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Boomer stepped up onto the stage and tapped the microphone. “Hello? I’m very sorry for the delay but as you can see our lead singer, Avery, has taken ill. It will be just a moment while we figure out what’s up and then I promise you, there will be live music tonight. Just bear with me a moment and the band will be back.” He stepped back from the microphone, giving a final wave to the confused and worried crowed then went back stage to find out for himself just what had happened.
When Avery opened his eyes he was laying on an old leather sofa. Rick was sitting beside him and the rest of the band stood around the couch looking at him with concern. The door opened and Boomer walked in and stood next to Cole. “How we doing?” He asked.
Avery struggled to sit up. Rick grabbed his arm, slowly helping him. “Take it nice and easy.” Rick told him. “Don’t want you passing out again.”
Avery blinked, looking around the room he was in. “Where I am?” He asked.
“Boomer’s office.” Trash told him. “Cole carried you in here when you fainted.”
“What happened?” Kat knelt down beside the couch and touched Avery’s forehead. “You don’t have a fever or anything, are you alright?”
Avery swung his legs around the side of the couch and leaned forward, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah…” He said softly, “I think I just got overwhelmed by everything and started to panic.”
“That ain’t like you.” Trash raised an eyebrow. “I mean seriously? You had a panic attack?”
“Hey, lay off him.” Rick snapped. “You think it was easy for him to get up on that stage, after everything he’s been through?”
“I’m fine, Rick.” Avery told him. “I don’t know what happened really, I just got nervous and had trouble breathing, it’s not a big deal.”
“It is a big deal, Ave. I knew you weren’t ready for this. I wish you would have listened to me.”
“So what now?” Kat asked. “We have a packed bar. Everyone’s expecting us to play. If we cancel, there’s going to be a lot of disappointment people.”
“Tough shit.” Rick growled. “If Avery can’t do it…”
“No, I can.” Avery protested. “I just need a minute. Rick, I really am alright.”
“Kat can sing.” Everyone turned and looked at Trash. “She’s a really good singer. She can take Avery’s place. I mean for tonight. Just until he gets back on his feet.”
“Yeah, no problem.” Kat smiled as she looked at Trash. “I know all the songs, no sweat. Let Avery take it easy for the night.”
“What do you think Ave?” Rick asked him.
Avery shrugged. “It’s fine with me, if it’s okay with the rest of you.”
“Then let’s get back out there and get this show on the road.” Cole touched Avery’s shoulder. “You gonna be okay back here by yourself?” He asked him.
Avery nodded. “I’ll be fine, I’m just going to lay here and rest a bit.”
Rick squeezed Avery’s hand. “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”
Avery smiled. “Rick, I’m fine. You worry too much.”
“I can’t help it.” Rick smirked. “I love you.”
Avery kissed him, “Go, I’ll be fine. I love you too”
“Alright baby, rest up. We got this covered.”
“Break a leg…” Avery tried to give Rick a reassuring smile but he knew that Rick could see through it. Avery felt like shit, like he’d let everyone down. Most of all, he’d let himself down, and as the others filed out of the room, taking to the stage once more but this time without him, Avery’s heart sank. He had no idea if this was the end of the line for him, or just another bump in the road. He seriously hopped it was the latter.
Avery pushed the office door open and stood there in the doorway listening to the music. The music called to him. It always had. Ever since he was a child music had ruled his life. A simple song could change his mood, feed his emotions, and dictate his actions. A single song could lift him so high he felt that he was soaring, or knock him down so low he felt like dying. A beautiful voice could render him speechless and bring tears to his eyes.
Kat had a beautiful voice, there was no doubt about that. She could sing as well as she could play, maybe better. She captivated her audience and though Avery felt a tinge of jealousy over her standing there singing in his place, he had to smile. She did look amazing up there and she knew how to own the stage, she even seemed to be enjoying herself, maybe a little too much.
Avery crossed his arms over his chest and leaned his head against the doorway. He sighed. Part of him wanted to walk away. The other part of him wanted to walk up on that stage and take his rightful place, but how could he do that now, she seemed so at home up there, so natural. He wasn’t about to take that away from her. That’s not the kind of person he was.
“She’s good.” Avery turned his head and saw Boomer standing next to him. He had a dish towel thrown over one shoulder and a bottle of beer in his hand.
“She is.” Avery agreed. “Almost makes me feel a little obsolete.”
“How do you figure?”
