"Oops, sorry, love," said a distinctly British voice.
"John Taylor!" I blurted nervously. Suddenly, I could taste my own heart pounding.
"Guilty as charged," he said. Now well into his 40s, John looked better than ever--still tall and lean with fashionably mussed hair, but his face had thinned out, the laugh lines around his mouth like two perfect parentheses. He smiled, and I noticed vaguely that he had crooked teeth. Ach, the English.
"Well, cheers," he said, starting to walk away.
I was desperate for something to say. But what?
Back when I was 10 years old, Duran Duran's John Taylor was the center of my universe. Nick Rhodes was pretty, Simon Le Bon was charismatic, but it was bassist Taylor--quietly confident, classically handsome--who burst upon my daydreams with his tight leather jeans and poofy blond bangs. We were separated by fate and geography and a good 15 years, and yet it still seemed possible that a small, insignificant incident could change the entire trajectory of our lives. A moment just...like...this.
"Hold on," I said. "Did you know that the first concert I ever went to was Duran Duran?" This was true: My father took me, along with two other girls from fifth grade. "Dallas, Reunion Arena, 7 and the Ragged Tiger Tour."
"My God," he said, swiveling around. "I knew it was you."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Third balcony? The one wearing a jean jacket and a little pin on your lapel?"
"Yes! That was me," I said.
Our eyes locked, and his blue eyes glistened with tears. "You have no idea how long I've been looking for you."
We went back to John's hotel, where he had registered under the name Pussy Galore.
"From your favorite James Bond film," I pointed out.
He winked at me. "Of course."
Once we were nestled in the giant Tahitian leather love seat, John told me how he'd come to Dallas repeatedly--first with Duran Duran and later with offshoot PowerStation--looking for the young girl in the third balcony who stole his heart.
"Oh, God," I said, remembering the PowerStation show. "I was baby-sitting."
It was odd that all the time I had spent weaving fantasies about John Taylor--about how and when we would fall in love--that he was thinking about me, too. He was so distraught about not finding me that he made love to scores of women (well, he said "bagged") just to ease the sting of my memory. Hundreds of women. Thousands.
"That sounds awful," I said, cupping his finely cut jaw in my hands.
He bit his quivering lip. "It was."
"Wait, aren't you married?"
He placed one finger over my lips. "All for show, love," he whispered. He stood up and moved to the stereo. "Right now, I want to play you something special." He dimmed the lights.
It was Duran Duran's new single, "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise" from their new album Astronaut. It's a blast of catchy pop--vintage, danceable stuff.
"I like this chorus. It's--"
"Shh," he scolded, plucking bass notes in the air. "Let the music wash over you."
I leaned back and closed my eyes. The third time through, I think I fell asleep.
"What do you think?" he asked finally, rousing me.
"Simon sounds good. His voice has matured." Actually, I think it's just tweaked electronically, but I didn't say that.
"And what do you think of the bass line?"
"Terrific," I said. Silence. "You know which bass line of yours I like best?"
"If you say 'Rio,' I'm going to hang myself."
I was, but not anymore. "No, it's, umm, 'Reflex.'"
He shrugged and popped a vitamin. "Can I get you anything? Green tea? Calcium supplements?"
"Do you have any beer?" I asked, looking around. I remember reading an article once in Rolling Stone about how John Taylor and Boy George stayed up all night doing blow and arguing about whose band was more famous.
"Sorry, love. Stuff's in my past." He tapped out a brown liquid pill and handed it to me. "Here, have a B-12," he said. "Does wonders for your skin."
"Did I mention we're gonna be on the Ellen DeGeneres show?" he asked.
I tried to smother a yawn. "You did."
"The album's number 17 in the U.S., but it's number three in the U.K."
"Yeah, I got that press release," I said.
"I guess it does make a difference to have Roger back in the band," he said.
"It would be brilliant to do Ali G," he said.
"I don't think it works as well if you're in on the joke."
He snapped his fingers in imitation. "Boo-sha-kah, respek." Then he burst into laughter. "That geezer cracks me up."
"Do you wanna make out?" I asked.
He shrugged again. "Sure."
We lay on the bed, breathless, our bare legs tangled around each other. I stared at the ceiling as John caressed my face. "So what happens next?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"
He laughed. "Well, I mean, are we dating or not?"
I sat bolt upright. "You're married."
His eyes shimmered as if he might cry. "But still."
"Look," I said, holding his hand. "It's complicated. I like you--a lot--but we come from different worlds. You're British, I'm Texan. You're a rock star, I'm a rock critic..."
"At a regional paper," he snorted.
"No need to be cruel, John."
He sighed dramatically. "I just wish you'd told me all this before we had sex."
"We didn't have sex. We kissed twice, and you touched my boob."
"Well, I'm not just some slut, you know," he said, yanking on his control-top boxers. "I wanted this to matter."
In the end, we parted as friends. He gave me a free import copy of the CD, which he signed, simply, "Love, John."
"I've written that a lot of times," he told me, as the taxicab pulled out to take me back to the Super 8. "But this time, I mean it."