Frankie at Work – Chapter 12: A Promise

Chapter Twelve — A Promise

It’s been a wild night at the Morris’. Just when Frankie decided to stay in and not go out to drink until she doesn’t recognize her own reflection in the mirror anymore, Cece and Ellie showed up with bottles of wine and snacks. And June came home early — her employee said he’d close up the restaurant on such a calm night. The girls started to talk and didn’t stop. When Kennedy showed up, they put on music and they empties the bottles while dancing through the living room. Except Frankie. She didn’t dance. Refused to. She just sat back and watched her sisters and special friend having fun. It reminded her of Miguel. Of the fun times during all the tours across the country and the world. Of Noor and her in the living room at the lake. It hurt her heart to not move. It broke in pieces when the beat felt too great to be ignored. But she managed. And she succeeded until everyone ended up passed out on the couch. 

As the doorbell rings in the morning, Frankie raises her head from Ellie’s legs. She has trouble orientating but finally recognizes her own home. The girls grumble and yawn from a lack of sleep and an excess of alcohol. 

“What the hell happened?” Ellie moans.

She puts both hands on her head and realizes her leg is aching from Frankie’s body weight that’s been pressing on it the entire night.

Frankie gets up and clears her throat. She’s not that hungover, luckily. 

“You guys decided to come over. That happened.”

Cece crawls up and rubs her face until she can open her eyes again. In the meantime, June just turns around again to proceed her nap.

When Frankie opens the door, both her heart and mouth drop. It’s Noor, standing in front of her. Mirror image of perfection, dressed all stylishly, hair could’ve come out of a magazine shoot. Did she do it especially for Frankie? Well, of course she did.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Frankie wonders, while rubbing her eyes.

Her throat hurts. It shows.

“Well, aren’t you your usual little ray of sunshine this morning?” Noor smirks nervously, a bit overcome with joy to finally see her friend again. 

She dives in to hug Frankie, but much to her surprise, the girl isn’t keen on hugging her back. It’s just that she’s surprised to see her. Her heart is doing flip-flops and twirls at once. It’s confusing.

“Sorry, I’m just … hungover,” she explains. “My head hurts like a bitch. And I know bitches, I’ve dated a few.”

It’s meant to be a joke and Noor smiles over her goofiness. God, she has missed her. Her hand hangs on to her sleeve. Frankie smells terrible, but she looks divine as always. Just a little bit tired.

“Well, I don’t know what looks messier: your hair or your life,” Noor replies with a mischievous smile.

But Frankie’s snapped out of her confusion. Right now the entire night is flashing through her mind.  The fun she had with the girls. Then comes the image of her late friend. And her coping with the grief and terrible task of missing him. And Aiden — their little talk in his car when he picked her up the last time things got out of control. The shame she experienced when he told her he knew. And her promise to him. To her.

“What are you doing here?”

It sounds harsh and rude, though her tone is a result of last night’s alcohol intake and its effects on her body. It triggers Noor instantly to say whatever it is that’s on her mind. Why she’s here in fact. Why she’s consumed with confusion and hurt and the feeling of rejection.

“It took you three days to text me back.”

Frankie looks up but immediately looks back down. It’s true. She got that text when Aiden drove her home. She ignored it for a while.


“You didn’t bother to answer my text for three fucking days. Why would you do that?” Noor wonders.

Nobody ever rejects this superstar. She texts and people immediately text back. She calls and people go through lengths to pick up. Frankie just rubs her face and sighs all tired. It’s been a short night.

“Because I am tired of this bullshit. I am done with being your secret fucking whatever-it-is. I am done.”

Noor stares through the hallway and spies a curious crowd. It’s Cece, Ellie and June, all conveniently strolling around the kitchen on the search for coffee — just close enough to hear the entire conversation. Frankie follows her stare and in an instant, tears fill her eyes. She faces her wonder woman again and shrugs — almost apologetic.

“And I am really, awfully, terribly ashamed to look my friend in the eye and not be honest with him. Because I am a terrible friend and he doesn’t even realize it and I’m too afraid to admit that I’ve slept with his wife.”

