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Frankie at Work – Chapter 14: Elijah

Chapter Fourteen — Elijah


There’s a silent knock on the window in the middle of the night and Frankie nearly drops out of her bed out of fear. But it’s repetitive and persistent, so she walks over to her window and opens the curtains — armed with a baseball bat and that incredible fear you experience after watching the Scream movies too much — and she bumps into the perfect face of Noor, standing in the pouring rain, knocking at her window. Frankie rubs her face and sighs. She puts the bat down, walks through her room to the hallway and opens the front door. The sound of the rain is deafening. Noor must have stood here for a while now. She’s drenched to her underwear.

“God, I’m getting whiplash. What are you doing here?” Frankie asks, while tangling her fingers behind the buttons of that designer shirt and pulling her inside, where it’s warm and safe. And dry.

“I thought you were banned to see me?” she then smiles, as if it’s even funny in the first place.

“Yeah. Totally,” Noor whispers through her repeated shivering. 

She’s soaked, she’s cold, she’s about to shake out of her clothes, but all she can think of is kiss that girl in front of her. And so she does, and she launches her entire body weight at that perfect little dancer. It’s an expression of fierceness and determination and adoration. Frankie’s too startled to make it stop. The girls move toward Frankie’s bedroom until their feet bump into the edge of the bed and suddenly, Noor bursts into tears.

“I can’t leave him, Frankie. I’m so sorry.”

She buries her head in Frankie’s neck and grasps onto her tightly, wrapping her arms around her until she might choke her. Frankie is wet now too, but she doesn’t mind.

“I wish I was stronger. I wish that I could just chose you and never look back again and take away all your pain. I wish that I could save you, because you need saving right now. But I’m so scared. I’m so afraid that I can’t breathe. And I can’t think straight — I’m afraid to allow all my emotions to invade my body. And after everything you’ve told me. After all the uncertainties and your doubts and …”

Frankie pats her head and nods, making her feel every movement. She’s panting from the heavy kissing. 

“I know. I understand.” 

She closes her eyes as if it was to reset her feelings and emotion and nods again, maybe just to assure herself: “It’s the smartest thing to do. We’ll be okay.”

They lay down on Frankie’s bed. The soft hands of the dancer undo the singer of all her clothes, until she’s wearing nothing but her panties and a purple bra. Noor lays down on top of her and focusses on the heartbeat beneath the chest she’s positioned on. Her voice calmly explains the situation. There’s talks about the move, about the job opportunity, about his sincerity and the way he looks at her again. Frankie understands. Though her heart is breaking, she understands. Noor’s body is moving on top of her. She’s aware of every fiber that’s touching her skin — aware of ever shift in their connection. She doesn’t just like it: she’d love this moment to last forever. Simply because she knows it’ll end eventually. 

“When are you leaving?”

Maybe she doesn’t even want to know the answer.

“In three days.”

“With Aiden?”

A question she already knows the answer to.

“Yes. We talked. He got it all figured out. He knows about you and I.”

Frankie nods: “Yeah, he does.”

Noor looks up and kisses her on the mouth again. She kisses her on the lips without a warning, without permission or without reason. But Frankie lets her. Because it feels so natural, so casual that it might be the most normal thing on this planet. This is a goodbye. It feels like a goodbye. A final goodbye after all the false ones they’ve had.

Noor slips her tongue passed their lips and deepens the kiss. But it doesn’t evolve. The caressing stops eventually until all there’s left to do is stare into each other’s eyes.

“Then stay,” Frankie suggests while circling her fingers over the bare skin beneath Noor’s bra, “Stay with me until tomorrow. Go back to him tomorrow, but stay with me tonight.”

Noor smiles and crawls down until she has her head positioned on Frankie’s belly. She smiles as the rising and falling of Frankie’s inhalation reaches her awareness. 

“That’s the point. It’s why I came here. I’ll be gone by the time you wake up.”

Frankie heaves a troubles sigh and fights back some tears. She expected it too, but knowing it now hurts: Aiden won. He always had the advantage. He was supposed to win. 

“I’m going to miss you, Frankie.”

The blonde shivers. She said her name.

“Like I miss air when I’m under water,” Noor continues in a silent voice. “Like I miss the summer when it’s winter. Like I miss singing when I’m not on stage.”

“It’s better this way. It’s the right thing to do,” Frankie tells her again.

The singer examines the pace of the heartbeat underneath her and remembers a conversation they had a while ago. She remembers the song she’ll have to sing a million times more from now on and it’ll always remind her of the girl she lost — of that purity of love and friendship she has to let go. At least for now.

The girls ultimately fall asleep like that — entwined but still far apart. They keep connected but refuse to cross boundaries. There’s an opportunity to have sex, to close this fairytale with the utter act of love, but they know it won’t change a thing. It won’t change their feelings, it won’t change the fact that Noor will be gone in a few days.

Frankie’s sure she’s doing the right thing. Noor and her are too different, they live in different worlds. Noor’s married. Her parents always taught her that marriage is sacred. And she’s not ready. She’s only started to build her life back together. It won’t be over soon, this tsunami of emotions. 

By the time Frankie wakes up, Noor’s words have come true: she’s gone. Dissapeared like a thief in the night. Her heart drops and for a second, she wonders if it was all a dream. After turning around in her bed, Frankie finds a note. It’s Noor’s handwriting.

‘I will come back. I’ll come back for that promise. You’ll be ready and I’ll be ready and it’ll be perfect. One day, life will be perfect.’


