California Highway

All Rights Reserved ©

Performance of a Lifetime

The following morning Tyler wakes up, expecting to see Jade lying next to him. She is not there. “JADE!?!” Tyler yells. There is no answer.

Tyler gets out of bed and walks through the suite looking for her. She is nowhere to be seen. He looks for a note, or something, anything, explaining where she might be – he finds nothing.

Tyler decides to hurry and get dressed and then go look for her. He thinks Chad may be downstairs with the limo and able to give him some information. As Tyler is getting dressed, his mind starts to wander, and he thinks about the night before. Did he say or do something that Jade did not like? As Tyler is putting his shoes on, the door opens to the suite. It is Jade walking in. She is holding a bag of groceries. “You’re awake!” Jade says. “I thought I do a little shopping so I can make you breakfast this morning. Is that okay?”

Tyler was relieved that she had returned. He stands up and walks over to her. “Breakfast, huh? Of course.” He starts to help unpack the grocery bag.

Jade stops Tyler for a moment. She faces him and holds both of his hands, gives him a slow kiss on the lips and a smile that said how she felt. She thought it would provide him with a proper morning hello. They return to unpacking the rest of the groceries.

Jade starts to talk, “Tonight’s your big night. Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” Tyler responded. “I’m a little nervous. This will be the largest crowd I’ve ever performed in front of.”

“I’m sure you’ll do fine,” Jade said. “Maybe later I can help settle your nerves.” She gives Tyler a seductive smile.

“It’s not just that,” Tyler continued, “I’m also thinking about afterward. I know all this could go away after the show.”

Jade starts to slice up some vegetables, prepping them for breakfast. “Let’s not think of that yet. After the show, we can discuss your future. The important thing, right now, is you put on the performance of your life. You do that, and you will have this lifestyle for the rest of your career.”

Tyler sits down at the kitchen counter. “Can I ask you something, Jade?”

“Of course,” Jade continues to cook.

“Does Bob treat all of his new potential clients like this?”

Jade smiles and looks at Tyler. “No. In fact, in my five years working for him, you are only the second one that I know of that has gotten this type of treatment.”

“Really?” Tyler is surprised.

“Yeah. He must see something in you to make him know you’re going to be successful.” Jade continues to cook.

“Can I ask who the other person was?” Tyler was curious.

“Have you heard of Frank Trivolli?” Jade responds.

“Yeah. Only the biggest name in Vegas. He sells out every show he’s ever done.” Tyler was in awe. “That’s the other guy?”

Jade laughs, “No,” Jade puts a plate with an omelet and fresh-cut fruit in front of Tyler. “but it was someone just like him.” Jade starts to laugh. “Just kidding. Yeah, it was Frank.”

“Wow,” Tyler said as he ate his breakfast. “I had no idea.”

Jade continues, “The important thing to remember is Bob believes in you. And if he believes in you, you should believe in yourself. Because the only thing that will prevent you from being a star is you.”

“The omelet is great. Thanks for making breakfast this morning.” Tyler could not stop eating. It was his first home-cooked meal in over a week. Tyler continued the conversation, “So, can I get your opinion of me?”

Jade practically chokes on her food.

Tyler clarifies, “As a musician. I think you made it clear what you thought about me on other things.” Tyler smiles as he continues to eat.

Jade smiles, “Well, I’ve only seen your Santa Cruz performance. It’s the video that Bob had sent to me. I will admit that out of all the performers’ videos Bob gets through the year, I would put you in the top five percent. You’re that good. And that’s why I’m looking forward to tonight.”

“Wow,” Tyler said, “I had no idea I was that good.” Tyler almost felt embarrassed. “Speaking of tonight, what’s the plan for today?”

“I’m glad you asked,” Jade said. “You go on at seven. There’s a four o’clock sound check. If you want to meet the rest of the band beforehand, I can arrange a meeting.”

“I think that would be good. Maybe a lunch meeting where we can go over the setlist.” Tyler said.

“Perfect,” Jade replied. “I’ll make that happen.”

Tyler starts to giggle.

Jade looks at him, “What’s so funny?”

Tyler looks at Jade. “I keep forgetting you’re my agent. After yesterday, you are much more than that to me.”

Jade looks at Tyler, “I know. I feel the same way, Tyler. And believe me, you are now much more than a client to me.”

