Gerard spends time alone with Anna.
Gerard shoved in his notebook then turned, “I’m going to catch a ride with Anna to the next venue.” The shocked look on Mikey’s face made Gerard grin. “Uh, I’m pretty sure you’ll be okay without me for one night.”
“Well, yeah.” Mikey said moving towards him, “I’m just kinda surprised. We haven’t seen much of Anna today. Alicia told me she didn’t even make it back for the concert.”
“Nope. She got tied up but we made plans for me to go with her last night.”
The rest of the band filed onto the bus. Alicia joined her husband. She noticed that Gerard seemed packed. “What’s going on?”
“Gee’s gonna ride with Anna to St Louis.” Mikey answered.
Alicia smiled, “Oh, so that’s what you two were texting about today.”
Gerard shook his head, “No. And how do you know I was texting her?”
“Well we didn’t at first.” Christa said joining in the conversation. “All we knew is that she got a text from someone and was suddenly all smiles.”
While he liked the idea that Anna had been happy to receive his text he didn’t feel like being teased about it. He was tried and in a hurry to get going. “Yeah, whatever.” He said moving towards the door. “See you guys later.” He exited the bus before anyone could offer any more comments.
Ray laughed, “He seemed pretty excited to get some time alone with Anna.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t read too much into it.” Mikey said. In truth he was worried about his brother. “Maybe she’s just gonna interview him or something.”
Frank broke into a fit of laughter, “Dude I would say it’s gonna be more like ,or something.”
Mikey frowned. “You don’t know that.”
Ray understood Mikey’s concern for his brother because he felt the same way. “Hey, let’s try not to worry about it. I talked to him today and he admitted he’s attracted to her but he’s planning on taking things slowly. After what he went through I don’t think he’d rush into anything.”
“You mean like last time.” Mikey said voicing what they all were thinking. Gerard’s rush into marriage had shocked them all.
Ray nodded, “Yeah, like last time.”
Gerard took a deep breath to steady his nerves then knocked on the door of Anna’s RV. He heard movement inside and a moment later the door was opened.
“Hello, Gerard. Anna is in the back. She will be out momentarily. Please make yourself comfortable.”
“Thanks Claire.” He said walking towards the sofa. “Uh, so do enjoy driving?” It wasn’t the most brilliant question but something about Claire slightly unnerved him.
Claire smiled, “Actually I do very much. I am planning on following the tour bus tonight since it is such a long drive and there will be no time to stop along the way other than the usual stops for gas.”
“And food.” Gerard added settling down on the sofa.
“Yes of course. Food.” Claire added dryly.
“Hello.” Anna said softly was she walked from the back bedroom.
“Hey.” Gerard smiled happily. He looked around. “This is nice but is there just the one bedroom?”
Anna looked momentarily confused but Claire spoke up. “The sofa. It folds out into a bed.”
Gerard nodded letting his gaze look around the RV. He saw the small kitchen area and what he guessed was the door to the bathroom. “Is this yours or did you rent it?”
“It is mine.” Anna answered as she sat down on the sofa next to him. “I enjoy traveling and this suits my purposes nicely.”
The sound of the diesel engines roaring to life caught Claire’s attention. “Time to go.” She said as she turned and moved into the drivers seat.
Suddenly Gerard felt nervous again. He sat back and tried to relax hoping Anna would start the conversation.
Anna too was feeling nervous. She pulled her legs up under her in an attempt to get comfortable. The silence was unnerving. Suddenly the music of Mozart filled the bus. Claire had slipped in a CD.
“So” Anna said at the exactly moment Gerard spoke.
Both looked at each other a moment then began laughing. It was what they needed to break the ice.
“What we’re you going to say?” Gerard asked.
Anna smiled, “I am not sure. My mind suddenly seemed to go blank.” She admitted.
“Me too.” Gerard grinned, “Okay, lets start out simple. Anna, tell me about yourself other than what I already know.”
Anna felt her nervousness fading, “What do you already know?” She teased.
“I know that you are one hell of an author. I know you live in Vermont. “ He thought a moment. “I know you love plants.” He lowered his voice “And that you have the soul of a poet.”
Anna gazed into his eyes, “The soul of a poet?”
