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Frankie at Work – Chapter 11: Tragedy Strikes

Chapter Eleven — Tragedy Strikes


The earth stands still as tragedy hits the stage. Kennedy has Frankie’s hand in hers, while her dark eyes remain closed. There’s dust and clatter, there are noises and at the same time — a deafening silence. People are screaming in panic while all Frankie can do is stare around in confusion. A loud bang, that’s what shook the arena up. A loud, overruling thunder above their heads, as the dancers finished the last of the rehearsal in their sweat-soaked outfits. Frankie looks up and stares at the ceiling. It’s the place were all the lights and boxes hang from wires and ropes. It’s the place where metal constructions are aligned to orchestrate the concert. Tomorrow the tour will kick off. Tomorrow the entire circus will start again. And now there’s nothing but chaos and anxiety filling up the place. 

She snaps out of her infatuation once Kennedy pulls her aside. Her face is covered in smuts of grease and blood — such a weird combination.

“Are you okay?” the girl wonders, while putting both hands on Frankie’s bruised face with concern.

The blonde turns around and nods, suddenly searching for familiar faces. Her body hurts. Something might have hit her. Her eye feels bruised.

“Noor?” she stutters, suddenly overcome with fear.

“Noor’s not here, remember? Are you hurt? Did something hit you? What the hell happened?”

Kennedy looks up to the sky and heaves a panicking sigh. The stage collapsed. Out of nowhere, after all those hours of dancing, the stage collapsed. Like the sky fell down on them. The majority of the dancers are draped across the floor, which is now partly caved in. Kennedy lets go of Frankie’s hand and starts walking around the place, jumping over rolling bars and broken boxes that came falling from the sky. They were dancing, just a second ago — and now there’s tragedy. 

“Miguel,” Frankie suddenly remembers as she starts taking her first steps. “Where’s Miguel?”

Kennedy’s pulling people from under the ruins and stops to look at her, but she hasn’t got an answer to give. People are screaming, some are crying. In the corner of the room, Frankie notices Cameron, with a heavy bar pressuring down his upper body. She runs over to him, coughs through the dust and puts her warm hands on his face. He’s tearing up with pain and she’s afraid there’s nothing she can do to help him. This bar looks heavy. She gets up and tries to lift it — but fails. There’s no way in life she’ll be able to lift this thing. That’s when she starts shouting names to ask for help. Some of the dancers that got away with a couple of bruises and scratches quickly arrive. They join to lift the heavy metal from Cameron’s body and once’s he’s free, his real tears kick in. Maybe he’s overwhelmed with fear. Or happiness that he didn’t suffer worse.

“Where’s Miguel?” Frankie asks him, too overcome with concern to focus on his injuries.

Sirens reverberate in the background. The police and the fire department must be on their way. No wonder — the sound that came from the collapse was immense. All around them, there’s hysteria and madness. Frankie has never felt this lost in a crowd — so alone and distanced. 

“Where is he?” she pleads, as she turns her head around to find his face between all the others.

He’s not there and Cameron can’t tell her. He hasn’t seen Miguel in a while. She turns to a redhead, Jennifer, but she hasn’t got a clue either. No one does. Suddenly, in between all the drama and hysteria, Kennedy’s voice transcends everything. Frankie looks up to find her standing across the stage, across the large gap and the tons of materials. It seems so far away.

“He’s here!” Kennedy shouts at her pointing at the gap in the floor. “Miguel’s here.”


A silent knock on the door doesn’t make her look up once. When the door opens and Noor enters the cold room like a thief in the night, Frankie doesn’t move a muscle. All she can do is stare at the nothingness in front of her. At the endless sky streaming in through the hospital window. Her mind and body feel numb, though every time she moves a muscle, her entire body hurts. There are bandages wrapped around her head. There’s a bandaid on her upper arm and one near her collar bone. Noor walks over to her, with a stoic face and eyes that reflect a scared animal in front of headlights, and sits down next to her on the bed. She lays her hands carefully on Frankie’s bruised cheeks and heaves the most troubling sigh. The singer’s been worried sick about her. The second she heard about the stage disaster, she jumped in her car and raced straight to the hospital. It was dress rehearsal today. She was supposed to join them later, in an hour or two. The last one before the tour will start tomorrow. But that all didn’t matter after the news reached her ears. Because all Noor could think about was Frankie. Whether she was save. Whether she was hurt. Whether something hit her. She cried in the car. She was hysterical and she didn’t know how to handle her feelings. She drove faster than she ever did and nothing about it felt wrong. Because she would’ve gone even faster if she could. Something stopped her on the way to the reception after the pictures of the stage on some of her employers’ phones left her breathless. And that something was Kennedy. The girl grasped her hand and abruptly ended the hurried pace of her boss.

“Where is she?” Noor demanded to know without once wondering if the girl in front of her was all right. “Where’s Frankie?” 

“She’s in room 417,” Kennedy stuttered, exhausted and worn out. “Have you heard?”

Noor turned around all confused and scrunched her eyebrows. She saw all of her friends and colleagues. They were cramped up in this small room — all with bandages and bandaids or crutches to support their hurt bodies. It made her choke up. She had never seen such a scenery.

“Heard what?” she muttered .


Frankie hasn’t said a word since Noor walked in and the singer doesn’t know what to do about it. Her lean fingers stroke the pale, dirty skin of the girl next to her for the third time. They are sitting on a squeaky bed. This place seems worlds apart from the chaos Frankie just escaped from.

“Are you okay?”

It’s the softest voice that ever reverberated, filled with fear and sadness. Frankie finally faces her and leans her face into the caressing of Noor’s fingers for a while. Her eyes are closed, but the singer detects hurt and confusion. How can she help her? What can she do? There must be something.

“Frankie.”

When she says her name, those shivers return. The same shivers that run up and down her body. It’ll never change.

“Are you okay?”

Frankie then nods. She swallows down her lost tears.

“I’m fine,” she whispers.

But as the words leave her body. She fights back the hurt in her muscles and skin.

“Fine,” she repeats, less convincing.

She closes her eyes for a second and sighs away her frustration. Not a painkiller in the world could fix this right now.

“I’m fine,” she ultimately says as she clears her throat and sniffles.

Noor runs some fingers up and down her face, gently wiping away traces of dirt and grease. She softly touches the redness where Frankie must have bled a few minutes ago. It kills Noor to just think about it. 

Her act isn’t fooling anyone. Miguel died. Miguel died on that stage. He’s the only casualty. The only person tragically hit in the head that didn’t survive. Of all people, Frankie’s very best friend.

“That bad, huh, honey?” Noor concludes in a soft voice.

Her favorite girl in the world flashes heartbreaking eyes. Noor just broke her wall. 

“Yes.”

She bends forward and buries her body in the comforting arms of the woman she loves. The woman she hasn’t talked to in a while, the one she’s treaded badly and acted all distant to. Because it was for the best. It was a way of dealing with her feelings and the fact she’ll never be with her. It was to protect Noor and her career. That’s when she starts to cry uncontrollably. Being in Noor’s embrace has that effect on her. She’s allowed to let it all out — worse: she can’t help it. The dark-haired beauty doesn’t judge or talk. She just holds her tightly and soothes the loud, hiccuping and devastating sounds of the blonde. 

“Can we, just, not act all distant right now?” Frankie begs her a minute later, after her first wave of emotions have passed. “Can we just talk and support each other and forget about the fact that I have feelings for you and I’m being this really big bitch about it, just for a second? For one night? Because I really, really need my best friend right now to talk to and it’s like … I’m missing you so hard. I miss you every single second you are not near. And not being able to talk to you is … it’s the worst thing that ever happened to me. And I really need you right now.”

Noor nods. She feels the same way. Frankie tried to live up to her promise. She tried to stay away after their little talk in Frankie’s backyard. It was so hard. So devastatingly hard. But they managed. 

“Okay,” Noor says quietly. “I’m here.”

Frankie breaks down in pieces, right in front of her eyes. And Noor doesn’t need to pick them up or glue them back together. She just ignores the brokenness and sees her for the complete person that she is. The singer holds her while she cries her heart out — she holds her tight and doesn’t say a word for hours. It’s the thing you are only able to do with people you entrust your heart to.

Neither of the girls know how much time has passed when Frankie sits back up and leaves Noor’s comforting arms. The superstar wipes the tears away with some fingers and smiles — even if it is to make Frankie seem less sad. It’s not working, though.

“What do you want? Tell, me! Whatever it is, I’ll get it for you and it’ll make you feel better. Just … what do you want?” she wonders.

She’s willing to fly her around the world if that’s what it takes. Or home. She could fly her home to her parents and sisters. They are hours away from here.

Frankie blinks a few times and looks numbed and sedated at once. Her phone’s been buzzing like crazy, but Kennedy took care of most of the panicking calls for her the first hour. After a moment of silence, she stares right at her. She feels it in her bones. She feels it in her heart and head. There’s only one answer. One that will do all her feelings justice. One that shouldn’t be said but is dying to come out.

“I want you.” 

It’s so quiet and soft that Noor could’ve easily misheard.

“I want you,” Frankie whispers while the tragedy of her words invade her heart. “I’ve always wanted you.”

Noor closes her eyes briefly and inhales sharp strings of air. 

“Wait, Frankie. I thought we settled this — that we were waiting or stopping  or — that this was …”

The blonde nods and swallows deeply, which hurts as well. She thought that too. But then again, she thought a lot of things just a few hours ago. And yet, everything has changed. Abruptly, suddenly, without a warning. Life was easy and careless. It revolved around dancing and working. She stepped back from Noor and blurred her mind with other things. Noor kept her careless life, Frankie kept dancing. But then the stage collapsed. Miguel died. The world changed. Perspective changed.

“Well, I thought that too,” Frankie says. 

She’s fighting back the tears but keeps her cool at the same time. 

“I thought I could get over it. But’s it’s grown to be much more serious to just flirt and play anymore. I am jealous of every second he gets to spend with you. And I’m going crazy just thinking about you sleeping next to him instead of me.”

Noor puts her hand on the rising chest in front of her.

