Well, the bad news is: June was about to kill her when she got up and announced her plans for the next three weeks. There were certain days, mostly Saturdays, when she really needed her help at the restaurant. The good news is: a second later, Noor walked out of the same bedroom and June forgot about all of it to stalk the famous singer for a decent hour. Noor didn’t mind. She was happy to get to know Frankie’s sister — even though she was a bit intense and weird.
By the time they arrived at the airport, Frankie was seriously asking herself why she accepted this offer. She had toured with singers before. But, small, meaningless singers, that tried to break through and barely ever crossed the state’s border. Frankie always found her way back home after every performance. She had always dreamed of it, but never expected to actually tour around with Beyoncé-like artists. Especially not one as beautiful as Noor.
“Did you call your mom?”
“Yes,” Frankie says.
“What did she say?”
“She didn’t understand anything about my story. She might have actually asked whether of not I was drunk.”
“You can’t blame her,” Noor shrugs. “How many times does one get an invite to cross the world with a world famous singer?”
Frankie looks at her, a bag in one hand, her vest in another. Noor’s not really the shy type. She smiles.
“I can’t answer that question, because it never happened to me before,” she starts talking while keeping herself from bursting into laughter.
“No. I mean, I did go on a world tour this one time,” Frankie explains.
Noor looks at her all expecting. Did she really?
“But the singer didn’t invite me. She begged.”
The glorious flair she exhales as she walks past her, makes Noor’s blood boil, but in a good kind of way. This girl is driving her insane and she has no idea why. God, has there ever been a girl so captivating? A person so precious? Has she ever gone out of her way so radically to get a dancer to tag along on tour?
Noor’s heartbeat fastens. She sighs a content sigh.
“No,” she tells herself.
Frankie wonders why the girl is talking to herself.
Frankie makes the funny mistake of walking toward the regular check in of the airport. Noor looks at her as if she was joking.
“It’s a private plane, silly.”
Frankie rolls her eyes: of course it is. They buckle up and after a couple of anxious minutes — let’s face it, going up is always scary — they are now relaxing with a glass of champagne in one hand.
“This is crazy,” Frankie remarks.
Noor thought so too, years ago. After a while, she got used to it.
“How old are you, Frankie? Twenty-three, twenty-four?”
She actually had to think about it for a while. Somewhere along the line, people forget to be excited about their age. And so they stop counting. And forgetting high numbers? That comes naturally.
Frankie knows Noor was born the same year. She read it in articles and tabloids a long time ago.
“How much time do I have to rehearse?”
“Two days once we arrive in Germany.”
Frankie widens her eyes as she turns to her new friend: “Are you serious?”
Noor doesn’t twitch.
“Do you see me laughing? I’m sorry, cutie, but touring is hard. You and I, we probably won’t talk much the first couple of days. I’ll have to invite you for dinner to actually be near you at some point.”
The blonde shifts in her fancy, leather plane chair and wiggles her eyebrows.
Noor chuckles: “Maybe if you’re being a good girl. I’ll ask my tour manager and the choreographer.”
Frankie gets up, simply because she feels the urge to pee and bends over to her new boss.
“I’ll play nice, I promise.”
For a second, her eyes flee to the full lips of the gorgeous person in front of her. Her heart starts racing for no apparent reason. Even Noor seems to stare up and down her eyes and mouth. Frankie clears her throat, stands back up and excuses herself. When she gets to the shaky toilet cabin further down the plane, she locks the door as fast as she can. Her mirror image is judging her.
“What are you doing?” it asks.
Her pretty blue eyes go searching for the meaning behind her expression. They are urging her to hold back. To not get attached to her new friend. This is just a job. A temporary job. Noor is married. She has a career and is in desperate need for a dancer. This is her big shot — a chance to break through. That’s all.
Unexpectedly, the second Noor and Frankie stepped into the big lounge of the hotel where the entire crew had gathered to welcome them to Germany — well, let’s be real, mostly Noor — Aiden stole the moment by randomly popping up. Noor hadn’t mentioned him once during their eight hour flight to Europe. Noor had given the impression she hadn’t talked to him once in person after the catastrophic moment of that equally catastrophic Boo Tay concert (Frankie read the reviews).