It’s true. She lied to him. She told him they aren’t sleeping together. They did. And they almost did again, until Noor cut her hand. The superstar’s breathing chokes. It’s the first time she’s being confronted with it, face to face, with people around. Even if she wanted to, there’s no denying it. And Frankie’s sisters are all staring at her from the corner of their eyes. Frankie notices and she’s ashamed to have said it out loud. Of course her sisters know the truth. It was just a well-kept secret between them. Noor probably knew she told them, but now it’s been confirmed. Time to adjust her attitude.

“Wait, I’m going to get dressed and then we can talk,” Frankie offers, while calmly putting her hand on Noor’s bare lower arm.

It feels warm, as always. Her fingers automatically start to stroke the skin.

“Why? I prefer you like this,” Noor whispers, looking up and down her body.

She’s barely wearing clothes. Just a loose shirt and some shorts. In theory, she’s not far from being naked. See, this is the problem. The flirting. The feelings. It’ll always be a problem. The sisters raise their eyebrows suggestively at each other and suppress a dirty smile.

Kennedy leaves Frankie’s room to walk into the kitchen area and ruin the party. That’s when Noor gets the picture — or at least she thinks she does. Kennedy slept here. Kennedy slept in Frankie’s bedroom. The bed she used to sleep in. The bed where she felt Frankie’s skin close to hers. 

“Could I use the bathroom for a second?” the singer coughs, trying hard to erase that image from her mind — the jealousy.

Frankie steps aside and her hands gestures the girl in the right direction — as if she wouldn’t know her way around the house. She’s not wearing her bracelet. The second Noor passes her, she inhales her scent and it dazzles her. She hates herself over it. Kennedy walks over, says hi the second she recognizes her former boss and doesn’t pick up on the awkward behavior of both girls. Correct that: six girls. Cece and Ellie pour out some cups of coffee, not even counting how many of them desire one. They just do it so they can seem occupied and stay nearby. Frankie just rolls her eyes over their charade, just as Kennedy puts a soft peck on her cheek.

“Good morning, gorgeous.”

June glances at Ellie’s mischievous smile and starts to whisper: “Such a champagne problem, that girl has.”

When Kennedy’s done with her morning greeting, she stretches out and demonstrates a painful grimace. Frankie notices and forces herself to seem interested.

“What is it?”

“Damn, I hurt myself. I think I fell last night,” she explains.

“You mean just once?” Frankie smirks, obviously harboring more memories than her.

“What? I tripped.”

Frankie steps away from her, mostly to create some distance now that Noor’s around and mocks her with expressions.

“You were standing still. Absolutely still. And then you fell,” she explains, partly demonstrating the act.

“Gravity and I were having an argument.”

Her cockiness sometimes drives Frankie crazy, but in a good way. Still, she’s not in a good mood yet, and it shows in the way she speaks.

“I bet you were.”

They finally leave the hallway to enter the kitchen area. That’s when the sisters feel confident enough to sit down in the couch. They tell each other how tired they are while stirring the little spoon in their cups of coffee. There’s an extra one on the counter and Frankie claims it. She heaves a troubled sigh.

“What the hell is wrong with you? You’ve been a bitch all morning,” Kennedy jokes.

Frankie’s startled by that accusation, so she puts her cup down again after slurping it briefly.

“You’ve been up for what, ten seconds?”

That’s when Noor suddenly resurfaces and clearly overhears the comment.

“She gets like that when she’s hungry,” she tells Kennedy, maybe a bit too confident.

Both the dancers just stare at her like she just said the most awkward thing. Maybe it was too intimate, too carefree, like she’s spend days and weeks and months with the dancer — and yes, she actually has. Like it’s a natural reflex to know everything about her. Frankie frowns, because the fact that Noor knows every little detail about her behavior and character troubles her now. As a way to make it all better, Kennedy draws her attention.

“Do you want something to eat?”