“Frankie …”

She cannot do this right now. The adrenaline is speaking. Not one single person of their entourage is thinking clearly now. Not even Noor. She might just say yes. She might just give Aiden up in the blink of an eye after today’s events if Frankie keeps talking. That scares her tremendously. The dancer looks at her and holds onto the hand that’s touching the skin close to her heart. 

“I have fallen in love with you. Hard. Like, falling from the sky, missing all the branches of the tree to break my fall on my way down, smack to death on a concrete floor instead of a trampoline kind of hard. And I don’t want to play anymore. But I know I should. I have to.”

The confession takes the singer’s breath away. Her heart is racing and her senses are going wild. She has never heard anyone being so honest and brutally confronting. Because everything she just heard, it reflects her own feelings. It’s the exact same spell infecting her body and soul. She’s in love with Frankie too. She might have been from the second she laid eyes on her. It took her a while to figure it out, but there’s no denying it. Not anymore. 

“Frankie, I’m …”

Noor’s just stuttering words. They are unordered and spontaneous and confusing. Frankie notices.

“I know. I know, it’s … I have to go.”

Frankie tries to get up, but Noor stops her by getting up herself and pushing the dancer back down. Her face is overcome with expressions of pain. She must have been hit hard.

“No,” Noor gently tells her, while keeping her hand just a little longer on that bruised skin. “You stay. I’ll have someone pick up your family. They’ll be here in a few hours, okay? Just stay in this bed …”

Her voice breaks for the smallest second, so she needs to pick herself up again to continue. 

“… and get better and sleep until they arrive. Please, Frankie, do that for me? Promise me.”

Frankie closes her eyes and refrains from bursting into tears. She nods and turns away from Noor to inhale deeply. Noor bends forward and kisses her temple with so much love it might just be the sweetest gesture in the world. It might be her confession of love. She’s dying to, but she can’t tell her. She can’t tell her she feels the same. Because of her career. Because of Aiden. Because of her marriage. Her vows. Frankie’s promise. That talk in the backyard.

“I can’t be your best friend anymore, can I?” she wonders, after softly caressing the face she once kissed so fiercely. 

It tasted great. It still tastes great in her memory.

“No,” Frankie mutters, averting from her. “I don’t think you can.”

Noor pulls her hand back and realizes where this has ended up. This thing she has with Frankie, it’s epic. It’s the purest thing she’s ever experienced. And in order to be able to get passed that, she must walk away — don’t treat her as her best friend anymore. It’ll tear her apart, because those feelings are so very strong. It’s the only option. They both realize that. It took a tragedy to accept the truth.

“I don’t think I can either.”


The tour ends before it even starts. Noor cancels the four-month journey across the world. Tickets are returned and refunded. Fans are disappointed, but understanding. The dancers split the entourage as if they were never part of it. Some of them got bad enough injuries to never professionally dance again. Miguel gets buried on a rainy Thursday morning and it’s the saddest damn thing in the world. Frankie cries throughout the entire ceremony, while Noor seems a million miles away from her. Except she’s not. She’s standing two rows behind her, watching her every move, every shake of her shoulders going up and down from crying. It’s breaking her heart and there’s nothing she can do to make it better. Aiden holds his wife’s hand to comfort her, but Noor realizes she’s too worried about Frankie to cry herself. 

Frankie resigns as a background dancer and doesn’t even call Noor to inform her. The singer gets over that disappointment rather fast. She understands that Frankie’s grieving. Noor is on a media turmoil of interviews and expressing her sentiment for the family of her deceased dancer. Tabloids post the horrible pictures of the stage. The management sues the arena and the stage builders. They win. Miguel’s relatives receive a large amount of money to ease their pain. But will it ever? Noor ultimately returns to the studio to create her new album. It’ll be paced down and emotional, to honor the tragedy that hit her world tour. Noor doesn’t tell the world press that it’ll be to write off the pain of missing Frankie too. She’s missing her with every heartbeat and every second that passes — and there is absolutely nothing she can do about it.

Months pass and Noor still hasn’t heard from that pretty blonde that shook up her entire life. Her life seems meaningless and directed by others. Aiden is being a perfect husband. David drags her from photoshoots to arenas, but it doesn’t feel real anymore. Singing for all those fans is different now. It’s not as important anymore as seeing Frankie smile. As knowing she’s safe and happy. If only she were happy.

Somehow, she hoped the girl would’ve reached out to her by now. That she’d be missing her as well. Aiden gets to see her on occasions. They attend sports games and meet when he’s in town. It’s like Noor’s being left out on purpose. And nobody even notices.

Her house feels deserted. Frankie no longer spends nights in the spare bedroom anymore. She doesn’t roam the halls of the arenas with her underwear on her head to make others laugh. They don’t sleep in the same bed anymore. Noor can’t sleep at all, at night.


“Are you having fun?”

Aiden turns his head to a numbed Frankie and pokes her shoulder playfully. She looks up and smiles — faintly. 

“This is great. Thank you.”

He frowns in a disappointed way: “You don’t really burst from enthusiasm. Want to get out of here?”

“No,” Frankie insists while turning back to the baseball game happening in front of them. “It’s good to be out here.”

Aiden offers her some chips, but she kindly declines. Her mind’s not at this game. Her mind’s with Miguel. It happened six months ago this day. It’s almost an anniversary. They watch the game in silence and as time passes, Frankie downs more and more cups of beer. She’s getting buzzed and likes the feeling of not caring that much anymore. Aiden is worried, but he lets her. He understands that she needs this, especially today. When the game ends, a line of paparazzi welcomes them at the exit. He supports her body with his strong arms as he charmingly waves at the gathered photographers. Nobody notices just how drunk his mate is. 

“Don’t you hate that your life is directed by strangers?” she asks.

He just nods.

It’s late at night when he puts her to bed. For a while, he sits at her side, patiently waiting for her to fall asleep. June walks in after work and nearly scares herself to death when she sees him through the open door of Frankie’s bedroom. He just puts his index finger on his lips to shush her. Frankie’s eyes just closed. They are wet from crying. It broke his heart. When he leaves the room and pulls the door silently into its lock, June’s startled expression amuses him.

“Hi, I’m not sure we met appropriately. I’m Aiden Stonewell.”

“I know,” the brunette mutters. “I’m June.”

It makes him smile. 

“What happened? Did she get drunk again?”

It sounds demeaning and criticizing. He now understands why Frankie calls their relationship fractured. 

“She lost a friend. She went through a terrible thing. A whole stage collapsed on top of her. She’s allowed to act out for a little while.”

But June disagrees: “Frankie’s no saint. She’s always been the dysfunctional one of the family. Never really has a job, always out until sunrise, terrible taste in girlfriends, …”

Aiden walks past her, heading toward the front door. His blood is starting to boil. Frankie does have a job — or at least she had. She was a professional dancer for the biggest star in the music industry. Despite that, she chose to educate children in her free time and help out at her sister’s restaurant whenever she could. She trained every single day to perfect her dancing skills. There’s nobody who works harder than his friend, maybe not even Noor.

“Not everyone is perfect, June,” he tells her, embracing his own mistakes and flaws before holding on to the handle. “Doesn’t mean they stopped trying to make the best of it.”

He shuts the door behind him after wishing her a good night’s rest. June aims her sight at the locked doors surrounding her. Great, now he thinks she’s an ass. 


“Morris! Get up!”

It’s late at night when Aiden stands in front of her. She’s positioned on the floor, outside a trendy club in midtown. Her dazzled eyes look up and she recognizes him eventually. He’s not angry or upset, he’s just worried. His arms go searching for hers, so he can get her off the ground. It took her an hour before she realized there was no way she’d be able to get home on her own. All her friends left hours ago, Kennedy didn’t even join. When she grabbed her phone, she automatically went searching for the name she adores. Noor. Her fingers almost pressed the green button. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. Calling Noor now would’ve broken her completely. She felt messed up enough already. God, she misses her. She misses her with every breath she takes, every second that passes. She misses her voice and the way she chuckles whenever Frankie’s acting all goofy. The only thing keeping her close are the pictures in tabloids. Pictures of her at events or concerts. Photoshoots for famous brands and interviews. Pictures with fans. But that’s nothing compared to the memory of touching her skin — of kissing her lips. 

Frankie ultimately ended up calling the husband. A for effort. He’s been her buddy for the last couple of months, the one that drags her along with his friends to sports events and great parties. But Aiden’s getting tired. There’s work. Acting is a demanding job. And Noor requires a lot of his time as well, now that he’s behaving so perfectly. They go out to fancy restaurants, take romantic walks in the mountains or strut the red carpets while holding hands. It’s painfully visible for Frankie. Every page she turns is a scrapbook of the relationship she cannot have — the one her best friend has. With her other best friend. There used to be Miguel. He’s gone too. All because of her ridiculous obsession with Noor. Her obsession with dancing and making it in that industry. Her obsession to include him in her dreams. Now he’s dead. 

She wrote in her MoodBook this evening, right before she headed out the door and got wasted. ‘You left — and you took everything from me with you.’ She wasn’t really sure who she was talking about.

Aiden pulls her up and guides her to his car. Photographers snap some pictures and he kindly ask them to stop. They don’t listen. After he hits the road, Frankie turns her head to him.

“Thank you.”

“No problem,” he says.

It remains quiet for a while. Frankie’s trying really hard not to throw up in this million dollar car. Well, maybe it’s not that expensive. Aiden looks at her and sighs. There must be a way to cheer her up — to lighten up the mood. He clears his throat and blinks a few times. He was fast asleep when she called him. Noor jumped up in a panic, wondering whoever dared to call at such an unholy hour. He said it was Frankie, which shut her up immediately. After the call ended, he explained what happened. Frankie was drunk and lost. She didn’t know how to get home. Noor begged him to go get her. When he suggested she should join him, the singer declined. Aiden just nodded and turned his head away from her.

“I met June after I drove you home and put you to bed last week. Must say, she’s quite the character. Are you sure you’re related?” he asks.

Frankie smirks and faces the street lanterns.

“I’ve had my doubts,” she says calmly. “But mom insists it wasn’t the milkman.”

Aiden pats her leg to offer some comfort. She apologizes once more for dragging him out of bed, but he says it’s fine once more.

“Mind if I ask … Why didn’t you call your parents? Or your sisters? Noor once told me you were a close family.”

