Gerard is worried about Willow and rightly so.
Willow opened her eyes and looked out at the impressive hotel. A doorman pulled open her door and smiled a welcome. Slowly Willow pulled herself out of the car. Her body felt drained and her legs were wobbly. Immediately Gerard rushed around the car then put his arm around her. He could see she was physically weak and that troubled him. Was she putting herself in danger for his brother? He knew he needed to make her tell him everything that was going on at the mansion. Trouble was he wasn’t sure she would tell him the truth and that bothered him even more.
Willow sat down in one of the wingback chairs in the lobby while Gerard secured a room. She watched him standing at the front desk and could tell by his posture he was upset. Was he angry that she’d insisted on leaving the mansion after all? Maybe he was worried about his brother? She sighed, leaned back and closed her eyes.
“Sugar, come on.” Gerard’s voice startled her. Willow opened her eyes and smiled slightly.
The bellboy followed them with their bags to the elevator. Soon they were on the tenth floor and being escorted to their room. Willow tried not to hear the bellboy’s thoughts but right now it was impossible for her to tune them out. After the incident with the Dark Man her defenses were weakened. The voices of anyone around her at the moment, the bellboy, the people they just passed in the hallway, were loud and clear. She absently rubbed her forehead. Gerard saw her actions and realized she was still in pain.
Once he tipped the bellboy and closed the door he turned to Willow who had moved across the suite and was staring out at the breathtaking view. “I’m gonna grab you some pain reliever, okay?”
She didn’t turn from the window, “Thanks.”
He grabbed his bag and from his travel kit extracted a bottle of over-the-counter aspirin. A moment later he walked up to her holding the pills and a glass of water. “Here, Sugar.” He said softly.
Hearing him call her Sugar made her want to cry. Her emotions and thoughts were too close to the surface. When she took the pills from his palm and her fingers touched his skin the electricity that flowed between them pushed her over the edge. She broke into tears.
Gerard watched her swallow the pill then took the glass from her hand. Setting it down on the table he turned back to her unsure what to do. Willow had returned to gazing out the window.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered.
“For what?” He asked confused.
“I know I should be back at the Paramour. Mikey might need me.”
He didn’t know if it was the right thing to do but he acted on impulse. His arms encircled her from behind and he pulled her to him.
Willow’s body went stiff for a moment then she relaxed and leaned back against him.
“Don’t worry about leaving. It was something you had to do.” He whispered in her ear. A moment later he realized he was touching her but the usual feeling was gone. In it’s place he felt something else. Something he couldn’t explain.
Willow sighed as she wiped the tears from her cheeks. “No, I’m supposed to be there for him. We’re running out of time and I need to help him reach Martha.”
It was true. They did only have four days left at the Paramour. Brian had already explained to him that they would have to leave on Sunday. The mansion had been rented out to another band that would arrive the following day. But while he was worried about Mikey not finding the closure he so desperately wanted something else bothered Gerard even more. When they left the Paramour Willow was to return to her home. That was the deal they’d made but now he was questioning it in his mind. Could he truly let this woman just walk out of his life? Her touch had become like a drug he craved. There had to be a way to keep her in his life. Yes, he wanted to keep her in his life but on his terms.
“Would it be okay if I lie down for a bit?’ She asked softly.
He felt bad he had already suggested that idea. “Of course.” He answered lowering his arms then talking her hand. He led her to the bedroom and over to the bed. Willow sat down and was shocked when he reached down and slipped off her shoes.
“Do you want me to grab your bag so you can put something more comfortable on?” He asked standing back up and looking into her eyes.
The idea sounded good but she wasn’t sure she had the strength to change. It frightened her that the encounter had weakened her so much. Something like this had never happened before. “This is okay.”
He could tell by her tone it really wasn’t okay. “Just a minute.” He sprinted out into the main room and returned a moment later with her bag. Unzipping it he found the gown he hastily thrown in the bag before leaving the mansion. He crossed over to her and smiled. “Stand up a minute, Sugar.”
Slowly she got to her feet. Gerard pulled her hoodie over her head and tossed it over to the chair. Next he unzipped her jeans and helped her step out of them. Then he carefully pulled the gown over her head. “There. Now you’ll be more comfortable.”
Willow smiled sadly. “Thanks.”
He pulled back the covers. “Crawl into bed and rest.” Once she did he pulled the light blanket over her body. “Don’t worry about anything. Just get some sleep.” He turned to leave the room but her voice stopped him.
“Would you lay with me?”
She sounded so unsure, so fragile it made him catch his breath. He walked over, slipped off his shoes, undressed and slipped into the bed. Taking her into his arms he whispered. “Close you eyes now. It will all be okay.”
Willow wanted to believe him but her mind was filled with doubt. There was something else she had to tell him. “The bellboy is going to blog about us.”
She closed her eyes and snuggled up to him. “I heard him. Right now my defenses are messed up. As soon as we walked into the hotel I could hear so many voices in my head. I couldn’t block them.”
