Hearing a knock Penny opened the door. Standing there in the rain was her favorite person in the whole world. “Uncle Dan!”
Dan suddenly found himself being pulled into the house. He figured it was a good thing that he worked out; the hug he received was enough to break his bones.
Penny was excitedly kissing him, “It’s been ages since you were here. What’s been happing to you? How long are you going to visit?
“Penny, give him enough time to answer you.”
Dan was chuckling at her excitement. He held up a finger, “One, I’ve been traveling a lot for work. Two, I will be staying for a few weeks.
“Did you ever find a girlfriend?”
“Penny, you shouldn’t ask a thing like that.”
“It’s okay sis.” He held up a third finger. “Three, no I do not have a girlfriend.”
Penny had never taken her arms from around him. “Can you stay for my graduation?”
Dan winked at her, “That’s why I’m here Copper Penny.”
Penny hated when the kids at her high school teased her about her fiery red hair and combined it with her name. But she didn’t mind so much when her Uncle Dan did it because he wasn’t trying to make fun of her. She led him in to where her parents were. Her mom came over to give her brother a hug and her dad to get a handshake. “What hotel are you staying at Uncle Dan?”
Her mother answered that one. “He isn’t staying at a hotel.”
“Then where’s he staying?”
Dan chuckled, “I’m afraid you are going to have me in your hair for a little while. Your mom and dad have invited me to stay in the basement.”
Penny excitedly looked at her parents, “Really?”
Kelly tried to calm her daughter down, “Yes dear. We have a couch that makes into a bed, there’s a television and there’s a full bath. What more could a man want?”
Penny had some ideas on that subject, but she sure wasn’t going to say anything. Her uncle was the nicest person she had ever known. When his wife had died he had gone into himself. It had taken Penny, her mom and dad to get him out of it, and it had taken a long time.
Dan pushed away from his niece, “Do you still sing?”
She nodded excitedly, “Yeah, all of the time.”
“So let me hear something.”
She went over to the piano and started playing. “This is from my favorite group.” She played beautifully and her voice was soft and pure. Uncle Dan and her parents started clapping when she was done and she could feel her face getting hot with embarrassment, but she was proud at the same time.
“What group was that from?”
“I’m afraid that I don’t know them. Do you know anything from The Boys Down Under?”
“Oh sure,” she started playing again and her voice was just as sweet as before. Again her uncle and parents clapped. Penny got up and went to get some refreshments so they all could just sit around and visit.
Dan accepted his soft drink, “Do you have any college plans?” He saw her reaction immediately even though she tried to hide it. “What’s going on?”
Kelly answered that one for her daughter, “We can’t afford it. And before you say anything we will not take your money, so don’t go there.”
“There’s always a student loan.”
Penny shook her head, “I don’t know Uncle Dan.”
Ethan shook his head, “You see Dan we know people that got a student loan to go to college. When they graduated they couldn’t find a job for what they went to college for. They are having a hard time paying it back.”
The phone started ringing. Penny jumped up to answer it. “Hi Brian, how come you didn’t call me on my cell phone?” “You did.” She held it up and realized it was dead. “Sorry, it needs to charged back up. I can’t really talk right now, we have company.” “WHAT!” “What do you mean you can’t? “The prom is only two weeks away.” “SCREW YOU!” She slammed the phone down, burst into tears and raced to her room.
Kelly rushed after her daughter to find out what was wrong. She found Penny lying across her bed crying her eyes out. She sat on the bed next to her, “Honey, what’s wrong?” Dan and Ethan had followed but just stood in the doorway not saying anything.
“Brian just broke up with me. Mom, I’m so sorry. You and dad spent so much on my prom dress and now I’m not going.”
“How about if you went with me?”
Penny looked up at her uncle and started crying even more, “Great a mercy date.”
Kelly made her daughter sit up and just held her. “You don’t understand Dan. If she went to the prom with her uncle, it would be social suicide.”
Ethan loved his daughter but pretty much felt unable to help, “Honey could you go to the prom alone, even if it was just for a short time?”
Penny was trying to stop crying but wasn’t there yet, “I guess I could go and make a token appearance.”
As he had listened to everything Dan had been working on all of the problems his niece had. “Copper Penny, I guess I can’t help you with this, but how about if I do something to help get your mind off of it for a while?”
