It takes Abigail a little over a week to arrange an outing including Genevieve, Neil, and others in the band for Gloria to meet them. They’re playing at an open mic competition at a club in Norcross, not far from where Gloria lives, and this time, Abigail insists on picking her up. She and Gloria also have a surprise for the others, since they’ve been playing and writing songs together for several days. They’ll also be competing in the open mic as a duo.
“I can’t explain it,” Abigail tells Genevieve in a phone call, “the moment we met, I felt a connection. Ever since, we’ve just gotten closer.”
“I’m glad to hear you’ve found someone. I’m always worried you’re too driven to have a personal life. The band is the only thing you’ve done for relaxation.”
“I like to work. Sue me.”
“By the way, I may have convinced Steven to come to the show.”
“How did you manage that?”
“He was at the office the other day and I played him an MP3 from our last show.”
“And he wasn’t just saying he’d be there to get you to stop bugging him?”
“No. He sounded genuinely interested. But, he might bring a date.”
“You know, if you looked around, you could probably find some geeky guy at Tech you’d have a better shot with.”
“Yes. I know. Leah says the same thing.”
“Well, maybe you should listen to her. She knows Steven better than you do.”
“And she says he’s not looking for a long-term relationship currently.”
“Why does that encourage you?”
“Because I’m not either. Hopefully, by the time I am, he’ll be.”
“Sounds like a long shot.”
“Sort of like coming all the way to Atlanta and having a medical recruiter introduce you to the love of your life?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
On the night of the show, Neil reserves a block of tables for the crowd they expect. He and Zoë get there first, followed soon after by Genevieve, Abigail, and Gloria. Abigail makes the introductions and everyone welcomes Gloria. They head over to the tables while Genevieve waits in front for stragglers.
Steven arrives with an attractive woman who appears to be of South American descent. He introduces her as Matilda Alavares, a public defender for Fulton County. As they’re shaking hands, Genevieve says something to her in Spanish. Matilda, a bit surprised, replies in Spanish, and she and Genevieve have a brief conversation, mainly relating to family origins.
“My friends call me Mattie,” she tells Genevieve.
Genevieve leads them to the tables the band has reserved.
“Is Leah coming?” Neil asks.
“No, she has plans with her college friend,” Genevieve says.
“You’re the one who delivered Alyssa’s and Tim’s daughter, aren’t you?” Steven asks Neil.
“Yep, that’s me,” Neil says.
“Oh, I have got to hear about this,” Matilda says. “Someone in the office was talking about it when it happened.”
Neil and Abigail tell them the story.
The band is scheduled to go on toward the middle of the show, which gives them time to get acquainted. Abigail is pleased to see Gloria seems to fit in well. Matilda recognizes her from a poetry slam a few months ago in Decatur.
“I think I should let everyone know why I can’t play tonight,” Abigail says.
“Yeah. I was wondering about that,” Neil says. “Hang on. I saw a group in the lineup called Ab & Glo.”
“That’s us,” Gloria says. “We’ve written a few numbers we’d like to try out.”
“You’re stealing her away from us already,” Neil says, shaking his finger at Gloria.
“Does that make me Yoko?” Gloria says.
Neil considers it. “No. If you’re Yoko, then I can’t be John Lennon. You can be Linda Eastman.”
“What’s the big deal?” Genevieve says. “I can play everything Abby can.”
“That’s true,” Zoë says. “And I can play just about everything else.”
“Stop,” Neil says, holding up his hands. “You’re not kicking me out of my own band.”
“What’s up with Freddy, by the way?” Abigail says.
“Annie insisted he return to Portland,” Zoë says. “She gave him an ultimatum; either he comes back or she’s going to drive his Mustang off a cliff.”
“Okay.” Abigail shakes her head. “I thought they were in therapy.”
“It actually seems to be working,” Neil says. “Before she’d have just done it.”
The show runner signals to Neil to get ready.
“That’s us,” he says. To Abigail he says, “Hope you brought your A game, sis. We’ll be hard to beat.”
“You’re playing one of my songs,” Abigail replies.
“Then we’ve got this in the bag,” Neil says over his shoulder.
With Freddy absent, Neil takes the drumming duties, while Genevieve and Sarah team up on vocals. They do an Abigail original and a Neil and Zoë collaboration. Each group gets two songs, and if the audience likes them enough to make the final three, they get another song. The band’s set is very well received.
There are two acts between them and Ab & Glo, and while the second group is finishing their first song, Abigail gets the nod from the show runner.
Their set consists of two collaborations, combining alluring harmonies with complex guitar work, which also has the crowd on their feet. Neither group is surprised when they both get called back for the final three. The crowd seems to respond to the trio a bit more, so they end up in first place with Abigail and Gloria second. Still, they regard the evening as a success.
“So, what did you two think?” Genevieve asks Steven and Matilda.
“I had a great time,” Matilda says.
“Same here,” Steven echoes. “You’re very talented, Genevieve.”
Genevieve later confides to Abigail that she also regards the evening as a success.