The tour is over and the band arrives in New York.
Willow uttered a silent prayer in thanks that her gift had been strong enough to allow him to see his beloved grandmother.
Slowly as they both watched, Elena faded. Willow dropped her hands and leaned back.
Gerard turned to face her his voice filled with awe. “I saw her. I really saw her.” His cheeks still tingling, his mind still racing.
Willow simply smiled.
Gerard shook his head. “I can’t believe it.” He looked up at Willow. “And she looked so good, so happy. Why was she here? What did she want? Did she know I could see her?” The fact that he was so excited pleased Willow. However, it was at this moment she realized he’d only seen Elena. A little voice in her head told her not to mention that Elena wasn’t alone. “Gee, she knew you could see her. Didn’t you notice the beautiful smile she gave you?”
His face lit up. “Yeah, she did, didn’t she?”
“Yes.” Willow said softly. “But I don’t know why she appeared. I tried to open my mind but I didn’t see any images.”
Suddenly Gerard reached for Willows hands and held them tightly. He needed to feel the sensation once more. “Thank you. Thank you for doing that for me.”
“I promised I would.” She whispered.
They sat silently for several minutes. Finally Gerard spoke. “I’ll see you in the morning.” He said rising to his feet. He was trying so hard to deal with the onslaught of emotions he was feeling but he was overwhelmed.
Willow knew she had to address the comments he’d made when he’d first walked in the room. “So, it’s over between us?” She asked softly.
Gerard continued to walk towards the door. He didn’t turn as he spoke. “No. I think we are meant to spend the time we have together.”
Willow’s heartbeat began to quicken.
He stopped at the door. “Goodnight, Willow, thank you.” He pulled the door closed before she could see the tears in his eyes.
“Man, it sucks we have to leave so early.” Bob grouched as he poured himself a cup of coffee. Truth was he didn’t want to leave his house again.
“Well shit, you shouldn’t have stayed out all night.” Ray said nudging him down the counter so he could reach the coffee pot.
“I didn’t stay out all night.” Bob answered. “Just a bit later than the rest of you.”
Alicia walked in the kitchen and made a beeline for the coffee pot. Ray saw her coming and poured her a cup.
“Thanks” she said before taking a sip of the dark roast. “Don’t let Ray give you a hard time, Bob. He didn’t get back here all that much before you.”
Ray laughed, “Sure, rat me out. How come you and Mikey and Frank left so early?”
Alicia laughed, “It wasn’t all that early. But I was kinda worried about Willow. Especially when I heard that Gerard had brought her back here.”
Frank, who was sitting in the corner drinking his coffee, suddenly remembered what he’d seen last night when they’d gotten back He’d gone upstairs before Mikey and Alicia and he’d seen Gerard coming out of Willow’s room. He hadn’t told anyone but he wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“So is Willow up yet?” Alicia asked.
Bob nodded, “She’s out on the deck mediating or something.”
Alicia walked through the family room to the sliding glass doors. Sure enough Willow was sitting on the deck Indian style with her eyes closed and her face upturned towards the sun. Mikey joined his wife.
“What’s she doing?” He asked.
Alicia shrugged, “I don’t know. I think maybe Bob is right. Maybe she’s mediating.”
“What are we looking at?” Gerard asked joining them at the door. Then he saw the answer. She looked so beautiful with the sun on her face. He loved how her reddish hair caught the light. Suddenly memories from last night filled his mind. He saw her on her knees ready to take him into her mouth, he saw her throwing back her head as she rode him… he shook his head angrily trying to dispel the thoughts. “Oh” He said trying to sound uninterested. Damn, he didn’t need those memories right now. He had turned to head towards the kitchen for coffee when he noticed Frank leaning in the doorway staring at him.
“So was Willow feeling okay when you guys got back here last night?” Frank asked.
Memories of just what had happened last night between him and Willow flashed through his brain again. “Uh, yeah. I think so.” He muttered.
Frank looked at him closely. His friend looked guilty. “You didn’t give her a hard time about anything, did you?”
The question angered Gerard, “Why would you ask that? I just brought her back here and went to bed.” He lied.
They had been friends too long for Frank not to see he was lying.
“Hey, we gotta get going.” Bob said joining them. “Somebody get Willow.”
Mikey nodded. He slid the door open and walked out on to the deck. “Uh, Willow. He gotta leave for the bus now.”
Willow lowered her head and opened her eyes. “Okay, my stuff is already packed.” She got to her feet and stretched.
“So like we’re you mediating?” He asked.
“Yeah, it clears my mind.” Willow explained. “And I love the feel of the sun on my face.”
They walked back in and she immediately sensed that something was going on. Frank was now glaring at Gerard. She heard his thoughts easily. He was thinking about last night and was worried that Gerard had done something to hurt her. She looked over at Gerard who was glaring back at Frank. She blinked in shock.
“I’ll go grab your bag.” Mikey said to Willow as he walked past.
Willow nodded. She continued to stare at Gerard until he turned to face her.
“Oh” She said softly.
Frank turned and left the room followed by the others. Now only Willow and Gerard where in the room. She continued to stare at Gerard.