They finish breakfast and start to get things ready. “Tyler,” Jade says, “I’m going to be on the phone for most of the morning. Why don’t you relax, and we’ll plan on leaving around noon?”

“Sounds good,” Tyler responded. He went into the bedroom and grabbed his guitar. It was a beautiful morning, so Tyler went to the balcony to play a few tunes.

* * *

After making her phone calls and taking care of business, Jade retired to the living room and sat on the sofa. Outside, facing away from her, was Tyler on the balcony playing his guitar.

She sat and listened to him play. It was a slow, romantic piece. No words, just the acoustic sounds of his guitar. She closed her eyes and listened. The music filled her soul, and it made her feel so good. Her mind would return back to the day before when she was spending time with Tyler. Every note he played seem to correspond with that day. Tyler’s music was the fitting score to the day they had together.

Tyler finished the song and returned to the suite. He saw Jade sitting on the sofa and joined her. “That was beautiful, Tyler,” Jade said.

“Thanks,” Tyler replied. “It’s a new song I just wrote. I think I’ll call it ‘Jade.’”

Jade smiles. “It reminds me of yesterday. You have a gift to bring out the emotion in a song. That’s awesome.”

Tyler smiles, “That’s funny. I was thinking about yesterday when I wrote it just now. Nice to know we are both on the same wavelength.”

“So, we’re all set for this afternoon,” Jade starts to fill Tyler in. “We’re meeting the band at Flemming’s Steak House at 1 PM. We’ll have a little bit of time before you need to be at the soundcheck at four. Then the show at seven.”

“Wow,” Tyler was impressed by Jade’s organizational skills. He felt comfortable letting her run his life for the time being. “What do we do until one?”

Jade looks at Tyler with seductive eyes. “Are you still feeling nervous?” She asked.

Tyler knew what she wanted. “I am now,” he responded.

They head into the bedroom for some mid-morning lovemaking.

* * *

After having some “fun” in bed and a well-deserved nap, Tyler heads to the shower. Jade hops out of bed and follows him. “Excuse me?” Tyler says, “You know what happens when we shower together? And we have to get ready to go.”

“I promise,” Jade said, “no funny business.” She follows him into the shower.

Jade starts to wash Tyler’s back. “Does that feel good?” she asks.

Tyler closes his eyes and looks up, and starts to moan. Jade moves down his back to his butt and lightly caresses it. Then moves her hand to the front side and grabs his penis. She starts to stroke it ever so gently.

“Tyler,” Jade whispers, “I love your cock. It’s so big and firm.”

“I’m glad we said no funny business,” Tyler said. “Cuz there is nothing funny about this.”

Jade eventually finishes the ‘stress reliever’ for Tyler, and they complete their shower. Tyler exited first and noticed the time. “We’re going to be late.” He yells out.

Jade was still in the shower. “Don’t worry. You’re the star. They can’t do anything without you.”

Tyler realized she was right. There is no reason to hurry when you are the reason for the meeting. Tyler started to relax a bit and went to the closet to figure out what he would wear. “What should I wear?” he yelled at Jade.

Jade was exiting the shower. She approaches Tyler wearing nothing but a towel. “Just wear something casual for now.” she said, “we’re going to come back before your show tonight. You can always change your clothes then.”

That made sense to Tyler. He grabbed a t-shirt and jeans. “What about you? You haven’t been home in a day. Are you wearing the same thing you wore yesterday?”

Jade starts to laugh. She walks over to the closet and opens an armoire. It is full of dresses and other outfits for her. “I had a few things brought over.”

“When did those get here?” Tyler asked, surprisingly. He thought if her clothes were here before they arrived last night, she had already planned to stay the night.

“Does it matter?” Jade said nonchalantly. She walks back to the bathroom to start fixing her hair.

“It does matter,” Tyler replied. “Either those clothes are here all the time, or you had them sent here before we got to the suite yesterday.”

Jade looks at Tyler through the reflection in the mirror. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

Tyler looks back at her. “Because, if you had them delivered, you had planned for last night to happen.” Tyler walks up behind her, still looking at her in the mirror. “And if the clothes are here all the time, then I’m not the only one you’ve spent the night with here.”

