The trip to New York has already been quite eventful. How will everything that has happened effect Annabelle? What will it mean for her future?
These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:
Annabelle made sure she was back before the end of the concert. Once she had returned to Madison Square Gardens, she made her way through to the room the band were using. She could hear the music as she walked along the corridors on the ground floor. The thought of more than $250,000 sitting in an account she had not even been aware of was playing on her mind and provoking a huge sense of gratitude towards Dean. How much would the value of the apartment be if she were to sell it? It had never sunk in before how generous Dean had been to her. The thought of it brought a sensation that made her feel quite dizzy. Somehow the notion of abandonment and rejection from her former lover were easing away.
She lingered in the corridors near the rooms being used for the concert. She was careful to avoid the band when they returned to their dressing room. As soon as she saw Chris, she bounded up to him and squeezed his arm. “Everything went well didn’t it?”
Chris was dripping with sweat, “Annie they were awesome!”
Feeling a huge sense of relief Annabelle asked, “Anything special I need to know about?”
Chris nodded catching his breath, “Dean sang a couple of songs instead of Nick. Just him and the guitar, “She Dreams” and another one, he said it’s new. He dedicated them to his nan. I think he meant you.”
Annabelle felt her neck and face flush crimson. “Wow, that’s new. I have never seen Dean perform solo on stage.”
Chris was still panting, “Honestly, I think it was the best part of the night. Everyone was completely gripped by him. The rest of the night the crowd was just nuts. The band were great Annie.”
“Your shirt is ripped Chris.”
Chris looked down to where Annabelle was pointing, “Oh, yeah, I’m not surprised, it was rough out there.”
Within a couple of hours Annabelle and Chris had escaped back to the hotel suite. The moment Annabelle started to notice things that made her feel uncomfortable, she made a hasty exit from the party that she knew she had to make an appearance at for Dean’s sake. By the time she had found Dean, he was already clearly intoxicated. She couldn’t get much sense out of him at all, which made her feel disappointed. When she let him clumsily hug her, she whispered into his ears, “Thank you so much for everything Dean, I am so grateful.” But it was clear her words were wasted on him.
She spoke to each member of the band, and to Jimmy and Ron and others she clearly knew very well. She introduced Chris as a good friend of hers to everyone, and tried to make sure he felt comfortable meeting people who were complete strangers to him. She told Jimmy and Ron that Chris and her would be leaving from LaGuardia at eleven o’clock the next morning. Annabelle had a trained eye for the things she hated to see. As a teenager, had been shocked the first time she had ever seen cocaine. It had become a familiar sight, but as soon as she spotted someone with it, she told Chris it was time to leave.
Annabelle really struggled to wake up the next morning. Sleep deprivation was taking it’s toll after those three nights in New York. But she pushed herself to respond to the alarm on her phone, because she felt an urgency to get back to Blackwood. Chris was already up and dressed. He could see her how tired she was, so he poured coffee for her. Annabelle sipped the dark brown liquid, waiting to feel it’s invigorating effect, before she hurried into the shower. “I’ll be so relieved to get out of this city. I can’t wait to be back in Blackwood Chris.”
Chris didn’t feel quite the same way. The trip to New York had been thrilling for him. Everything he had seen would occupy his mind for a long time to come. On the way to the airport, Annabelle chatted cheerfully and asked Chris for more details of the concert she had missed. She listened eagerly to Chris, delighted to hear his enthusiastic description of the night and plenty of praise for the band.
Her mood was only effected when she pulled out her phone to look at a text message in her inbox. She immediately pulled a face, “Ugh, I think Robin is right about her being a mean cow.”
“Who?” asked Chris. Annabelle passed her phone over to Chris, who read the message sent by Jenna to Annabelle: “YOU’RE FULL OF SURPRISES. HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR SLUTTY WEEKEND IN THE BIG APPLE.” His mouth gaped open, “What the hell?”
“It looks as if Jenna has heard about you and me being in New York together Chris. You better be prepared for some some odd comments when we get back.”
Still shocked by what he had read, Chris was adamant, “That’s out of order. I’ll call her when we are back. She can’t say things like that to you.”
“I wouldn’t waste your breath Chris. I am starting to think she is beyond remorse. I know you and her had a thing together. But just be thankful you are not female, if you were, I think she would be much harder to take. It makes me nervous about all of her friends too. I don’t think I’m being unfair saying they seem to live for gossip.”
“We never had a thing going Annie. When I first moved to Blackwood, it was nice to get some attention, but I figured she wasn’t my type when she didn’t hide that was pretty relaxed about casual hook-ups with half of the men in town. What happened between us was a complete one-off and it was a mistake.”
Annabelle frowned, “I don’t want to think about her right now. I’m not going to let her ruin what has been amazing weekend. Thank you so much Chris for coming with me. I hope that you don’t regret it if Jenna starts gossiping.”
“No way, I don’t care what she thinks. I have loved this trip Annie. I’m going to be nagging you about when we can come back.”
