45 Days

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Chapter 26- Time to Hit the Road

They head back to Aiden’s, where Rey makes sure everything will be okay before he heads back home.

“Need anything?”

“No, Vickie let me know she could feel me there. I’m good with that. I know she’s tough, she has to be, she’s with me, and that’s hard enough.” Aiden admits.

“You need anything, anything at all, call me no matter what time it is. You are family. I mean it. Addie’s the same way; we care too much to see you throw it all away again.” Rey explains in the doorway, prepared to leave.

“I’m good, Rey. Get home before the rain hits again.”

Waving when he pushes off the doorframe, Rey backs out the door leaving Aiden home alone. In his chair, Aiden reverts to the one thing he can rely on to numb himself for a while. He goes into the music room working on a revision to an older song.

Over the next couple of days, Dakota and Eddie prepare for Columbus while Rey, Addie, and Aiden visit Vickie. The evening they’re prepared to leave, they all stop in to check on her.

“Hey, look who’s awake! How are you feeling?” Dakota begins ducking inside the room.

“I’ve been better, but the pain meds are kick ass.” Vickie discloses and reaches for a hug.

“Good, this family can’t afford to lose you,” Eddie tells her playfully with her a quick hug.

“I’d love to be part of this family, but you know. I kind of messed that up.” Vickie admits with a depressed tone to her voice.

“Woah, you did not. When you’re free from this place, you are coming home, and we are going to discuss it finally.” Aiden blurts out at the side of her bed, away from everyone else.

Vickie doesn’t buy a word of what Aiden just said.

“I’ve heard that before…” She groans, giving him a sarcastic stare.

“I mean it, but you need to rest up. I’ll be back in a few days.” Aiden says and leans in for a kiss.

“She’s in good hands; I’m staying while with her while you’re gone,” Addie reveals from her chair.

“Thank you; it means a lot to me,” Aiden says with a hug of gratitude.

“Any time, you’re like my big brother, you know. You’ve done so much for me that I owe you.”

They release, and the guys are on their way out of town.

Barely a word is said on the way to the Ohio Rock Fest. When they arrive, they gather in front of Rey’s SUV.

“Alright, we’re here again, boys. I know since last year we have all new stuff. We’ve prepared harder and longer. I just wanna say thank you, my brothers, for being there. Y’all are the best bunch of misfits a family needs.” Aiden proclaims, a little emotional in his speech.

“We’re glad to have you around. You may be a screw-up, but you’re our screw up ya screwball.” Eddie teases, brushing his hand over Aiden’s now styled hair.

“Yeah, yeah ya big goof, let’s check-in and figure out where we stand.” Aiden orders leading the way to registration.

After they’ve registered, the band discovers they are the opening act in the morning and bump into some old friends.

“Hey Aiden, Rey, Eddie, Dakota, how ya boys been?”

“NATE!” Dakota shouts, and the first to shake his hand.

“Great to see y’all here again. We didn’t see you on the lineup, though.” Dakota mentions feeling confused.

“Oh yeah, we figured we’d just like scope things out this year, you feel me. We’re kinda old with the same old routine, you know.”

They all share a laugh.

“Well, we’re the show’s opening act this year. So be here and take some notes; we have plenty of new material.” Eddie mentions, putting his arms around Rey and Aiden’s shoulders.

Nate nods, curling his lower lip, “Totally, we’ll be there; besides, if a band doesn’t show up or register, we’ll probably fill-in, but hey, good luck in the morning. We’ll be rooting for you.” Nate says, waving as he and his people walk away.

“Opening act, guess this means they really impressed someone last year. If they can rock it out like they did last year, they’ll be offered a contract this year. Maybe for the state fair tours?” Rick asks, already knowing the answer.

“Hell yes, they changed their entire appearance. Dakota has the tattooed arms; Aiden’s demeanor is colder, more pain in his eyes feeding the fire. I can’t wait to see what they do in the morning.” Nate replies with a smile stretched across his face.

The anticipation builds steadily. The fellas leave after registration for the hotel. They spend time relaxing in the pool, and the others know Aiden needs to settle down being worried about Vickie. They keep him distracted as the evening winds down, and they each head up to their rooms.

Up early to shower and enjoy a bite to eat at the breakfast buffet, the four of them begin to feel their nerves take control.

