Chapter Six

Natalie was very excited, and a little bit nervous, when Michael had told her about the concert. The hired car, the mystery seats, the personal escort, all of it – she was beside herself. Oh what a good time she was going to have! She dressed for the occasion in a very short red dress, and very high gold heels. She felt like a million bucks, except for a strange little flutter in her chest, which she shrugged off as excitement nerves.

Natalie was pacing, waiting for Michael and the car. When the doorbell rang, she all but flew to the door to answer. When she flung the door open, Michael jumped back in surprise, and laughed. “Anxious, are we?” he teased. Michael looked his sister up and down as he came into the house, and let out a low whistle. “Man, you clean up good, sis,” he said. “Are you sure you’ll be OK in those shoes all night?”

“I’ll be fine,” she answered, a bit testily. “If I get tired, I’ll sit. Dammit, Michael, do not ruin this for me. I’m not going to let this, this condition keep me from having a good time tonight. Don’t mother me, Michael.”

“Sorry, sorry; you know I nag you because I love you,” Michael said, chagrined.

Natalie’s expression softened. “I know you do, sweetie. I love you too.” She gave Michael a big hug. “C’mon, let’s go – I don’t want to miss a thing.”

The two went outside, and Natalie squealed with delight when she saw the car. It must have been half a block long, and jet black.

“Michael, what a car! I can’t believe we’re going in such style!” Natalie gushed.

Michael’s heart squeezed. He hadn’t seen his sister so happy, so alive, since the diagnosis. Just one more thing to thank The Boys for, he thought.

“Milady, your carriage awaits,” Michael announced with a sweeping bow.

When they were settled into the luxurious car, Natalie asked where their seats were. Michael grinned. “I actually have no idea. The tickets are from, uh, a client. He knows you’re a fan, and wanted to do something nice for you. We’ll find out when we get there, I guess.”

“It doesn’t even matter. What’s important is that I get to be there. Oh, I’m so excited! Can’t we go any faster,” she asked. The driver, hearing that, punched the gas, making Natalie squeak in surprise, before laughing out loud.

When they got to the arena, the driver slowed at the gate, showed a pass of some sort, and was directed to a barricaded road. The barricade was lifted, and the car allowed to pass. “Where are we going,” asked Natalie. Michael shrugged. This was as much of an adventure for him as it was for her. The driver answered that he had specific instructions on where to deliver them. Natalie shrugged and thought to herself, I don’t care; I’m here!

The driver pulled up to what looked like a service entrance. He got out of the car as two women, one tall and blond, one short and brunette, both dressed in black, approached the car. The driver opened the back door so Michael and Natalie could get out.

“Michael, Natalie, I’m Patti,” the shorter one said, “and this is Joanne.” The four exchanged handshakes. Michael and Patti exchanged sly smiles. Natalie still had no idea why she was there or what the band had planned for her later in the show. Patti continued, “We’ve been tasked to take care of you this evening. Was the ride in okay? Any issues?”

Both Natalie and Michael shook their heads.

“No? Good. Let’s get you folks to your seats.”

As Joanne led a chatty Natalie toward their seats, Michael fell into step with Patti, a few paces behind. She slipped an envelope into Michael’s hands. “Jon asked that I give this to you before you got to your seats. Don’t let Natalie know about it yet. Give it to her later, on the way home. Boss’ orders.”

“What is it?” Michael asked.

“I really can’t tell you. It’s something for Natalie, and there’s a note in there for you, too. That’s all I can say. Don’t open it yet; put it in your pocket.”

As the four wound their way through a seemingly endless maze of corridors, Natalie was getting more and more excited. Her color was high, which worried Michael a little, but she seemed to be doing fine otherwise. Finally, they emerged onto the arena floor. Joanne led them down the void between the stage and the first row of seats. Natalie looked over shoulder at Michael, and gaped at him. Michael grinned back, and lengthened his stride to take her hand. They followed Joanne around a wide staircase that was set up on the edge of the stage – Jon must make his way down at some point during the show – to two seats directly in front of the middle of the staircase.

“Here you go,” Joanne said. “Enjoy the show!”


Tara Leigh said...

Just throw the poor girl to the wolves! That close?!