Jade turns quickly, “What? What are you saying, Tyler?” Jade was offended by the remarks he was making. He practically called her a whore. “Tyler, what are you insinuating?”

Tyler goes on the defensive. “Nothing. I just want to know why you have clothes here all ready to go and prepared for any situation that comes up.”

Jade’s voice is now getting louder. “Really? Cuz it sounds like you’re calling me a whore!”

Tyler turns and starts walking out. “Well, if the shoe fits…” and storms out, slamming the front door as he leaves.

Jade sits at the end of the bed, furious, and starts to cry. She cannot believe Tyler accused her of that. She thought he was different.

Tyler heads downstairs. His plan was to go to the lounge and drink to cool down a bit. As he was walking through the lobby, Chad approached him. “Car, sir?”

Tyler walked over to Chad. “No, thank you, though. Chad, can I ask you a question?”

“Certainly, sir.”

Tyler is fishing for information. “Does Jade do this kind of stuff a lot?”

Chad was confused. “I’m not quite sure I understand you, sir? Do what?”

Tyler was trying to phrase the question in a way that was not direct. “Well, she had a bunch of her clothes in the closet upstairs…”

“Yes, sir. I delivered them to her this morning, as she asked.” Chad responded.

Tyler’s throat sunk to his stomach. He felt awful. “Ah, crap.” He said, “You delivered the clothes this morning?”

Chad responded, “Yes, sir. She called me around 5 AM to retrieve them for her.”

“Thank you, Chad.” Tyler turned around and hurried back upstairs to the suite.

When he returned, Jade was dressed and putting her shoes on. “I don’t want to talk to you,” she shouted.

Tyler sauntered towards her. “I know. I know. I’m sorry. I had no right to accuse you of anything like that. I’m an ass. I am truly sorry.”

Jade is sitting on a chair in the bedroom. “How could you say things like that.” She starts to cry again. “I thought we had something special.”

Tyler kneels beside her and places his hand on her knee. “We do. And that’s why I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. I hope you can forgive me.”

Jade continues to look down and cry. “I don’t know. When someone you care about calls you a whore, it hurts.”

“I know.” Tyler is trying to talk softly to reassure her. “Like I said, I’m an idiot. I should have never said anything or insinuated anything like that. I’m sorry.”

Tyler tries to ease the mood a bit. “So, you care about me, huh?”

Jade looks at Tyler, mascara running from her eyes. “Tyler, from the first moment I met you, I knew you were someone special. You weren’t like all the other guys—especially my ex. You’re warm, caring, and humble. You are generally a really nice guy. And I don’t care what they say. Nice guys don’t always finish last.”

Tyler stands up and guides Jade to stand in front of him. He moves his head forward and kisses her on the lips. “Jade, you mean a lot to me. I’m the luckiest son of a bitch ever to have met you. And I promise I will do my best to never hurt you again.”

They hug. Jade looks at Tyler, “Let me fix my makeup, and we can get going.”

“Ok.” Tyler let her go. He walked into the living room. He wanted to say to Jade so much more, but he thought it was too early. This relationship was already moving at lightspeed. But he knew if he did not say anything, this weekend would end, and he would be on his way back to Benicia, and she would not know how he really felt about her. Tyler stood at the window looking out over the city with all these thoughts going through his head. His arms were crossed, and you could tell he was in deep thought.

Jade sneaked up behind him. “What are you thinking about?”

“Jade,” Tyler started to talk. But he thought the timing was not right and stopped himself. “Nothing. Never mind. You look great.”

The two of them kiss and start to head to the lobby to catch their car. Jade started the conversation back up in the elevator. “Tyler, you were going to say something back in the suite. What was it?”

“It was nothing, really,” Tyler said. He did not want to open a can of worms on the way to this meeting. For all he knew, he would end up walking home.

Tyler changes the subject. “So, have you worked with these band members before?”

“Oh, yes,” Jade said. “They’re awesome. They told me they had been rehearsing based on your Santa Cruz video and are ready to go. I think you’ll really like them.”

“Cool.” Tyler could not wait to meet them. Based on how the last couple of days have been going, he felt Jade was honest.

They reached the lobby and see Chad waiting for them. He opens the limo door for them to get in. He looks at Tyler and whispers, “Is everyone okay, sir?”

Tyler nodded and got in the car.

