First encounter with Salvation's angel/backer, and Ryan isn't sure what to think. Everything is overwhelming right now. It's been quite a day, hasn't it? The action continues 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 #18 (6.2)
Ben didn’t say anything as they trudged across the yard, so Ryan didn’t break the silence. He couldn’t read Ben’s mood, and he didn’t want to say anything potentially upsetting. This day already contained too many ups and downs for his liking, and he wasn’t sure where he stood, to be honest. But that’s what life was about, wasn’t it? Wasn’t this what he wanted, to actually live? To do more than exist? To become the writer he was sure he could be? Then he’d have to accept that not everything would be pleasant. Life wasn’t all about rainbows and unicorns and happiness, the bad happened too and you learned to deal with it.
Wow, how intense was that?
At least he was with Ben again, and that’s what really mattered. The rest could be handled.
By the time they joined the rest of the band, they were clustered around Cameron in the sitting area. Cameron sat at one end of the couch, while Deacon and Keanu perched on ottomans. Aiden and Abby sat together on the love seat directly across from everyone else. Ben waved Ryan toward the open end of the couch, and took the space between him and Cameron, almost protectively. Ryan couldn’t help but remember how he had been the one to look out for Ben when they were younger. He felt a warm glow inside knowing Ben was there for him now, even if he wasn’t quite sure why he seemed intent on guarding him from his investor. He was probably reading into things. Writer’s imagination, right?
Cameron was in the middle of telling a story, and since Ryan had missed the whole beginning and had no frame of reference for what he was talking about, he used the moment to surreptitiously observe the members of the band. These weren’t characters he was creating, these were real people, and the more he got to know and understand them the better.
Both Keanu and Deacon were listening attentively, laughing at appropriate moments. Whatever tension had existed before between Keanu and Ben had apparently dissipated— he seemed as relaxed as his boyfriend. Ryan shifted his attention to the loveseat, where the twins sat. He noticed that Aiden sat slightly forward, almost on the edge of the seat, as if ready to spring up at any moment, and Abby’s hand lay in his. Abby seemed to be watching Cameron, but not in the same way the others did, although why he thought so, Ryan wasn’t sure. Maybe it was the pensive expression he saw play across her features. Or the way she had backed herself into the corner of the loveseat.
Abby turned her head toward him in that second, and their eyes met. Was that annoyance he saw there? Or something a lot stronger? She glanced away from him, toward her brother, and he began to doubt he’d seen anything at all. She was probably just anxious to get back to rehearsal. That must be it.
“Well, Ben, it’s about to happen, isn’t it?” Cameron relaxed back into the couch and crossed his legs.
“Your first gig is what… Thursday, right? Thibodaux?”
“That’s just a private party,” Ben replied. “First real stop is in Houma, an underground club.”
“Underground club? Sounds kinky.” Keanu laughed.
“Party? What kind of party?” Aiden asked. “I didn’t think we were doing those anymore.”
Ryan felt Ben tense up beside him, but before he had a chance to react, Ben had already relaxed, facing Aiden with a confident smile.
“It’s a birthday party, that’s all. The birthday boy’s a huge fan of ours, apparently. How could I say no?”
Aiden and Abby exchanged looks, but Ryan had no idea what they were thinking. Keanu was still smiling, and Deacon seemed his usual laid-back self. Ryan knew they’d been playing together, at least for a little while, maybe in private venues. Why would this be a problem all of a sudden? They’d have to do all kinds of jobs, wouldn’t they, until they were noticed and made the big time? They were a unique act, and they were very talented. If it was him, he’d do everything in his power to get the band’s name and music out there. Everyone had to start somewhere.
“Besides, these are the same kids who’ll be screaming to get tickets for Houma,” Ben finished.
“Consider it advance publicity. At least for now.”
“Marge knows what she’s doing. I trust her,” Deacon said, giving Ben a lazy thumbs up. Oh yeah, that was the manager’s name. Marge. She’d seemed very nice when he’d spoken with her on the phone. Ryan thought Ben would appreciate the vote of confidence, and that would be the end of the matter. When Ben didn’t reply immediately, he shot him a quick look. Something in Ben’s expression told Ryan Ben was holding something back. What that might be, though, he had no clue.
“Marge is great,” he said at last. He squeezed Ryan’s hand before rising from the couch.
“So,” he said, “let’s go over our sets. I’m thinking of making a couple of changes.”
“Well, boys, that’s my cue to go.” Cameron laughed. “I have a little business to take care of, but I’ll be back for dinner. Let’s take Ryan someplace nice for his first night, whaddya say?”
The general consensus seemed to be that was a good idea. At least no one argued against it. Cameron approached Ryan, who quickly stood and grasped the older man’s outstretched hand. “Good to meet you, Ryan,” he said. “Welcome to Salvation.” He left with a backward wave for the band, letting in a momentary glimpse of Louisiana sunshine on his way out.
“Okay then,” Ben said. “Let’s get to it. Ryan, how about for now maybe just take down your impressions of the music and stuff? You can quiz us all later about more personal information.” He gave Ryan a quick wink, as the band headed back to the stage.
to be continued
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