Frankie wants to lie. She wants to lie so badly just to prove Noor wrong. But her stomach is twisting and turning. She nods. That’s when Noor proudly laughs to herself. It’s exactly what Frankie tried to avoid, so she bites her teeth.

“I’ll make you some pancakes. Maybe even an omelet. Just talk to Noor, I’ll be done in a second.”

Kennedy turns to the sisters and raises her voice: “Want some pancakes? I’m, like, an awesome pancake ninja.”

They all nod excitedly. Frankie takes Noor’s hand — shivers immediately run down their spines — and drags her outside. They stay quiet for a while, as life passes the front door just like any other day. Ultimately, Noor kicks the conversation back into action.

“You seem mad.”

“I’m not mad.”

“Then why are you acting this way?”

“Why are you here, Noor? You shouldn’t be here.”

The singer stares around the place, looking for possible paparazzi to follow her every move. But this is a quite town. They don’t follow her here. Not yet.

“Because I haven’t seen you in months and I miss you. How did I become the bad guy here? What does this woman have on you that I don’t?”

Frankie just shakes her head, too afraid to show her true feelings. She was doing great. Sure, she was messing up and messing around, but at least she didn’t cry herself to sleep over missing Noor anymore.

“She treats me right,” the blonde says, though poorly convincing. 

“Why didn’t you text me back? Are you mad at me? Did I do something wrong? It’s rude to just ignore me.”

Frankie sighs and crosses both arms defensively: “It’s for the best, Noor.”

“You never apologize for anything. Why don’t you ever say you’re sorry?”

Noor is getting worked up by now. Because Frankie doesn’t seem to be happy to see her. Is she the only one that missed the other? Has Frankie just forgotten all about her?

“If I have to say sorry for every single thing I do wrong, I’ll be saying it as a welcoming phrase, I’ll use it after every sentence. I’ll write it on every paper I’ll ever see. See, there’s a thin line between sassy and being a dick head. I cross it every day. Saying sorry all the time would be exhausting, because I’m a disaster.”

Noor steps up to her and grabs her hand. It feels soft and warm. Frankie’s hair a mess, but she still thinks it’s beautiful. Her eyes are small and red, she still gets lost in them.

“Don’t say that. You are exceptional. You are like a breath of fresh air — and I’ve been gasping for it ever since we parted.”

Frankie just stands there, painfully trying to avoid eye contact as her eyes are filling up with lost tears. They can’t be doing this right now. They said goodbye, many times before. She left, after Miguel died. Everything’s different now. Maybe for the better.

“Do you love her?” Noor asks, as she takes another step closer to her target.

Frankie shrugs: “We have an incredible bond, it focuses solely around alcohol and sex.”

The superstar doesn’t buy the act. She knows who this girl is. How she functions, how she cares and loves. 

“So that’s what you want? A fuck buddy instead of someone who loves you?”

“We already talked about this, Noor. You have Aiden. I’m fine.”

She clears her throat to try that one again.

“I’ll be fine.”

“I don’t want you to be fine,” Noor says. “I want you to be amazing.”

“Well, then maybe you should leave.”

It could be the truth. If they keep searching for each other, keep meeting like this, nothing will ever change between them. 

“I just don’t get it, okay?” Noor whispers, barely holding onto the fingers of her beloved lady anymore. “You’re still with Kennedy. Even after you told me how you felt about me.”

The air is cold and the sky is dark. It might rain in a second. Lightening might strike. Frankie would love that. But unfortunately, she loves a lot of things. Doesn’t mean she can have them all.

“Yes. I guess we’re all entitled to make one mistake, right?” she sighs.

“Don’t act like we have nothing to talk about.”