“This place we’re going to is normally closed this time of day. But we throw them enough business, they agreed to open for us at lunch. That means we’ll have the head chef and owner preparing lunch. This should be good.”

Jade and Tyler arrive at Flemming’s around 1:15. The rest of the band members have already shown up. They were seated and working on their first beverage.

Jade and Tyler walk in. “There they are,” says one of the band members. “We were hoping you didn’t forget about us.”

“No, no. Not at all. You know me. I always have to check my makeup before leaving.” Jade said.

One of the band members looks at Tyler. “Ah, did her makeup get messed up, mate?”

Tyler laughs. “Hi, I’m Tyler.”

“Tyler, I’m Rodney. A pleasure to meet you.” Rodney’s strong Australian accent gave him away as the jokester of the group.

Jade interrupts. “Let me do the introductions. This is Victoria, we call her Tori. She’s on keyboards and piano. Then we have Michelle, better known as Shell. She’s on bass guitar. You met Rodney, aka Smash. He’s on percussion. And last but not least, Ashton on sax.”

“Everyone, this is Tyler Bishop.” Jade shows off Tyler like he is a prize in a game show.

Tyler makes sure to shake everyone’s hands. “Pleasure to meet all of you,” Tyler says. The waiter shows up. “Jade! How are you? It is so nice to see you again.”

“Thank you. And this is Tyler.” Jade points to Tyler.

“Tyler, welcome. If you need anything, let me know. I take personal care of you.”

“Thanks,” Tyler says. “I’ll start with a gin martini.”

“Of course. Same as Jade. Bombay okay with you?”

“Yes. That’s fine.” Tyler’s drink choice was a subtle way of letting Jade know he is sorry for the fight earlier on. Jade looks at Tyler and smiles. She knows why he ordered that drink.

“Okay. I’ll be back with your drinks and menus in a moment.” The waiter disappears to the back.

Ashton starts the conversation. “So, Tyler. Are you excited about tonight?”

Tyler did not want to show that he was a little nervous, so he talked it through. “Yeah. This should be fun. I understand you guys rehearsed using my Santa Cruz video that was done a few days ago. Any problems or questions?”

Rodney chimes in. “Nah, mate. I think we got it down. Those are some top-notch songs. Are they all original?”

“Yeah,” Tyler responded.

Tori spoke, “I think you’ll like what we did to accompany you. And don’t worry, we do this for a living. We all used to be in bands but came together playing backup for people like you that need it.”

Shell adds, “Yeah. We meet some of the best of the best out there. And it’s fun that we get to jam with them every now and then.”

Rodney speaks up, “Yeah. The song ‘Lost in a Daydream’ though. We decided to turn that into a punk rock song. I hope you don’t mind.”

Tyler looks at Smash, “What?”

Rodney continues. “Just yankin’ your chain, mate. We wouldn’t do that. But the look on your face was priceless.” He starts to laugh.

The waiter shows up with Jade and Tyler’s drinks and some menus for the group. “You just let me know when you are ready to order, and I will be here.”

Tori looks at Rodney, “Smash, be quiet. He doesn’t know your sense of humor yet.”

Rodney replies, “No worries, mate. Just trying to lighten the mood.”

Michelle starts to speak, “So, Tyler, how long have you been playing?”

Tyler thought for a moment. “I’ve been playing the guitar since I was about six. But it’s only been within the last couple of years that I decided to make a profession out of it.”

“That’s cool,” Rodney said.

Jade interrupts. “Tyler just wrote a song this morning right after breakfast. He’s terrific.”

Rodney looks at Tyler again. “So, having a little breakfast with the Jade, huh? You dog.”

Tyler was the only one that heard that comment, and he was glad. The last thing he wanted was people thinking he was fulling around with Jade. Even though he was.

The waiter is summoned to the table, where he takes everyone’s food order. He gathers the menus and leaves.

Jade begins to speak, “So, everyone. The purpose of this meeting is to one, have everyone meet. Which we have. And two, to discuss anything for tonight’s set. I know what Tyler’s needs are,”

Rodney looks at Tyler and whispers, “I bet she does. Huh, mate?’

Jade hears Rodney say something. “Smash, did you have something to say?”

“No, no. That’s okay. Please continue.” Rodney realized he was almost caught saying something he probably should not have said.

