Sometimes, running away is a gift in itself.
He smiled half-heartedly. “I love you, too.”
I frowned. “What’s wrong?”
Axl looked around at the equipment, staring emptily. Suddenly he grabbed my hand and started leading me outside. “Let’s go, babe.”
“What? Axl, where are we going?”
“Where ever you want. It’s your birthday.” He opened the door to a car for me and let me slide in first before following me. “So, where to?”
I thought about it for a moment. “Well, I want to go home, but-“
“Done,” Axl interrupted. He started giving the driver directions to the nearest bus station as I looked on in bewilderment.
The car started rolling forward slowly, heading north. “Are you crazy??” I finally managed. “You have a show tonight!”
“And??? And you have to play!”
“No, I don’t.”
“Turn this car around!”
“Why the fuck not?”
Axl closed his eyes, sighed, and looked at me. “Riley,” he began with a softer tone, “this may be your last birthday before we’re husband and wife. I want you to be able to look back on this day and remember that I don’t take you for granted, that I did and always will drop anything for your happiness.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. Part of me was screaming to make the driver turn the car around, but the other half wanted to go home more than anything. I pecked Axl’s lips. “Turn the car around, honey.”
“You really don’t want to go home?”
“No, I do. But if you’re going to cancel, you should at least let everyone know.”
A half hour later, and the Gunners were piled into another bus heading back to L.A. Axl and I isolated ourselves from the group and planned what we could for the wedding. We set the date for June 13, a Friday. I forgot most of my plans for a big themed wedding and settled on having Lita flown in for a very small ceremony. Guns had to leave on the 15th for London, where their tour to promote Appetite for Destruction would begin and I wanted to be Mrs. Axl Rose before he and I were separated for months if not years.
I also did my best to prepare Axl for what to expect on a headlining tour and what was okay and not okay. Going to the bar: okay. Going to the bar every night and getting shitfaced: not okay. A groupie or two a week: okay. Three groupies a night: definitely NOT okay.
As I spoke, I let my mind wander back to Sacramento. I hadn’t said goodbye to Maiden. I hadn’t said goodbye to Bruce…
But Axl didn’t let me dwell on it much. When we got home, he took me out to eat at the Whiskey a Go-Go. Not romantic per say, but the memory of seeing each other again for the first time here, of climbing to the roof and having sex for the first time, made the greasy bar food taste better than anything. A few margaritas later and I was ready to go home and show Axl how much I really appreciated my birthday presents.