.

Not sure how much she should say, Jude simply responded, "Tonight was just a really good night." She ventured a look in his direction, trying to see the effects of her comment. The smile that came across his face was encouraging, and she continued, saying, "Thank you for making it so perfect."

From his place in the driver's seat, Tommy grabbed her hand and gave it a light squeeze. "You know I would do anything for you. Tonight was pretty great, huh?"

Jude could only nod her agreement as they continued their drive. He didn't let go of her hand, hanging onto it the whole rest of the drive. Their conversation continued, talking about music, the studio, the growing relationship between her sister and Kwest, and anything else that came to mind. Pulling up next to her car, Tom cut the engine and simply sat there. Jude could tell that he wanted to say something, but he was obviously nervous. "What is it, Tommy?"

He opened his mouth and shut it again, clearly contemplating what words to use. A second later, he opened his mouth again, ready to confess whatever was on his mind. "Jude, I had a really wonderful time tonight. I know that you are still seventeen, but I don't want that to be the reason that we don't do this again." He wouldn't look at her as he spoke, only staring out at the parking lot that was before them. "I know that I shouldn't want to be with you, but I just can't help it." Finally looking at her, he finished his thoughts, "I can't seem to stay away, and the more time that passes, the less I want to try. If we decide to do this, do you think we can keep it between us...just until you turn eighteen...maybe take things slow to start with?"

She felt like she was on top of the world. Tom Quincy, the love of her life, just confessed that he wanted to be with her, regardless of her age or their positions as producer and artist. If the giant grin on her face wasn't evidence enough of her opinion, the "YES!" that escaped her lips made her feelings clear.

At her comment, Tom pulled her to him and captured her lips with his own. The kiss was sweet and sincere. Tommy didn't push things too far and released her much too quickly. He cupped her cheek with the palm of his hand and just looked at her. Their eyes were locked on each other, and nothing else mattered in that moment. Finally pulling back, he asked, "Will you call me when you get home?"

His question didn't surprise her. Now that she drove her '65 Mustang to the studio a few days a week he would ask her that when she left. She had always attributed it to a friendly concern, but maybe it had always been a bit more. "Sure." Putting her hand on the door, Jude asked him, "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Yeah," was his simple reply.

Deciding to be daring, Jude leaned over and gave him a quick kiss as if to say goodnight. He returned her simple peck, molding their lips together for a brief moment. "Bye."

With that, Jude got out of the Viper and into her own car. She gave him a quick wave before heading out of the parking lot and in the direction of home. She couldn't stop the smile that lit her face—she was completely content with how they left things. She was okay that they were taking things slow...she was okay that they were the only ones who would know for a while. As long as Tommy was hers, not much else mattered. She quickly made the last couple of turns and pulled into her driveway. In only minutes she was changed and laying down in her bed, ready to fall into a sleep full of sweet dreams. Remembering Tommy's request, Jude grabbed her phone and sent him a quick text letting him know that she was safe and sound. Tucked in and ready to sleep...thank you for such a perfect night:)

Tucked in and ready to sleep...thank you for such a perfect night:) If only she knew how much a simple text message could affect him! As soon as he received her message, the image of her in bed assaulted his mind. He couldn't get the picture out of his head and was becoming tortured with the memory of their evening. All he wanted was to get to sleep—the sooner that happened, the sooner he would wake up, and the sooner he would see Jude.

He couldn't believe how much this one girl had changed him. Only once before had he even come close to these feelings. And, to be honest, what he felt for Jude was ten times stronger than any feeling he had for Angie. With Jude he could see a future—a life, a family. Never had he though that he was going to be a "family man," but Jude made him want that. Trying to find a comfortable position in his lonely bed, Tom twisted and turned for the next twenty minutes. Finally getting fed up, he got up and went over to his massive stereo. If he couldn't sleep, at least he could listen to his girl. The music of her just-completed second album filled the room.

Eyes closed and breathing slowed, Tom was just about asleep when the shrill ringing of his phone startled him completely awake. Grabbing the irritating device, he answered with a harsh, "Hello?"

"Tom, I need you to do something for me."

