Anna explains about Elena. Frank continues to dig into the past.
Gerard stood holding the framed picture in his hand. “Anna?” He was waiting for an answer.
She grabbed on of the napkins off the tray and began to blot at the spilled tea.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked walking closer. His gaze fell back to the photo. “This was taken at one of the church’s woman's club meetings, wasn’t it?” He recognized several of the women in the photo. At first he hadn’t noticed the young woman with the black hair and glasses standing beside his grandma.
“I was afraid to tell you.” She whispered as she sat down.
Gerard took the seat across from her at the small table. “I don’t understand.”
Anna lifted the teacup with a shaky hand and took a small sip before answering. “I never meant for it to happen.”
“Meant for what to happen?”
“I never meant to become involved in your grandmother’s life.”
He looked at the photo again. His voice was rough; “I need you to explain this to me.”
Anna continued to look down into her teacup. “The first time I had gone to St Lucy’s for Christmas mass. Elena saw me sitting in the back pew alone and smiled at me. I was momentarily shocked. No one else had acknowledged my presence. After Mass I was leaving when she reached out and touched my arm to stop me. She introduced herself and welcomed me to the church.”
Gerard smiled slightly, “That sounds like grandma.”
“She was very kind to me.” Anna took another sip of tea then continued, “After that I saw her a few times in church and she always made it a point to speak to me.”
Gerard interrupted her, “Why do you have short black hair and glasses?”
“That is how I looked at the time.”
He considered this a moment then asked, “So you and grandma became friends?”
“Yes.” Anna admitted. “I did not want it to happen. It felt wrong.”
He frowned, “I don’t get it. Why would it be wrong to be friend’s with my grandma?”
She spoke softly, “Think about it, Gee. At that point in time I was trying not to interfere with your life. Your band was starting and you seemed to have a direction in life that was making you very happy. You were in a relationship.” She blinked rapidly, “I was just someone who was stalking you.”
Her words shocked him. “Sugar, you were never stalking me.”
“Yes, in a way I was.” She whispered. “But Elena was so nice to me. It was selfish but I could not stop myself from enjoying her friendship.” She paused a moment, “But it became more difficult. She wanted to introduce me to you and your brother. The night your band played Maxwell’s she invited me to go with her to see the show.”
Anna shook her head, “I saw the show but I did not go with your grandmother.”
Gerard sat back then took a sip of his now tepid tea. “And she never recognized you?”
“No, of course not.” Anna said, “Years had passed since that first meeting and I had completely changed my look. You would not have recognized me either.”
He studied the photo again, “No, you look nothing like the angel woman.” Suddenly an uneasy feeling crept down his spine. “Anna, when exactly was this photo taken?”
Anna could see in his eyes he was beginning to piece things together, “A few months before her death.”
“You knew grandma was gonna die.” It was a statement not a question.
“Several times I visited her in the hospital, always late at night when your family had gone.”
“The hospital staff let you do that?”
Anna sighed, “Gee, I have no trouble moving among mortals.”
He realized she had simply glamored the staff.
“Her last day on earth I had gone to see her. I knew death was coming.”
“And you did nothing to stop it.” Gerard said angrily.
Anna dropped her eyes again, “You had returned late that afternoon and I had hoped you would go to see her.”
“I was sick.” He ground out. “I was supposed to see her in the morning.”
“Yes.” Anna whispered, “I know. I visited you that night also.”
Gerard sat forward in his chair, “What? You were in mom’s house?”
“The door to the basement was left unlocked. You were sleeping.”
“Well why the fuck didn’t you wake me up? You knew grandma was dying.”
Anna blinked back tears. She’d known he’d react this way. “How could I? Can you imagine that scene? What if I had awaken you and told you your grandmother would not make it till morning?”
He couldn’t let go of his anger, “You could have put the thought in my head. You could have made me realized I needed to go to see her before it was too late.”
“Yes, I could have done that.” A tear rolled down her cheek, “But to do so I would have be forced to enter your mind, something I was trying so desperately not to do.”
“Shit.” He pushed back from the table spilling the tea in both cups.
Anna watched helplessly as he walked from the room.
“Fuck.” Ray muttered as Frank pulled up yet another video. “That is her.”
