Claire is starting to fit in with the others but she worries about how Anna will react.
“So I think we should start with some appetizers.” Alicia said looking around at the group. “Agreed?”
There was a murmur of agreement from around the table. It was decided they would order nachos and guacamole dip. Once the order was placed and the waiter left to fill their drink orders Alicia spoke again. “So what’s our plan after lunch? I think it’s too nice a day to go back to the venue yet. The guys won’t be back yet anyway. So why should we go back?”
“You aren’t in a hurry are you?” Christa asked Anna who was seated at her side.
“Not really.” She replied. “I will have time to work before the concert and Claire has promised to help me finish the work so my editor will stop breathing down my neck.”
Claire nodded, “Yes, I can work on the final revisions while you attend the concert.”
Anna wondered why Claire had said this with a slight tone of sadness in her voice. She understood why a moment later.
“But you promised Bob you would come to the concert tonight.” Alicia said looking at Claire.
Claire realized too late she should not have shared that information with Alicia but when she’s told her earlier Anna hadn’t been around. She looked over at Anna trying to gauge her reaction.
Anna tried to hide her surprise. Not just surprise at the fact that Bob had invited Claire to the concert but shock that Claire had not told her. She took a drink of her water and looked over at Claire. “You can not possibly attend the concert tonight.” Around her she could almost feel the disapproval of the other women.
“I understand. I have work to complete.” Claire said softly.
“No, that is not the reason.” Anna said trying to hide her smile, “You can not possibly go unless we purchase you some proper concert attire.”
Claire looked shocked. Alicia started to giggle.
Anna finally smiled, “Claire is lacking in casual clothing. But I am sure after lunch we can remedy that situation.”
Alicia nodded happily, “For sure we can.” She looked at Claire, “Yep, we have to get you some jeans, tees and hoodies.”
“But.” Claire was at a loss for words.
“As nice as you look Claire dress pants and a sweater just will not do.” Anna said smiling at her.
Claire blinked back tears of happiness. It was so very important to her that Anna wasn’t upset about the changes that were taking place.
Soon their food was severed and they began eating. Christa noticed that everyone was enjoying the appetizers except for Anna. She was only picking at her food. “Are you still feeling bad?” She asked her softly.
Anna nodded, “Slightly.” She lied.
Christa gave her a smile of understanding. The smile, meant in kindness, caused sadness to wash over Anna again. She hated lying to Christa, she hated that she could never be like all the rest of the women around the table.
It was Alicia who took control of the shopping for Claire’s “new look” as she termed it. Claire was overwhelmed but happy.
Anna was sitting with Christa outside the dressing room while Alicia handed more jeans over the dressing room door to Claire to try. Her cell phone vibrated. Taking it out she read the text.
GERARD: Very busy but wanted you to know I’m thinking about you.
Anna smiled softly as she responded.
ANNA: I too am thinking about you.
Christa smiled. She was fairly sure they knew who was texting Anna.
GERARD: Have an idea for tonight. Bob and I could travel with you and Claire. Sound good?
ANNA: Sounds wonderful.
GERARD: Cool I’ll tell Bob. He wants you to tell Claire hello for him. LOL
Anna laughed softly.
ANNA: I will do so. Are you feeling better?
GERARD: I feel great. You have a magic touch.
As Anna read his words her smile slipped. She forced herself to answer.
ANNA: I am glad you are better.
His next text was even harder for her to take.
GERARD: I feel great because of you.
She knew his words were true but not in the way he believed. She struggled to respond.
ANNA: You have the same effect on me.
Alicia had walked back out and saw Christa watching Anna in concern. “What’s up?”
Anna looked up just as Claire walked out of the dressing room wearing jeans and a tee. “You look nice.” She told her.
Claire looked uncertain, “Are you sure?”
Alicia rolled her eyes, “I told her she did but she wanted to get your opinion.”
Another text from Gerard interrupted the conversation.
GERARD: Gotta go. See you later.
Claire spoke softly to Anna. “Is everything all right?”
Anna nodded then remembered to smile, “Everything is fine. Oh and I am to tell you that Bob says “hello”. She said looking over at Claire.
The smile that lit up Clair’s face was priceless. “Oh.”
Alicia burst into a fit of laughter, “Oh man, this tour is gonna be fun.”
Christa noticed that Anna, while trying to smile, looked sad. She could see it in her eyes. She made up her mind to try to get Anna alone soon. She wanted to understand Anna because she just felt it in her bones that something was wrong.
“I am nervous.” Claire said turning in front of the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. “Are you sure I look presentable?” As it grew closer to the time she and Anna would venture over to the venue her nerves were getting worse by the minute.
Anna smiled, “I believe the term would be ‘hot’.”
Claire turned to look at her, “Hot?”
“Yes, I am sure that is what Bob will think.” Anna told her softly.
Suddenly Claire walked over and sat down on the sofa next to Anna. “This is insane. I do not know what I am supposed to say or do. Anna you know I have never even been on a proper date.”
