Chapter 24- Welcome to the Show
Springtime arrives early and in full bloom. Things have seemingly calmed down with everyone except for Vickie. A couple of days after Christmas, her father passed away peacefully in his sleep.
She wants to move out of her father’s house and uses her spare time fixing up the little things, even donates most of his belongings to charity for low-income families as secondhand items.
“Ugh, I never knew how much crap is here.” She admits to Aiden and Eddie as they take apart her father’s bed.
“Yeah, you never know until you have to move,” Eddie says, picking up bed rails.
Smelling her father’s favorite sweatshirt, Vickie stands there in silence.
“C’mon bub, let’s get this done so we can head over to the manufactured home lot and see if we can’t get you a new home.” Aiden reminds him as he props the head and footboards up against the wall.
At that moment, Vickie breaks her silence and speaks up, “Still haven’t found anything?”
Eddie looks over at her, “not yet but maybe with the Spring Forward Special.”
“How much do you have for a down payment?” She asks, on the edge of the dresser.
“I have about seventeen grand ready to put down.” Eddie continues speaking, not thinking anything of the question.
Quickly bowing her head, Vickie goes silent that creates a pause between Aiden and Eddie.
“Babe, everything alright?” Aiden wonders, going over to her.
“Yeah, and I have an idea if you wouldn’t mind listening to it.”
“Sure, yeah, go ahead,” Eddie speaks up, anxious to hear what’s up.
“What if you gave me that for this house, and it’s yours clean and clear. That way, I know it has someone that’ll care for this place. So, what do you think? Is it a deal, and I move in full-time with Aiden?”
Eddie stands there stunned at the gesture, and a muttering noise is all that Vickie and Aiden hear from his partially opened mouth.
“You, you, you’d do that for me?” Eddie manages to stutter from his lips.
“Yes, it deserves to have someone to make good memories in it again. Just hand me what you have, and the house is yours, clean and clear.”
Eddie’s mind takes its sweet time to process everything. When everything finally catches up, it slams together like a multi-car pileup.
“Oh yeah, certainly, when we get back to the house, I’ll give you the money. Thank you, thank you so much!” Eddie tells her with his eyes the size of quarters.
“Good, that’s a huge relief, but Aiden, are you sure you can handle me living there full-time?”
“Absolutely, babe, we’ll start moving your stuff as soon as possible,” Aiden states with a smirk across his face.
“Sounds good, love, big ole bedroom and place to call home.” She admits glaring at Aiden with a vicious, hungry animal-like smile.
Aiden steals a quick kiss, “We need to get this done, babyface, ain’t got much longer until we have to get ready for Columbus and the weekend up there.”
Vickie nods that she understands, and they get back to moving everything into the living room.
“That should do it for today, guys. Let’s head to the house, and we’ll get all that jazz signed over.” Vickie suggests wiping her forehead that’s drenched in sweat.
“Yeah, I could use a quick bite to eat and a shower, phew!” Aiden teases, heading for the door.
“Y’all go on ahead. I’ll grab dinner and meet you back there.” Eddie informs them, following Vickie as they exit the half-emptied house.
With the door locked after Eddie steps out, Vickie takes a few steps out to her car along the edge of the street and gawks back at her father’s home, “I miss you, daddy, love you, this place is in good hands.” She speaks softly enough that it goes unheard.
Aiden and Eddie quickly drive away, leaving her there to treasure what few memories she shares with the house.
Down in her white Nissan 240SX, Vickie pulls away to her new home. When she pulls up parking beside Aiden, she heads inside, where she already hears the shower water running.
“Guess this is home now.” She whispers to herself.
Vickie rushes from the front door down the hallway. She sneaks into the bathroom, where the steam from the shower has covered the room.
“Hey asshat, how could you not wait for me?” She lets out to a startled Aiden.
“Oh, fuck me! Just get in here already.” He calls out on her to join him.
Stripped down quickly, Vickie slides the curtain back, holding her hands over her breasts to keep them from bouncing. She’s still insecure being naked around Aiden, “I’m here…” She mutters, hurrying to Aiden’s back with her arms around him, sobbing.
“Still hurting, sweetie?”
“Yeah, sorry, I just miss my dad, that’s all.”
Aiden manages to twist his body around to hold her close. He reaches down for a kiss when she shuts him down, “Not right now, just hold me, please.” She pleads, resting her head against his chest.
“Yeah, I can do that.” He whispers tenderly into her ear.
The shared shower quickly comes to a halt when Aiden realizes Eddie will arrive shortly, “Oh hey babe, we need to get out. Ed’s going to be here soon, I bet.”