Seasons pass as quickly as they arrive. Noor and Frankie part ways and don’t speak again. Life goes on and they don’t seem to mind. Frankie has things to figure out, Noor has her marriage, career and public life to maintain. The red carpets aren’t waiting and her latest album just broke all the chart records. The dancing studio absorbs most of Frankie’s time and it’s glorious. She focusses on the wellbeing of others, of little children and after classes, she sometimes even helps them do their homework. Her parents are proud, her sisters are proud — even June though she’ll never admit it — and Kennedy is her loyal bystander for as long as they both enjoy it.

The second anniversary of the studio announces itself at the same time news papers announce some other exciting news. Ellie walks into the kitchen area and puts a paper on the counter, flashing a big headline that says: ‘Noor pregnant’. Frankie strangely isn’t heartbroken over it. It seems unreal — like it’s happening in a different dimension. Except it’s not.

The couple appears on every single magazine cover after that. Being supportive, happy, acting like the perfect family. Photographers chase them everywhere they go, hunting for that perfect pregnancy picture. Frankie subtly tries to block out all the press attention she’s forced to deal with. She blocks out what seems obvious: Noor moved on. Aiden finally got his wish: a child. 

It’s summer when every single person in the world cheerfully yells at their cellphone screens once it’s announced that Noor gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. It takes another three days until the name’s revealed: Elijah. Frankie sees the pictures and heaves a troubled sigh. Something inside of her died a while ago. It has lost the ability to care, to be genuinely mad or happy. It just left the mark of indifference. Kennedy watches her closely as she turns away from the laptop in her apartment. The blonde dancer’s so much different from who she used to be. Things never changed between the two of them — they are still strolling down this path of careless fun and supportive friendship. Kennedy’s still touring around with artists, less and less in the circles of Noor, and whenever she gets home, Frankie’s there. It’s not a relationship. Both of them loathe the idea of being in a relationship, even though it’s for different reasons. And now Noor has a baby and Frankie thinks she’ll never really want a relationship ever again.

The impact of the news fades out. Pictures pop up every single week, of Noor holding the kid — actually quite the adorable little brat — and Frankie seems to get used to it. When you see something often enough, the hit softens. Elijah gets bigger. He must be crawling by now, Frankie often thinks. And now, maybe he’s even standing up on his own. She compares him with her sister’s kids. Cece has two by now, a boy and a girl. Ellie’s expecting. 

Frankie’s nowhere in life.


Aiden walks into the living room and yawns. He must have slept for hours and hours, because the house is filled with productive noises and busy people and he never even noticed. Maids and gardeners and managers direct the place. Noor and Aiden merely live in it. Through it. Amongst it.

“Hi.”

It’s Noor, sitting in the lounge chair, staring out the window. She’s feeling tired. Elijah woke up three times last night. Must be nightmares. Or the heat. Aiden didn’t hear him.

“Hi. Did I wake you up last night? Can’t remember when I got home,” Aiden mumbles as he rubs his eyes.

“You came to say hi and then you went to bed.”

Noor looks up to him and forgets to smile. Bed isn’t their bed anymore. Bed is across the hallway, second door to the right. Bed is where things ended a few months ago and their relationship slipped into a repetitive pattern. Aiden’s out of the country a lot, for work. That show he talked about ended after two seasons. The show that was supposed to change their entire life togehter. His focus is on movies again. So he flies to London and Dubai to shoot scenes, he passes Los Angeles and Mexico on occasions. He shows up at Cannes and Milan. In between jobs, he visits home, which is New York now. It’s not that often. And in all fairness, Noor doesn’t really care. She has her hands full with raising Elijah and combining her music career. The couple grew apart, once more. They pass each other in the hallways and after a while, without discussing it or fighting about it, they each picked a room to sleep in. It’s not that Aiden’s cheating. At least, she doesn’t think he is. They are a respecting pair of friends now, living next to each other instead of with each other. And they adore their cute, little, perfect son. Noor had hoped so much for all of it — she hoped the promised big change would in fact make it all better again. She hoped that moving away would solve it all. Elijah would solve it all. It didn’t. It’s no mistake that they were happy for a while. They raced the big carpets and attended all the big Hollywood parties. The people are still crazy about them — the absolute IT couple. The Hollywood dream. And then she got pregnant and Noor discovered a whole other level of loving someone. She loves Aiden — she really does. He’s the father of her child. That love will never fade. But it’s different. Not passionate. Not romantic.

Noor stares out the window again and catches the blue sky. It hurts how much life didn’t turn out perfect. How she put people aside and threw away her dreams and desires to live up to a vow made in a church. To please fans she never even met. 

 “I always thought we could make it,” she sighs as Aiden sits down in front of her on the orange couch she never liked in the first place. “I gave up a lot to make this work. Maybe we were wrong.”

Aiden freezes to the spot and loudly swallows. His morning mood disappears immediately as the words sink in. She must have been thinking about this for a long time — it’s not just one of those things you say after pouring a cup of coffee. It takes nights of doubt and processing. He recognizes the feeling.

“I can’t shake the idea that you still miss her,” Aiden admits and it doesn’t even take a second before she understands what he’s talking about.

He’s not wrong. She still dreams about Frankie. About the way she used to touch her, or look at her, or kiss her softly on the lips. Or dance and laugh at the same time.

“You should know something, Aiden,” she says after clearing her throat.