Avery shrugged. “She can play guitar and sing, what can I do? A whole lot of nothing.”
“Avery, bahis firmaları you’re one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. Kat’s good, but she don’t hold a candle to you.”
“Don’t do me much good when I can’t even walk up on stage and stay vertical. Makes me wonder what good I am to anyone, to them.” He nodded towards the band. “Maybe they’d be better off without me.”
“With that attitude, maybe they would.”
Avery turned and stared at him, a little shocked, but then he looked down, dejected.
“So you’re having a hard time getten’ back up on that horse. Anyone who went through what you did would. Does that mean you should just give up?”
“I don’t know.” Avery said honestly, “I just don’t want to let them down anymore.”
“Well, if you quit now, you will be. Think about what each one of them kids have done to get this far, what they’ve sacrificed. Each one of them has fought and struggled to get to where they are today and most of it they’ve done for you, because they believe you in you. You walk away now and you won’t just be walking out on your band or your friends, you’ll be walking out on your family. If you ask me, that’s worse than losing some stupid competition. You could play a hundred gigs, enter a hundred competitions and win or lose it doesn’t matter as long as you have each other.
I know you’re hurting, and I know you’re scared, but giving up isn’t a solution. At the end of the day you’ll still be hurting and you’ll still be scared, but you’ll also be alone and boy, there ain’t nothing worse than being alone. You have people here that love you and will support you no matter what you choose to do, but before you make your choice stop and think about them for once. How is your leaving going to affect them? How do you think they’ll feel if you just walk away now? They’ve suffered through all this with you and believe me when I say suffered, Rick most of all. Rick nearly lost his mind when we couldn’t find you.”
Avery nodded sadly. “I remember what he looked like when I woke up in the hospital. He looked terrible. I never want to hurt him that way again.”
“Well, it wasn’t your fault. But if you walk away now it will be.”
Avery thought long and hard about what Boomer was telling him. “I don’t want to hurt him, any of them, I love them all too much.”
“Then prove it.” Boomer told him.
“But how can I…”
Boomer shook his head. “That’s for you to figure out kiddo. I ain’t no therapist, I’m just a bar keep.” He gave Avery a wink then turned and walked back to the bar, whistling along to the music as he picked up a glass and started cleaning it.
Avery smirked and shook his head. “Alright old man.” He whispered. “I get it, I heard ya loud and clear.”
“We’re going to take a little break.” Kat announced to the crowd. “Don’t go anywhere though because we’ll be right back with more great songs.” She smiled and thanked the audience then she and the others set aside their instruments and filed one by one off the stage.
“You guys sounded great.” Avery told them. “Really good. I had no idea that Kat could sing so good.”
“Yeah she’s got an amazing voice.” Trash put his arm around Kat and pulled her against him. He was beaming as he looked at her. So proud, so enthralled, and utterly in love. Avery couldn’t help but smile at them.
“She’s definitely got talent.” Cole smiled as he walked past them. He nodded respectively in her direction then headed to the back where the toilets were located.
“I got to drain it too.” Trash said. He quickly kissed Kat on the mouth then hurried to the back before he pissed himself.
“I need some water.” Kat gave Avery a quick pat on the shoulder then headed to the bar. Her voice was a bit raspy. He could tell that she was feeling the strain. She wasn’t used to singing an entire set list and it was starting to wear her down. Avery could remember those days. It took his voice awhile to get in shape too. Constant vocal exercises and hydration was a major help in that. For Kat, it was just a matter of getting used to singing again because she had sang with her previous band. She was just out of practice now.
Avery watched her bounce happily to the bar as Boomer handed her a bottled water. She did seem in a really good mood. She liked singing, Avery could tell, and then that old feeling of being useless began to creep up on him again. Rick came up and wrapped his arms around Avery, crushing the boy against him.
“How you feeling?” Rick asked him.
“Better now.” Avery turned to him, smiled and kissed him deeply on the mouth.
“That’s good, I was worried about you.”
“You worry too much.” Avery whispered as he kissed him again.
Rick returned the kiss. He touched the side of Avery’s face, then gently tilted his head backwards as he kissed him with so much passion that Avery’s legs began to weaken. Avery wrapped his arms around Rick’s neck and held on for support. He opened his mouth and invited Rick inside. Rick slipped his tongue into Avery’s mouth and for the moment, their tongues kaçak iddaa twisted and turned together.