Christa and Jamia sat across the room watching them. Frank had invited them over saying they had something important to discuss. Once Christa heard it was about Anna she felt her stomach drop.
“Yeah, it’s her.” Frank said pausing the video. “But there are more. I even found some backstage videos where she’s there in the background. It was hard at first because she looked so different then.”
Ray sat back in his chair, “So what do you think?”
“I think Anna hasn’t been honest with us.”
Christa stood and walked over to the two men, “Why?” She challenged Frank.
Frank looked at her surprised to hear anger in her voice, “What do you mean, why? Shit, she’s been to a lot of our shows since we first started. She didn’t tell us that.”
“She said she’s been to your shows.” Christa reminded him.
“Yeah, well she made it sound like she’s been to a few concerts. This is more than a few concerts and how the fuck did she get backstage. None of us knew her before.”
Christa tried to keep her tone even, “I still do not see why this is such a big deal. So what if she’s been to every show you guys ever did?”
“Gerard needs to know.” Frank said. “He needs to see this.”
Christa wasn’t sure how to respond. She knew it wouldn’t matter if Gerard saw these videos because he knew the truth about Anna. However, the fact that this was making the others distrust Anna bothered her. “He loves her.’ Christa said softly, “Why try to mess that up?”
Frank sighed, “Look, I’m not saying they don’t love each other. But the guy wants to marry her and he’s known her for such a short time. He’s just rushing headlong into this.”
“You are afraid he’s making the same mistake he made before.” Jamia said joining them at the computer.
“Yeah.” Frank admitted, “I do.”
Christa wished with all her heart she could explain to them they didn’t need to worry. She felt helpless. “Ray, I’m not feeling good.” She said turning to her husband. This whole conversation was upsetting her.
Ray gave his wife a worried look. “Oh, we better go then.”
“What are we gonna do?” Frank asked as his friend stood up from his seat in front of the computer.
Ray shrugged, “I don’t know. Nothing right now. I guess we could talk to Gee when he gets back if you think we should.”
“I think you should leave it alone.” Christa snapped losing her patience. “Let them be happy.”
Ray put his arm around her, “Hey, calm down. Frank’s just worried.”
Christa forced herself to smile, “Yeah, sorry.” She said looking at Frank.
Frank shook his head, “I just think he should know.”
Gerard left the house, his mind a jumble of thoughts. Anna had known his grandma was dying yet she had done nothing. Anger at that thought tore threw him. He walked in the direction of the woods having no destination in mind just needing to put some distance between himself and Anna.
He entered the tree line following a small path. It was slightly overgrown with weeds but that didn’t stop him. For several minutes he walked until at last he spotted the small creek. A tree stump on the waters edge offered a place to sit and try to get his thoughts in order.
Anna watched from the window until Gerard entered the woods then she sat back down. If he’d given her a chance she could have explained. She understood his anger and had expected it.
Slowly she picked up her sketchbook blinking back tears.
An hour later Gerard reentered the art studio and saw that Anna’s back has to him, her head lowered as her hand flew over the sketchbook.
“I am sorry.” She whispered sensing his presence.
Gerard walked slowly towards her taking a seat to her right. “No, I’m sorry that I’m an idiot.”
When she looked up her eyes were still wet with tears.
“Anna, I was just so fuckin’ shocked at first.”
She nodded, “I understand.”
He raised his hand to silence her. “No, stop that. Stop saying you’re sorry and stop saying you understand. Yeah, I get that you do understand but that doesn’t make the way I reacted okay. I’ve been sitting down by the creek thinking. Just thinking..” He paused a moment, “Then it came to me, why you had that strange look on your face when you talked about how hard it was being a Healer, knowing sometimes you aren’t meant to heal someone.” He reached out and touched her arm, “You knew you shouldn’t heal grandma, didn’t you? You knew it was her time to die.”
Anna blinked rapidly trying not to break into tears again, “Yes, I knew but I hated that I knew. I did not just want to heal her because she was your grandmother. I wanted to heal Elena because I did not want to lose her. She had become very important to me.”
“Oh, Sugar.” He said softly. “I’m so fuckin’ sorry I got mad at you.”