“We’re close and at the same time, we’re not,” Frankie tells him. “We hang out a lot, spend every Christmas and holiday together. We gather to talk about work and gossip about other relatives. But it’s not like I share my emotions. Maybe with Ellie, but that’s it. The truth is, they make a great family as long as I’m not there.”

“What does that mean?” Aiden wonders as he switches driving lanes and checks his rear-view mirror.

“I’m the special one. But not in a remarkable way,” Frankie explains with a soft voice and small eyes. “I’m the sister that doesn’t fit in because she can’t bring herself to talk about fashion or gossip, and instead, rather talks about culture or parties. We’re miles and miles apart, but this family thing, it keeps us together. It’s a rope that has us enchained and no matter what, our surname, our legacy, our family tradition keeps us tied to it. There’s no way escaping it. I’m the lonely one. The one that peeps from the corner, the one who doesn’t understand what the hell keeps them entertained. And because they are family, I’m never allowed to leave them. So they are kind of my charity event every week. I keep going back to them, even though nothing — not a single, freaking state of mind — keeps me connected to them. And despite all of that: I love them.”

Aiden nods and thinks about his own family. Families are never perfect. Still, you fight for them. Because if you don’t even fight for those related by blood, what’s the point, right?

Frankie’s concentrating really hard to keep her breathing controlled. It’ll keep the nausea away as much as possible. Her friend sees her stoic expression, notices how she keeps her eyes closed. His fingers press a button and her window lowers a little bit.

“Fresh air might help,” he explains.

His mind is wandering. It brings him to places where he never thought to see his friend. She’s messed up right now. She’s seriously hurting. And this isn’t helping. For a while, he thought it was fine. Acting out sometimes help to process things. But after a while, it has to stop. She hasn’t even danced in months. Not a single move, not a little twirl. She backed away from it without any explanation or reasoning. It might remind her too much of her childhood years, where she frantically practiced every day in her room, with the enthusiastic and funny Miguel by her side. 

“This is the third time this month I have to come and pick you up in such a state,” he says. “See, Frankie, I don’t care if you want to go out until sunrise and get hammered. I’m not your father. I don’t care if you get lost on your way home and you have to call me in the middle of the night. I don’t care that this is your way of mourning. It’s your right to go crazy and wild over what happened.”

He pushes the gear shift and stares into the darkness of the night. That’s when he lowers his head briefly before opening his mouth again.

“I don’t even care if you’re sleeping with her,” he calmly adds.

Frankie looks up to him with wide eyes. Her heart stops beating instantly. What did he just say?

He swallows disoriented and shakes his head: “Or maybe I do. I don’t know. Noor and I — we’ve come a long way. I screwed up plenty of times. But I love her, okay? I adore her. She’s my wife. I can’t imagine my life without her. I won’t survive. Please don’t take her away from me.”

Frankie’s too ashamed and overcome with surprise to even say a thing. She just stares at him, feeling utterly disgusted by her own actions. Suddenly, the nausea returns. After a couple of seconds, she heaves a troubled sigh. How can she ever say the right thing?

“I’m not sleeping with her,” she says. 

Frankie’s not even sure if she’s telling the truth. Apart from that one-time-event at Noor’s birthday, they didn’t actually have sex again. But whatever they were doing might be so much worse. 

“I know she loves you,” Aiden resumes with a soft voice, as if it’s the most natural conversation in the world. “She’s crazy about you. I see it when you’re at the house. It took me a while to realize what’s going on. Her eyes light up when she sees you. Her mood changes drastically whenever you enter the room. She cries when she misses you. I get it. You’re one of my best friends. I could fall in love with you in an instant. But you have to realize that, as long as you’re around, Noor can’t love me too. And she needs to love me. We made a vow. I promised to forever stand by her side and I intend on doing that. I sobered up, changed my ways, I haven’t flirted with a girl in months, you know that. It’s not even a big deal, because I have her. So I want you to leave her alone, Frankie. I am asking you very politely to leave my wife alone — to save my marriage. Could you do that?”

She’s sitting in the passenger seat of his black SUV. He just got out of bed at two a.m. to pick her up after a desperate call. He’s driving her all the way home, just because she asked. He’s a good friend to her. He’s a great friend, actually. Never has he ever disappointed her in this relationship — and look at her, betraying him in the worst way possible.

“Okay,” she whispers.

It’s done. They don’t say another word after that anymore. Noor texts her that night to see if she’s okay. Frankie turns off her phone.


 

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Frankie at Work – Chapter 10: Breakfast

Chapter Ten — Breakfast


The look in her eyes could convince Noor of everything. The girls get dressed into their disgusting outfits again and call a cab. Frankie uses the towel to keep the cut from bleeding excessively while directing her precious superstar out of the hotel room. The driver takes them to a nearby town, where little colorful houses rise from the ground every other street.

“Where are we?” Noor wonders, more sober than she has been all evening.

The bleeding must have shocked her back into reality. By now, her hand is starting to hurt and sting. She’s staring at the blood-soaked towel without blinking. It’s her guitar hand. Her guitar hand can’t get messed up. She puts her head on Frankie’s shoulder and heaves a moaning sigh.

The taxi stops in front of a green wooden house after a twenty minute drive. They pay the guy, get out and Frankie walks straight to the front door to ring the bell. It’s after midnight by now and Noor has no idea where Frankie took her. The door opens after a couple of seconds and a tired-looking woman immediately flashes a welcoming smile.

“Happy birthday!.”

The voice reminds Noor of Frankie’s. Their faces even look the same. Frankie turns around and entwines their fingers.

“Noor, this is my mom. Mom, this is Noor.”

The woman has curly blonde hair and blue eyes. She reaches out her hand as soon as she sees the blood dripping down the fragile girl’s arm.

“Good evening, sweetheart. Did you hurt yourself? Come in, I’ll take care of it.”

It’s the first time in a long while that someone new treated her as an actual person instead of a superstar. They enter the house and Noor is just utterly confused. When Frankie’s mom disappears in a nearby room to grab some medical equipment, the singer’s eyes beg for an explanation.

“She’s a nurse. No cameras here.”

Frankie thought it through. No one will ever know what happened. Noor’s thankful for that. The adorable woman returns with a little box in her hand and sits down at the dinner table. She’s suggesting Noor should follow her lead. While she glues the girl up — literally, she’s holding a tube that glues the wound back together — she lets the singer in on her admiration for her work and music. Noor immediately starts blushing.

“You know that Frankie loves working for you, right? She’s always talking about you.”

Now it’s Frankie’s turn to blush.

“Okay, mom, that’s enough,” she chuckles while sitting down next to her dear friend and averting her eyes with shame.

“I’m always talking about her as well,” Noor admits, while reaching for her friend’s hand under the table.

The blonde can’t help but glance at her beauty from the corner of her eyes. A very observant mom is registering the action. They all focus on the miracle work the lady’s performing. In a matter of minutes, Noor’s hand looks clean and healthy again. Cotton pads with blood color the table, but that’s okay.

“Just keep the bandage on for a few days. It’ll be all right.”

Frankie almost looks nostalgic as she heaves a relieved sigh.

“Mom used to patch us up all the time. Although we’re four girls, we used to behave like boys.”

Her mom frowns and growls: “Yes. Especially you and June, always climbing trees and acting all dangerous.”

“You and June were close as children?” Noor wonders while softly caressing the white bandage around her hand.

Frankie nods and shrugs short after: “We were. We still are, just — in a different way.”

The front door swipes open and Frankie’s dad makes his appearance. He’s a skinny guy with dark hair and brown eyes. Frankie looks nothing like him, but suddenly, Noor finds the resemblance to June. He’s warm and welcoming too, but in a masculine way. After ten minutes, he actually offers the superstar a beer. She kindly declines and goes for a glass of water. Frankie’s mom suggests the girls stay the night since there are enough bedrooms and quickly returns with fresh towels and pajamas from when Frankie was younger. The family reunion lasts another hour, where Frankie’s parents do nothing but ask Noor questions about how their daughter is performing at work. The singer has nothing but good words for them. She goes on and on about how she enlightens the spirit of the group, how her moves are enchanting and how she couldn’t imagine life without her best friend anymore. Every single time they sneak a loving peek at each other, Frankie’s mom suppresses an adoring smile. Mom and dad leave the room to clean up and as Frankie turns around, she finds Noor staring into the distance. At photographs, at drawings and letters.

“What is it? Does it hurt?”

Noor lowers her look and finds her hand, but it’s fine. That painkiller she got a minute ago is working.

“It’s just nice,” she explains in a low voice. “I always forget what it feels like, having a family.”

Frankie looks back at the kitchen door and nods: ”Yeah, it ’s nice. But it gets crazy once all my sisters are here. Like, crazy-crazy.”

Noor smiles and puts her head on Frankie’s shoulder.

“I can imagine that,” she whispers while yawning. “Let’s go to bed.”

They get up and put their chairs back in place. At the same time, Frankie’s mom reappears.

“Off to bed? We’re turning in as well. Will you girls stay for breakfast tomorrow? It’ll be for your birthday.”

Noor nods and thanks the lady in advance. When Frankie’s dad walks into the room, shirt already yanked out of his pants, he calls it a night. Frankie kisses his cheek and her friend does the same out of politeness. The lady of the house holds them both in a tight embrace before disappearing a minute later.

Once in the childhood bedroom, the girls start to giggle over the nostalgia. There are posters everywhere, though the room seems divided in two parts.

“This was my half. That one’s Ellie’s.”

Frankie points at the one with fluffy animals, the pink bed sheets and beach boys posters. Noor smirks: it looks exactly like hers when she was little. At Frankie’s side, she finds sports attributes and dancing trophies. Black sheets. Figures …

The girls put on their pajamas and seem to have forgotten about what almost happened a few hours ago at the hotel room. It might be wise not to mention it for now. After Frankie crawled under her warm, thick blanket, she turns around to find a confused Noor in the middle of the room, staring at her.

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t sleep,” Noor whispers while rubbing her injured hand.

She’s looking around the room as if she’s confused and scared.

“You want to sleep here?” the dancer hesitantly wonders.

Maybe she shouldn’t have asked. It’s a bad idea. Plus, the bed’s too small.

