We’d been working day and night, trying to pull this album out of our ass, and as the days moved by, it was appearing more and more unlikely.

Lately, all of our phones had blown up with dozens of text messages from Max, ordering us to return as quickly as possible to get the album up and running with Warren Lee’s tracks.

“Ignore him,” Eric told me. “Max Fucking Rider will be okay for a while. Our biggest concern right now is our music, not him.”

I thanked him for reminding me what was important.

“I think they are beautiful,” Hazel said, grinning ear to ear. She’d been nothing but an asset to the songs, taking my vision and making it soar. We worked together so effortlessly, and I was glad to get back to the basics of the music. It was beginning to feel like fun again.

Leah had been attending our rehearsals with Hazel, and I was thankful that she’d become such a big part of Hazel’s life. Hazel needed a friend in town, and I knew Leah was a loyal one. Watching them grow closer each day was the best damn thing to see.

“Not to make your egos bigger than they already are, but that was beyond amazing,” Leah said. “And believe me, it kills me to give my brother a compliment, but it was magical.”

“I agree with Hazel. That was amazing!” Grams exclaimed, sitting in a chair beside Big Paw. Since we weren’t able to perform or post anything about the new music, the only people we could share the tracks with were people we could really trust.

“I think that you really tapped into—” Grams’s words trailed off as she stood from her chair. Her hand fell to her chest, and she took in deep inhalations. Everything felt as if it were moving in slow motion from that point on. I dropped the microphone from my grip as Grams’s legs began to buckle. Big Paw flew up from his seat, Hazel shot toward her, and the bandmates dashed too.

But it was too late. Grams hit the ground with a hard thump, and in an instant, I’d forgotten how to breathe.

We headed straight to the hospital from the barn house. Big Paw and Grams were picked up by an ambulance, and everyone else was following closely behind. For the most part, the trip was driven in complete silence. Finally, Marcus took control and turned on the radio. After two songs, ours came on the station and blasted through the speakers.

“Jeez,” James sighed, shaking his head. “I’m never going to get used to that. I’m never going to wrap my head around the fact that we’re on the radio.”

“Life’s crazy,” I muttered, chewing on my thumbnail as I stared out toward the dirt roads we were approaching.

We pulled up to the hospital, and I shot out of the car and hurried inside. I walked up to the receptionist’s desk to ask about Grams but was cut off.


I turned around to see Big Paw standing behind us.

“Hey, what’s going on?”

“They think she might need a pacemaker put in. But first, they have to go in and repair a vessel,” he explained. “They are prepping her for surgery now.”



“Can you believe that bullshit?” Big Paw grimaced. “These SOBs want to cut into my Holly’s heart.” His voice cracked, and tears fell down his cheeks. “How wrong is that?”

I walked over to Big Paw and patted him on the back. “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.”

“How can you say that? You don’t know that for sure,” he argued.

“Yeah, I know, but that’s what Grams would say, isn’t it? She’d say that everything always works out. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the story.”

He huffed, wiping his overworked hands against his face. “That’s just some mumbo jumbo bullshit she says. That woman is going to be the death of me. I can’t believe she’s doing this to me.” His tears began falling faster and faster. “How can she go in there and let those people cut into her?”

“I don’t think she has a choice, Big Paw, but I’m sure these doctors are good at what they do. They are great at their jobs. They are going to take care of Grams; I know it. You just have to have a little faith.”

“I can’t. Holly was the one with faith. I’m the old fart who doesn’t believe in any of that shit. It’s funny, actually,” he said with such a somber tone. “They are cutting into her heart, but it’s mine that’s breaking.”

I pulled him into a hug and held on tight, trying to help his troubled heart, but I knew nothing would help him until the love of his life was coming through the other side of surgery.

We all sat in the waiting room while Grams was in surgery. My bandmates and I shut off our phones, because the nonstop messages from Max were starting to drive us up a wall. My grandmother’s life was on the line, and all Max cared about were the numbers and the dollar figures he was losing out on. It was as if we were nothing more than robots in his money machine.

I sat with my hands clasped together, tapping my feet against the carpeted floor, unable to steady my movements. The idea of Grams not making it out of surgery and not being okay shook me to my core. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the time I’d spent away from home, chasing a dream, while my grandmother’s health was failing.

Who knew how much time I had left with them? I should’ve been home. I should’ve been helping them around the ranch. Hell, Big Paw shouldn’t have been working still.