June 13
4:15 p.m.

Just kidding, Mom!!! When you read this, don’t go and get all worried. I’m being funny. I have not taken two lovers. So please don’t worry about being a failure as a mother…and a terrible Christian mother at that!! I’m really glad that you’re not like Hannah’s mom who’d bring all her “prayer concerns” about Hannah to the Mothers Prayer Group.

So I have no idea what I’m going to wear.

“Gwwwwwen!” Gwen comes charging up the stairs to my room. She has heard the desperation in my voice.

“What?”

“I don’t know what to wear.”

“I thought you had hurt yourself.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that I have to go to this concert with Kate and all, and…”

“Nat, just wear whatever.”

“Can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t? Where’s the outfit that we bought for the concert?”

“Oh that.” I’d forgotten. I wonder if it’s still good for Tav to see me in…

“What are you thinking about?” Gwen’s watching as I pull things out of my closet.

“Nothing.”

“Nat, who’s going to be at this concert?”

“Uhm…Kate, you know…”

“Is Tav going to be there?” She just had to ask that question.

“Why would Tav be there?”

“Is he?”

“Yes.”

“That’s why you’re so worried about what to wear. I thought you didn’t like him.”

“I don’t. I just want to make a good impression…for the church.”

“Since when?”

Since Tav, if I’m being honest, but Gwen had decided not to pursue the question. Thank God.

__________

6:30 p.m.

“Mitch, doesn’t she look beautiful?” Gwen’s doing the mother thing, and I don’t like anyone focusing any attention on me so this is making me embarrassed.

“It’s all thanks to Gwen. Her skills…she helped me pick this out…and did my make up…and nails…and hair.” I’m not mentioning that Gwen had a tough fight about what to wear and had to give in to my skinny black jeans, fitted black halter top, and black heels. I had conceded and got some “sparkly” earrings and bracelet for Gwen’s peace of mind.

Saved by the doorbell.

“That’s Kate, I’ll get it. She’s early, probably wants to make sure I won’t be late.”

“Kate!” I swing the door wide open.

“Nat—”

I slam the door shut. It was one of those automatic reflex actions…or whatever they call it.

“Natalie…open the door!” Gwen’s hissing at me.

I open it.

“Frankie?”

“Nat…”

Frankie? Here. Now? What the…(French word). Repeated many times. Many, many times. Only in my mind, of course.

“Surprise!”

“Frankie, what are you doing here?” This is not good. So not good.

“Nat, I told you I’d see you soon.”

“Yes, but…I didn’t think you really meant it soon…like…soon soon.”

“I just wanted to surprise you. Can I come in?” Frankie’s rocking back and forth on the front steps.

“Hi Frankie, good to see you. Come on in.” Mitch is ushering Frankie into the living room.

“Hi Mitch, hi Gwen. Been a long time. She looks beautiful, doesn’t she?”

Frankie’s giving me a huge hug and I’m trying to disengage from his hold. Awkward. But my mind’s racing—so is my heart. Kate’s going to pick me up in twenty minutes—and I can’t get rid of Frankie!

“I just have to make a phone call. I’ll be back. Frankie…”

“What?”

“Nothing. Be right back. It’s good to see you.”

“You too, Nat. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”

If you really did, why didn’t you…okay, not going to go there now. Better to call Kate.

“Kate!”

“Nat, you’re not bailing, are you?”

“No, never. I’m just running a tad late so I’ll just see you at the concert.”

“Okay, I’ll leave your ticket at Will Call.”

“Thanks. You’re an angel.”

“Do you want me to have Tav pick you up? He’s running late too.”

“NO! I mean no thanks.”

Tav and Frankie. Oh dear God.

_________

6:55 p.m.

“You want me to drive?”

“Thanks, Frankie, but I’ll drive. You’ve already driven over here.”

There’s this awkward silence. I sense Frankie staring at me, but I’m pretending to be focused on the solitary car ahead of me. Definitely a traffic hazard. Needs my full, undivided attention.

“Nat, you look so beautiful.” Frankie’s reaching for my hair and stroking it.

I’m torn between the familiarity of the action and wanting to slap him for so many reasons, but right now just for messing up my hair before I have to see Tav.

“Frankie, I’m really sorry about having to go for this boring church concert. You know marching bands…”

“I’ll be happy to buy a ticket…just to be near you.”

