It was a sunny day in Vizovice, Czech Republic. The perfect festival weather, Sharon thought. But it wasn't just the weather that made that day perfect. It was something else. Someone else, actually. Tarja Turunen, her old friend, who made her feel emotions that she didn’t even know she had. She first noticed it during the video shoot of Paradise. She instantly felt this strange, but beautiful kind of connection. She felt like that woman knew her better than she did. Also, she was breathtakingly beautiful. Sharon had a hard time trying to not look at her constantly.
Every time they met, Sharon thought her feelings might change, that maybe her heart wouldn’t go into overdrive when she saw her, that she wouldn’t go weak in the knees at the sound of her sweet laugh. But instead, they only seemed to get more intense.
And now, she was sitting right next to her, a glass of wine in her hand, on the balcony of Sharon’s hotel room. They had a view of the little town and the rolling green hills beyond. The setting sun was reflecting from Tarja’s black hair and made her pale skin shine. Sharon thought that she looked more beautiful than ever and not just one forbidden thought was on her mind.
“I’m so glad we got to do this.”
Sharon was pulled from her thoughts by the voice of her friend.
“Me too,” she said, smiling. “Let’s not wait two years to perform together again, okay?”
“Deal.” Tarja raised her glass, and Sharon tapped it with her own.
“So, what are your plans for the rest of the year?” Tarja asked once she had swallowed her sip of wine.
“Well, we’ll be performing at festivals for the rest of the summer still, and then preparing for our tour with Evanescence next year.”
“I heard about that! That will be so cool, and I’m sure the fans will love it.”
Sharon nodded. “Yeah, we’re really excited. And you’re going to be on the road for a while, right?”
Tarja nodded. “Yes, I have a couple more festival shows in the summer, and then I’ll be touring in Russia for most of the fall. And then it will be time for the Christmas concerts!”
By that time, both of their glasses were empty.
“Want some more?’’ Sharon asked.
“Oh, yeah, definitely.’’
She poured some more of the wine in the glasses and gave Tarja a light smile.
“You look really cute today, by the way,’’ the younger singer said. “Well, you actually look cute everyday.’’
“Oh, thanks sweetie, so do you, but you know that, right?’’ Sharon responded with a smile. Tarja smiled back, without making eye contact, and took a large sip of wine. She was definitely going to need it. Sharon, her secret crush, was flirting with her. Or was she? Tarja couldn’t tell. She finished the glass and got herself even more.
“Looks like we’re gonna be drunk even before it gets dark.’’ Sharon laughed before she chugged her entire glass to keep up with Tarja.
At this point, she could feel the wine doing its magic.
“What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you onstage?’’ Sharon asked.
“Oh, god, don’t even ask…’’ the other singer said, rolling her eyes.
A mischievous grin formed on Sharon’s lips. “Great, now you made me even more interested in it.’’
“Nope, that's just too… You know.’’
“Come on, tell me.’’
“No, I'm so not telling you.’’ Tarja started laughing at the memory.
“Please, tell me, or…’’
An idea formed in Sharon’s mind.
“Or?’’ Tarja asked and raised her eyebrows slightly.
“Or I'm gonna find a spider. You don't want that, right?’’
“So are you gonna tell me?’’
“Come on, what if I get us another bottle if you tell me?’’
“Deal,’’ she said.
“So, what happened?’’
“My pants broke on stage and I had yellow underpants.’’
Sharon started laughing, a lot. “Oh my god, that's horrible. What did you do about it?’’
“Well, I went backstage and changed during the guitar solo,’’ Tarja responded, giggling.
“You handled it well. Now let's get us a new bottle, shall we?’’
They walked to the store, hand in hand, laughing to everything the other one said. They suddenly felt like their worlds were complete. Tarja picked a random wine bottle from the liquor section, and they walked up to the cash register. Sharon had to let go of their linked hands when she pulled her card out of her wallet, but as soon as she had paid, Tarja reached for her hand again, and her heart somersaulted in her chest.
“What are we gonna do now? We can go back, or we can walk around a bit,’’ Sharon asked her.
“Yeah, let’s take a walk. I think there's a nice park nearby,’’ the other woman answered. “By the way, what is the worst thing that happened to you onstage?’’ Tarja continued.
“Oh, I don't know, probably when I confused languages and started speaking German in France.’’ She winced slightly at the memory.
“That's pretty funny as well.’’ Tarja smiled.
“Well, it wasn't at the moment,’’ Sharon said and giggled.
