Gerard is fighting his attraction to Anna.
Gerard flinched, “Uh, sorry. Could you repeat the question?” He asked smiling.
The young woman repeated her question and Gerard launched into the answer he had already set in his mind.
Ray listened to his friend drone on and wondered why he seemed so out of it today. This was the third interview they’d done as a group and they still had two more to go. He decided he needed to speak to Gerard before the next one started. Something was wrong and he was worried.
As soon as the interview concluded Ray pulled him aside. “Man, are you feeling okay?”
Gerard gave him a surprised look. “Yeah, why?”
Ray sighed, “Dude your mind keeps wandering. What’s going on?”
Taking out a cigarette Gerard lit it and inhaled deeply before answering. “Nothing is wrong. I’m just bored answering the same fuckin’ questions over and over again.”
“Hey, that’s part of the job.” Ray teased.
Gerard shrugged, “I suppose but I’m tried and that don’t help.”
Ray looked at him closely. “You hit the bunk pretty early last night. Didn’t you sleep well?”
“Not really.” Gerard answered hoping Ray would drop the subject. There was no way he was going to tell him his sleep had been plagued with dreams of his ex-wife and Anna.
“It’s probably just gonna take your body getting used to being on the road again.” Ray said with a nod.
“Yeah, sure.” Gerard inhaled deeply. “That’s probably true.”
Ray was about to ask another question that was on his mind when Mikey and Alicia joined them.
“Hey Bro. Way to space out in there.” Mikey kidded.
Gerard sighed, “Sorry about that.”
“What were you thinking about?” Mikey asked, “You really looked lost in thought.”
He had been thinking about Anna but he wasn’t going to admit that. “Just thinking about a story idea.” He lied.
“I hope Anna is at the venue when we get back.” Alicia said changing the subject. “She was supposed to stop and do some shopping and I want to see what she got.”
“What?” Gerard’s undivided attention was on his sister in law as soon as she had mentioned Anna’s name.
“Clothes shopping.” Alicia laughed. “She wants to fit in with everyone and what she brought wasn’t really idea.”
“Oh.” Gerard reminded himself he had decided to distance himself from Anna and showing interest when her name was mentioned wasn’t the way to go about it.
Alicia looked at him closely. “You and Anna seem to be hitting it off.”
Gerard tried not to be angry at her but it wasn’t easy. Instead of answering he simply shrugged. His sister in law could be very nosey about his business.
“I think she’s great.” Mikey said.
Alicia gave him a sideways glance. “Oh really?”
Mikey knew she was teasing him. Their relationship was built on a strong love that neither doubted. “Yeah, not as great as you, of course.”
Alicia laughed, “Good answer.”
Gerard was tired and didn’t want to stand here talking about Anna anymore. “How long until the next interview?” He asked.
Ray glanced at his watch. “We got about twenty minutes.”
“Great I’m gonna catch up on some calls.” Gerard said moving down the hall to find a quiet place.
Ray, Mikey and Alicia watch until he disappeared from view.
“He worries me.” Ray said softly.
Mikey glanced over at him. “He’ll be okay.” He answered hoping his words were true but somehow deep in his heart he couldn’t quite believe them.
Gerard found a nice out of the way spot and sat down. Pulling out his phone he checked his e-mails and sent a few return texts. He was trying desperately to keep his mind occupied. If he could then maybe he could keep the anxiety that was just below the surface at bay.
He was about to put the phone away when he suddenly scrolled down the call history. When he found what he was looking for he took a deep breath and pushed the number to connect.
Anna pulled the shirt over her head and tossed it in the pile. The clothes she was trying on were not her taste but Claire had assured her they looked correct. Sitting down on the small bench in the dressing room she hung her head. Moment like this when she was alone she allowed herself to show weakness. She was so afraid that things would not work out as she hoped. Tears sprang to her eyes and for a moment she allowed them to remain.
The knock on the dressing room door startled her. Wiping her eyes she answered, “Yes?”
Suddenly a cell phone appeared over the door. “It is for you.” Claire’s voice informed her.
Anna was puzzled, “For me?” She took the phone from Claire’s hand, “Hello?’
Gerard took a deep breath, “Hey, Anna it’s me, Gerard.”
She had known it was him after he’d utter the first word. “Oh, hello.”
