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Old 07-04-2016, 08:44 AM   #1
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Innocent Experience - Chapter 4

Disclaimer: A bit sooner than I expected. This is a short one. Thanks so much for waiting and reading. Thanks to dragonfly, philly80 and kuroshi for their comments. This is fiction, I only own the original characters. Again... lyrics by Bob Dylan (I had a massive Dylan obsession when I started writing this chapter, and the previous one). Thanks so much to Blue for an extra pair of eyes and for her friendship. Hope you enjoy it!

P.S. Feedback appreciated, even if you don't like the chapter. I'd love to know your opinion.



Chapter 4
She Belongs to Me


She's got everything she needs
She's an artist, she don't look back
She can take the dark out of nighttime
And paint the daytime black.


Florence woke up, and the first thing she did was look at her phone. Brian on his side, snoring. She hadn't heard him sliding into bed, probably after midnight. She’d fallen asleep listening to U2, she’d been making a habit of that. Her nightmares weren’t returning at least. Was the music the reason for that? She didn't know, but it was a good sign. In any case, she wasn't going to call Bono yet. Rolling onto Brian, she slipped one hand under his t-shirt. He was warm. She tried to fall asleep again. Nevertheless, whenever she closed her eyes, it wasn’t her own breath that she heard, but the voice of the man who was still looking for the face he had before the world was made. She had so many questions, and he was only a phone call away.


Nothing like a cup of coffee to start her day. Florence got up carefully, and walked to the kitchenette. She had to be at the Hammond’s before eleven, but she wasn’t in the mood to teach, and maybe calling in sick was the best idea after all. She could spend the rest of the day with Brian. He had promised to take her out and make it up for all those times he’d gotten a call from the magazine during the last two months.


The muffled sound of a cellphone told Florence that all her plans were about to go to hell. Brian’s voice confirmed her suspicions. Taking a deep breath, she forgot about the coffee and went to the bathroom to take a shower. She had to get ready to go to the Hammond’s.


***


Dinner at Cavistons was pleasant. Bono was glad to spend some time alone with his wife. No cellphones; no kids pestering. As they talked about their projects, family, and work, Bono felt happy to be able to open up to someone for the first time in the last few months; but they ended up going home early because Ali wasn't feeling well.


The stillness of the evening felt suffocating to Bono, who kept turning over in bed, trying to find some comfort. His pillow was too warm to bear, but he couldn’t switch. Ali never used hers, but tonight she had her arms wrapped around it. She was soundly asleep. He stared at her for a bit, and wished he was the God damn pillow. Unlike the previous night, he fell asleep missing her body on his.


The following morning, Ali woke up with Bono’s arms wrapped around her. He was supposed to leave for New York in a few hours, but she couldn't wait until he was up to say goodbye. She had another meeting, and picking up the kids at their friend's was the next task on her list. She kissed his forehead and left.


It was quarter past eleven when Bono opened his eyes. He didn't see Ali, just a sticky note on her pillow.


And there she goes again.


He took a deep breath and got up. It was going to be a very long day. Grabbing the post-it, he crumpled it and tossed it to the wastebasket. It was becoming a habit, he noticed. Crumpling papers and tossing them, just like Alison unintentionally running away from him. He thought of his day one more time. He remembered he had to share a plane with Larry for a few hours, and after their argument, he didn't find it pleasant at all. He toyed with the idea of showing Florence's photographs to the rest of the band. But maybe it was better to wait until they were back in New York.


Florence's photographs. He barely managed to keep them out of his mind. As he had his toasts and tea for breakfast, thoughts of Florence came to his mind.


She was struggling, and he could see that everywhere in her work. But what was she struggling with? Was she fighting her past? Or was she running away from it? Was she afraid of the future, and the possibilities it could bring? Judging by what Jordan had told him, Bono was almost certain that Florence’s boyfriend had something to do with it. But he knew that deep down there was a light that Florence didn't want to get rid of. And she wasn't aware of it just yet. He felt the urge to turn that light on. He felt it, because he knew the reason. She was a stranger, but he had already seen her naked. Every time Bono gazed at her drawings, he saw the beautiful nakedness of Florence's soul. And that spoke to him more than she had the afternoon they met in his apartment.