That’s it when it dawns on her that she didn’t grab a change of clothes. Vickie’s eyes pop wide open.
“Damn it, time to get out then.” She shrieks, leaping out of the shower.
Water all over the floor, Vickie gets a towel wrapping it around her before she runs to the master bedroom. She’s slipped into a shirt and pulls her booty shorts up when a whistle echoes from the doorway.
“Hubba, Hubba baby, that’s a nice ass.” Aiden teases with his towel wrapped around his shoulders.
“You look pretty good yourself, honey.” She says and pauses for a minute.
“Thank you for everything, helping me with dad’s funeral and being patient on everything else. I know I’ve been difficult and avoided sex. I just need time. The last couple of years have been rough.”
Aiden bows his head so that they can look into each other’s eyes, “I’m a big boy; I can wait.”
She grins, feeling more for Aiden than she would like to admit.
“Thank you again, but for now, let’s get ready to handle all the paperwork. Then we’ll pack for Columbus. We’re only a day away before we leave on Friday morning.” She tells Aiden as she makes her way back into the kitchen as Eddie walks through the door.
He notices that Vickie at the table and places the food down, then heads into the guest bedroom for a small lockbox with his savings stashed inside.
“Alright, here it is, seventeen thousand dollars,” Eddie says as he lays the cash on the table.
“Tell you what, you’re going to need new stuff like a couch and bed suites and such. Make it say fourteen grand, and we’ll call it a day.” Vickie says, changing the deal.
Blown away by her gesture, Eddie fails to notice at first that Vickie is motioning for him to come closer, “Besides not to sound like a total bitch. I wanna be here alone with Aiden and soon.”
Acknowledging her statement, Eddie takes a seat as they go over everything. Aiden walks in at the right time to be their witness as they finalize the deal and then enjoy dinner as the day winds down.
Before they realize it, Friday morning is upon them, and it’s time to depart for Columbus. Everyone meets at BP by the Route 2 interchange freeway. The last to arrive is Rey and Addie. When they arrive, they top off the gas tank and decide to change who rides with who.
“Hey Aiden, you’re with me. Addie’s going to hitch a ride with Vickie. We gotta talk about things on the way there.” Rey demands with a stern stare in his eyes.
“Alright, babe, I will see you when we get there.”
Trying not to frown, Vickie goes over to give Aiden a quick kiss as she and Addie get into the other car.
“So what’s up because I know there’s more on your mind than just the music lineup.” Aiden begins shutting the door on the passenger side.
“You have no idea what happened last night at Addie’s place.”
Intrigued by not only the opening statement but the tone of his voice, Aiden begins to listen, “You have my attention.”
“So, last night we’re chilling watching a movie having a couple of drinks. Then out of nowhere, a bang hits the front door. It scares the shit out of us, and Addie gets up and opens the door. Ally stumbles in when Sam puts his hands on her chest, shoving her backward.” Rey explains, still furious.
Aiden turns to make sure he doesn’t miss anything at this point, “You’re fucking kidding me?” He adds in when Rey pauses.
“Well, when she’s on the floor, I notice her lip is busted, and she’s in tears. Like huge crocodile tears, and that point pisses me off, and I get up in that dude’s face, and he ain’t saying shit.” Rey continues tightening his grip on the steering wheel.
“Damn bub. I hope you whooped his ass!”
Rey huffs and stops for a moment as they speed along Route 2, heading north for Route 35, leading into downtown Columbus.
“I shoved him back at first, and he swung at me and missed. Then I went ape-shit on his ass. I picked him up and slammed him on the metal grating and just start nailing him with my right hand until Addie and Ally both tackle me to get me to stop.”
“Holy shit, you were a man possessed Rey. Damn bub, you could’ve killed him.”
Now his knuckles go to the point they’ve turned white. Rey focuses on the road being the lead vehicle.
“I wanted to kill him. I know you’re with Vickie and all, man, but I couldn’t let him beat on Ally.”
Stopping Rey right there, Aiden can’t keep his mouth shut, “Nah, I’d a done the same thing. No woman deserves to be beaten, and yeah, I still love her, a lot actually, but things change. I am falling more for Vickie but hey, thanks for taking care of Allyssa.”
Rey keeps his eyes locked on the road, “No biggie, just thought you should know. No woman deserves to be hit by a man.”
The subject dies in a matter of minutes as they continue further up the road. The music’s cranked up, and Aiden takes out his notepad to finalize everything.
Half-way to Columbus, they fill back up and replenish themselves with water and Gatorade. “Almost there,” Aiden sighs, nervous about checking in and set up for a mic check upon arrival.