“Yeah, that's understandable.”
They had turned the corner from the paved street and onto a gravel path that led into the park. It was dark outside now, but the light blooming from the streetlights lining the path was enough for them to see by.
“Look, there's a really cool tree!” Tarja said, pointing to a large oak with low-hanging branches up the path a bit to their left. “How great would it be if we drank the wine under it?’’
“Yes, it's pretty cool. Not cooler than me though,” Sharon said, and they both laughed.
They sat under it, opened the wine and shared some more funny stories. Soon, the bottle was almost empty, and Sharon felt warm and content.
“Hey, I have an idea,” Tarja said, giggling.
“We should climb the tree. Don’t you think this would be more fun if we were up in the branches?”
In her intoxicated state, this sounded like the best idea in the world. “Yes,” Sharon agreed. “We absolutely should.”
Still giggling, Tarja hooked her arm over one of the lowest branches and tried to pull herself up. “Can you help me?”
Sharon gave her a gentle push until she was able to get herself on the branch.
“Now you,” Tarja said, holding out her hand.
Sharon grasped onto it and pushed against the tree trunk with her feet until she was able to get the leverage she needed to make it up to the branch as well.
“Yay, we did it!” Tarja clapped her hands and almost lost her balance, but Sharon quickly reached out with one arm to steady her while keeping the other hand firmly on the branch.
“That’s the perfect spot,” Tarja said, pointing up the tree a ways to a divet in the branches that would have enough space for both of them to lean against the trunk.
It was easy enough to climb to it, and it was a tight squeeze, but Sharon didn’t mind that Tarja had to be half on her lap. The younger woman rested her head on Sharon’s shoulder. “This is perfect,” she whispered.
“Yes, it is.” Sharon looked down at her friend and couldn’t resist running her fingers through her silky hair.
They stayed like this for a few moments until Tarja looked up suddenly. “Where’s the wine?”
“I think we left it at the bottom,” Sharon said.
“No! We need the wine.” Tarja looked alarmed, and she started to climb back down. Sharon reluctantly followed her, even though she would have been happy to stay in that spot all night.
When she reached the base of the trunk again, Tarja was looking inside the wine bottle with a disappointed expression on her face.
“It’s almost gone,” she said. She held it out to Sharon. “You can have it.”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t need it.”
“We can split it then,” Tarja said, and raised the bottle to her lips.
Sharon watched the muscles in the other woman’s neck contract as she swallowed, and she felt her throat go dry.
“Here.” Tarja held out the bottle to her, and she drank the last tiny sip.
When Sharon set the bottle down, Tarja was gazing up at the tree. “I don’t think I have the energy to go back up there.”
“Me either,” Sharon said. “Let’s just stay here.”
“Sounds good to me,” Tarja said and sighed happily, snuggling closer to her friend once more.
Sharon put her arms around her and leaned against the base of the trunk. Within moments, she felt Tarja’s breathing settle into a slow rhythm. She knew they had to get back to the hotel soon, but she was sleepy and didn’t want to disturb the woman in her arms. Without meaning to, she let her eyes close and rested her head on Tarja’s.
Ruud watched with dismay from behind a nearby tree as Sharon and Tarja fell asleep. He had watched his best friend stare after the Finnish singer with puppy-dog eyes for the past six years and had watched Tarja give her the same longing looks when she wasn’t aware. He had hoped that tonight, when he had seen them leave the hotel holding hands and skipping down the street to the grocery store, that one of them would admit their feelings with the influence of the alcohol that they were clearly under. But it hadn’t happened.
“Idiots,” Stefan mumbled, voicing his thoughts, and he looked over to see his friend shaking his head.
“We need to do something,” Jeroen said.
A mischievous glint sparked in Stefan’s eye. “We should play a prank on them.”
“What would we do? Draw on their faces or something?” Jeroen asked.
“Hmm,” said Stefan. “I think we can do better than that.”
A moment later, Ruud held up his hand. “I’ve got it.”
After he explained the idea to his bandmates, they tiptoed across the path to where the two singers lay fast asleep. The knelt down and began carefully untying their shoelaces. They froze when Tarja stirred, but she just draped her arm across Sharon’s shoulder and made a soft noise before seeming to fall asleep again.
They glanced at each other again before continuing their work. Once the laces were untied, they began tying the laces of their shoes together, one from each foot. They had to move Sharon’s legs slightly closer, but luckily she didn’t seem disturbed. Once they had the laces of each of their shoes together, they tied them multiple, tight knots.
