On the moving bus, Braelyn went to go take a shower. It was easier said then done. She emerged fifteen minutes later in her pajama shorts and a high school tee shirt, her hair still sopping wet. She walked to the front of the bus an unhappy look on her face.
“Fun tip,” Bob said, laughing at the look on her face. “Showering on the bus sucks. You should wait til we stop somewhere. Like a truck stop. Or a hotel.”
“But I was gross,” she whined.
“Just a tip,” Bob said raising his hands.
“We’ll be at a hotel tomorrow night,” Gerard interjected.
“Ooooo a real bed, how nice.” Braelyn came to sit on the arm of Mikey’s chair and watched as he and Gerard battled in the video game they were playing. Gerard soon beat Mikey and they turned the game off.
Mikey stood up, “Anyone want anything?”
“Is there beer?” Ray asked lazily from his spot on the floor.
Mikey checked. “Yup.”
“I’ll take one,” said Ray.
“Me too,” piped up Bob.
“I’ll love you forever!” That would be Frank.
“Gee, Braelyn? You want one?” Asked Mikey.
Braelyn slid down the arm of the chair into the seat, stealing it. “Sure I’ll have one.”
Gerard said, “Ya, I’ll have a beer.”
Mikey returned, handed out beers, then realized that Braelyn had taken his seat. “I bring you a beer, out of the goodness of my heart, and you steal my seat?!”
She just grinned up at him. “That seems to be the case.”
“Not fair.” He pouted.
“Poor, Mikey.” She sat up a little bit and snatched her beer from his hand.
“You’re mean.” He sat on the floor in front of her chair.
“Only a little bit.”
“Are you two done?” Frank asked. “I want to watch Ninja Assassin. It’s some kung fu movie a fan gave me tonight.”
“I love ninjas!” Ray said.
They gathered around the television, cracking open beers. Frank put the movie in. With in the first five minutes, some guy got the top half of his head cut off without any warning. Braelyn shrieked. It was one of those movies where the plot really sucked, but the fighting was awesome.
“That is so hazing,” Bob pointed out when the kid was getting his feet whipped by his crazy ninja master.
“I think ninja training is an organized sport. Sooooo, it isn’t hazing,” Braelyn responded. “Can we pause it for a second? My hair’s almost dry, I need to brush it or it’ll look terrible.”
Frank paused it and Braelyn got up and ran to her bunk. When she came back, Mikey had stolen the chair back. “This is not acceptable.”
He was grinning, but he wouldn’t look up at her.
“Just sit down. I wanna watch the movie,” Frank whined.
“Fine.” Braelyn crossed her arms and turned around. Instead of sitting on the floor like they expected her to, Braelyn dropped into Mikey’s lap.
“Not ok,” Mikey responded, blushing a little bit.
“Too bad. Start the movie Frankie!”
He did. Braelyn brushed out her hair as she and Ray made fun of the weak ‘EuroPol’ plot. She then put her brush on the floor with her empty beer can on the floor and readjusted her sitting position in Mikey’s lap so they were both more comfortable. They continued to watch the movie.
“Oh my God!” Braelyn hid her face in Mikey’s shoulder. “Holy grapes.”
The final fight scene was intense. There was a dude on fire. And blood. Lots of blood. Braelyn alternated between actually watching and not being able to look. The movie was over.
Gerard stood and stretched. “Bedddd.”
The others nodded and followed. Braelyn climbed into her bed. She kept her curtain open and talked to the boys as they got ready for bed. She threw her pillow at Ray when he threatened to get naked in the middle of the room. She missed because he dodged into the bathroom and shut the door.
“Would you like this back?” Mikey asked, holding her pillow just out of her reach.
“Please!” She reached out for it.
He pulled it away. “Apologize for stealing my seat and sitting on me.”
“No pillow for you then.” He took it with him as he climbed into his own bunk and closed his curtain.
After a few moments, Braelyn hung her torso and head off her bunk so she was hanging upside down, looking at Mikey’s curtain. She cleared her throat.
He opened up the curtain a little bit. “Yes?”
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“Really?!” He started to close the curtain. “Fine. I’m sorry for stealing your seat and sitting on you.”
“See that wasn’t so hard.”
She stuck her tongue out at him and swung herself back up into her bunk. Mikey threw her pillow up to her. “Thanks.”
They all settled into bed and the lights were turned off. Braelyn put in her headphones and closed her curtains. She was asleep pretty quickly. An hour or so later, her phone rang and woke her up.
“Hello?” She answered sleepily.
“Hey Brae! It’s Addi.”
“Hey sweetheart,” Braelyn said perking up a bit. “Can you hold on a second?”
Braelyn climbed out of her bunk and went to the front of the bus so she wouldn’t wake the others. She sat on the bench seat in her corner. “What’s up, Addi?”