“I don’t know. I can’t sleep in the same bed with you because I know something might happen.”

Frankie smirks. That’s the understatement of the year. She sighs.

“Well, you have Ellie’s bed.”

“I know, it’s just … I’m not sure I want to do that.”

The blonde frowns and clears her throat. Her friend is acting weird. Even more than ever.

“Then sleep on the couch.”

She did a lot when she was younger. It’s a great couch.

But Noor shakes her head slowly: “I don’t want to sleep on the couch.”

“So, you do want to sleep with me?”

The circle goes full round.

“Yes,” Noor admits. “But I shouldn’t.”

A shaky voice fails to sound convincing: “No, you shouldn’t.”

Noor puts down her phone and walks over to Ellie’s old bed. She hides under the sheets and turns her head toward the wall, not facing Frankie for once. Minutes pass and nothing is being said anymore. Frankie drifts off and her body falls into a sleep-induced coma. But then something wakes her up again. When she turns her head briefly, she finds Noor shifting under the sheets behind her. She must have snuck up on her just now and crawled into the same bed. Her warm hands are being put on the tiny waist in front of her, while her feet search for contact at the bottom of the bed. She needs to be close. She needs to feel her while she can.

“Please, Frankie, don’t try to kiss me,” she begs with a voice that displays a wide range of emotions and anxiety. “I won’t be able to stop myself once you kiss me.”

Her warm breaths cause goosebumps on Frankie’s neck.

She just swallows: “Okay.”

Noor traces circles on her bare arm, then they slide around her waist, to the piece of skin sneaking from underneath her shirt. Her legs go up and down, along Frankie’s bare thighs. They silently pant — which is painfully loud in a dark room. They hug, and it’s as far as they can allow themselves to go. Noor traces Frankie’s entire shape. From her shoulders, over her arms, over her tummy and her hips to the top of her knees. It’s the most loving and erotic thing the dancer ever experienced. Heated lips place a desiring kiss on the pale skin, but Frankie holds on to her promise to not kiss her back. After that, Noor buries her head in her back and sighs.

“Good night, Frankie.”

She said her name. For the first time in a while, she actually said her name. The blonde puffs the frustration away and calms herself down before answering.

“Good night, Noor.”

An hour passes and this time, she can’t relax enough to fall asleep again. Noor’s lying next to her, too close and too intimate. Her body’s pressed up against her back and it feels like a promise. She turns around, quietly and slow, so it won’t wake her up. Two of her fingers wipe back some lost hairs that fell down Noor’s perfect face. She looks adorable while she’s asleep.

“You may want to be with him,” a soft voice whispers through the night. “You may wake up and fall asleep next to him whenever I’m not around. You may choose to love him more than you love me. But remember: if you ever need me, I’ll come running. And he’ll never be faster than me.”

She turns her head back and closes her eyes. A troubled sigh leaves her lungs and at last, her body accepts defeat. It’s worn out and tired. It drifts away once more. That’s when Noor opens her eyes secretively. She smiles the most heartbreaking smile ever.


Morning madness takes over the Morris’ house. All the daughters reunite after mom called them up. It’s Sunday and Sunday usually translates into family day — minus the boyfriends. Except for Frankie, who’s usually busy doing whatever it is to avoid these kind of events. But it’s Frankie’s special birthday breakfast. It’s mandatory. After Noor’s been enthusiastically introduced into the household and all the sisters take a turn at fangirling, they sit down at the massive dinner table to enjoy a delicious breakfast. Noor eats some fruit and freshly baked pancakes and Frankie can’t help but smile, because she’s too ashamed to ask for a big bowl of coffee instead. The dancer offered, but Noor insists she’ll eat some food instead.

“What happened to your hand?” Ellie wonders.

Noor looks down at the bandage and turns red instantly. That’s when Frankie starts to laugh.

“We went skateboarding at the Memorial Pool, broke through the fence, climbed down that shaky ladder, checked into a hotel to have a party and just as she’s about to get into bed, she cuts her hand at her cocktail glass.”

Her family chuckles and Noor thinks it’s adorable. She turned it into a funny thing, thank God. When out of nowhere, Frankie’s mom suggests that Noor should entertain them with a song after breakfast, Frankie interrupts her.

“Mom, come on. She’s here as a guest. Don’t ask her that.”

It seems rude to her. But Noor doesn’t mind. She puts her hand on the blonde’s and shushes her.

“It’s okay.”

Ellie, Cece and June turn their eyes at the affectionate gesture. They’ve been examining the interaction of these two ladies from the second they walked in.

“Of course Noor’s a guest. She walked into this house in the middle of the night, slept in one of my children’s beds, had breakfast with us at our family table — all after I professionally and discretely fixed her hand. She wouldn’t mind singing a little song later, would she?” mommy Morris explains in a very empowering way.

Everyone starts to smile like crazy, while Noor just turns her head to her friend.

“Is your mom emotionally blackmailing me right now?” she asks with joy lighting up her face.

Frankie briefly nods: “She does that a lot. And she’s not sorry.”

When they both face the mom, she nods: “Not sorry.”

Noor can’t help but love this moment. This insane, super busy collusion of togetherness and carefree interaction. Even Frankie seems to enjoy herself. A buzzing phone makes the table vibrate. It’s Noor’s. It has been doing so for a half an hour. First it was David — Noor declined. Then her publicist tried to get a hang of her — she declined again. When David called a second time, she texted him she was in the middle of an important meeting and Frankie smiled as Noor showed her the words on her screen. Now, it’s Aiden’s name that’s lighting up. The girls’ careless smiles falter and after an awkward stare at each other, Noor excuses herself from the group to walk into the backyard, wearing nothing but Frankie’s pajama pants and an oversized T-shirt.

“She’s a pretty girl,” the mother of the family speaks up as Frankie watches her every move through the window. “And she’s very lovely.”

The sisters aim their view at that one person that should feel addressed. The blonde looks up and shyly smiles, without saying a word.

“Who’s on the phone?” June asks, with enough snark in her voice to immediately make Frankie’s blood boil.

“It’s Aiden. I think he just got back from Europe.”

Her dad delivers the words she doesn’t want to hear: “They make such a cute couple. Always parading down the red carpets and looking all beautiful. It’s nice to see that in this day and age, a young, happily married couple.”

From a distance, Frankie notices the painful look on Noor’s face as she’s ending the call. Her body doesn’t move, it just stays frozen to the spot in the backyard. One hand slips in front of her eyes to block everything out. Noor’s struggling, that much is obvious. It might be guilt, or confusion. Frankie gets up from her chair and heaves a troubled sigh before turning to her father.

“It is,” she says.

She walks through the back door and finds Noor squeezing the phone in her hand.

“Hi.”

The singer turns around and smiles.

“That was Aiden,” she says as if it wasn’t obvious yet.

Frankie nods and walks over to the wooden bench on her left side to sit down and rub her hands. It’s cold outside. Too cold to just be wearing pajamas. Noor follows her lead and sits down next to her. They keep their distance, like a normal friendship would require.

“What did he say?”

“He told me to say hi to you. He flew back in this morning. He went home and didn’t find me.”

“What did you tell him?”

They are randomly discussing it. Because reading too much into it would cause trouble.

“I told him I was with you, which actually cheered him up. He’s looking forward to seeing you again and hang out next weekend. Plus, he’s picking me up in an hour.”

Noor lowers her head and sharply inhales through her nose.

“I’m such a cunt.”

Frankie wants to comfort her, but decides not to. She reads the inscription of her bracelet.

“Remember when I told you that I’ve been in love once? That I thought I’ve been in love,” she says.

Noor looks up to her and, instantly, the lake house resurfaces in her mind.

”Yes.”

“She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever met,” Frankie elaborates. “She was smart, funny, sophisticated and cute. But she had a boyfriend.”

The resemblance is striking, even the singer picks up on it. Frankie stares at the fence that’s separating the yard from the neighbor’s. Thinking about the past makes her sad — especially that part.

“Oh. That’s why it didn’t work out?” Noor wonders, afraid to imagine a life where Frankie and her will be apart forever.

“It worked for a second. She thought she had it worked out. But the second she picked me over him, she changed her mind.”

The singer’s heart drops the second she hears those words and her hands go searching for the lean fingers of her precious friend.

”Oh, sweetie.”

They go up until they are cupping warm cheeks. Frankie’s finally facing her.

“She kept me going for a few months, went back and forth. The guy came crying on my shoulder a few times, said he didn’t understand. I told him I couldn’t explain. I didn’t. Just when I thought we’d make it, when she could let go of her past and start this epically great life with me, she went back to him and she never looked back again.”

Frankie swallows deeply and closes her eyes so she can turn away from Noor’s touch.

“She broke my heart. She broke me. I promised to never do that again. To the guy and to myself. And look at me, being a fool a second time.”

“This is different.”

“Yeah, this is a marriage. It’s even worse.”

The dark-haired goddess shakes her head all confused and scared: “But Frankie —“

“No, just — trust me. You don’t want this. You want a husband and a traditional family. They all want that,” Frankie entrusts her.

”I’m not them, okay?”

Noor’s right about that. Everyone knows that. Frankie gets up and turns her sad eyes at the woman she loves. If Noor would do it — if she’d leave Aiden and choose her, everything would change. Her entire world would change. For no reason, people will hate her. She’ll be in the public eye forever, known as that gay singer. Conservative people will protest against her shows in their little town. They’ll turn their back on her just because she loves a girl. Because she followed her heart instead of the visionary ideas of her talented manager. She sighs.

”No, you are extraordinary, Noor. For you, I’ll keep my promise. I can’t destroy your marriage or your career. I refuse to.”

And in that second, Frankie walks away.


Noor leaves as soon as an impressive Ferrari parks in the front yard. It’s Aiden, living up to his promise. She didn’t really say goodbye to Frankie. She kissed all the sisters on the cheek and nearly bowed for the kindness mom and dad Morris showed her. But that small, athletic blonde barely got a hug — a soft whisper about a nearby encounter. Frankie entrusted her with the knowledge that it was her best birthday ever. It’s the truth.

The door closes and Frankie’s mom heaves a worried sigh as she walks away from her kids.

“Damn, she forgot to sing that song,” they hear her mumble.