He glanced at his watch. It was too late. He had to get ready for the flight. Getting out of his clothes, he entered his bathroom for a nice long shower. The water trickled down his body, carrying all his thoughts with it down the drain. Bono forced himself to stop worrying about work, at least until he was back in New York. He was exhausted, and he still had to endure an hour in a car.




The ride to the airport was smooth enough for Bono to relax. He leaned on the back seat, and closed his eyes as music played through his headphones. David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” still mesmerized him every time. His palm against his thigh beat the rhythm. He counted every second.


Everything between the last note of the song and the airplane’s take-off went almost unnoticed to Bono, as if the car had passed through some sort of Bermuda Triangle.


The sky was bright as he stared up at the sun through the window. Edge sat next to him, but he was quiet with his eyes closed. His headphones were on, likely playing something he had recorded over the last few days. Larry and Adam were almost whispering three seats away from them. Bono couldn't hear a word. Not that he needed to, but he was curious whether they were discussing his idea. Bono opened his mouth to speak to Edge, but he thought twice, and beckoned the flight attendant over instead. He needed a travel pillow. He smiled at her as she handed him the object; and finally, giving way to his tiredness, Bono closed his eyes and tried to get more sleep. Soon enough they were going to land.


Mariana wasn't happy with this trip. But she has to understand that we've got no time to waste,” Adam told Larry.


It was good seeing the kids. Aaron was nicer than the last time we saw each other. Puberty, you know. At least it was better than the band's last meeting.”


Larry.” Adam looked his friend right to his eyes. “The girl is really good.”


Bono's trying to distract us. He hasn't finished those lyrics. Every time we hit the studio we make changes to the rest of the songs, but he always avoids that one. That “Wolves” song we changed twice last week! I wonder if he really gives a shit about the album.”


Give him the benefit of the doubt, at least,” Adam said. “You're being too foocking harsh on him.”


I know. I know,” Larry said shaking his head, and stared at his knees. “But... are we going to do this? Or are we going to go round in circles for another five years. We've got people who trust us. People who've been waiting for us, and people that pay loads of money traveling to see us perform live. I think it's only fair to finish this album.”


I get your point, Lars. But we're not going to finish it if you keep doing this. You've got to change your strategy, and you know it. Bono doesn't work better or faster under pressure. He gets a mess, a bloody mess.”


Adam put on his sleep mask and reclined his seat. Larry's sight kept locked on the outside.


I just want him to take this seriously. A totally unknown girl who can draw? Really, Adam?”


You never know, Mullen, you never know.”


Larry glanced at Adam; he looked comfortable, and ready for a nap. Thinking it might be a good idea, Larry put on his sleeping mask too. He had a lot to think about and plenty of time before the plane touched American soil.


***

The taste of the latte was like shock therapy. She always stopped by the same café before work. Since it was near the Hammond's, she thought of it like killing two birds with one stone. Brian had left a few minutes after the phone call, which had just upset her.


The last sip lingered as long as the final notes of the harmonica in the song she was listening. Cry without weeping. Talk without speaking. Scream without raising your voice. She knew those words would be stuck in her head for the rest of the day. As she’d discovered, that was one of the side effects of Bono’s lyrics, and it wasn’t that bad.


Taking the headphones off, she flicked through her iPhone, looking for new emails. There was one from her sister. More than two years separated them. When Florence decided to leave Florida, she found it difficult to leave her elder sister behind, but Joanne didn't want to move. She had already settled down despite everything that her family had gone through. If they could still call it a family. Joanne got married and formed her own family when she was twenty years old. Florence always thought that it had been her sister’s way to run away from the past. The same past that kept her from doing the same.