Annabelle smiled warmly, “Actually Chris, maybe I’m going to need to be back in New York in the near future. If you really mean that, I’d love your company again.”
Chris beamed with delight, he wrapped his hand around Annabelle’s. When they sat on the plane taking them back to Appleton Airport, he felt a reluctance to return to the sedate life of Blackwood. He suddenly turned to Annabelle and asked her something he had meant to ask her earlier, “Why does Dean call you Nan?”
She smiled, “When we met, I told him my name was Annabelle and he told me that sounded like some uppercrust snob’s name. He said he didn’t want to call me that and asked what I was called for short. Well my parents have always called me Annabelle, and people at school called me Annie, but I didn’t feel like an Annie. Annie made me think of the musical.”
“Little girl with bright red locks.”
“Full of sunshine and positivity. Well that wasn’t me at all. I told Dean that I had been reading a book called “The Buccaneers”, it’s a novel by Edith Wharton and the main character was called Annabelle. She is an American who ends up in an uppercrust snobby household in England, but ends up desperate to escape. In the book the name she is called right from the start is Nan. So Dean said he would call me Nan.”
“You are Nan to Dean and Belle to Robin.”
“Yup, two different names, two completely different versions of me.”
“But you don’t like anyone else calling you Belle?”
“It feels kind of intimate. I don’t really mind Chris. I identify that name with the way Robin makes me feel. So it feels odd when someone who does not really know me calls me Belle. Robin speaks a little Italian. He calls me Belle or Bellissima – they mean beautiful or gorgeous. In the morning he would wake me up saying “Buongiorno principessa!”, which means good morning Princess. He is so sweet.”
“Belle suits you Annabelle. Although you are better after a coffee. I didn’t recognize you this morning.”
“Thanks a lot!” Annabelle prodded Chris’ arm, “But I will say this, I feel so much more like an Annie these days. I do feel much more like I have sunshine and positivity within me, most days. It’s something I am aspiring to. I am perfectly content with Annabelle and Annie, but not Anne. I never felt like an Anne. That name is far too neat and tidy, which I don’t think I will ever be.”
“Alright, Miss Riley, I won’t call you Anne.”
Once their plane had landed, Chris and Annabelle had to jump in a taxi back to Blackwood. Burt and Pearl were in Mapleton visiting Pearl’s sister Gloria. Just before they climbed into the taxi, Chris listened to a voice-mail on his mobile and recognised Robin’s voice, “Hey Chris, do me a favour, tell Annabelle to call Dean and ask him to remove the photo of her from his Instagram account, or change it to a different one. I will call her again when I have finished work.”
Sitting in the back of the car with Annabelle, who was completely exhausted, he selected the Instagram app on his phone. It didn’t take him long to find photos of Mildew on stage at Madison Square Gardens. He scrolled down through the photos. He saw what looked like an official account for Mildew. There was also an account belonging to Dean Mathers. Chris kept on scrolling down through the photos until he saw one that startled him. He read the comment Dean had added to the photo.
“LAST NIGHT WAS DEDICATED TO MY NAN. THIS BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WAS THE REASON 20,000 PEOPLE CAME TO SEE US PLAY AT MSG. ALL MY THANKS TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE.” He also noticed the statistics for the photo displayed as 48K likes and hundreds of comments.
Chris turned to look at a sleepy Annabelle who had her head resting against his shoulder. “Annie, wake up. What the hell is this?”
Annabelle blinked her eyes in confusion and weariness. She looked at the photo Chris was showing her and then looked at him. Her face indicated she was baffled. She looked at the photo again and read the comment from Dean. A smile crept across her lips, “That’s so sweet of him.”
Chris’ face darkened with anger, “I can’t believe you. No wonder you didn’t want me to sleep on the sofa!”
Annabelle raised her eyebrows, “No, you’re wrong, that’s not what happened. Dean was completely out for the count that night. He didn’t wake up once. I was on the sofa all night.”
Chris glared at Annabelle, it was obvious how much he was trying to restrain his feelings. He turned to look out of the window of the taxi. “Just tell the truth Annie.”
Annabelle felt hurt at the the way Chris was reacting. She sat back into the seat and folded her arms, “It’s none of your business Chris.”
Nothing else was said for the rest of the journey back to Blackwood. The taxi pulled over outside the Jennings’ residence and both of them alighted. Annabelle paid the fare. When she turned around Chris was already walking down the road. Her heart sank.
She let herself in to the house. She wished Burt and Pearl were home. She went up to her room to put her bag down. Then she walked in the bathroom. Becoming transfixed by the tired reflection in the mirror, strong feelings welled upside her. Annabelle screamed and before she even realized what she was doing her hand, clenched in a first, struck her head several times. The unusual sensations of relief and then failure and guilt came too. She stuck her head again and again as hard as she could. Once her hand hurt more than her head did, she gave up and returned to her room in tears. There, Annabelle collapsed on her bed and was soon fast asleep.
You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story here:
Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:
I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?