“Yes.” Gerard nodded slightly, “Dancing snowflakes.”
The memory of the night he was referring to made her smile softly. “You too have the soul of a poet. I hear it in your lyrics.”
“Do you, really?”
Anna nodded, “Oh yes.”
Gerard knew if he let himself he could get lost in her gaze. He shifted slightly and broke eye contact. “Now Annabelle Lewis I want to know more about you.”
The words left her mouth before she had a chance to stop them. “Why?”
Gerard too spoke without censoring his words, “Because there is something about you that almost calls to me.”
Their eyes met again.
“I understand that feeling.” Anna whispered.
Gerard was temped to move closer to her but the desire to get to know this woman was stronger. He forced himself to admit, “Anna, I really want to get to know you. I want to take the time to learn about you. I don’t want to rush things.”
Anna understood all too well. He was at a place in his life where the thought of being hurt in a relationship again was overpowering. She nodded, “Yes, I understand.”
He was relived. “Good. So tell me why you chose to become a writer and not an artist.”
Anna smiled, “You are presuming I could chose either profession. Perhaps I am not artistic at all. I told you I enjoyed painting. I did not say I was talented.” She felt herself loosening up. “Have you ever thought that maybe I simply paint stick figures?”
Gerard laughed, “Oh, I doubt that. I’m pretty sure you are a talented artist.”
Anna loved this easygoing rapport. “No, I only paint stick figures. Occasionally I paint a stick dog or cat.”
He loved his side of her. “Okay, you’re making that up. Do you have any of your artwork with you?”
Anna nodded slowly, “I have been working on a piece.” She was unsure if showing him was the correct thing to do and yet it somehow felt right. Standing she moved to the back room and a moment later reappeared with a large sketchpad. “I did not bring my paints so I have been sketching.” She said sitting back down but making no move to show him her work.
Gerard held out his hand. “Can I see?”
Tentatively Anna handed over the sketchpad. Gerard looked down in amazement. The scene was a snowy night. The figure of the man standing alone on the sidewalk gazing up into the falling slow was haunting. Although only the man’s profile was depicted Gerard knew instantly he was looking at a portrait of himself.
“Oh, Anna. This is incredible.” He whispered.
“I was inspired.” She whispered in return.
Gerard continued to study the drawing. “Fuck, I can’t believe how talented you are.”
Anna smiled slightly at the remark. The word he’d used was one she had never uttered. That language had certainly not been acceptable behavior to Jacob.
“I mean it Anna this is outstanding. The shadowing, shit everything about it is perfect.”
“Thank you.” She was so pleased he liked her work.
“Have you ever considered being an artist? Do you have other works I can see?” As he asked he flipped through the sketchbook but was disappointed to find the rest of the pages were blank.
“Drawing and painting for me is simply a hobby.” Anna explained.
Gerard shook his head, “It should be more. You have an incredible talent.”
Anna sighed, “I love to draw or paint because I find it relaxing.” She looked slightly embarrassed; “I have never shown my work to anyone else. It has always seemed too personal to share.”
Gerard looked into her eyes, “Thank you for sharing this with me.” He sat down the sketchbook and reached out for her hands. “Thank you.” He whispered before slowly leaning foreword and pressing his lips against hers.
The kiss was gentle and sweet but it held the promise of so much more. His tongue darted out to brush her bottom lip begging her mouth to open. When it did her tongue met his and the kiss deepened. Gerard longed to pull her to him. He longed to feel her body pressed against his but common sense stopped him. Claire was only a few feet away and this had to stop now. He forced himself to break away and sit back.
Anna tried to control the feelings that were coursing through her. She had to control them. Standing up she reached down and picked up the sketchbook. She placed it on the table then turned, “Would you like something to drink? We have soda or I could make coffee.”
Gerard inwardly groaned. He was hot enough right now he didn’t need coffee. “Uh, a cold soda would be good.”
Anna walked over to the kitchen area and bent down to open the refrigerator. Gerard’s eyes were glued to the sight of her tight jeans hugging…. “Shit.” He muttered. He needed to stop thinking like that.
“Did you say something?” Anna asked as she stood up holding a can of cola.
Gerard shook his head, “Nope.”