The woman gets up and watches over her shoulder, through the window, how Elijah is having the time of his life with a nanny. This is great. Having a kid is great. Having a child brings meaning to your life. It really does. But thinking about the alternative — about what she could’ve had with Frankie, it never left her mind. It always came to haunt her. She could’ve had a kid with her. She could’ve quit the singing and being normally boring would’ve been perfect. Aiden raises a curious eye and stares at her. He’s not even looking upset, just pulls a stoic face and listens.

“She never crossed any boundaries. I did,” Noor explains to him for the first time in her life. “I overstepped every line that was acceptable. I kissed her first. I always went in for the hug. I threw myself on her when we had sex. It was after I found out you cheated on me and it was the only time it ever happened. And she felt bad about it — so very bad about it because you were her friend. But I blurred the lines on many occasions and always made sure she’d get back to me. I begged and cried and went searching for her. I loved her, Aiden, from the bottom of my heart. From the deepest part of my soul. With everything there is to give. I still do. I dream about her — even when I’m awake.”

Aiden nods, but suddenly, he starts to shake his head. None of this makes sense.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because you and I aren’t working. And it’s not because of Frankie, it happened long before she came along. You and I fought hard, very hard to make amends and fix things, but maybe we both knew it was hopeless from the start. And I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live this life anymore — this lie. We have Elijah now. It would kill me to raise our beautiful son in a home that isn’t filled with love, but is driven by a business deal.”

She points at the distance between them to point it out: “We are a business deal.”

He’s not even denying it.

“So what? You’re going to leave me for a girl?”

He almost smiles.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her in years. I don’t even know what her life’s like now. But I rather take a chance and find out than to be trapped for the rest of my life. We are so directed by our managers and this artificial life we life in. It’s not healthy, Aiden. We do as the crowd pleases. It’s not supposed to be this way.”

She heaves a sigh after watching his face being overcome with sadness.

“You’re a great dad, Aiden. And a great friend. Shitty husband at times, but still.”

A charming smirk appears. After everything, they still make each other smile.

“I want you to be happy. You deserve this feeling I feel whenever I’m around Frankie. You deserve to bring our son into a relationship that shows him how it’s done. Set a good example, teach him the right things. We’ll always be friends, you and I. We have been for years now. And I love you, but just in a different way than I used to.”

He remains quiet for a long time after she finishes talking. The room is silent — a nanny is still playing with Elijah, who has curly blonde hair and chubby, perfect cheeks. They’re playing on the swing. 

“I think I’m feeling kind of relieved that you just said all these things,” Aiden suddenly admits, after thinking things through. “I tried, really hard. I don’t know if you know that, but I did. Because I love you. I’ve always loved you.”

Noor nods. She bends toward him to kiss him on the cheek. He feels warm and soft. His skin smells like sunburn. Aiden opens his arms and invites her to a tight hug. He presses his cheek against her forehead and sighs.

“I want you to be happy too. But are you ready for all of it? For this. Because it’s big. It’s the biggest thing that ever happened to you.”

Noor sighs against his chest. They haven’t shared this many emotions in a while. It feels good. It feels great.

“I’ve had many years to be afraid. But it doesn’t get less scary as time goes by. It just turns into missed opportunities. Sometimes you just need to do it, you know?”

He faintly smiles. He knows. 


Frankie is standing in her office talking to a very attractive woman, when Noor walks in on the duo. She remains in the doorway, but they see her anyway. The girls immediately stop talking. The brunette on the left because she has never seen the superstar up-close. The blonde because it’s been ages. And this might be a dream. Someone should slap her, she thinks. But it’ll be rude to ask her friend. She was holding a pen just a few seconds ago. It’s on the ground now.

“This is yours,” Noor smiles as she pulls an old notebook from her purse.

It’s the MoodBook Frankie always carried around. Noor took it — actually stole it — from the desk the last time she saw Frankie at the opening of the dancing studio and ended up wandering around. Frankie always had a suspicion, but she was too tired, too defeated to text or call the singer once she found it missing.

“So you’re the mysterious thief,” Frankie smirks, secretly just thrilled to see her again.

Oh, her heart still skips a beat and it’s familiar. Her body still goes completely weak. She missed this feeling of total loss of control. And she suddenly remembers how she has always loved it. It was a masochistic way to love, but still. Everything about loving Noor might have been masochistic. 

“Do you know her?” the mysterious woman gasps as she reaches for her chest. “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Jessica.”

Noor smiles and doesn’t move a feet.

“Nice to meet you too.”

She quickly looks to her right and finds comfort in whatever she sees.

“Why are you here?” Frankie wonders, getting straight to the point. 

After all these years, after all that distance. Noor can’t help but smile — she likes the way this girl works, how she doesn’t play around. It was one of the things she loved about her. She opens the MoodBook and shamelessly flips some pages, searching for her target. She might have read it a thousand times. A million if possible. She examined the handwriting. She smelt the pages, because maybe — just maybe — it had Frankie lingering over it.

“I belonged to you the moment we met,” she quotes with a soft voice and soft eyes. “Maybe even before that, when I couldn’t stop staring at you. I belonged to you from that moment. And I still do.”

It was written days before Noor took the book with her during the festive opening. And Noor had cried over the words at home. Frankie sighs and looks down to the ground, feeling all the things that have been hidden for so long. But they come resurfacing and it’s like they can finally breathe now. After all this time, her body can breathe. Noor flips some pages again and slides her fingers over one particular page.

“I love not to talk to you. I like sitting next to you and not saying a damn word. Because while we’re not talking, you let me in on all your secrets.”

