“Yep,” Keith replied. “Y’ have a good visit?”
“Oh, yeah. Had a fine time. Ate dinner, made out.”
Lesli piped up: “Lot of that going around.”
“Oh! Didn’t know you had company.”
“She ain’t company,” said Keith, “she’s my wife. Or will be if we can stay together long enough to get married.” She kicked him. “Ow!”
“You are such a smart-ass.”
“We’re gettin’ ready to shove off,” Barney said. “Anybody we need to wait for? Anybody disembarkin’? Where’s Louie?”
“Kicked him out. He’s ridin’ with Lola now.”
“Lucky her. So, we can go?”
Keith looked at Lesli, who smiled and nodded. Keith answered, “Yep, let’s hit it.”
“Good enough. Next stop we’ll be in another country. First, though, we gotta get a full tank.”
Lesli decided to stay on as far as Montreal, then double back. He’d catch up to her in a week, when everyone split up. Lola would jet back to Vegas. Luis would go home to his woman.
Sherry and Faith would hotfoot it back to New York to wrap up any loose ends, tending to whatever need tending — not to mention soak up their friends’ congratulations like sponges — before rejoining the tour out West. Helen and Sam, of course, would be on the way to still greater stardom with their mugs plastered all over magazine covers and Internet publications.
Rolling Stone, naturally, would eventually be on the agenda, soon as Helen and Alena agreed the time was right to push UTC to that level. After which everybody had better get used to the notion of privacy in public places being a thing of the past.
Keith was the only one who considered it any sort of hardship. Lola, Luis and Sherry couldn’t wait to be stopped everywhere they went, asked for autographs and photographed by intrusive paparazzi.
They dressed, had a bite to eat. Put the television on, watching one of Helen’s movies. Cuddled up on the couch and enjoyed the scenery flying by.
Keith had been right — the boys were very happy to see Lesli. But they couldn’t figure out where Bruno was. “Aw, they miss him.”
“They miss terrorizing the poor fella.”
She shifted, stretched out with her head in his lap. He stroked her hair. “I feel,” she said, “like such a damned fool. The longer I stayed away, though, the harder it was to do anything about it. Finally, it was too embarrassing to call. So, I just sat and stewed in my juices.’
“Until Hank put his foot in your behind.”
“Yeah, God bless ‘im.”
“Amen. So, when I’m done with this leg of the tour, we gonna tie the knot?”
“Y’ know, sweetie, I want everybody to be there. Helen and Samantha, too. I don’t know about that Faith woman, though.” He understood. Had noticed the two of them exchanging ugly looks, glaring stares. “That woman doesn’t like me. She’s got the hots for you and don’t you dare say I’m jealous and imagining things.”
“No problem. We won’t invite her. Odds are she won’t want to come, anyway.” He thought for a fleeting moment about not returning to the band, just setting up house with Lesli and their impending bundle of joy.
But it would be professional suicide. Along with being in breach of contract, Helen and Alena both would be mad as hell. While Helen wouldn’t set out to ruin him, Alena Sheridan sure would. He quickly scrapped that idea. “We’ll work it out. Have the whole world there if you want.”
He joked, “Now, you’re pushing it.”
She laughed and pulled his head down for a kiss. “When did you start singing? With the band, I mean.”
“That was all Helen’s idea. Her and Alena Sheridan. Guess I kind of got drafted.”
“So. Are you going to get famous, too?”
“Well, Les, it does sort of come with the territory. Lay down with dogs, get up scratchin’.”
She slapped her knee. “God, my mother will be beside herself. Her son-in-law the superstar. You know, she still can’t wait to meet Helen.”
“She will, she will. Got a feeling Helen’s gonna get a real kick out of her. I sure do.”
They had a nice time getting pleasantly buzzed, enjoying a relaxed ride, happy as a couple of pigs in slop to be back together.
Next week: Faith finally gets the message
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.