"Ash!" her parents cheered all smiles. They had bags under their eyes and the traces of stage make up. They must have had a gig last night.
"Mom, Dad! It's so good to hear from you," She set her guitar to the side.
"It's good to talk to you too," Mom said.
"I saw that guitar, are you working on another new song?" Dad asked, pushing his sunglasses to the top of his head.
"Yea, it's not even close to being done though," she admitted.
"Oh, our baby is going to be just as talented of a writer and artist as her parents," Mom squealed.
"We are so proud that you are chasing your dreams," Dad beamed.
"And all on your own!" Mom nodded along.
"You guys didn't have famous parents or anyone to really help you in the music industry. I'm just doing what you did," Ash waved them off. She could feel heat rising in her cheeks.
Ash's parents were Bruce and Patti, two very famous rock stars. She could have easily attached herself to her parents' careers. She, however, wanted recognition as an artist in her own right. Besides her sound was different from her parents'. To give her space to come into her own they had bought her the town house she lived in. Her aunt came over once a week to take her to dinner and check up on her. She was enrolled in online courses to finish school and gave her time to pursue her career. The arrangement worked out well because now that she was older they could go on tour again. They made sure to call every chance they could.
"Is Johnny still walking you home?" Bruce asked. He had been worried about Lance when he had turned up on her way home from practice. Her parents had dealt with crazed fans and the like most of their lives. They had offered to get her a body guard, but she had declined for now.
"Yes, Daddy, he's still walking me home," she rolled her eyes.
"Has he asked you out again?" Patti asked.
"Mom~" Ash groaned. Were all parents this embarrassing or was it just hers?
"Leave the girl alone," her Dad shook his head. The big toothy smile indicated his level of seriousness. Which was zilch.
"Alright parental units, I've got to head to practice soon. So if you're just calling to talk about Johnny-"
"How is your duet with Johnny going?" Dad asked, his tone teasing.
"We sing really well together, I get why Mr. Moon paired us together," Ash told them.
"I'm sorry that we can't make it to this performance either. I wish we had known you would get so many opportunities to perform, before we set up the tour dates," Mom looked regretful. She also stuck her bottom lip out in a mock pout.
"There will be plenty of opportunities to see me perform. Don't worry about it. Besides I'm glad you aren't seeing this performance," Ash tried to reassure them. It would kind of defeat the purpose of her doing this on her own if they came to all of her performances. Especially when she was just starting out.
"I thought you said it was going well?" Bruce asked.
"The singing and dancing sure, but have you ever listened to the lyrics for '16 going on 17'? They are completely oppressive of young women!" Ash snorted.
"Sound of Music is a classic!" Dad argued.
"It's about how a woman needs a man to control her!" Ash argued.
"It strikes a cord doesn't it?" Mom's tone was soft. Her smile sad. Ash crossed her arms, refusing to meet her eyes. Lance had taken control of her life. Before him she had never wanted to be anything less than the lead singer in a band. After? She was freaking cleaning up after him and letting him tell her what to do. As if she was his servant.
"I'm just thankful you left him when you did. There are a lot of girls who would have looked past the cheating," Patti's worry lines became more pronounced with her frown.
"I had a good example. Two good examples," Ash said with a watery smile. Her phone beeped, a reminder that she needed to go.
"Okay, now I really need to leave. I love you guys, have fun playing this weekend," Ash said.
"We love you too, be safe," her parents said together before handing up. Ash packed up her guitar. Then headed out the door. The sun was shining. Summer was getting closer. She couldn't wait to wear tank tops again. She loved her leather jacket and long sleeves, but she was ready for the heat and sunshine. People were out and about enjoying the weather while it lasted.
Ash was halfway to Moon Theater when she spotted Lance leaning against a light pole. She tried to avoid him by crossing the street early. He had already spotted her.
"Hey, Ash wait!" Lance chased after her.
"Go away Lance," She marched on.
"You've got to talk to me sometime," Lance kept pace with her.
"Just go back to Becky or whatever her name was," Ash waved him off.
"I told you, I broke up with her. I've only got eyes for you," he insisted.
"That's funny considering how you cheated on me," She gritted her teeth. The hand that wasn't carrying her guitar case was clenched.
"It was a one time thing, a mistake! Everyone makes mistakes. I mean look at the gorilla you're hanging out with," Lance's words gave her pause. Had he been following her around? Great now Johnny was involved. She narrowed her eyes at the porcupine.
"What are you implying about Johnny?" her voice steady, her fist shook. Lance smirked before covering it with a solum face.
"He's the son of a criminal," he informed her, placing a heavy hand on her shoulder. She shrugged him off.
"What's that go to do with anything?" Ash asked continuing in the direction of the theater. The sooner she got there the sooner she'd be safe.
"You're hanging around criminal Jr. Those guys always follow in their father's footsteps!" Lance insisted. Ash wanted to scream. He didn't know anything about Johnny.
"Johnny is not a criminal!" She turned around to jab Lance in the chest with a finger, "He is the sweetest, kindest, bravest, most talented person I have ever known. How dare you talk about him like that!"
She turned on her heel.
"Do you have a crush on this deadbeat or something?" Lance asked. Funny since the only deadbeat Ash knew was Lance. She refused to respond to him. Instead Ash picked up her pace.
"How can you-Hey!" Lance shouted as Ash tried to sprint off. Not an easy task with her guitar slowing her down. He caught up with her quickly. He grabbed her arm. His grip bruising.
"I'm trying to talk here," his voice was lowered so only she could hear.
"Stop, let me go!" Ash shouted to attract the attention of those around them. Some just stared. Others were reaching for their phones, to film the potential confrontation or call for help she couldn't be sure. There was one or two who looked ready to intervene.
"If you would just-" Lance found it hard to talk with her fist buried in his face. The force knocked him to the ground. He stared up at her, his jaw slack.
"Stay away from me Lance or I'll file a restraining order," Ash added over her shoulder, "and stay away from Johnny too."
Ash held her head high as she walked to Moon Theater. She had never been so relived to be within the familiar building. A shiver ran up her spine as Lance's words came back to her. She had realized a lot of things since their break up. 1. That she was better off without him 2. He had been using her 3. His massive ego 4. He had probably cheated on her several times. A whole host of other conclusions. She hadn't realized how creepy he could be until just now.