Frankie just sighs as she briefly glances at the girl standing next to her. It’s like Noor read all her secrets. She should be mad, but it’s impossible to be. Because they were written for her, about her, next to her while she was asleep or on stage singing. Noor should’ve read them years ago. The words belong to her.

“Look, I’m not gonna make a scene or have this impressive speech to influence your entire life. All I’m going to do is stand here and beg — from the bottom of my desperate heart — to choose me. Choose me, not anyone else. Not Kennedy, not this girl.”

A finger points at the confused brunette and Noor just shrugs as a way to apologize. But that girl doesn’t seem to mind — or understand the conversation that’s happening in front of her. Frankie softly smiles, subtle enough to get by unnoticed.

“Because if you don’t, I’ll die from heartbreak. And it’ll be your fault,” Noor continues and it’s now that Frankie’s breath is starting to choke. “Because I love you. I love you like you love Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream on a summer evening. I love you like you love to dance in front of twenty-thousand people. I love that I know every little thing there is to know about you, even the disgusting ones. So please, don’t walk away or throw me out. Choose me. Stay with me. Make me happy. I’ll never hurt you – not ever again. And I’ll never leave you. I’m here now. I know it took a really long time and I’ve been a total coward and a bitch, but I’m ready to make that promise now.”

Frankie’s trembling and crying at the same time. She inhales deeply to waver the feeling off. To make the overwhelming sensation bearable. She’s thinking, except she doesn’t need to think about it. Her mind is racing nonetheless. It’s been years since she saw this woman. It’s been years but her feelings didn’t change. And her heart’s been healing. The grieving has passed. She opens her mouth and closes her eyes. This is scary. This is so scary, but it all makes sense.

“Okay,” she whispers.

“Okay?”

They look up at each other. 

“Okay. I’ll choose you. You don’t need to ask, Noor. I’ll always choose you.”

She walks toward the singer and cups her cheeks. Their foreheads connect and then, instead of kissing her, she puts her arms around that beautiful body to intensely hug her. Jessica, witnessing it all, quietly announces her departure and on her way out, she bumps into a charming little toddler, who’s patiently and quietly waiting for his mommy. Noor frees herself from the embrace, takes a couple of steps back and puts her hand behind his head to lead him in. He was waiting in the hallway, just like mommy told him.

“Come here,” she softly tells him and as he sets foot into the office, Frankie’s radiant smile appears.

She bends over and says hi. He’s too shy to respond and buries his head in mom’s dress.

“He’s beautiful.”

Noor stares at her and caresses Frankie’s temple: “You’re beautiful.”

She then clears her throat and realizes that none of this is fair to the dancer. Things have changed over the years and maybe she won’t be okay with that.

“I have baggage. I mean, Aiden and I, we’re through. For real. But there’ll always be this little boy. And it’s probably not as you pictured things. It’s not how I pictured things. But he’s here and I hope you can live with that.”

Frankie just nods and smiles, as if it’s the simplest request in the world. She tries to connect with him again, by putting out her hand in a dramatic way and kneeling as if he were a king.

“I’m Frankie,” she overacts and the boy starts to smile.

His blue eyes light up and suddenly, the blonde realizes how much he looks like his dad.

“Are you King Elijah?”

The boy nods and Noor smiles the dorkiest smile over their interaction. He puts his tiny, perfect hand in the dancer’s and shakes it. Frankie fakes being hurt over his powerful grip and he giggles.

“So, now what? Are we going to start dating?” Noor asks with a whisper to keep her little son from being confused too much. 

He doesn’t quite understand that his mommy and daddy aren’t together anymore. It’s normal. But talking about dating makes Noor blush like she has never before. Because it’s about dating Frankie, something she’s been dreaming of for years. Frankie just shakes her head and looks at her very strict and determined. 

“I don’t want to date you, Noor. I want to marry you. I want to have kids with you so we can have our own little family. I want to raise Elijah as if he’s my own child. I want to build a house and settle down with you. I want it all. But not if it’s not with you. I realize that now. I’m ready.”

Elijah is off to wander around the office and play with comic books that are spread across a coffee table when Noor leaps forward and presses her body against Frankie’s to kiss her intensely. She makes the girl gasp for air when they part again. 

“I’ve wanted to do that since I walked in,” she explains as her fingers tightly pull the sleeve of the dancer’s outfit.

Frankie nods and processes the kiss that just changed her life yet again.

“I wanted you to want to do that.”


Previous Chapter < > Next Chapter

Frankie at Work – Chapter 13: The Meaning of a Dream

Chapter Thirteen — The Meaning of A Dream


Frankie swallows and remembers how a few minutes ago, her entire being was absorbed by words and emotions. How she went on this rollercoaster by hearing notes and music. How her body felt like exploding from love and appreciation — from caring and frustration. From wanting her too much. She’s been in denial for months — telling herself it wasn’t worth it. Telling herself she’s not missing Noor that much. But it’s the biggest lie in the history of lies. Her body felt like dancing again. Just for a second, for a tiny bit. It heard the words and felt like moving. And that hasn’t happened in months. Not since Miguel died. She hates how Noor’s the only one capable of changing her mind. Changing her painful, bruised and fragile inside.