“That’s so sweet of you, Frankie, but Kate’s not keen on having anyone but the church staff. And I have to be careful, she’s sort of like my boss…”

Kate would probably burst out laughing if she heard this. My boss?

“The concert won’t be long. If you don’t mind hanging at the pub next door—the game’s on, I’ll join you as soon as I’ve said hi to the staff.”

“Sure, I’ll wait for you. I could wait for you forever.” He’s holding my hand, drawing me closer.

“Yes. No. Thanks.”

I’m already traumatized by his sudden appearance. I’ve already cried a river over him. Said goodbye. Now this? At least the shock of seeing him has numbed my earlier anger at him, and the idea of seeing Tav outside of church is somewhat intriguing. Not much, like in a heart-racing way. Just curious.
______________

7:10 p.m.

“Nat, here. Over here.” Kate’s desperately waving her hand to draw my attention to the group.

Mark, Brad, Tav. Good, no Faith. Or Walter. Tav’s leaning against a white column and staring at me as I walk toward them. Why does he always look so…so…?

“Hi! Good to see you all.”

“You look beautiful, Chick-a-dee. Doesn’t she?” Why does everyone have to affirm a statement about my so-claimed beauty? These are always embarrassing situations for me—you run the risk of either sounding conceited or desperate. At least, that’s how I feel at times like this.
_________

8:00 p.m.

We’re seated—I’m seated between Tav and Kate. I keep having to fight for my armrest with Tav. He thinks it’s funny and keeps knocking my elbow off.

Okay, moment of truth—it’s amazing sitting next to him. I try not to think about Frankie in the restaurant adjacent to the concert hall.

“Are you ready?” Tav whispers in my deaf ear. At least, that’s what I think he said.

“For what?”

“The concert. I think you’re going to enjoy it.”

“You like marching bands?” He would, probably thinks rock is from Satan.

“Marching bands?” He’s looking very puzzled. “You don’t know what you’re going to see?”

“No…”

He’s laughing at me.

“What?”

He hands me the program just as the overhead lights go off and the stage lights start to swirl—

“You have got to be kidding me.” I’m standing up. Shocked.

Now Kate’s laughing.

“Welcome to Rock ‘n’ Roll Time Warp—music from the 60s to 90s!”

I think I just died and went to heaven—rock ‘n’ roll and Tav.

I love my life.

________

8:45 p.m.

I’m taking photos and Frankie’s name keeps showing up—messages from him. Tav’s looking at my phone and I’m trying to place my hand over the message, but just decide to drop in to the pub instead.

“Be right back,” I whisper and rush over next door.

“Frankie, I’m sorry.” I slide into the seat by him.

“How’s it going?”

“Oh, you know…” I’m hoping they don’t play any Foo Fighters while I’m gone.

“How much longer?”

“Not that much. How’s the game going?” Who the hell was playing anyway?

“Good.”

“Hey, I’ll make it up to you. Thanks for being so sweet about this. It’s soooo good to see you.” I must have overdone the enthusiasm as Frankie’s not letting go of my hand and is planting kisses on it.
_________

8:55 p.m.

“You okay?” Kate’s concerned.

“Just fine.”

“Did I miss anything?”

“Not too much.”

They’re playing The Doors, “Love Me Two Times.” Tav leans in and says, “One of my favorite bands.”

“Shuuuut up!”

He likes classic rock? Never saw that coming. Not one bit.

Tav’s got his arm on the armrest and his shoulder is leaning into mine. I don’t want to move because…because I don’t want to move. It’s not like it means anything. It just feels nice.

Nice? I’m in denial.
_______

9:15 p.m.

Frankie’s texting again.

“Nat, I think I’ll just come and join you.”

“Sorry. Have to take this call.” I’m trying to shout over the music. Frankie, you’re killing me. Now I’m killing the people in my row as I climb over them to get out.

“Are you okay? Can I help?” Tav has followed me out.

“No. I’m fine. Thanks.”

“Would you like something to drink?”

“Water. I’ll just be a moment. Too much noise here. Have to take this call outside.” I turn around and he’s still watching, so I head in the opposite direction, do a quick turn around in the crowd, drop down on my knees, and pretend I’m searching for my lost contact lens…until I reach the other end of the room.

I carefully get up. Tav is nowhere to be seen. I take my heels off and sprint to the pub. I’m running on germ-infested, cholera catching, ringworm crawling sidewalk. I’m going to die of a rare disease. I can see my epitaph. “Here lies Natalie, a victim of her lies. May all other women be warned.”
_________

9:20 p.m.

