The girls were out on the road opening up for Neverending [their third successful opening slot]. Considering the way the opening slots were turning out, plus all the record sales, Bitter Wynter would soon be touring on their own, with their own opening act. They’d be headliners, something of which they hadn’t expected to occur so soon.
The band had been opening for Neverending about six months [they’d been on the road for a total of ten months]. During that six-month period, Lein [on short breaks from the Hard Axe tour] had joined Perion on the road for three visits. On one of those occasions, they had driven to a secluded spot and built a bonfire. Together they had burned the marriage license that had declared her Blaine Marion’s wife. They had also burned several pictures taken in Las Vegas of the then newlyweds. It was a joyous celebration. While the flames burned all that remained of Perion Thorn Marion, they made love by the fire, as somewhat of a christening ceremony.
It was that evening Perion dwelled upon right before that night’s show. She didn’t think she’d get to see Lein again until the opening spots were completed. That meant another month, maybe longer.
That night, the girls hit the stage and blew the audience away. Even though Perion felt euphoric due to all the adoring fans, she thought only about Lein, and was not as happy as she should have been.
After their time was up, the girls hit the showers. Again, in the dressing room, Perion was in a blue fog. There was so much noise behind the dressing room door that one could hardly concentrate, but she seemed oblivious to it all. She tried to think about other things, but could not. All she could dwell on was her overwhelming feelings of loneliness without Lein. He had, in effect, become her right arm. She wondered what he was doing, if he missed her, if he thought about her at all, hundreds of things swirled in her mind.
A hand fell on her shoulder. “Peri, a fan wants to meet you,” Syndi told her.
Perion sighed. “I’m really not in the mood right now.”
“Oh, come on, Peri. This guy is really nice, and he’s been waiting for hours. He came all the way from out west just to see the band. He’s sort of our first male groupie. What do you say? Want me to get him?”
Again, Perion sighed. “Okay, what the hell. After all, where would we be without people like him?”
Syndi smiled. “You’re right. You wait here, I’ll go get him.”
Perion heard Syndi open the dressing room door, and then she stepped out. Perion didn’t want to turn around, but did. After all, it wasn’t the fan’s fault she missed Lein.
The door came open a crack and a bouquet of roses filled it. Perion thought it was a little strange, but reasoned the guy might be shy. She waited patiently.
“You can come in,” she said.
The door opened wider. A hand joined the bouquet in the crack. Perion recognized her lover’s hand at once. There was no mistaking the hand that touched her so lovingly, so gently.
Slowly, she stood. “Lee,” she questioned doubtfully.
The door came open all the way, and Lein stood in front of her. With a squeal, she ran toward him and threw herself in his arms.
“Oh my God, what are you doing here?”
“Every time I enter a room, you always ask that. I’m a fan, remember? I came to see the show; I also thought I’d come out and surprise you a little, too. I missed you so damn much.”
She pulled away and looked at him. “How did you get away?”
“Actually, I had to do some high talking with the other guys, but they sorta understood,” he told her.
“I’ve missed you, too. No one has ever looked as good to me. How long have you been here?”
“I got here just as you guys got on stage. My God, the band was amazing. You’ll be getting your own tour in no time. That crowd was wild,” he said smiling.
“We never would have made it without you,” she said softly. “I love you, Lee.”
She kissed him and hugged him so hard, he nearly lost his breath. When she let go, she took the roses and placed them on a table.
“I got another surprise for you,” he said.
He smiled. “Yeah, it’s with the roses. Look in and around the paper.”
“What are you talking about?”
She picked up the roses and carefully unwrapped them out of the tissue-like paper. Once they were unwrapped, she realized they weren’t real roses after all. They were silk roses. He’d never brought her silk roses before, and she began to wonder what he was up to. She didn’t have to wonder long. Within the ‘stems,’ Perion could make out what appeared to be a small black velvet box. She did not have to pick it up to know it was a ring box.
“Oh...my...oh my God, Lee. What’s going on here,” she said in a stunned shell-shocked voice.
He shrugged. “Don’t know. I think that little box came with the roses. It’s probably where the manufacturers put the perfume in to make ’em smell like real ones. Why don’t you open it and see what’s inside for sure?”
She slowly picked up the box and opened it. Inside was a marquis shaped diamond ring, at least eight carats. She had never seen a diamond that large before in her life. There was also a small tag attached to the ring. She picked up the tag and looked at it. Written in Lein’s small, neat script was one word: SURPRISE!