He walked over to her and hugged her in front of all the people that work for her. Frankie didn’t say a word, nor did she dare to look Noor in the eyes. But her body language gave it away. The singer was beyond surprised and overwhelmed by his presence. It definitely didn’t come across as pleased or enchanted. Her body was stiff in his embrace. She never once put her hands around his back. Obviously, he wasn’t welcome here. Not that he cared. He turned around the second she gently pushed him back and invited the entire crew to a dinner party later that night. It was enough to make Noor’s blood boil.
They fought in her private dressing room. Everyone heard and everyone pretended they didn’t. Standing all deserted and alone, people started walking over to Frankie to introduce themselves, but mostly to figure out who she was. She accidentally let it slip that she was Noor’s friend. But in all fairness, there wasn’t a more logical way to explain the situation.
After an hour, the door slams wide open. Yes, it’s possible to slam a door open, as it seems. Frankie looks up from her new colleagues and forgets to listen to them. Noor storms out of the room and walks straight past her. It startles her. Somewhere in her mind, she never expected Noor to ignore her. Especially not over Aiden. Something tells her to follow her steps and comfort her in a dark room. Something else is telling her not to. Then, Aiden appears in front of her.
“You went to the cabin with Noor, didn’t you?”
His presence overwhelms her completely. She utters a few vowels and shrieking sounds before asking him to say that again.
“After the concert. She took you with her. I’ve never seen you before.”
His voice is calm and gentle. Nothing like she expected after that massive fight behind closed doors. Does he really believe they were being discreet, or does he simply not care?
“I — um,” she stutters briefly, while looking back at the door she last saw Noor heading toward. “I — yes.”
Aiden seems impressed as he smiles at her. His gorgeous actor face even makes Frankie swoon.
“I bet you bonded with my wife over the weekend. She said great things about you.”
It sounds hesitant. She’s not sure whether or not she’s supposed to say the same thing about him. Because that would be a lie.
“You’re new, right?”
“A dancer. I like dancers. They are free spirits. They have fun. They are hardly ever ashamed of anything.”
She can come up with one or two reasons why he wouldn’t be opposed to that.
“Is Noor okay?” she suddenly asks him, clearly giving away the fact that she heard most of their argument.
He’s intrigued by the way she doesn’t think before addressing him. In a good way.
“We had some words. She’ll be okay. She always is.”
“Noor’s a pretty special girl.”
“She is,” he agrees. “I’m lucky to have her.”
The tone of his voice exposes the sincerity of his words. It almost makes her feel sorry for him. She clears her throat and smiles politely, when her phone starts buzzing in her pocket. One look at her screen immediately displays her favorite name in the world: Noor. It’s a message, telling her to join her in room 608. It says please.
“It’s her, isn’t it?” Aiden smirks, getting it all right. “You left quite the impression on her. Calm her down for me, will you. Tell her I’m sorry. And tell her I’m an idiot. Because I am.”
Frankie looks up at him, hands in his pockets, eyes pointed at the ground with shame. She says she can’t do that. It’s something he should tell her. His half smirk appears.
“You’re right. I’ll do that. Good night.”
The jet lag is already hitting her like a bitch. She watches him leave and turns around to head toward the escalators. After going up a couple of floors, she reaches the beautiful door with 608 on it. This hallway has more style than her entire house. A silent knock betrays her sneaky arrival. Noor lets her in, but doesn’t face her.
All around the place, paper airplanes have crashed and burned. There are pieces of candy on the floor. The bed no longer has sheets, they are on the floor, like she used them as a cape.
“What the hell?” Frankie snickers.
“I skipped being a teenager, because I was always working. Now that I’m supposed to be an adult, I’m trying to make up for that. It bursts out of me when I’m mad. People don’t always understand.”
Frankie walks over to her and notices the little paper cuts on her fingers.
Soft eyes stare at her, like they are finally at ease now that she’s here: “I know.”
Though she doesn’t know why, Frankie wraps her arms around Noor’s body. The dark hairs of that incredible artist come draping down her shoulder and a loud sigh reverberates through the room. She won’t tell her how nice Aiden was to her. She won’t even say she talked to him. This is about being supportive for Noor. If she’ll call him an asshole, Frankie will agree with her. But Noor doesn’t say a word. She simply breathes in and out against the bare skin of Frankie’s neck. It tickles. It feels good. It makes her heart race.
