Last week, Ryan found out a couple of things. First, that he's going to be rooming with Ben, and more importantly Ben knows about his book. The house tour concludes in this chapter and on to meet the rest of the band. See how that goes in this week's In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to! Their links follow my tale!
In Pieces #13 (5.1)
Ryan found his concentration completely shattered by the revelation that Ben not only had read Brothers but had seen through the apparent fictional façade to the heart of what lay beneath. He’d be lying to himself if he said he had no idea what Ben was talking about, because he did. He’d written it, hadn’t he? Maybe at first glance his book was about two actual brothers, which he and Ben weren’t. And maybe nothing had ever happened between Ben and him, which it certainly had in the novel. But there’d been something there between them, something palpable, when they were teens. Something that drew them together. Which made Ben’s sudden disappearance all the more painful. And why he could never talk about it to anyone. Especially not his father.
Brothers had been catharsis of a sort. It was him trying to come to grips with feelings he didn’t know how to deal with. Maybe he should have published it under a pseudonym. Not that it would have made a difference. He’d had his book torn up by a small group of vicious so-called reviewers on a popular book site. They’d trashed the story and trashed him as well. Never mind that none of them knew him, or had any idea what he was like. One review was particularly galling because it had been written by someone who admittedly hadn’t even read the book, but based it on a friend’s review. They’d called him perverted and sick. Smeared his heritage and shredded his family name. One person had even accused him of being a woman pretending to be a man.
He didn’t respond to their accusations, didn’t even try to refute any of it. What use would it have been? He kept it all from his father, but Cassie knew and she tried to make him feel better, even if she didn’t know the whole story behind his novel. Nothing he’d done since then had fared very well. Publishers rejected him right and left. The last couple of books he’d had accepted ended up with fly-by-night outfits who took the money and ran. He didn’t know what was worse—not making any money or making it and having it stolen. He’d just about given up on the idea of being a successful author when this opportunity had arisen, a chance to make a fresh start.
And that fresh start turned out to be Ben. Ryan had come full circle to where he’d started. So how would the story end this time?
Ryan pushed the thought aside and followed Ben downstairs, across the veranda, to the back of the house. A driveway wound around from the front of the house. The drive led to a large garage, where an assortment of vehicles was housed in several bays, before it branched off to a smaller building.
“This was just used for storage at one time,” Ben explained. “Cam renovated it for the band’s use, put in acoustics and stuff. He’s a great guy. I’m sure you’ll like him.”
“I’m sure I will,” Ryan said automatically. He hoped his voice didn’t reflect the perturbation that was fighting for dominance in his soul.
Ben opened a small door and beckoned Ryan to follow him inside. The interior was surprisingly dim after the bright Louisiana sun. Ryan stopped just inside the door to let his eyes adjust. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, surely not a light show? He wasn’t even sure who did the lighting, come to think of it. His knowledge of bands was limited to what he’d seen at concerts.
As he grew accustomed to the dimmer light, he noticed a small stage, empty except for various instruments—a couple of guitars, a drum set, and a keyboard. But no musicians.
Glancing around, he quickly spotted the rest of Salvation. A lounge area had been set up, probably for the band to relax between rehearsals. A comfortable-looking couch, a love seat, and several ottomans. Aiden and Abby sat together on the couch. Keanu paced back and forth before the love seat and the man who lounged there. This must be Deacon, Ryan reasoned by process of elimination. He’d met everyone else, and this man was too young to be Cameron.
“I told you they’d come out here, you worry too much.” Deacon unfolded himself from the loveseat and rose, patting Keanu’s cheek as he passed by.
Deacon was a very striking young man, Ryan noticed, with skin the color of very lightly creamed coffee. Dark curly hair fell to his shoulders in a wave. He moved with a singular grace toward Ben and Ryan. “I’m sorry if my significant other made a bad first impression,” he said, directing his attention to Ryan. “He means well. You must be Ryan, I’m Deacon. Good to meet you.” He held out his hand and Ryan took it. Deacon’s hand was both firm and soft. He had mocha eyes and a killer smile.
“Nice to meet you,” Ryan replied.
“Now you’ve met all of us,” Ben said, reclaiming Ryan’s hand somewhat possessively. “Now you get to hear us play.”
to be continued
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