In her email, Joanne asked Florence to spend Christmas with her family in Florida. The kids missed their aunt. The feeling was mutual, but The Sunshine State was more like a dark Calvary to Florence. While thinking about the offer, a text message popped up—Jordan.


Phoned Dad already? He's driving me! xxx


Smiling, she shook her head and typed back.


Haven't made my mind yet. Sorry. xoxo


Florence didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but one of the women at the table next to her was giving a speech for all Manhattan to hear on how she’d found lipstick on her husband’s shirt. Apparently, work had always been a façade, and the guy had a second family. Luckily, the women were about to leave. But what she had heard left her mind going overdrive. She wasn't sure she was comfortable with the direction her relationship was taking. Brian had a lot of work to do lately. He kept promising her time to spend together, but so far she had only been disappointed. Over and over.


Was it really disappointing?


If it wasn't for those women's conversation, she wouldn't have even noticed her current situation. She did notice that it didn't bother her as much as it would have two months earlier. She'd been too focused on her drawings and the music she had recently discovered.


She looked at her watch. 10:46. She was still on time. Leaving a twenty on the table, she grabbed her bag and left.




As usual, Mrs. Hammond wasn't at home, and her husband had left for a business trip to London. Hayley spent most part of the lesson excusing herself to go to the bathroom, but Florence could hear her phone chiming in the distance; the girl was obviously chatting with her friends. Florence rolled her eyes. Any other time, she would have established some order, but today wasn’t a good day. She couldn’t care less about teaching. After all, her own phone had been her center of attention over the last few days. Today was not that different. Almost two hours later, she left Hayley an assignment for their next meeting and left.




When she got home, her head span. It was like a decision hangover. And the drop that spilled the drink was that conversation she’d overheard. Too many things to think about: Florida, Brian, the diamond ring she wore now. Bono. His voice wouldn't leave her head. Even when she stopped the music, his words kept dancing on her lips. And her eyes kept wandering to her phone.


***


I think it's your phone, Bono,” Adam told his friend. They were finally at JFK.


Where did I leave it?” he asked, patting his thighs and behind. It wasn't in his pockets.


I think it's in your bag,” Larry motioned to Bono's luggage.


Oh right! I'll be right back,” as he grabbed the phone, he looked for a quiet place.


Damn! I’m starving.” Edge excused himself. “I’ll go get something to eat.”






Florence thought that calling Bono might be a bad idea. His phone kept ringing but there was no answer. Maybe he was busy. Or he didn't pick up unknown calls. Maybe...


Hello?” a voice said from the other end. Her train of thought crashed against it.


Mr. Hewson?”


He recognized the husky voice. How the hell could he remember a voice he'd only heard for a few minutes? Ridiculously enough, he knew it was Florence.


There was no answer.


Mr. Hewson, is that you?”


He shook his head. It was taking him too long to respond.


Yes, it's me. Who's speaking?” Even though he knew, there was a tiny margin of error, and he wanted to make sure he was right.


Florence Lewis. We met a few days ago, I'm Jordan's...”


Florence!” His face lit up like a struck match. “How’ve you been?”


Good. You?”


I've had better days,” he said with a frown. “But you've phoned. It means that you have a final answer.”


Florence hesitated. He wasn't asking, but it wasn't a demand either. The tone in his voice wanted to give something away, but he wouldn't let it. Was he pleading?


So?” he tried to rush her into a decision, giving his voice a 180 degree turn.


Are you in a hurry, Mr. Hewson? I can call later if you want.”


I'm at the airport. We've just landed. But no, I'm just...”

“I've thought about our last conversation,” she interrupted him. It was a very annoying habit she knew she had to get rid of, but to Bono it seemed more like a challenge. “And...”



He could play her game as well.


How about dinner? Tonight.” He was desperate to get an answer. And maybe he was just looking forward to seeing her. “No papers, no deadlines, no phones. Just a nice conversation about art... and music. Do you like music, Florence?”


She was confused. Why was he asking such things? Whatever... she answered.


