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“Where is he Keith? I’m running out of time,” Bron paced Keith’s apartment. It was a typical bachelor pad. It wasn’t small but it wasn’t as neat and clean as she thought it could be.
Bron ran to the fax machine when she heard the hum begin. She watched the fax fall into the bin. “Perfect! It’s Perfect,” she jumped for joy.
“Remind me why I’m doing this again,” as Keith was dragged out the front door to his truck.
“Easy, to bug your best amigo in the entire world. Come on Keith, who talked you into the belly ring and then let his close up? Who talked you into the tatts in the first place? Who talked you into going to the strip club? The leather clubs?”
“Okay I get the point. I owe Kevin big time,” smiling he turned the truck over and backed out the driveway.
Bron popped a cd in and they sang along together. Pulling up to the shop, she looked at the sleek exterior, very modern, and very clean. “So this is the place you found for me?”
“Yep, it’s clean and safe,” as he opened his door.
Bron followed behind him, a little closer than normal. Bron surveyed the shop while Keith spoke to a guy in the corner. Bron smiled, he was clean cut, shaven, and looked like a frat boy, she decided.
A hulking figure walked from behind a curtain. Keith shook his hand and pointed to Bron. Okay fear was not Bron’s first instinct. She wasn’t afraid of the burly guy but he was an imposing figure. A long scruffy beard interlaced with a gray. A leather vest and black tee-shirt. Walking over, his chain clanking on his leg, he offered his hand. “Don’t worry, I’m really a pussycat,” he grinned.
“No problem it’s just that I’m a chicken shit,” Bron laughed.
“Aww Bron come on, you are not, you dealt with Mc all those years.” Keith laughed as he leaned on the counter.
Bron shot him a glare that would have frozen him solid. Her eyes narrowed and her lips squeezed together, “How interesting you would know.” She stood for a minute and then exchanged a quick glance with the, ‘ZZ Top Wanna be’. “Let’s do it,” she flashed him a smile.
Keith shook his head; he was stupid for bringing that up. Kevin had confided in him one night when they were out on the road. Keith had called Bron a typical girl and Kevin quickly jumped to defend with a full explanation of her past to him. “My wife is a strong woman, you don’t know how strong she is.”
“KEITH!” Bron screamed.
“Hey lady, chill it’s not that bad.”
Keith came in, without looking at her exposed anatomy, a carefully placed hand over his eyes. “What?” he frowned as he bent slightly to her.
“It hurts,” she hissed.
“Well of course it does, he’s sticking you with a needle, the outline is the worst of it.” Keith’s brow furrowed together as he watched her face.
“ZZ here told me that the more cellulite the more pain, you jackasses couldn’t tell me that before I got my husband’s lips tattooed on my ass!”
Both men roared with laughter. Keith couldn’t help it, “You don’t have a big ass.”
“Little Man dies, give me your cell,” Bron gritted her death.
“Your husband is lucky, not all women would do this for their guy,” the artist added his insight.
“He isn’t lucky, but he is going to be pissed,” Keith handed the artist the lettering Bron had drawn up on the computer.
The large man doubled up, “Man you are a riot lady. You’re are just asking for it.”
Bron bit her bottom lip as she felt the little stabs of pain radiating from a place that left her feeling vulnerable.
“’ello,” Nick answered the ringing phone as he sat in the lounge chair next to Carlos. Nick was on his way in when the phone rang.
“You are dead Little man, ouch,” she whimpered.
“Hey how’s it going?”
“It hurts,” she growled into the little black rectangle.
“Only on the fatty parts,” Nick laughed and rolled his eyes at Carlos. “She’s doin’ it,” he whispered as Kevin did laps in the pool.
“It’s my ass stupid, it’s all fatty parts,” Bron slammed the phone on the table.
Nick pulled the phone away from his ear. “Oh… temper, temper, now, this was your idea, you wanted one.”
“I hate you, I’m going to put all those pics online.”
Pieces of memories of bygone days flashed through Nick’s mind. Kevin had always had that damn camcorder in his hand, they used to tease him, like it was an appendage. “I’ll sit here and talk with you until your done. The outline is the hardest.” Nick heard the distinct sound of air being drawn in sucked in.
