Ryan is finally meeting the rest of the band, Salvation, but he hasn't really had a chance to put his thoughts into any semblance of order. It's hard to think when Ben is around. Especially after finding out Ben read his novel. See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #14 (5.2)
“It’s about time,” Keanu muttered.
Ryan shot an anxious glance at Ben, afraid of what his reaction might be. He braced himself for another show of dominance, or at the very least a scathing retort. But Ben ignored Keanu’s words entirely. His good humor seemed to have been completely restored. Keanu’s boyfriend spoke instead.
“Come on, you. Quit grumbling and show our author what magic you can make on the keyboard.” Deacon pulled Keanu into a brief hug, gently stroked his hair. As Ryan watched, Keanu’s face visibly relaxed, his scowl disappearing. They clung together for a moment, before heading up on the stage. Abby and Aiden were already in place.
“I want you to hear what we sound like before our concert,” Ben said. “Give you a taste of who we are. How familiar are you with church metal?”
“I never heard of it before I got the job offer,” Ryan said honestly. “I’ve always loved music, you know, I’m just not in touch with what’s in anymore. I don’t claim to be a music expert, by any means, but I go to concerts whenever I can. Mostly local bands. The tickets tend to be cheaper.”
Ben snorted. “Yeah, don’t I know it. We’re not exactly in a position to pull down the big bucks ourselves. But hey, you do what you can, right? Until you make it to the big time, anyway.” As they approached the stage, Ryan wasn’t sure where he should stand. He waited for some kind of sign from Ben.
“Big time, yeah,” Aiden echoed. He stood near the front of the stage, electric guitar hanging before his shoulder, held up by a wide strap covered in what looked like death heads. “Actual concert venues and stuff. People just dying to scalp your tickets for hundreds of dollars over face price. Then you know you’ve arrived.”
Ryan hated people who bought tickets only to force the price up to ridiculous levels. Wasn’t that illegal? It certainly went against the spirit of concert-going. Those people were only in it for the money, they had no appreciation for the music. They didn’t care how hard it was for some people to afford to go at all, much less at such inflated prices. But he held his tongue. He didn’t think the band would appreciate his point of view, and he didn’t want to risk antagonizing them. He just wanted to hold on to this job for as long as he could. He’d worry about what next when the time came.
“You think we’ll play the Hollywood Bowl someday?” Keanu teased. He looked up from his keyboard, where he’d been throwing switches and running his fingers across the keys.
“You know it. And the Greek,” Ben said. “And don’t forget Vegas. We’ll be playing Caesar’s Palace and the MGM too, right up there with people like David Copperfield and Penn and Teller . You’ll see.” He winked at Ryan. “And, of course, the Fabulous Fox.”
The Fox Theater in St. Louis. Memories flooded Ryan’s brain at the mere mention of the venue. Ryan had taken Ben there, just a couple of months before his mother took him away. He couldn't even remember what group it was they’d gone to see. What stuck out most in his mind was how excited Ben was, and how eager to see everything. They’d walked upstairs and down, took in the view from the balcony that overlooked the lobby, rode the old-fashioned elevator with its actual operator—neither one of them had ever seen such a thing before, accustomed as they were to the push-button self-serve kind. The interior of the Fox was as fabulous as its name, all red and gold, plush and elegant, filled with amazing architecture, statuary, and the hugest chandelier Ryan had ever seen, which hung high above the orchestra section.
That had been a special night—in more ways than one.
Ryan’s thoughts were interrupted when Ben squeezed his hand. “I won’t even ask you what you were thinking of,” he said, dropping his voice to a level intended for Ryan’s ears only. “I already know.”
Ryan felt his cheeks warm. Ben squeezed his hand again before dropping it. “Stand as close or as far as you like, it’s up to you,” he said in a more normal tone, turning and taking his place on stage. Ryan decided to stand closer than not. Center stage. Right in front of Ben. He didn’t want to be any farther away than he could help. Not until he got used to the idea that Ben wasn’t going to disappear again. And maybe not even then. Though he wasn’t about to admit it, either. Who was he kidding? He’d never been able to pull anything over on Ben.
His choice of location produced a smile from Ben. When Ben smiled like that, Ryan knew he would do anything for him. That smile alone made everything worthwhile. Even if the music ended up blasting his eardrums at such close proximity, he’d survive. Hell, he’d been to heavy metal concerts so loud that the bass reverberated through his whole body, and he’d lived through that. Whatever this church metal was, he was sure he could handle it.
“All right, guys,” Ben was saying to his band. “Glorioso.”
Ryan braced himself for something loud, maybe even abrasive. But when Ben began to sing, a single low note, it took his breath away.
to be continued
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