The sound of his boss came across the line, bringing Tommy to a more conscious state. If Darius was calling him this late, something had to be wrong. "Right now?" he asked, trying to determine what his boss might need at nearly midnight.

"Of course right now. Do you think I would be calling this late if it wasn't urgent? I need you to get Maya for me. Kim started drinking again, and I am finally filing for full custody."

Tom knew that Kim was Darius' ex-wife, and Maya was their daughter. Though they didn't work out, Darius and Kim still somewhat got along. However, he also knew that Kim had a bit of a drinking problem. She had been sober for a couple of years, but apparently that didn't last. Tom focused his attention back on what his boss was saying.

"I can't leave Toronto right now, so I need you to go to Montana and get her. Start packing."

"How much should I be packing—are we talking a weekend or a full week?" Tommy went to the closet in the hall and grabbed his small suitcase, bringing it back to his room.

"Tom, its going to take a bit longer than that. You can't bring Maya back to Toronto until the custody papers are finalized, and that takes at least six months. They won't release her to you until they see you are a fit guardian, so you'll need more than a couple changes of clothes. You have a flight in five hours—the first one out of the day."

Tommy was shocked. How dare Darius take him away from Toronto...from Jude! "What about Jude, Dar? I'm her producer! And what about my other artists?" It was the only argument he could think of to get out of going.

"Tom, you and I both know that Jude's album is done. She will be re-assigned to Kwest, as will the rest of your artists. There are no other options, Tom. You will go or you will suffer the consequences."

As much as he wanted to disagree and tell Darius that he didn't care, Tommy knew how powerful and vindictive the older man was. He would get his way eventually, no matter how many people went down.
Fine. I'll be at the airport as soon as I get a bag packed."

"I'm glad we agree. Call me when you land."

Tom sighed, knowing there was no other option. "Fine. I'll talk to you later, D." As he was about to hang up, he heard Darius's voice once again.

"Tom?"

"Yeah?"

"Don't tell anyone about this."

"What?" If Darius was going to send him away, the only way he would be able to make it that long was if he could talk to Jude. How would he be able to last six months without hearing her voice or her laugh...her sarcasm?

"You know how sensitive these things can be, Tom. Kwest knows because he is taking over for you, but that's it. No talking to anyone...especially Jude. As great as that girl is, she wouldn't handle things well if she knew; besides, she would want to go with you...don't think I don't know its true. I know that you guys have some connection, but I won't have it. I won't have you hurting her or messing her up, and I need all of your focus on Maya...no distractions. You hear me?"

Arguing would be fruitless and only serve to anger the man. Resigned to his fate, Tom agreed, "Fine, Dar. I'll get packed up and call when I get there."

"You may not believe me, but I'm doing what is best for everyone."

Hanging up the phone, Tom didn't agree with his boss' parting words. Darius only ever did what was best for himself—the feelings and well-being of others rarely mattered. Turning up the sound of Jude's voice that was still coming through the speakers surrounding his room, Tommy began to pack. He pulled out an additional suitcase, knowing that he would need as many things as possible to last six months.

A couple of hours later he was ready to head out. His bags were packed and he was showered, ready to go. As he looked around his room, Tommy grabbed the picture of him and Jude that rested next to his bed and put it in the suitcase. Her music was on his iPod, and another picture was in his wallet. As he got in the car that was to take him to the airport, Tom looked back at his building and wondered how the hell he would be able to last six months without her. They only had one date, and he was being ripped away from her. His only hope as that she would understand what happened—that her feelings wouldn't change. When he came back, she would be eighteen, and no one would be able to stop them—Darius included. With that, he turned around and resigned himself to his new role as Maya's caretaker.

Jude strolled into the studio almost ten minutes ahead of when she was scheduled to record. After such a perfect night, she couldn't wait to see Tommy again. Of course, she understood that they would have to be professional in the studio—purely producer and artist. But the knowledge that they were more would be enough to get her through.

Setting her bag and guitar in Studio A, Jude quickly turned to grab some coffee before recording. Though she didn't think much of it, it was strange that Tommy wasn't in the studio yet. Usually he got there much earlier than she did to take care of some of the other responsibilities he had as the head producer. Mid-stream of pouring coffee, Darius' booming voice came across the studio. "Jude!"