Starting from then, things get intense. Frankie gets a proper introduction to the group of dancers and starts rehearsals before the sun comes up. It all happens in a rush. The next gig, in Berlin, takes place the next day. Jet lag is being a bitch, but there’s no way she can miss these important first sessions. Everyone is way ahead of her. Everyone actually has experience when it comes to touring and being on stage in front of thousands of people. Compared to the fifteen other dancers, Frankie’s just an amateur. Luckily, it only drives her to work harder and more passionate. In a matter of hours, she has mastered most of the steps and choreography. She leaves everyone impressed as her tired feet drag her to the hotel room at the end of the day. It’s where she crashes on the bed and falls asleep without changing into her pajamas.
Next week, they’ll spend a night on a bus. A big bus, of course, with a sleeping compartment. That’s when they’ll be driving through Spain and Portugal. Never in a million years did Frankie expect to see so many countries in so little time. The first time she sees Noor again is on stage, during rehearsals. The dancing crew barely finished their routine when Noor enters the arena. She applauds and all of them look at her amazed and giggly. Frankie’s the only one noticing she’s staring straight at her from a distance. They thank her and walk off to get changed in the dressing rooms. Except for Frankie, who sits down on the ground and spreads herself widely across the floor. Noor joins her on stage and kneels down beside her.
“Are you okay?”
“You never told me you were planning to kill me,” Frankie sighs, reminding herself just how exhausted she is.
“Would that have stopped you from coming?”
Frankie opens her eyes and finds a perfect pair of brown ones staring back at her. She shakes her head.
“Are you this comfortable around all of your dancers?”
“Not really. I usually hang out with the technicians.”
They both giggle and look up at the ceiling. It’s high. Like, dangerously high. Equipment worth thousands and thousands of dollars is hanging above their heads. All for the sensation that is Noor. But right now there is no superstar. There’s just a young woman, sitting next to her on the floor, wearing sweatpants and some sneakers. She even forgot to put on makeup. Frankie doesn’t mind.
“Is Aiden still here?”
She’s asking because she hasn’t seen Noor since that intense moment in the hotel room. Frankie was too exhausted to attend the party Aiden threw. Noor nods and explains he offered to watch the show tomorrow. The girls suppose it’s some kind of peace offer.
“Are you still mad at him?”
Noor lays down next to her and accidentally brushes Frankie’s sweaty arm with hers.
“I don’t know,” she sighs. “After a while you stop caring, I guess.”
Frankie doesn’t respond to that.
“What do you think about all of this?” Noor wonders.
The blonde feels her heartbeat getting stronger and faster. She grew up with perfect parents, in a perfect home with three sisters. Even when they fought, it was perfect.
“I believe in marriage,” Frankie ultimately explains after counting the boxes floating above their heads. “I believe that when you make a promise to God and everyone present, you should at least try your best to make it work. For better or for worse.”
“Why are you so convinced about that?”
“Because I saw it,” Frankie tells her. “I saw it by watching my parents. They have been together for over thirty years. And each time they look at each other, I still get all warm inside. Besides, my people have fought for a long time to get the honor of marrying someone.”
“My people?” Noor frowns confused.
“Gay people. We can finally get married. It’d be stupid to fight for something you don’t believe in.”
Noor sighs: “I guess that’s true.”
Frankie turns her head and memorizes her idol’s profile. God, she’s beautiful.
“What about your family?”
Noor doesn’t stare back, she just keeps her eyes focusses on the ceiling. It takes a while before she answers the question.
“I don’t care much about family.”
“Oh, you don’t? I have a pretty intense one. They are all crazy, all too messed up to drag with you to stupid events. But I do it anyway, because I love them. They’d do anything for me.”
Noor heaves an exhausted sigh and crawls back up.
“That’s nice, Frankie. It really is. But there are different kinds of family too,” she tells the dancer.