“Morning Rey,” Aiden says with a pat on the back, taking a seat at the table.

“Hey man, ready to do this?”

Aiden locked eyes with his best friend and shows the determination to put on the best show yet.

“Absolutely, we’ve busted our asses all year for this.”

“Yeah, we have just happened to be opening the show. That’s huge. We have to set the tone for everyone else. Think you can handle that pressure?” Rey continues his nervous thoughts.

“Hell yeah, we got this man. Now eat up. We have to get there soon.” Aiden reminds him in-between bites.

When they’re finished, they wave over to Eddie and Dakota to finish eating. Throwing a hand up each, they hurry through the last bit of food left on their plates and walk into the lobby.

“Ready, boys? Time to do this all over again.” Aiden states focused, utilizing his pain as a motivator.

They arrive close to show time and run to get ready in a rush. Aiden is the last on stage.

“Let’s do this…” He calls out, shutting his eyes and takes in a deep breath.

“Alright, you four, get ready; they’re about to get the show underway.” The female stagehand calls out, motioning that it’s time.

Behind the curtain, the announcer hits the PA system.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Ohio Rock Fest. Are you ready to rock?” He pauses as the crowd roars to life as Eddie, Dakota, Rey, and Aiden’s hearts are about to race from their chests.

“Then let’s hear it for your opening act. Ohio, please welcome back one of the favorite bands from last year, Disgrace Thru Grace!”

The curtain begins to open, and the sight of nearly thirty-thousand people for the event to kickoff.

“Hello, Columbus, are you ready?” Aiden calls out to the crowd as they cheer.

“Alright, we are Disgrace Thru Grace, and here’s something new!” Aiden calls out, “Out of Time” to his friends.

Going through their songs, the members from Terminal Turmoil hang around at the stage steps to discuss an important subject as the crowd loves the band’s new sounds and attitude.

“I say we bring them to L.A. and offer them a contract,” Rick informs Nate as they stare at the boys.

“Already had that idea myself. The crowd is eating them up all over again! I suggest we make them an opening act for a while, though.” Nate yells back with his eyes on the stage.

They continue to wait for them to finish up. The crowd once again chants “D.T.G.” as the band waves walking off stage.

“God, I love that rush!” Rey shouts, pulling out his earplugs.

“Guys, if you enjoy it that much, then listen here. We’re not a real band at all.” Nate interrupts, stepping in the middle of the four of them.

“Wait…What…” Dakota says with a confused glare in his eyes.

“We’re all representatives from Shattered Glass Records in Los Angeles. Watching you last year and just now, you’re a hot commodity, and we want to sign you away from the state fair offers and offer you straight up to be an opening act for our major bands until you get an album ready for primetime.” Nate explains, extending his hand out to Aiden.

“Whoa, the guy to talk to is right behind me. Dakota started this band, and it’s his call.”

Dakota isn’t sure what to do, “Um, can we come out there and discuss it first? I don’t wanna call y’all liars, but I don’t want us getting played.”

Without missing a beat, Rick steps in, “Absolutely, boys, let’s say give you a week and come out then?”

“My girl is about to have surgery. Plus, I have a career day speech to give at our old high school, Midtrail High, this week. A month would be best.” Aiden counters.

“Then we’ll see you four in a month. All expenses paid, here are our card boys. We’ll be in contact. Enjoy the weekend, and keep doing what you’re doing. You got the stuff to be superstars.” Nate says, shaking their hands as he and Rick walk away.

“Looks like we’re going to L.A. bro’s!” Eddie announces as they find it hard to believe.

The rest of the weekend, they can’t believe it. Each time the band takes the stage, the crowd wants more.

One thing they know is that things are about to change. When they get home Sunday evening, they explain everything from the shot. It’s not long after their hopes are pushed higher as they receive the call and prepare to head to L.A. for a once in a lifetime opportunity.

While three of the four members can’t stop thinking about the trip to Los Angeles, Aiden focuses on being there for Vickie as she recovers from surgery and is sent home to heal two weeks after her surgery goes well.

“Here we are, we’re finally home. No more sitting around in a hospital room.” Aiden says when they pull up the driveway.

“Yeah, so glad to be home too. Again, I am sorry about all of this. You should be excited and ready to head to L.A., but instead, you’re stuck here with me.”