“Well, I know the members of The Boys Down Under. They are in town for a concert. I could probably get you some free tickets.”
Penny casino siteleri was immediately interested, “You actually know them?”
Dan smiled, “Yeah, if you want, I’m sure it would be all right if you took a few friends. How many tickets would you need?”
Penny counted on her fingers and she pictured in her mind who to ask. “I think six.”
“I’ll do my best,” and he took out his cell phone.
Penny watched her uncle and he only punched one number before hitting send. She was in awe. He had the group’s phone number on speed dial.
“Hey guys…Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your practice session…I’m trying to score some tickets to your concert on Friday for my niece and five of her friends…Great I’ll tell her…no, I’ll pick them up at the theater, besides I’d like to visit with you guys.” Dan ended his phone call, “I called right during a practice.” He winked at his niece, “You’re in. You should go and call your friends to make sure they can go, and then we can go pick the tickets up.
Penny went from crying to squealing with excitement. “Uncle Dan, you’re the best.” She ran over and hugged him and then got on her cell phone to call her girlfriends. “Mom my phone is dead, can I use yours?”
Kelly chuckled and gave her cell phone to her daughter, “Sure.”
Penny and Dan went to the theater to get the tickets. Parking was terrible around the building so Dan had Penny just drive around the block while he went in to get the tickets and to say hello to the band if they were still there.
The night of the concert, all of her girlfriends met at Penny’s house. Dan had arranged for a limousine to take Penny and her friends to the concert.
Unknown to Penny or her friends, her Uncle Dan, Kelly and Ethan also went to the concert. They all went in Ethan’s car, with Dan in the back seat. “You realize that this is not definite, right?” They nodded that they understood.
Penny and her friends had really good seats and the concert was rocking. It was impossible for her to keep thinking of being dumped right before her prom.
There were two warm up bands before The Boys Down Under came on. Finally it came time for the main attraction. They did their first set and then they had an intermission. The group would do the same thing for the second and third sets.
Dan, Kelly and Ethan went back stage during the first break. Dan started the introductions, “This is my sister Kelly and her husband Ethan.”
The group shook their hands. “Nice to meet you, I’m Lachlan, this is Jayden, Liam and Nate.” His tone got serious, “Dan this is only a trial, right?”
“Right, but I’m telling you she’s good.”
Come on Dan, you know better than that. Good in the living room and good on the stage are pretty far apart mate.”
Dan batted his eyes, “PLEASE.”
“I never could say no to you.”
“Good thing to.” Everyone turned their heads as a young woman walked up. “How have you been you old buckster?”
“Poppy,” Dan went to her and gave her a big hug.
Lachlan just shook his head, “This is my other half, my wife Poppy.”
Poppy kept her hand in Dan’s, “Also your better half, mind you.”
Lachlan nodded, “There might be some truth to that.”
The three visited with the group until it came time for the next set. Dan, Kelly and Ethan were invited to watch from the wings. The curtain opened and Lachlan grabbed the mike. He waited for the applause to end, “Hey guys, nice to see you didn’t leave during the break.” He scanned the audience as he waited for the laughter to die down. “Where is Copper Penny?”
Penny went into shock at her nickname being used by this group.
He continued looking around, “Come on sheila; stand up.”
At the urging of her friends Penny finally stood.
“Ah, there you are. Can I get you to come up to the stage for a moment?”
Penny had to force herself to go to the stage. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her. The people that she actually made eye contact with were wondering who she was. Everyone was clapping for her when she finally got up on the stage.
As soon as she got up there Lachlan took her hand. He was still talking into the mike, “I understand from your Uncle Dan that you are a good singer and that you know some of our songs.” He kept moving the microphone back and forth as he talked to her.
Penny saw her uncle waving from the side of the stage and her parents were there too. “What has he got me into now?”
Lachlan started laughing, “Nothing that he hasn’t done to the rest of us, trust me. Do you know Flying over the Stars?” She nodded. “Awesome, we want you to sing it with the band.” The audience reacted and a soft whoosh was heard as everyone sucked in their breath at the same time.
Penny looked down at the floor, “I really sing better while playing a piano.”
Lachlan did a quick look around for his wife. The group had a lead, rhythm and base guitars and drums. “Can you play a digital keyboard?” He saw her nod again, “Poppy can you get someone to bring up the EMI and another mike?”