It’s the way her words leave her mouth with a pained and heartbroken tone that makes Frankie close the subject for now. She gets up on her feet as well and wipes some dust from her sweatpants. Tomorrow’s the big day. Tomorrow’s showtime.
“Have dinner with me tonight,” Noor surprises her, just when Frankie thinks she’s had enough of her for the day. “Aiden has a business meeting in town. And I’d rather have dinner with you.”
Frankie nods. She did tell her she’d do that a few days ago, didn’t she?
On their way to the dressing rooms, the girls run into Noor’s manager, David Coulson. He asks them how their day went. Both girls look exhausted and they let him figure it out for himself.
“I would like to have a word with you, Frankie,” he then says.
“Sure. What’s it about?”
“About your clearance.”
Noor grabs his hand before he can even explain what that means. She shakes her head firmly, while her angry eyes do the talking.
“It’s just a simple screening,” David sighs. “We do it with everyone. And since you just flew her in from your last trip to the middle of nowhere, we’ll just handle this quickly.”
“No!” Noor growls, putting her foot down. “Frankie’s cleared. I cleared her.”
He sighs. His client can be impossible sometimes. Frankie puts her hand calmingly on Noor’s bare arm, which makes her look at her.
“It’s okay. It’s probably just a few questions, right?”
She’s looking at David now, who nods and sighs at the same time, hands in his pockets, tie straightened. Now, Noor doesn’t look like the girl that listens to the people around her. She doesn’t follow rules. Sometimes, Frankie wonders if she ever reads books, or just stares them down until they give her the information she needs. But for some reason, she stands back and nods almost invisibly this time. She warns her manager: it shouldn’t be longer than a few minutes. With his hands thrown up in the air, he promises.
“Just a few more hours and it’s showtime.”
Noor thinks it’s adorable how Frankie is freaking out over her debut. It’s the biggest show she ever danced at. And she’s actually getting paid this time.
“I’ve seen you during rehearsals. You’re going to be amazing up there. People might forget to look at me,” she teases.
Frankie scoffs: “Like that is possible.”
She realizes how fast she’s opened her mouth yet again and grabs her glass to have a sip.
“So, tell me about your other sisters. I’ve obviously met June. That’s quite an impression you can’t wipe from your memory.”
They both chuckle and Frankie apologizes for her intensity. Noor says it’s okay.
“There’s Cece and Ellie. Cece’s the oldest. They you have June, me and Ellie. Ellie’s the cutest.”
Noor has a bite of her deliciously looking salad and carefully listens to the babbling of Frankie.
“Cece’s a bit uptight, but that’s okay. She’s the smart one, the person that can’t stand bending the rules, or she’ll feel bad about it.”
“I thought that was June.”
Frankie shakes her head and smiles in a bittersweet way: “June makes up her own rules.”
Frankie stabs her fork in a piece of potato and shrugs.
“Ellie’s normal. She’s the one I connect with most. We talk about everything. She’s more like a friend, sometimes. She loves the fact that I’m gay. Brags about it to all of her friends.”
“That’s nice,” Noor comments while gesturing at a waiter for another glass of water.
No drinking tonight. She needs her head clear for tomorrow.
“What about you? Do you have siblings? I never really read anything about it.”
Frankie’s not trying to hide that she reads the tabloids every now and then. Noor shakes her head and coughs.
End of explanation. Frankie frowns.
“What about your parents?”
The singer’s eyes flare up from her plate. She didn’t want to go there, but Frankie did it for her. She shifts in her seat uncomfortably and shrugs.
“My dad left us when I was young. He never really cared about us. Last year, he reached out for me, but I didn’t care to meet him. If he didn’t want me when I was a normal girl, he shouldn’t know me now that I’m famous.”
Frankie has some reservations about that, but she gathers they’re not relevant in this conversation. If Noor thinks she’s right, she’s probably right.
“And what about your mom?”
Frankie realizes she’s pushing. But she told her side of the story. It’s time for Noor to fess up. It’s starting to get obvious just how uncomfortable the famous singer gets when it comes to this matter.
“I haven’t seen my mom in ten years.”
Frankie gasps for air: “She died?”
Noor smirks, like it’s a funny thing.
“God, no, she didn’t die,” she explains, but then her smile drops because the truth might be just as tragic. “She’s in jail.”