Startled, she almost dropped the coffee pot, but recovered well. Turning to face him, she asked, "Yes, Darius?"

"Come here. I need to talk to you."

Rolling her eyes, Jude only responded, "Be right there, D." Grabbing her full mug of coffee, Jude made her way to Darius' office. Along the way she made sure to say hi to Kwest, who gave her a strange look—one full of sympathy and pity. That's odd, she thought. Opening the door to her boss' office, she brushed off the confusion and walked in to the lion's den. "What's up, D?"

"Well, Jude. First, I want to congratulate you are your newest album. I think it's really going to be a hit—I'm talking top of the charts!"

"Thanks, Darius. That means a lot coming from you." And it did mean a lot. Darius had a lot of experience in the music industry, and if he thought her record would be a hit, she was encouraged that it was good music. But, she knew that there had to be more. "While I appreciate the complement, Darius, I know there has to be something else. What is it?"

"You know me well, Jude. I just wanted to let you know that we are going to change things up a bit for your next album. I'm putting Kwest on your album...full time...without Tom."

"What?" Jude yelled. Darius was taking Tommy away from her album? "What about my music?"

"Jude, you don't need Tom to make good music. Besides, it would be hard for Tom to produce your next record when he isn't around, huh?"

"What?" This time her voice carried beyond his office, causing those in the lobby to turn in their direction. Immediately overcome by confusion, Jude had no care for anyone at that moment other than the man who held the answers. Slowly and deliberately, she asked, "What do you mean he isn't around?" She was now standing in front of him, her hands on his desk, eyes searching his for some insight into where the love of her life might be.

"T had some business to attend to. He won't be back for a while. Its probably best if you just get to work with Kwest, Jude."

His tone gave no room for further questions, so Jude tried to regain her composure. Closing her eyes, she took a few deep breaths to calm herself. Opening them again, she stood and walked out his door and straight into Studio A where Kwest was now waiting for her. Throwing herself into the spare chair, Jude put her head in her hands.

"I take it D told you that Tom is gone for a while, huh?"

A nod was her only response for a moment, still lost in her questions and confusion. Finally looking up at him, her eyes betrayed her sense of loss, tears present and ready to fall.

Taking something off of the soundboard, Kwest handed her an envelope. "He left this on my desk before leaving, if it helps. I didn't read it, but maybe it will give you some answers."

Jude held the envelope in her hands, looking at it incredulously.

A quiet, "I'm gonna grab some coffee. Be back in a few," were Kwest's parting words.

Once the studio door closed, Jude didn't make a move for a few more minutes. As much as she wanted answers, she wasn't sure if she wanted to open the note. It was obviously for her, her name scrawled across the front in Tommy's uniquely precise handwriting. Staring at the envelope a few more minutes, Jude decided that answers were what she needed. She ripped open the paper and tossed it aside, holding onto the small note.

Jude, I have some business to take care of outside of the country. I won't be able to talk, so it isn't even worth calling. Not sure when or if I'll be back, but keep working hard. I know your next album will be even more amazing than this one. Know that last night was one of the best I've ever had. Thank you...for believing in me always. Tommy

She was shocked. That was all he would say? Taking care of business was the only explanation he would give? Where was he? Would they be able to talk?

Kwest must have been watching through the door, because a moment after she set the note down, he walked in the room. "Anything helpful?"

She looked up at him before shrugging. "No...nothing..."

"Really?" Surprise was obvious in his voice.

Jude figured he had to know something and turned to face him, catching his eyes with her own.

"Don't even try asking, Jude. I can't say anything." The hopeless sigh that left her lips prompted a further response. "Honestly, I don't really know anything. I don't know what business he has or where he is, just that he's safe."

"He's okay?" she asked. As much as she was furious with the whole situation, her concern for Tommy's safety was foremost. When Kwest affirmed that he was, indeed, safe, she jumped out of her chair. "That ass! Why the hell couldn't he tell me more? Do I really matter that little to just get a confusing note telling me he won't be around? I don't deserve a phone call or a message? Am I that easy to leave behind?" Tears began to fall as soon as she knew Tommy was okay, and now that they started, they wouldn't stop.