Anna sat down the sketchbook, “Gee, it was so hard for me not to go against my Healer teachings.” She looked down, “In a way, I did go against them.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Elena was meant to die the day before she did. I knew you and Mikey were coming home to see her. I just wanted her to be there. I wanted you and Mikey to have a chance to say goodbye.”
“What did you do?” he whispered.
Anna sat back becoming lost in the memory, “I gave her just a small amount of my blood. Not enough to heal her because I knew that would be wrong but enough to keep death at bay for a little longer.”
"Oh fuck.” Gerard’s voice was rough with emotion, “And I didn’t fuckin’ go to see her.”
She could no longer keep the tears from falling, “Yes, and I know you have always carried guilt because you did not go that night. If I had not intervened she would have died the day before and you would have not felt that guilt because it had been impossible for you to get there any sooner. You see, I did what I should not have done and the consequences were brutal. We should never delay death or stop it if it is destined to happen but I did.”
He pulled her to him settling her on his lap. His arms encircled her as she cried. “Anna, stop. Don’t blame yourself like that.”
“But it is true.” She cried, “I made her death more difficult for you.”
He gently rocked her body as she wept. Suddenly his eyes fell to the sketchbook she’d sat aside. The drawing was of Elena. “Sugar, thank you.” He whispered.
Anna sat back slightly and followed his gaze, “I miss her also.” She whispered.
Ray glanced away from the road a moment and asked softly, “Why are you so mad at Frank?”
Not turning from the window where her eyes watched the passing scenery Christa shrugged, “I’m not mad.”
“Babe, I can tell when you’re mad.” Ray said as he carefully passed a slower vehicle.
Christa wished she could tell him the truth. Instead she tried to explain in a way that would make sense to him, “Look, I really like Anna and I believe with all my heart she truly loves Gee and that he feels the same way towards her. Think about how much happier he is now.” In her mind she couldn’t help but think about how if not for Anna he would still be dying. “I just don’t want anything to ruin that for them.”
Ray nodded, “Yeah, I understand how you feel. But you have to admit Frank does have a point. It’s so weird how she looks in those videos. It’s almost like she was trying to disguise herself.”
“Maybe she was.” Christa said turning to look over at him. “I mean she is a pretty famous writer.”
Ray thought about that a few moments going over in his mind the time frame. Yes, Anna had been published so maybe Christa was right. Still in those very early videos of the band she had just started writing. Her books weren’t best sellers back then so why would she have worried about being noticed?
Christa took his silence as a bad sign, “You don’t trust her now, do you?”
“It’s not that I don’t trust her.” He answered slowly, “It just seems weird to me. I mean why not just tell us she had been to a lot of our shows instead of making it seem she’d just been to a few concerts?”
“Maybe because she was afraid this is how you would all react.” Christa said trying to remain calm, “Maybe she was afraid that if you guys knew she’d been following the band for so long you all would not have been open to the idea of her writing a book about the band.”
Ray frowned, “Can’t see why that would make a difference.”
“Really?” Christa’s voice challenged, “Then tell me why it makes a difference now?”
“Because she’s involved with Gee.” Ray answered immediately.
“No.” Christa said angrily, “It’s because all of you think he’ll repeat his mistakes from the past. Anna is being punished because of what he did before.”
He could hear the anger in her voice, “That’s not it.”
“Yes, it is.” Christa nodded. “Because he rushed into a relationship before that ended so badly, you all think that this one will too. It’s almost like you and Frank are looking for something to be wrong.”
Ray concentrated on the traffic a few minutes while considering her words, “Maybe you’re right.” He relented. “Maybe we’re all just so afraid he’ll get hurt again we’re being overprotective.”
Christa sighed, “Yeah, I think that’s true. But Anna is nothing like Gee’s ex. She’s a good person who would never hurt him.”
Ray glanced over at her. “Not to start another fight, but you really don’t know if that’s true.”
She wanted to tell him that she did now that was the truth but remained silent. Deciding she’d call Claire when she got home she sat back in her seat and closed her eyes. Maybe Claire would have an idea on how to handle this situation. The last thing Christa wanted was for Anna and Gee’s relationship to cause stress within the band because she knew that would upset Anna.