“Smash, we’ll start with you. Is there anything you need for tonight?”

“Nah. I think I’m good.” Rodney looks at Tyler, “I have the full set of me drums, plus some bongos and a real nice Tarahumara drum if we want to use it.”

“Cool,” Tyler responded. “Not too many people have a Tarahumara.”

Jade continues. “Okay, Ashton. How about you? Anything you need?”

Ashton starts to think. “Nope. I don’t think so. I’ll be bringing all of my horns. We can go with whatever feels good.”

Jade continues the interviews. “Tori. How about you?”

“I need a comfortable chair.” Tori was notably irritated. “The last gig I did gave me this god-awful piece of wooden crap. I felt like I was pulling splinters out of my ass for three days after that.”

“Okay,” Jade replied, “Comfy chair for Tori.” Jade continued. “Shell? Anything for you?”

“Nope. I’m easy. Just tell me where to stand.” Michelle was laid back and seemed to just go with the flow.

“Okay. So, I’ll make sure there’s a nice chair for Tori.” Jade put a note in her journal. “Now, I’m going to turn it over to Tyler to discuss the setlist.”

Tyler was taken off guard. He knew he would talk about it, but he felt as if he was not prepared. “Oh, okay. Was I supposed to bring something?”

Jade laughs. “No. I’ll take notes and get something printed before soundcheck. Speaking of which, everyone knows soundcheck is at four, right?” Jade was not sure if she had mentioned that to the band. “And what about transportation? Are you guys using the company bus?”

“As always,” Rodney chimed in. “We’re going to do our best to look as professional as possible.”

Tori spoke up, “Yeah. We’re all meeting at HQ at three and heading over. We’ll meet you guys there.”

Tyler speaks up. “I have one more question. How much time are we being given for our set?”

Jade turns to a page in her notepad. “Forty-five minutes. Then there’s a thirty-minute intermission with the headliners going on at 8:30.”

Just then, the waiter showed up with everyone’s food. He passes all the plates around. “Is there anything else I can get for anyone? More drinks?”

Rodney was all for that. He’s the only one that ordered another drink while the group made small talk and ate their meals. When everyone was done, Jade spoke up. “Okay. It’s just after 2:00. Tyler and I are going to take off. We’ll see everyone this afternoon for soundcheck.”

Jade and Tyler made their way to the limo and took off. Jade started the conversation. “So, what did you think of the gang?”

“They all seem nice.” Tyler gave his opinion. “Ashton is a bit quiet compared to the rest of the group. And Rodney, or Smash… oh my god. What a character he is.”

Jade giggled. “Yeah, he definitely has that Aussie spunk. There’s a lot of years of talent in that room this afternoon. You’ll see it during the soundcheck. You’re being grouped with some of the best in the biz.”

Tyler is amazed. “I still can’t believe all of this is happening. It was only a week ago I was sitting in Benicia wondering what I was going to do with my life.”

Jade was curious. “Can I ask what happened to make you take this road trip?”

“I had a bad day. I mean, a horrible day.” Tyler was not sure how much detail he should go into. “I lost my job, then my girlfriend, and then the place I normally play my gigs canceled all of them because of what happened – it was a sucky day.”

“Yeah,” Jade had heard that before. “You’ve told me that. But what exactly happened if you don’t mind me asking?”

Tyler felt it was time to reveal more information. “When I was at work as a bartender at one of the local restaurants, a girl came in. We started to flirt, and she asked me to meet her outside. I did. Then I was immediately arrested for solicitation. When my girlfriend, at the time, found out, she left me. Then the place I played most of my gigs dumped me. And, my boss called and fired me because I never returned to work.”

“Wow. Look at you now. You’re about to play for a huge crowd. You have your own personal agent, who just so happens to be your new girlfriend.” Jade ran her hands through Tyler’s hair.

Tyler looks up and directly at Jade. He did not realize she thought of herself as his girlfriend. Tyler was not sure if he was ready for that. “Girlfriend? Are you my girlfriend?” Tyler’s voice was quiet and in a high tone, trying to sound cute. He leaned over and kissed Jade on the lips.

Jade looks at him. “I hope so. Please don’t tell me you treat all women like you’ve been treating me these last couple of days. I thought I was special.”

