The kids are thrilled to be back in their own home, and away from the farm. The boys didn’t mind missing out on the wedding, but they all detested staying at their Uncle Finn’s farm for a week. He had told their parents he’d put them to work, but they’d thought it was just something adults said. How wrong they had been!
They still had a month left of summer and they spent their mornings planning out their fun. While Bea was working on her license, they didn’t have a spare car, but that didn’t matter in the city. They could walk and take the buses, unlike Millwood. They were all pretty adamant that they’d never live in that small town, and especially not all the way out in the country.
Bea was getting minted with her license at the end of the month, and until then, her Dad continued to give her pep talks before allowing her to drive with him. She humored him because she wanted the experience, and she didn’t want to take public transportation to the theater.
She’d nearly missed the opportunity to even try out for the fall play at the community theater. Her Aunt Nicole had been less than enthused to drive into South Port. Apparently country folk have a disdain for the citylife.
But one text from her Mom had forced Nicole to take her to try out, and she’d landed one of the lead roles!
It was an unusual play, it had been written up by a local playwright, Meg Schehl, and it touched into the horror realm. It would play through the month of October, and there would be a Monster-themed Appetizer event before the show.
Most of the cast was lovely to work with, all except Lavinia. She had been the star of the Victorian Christmas show that her Grandparents had taken her to, and Bea had idolized her. Meeting her had ruined all those good feelings.
The part called for a teen girl, and Lavinia had been upset to not get that part despite being a university student. She glared at Bea’s back through rehearsals, and Bea might not have known the extent of it, if her boyfriend Jett didn’t hang around some days.
He left for university in a few weeks, and her rehearsal schedule kept her booked solid. They had to sneak bits of time in or they’d never see each other. He insisted he didn’t mind watching her act out the same scenes over and over again. And when she wasn’t on stage, they’d head upstairs to the loft.
The plot wasn’t quite Bea’s personal taste. A teen runaway, busking for tips, witnesses a vampire attack a woman, in this instance, Lavinia.
Then Sam steps in, without his gun, because Meg hadn’t gain access to the prop room yet. He was Bea’s favorite part of the cast, but also the most conflicting. He attends university with most of the cast, and plays the undercover cop who eventually saves her from the vampires.
He’s kind of cute, and seems to like her as he flirts a bit and asks her to hang out sometime. She always says no, but the attention feels nice, and they both share a love for theater.
Some days she waits outside for her Dad to pick her up, just so she doesn’t have to be too close to Sam. She wonders if there can be a backwards Florence Nightingale effect, and if it might wear off after the play finishes on Halloween night.
She tries to push the insecurity down, and it’s not too difficult. When she isn’t practicing at the play, she’s working at her Mom’s diner. She needs to earn her way through theater classes and costumes, and tips are how she gets there.
She’s pretty sure that some of the tips are pity ones. Because she’s really not good at this waitress gig. It’s not terribly disheartening, since she wants to be an actress, but a struggling waitress who wants to make it big seems like the cliche, and she thinks she should be better at it by default.
Thankfully she’s still friends with Scarlett, so it’s not awkward to hear the stories. She even comes in sometimes to visit while Bea is on break.
Scarlett wouldn’t mind getting a job, but she’s mostly stuck out in Millwood, taking care of her little brothers. Her visits require that her Dad is home early from work, and doesn’t mind her taking his car into the city.
One evening, she gets a dinner break at the same time as her Mom. It’s a lull in the crowd, and they both sit down together. Bea feels bad to ask, like it might make her a bad person, but she wonders if her Mom always loved her Dad, or if there had been others.
They talk for the full twenty minute break, and Hazel shares more than Bea necessarily wanted to know, but afterward she does feel better. She doesn’t care for Jett less, and Sam may just be a shiny new something that is distracting but not authentic. Her Mom insisted she’s young enough to make mistakes, and figure things out for herself. But cautioned her to be wise in her decision.
Bea felt less like a bad person afterward, and decides to stick with Jett.
In the meantime, her brothers decide to start up a band. Monroe is leading it, the only one with a real passion for music. He had asked Bea to join in, because the Woodfolks are nothing but talented with musical instruments, but she simply didn’t have the freetime.
They need a lead singer, and Monroe remembers someone singing particularly well back in their Longfellow Elementary days. Standing in front of her door though, and he feels strangely anxious. It’s completely unfamiliar for him, and he starts to question himself entirely, when he forces himself to knock.