“What about you? How are you getting back home?” June says in a snarky way, clearly set to piss Frankie off.

The blonde shrugs and fakes a smile.

“My car’s at the pool.”

“How are you getting back to the pool?”

“Well, since you’re clearly not offering me a ride, I’ll just take a taxi.”

“Can’t. Have plans for my business.”

The word sounds so snobby.

Cece’s been thinking things through: “Don’t you need anything from that hotel room?”

“I put all my stuff in my car.”

And the circle goes full round. The youngest of them all sits down in the couch in the next door room and speaks up so her sisters will head her way.

“What the hell just happened, Frankie? Breakfast was amazing. I could literally see how she loved being here and suddenly, she’s gone and you two seem to have had a fight.”

Frankie sits down next to her and shakes her head. If even Ellie’s confused about it, imagine what she’s feeling right now. Her head’s about to explode from all the debating going on inside of it. June scoffs loudly and takes a seat across from them. Cece follows her lead.

“I knew shit was about to go South. I knew it from that first night at the concert. Didn’t I tell you so?”

“Can it, June,” Frankie growls annoyed.

“Fine,” the brunette says while throwing her hands up in the air.

Cece looks at her with a skeptic eye and reminds herself why the two of them hardly ever get along. They are so different, such opposites. June’s judgmental and dominant. Frankie’s soft and compassionate.

“Talk to us. What happened? I thought you wouldn’t even work with her anymore.”

“I wasn’t supposed to. But she came back after that night and apologized.”

Ellie nods: “June told us.”

They look around and find the brown-haired girl checking out her nails, as if she’s not interested in the story at all. Frankie just rolls her eyes.

“Everything went great. Until yesterday. She showed up for my birthday and promised me things. I took her to the pool and we had so much fun. Back at the hotel, things escalated, but then she cut her hand and we came here.”

Cece picks up on the story: “And then her husband called.”

The blond dancer has a stoic face as she keeps staring at the same spot on the coffee table. She inhales sharply and closes her eyes for a while.

“I told her about Gwyneth.”

All of the sisters look up. They know that story too well. It kept Frankie crying uncontrollably for days. Even June felt sorry for her back then. Gwyneth was Greg’s girlfriend. And Greg was a childhood friend. They all used to hang out all the time. Until the little lesbian romance between Gwyneth and Frankie popped up and ended in a tragedy.

“I told her it wasn’t fair to Aiden — or at least I implied it. I walked away.”

Ellie rubs her upper leg and sighs with compassion, while June suddenly gets up and stares at the screen of her phone.

“You know what would be great. If there were contacts that could make you see in black and white. I’d buy those,” she utters as if she’d been thinking about it for a while.

The other three just stare at her confusingly. Cece pulls her sleeve and makes her younger sister look her way.

“Okay, either say something useful. Or go sit in another room,” she growls.

“What?” June scoffs, while running her fingers over the keyboard of her phone.

Frankie smiles because the childish behavior might have hit a low point.

“You have the attention span of a goldfish,” Ellie concludes.

The girls talk for another hour and comfort Frankie in the best way they can. Except for June, who’s behaving like the smartypants that predicted this chain of events. The girl actually refrains from talking all that time and it’s becoming painfully aware.

“I don’t know, guys. When I’m with her — alone that is — she’s so happy and peaceful and genuinely carefree. I mean, look at how she was this morning, with us. And when she’s at home, she just sits in the couch and hangs out with June and I. Right, June?”

June doesn’t look up.

“And then we had this fight and I quit and she came back for me. She always comes back for me. She knows exactly where I live, she knows where I work. She loves my family.”

Frankie turns around and faces her housemate with an angry face: “Even you.”

Still, June’s eyes are attached to her phone, like she couldn’t even be bothered. Cece is getting upset about the behavior and slaps her thigh a bit too violently.

“Auwtch!” June shrieks.

“Why aren’t you talking to me?” Frankie demands to know.

The restaurant owner rolls her eyes dramatically and is getting tired of this compassionate family gathering: “Because ninety-nine percent of what I want to say to you right now is offensive and rude. So I rather shut up.”

“Oh fuck off, June,” Frankie growls.

“What? You don’t want my opinion on this.”

“You know, there’s an old Japanese myth that says that if you shut the fuck up, you will be silent,” Ellie whispers, which earns her a death glare.

June sits up straight and puts down the phone as if she has something important to say. After that, she gets up and flattens her shirt.

“Look, I told you. I told you from the start. You didn’t want to hear it back then, so why say it now?”

“Fuck you,” Frankie scolds at her again. “The world doesn’t revolve around you, okay? I can’t help how I feel. I can’t make it stop. Trust me, I tried!”

“You didn’t try, you fucked up little piece of shit. You are such a pathetic self-loathing sponge. You have zero resistance, zero self control. You love this. You love to chase the impossible straight girls and you secretly love that you end up having your heart broken. Because falling in love with a normal person, one that might actually be available and realistic is just too fucking boring for you. Who the hell falls in love with a married, heterosexual superstar anyway?”

Frankie rises from the couch and it takes her less than a second to circle around the coffee table and violently shove her sister back a whole three steps. This has never happened before. Frankie has allowed her to shit on her head for years and never once dared to step up. But now she has reached her boiling point and her other sisters are just amazed by the twist in her behavior. They step in just as June and Frankie have started running around in circles — June afraid that her little sister might smack the living shit out of her with those wild eyes and frustrated feelings — Frankie trying to make sure she does. Ellie pulls back the blonde, while Cece firmly takes a hold of the brunette’s upper arm.

“Sit down, both of you,” she tells them dominantly.

They listen and ignore each other again. Ellie understands that this situation can’t be easy. She puts her hand lovingly on the back of Frankie’s shirt and sighs.

“What are you going to do? You should quit. You should try to get some distance.”

Frankie kneads her own hair and bends forward: “I am trying to tell myself that I’m better off having her as a friend.”

Cece, still holding onto June’s arm just in case someone might explode again, turns her head: “Is it working?”

The dancer faces her and flashes teary eyes and a sad, heartbreaking pout.

“No.”

“Then stay away from her,” Ellie suggests calmly in the best way she can. “Maybe it’ll take away the feelings. Maybe it’ll make you see her in another light and you’ll stop wanting to be with her. Love ultimately fades out.”

But Frankie disagrees. She folds her hands and remembers yesterday, when she realized just how happy Noor made her by just being with her and acting silly.

“I don’t just want to be with her because I’m in love with her. I want to be with her because she’s also my best friend. Every time I’m with her, I’m having the time of my life. We laugh until our tummies tickle, we dance on top of tables until our feet hurt, we share judgmental looks no other person on this earth will ever understand and that’s the greatest feeling someone could ever give another person. When I ramble and freak out, she doesn’t need to ask twice, she immediately understands. I feel infinity loved when she kisses me. I become infinitely better when she stands near me. I have infinite fun with her. I think about her all the time, even though I tell myself not to.”

Ellie is impressed. The words Frankie just told her mean nothing to her in a way that she never experienced that feeling before. Suddenly, she feels jealous.

“Is it easy, forcing yourself not to think of her all the time?”

Frankie looks at her little sister and shrugs: ”As simple as quantum physics.”


 

Previous Chapter ♥  Next Chapter

Frankie at Work – Chapter 9: Skateboard

Chapter Nine — Skateboard


Miguel and Frankie pick up rehearsals that same week. They dance until the sun sets and go home all sweaty and tired. Weeks pass and the divided girls hardly ever see each other. The first week, Noor’s occupied with public events and a new merchandising launch. Then, Aiden asks his wife to join him during a movie project in Northern Europe and her therapist kind of suggests that it’s a good idea. They survive their separation thanks to late night FaceTiming. Still, they feel lonely, like a piece of them is missing. Miguel cheers his best friend up as good as he can, while Kennedy blurs her mind during the nights. Frankie acts as if she doesn’t mind being apart from Noor that much. Everyone knows she’s lying.

The dancers all gather soon enough to prepare for the West Coast tour. Four weeks away from home. Four weeks in hotel rooms and rehearsals on stage. Frankie is looking forward to it. Noor will be all hers again, for as long as it lasts. She’ll be able to stare at her shamelessly and steal a sneaky smile, or knock on Noor’s door late at night and fall asleep after talking for hours. It’ll all be okay again. And at the same time: it won’t. Not even close. She knows it’s her heart that’ll be broken in the end. But she’s willing to risk it anyway.

Frankie sighs while staring at the ceiling. All the boxes and electrical wires floating above her head continue to scare her. One miscalculation, one defect and it could all fall down on her little head. Sweat is dripping down her forehead. Rehearsal’s been exhilaratingly exhausting. She loves days like these. She loves the adrenaline that flows through her veins and pumps her heartbeat. Miguel taps her shoulder and calls it a day. He’s panting as he smiles. Yeah, he loves this hard work just as much. Frankie smirks and watches him leave with Cameron, the cute bisexual dancer that’s been there from the start. It took Miguel exactly three days before he discovered that sexually fluid piece of ass. Frankie was disappointed, she thought it’d take him three hours.

“I’ll see you tonight, okay? Big plans for you,” Miguel shouts from a distance. “Big plans!”

Cameron grabs his sleeve to drag him along as Frankie scrunches her nose and nods. She knows Miguel’s version of big plans: getting monumentally fucked up at the local bar. She turns around and heaves an exhausted sigh. She hasn’t heard from Noor since last night, though she wishes she did. If there’s anyone Frankie desired to be here today, it’d be Noor and Noor alone. But she isn’t. And that saddens her in ways that it shouldn’t. Because Noor has obligations. She has a husband and a career. She ought to do things that don’t concern her background dancer. She’s a superstar, for God’s sake. Frankie’s nothing but a silly girl from a small town. Their realities are worlds apart. But still … if only she were here.

One final swirl and Frankie turns to face the back of the stage. The presence of a silent figure surprises her. It’s already dark in the arena. All the technicians and dancers have disappeared. The lights faded out a minute ago. When a smile lights up the curtains, her heart starts to beat faster.

“Hi.”

That voice. It fills the entire atmosphere. It’s Noor. One little word, spoken in silence from a distance and Frankie’s about to have a heart attack.

“What are you doing here?” she gasps.