“You are special,” Tyler was on the defensive. “And, no, I do not treat all women I meet like I’ve treated you these last few days. In fact, I feel like the special one. You’ve made me feel so good about myself. I feel that you’ve given me a purpose.” Tyler continues, “I actually feel like I’ve found myself over these last few days, and I have you to thank for that.”

Jade smiles. “And I feel like the special one, too.” She feels compelled to let Tyler know more about her past. “You have been so nice to me. Compared to my past relationships, you are so much more than all of them, combined.”

“All of them, huh?” Tyler smiles. “And just how many is that?”

Jade looks at Tyler. “Not as many as you think.” Jade felt it was her turn to share. “My last relationship was the worst. It all started okay. We had met at one of the events the company was promoting. We started dating, and then he accused me of sleeping with my clients. That’s why it hurt so much this morning when you were saying what you did. It brought back old memories.”

Tyler felt bad. “I’m sorry. I should have never said those things.”

Tyler starts to think about the future. “Jade, I don’t mean to change the subject, but what’s going to happen after the show tonight? Does all of this go away? Do I get thrown back into the life I had only a few days ago? What’s going to happen?”

Jade looks at Tyler with a more serious face. He asked what she had been trying to avoid because she had been asking herself the same question all day long. “Well, I guess it depends on what you decide to do, Tyler. If the show goes well tonight, Bob will want to sign you. If it doesn’t go well, all of this will go away.”

Tyler leans back in the chair. “Well, no pressure there.”

Jade leans forward and grabs Tyler’s hand. “I didn’t mean to put any pressure on you or on your performance tonight. That’s kind of how it is, though. These last few days, all of this has been to show you what you can have if you work hard and follow that dream of being a successful singer/songwriter. It’s not meant to tease you, but rather to encourage you to go for it.”

Tyler looks at Jade. “But what about us?”

Jade puts her head on Tyler’s shoulder and holds his hand. “I guess that’s up to you, too.” Jade’s thoughts are now thinking about the future as well. “Good show or bad, I’m here. I don’t come with contingencies. Good show or bad, I will always be here for you, Tyler.”

“But if I go back home to Benicia?” Tyler asked. The worry in his voice was evident.

Jade sits up. “My life is here, Tyler. If you go back to Benicia, you go back to your old life.”

Tyler hears what he thought he would and what he didn’t want to hear. “Again, no pressure.”

“Tyler, can we not think about all this right now.” Jade is desperate to change the mood in the limo. “First of all, your show is going to be awesome. Bob will want to sign you. You’ll go on to be a big success. And, if you want, you will have me by your side.”

Tyler tried to hide his concern. He holds Jade’s hand and gives a hard effort to put a smile on his face. He could not help but think what he would be leaving behind in Benicia just to be a success and to have Jade remain in his life. Tyler felt that his life just got complicated.

They arrived back at the hotel, where the mood had changed to a more somber tone. Tyler was now thinking about the future and what it held. The elevator doors open, and they both enter.

Jade, sensing the mood change, thought she should say something. “Tyler, I hope I didn’t say something I shouldn’t have?”

“No,” Tyler replied, “in fact, you just put everything in perspective for me. Now I just need to think about the future and what I want to do.” The tone in Tyler’s voice was solemn. Jade gave him a lot to think about.

Jade now felt insecure. She knew if Tyler went back to Benicia, she would lose him and probably never see him again, and she was not sure if she was ready for that. She finally found a man that she cared deeply for, and now he could be leaving.

As they exited the elevator and entered the suite, the mood remained subdued. No words were spoken. Tyler walked to the balcony and looked over the cityscape. He knew he wanted nothing more than to have the life he had been exposed to over the last few days. But he also knew he missed his life back in Benicia. To have the life he has now would mean giving up his life back there. Not an easy decision to make.

Jade walks over to Tyler. She was trying to think of something to say, but she could not. She put her arm around him. Tyler responded by putting his arm around her. Now he was reminded of how much he enjoyed Jade’s company. He would have to give up something else if he went back to Benicia, and something else he was not sure if he wanted to give up.

* * *

3:30 arrived quickly, and Tyler and Jade were on the move once again. Tyler grabbed his guitar, and they headed to the elevator. Jade felt compelled to say something. “Tyler, are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Tyler was still in deep thought about the future and did not feel like talking much, but he did feel he owed Jade more information. “You just gave me a lot to think about. I’m fine, though.”

