Ben and Ryan find an unpleasant reminder of Liza in their motel room, but Ryan deals with the situation. Will they always have to be looking over their shoulders for her? What will it take for her to leave Ben alone? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #81 (19.4)
“I’ll take care of that,” Ryan said. He moved past Ben and snatched up the offending bouquet. “Be right back.” Leaving the motel room, he hurried across the parking lot to the huge dumpster that serviced the motel, lifted the lid and tossed the flowers inside. Then he hastened back to the room. Ben sat on the edge of their bed. He looked up at Ryan’s entrance.
“How do you think she found us here?” he asked.
Good question. Ryan took a seat beside Ben, taking his hand and twining their fingers together. Then the answer dawned on him. “Cameron,” he said. “He has a copy of our itinerary, doesn’t he?”
“Oh yeah, I guess he does.” Ben sounded disconsolate. “Well, at least for the next couple of weeks. Marge doesn’t give them out too far in advance.”
“I’m glad to hear that. We’ll just have to let her know that Cameron’s out of the loop from now on,” Ryan said in a firm voice. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t figure that out for herself. She’s pretty sharp, from what I’ve seen.”
“Yeah, she is. She’s great,” Ben agreed. He leaned against Ryan, and they sat together in silence until it was time to get ready for the show.
The engagement in Lafayette went well. The fans were very enthusiastic and showed their appreciation of the music by buying a good number of CDs. Even better, neither Liza nor Cameron was anywhere to be seen, to everyone’s relief. Still, Ryan was worried about Ben. Even though he performed as well as ever, and gave his audience all he had, he knew that inside Ben was hurting. He wished he could do something to take away his pain.
After Lafayette they traveled to Baton Rouge and spent two nights at a small concert venue. They sold out the rest of their CDs, plus some others Marge had sent ahead of them. The concerts were very successful. During one of the band’s breaks, they met a music blogger who was planning to write about them and promised to send them a link to his story as well as a music critic for a local newspaper. Ryan had no doubt that Salvation was on its way to stardom.
He kept in touch with Cassie all week, keeping her informed as to what was going on. She was a sympathetic listener. It felt good to talk to her. She made him promise that he’d call once they reached Mandeville, and he swore he would.
Saturday morning they checked out of their latest motel. There had been nothing else from Liza after the first flowers, but Ben was still ill at ease every time they entered their room, as if fearful she had sent something else, or had come herself. Luckily that never happened. Baton Rouge was located less than an hour and a half fromMandeville, so the trip to Cameron’s house didn’t take very long. When they pulled up in front of the house, there was no sign of Cameron’s truck. Ryan hoped that was a good thing and maybe the man was keeping his distance.
Everyone collected their belongings from their bedrooms and then gathered in the living room for a brief band meeting. The group was dispersing for the week. Keanu and Deacon were heading home to San Francisco to visit Keanu’s family, and Aiden and Abby were meeting friends in Atlanta.
“I’ll be in touch,” Ben promised. “I’ll let you know what’s going on, where we’ll be going and where we’ll be staying and stuff. Have a great time.”
Ben and Ryan hugged everyone good-bye as they went their separate ways, until they were alone in the house.
“I don’t know what we’ll do,” Ben confessed. “I haven’t come up with any ideas since I decided we wouldn’t be staying here.”
At that moment, Ryan’s phone rang. He’d texted Cassie on the road and she had told him she’d call back soon. Sure enough, it was her.
“Hey,” he answered the phone.
“Hey yourself,” she responded. “You back in Mandeville yet?”
“Yeah.” He mouthed Cassie’s name to Ben and he nodded. “We’ve already packed up and said good-bye to the others and all that.”
“And you still have no plans, right?”
“Right,” Ryan replied. “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”
“You don’t have to,” Cassie said mysteriously. “I already did.”
“What are you talking about?” Ryan asked, puzzled. He glanced at Ben, who was giving him a quizzical look.
“Now, don’t be mad, but I told you I was planning a little surprise for you. I got you two tickets on a flight leaving for St. Louis in about three hours.”
“You did? But why?”
“I think you two need some time away from the road, and I’d love to have you stay with me on your break. I miss you and I want to get to know Ben.” A moment of silence fell between them. “I hope… I mean, I didn’t do something wrong, did I?”
“Wrong?” Ryan quickly said, his heart filling at her words. “God, you’re wonderful, Cassie. I love you. And I know Ben will too. Text me the details, okay?”
Ryan heard relief in Cassie’s voice. “Can’t wait to see you. I’ll pick you up at Lambert, okay?”
“We can Uber,” he started to say, but Cassie interrupted.
“I’ll pick you up, okay?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Ryan couldn’t help but smile as he hung up and turned toward the bewildered Ben. “Looks like we’re going to St. Louis to visit Cassie. Is that cool with you?”
to be continued
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