Love and concern for Monica forces the women to take action.
“What’s up?” He asked trying to figure out what had caught Frank’s attention.
Frank took another bite of his Veggie Burger and chewed thoughtfully before answering, “I’m not sure.”
“So what are you looking at?”
“Your wife and mine. They seem to be having some big pow-wow with Alicia.”
“So maybe they’re just talking?” Ray suggested.
“Nope.” Frank said watching them closely. “They keep looking around to make sure no one is listening in.”
Suddenly Alicia broke away from the group and walked up on the deck to talk to Mikey. Whatever she told him caused him to hand her something and off she went around the side of the house towards the driveway.
“She’s getting something out of their car?” Ray guessed.
Frank took another bite of his burger. “Maybe. I wonder what’s going on.”
“We could just ask.” Ray suggested.
Frank giggled, “Shit, are you serious? Those women are up to something and we’re not supposed to know. I’m not gonna piss off Jamia by asking her what’s going on.”
Ray had to agree. “I feel bad. Monica’s sitting over there with the kids. How come they aren’t including her?”
“Probably cause it has something to do with her. I know Jamia’s awful worried about her.”
“Yeah, Christa, too.” Ray said then took a drink of his beer.
“Alicia hasn’t come back.” Frank noted. “She must have gone somewhere.”
Ray nodded, “Yeah and look at Mikey and Gee. Something is going on. Gee is upset you can tell by the way he’s talking with his hands.”
“This is kinda like watching a movie.” Frank said. “Look. Mikey is leaving the deck. Maybe he’ll come out here and we can ask him what’s going on.”
Mikey did head towards the gazebo. “Hey.” He said as he sat down heavily.
“What’s wrong with Gee?” Frank asked without pretense.
Trust in his friends allowed Mikey to answer, “He’s upset. Remember that doctor that Monica worked for before they got married?”
Both men nodded.
“Well he called asking for Monica a little while ago.”
“And Gee is jealous?” Ray guessed.
“Yeah at first he was. He thought that maybe Monica was acting different because she’d been seeing Paul while he’s been gone.”
“Oh fuck, I don’t think so.” Frank said. “I can’t imagine Monica ever doing something like that.”
“That’s what I told him.” Mikey agreed. “But then Gee suddenly got the idea that maybe it’s something else.”
“Something else?” Ray asked.
Mikey sighed, “Now he’s wondering if Monica is sick and she just hadn’t told him.”
“Well shit, he needs to talk to her.” Frank finished off his burger and set down the plate. “Did you tell him that?”
“Tried to.” Mikey said, “But he told me that Monica promised to talk to him tonight about what’s been going on. Fuck, I think he’s afraid of what she’ll say.”
Monica finished cutting up Rush’s hamburger and sighed. She was hungry but because Gee had made a big deal out of her eating earlier she refused to go up and get herself one. Deep down she knew she was being childish about it but she couldn’t help it. Besides it looked like Gee was done grilling anyway. He’d left the deck and was heading out towards the gazebo where his friends were seated.
“Mommy, can I have more watermelon?” Elle asked catching Monica’s attention.
“Sure, Hun.” Monica spooned more of the bite size pieces on her plate.
“Me too.” Chloe said jumping up and down.
“Okay.” Monica grinned at the little girl. “Hold on a sec.” She tried not to be upset about it but she wondered why she was the only mother out here dealing with the kids. Jamia and Christa were standing across the yard talking and Alicia had disappeared. She did notice that Donna was walking towards her.
“Where are Alicia and Ryan?” Her mother in law asked.
“Ryan is inside napping and I’m not sure where Alicia disappeared to.” Monica answered.
“I better go check on him.” Donna said turning towards the house.
Monica sighed, “I’ll just stay here with the kids.” She said softly.
Gerard sat down next to Mikey. “Everybody get enough to eat?’ He asked trying to be a good host.
“It was good, Man.” Ray said. “Did you get a chance to eat?”
“Nope, I’m not hungry.” Gerard answered leaning back against the wood railing.
“Hey, let me go fix you a burger.” Frank said starting to stand. “I’ll even make sure it’s a real one and not a Veggie.”
Gerard tried to smile. “No, really I’m okay. So you guys been talking about the tour?”
Mikey, Frank and Ray looked at each other. “Uh, no.” Ray said honestly.
“I suppose you’ve been talking about my problems.” Gerard said with a sigh.
“Well it’s kinda hard not to notice things aren’t right.” Frank said. “Hey, try not to worry too much. If Monica said she’d talk to you later about whatever is bothering her, she will.”
Gerard looked across the yard to the picnic table where Monica sat with the kids. She looked so beautiful. He suddenly frowned when she crossed her arms on the table and laid her head down.
“Fuck, look at her. She doesn’t feel good. I’m gonna make her get out of the sun.” He stood but Ray reached up and grabbed his arm.
“Hold on a minute, Gee.” They all watched as Jamia, Alicia and Christa walked together towards the picnic table.
“What’s going on?” Gee asked watching as the women talked to Monica. He saw his mom join them.
“Not sure.” Frank said “But I’m guessing they are gonna try to get her to tell them what’s wrong.”
“I should be the one she’s telling that to.” Gerard said.
“I see my wife’s back.” Mikey said.
“Yeah, where did she go?” Ray asked.
Mikey shook his head. “I don’t know. She just told me she needed the car keys.”
The men continued to watch, each wishing they could read lips. Suddenly Monica stood and Christa sat down in her place. Jamia reached out and took Monica’s arm and led her towards the house with Alicia following closely behind.
“I don’t want them to upset her.” Gerard said.
“Look, maybe she’ll talk to them.” Ray said. “You know how close our women are. Maybe it will help Monica to talk to them.”
Gerard was unconvinced, “I just don’t want her getting all upset. I don’t want her to think they’re ganging up on her.”
“Give them a chance.” Mikey said softly. “Alicia loves Monica like a sister. She won’t do anything to hurt her. They all just want to help.”
About twenty minutes later the three women came out of the house and walked directly towards the gazebo. Gerard tried to read Monica’s body language to determine if she was angry but he couldn’t. He couldn’t read the look on her face either.
Monica reached them first. “Gee, we need to talk.”
Ray, Mikey and Frank all stood quickly. They all wanted to make a hasty exit. There was something in Monica’s tone that almost demanded it.
Alicia linked arms with Mikey and Jamia did the same with Frank. The two couples walked towards the deck. Ray crossed the yard to the picnic table where Christa was sitting.
Monica turned from Gerard and watched her friends wander off. Once they were far enough away she took a deep breath and turned to face Gerard.
Christa, Ray and the others were standing on the deck trying not to glance in the direction of the gazebo. It was hard. The guys all knew something important was occurring out there.
“What the hell is going on?” Ray asked Christa.
Before she could answer Frank inhaled sharply and both Ray and Mikey followed his gaze. Gee was lying on the floor of the gazebo with Monica kneeling beside him.
“Fuck.” Ray muttered. “Did Monica just hit him?”