You said you’d never write a song about me. But it’s about me, isn’t it? The song’s …”
“A Promise,” Noor whispers and the thrill of her breathing causes goosebumps to take over Frankie’s entire skin. “It’s about me, really. About me loving you so very much. How I miss you when you’re not near. How I dream about you at night. How I want you. How I want to give you every single thing you deserve. How I want you to be near me all the time and I don’t know how to do that without hurting anyone.”
Frankie is crying now. Warm tears burn her skin on their way down and Noor is kissing them away. But the lips are burning too. They are burning every inch of skin of her face. The singer is closing in on her target now, slowly moving down a bit with every soft touch of her mouth. She’s about to kiss her. The tension’s there, the opportunity is there. Frankie’s willing and this room is a bittersweet mixture of perfect memories and craving desire. The blonde digs her nails in the softness of the bathrobe and pulls Noor closer, obviously caving in. Their heartbeats align, their breathing fastens. Every fiber in her body is attracted to this superstar and it feels so normal that at times, she forgets to question her morality. Her friendship with Aiden. Her own promise. Everything at risk.
Noor breaks the inevitable tension by suddenly kissing her hard and Frankie kisses her back. She gasps for air as the memory of their connection turns into reality. For twenty-six days they haven’t talked or texted or seen each other in real life. But unlike last time, these seemed eternal, as a heartbreaking goodbye. Like they’d parted and they’d never see each other again. Noor didn’t even expect Frankie to actually show up at the concert. Thank God for Ellie.
Noor puts both hands on Frankie’s cheeks and pushes her back up against the door, which shuts with a slam. The panting blonde needs a second to breathe, and instinctively, her fingers slip under the thick fabric of the bathrobe. They discover the softness of Noor’s tanned skin. They trail up until they caress the hem of her lace panties and cross her perfect six pack. She’s been working out, it shows. When her curious fingers reach the perky, round and soft breasts, Noor moans loudly in her mouth and shivers completely take Frankie away from this world. They kiss and kiss and keep kissing until Noor can’t hold it anymore and suggestively starts thrusting her core up against Frankie’s. Stars dazzle in front of their closed eyes and the taste of each other is divine.
“I miss you,” Noor pants while the tasty, smudging sounds of their heated kisses interrupts. “I want you. I love you.”
Frankie hears the words and abruptly stops the making out. She’s out of breath and completely taken over by desire, but this is the first time Noor actually said those words to her. She knew she felt the same way, but nothing ever came close to proclaiming them out loud.
“What?”
Noor moves back in to kiss her softly and tenderly and the entire act is so pure and filled with utter love that Frankie’s heart nearly explodes from happiness.
“I love you. I have always loved you.”
Frankie nods, but the revelation made her sober up somehow. She still enjoys the kiss, the connection, the feeling up. It’s everything she’s ever wanted. But she also remembers the song and the lack of confidence Noor has about their dubious relationship. It’s somehow toxic and forbidden. Forbidden things never end well.
Noor notices the change and looks up, her lips swollen from determinately sucking on Frankie’s skin. Her eyes are screaming sexual expletives and Frankie reads every single one of them in her irises.
“What is it? Did I freak you out?”
“We shouldn’t be doing this, Noor. This is exactly why I didn’t want to come.”
None of them are moving. They can’t, because it scares both girls to death to loose this connection.
“Do you still love me?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“It does.”
“It doesn’t.”
Noor grabs the hem of Frankie’s shirt and flashes her eyes again. She’s getting angry now, but just because she’s trying to make a point. She wants Frankie to listen. She wants to figure this out. Because not seeing her again for so long might actually kill her.
“It freaking matters, okay,” she presses.
They both sigh and fall back into a soft and caring tone.
“Why?”
“Because if you tell me you love me, I might consider breaking up with him.”
Except it’s not a breakup. It’d be a divorce. A very public, painful and expensive divorce. She’d be leaving one of the most charming and beloved actors in Hollywood for an unknown dancer girl. She’d be trashed and haunted for months. Frankie’ll be the bag guy. Noor’s career could be over.
“But you told me … That song —” Frankie stutters.
Her mind is going crazy. Then she remembers that talk in the car. His eyes as he revealed his knowledge about their illicit affair.
“He’s my friend,” she tells her. “I could never do that to him.”
But Noor doesn’t understand.
“Why not? It’s simple: I miss the best thing about my life. And that is you.”
“You’re married. That’s a promise to God.”
“Making a promise to God means nothing if that means I can’t be with you,” Noor explains with tears in her eyes.
She means it. There’s no worse feeling in the world than missing Frankie. If only she could see that — experience it for once, just a day. She’d understand.
“It’s not that easy,” Frankie whispers and she puts her forehead back against Noor’s.
She sighs. God, when will Noor ever understand? The complete picture? The reality. Superstars don’t understand reality.
“Why not?”
“Because this isn’t right. I can’t break up a marriage. I can’t ask you to do that for me. I’m not worth it, Noor.”
Noor puts two fingers of her left hand on the bare skin above Frankie’s cleavage. She softly traces them up and down, drawing circles and memories.
“You realize what’s going on between us, right? That this isn’t just a … You once told me I had to make a choice. Now I do. I want you.”
“You don’t want me,” Frankie tells her as she turns her head away and painfully sighs.
She’s a mess. Somehow, she’s always been a mess. In every year of her life. In every relationship she’s ever had. In every job and every friendship.
“I do.”
“No, I mean, you wouldn’t want me. I’m a terrible girlfriend. You’re hitting a low in your marriage and I’m nearby. It’s convenient and easy but I’m not part of your world.”
She’s not a celebrity. She hates cameras and paparazzi. She hates to get stalked on her way to McDonald’s or a supermarket. It’d consume her. It’d completely drive her nuts.
Noor leads her fingers up and forces that small chin to turn back her way: “You are my world.”
They pause the conversation and it seems to be over. Except it isn’t but none of them has words to carry on. Noor lets go of her girl and steps back, scanning the room for inspiration.
“Look, every week again, I wanted to come to your place and talk about it. About us. Because if I started talking about it, I’d be ready to process. And then I got here and I felt the entire weight of the earth drop down on me. And I learned that I wasn’t ready. So I turned around and went back home. At some point, I didn’t think I’d ever be ready. So I shut up — and I waited another week. I was patient enough to await that day. I was just hoping that one week, it’d be the right one.”
“The right one for what?” Frankie wonders.
Noor stares at her and shrugs, like an innocent child does when she can’t explain things anymore.
“To tell you I love you.”
“It’s a strong word,” Frankie notices.
“Well, I’m a songwriter,” Noor smiles. “I happen to be great with vocabulary.”
But that explanation is too real, too understandable to just ignore. Frankie recognizes every word, every feeling it brings along. She’s lost too, scared, decomposed.
“Even if you are sure — even if you’re ready to leave this all behind and be with me — I’m not,” she tells her perfect superstar. “I’m broken, Noor. I am indescribably messed up right now. This thing with Miguel, it tore me apart and I’m still trying to find back the pieces. I’m a paper house right now and if you’d be with me, with the sight of just a slightest breeze, I’d be gone. I’m not ready.”
She grasps onto Noor’s hand and starts to cry almost immediately.
“And I want to be ready, but I’m not. And you don’t deserve that. We’re both not in this right now. And we need to be if we want to survive what’s waiting for us.”
Every relationship in her life right now is complicated. Even the one with Kennedy, which isn’t even a relationship. So technically, she’s even screwing up her non-relationships. It takes time to get better. It takes a lot and maybe it’s too much to also be giving something to Noor as well. Because Noor deserves the very best. The absolute best. And that’s just something that isn’t inside of Frankie at this moment.
She hides her face and tears into the embrace of her beloved Noor and as her shoulders shock up and down from crying, she starts shaking her head.
“I am in love with you. I am desperately in love with you. But you’re with Aiden. And I’ve come to realize that sometimes, it’s okay to let things go. Because this has been one hell of a long fight — a war really — and … I am so tired. The last two years have been so exhausting and I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s okay if you stay with him. And it’s okay that I don’t want to fight anymore. Sometimes love just sucks. Sometimes you don’t win.”
Noor tries to interrupt her: “But, Frankie …”
“Look — he’s my friend,” Frankie tells her as she’s backing away and wiping her face clean with her sleeve. “I’ve been through break ups and flings and faux-being in loves. And every girl has ever left. But he’s actually a good friend to me.”
Noor feels insulted.
“And what am I?”
A moment of silence glorifies the room. Frankie can’t even put it into words.
“The love of my life. And his.”
It sounds horrifyingly raw and hurt. She leans toward the face of the singer and kisses her softly on the cheeks. It’s a little bit teasing and caring, but so emotional and loving at the same time. Her eyes briefly stare at those pink, pouty lips, like she’s about to kiss her. It’d just take a brief movement, a silent leaning in and they’d be joint. But she doesn’t and her raging hormones calm down again. Noor gasps for air as the sensation washes away from her face. If she would’ve kissed her harder, or moved to her mouth, or looked at her a second longer, Noor would’ve jumped her and fucked her brains out until morning. But Frankie didn’t. She politely released her loving kiss on her cheek and walked away. Noor was left completely turned on and confused. For a second, she forgot her own name.


