What you think you want isn't always what you truly desire.
“Shit, I didn’t mean to sleep so late.” He said pulling himself up into a sitting position.
Willow handed him the coffee. “I walked down to the store and bought some blueberry muffins.”
He took a sip of the hot, dark brew. “What? You didn’t back them from scratch?” He teased. Last night she’s teased him plenty about cooking.
Willow smiled, “I would have if you kept your kitchen stocked.”
He shook his head then took a sip of the dark brew before answering. “I’m not here enough to do that.”
She nodded looking at him sadly, “I suppose that’s true.”
Gerard wondered if he should say something about last night. He knew he’d hurt her by pulling away like he had. “Uh, so last night…”
“Don’t.” Willow said taking a step back. “There is nothing you need to say. We had great sex then I went to bed.”
He could tell she was trying to play off the whole incident like it hadn’t been important. “No, that’s not true.”
“It wasn’t great sex?”
“Willow.” Gerard gave an exasperated sigh. “You know damn well it was. It was mind-blowing sex.”
“I thought so.’ She said softly taking another step back. “So after that I went to bed. End of story. Look I just want to enjoy the time we have left together without analyzing anything.”
She cut him off. “But nothing. Now I’m gonna go drink my coffee and you need to dress and pack.” She was out of the room before he could say anything more. He took another sip of the coffee and cursed to himself. Her attitude should please him because it was what he wanted. So why did hearing her dismiss what had happened between them as nothing more than great sex bother him so much?
Willow returned to the kitchen and sat down at the table with her coffee. She gripped the cup tightly lost in thought. Had he believed her? She sighed then took a drink. Their time together would end in California. She had already decided to speak to Brian and let him know she wanted to catch a flight back home when they left the Paramour. She had to go home. If she hadn’t accomplished what Elena wanted for her grandson by then she knew it would mean she’d failed. But she also knew deep in her heart that she would have to give up. Her heart was already being broken.
Gerard got dressed and finished packing his bag. When he carried it out into the living room he saw Willow’s duffle already sitting by the door. He wondered just how long she’s been awake.
“Willow?” He called out not seeing her in the kitchen or living room.
“In here.” She called back.
He followed the sound of her voice and found her in his study standing by the desk. She looked up when he entered. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Gerard looked around the room with a shocked expression. Several of his artworks were framed and hanging on the walls. Also he saw that family photos were now displayed on his desk.
“I just wanted to sorta personalize the room.” She held her breath hoping he wasn’t angry by her actions.
Gerard didn’t know what to say.
Willow took his silence as a bad sign. “I can take them down if you want.”
“When did you do this?” He asked still gazing at the framed pictures.
“I got up pretty early. The store where I got the muffins has a little section of gift items. That’s where I got the frames.”
He had purposely not done any personalizing to this apartment. He has wanted it to feel as empty and sterile as his life felt. Now in just a few short hours she’s made his study homey. The artworks she’d chosen were ones that deeply meant something to him. He walked over to the desk and picked up a small frame containing a photo of Elena. “This is how she looked that night.” He whispered.
Willow nodded, “Yeah, happy.”
“Not sick like the last time I saw her before she died.” He said still looking at the photo.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done this. This is your place.”
He sat the frame down and turned to her. “Just tell me why you did it?”
Willow told him the truth. “Because this apartment makes me sad. It’s beautifully decorated but it looks like a picture in a magazine. Not a home. I just wanted it to look like a home.” She dropped her eyes.
He was at a loss for words. Her thoughtfulness was hard for him to accept. “Thank you.’ He said softly wanting to say more but unable to do so.
Willow looked up and smiled. “So you’re not mad?”
He shook his head. “No, I’m not mad. Surprised, but not mad.”
Her smile seemed to brighten the room even more.
Gerard forced himself not to get lost in that smile. “We need to get going.”
Willow nodded. “Yeah, we do.” She started to follow him out but stopped and took one final look around trying to memorize all the details. She had a strong feeling this would be the last time she ever saw the room.
The rest of the group traveling to California was already at the airport when Gerard and Willow arrived. Jamia, Alicia and Christa greeted Willow warmly.
“I can’t believe you got him here in time.” Alicia laughed.
“I’m not always late.” Gerard said as he sat down their bags.
Everyone gathered around laughed.
“Sure you aren’t, Gee.” Frank rolled his eyes.
Gerard knew they were kidding but his current mood was making it hard to accept. Something had changed between him and Willow and it was bothering him. She had been so quiet on the trip to the airport. She seemed so withdrawn. He just wanted to understand.
“Hey come on.” Jamia took Willows arm. “We still have time to grab something at Starbucks before he have to go through security.”
“Security?” Willow repeated.
Gerard suddenly noticed how nervous she looked. “Willow has never flown before.” He said believing he now understood her mood.
“Really?” Jamia sounded astonished.
Willow nodded. “Really.” She was still staring into Gerard’s eyes.
“Well you’re in for a treat.” Frank kidded. “It’s a real hassle anymore.”
“She’ll do fine.” Gerard said trying to convey to her he understood her nervousness. “I’ll be right beside her.”
There were several looks exchanged by the others but neither Gerard or Willow saw them. They were still staring at each other.
Jamia tugged at Willow’s arm. “Come on. You need some Starbucks.” She said leading Willow away toward the kiosk.
Gerard watched Willow disappear in the crowded airport with Jamia, Alicia and Christa at her side.
“She looks really scared.” Mikey said moving closer to Gerard. “Shit, I never thought about her not flying before.”
