An unwelcome visitor awaits.
“Good morning.” She stood and quickly moved towards the coffee pot and poured him a cup. “Here.”
Bob took the cup of coffee from her but before she realized what he was doing he quickly set it down then pulled her into his arms. “Good morning” he said giving her a tight hug.
Claire hugged him while her mind went back to last night. After he’d loved her he’d gone to the bus, changed into his sweats then returned to spend the night simply holding her. She’d fallen asleep feeling happier then she could ever remember. Now however it was a new day and she knew at some point Anna would be returning.
“Okay, what’s wrong?’ Bob asked feeling her body tense.
Claire stepped back and gave him a surprised look, “Wrong?”
Bob reached for his coffee and took a sip of the strong brew. “Yep, what wrong? You were hugging me then suddenly your body went all ridged. I’m guessing you thought about something.”
She couldn’t believe how in tune he was to her thoughts and actions. “I remembered that Anna will be back today and I have not even checked her e-mails.”
Bob moved over to the sofa and took a seat while Claire returned to the table and opened the e-mail. He watched her a few minutes in silence then spoke, “So anything earth shattering that needed your immediate attention?”
Claire laughed, “There are some things I need to handle but nothing earth shattering.” She deliberately had not turned her cell back on for fear Jacob would call.
“Great.” Bob said standing. “Let’s go get some breakfast.”
Claire looked over at him. “Breakfast?” She had assumed that he would need to return to the bus since there was a concert tonight.
“You know, breakfast.” Bob grinned, “The meal that starts off the day?” He teased.
Claire giggled, “I know what breakfast is, Bob. I just assumed you would be busy today.”
He shrugged, “We got nothin’ until the Meet and Greet. I’m sure nobody is back yet.” The rest of the group and their spouses had spent the night at different hotels. “So what do you say?”
Claire turned back to the computer screen, “Well, I suppose this could wait.”
“That’s my girl. I’ll go get dressed and I’ll be right back. Don’t know about you but a big stack of pancakes sounds pretty good.”
“I love pancakes.” Claire said, “But with strawberries on top.”
“Then that is what you shall have.” Bob promised making his way to the door.
“I don’t wanna get up.” Gerard grouched as Anna poked him in the ribs.
“But you said you wanted to get up early so there would be time for me to see that art gallery before we must go to the venue.” Anna reminded him.
“So I did.” He sighed, “But we still have time for breakfast. He slid out of bed and headed for the phone. Anna listened as he placed an order with room service. She giggled when she heard him order a bowl of fresh strawberries with an extra side of whipped cream. He hung up the phone, “What are you giggling about?”
“Extra whipped cream?”
He crawled back into bed beside her, ‘Yeah, it’s early and we’ve got plenty of time.” His hand traveled slowly down her thigh. “Don’t ya think?”
“I agree.” Anna said reaching out to stroke his bare chest. “Check out is not until 11:00.”
Ray pulled Frank aside before he could enter the bus. They had arrived at the venue a few hours earlier and he had the feeling something wasn’t right. “You see that guy over there?"
Frank followed his gaze and saw the sharply dressed man, “Yeah?”
“I don’t know if you saw earlier but when Claire and Bob got back from their breakfast that guy was standing by Anna’s RV. She took one look at him and turned white.”
Frank gave him a surprised look, “Really? Who is he?”
“Don’t know.” Ray said “But she rushed onto our bus and hasn’t left since.”
“Why don’t you just ask her if she knows him?”
Ray shook his head, “Cause I could tell she was upset. I mentioned it to Bob a few minutes ago while Claire was in back with Alicia and Christa but he just shrugged.”
Frank snorted, “Yeah well if he’s not worried why are you?”
Ray thought a minute, “I don’t know something just feels wrong.”
“Well why don’t you talk to security and have them run the guy off?” Frank suggested.
“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have them check the guy out.” Ray agreed. He glanced back over but was shocked to see the man was no longer there. “Where’d he go? He was just there.”
“Don’t know but he’s gone. Come on lets grab something to drink.” Frank said starting up the steps. “Gee should be back soon and I wanna relax before we have to head over to the venue.”
Ray followed him on to the bus but couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right.
Claire tried to calm her nerves as she sat next to Bob but it was impossible. Her hands twisted in her lap by their own accord.
Bob didn’t know what was going on and that worried him. He had his arm around Claire’s shoulder so he reached over with his other hand and gently grabbed one of her hands.
She gave him a weak smile.
“Hey, guys” Mikey saw Gerard and Anna enter the bus before anyone else.
Claire jumped to her feet. “Anna, you are back.”
Anna smiled, “Hello Claire.”
Gerard moved further down the hall to stow his bag after promising Anna he’d be back in a moment. Claire quickly moved to her side.
“I need to speak to you.” She whispered.
Anna nodded, “Yes, I am sure there are things that need my attention.”
Bob was watching the exchange closely wondering what was going on. Did this have to do with the phone call last night from Anna’s uncle?
Gerard reappeared but before he could say anything Ray closed his cell phone and made an announcement. “Hey, they need us over at the venue, pronto. Seems someone forgot to tell us that the Meet and Greet got moved up.”
There was a round of groans from the band members.
“I just got back.” Gerard said slightly annoyed. “I wanted to change first.”
Frank laughed, “Oh you look so pretty you don’t need to change.”
Gerard glared at him.
“Sorry.” Gerard said to Anna. “Thought we’d have some time.”
Anna smiled, “It is fine. I need to deal with some things anyway. I will see you before the concert.”