At night, Frankie dreams about Miguel for the first time in a while. They are sitting in a bar, enjoying a beer — though Frankie doesn’t really like the taste of beer. But it’s a dream and a lot of things are possible in dreams. There’s music playing in the background. The counter smells like old drinks and dirty cloths. The place is empty, except for the two of them. Miguel looks fine — unharmed. Above all, he seems happy.

“I’ve missed you,” Frankie tells him, a lot happier than she should be.
“I’ve missed you too.”
His smile is soft and casual, as if they just saw each other yesterday. He asks about her family, she says she hasn’t seen them in a while. He asks about the dancing studio, she tells him she hasn’t attended the classes in months. He asks her about touring and Noor. She tells him that’s all in the past. That’s when he puts his beer down and frowns.
“My God, what are you doing?”
She looks up, a bit confused, and awkwardly smirks: “What do you mean?”
“Frankie, this isn’t you. You’re not dancing, you’re not teaching, you’re not living.”
“I am hurting,” she explains.
“Over me?”
“Too. Mostly. But there are other things.”
She plays around with the bottle in her hand. The music changes. It’s old and jazzy. She likes the beat.
“Noor?” he wonders.
His dark skin makes her wonder if she can touch it, even if it’s just a dream. She just nods and subsequently shrugs.
“I can’t do it, Miguel. Not now. Maybe not ever.”
He hears the hurt in her voice. The way this love affair has dragged her out empty. How it left her wounded and scared for life.
“Remember what you wrote in that MoodBook of yours once? That line about the scars?”
For a second, Frankie wonders how he’d know the contents of her MoodBook. But then again, this is a dream and dreams don’t make sense.
“Yes, we’ve hurt each other. Maybe a lot. But every scar on my heart is a memory of a time that I was with you. And those scars are sacred to me,” she quotes.
She smiles. The words were written the first time the girls parted. After the cut in Noor’s hand. After that night in the hotel. After breakfast with her parents.
Miguel nods and smiles, as if he has read the quote a million times before.
“The thing about Noor is … she took me to museums. She took me to the wildest parties. She had me end up in a pool party with Beyonce and Taylor Swift one night and kissed me until I saw fireworks until the next day. She destroyed me. You know how they always say that they suddenly understand why storms are named after people? I do now. And Noor, well, that sounds like some kind of Greek goddess, right?”
Miguel shakes his head, confused about the level of depression his best friend expresses. He has never found that kind of love. He never will. But he has seen how Noor and Frankie looked at each other, when they thought no one was watching. He saw the sparks and undefinable love they shared.
“You’ll wake up in a few hours, Frankie. Because — you know — this is a dream.”
They both chuckle and put their beers together.
“But when you do, please get out of bed. I’m fine. I might not be where you want me to be. I may be gone and I’ll never return. But I’m with you.”
He puts his hand on his heart before continuing: “I’ll always be with you. We’ve been inseparable since kindergarten and that’ll never change. But instead of moping and drinking all day, please honor that connection we shared. You love to dance, even though you might not remember it anymore. You love to teach kids. Even more, you are great at it. Allow yourself to be loved, because I’ll never know how that feels like. Just … Do something.”
He gets up and throws a hundred dollar bill on the bar. Not that Miguel ever carried around so much money or that a couple of beers cost that much.
“Do something,” he whispers in her ear before kissing her cheek like he used to do whenever he got excited.
The touch of his lips make her shiver. He feels real, just for a second. She smiles at her hands and turns around, only to find an empty room. He’s gone. Disappeared. Maybe forever.


