Wednesday, August 23rd, 8:55
That text from Freddy. And then from Neraeh.
All of it was going to have to settle in.
They’re dating each other.
Hard to believe. Yet then again it wasn’t. Neraeh was
struggling with all of this, and she needed someone, and well, Freddy would be
there for her.
It hurt. Bad. But he had to let it go.
Really, Evan? You still have some hidden desire for
Dana. Neraeh. Neither was his type, not truly. But Neraeh’s
eyes, eyes so much like his beautiful Syrrah’s eyes. And Dana, still possibly
holding Syrrah within her. Both women he could never let go of easily.
And he couldn’t hold it against Freddy. If this was
something Neraeh wanted, as Freddy explained, then so be it.
Didn’t help that Freddy found out Heidi had moved on. Dating
some Bison football player of all people. And he couldn’t even bring himself to
check out the guy’s pic and stats online. Like a coward. Chicken.
He took in a deep breath and released the air slowly. He looked
at his phone. Was getting close to 9 AM, when Freddy and Neraeh would be
calling. Helped they both had the day off.
Also helped this day was gorgeously sunny so far. The air
was hot and dry and felt great on his exposed arms and legs. Good thing he wore
his grey jogging shorts and white T-shirt. Dad always said white or light
colors reflect the heat. And this park. He scanned around. A ballpark. He
smiled. No kids playing ball right now. He was sitting alone on a park bench at
the side of a grass-covered field, surrounded by trees, a few other baseball
fields and several mothers and their toddler-aged children playing, running
around, though they were far enough away not to hear his conversation.
And fortunately the traffic noise from nearby streets wasn’t
too terribly bad.
His phone buzzed.
Neraeh was calling. He swiped to answer. “Hey, Neraeh.”
“Evan. So good to hear your voice again. Hold on. I’ll set
up on speaker.” She didn’t talk a moment and clicking noises could be heard.
“Can you hear me okay now?’
Her voice was a little distant, but not too bad. “Yes, I
“Hey, Evan,” Freddy said. “How are you doing?”
“If you’re wondering, about, you know, you two dating, I’m
“You sure dude?”
“Yeah, I’ll be okay.”
“Well, all right,” Freddy said. “I’m glad, you’re doing
“Freddy, dude. It’s all right. We got more important things
to talk about.”
“Sure. Okay. So, any other signs of Syrrah, since what Art
said, about your Taekwondo event?”
“No. Like I texted, Dana has mostly been avoiding me. All
that’s been happening since Oklahoma City is one day after another, we just
travel to get to the venue, scope it out, and then some of us from security
might help the rest of the crew set things up. I’ve been doing more security
work, though, which is good.”
“Have you actually been able to see her perform?” Neraeh
asked. “Maybe you’ve seen some clues with that.”
“Carter’s been having me watch venue people and activity
more, but I’ve been able to sneak some views of her on stage. She’s good,
really good. I see why she’s so famous. Her stage presence, her great voice,
she has charm, charisma. But no, I wasn’t able to detect any of Syrrah’s
behaviors with her on stage.”
“But did you notice any of her behaviors other times?”
“Other than the gentle hair swipe, nothing so far, Neraeh,
sorry to say.”
“It’s okay. I’m hoping something will happen soon.”
Evan sighed. “Yeah. Me too.”
“They got you carrying any weapons yet?” Freddy asked.
“No, not yet. Just pepper spray. Remember they really
discourage weapons or even fighting. And I’ll get first aid training soon. But
mostly they want me to use my wits and think ahead, know escape routes, keep
Dana away from trouble before it starts.”
“Yeah,” Freddy said. “Good advice. What was that you texted
about Greg, and in-house security?”
“Greg believes most celebrities hire a security company to
get their bodyguards. But since Carter is a long-time friend with Lloyd, he
handles it all. He’s former Marine Recon or something. Don’t know all the
details yet, but this all sounds connected.”
“Military connections, and Tauring.”
“Yes, Fred. Possibly.”
“Sounds more dangerous, though,” Neraeh said. “Stay safe,
“I will, Neraeh. Don’t worry.”
“You’ve mentioned staying at motels,” Neraeh said. “What
about that tour bus?”
“If we’re staying in town for several days, Dana’s team will
usually want us staying at motels or hotels, which really helps a lot. Like I
told you, those buses are cramped sardine cans.”