“What?” He asked meeting her stare. He had the song in his head turned up loudly so she couldn’t hear the thoughts he was having about last night. Was it suddenly not working? Could she hear his thoughts through the music?
Willow shook her head, “Nothing.” She turned and quickly left the room leaving Gerard very confused.
“So of course you’ll stay with us.” Alicia was just finishing up her explanation to Willow about what was going to happen when they reached New York when Gerard walked to the front of the bus where she and Willow were seated.
Willow had been wondering where she was going to stay. She was starting to feel like a stray homeless puppy. She’d been informed that after the concert tomorrow night they would be in New York a few days before leaving for the Paramour on Monday. But she hadn’t been sure where she was supposed to stay until then.
“She should stay with me.” Gerard said sitting down across from them.
Alicia gave him a surprised look. “What?”
Gerard shrugged, “Hey I got a huge apartment with guest rooms.”
“Well we have a guest room too.” Alicia said narrowing her eyes at her brother-in-law.
Much to Willow’s surprise Gerard started laughing. “Uh, you mean the guest room that is overrun with animals?”
“Well yeah.” Alicia frowned, “I mean we would move the stuff out of the room so Willow could use it.”
Gerard looked at Willow, “My brother and his wife have a ton of pets. Cat, dogs, rabbits….” He looked at Alicia, “You haven’t acquired anything else have you?”
Alicia grinned, “No, not yet.”
He nodded, “See what I mean? It just makes the most sense for you to stay with me. You’ll have the run of the place and I promise to stay out of your way.”
Alicia’s stared at him. Gerard suddenly wanting Willow to stay with him sent off warning bells. She loved her brother-in-law but she hoped he wasn’t planning on trying to make Willow another notch in his bedpost.
“Whatever is best for everyone is okay with me.” Willow said glancing away. The idea of staying with Gerard actually sounded good. She understood this would give them more time alone and that sounded very good.
“If Willow wants to stay with you that’s fine.” Alicia said looking over at her friend. “But I still want you to come over and meet the family.”
“The family?” Willow asked.
“She means all the dogs and cats and rabbits.” Gerard stood. “We should be in New York in about an hour. When we get there I’ll drop you off at the apartment then I’ve got some stuff I need to do.” He was looking directly at Willow but she gave him a blank look.
When he walked down the hallway towards the back of the bus Alicia spoke. “You really okay with staying with him?”
Willow nodded, “Sure.”
“He seems to have mellowed some towards you.” Alicia said softly. “Just be careful. He can be nice one moment then fuckin’ mean the next.”
Her warning surprised Willow. “I know he doesn’t trust me, if that’s what you mean.”
Alicia sighed, “Look I don’t know how to say this. Remember that waitress in Columbus?”
Willow knew what she was getting at without hearing her thoughts. Suddenly the good feeling she had began to disparate. Gerard had made sure she’d heard all about what he’d done with Hope. He’d made sure she had understood how felt and how he used women. Alicia believed Gerard would try to bed her like the other women he’d been with since his divorce. What would her friend think if she knew the truth about last night? Willow sighed as she looked out the window at the passing traffic.
Alicia touched her arm. “I just worry about you.”
“Because you think I’m way out of his league.”
“Out of his league?” Alicia repeated. “No, that’s not true. You are a beautiful woman….” Willow cut her off.
“But you think I’m naïve. You think he’ll try to use me.”
Alicia thought a moment. “Look I can see he’s attracted to you. But I know how he feels about ever having any kind of meaningful relationship again. Just be careful. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Willow smiled sadly, “I know what you mean and thank you. But I can take care of myself. Once we leave the Paramour I’m going home to Kansas and I’ll never see Gerard again. I know that’s how it’s gonna be.”
“So just make yourself at home.” Gerard said as he finished showing Willow his apartment and they returned to the living room. “I’ve got some shit I need to do but I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
“Okay, thanks.” Willow said softly while moving to take a set on the leather sofa.
Gerard wondered once again why she was suddenly acting so different. He started for the door then turned. “I talked to my mom earlier. She wants to meet you.”
“Does she know about me?” Willow asked.
“About your gift?” Gerard nodded, “Yeah, Mikey told her. She wants to meet the woman who has been conversing with her mom.”
“Not so much anymore.” Willow said sadly. Elena’s visit last night had her more confused than ever. Why had Gerard only seen Elena and why did Elena appear but not show her any images?
“Nothing.” Willow answered. She really didn’t want to go into this with him right now. “Did you tell her you saw your grandma?”
Gerard thought a moment. “No, I think I want to keep that to myself. It was so special I want it to be mine. Do you understand?”
Willow nodded. “Yeah, I do. So I guess you haven’t told Mikey either.”
He shook his head. “Only you know. Anyway she wants me to bring you over tonight for dinner. That okay with you?”
“Sure.” Willow smiled. “I’d like to meet her too.”
He nodded but made no move to leave. He simply stared at Willow. She stared back. After a few minutes he turned and walked out the door without another word. As he started down the hall he felt himself growing angry. What the hell was going on with her? Had she changed her mind about their deal? Hell, he was throwing some fuckin’ strong sexual thoughts her way and she was ignoring him. What game was she playing now?