Oct 01, 2021
12 mins read
Every TD chapter will be tagged for easier searching.
Jake insisted I come to Christmas Eve dinner, so I didn’t have much of a choice.
God, I hoped it wasn’t as awkward as the rehearsal. Damn Dylan’s parents. I was finally getting somewhere with Michaela when his dad had to make a scene and embarrass them.
The door to Beth’s white farmhouse was open, spilling out the sounds of music and scents of good food. Why the property had a modern house in front and a vintage one behind it…beats me. The Lindseys were only a family of three.
The farmhouse reminded me of Virginia, though.
I climbed the steps and heard voices.
“Speaking of things related to Linc, we didn’t scare Michaela off, did we?” Dylan asked.
So they were talking about me?
“She seemed okay when we dropped her off at an apartment in the ‘burbs. Beth confirmed the time for tomorrow.”
“Was the neighborhood safe?” Jen asked. “I got the impression she’s used to living on not much.”
“Could’ve been better, definitely seen worse. There was another girl in there when the door opened, so it looks like she has a roommate.” Jake’s voice.
“I’ll repeat what I said when we first heard her sing—how is she not signed already?” Dylan said, respect for her talent clear in his tone.
“You’ll love her voice, Mum,” Jake said. “Reminds me of the folk chicks you listened to when I was a lad.”
“Like Carole King?” His mother’s voice reminded me of Jane Seymour.
I decided to make my entrance. “What’s like Carole King?”
“You’re late!” Beth said.
“Sorry, had to detour around a minor fender bender.”
“Everyone, this is Lincoln Adams,” Jake said. “Linc, meet everyone.”
“Hey.” There were no more seats, so I was stuck with leaning against the stair rail or sitting on the floor.
“Linc is our new drummer,” Jake said to his mother.
“Oh. Right. Pleased to meet you, Lincoln. Call me Vivian.”
“Knock, knock!” came from the front door. Our heads swung that direction. Celeste entered the house, followed by Bob.
“You’re late!” Beth said in the kitchen.
“Food’s not on the table, yet, so apparently not! Hey, gang.”
Beth walked in from around the staircase. “Au contraire, my friend. We have all the dishes laid out except the turkey. Everyone grab a chair.”
Two dining tables created an L.
“That’s my cue to go,” Maria said. “Bon appétit.”
“Hang on.” Jake hurried to catch his property manager at the door and hug her. “Thank you. Again.”
She patted his face with motherly affection. “I’m off to be with my boys. Goodnight, all.” She had been in Jake’s life since he first got famous.
A chorus of byes, then we filled the dining room.
Beth’s tables had red tablecloths and white china.
Dishes were passed around with sliced turkey, classic stuffing, dressing with giblets and nuts, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole (thank my Southern roots), green bean casserole, asparagus, crescent rolls from the can, and Hawaiian rolls.
Glasses of cider or wine. Wine wasn’t my thing except with pasta, so I’d grab a beer later. Food was good and the conversation pleasant to listen to.
Once the focus was on gifts for the toddlers, I quietly slipped out.
My folks would expect a call tonight or tomorrow morning.
I got around the porch and pulled my phone from my pocket.
My full name is Lincoln Jefferson Adams. Yeah. Chuckle now and get it over with. Mom and Dad met when she was a reenactor at Colonial Williamsburg.
Most people called me Linc. Joining Jake Lindsey’s band this fall was my big public break. Bob the guitarist knew me from session work, so I got an audition.
Did I think it was a permanent gig? No. Their original drummer Aaron went to rehab and no one knew when he might come back. Acts needed temps all the time—whether in the studio or on tour. Which were cheaper, full-time-employed musicians or people who only worked as needed? Yeah.
Anyway, Jake needed a drummer to finish a new album in August and I fit the bill. As the new guy, my job was to do as I was told and I’d get paid the next six months on my lease.
I didn’t expect to be recording in the swank basement of the star’s house, nor did I expect to be welcomed by the band and their significant others, too. The friendliness was weird. Inviting me to Thanksgiving? Did I look like I had nowhere to go?
Went back to Williamsburg, by the way.
Dad was a history professor at William & Mary. Mom managed the house of a nice old guy we were close with.
In December, we performed a one-night-only preview concert for the new album at The Greek Theater, an open-air amphitheater in the L.A. hills Griffith Park region. Venue was packed. Biggest crowd I played for to date and the debut of the new album to the public.
At the end of the set, Jake addressed the crowd. “We’re almost done tonight. Thank you for the love you’ve shown these new songs. Before we go, one of us has something to say.”
Dylan the bass guitar player approached the microphone and said, “I know, babe, I told you I wouldn’t make it public, but I can’t hold it in. As you all know, this band is family and these guys are my brothers. Now they’re about to become uncles.”
The crowd roared with congratulations.
Then Bob grabbed the mic from him. “Shit, man, if we’re spilling big news, I might as well share mine—Celeste agreed to marry me.”
The crowd went wild.
Jake struck up the chords of the last song, but no one was paying much attention. Finally, he gave up, yelled, “Good night!” into a microphone, and herded us off stage to their women.
“Bloody hell, you all couldn’t have shared this at Thanksgiving?”
With this clearly becoming a personal moment, I ditched for the shower and home.
