Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #72 (17.5)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Things are going from bad to worse. First Liza, now Cameron. Just what is going on here? What can Ryan do to prevent disaster from striking, keep Ben safe and happy and away from Liza? See what's going on 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 #72 (17.5)

Ryan was too surprised at the unexpected intrusion to make any reply. He realized with a start that his mouth was hanging open, so quickly closed it.  Not waiting for an answer, Cameron turned toward Marge, smiling broadly.

“Hi there! You must be a friend of Ryan’s. I’m Cameron Pope, a close personal friend of the band.” He held out his hand across the table and Marge shook it.

“Hi Cameron, I’m Marge. I manage the band. Ben’s mentioned you before, nice to put a face to the name.”

“Nice to meet you too. I’ve heard of you, of course.” Cameron released Marge’s hand, turning his attention back to Ryan, who eyed him warily.

“Sorry I’ve been so MIA at the house,” he said. “Just taking care of a little business. You know how that is.”

Ryan was beginning to get the feeling he did indeed know how that was, a niggling suspicion growing in the back of his mind. He knew Ben kept Cameron apprised of their tour dates, Salvation’s comings and goings, out of deference to their host. Things were starting to make sense now

“You told her, didn’t you?” he blurted out. “Told her where we’d be tonight.”

If Cameron was embarrassed at being found out, he didn’t show it in the slightest. “If by her you mean Liza, then yes, yes I did. I bet it was a heartwarming reunion with Ben, sorry I missed it. She misses her son, you know.”

“No, I don’t know,” Ryan said. “How do you even know her?” Seemed a little too coincidental for Ryan’s taste.

Cameron made no immediate reply. He drummed his fingers on the top of the table, looking back and forth between Ryan and Marge.

 Marge seemed to pick up on the tension between them. “I could use another drink,” she announced, slowly getting to her feet. “Anyone want anything?”

Ryan shook his head.

“I’ll take a Long Island Iced Tea,” Cameron spoke up. Marge gave him an enigmatic look before she turned and made her way toward the bar.

“How do you know Liza?” Ryan repeated his question.

“What the hell, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. Not now.” Cameron relaxed into his chair, offering Ryan his usual charming smile. “Actually, I’ve known Liza for some time. “I was a business associate of her husband.”

Dad? Ryan was startled by Cameron’s response. “You knew my father?”

“Your father?” Cameron gave him a puzzled look, then shook his head, holding up one hand as if to deny what he’d said. “Oh no, not him. Her third husband. Ron Lafferty.”

Ryan should have expected that, although it had never occurred to him before that Liza might have remarried after she left his father. He expelled a pent-up breath, in an effort to calm himself. “Is he here with you?”

“Ron? God no, Ron passed some time ago. They weren’t married very long. Ron was a lot older than Liza. In fact, they were married just long enough for her to inherit his fortune. Shortly after the honeymoon it was. Very tragic.”

Cameron’s calm voice sounded far from upset by the supposed tragedy. Ryan wondered why Ben had never mentioned having another stepfather. But in all fairness, he never discussed Liza either.

“It’s all bound to come out anyway so no harm in telling you that the money for Salvation doesn’t actually come from me.” Ryan found Cameron’s slick smile rather disconcerting. As though he was very pleased with himself for what he was revealing. “Liza’s the true angel.”

Damn. Everything was beginning to fall in place now, in a very hideous way.

Liza had managed Ben’s previous band, the one he began with Abby and Aiden. There’d been some kind of falling out or something.  Nobody had been particularly forthcoming as to what happened. Or maybe Ben had just asserted his independence and Liza didn’t like it. Either way, he broke ties with her, formed a new band, and had nothing further to do with her. Then, just when he needed help the most, along came an investor/angel, in the form of Cameron, who not only helped Salvation book a tour, but got them a recording contract. How awesome was that?

Except as it turned out, Cameron was just Liza’s stooge. It was her money that funded Salvation, not Cameron’s. She’d been hiding behind Cameron every step of the way, always just out of sight. She probably knew everything they did, everywhere they played. How much money they made and how they spent it But she’d kept her distance, until now… so, what had changed to bring her out from the shadows?

He knew the answer without thinking about it too hard. It was him, of course. His being back in Ben’s life had triggered her unexpected appearance, when she’d been content to stay in the background until now. But why? Was she really having such a hard time cutting the umbilical cord? Admitting Ben was a grown man, capable of making it on his own, without her help?

But he’d been receiving her help, hadn’t he? He just hadn’t known he was. Ryan felt a headache coming on. Whatever was going on, he knew it wasn’t good.

“So what does she want?” He worked at focusing on the current situation. He’d tackle the past later. What he wanted to know was why was she here?

“She didn’t tell me,” Cameron admitted. “She seemed content to let Ben go his own way, at least in the beginning. Said he’d come back to her eventually. But then…” He paused, looked at Ryan as if really considering the question.

“But then what?” Ryan prompted, although he was pretty sure what Cameron would say.

“Then your cute little ass came along, and when I told Liza about the writer they hired, and who you were, and what you are to Ben.” He shrugged. “To be honest, Ryan, I think she wants you out. And as far from Ben as possible.”

to be continued

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