Perion looked up at Lein, he smiled. “Are you surprised,” he asked.
“Lein...what...” Her voice died out.
He approached her and took her hands in his. “I kind of mentioned this once a long time ago, in jest then. But now, I’m serious, more serious than I’ve probably ever been in my life. You know this is an engagement ring. So all I need to know is whether or not you’ll marry me.”
She was stunned, shocked, and flabbergasted all at the same time. It was something she hadn’t expected to happen so soon. “Lein, you know...” Her voice died out again as she began to cry a little. “You know I will,” she said, finishing what she had tried to say, and she hastily wiped away a few stray tears.
He kissed her softly. After a moment, he pulled back and looked at her. “I didn’t think you’d say yes, considering what Blaine put you through.”
“You’re not Blaine,” she told him softly.
He kissed her again. “Let me see how this looks on your finger,” he told her, taking the velvet box from her shaking hands. She held out her left hand and he slipped the ring on her finger. “It looks perfect, just like I thought it would.”
She held out her hand and examined the ring, purposely mimicking a jeweler conducting an appraisal. “It’s gorgeous. Lein, I’m so blown away by this. I know we’ve joked around about it, but I didn’t think it would happen...I-”
He kissed her again, cutting off her words. “Sometimes, Perion, you tend to over analyze things,” he said, smiling against her lips.
“I know. Help me with that, why don’t you?”
“I’ll definitely give it a try,” he told her, kissing her deeply once more.
Later, in bed, Lein looked at Perion and smiled a little. “You know, I’m really nervous about being around your mother again. I mean, especially after what happened the last time your mom and I met. Not only that, but she’ll probably be staying right around us before the wedding in the same place with the man who repeatedly beds her daughter, out of wedlock no less.”
Perion laughed. “I don’t think she’s going to kill you or anything, she knows I’m not a virgin. Since you brought it up, I’m not going to be exactly cool as a cucumber when I meet your parents.”
“They’ll love you, everything about you,” he told her.
“And do you know that for certain, Linda Georgian,” she asked him comically.
He smiled. “I surely do. They’ll love you because I do, and of course, they love me. That will help you out more than anything in their book.”
“What are they like,” Perion asked in wonder. Lein and Ronnie rarely ever, if at all, talked about their parents.
“They’re great. They did everything they could to help Ronnie and me make it. They surrendered their basement so we could play, and made small loans to us, even though they really couldn’t afford it. Every chance Ron and me get, we send them money because they were so good to us. So, you don’t have to worry, they’re going to love you. Who wouldn’t?”
“If that is another hint for sex, I’m afraid the well is dry, my love. I’m completely tired out. Not only that, I performed tonight on stage, too,” she told him with a smile.
He kissed her softly. “Damn, you caught me. While we’re on the subject of getting hitched, let me ask you a question.” She looked up at him expectantly, but didn’t say a word. When he was convinced she wasn’t going to say anything to prompt him, he plunged ahead, “How do you feel about having kids?”
Perion was a little surprised; he had never touched upon that subject before. “I’d love to have at least two. I would say just one, but I’m an only child and I know how it feels to be without brothers and sisters. How do you feel about it?”
“I want them, too, quite a bit in fact. I’d sort of like to start very early. I never told anybody this before; only my family knows this stuff. My parents adopted me when I was an infant. I’ve sort of had this fantasy of having my own family.”
“Well, you can have it with me,” she told him softly.
He smiled a little. “Yeah, I knew I could. You have a lot of the same dreams I do, I guess that’s why I was so attracted to you in the first place. Maybe deep inside, I knew you were the other half of me from the beginning.” He kissed her again, and then said, “There’s another question I’d like to ask you.”
She leaned over him and placed her hand on his chest in a gentle, stroking motion. “Okay,” she said softly.
“The day after the first night I saw you, I had some roses sent to your dressing room. I had a little card in with them as well. I was plainly hitting on you,” he said with a small smile. “You never told me if you ever received them.”
Perion smiled sardonically, remembering the roses. “Yes, I received them, all right. But by the time I saw them, the card was gone. I suppose Blaine took it and did something with it. I assumed he sent them, and when I commented about it, he didn’t correct me.”
It was Lein’s turn to smile sardonically. “Yeah, I figured that was what happened. If you had gotten to them before he did, what would you have done?”
She gently kissed his chest and smiled broadly. “Continued to play hard to get,” she said nonchalantly.
He laughed a little. “Yeah, I thought so,” he said, not unkindly.