Gerard is drawing too much attention to himself.
“So Mikey was making fun of me for playing the machine.” Alicia said frowning.
Mikey laughed, “I wasn’t making fun. I was just pointing out you’d already put forty dollars through the damn thing and hadn’t won anything.”
“Yeah, but I just had a feeling.” Alicia grinned, “And I was right. I hit the top pay.”
“Top pay?” Christa said, “Wow how much did you win?”
Alicia gave them all a very pleased look, “Why don’t you tell them, Mikey?”
He rolled his eyes, “She won $5000.00.” He glanced over at his wife then added, “Of course she ain’t telling you how much she spent to win that amount.”
“Only forty dollars.” Alicia answered.
“Uh yeah in that machine. How about all the others?” Mikey asked.
Alicia ignored him. “That’s not important. It was so great. We stayed at The Hard Rock. Man, was that a cool place.” She launched into another story.
Claire was the first to look up and see Gerard and Anna enter the room. She quickly got to her feet and went to greet them.
Gerard let go of Anna’s hand and moved to enclose Claire in a tight hug. He felt an overwhelming sense of closeness to her that he didn’t even question.
“Hey, dude.” Bob said joining them, “Hands off my woman.”
Gerard released Claire and stood back. “Sorry.” He laughed. “Just sayin’ hello.”
Mikey was on his feet immediately. He hugged his brother tightly, “Good to see you.” He whispered.
Gerard hugged him back.
Now the others had all gathered around.
“Man, you look great.” Ray said, ‘Damn you look much better than last time we saw you.”
“I feel great.’ Gerard said with a smile. “See I told you there was nothing wrong with me.”
“Man, you had us all so worried.” Frank said slapping Gerard on the shoulder.
Gerard laughed, “Oh was Frankie worried about me?”
Frank rolled his eyes, “Yeah you dumb jackass. We all were.”
“Time for the Meet and Greet.”
The announcement caused Gerard to groan, “Shit we just got here.”
“Most of us have been here for hours.” Ray told him. “Did the sound check without you.”
Gerard ignored him and turned to take Anna’s hand. “Come on.”
She shook her head, “I will stay here.”
Suddenly the thought of not having her at his side frightened him. “It’s okay. You can just sit across the room and watch.”
Anna saw the fear in his eyes. She whispered in his ear as the others all moved away. “Gee I’ll be right here.”
That was not the answer he wanted, “I want you to come with me.” His voice was loud and angry.
Several heads turned in their direction. It was Claire who tried to defuse the situation. “Gee I really need to talk to Anna. We’ll just sit right over there.” She pointed to a nearby sofa “Until you get back.”
Gerard glared at her a moment then his expression softened, “Yeah, okay.” He gave Anna a quick kiss then moved to follow the others.
Anna and Claire moved to the sofa then sat down. Claire glanced over at Anna and whispered, “Is this happening often?”
“We haven’t been apart other than the day he had the tests run.” She answered softly.
They were unable to speak about the situation further because Alicia, Christa and Jamia joined them.
“Dude” Frank said walking along beside Gerard, “What’s the deal? You and Anna joined at the hip now?” He teased.
Gerard stopped and stared, “I want her with me.”
Frank was shocked by Gerard’s angry stance. “Well yeah, sure you do. I’m just kidding with you.”
Gerard didn’t answer as he began to walk the narrow hallway again. Frank fell back to walk with Ray. They exchanged a look but remained silent.
The Meet and Greet was almost over when a young fan innocently said to Gerard she’s heard he was friends with her favorite author Annabelle Lewis. Gerard looked surprised a moment then smiled, “Anna is my fiancée” He answered.
Ray overheard him and turned to give Gerard a shocked look. He leaned over and whispered to Frank what he’d just overheard.
The rest of the fans passed through the line. As soon as he signed his name for the last fan in line Gerard stood and left the room. The rest of the band agreed to several more photos. As they started for the backstage area Ray caught up with Mikey.
“So Gerard and Anna are engaged?” He asked as they walked together.
“What?” Mikey sputtered.
“That’s what Gerard told one of the fans.” Ray explained.
“He said that?” Mikey was visibly shocked.
Ray nodded. By this time Frank had told Bob the news also. Bob had gone directly to find Claire. She was still sitting on the sofa but Anna was gone. Mikey spoke before Bob had a chance.
“Where did Gee go?”
“He and Anna went to get some fresh air.” She answered Mikey but her eyes were on Bob. She could tell by the way he was frowning something was wrong.
Bob silently put out his hand and helped her off the sofa. Once they had moved into another area of the backstage he spoke. “Did you know that Gee and Anna are engaged?”
The look of shock on Claire’s face answered that question.
“He told a fan that Anna was his fiancée.” Bob said lowering his voice.
“Oh” Claire said looking down while trying to gather her thoughts.
Bob didn’t want her to misunderstand his feelings. “Look I’m not saying anything is really wrong with it. But shit, they haven’t known each other that long.”