“Are you sure?” Jade felt terrible for saying everything she said. “I didn’t mean to bring your mood down.”

“No, I’m fine.” Tyler decided it was time to live for the moment and not worry about the future yet. “Let’s go to the soundcheck and have some fun. Let’s make sure tonight is an awesome night.”

They get to the awaiting limo, where Chad opens the door for them. They head to the Starlight to do the soundcheck and a brief rehearsal before the show.

When they arrive, Jade recognizes the band’s bus they had picked up at the office. “Looks like the band is here already,” Jade said. “We should be able to start our sound session as soon as we get to the stage.”

As the car pulled backstage, Chad opened the door for Tyler and Jade. They exited. Tyler looked around and could not believe he is about to play at the Starlight amphitheater. “This is incredible,” he said to Jade.

“Come on. I’ll show you the way to the stage.” Jade led Tyler through the busy backstage area where crews were busy moving amps and instruments and getting things ready for the show. Jade sees the stage manager and flags her down. “Barb!” Jade yelled.

Barbara sees Jade and walks over to meet with her. “Hi, Jade.” She gives her a big hug. “We’ve been expecting you. When the band got her a few minutes ago, I knew you would be right behind. This must be the new talent?” Barbara looks at Tyler. “Wow,” Barbara said. She looks at Jade, “Looks like you found a good one.”

“Tyler Bishop.” Tyler puts his hand out to shake Barbara’s hand.

“We give hugs here, Tyler,” Barbara gives him a hug. “I’m sure you’re looking for the stage entrance. Come on. Right over here.” Barbara walks Tyler over to the entrance of the stage. Tyler could see all the other band members were there and already setting up. “I’ll let you set up, and I’ll let Tony know you guys will be ready in a minute.” Barbara turns and walks away, grabbing her walkie-talkie. “Tony, our opener is here. They’ll be ready in a few.”

“Copy that,” came over the talkie.

Tyler walks over and runs into Ashton first. “Hey, Ashton. How’s it going? Is there a place for me to plug in?”

Ashton shows Tyler the amp hookup. “Here you go. We also have a cordless if you want.”

“Thanks,” Tyler takes the plug. “I’ll use this one. I don’t plan on running around on stage.” Tyler takes his guitar out of its case, and he plugs it in. He takes a quick strum. Unbeknownst to him, Tony had already turned on the sound. Tyler’s strum echoed over the entire amphitheater in one large hum. Tyler was in awe of the sound it made, and he turned around to face the seating area. Tyler grew silent as he had never been on a stage in front of that many seats before. He took in the moment. He knew in a few short hours all those seats will be filled, and he would be on stage.

Jade soon appeared in the front row, looking up at Tyler. “How do you feel?” she asked.

“This is awesome,” Tyler replied.

“You look good up there,” Jade said with a smile. “Come on. Let’s hear some tunes,” she yells as she takes a seat.

Tyler walks over to the band. “Okay, you guys. This is it. Let’s just go down the playlist, and let’s see how we sound. Just follow my lead.”

Tyler steps up to the mic that had already been set up for him. He starts to play the first song on the list. The rest of the band joins in. He is amazed at the sound they are generating. Tyler turns and faces the band and smiles to let them know that he loves what he hears.

Tyler then steps back to the mic and starts to sing. He looks down at Jade, who is now wearing a smile from cheek to cheek. She loves what she hears.

Meanwhile, Tony is in the sound room making minor adjustments to the sound to make sure that Tyler and the band sound as impressive as possible.

Tyler and the band go through the playlist performing all the songs scheduled for that night. Sometimes playing the entire piece and sometimes not. After each song, Tyler would huddle with the band to get input and ideas on how to improve during the performance. While doing their soundcheck performance, Tyler noticed that Barbara had joined Jade in the front row seat. He could see them talking to each other and pointing at him. Pretty soon, another body showed up with Jade. Tyler had not met this man yet. In between songs, Jade stopped Tyler and introduced him. He was Kurt Nagel, the House Manager.

“Tyler,” Kurt said. “I understand this is your first time playing here. You sound great.”

“Thanks,” Tyler responded. “It is my first time here. And my first time at a venue this big.”