Gerard didn’t care if anyone was watching he put his arms around her and kissed her. “Don’t be too long.” He whispered.
Claire realized that Bob was now at her side. She turned to him and smiled, “I will be there.” She said softly knowing he would ask.
He nodded, “Good.” Then he pulled her into his arms for a quick kiss.
Claire blushed when he released her and she saw Anna was watching.
“Do not speak until we are alone in the RV” Anna said as she and Claire walked across the lot.
“And yes, I have already seen him.”
“Do you know who he is?” Claire asked forgetting she was to remain silent.
Anna shot her a silencing look and continued on. They had just reached the door of the RV when the man suddenly appeared.
“Annabelle.” His voice was low and deep.
Anna sighed, “Yes?”
“I was sent by Jacob to retrieve you.” He cast a disdainful look towards Claire, “Both of you.”
Anna stood straighter, “I will return with you to speak to Jacob. Claire will stay here.”
Claire shook her head, “No, I will go with you Anna.”
“You will stay here.” Anna’s tone was sharp.
“No.” Claire was very afraid, “I will go with you.”
“You let her speak to you in this fashion?” The man scoffed.
“Is everything okay?” Bob’s tone made it apparent he believed something was amiss. He had seen the man earlier and had noted Claire’s reaction. That is why he had followed them when he saw the man reappear by the RV.
For a moment no one spoke then Anna broke the silence. “Bob”
He turned to look at her and was trapped by her gaze.
“Anna, no.” Claire cried out.
Hearing Claire’s voice made Bob blink.
“Silence.” The man hissed turning to Claire.
Bob blinked again and took a step towards Claire. His only thought was to protect her.
“Bob.” Anna’s voice was louder this time. When he didn’t immediately turn towards her she reached out and touched his cheek.
Bob looked into her eyes. Beside him Claire had tears running down her cheeks.
“Bob, everything is fine. This man works for my uncle. There is no problem at all. Now you must get over to the venue. Do not worry Claire will be there soon.”
“Yes.” Bob answered. He turned and walked away.
“You idiot.” The man took a menacing step towards Claire but Anna moved between them.
“You will not touch her.” Anna said narrowing her eyes. “I will deal with her.”
“See that you do.” He sneered. “Gather your things. We must leave now.”
Anna balled her hands into fists. “Now?”
“Yes, the three of us must leave now.”
“No.” Anna shook her head, “I will speak to Jacob.” She turned and entered the bus after waving Claire on first. She slammed the door leaving the man standing outside.
“Oh Anna.” Claire sobbed. “I have made things worse.”
“You did not help.” She sat down wearily. “Call Jacob.” She commanded.
Claire’s fingers shook as she took out the phone, turned it on then pushed the preset number. She was still crying as she held out the phone to Anna.
As Anna spoke Claire felt her heart breaking.
The minutes passed as Claire sat waiting for Anna to emerge from the bedroom. She had gone there to speak to Jacob in private and Claire’s stomach was in knots. When she head the door open she jumped to her feet.
“Sit.” Anna commanded as she took a seat across from her. “I have reached an agreement with Jacob.”
Claire did not speak.
“As you know I broke a very important commandment by ignoring Jacob’s summon.”
Claire felt tears well up in her eyes again.
Anna continued, “He is angry and spoke of an investigation into my activities.”
“Oh fuck.” Claire muttered.
As serious as the situation was Anna smiled, “Fuck?” She had never heard Claire utter that word before. “I believe perhaps Bob’s colorful language is rubbing off on you.”
“I am sorry.” Claire whispered.
Anna sighed, “Claire I am happy for what is happening between you and Bob. You trying to protect him from me made me realize the depth of your feeling for him.”
“I was not trying to protect him from you.” Claire cried, “I was just afraid.”
“You were afraid I would alter his mind too much.” Anna said softly. “You know I could and therefore you were afraid.”
Claire hung her head.
“I must go to Jacob.” Anna said sadly. “I have wronged him and I must try to make it right.”
“We are leaving?” Claire’s voice shook.
“I am leaving.” Anna explained. She saw Claire shake her head so she hardened her tone. “You will listen and you will do as I say.”
Again Claire hung her head.
“Jacob relented and is allowing me to leave you behind. It is my hope that I will only be gone a few days. Jacob has a great love for me. I hope that when I explain the situation to him he will allow me to return.”
“What will you tell Gerard?” Claire asked.
“I do not have time to speak to him.” Anna answered softly, “You must tell him that my uncle is very sick and that I have gone to be with him. Tell him I am sorry I could not speak to him before leaving.”
“He will be so upset.” Claire whispered.
Anna smiled sadly, “As am I.”
“Anna what will happen? What if Jacob truly calls an investigation?” Her voice trembled in fear.
“I do not believe he would do that but there are others who would. It is my deepest hope Jacob will protect me.”
“Oh Anna.” Claire was overwhelmed with fear and sorrow. “This could ruin everything.”
Anna closed her eyes a moment willing herself to stay strong. “Time is against me. I could feel it. I pray that I will make it back swiftly.” She stood, “However I know that you will be safe. Let the man protect you. He loves you.”
“You know that?” Claire asked.
“It was in his eyes.” Anna confirmed. “Do you feel the same?”
“Good.” Anna moved towards her bag that she and Gerard had dropped off earlier. “Now ready my things. I will speak to the man outside, Mr. Baxter.”
“I hate him.” Claire muttered as she stood.
Anna understood her feelings but shook her head with a sad smile, “He is what he is just as I am what I am.”
“No.” Claire said meaning each word, “You are nothing at all like him.”