Frayed Page 50


What Now


Magic is in the air. The Amazing Grace Sound Studios have been transformed into a place fit for a princess for the unveiling of Ivy\s new album, My Mended Heart, and by none other than myself. I couldn\ be prouder of how it turned out. Elation is buoying me and nothing is going to squash it. I can\ believe how much one day can change everything put things in perspective. I shouldn\ have been so worried about the past. I need to concentrate on the future . . . as Ben said. Because really that\s all that matters.

I breathe in the scent of the flowers that fill the room and then shift my gaze to admire the glimmer of light from the crystal chandeliers. The room looks magical, just as I envisioned. Amazing Grace has been transformed from a concrete hangar into a glittering nightclub. With six crystal chandeliers, dozens of round tables, and more than a hundred vases of purple dahlias and, of course, a splash of ivy.

I\m not late, but I\m by no means early. Jack and my mom drop me off before they park the car because they know I\m fretting. I have so much to do in so little time. Ivy and Xander are right on my heels and they try to catch up with me, but all I can squeeze out is a quick hello and congratulations. I have to run to make sure the food has arrived, and the table centers are just as I described, not to mention make sure Nix and Garrett get off the stage and stop fooling around. I\m feeling a little overwhelmed and I also feel bad for not bringing Ben, but we had discussed it last week. I\d told him I\d be too busy to bring a guest. That was the truth, but not the whole truth.

He had laughed and said, ’’Sound Music received an invitation, but Aerie will be attending since my ownership of the company won\ be made public until the following day.’’

Admittedly I was relieved. I still am. I\m not ready to tell my family anything there are just too many variables. And thank God ownership of Sound Music has never come up so I haven\ had to feign ignorance or lie.

’’Garrett, get off the stage and stop goofing around,’’ I scold.

His brow creases. ’’What\s wrong with you? You look really red.’’

I feel my forehead. My temperature seems normal, but I\m burning up. ’’No, I don\ . Do you think you can help me out and find Leif? I want to make sure he has everything set up for Ivy to take the stage.’’

He scuffs the carpet with his foot and offers me a bright smile. ’’Anything for you tomato face.’’ He grins.

I shove his shoulder. ’’Cut it out.’’

He strides toward the bar area but stops and tosses over his shoulder, ’’Red and green.’’ He points to my shorts romper. ’’You\ e practically ready for Christmas.’’

I chase after him grabbing a napkin off the table, ready to swat him.

’’I better make like a hockey player and get the puck out of here.’’ He laughs.

I really missed the gang while they were gone on tour. I\m glad that even though the Wilde Ones broke up they are all still working together at the studio. And of course we have the addition of Ivy now and her bassist, Leif Morgan, both of whom I adore. Speaking of adoring in walk my brother and Dahlia.

Dahlia looks amazing. She\s wearing a pewter-colored halter dress with a chain neck and a large brooch at the center of the deep V. River looks pretty good himself in a suit much like Xander\s, and he has opted for no tie. He and Dahlia are fashionably late as always, but since today is their one-year anniversary and I was practically late myself, I think it\s perfectly acceptable.

I watch as River and Dahlia meet up with Xander and Ivy. I notice River search Xander\s eyes, and if I hadn\ been looking, I would never have noticed the slight nod Xander gives him. River grabs Xander around the neck and pulls him forward. Oh my God, the engagement. And it\s River and Dahlia\s anniversary too. What\s wrong with me? I rush over but it\s too late. The four of them are huddled together. I move fast, as fast as I can in these heels, but still Garrett beats me to them.

’’Aw . . . I missed out on the hugs and kisses. What, because we all work together now I get shafted?’’ he says.

I try to push forward to congratulate my brother, but there\s a tap on my shoulder.

’’Hey, Dino, everything all set with the food?’’

’’Well, there were a few changes to the menu,’’ he says softly.

’’Like what?’’ I ask sternly.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Garrett grab River by the collar and jerk him backward. ’’Dino, I\ll be right back.’’

I head over to Garrett with my hands on my hips.

’’You\ e late, kon***. Come on,’’ he quips to River. Then he starts to shake his hips and sing, ’’LA, let\s get this party started!’’

I guess the old band is going to have a jam session, because when I look toward the stage they\ e all up there River, Leif, Garrett, Nix, the drummer, and even Zane, River\s replacement before Ivy. Since the crowd rushes the dance floor and throws their hands in the air, dancing to a cover of ’’Hands All Over,’’ I decide to leave them alone. It\s a record release party after all. It\s then I notice I still have the napkin clenched in my hand, and thoughts of Ben instantly surface. His hands on my body, the way he knows just how to touch me. The way he made me come right there on the beach with firecrackers behind my eyelids.

’’Bell, do you want the trays of champagne brought out now or after Ivy sings?’’ Matt asks.

I blink away my dreamy state, a little embarrassed that Matt might have just gotten a glimpse of what I was imagining. I shake away the thoughts for now and decide it\s also time for me to get this party started.

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