Hey guys! I hope you all had a great Christmas and a happy new year! Hero is by Justin Ross, Pistol Heart is by Memphis High, and I Hate My Life is by Theory of a Deadman.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything that doesn't come from my own imagination.

22. Traditions

Jude was in the studio bright and early to start working with Jason, her new artist. She greeted him as he walked into the studio and they got to work immediately.

"We need to get a single out for you right away." Jude told him, "There are a couple options, so we are going to work on those and go from there."

Jason nodded and Jude told him, "Set up for Hero first and then we'll work on Pistol Heart."

He did as instructed and started singing when Jude pointed at him. As they worked, Chad came in and listened.

"Sounds like it's going well in here." Jude slid her headphones around her neck when she heard his voice.

"Yeah, we are just finishing up this one and then we'll work on the next. These two are the ones I pegged for singles. You should have them by this afternoon. The band finished laying the tracks the other day, so I will just have some mixing once the vocals are done."

Chad nodded, "I've got Theory coming in to work on a track or two this afternoon."

Jude gave him a quick nod of acknowledgement and put her headphones back on. She pushed the button for the microphone and said, "Jason, run through that one more time, but when you get to the 'yourself' move the emphasis to e instead of the l."

He tossed her an exasperated look and she told him, "Trust me, you'll thank me later."

The ran through the song once more and then moved on to the next. After a few hours they were done and Jude started to mix. When she finished, she made copies of both tracks and brought them to Chad's office.

"Thanks." he told her, "Oh and I need you to come in on Friday. I have a potential coming in."

"I was supposed to have the day off."

"I know, but I could really use you here."

"Can it wait until Monday?" Jude asked, "I have today completely booked and I told Josie I would be at her birthday party. Are you going to make me a liar and break her heart?"

"Low blow Harrison, using the cute little niece." he paused, thinking for a moment, "Fine. I'll reschedule for Monday."

She smiled, "Thank you."

When she stepped out of his office, she saw Theory waiting in the lobby.

"Hey guys, I'll meet you in there." She told them as she headed toward her office.

They just finished setting up when she walked in and asked, "What are you working on today?"

"A little something we like to call, I Hate My Life."

"Sounds optimistic, let's go." She sat down and they started to play.

So sick of the hobos

Always beggin' for change

I don't like how I gotta work

And they just sit around and get paid

I hate all of the people

Who can't drive their cars

Bitch, you better get out of the way

Before I start falling apart

I hate how my wife

Is always up my ass

She always wants to buy brand new things

But I don't have the cash

Well I hate my job, all my rich friends

I hate everyone to the bitter end

Nothing turns out right, there's no end in sight

I hate my life

How come I never get laid?

Nice guys always lose

How could she have another headache?

There's always some kind of excuse

I still hate my job

My boss is a dick

I don't get paid nearly enough

To put up with all of his shit

I hate my job, all my rich friends

I hate everyone to the bitter end

Nothing turns out right, there's no end in sight

I hate my life

-Musical Interlude-

I hate that I can't tell

When a girl's underage

And how when I tell her she's a nice piece of ass

Then her daddy punches me in the face

So if you're pissed like me

Bitches, here's what you've gotta do

Put your middle fingers up in the air

Go on and say 'Fuck you'

I hate my job, all my rich friends

I hate everyone to the bitter end

Nothing turns out right, there's no end in sight

I hate my life

So much at stake

Can't catch a break

I hate my life

No there's nothing new

And it sucks to be you

I fucking hate my life

Fuck

They ran through the song a couple more times and when they got to the fourth verse, Tyler stopped and asked, "Yeah Jude, how come I never get laid?"

"Maybe you're not good enough." Jude said simply, not looking up from the soundboard. Tom, who had just walked in with food, laughed to himself, that's my Jude.

"Wanna test out that theory?" He asked, as the three other men laughed at her answer.

"No thanks, I'm good."

Jude turned and smiled at Tom, then turned back to the booth, "Let's take lunch and come back to this later."

They left the room and Jude took the to-go box that Tom handed her.

"Oh my God, I love you." She told him when she opened the styrofoam container.

"How's it going today?" He smirked at her reaction to the Mexican food.

"Good, just have a couple things to finish up and then we should be good to go."

"So you should be ready to head out when I pick you up at five?"

"Definitely."

"Sounds good, I have a few things to finish up, so I will see you later." He gave her a quick kiss before walking out of the building.

After lunch, they were back in the booth laying the music for their new song. After running through a few different sounds, Jude suggested multiple options. They couldn't quite get what she was thinking of, so she stepped into the booth.

"Can I borrow those for a minute. I need to work something out." Joey handed the drumsticks to her and stepped aside. She tapped the sticks lightly on her thigh for a moment before she sat on the short stool and quietly did some test beats. When she found what she was looking for, she started to play. She looked up and could see the guys were impressed by her skills, which they were expecting to be less than mediocre.

She felt a shift in the atmosphere and she smiled to herself. She glanced up and smiled when she saw Tom leaning against the back wall of the studio. When she finished, she turned to him, "Try something like that."

