Ryan isn't sure what's going on, but he's going along... for now. He's happy just to be with Ben again, as he continues the house tour. They end up upstairs, where Ben apprises him of the sleeping arrangements. Is anyone really surprised? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to check out the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!
In Pieces #12 (4.4)
If the living room was the naughty pleasure room, then the family room was the comfort room. Plump pillows were scattered invitingly across the floor. Ryan could just imagine the members of the band ignoring the more conventional armchair and sofa in order to lounge on the floor, sprawling over the pillows and doing whatever they did to relax between gigs. A large screen TV hung on one wall, inbetween a built-in bookcase and a well-stocked bar. Ryan could see himself writing in this room. If it wasn’t too noisy, that is. Opening from the family room was a breakfast area and then the kitchen. Ryan half expected to see a housekeeper or cook lurking there, but no such person was in sight. Maybe the band fended for themselves? Or maybe she existed but she was in another part of the house right now.
She or he. Ryan reminded himself not to be sexist. No reason a housekeeper couldn’t be a man, was there? “Where to now?”
“I’d like to take you upstairs before we go out back and join the others,” Ben said. “You can see the veranda then. C’mon, this way.”
“I’m sorry for throwing you off your schedule,” Ryan apologized as Ben led him through a doorway, back into the foyer, and up the staircase he’d seen when they first arrived.
“Don’t pay attention to Keanu,” Ben said. “He gets dramatic sometimes. He also gets over it. We’re fine.” He shot Ryan a reassuring smile. “There are only four bedrooms, by the way, so everyone’s doubling up. Except Cameron, since it’s his house.”
It had never occurred to Ryan that he might end up with a roommate. He hadn’t shared a room since he was a kid, and they’d put Ben into his room. He’d hated that… at first. “That brings back old times.” He laughed, maybe a little nervously. Ben didn’t laugh in return. Maybe he was remembering Ryan’s initial reaction to his arrival. How he wished he could take back the actions of his younger, more stupid self.
“Cameron’s room’s there”—Ben waved toward a closed door—“It’s the master bedroom, has its own bath and everything. “Down there”—Ben gestured along the hall to a room at the far end—“is where Aiden and Abby sleep. They have their own bath. We decided that would be best, give Abby a little privacy. Cam said she can use his room when he’s not around.”
“That’s generous of him,” Ryan commented.
“Yeah, he’s like that.” For a moment, Ryan thought he was going to add something else, but he didn’t.
Ben pushed open a door across the hall from the master bedroom. “This is where Keanu and Deacon sleep. This room shares a bath, right through here.” He led Ryan across the room to a small hallway. “Extra towels over there, and bath here, on the other side. Shower in tub. Only one mirror, I’m afraid. And here”—he opened a door at the end of the hall—“is the fourth bedroom.”
Ryan entered the room, just behind Ben. Two twin beds, two dressers, and two windows overlooking the back of the house. On one bed sat his suitcase. This must be his assigned space. If so, that meant… He glanced at the other bed, and then at Ben. “Does this mean…. Are you and I…?”
“Roommates? Yes. At least while we’re staying here. I hope it’s not a problem. I mean, Deacon and Keanu are a couple, so of course I gave them their own room. And I didn’t think we should put Abby with anyone but her brother. I hope you don’t mind?”
“Mind? Of course not,” Ryan assured him. What he was saying made sense. Not like they hadn’t done it before.
“I left you half the closet,” Ben said. “But we each have a dresser. You can put your toiletries in the bathroom. There’s plenty of room, at least right now, although it remains to be seen how that’ll work on show nights if we all try to put on our make-up at the same time.” He winked at Ryan, who couldn’t help but laugh.
“Don’t worry, I don’t wear any,” he said. “I’ll leave it to you guys.”
He glanced around the bedroom. It wasn’t quite as large as the first room they’d gone through, but not by much. The wallpaper was the same small floral pattern interspersed with stripes which seemed to be repeated all throughout the second floor. Everything seemed to be well taken care of. A comfortable enough room for whatever time they would spend here.
Ben had already set a few items on his dresser, including a couple of worn-looking paperbacks. Ryan frowned. Those covers looked familiar. Maybe something he’d read before? He stepped toward the dresser, focused on the books, then stopped in surprise. No wonder he recognized them. They were his books. What in the world was Ben doing with those?
Ryan’s eyes widened as the full import of what he was seeing struck him. Ben knew about Brothers. If the book’s appearance was any indicator, he’d read it, too—more than once. He should have realized Ben knew about his books. He hired him in his capacity as an author, right? He just hadn’t expected him to own a copy of any of them. Especially not the one that had proven to be the most controversial. The one that had all but ruined his career.
“Maybe you can sign it for me,” Ben said softly. He’d come up behind Ryan, who’d been too focused on the books to note. He rested his chin on Ryan’s shoulder and gave a small sigh.
“I’ve been so lost without you, Ryan. I was afraid I’d never see you again. I found your book, and I knew you felt the same way too. I knew we’d end up together again, somehow.” He tilted his face toward Ryan, blue eyes glittering. “Forever, this time,” he whispered.
to be continued
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