What should have been a great evening is turning into the night from Hell for Ryan and Ben, what with the sudden appearance of both Cameron and Liza. Cameron tells Ryan that Liza wants him out of Ben's life, and offers to take Ben's place. Ryan is beside himself with anxiety. Can the situation get any worse? 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 #74 (18.1)
Salvation didn’t stop playing until after three in the morning. Ryan couldn’t remember another night that had felt so long, other than the nights he spent alone when Ben disappeared from his life. Ryan helped the band break down their equipment and return it to the van. He noticed Ben seemed rather subdued, despite the small smiles he sent Ryan’s way. Or the occasional kisses when they passed each other as they worked. But something was wrong, Ryan knew it, and the feeling of impending doom he’d been experiencing before only grew stronger.
The drive back to the motel was a silent one. Abby was slumped in the front seat, her head on Aiden’s shoulder, while Ben and Ryan sat together in back, hands clasped tightly. They’d told Marge good night at her car and she’d said she’d text them about breakfast the next day before she went back home to her partner. Ryan was sure it wouldn’t be an early meal, not with it being as late as it was.
Back at the motel, Aiden parked by their rooms and everyone got out. He held a sleepy Abby around the waist, and was yawning rather widely himself. “I was going to ask where we go next”—he yawned again—“but right now I don’t give a shit.” He handed Ben the keys to Cameron’s car. “Seeya tomorrow guys.”
“G’night,” Ryan replied to their retreating backs. He knew just where Aiden was coming from, being more than tired himself. Ben remained silent.
“Let’s go to bed, okay?” Ryan asked. He noticed the key to their room in Ben’s hand and gently took it from him, replacing it with his hand.
“Good idea,” Ben replied. Ryan thought his voice sounded odd, but not in a sleepy kind of way, yet he couldn’t quite put his finger on what he thought he heard.
As they approached their motel room, Ryan was surprised to find it lit, the curtains drawn. Normally, they didn’t bother to leave the lights on when they left. Maybe the maid had done it when she cleaned their room. Since Ben made no comment, he decided that was what it was, nothing to worry about. At least not until he pushed open the door and let Ben enter first.
There, seated in one of the motel’s chairs and obviously waiting for them was none other than Liza. She seemed less than happy—what else was new?—and sat poised, purse on her lap, as if ready to spring up at any moment.
“What are you doing here?” Ryan automatically took up a stand in front of Ben, who’d frozen in place, just inside the room.
“Ben knows,” she replied sharply. “Don’t you, Ben, darling?”
Ryan felt Ben flinch behind him, which only made him angrier. “How did you even get in here?” he demanded to know.
“By the truth, of course. I told them I’m Ben’s mother, and it was an emergency.” She rose from the chair as she spoke. “Ben and I have unfinished business, so if you’ll excuse us, your presence isn’t needed, Ryan. Why don’t you just go to the airport, take the next flight back to Loserville? I mean St. Louis?”
“Get out of here,” Ryan said, working to control his anger. He didn’t want to hurt Ben, he just wanted her out. “Ben doesn’t have anything to say to you, do you, Ben?” He half-turned so that he was still between them but he could see Ben’s face. He was frightened at what he saw. Ben’s beautiful eyes were almost lifeless, despite having removed the contacts already. He was licking his lips nervously.
“I have other truths, shall I tell Ryan what they are?” Liza goaded her son mercilessly. “He needs to know the truth about us so he can give up his foolish ideas of happily ever after he seems so hung up on. He needs to learn that reality is not fiction, no matter what he wrote in that horrible book of his. Those are fantasies, this is real. Do you want to tell him, or should I?”
Ryan focused on Ben, trying to keep him calm. He squeezed his hand reassuringly. “Don’t pay any attention to her. I don’t care what she thinks or what she does. I’ll call the police and have her thrown out. She has no right to be here. This is our room, yours and mine.”
To his dismay, Ben’s eyes widened and he began to tremble. When Ryan tried to pull him into his arms, to calm him, he pulled back suddenly. “I…I… please… don’t hate me, Ryan… please.” He turned abruptly and bolted out the door.
Ryan stood there in shock. Where was he going? What was happening here? Maybe he just needed to take a quick walk, to clear his head. But somehow Ryan didn’t think that was the case. Too late, he remembered that Ben had just received the keys to the car from Aiden. He hurried out into the parking lot, but he was too late. Ben was already tearing away, driving much too quickly. He reached the street, brakes squealing, and then disappeared into the darkness.
Frustrated, Ryan turned toward Liza. She didn’t seem upset. On the contrary, she seemed rather pleased with herself, like the cat who swallowed the canary. “What have you done to him?” Ryan asked. “Why are you doing this to him? What kind of mother are you?”
“The kind you wouldn’t understand.” She slithered across the room toward him, but he stood his ground. He wasn’t afraid of her. “Believe me when I tell you he’s mine. He was in my bed before he was in yours and he’ll come back to me. He always do.”
Ryan watched in disbelief as she marched out the door without a backward glance, her words echoing in his ears, just before he managed to collapse in the chair she’d vacated, tears of shock streaming down his cheeks.
to be continued
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