Ruud glanced to his right to see Stefan trying to stifle laughter, and he had to contain his own as well.
Once they were satisfied with their handiwork, they got up and dusted off their hands, giving each other silent high-fives before returning to the hotel.
Tarja woke up very confused. Her head was hurting and she had no idea where she was. This definitely didn’t feel like her hotel room. It kind of felt like she was outside. And there was someone with her. She opened her eyes and saw her friend sleeping next to her. It was still dark and there was an empty wine bottle laying near them.
Her friend wiggled a bit next to her. “Yes, sweetie?’’.
Tarja couldn't believe her ears. She called her sweetie. That could mean something. Or perhaps she was still drunk.
“Where are we?’’ Tarja asked in a sleepy voice.
“I don't know, somewhere in Czech Republic,’’ Sharon answered, her eyes still closed. Tarja quickly looked around. She could see a high building with the word “hotel’’ written on it. Could this be their hotel? It was a small city, this could be the only hotel there. She got up to look around a bit more, but she fell on the ground immediately.
“Damn it, Tarja, what are you doing?’’ Sharon asked.
“Looks like some idiot tied our shoelaces together. Do you have all your stuff, or did they rob us as well?’’
Sharon checked all her pockets and sighed in relief.
“I seem to have everything. You?’’
“Good. Now, do you think you could try to untie the laces?’’
And Tarja was trying, unfortunately without a great outcome.
“Holy shit, that person really did a great job,’’ Tarja hissed angrily.
“Let me try it,’’ Sharon said with a little smile. “Oh crap, you were right’’
“I guess we're gonna have to walk back like this.’’
“It could be worse.’’ Sharon smiled and Tarja helped her get up. She hugged her tightly.
“We can do this,’’ she whispered in her ear.
They were slowly moving towards the hotel, just a few inches apart, both of them enjoying the closeness.
“See, it's not that bad.’’ Tarja smiled and placed a small peck on her friend's cheek. Sharon pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head.
After a few minutes, they entered the hotel.
“Is this even the right hotel?’’ Sharon asked, laughing. The receptionist gave them a strange look, but neither of them really cared.
“Yeah, don’t worry, I can remember it,’’ Tarja assured her.
“Can I help you, ladies?’’ the receptionist asked them, looking even more confused.
“No, you can’t. Unless you want to untie our shoelaces of course. Some jerk tied them together.’’
The receptionist rolled her eyes. Tarja pulled her keys out of her pocket and looked at them.
“Room 317. That’s probably the third floor.’’
They got on the elevator and Sharon pressed the button. The door closed.
“Did you see the look on her face? What the heck is wrong with her?’’ They both burst into loud laughter.
“I know, right, has she, like, never seen two people with shoelaces tied together before?’’ Tarja said, laughing again.
She unlocked the door and they both walked in.
“I'm still really tired… How about going straight to the bed?’’ Tarja asked.
“Oh, yes, sounds nice. Wait. I'm not going straight to the bed. Lets go gay to the bed.’’ Sharon said and buried her face in Tarja’s shoulder. She couldn’t believe that she actually said that.
“Yeah, definitely.’’ Tarja jumped on the bed and took Sharon with her. They were both laying on their side, face to face, just looking at each other, admiring each other’s beauty.
“You're so goddamn beautiful,’’ Tarja said after a minute or so of silence.
“Shut up, just look at you, do you ever look in the mirror? Don't you see it?’’
“Oh, honey…’’ Tarja said and leaned in for a kiss. They joined their lips, looking deep in each other’s eyes. After a couple wonderful seconds, Sharon leaned back with a large smile on her face.
“Oh, gay indeed,” she said.
“I love you,” Tarja whispered. “And not just when I'm drunk, I love you all the time, wherever we are.’’
“I love you too,” Sharon confessed quietly.
“Like, in the, you know, gay way?’’ Tarja wanted to be sure. She still couldn't believe how many good things had happened to them in the past few hours.
“Oh, yes, sweetie. In the gayest way possible,” she assured her.
“Oh my god, the guys are gonna freak out when they'll see us as a couple.” Tarja laughed.
“Yeah, totally. We gotta film it when we tell them. I can already imagine their faces,” Sharon agreed.
Tarja giggled and then rested her head on Sharon’s shoulder. Sharon gently tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and kissed her once more.
After a couple of minutes, they were already asleep.