“Holy shit you two, you’re going to set off the sprinklers if you keep that up.” Trash walked past them, grinning, as he went to look for Kat.
Rick broke the kiss and laughed some. Avery blushed.
“Take it easy boys.” Cole winked as he too walked past them. “We want to put on a good show for these people but not that good of one.”
“Uh, yeah, I don’t think it’s that kind of bar.” Rick snickered.
Avery giggled some as he looked at Rick. “We can put on that show in private at home.”
“Definitely.” Rick winked at him.
Avery put his head on Rick’s chest and closed his eyes. “I think I’ll grab a seat and catch the end of the show.” He whispered.
“You okay just watching?” Rick asked him.
“Yeah…” Avery sighed and looked up at him. “Maybe it’s where I belong.”
Rick narrowed his eyes. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Avery shrugged. “Kat’s a natural and the crowd seems to like her. Plus, she looks really happy up there. I’d hate to just shove her back into the background when she’s tasted the spot light. Wouldn’t be fair to her.”
“Hey, Kat knew this was temporary when she agreed to take your place tonight. Besides, if she does enjoy singing then maybe you can share a few songs with her. It’s something you’ll have to discuss with her but trust me Ave, she doesn’t want to steal your job. We all know who our front man is. You’re place is secure babe, don’t worry about being pushed out because it ain’t gonna happen.”
“Still, I just wonder if maybe I’d be better off, if we all would be better off, if I stepped down. I think I’d make a great groupie. I’m already sleeping with the pianist.” Avery winked and grinned, trying to look cute but Rick didn’t appear amused. Avery sighed. “I just wonder if my days on stage are over.”
“No way baby, you’ve just hit a rough patch. It happens to everyone. You need to catch your breath and then you’ll be fine.”
“You think that’s all it is?” Avery asked, not sounding to sure.
“I know that’s all it is.” Rick slipped a finger under Avery’s chin and lifted his head up so that he could look into his eyes. “Avery, I know you. Probably better than anyone. I know how much you love to sing, I know what the music does to you. If you step down, you’ll be miserable. Hell man, this is your dream, and if you think I’m going to just let you throw it away you’re crazy. You’re going to get back up there, sing your heart out, we’re going to win that battle, then become famous, and tour all over the world. When you are ready to retire, we’ll retire together and grow old together with all of our adopted kids and a few dogs, probably some cats too, I know how you like your cats.”
Avery grinned. “Sounds like you have it all planned out.”
“Damn straight I do. You have your dream, I have mine, and mine if just living out my life with you, the man I love.”
Rick ran a finger under Avery’s eye. “You’re crying. What’s wrong?”
Avery shook his head. “Nothing’s wrong.” He smiled. “I’m just really happy.”
Rick smiled and kissed him again. “Me too…” He whispered. “So long as you’re by my side.”
“Then you’ll always be happy.” Avery told him. “Because I’m not going anywhere. I love you more than anything Rick. You’re the only thing that keeps me going most days. I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for you, you gave me the strength I needed to survive, and you continue to give me the strength to keep living each day. I know that I can do anything as long as you’re with me.”
“You’re an amazing person.” Rick ran his hand through Avery’s hair, his thumb tracing the edge of his ear then moving slowly down the side of his neck. “I think I fall more in love with you each day. There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for you, just to make you happy and see your smile. You mean everything to me.”
Avery blushed and turned his head away shyly. “You always know the right things to say.” He told him.
Rick laughed some. “Well, you bring out the poet in me I suppose.”
“Okay Romeo, back to work.” Cole walked over and ascended the steps, glancing at Rick to let him know it was time to go.
Rick nodded. “Coming.”
“I’ll go grab a seat.” Avery said. He gave Rick one last kiss then headed out into the audience and found a table close to the stage where he could get a good view of the band. It felt strange for him to see the band from this side of things, as an observer and not one of the members. Rick looked hella sexy standing behind the keyboard, his auburn hair lit up by the stage lights.
Avery kind of liked seeing the stage from an observers perspective, but Rick was right. He’d never be happy if he gave up on his dream. He could stand aside and let Kat have her night, but Avery was going to take back the spot light; he had to. He didn’t feel right doing anything else. He was a singer and his life was on that stage.
It was close to closing. The crowd had thinned out considerably but the show had gone well, kaçak bahis all things considered. Kat sang the last song of the night then closed with a heartfelt thank you to those who’d stayed till the end. She gave them a quick wave good-bye then stepped off the stage, grabbing a water, and sitting down next to Avery. She was exhausted but still a little exhilarated from being up on center stage.