“Uh, you have a cell phone, right?”
Anna was puzzled by the question. “Yes, I do.”
Gerard drummed his fingers on the phone he held. “Uh, can you call me back from your phone? I realized the only number I have to reach you is Claire’s.” He paused, “I mean if you don’t mind me having your number.”
A smile appeared on Anna’s face. “Of course I do not mind. Should I call now?”
“Yeah, if you can. We’re getting ready to go in for another interview.”
“It will be just a moment.” Anna disconnected the call and reached down into her own bag for her phone. A moment later it was ringing and he picked up immediately.
“Thanks” he said as a greeting. “I hate to say it but I gonna go now.”
Anna was slightly disappointed, “I understand.”
Gerard knew he still had ten minutes before the start of the interview but he was battling with himself about calling her. “So I’ll see you later.”
“Yes.” Anna said. She was about to say more but realized he’d disconnected.
When Anna came out of the dressing room she had a pile of clothing in one hand and Claire’s cell in the other. She handed back the phone and headed towards the cashier.
“If I many ask” Claire said following her, “What was that all about? He started to ask me for something but then suddenly insisted he needed to speak with you.”
Anna tried to sound nonchalant, “He wanted my cell phone number.”
Claire frowned, “I could have given him the number.”
Sitting down the clothes Anna watched as the cashier began to ring them up. “He wanted to make sure I did not mind if he had the number.” She answered glancing over at Claire. She was shocked when her friend rolled her eyes.
Claire shook her head, “Oh nothing.”
Anna turned her attention to the cashier and paid for her purchases. Once they exited the store she asked, “Why did you roll your eyes?”
“Sorry.” Claire said as they headed for the mall doors to exit. “It is just amusing. Obviously the man wanted to speak to you.”
“Yes, I explained. He wanted to know if I minded him having my number.”
“He wanted to hear your voice.” Claire said softly.
Anna paused almost causing a fellow shopper to collide with her. “Sorry” She muttered to the woman as she passed. Moving slightly out of the way she looked at Claire. “Do you really believe that is why?”
Claire felt a bang of sympathy for Anna. This was all so very important to her and while she didn’t agree with what Anna was doing she still wanted so very badly to support her. “Yes, I do believe that is why he insisted on speaking with you.”
Anna was unable to hide her smile, “Oh” She said softly.
Claire tried to hide her smile, “Did he say anything else?”
“No.” Anna’s smiled faded slightly, “He told me he had to give another interview.” She thought a moment, “But he did say he would see me later.”
“Well then we should be getting back on the road.” Claire said starting for the door again.
Anna followed her still thinking about that brief phone call and trying to hide the smile she felt from deep within.
“So girlfriend lets see what you bought today.” Alicia said flopping down on the small sofa.
Anna smiled. “I hope what I chose is right.” She said as she opened the shopping bag.
Alicia grinned, “Anna, did you just buy what you thought was right or did you buy what you like?”
The question caused Anna to frown, “Well I chose what I thought would look correct.”
Once again Alicia couldn’t help but wonder why Anna seemed so different from most people she met. It was more than just her speech, it was more than just her fashion sense it was something much deeper than that.
Anna held up a tee shirt. “Claire told me this would look fine with jeans and perhaps a hoodie.”
“Good choice.” Alicia said. She watched as Anna showered her the rest of her purchases trying to ignore her earlier confusion about Anna.
“So what should I wear now?” Anna asked looking at her. “I mean it is alright if I come backstage before the show, correct?”
“Of course it is.” Alicia laughed, “Matter of fact the guys sent me here to get you.”
Anna smiled. “I just do not want to be in the way.”
“Hey.” Alicia said softly, “We already told you that you are welcome to come backstage anytime.”
Anna nodded but remained silent.
“Can I ask you something?” Alicia suddenly said.
“Of course.” Anna answered while removing the tags from the clothes she’d chosen to wear.
“You don’t have a boyfriend or anything do you?”
Anna gave her a shocked look, “A boyfriend or anything?” She repeated.
Alicia nodded waiting for her to answer.
“No.” Anna answered slowly. “Why do you ask?”
Looking slightly embarrassed Alicia answered, “Well I was just wondering. I mean you’re a knock out. I just thought that you probably had someone.”