It reverberated so silently it took the dancer some lipreading skills to understand the words. But Frankie can’t even respond to that. Her breathing chokes, her heartbeat fastens. She knew it was something bad, but this is all sorts of new to her.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine,” she ultimately tells her. “But I’m over here, eating my dinner in silence. If you happen to start talking to yourself about it and I’m overhearing it, still eating my dinner in silence at that time, you should know it’ll never leave this room.”
Noor starts smiling. Her new friend has such a gentle way of explaining things. It’s not natural for them to be this close already.
“Maybe I will talk to myself about it,” Noor coughs all embarrassed. “Maybe I’ll tell myself that my mom made some bad decisions, but only because we were running out of money and she was about to lose the house. I’ll tell myself that a shady person saw right through her and offered her a job — and a lot of money. It would have been a one-time-thing. It was a package, hidden in her luggage. She was foolish enough to believe it wasn’t drugs. When she got off the plane in Uruguay, a police dog caught her. And the rest is history. That’s what I would tell myself.”
Frankie is impressed, but of course, she’s simply eating her dinner in silence. After a few seconds, Noor exhales a relaxed smile. She pokes Frankie’s fingers with one of her forks.
“It’s okay. We can talk about it now that it’s out.”
“I seem to be able to talk to you about anything,” Noor confesses. “That doesn’t happen a lot.”
“I’m pretty special,” Frankie sassily admits.
Noor heaves a special smile that doesn’t appear a lot: “You are.”
“Does anyone know about your mom?”
“No. It’s a well-kept secret. Aiden does, and David. Apart from that, it’s just you now.”
“Thank you for trusting me,” Frankie whispers, honored about that special reservation.
Noor just shrugs and has another sip of water.
“I have no idea what your are talking about,” she mocks her. “I was just talking to myself.”
When Frankie decides to go for a walk around town, simply to escape the boredom of her hotel room, the experience makes her less homesick in an instant. She’s happy to be away from the normality of her life for a while, but that doesn’t mean she’s not missing it. There are dozens of little shops in Berlin, all cosy and completely different from what the Americans have back home. The O2 World arena, where the entire group will be performing tomorrow night, isn’t located nearby, or she’d go and stare at it for a little bit, just to let it all sink in. By the time she walks through the doors of the hotel again, six plastic bags of souvenirs are dangling down her legs. Out of all people, she bumps into Aiden on her way to the elevator.
“I’m sorry,” she apologizes immediately after happily discovering she didn’t exactly drop anything.
He says it’s fine.
He’s a gentle guy. If Noor hadn’t said all those things about him, she’d never realize he has a less appealing side too. She shakes her head and offers him a peek in the bags.
“It’s mostly junk. To please my family. Everything with the name Berlin on it, you know.”
Aiden smiles, almost feeling nostalgic: “I used to be like that too. When I first got to places, I bought all the crap I could find. After a while, they begged me to stop. A picture would do.”
She can’t help but smile over his comment. Maybe one day, her family will get to that point as well.
“You have a big family?”
He nods and inhales sharply to remember them all.
“I have three sisters and two brothers. One of them is adopted,” he explains.
He squints his eyes and smirk: “I’ll never tell. But he’s black, so …”
Frankie chuckles. Funny. Noor didn’t tell her he was funny. His curious fingers slip into one of the bags in front of him. Frankie let’s him.
“A tiny football, huh?” he grins. “And a cap. You like sports?”
She nods: “I’m a dancer. I’m supposed to be sporty.”
This time, he smiles.
“I’m sporty too. Have to, with my job and all. Going to bed already?”
“Yeah. Tomorrow’s a big day, you know. First big performance and all.”
She’s more nervous than she realizes. It’ll be massive. Tonight is going to be horrible, because the fear of forgetting the complicated routine she barely had time practicing for won’t leave her until the moment’s there. Aiden notices she’s tensed. He runs some fingers through his hair and wiggles his nose. The guy seems bored.
“Want to have a drink at the bar? Talk about what an ass I’ve been? I can tell you funny stories about Noor.”