The stage hands brought the equipment canlı casino out and hooked everything up. Penny finally sat behind it. Lachlan urged her, “You start us off and we’ll join in.”
Penny was petrified. She looked at the audience and froze. Then she saw her uncle trying to get her attention and she just stared at him. He mouthed the words, “I love you,” and the fear was gone. She played the intro chords and started singing Flying over the Stars.
The group joined in and magic was made. Their voices connected from the first, as natural as an ocean breeze above the waves. Her voice complemented theirs and her playing the digital keyboard added to the guitars and drums. It was the sound that the band had been hunting for.
Upon the end of the song, Lachlan decided to find out just how many of the bands songs Penny knew. He started right into another one, and another, and another. One after one she knew them all. Fast or slow it made no difference and the concert had the audience going wild.
Finally the second set was done. Lachlan escorted her off of the stage, holding his microphone like before, “You don’t know how much this hurts to say but your uncle was right about you Copper Penny.”
“My name is Penny MacBride.”
“Are you crazy? Copper Penny is a terrific stage name.”
“But, in three feet I won’t be on the stage anymore.”
Lachlan looked back at the other members of the band and saw them all nodding their heads, even Poppy came out. “Well Miss Penny MacBride that was an audition.” The entire theater went silent.
Penny was dumbstruck, “What!”
“Poppy, Jayden, Liam, Nate and myself would like to invite you to join The Boys Down Under.”
Penny’s eyes got huge as she realized what was happening to her. “What…how…when,” she just couldn’t seem to make a coherent sentence. The audience started chanting her name, “Copper Penny,” over and over.
Tears were streaming down her face. She nodded her head, “I would love to.”
“Great!” Lachlan pretended to draw in the air. “I can already see the cover of our next album, The Boys Down Under featuring Copper Penny. Poppy writes all of our songs and she’s been dying to write a girls part.” In the wings, Uncle Dan, Kelly and Ethan where filled with pride.
Security guards escorted her back to her seat. Her girlfriends were all excited, congratulating her. The people sitting around close were asking her for her autograph, giving Penny a taste of what was to come.
The last set for the group was always their best. The music was still outstanding, but somehow, this time, it seemed like a piece of the puzzle was missing and everyone could feel it. Everyone was unconsciously searching the stage to see the red hair of Penny MacBride, waiting to hear her angelic voice. Even the digital keyboard she had played seemed to miss her as it just sat silently on the stage. Poppy and the band could feel that the energy of the group was changing. They were on the threshold of going from good to great.
At the end of the concert and before Penny and her friends could leave, a security guard escorted the girls back stage.
The news picked up the story and had it on the very next day. Brian called to get back together and she told him there was no way. Those were not the exact words she wanted to say to him, but her mother was in the room.
The next weekend was the prom and she knew that no one in the group would ask to take her; they all had girlfriends or wives. So Penny elected to just go alone. It turned out to be a lot of fun that way. There were plenty of boys that did not have a date and her new celebrity status had her being asked to dance quite a lot.
She peeked around the door to the basement, “Uncle Dan ya down here?”
Dan groaned, “What’s left of me.”
She went on in and found him laying half on and half off of the sofa. “What’s wrong?”
“I hurt my back trying to pretend I’m still 18.” He could see she didn’t understand. “I was jogging past the high school and got challenged to some one on one basketball. Soon some other guys joined us and we played some three on three. There isn’t a muscle on me that don’t hurt.”
She sat on the sofa with him, “Poor baby. Please note the sarcasm in my voice.” That got her a glare from him which brought on a fit of giggling.
“It’s my own fault.”
“I don’t understand. You are in pretty good shape and you aren’t as old as you are making yourself out to be. You shouldn’t feel like this after a basketball game. Did you hurt yourself?”
I don’t think so. I have slacked off on my workouts; I just couldn’t seem to squeeze them in. My schedule has been pretty hectic lately. Can you get me a phone book?”
“What do you want to look up?”
Penny got up and started to walk away, “You can find a prostitute on your own.”
“Honestly Uncle Dan, I’ve never been more disappointed in you.”
“Penny, I said massage therapist. A massage therapist is where you go to get a legitimate massage, like now when I’m really hurting. They are kaçak casino not prostitutes. As a matter of fact they can lose their license for doing that. It is strictly on the up and up, I swear.”
