So the birthday boy has arrived? Will he be a little Southern gentleman? Or an entitled brat who thinks he can have what he wants? And what if he wants Ben? See what's happening in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #31 (8.4)
Everything had been set into position by the time they arrived. Bright lights pierced the darkness around and in front of the stage. Ryan had half expected to see theater seats in place for Miles and his friends, but there were none, just a makeshift floor. More freedom of movement, he supposed, for dancing to the music, if they were so inclined.
But that presented another problem—how was he going to use his laptop? He’d been assuming he’d just find a place somewhere in the audience, probably in the back, and balance it on his lap. Of course, he’d also assumed the party would be indoors. He hadn’t expected to be taking notes while sitting in someone’s backyard. If he sat on the ground, he’d never be able to see over the teenagers, much less take photos of the band. Of course he couldn’t sit anywhere and do that, either.
Photography involved a certain amount of movement. Glancing around, he spotted a metal folding chair sitting next to the stage and breathed a sigh of relief. If the band wasn’t using it, he’d ask Ben if he could appropriate it for his use.
As soon as they’d reached the stage, Ben had taken on what Ryan assumed was his professional persona. Hopping gracefully up onto the stage, despite the robes of his costume, he inspected everything carefully, making sure it was placed to his satisfaction. Keanu and Aiden stood on opposite ends of the stage, tuning up their guitars, while Abby fiddled with her drums. Ryan noticed a strange contraption sitting at Keanu’s feet. When the bass player stepped on it, the lights began to change color. Ah, so this was their light system. Ryan had never seen one that was controlled from the stage. Made sense if you didn’t have someone outside the band to run the lights. The concerts he’d attended had always had a guy who ran things from the audience. Maybe they’d hire someone after they got to be more successful.
Jumping from the stage back to the ground, Ben walked away a few feet, then swiveled. “Aiden, sound check, please.”
Aiden obliged with a few random chords, then a quick riff. “Do you want me to wait till the end of the show to smash this on the stage?” he quipped.
“Whenever you want,” Ben retorted. “As long as you have a new one waiting in the wings.”
“Guess I’ll never get to be Jimi Hendrix, will I?” Aiden laughed.
“Since he’s dead, maybe that’s a good thing,” Ben joked. He cast a quick glance at Ryan and winked.
“Okay, sounds good. Ryan, what do you think about…?” Whatever he’d been going to say was quickly cut off by the arrival of several teenage boys. Obviously Miles and his best buds. Ryan suppressed his disappointment. Whatever it was could wait until later, when they were alone in their room. That thought raised his spirits instantly.
There were six of them, all dressed pretty much alike in T-shirts and distressed jeans . Ryan couldn’t help but notice that these were no ordinary jeans the boys had gone to such pains to mutilate, they were designer brands. He wondered how their parents felt about such wanton destruction of expensive clothing. Personally, he thought the look was pretty trashy.
The boy who led the pack was obviously Miles. Blond wavy hair dropped to his shoulders, streaked with the same colors that Ben wore in his. Ryan remembered his father’s comments about having Ben’s pictures all over his room. Crush much? Miles’ neon green eyes were obviously the result of contact lenses, and his expensively perfect teeth were revealed in a smile that stretched from ear to ear. Ignoring the members of the band who were on the stage, he had eyes only for Ben and made a beeline straight toward him.
“Hi Ben, I’m Miles. I’m glad you could come.” He held out one hand to Ben.
“My pleasure.” Ben returned the smile with one of his own.
“I got your CD as soon as it came out, listen to it all the time. You really rock!”
God, could this kid fangirl any more? Ryan shifted his weight from one foot to the other, wishing this Miles would just go away, then reminded himself he needed to be more professional, for Ben’s sake. He needed to get a copy of Salvation’s CD, too. He wondered what stores it was selling in? If nothing else, he could look at Amazon. They had just about everything under the sun there.
“I’m glad you like it,” Ben said. He tossed his head, causing his hair to cascade in a colorful stream. Miles stepped toward him, reaching for his hair, as if he intended to touch it.
Ryan tensed. Teenager or not, he wasn’t about to allow this punk to get so familiar with Ben. But before he could say or do anything, Ben stepped back, away from Miles. “Nice to meet you, Miles. You’ll excuse us, won’t you? We need to finish setting up.” Not waiting for a reply, he reached for Ryan’s hand. Ryan gave it to him without hesitation, and followed him toward the stage. Ryan couldn’t resist taking a quick look behind them. Miles’ friends had crowded around him. Ryan wasn’t sure if they were consoling him or congratulating him on getting as close to Ben as he had. Whatever. He wasn’t going to get any closer. Not if Ryan had anything to say about it.
Ben steered them away from the stage, toward the shadows. There he kissed Ryan softly. “Thank you.”
Thank him? “For what?” Ryan asked, confused.
“Just for being there. And for being you.”
to be continued
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