Gerard's sudden change in behavior has some worried.
“Oh Anna,” Claire’s voice shook, “Why?”
They were almost to their vehicle. Neither saw Bob standing in the shadows watching them.
“Please just help me inside.” Anna whispered.
Claire threw open the door and helped her step up into the vehicle. Anna collapsed onto the sofa and closed her eyes. Locking the door Claire quickly removed her jacket then sat down next to her. “Anna.” She said her name softly.
Slowly Anna’s eyes opened, “No” Her voice shook. “Grab the bag.”
“Anna you know that will not be enough. I can see the truth in your eyes. This is my decision.” She held her arm out, “Please Anna.”
Tears sprung to Anna’s eyes, “Oh Claire, I do not want to do this.”
Claire looked her directly in the eyes, “Anna I offer this out of love. We do not have much time. They are expecting us to return soon.”
Still Anna resisted, “I am so afraid he will hate me.” She whispered speaking from her soul.
Claire gently touched her cheek, “He will never hate you. I understand you did what was necessary. I did not mean to make it sound as if I doubted you.”
“He must make it through the concert.” Anna whispered.
“I understand.” Claire nodded, “And so must you.”
Bob was rocking back and forth from foot to foot waiting for Claire. She had promised she would return for the show that was about to begin. A smile lit his face when he saw Claire and Anna enter the room. He quickly made his way to her.
“Hey.” He said softly noticing she looked slightly pale.
Claire smiled, “I was afraid I would not make it back to do this before you went on stage.” She put her arms around his neck and kissed him gently.
Anna had moved away and her eyes were searching the room for Gerard. She finally spotted him surrounded by Frank, Ray and Mikey. He was laughing and gesturing wildly with his hands. When he saw her he waved beckoning her to join him.
“Hey, Sugar.” He pulled her to him. “Everything okay?”
Anna knew he was questioning her about the alleged phone call, “Yes, everything is fine.”
Gerard found he couldn’t stand still, his energy level felt off the chart. He wanted the concert to start now. His whole body was humming. He grinned to the guys then pulled Anna a short distance away. “Sugar I’m supposed to fly home tomorrow to see my doctor.”
Anna knew this and nodded.
“Man, I think it’s a fuckin’ waste of time. There ain’t nothing wrong with me.”
“It is best to be sure.” Anna said softly. She had known he would develop this attitude.
Gerard frowned, “I think that ER doctor was full of shit.”
“When I first arrived you were in pain.” Anna reminded him.
This new feeling he was experiencing had erased that memory. “Not really. Shit, I think I should just blow off going to the doctor. That way we wouldn’t have to cancel a show.”
Anna needed to get him away from the others. It was time. She gently touched his cheek, “But if you fly home for a few days perhaps I could go with you?”
He looked confused a minute before smiling, “Well sure. I want you with me. Mikey and Alicia want to fly to California too.”
She must have him alone. Frowning she looked down.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
“I just was hoping we could go alone.”
He was torn. He didn’t want to hurt Mikey’s feelings but Anna seemed so unhappy. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll talk to Mikey. He and Alicia should do something fun.”
Anna looked into his eyes and smiled. “I would love to see your home.”
“It ain’t really much of a home. Just a small condo.” He thought a minute then asked, “What about Claire? What’s she gonna do if you go with me?”
Neither had noticed that both Bob and Claire had walked over to where they stood. “I was thinkin’ she might like to fly to Chicago with me.” Bob said looking into Claire’s eyes. “I’d really like you to meet my family.”
Claire glanced over at Anna trying to hide the fear that was consuming her. Anna needed her help and it was with a heavy heart she realized now that her involvement with Bob was creating a problem she had not foreseen.
Anna smiled at Claire then turned to Bob, “That sounds nice.”
Claire stood silent hearing Anna’s command in her mind. “I would love to go.” She said following the command.
Bob’s face lit up. “Great. The RV can be driven to the next venue by one of our roadies.” His smile suddenly slipped, “Hopefully we’ll only have to cancel one show.” He was very worried about Gerard but knew his friend didn’t want to discuss the possibility that his doctor’s visit would postpone or possibly cancel the remaining US tour.
Gerard laughed away the comment, “We are only cancelling one stop. I’m fine and I’m just going to the doctor to shut everybody up. There ain’t nothing wrong with me.”
“Hey, ten minutes.” Ray yelled out.
Gerard grinned, “Man, I can’t wait to get out there.”
Bob was surprised by the sudden change in Gerard since Anna had returned. Before he knew his friend hadn’t been feeling well but now he seemed completely fine. Either he was feeling better or he was doing a great job of acting. He slowly moved away from Gerard and Anna pulling Claire with him. When they were several steps away he whispered, “I hope you’re not mad at me springing the Chicago thing on you like that.”