Clearly unsure of how to handle the situation, Kwest stood awkwardly by the door. When Jude's tears turned into heaving sobs, he walked over and put his arms around her.

Amidst the myriad of emotions raging in her, Jude appreciated Kwest's actions. He was like a brother to her, and the fact that he was trying to comfort her was extremely sweet. They sat like that for nearly thirty minutes, eventually separating when her tears seemed to run out. Her thanks was obvious as Jude looked up at him, but just to make sure he knew, she said, "Thank you, Kwest."

"Any time, Super Star." Patting her on the back, he asked, "Do you want to get back to work?"

Knowing that music was about the only thing that might help her feel better, Jude agreed. "Let's play around a bit."

With that, they got started. Jude played her guitar for the rest of the afternoon, suggestions by Kwest interspersed along the way. Though they didn't get anything official accomplished, it did help her to process everything that was going on. Jude put on a brave face and went home that night. She psyched herself up for the next day, and fell into a restless sleep, dreams of Tommy filling her subconscious.

To this day, dreams of Tommy plagued her, causing her to lose sleep most nights in a vain attempt to not think of him. It didn't matter that it had been just over eighteen months...a year and a half. She still thought of him every day. Since then so many things had changed, Jude felt like a whole different person. To friends and family, she was a shadow of herself—physically and emotionally.

The first six months might have been the hardest for her. Every day she would call him and leave a message on his phone. Not once did she get a call back or even a text message. Every day she would ask Kwest for information, and every day he would tell her the same thing—he hadn't heard from Tom. After the first week, she knew he was lying. She had overheard him on the phone talking to a "T," and really, who else would it have been?

In that time, she had only recorded two songs, and they were crap—plain and simple. She couldn't seem to write, at least not well, and her music was suffering. Each day she would hope and pray that he would come home, and each day she was disappointed. When Tommy didn't show up on her eighteenth birthday, something inside her broke, and she decided that it was time to move on. However, it was hard to move on when nearly every thought you had related back to the man you loved who disappeared.

Realizing that something needed to change, Jude marched into Darius' office the day after her birthday, demanding that her contract be canceled. Their discussion took nearly three hours, but in the end, her boss gave in. He allowed her to cancel her contract. His only stipulation was that he had the first rights to her music should she decide to record anything in the future. Darius also retained his role as her manager, though she would simply be marked as an "inactive" client for the time being.

With nothing holding her back, Jude decided that it was time for her to "find herself." She packed a bag and left on an adventure of self-discovery. Her first stop was Costabella, Spain, where she spent two weeks learning flamenco guitar from one of the many masters. From there, she headed to Paris, by way of the Bordeaux region, tasting wine and pastries along the way. While the journey was interesting, it was lonely, and Jude was more than happy to get back to life in Toronto. Upon arriving home, Kwest proposed to her sister and, though thrilled that Sadie and her producer had found each other, Jude was again struck with loneliness. As her luck would have it, the week she returned from her vacation, Karma and Spied got married in a botched publicity attempt. They agreed to give marriage a try, and were a surprisingly good, if not a little strange, match. While she had been gone, Spiederman Mind Explosion was offered a solo album, which they gladly accepted, provided that they could have her help from time to time.

The many changes left Jude feeling lost and out of place, especially now that she had no job. She resolved to return to what made her happiest—music. She had no intention of going back to G Major, instead wanting to help other musicians trying to get a break. She purchased the abandoned building where her rehearsal space was located, and set about transforming it into a musician's haven. The apartments were made into other rehearsal spaces, and the top floor, which had been her own rehearsal space, was renovated into her personal studio and loft. Jude moved in as soon as construction was completed, and had been there ever since.

Every one of the twenty rehearsal spaces was filled, and there was a list of at least twenty different musicians waiting for a spot. In addition to renting out the rehearsal rooms, Jude began to take on different bands and singers who she would mentor and help develop their passion and talent for making great music. She helped them perfect their writing and music and produced demo tracks that were sent out to clubs, music halls, and record labels. In the year since opening her musical compound, two of the bands she was working with were signed by G Major.

