“Mrs. Bennett this the Starlight Shores Memorial Hospital. We regret to inform you your husband Al…..”
“Alex? Is he alright? ” she screamed into the receiver interrupting the impassive voice. This couldn’t be happening she kept telling herself even as the voice confirmed her worst fears.
“Ma’am are you still there?” the voice interrupted her panic stricken mind numbing thoughts.
“What? Err yes yes I’m still here,” she stammered into the phone.
“Mr. Bennett is in surgery…” the voice droned on giving her directions before ending the call.
Shaking Lexi sank to the floor bringing a hand up to muffle the moans that threatened to escape. This couldn’t be happening not again not now. Taking a several deep breaths Lexi wiped the tears from her eyes as she looked up the number she needed. While she waited for someone to answer the call her fingers ran lightly up and down the keys on the piano. “Hello” a tired voice said in her ear.
“May I speak to Gene Bennett please?” forcing her voice remain calm despite the growing panic inside her.
“I’m sorry could you call back later?” the voice requested “he just got home from Sunset Valley….”
“I don’t care,” Lexi screamed into the phone giving vent to her rising anxiety on the voice on the other end. “Please don’t hang up,” she pleaded “I’m sorry it’s just Alex told me to call his Uncle in case of an emergency..”
“Lexi?” the female voice inquired.
“Yes” she murmured realizing she never introduced herself in her hurry to contact Gene. “Please Alex has been hurt and I’m not there and….”
“Hold on I’ll get Gene,” the woman told her. A couple of minutes later a male voice came on the line. “Lexi tell me exactly what happened?”
“I’m sorry to disturb you …” Lexi stammered.
She heard a heavy sigh before the man replied “it’s perfectly alright. Tell me what’s happened to my nephew.”
“He’s in Starlight Shores. He was there meeting with our no good band manager. We wanted to disband the group but were under contract. No one wants to work with Ron anymore and,” she took a deep breath before continuing “I think Ron attacked Alex in his hotel room. I was on the phone with Alex when Ron showed up. I called the police bbbbut I was too late….too late,” she repeated as she fought the desire to ramble or dissolve into tears.
Gene listened on the other end rubbing his eyes wondering where he was going to dredge up the energy he needed to help his nephew. He often wondered what cosmic joke made him the family crisis manager. Between his kids, Robert’s kids and now Sydney he had more than enough on his plate to give him sleepless nights. “So he’s in the hospital?”
“Yes they just called…” she took a deep breath, wrestling back the tears and keep the tidal wave panic at bay.
“When can you get here?” Gene asked her ignoring her obvious emotional state knowing he had to focus on the essentials or they’d both dissolve into an emotional puddle.
“Um huh,” she stammered twisting her hair between her fingers “two days maybe a day if I’m lucky. I’m in Sunlit Tides. I need to pack and get plane tickets and….”
Gene heard the struggle the girl was in to remain in control. If he could he’d reach through the phone and give her a hug. “Lexi honey it’s going to be alright. I’ll go the hospital right now. I’l run damage control with the media and paparazzi. You’re going to have to prepare yourself for those vultures to be all over this. I’ll Ian meet you at the airport once you call me with the details of when you arrive. He’ll also escort you to the hospital.” Silence greeted his words making him wonder if the girl was still on the line “Lexi?”
“Yeah I’m sorry,” she sounded distracted even to her ears as she peered through the window at the growing mob of paparazzi arriving on her lawn. “The vultures have arrived” she told him.
“Listen to me Lexi” Gene spoke in a tone that commanded attention “call the Sunlit Tides Police and request an escort to the airport. I know how the media can be when they’re on the scent of a story. This unfortunately is going to be huge.”
“Ok” she agreed “just keep an eye on Alex for me until I get there.”
“I will like he’s my own son” Gene told her knowing that in many ways Alex was son since he became the boys guardian at the age of fourteen.
One morning about a year later Lexi woke up to the sound of music filling the house. Smiling she threw back the covers and walked into the living room to find Alex playing the piano. It had been months since Alex had even discussed music and even longer since he had picked up an instrument and played it. What Ron did to him left an emotional scare that ran deep and affected him worse than the physical damage. Alex turned as she moved towards him, fingers stumbling across the keys before falling listlessly into his lap.
She took several steps toward him “that was beautiful” she said taking his hands in hers. “It’s good to hear you playing again…” she regretted her words as soon as she spoke them as his eyes filled with panic and withdrawal.
Turning he grabbed the music sheets from the piano. Holding them out to her, hand shaking he announced “it’s not very good…” His cheeks flushed as Lexi took the sheets and read the lyrics.
“It’s beautiful Alex,” she told him him looking from the sheet’s to his eyes brimming with tears. “Will you sing if for me?” She bit her lip as watched him fight the desire to say no. Without a word he turned to the piano and began to play. His once perfect voice was rough and scratchy a permanent reminder of that terrible night.