Claire could hear Anna’s words echoing in her brain. She smiled, “I want to go with you.”
He looked at her closely, “Are you sure?”
Claire could feel Anna’s gaze on her. “Yes but I will admit I am a bit nervous about meeting your family.”
Bob laughed, “Why?”
“Well we have just met recently. What will they think of you bringing me home to meet them?”
He put his arms out and pulled her into a tight hug, “They are gonna love you.” He was not surprised to feel Claire’s body tense. Something had obviously happened between her and Anna. He had seen Claire helping Anna into the RV and it worried him. Was something wrong with Anna that they were hiding from Gerard?
“Line up.” This time it was Mikey calling out.
As Gerard lowered his lips to Anna’s in a final kiss she reminded herself he would make it through the concert without difficulty. She had made sure of that.
The concert had been outstanding. Gerard had performed like he hadn’t done in a long time. He stormed on the stage and made it his own from the first song until the chords died away of the encore. The other members had been shocked at the energy level their lead singer had exhibited. He was like a different person and the crowd had responded to him with passion.
“Dude, great show.” Mikey said catching up to his brother as they made their way through the darkened hallway to the large backstage area.
“Yeah, it fuckin’ was.” Gerard was still out of breath but feeling on top of the world.
Frank handed off his guitar to the tech and raced down the hallway. He caught up to Gerard just as they entered the backstage area and tackled him. Both men stumbled almost falling. Gerard’s laughter was loud. “Frankie cut it out.”
Frank grinned, “You were on fire out there my friend.”
Gerard grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat pouring from his body. “I felt like I was on fire.” He laughed. “I could go out there right now and do it all again.”
Ray had caught up with them. “Oh hell no. I’m exhausted.” He spotted Christa and moved towards her.
Frank was still watching Gerard closely. He couldn’t put into words how relieved he was that Gerard was feeling better.
“What?” Gerard said noticing Frank’s stare.
Frank shrugged, “I’m just happy, Man.”
“Me too.” Mikey knew what Frank meant. “We’ve been pretty worried about you.”
Gerard rolled his eyes, “Fuck, would you guys stop it? I told you I’m fine. I just needed to get my life back in order.”
“And Anna has done that?” Mikey asked softly making sure she wasn’t in hearing distance. He saw her walking towards them with Claire and Alicia at her side.
“Yeah.” Gerard smiled, “She really has.”
While Mikey liked Anna he couldn’t help but worry. Gerard and Anna had known each other such a short time. He didn’t want to see his brother rush into another relationship liked he’d done before. That relationship had almost mentally destroyed him.
“I’m in love with her.” Gerard said softly. “Fuck, I can’t believe it but I am. I didn’t think it would ever happen again. I didn’t want it to happen again.”
Mikey tried to put his concerns aside for the moment. “So you and Anna want to grab a bite to eat with me and Alicia?”
Gerard was watching as Anna slowly moved towards him. “I dunno. I’ll ask her.”
While he didn’t want to pry he wondered, “Uh, what’s she and Claire gonna do while you fly home?”
“Uh, well.” Gerard figured it was a good time to tell Mikey about the change in plans. “Anna is gonna fly to California with me.”
Mikey gave him a surprised look. “Oh.”
“Yeah.” Gerard spoke quickly wanting to talk to him before Anna reached him. “Uh, I think it would be best if just me and Anna flew to California. I mean this whole doctor thing is just a waste of time but it will give me a chance to show her my place.”
“But Alicia and I are going with you.”
“Look why don’t you take your wife on a little mini vacation. We got some time off.. Take her to Vegas. You know she loves that place.”
Mikey was visibly upset. “Gee I want to go with you. I heard what the ER doctor said. He was pretty fuckin’ concerned about something.”
Frank had been listening to the exchange because he too was concerned about Gerard’s sudden seemingly overwhelming attractions to Anna. While part of him was glad his friend had found someone another part of him worried. No one could forget Gerard’s impulsive behavior he’d exhibited when he’d first met his ex-wife. Time had proven that to be a huge mistake.
Gerard knew what they were thinking; he could see it in their eyes. “Look, I’m not rushing into anything. I’m not gonna run off and marry Anna but I’m in love and I want to be with her.”
Mikey nodded slowly, “I’m your brother it’s my job to worry about you.”
“And I’m your older brother and I’m telling you there is nothing to worry about. Anna and I are gonna fly out to California tomorrow, I’ll see my doctor and then she and I will spend some time alone. Then it will be back on the tour and everything will be fine.”
“Okay, Gee.” Mikey said softy. “If that’s what you want.”
Anna joined them and both Frank and Mikey moved away. She didn’t miss the look in Mikey’s eyes. “Is everything all right?”
Gerard smiled, “Just great. Uh, I’ve got a room at the Hilton by the airport for tonight.” He reached out and took her hand, “You’re gonna stay with me, aren’t you?”