“Yup, hope we can do it,” Rey adds when his nerves take control.
When they arrive at Buckeye Stadium Ventures, Rey pulls up, showing the guards’ invitational letter at the back gate.
“We’re Disgrace thru Grace, and we’re here to get set up,” Rey says.
The guard asks, “just the three cars here?” Rey nods to acknowledge his question.
Then the guard motions them on through.
Finding a place large enough for everyone to park, the boys get out, but Vickie and Addie remain in the Nissan.
“Hey Aiden, we’re kidnapping Lynn to go shopping,” Vickie tells them as Addie climbs out, folding up the passenger seat so Lynn can climb into the back.
“See ya fellas; we’ll see you all tonight at the hotel,” Vickie says, putting the seat in place and gets back in Vickie’s car.
Together in the front of the Armada, the band goes over the details for when they get on stage.
“Alright, I say we start easy and go with Hidden Sorrow first, Killed by Despair, Vindication Vacation, and finish up with Splintered Soul,” Aiden suggests looking over his notes.
“I like that. We need a good warm-up because this ain’t the Import Room.” Eddie reminds them to keep his hands from trembling.
“Alright then, time to check-in and wait,” Aiden orders out, waving to head for the registration table.
“Band name, please.” They’re asked before they even reach the table.
“Disgrace Thru Grace, sir,” Aiden replies.
“Ah, first years I see, welcome, you’ll be on at six-thirty sharp. You get five songs, and you will know if you play again tomorrow before you leave tonight.” The registration attendant informs.
After a hard gulp, Aiden shakes his head to understand the instructions and realize they’re a song short.
“Thank you.” He says as they walk away to talk.
“Damn it; we need one more song!” Aiden barks out, frustrated on which song to select.
“Why not Smoked Again, or Ghost Town?” Dakota mentions right off the top of his head.
“No, we need something to wallop them. Wait, what about your solo Dakota?” Aiden fires back, thinking it’d be a great addition.
“Maybe tomorrow or Sunday if we stay but not today. I’m too nervous. Wait, you’re the other solo act, why not Unfinished Business?” It’s about your pain, and it’d be a hit here, I bet.” Dakota argues back.
Not willing to pull his solo so early just in case they make it to day two. Eddie throws out the best suggestion, “Why not Sand Storm?”
That sends a lightbulb going off in both Aiden and Dakota’s minds.
“Perfect!” They say together and shove Eddie on his shoulder.
They go back to the waiting area and work on things and joke around for most of the day. Lunch is served when the catering company arrives with a wide array of options that offer mostly sub sandwiches and finger foods.
While they wait around, another band comes up to introduce themselves, “Hey dudes. We’re Terminal Turmoil. I’m Nate, and like that’s Rick, our guitarist, and over there by your dirty blond-haired friend is our drummer Boyd and our bassist behind me is Stan. Nice to meet you, fellas, first year here, I am going to guess.”
“Yeah, we’re Disgrace Thru Grace, I’m Aiden, this to my left is Eddie, on my immediate right is Dakota and our final member Rey. Any advice you could share?” Aiden asks as their nerves are rattled and exceedingly noticeable.
Scratching his beard, Nate takes his sweet time answering.
“Yeah, little dude, just like relax, okay, don’t sweat it and have fun. Ignore the crowd. I think I heard it’s about fifteen to twenty thousand this year so put yourself where you all play the best and be yourselves.” Nate describes waving his hands when he talks.
Unable to piece together the accent, Aiden takes an educated guess.
“Not to sound rude, but are you from like California? Your accent is very different from our Southern twang.” Aiden asks as every member of the other band cracks up.
“Wow, we give you advice, and you ask where we’re from; you’re going to be fine if you can stay distracted by that. Yes, we came here from Orange County.”
They all sit and chat for a bit as they continue to kill time until Aiden and company are due on stage.
“Hey! Disgrace Thru Grace, fifteen-minute stage call. Get ready, boys!” A stagehand yells, seeing them standing around.
“Guess it’s time for us to suit up and get ready,” Eddie states changing into a solid black t-shirt.
Aiden gets into a gray muscle shirt with a navy-blue dress shirt left unbuttoned. Dakota slips out of his shirt and exposes his thin frame remaining shirtless. Rey is the only one not changing as his shirt displays an airbrushed bass guitar on the front and back.
“Good luck, brother dudes, later on,” Nate tells them as Aiden, Eddie, Rey, and Dakota all head for the stage.
Rick comes up alongside Nate, “Think they’ll do alright?” He asks, taking out a small notepad from his pocket.