Anna walked back over and handed him the can. “I could put it in a glass with ice.” She offered.
“This is fine.” He said opening the can and taking a long sip hoping the cool liquid would help to quench his burning thirst.
Anna settled back down on the sofa. “That was one hell of a kiss.” She said letting herself speak honestly.
Gerard blinked once then broke into laughter. “Yeah, Sugar. It was.” He loved her honest comment.
For a moment they sat in silence. Gerard wondered what she on her mind because he noticed she was suddenly twisting her hands in her lap.
“Anna, what are you thinking?” He finally asked.
“I” Anna started to speak but stopped. She took a deep breath and tried again, “I was just wondering…” Again she paused.
“I want to suggest something but I do not want to give you the wrong impression.” Anna said struggling with her thoughts.
When he saw her glance up towards the front of the RV he understood. “Maybe we could talk in the back where it’s more private.”
Anna looked relieved. “Yes.” She nodded with a smile. “I wanted to suggest that but…”
Gerard grinned, “But it didn’t sound right to invite me into your bedroom.” He teased.
Suddenly Anna felt saddened. “You must think I am very silly.”
He shook his head, “No Anna. I find you charming.” He answered honestly.
Anna looked unconvinced. “Charming?”
“Yeah, charming.” He said setting down his can of soda then reaching for her hands. Standing he gently pulled her off the sofa. They continued to hold hands as they walked towards the back.
Once inside the bedroom Anna felt her stress level rise again and it made her angry. She glanced around the small room trying to focus on something, anything other than the man standing beside her.
Gerard could almost feel how tense she’d become just by watching her movements. He sat down on the bed and smiled softly. “Anna, we’re just gonna sit here and talk. Please don’t be nervous, I’m not going to do anything you wouldn’t want me to do.”
“But that is the problem.” Anna said sounding so upset Gerard reached out and took her hand, “It is not that I do not want you to….” She clamped her mouth shut.
He gently pulled her down to sit next to him on the bed, “I know what you mean. I’m not gonna lie to you Anna. You excite the fuck out of me. I know we both feel the same way but I think we both want this to be more than just that. At lease I do. I want to take my time and find out all about you.” When Anna remained looking down he added, “This ain’t gonna be a one night stand. I just want to spend this time talking to you,” He added softly, “but I gotta admit I wanna hold you too.”
Anna’s head shot up.
“Is that okay?’ He asked holding his breath until she nodded. He smiled then laid back on the bed then motioned for her to lay next to him. His arm was around her and she laid her head on his chest.
“This is nice.” Gerard said softly.
“Very.” Anna whispered.
Gerard grinned, “Okay now time to talk. I’d really like to know more about your past but I understand if it’s too painful for you to discuss.”
Anna sighed realizing sadly that he had no idea how painful her past truly was. Still she wanted to share at least part of it with him and she wanted to keep as much truth in her words as she could, at least for now. “You know my parents and sister died when I was young.”
“But what about before that? Tell me about the farm.”
Anna closed her eyes and let the memories return. “I loved it. Each morning Clarissa and I would rise early to help father. My job was tending to the chickens and Clarissa helped.”
Gerard laughed, “I have a hard time imagining you feeding chickens.”
“Why?’ Anna asked moving her head so she could look into his face.
He shrugged, “I guess because you seem so proper.”
This time it was Anna who laughed, “I was not always so proper. When I was a child I wore my hair in braids and spent most of the summer barefoot. I loved the feel of the grass between my toes.”
Gerard was confused, “So what changed you?”
“Jacob” Anna said without thinking.
“You mean your uncle?”
Anna reminded herself to stay with the story she’d created, “Yes, my uncle. After I went to live with him my life changed. I was with him only a short time before he told me it was time for me to become a lady. I was sent away to London to a private school. I was thought to speak properly, to behave like a lady.”
He could hear it in her voice, “You were unhappy.”
“Very.” Anna admitted, “But I had no choice. Jacob was good to me I do not want to give you the wrong impression. I did however miss my previous life, I missed the freedom. My mama once told me I was a free spirit” She pictured her mother in her mind. “She was so beautiful, so kind. Mama taught me to sing and to draw. She taught me to dream.”
