Chapter 31

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When she arrived home that evening, she was greeted by Jazmine’s grim face.

“It’s all over the radio. I’m so sorry, Maude,” Jazmine whispered.

Maude didn’t utter a word. She walked past her and locked herself in her room. Thomas had betrayed her and so had Matt.  Her song, the song she had worked on for weeks, had been stolen from her. Her hit song had been stolen. It was the song that was supposed to launch her career.  Of course the other songs were great, but this one was special.

And to hear Lindsey sing her part!

Maude held back her tears. She refused to cry over this, even though they were tears of anger. Thomas didn’t deserve a tear and neither did Matt.

Thomas may have betrayed me, she thought angrily, but I certainly won’t let him break me or my career.

She walked towards her piano and sat determinedly on the stool. Slowly, the lyrics started forming in her head, and a melody echoed relentlessly through her brain. That night Maude didn’t sleep. She didn’t hear the door slam when James and Victoria came home, she didn’t hear James argue on the phone with Alan Lewis. She worked the entire night on her song, perfecting it, molding it with her rage, betrayal, and cold determination.

It was only when the first rays of the pale spring sun began to make their way through the sky that she fell asleep, exhausted but satisfied.

***

“She gave our song to the enemy!” Alan Lewis bellowed, banging his fist on the oval table of the conference room. “How long are you going to stand by her side while she makes mistake after mistake?” he asked, his face red with anger.

“How long will you keep looking for excuses to get rid of her, Alan?” James asked, his voice poised but his face set with determination.

“I’m not looking for excuses. She’s handing them to me on a silver platter!” Alan spluttered.

“Maude is still young and inexperienced. She didn’t know Thomas had been a candidate for the same contract we offered her in the end.”

“And you didn’t know they were friends? You should have watched her closer instead of giving her all the freedom to create and compose and write and sing and waste my money!”

“I take full responsibility, Alan. As for the freedom to create, I think that is what every artist needs. And no matter what you think, Alan, the song Maude and Matt composed was a great song. That freedom to create you so sternly frown upon gave birth to an immense hit.”

“I know it’s a hit!” shrieked Alan hysterically. “It’s all over the radio! The single will be released in about a week and every teenager in America will be buying it! Thomas Bradfield is going to be famous.  We never should have let him go.”

James Baldwin spoke calmly.

“I think this proves we were right to let him go. I could never work with an artist capable of such base conduct. Thomas may be famous tomorrow, but that will only be because Maude and Matt wrote a song worth listening to, not Thomas. Matt would never have composed such a song if he had collaborated with Thomas.”

“You don’t know that, Baldwin. I don’t think we should keep her. That girl is too much trouble. We can terminate her contract now and save our losses. Travis agrees with me.”

James’ eyes flashed.

“Soulville is keeping Maude Laurent, Alan. We are going to start working on a new debut single right away. I refuse to­—”

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