“See. Already you look more relaxed with them.” He was only saying it to make me feel better, but I wasn’t any more confident about my abilities than the day before. My glum mood came from Chelsea stepping in and feeding them both breakfast and lunch. She even slipped away with Cole when he wouldn’t take his bottle from me. Brandt wouldn’t approve if he found out although I wouldn’t say anything. Chelsea told me it was just to rock him but I knew she was covering, not wanting to put me in a predicament with my brother.
“Well, I don’t feel that way. They have been super fussy today.”
Lifting Cole off the blanket, even Logan couldn’t produce a giggle with belly kisses. Logan shifted him back to peer in his mouth before sticking his finger in and rooting around. “Ah. So that is what’s got you so cranky.”
“What?” I looked at him like the baby wizard he was.
Holding Cole up so I could look in his mouth, it should be evident, but I couldn’t figure out what he wanted me to see. All I saw was slobber. His little rosy cheeks seemed redder than normal, and he had buggers in his nose making me grab a wet wipe from the diaper bag. If I wasn’t changing dirty diapers lately, I was wiping snot noses.
“Here. Look at his gums.” Pointing to the top of his mouth I saw a faint white color in a sea of anger red mounds to the left of where his two front teeth had already poked through.
“Oh, he is teething. I read once that if adults had to go through the pain they would need to be knocked out.”
He laughed at me. “I’m not sure about being knocked out, but it probably doesn’t feel great.”
“Well, at least it explains why they were so fussy today. I was starting to think it was just me they didn’t like.”
His sideways glance told me I was full of shit, “Yeah, no chance in that. I can tell they already start to calm when they hear your voice.”
“Really?” He smiled and nodded as I turned back to the kids to look in their little cherub faces excited to know they were taking a liking to me.
“Come on. Let’s get packed up. We need to get on the road soon.” Normally we went to our next location at night while the kids were sleeping, but it was only a couple of hours away. Since this next site didn’t have an out-of-the-way campsite to park at, Brandt thought it would be better to go while they were napping and just stay in a parking lot until the next concert was over to meet up with him. Unable to tag along as he wanted, Brandt went with the other tour bus early this morning so they could do a promotional meet and greet at a music store.
“How long are we staying this time?”
Bending down, he picked up both kids with ease while I loaded the diaper bag with toys and folded up the blanket. “Just until after the concert tonight. Then we head out to a farmer’s field in the next town to stash the bus. It isn’t too far from the concert hall and they ran electricity out for us so we can be kept away from the public.”
“How do you find areas like this?” I asked.
“I don’t. Big John sets it all up ahead of time. He talks with other roadies from other tours. Brandt isn’t the only one looking for seclusion while on the road. They make sure there are reputable places to hide them and not sell out to the paps.”
Logan’s phone vibrated in his back pocket alerting him to a call. I nabbed a slobbering Cole from him while he balanced Ronnie to his side and swiped at his phone. “Yeah.”
Gesturing to the RV I motioned for him to follow us knowing if the twins got too far apart they would make an even bigger fuss. They needed to be within viewing distance of each other throughout the day. I guess when you start out by sharing a womb, your whole life seems empty if that person wasn’t around.
“Okay. Yes, I’ve got the directions already keyed up. No, I can explain it to Chelsea. See you tomorrow.” Placing the phone in his back pocket he conveyed the call to me. “Looks like the media are relentless where he is playing tonight. He wants me to drive straight through and park in the farmer’s field instead of going to the venue. I wish I didn’t have to tell Chelsea.”
Chelsea would be disappointed. She wanted to see more of him while on tour, but he was a workaholic overachiever, making sure everything ran smoothly for every single concert. Sounded like my big brother though. He was a perfectionist in anything he did. He wanted the audience to think of his show as worth the money, and even though he had Logan and Big John to help, he didn’t like to give up the control.
Once inside the bus, Logan explained the situation to Chelsea. Her guarded face hid her true feelings. It made me glad I chose to help them out. If my brother couldn’t be here, then I guess I was the next best thing.
Chelsea examined Cole for a half a second before instantly knowing he was teething. How did she do that? She amazed me, understanding what each cry meant with little clues. Turning to the freezer, she gave them each a frozen strawberry in a mesh pouch as we secured them to their car seats. It wasn’t long down the road where they gave up on the berry and were off to sleep, more content than when they were with me.
When Chelsea pulled out a book and started to read, I wandered to the front where Logan was driving. “You mind some company?”
Shaking his head, I sat down in the passenger seat while we watched the landscape pass by. I tried not to glance at him but was drawn to the light flooding the cab and the way it played over his dark brown curls. He had on a t-shirt too small for his body due to the constant workouts he did with Brandt on a daily basis. It wasn’t as if I minded. His broad chest dipped with the roundness of his pec muscles and was only slightly superior to the hint of angular stomach muscles noticeable through the shape of the shirt. Couple that with his faded blue jeans and the thick leg muscles and it made me wonder what he would look like without clothes on.