Yes, I do.”


That was all he needed to hear: a vocal confirmation that all that time he waited for a phone call wasn’t in vain. He took a deep breath as a smile tugged on the corner of his mouth.


Dinner, then?”


Lunch,” she said.


Okay.” He waited for more information. The second syllable lingered for a while. He was willing to accept any condition.


Tomorrow… if you’re free.”


Bono, the car's waiting!”


Bono heard Adam’s voice but his brain ignored the actual words. He was trying to remember his schedule for the next day. Florence waited for an answer.


I–” he tried to speak but another voice interrupted him.


Bono!”


Now it was Edge. For Christ’s sake! He ran his hand over his face in disbelief.


Would you let me finish, God damn it?!?!” He turned and cried out. People around him were so immersed in their own worlds that no one noticed a hysterical rock star yelling at his band mates in the middle of JFK.


Whatever,” Edge groaned. He turned to Larry and Adam. “Let's wait for him in the car.”


Bono's thoughts mutinied. Where was his assistant when he needed her? He tried to think faster; he had to give Florence an answer, and it couldn’t wait.


Tomorrow's perfect!” He managed to say. He wasn't even sure if he was available, but he wasn't going to toss all his effort in the trash. “You choose where.”


Listen, I have to go,” she said. Bono heard a distant voice calling her name. She wasn't alone, “I'm a bit busy now. I'll text you.”


Okay, great. See you tomorrow, then.”


Bye.”


Have a...” but she was gone.


Slipping the phone into his pocket, Bono rubbed the back of his neck. He stretched his back before making his way outside. He was glad she called, especially because he wasn't even sure if she had remembered his offer.


He slammed the door shut when he entered the Lincoln MKT. He noticed his friends’ stares on him. It was a bit ridiculous, but he smiled at their poker faces.


What?”


Nothing,” Adam shrugged casually.


Edge noticed that Bono looked less tired than when they'd landed. He wondered if it was all related to those drawings. His sudden change of mood came rightafter that phone call. Would this mean more trouble? He saw Bono pulling out his phone. Did anyone else notice that huge grin as he typed? It could only mean more arguments between Bono and Larry. Edge took a deep breath as he leaned back. He didn't mean to think out loud, but he did.


Brace yourself. Something's on its way!”


What?” Larry asked totally clueless.


Bono understood what his friend was talking about. A storm was coming. Once he talked to Florence, things might get a bit tough between him and Larry. Bono had decided to hire her, and there was nothing Larry and his stupid stubbornness could do about it.


Yes, Edge, it's going be the hell of a week.” Showing the same grin, he closed his eyes and leaned back. He was going to get his own way. Once again.



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Old 07-04-2016, 03:17 PM   #2
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Oh, I forgot. Chapter 5 might come up by the end of July or early August, since I'm going on vacation and it's gonna be pretty difficult to edit and get it ready.
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Old 07-04-2016, 05:19 PM   #3
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I have been reading you're past chapters. So Iam all up to date on you're story. Can't wait to read more when you have time.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by eriekittym View Post
I have been reading you're past chapters. So Iam all up to date on you're story. Can't wait to read more when you have time.
Thanks a lot! It's always good to read people's comments, especially if they're enjoying your work. Thanks so, so much.

I'm working on editing chapter 5, so it might come in August.
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Old 07-07-2016, 04:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lharper View Post
Thanks a lot! It's always good to read people's comments, especially if they're enjoying your work. Thanks so, so much.

I'm working on editing chapter 5, so it might come in August.
Youre most welcome. I look foreword to reading chapter 5.
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Old 08-21-2016, 03:05 PM   #6
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Ch 5 will take some time... life got in the way... hope to have it ready before the end of Aug. Thank y'all for waiting
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Old 08-21-2016, 05:43 PM   #7
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Ch 5 will take some time... life got in the way... hope to have it ready before the end of Aug. Thank y'all for waiting
Not to worry I understand
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