Killing the power to the Mustang, Aiden turns to face Vickie, “Hey, you’re home, you’re safe, that’s all that matters. There will be a therapist and nurse to help you while I’m gone.”

Vickie’s face turns red, “I fucked up and lost control. Here I am twenty-seven years old and need help like a child.”

“Let it go, we can afford it, and besides, you need to heal in comfort. Would you rather be stuck in a rehabilitation hospital?”

Swinging her head over, Vickie doesn’t waste time answering, “Hell no! I’d rather be in pain here at home with you.”

Aiden smiles and opens the car door to run inside for Vickie’s wheelchair.

Before they both realize it, the remaining two weeks fly by, and Aiden’s off with his friends flying to Los Angeles. After they land, they’re greeted by a driver holding a sign with their names.

“Hey, right here, sir!” Rey calls out, being the first to notice the gentleman waiting for them.

“Ah, very good sirs, if you’ll simply follow me, we will arrive at your meeting in approximately forty-five minutes.” The driver says and escorts them to the limousine.

The limo parks in front of a skyscraper, all four gentlemen climb out, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of downtown L.A.

“Holy hell, this place is insane!” Dakota mentions staring up at the buildings.

“Damn right, geez, this can’t be real,” Eddie says, looking around.

“Welcome gentlemen, shall we all head up to my office and hammer out this deal?” Nate calls out as he exits the building.

“Absolutely, sir, let’s do this!” Aiden yells, taking the lead to get the deal done.

It takes them hours to finally work out a deal, but everyone is pleased with the outcome when the dust settles.

“I’m telling you, you’re going to love this lifestyle. Please give me a couple of years to get your name established, and you’re the next big band to carry the torch. We’ve never seen a band come out as hot as you guys did at the rock fest. It’s insane just how well the crowd loved you from the get-go,” Nate babbles on as a notary seals the deal on the contract.

“With the money you’re paying us, and with the chance to shine, we’re glad to do this,” Rey tells him with a smile plastered across his face.

“That’s the right attitude to have! Now we’ll work in the booth in a couple of days, and I’ll line up a schedule with one of West Coast Recordz headlining bands, and you’ll be on the way to stardom.” Nate explains, straightening up all the paperwork and drops it into a file jacket on his desk.

Exchanging a handshake with Nate, the newly signed Disgrace Thru Grace members are treated to a meal at a fine dining restaurant before heading to the complimentary business suite, where they relax and contact everyone back home.

“Hey babe, we did it, we signed a contract,” Aiden tells Vickie when she picks up the phone.

“No fucking way! That’s awesome stuff; I’m proud of you.” Vickie says, feeling guilty, praying that the deal would fall through and Aiden would come home.

Aiden can’t hold back the details of how things were worked out, “Yeah, we’re going to spend some time in the recording studio, then we come home until they lineup everything. So I’ll get to come home and get paid while I help you out with therapy for a little while.”

“I like the sound of you being home before you’re out on the road,” Vickie admits as Aiden can hear the physical and emotional agony in her voice.

“It’ll be fine, baby doll. When the doctor clears you, you can join me on the road if you want. I need you by my side, and we see the country together.” Aiden admits easing her mind.

“If you say so, love, but go have fun you’re in L.A. enjoy it!” Vickie orders Aiden before the call ends.

“Alright, love you, Vickie.”

“I love you too, bye sweetie.” She drops the receiver onto the base and eases back into the chair, returning to her book.

“I guess it’s time to have some fun before we get to work,” Aiden says to himself, heading down to the busy streets of Los Angeles, taking in what free time he has before things get busy inside a recording studio.

Observing from the booth to watch the newly signed acquisition, Nate and Rick have their arms folded over their chest, listening as they lay down some songs.

“I have high hopes for these guys,” Rick mentions to Nate.

“Shouldn’t take them long to get picked up. We have plenty of places to send an opening act that needs new talent on the road.” Nate reminds his business partner.

After the initial album is finished and copies are distributed to agents, the boys are flown home to prepare for the phone call to head out on the road. It takes Nate nearly a month to lineup the right tour he feels is the one to get them started.

“Hey Dakota, it’s Nate. Listen, I’m sending you all tickets to head for Pittsburg, be there by Monday to rehearse and kickoff the concert on Thursday evening. You’ll start there, and we have everything you’ll need. Just get on the bus, and you’re halfway there.”