He nodded and switched places, then started again when Jude motioned from the other side of the glass.

"Yes, that's it." Jude said into the microphone when they finished the run through, "How'd that feel?"

"Good, I like it." Jude played the recording back and they listened.

"I think we have what we need, we're done for today." Jude turned to Tom, "Just let me get this put away and we'll be good to go."

Jude said her goodbyes and on their way our the door Chad told her, "Tell Josie I said happy birthday."

The next morning they awoke in the guest room at Dom's house and while breakfast was going on Josie asked, "Do I really have to go to school today?"

"Yes, baby, you do." Karma told her, "Now finish up, so you don't miss the bus."

"Okay, fine." Josie picked at her breakfast, contemplating.

"Can Uncle Tommy and Jude pick me up today?" She asked, looking hopeful.

"I'm not sure if Tommy will be done in time to pick you up, but I can, if that's okay." Jude looked at Karma, who shrugged and nodded.

"Really? Thank you!" Her face lit up.

Jude smiled at the young girl's excitement and sat out on the porch with her to wait for the bus, while Karma left for her early class.

"So, wanna tell me what's going on at school?"

Josie hesitated before saying, "The big girls at school keep calling me a liar. They say that I am making it up when I told them that you and Uncle Tommy were coming for my birthday and that I have a baby cousin."

"Why would they say that?"

Josie shrugged, "I saw them at recess with some CDs and one of them had a picture of you on it and Spied too. I said, 'That's Jude, she is coming to my birthday with my uncle, Tommy. Spied is coming too.' They said that you guys couldn't come to my birthday because you're famous and that I am making it all up."

"Ah, I see. Well, we will just have to show them, won't we?"

Josie laughed, "They are going to be so surprised."

She hugged Jude and ran to the end of the driveway as the bus stopped. Jude sighed and shook her head as the bus pulled away.

"Hey, Babe." Tom said as he stepped out on the porch, "What's going on?"

"Some of the girls at school were giving her a hard time." She told him and relayed Josie's story. When she finished, Tom shook his head and Jude said, "So I am going to pick her up from school today."

Dom came into the room and started giving them tasks to get ready for the party that evening. Jude helped Dom in the kitchen while Tom and Spied set up outside, then left to pick up a few missing items. They worked until it was time for Jude to pick up Josie.

Jude pulled up outside the elementary school and put her Mustang in park. She got out and leaned against the passenger side and waited until the bell rang and she watched the kids run out the front doors, excited for the weekend. Jude smiled as Josie stopped on the front steps and waved furiously from her spot in line with the rest of her classmates. When her class was dismissed, Josie ran over to Jude and gave her a hug. She smiled and said, "Thank you for picking me up."

"No problem." She saw Josie sneak a peek at the big girls waiting in line for their bus, who were whispering among themselves and pointing in their direction. Josie gave them a smug look, then reached for the door handle. As they got into the car, Jude told her, "Chad says happy birthday."

"He's the guy from your work, right?" She continued when Jude nodded, "Tell him I said thank you. I like him, he's nice."

Josie then proceeded to talk her ear off about the day, how excited she was for her friends to come over for her party, and how she really wanted to eat the cake Grandma Dom made for her. When they got back to the house Josie jumped out of the car and ran up to Tom and Spied, giving them both hugs.

"Josie, let's get your homework done right away, so you can be ready for your friends." Dom called to her after a few minutes. Josie headed for the house and Jude walked over to Tom and Spied.

"How'd they take it?" Tom asked.

"I don't think they'll be giving her a hard time anymore. It was actually pretty funny, those girls were shocked."

"I can see it now," Spied said, motioning with his hands, "Jude Harrison wreaking havoc at local elementary school."

Jude laughed, "What can I say, it's an art."

A few hours later, the party was in full swing and there were ten of Josie's classmates running around the backyard, playing games. Jude walked up beside Tom and took his hand. He squeezed her hand and she motioned toward Spied who was being pulled toward the bean bag toss by Josie. They watched Josie and her friends play and started bouncing excitedly when Karma brought out the cake and ice cream. A loud rendition of Happy Birthday was sung and presents were opened. Josie squealed excitedly over the gifts and all the children gathered the game she had opened and started to play.

Later that evening, after the children were all home and Dom and Josie were in bed and the party was cleaned up, Karma and Spied took off down the path leading into the woods. Jude stepped out onto the front porch and sat down next to Tom on the swing. He put his arm around her shoulders and she leaned into him. She sighed and closed her eyes, a small smile tugged at her lips when Tom whispered to her. She looked up at him to see a playful smile on his face. She repositioned herself to face him and placed her hand on his cheek, giving it a light tap.

"No." She laughed.

"Oh come on." He goaded, but couldn't keep a straight face.

"Veto, we are not naming our baby after a character from that movie." Tom laughed harder.

"I'm just kidding anyways." He told her, "Besides, we have a tradition for names in this family, that one wouldn't really fit."

"Because that's all that's wrong with that." Jude joked, then asked curiously, "What's the tradition?"

"French names, traditional or not, doesn't matter."

Jude thought it over for a moment and said, "Definitely would be unique. I like it."