“Okay,” she murmured. “Is he around?”
“Yep not more than fifteen feet away,” Nick winked at Carlos.
“Wassup gay boy, you got the hots for Carlos now?” Kevin laughed as he came around next to Nick and sat down. Neither of them had seen him hoist himself out of the pool.
“No punk I don’t,” Nick glared at him. “Leave me alone, I’m helping a friend.”
Carlos choked on his drink.
“A little phone sex, Nick. In public, dude I’m so ashamed of you,” Kevin spoke loudly and obnoxiously for the sole purpose that the person on the other end could hear him.
Carlos was about to be in deep need of the Heimlich maneuver.
“Yeah dude, phone sex, with …”
“NICK!” Bron shouted into the phone.
Carlos began to draw Kevin into a deep conversation as Nick moved away from them. “So Kev, do you think it was smooth to send Bron those tapes.”
“Yeah sure, Bron’s cool about it. She knows it work, besides someone would have sent it to her anyway.” Kevin slid back into the water and hung off the edge of the pool treading water. “She doesn’t say to much about them. I left a rough copy of MTT for her when I left, along with the hat. She’s got that cowboy hat framed, I think .”
“So how’s the family?” Carlos asked as he looked down at him.
“Good,” Kevin smiled. “I love it man, it’s all good. When I go home, I’m not lonely anymore and the house isn’t empty. You’ll have to come visit. The studio is awesome.”
“How is Miss Kaylin, still a hand full?” Carlos laughed, knowing that six was a strange age to have to deal with.
“She’s a pisser, she keeps me busy. She got in a shit load of trouble in school before I left.” Kevin couldn’t help but smile. “I straightened her out.”
“Over what?” Carlos asked. In general Kaylin seemed like a well manner kid. Adjustment would have been her biggest problem.
Kevin’s face shined even more as he boosted himself out of the pool. Grabbing a towel, he dried himself off. “Can I trust not to tell anyone?”
Carlos rolled his eyes, “How the hell long have you known me?”
“Okay, okay,” Kevin dried his face and leaned forward. Covering his face, he muttered something.
Carlos couldn’t distinguish what he said, “What?”
“I’m gonna be a dad,” Kevin smiled under the towel.
“Trying to get Kaylin to accept you, aren’t you?” Carlos shook his head.
“Not Kaylin Carlos, I’m really gonna be a dad, Bron’s pregnant.” Kevin closed his eyes and sighed.
Carlos did a double take, “You shittin’ me?”
“No way dude,” Kevin giggled.
“When is she due?” Carlos punched him the arm.
Kevin stuttered slightly, “Um, early November.”
“That’s fantastic Kevin, I’m happy for you. I won’t tell a soul.” Carlos watched his responsibility turn into a huge ball of warm fuzzies in front of him. “Kev if you’re gonna cry, head to your room now.”
“I’m not gonna cry,” Kevin smiled and tilted his head. “But I want to. I want to go home, like now.”
“I can see why now,” Carlos caught movement from the corner of his eye. “Aww shit, Kev…”
Kevin turned and they both watched a distraught Mary trying to support a very bombed out of his gourd A.J. “Aww fuck, come on,” Kevin leaped out of the chair. “I’m gonna fuckin’ kick his ass for this.”
Nick’s eyes followed Mary, A.J., Kevin and Carlos. While talking to Bron Nick watched the other three try and get A.J. out of the public eye. A long sigh escaped from him.
“What the matter Nick?” Bron questioned.
“Bone is drunk again...” Nick shook his head as he watched Carlos and Kevin practically pick him up and throw him into the hotel lobby.
Bron didn’t say a word, Kevin had been keeping A.J.’s problem away from her and the family. Only subtle hints and nuances got back to her. If she asked, he would tell her but he wasn’t volunteering any information to her. “How are you handling all of this?”
“I just wish he would stop Bron,” Nick answered with sadness.
Bron began to worry about the party. Nobody knew about it and she didn’t want it destroyed. Knowing that it was broad daylight in San Juan and Alex was stumbling around drunk. “Nick I have a problem.”
