Ryan's first encounter with Abby's boyfriend isn't exactly stellar. Wonder what Ben would think if he knew? 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've been up to! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #45 (11.4)
Ryan kept a wary eye on Brandon as he moved about, taking photos of the band and the crowd. Once he decided he had enough, he found a place to stand near the stage, one with a great view of Ben. Watching Ben, he was struck by how easily he tamed his audience—they were virtually eating out of his hand, openly adoring him and the band. Ben had an onstage persona that just wouldn’t quit. Despite the fact that he was dressed like a priest, he exuded an undeniable sexiness. Fans cried out his name, swaying or rocking to the beat of the music.
Ben must have been keeping an eye on Ryan as well. Ryan was rewarded between numbers with Ben’s blinding smile, accompanied by air kisses. Ryan felt as giddy and excited as a teenager in the throes of his first love. Why not? Ben was his first love… and would be his last. Ryan was sure of that.
After about two hours or so, Ben told the audience they were taking a break, but they’d be back. As everyone cheered them from the stage, Ben made a beeline toward Ryan, crushing their lips together intensely. Conversation not needed.
Eventually they did have to come up for air.
“What did you think?” Ben asked, and Ryan understood he meant the music, not the kiss.
“You were all amazing,” Ryan said sincerely. “But especially you. I’ve always loved your voice, but you totally blow me away.”
Ben’s smile grew even wider. “You flatter me,” he protested, “but I’m glad you think so.” He took Ryan’s hand in his and squeezed it. Just then, Aiden joined them. He seemed less than impressed by something, a scowl marring his handsome face. He said nothing immediately, as if lost in thought. After a moment, he raised his eyes to them, as if noticing them for the first time.
“Am I interrupting something?”
“No, we’re cool,” Ben replied, and Ryan echoed his sentiment. “What’s up?”
Aiden’s scowl deepened. “Lover boy’s here. Hip hip hooray.” Aiden’s last words were spoken with definite sarcasm.
“How’s Abby feel about that?” Ben glanced around them. Ryan couldn’t see the happy couple anywhere. Maybe she’d taken him outside for privacy.
Aiden shrugged. “I don’t know, she blows hot and cold about that guy. Personally, I don’t trust him.”
“Probably with good reason.” Ryan spoke up without thinking. Ben turned inquisitive eyes to him.
“I ran into him when I was shooting photos,” Ryan explained. “Literally. I might be reading into it, but I got the impression he was hitting on me. Even after I told him who I was.” He felt Ben grip his hand tightly.
“Guess I’m going to have to set him straight,” Ben said. “I’d hate to have to deck him.” His tone belied his words.
“I’ll be glad to do it for you,” Aiden offered, producing a small laugh from both Ben and Ryan.
“Not while we’re working,” Ben said. “I don’t care what you do to him on your own time, though I’d check with Abby first. I don’t want to see her get hurt.”
“And neither do I,” Aiden quickly replied. “You know she means everything to me. She’s been through too much as it is, she shouldn’t have to deal with a dick boyfriend too.”
“Maybe she’ll get tired of his shit and break up with him?” Ryan suggested.
“One can only hope.” Aiden sounded weary. “I think I’m going to get a drink, you guys want anything?”
“If they have Guinness on tap, I’d like that,” Ben said.
“Sounds good to me,” Ryan agreed.
“I see a table over in the corner.” Ben pointed toward an area near the back door. “Meet you there?”
Aiden turned toward the bar as Ben led Ryan between the tables, keeping a tight grip on his hand, until they reached the small four-top he’d indicated. He held a chair out for Ryan to sit, then moved another one next to it, so close their legs touched when he sat. He put a possessive arm about Ryan’s shoulders. They sat together in companionable silence, listening to the music that streamed over the speakers, mostly classic rock. Ryan pushed thoughts of Abby and Brandon away, focusing on the man he loved instead. His head was snuggled against Ben’s chest. He could feel the steady rise and fall, a comforting sensation. Ben kissed the top of his head gently.
Suddenly Ryan felt the table vibrate. That was fast. He hadn’t expected Aiden to return so quickly with their beers, not with the line he’d seen at the bar. Maybe someone had extended special privileges to him for being part of the band.
“What a lovely couple.” The voice was definitely not Aiden’s. He felt Ben stiffen beneath him and turned to find they’d been joined by none other than Brandon. He saw no sign of Abby or Aiden. “How long has this been going on, Ben, you lucky dog you?”
“As you can see, Ryan’s taken,” Ben gritted out without bothering to answer the question. “So I’ll thank you to not hit on him, now or ever.”
“Ben, you’re being paranoid. Why would I go after your pretty boy when I have a lovely lady of my own?” He slid into a chair opposite them, not waiting to be asked. “I’m happy for you, sincerely happy. I was beginning to think you’d never find someone to love and here you’ve gone and proven me wrong. Kudos to you for that.”
The tension between the two men was so palpable Ryan could have cut it with a knife. He was beginning to dislike this Brandon even more than before, especially seeing the effect he was having on Ben.
“Maybe we can move to another table,” Ryan suggested. “One a little more private.”
He felt Ben relax slightly at his words. Brandon, on the other hand, seemed more amused than anything.
to be continued
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