I am exhausted. All this tension and running back and forth. And now I have an incurable disease and my epitaph to worry about.

“Hey you, you get my message?”

“Yes, Frankie, that’s why I’m here…” With who knows what bacteria teeming on my feet.

“Everything okay?”

“Do you have alcohol?” 97% alcohol will kill the germs.

“I’m having a beer…”

“Never mind.”

“Why can’t you stay? I’m bored of waiting. I miss you so much…”

Frankie, stop whining. Be a man.

“I know what you mean…okay, have to go now. See you soon. Here are my car keys. If you get bored, just take my car home. I’ll get a ride back.”
_________

9:25 p.m.

I’m back at the concert, but now the disease drama has taken center stage in my mind.

“You’re not sick?” Kate’s worried now. “Tummy trouble?”

Eeew! No! And please don’t say that in front of Tav!!!

“No, just taking care of a friend.” I wave my phone to affirm that fact. That was the truth. Not the whole truth, because the friend was in the pub next door, not on the phone.

“You got another message,” Tav informs me. How can he tell?

“Your phone keeps lighting up.” How did he know what I was thinking???

“Just so irritating. I’m just not going to bother about it.”

“Your boyfriend?”

“My boyfriend? Boyfriend? Ha ha! Good one. No. Not. My boyfriend. Not.” I might be sounding a little too hysterical to be believed. “Where’s Brad?” I can’t see him anywhere around.

“He had to leave a while back. One of the youth was having a melt-down and needed to talk to him.”

“I’m so sorry he has to miss such a great concert.” I direct everyone’s attention back to the final song.
And it was a great concert! I’ll remember it for a long time. I’m not sure what I’m going to be thinking about more—the performers or Tav sitting next to me.
_________________

10:20 p.m.

“Can I walk you to your car?” Tav asks.

I want to yell “No!” but no words are coming out.

“That would be nice. It would make me feel a whole lot better.” Kate, why are you answering for me?

“Actually, I was going to take a cab home. Gwen’s friend dropped me off and so…” This is not really a life and death situation, but it could be. So, of course, if you’re facing your murderer, do you tell him the truth or not?

“I’d be happy to drive you home.” Tav wants to drive me home. Noooooo! Alone with Tav in his car. No, I don’t think so. I wonder what it would be like… No. Perish the thought.

“You don’t know where I live.” I’m trying to find any excuse.

“Hello Siri! Can you tell me where the very famous Natalie Taylor lives?”

“Very funny.”

“Okay, settled then.” Kate is heading to her car. “See you in the morning.” Kate, uhm…Kate…

“Ready?” Tav places his hand lightly on my back and ushers me to his car.

Frankie is just going to have to wait.

I send off a quick text. “Hey had to ride with the staff. I’ll call you when I get home. Can you bring my car back tomorrow?” And I turn off my phone for good this time.
____________________

1:15 a.m.

I can’t sleep. I’m thinking about the ride home with Tav. No grabbing, no C-grade wrestling match. No “C’mon Nat! Don’t push me away,” like that really turns a woman on. C’mon? Thank you!! Wow! That really makes me want to drop everything and lay myself down for you. No, thank you. Too many bad car rides home.

But now…just a nice pleasant ride home—listening to a CD of the concert he had bought.

“Thanks for the ride.” Tav had actually opened my car door for me. Men still do that?

“Any time.”

“Thanks.”

“Wait a moment.” And he’s back with the concert CD in hand.

“You’re joking?!”

“No. Something to remember this evening by.”

Not going to need that, I’m thinking. I’ve already stocked my mental library.

“This is really nice. Are you sure you don’t want to keep it?” I’m debating on how to say bye, and he drops a kiss on my cheek and is gone.

So I rush into the house and wash my face immediately—and scrub all around the spot where he had kissed me. Some things are worth keeping for as long as possible.
___________________

2:25 a.m.

Oh no! I forgot to call Frankie. Better to text.

“Frankie, so sorry…severe complication. Will spend all day with you tomorrow.” He did come all this way…

“No worries, Nat. Like I said, I’d wait forever for you. You know I love and adore you. Buonanotte amore mio.”

I’m reading his text, feeling guilty, and crying all over again. I’m in severe danger of becoming one of those Victorian-era women who are constantly in a pre-state of swooning and in dire need of their smelling salts.

My life is sooo complicated.

I love it.