The singer walks over to her, looking stunning as ever. Her eyes are sparkly, her face all radiant and relaxed. Maybe because she’s so happy to see her beloved friend again.

“I came back for you. I needed to tell you something.”

Frankie’s flabbergasted expression just won’t go away. She just stands there in awe, wondering if this is a dream. But the second Noor reaches for her hand and touches her sweaty skin, the dream turns into reality.

“Tell me what?”

Noor wraps both arms around the muscled body of her favorite dancer and inhales the scent of the blond hairs. She presses them close together and reminds herself to speak before the satisfaction of seeing her best friend again completely dazzles her.

“Happy birthday to you,” she starts to sing in a soft voice. “Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Frankie.”

Her eyes shoot up and down that sweaty body and the most radiant smile takes over her entire face. She reshapes the classic into a cute rendition and it might be the most gorgeous birthday song ever. Her voice is enchanting, the tone of it, the sound of it, the way it carries entire conversations and mixes them with emotions.

“Happy birthday to you.”

Blue eyes are tearing up. And a breath falters in Frankie’s throat.

“You remembered my birthday?”

Noor won’t let go of her. She keeps her arms tightly around the body she’s holding and turns her mouth until it’s an inch away from Frankie’s cheek. She could kiss her right now and it’d feel amazing. But something stops her.

“I remember everything about you,” she admits.

The girls both blush and part before an unexpected desire takes over their entire way of interacting. Frankie flashes her charming smile and decides to smack herself in the face later for the amount of emotions that take over her mind, simply because Noor came all the way from Europe to see her today.

“Where’s my present, Superstar?” she teases to snap out of it.

Noor winks and twirls around in a perfect circle to ultimately point at herself. She’s pretty damn proud about it as well, so it seems.

“I got you a whole day with me,” she explains while joy strengthens her voice. “No strings attached. Take me wherever you want to take me. Talk to me for hours or shut up without it being awkward. Show me a part of your life I haven’t seen yet and I’ll love it, I’m sure.”

Frankie can’t stop herself from grasping onto the dancer’s hand. Their touch feels predestinated, like they don’t have a choice but give in to the inevitable. Noor lets her.

“Will you?” she wonders.

Noor runs some fingers through the front of Frankie’s hair and nods. Her face is still and calm, her eyes all dreamy. She has missed this person more than she anticipated — and she was prepared for the worst. Her hand stays there, lovingly cupping Frankie’s cheek.

“I love everything about you.”

Frankie gets a hold of the arm reaching out to her face. She feels the soft skin that looks darker than hers. She catches the enchanted eyes staring at her. There are butterflies in her tummy and her mind’s all foggy. Because Noor just used the word love to describe something about her. It felt good.

“What are you doing?” Frankie whispers with the aching desire to figure out what’s going on.

Noor heaves a troubled sigh and shakes her head all dazzled, like she has no clue. Her body steps closer. Too close.

“I missed you. I missed you so much that … Let’s just put it this way: as the ultimate birthday present, I’ll let you do to me whatever it is you’re thinking about.”

It’s shameless dead-honest flirting. A result of having spent time apart. A result of missing each other and wanting to be back together. Frankie swallows hard and her friend notices. Noor secretly loves it when her words leave Frankie speechless. It rarely happens. Usually, Frankie has some great comebacks.


The girls get changed into some comfortable sweatpants — at Frankie’s request — and drive to the old neighborhood where Frankie grew up. They take the dancer’s old, noisy car to cross the roads in anonymity. It’s still driving, nobody ever expected that. The blonde stops at her house for a few minutes to gather some stuff, including the bracelet Noor once bought her. Afterward, she takes them to the entrance of the old public pool that’s been empty and abandoned for years now. Noor wonders why the hell they are at such a place. Nobody’s around, not a single person. A wandering cat looks at them suspiciously.

“Ten years ago, my friends and I celebrated my birthday at this exact spot. We broke through the fences and dove right in. It was cold and horrible, but awesome at the same time, you know? Cops came to find us but we ran away. It was epic.”

Noor clenches her teeth and her heart skips a beat the second she hears about the adventure.

“Wow. That sounds like a thing I’d never do. I can’t, exactly, with the kind of life I’m having.”

Frankie’s fingers push the old, shaky fence that’s keeping them out of the property and it bends backwards just enough for them to sneak through a gap of the metal wires. Noor’s eyes grow wider and suddenly, she’s feeling nervous. Is this breaking and entering? Could she get arrested for this?

“Relax,” Frankie tells her with a cute, ridiculing smile. “Everyone does this all the time. The cops don’t even mind anymore.”

First, the bag she’s holding gets pushed through. She then crawls through the small gap and offers a hand to help Noor out once she reaches the other side. The singer follows after a hesitant gasp for air. A bit of dirt has caught on to Noor’s designer sweatpants and Frankie smirks. This girl might have never been this dirty before. One small swipe of her lean fingers makes it all okay, though, and Noor’s thankful. She puts her hand in Frankie’s and lets herself be led toward the main, open-air pool that used to be the root of happiness for thousands of children and grown ups. It’s dirty and deserted now. The wilderness of nature has taken over the old building and the two deep tubs. A statue that used to be a fountain is reformed into a growing pole for ivy. Secretly, Frankie thinks this place looks beautiful. It’s nature’s way of taking back what humanity took from her. And it’s glorious.

“You just do what you did ten years ago? Is this like a —”

Noor kicks a fallen branch in front of her feet and briefly absorbs the peaceful state of this premises.

“Birthday tradition?”

Frankie lets go of her hand, which saddens the singer more than it should and walks toward the deepest tub. She drops the bag she’s holding and descends the ladder like she’s done it a million times before. Noor wonders if she did.

After reaching the once white bottom, Frankie dusts off her shirt and looks up all content.

“It is. Each year, I go back ten years in my life and reenact one of my memories. It reminds me of how lucky I am. How happy I should be that I have birthdays, while others just …”

She won’t say it, not on her birthday. It might jinx her good luck charm. Noor understands. She bravely lowers herself to the bottom as well and points at the bag once she’s face to face with Frankie.

“What’s in your stupid, old, cheap bag?”

Her best friend smiles ridiculously cute and doesn’t mind the offensive way of speaking. Noor’s just teasing. Not everyone has a Channel bag to take to the gym. The dancer unzips the worn black zipper and reveals her treasure. A skateboard, some wireless boxes and a bottle of vodka, wrapped in a towel so it wouldn’t break.

“How do you know exactly what you did ten years ago?” Noor skeptically wonders.

She hardly remembers what she had for lunch yesterday. Her friend flashes one of her enchanting smiles and shrugs.

“When in doubt, I make up stuff.”

After some persuading, the spoiled, risk-free superstar makes an attempt to cross her own boundaries. They end up having the times of their lives, skating across the bottom of the pool, bumping into branches and shrieking each time they spot a cockroach. Frankie takes Noor’s hand as the unbalanced board underneath her feet takes her from one spot to another. The girls take turns at sipping from the bottle of vodka and pulling weird faces once the bitterness reaches their tastebuds. They start dancing to the beat of the small boxes and the second Frankie pulls back from being too close to the human sized magnet, Noor tells her to act normal and just dance with her. Frankie hasn’t felt this alive in months. This carefree and young — ironically on the day she’s getting older. The fact that this incredible person is sharing the moment with her makes it all more special. She couldn’t have dreamt of a happier birthday. Her sisters send her some texts, her mom and dad congratulated her over the phone, grandpa and grandma who live on the other side of the state even used the internet to give her their best wishes. But Noor flew all the way from Europe, just to see her at rehearsals. Nobody ever did that for her. She looks at her and her heart starts pumping harder and more intense. They are out on their own and having fun. She sees her laughing over a silly thing like a skateboard and realizes she’ll never have as much fun as she’s having right now. Because Noor makes her feel special and extraordinary. That’s when it hits Frankie — that’s when she realizes she loves her. She adores her. She worships her. She desires her. There’ll never be another.

The dancer snaps out of her enchantment when Noor jumps on her back, deafening the place with childish laughter. Their clothes are dirty and dusty, their hair’s a mess, but the girls don’t care. Noor’s lips softly press a kiss against Frankie’s cheek and the dancer warms up inside.

“I want a picture of us,” Noor tells her.

“Why?”

“Because I need a reminder of this moment. I’ve never been so happy. This is the happiest I’ve ever felt and I want to capture it. I want to remember this moment forever and stare at that picture once in a while in case I forget how it feels like. It’ll forever be my favorite.”

Noor’s words mirror Frankie’s emotions about today. Night is falling, it’s getting colder and scarier, but neither of them wants to go home yet. Frankie digs into her pocket and finds her phone. While Noor’s still on top of her, the girls take a selfie. And another one. And another one. After that, Noor’s feet touch the ground again and the heat of her body has left Frankie’s.

“That one’s cute.”

The singer’s tanned finger slide over the screen and her radiant smile appears. Frankie isn’t looking at the picture anymore. She gets caught, but it results in meaningful staring. A minute passes before Noor slowly bends forward and their lips fragilely touch. The blonde smiles underneath it. Ultimate birthday gift. When they part from the sweet expression of affection, Noor closes her eyes while putting their foreheads together.

“I don’t understand how everything can be so different, all of a sudden. One day, I was just this normal, famous singer …”

She pauses once she finds her friend giggling over her words.

“You did just hear what you said, right?”

Noor chuckles and nudges Frankie’s head with hers. Their fingers entwine. Nightfall is all around them and for a second, they might be the only two people left on earth.

“And then I met you and suddenly my marriage is confusing and my thrilling life seems boring whenever you’re not around. It was so easy until I fell …”

But the singer stops herself. She cannot say the words. Not yet. Maybe they aren’t even true. Because where does their friendship end and the feelings she shouldn’t be feeling start? Where does Aiden fit in all of this? How can she gamble with a sacred thing called marriage for a girl she met a few months ago?

Frankie heard the words she didn’t say and sighs after understanding the reasons. She steps back and smiles, because it’s the only thing she can do right now. She has no right meddling into her friend’s relationship. She has no share in the debate of Noor’s feelings and decisions.

“We should go. Though we shouldn’t be driving anymore because we each had like, a half a bottle of vodka.”