When the police arrived Ron had been standing on Alex’s throat not only cutting off his oxygen supply but also crushing his larynx. The paramedics were unable to establish an airway past his swollen and crushed larynx they had to perform and emergency tracheotomy. Alex’s voice had never been the same again. It’s took several months for him to learn to talk again. It was a miracle he was able to sing as well as he could now but his days of performing were over forever.
As the song came to an end she leaned down and kissed his forehead. She thought it was the most beautiful song she had ever heard. Not so much because of the words or how well he sang it but because he was playing music again. “I love you,” she murmured sitting down beside him.
He leaned into her shoulder shaking as he fought to control his emotions. She wrapped her arms around him unable to think of anything else she could do to help him. How could she ever understand the emotional impact he went suffered knowing his childhood friend had tried to kill him? Had all but killed his dream. Crying was good. Grieving was progress. She knew Alex hadn’t cried once since it happened. Hadn’t spoken about that night. He had pushed it as far away as he could.
Pulling away from her embrace he wiped his eyes as he said “I’m sorry,” his voice low, scratchy and raw.
Anger boiled inside her. Not at Alex but at Ron. What he did was unforgivable. Grasping Alex’s face she forced him to look at her as she said “you have nothing to be sorry for. Ron was responsible for his actions not you. Alex please I know it’s hard for you to talk about but you have to. You can’t keep it all locked up inside you. If you ever want to put this past you you have to talk about it.”
He lifted sad brown eyes to hers, “I know” was all he manged to say before dissolving into tears. She held him as he told her how had met Ron for the first time. How they had become friends. Bonded over the mutual love of music. How they formed the band. Meeting Ali in high school and how she became the first one to join them. Then he told her about Ron’s growing jealousy and animosity once they started to get noticed. Ron’s’ growing drug habit and how Alex felt he had to help his friend. She listened as he poured his heart out to her, some of it was old news and some was new but she let him talk. Kendrick at one point wondered out to join them. Maybe he sensed that daddy needed mommy more than he did as he was unusually subdued that day.
The six months that followed Alex was happier more content with the way things were going. He smiled at Lexi as she walked over to him. He put his hands around her stomach that was just starting to show a bump. “How’s my favorite girl this morning?” he asked nuzzling his nose in her ear.
“Stop that,” she giggled as his nose was replaced with his tongue. “That’s so gross,” she squirmed from his arms “what’s gotten into you?”
“I’m happy for once,” he smiled picking up Kendrick and tossing him in the air filling the room with his high little boy giggles.
Lexi watched father and son noting how much Kendrick was the image of his dad. “A right little heart breaker,” she said out loud.
Alex looked over at her “who? him or me?” he asked.
“Both,” she told him enjoying the moment. It had been too long since she had seen Alex so happy and carefree. The moment ended with the loud disruption of a ringing phone.
“Hello,” Alex said cautiously into the phone. Lexi could tell he expected the called to be someone to interview him or to ask to write his story. All such offers were dismissed out of hand. Alex didn’t want to relive the night his dreams were shattered. He smiled in relief as he recognized the caller “how’s it going Caleb?” He was silent listening before saying “congratulation you and Drew deserve it.” He listened a moment before asking “have you given any more thought about my offer?”
Lexi was about to take Kendrick to give him a bath when she stopped to listen. What offer?
“Really?” Alex said with genuine warmth and surprise “that’s awesome. You’ve made my day. I’ll let you know the rehearsal schedule. I look forward to working with you.” He stared at the phone in his hand before turning to Lexi with a huge grin “I don’t believe it. He said yes.”
Putting Kendrick down she walked over to Alex his grin becoming infectious as she felt the tug on her lips as her smile grew. “He said yes to what?” she asked stopping in front of him.
“To be Molten Lava’s new lead singer,” Alex told her lifting her up in his arms and swinging her around.
“Put me down,” she demanded. Staring at him in disbelief as she said “your the lead singer ….”
“I was” Alex corrected giving her a pained look “you and I both know my voice will never be the same. I can do back up vocals but I’ll never be able to do a whole show as lead. Caleb is good. He dislikes doing tours as a solo artist. Plus he’s a talented musician and we can work together to write songs. Molten Lava will make a successful comeback and be better than ever.”
“So what will you be? The manager?” she asked sounding unhappy with the idea.
Laughing he shook his head “I’m no manager. I’m taking Uncle Gene’s advice this time and meeting the manager he suggested. He’s a family man that knows we need plenty of down time to be with our individual families.”
“That sounds good but I don’t want to be in the band if you’re not in it,” Lexi told him.
“What are you talking about? Of course I’ll be in the band,” he hugged her “since we lost Ron we also need a good drummer and I’m an excellent drummer.”
She smacked him “don’t scare me like that. I thought you weren’t going to be in the band anymore.”
He kissed her “I have to admit I struggled with this decision but I finally realized that I could still have my dream I just had to change it a little. I’m happy with this, won’t you be happy with me?”
“Alright,” she stepped closer to him “if this what you want I’ll support you 100 percent.”
Drawing her close he breathed in her scent feeling at peace for once since that terrible night. “It’s what I want” he told her before laying claim to her mouth.