Frankie is hesitant to accept, but at the same time, she feels like getting to know the guy might enhance her perceptive abilities next time Noor is willing to talk about him. Besides, it’s not like she’s stabbing her in the back, right? They are married. At some point they must have liked each other. She nods — without knowing why — and follows him to the nearby bar. Some employee takes her bags up to her room, while the bartender asks them what they’d like to have in some funny accent. They secretly smile over it.
Six super-sized German beers later and they both have their heads on the counter, staring at some German soap opera that clearly involves two gay men and some aunts. Neither of them understand a word of it, yet they are engaged in the storyline. They’ve talked and talked and talked. It was fun. Now they’re just drunk.
“Being gay must be so great,” Aiden claims.
Frankie just smirks. It is.
“What about being married?” she wonders.
He pulls his head up and sits back in the cosy chair. His eyes are drowsy and tired. Looks like Frankie’s not the only one suffering from jet leg.
“It is. I mean, it was. Noor and I, we were great together. So incredibly great.”
He softly smiles over the mystery of his memories. Something tells Frankie he’s not exaggerating.
“But it’s difficult when you’re all over the world all the time. Sometimes we didn’t see each other for months. We told ourselves it would work. It should work. When you love each other, that ought to be enough, right?”
Frankie sighs and rolls her eyes over that level of naiveness: “Right.”
“We’re kind of going through a rough patch right now. As you noticed.”
She tries to fake it for a second, but gives up the act rather fast. Frankie grabs the bottle of beer and empties it at once. He likes that about her. She’s not afraid to turn off her lady manners.
“We’ll get through it. We always get through it. She’s tough, you know. She has her mind set on things and she has her goals and ambitions. I just wait until she’s done being mad at me and then I’ll apologize for the millionth time and … that’ll be it.”
“It’s always been that way. I love her. I would do anything for her. But I’m an asshole. And sometimes I can’t hide it. Sometimes I do stupid things. I’m not proud of them, but —”
“I get it,” she interrupts his explanation.
Something inside of her tells her she shouldn’t have said that, but it’s the truth. If Frankie’s capable of anything, it’s making the wrong decisions in life. Falling for the wrong girl is her speciality.
The second one of her favorite songs reverberates through the fancy bar, she begs the waiter to turn up the volume. They are the only ones left in the room, so she gets what she wants. The girl climbs on top of her chair and starts wiggling her hips to the beat of the music. Aiden’s amused and starts clapping his hands.
“Come on. Dance!” she orders him.
He rejectingly shakes his head: “I’m not a great dancer.”
“That’s okay. You don’t have to be good at it. You just have to do it.”
She throws both hands up in the air and watches as he gives up the tiny wall of resistance she had to break through. The guy gets up on his feet and spastically shimmies his shoulders until they both start laughing. The bartender enjoys the view. It’s not every day a famous actor makes a fool out of himself in the middle of this hotel. The dancing lasts for a good ten minutes. Frankie jumps on the ground and moves around the room in a way that would make all the girls jealous. Unlike anyone would expect, Aiden doesn’t really pay much attention to her. He just holds his beer in one hand and twirls in circles near the counter. Then, out of nowhere, Noor appears. She stares at them in wonder and notices just how many empty bottles are lined up near the sink. Her eyes express confusion. Confusion about what the hell is going on and why of all people, these two are hanging out together. The singer walks over to them and softly smiles at her husband. She hasn’t seen him having this much fun in a while, but then again, she can imagine the perks of hanging out with Frankie.
“You should go to bed. Tomorrow’s a big day,” Noor gently tells her, driven by concern and good intentions.
Aiden nods. His wife is right. When Frankie has a look at what time it is, she gasps. Shit.
“What are you doing up?” she asks her boss.
Noor just smiles in silence as her eyes travel up and down the dirty clothes of her favorite dancer in the world. Something about drinking straight of a bottle left its marks on her shirt.
“Good night, Aiden,” Noor whispers after quickly pecking him on the lips.
She grabs Frankie’s hand and guides her out of the bar, into the lobby. They wait in front of closed doors until the elevator announces its arrival.
“Isn’t Aiden coming with you?”
Noor shakes her head: “I always sleep alone when I’m on tour. Bad sleep equals bad performance. He snores.”