Weeks pass and Frankie slowly starts to understand the meaning of her dream. She gets up, day after day, and thinks things through. It takes her a while, but then it hits her: Miguel was right. In all the weird ways that dream developed, he was utterly, doubtlessly right. So she goes to her parents to talk about her issues. They offer her a helping hand. She invites Ellie to take a trip to a nearby town to seek out opportunities — Ellie happily tags along. Frankie looks around and calls in favors. She has met a lot of people during her time with Noor and intends on using those connections.

It comes together as a well-thought-through plan when exactly one year after Miguel’s death, she opens a children’s dancing studio downtown, Miguel’s Dancing Shoes. A lot of people show up to show their sympathy. Miguel’s parents are there, overly emotional of course. Frankie feels a bit uncomfortable, but she powers through it. The kids run around and test the new wooden floor that’ll take them through months of practice before they perfect a routine. Frankie can only smile. She feels the presence of Miguel in this building. She sees him smiling in her imagination, smiling at Frankie and the kids and his parents and all the other people around. This is what he meant, even if it was just a weird twist of her mind endorsing that dream. It felt real — it felt Miguel-like. And the result is utterly amazing. Nobody in this place is sad or unhappy — there’s only cheerful sounds of laughter and perfect glances at the perfection of this initiative.
Frankie puts her MoodBook down on her desk when she leaves her office later that afternoon to go talk to some of her old dancer friends. Some of them still can’t dance yet. The injuries of the stage collapse will haunt them forever and that’s exactly why it feels so good to see Miguel’s pretty face hanging on the wall. They congratulate Frankie and hug her until she feels less emotional.
When she looks over her shoulder, familiar faces crosses her path. Her breath briefly chokes, but she manages to act as normal as possible. Aiden and Noor, standing side by side, peacefully apart from the big crowd. She clears her throat, like a true host would do.
“Hi.”
The couple looks her way and both of them fake a genuine smile. Frankie has totally stepped out of their glamorous life. She totally blacked out and never looked back. This project has absorbed everything — every waking second and all the energy she was able to give. It was either this of cry uncontrollably, like before. Noor seems enchanted, unable to respond, until Aiden nudges her shoulder and she enters reality again.
“Hi.”
And then Aiden: “Hi.”
Frankie smiles at him, like it’s the least she can do after nearly stealing his wife.
“We got your invitation,” he tells her and she nods, as if they never really knew each other. “So we came.”
“I’m glad. Miguel deserves this.”
Noor smiles, because he does. He was a sweet guy. Very flamboyant, very open, very talented. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. And she’ll forever feel guilty. His smile could enchant a million people. And now it’s forever locked into the foreverness.
She leads them around the place and Aiden insists his former best friend accepts a donation. She refuses three times, until the exceptional and painfully obvious silent Noor raises her head and tells her to take it. For what happened. For the times they spent and the memory of Miguel. Frankie sighs and puts the cheque in her pocket. Her eyes wander to the entwined fingers of the married couple. Her heart erupts.
“I have to go check on other people now. My parents will be here soon.”
It’s sort of an invitation for Noor to say hi to them later. The singer gets it.
“I’ll go talk to them,” she promises.
Frankie does her absolute best to ignore them for the rest of the event. She is occupied with important people like the major and Miguel’s parents and her own family. Somehow, a superstar and her movie star husband don’t seem to matter, though everyone close to her knows exactly what they mean to her.
The day ends and so do the pleasantries. Aiden and Noor were gone before she even blinked. She’s weirdly okay with that. Because saying goodbye never really worked out right before.


“Now, that was the best idea of this year,” Aiden sighs as he walks toward the bedroom closet.

