Chapter 69: Welcome

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Lex swallowed as she looked out from her shadowed spot behind stage. She'd thought that perhaps their American fans might have forgotten about them, despite Riss' reports every week that she'd continued to get requests that they tour America again. The venue looked to be packed, however, and Lex shook her head as she took the few steps back to the dressing rooms.

"It looks like it's sold out," she said as she slipped inside, closing the door behind her.

Lou grinned at her in the mirror, trying not to lose track of the rubber band he had in his lips, ready to fasten the end of his braid once he'd finished it. Kate pumped her fist, complete with guitar pick, into the air. Derek, next to her, smiled. Sometime after Derek and Victor had started keeping closer company, he'd stepped up, interested to help the band. Lex smiled as she saw him watch as Kate turned back to her task of tuning her instrument. Riss nodded in the corner where she and Art had camped out, both of them studying the laptop she carried.

Rolf smiled and took Lex's hand as she sat in the empty chair between him and Joe, who'd joined the group as promised. "So, it's as expected, then," Rolf said as he linked their fingers together.

"Yeah, I guess," Lex replied with a frown, glancing at Rolf before looking at Joe. "Do you think you're going to be able to stay?"

He smiled in reply. "Maybe for a while." Lex grinned back at him then, happy that he'd changed from a definite "no."

"I think you'll like it. The people that come to see us seem to be good folks, and everyone looks like they're ready for the show tonight."

Rolf nodded in confirmation of Lex's words. "I'll be going to the front of the house just before the show is ready to start," he said, leaning over Lex so Joe could hear him. "If you want, we can find a good spot together."

Joe nodded. "That'd be good. It's been a while since I've seen a show here."

"Lily is up front with Casey tonight, isn't she?" Lex asked, glancing at Rolf.

"Yes, so I may end up only being able to see about a third of the show, since I'll need to give both of them a break," he replied with a philosophical shrug.

"So, is this performance going to be as exciting as the one for your sixth-grade chorus?" Joe asked, leaning over onto the counter running in front of the mirrors to give Rolf a mischievous look.

Lex rolled her eyes, knowing what came next, but laughed nonetheless as he related a disastrous recital where one of the backdrops for the stage came loose and managed to fall with a giant crash and an explosion of decades-old dust all over the choral group. No one had been hurt, but it had taken so long to get the chorus (as well as the audience) calmed down that they had decided to postpone the rest of the show to another date.

As Joe relayed the story, Lex's gaze stole around the room, watching Lou, Kate, and Derek talk about stringed instruments, and then turned to the picture of Riss and Art sitting shoulder to shoulder, concentrating on the screen of Riss' laptop. She smiled to herself to think about how everyone had just accepted her younger brother as their own, and, as she thought of it, how they had all introduced each other to everyone else's family members they didn't know.

Her train of thought broke there as a new voice at the door behind them called out. "Hey, just wanted to let you all know that we've finished up. I think we warmed them up pretty good for you."

Lex turned in her seat to see the bass player for the opening band, a tall man with raven hair that fell below his shoulders, and a quick, inviting grin. She grinned back at him. "Thanks. We appreciate it. I got a chance to hear some of your set, too, and I really liked it. You have a lot of good energy playing live."

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