Thankfully, Jude's relationship with Darius was still on good terms, and she would be by the studio at least once a week. Between helping SME write and record their debut album and lending her talents to other signed artists, she was a familiar face at G Major, much to the delight of everyone. It seemed as though she had not a moment to rest and relax, but the vibrancy she had before was gone. Jude was going through the motions of life, doing and saying all of the right things, but without the passion and joy. She was numb.

The profits from renting out rehearsal spaces allowed her to live without getting another job. All money she made from writing royalties went straight into a savings account for any "what if" situations that may come up. She was frugal in all purchases, never spending money on frivolously extravagant things. Although she enjoyed working with bands and up-and-coming artists, she knew something was missing.

A month prior to her nineteenth birthday saw the wedding of Kwest and Sadie. Jude was, not surprisingly, the maid of honor. Thankfully, Stuart was able to make it back for wedding festivities. His job had transferred him to Montreal when Jude was gone on her trip of "self-discovery," and he rarely got to see his daughters. Kwest and Sadie purchased the Harrison house from him as soon as he found out about the job, and decided to stay there when it was discovered that they were pregnant.

Looking back, life had certainly changed over the past year-and-a-half. Today, Jude turned nineteen, though it wasn't something she was really excited about or looking forward to. What good is a birthday and another year when you had no one to share it with?

Mentally shoving the memories and thoughts aside, Jude took one last look in the mirror before heading downstairs. In the main part of her loft were various members of her friends and family, close to twenty-five in all. They had all gathered to celebrate her birthday in typical musician fashion—lots of music and lots of food. Right now, the members of Waking Blind, a band Jude was working with to get a record deal, were playing in her living room.

Spied, Wally, and Kyle were stuffing their faces in her kitchen, with Karma looking on in amusement. Kwest and Sadie were engrossed in conversation with Stuart and Darius about music trends, and different musicians that Jude had been helping to produce and mentor were scattered around. As Waking Blind finished another set, Jude made sure to remind everyone to check out their premier performance at the Vinyl Palace the following night.

She made her way to each of the different groups, catching up and laughing with each of them. She put on a smiling face and enjoyed herself to an extent, but quickly tired of the many people surrounding her. Quietly, she retraced her steps to her room and sat on her bed. Sitting against her headboard, she pulled out her guitar and began to strum quietly. There was no rhyme or reason to her music, only different chords and melodies as she looked around her room at the pictures of her and Tommy from when he was still around. Whereas she could usually put on a brave face and pretend that all was fine, all defenses were down in this moment. Tears streamed down her face as she cried for what could have been and lost love. Words poured out and she continued to play.

She didn't notice one of her best friends standing at the door until he cleared his throat. Startled, she looked up, eyes red from crying. "Hey Spied."

"Hey, Harrison. Got tired of the party?"

She loved that he knew when to be brutally honest and when to just gloss over what was going on, like now. "Yeah. Just got a little overwhelmed by the people. How I ever did those PR events, I'll never know."

He smiled and stepped further into her room. She set her guitar on the floor and patted the place on the bed next to her and he sat down. Looking at her, Spied's brow quirked knowingly, and he asked, "So, want to tell me what's really going on?"

She sighed and looked next to her. "Honestly?" At Spied's nod, she confessed. "I miss him. It's been a year-and-a-half, and I still miss him. No phone call, no message, not even an email, and he is the first thing that comes to mind when I wake up, and my last thought before falling asleep. I feel lost and alone." More tears began to make their way down her cheeks as she let on to the hurt and pain she had been trying to ignore for so long.

A few minutes later, Jude got a hold of her emotions and took a deep and cleansing breath. Looking back at him, she asked, "So, how was the party?"

He made no comment as to her change of topic, and answered, "It was good. Everyone was leaving as I came up. Sadie and Karma were picking up some of the garbage."

