Organizing a Christmas Day wedding in two weeks is insane.
Dylan proposed the week of Thanksgiving and suggested a Christmas wedding. We met on Christmas Eve, but he means this year. It’s a private argument I’m winning—until he tells his rockstar friends and their wives who are my best gals. Now everyone’s excited!
Complicating things? I took a pregnancy test the day before that proposal, Dylan lives in L.A., and I live in Big Bear. That baby’s coming in six-ish months, so we need a house, which I have on the mountain—we met in a snowstorm—but he doesn’t want the two-hour commute.
It’s the first big test of our relationship and it scares me.
Which will win—my practical side or the magic of the season?
This story is intended for readers 18 and over due to adult language, sexual content, and adult situations. Picks up where The Keyboardist ended and is a sequel to The Bassist.
Previously, at the end of The Keyboardist
The band was performing a one-night-only preview concert for the new album at The Greek Theater. Two hours after arriving, I stood in one of the wings with Beth, Jen, and Celeste. It was the first time playing publicly with the new drummer Linc and the guys were unusually nervous.
And my first time seeing them play.
The venue was packed and I was grateful we were back here away from the crowd. Girls in front were going berserk. Beth and Celeste were almost bored with the process, but Jen kept rubbing her stomach like she was soothing butterflies.
While happy to support Mike, I didn’t know how many of these big deals I’d attend in the future. The band playing and singing in the backyard was special enough.
Our guys walked onstage from the other side and I waved at Mike, the eternity band on my left hand sparkling in the lights. Yeah, I know—some would say it was fast, but he was mine and I was his. We snuck away to his hometown in October, his closest family in attendance.
He still wanted to get me an engagement ring, but I didn’t need a big flashy rock to know how much he loved me.
When he harmonized with Jake to sing about love, his eyes met mine.
We had a listening party when the album released, but hearing the music live was totally different, at least for me. Growing up, I never had the money for concerts like this. The sound was so powerful, it vibrated your body. I felt every bit of bass in my chest. Most performances I’d seen were on the PBS station or at the county fair, so I was grateful for Beth handing out ear plugs.
At the end of the set, Jake addressed the crowd. “We’re almost done tonight and thank you for the love you’ve shown these new songs. Before we go, one of us has something to say.”
The four of us looked between each other, no one knowing what this was about. Then Dylan grabbed the mike and Jen’s hand flew to her mouth.
“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. Dylan shrugged in our direction while Beth hugged his fiancée. I tried to ask Jen when she was due, but she couldn’t hear me.
Then Bob grabbed the mike 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.
We turned to her and she held up the engagement ring, which was blinding.
We moved deeper back to talk.
Beth smacked her bestie’s arm. “How could you not tell me?”
“It just happened last night. He said, ‘Hey, babe, let’s make it legal,’ held up the ring, and I said yes.”
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 his friends off stage to join us.
“Bloody hell, you all couldn’t have shared this at Thanksgiving?”
We laughed, we partied, and I said a prayer of thanks I’d found this crazy cobbled-together family of rock stars and their beloveds, who were now my best friends.
Mike and I wouldn’t be here without them.
After the concert at The Greek…
We escaped to the limo to wait for the guys to come out.
“Jen, why didn’t you tell us?” Beth asked. She was Jake’s wife, the lead singer.
My hand went to my still-bumpless belly. “It’s still early. He wasn’t supposed to spill the beans.” Oh my God, he told the world before I could tell Mom.
“How far along are you?” Hannah asked. She married Mike the keyboard player in October. As the next-newest member of this group, I’d taken her under my wing.
My gal pals then nodded sympathetically. Every woman knew the four-month rule. It was courting bad luck to announce a pregnancy until the risk of miscarriage decreased. Of course, plenty of couples announced as soon as they knew and had a baby without a hitch.
But a lot of women also lost babies they never talked about.
I sighed. “He’s excited.” They chuckled. “I just wish he hadn’t told the whole world.”
The limo door opened and my fiancé’s head appeared. “How mad at me are you?”
“Ask me when we see how viral this goes.”
He crawled in on his knees and took my hands. “Sorry. Adrenaline of performing…”
“Endorphins made you stupid. I get it.” I stroked through his shorter curls. “You owe me a big favor, dude.” Looking into his sweet, pretty blue eyes, I could never be mad long.
“At least your news wasn’t the only announcement tonight,” Celeste said, Bob’s new fiancée. It was still amazing she’d gotten the player guitarist to commit.
Beth’s head swung to her bestie. “Yeah, what the hell? Twenty-four hours go by and I hear it from Bob?”
“Congratulations, Celeste. We’re really happy for you guys,” Dylan said, moving to sit next to me. His fingers stayed entwined with my hand.
The door opened again, with the voices of three more men. Jake came in and kissed Beth. Mike sat with Hannah, then Bob folded his long frame to get next to Celeste.
“Let’s get this party rolling!” he said loudly. The limo obliged.
we wait for
“He had other plans,” Bob said.