“Oh definitely, these boys are young, but I like their spirit already. We’ll see how they do and how the crowd reacts before we give our vote to keep them around, you know.”
Unbeknownst to Aiden and the others, Terminal Turmoil doesn’t perform at all. They’re talent scouts and agents who pose as a band to keep a close eye on future acts and offer them deals if they perform well beyond the first year of competition for a touring contract.
“I’ll be honest if the crowd pops at all for a Southern Rock group like these guys. I say we keep them around and give them all a free invite back next year. I like them too, you know, and they seem to be a well-bonded bunch.” Rick admits from the bottom of the steps to the backstage area.
When the band is introduced on stage over the loudspeaker, the crowd dies down a little for the unknown band.
“Hi there, everyone, we are Disgrace Thru Grace, and this our opening song, Hidden Sorrow. I hope you enjoy our selections,” Aiden announces, keeping his sunglasses over his tightly clenched eyes to conceal his fear.
After he taps his foot on the stage, he uses it as the count as they begin on the fourth tap.
By the middle of Killed by Despair, the crowd begins to come alive for the boys slowly. The roar grows by leaps and bounds by the time they finish with Vindication Vacation.
“Wow, that crowd is growing on them, aren’t they?” Rick calls out, poking his head around the curtain.
“Yeah, buddy, they are killing it, I’m telling you. I say we vote to bring them back tomorrow!” Nate nods at the stage and waits for the band to finish.
When they finish and come off stage, all four of them are saturated in sweat.
“Damn, that was something. How did we manage to pull that off?” Rey calls out as the crowd cheers just as loud as they were when the previous band performed.
“Hey, great job, dudes!” Nate states giving each of them a high five when they walk down the steps.
“That was a rush!” Aiden admits looking back to the stage.
“Well, great job dudzies, I would say hang around, but you’ll totally like get a phone call later if you’re one of the lucky first years.” Nate educates them, walking back to the waiting area with them.
“So what, we just head back to the hotel?” Aiden’s question is stopped dead in the tracks.
“Yeah, they have everyone’s hotel information, been a hell of a first day. We’re on last, so don’t wait around.” Rick tells them so they can talk in secret about day two activities.
“Yeah, we could use a shower and some downtime.” Dakota throws out.
Not wasting time, the four of them head out to the vehicles and head to the hotel. Aiden, Eddie, and Rey, each text their ladies while Dakota checks into his room.
“Get cleaned up and then dinner, maybe?” Eddie suggests before he’s shut down.
“Vickie brought us Chinese, so I’m good,” Aiden says, strutting towards the elevator.
“Yeah, Addie bought us pizza and pasta,” Rey admits looking over the text message.
“Well, I guess I could bring Lynn down here to the hotel restaurant,” Eddie says, bummed out.
“I could join y’all if you don’t mind,” Dakota says, not ready to eat alone.
“Cool, bro, sounds good to me. Get cleaned up and text me when you’re ready.” Eddie informs Dakota.
Up to the thirteenth floor, they get out and head for their rooms. Aiden walks down the furthest, but he notices the door is cracked open.
“Huh, that’s weird, she must be out of the room.” He whispers to himself, gently pushing the door open to see the room virtually empty.
“Hey, Vickie, are you here?” He calls out and hears the TV.
Aiden heads over to the bed and slips out of his Lugz boots, but he fails to notice the bathroom door slowly creeping open when he flops back. Able to get closer to him without a sound. Vickie has on a light tangerine-colored silky nightgown.
She straddles his lap, surprising him instantly.
“Oh, fuck me!” He shouts after she lands on his lap.
“Hi baby, thought that maybe tonight we could have some fun,” Vickie whispers in his ear.
“If that’s what you want, then absolutely!” He responds with her arms around his neck as he sits up, and she wraps her legs around his waist when he pulls himself to his feet.
“I’m all yours…” She tells him as they fall back onto the bed with Vickie’s body underneath Aiden’s.
“Good, I’ve been waiting for this.”
Helping Aiden shed his clothes, Vickie scoots further onto the bed as he begins to slide up between her smooth thighs. Lowering himself down gently, Vickie guides him into her body and gasps as he slowly pushes in every inch. When Aiden has nothing left to thrust into Vickie’s body, they kiss as Aiden begins to rock his hips back and forth.
Vickie locks her arms around his shoulders to match his rhythm and pace as they speed up, breaking the kiss.
“Oh yes, Aiden, my God, you feel so damn good…Oh yes…Don’t stop…Oh God, YES…” She screams as Aiden adds a little more, forcing her hands off his shoulders.