Frankie just hums with admiration. Her new friend guides her all the way to her bedroom, until they are located in front of the bed.
“What were you doing in the bar?” Frankie asks her again.
“I was looking for you. I tried calling you but you didn’t pick up.”
It’s because her phone was in one of the bags that the hotel employee took up to her room. Noor walks over to Frankie’s closet and picks some pajamas for her to wear. If anything, Frankie’s really drunk. Let’s just hope she’ll survive tomorrow’s events. Rehearsal is at seven. The singer orders her to get dressed. Frankie listens. She orders her to get into bed. Frankie squirms herself under the sheets. She orders her to get some rest. Frankie closes her eyes.
Already drifting off to sleep, the blonde opens an eye. It takes all of her.
Noor is just standing there, in the middle of the room, feeling lost and confused. She wants to say something, but closes her mouth a few times before the words actually come out.
“Is it okay that I sleep here, with you?”
Frankie yawns as she grabs her pillow even firmer, her eyes completely shut by now.
“I thought you slept alone when you’re on tour,” she whispers through her exhaustion.
“Yeah,” Noor gasps. “So did I.”
She notices how the faint arm of her friend pulls the sheets away in front of her, offering her some space nearby.
“Just don’t snore,” Frankie purrs as she’s entering the world of dreams.
The second Noor’s body is positioned beside her, facing her, a warm arm slips over her stomach.
“Good night,” Noor whispers, staring at her all enchanted.
But Frankie can’t hear her anymore.
When she wakes up the next morning, the dancer finds herself surprised. She can’t remember how Noor ended up in her bed. Even worse, after she opens her eyes at the sound of her alarm, the two of them are spooning. Frankie pulls her arm back, obviously confused. Noor doesn’t seem affected by the noise and it’s only after Frankie is done showering and getting dressed that she wakes up. She rolls around under the sheets, unable to identify the place, but finally relaxes as Frankie walks out of the bathroom. The blonde’s head seems to have survived an explosion.
“You look hungover.”
“I am hungover. But I’ll be fine. Just a couple of bottles of water, an intense rehearsal and I’ll be fine. Sweat it out.”
Noor supports her face with her fist: “You make it sound so easy.”
Dressed in fashionable sweats and a hoodie, Frankie walks over to the bed. She sits down next to her friend and lowers her head. She’s ashamed.
“I’m sorry about last night. About two things, actually. Obviously, the drinking. That wasn’t professional at all. Aiden and I were just talking and things got serious and we couldn’t stop talking … And I don’t know if it was cool to hang out with Aiden in the first place. It just sort of happened, it’s not like I planned it. He offered me a drink and it felt rude not to accept it.”
Noor just shrugs, then yawns. She hates getting up early.
“Don’t worry. If you want to drink the night before a show, you can. It’s just that experience has taught me you better don’t. I just want to help.”
“I’m glad you dragged me up here. And I learned my lesson, thank you,” Frankie smirks, patting her own head for a second.
“And about Aiden. He seemed more like himself last night than he was in ages. I wind him up, I upset him. The more we fight, the harder it gets to turn back to normal. He needs to cool down once in a while. As long as he behaved, I don’t see any problem in you being friends. Even then, I can’t tell you who you’re allowed to hang out with. That’s your own decision to make.”
“I guess,” Frankie says while frowning her eyebrows to think things through. “Still. My loyalty is to you. I owe you a lot.”
Noor starts to chuckle as one of her hands runs through her gorgeous locks of hair.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You saved me after that concert. You seem to work wonders around us.”
Frankie sighs and quickly runs her fingers along Noor’s cheek, too sweet to be platonic.
“Let’s just see how wonderful I’ll be tonight.”
She gets up after putting both of her shoes on. When she heads toward the door, Noor demands her attention by whispering her name. Softly. Subtly. But Frankie hears it. And it sounds amazing.
“I’ll see you in a few hours. Okay?”
Frankie smiles and suddenly, out of nowhere, her heart skips a beat. Noor actually slept next to her again. Not because there were no other options, not because she wasn’t able to get to her room. She actually chose to — again. Against all her superstitions concerning a good night’s sleep before a concert, she actually stayed the night.