Realizing that her guests were cleaning up, Jude moved to get up and help. Spied's arm held her back, though, forcing her to stay in place. "Jude, it was the least they could do. They know that today isn't the easiest for you."

Resigned to her place on the bed, she smiled a tired smile. "I'll have to thank them later."

After a brief pause, Spied turned to her. "Hey, the band sounds great, by the way."

A glimpse of a true smile lit her face. "They do, huh? We've been working really hard lately for their premier...but I think they might actually pull it off. I'm totally stoked for their Vinyl Palace performance. Darius told me that he would make sure someone was down there to sign them if they're ready."

"Dude, that's awesome!"

She could see his excitement and was truly grateful in that moment. Just then, Sadie and Karma poked their heads in the room. "Sis, we're gonna head out."

"Yeah, thanks for everything tonight, Jude." Karma and Jude had developed some sort of friendship over recent months, which overjoyed Spied to no end. She turned to her husband and told him, "Sweets, I'm going to head home. Why don't you stay here tonight and I'll pick you up on the way to the studio tomorrow?"

"That sounds great, babe. I'll see you in the morning."

The two girls turned to leave, and Jude called out her thanks just before she heard the door shut. Turning back to Spied, she gave him a hug and told him "Thanks...for being such a perfect best friend. Sometimes I'm not sure what I would do without you."

"You know I'm always here for you, Dude. What do you say we work on that song?"

Grabbing her guitar, Spied got off the bed and led the way down to the studio. They worked for hours, making sure the sound and the lyrics were perfect. Finally satisfied, they recorded the song, Jude completely consumed by the emotions she was singing about. She felt every hint of pain, every tear she cried as an ache in her heart. Hurt tore through her every bone, and a sense of loss colored each note she sang.

Sometimes the hole
You left hurts my heart
So bad it cuts through
The deepest parts of me
And fills up my mouth
With words that I cry
How I'm still trying
To stay inside

Hearts break
And hearts wait
To make us
Grow from dust
Then our eyes cry
And souls sigh
So that we know
That it hurts
Our hearts break
And hearts wait
To make us
Grow from dust
Then our eyes cry
And souls sigh
So that we know
That it hurts

Every now and then
My memories ache
With the empty ideas
Of the ones we'd made
But as time goes on
And my age gets older
I love the ones I know
They're enough
To picture the rain

Cause heart break
And hearts wait
To make us
Grow from dust
Then our eyes cry
And souls sigh
So that we know
That it hurts
Our hearts break
And hearts wait
To make us
Grow from dust
Then our eyes cry
And souls sigh
So that we know
That it hurts

You know
When to make me
I might
Just your heal
1

"Perfect take, Dude." He opened the sound booth door for her and asked, "Wanna hit the sack?"

"Sure. And thanks for all your help. This is the first time I feel like I had anything worth recording, and I don't think I could have done it without you."

"Anytime, Jude. Anytime."

The pair went back up to her room and threw themselves on her bed. They continued to talk despite the Kurt Cobain documentary that was playing in the background. Jude admitted to the love she still held for Tommy. She told her best friend about her first date with her soulmate, and how heartbroken she was when he left, especially considering the way he left. She even let Spied in on the fact that Kwest and Darius both still talked to Tommy, and wouldn't tell her a single thing. Jude let him in on her biggest fear: that she was just another girl in a long line of Little Tommy Q admirers.

Despite his thoughts to the contrary, Spied was quiet—something Jude was glad about. She didn't want people trying to solve her feelings or cheer her up, she just needed someone to listen...someone to try and understand how deeply she was hurt, and how broken she was.

Sleep caught up with the best friends eventually, and the following morning found them joking around as usual. Not a word was mentioned of the previous night. Both understood how much Jude had needed to unload. She closed the door behind Spied after Karma picked him up, ready to put on her "happy face" and prepare for the day ahead. Using her many obligations as a distraction, she set about getting herself and her loft cleaned up. There were things that needed to be done in order to prepare for Waking Blind's performance at the Vinyl Palace that night, and it was her job to make sure everything was ready to go. With that in mind, she left the loft and got into her Mustang, prepared as ever for the day ahead.

1The song is Now and Then by Adele.