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?


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