February 14th, some year that isn’t this year … obviously
The final notes of “Mother Earth” faded away, and the crowd went wild. It had been their second encore song after an energy-filled show.
Sharon raised her mic into the air, smiling out at the audience. “Thank you, Paris!”
The guys joined her at the front of the stage, and they took their bows one last time. The roar of the crowd slowly faded to a ringing in her ears as they went backstage. She high-fived each of the guys and shared sweaty hugs with them, the adrenaline from the show still running through her veins.
“Where are you off to so fast?” she asked, watching as Stefan grabbed his coat and bag after hurriedly packing up his guitar.
He grinned. “Emma’s meeting me here. I promised her a special night in Paris for Valentine’s Day, just the two of us. The grandparents are on babysitting duty.”
She smiled. “Have fun.”
But as she watched him leave, she felt a pang in her chest. All day, her social media had been flooded with posts of people cherishing time with their loved ones. And she wished for nothing more than to have the woman she loved here with her, too.
They had known from the beginning that their relationship would be long distance at least half of the time, with both of them touring the world on different schedules. It was hard, but it was always worth it in the end for those treasured moments when they got to be together.
But it was times like now when it hurt the most. The pain was an emptiness that was gnawing at her from inside her chest. She would give anything for Tarja to be here with her, to be able to kiss her and tell her how much she loved her, and to walk the streets of Paris hand in hand.
They had wanted to be able to see each other on this day, but it just hadn’t been feasible. Tarja was in the middle of Russia on her tour, and they were in France. It just didn’t make sense for one of them to fly halfway across Europe and back in between shows.
The concert had put the emptiness she had been feeling out of her mind for a few hours, but as she headed toward her dressing room to change, it slowly seeped back in as the adrenaline faded away.
She wanted to call her, but she wasn’t even sure that Tarja would be awake with the time difference, and she knew how important it was for her to rest between shows.
With a sigh, she pushed open the door to her dressing room, and her hand flew to her mouth. On the table was a bouquet of red roses and a small plush teddy bear holding a sparkly heart. She picked them up, looking for a note, when her phone started buzzing in her bag.
She dug through her things until she found it, and her heart jumped when she saw her girlfriend’s photo pop up on the screen.
“Tarja?” she said, holding the phone to her ear.
“Hello, my love.”
Her voice still never failed to make Sharon’s heart jump.
“You’re still up? How late is it there?”
“Did you get your gift?” Tarja asked.
“Y-yes, I did. I just saw it. How did you even do that? I can’t tell you how happy it made me. I miss you so much.”
She felt a lump form in her throat, and tears rose in her eyes as she spoke the words, the emptiness suddenly hitting her full-force. She picked up the teddy bear and clutched it to her chest.
“I miss you too.”
“I wish you were here, Tari,” she whispered, trying desperately to keep the tears at bay.
“That teddy bear grants wishes, you know. If you wish hard enough.”
“What?” Sharon held the phone away from her ear, still holding the bear in her other hand. Tarja’s voice had sounded strange, like it was echoing.
“I made sure to get the magical one when I ordered it. It cost a little extra, but I’d say it was worth it.”
Tarja’s voice was coming from behind her. Sharon slowly turned around to see Tarja standing in the doorway. She was wearing black jeans and a leather jacket, her hair hanging in loose waves down her back and her lips painted bright red. Tarja lowered the phone from her ear and smiled. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Sharon let her phone fall onto the table. Her tears spilled over now. “How--how did you--”
She couldn’t even finish her sentence before Tarja had closed the distance between them and pulled her into a tight embrace.
“I had to see you,” Tarja whispered.
Sharon held her girlfriend as close to her as was physically possible, smoothing her hands over her silky hair. She still couldn’t believe she was really here.
“My show was a little bit earlier in the afternoon today,” Tarja said, pulling away just enough to look into Sharon’s eyes, but they kept their arms around each other. “I got on a flight right afterward, and with the time difference, I was able to make it just in time. My show is in Moscow tomorrow, so it’s closer anyway. My flight leaves first thing in the morning, so it doesn’t give us much time, but--”
“I don’t care,” Sharon whispered. “You’re here.”
Sharon gently stroked a piece of hair away from the smaller woman’s face and leaned down to kiss her. As Tarja’s lips met hers, she felt the rest of that empty feeling melt away, replaced by warmth that bloomed in her chest and spread through the rest of her body. She was in the arms of the woman she loved, where she belonged.
“Let me just get changed,” Sharon said breathlessly once they had parted. “And then we can go.”
Once she had changed out of her stage dress and into a more comfortable outfit of jeans and a hoodie, she grabbed her things and took Tarja’s hand, holding the roses and teddy bear in the other.
“Thank you again for my present,” Sharon said, looking down at the bear’s cute stitched face. “I feel bad that I didn’t get you anything now. I would have if I’d known you would be here.”
“But that would have ruined the surprise,” Tarja said. “Besides, I’m sure you’ll find some way to make it up to me.”
Sharon grinned. “You bet I will.”
Sharon kissed her again, pushing her up against the wall, and Tarja’s fingers tangled in her hair. The other singer moaned into her mouth as Sharon deepened the kiss and wrapped her arms around her waist.
“God, I can’t wait to get you alone,” Tarja whispered against her lips.
“We will be soon. Just you and me, all night,” Sharon said. She reached up to stroke her girlfriend’s cheek, and Tarja smiled.
The remaining guys were still sitting in the main area drinking beers, and they looked up when the two women emerged.
“Hey!” Ruud said, raising his beer. “I didn’t know Tarja would be here.”
The rest of the guys greeted her as well.
“We haven’t seen you in forever, Tarja!” Mike said. “Are you guys going to stick around?”
Sharon put her arm around her girlfriend’s shoulder. “I’m afraid you guys won’t be seeing much of her tonight. She’s all mine.”
Tarja turned to her and smiled, and Sharon kissed her gently.
“Aww,” said Ruud.
“You guys have a good night,” Tarja said.
Sharon took her hand once more, and the two lovers walked down the hall and into the night.