The new drummer hadn’t been fully integrated into the band, yet. Hard to come into an established group. Couldn’t blame the guy for taking it slow.
Celeste pinched his side. He yelped. “That’s for making me front-page news without warning.”
He grinned, unrepentant. “Dylan started it.”
“You’re gonna love fatherhood, mate,” Jake said. “When’s it due?”
“June-ish,” I said.
“Good timing,” Beth said. “My early months were during summer and it did not help the morning sickness.”
“How have you been feeling?” Hannah asked me.
“Okay so far. I get sleepy, but—”
“You guys got engaged last month,” Bob blurted out. “Dude…”
“It’s their business,” Mike said. Dylan gave him a nod of thanks.
Bob was nice enough, but protective of the band. He was always suspicious when a new woman joined the group. Some Yoko Ono superstition. Rumors suck no matter the decade.
“I’ll get it out there—he asked before I told him I was pregnant, okay?”
We’d just left this part out of the proposal story.
Being thirty-one, I waited until my second missed period to tell Dylan. I’d been on the Pill for years, so I didn’t think baby after the first one. But then I was late a couple days before he proposed, so when he asked me to be his forever, it was the right moment to spring my news. Thank God he was delighted. And…so was I.
My dead husband didn’t want children. He indulged my interest at first, then it became clear it wasn’t a priority for him…and then he became a drunk, a cheater, and finally killed himself driving wasted. As a new widow, I couldn’t contemplate ever having the chance again.
Loving someone else wasn’t on my radar until Dylan knocked on my door seeking shelter from a blizzard on Christmas Eve.
Not even a year ago…
We’d moved fast.
I looked at him and he smiled with his whole face displaying his love for me. Yeah, no regrets. I was where I was meant to be.
“So when’s the wedding?” Celeste asked.
I slapped my hand over Dylan’s mouth. “That’s too soon.”
“What’s too soon?” Beth asked.
He yanked my hand down. “Christmas.”
My girlfriends went awww.
“We can’t organize a wedding in two weeks,” I told him. Again.
“Sure we can,” Jake said. “We’re rich rock stars.”
“If the guest list is small, it can happen anywhere,” Beth said. Our resident planner/hostess.
I groaned, then scowled at my fiancé. “This is why I told you not to spill the beans yet.”
“Oops.” But his dimples were showing.
I slapped his chest. “You did this on purpose!” That scheming, gorgeous…argh. “You’re using our unborn child as leverage!”
“Jen, think about it. Isn’t Christmas the perfect day?”
“What’s wrong with a year from now?”
But even as I said it, I knew that’d never happen.
He nuzzled my hair, murmuring in my ear, “Don’t you want to be Mrs. Smith?”
“Dylan, we haven’t even talked about where we’re going to live, yet.”
I still lived in
Big Bear. Though he had his parents’
cabin on the mountain, too, he lived near his bandmates in
“You can’t have a two-hour commute every time the band needs you,” Bob said.
“Easy for you to
say. Celeste already lives in your
Our friends started debating all at once and I felt a headache coming on. I rubbed the center of my forehead. A loud whistle brought sudden silence.
“Hey! Jen and I don’t need a committee to figure out our marriage. Topic tabled.”
They blinked at Dylan. He rarely raised his voice for anything.
And I’d never heard him bark at his friends.
Thankfully, the limo pulled through the gate to Jake and Beth’s compound at that moment. It was a huge property with two houses. They lived in the one not visible from the street and entertained in the contemporary mansion in front. It had enough guest rooms for every band member to have a bed after all-night jam sessions. Or a little too much celebrating.
The band performed a one-night-only preview concert for the new tour at The Greek Theater after spending months recording and tweaking to Jake’s exacting standards. Dylan had explained to me that this was their redemption album after an overproduced piece of crap. Between debuting brand new songs and performing for the first time with a new drummer, they’d been nervous going into tonight’s concert, but with the crowd loving the set, they were hyped and ready to blow off steam.
Only without the groupies and drugs and booze of the distant past.
Jake reformed himself for Beth and that set the rest on a path of more mature choices.
I was still wrapping my head around being the pregnant fiancée of one of today’s most successful bass players in rock. The phone call from Mom when the first paparazzi photo was published was fun. We were just out, nothing scandalous, but the magazine had found my pen name attached to some fan pics from a convention and printed it.
Dylan Smith is dating author J.D. Wright. How long have these two been cozy and where did they meet? Is the bass player a fan of YA science fiction?
I’d published for adults, too, but of course they had to use the teen lit angle.
Dylan had the band’s publicist make some kind of deal or arrangement that kept my legal name out of the press so far, but who knew how long that would last?
“Our turn,” Dylan said, lightly tugging my hand. To exit the limo.
The front door of the house was already open. This was my first time seeing the property with all the Christmas decorations. None of this was up Thanksgiving weekend. Native tree trunks had been wrapped in white lights and more white lights lined the contemporary rooflines.