Noor giggles and thinks that’s smart. When her laugh fades out, a text disturbs the peaceful sounds of nature. It’s from Kennedy. Frankie doesn’t try to hide the words from Noor’s sight.

‘Good night, birthday girl. Kisses to my special one.’

Frankie can’t refrain from smiling like a dork and the singer notices. Somehow, a nagging feeling inside her tummy reveals a spark of jealousy.

“Kennedy. She’s your princess, isn’t she?”

The dancer looks up and thinks — for once — before answering that question.

“She’s a princess for sure. But I’m looking for a queen. I want to build a kingdom.”

It sounds heroic and poetic and Noor likes that. Kennedy’s not Frankie’s one true love. It pleases her to lengths that aren’t measurable.

“So you’re not in love with her?”

The rich girl dusts off her pants and moves her hands to the back of Frankie’s shirt once she’s done. The muscles underneath the fabric immediately heat her up. Frankie has such a nice body from all those years of dancing. She felt it up once, in her own guest room. She kissed the skin of her long neck and caressed the boobs that felt like perfection. Those memories invade her mind day and night. She dreams about it, about Frankie. Her lips, the way her fingers made her feel ecstatic.

“I don’t want to — I mean. I don’t believe in true love, I guess,” Frankie suddenly reveals.

But reality has escaped once Noor started focussing too much on Frankie’s back and the desirable spot on her shoulder that’s there to kiss. She wants to kiss it. She should.

“I could change your mind,” she ultimately whispers, caught in her own little dimension.

Frankie turns around and frowns, not sure if she just heard right: “What?”

But Noor’s just as surprised about her own comment and immediately pulls a straight face.

“What?” she asks herself.

Overwhelmed by her own feelings, so it seems. Frankie just smiles and caresses the soft skin of her face.

“Come on. Let’s call a cab. Heading home? My place? It’s the closest.”

As Noor is watching Frankie head up the small ladder, she averts her eyes to face the stars above them. Her breath is starting to turn into little clouds. There must be a way to stop this day from ending? A way that the paparazzi can’t catch them being too close. Too public.

“Let’s go to a hotel room,” she suddenly suggests.

“What? Why?”

Noor just shrugs and finds the confused and nervous eyes of her friend staring down on her.

“For old times sake.”


“Maybe things never work out with men because you haven’t tried it with a girl yet.”

Frankie hears the words that came out of her mouth and suddenly puts both hands in front of it.

“Oh, God. What am I doing? I am using the same stereotype people have been throwing at me for ages.”

But Noor is amused as she witnessed the self-loathing of the girl in front of her. They’ve been talking for a while now, while the television’s on. Frankie’s favorite thing to do. Noor just went on and on about her failed relationships and the disappointment about her marriage. The dancer stopped herself from thinking again when she spoke up.

“Then why do you say it?” Noor asks, while patting the bare leg positioned next to her.

“Because I’m desperate and I want it to be true,” Frankie charmingly admits.

It makes Noor’s heart race and that feels so good. They are seriously buzzed by now. That bottle of vodka is long gone, but so are the countless cocktails they had room service send up. Noor picked out a quiet, fancy hotel nearby and a taxi took them there. She bought Frankie a stuffed animal in a nearby 24/7 shop. She also bought the little purple guitar she’s playing with. It doesn’t sound too bad. But nothing ever does, when that musical masterpiece is directing the tone.

“It’s that time of the week where you get emotional and sad and all you want to do is get drunk and sing ridiculously depressing love songs,” the singer suddenly says.

Frankie looks up and smiles: “It’s worse for me. I just got a whole year older.”

Noor thinks it’s a valid argument. They have stripped down to their panties and shirts. Their sweatpants are too dirty to keep on, especially in bed. Room service will bring them new clothes in the morning — special treatment for a superstar. Frankie can’t seem to get used to all of it. The careless behavior of the entourage as if everything comes natural. The pressure of the media and paparazzi. The countless people weaving a web of press releases and statements around her — or world tours and photoshoots. The way Noor’s phone buzzes every other second with a new scheduled meeting. How does a simple girl at a concert food truck fit into it? Into the whole of a Noor universe?

“What made you talk to me?”

Noor looks up and releases the strings of the purple guitar. She was quietly singing to herself. A tryout. Something that just sprouted in her mind.

“Excuse me?”

“When we met. What made you talk to me? You’re a superstar. You didn’t want anyone to recognize you and yet, you talked to me.”

Noor remembers that life-changing event as if it just took place. She smiles.

“You were cute. You were fidgeting the entire time, looking mad and worked up. You made that comment about killing someone and I just had to talk to you. So I did.”

But Frankie doesn’t understand.

“Why me?”

Noor ruffles through her long, dark hair and shrugs. She can write the most amazing and detailed lyrics in the music business, but something about describing Frankie is out of her league.

“I don’t know. I just felt, like, a really strong connection, I think. I can’t put a name to it. I can’t describe it, thought I want to. It’s something I’d write a song about one day if it wasn’t about you.”

Frankie smiles and frowns a brief moment.

“Why don’t you write a song about me?” she wonders, with a radiant, flirting smile taking over her face.

Noor looks up to her and remains quiet for a second. She remembers the first time she heard a song and thought to herself: music should sound like this. The first time her heart skipped a beat over the lyrics and the chorus and the way a voice should captivate an audience. She remembers the goosebumps on her arms and the shivers that ran up and down her spine. She was eight when that happened. It only happens once in a while now, that magical captivation — that inevitable connection with music. It sneaks up on her, surprises her as a flash of lightening. Her eyes wander to a corner of Frankie’s lips and travel up to her piercing blue eyes, while the lean fingers continue to strike some cords on the guitar. It sounds slow and sad and emotional at the same time.

“You know why I can’t write a song about you.”

Frankie clears her throat to come to her senses. Twice — Noor has talked and not-talked about her feelings for her twice today. She bends forward to wrap her long arms around the singer’s body and presses the guitar deep into her stomach. Then her soft lips press a loving kiss against Noor’s temple. The girl smells amazing. Like vanilla flowers and cinnamon rolls.

“Now excuse me,” Frankie announces while pulling back, “I’m going to sleep on the couch tonight.”

It’s in the other part of the hotel room. Something tells her it’s the safest choice for today. Sure, Noor literally gave her permission to do whatever it is she wanted on this special occasion, but even a drunk Frankie knows that’s not a good idea. The dancer stretches for a second before walking toward the end of room, but suddenly turns around abruptly, making Noor look up in a confused way.

“No, you know what? You go sleep on the couch.”

Noor gasps a ridiculing laugh: “What?”

“You heard me.”

Frankie crosses her arms and awaits the reaction. The room is foggy and blurry, but that’s probably the alcohol talking.

Noor frowns all offended and shakes her head with disbelief: “But I’m a superstar.”

“You’re also a pain in the ass,” Frankie says. “Plus, it’s my birthday. Couch!”

Her fingers point at the wall that’s dividing this hotel penthouse. There’s a nice, big couch situated behind it. Noor is a little smaller than her, so she should fit just fine on it. Of course, that spoiled little brat is pouting by now, because she’s not getting what she wants.

“How can you be so mean to me? I’m so hot!” she groans as she’s getting on her hands and knees.

She crawls over to the side of the bed as her butt points highly in the air. Her hair is falling down her shoulders all nonchalantly and it looks sexy as hell. Fuck that, everything about her looks sexy as hell. That shirt draping her torso, her bare legs sliding across the white sheets, her dark eyes searching for compassion and a break in Frankie’s resistance. The dancer sighs and is close to accepting defeat. She thinks Noor’s right: she is so hot. But being humble or modest isn’t one of her characteristics.

“Do you know how selfish and rude you sometimes are? Like, are you aware that you’re doing it?”

Noor giggles over the comment and determinately nods: “Yes.”

“So you do it on purpose?”

Frankie walks over to the bed again and allows Noor to sit up on her knees and wrap her arms around her body.

“I feel like when I’m more awesome than the person I’m talking too, I’m allowed to let him or her know,” the singer informs her.

She’s obviously drunk, that much is sure. In fact, there’s another Cosmopolitan waiting for her on the night stand and Noor’s determined to finish it by midnight.

Frankie bends a little bit into her and scrunches her eyebrows: “You sassy little piece of shit.”

“See,” the dark haired goddess replies with confidence, “you got the hang of it.”

She pulls her closer and kisses her on the lips. Too soft to lead to more, but also too meaningful to let go immediately. Frankie stores the touch of the kiss as a memory. She inhales Noor’s scent and the way her arms hold onto her tightly.

“You’re such a good friend,” Noor whispers close to her mouth when they part. “Whenever he’s being an asshole, you just — rise above and make me wonder why I’m not married to you.”

Frankie’s heart is racing like crazy by now. She can picture herself being married to this beauty. Except she isn’t. And she probably never will be.

“You always say that when you’re drunk.”

Noor leans back so she can properly stare into Frankie’s blue, tired eyes. She thinks she’s the most gorgeous girl she’s ever met.

“Drunk or sober — it doesn’t matter,” she explains fragilely honest . “It’s always you.”

If only she would’ve just jumped on that couch. Frankie wouldn’t be dreaming about a future with her best friend right now. She wouldn’t be in her embrace, fantasizing about having hot, sweaty sex with her.

“Listen to us, being all sentimental and emotional,” she smiles to clear the tension.

Noor smirks and looks at her all drowsy.

“I know, it’s gross,” she whispers before exhaling all cute. “Kiss me.”

Frankie quickly pecks her on the lips and steps back as soon as it’s over.

“I’m going to brush my teeth and wash up. By the time I get back here, you better be out of that bed.”

Noor taps her head as if she’s saluting her commanding officer and winks. The dancer rolls her eyes and disappears in the next door section of the hotel room. She puts toothpaste on her brush and starts thinking while looking in the mirror. The circling movements of her hand bring enough familiarity to the moment to make her come back to her senses. It was the best birthday ever, sure. But tomorrow, Noor’s going back to Aiden, which isn’t weird or manipulative or unjustified at all, because: they’re married. But it saddens her so much. It makes her jealous and sick to her stomach. A noise makes her look up to find a dizzy Noor next to her, holding on to her cocktail. The girl takes a chance and slides past the toothbrushing Frankie to block her reflection in the mirror. She sure did get out of that bed, except she missed the route to the couch and found Frankie instead. She puts down the drink. Her sneaky hands grasp onto the loose shirt hanging down Frankie’s shoulders and she sighs, looking all guilty and tensed.