Gerard could see the gleam of unshed tears in her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Sugar. I’m sorry you lost your family.”
Anna lightly rubbed her eyes, “It was a long time ago.”
“But the pain remains.” Gerard said softly.
“Yes, the pain always remains.” She snuggled closer needing to feel the comfort she felt in his arms. “I just wish…”
“What do you wish, Anna?”
Tears threatened her eyes again, “I just wish that last day I had known how sick mama was. She was the first to feel poorly. She died in two days.”
“There was nothing the doctors could do?”
Anna wished he could truly understand but he couldn’t. “No” she answered simply.
Gerard’s hand absently stroked her arm, “How long did you stay in London?”
Again she had to stay with the story, “For years. I did not return until 2000. At that time I moved to New York.”
“We’re you there for 9/11?”
“Yes.” She answered softly, “I was there. I saw the towers fall.”
“Shit, that was a brutal day.” Gerard said, “I was on a ferry when it happened.”
Anna of course knew that. “Yes, a very brutal day that changed so many lives.”
Gerard sighed, “Yeah but out of the ashes came so much hope. That day will live with me for the rest of my life. I remember suddenly thinking that I had to change, like I was suddenly given a chance to make that change, to make my life mean something.”
“And you have.” Anna said softly.
Gerard thought a moment, “I guess in some ways at least I used to believe that.”
“We all go through periods in our life when we feel we have lost our way.” Anna said understanding how he felt.
He closed his eyes, “Yeah, I guess.”
“Never stop believing, you may feel like you’ve lost your way but the path is still there.” Anna hoped her words gave him strength.
Gerard couldn’t stifle the yawn. Anna smiled.
“You need to sleep.”
He didn’t want to sleep. He wanted to stay up all night and talk to this woman but his eyes were having trouble staying open. “Shit, I don’t know why I’m so tried.”
“Because you give so much when you perform.” Anna answered. “Sleep now and in the morning we will talk.” She started to slide from the bed but his arms tightened around her.
“Where are you going?”
“I will sleep on the sofa.” Anna answered.
Gerard shook his head, “If anyone is gonna sleep on the sofa it’ll be me. But can’t we both share the bed?”
Anna grew very still.
“Anna I won’t try anything, I promise. Fuck, I’m too tired to.” He said trying to lighten the mood.
“I trust you Gerard.” Anna sat up enough to lean on her elbow. “Would you like to change first?”
He sat up, “Yeah, I brought my sweats.”
When he was changing in the bathroom Anna took a moment to speak to Claire. “We are going to sleep now.” She explained.
Claire glanced at her quickly then turned her attention back to the road, “Do you think that is wise?”
Anna was having enough trouble dealing with her own emotions to allow Claire’s obvious displeasure of the situation effect her. “He is tired and needs to sleep.”
Claire knew the tone so she quickly changed the subject, “We will be stopping for gas in about an hour. Should I inform you when we do?”
“No, let him sleep.” Anna answered.
They heard Gerard come out of the bathroom. Anna smiled and walked towards him. “I will change and be back in a moment.”
He nodded and returned to the bedroom. After she changed into her long sleep shirt she walked in and saw that he had settled into the bed. He grinned and pulled back the blanket motioning for her to join him. Anna laid down next to him and once again he pulled her close.
“This is nice.” He said with a yawn.
Anna felt the heat of his body next to hers and sighed, “Goodnight Gerard.”
“Nite, Anna.” He yawned again.
Soon she heard the sound of his even breathing and knew he was asleep. She closed her eyes and willed herself into the same state. Doing so was a trick she had learned years ago. Unfortunately with sleep came the chance of dreams and tonight it happened, only it wasn’t a dream it was a nightmare. It was her brutal past forcing it’s way out of the shadows where she tried to keep it buried.
Suddenly the RV stopped just as the nightmare was at its darkest point. Still anchored in sleep Anna tried to force herself awake but instead only partially succeeded. The nightmare was still too real. She was being held down trying to scream as she struggled beneath his weigh. Anna tried to move but felt trapped. In his sleep Gerard had rolled over and his body was partially on Anna’s. Anna screamed as she tried to break free. Not knowing what she was doing she threw him off of her. Gerard was propelled through the air, stopping when his body collided with the wall.