Noor’s eyes are the ones that are teared up by now. She can’t stand it when Frankie’s acting all distant — all uninterested. She realized that this is her self-defense mechanism. She knows she tries to live up to her promise. But Noor loves this girl. She loves her with an intensity that cannot be put into words. She misses her during the day and in between lonely moments at night. Standing in front of her only confirms that suspicion. She’s not feeling this worked up or frustrated or weirdly in love with Aiden. When Aiden’s around, she cares. But she doesn’t crave for him to be close. She doesn’t dream about him putting his hands on her. She doesn’t desire the taste of his lips. Not anymore. And even if she ever did, that feeling was never this strong, this persistent, this wanting and confronting. The things that Frankie does to her are transcendental. It comes from outer space. But she’s afraid. Afraid to leave every single aspect of her life behind. Afraid of what people will think and say — to lose her fans. To lose her career. She’s afraid to make a promise to Frankie. 

“Well, maybe we don’t,” Frankie quietly mumbles, pulling herself away from the warmth of Noor’s touch and the sensation of feeling her skin on hers. 

The blonde walks back toward the front door and contains herself from looking back. She enters the house and closes the door behind her. When she does, she falls back against the hard, dark wood and slowly lowers herself to the ground. The house smells like pancakes … and all she can do is cry.

“We have to go!” Ellie insists with determination in her voice that stretches across the entire hallway of their parents’ home.

“Why?” Frankie growls.

She’s seen plenty of concerts. Especially Noor’s. In fact, she was part of them. She experienced the entire length of the sensation, heard the fans scream, saw the girls cry and boys containing themselves from dancing just to appear cool. She has stepped away from music, from having fun to the rhythm of songs and moving to the beat. 

Plus, she hasn’t seen Noor since their little awkward encounter at the front door. It’s been twenty-six days. But now the singer has a new album, Forever. It skyrocketed on the charts and left all the other artists dazzled and confused. It’s supposed to be honest and emotional. Frankie wouldn’t know. She hasn’t listened to it, though Kennedy gave her a copy last week. Noor’s voice is magic. It’s purity and fragilely real. It’s like listening to your own struggles and insecurities while those struggles and insecurities grab a piece of wood and smack you in the face. Listening to it might break her heart. 

“Come on. Noor send me tickets. She asked me to drag you along.”

Frankie looks up to her little sister and shakes her head.

“Why don’t you just ask your boyfriend to join you? I bet that little sponge would love to hold your hand throughout ninety-nine percent of the romantic songs.”

Ellie just looks at her annoyed, but decides to smile: “What makes you think he wouldn’t a hundred percent?”

Just how the entire story of Frankie ending up at a concert with her other sister started, this one escalated exactly the same way. Nagging, begging, emotional blackmail — it all leads to Frankie moping in the passenger seat of Ellie’s car, on the way to the Music Hall Arena nearby. 

“I don’t think this is a good idea.”

Ellie turns to her and scoffs: “This is an amazing idea. You love music, Frankie. You’ve fought with mom and dad for years over it.”

Frankie stares out of the window into the nothingness. She sighs.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have.”

They park near the entrance — VIP parking privilege — and enter the large building which contains thousands of enthusiastic fans. Ellie buys them both a drink and leads the way to their seats. The place is dark and it’s bloody warm. Frankie wishes she was home. Mostly because she’ll loose all her resistance once Noor appears on that stage. The star will prove to be excellent and magnificent as usual. She’ll radiate beauty and geniality. And Frankie’s heart will falter. It’ll destroy its own-build walls around it. The blonde nervously inhales and exhales. She’s not ready for this.

The superstar enters through the ground, like she did before and the crowd goes wild. She starts the concert with her biggest hit ever, Crystal Lights. Everyone is screaming like crazy — Ellie is fanatically applauding every other second and blowing her vocal cords by yelling all childishly. And then there’s Frankie, being captivated by the vision of her beloved Noor, pacing up and down the massive and impressive stage, dancing along with the dancers — Frankie recognizes neither of them — and singing her heart out. Her moves are impeccable, her voice sounds angelic. The first hour passes and not one of the fans has stood still, not even during the more emotional and romantic songs. Frankie has watched them all, remembering what this used to do to her. She spots people dancing and enjoying themselves. She recognizes the sound of laughter and love. Ellie grabs her hand, making sure she’s okay. Frankie nods to assure her.

