"So what do you think? 9 out of 10? 10 out of 10?" Ritchie asked Devon as he came backstage. The tour had been going for a few weeks. It was the first show in Salt Lake City and the band had just finished up the last song on their playlist.
"At least a 9.5" Devon smiled.
"So what do we have to do to make it a 10?" Ritchie put his hands on Devon's hips and pulled her close for a quick kiss.
Devon pretended to consider the question for a couple of seconds and then answered, "Well, you've still got the encore to wow me."
Ritchie and the rest of the band listened to the clapping, shouts and whistles of the audience as they clamored for an encore.
Devon heard it too and smiled as she fingered her necklace, a recent present from Ritchie.
**Flashback to yesterday evening at Devon's old high school**
Devon and Ritchie were strolling hand in hand around the track, having just had dinner with Devon's mom. The band, Devon, and everyone else working on the tour had just arrived in Salt Lake City that day and were preparing for tomorrow when the first of the two shows in Salt Lake City would begin.
"So my mom said she thought it was about time that we got together." Devon confided.
"Funny - my mom and my grandma said the same thing when I called them today." Ritchie smiled. "They want us both in Key West as soon as possible."
"Don't worry - I've got family time in Florida built into the tour schedule." Devon explained. "So - do you realize what date today is?"
"Uh, Wednesday?" Ritchie asked.
"Not just Wednesday," Devon answered, "It's --"
"Our four-month anniversary," Ritchie finished. "You thought I forgot - didn't you?"
"Of course not!" Devon replied. Ritchie gave her a skeptical look and she admitted, "Okay, okay. I thought you might, possibly have forgotten."
"Not only did I not forget - I have a present." Ritchie stopped and pulled a little pouch from his pocket. "Open your hand."
Devon cupped her hand open and Ritchie dropped a necklace from the pouch into her hand. It was a pendant - a peacock made of gold, sapphires and emeralds.
"Ritchie - it's gorgeous! Where did you get this?" Devon gasped.
Ritchie took the necklace from Devon's hand, put it around Devon's neck and fastened the clasp. "I had it made. Do you like it?"
Devon put a hand to the pendant and looked at it. "I love it! I love you. So much."
"Good. I love you too." Ritchie leaned down and kissed her. "Happy Anniversary, Devon Thompson."
"Happy Anniversary, Ritchie Tressiak." Devon smiled back.
**Flashforward to the concert**
"I think we've kept them waiting long enough." Ritchie said as the applause, shouts and whistles grew to a deafening level. Ritchie then walked back on stage.
Devon looked quizzically at the rest of the band, "What are you guys doing? Go out there!"
"Just watch." Scooter said as he pushed Devon forward so she could see exactly what Ritchie was doing.
A lone spotlight illuminated Ritchie seated on a high stool holding his acoustic guitar. "How are you guys?" he asked the crowd. The crowd roared back its answer.
"So being here is really special for me and I'll tell you why. Not too long ago, I had terrible stage fright. Really awful. But then, in a town not too far from here, I met this girl and she changed my life. And she made me believe. And she still does. Every day. So this song is for Devon, for always."
Ritchie then proceeded to sing "Kidnap My Heart" -- the way he sang it to her all those years ago. The way he sung it to her a few months ago when he had "kidnapped" her. Devon watched Ritchie and even though there were hundreds and hundreds of people in the arena, it felt like they were the only two people in the world. Her heart felt full.
When Ritchie was done, there was silence for a few seconds and then thunderous applause. Scooter, Mason, KK, and Nikolai then walked onstage to join Ritchie. The band then played three more songs to complete the encore.
Once the final song had been played, the band walked off stage with Ritchie the last one off the stage. He stopped in front of Devon. "So - 10 out of 10?"
Devon laughed. "Are you kidding? A million out of 10! Only problem is we have a lot of cities left and I have no idea how you're going to top that."
Ritchie enveloped Devon in his arms and murmured before his mouth came down on hers, "Don't you worry. I'm an artist. I'll get creative."