I spotted the side of the wreath attached to the door.
Inside, the heat was on, and I started to shed my coat. Dylan’s fingers took over, sliding it the rest of the way off my arms and hanging it in the closet with his.
My consummate gentleman.
A Christmas tree was next to the big fireplace, decorated with a British theme for Jake’s heritage. The real homey stuff would be in the farmhouse on the other side of the pool deck.
We continued down to the basement—the rockstar lounge. This was the one space that was completely Jake’s taste, now I knew the couple well. Glamorous and bold. The walls were all matte black except the silver-leaf ceiling. Cobalt blue velvet sofas, chairs in rich red and bright orange, and a shiny black lacquer bar to the side. At the far end, the recording studio big enough for all of them to play in together. There was also a bathroom and a bedroom down here, though I’d never had reason to step into the latter.
Despite the luxe look, Beth had once informed me that all the furniture was covered in performance fabrics that put up with musician abuse and didn’t stain.
Silver tinsel Christmas trees had been placed in random places for the holiday.
“Stop,” Dylan said at the base of the stairs, and pointed up. Mistletoe.
Smiling, I shook my head, then accepted his kiss. Of course Jake had put it in a doorway.
Bob had already kicked his feet up on a velvet ottoman, Celeste on his lap. They were doing what they did best in public: making out. Everyone learned early to not walk in on them without knocking. I’d never known such horn-dogs before meeting Dylan.
Mike turned on Twisted Sister’s Christmas album, A Twisted Christmas. Because what else? Hannah rolled her eyes, but started singing along.
She was the youngest here at twenty-four, but fending for herself from eighteen had made her more mature than most her age these days. She and Mike first bonded over ‘80s music. They’d moved even quicker than me and Dylan, but I couldn’t knock their obvious happiness. They made each other better.
“Eggnog?” my fiancé offered me. “Non-alcoholic, of course.”
I sniffed the mug he held and my nose wrinkled up. “Cider?”
He set the mug down on an end table. “Maria made that, too.”
“Thanks, honey.” I sat on one of the blue sofas.
“Has it sunk in, yet?” Beth asked. She’d exchanged shoes for slippers already.
I laughed. “Which part?”
She grinned. “I should’ve warned you about the fertility of rock stars. Jacob knocked me up on our honeymoon.”
I nodded. “That’s right. Were you trying?”
“No. I was on the Pill. Never missed a dose! But all he had to do is stop using condoms and bam. Baby girl.”
My hands rested on my waistband. “I don’t know how this happened, either. Someone needs to revise the chance percentage on birth control. Do you think you’ll make it to two years between kids?”
She pressed her hands together. “From your mouth to God’s ears. I don’t want two in diapers at the same time. She only turned one in March and I like being able to focus on her milestones, see her become a little person. Babies are adorable, but this early toddler-dom is awesome. Every day, she amazes me with what she understands already.”
“And you’ve only been married two and a half years.”
“May 29th, 2012. Exactly. We have at least a little more time before my ovaries are old.” She sighed. “We love their passion, but it can make them impulsive. Don’t let him push you into anything that doesn’t feel right.”
A peal of laughter caught our attention. Mike and Hannah were dancing and he’d just dipped her. “They’re so adorable, it’s nauseating,” I said.
Beth grinned. “They definitely have the newlywed glow.”
“Did you ever imagine having a houseful like this?”
There was a smile in her eyes, too. “These are our better days, aren’t they? Everyone in love and happy going into Christmas.” She sipped from a mug of spiced cider.
“Are your brother and Darcy coming out?”
She nodded. “For a week. Alyson is finally big enough to play with her cousin Sarah, so that should be fun.”
I laughed. “I remember when Shelley was little.” My sister was half my age. Dad referred to her as a faulty condom. “As a teenager, I didn’t appreciate it, except when she was unexpectedly sweet. Those moments reminded me I loved this loud, annoying, tiny creature.”
“Must’ve been what it was like for Andrew.” Her brother was several years older, too.
“Where are our men?”
Dylan had never returned with my drink and I didn’t see Jake, either.
She sat up straighter. “Oh, that’s slightly worrisome.”
“What is?” Celeste asked in a brief pause from sucking face.
Beth slipped her phone out of her pocket and started typing.
The buzz came seconds later. “He’s in the barn.” Her blue-gray eyes met mine. “I’m sorry.”
My gaze rolled upward. “I suppose it was inevitable.”
The barn had already been a chapel once. Made sense for Jake to offer its use now.
“That’s you guy’s space, your memories. I don’t want to trample on that,” I added.
She leaned forward, placing her hand on my knee. “Nonsense. My wedding day would never be diminished by a different couple using the barn two years later. To Jacob, these men are his brothers. He’s trying to help your fiancé’s dream come true and I can’t be mad at that.”
But what was mine?
I stood to go to the bathroom. I’d been peeing often the past month. The moment alone gave me a chance to release a long breath. This was supposed to be a joyful celebratory night.
Dylan and I would talk later.