But then Noor has people reeling in a white piano on stage. She sits down on the little stool, which is shaped as a boombox, and clears her throat to talk to the audience. She does that a lot, you see. The singer likes to interact with them, let them know she’s aware of their support and ongoing appreciation of her belting out songs.

“So, this one is another one from the new album.”

The crowd immediately starts to scream and it makes her laugh. Frankie notices the cute dimples on the big screens that show her the zoomed in version of the superstar’s face. She’s all sweaty and red, but obviously, taking a break is something Noor never even considers. 

“I wrote this a while ago and at first, it wasn’t supposed to end up on Forever. But I insisted, because it means a lot to me.” 

The thousands of people are quiet now, all listening to the magical voice of their idol. Frankie looks at her with sad eyes.

“Do you guys know that feeling when you want to make a promise to someone, but you know you can’t?”

She holds a hand near her ear to hear the fans react and in return, there’s confirming cheering. Ellie faces Frankie, who’s just silently listening to the words echoing through the arena. Something tells her this isn’t just a song.

“Well,” Noor smiles after hearing the massive response. “I’ll think you will all be able to relate to this.”

She hits the first couple of notes and Frankie seems to remember them. It reminds her of that night at the hotel, when Noor was playing around with that ugly, plastic guitar.

“Those who bought the album, sing along. Those who haven’t — what are you guys even doing here?” the singer jokes to ease her own nerves.

She starts playing the piano like a professional and that makes Frankie smile at last. Apart from being a singer, Noor’s a talented musician and dancer as well. She’s the full package. The one who does it all and can’t be bothered with it. Her band plays along. There’s the silent participation of a guitar, a bass, drums and a trumpet. They meddle to form the perfect harmony. It’s slow, but not too slow. It’s calm, but still loud enough to get you hooked. It takes you to the perfect sunset on a beach, to the nights in bed when you listen to a thunderstorm, to the empty roads during car trips. To that day at the abandoned pool, on Frankie’s birthday. 

“The way we met, so transcendental, 

I guess I have my heart to blame.

Your careless voice, it drove me mental, 

a heartbeat’s never felt the same.

Had to touch, never stopped glancing, 

piercing eyes drove me insane.

Chased you down, ended up dancing, 

I took you out, you took the pain.

I drive around a million circles, 

think you came from outer space.

You make me laugh and act all crazy,

Lost something I can’t replace.

Know one day, I’ll make a promise,

I’ll be that hero that you need.

One day I’ll know what’s missing

by standing up — accept defeat.

See, we might never rule the world,

or find a kingdom at our feet.

But one day I’ll make a promise,

to be the only queen you’ll ever need.

You are fresh air, a nice surprise,

a side of me I did not know.

Blue and brown, just staring eyes,

As time goes by, the feelings grow.

Belong to him, shouldn’t be dreaming

dreams tell me to take it slow,

Fear breaks out, tears are streaming,

I’ll go wherever you will go.

I drive around a million circles, 

Think you came from outer space.

You make me laugh and act all crazy,

Lost something I can’t replace.

Know one day, I’ll make a promise,

I’ll be that hero that you need.

One day I’ll know what’s missing

by standing up — accept defeat.

See, we might never rule the world,

or find a kingdom at our feet.

But one day I’ll make a promise,

to be the only queen you’ll ever need.

Yeah, one day, I’ll make that promise.

I’ll be the hero.

I’ll be the queen, 

I’ll never leave.”

Frankie’s eyes are blood-red by the time the song ends. Her heart is racing like it’s about to burst from her chest, yet her entire body feels paralyzed. Ellie is looking at her, catching her breath repeatedly. There’s no coincidence when it comes to the lyrics. This is about them — about their journey — about all the conversations they’ve ever had. And the ones that never took place. More than that, the song sparked a feeling she thought that was lost. It made her feel the rhythm, the melody, the tragically perfect orchestrated combination of instruments and sheet music. It reminded her of the first time she ever danced in a music studio, the first time she met Noor. That morning they danced in the mansion/cabin and didn’t care about the world while it lasted. It took her back to Berlin and Brussels and Amsterdam. Noor’s birthday party. Her own.