Clearing my head, I tried to turn it off. It would just be sex. At least it was what I told myself. There would be no chance at anything more since we were parting ways at the end of summer, and I gave up guys until I could find one who was a keeper. The only reason I was lusting over him lately was that he was the only one ‘allowed’ to talk to me. But he looked so damn good.
No Rea, it was just a physical response. He was nice. Better yet, he was a good guy. Sexy in a good guy sort of way. The way he didn’t even realize, so he couldn’t flaunt it. You have never been with a guy like him. You were just becoming friends, don’t ruin it with sex.
“Have you decided what you are going to do?” I froze. Did he realize what was going through my head? When I didn’t answer, he continued, “About a job after summer? Have you thought about any companies you would like to look into?” I mentally laughed at myself, relieved he couldn’t tell what was going on in my brain.
“No, I haven’t a clue where to start.” The trees passing the side of the road made a canopy of sorts over the top of us and the twinkling of the daylight shining through was mesmerizing.
“What sort of things do you like?” He seemed genuinely interested and I let my mind wander. What do I like? When was the last time a guy asked me that question?
“Technology. It seems to grow at such a fast rate that maybe I would like to be involved in the design. You know, on the ground floor. Not develop new products per se but work in a company that is innovative.”
“That is a start. What about perks? What is important to you?”
His questions were good, making me think of my career aspirations in a different light. Why didn’t I think about this in the past? Sort of shoot for the moon and hope for the best instead of settling for what everyone expects of me. “I want a job where I can travel. Go places and see new things.” And then I added, “Just not in a tour bus.” He started to laugh when I heard a rustle behind us.
“Is that what you are interested in?” Chelsea came up with a water bottle in her hand stretching it out to me. “I thought you and Logan would like something to drink. Here.”
Logan laughed, “You only feed me water when I drive so you get me to stop more to pee.”
Her smirk gave her away, “That is my plan. I hate the endless hours on the road. If you like the travel, more power to you. Me? Give me my house and a good book and I would probably never leave.”
Logan opened the water and drained half in one guzzle. The look of appreciation he gave her showed their easy relationship although Chelsea had a way of making everyone feel special. She looked back at me, “So what are you going to do now that you have graduated? Brandt told me you wanted to come with us on tour so you would have time to figure it out.” I fought to keep from rolling my eyes as Chelsea took a seat up front by us. Logan shrugged knowing the real reason I was on tour and knowing I couldn’t explain.
“I... I wish I knew. Logan was trying to help me figure it out.”
“Don’t tell me you want to work for your dad?” Her statement shocked me. I thought they all just assumed I would be taking over the family business.
“As much as I love your parents, you need to find your own way.” As relieved as I was, I still couldn’t face Chelsea and let her see my true sentiment.
“But there is no one to take over the business. Dean is at the ski lodge and Brandt well...” No one needed to explain further.
“Then he will sell it to someone else when the time comes. Don’t underestimate yourself, Rea. You can go wherever you want.” Chelsea clapped her hands together lighting up her blue eyes as they sparkled. “Now, if you like to travel I have a friend who can get you an interview where travel is a must.”
“Really?” Maybe traveling to exotic places full time was an option.
“Yes, Amilyn. My friend from Wisconsin. She works for Boeing and does their international travel business. She could get you an interview. Just the initial visit of course. You would need to market yourself though.” I smiled at the thought.
“It is not really a tech job, but I like the idea of travel,” I confessed.
Logan chimed in, “If you are looking for a tech business there is one in Iowa. Sundown Innovative Technologies.”
“Huh, I didn’t know they were stationed in Iowa? They are huge.”
He nodded, “The owner grew up there and kept the corporate offices in Iowa. Not the hub of entertainment but I bet they do a lot of travel as they are known throughout the world.”
“Are they even hiring?” I inquired.
“You could look on their website and at least apply if it is something that interests you.” I looked up recharged at the possibility and then I thought of this summer.
“When would I have time for an interview? I can’t necessarily tell them I couldn’t come in for another two months.” After I said it, I felt instant regret. I didn’t want Chelsea to think she was a burden and Brandt would kill me if I let his secret slip.
“You could slip away for a couple of days at any time to go for an interview. We will be stopping on tour around there too. It might work out timing-wise. Just because you need to be here to make sure I don’t overdo it doesn’t mean you can’t get some time off,” Chelsea exclaimed.
Shocked, I looked up at her with my eyes wide as she continued, “Did you seriously think I didn’t know Brandt was all over you coming here? What young college graduate would want to change dirty diapers and squirrel away on a tour bus with a deranged pregnant lady and two screaming kids for a whole summer?”
Busted. I laughed, “How long did you know?”
“Pretty much since Brandt told me you were coming. Funny how it coincided with me on tour with him and the kids. He worries about me constantly and I knew this would give him peace of mind, so I let him think it was his idea. That is how to get men to do what you want.”