“A fact that I now see was my fault.” She saw Claire was upset so she quickly added, “But now you have a chance and I am glad. Bob seems like a very nice man who will treat you well.”
“But what if he really is not truly attracted to me? What if he is simply bored and looking for a way to pass time?”
Anna frowned, “Has he said something to make you believe that?”
Claire sighed, “No but I do not want to let myself grow fond of him if that will happen.”
This time Anna laughed, “Oh Claire that is how it is when you live your life. It should be full of chances. That is what makes it exciting, the unpredictably of it all.”
“But I do not want to be hurt.” Claire whispered.
Anna nodded, “I understand that well. But it is a chance you must take if you are to truly live.”
Still Claire was unsure, “But I have been living my life and it has been fine. I am happy.”
Anna shook her head, “No. You have not been living you life for yourself you have been living your life caring for me. It is time that stops. We both know that.”
Claire was about to answer when there was a knock. She stood then moved towards the door.
“Hey” Bob smiled. “Are you and Anna ready to go over to the venue?”
Claire looked over at Anna waiting for her to answer.
Anna nodded, “I will be ready in a moment. Go with Bob I will see you there.”
“Are you sure?” Claire said, “I can wait.”
“Bob, please escort Claire to the venue.” She laughed.
Bob nodded, “Will do.” He moved to hold open the door so Claire could pass by. Before following her out he turned back to Anna, “Uh, Gee’s waiting for you. You won’t be long will you?”
“I will be there soon.” Anna promised.
He nodded then left the RV. As he and Claire moved away Anna heard Bob tell Claire how nice she looked. Anna smiled softly to herself. Things may not work out for her like she had hoped but it was her deepest wish the Claire would find happiness.
She stood, brushed her hair one final time and prepared to leave. As she made her way to the door she was surprised to hear a knock.
“Hey.” Gerard said as soon as she pushed open the door.
“Hello.” Anna smiled, “I was just on my way over.”
He looked down, “Uh, I came over to stop you.”
Anna was shocked by his words. “Oh.”
“Can I come in a minute?” He asked still not meeting her eyes.
She stood back to let him pass.
“Would you prefer I not come backstage tonight?” Anna asked softly.
He looked up. “That’s not why I came to stop you.”
Anna was confused, “Then why?”
Suddenly she found herself bring pulled into his arms. “This is why.” He whispered before lowering his lips to hers. The kiss went on until they were both breathless. He smiled, “I’ve wanted to do that all day but I figured we wouldn’t have any privacy backstage.”
Happiness filled her, “Then I am very glad you stopped me.” She teased.
Gerard tightened his arms around her, “Me too.” He brushed his lips against hers and whispered again, “Me too.”
The concert that night was outstanding. Anna noticed that Claire’s eyes never seemed to focus on anything but the drummer. Of course her focus was mostly on the very flamboyant lead singer who was putting on quite a show.
Afterwards Claire and Anna returned to the RV to wait for Bob and Gerard. All Claire seemed to be able to talk about was the show, and Bob. Anna half listened while she worked on her laptop.
“Anna you are not listening to me.” Claire said taking a seat across from her at the table.
“Oh course I am.” Anna answered while continuing to type. “I have heard every word you have said about Bob.”
Claire laughed happily, “I do seem to be talking about him a lot.”
Anna stopped typing and smiled, “Yes you do.”
Suddenly Claire’s smile faded, “Is that wrong? Am I rushing into this?”
“It appears he feels the same way towards you.”
“But what if….” She paused as Anna’s cell phone rang.
Anna picked it up and glanced at the screen, “It is Jacob.” She made no move to answer.
“Anna you must answer.” Claire said worriedly.
Anna continued to let the phone ring, “I fear I know what he will say and I do not want to deal with this now.”
“You have never ignored Jacob.” There was fear in Claire’s voice.
The phone went silent.
“Perhaps it is time that I do.” Anna whispered.
Claire shook her head, “You can not. Jacob will summon you if you continue to ignore him.”
Anna sat back and closed her eyes a moment, “I realize that is a very real possibility but I can not chance losing what I have gained. Gerard and I are growing closer everyday. I refuse to miss one moment, each moment is precious.”
Claire looked at her sadly, “The moments are becoming more and more precious, are they not?”
“Yes.” Anna answered gazing down, “Soon, very soon, the truth will be revealed.”
Both women sat silently for several minutes. Claire finally spoke, “I realize this becomes more difficult each day.” She stood and a few minutes later returned with a small black bag clutched in her hands.
Anna shook her head, “I do not require this.”
Claire sighed, “As a precaution, Anna. It would be difficult to give you an injection with them traveling with us. They would be sure to ask questions.”
Anna sighed then held out her arm. She closed her eyes as Claire readied the injection then administered the dose, “I hate this so much.” She whispered.
“It will not change how he feels about you.”
Anna wished she could believe that. “It may.”
“No.” Claire said softly, “I believe he will understand. I believe once he realizes the truth he will accept.”
Anna willed herself to be strong, “If he does not I will understand. Death is viewed differently by all.”