“I would like that.” Anna squeezed his hand. “I need to pack my things. I assume we will leave for the airport in the morning from there?”
“Yeah, our flight is at ten. I’m gonna grab a quick shower cause I know I reek. Will you be ready to leave in about an hour?”
Anna nodded. “Yes and I need to make arrangements with regards to the RV.”
“I’ll handle that.” Gerard said wishing he could hug her but until he showered he would keep his distance.
Anna noticed that Claire was standing a short distance away waiting for her. “I will see you soon.” She impulsively leaned over and kissed him.
“Man, you must love me if you’ll kiss me right now.” He said looking down at his sweat soaked clothing.
She simply smiled.
“What’s wrong?” Alicia asked as she and Mikey made their way across the lot to the bus.
“We aren’t going to California.” Mikey answered.
“We’re not? Shit, Gee is still going isn’t he?”
He slowed his stop slightly, “Yeah but he wants to go alone with Anna.”
Alicia laughed, “Well Honey I can understand that.” She noticed that Mikey didn’t smile. “Look I know you’re worried about him but I’m sure he’ll tell you what the doctor says.”
“It’s not just that.” They had reached the bus but he stopped and turned to her. “He said he’s in love with Anna.”
Alicia wasn’t surprised, “Well I sorta thought that.”
Mikey ran his hand through his hair, “I dunno. It’s just like this is all happening so fast.”
“Oh” Alicia said suddenly understanding, “You’re worried because of what happened?”
“Hell yeah. I mean come on. Look at what he did before. Met and married someone in just a few months and we all know how that turned out. Shit, there were times I really thought he was gonna lose it completely.”
“So you don’t trust Anna?”
He sighed, “That’s not it. I like her and I think she’s good for him. I just want him to be sure.”
Alicia smiled, “Gee’s a big boy. You can’t live his life for him.”
“I know.” Mikey said softly, “But that doesn’t mean I can’t worry.”
Anna was neatly folding her clothes while speaking to Claire. “You must stop worrying.”
“How can I?” Claire sat down on the bed beside Anna’s suitcase. “If he agrees you know how dangerous this can be.”
“I can handle the situation.”
Claire shook her head, “Anna I saw how drained you were earlier. When you are in a weakened state he could overpower you. He could…” She could not bring herself to finish.
Anna knew for Claire’s own good she must be strict. “You are not to worry about this. I am strong and I can handle any situation that occurs. Now pack your things. I am assuming you will be staying with Bob tonight?”
Claire looked down and nodded.
“Good.” Anna said. “He will take care of you.”
Suddenly Claire grew angry. Everything she had known in her life was changing and it was difficult to accept. “I do not need him to care for me. You are not the only strong woman, Anna. I too am strong and I do not appreciate you dismissing my concerns as if they have no merit.”
Anna turned to her and narrowed her eyes, “We both know the difference between us. I will not stand here and allow you to speak to me in this tone.”
“Fine.” Claire jumped up from the bed. “I will not speak to you further.” She grabbed her bag that was already packed and headed for the door.
“Claire.” Anna’s voice halted her steps. She turned expecting to face Anna’s anger. To her surprise Anna was smiling.
“I am pleased at your new attitude. It will serve you well.”
Tears sprang to Claire’s eyes, “Oh Anna. I am sorry. I am just so worried about you. I know my place is at your side.”
Anna took a step toward her. “It was at one time but not now. Both of us understood at the beginning of this journey that change would occur. It is time. The path that I chose many years ago has led me to this place. I am pleased you travelled with me to this point but now it is time for you to set out on your own path. Bob is a good man and I am very happy for you.”
Tears slowly fell down Claire’s cheeks, “He is.” She whispered.
Anna closed the distance between them. “Then be happy. Make a life with him if that is what you wish. You have had your freedom for years, now use that freedom.”
“But.” Claire’s voice broke, “I am afraid.”
Anna’s smile was sad, “There is no reason to be afraid. My actions can not be held against you by anyone. When I was with Jacob I made sure of this. However if anything were to happen to me Jacob will shelter you if the need would ever arise.”
This brought fresh tears to Claire’s eyes, “I do not want anything to happen to you. Please do not even say such a thing.”
“It was not my intention to upset you with my words. However it was something you needed to know. I want you to understand you can always turn to Jacob for help.”
A soft knock on the door caused them both to turn.
“Claire?” It was Bob’s voice. She quickly brushed away her tears.
“Just a minute.” Claire called out. She had hoped to have more time to speak to Anna. “I have your bag prepared.” She said softly.
Anna nodded, “Thank you. I will call you from California. Please just enjoy your time with Bob and do not worry. Whatever happens your happiness will not be jeopardized.”
Claire shook her head sadly, “Anna truly the difference between us is you can not understand the inaccuracy of that statement.”