“Oh, I bet. Sounds so difficult.”
“Helps that Carter requires us to keep up with workouts and
martial arts training. You been keeping up with things too Fred?”
“Oh yeah. Been at Master Ren’s as usual.”
“Another thing though. Really miss playing my guitar.”
“It’s at your home,” Freddy said, “safe and sound, like I
told you. Along with Ram Girl.”
“Definitely miss her too.”
Like similar texting sessions and phone calls, they then
discussed other things at home. Oz and Randal wanted Evan back yesterday, but
since they knew that wouldn’t be happening until at least Minneapolis, Freddy
had helped arrange local performances with just the three of them, switching
around lead singers and bass players. Evan felt left out, but what could he do?
The discussion switched to Dad, Mom-Kyleigh, and Matti, with Dad wondering if
Evan was reading the Bible, going to church, and praying. All he could do was
pray, at this point. Freddy and Neraeh understood why with this crazy tour
schedule. And then of course Dad and Mom-Kyleigh would not let up with their
disapproval of his decision to delay the darn NDSU football scholarship, but
again, what could he do?
He had to resolve this once and for all.
“So, Neraeh. You met my dad. What did you think of him?”
“Oh, he’s a very nice man, Evan. A great father. And I
thought my dad was pretty great.”
“Yeah, dude,” Freddy said. “I wasn’t sure how it would go
down, with, you know, your dad’s negative approval of who Syrrah was. But yeah,
he was accepting. Your mom was too. I think they really like Neraeh. I mean,
who wouldn’t like this girl? She’s so nice and awesome.”
“Aww, thank you, Freddy,” Neraeh said. “That is very kind of
“Of course, Neraeh. I truly mean it.”
“But did you tell them not to come see me?” Evan asked.
“That we don’t want to upset the secretiveness we’re trying to maintain,
because of MOTC and all?”
“Oh, yeah dude. Don’t worry. I did. Like all of us, we’re
counting on things getting wrapped up even before Minneapolis so I think
they’re pretty well set with waiting it out. But…”
Neraeh was speaking something in a low tone, in the
background, to Freddy, and Evan couldn’t hear it all. “What’s that, Neraeh?”
“Dude,” Freddy said after a pause. “Forgot to tell you. Sort
of has to do with keeping things under wraps. But also that tall guy. Did you
know Dana’s fans on Twitter and maybe on Instagram too, are posting interest in
you? Neraeh saw it today.”
“Fans,” Neraeh said, “mostly girl fans, obviously, are
posting how hot and handsome Dana’s new bodyguard is. You, they mean. They’ve
taken pics of you at the concerts.”
“Me? Well, what about Greg? He’s a new guy too.”
“Yes,” Neraeh said. “I saw some for him too, but definitely
all the interest is centering on you.”
“Could have something to do with I’m the youngest in the
security team. But then again, there are young roadies, tech roadies.”
“Yes, but they’re not you, Evan.”
“But here’s the thing,” Freddy said. “Did Carter ever tell
you if that tall guy was going to press charges or not?”
“Last I heard, no. Nothing. You think this might jar his
memory, make him want to?”
“Yeah. I do. Because some of the fans mentioned how you took
him down, and then Dana’s team hires you. But, they definitely sided more with
you, since he attacked you and was a stupid drunk-ass tool.”
“Ha-ha, he sure was, Fred. I’ll agree on that.”
They talked a bit more, with Neraeh wondering of Evan’s next
break to call them. He explained either in Kansas City, Missouri or Southaven,
Mississippi. But Evan was finding himself increasingly exhausted from the call.
He wanted the call to end ASAP.
They began wrapping up the conversation, with Evan stating
it was great speaking to them both. And again, not to worry, he was happy that
they were seeing each other.
He made sure to say fond goodbyes and kind words, especially
to Neraeh, at the end of their call.
But yeah. He wasn’t being completely honest.
Neraeh. Damn it all. He wanted her all to himself.
No. Ridiculous. Stop this!
Change your thoughts!
He thought about that tall guy. Oddly, a sensation passed
through his mind he hadn’t felt in years. Since the hull. When he simply knew
something was going to happen or not going to happen.
And he definitely knew. That guy was not ever going to press
Art. Or Limati.
It had to be one of them.
And maybe in time he would know for sure.