My grin caused my face to hurt and even Logan joined in with a chuckle. “Besides he misses you and I love that you get to spend time together. I just wish I wasn’t relying on you so much. You should really go out and see the sights more instead of sitting on a tour bus. Let me talk to Brandt. Maybe he could get one of the security guys to take you places other than an RV park every once in a while?”
“I am glad I get to spend time with you and the kids. They are... growing on me,” I confessed, surprised at how true those words were.
She reached out and squeezed my hand, “And they love the time with their aunt. Don’t worry. We have a weeks’ time off in August where we will be visiting my folks. Brandt worked it into the tour for me. It will give you a breather. There won’t be any time to take care of the kids once the Moltke clan knows I am in town with them.”
She was right. Chelsea’s family was huge compared to mine, and they took over in a large and boisterous way. It would give me time to myself. There was no way I could be around that much activity for long without going crazy. Brandt even admitted the chaos could be overwhelming, and he dealt with thousands of screaming fans all the time.
“Well, I’ll go and call Amilyn and see how she can help. It gives me the perfect excuse to catch up to what she is doing.” Chelsea walked the length of the RV to the back bedroom, checking on the twins first, and then shutting the door behind her.
“And you should look at the Sundown website. Start now and explain to them you will be in town for a week in August. It may make yourself seem important if you say it that way. You could always drop your brother’s name too.”
“No.” He didn’t understand what it meant for me to get a job on my own. “I... I don’t want to get hired because I have a famous brother. If I get the job, I want it to be because I deserve it.”
“Yeah, I hear you.” He nodded and I settled back in the seat pulling out my phone to look up the website.
It took the rest of the afternoon, but I got a resume, cover letter, and application information for Sundown together, making sure I explained my tight timeline for interviewing the week of August seventh. It made me seem way more important to have me give them a timeline and it was a gamble but what could I do? I could only hope they afforded me the chance to win them over. I even twisted my work experience to sound more important than it was. The summers helping my dad at the business being my most profitable ally. I even spun the fact I was filling in for a touring business managing the ‘crew’. It was a long shot, but I had been ‘managing’ two teething kids to put it lightly.
It took several hours to reach the farmer’s field and get the RV set up for the night. The kids slept so long it was nearly impossible to settle them down to rest for their bedtime later, but Logan helped by roughhousing with them and tiring them out.
We were all huddled in the RV making room assignments for the night. Logan weighed the options, saying, “I’ll just sleep on the couch.” Although the couch folded out to a bed it still seemed too small for his tall frame.
Chelsea cleaned up the small kitchen and eating area, turning to Logan, “Nonsense. There is an open bunk below Rea. You can have that one. We just need to move some items under the camper.”
“No need to go through the trouble.” He didn’t look put out sleeping on the smaller sofa although I know he would be cramped.
“It isn’t any trouble. That is where Big John crashes when he can’t make it to a hotel. You can’t be any worse at snoring than he is.”
“I second that.” I agreed knowing I usually had earbuds in to drown out his snoring. Strangely enough, the twins in the next bunk slept right through it. Maybe he didn’t like the idea of sleeping underneath me? “Logan if you want you could take the pull-out area where the kid’s cage is,” I offered. They both stopped to stare at me making me replay my statement in my mind.
He laughed, “It isn’t a cage, it is a crib. Seriously, didn’t you call their teething rings chew toys too? They aren’t animals they are children.”
My face flushed with embarrassment. “Oh yeah, crib.”
Logan enjoyed his good-hearted laugh at my expense before going on, “No, I guess I could just move the extra stuff in the bottom bunk to the storage area under the bus. It’ll give me a little extra room.” He went to move the items when he froze in the small aisle of the bus. Looking down we all realized why.
Cole lifted on his wobbly feet, and without touching the sofa, walked the four or five steps over to him. We all held our breath watching. Cole’s first steps. As he plopped down on his little diaper butt, Chelsea scooped him up for a huge hug, whooping and hollering enough to scare him into a cry.
“Cole! Oh my God. You figured it out.” Logan and I smiled at each other and I warmed to the idea of seeing his first steps.
“Hey little guy. Way to go.” Logan tried to give him a fist bump, but he still didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. Ronnie took this opportunity to cry also sensing her brother in distress. I went to pick her up and turned facing a forlorn Chelsea.
“No one tells Brandt. Please.” Both of our faces fell matching Chelsea. Brandt wasn’t here to see his son’s first steps. I knew it would kill him to miss such a landmark occasion. Both Logan and I nodded our agreement and turned back to what we were doing.
Chelsea rained kisses on his chubby cheeks and brought them both into the back bedroom to read them a bedtime story while I helped Logan move the items under my bunk. We both worked in silence sad for Chelsea and sad for Brandt. Chelsea wanted him as much a part of their lives as possible but here on the road still didn’t give them the family bonding time she desired. Brandt still had to choose between band duties and free time with them, and being the perfectionist, he made his decision evident in the sparse time he currently gave them. She would never push him on it either as she loved him enough to help make it easier on him. Maybe someday my brother would realize what a truly wonderful person he had in Chelsea. I only hoped it wasn’t too late.