“Copy that; we will be there, thank you, sir! We won’t let you down, I promise.” Dakota nearly shouts, still unable to process this is about to happen.

When the tickets arrive, Dakota calls everyone over, “We are on our way y’all, be at the bus depot on time, or you’re out!”

Snatching his ticket, Eddie has some news of his own.

“Hey, bro.’s you’re all gonna be a little mad but…” He pauses for just a second before showing off a new piece of jewelry, “Lynn and I eloped in Catlettsburg at that little wedding chapel.”

“Hell yeah, congrats, man!” Rey begins slapping Eddie’s upper back.

“Thanks, we knew we didn’t have time to do something fancy, you know. So, we got hitched there, and well, guess I’m off the market now.” Eddie teases, blushing slightly.

“That’s kickass, man. I’m happy for you,” Dakota states, thinking of Heather at that moment.

“Alright, enough of this sappy shit! We have a bus to catch in just a couple of days. Tie up loose ends because we’re officially rock stars now!” Aiden reminds them and takes his ticket.

The day they depart doesn’t waste time to approach. It hits like a sniper from a hidden foxhole. Piled up in Rey’s SUV, everyone crawls out to say their goodbyes.

“Guess this is goodbye for now.” Addie sniffs, holding a tissue to her nose.

“You know you can quit and come with us.” Rey reiterates to her, still trying to convince her to quit her job.

“No, I love what I do, and if this doesn’t work, it’s nice not to have to start all over again. Plus, I’m now the lead analyst since Dave took over for Aiden.”

“I see you soon, husband,” Lynn says, holding Eddie’s hands.

“I’ll call every night. I promise just take care of the house. I love you, Mrs. Allen.”

“I love you, husband, bye-bye.”

They get in one last kiss before he boards the bus.

“Keep up with therapy, and once the doctor releases you, I want you on tour with me.” Aiden reminds Vickie as he pulls her chin up to see her eyes filled with tears.

“I put you a note in your bag. Take care, and I’ll miss you. I love you.” She says, trying to keep her balance on her crutches.

“I love you too, and I’ll see you soon.”

He leans in, kissing her on the cheek, and gets on the bus.

Rey and Addie share one last prolonged kiss before he breaks away to get on the bus. Dakota is the only single one there, just waves as he follows Rey. Sitting in the back, the four of them horse around until the bus pulls away.

Almost loaded up in the SUV, Addie assists Vickie into the passenger seat.

“Hand me those, and I’ll toss em in the back,” Addie informs Vickie taking the crutches.

“Thanks, Addie, you’ve been a great help through this.”

Addie blushes and struts to the rear of the vehicle and places the crutches in the back.

Once she climbs into Rey’s seat, Addie looks over to Vickie and Lynn with a simple question in mind, “Who’s in the mood for Japanese food?”

Without missing a beat, Lynn speaks up first, “Ah yes, that sounds good, thank you so much.”

Addie’s attention is turned to Vickie; all she does is nod making it a unanimous decision.

“Alrighty then, let’s go enjoy some Japanese liquor. It’s Sake time, ladies!” Addie declares, trying to lighten the mood.

All three giggle with excitement as they pull away from the bus depot and drive only a few blocks. Parked along the restaurant’s front, Lynn helps Vickie while Addie holds the front door for them.

“Thank you,” Vickie says with a hint of gratitude in her voice.

“Hey, we all need a girl’s night sometimes, and sweetie, you need to get away from that house. What do you say to a salon day soon? Your routes could use it.” Addie teases as they make their way to an open booth.

“Sounds great; I could use some real pampering,” Vickie admits playing with her hair.

“Lynn, you’re coming too. I’m not taking no for an answer.” Addie orders.

“Yeah, good, I need my nails painted and trimmed.”

Addie and Vickie laugh as they sit there and make plans while they bond over food.

After the roughhousing settles on the bus, Aiden remembers the note in his bag and reaches for the overhead compartment taking his bag out. When he finds it hidden in the small side pocket, he unfolds it prepared for the worst.

“Just remember, I love you, you idiot, and I will be there when I can get there!” He reads out loud, smiling. Aiden rests his head against the top of the seat. He thinks about the future as he shuts his eyes, enthusiastic for the new adventure.

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