“Thanks, I feel better.” She thought about it for a minute, “If you want, I can give you a massage.”
“I don’t know, if your mom and dad came in and saw us, they are sure to get the wrong idea.”
“Mom and dad are gone to visit friends in the country. I didn’t go because I wanted to spend time with you, you old goat. They will be gone for hours.”
“It isn’t the age it’s the mileage. Penny are you sure about this?”
“Sure, where do we start?”
“I will go and take a shower. You find some oil or lotion and change into clothes that you won’t mind getting the oil or lotion on.”
Penny saluted, “Yes sir,” and left on her mission.
Dan threw his clothes in the hamper and jumped in the shower. The hot water did wonders for his aches and pains.
After she got the lotion, Penny went to the bathroom and heard him softly singing as he washed. She went in, closed the toilet seat, sat down and joined in his song.
Dan heard her and stopped, “Penny, what are you doing in here?”
“Listening to you sing in the shower. Relax Uncle Dan, I can’t see anything. I found some oil in mom and dad’s bedroom. I have on my swim suit; I don’t care if oil gets on that.”
Dan stuck his head out from behind the shower curtain and saw that she had put on her bikini. “Wow, nice suite. Aren’t you showing a little too much skin?”
“I’m 18 and it’s allowed.”
Dan ducked back into the shower to finish. The glimpse he’d just had of her had started some very un-uncle like feelings in him.
“Uncle Dan, can I talk to you about something?”
“Sure, what did you want to talk about?”
“My life was pretty much heading down the toilet until you butted in. I couldn’t afford college and my mom and dad didn’t want me to get a school loan. With no training or advanced education, my future was looking pretty dim. Now thanks to you I have joined a band, and I should make enough money to pay for college. Maybe even find a way to say thank you to my mom and dad for everything they have done for me.”
“Sounds like a nice life to me. By the way, I only got your foot in the door; you got yourself in the band.”
“Well none of it would have happened without you. How do I thank you for that?
“Do you love me?”
“Of course I do”
No, I want to hear you say it.”
“I love you.”
“You have just thanked me.”
Her smile lit up her face. “You and dad have made my dating life pretty hard.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, you have always been kind and gentle. You honestly care about me and that has made it hard for me to get a boyfriend. Most girls compare the boys they date with their fathers. I do that too but also with you. There isn’t any boy I found that stacks up against all that.
“I love you Copper Penny, I always have. I’m sorry if that hurt you.”
“It didn’t hurt me, just the opposite. Like you calling me Copper Penny, you aren’t teasing me; you actually like my red hair. If Brian had done that, he probably would have done it to tease me.”
She heard the water stop, “Dry off and wrap the towel around you.”
“Where am I going?”
“I’ll put some towels on the bed, you can lay on them.”
Dan waited for her to leave. Grabbing a towel, he dried off and put it around himself as instructed. He found Penny had pulled the sofa bed out and had towels spread out. She was sitting on it waiting for him. He was a little awkward trying to get on the bed and still keep the towel in place, but he finally did it.
Penny had gotten a massage before at a day spa. Her dad had gotten a gift certificate for both her and her mom. One of the things she remembered was that the girl that did the massage had warmed up the oil. She poured oil in her hands and rubbed them together.
Dan felt his niece’s soft hands gently start rubbing his upper back, “Mm that feels good.”
Penny saw that her uncle had a scar she didn’t know about. “What’s this from?” She ran her fingers over it.
“That is from hanging around with the band you just joined.”
“The band used to be into some bad stuff. When you get rich quick, it’s easy to abuse yourself. There are plenty of people on the fringes just waiting for the opportunity for you to let your guard down so that they can move in.” She had moved her hands away from him. He took her hand and put it back on him. “I was going to talk to you about this anyway, but the group isn’t like that anymore. They will help protect you from that kind of thing happening to you.”
“I’ve never seen it before, even when we were swimming.”
“I wear high waisted swim trunks.”
She went back to massaging him. “So how did it happen?”
“The group was into drugs. You have to deal with some bad people to get that stuff. I had been after them to give it up. Lachlan had succeeded in kicking it, and then this piece of crap dealer got him back on it. I found out and confronted them. The dealer and I got into a fight and he used a knife on me. That was the end of drugs for the band. All of them saw what he did and they beat the shit out of him. They checked themselves into rehab and have been clean ever since.