Nick’s ears perked up, “What?”
“I planned a party that Kevin doesn’t know about for you guys, the new label, and the opening of the studio. I’ve got two hundred industry and business people coming to this house in just over a week. I don’t want you guys embarrassed.” As Bron spoke to Nick, her concerns doubled when he didn’t answer right away.
“Does Kevin know?” Nick was thinking over the ramifications of the evening if they couldn’t keep A.J. under control.
“I just told you nobody knows, pay attention! Well Carlos knows,” Bron cringed and she frowned at Keith. Keith’s eyes were huge, he was listening to her conversation. Bron raised the phone and looked at Keith, she spoke as if Nick was also standing in front of her. “If you say one word, I have Mc take care of both of you.”
“Knowing you everything is under control, so when is it so I can pencil it in on my social schedule?” Nick thought things could be managed with the help of the bodyguards and a few select friends.
“It’s June second, Carlos has the invitations. I told him to wait until you guys hit Florida before he gave them to you. I even lined you up a blind date.”
“A woman I hope,” Nick groaned. Bron was up to her old tricks again, playing matchmaker. Kevin told her not to but she did it anyway.
“Yes Nick a real live, honest to goodness breathing woman. Who, might I add, will not fall at your feet or in your bed at the drop of a hat. You will treat her with kindness and respect or you will deal with me.”
“Yes mom,” he laughed into the phone. “Is he done yet?”
“Just finished and thanks it wasn’t that bad since I had you to talk too and Keith with me. Suzie has your flights all arranged, you arrive two days after Kevin gets home which is two days before the party. Don’t forget your tux.”
Nick snapped the phone closed and began mumbling aloud. He wanted to call Bron back so he looked up Keith’s number. Dialing quickly, he waited for someone to answer.
“Yep,” Keith answered the phone.
“Put her on,” Nick dangled his feet in the water.
“What now?” Bron questioned.
“How are you going to fit that many people in your house?”
Bron’s laughter pealed through the phone, “I didn’t tell you, I remodeled again. We have a huge extension on the living room now with a pool, a terrace, and barbeque large enough to roast a side of beef.”
It was Nick’s turn to laugh, he knew what she had done, the unthinkable. Bron had touched ‘The Pit.’ “So let’s see, you screwed with his living room, you got his lips and name tattooed on your ass, along with your mantra, and you planned a huge fucking party and didn’t tell him?”
“Yep,” Bron giggled.
“I’m coming home with Kev. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Nick closed the phone. He sauntered back to their rooms, singing and bobbing his head with the beat of his own voice. Knocking on Carlos’s door, he heard a come in and did so.
“Hey guys,” Nick couldn’t control that little boy in him. He looked at Carlos, bent his arm and drew his other hand back and forth over it, while making violin noises. Carlos covered his eyes he was laughing so hard.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Kevin frowned as he picked at the food on his plate. “Whatcha’ doin’?”
Nick smiled, “Oh Train, you’re such a dumb ass sometimes. Carlos, I’ll catch you later man, we need to talk.”
After coming back from the tattoo parlor, she opened her mail. Inside one of the envelopes with no return address, she found a scrap of paper. She didn’t pay much attention to the envelope itself. The mail had come from their private mailbox that very few people had the address too. She looked at it and quickly folded it closed when Suzie walked into her office.
“Did you get your mail?” she asked.
Bron’s hands were shaking slightly as she put the letter back into the envelope. This can’t be for real, she said to herself. Someone is playing a bad joke on me.
Later in the evening when she went to bed she felt the crinkled edges. Pulling the envelope out of her pocket, she unfolded the slip of yellow legal paper. She read it not once, or twice but three times. It was simple and direct. She kept staring at the handwriting, it was throwing her into an irrational state, she had seen it before, too many times. She wasn’t an expert but only Lenny’s handwriting could strike that much fear in her heart. It’s impossible, he’s in jail, she thought.
It’s was nice to see you home, that’s where you belong. He doesn’t really want or need you, he’s using you. You need to come back home where you belong.
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