A few days later, Blaine grudgingly turned over his managerial rights to Lein. Lein would serve as manager until his own band resumed their music, and until Bitter Wynter became established enough to attract a more hard core manager, as well as an agent, lawyers, business managers, etc.
The most important thing was to get the band some exposure, and Lein thought he could use some of his own influence to aid the fledgling band on its own road to success. Although Blaine kept virtually quiet, he didn’t like it that Lein had verbally informed him he had no cause to offer his assistance in an official capacity. He didn’t like that at all, nor did he like the victorious gleam in Lein’s eyes as he made his declarations. For the time being, and to save more close calls with Perion, Blaine behaved like a good little boy. Lein didn’t understand that he had more influence over Perion’s life and career than anyone would ever have. Somehow, he planned to let Lein know that every way he could.
Blaine’s hatred and jealousy of Lein built even higher when the hotshot allowed the band to take over Hard Axe’s abandoned rehearsal studio so they could ready for their debut at Heavy Metal Thunder. Lein was definitely acting the big time asshole all right, but again, he couldn’t say a word. The girls thought Lein pissed rose water and shit golden nuggets. Lein had become ‘The Saint and Savior’ in their eyes, and griping about it would only make the band separate further from him.
Bitter Wynter’s new job prospect didn’t curb their routines at all. Debi, Randi, and Syndi kept their day jobs, and Perion continued to dance at The Rose Bush. Lein’s routine didn’t change, either. Without fail, he went to the club every night, and sat in the back while trying to keep out of sight. He seemed to notice brightness in Perion’s routine that had been missing before. He knew why: she now had some new hope.
Lein felt somewhat proud that he was one in a dozen of people helping her obtain renewed hope. Along with that, he sat in the audience night after night falling deeper and deeper in lust. His unrequited desire to have her wasn’t helped by the fact he was present at every band function, every band rehearsal. Being close to her, but not touching her, grew harder as the days passed. But he took it. He wanted the band to know he was sincerely interested in helping them, not just sincerely interested in bedding Perion.
Perion sat in her bedroom one night, simply relaxing from the day she had. Rehearsing through the day and dancing at night had taken a toll on her, but her tiredness was the good kind. She felt that the upcoming gig at Heavy Metal Thunder would surely bring them what they had wanted for so long: success.
There was only one thing marring her happiness: Lein Blake. At first, she thought it would be very interesting having him around. She had been a long time fan of his and Hard Axe. Meeting him in the fashion she had was almost unbelievable. Lately, he made her somewhat uneasy with his presence. It wasn’t a bad uneasy, but an uncomfortable uneasy. There was no doubt in her mind he was attractive, more than that actually. He appealed to her, more so than Blaine ever had. It was no big secret that he was attracted to her. She knew it, and he knew she knew it. What he didn’t know was that she thought about him a lot, and wanted him [again, a lot]. She didn’t act on it, of course. She was as much a wimp as he. Not only that, but she was with Blaine exclusively, and had been for four years. They had a history together, and she believed, more or less, that she owed him for being so reliable. She thought she still loved him, but didn’t know if she’d ever marry him. What could she offer Lein? Her body? Her body was all. Her heart belonged to Blaine [or did it really?].
She was still staring off into space when the door came open and Blaine entered. “Hey, baby, how’s it going,” he asked.
Perion snapped out of her daze. “All right, I suppose. I’m a little tired, that’s all,” she told him.
He smiled and got on the bed with her. He kissed her neck and stuffed his hand into his jacket pocket. With the other hand, he played with her hair. “You know, since we settled our fight, I got to thinking.”
Perion drew in an inward sigh. When he ‘got to thinking,’ he usually proposed. She didn’t want to hear it, but knew it was coming.
When Blaine was sure she wasn’t going to say anything, he exhaled a deep breath through his lips noisily. “What I got to thinking about was us, Peri. I really do think it’s time we got engaged, not married or anything right away, just engaged. I sort of brought you something in case you wanted to say yes this time.”
From the jacket pocket, he produced a small black box. He took the top off the box and plucked a small diamond engagement ring from its depths. Perion was touched. He had never tried to make their engagement official before. She was convinced he was serious.
“So, what do you say,” he asked.
What, realistically, could she do? Without thinking, and shoving thoughts of Lein aside, she looked at him and accepted. He was so taken aback that he asked her to repeat herself, and she did.