Chapter Ten

When the boys finally left the stage, Natalie collapsed into her chair, her smile a mile wide, and tears streaming down her face. Michael sat beside her and took her hand. As people filed past, she got a lot of looks – mostly envious. Some people stopped to wish her luck, and a few women even gave her hugs. Soon though, the crowd began to thin. Natalie saw Patti and Joanne approaching.

Natalie gave both women hugs. “Thank you so much for everything. This was a night I’ll never forget. You here to take us back to the car? I don’t think we could find the way back ourselves.”

Joanne smiled. “It was our pleasure. No, it’s not time to go for you yet, unless you’re too tired. If you feel up to it, the boys would like you to come backstage and hang out with them for a while.”

Natalie jumped up. “I’m not dead yet, so of course I’m up for it! Lead the way. C’mon, Michael, get the lead out.” She pulled on his hand, dragging him up out of his seat.

Joanne led Natalie, while Patti kept pace with Michael, a little behind the two women. “Patti, I can’t thank you enough for what you and Joanne and the guys did for Natalie,” Michael said. He bent down to kiss her cheek. “I haven’t seen Natalie this happy in a long, long time.”

Patti, stunned by the kiss, and the strange thrill it gave her, answered, “It truly was our pleasure, as Joanne said. I’m sure Jon and the others will tell you the same thing when we get backstage.”

“Backstage” turned out to be a big room with four doors off the back of it. Each door had one of the guys’ names on it. Natalie took everything in. She was in the backstage dressing area for Bon Jovi! She had to pinch herself. There were some people milling around, setting up food stations, and a bar area. A few others were sitting around on the couches that were spread throughout the room. Patti and Joanne led them to an empty sofa. “Have a seat; someone will be by to take your drink order soon, and the guys will be out once they get cleaned up.”

As if her words conjured them, the doors at the back of the room opened, and the freshly showered band entered the room to a smattering of applause. They made big, foppy bows, and blew kisses to everyone. “Thank you, thank you, you’re terribly kind,” Jon said, with a horrible fake British accent. He then switched to his real voice. “This was a great night. Thanks for all your help. Eat and drink up.” He scanned the room, finding Natalie and Michael sitting on a sofa in the far corner of the room. “Excuse me,” he said, and strode across the room, with the others trailing in his wake.

Natalie and Michael stood as the group approached. Natalie looked at her brother, mouthing “Oh my God!”. Her brother just smiled.

The four men shook Michael’s hand, and kissed Natalie on the cheek affectionately. Tico asked Natalie how she enjoyed the show. She gushed about it being the single best night of her life. “Really, ‘thank you’ just doesn’t say enough. You guys,” Natalie said, tearing up again, “made me so happy; words can’t even express.” Reaching for Tico, who was closest, she gave him a long, bracing hug. “Thank you so much,” she whispered in his ear, then kissed his cheek. She did the same with the others. By the time she was done, she wasn’t the only one with unshed tears in her eyes.

Jon cleared his throat. “OK. Enough of that. This is a celebration,” he said. Then, he raised his voice. “Where the hell is the beer?”

There was laughter around the room, and the melancholy spell that Natalie was under had broken. Someone brought over a tray loaded with beer. Everyone took one, and David made a toast. “To life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.” He winked at Natalie. “And, to hot women, too.” Natalie laughed, and clinked bottles with him, and settled in to have some fun.

Jon brought her around to meet some of the others in the room. She met the wives who were able to make it, many of the assistants and other musicians, and friends of the band. Everyone had kind words to say to her. Natalie felt a little overwhelmed, but was taking everything in stride. She looked over her shoulder for her brother, and saw him deep in conversation with Patti.

“What’s her story?” she asked Jon.

“Let’s see. She’s 32, single, and currently unattached. A hell of a nice girl. What about your brother?”

“He’s 37, single, but married to his job, and also currently unattached. Looks like they’re working on changing that. I’m glad,” she sighed. “Michael has been spending far too much time and energy taking care of me. He needs to enjoy himself more.”

“Is it only the two of you?” Jon asked.

“Yes. Our parents died two years ago,” Natalie replied.

“I’m sorry.”

“Thanks. Dad went in August, and Mom didn’t want to be without him, and died of a broken heart two weeks later. The doctors said it was a heart attack, but I know she had a broken heart. Dad was the love of her life. On the one hand, I’m glad they’re gone, so they don’t have to worry about me. But, damn, I could use my Mom right about now.” She shook her head. “Please, just shut me up. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. I guess it’s just been an emotional night. Sorry.”

“It’s fine, babe,” he said, putting his arm around her shoulders and squeezing gently. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s go join the others, and toast your folks.”

Jon brought her back to the others, and they drank to family and friends.


Stephanie said...

Hathor, I cannot wait for the rest of this story. It is absolutely wonderful. I love the idea of the guys singing acapella like they did. That was so very cool. Thanks.

Tara Leigh said...

And a backstage bash? And do I spy a bit of matchmaking? Hmmmmmmmm....?