The next morning, Braelyn was up way earlier than the others. She was going home today. She couldn’t wait. They got on the bus around ten. Braelyn couldn’t sit still.
“Girl, you’re making me nervous,” Gerard said from his spot on the floor in front of Ray and Frank who were playing video games.
“I’m excited!” Braelyn said, taking a break from her pacing to jump up and down for a second.
There were a pair of hands on her shoulders. “Calm down,” Mikey said from behind her. “You’re gonna wear yourself out before we even get there.”
Her smile got even wider, if that was possible. Topher walked out from the back of the bus. “Ok guys, let’s go over the schedule for the next couple of days.” Everyone gathered around him. The video game was paused, Gerard’s sketchbook was put down, Braelyn even managed to stop moving. Chelsea was the only one still in action, shooting the whole thing on her now ever present video camera. Braelyn looked into it and stuck out her tongue as Topher started to talk. “So we should get there about one thirty. We’re checking into the hotel when we arrive, and then you have until sound check at six, as usual. Then we do the show. There’s no meet and greet after, but I believe Braelyn’s friends will be there.” Braelyn nodded. “So you have the night to do whatever. In the morning, everyone will be on the Kidd Kraddick show, with performances. Then after that there’s a meet and greet at the radio station. Then we’re going to the hotel in Frisco. It’s the day of Addi’s birthday, and Braelyn wants to surprise her that night, so we’re gonna lie low in the hotel all day. Around eight, Tom is gonna sneak all of you into the Rover, where Braelyn will play and then the boys. Again the night is yours. Braelyn wants to go Mass the next morning and go to brunch, if everyone was ok leaving for Albuquerque later, like around three. It’s an eleven hour drive, so we wouldn’t be getting into New Mexico until like two or three. Is that ok with everyone?”
They all agreed. Braelyn added, “After the Rover, there’s gonna be a party at our apartment, if y’all want to go.”
“I love a good party!” Frank said, picking her up by her waist and twirling Braelyn around.
“I think we’re all set then,” Topher said. “You may return to your games now, children.”
“Don’t tell us what to do, mom!” Ray said jumping back into his chair in front of the television. “Come on, Frankie. I wanna finish this level.”
Frankie was still holding onto Braelyn, her feet still off the floor. “I don’t know man, I finally got her to stop moving.”
“Put me down, Frankie!” Braelyn said, trying to free herself.
“This is a conundrum,” Gerard said, now circling Braelyn and Frank. “Frankie and Ray need to finish the level, or their video game quota for the day won’t be filled. But if Frankie puts Braelyn down, she will continue her incessant pacing. What to do?” He asked looking into Chelsea’s camera.
Chelsea was sitting on the back of the booth seat giggling. Braelyn said, “Put me down! I promise I won’t pace!”
“Ahhhh,” Gerard said turning back to Braelyn, “Now the question becomes, can we trust you, Porter?”
“You can trust me,” Braelyn replied, innocently.
“Nah man, don’t do it,” Mikey said. “She’ll take advantage.”
“Hey!” Braelyn turned in Frank’s arms to see Mikey grinning at her. “Not nice!”
“Jesus, just put her down!” Everyone’s attention snapped to Bob. “Could we not act like we’re twelve for a few minutes!” Frank dropped Braelyn to the ground as Bob got up and stalked to the bunks.
Everyone just kind of sat there in tense silence for a few seconds. Chelsea spoke first, “I’m just gonna turn this off.”
“What just happened?” Braelyn asked in a hushed voice.
“It happens every once in a while. Bob gets fed up with the immaturity,” Mikey responded.
“He’ll snap out of it in a couple of hours,” Ray assured her.
But when they had pulled into hotel in Dallas, Bob was still sulking. Braelyn went with the others to drop her stuff off. She then announced to her suite after she had changed that she had a car and was off to adventure if anyone wanted to go with her. Frank, Chelsea, and Mikey all wanted to join her. They went to the other suite to tell Topher they were going and to ask if anyone else wanted to go with them. Everyone else declined. Frank, Chelsea, Mikey, and Braelyn took the elevator downstairs. Braelyn flounced up to the front desk.
“Hi, I’m Braelyn Porter. Someone was supposed to drop off my car here this morning and leave the keys with you?”
“Yes, Miss Porter,” the concierge said. “May I see some ID?” Braelyn showed her driver’s license and the concierge turned and pulled an envelope from some file. “Here are your keys, Miss Porter. Your car is parked on the west side of the building.”
“Thank you!” Braelyn gathered her license and the envelope and she and the others left the building. While she walked, Braelyn opened the envelope. She pulled out a bright orange lanyard with a million key chains hanging off of it.
“What is that monstrosity?” Mikey asked.
Braelyn looked up at him, faux hurt in her eyes. “These are my keys. I love my keys.”
“Um, Brae? Where’s your car?” Frankie asked as they rounded the corner of the building.
There were only four or five cars in the lot. Braelyn squealed and took off running, shouting “Norman!” She collided with an older F-250 that was red. She was literally hugging it saying, “I missed you!” the others walked up and Braelyn introduced them to her truck, explaining that Norman was more than a vehicle, he was her friend. They made fun of her, but she was too excited to care. She shooed them into the front and back seats of her truck and she climbed into the driver’s seat. She started the engine and giggled. “Adventure time. Go Team!”
“So where are we going?” Chelsea asked from the seat behind Braelyn.
“The Rover. I need some cheese fries. Then I thought we’d roam around. Maybe go see my high school.”
“Did you clear this with Topher?” Mikey asked beside her.
“Will it make you feel better if I said yes?” She asked him.
“Then yes. I cleared it with Topher.” Mikey raised his eyebrows at her. “I did. Don’t worry.”
They kept driving for twenty or so minutes before Braelyn took the exit and wound through some side streets and finally parked in the lot outside of the Rover. Braelyn jumped out of the truck and skipped across the parking lot. The others following at a more normal pace.
Braelyn burst through the doors and shouted, “I’M HOME!!!!!!”
A/N: Thanks again to Izzy, Abbie, and Lauren for reviewing! I hope everyone likes this chapter too! hearts, Corri