“Well,” Kurt continued, “based on how you sound, I’m sure this isn’t going to be the largest place you play. And for sure, you won’t be opening for people. They’ll be opening for you.”

“Thanks,” Tyler said. “That means a lot coming from someone like you.”

Tyler turned his attention back to the band, where they played one more song. “Okay, guys,” Tyler got their attention. “This one I just wrote recently. You haven’t heard it. It starts in C. If you want to listen to one or two lines before coming in, that’s fine. I’m not sure if we’ll have time to play it tonight or not.”

Tyler turns to the mic and starts singing a song he called “San Diego.” The band picked up on the melody quickly and joined in. Kurt, who was walking to the back of the amphitheater, stopped in his tracks and turned around to listen. He gave Tyler a thumbs up high in the air and turned back around to continue what he was doing.

Jade was ecstatic. After the song was over, she approached the stage. “Tyler, that song was awesome. The crowd is going to love it.”

An overhead voice comes on, it was Tony, “Dude... Great stuff. Any changes to the sound, or was it all good?”

Tyler looks out to the empty seats. He has no idea where Tony was sitting. He lifted his hand high and gave a thumbs up. “ALL GOOD!” he yelled. Tyler looks down at Jade and motions to her to meet him backstage.

As Tyler was walking backstage, he sees several faces that he recognized. It was all the members of Blue Skylight, the headliner for tonight. They stopped to introduce themselves to Tyler. “Dude, awesome stuff. I can’t wait to hear you tonight.”

“Thanks,” Tyler responded. “Wow,” he thought. “A compliment from them is about as good as it could get right now.”

Jade appears backstage. Tyler and the band are talking about how things went. She interrupts. “You guys sound great together. This is going to be an awesome show.” She looks at Tyler, “Tyler, can I speak with you for a moment?”

Tyler excuses himself from the rest of the group. “Sure, what’s up?” He starts walking with Jade.

“When you were on stage, I received a text message from Bob.” Jade sounded serious. This made Tyler nervous. “Bob said he got a phone call from Kurt, the House Manager.”

Tyler was really nervous now. “Yeah, is there a problem?”

Jade smiles, “No, Kurt wants you to play at another event here next month. Isn’t that great! You haven’t even played your first gig, and you’re already getting scheduled for more.”

Tyler’s eyes got wide. “Really? Wow.” He took a seat on one of the amplifiers. “That’s pretty cool.”

Jade could tell Tyler was thinking about more than just being scheduled. “Yeah, it is pretty cool. So, why am I not sensing you think it is?”

Tyler continues. “It’s just... Things are moving so dang fast. This road trip was supposed to help me find myself. Instead, I’m getting gigs and recognition. I’m getting so much more than I thought I ever would. It’s kind of overwhelming.”

Jade sits next to Tyler. “You’re getting the gigs and the recognition because you deserve it. You’ve worked hard during all those years before getting here so you can be in a position like this. But remember, Tyler, your life will always have places where you’re going to have to make a choice. Sometimes they’re easy, and sometimes they’re not. But no matter what choice you make, there is always a lesson to learn. And harder yet, some sort of price to pay. You just have to way your options and choose what you think is best.”

Tyler nods his head in agreement. “Hey, can we go back to the hotel? I have some thinking to do. Plus, I still need to call my friend.”

“Of course.” Jade waves for Chad to bring the car around.

Tyler walks back to the band. “Guys, you were awesome. I’m going to go get some rest. I’ll be back around 6:30, at the latest.”

Everyone said their good-byes as Tyler walked to the awaiting limo with Jade.

The limo ride back to the hotel was quiet. Jade wanted to say something but did not. Tyler was visibly in deep thought.

When they returned to the suite, Tyler went straight to the balcony, laid down on the lounge chair, and started thinking. It was something that Jade had mentioned that made sense, but at the same time, it was confusing. She had said, ‘there are always lessons to learn,’ which was obvious. No matter the experience that you go through, good or bad, there is always a lesson. But then they said, “and (there is) some sort of price to pay.” Tyler never thought about that aspect. Making any choice, you are not only gaining something, but you are also giving something up on the other end. And that is true for good and bad decisions, as well.

Tyler laid there and closed his eyes while the thoughts rolled through his head.

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