“I need to tell you something. Something you’ll hate,” she admits.

“What is it?” Frankie asks with her mouth full of white stuff.

Noor can’t look her in the eyes right now. It’ll hurt the blonde too much. Or herself.

“I had sex with Aiden last week.”

Frankie stops breathing for a second and averts her look to the other side of the room. She bends toward the sink, so Noor is forced to step aside, and spits out the white foam in her mouth. After that, she rinses. It remains awkwardly quiet for a while and Noor reads into it.

“See, you hate it. I knew you would. But there’s more.”

All Frankie can do is laugh in a painful way, though: “Really? I think I’ve heard enough.”

She’s about to step away from the singer, but Noor’s fingers slip up to Frankie’s neck to make her look at her.

“No, you need to know this.”

“What?” Frankie growls, uninterested and annoyed at the same time.

For fuck’s sake, she doesn’t even have a right to be upset about this. She’s the one having non-stop sexual pleasures with Kennedy. Noor is entitled to sleep with her husband. If only her heart would adapt to the logic of her mind.

“I was thinking about you,” Noor explains, with fire in her eyes that cannot be tamed. “The entire time he was touching me, I was thinking about you.”

She is trying hard — so hard to be the perfect wife. For Aiden, for David, for her fans and the world. But there’s always Frankie. Everywhere. In every thought and every conversation.

Frankie has to swallow extra hard to get through the moment. Noor reaches for her own panties and pulls them down with one determinate move. After that, she removes her shirt. She’s naked right now. Very, very naked in front of Frankie. The dancer’s eyes grow big and she gasps for air. Her lady parts are tingling like crazy, they are urging her hands to lay them on that delicious flesh. She was aware Noor has some exceptional boobs, but seeing them up-close and revealed is just crazy. Her stomach has killer abs, her waist is toned to perfection, her skin sparkles like a Latina diva. Those lean fingers start pushing Frankie’s shirt up. Slowly, sultry and in a teasing way — like they know what they are doing. Frankie has slept with a lot of women before, but for some reason, she’s nervous as hell at this point.

“What are you doing?”

Noor keeps her lips close to hers and whispers: “I want to fuck you.”

A giant wave of shivers run up and down the blonde’s spine.

“What?” she stutters all shaky and overwhelmed.

“It’s pretty self-explanatory,” the singer tells her as she massages Frankie’s boobs underneath the fabric of her shirt.

It feels too good.

“But Noor …”

A clack of the tongue shuts her up as seductive eyes force her to give in to her desire.

“Shush. I’m not interested in being polite or heterosexual tonight.”

She kisses Frankie on the lips, long and hard. It’s wanting and promising. Her hands pull her friend closer to her, until they are both forced up against the sink.

“I wanna lay in bed all night,” Noor tells her in between heated kisses. “With you. I want to cuddle and fuck. All night.”

And, damn, is she serious about it! Frankie’s coming up with reasons why this is a bad idea. She’s stuttering and gasping for air as Noor seems to continue attacking her in a sexual way. Her body isn’t objecting. After the blonde says her name three times in a row, the singer looks up with blurry, deep eyes.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening. I was busy imagining having sex with you.”

Frankie smirks and shakes her head as if she’s not buying this version of reality. What the hell is happening?

“After I’m done with you,” Noor whispers seductively, “your lips will hurt from kissing, your heart will want to burst out of your chest, your butt will be red from all the squeezing, you won’t be able to touch your lady parts without exploding for hours and every nerve in your body will tingle with aftershocks.”

“Noor.”

The dancer’s flushing like crazy. Never happened before.

“I want to taste you. I want to know what it is like to lick you down there.”

Noor’s tongue travels down that long neck. Frankie’s aggressively trying to keep a straight face while all that is going through her mind is having sex with her friend. Ultimately, the sound of breaking glass shakes them up and some blood dripping along Noor’s bare arm draws her attention. She pushes her back and freaks out immediately.

“Oh, my God. What’s that? Where is it coming from?”

A completely sexually induced Noor looks up from the face she’s sucking off and her eyes widen the second she recognizes red substance coloring her skin.

“What the …?”

They trace it back to the side of her left hand, where a deep cut pushes blood out of her body. The cocktail glass broke. Noor must have pushed it over accidentally. She must be really drunk if she didn’t even feel that. Maybe it’s one of those cuts that hurts afterward — when it’s all sewed up again. Frankie puts her hand on the gushing gap and reaches for a towel. Forget about that sexual tension, it’s long gone by now. Frankie’s seriously concerned and thinking through all of the options.

“I’m gonna need you to put on some underwear. And then I’m taking you to the emergency room,” she tells her in a strict voice, hoping the girl will understand.

But no matter how many cocktails passed her lips, Noor still realizes just exactly what kind of person she is.

“No, I can’t. They’ll see me. Those idiots will want to take pictures and …”

She’s talking about the paparazzi. They’ll know she’s with Frankie. But Frankie grasps onto her unharmed hand and forces both of them to calm down. The warmth of her hand feel relaxing and determined.

“They won’t, I promise.”


 

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Frankie at work – Chapter 8: Crazy emotions

Chapter Eight — Crazy Emotions


The doorbell rings early in the morning and Frankie doesn’t even bother to get up. Maybe it’s some salesman or June has some kind of friend coming over. That would surprise her, though. June isn’t exactly the inviting-friends-over type.

After a second ring, the front door unlocks. Voices reverberate through the hallway. Frankie buries her head in the pillow to deafen herself. She turned off the sound of her phone four days ago, after everyone kept calling her. She didn’t pick up once. Pretty sure David left some awfully angry voicemail messages for her to roll her eyes over. Fuck David.

Kennedy just texted. Five times. It went like this.

Saturday, 6:34 p.m. — ’Where are you? The show’s about to start.’

Saturday, 11:13 p.m. — ’Frankie, are you okay? Are you sick?’

Monday, 10:01 a.m. — ‘Okay. Noor’s being a bitch. I guess that has something to do with you.’

Thursday, 15:44 p.m. — ‘Frankie?’ Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 8: Crazy emotions”

Frankie at work – Chapter 7: Noor’s birthday

Chapter Seven — Noor’s Birthday


The teasing has been going on for months. Summer passed as fast as it came while fall and winter are now battling each other for dominance. It’s cold outside and Frankie can’t wait until spring will make its reappearance. Just a few more weeks. Sunshine is always coming back. She’s shivering as time passes slowly. Noor and her entourage disappeared in a nearby music store to promote the new album while the dancers gathered around the tour bus, patiently waiting to head toward the next village that’s on the schedule. She secretly loves being on tour. Everything’s happening so fast and unexpected, it’s crazy. June is over the point where she’s pissed off about Frankie’s sudden career peek. She just talks to her little sister with words drenched in sarcasm and criticism. Not that Frankie’s home a lot. When it’s work-related, she often stays at Noor’s house. Whenever she feels like having some fun, Kennedy’s apartment door is open for her. And in between, touring or rehearsing takes up most of the time. That’s when all her favorite girls get together and things get complicated at times. Luckily, Frankie doesn’t seem to care a lot. Noor must know what’s going on between Kennedy and Frankie, but she has never said a word about it up until now. And Kennedy raises more than one questionable eyebrow over Noor and Frankie’s interaction, but maybe she’s happier not knowing.  Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 7: Noor’s birthday”

Frankie at work – Chapter 6: Utter Confusion

Chapter Six — Utter confusion


The inevitable happens four days later. Kennedy and Frankie are left alone when David and Noor head out for drinks with the big shots of the music label. Dancer friends aren’t optional. So the girls go out for dinner at a local restaurant and remind themselves this is certainly not a date. Kennedy explains that it’s hard to maintain a relationship when you tour a lot. She’s been Noor’s loyal sidekick for four years now. Her last girlfriend dumped her after not hearing from her in two weeks. But the dancer acknowledges that a busy tour scheduling wasn’t a very good excuse to just disappear from said girlfriend’s life.

“I just don’t think I’m a hundred percent relationship material.”

“Why is that?” Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 6: Utter Confusion”

Frankie at work – Chapter 5: Get to know me

Get To Know Me


“Tell me about your family.”
Frankie raises a curious eye and shrugs. It’s getting late. Three in the morning. The morning sunshine won’t be their best friend in a few hours. Noor’s changed into some cute pajamas and pulled back her gorgeous hair into a ponytail. She almost looks normal.
“What about them?”
“Tel me about them. Being related to you must mean they are extraordinary people.”
But Frankie laughs the sweet comment off.
“You’re always asking about my family. Why is that?” Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 5: Get to know me”

Frankie at work – Chapter 4: Normal life

 Normal Life


 

The show was amazing. Frankie danced like she had never missed an evening of the tour — or an hour of repetition. Her complete concentration was focussed on the dance moves, on the way Noor’s musicians filled the entire arena with powerful vibes and rhythms, on the way the energy of the crowd made her try even harder. She’s sweating like crazy by the time the last song fades out. The crowd is going insane. It’s ecstatic. It’s unreal. It’s amazing. This might be the best experience of her life. Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 4: Normal life”

Frankie at work – Chapter 3: Berlin

Berlin


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. Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 3: Berlin”

Frankie at work – Chapter 2: Miguel

Miguel


 

“What do you mean, you went on this small trip with Noor?”
June is standing in front of her, all defensive and — not to mention — mad. Frankie completely bailed on her and she’s not happy about it. Sure, she hung out with the rest of that famous crew for the rest of the night and scored the number of a famous producer, but still — there are boundaries. The youngest of the sisters clacks her tongue and resorts to silence to come up with a decent explanation, but there isn’t one. It’s late and Frankie’s feeling tired. All she wants to do is go to sleep. In her own bed this time.
“Where did you go?”
“Just somewhere out of town. Into the woods.”
June frowns: “The woods?”
“Yeah. The woods. It was fun.” Continue reading “Frankie at work – Chapter 2: Miguel”