“Well, I just got off work, and I wanted to know how your show went tonight!”
“It was awesome.” Braelyn went on to describe the concert in detail.
“I’m so happy for you, that sound spectacular. How’s being on tour? What have you been up to?”
“It’s interesting. I got the top bunk above Mikey.” She continued telling Addi about the movies, video games, and half naked boys. “How’s home?”
“Actually, I needed to talk to you about something.” Addi’s voice was more serious now.
“There’s this man who’s been at the Rover the last couple of nights. The first night, he asked me about you and where you were. I told Tom and the next night when he came in, Tom took him aside and had a heated conversation and the man left. Then tonight he came in, already drunk, and Tom had to throw him out. It was weird. Do you know this guy? He’s like Bret’s height and bald. He reminded me of someone I knew.”
“I don’t know,” Braelyn said, thinking hard. “That is strange. I’ll call Tom in the morning.”
“You could probably do it now, he closed tonight.”
“Alright, well I’ll do that. I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“Ok, talk to you soon.”
“Love you too. Bye.” Addi hung up.
Braelyn dialed Tom’s cell. He answered after a few rings. “Braelyn! Sweetie! How are you? How’s things?”
“I’m great, Tom. Tour is awesome. How are you?”
“Fine. We miss you though.”
“Aww I miss you guys too.” She paused. “I was just talking to Addi. She mentioned someone coming into the bar and asking for me the past couple of nights. She didn’t know who it was. Do you?”
Tom was quiet.
“It isn’t important.”
“It seemed important. Addi was kind of upset about it.”
“Listen, it isn’t a big deal, Braelyn, but it was your dad. He’s back in town.”
“Why was he at the Rover?” There was a touch of panic in her voice.
“I guess he found out you worked here.”
“You didn’t tell him where I am now, right?”
“Of course not. I’m not quite sure what he wants this time, Braelyn.”
“It’s always the same, isn’t it?” She sighed.
“Try not to worry about it, ok? Enjoy yourself.”
“I will.” She forced a smile into her voice so Tom wouldn’t worry.
“Alright sweetie. I have to go. Call if you need anything.”
“Ok. Tell Marissa I say hello and that I love and miss her.”
“I will. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
Braelyn hung up and sank into her corner, mind racing.
She jumped. It was Mikey.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s fine,” Braelyn said, her heart beating fast. She didn’t startle well.
Mikey sat next to her. “So, are you ok?”
“Ya. Well, kinda.”
“Wanna tell me what’s going on?”
Braelyn looked out the window. She was silent for a while. Then she sighed. “It would seem that my father found me.”
“Found you? You were lost?”
This was going to require some explanation. “He and my mom left when I was fifteen. They’re crazy. They got caught up in some kind of cult and they abandoned us. Then they lived in Vegas for a while. They got into drugs. I don’t really know much about them. They only ever call or come around when they need money. Last time I saw them, my mom and I got into a fight. I called the cops on her. She’s in jail and dad’s pissed.”
“Braelyn.” There was that look in his eyes. That pity that she always got when she told her story.
“It really isn’t that big of a deal. Stuff happens. Anyway, he’s been harassing people at the Rover.”
“Is he gonna come after you out here?”
“Probably not. It should be ok. It was just a shock that he showed up there.”
“There are worse things.” Braelyn smiled at him, but there was still pain in her eyes.
Mikey could sense that she didn’t want to talk about it anymore, so all he said was, “If you ever need to tell anyone anything, I’m your man.”
“Thanks, Mikey.” She looked down at her knees. “Sorry if I woke you up.”
“Nah, I was never asleep. I’m all keyed up from that ninja movie,” he said with a laugh.
Braelyn laughed with him. “It was kind of intense, wasn’t it?”
“Yup.” He stood and went to one of the chairs in front of the television saying, “I think I’m gonna watch another movie. You want in?”
“Sure. I’m gonna get a water, would you like one?”
Braelyn went to the refrigerator and grabbed the bottles of water and returned to Mikey taking the other chair. “What are we watching?”
“Yay, Ricky Bobby!”
He turned on the movie. Braelyn only made it through a couple of scenes before she was asleep.
Something was shaking her. “Braelyn.” Mikey’s voice was a little fuzzy. “Come on, time to go to bed.” Nah. She’d just sleep here.
When she didn’t make a move to get up, Mikey sighed. “Fine.” He picked her up and carried her into the bunkroom. She didn’t even open her eyes. Once in the bunkroom, Mikey realized he wasn’t going to be able to negotiate the ladder to Braelyn’s bed and not drop her, so he put her in his bed. He pulled his blanket over her then closed the curtains. He climbed up into her bunk, lay down, and went to sleep.