The dancer finally manages to get up and decides to walk away. Ellie follows her lead, though she would’ve loved to finish the entire magnificence that is this concert. They get intruded on their way out by David, who seems both happy as frustrated to finally run into Frankie again after all this time.

“Frankie. How are you?”

They haven’t seen each other since it happened. He knows she’s been deeply impacted by the horrible accident months ago. He knew Miguel was her best friend. 

“I’m fine. I was just on my way out,” Frankie tells him, rubbing her eyes clean.

David nods compassionately and then softly smiles: “Could you do me a favor? Like, this one little thing, just for old times sake?”

Frankie briefly looks at Ellie and sighs. This is a trap. It must be.

“What is it?”

“The show will be done in a couple of minutes. I want you to do something for the dancers.”

“I’m not a dancer anymore,” she quickly informs him.

“I know. Which is a tragedy,” he smirks gently as he remembers her elegant moves.

“No, what happened was a tragedy. Me not dancing, that’s perfectly okay.”

Her comeback is raw and honest and David averts his sight from both girls. After a few seconds, Frankie seems to calm down. She frowns apologetic.

“What is it?”

“Noor has asked me to come and get you. To see if you showed up. She wants to talk to you for a second.”

Frankie quickly rejects the offer: “I don’t feel like talking to her. Tell her I said thanks for the tickets. The concert was great, as always. The songs are great too. But I have to go now.”

“Do it for the dancers,” he interrupts her as fast as he can, finally revealing the trap part. “You know how she is after a show. Without you, she’ll just freak out again, on her search for imperfection and flaws.”

Ellie frowns — not familiar with the release of adrenaline after a performance — and pokes Frankie hard.

“Come on, she got us tickets. She’s like Beyonce 2.0. You can’t say no to her.”

Frankie looks at her and scrunches her eyebrows: “I can.”

“Well, just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should,” Ellie reasons. “Now go, I’m sure David will hook me up with some backstage tickets as well.”

David looks at the lovely blonde and immediately starts to smile, all impressed. It shows that the girls are related. He reaches out his hand to her and promises to get her in if she just gives him a second. 

“I didn’t want to be here,” Frankie bravely confesses when she enters the dressing room. 

It smells like her. It looks like hers. It reminds her of every single dressing room she has had since they met. Noor is sitting in front of the massive mirror and stares at her through the reflection. She gasps, clearly surprised to see her face. Though part of Frankie’s annoyance was meant to sound funny, Noor isn’t sure how much David has pressured her to show up.

“You look great,” she tells her with a faint smile.

And with great, she means smoking hot. Frankie just smiles as if she has better things to do in life. She doesn’t. Noor gets up from her seat, retightens her bathrobe and walks over to her old friend. Her hand reaches out to touch the skin of the blonde, but Frankie quickly readjust her body to turn away. Noor insists, though, and calmly grasps onto her sleeve, only to lower her hand until their fingers are entwined. Frankie nervously sighs, as if it’s a burden to be this close. As if it cuts her in half. It hurts — physically — to feel the warmth of her body and she shakes her head desperately. 

“Don’t …” she whispers, almost a kind of begging.

But Noor’s other hand claps around her neck and she pulls her closer, until they are joined by their foreheads.

“I miss you,” the singer utters, nearly bursting into tears. “I miss you so much.”

Her heart is pounding like crazy and it’s not the only one. She moves in to kiss the dancer’s lips, but Frankie gently pulls back. Kissing her would make it impossible to walk away.

Noor’s not done yet. She moves her head up and down, caressing Frankie’s skin with it, making her absolutely aware she’s here — that they’re here. In it. Together. Feeling these feelings. And no matter how far they seem to run away from it, it always comes back to slap them across the face. It is now.

Words resurface in her mind. The ones she scribbled down in her MoodBook just hours ago.

‘If you don’t know if they’ll go or they’ll stay, it’s easier to just push them away.’

It’s a lie.

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