“I understand your concern.” Claire said softly.
He wanted to make sure, “I like Anna a lot. Don’t get me wrong it just seems like this is all happening so fast you know and Gerard’s been down this path before.”
Even though she did understand his concern she was upset by his words. “Anna would never hurt him. It is unfair to even use that comparison.”
“I’m not comparing her to his ex” Bob said hurriedly.
“In a way you are.”
Bob knew they had to be on stage in a few minutes and the last thing he wanted was for Claire to be angry. “Look, none of this is my business. Gerard is gonna do what he wants to do.”
“As will Anna.” Claire said looking him in the eyes.
The call was yelled out for the band to get ready.
“Shit I gotta go.” Bob said putting his arms around Claire. He noticed her body remained ridged. “We’ll talk after the show.”
Claire remained silent lost in thought. She knew she had to speak to Anna immediately.
Gerard and Anna returned to the backstage area holding hands. Anna immediately noticed that their appearance drew a lot of attention. Gerard was blissfully unaware.
“Wanna get a car and drive to the next venue?” He asked Anna as he pulled her into his arms for one final kiss.
Anna understood it was not good for him to isolate himself from the others even though it was what he wanted. “We will discuss it after the show.” She answered not wanting to upset him before the concert.
He pulled her close for a long kiss then sprinted off to join the others. Unbeknown to him the rest of the band had decided not to mention anything about his engagement before the show. They too were worried about upsetting him.
Claire appeared at Anna’s side as soon as the band disappeared down the hallway. “We need to talk.” She said urgently.
“What is wrong?” Anna asked hearing something troubling in Claire’s tone.
“Hey, come on.” Alicia said joining them. “We gotta get to our seats.”
Anna nodded while giving Claire a look that let her know she understood there was something Claire needed to tell her. They followed Alicia to the side stage where Christa and Jamia were already seated. Anna noticed that they had been deeply engrossed in a conversation but stopped as soon as they saw them approaching.
From his spot backstage Gerard sought out Anna. He felt an enormous relief when he saw her take her seat. Now that he knew she was near he felt more relaxed. He took several deep breaths then as the lights dimmed he took the stage feeling unstoppable.
As soon as the first song began it was apparent to the rest of the band he was performing like he hadn’t done in a long time. His voice was strong, his stage presence was over the top. He was on fire.
It was during the third song of the set that Claire leaned over and whispered something into Anna’s ear. Anna turned to her then nodded for her to follow. They left the side stage before the others could question their departure.
“Come.” Anna said to Claire as they made their way through the backstage area to the exit. They crossed the parking lot to the RV. Claire unlocked the door and Anna followed her in. “Tell me what he said.”
Claire sat down at the table, “He told a fan at the Meet and Greet that you are his fiancée.”
Anna lowered herself to the sofa with a sigh, “And the others overheard this?”
“So he has not asked you to marry him?”
“He has not brought up the subject.” Anna admitted. “I understand now why he and I were getting strange looks from the others.”
Claire nodded, “Bob asked me about it right after the Meet and Greet.”
“And what did you tell him?”
“Simply that you had not said anything about an engagement to me.”
Anna sat back and closed her eyes.
Claire moved from the table to sit next to her. “Anna, do you want to marry him?”
She answered without opening her eyes, “I love him but I will not marry him.”
“But what if he still feels the same after the bond begins to fade?” Claire asked softly understanding Anna’s reluctance.
“I can not say what will happen.” Anna said opening her eyes. “Time will tell but how will I make him understand?”
“You did explain to him about the strength of a newly formed bond?” Claire asked, “You explained to him about the changes that would occur?”
“I tried to prepare him.” Anna answered, “But you saw tonight when I refused to go with him the anger he displayed. It is hard for him to control even though he knows why he feels as he does.”
“I wish I there was something I could do to help.” Claire said honestly.
Anna sat up. “I am sorry if this situation caused friction between you and Bob. It is very apparent to me that you two are in love.”
“Do not let that be a concern to you.” Claire said reaching out to touch Anna’s arm.
Anna smiled sadly, “It is a concern to me. Your happiness is very important to me.”
Gerard felt Anna’s absence before he ever looked over to see she was no longer seated on the side stage. He was so upset he missed his cue for the next side but the band quickly covered his mistake.
It took every once of concentration for him to finish the concert. Even before the chords died away from the last song he was off the stage.
“Where is Anna?” He shouted to Alicia who he encountered first.
“She and Claire took off.” Alicia answered with a shrug.
“Fuck.” Gerard muttered heading down the hallway.
“What the fuck is going on?” Mikey said as he reached his wife.
“I have no idea.” Alicia answered. “He wanted to know where Anna went.”
Behind them Ray spoke. “He took off like a bat out of hell. What’s going on?”
“Anna” Gerard pounded on the door of the RV. “Anna”
Anna stood and went to the door as Claire put away the vial and needle. She unlocked the door but instead of letting him inside she pushed him back and closed the door behind her. “What is it?”