She hasn’t kept up with singing at the high school level, and he starts to feel foolish. What kind of guy remembers singing with someone back in grade school then tries to force them in a band?
He feels even less confident when he sees her weird expression. It’s definitely not friendly, and he’d like to vanish pretty much instantly. He belatedly apologized for inadvertently destroying her Home Ec mac and cheese, and that didn’t make anything less awkward.
She asked what he wanted, and he was forced to blurt it out. A band, her the lead singer. Could she even sing something more edgy than pop music? She did seem flattered and not creeped out that he remembered her singing, that was a huge relief for him.
Her Step-Dad came in the room, then wanted to know the deal. He wasn’t exactly convinced, but when he saw that Ella seemed mildly interested in the idea, he relented. He didn’t like the idea of Ella getting caught up in a rock scene, but he was willing to ignore that risk for now. She never asked for anything, nor was interested in anything but dark, moody poems.
They were set to practice in Jake’s garage. They even had an old sofa they could put in there for any groupies that came along. Which was just Jake’s sister, Lulu, and Bea when she had a free afternoon.
Roman was not impressed with Ella for lead singer. He didn’t want her in the band at all. He wasn’t discreet about it ether. He found her awkward, weird, and just plain uncool. He didn’t want to be part of some feminist gloomy band.
Monroe tried to keep Ella from bolting. He’d kick his brother’s butt later, but he really wanted her to audition, and win the band over.
Lulu tried being nice to her, while they all joked around and caught up about summer, and made set plans. But Ella just wasn’t very talkative.
Lulu got the sneaking suspicion that perhaps Ella forgot who she was, and had found herself crushing on Monroe. It was quite ridiculous to Lulu that he even asked her to be in the band, but the only other musically inclined person was Scarlett, and she sang country.
If Lulu were mean, she may have used that crush insight to make Ella’s life miserable. But she wasn’t, and instead had to enjoy the joke of it all by herself.
When the equipment was set up, she anxiously took the spotlight. She had enjoyed singing as a child, but she had never been considered very good, Monroe had taken the spotlight. She couldn’t believe she was about to sing in front of a large portion of her pupils.
Holden was the first to realize that Ella had talent. He hadn’t objected to her joining the band, he wasn’t musically inclined at all, though better trained than Jake, who was stuck in the back on some sound equipment or whatever Monroe had called it.
As they moved to an edgier song, Ella started to liven up, and even move a little as she held her mic.
Bea ended up coming by, and wound up dancing with Lulu. They were all surprised that the band itself was actually decent, and they hadn’t even started practicing regularly.
It didn’t mean that Roman accepted her entirely. When Ella admitted that she’d always wanted to try the drums, Roman’s drums, he came back from the restroom absolutely livid. Nobody was allowed to touch his drums.
But Monroe just shoved him aside, and told Ella to play her heart out.
Afterward they headed to the new record store down the street. Most of the lingo was over Ella’s head, and some of them were seriously considering the purchase of new stereos, record players, and LPs.
They looked for sheet music, and inspiration. They kept asking what their sound would be, and then compiling a large list of classics for their sound.
Ella didn’t want to feel left out, other than Roman, they had all been welcoming once she’d shown her singing abilities. But buying stuff on a whim was wholly foreign to her.
But she did like the boys, and their energy. And Monroe was thrilled that he finally got his band. He never said it anymore, but he still wanted to be a rock musician like his Dad.
For this summer, it felt like all their dreams might come true.
Notes: Millwood has its first teen band!! Way back before I’d started blogging (and a tiny bit on the blog), Jude had a band with Dave Brewers and Gideon Prince. 🙂 Monroe rolled the want to be friends with Ella, which worked perfectly because I don’t see him as a lead singer, though I think if he goes for it as a profession that he would move to that spotlight.
As for Bea, Sam did some ACR flirting with her, and she rejected it. But she does want to be his friend.
Roman does seem to have his own disdain for Ella, they ended up in the light negatives. She’s not the easiest person to get along with, but I will say that Holden (oh how big sis, Willa would not approve!) and Jake, both liked her just fine. Ella still has a crush on Dean, but she kept smiling sweetly at Monroe, so perhaps she’s a bit sweet on him also.
Thanks for reading!