No one recognized me as I left.
Jake had introduced me by name, but not with a spotlight and camera, so I blended in with the roadies and escaped to my grandfather’s ’70 Charger.
The rumble of that big block had always soothed me—until I put my foot in her.
Then she growled.
How my father came from Granddad, I’d never understand. All that education must’ve ruined him. Teasing, but kinda not really. They shared two things—patriotism and love of family, hence my name. Jefferson came from my grandfather.
Normally, I went home for Christmas. Mom had been less than impressed when I told her I had to stay here, but I mailed their gifts as soon as I got the invite.
Dad—necktie. Mom—novelty apron.
When I returned to the kitchen, pie had been served, thankfully with some apple left.
Someone made the suggestion to go out to the tree. Jake opened a cedar chest under the front window for blankets. What was the tree?
A narrow path of pea gravel led to a solitary oak tree with white lights strung on the branches. Adirondack chairs were stationed around the fire pit and chunks of a hewn log served as end tables. Lanterns hung from the lowest branches.
Jake and Bob got the fire going and one of the singer’s old acoustic guitars had been brought along. Tonight, the air was chilly, but the blankets and campfire took care of that.
“What about the girls?” Darcy asked. The Lindsey’s sister-in-law.
Beth held up her smart phone. “Baby monitor app.”
Dylan sat, pulled Jen onto his lap, and wrapped them in a blanket.
She snuggled into him. “It’s nice to get some peace before the crazy tomorrow.”
“Brother dear, would you impart some wisdom as the longest married?” Beth asked. “We have newlyweds, about-to-weds, and newly-engaged here.”
Andrew laughed awkwardly. “Way to put me on the spot. Um…” Darcy turned to him. “The ‘never go to bed angry’ advice is nice, but not always practical. You’re more likely to say something you’ll regret when you’re pissed off and tired versus just pissed.”
“Not bad,” she replied. “Though trying to sleep when you haven’t settled a fight can be impossible.”
“True. The point is that it’s okay to cool off and let better angels prevail if you’re not solving anything in that moment.”
“And then you might end up talking it through at three in the morning when you have to get up for work at six.”
He smiled and caressed her face. “But solving arguments is how you get stronger. Closer. The seven-year-itch never happened for us because we don’t stop trying.”
She kissed him. “So romantic.”
“Advice never sounds romantic.”
“Linc, ever been in love?” Jake asked.
The one single guy stuck on a tree stump. I stretched my arms out. “Really, man?”
“We’ve all spilled our guts before,” Bob said. “Don’t be a chicken.” Dick.
I rolled my eyes. “The one girl in the entire universe? Obviously not.”
“My first boyfriend was at five,” Celeste blurted out. “We held hands all through kindergarten and I called him Honey Bunch. It was devastating when his parents moved him away two years later.”
“That explains a lot,” Beth teased. Celeste tossed a clump of dead grass at her.
But it got me off the hook. Conversation moved on.
We were used to late nights, but add tryptophan and we were all yawning by eight. Bob and Celeste left and Andrew and Darcy took their kid to the front house.
This group was touchy-feely, so I got pats on the shoulders and back with goodbyes. The rest had known each other so long they hugged on a frequent basis.
At least Dylan’s bachelor party on Saturday had been fun—minus Sunday morning’s hangover. Did I expect a night of video games? Did anyone? But no one else was single.
The wedding was tomorrow night, so the group needed their beauty sleep.
I just had to show up and be happy for them.
In my twenties, weddings had been hook-up events at best, but the only girl I had my eye on now was Michaela and this was less about getting in her pants and more about unraveling her mystery. A beautiful woman with substance? Yes, please.
Michaela was already at her performance seat when I arrived, wearing a black dress that was elegant while hugging her curves and her hair pulled back in a neat bun. She couldn’t hide her eyes behind that mass of curls tonight.
I sat on the right with Dylan’s mother, Lynn the publicist, Andrew and Darcy, and Vivian Lindsey. Dylan stood at the front, rocking foot-to-foot. Michaela checked the tune of her guitar.
Right before seven, Aaron Short and a young woman snuck into their seats.
Then, the big door opened. The recorded processional music started.
Bob and Hannah appeared first and walked toward us, then Jake and Beth, then Mike and Shelley. Michaela started to play and sing.
The song talked about a type of love I was starting to yearn for, if only a girl would inspire it. What would it be like to feel something beyond the rush of crushes and hormones?
Jen appeared in red, looking gorgeous, and we stood.
All eyes were on the bride, except mine. Michaela could merely sound pretty and people would be happy, but she went beyond that, singing like the words were hers instead of a country music star from Australia. How had an artist like her stayed so anonymous?
It was a short, beautiful ceremony, ending with the officiant’s blessing.
Reverend Jacobs smiled and raised his hands. “Those whom God has joined together, let no man or woman put asunder. Dylan and Jennifer, it is my joy to present you as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. You may kiss the bride.”
Dylan kissed Jen and dipped her. We cheered as it got less appropriate for public view. Jen blinked her vision back into focus when he brought her upright, Shelley handed her the bouquet, and they left the barn.
The wedding party would take photos together before the reception.
My gaze lingering on Michaela, I shuffled out with the rest to head to the front house.