He interlocks his hands with hers as he begins to thrust harder and quicker than before, feeling his body about to release everything he’s held back.
“Vickie…” He stutters with one last push shoving as deep as possible tat sends Vickie into one major orgasm.
“Aiden…” She cries out, tightening her fingers still locked with Aiden’s until their bodies give way and he collapses.
They lie there together, breathing deeply.
“I hope that was worth the wait.” Vickie musters to say.
“God, yes it was; I ain’t felt anyone that good ever. From the instant, we kissed there’s something different about you. The way you smell, the way you kiss, your touch, and now your body. Just wow, Vickie, you’re perfect.” He mentions to convince himself of what he says.
Vickie can’t contain her emotions any longer. She pushes Aiden’s body to sit up and look him in the eyes.
“I love you.” She admits and slaps her hands over her mouth.
Stunned at first, Aiden sits there, “I love you too.”
The tender moment is broken up when the hotel room telephone rings.
“Hello?” Vickie answers, listening for a second, “Yeah, sure he’s right here.”
She hands the receiver over to Aiden, and he places it to his ear.
“This is Aiden,” he says as he’s given instructions.
“Tomorrow, have four new songs ready to play. You’ll be performing at one o’clock sharp.” The male voice indicates then hangs up.
“One o’clock got it.” He says, handing the receiver back to Vickie.
“Alright, you get a second day!” She squeals, wrapping her arms around him.
“Looks that way, but let’s eat, and I need a shower. Come on, beautiful.” Aiden mentions, still in shock.
The evening for everyone flows smoothly, and they crash by midnight. When the morning arrives, the four performers take off early to get ready as they sit around awaiting their turn.
The girls pile in with the rest of the crowd and cheer hard when Aiden, Rey, Eddie, and Dakota are on stage.
Unlike the first performance, the crowd cheers harder and louder with each of their songs. They begin to chant “D.T.G.” when they finish up. The announcer over the PA introduces the next band to swap spots with Aiden and the others.
Not wasting time when they exit the stage area, they’re approached by the stagehand with exciting news, “Hey, Disgrace Thru Grace, listen up you’re in for Sunday afternoon, final first-year act. Have two songs. Then you’re finished, no waiting around. Awesome show, and see you tomorrow.”
Thrilled to push expectations, they all head out to celebrate at Red Robins, where they join several others that performed earlier in the day.
“It’s all us! We’re doing the impossible! All that time in the Import Room has paid off!” Rey shouts, followed by chugging his frosted mug of beer.
“Hell yeah, son, we own this place!” Dakota shouts out next, banging his fist on the table.
Aiden and Vickie sit there and smile nestled up.
“Way to go, babe, I’m damn proud of you!” She yells out over the rumble of the restaurant.
“Thanks, sweetheart, just one more day to go before we can go home. Our home, just us from now on.” He gently whispers into her ear, making her squirm with anticipation.
Once they finish at Red Robin’s and return to the hotel, they take time out to enjoy the pool and hot tub in the recreation area. They need the time to relax and unwind so they can turn their focus for the final day.
The plan now is to have Dakota and Aiden perform their solos as planned if they made it this far.
By nightfall, they’re already worn out from the performance, thanks to horsing around the rest of the day. They turn in and rest up for Sunday’s big finale.
Backstage prepared with their heads low, they allow the announcer to give them one final introduction.
“Ladies and gentlemen, for their final appearance this year. The Ohio Rock Fest, in association with Buckeye Stadium Ventures, is pleased to give you for one more time, Disgrace Thru Grace.”
The boys walk out on the stage, which is received by the loudest cheers yet.
“Hey, thank you Columbus, we’ve had a blast this weekend, and as the man said, we have only two more songs. A solo piece by me and another by my brother Dakota. I hope y’all enjoy and we will hopefully see you next year!” Aiden calls out into the microphone as the music begins with the piano that was brought on stage.
The solos go off without any issues, and the crowd eats it up. When the band leaves the stage, the crowd begins to chant “D.T.G.” all over again. When the four of them make their way down the steps, they’re approached by the selection committee.
“Hey, there fellas, after watching and listening to that crowd cheer like that. We’d be honored to have you return for next year’s show. It’s an open invite, and we will send you everything in the mail in a couple of weeks.”
They all exchange handshakes before Dakota speaks up for the band, “Looking forward to it, sir, and thank you we had the time of our lives.”
Finally heading out to the cars, they wait for the girls to join them before they pack up in teams of two again, except for Dakota. Everyone is ready to head home, where they’ll begin to prepare for a more challenging show next year.