Noor rolls her eyes and scoffs at him: “Don’t be like that. We had no choice. It was for Miguel.”
Aiden turns around and flashes his mischievous smile.
“Keep telling yourself that, dear. You saw that guy like what? Three times?”
But his wife can’t appreciate the dark humor: “I saw him plenty of times, okay? And he’s Frankie’s friend, so —”
“Was, dear.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“So of course you had no chance but go. Because whatever involves Frankie is sacred. Whatever she does is predicted and announced by the Gods of whatever it is.”
Noor just shakes her head with disappointment and turns on her angry face: “Whatever, Aiden.”
He realizes his mistake of questioning her loyalty, especially after she’s not hung out with her after all this time and sighs apologetic.
“Look,” he then says, “I’m sorry. Come here, I’m sorry. I know you’re trying. We’re trying. We are doing great.”
She looks up to him as he reaches for her hand and she enjoys the touch. But it’s not the same as when Frankie touches her. Nothing ever is.
“I have to tell you something,” he admits after patting the end of the bed with his free hand.
They both sit down and stare at each other as if they are the world’s most ordinary couple.
“I got this job offer. It’s for a show, long-term, great pay.”
She scrunches her gorgeous eyebrow and that means she needs further explanation.
“It’s in New York. I thought it’d be around here, but I was wrong. Baby, I can’t miss this opportunity. It’s huge. It’s supposed to be this big hit and this is the opportunity of a lifetime. No more movie sets. No more constant traveling. We’ll be able to settle down, think about the future. Maybe even start a family.”
Against all expectations, he is a changed man. He sobered up, straightened out his act and committed to her perfectly, without slipping once. He loves her, adores her, would do anything for her. The world loves that about them.
“I want you to come with me. I’m begging you to give me that chance.”
But he’s not done yet and Noor’s mind is racing already.
“I have one condition. You can’t see her anymore. This thing tonight, I get it. Maybe part of it was for Miguel, but you’re not fooling me about the fact that you really wanted to see her again.”
While she awkwardly turns away from his stare, he grasps her hand — to gain her attention again.
“Look, I know that things happened. I get that you felt this connection. Maybe it was even love. But we chose each other. And now we can only move on and make the best of it. I love you, Noor. I love you more now than I did when we got married. So please, stay away from her. Don’t see her anymore. Give me the chance you once promised me a long time ago. If you can’t do that — I mean … I’m your husband. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
She looks up to him and her eyes are filled with tears. Four years ago, she saw the love of her life in him. But only months ago, the true love of her life turned her down for acceptable reasons. And she chose to stay with Aiden, but not because it was her first pick — no, Frankie chose for her. And in theory, though she’ll never tell him, Aiden’s the only option left. The one that doesn’t scare her. That one that pleases her manager and publicist and all her fans. Which is terrible, of course.
“I can’t compete with a girl,” he continues after she remains painfully quiet. “Especially not with Frankie. That’s impossible. So let me have an advantage. Let me stay with you. Don’t see her anymore. Come with me to New York and we’ll be like we were before.”
She loves to sing. She loves to walk across the street while people are pointing at her. She loves to interact with her fans and even more, she loves that they think she’s worth copying, that they are trying to live up to her as a role model. She loves that when she crosses the red carpet with Aiden, every magazine in the country calls them adorable or hashtags about them on Twitter. She likes the positive feedback, the joy she brings into stranger’s lives. She’s terrified to give that all up.
“I’ll go with you. When do we leave?” she agrees and asks at he same time, merely because she’s feeling awfully guilty.
She hasn’t even thought it through, but it feels like the right choice. The best, logical choice.
She stares at herself in the mirror in front of her.
Right?


Previous Chapter <> Next Chapter

Frankie at Work – Chapter 12: A Promise

Chapter Twelve — A Promise


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

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

“What the hell happened?” Ellie moans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her throat hurts. It shows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you doing here?”

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

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

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

“So?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good morning, gorgeous.”

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

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

“What is it?”

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

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

“What? I tripped.”

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

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

“Gravity and I were having an argument.”

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

“I bet you were.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you want something to eat?”

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

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

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

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

“You seem mad.”

“I’m not mad.”

“Then why are you acting this way?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She clears her throat to try that one again.

“I’ll be fine.”

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

“Well, then maybe you should leave.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Why?” Frankie growls.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t think this is a good idea.”

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

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

“Maybe I shouldn’t have.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The way we met, so transcendental, 

I guess I have my heart to blame.

Your careless voice, it drove me mental, 

a heartbeat’s never felt the same.

Had to touch, never stopped glancing, 

piercing eyes drove me insane.

Chased you down, ended up dancing, 

I took you out, you took the pain.

I drive around a million circles, 

think you came from outer space.

You make me laugh and act all crazy,

Lost something I can’t replace.

Know one day, I’ll make a promise,

I’ll be that hero that you need.

One day I’ll know what’s missing

by standing up — accept defeat.

See, we might never rule the world,

or find a kingdom at our feet.

But one day I’ll make a promise,

to be the only queen you’ll ever need.

You are fresh air, a nice surprise,

a side of me I did not know.

Blue and brown, just staring eyes,

As time goes by, the feelings grow.

Belong to him, shouldn’t be dreaming

dreams tell me to take it slow,

Fear breaks out, tears are streaming,

I’ll go wherever you will go.

I drive around a million circles, 

Think you came from outer space.

You make me laugh and act all crazy,

Lost something I can’t replace.

Know one day, I’ll make a promise,

I’ll be that hero that you need.

One day I’ll know what’s missing

by standing up — accept defeat.

See, we might never rule the world,

or find a kingdom at our feet.

But one day I’ll make a promise,

to be the only queen you’ll ever need.

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

I’ll be the hero.

I’ll be the queen, 

I’ll never leave.”

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

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

“Frankie. How are you?”

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

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

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

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

“What is it?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a lie.


Previous Chapter ♥ Next Chapter

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.


 

Previous Chapter ♥ Next Chapter

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.”


 

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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”