“What is it?” He repeated incredulously. “What the fuck do you mean, what is it? What happened? Why did you leave?”
Anna saw the others moving across the lot to the tour bus. She spoke in a low tone, “Gerard you must get control of your emotions. If you do not I will go back inside.”
The fear of her leaving was stronger than his anger. He took a deep breath. “Okay, sorry. I was just worried.”
Anna knew this wasn’t the truth but the fact he was calming down was important. “Claire and I needed to discuss some things.”
He reached into his pocket and took out his cigarettes, “Yeah, okay.” He said before lighting one.
“Walk with me.” Anna said taking his arm. “Gee, we need to discuss something.”
He nodded, “Okay.”
“You should not have told anyone that I am your fiancée.”
Gerard came to a dead stop. “Why?”
Anna gently pushed him along to make him start walking again. “Because I am not.”
He stopped again, “What do you mean? You said you’d stay with me.”
“Yes, that is true.”
Anger washed over him, “So what’s wrong with me saying that? Shit, Anna. We’re together. It’s not like you have to marry me tomorrow or next week but I just want people to know we are a couple.” It has becoming hard for him to think straight. “Fuck, are you mad?”
Anna noticed that several people glanced their way. “Gerard lower your voice.”
“Stop talking to me like I’m a fuckin’ little kid.”
Her tone was sharp, “Stop acting like one. I have explained to you that it is not ideal to draw too much attention to our relationship.”
“Please try to calm down.” She said reaching out to touch his arm.
Gerard snatched it out of her reach. “I just don’t understand. You’re pissed because I called you my fiancée is that right?”
“Did you stop to think how the others would react to that news? It is important for the next few weeks for you to try very hard to make it seem that nothing has changed. You need to handle your emotions.”
He wasn’t listening the anger he felt was too intense. “So you’re worried about what the others think about us? Shit, why do you care? You don’t feel any real emotion for any of them?”
Anna stepped back stung from his words.
Gerard knew immediately how deeply he’d hurt her. “Oh fuck, Anna. I didn’t mean that.”
“You did mean it because you know it is true. I knew this phase would be difficult for you and I am trying very hard to help you through it. However perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps our closeness it making it too difficult.”
“What are you saying?” His voice shook.
“I must have time to think. I will talk to you tomorrow.” She turned to walk towards the RV.
“Wait” Gerard said, “Please, if you don’t wanna get a car I understand but at least let me travel with you.”
It hurt but she shook her head, “Gee we need some time away from each other. You are too dependent on me. You have your life back now. As soon as your body and mind accept this things will be better. Right now I am a constant reminder of what happened.”
“Anna, no.” He reached for her arm, “Please I’m sorry.”
“So am I” Anna blinked back tears. “For tonight travel on your bus. I will see you tomorrow.” She quickly spun around and went back into the RV.
Several hours later Anna lay in her bed fighting back tears. She missed Gerard as much as he missed being with her. Still she kept reminding herself that what she was doing was for his own good. It would be so easy to let him build his whole world around her but she couldn’t let that happen.
Her phone on the bed beside her peeped.
GERARD: I AM SORRY
She read the text and began to cry. Several minutes later there was another message.
GERARD: I KNOW YOU ARE DOING WHAT YOU THINK IS BEST FOR ME BUT YOU ARE WRONG. I DON’T NEED YOU I WANT YOU. I LOVE YOU
Anna held the phone to her chest tightly. She felt the RV coming to a stop. Setting up she glanced out the window and saw they had pulled into a truck stop to refuel. Wiping her eyes Anna went out into the main area to speak to Claire.
“We do not need fuel.” Claire said when she spotted Anna. “I just pulled in to wait for the buses.”
Anna nodded and sat down on the sofa. “It would have been fine for Bob to travel with us.”
Claire sighed, “I knew that since you did not allow Gerard to travel with us that Bob’s presence could have angered him.”
“Right now his anger is quick and intense.” Anna said softly.
Lightening flashed through the night sky followed by a huge clap of thunder.
“Looks as if we will be traveling the rest of the way in the rain.” As she said this huge drops pelted the windshield. Claire tried not to let her fear of the storm show.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
“Claire it’s me.” Bob’s voice could barely be heard over the downfall.
She got up quickly from the drivers seat and opened the door. Bob rushed in from the rain. “Hey Anna.” He nodded then turned to Claire. “Uh thought the storm might bother you. Want me to drive?”
Claire looked back at Anna who was smiling.
“That is a good idea.” She said to Bob. She was pleased to see his concern for Claire.
Claire passed by Anna quickly and went to retrieve a towel for Bob.
Suddenly Anna’s phone beeped again. She looked down at the screen.
GERARD: CAN I PLEASE COME IN?
Anna jumped to her feet and went to the door. Gerard stood just outside completely soaked. Another flash of lightening illuminated the sky but he remained still. Mindless of the rain Anna went to him. She threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly before taking his hand and leading him inside.