“It felt good to sing again.” She told Avery as she took a huge gulp of water. The cold liquid felt great on her sore throat. “I’d nearly forgotten what it was like.”
“It’s unlike anything else.” He said. “You feel like a God standing up there.”
Kat nodded. “Yeah, you really do.”
“You seemed real happy up there.” He noted.
Again she nodded as she took another drink. “I was, but I also love playing guitar. I wouldn’t want to give that up.”
Avery shrugged. “You could always do both I suppose.”
Kat set the bottle down and then looked at Avery, smiling affectionately. “If you wouldn’t mind handing the mic over once in a while I wouldn’t mind singing a song or two. Hell, I wouldn’t mind singing back up even, but your our lead Ave, and I’m not about to try and take your place. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. No one could fill your shoes.”
“I don’t know about all that.” Avery laughed. “But I wouldn’t mind sharing the spot light with you, you’re a great singer.”
“Well thank you. I appreciate the compliment.”
“Anytime.” Avery smiled back at her. He really didn’t mind sharing the spot light with her, he wasn’t lying about that. Actually, the idea of having two singers, and one of them being a beautiful woman wasn’t such a bad idea. Avery figured that it might even pull in some more fans. Everyone loved to see a pretty woman on stage singing her heart out, it was sexy.
After the guys finished packing up the equipment (all the guys but Avery) they sat down at the table, ready to relax. Trash and Rick each had a beer and Cole ordered a soda. Avery was already working on his second Mt. Dew, which seemed not to have any affect on him because he yawned and laid his head on Rick’s shoulder.
“I think Avery’s ready to go sleep.” Cole joked.
“I doubt sleep is what he has in mind.” Trash snickered.
“Is your mind ever not in the gutter?” Ricked asked him. He shook his head, grinning, then took a swig of his beer.
“Only on Sunday when I’m in church.” Trash laughed.
“You, Church?” Avery smirked. “Yeah I could just see that. The place would burn down as soon as you walked in.”
“It’s never burned.” Trash retorted, “Just slightly smoldered.”
“I bet.” Rick laughed, followed by the others.
“I am getting kinda sleepy though.” Avery said, yawning again.
“Well, why don’t we call it a night.” Cole downed the rest of his soda and stood up. “I have to be getten home to the wife and kids anyway. Good show tonight guys. I think we’re ready for the battle.”
“Yeah…”Avery frowned as he dropped his gaze to the floor. “You guys are ready.”
“Hey, don’t sweat it kid. You’re allowed an off day once in a while. You’re only human you know.” Cole gave Avery a reassuring wink then waved at his dad and headed out the door.
“Cole’s right Ave. You’ll kick ass in the competition, I have faith in you.” Rick put his arm around Avery’s shoulders and hugged him tight.
“I hope so.” Avery tried to sound up beat but failed miserably at it. He still couldn’t believe that he’d been so lame as to pass out on stage, in front of everyone. He’d never once done anything like that before, not even when he first started out. It just wasn’t like him. Tying to get back his old life wasn’t going to be easy, that is, if he even wanted his old life. Maybe, in some way, that was half his problem. He was trying so hard to just pick up where he’d left off but he couldn’t really do that. He wasn’t the same man that he was before but he hadn’t totally accepted that yet.
When it came right down to it, he had changed. His entire outlook had changed so why shouldn’t his singing or even his performance change? Maybe he was trying to hard to be the man he used to be and not allowing himself to be who he was now. Maybe he needed to embrace who he had become and just let the music flow through him instead of trying so hard to control it and mold it into what it used to be. Who knows, maybe this change would be for the better, maybe his performance would be better, more emotional. Every artist draws from their emotions so maybe Avery’s experience would add some real depth to his singing.
If he could harness his pain and use all those emotions that he was trying so hard to shove down into his subconscious he could potentially be a better singer than ever before. It was worth it to at least try. At least he thought it was. His goal was to sing in such a way as to pull the audience in and make them feel what he was feeling. Maybe this was the way to do. ‘Yeah’, he thought suddenly, perking up a bit more. ‘That’s what I need to do. Stop trying to pretend like nothings happened, like I’m the same as before, and just embrace who I’ve become. Make something good could come out of something terrible and show the world that no one can beat me down, because I will rise up stronger and better than ever.
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