Part 1, Chapter 4

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"What's up with me?"

Patience her folded her arms and turned back toward the mirror, "You can't be serious."

Mandi's heels clicked against the floor as she marched over to Patience and swung the chair around again. She stuck her face just millimeters from Patience's nose and clamped her hands down on Patience forearms.

Vyola started forward but Jjeni grabbed her by the arm and shook her head, no.

With Patience seated, Mandi was just her height. She would have needed a step stool to get that close to her face otherwise.

"I'm am completely, absolutely serious, Patience. Are you?"

Patience met her stare, "Yes. And if you don't get your face out of my face and move those hands you're going to see how serious."

Mandi held her gaze for one moment more. She then smiled and let go.

"Good. Good to hear."

"If you are serious," she then turned to address Jjeni and Vyola, "and I'll assume you two are serious, then why are we not yet streaming about the show? Hmm? Huh?"

She snapped her fingers.

"Hello? Anyone have an answer?"

Vyola took a deep breath in and out and then said, "No one is really in the mood right now, Mandi."

"No?" Mandi now clicked over to her and looked up into her face, "Can ya' get in the mood, doll? Your fans are waiting. Has anyone even tweeted?"

She looked at each of them in turn.

"I have," Mandi declared, splaying her fingers against her chest, "I was on the band's twitter feed posting during the entire show. Can someone tell me what the problem is, please? And fast, because we have to leave to get over to Z111 before morning radio drive time is over."

Vyola, Patience and Jjenni met each other's eyes. She could tell by their faces - they had forgotten about the interview at the radio station. Vyola was happy to see she was not the only one who had.

"Mandi," Jjenni said, "we've been up since four and we are really wiped. And we just feel, sometimes, like the focus is more on the publicity than the music, that's all."

She tied her long, dark hair back with a bandana.

"We've been on the road, bouncing East and West for two weeks," she added.

"Oh, that's it. You're all tired, are you?" Mandi asked.

"I'm so sorry. Why don't you take a nice long break and then after a couple of weeks, let me know if anyone remembers," she pointed her finger at them one at a time, "Who, You, Are."

Mandi's phone dinged.

"Let's go, ladies," she held it up. "That's the car."

When none of them made a move or even replied, Mandi walked over and put her large black leather bag down on the dressing table. She sighed as she looked into the mirror, poked at the bags under her eyes and patted her puffy blonde hair.

"Look, this has been tough on everyone. I'm working hard, too. But you're charting, now, moving up, now. Things are happening, now. We have to push. I hope you know I only want the best for you. For each of you."

Patience spoke, "It's hard to see that, Mandi, when the only person you focus on is Vyola."

Vyola agreed, "Yeah, Mandi. It's causing problems between us. All of us."

Mandi called her on it immediately. Looking at Vyola, she pointed to Patience.

"And I know who's bitching and moaning the most."

At that, Patience jumped to her feet. This time, Jjenni leapt directly between the two. She spread her arms wide, placing one hand on the dressing table and the other on the arm of the chair, blocking Patience in. Patience talked around and over her.

"I don't know where you get off, Mandi. You work for us, not the other way around."

"I'll tell you where I get off, Patience. If you all want to be treated equally, then do equal work."

"What!" Patience said, "You don't think I'm working as hard as everyone else?"

"You said it, honey. This morning not withstanding, Vyola is always the one who's texting, tweeting, Skyping, doing podcasts, making herself available to the press twenty-four seven. You care about getting the attention, Patience, and you care about the music, Jjeni – but Vyola,"

Patience opened her mouth to get in a word but Mandi put up her hand to silence her, "Vyola's the one who is constantly busting her ass to do what needs to be done to keep girlRulz on top. Your fans love her. Love HER. And she's under more pressure than any of you. She's the one whose mother is dying."

"Mandi," Patience said, shaking her head.

Tears immediately flooded into Vyola's eyes. She swallowed hard and began to back out slowly from the room.

The last thing she heard as she reached the hallway and turned to run was Jjeni say,

"Mandi, why?"

"What? It's true," Mandi said.


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