The truth that Anna had no one like that in her life hurt but she tried not to let it show. “I have never had a serious relationship.” She admitted.
“You’re shitting me” Alicia blurted out.
Anna grinned at her outburst. “No I am not shitting you.” She teased.
“Wow.” Alicia said, “How come?”
Anna realized that perhaps she should have lied. Explaining the truth was impossible. She thought a moment before answering, “I have not met anyone that was truly interested in me.”
“I find that hard to believe. You’re not only beautiful you have such a nice personality.”
“You think I have a nice personality?” Anna asked wanting to know the real truth.
Alicia nodded, “Well sure. You’re genuine. I mean here you are a famous author but meeting you no one would ever know that.”
It pleased Anna beyond words to hear her say that. “Thank you.” She whispered.
Alicia received a text at that moment. Glancing down she read the message then grinned. “Mikey wants to know what’s taking us so long.”
“Oh” Anna grabbed up her clothes and headed to the small bathroom. “I will just be a moment.”
Alicia began to send a return text.
When Anna returned Alicia grinned, “You look great. But why do you always put your hair up like that?”
Anna reached up and touched the bun at the back of her head, “It is just a habit.”
“Well if I had beautiful hair like yours I would leave it down.” Alicia admitted. “I mean that color is fantastic. Gerard told us that’s your natural color. Is it real?”
The question caught Anna off guard, “Real?”
“It’s so blond it’s almost white.” Alicia said standing.
Anna found herself momentarily remembering the past. Her long hair had once been a golden blond. She forced herself back to the present, “I do not do anything to it.” She answered truthfully.
“It’s fuckin’ cool.” Alicia said “Too bad you tie it all up like that.” She made sure to watch Anna’s expression when she added, “Gee seemed very taken with it when he was describing you to us.”
Alicia grinned knowingly. She’s been right. “Yeah, he was telling us about running into you outside Brian’s office. He mentioned the color of your hair and your eyes.”
Anna didn’t know how to respond.
“Well are you ready?” Alicia asked after a moment.
“Just a moment.” Anna walked into the bathroom and a moment later returned with her long hair free.
Alicia nodded, “Let’s go.”
Gerard was talking to one of the backstage hands when Anna and Alicia walked in. His back was to them but it was as if he sensed their presence. Turning he spied Anna and his breath caught. Her long hair was down and she looked beautiful.
Anna smiled to him.
Quickly he turned back around and resumed his conversation.
Anna’s smile slipped.
“Hey.” Ray greeted her warmly. “We have a Meet & Greet in a few minutes but after that we’ll all just be hanging around backstage.”
“Would it be possible for me to watch the Meet & Greet?” Anna asked, “I would really like to watch the band interact with the fans.”
“Sure” Ray nodded.
As he walked off Anna glanced over at Gerard. Their eyes meet briefly but he quickly looked away.
That night Anna returned to her RV directly after the concert. Since the next venue was quite a distance the band would be leaving soon. She sat down at the table and opened her laptop. Claire appeared almost immediately from the back. She had slept in preparation to drive to the next venue.
“You seem unhappy.” She said softly.
Anna’s eyes remained on the screen, “I am fine.”
Claire watched her a moment then spoke, “The concert went well?”
While Claire knew she was deliberately giving short answers because it was obvious she did not want to talk about the situation her concern for Anna forced her to speak. “Did you speak to him privately?”
This time Anna looked away from the computer screen. “He ignored my presence.”
“Oh” Claire was taken back.
“I do not understand why” Anna said with a frown.
“You could not tap into his feeling on the subject?” Claire asked.
Anna sighed, “I can not always feel his emotions. That ability happens randomly.”
“I wonder why?” Claire mused out loud.
Anna shrugged slightly, “I have no idea.”
Claire hated how sad Anna looked, “Perhaps he was truly busy.”
While Anna knew this was not the case she remained silent.
“Well it is time we leave.” Claire stood and moved to the driver’s seat.
Soon they were underway to the next venue. Anna tried to put the finishing touches on her soon to be published novel, her final novel, but found it difficult to concentrate. She closed the laptop and moved over to the sofa. Sitting down she replayed the evens of the evening trying to understand a reason why he has purposely stayed away from her. Had she said or done something to upset him?
An hour into the trip Anna’s cell phone alerted her to a text message. Looking down at the screen she smiled.