“Me either.” Gerard said still looking in the direction Willow had gone. Had that been why she was so quiet in the car he wondered. He turned to his brother. “How are you doing?”
Mikey shrugged, “A little scared. I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for Willow, you know?”
Gerard did know that. He knew how important Willow was to his brother. “If it wasn’t for her I sure as shit wouldn’t let you step foot in the Paramour again.”
Mikey saw that Frank, Ray and Bob had all settled down in nearby chairs waiting for the women to return. He decided to take the chance to talk to Gerard about Willow. “So how’s it been having Willow stay with you?’
Gerard had been expecting his line of questioning. “Fine.” He said shortly.
Mikey tried to chose his words carefully. Maybe if he just eased into it. “So did you really cook her dinner last night?”
Memories of last night filled Gerard’s head. It had started out so great. He and Willow teasing each other at the grocery store, the shower but then it had ended badly. That thought filled him with anger. He refused to take the blame. He’d never lied to her about their relationship and what it was. “I’m fucking her. That’s what you really want to know isn’t it?”
Mikey was shocked by his outburst. “Shit, I didn’t ask that.”
“You didn’t have to. I know what you’re thinking, Bro. They are too.” He nodded towards his band member. “Stupid fuckin’ Gerard is gonna hurt Willow. He’s using her.”
“Well, are you?” Mikey asked in a cold, hard tone.
Gerard wished he had time for a cigarette. Maybe the nicotine would calm him but he knew there wasn’t time. “This is between Willow and me.” He said narrowing his eyes in anger.
Mikey wouldn’t back down. “But she’s not like the other women you’ve been with. She’s not like Jessica.”
“No, she’s not.” Gerard said trying to control his temper. “She’s nothing like Jessica.”
“Because Jessica uses you like you use her.” Mikey said softly “And Willow isn’t using you.”
Gerard was about to respond when he saw the girls walking back towards them. “Just don’t worry, Man.” He said to Mikey. “We’ll get through his trip to California and things will be better for all of us.”
Mikey kept his thought to himself but he wondered how things would be better for Willow. Was Gerard just going to let her walk out if his life? He and Alicia had already decided that they wouldn’t let her disappear from their lives. He just hoped his brother was smart enough to think the same way.
The plane was picking up speed as Gerard looked over a Willow and smiled. “Just relax. The liftoff is the weirdest part.”
She nodded but remained silent. So far today her emotions had been a roller coaster. The hours they had spent at the airport had only made her nervousness worse. In her mind she reminded herself that people flew everyday and it was no big deal. She reminded herself that it was a safer form of travel then driving but nothing was helping. She was scared.
Gerard was watching her face closely and could see the terror in her eyes. It was hard for him to understand how anyone could be so afraid to fly. To him it was second nature. However he did understand that since she was a first time flier he should try to empathize with her. Reaching over he took her hand in his expecting the thrill of touching her skin. When it didn’t happen he frowned.
Willow looked down at their clasped hands and was shocked when she didn’t feel the sensation. She looked up into Gerard’s eyes and then she felt something. It wasn’t the normal feeling. A feeling of warmth invaded her body that made her feel safe.
“That’s weird.” He said looking down at their hands then back up into her eyes.
She realized he was curious about the change. “You don’t feel anything?” Willow whispered.
He shook his head.
“Really?” She was shocked. Her fingers felt so warm.
“Do you?” He asked.
Willow wasn’t sure what to tell him. She didn’t want to say that she was feeling something that was warm and comforting, afraid he’d scoff. She quickly pulled her hand from his and looked away. “No.”
The plane began to taxi down the runway. Willow looked out the window as her heart rate increased. Her fingers dug into the armrest.
Gerard was confused. Was she still feeling something and he wasn’t? He looked down at her white knuckles. As the plane began to pick up speed and vibrate he looked at her face and saw she’d turned very pale. He pried her fingers from the armrest and held her hand tightly.
“Close your eyes, breath deep. It will be okay. I’m right here with you.” His voice caressed her ear.
Willow shut her eyes and tried to remain calm. She didn’t want to embarrass herself in front of the others.
“Don’t worry about being afraid,” Gerard said gently. “It’s okay.”
Once again she felt the warm, comforting feeling radiate from their hands through her whole body. She took a deep breath as the calming feeling washed over her.
“Here we go.” He said whispering in her ear.
Willow felt the plane leave the ground. She took a deep breath and squeezed Gerard’s hand. When he leaned over and touched his lips to her cheek the warm feeling disappeared. In its place was once again the electricity.
Gerard felt his lips tingle as they touched her skin. He admitted to himself he was glad that feeling was back. But why had it been gone a minute ago?
“I think before I needed to feel safe.” Willow said. She hadn’t heard his thoughts but she had just known what he was thinking.
Gerard thought about her words. “Before that’s what you felt when we touched?”
Willow looked into his eyes. “Yes. I felt safe. It was warm and comforting.”
“And now?” He wanted to know she felt the same sensation he did.
She smiled and nodded. “It’s back.”
He nodded. “So are you okay?” He could see the color was slowly returning to her cheeks.
“I think so.” She was still slightly nervous but nothing like before.
“Good.” He smiled. “Just sit back and relax. Want me to bore you with some stories from my childhood?’ He thought it might help to keep her mind occupied on the long trip.
“Yes, please.” Willow gave him a bright smile.
“Okay.” He sat back to get comfortable but continued to hold her hand. “Well once with I was about seven I climbed this huge tree in our back yard….”