He realized why she had been in pain. “Shit, I’m sorry.”
“I just wanted you to know. I’m sorry.”
He stroked her arm, which was lying across his chest. “Why are you sorry?”
“Because I know you don’t want people to think that you’re involved with me.” She whispered.
It hit him that even though she was in pain she was trying to protect him. “Willow I got no problem with people thinking that. You’re a beautiful woman. Anyone who would see us together would think I’m a lucky fucker.”
In her mind she was screaming ‘but we’re not together’ but she remained silent. There was no reason to talk about this. No reason at all.
Gerard continued to stroke her arm and began to wonder why the electricity that flowed between them seemed to change at times. Right now he was in bed holding her and yet he had no desire to take her. He only wanted to protect her and keep her safe. After a few minutes he heard her breathing change and he knew she’d fallen asleep. He hoped that when she awoke she’d tell him what had happened. However he feared what she might say. He knew how important to was to Mikey to resolve the issue at the Paramour but he’d be damned if he’d let Willow cause herself harm in the process. For a long time as Willow slept snuggled to his body he thought and he planned.
“What do you mean they took off?” Mikey asked staring at Ray. “They are gone?”
Ray had been dreading telling Mikey that Willow and Gerard had left the mansion. He had known Mikey would be upset but he also knew that it was something that had been very necessary. Willow had been in real pain after her encounter in the main living room. He didn’t understand what had happened but it had obviously been very brutal and had taken its toll on her. He had promised Gee to stick to the story they’d created. “Gee talked her into getting away. Just for tonight.” He added quickly seeing Mikey’s upset look.
“But I need to talk to her. She and I need to figure out how to help Martha and her daughter.” Mikey said frowning. “Why the fuck does Gerard pull this shit? Doesn’t he understand it’s more important for me to figure this all out then to take Willow off so he can fuck her?”
Ray was shocked by Mikey’s anger. He had expected him to be upset but not this fury he seemed to be experiencing.
“Look I think he’s just a little worried about Willow.” Ray said trying to lessen Mikey’s anger against his brother. “She wasn’t feeling well and he thinks she’s under too much stress.”
Mikey gave him a look that clearly showed he didn’t believe this was the case. “Yeah, sure. Gee don’t really give a shit about Willow or me.”
Again Ray was shocked by his friend’s behavior. He wasn’t sure what to say.
Mikey shook his head and turned to leave the room. Ray watched him with a worried expression on his face. He hoped the next several days passed quickly so they could leave this place. While Mikey had seemed to be doing better at this moment he wasn’t so sure.
Mikey walked outside the mansion trying to clear his head and get control of his anger. He walked a short distance then decided to head towards the main gate. Maybe a walk would help him clear his mind. He was halfway down the drive when he realized he wasn’t alone. Slowing he took several deep breaths then turned around. Relief flooded him when he saw the little girl. As before she smiled making Mikey’s racing heart slow and begin to beat in its normal rhythm. The sun was just beginning to set and the long shadows made it difficult to see her closely. He took a few steps toward her and smiled. “Hello.” He said softly.
She tilted her head and gazed into his eyes. Mikey took another deep breath and cleared his mind. Suddenly images flashed before his eyes. He watched fascinated while trying to remember each one. He knew she was trying to tell him something and he believed that if he could remember all the things she showed him there was a good chance he’d be able to link them together and understand. At first the images made him smile. He was astounded that he was actually seeing what she was showing him. Then without warning it all changed. Mikey stumble back and began shaking his head.
When Alicia found him he was sitting on the ground, head in his heads, crying.
Willow’s eyes fluttered open and all the images that the Dark Man had shown her flooded her memory. She sat up in the bed with her heart racing. The room was dark and for a moment she couldn’t get her bearings.
“Willow, I’m here.” A voice cut through the darkness. Gerard has been sitting across the room watching and had seen her sit up abruptly.
“Gee?” Her voice shook.
He quickly snapped on the light and crossed to the bed where he sat down beside her. “It’s okay, Sugar. We’re at the hotel, remember?”
She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. “Yeah.” She tried to play off her fear. “I woke up and it was dark. Sorry.”
He brushed the hair from her eyes. “Feeling any better?”
Willow took a minute to gather her thoughts. “Yeah, I think so. How long did I sleep?”
He smiled, “It’s almost midnight.”
“Oh” Willow was surprised. “I’m sorry.”
“Why?” He asked softly. “You needed to sleep. There is no reason to be sorry.”
“Have you been here the whole time?” She asked.
He nodded, “Yeah, I didn’t want to leave you alone. I was sorta afraid you might wake up and be upset.”
His concern touched her. “Thanks.” She whispered.
Gerard frowned. Why every time he did something halfway nice did she thank him? Did she really always expect him to act like a jackass? He sighed. “Well I was going to wake you in a few minutes anyway. I called room service and they should be here any minute. They close down the kitchen at midnight and I wanted to make sure we ordered dinner before they did.”
“I’m sorry.” Willow said feeling guilty. “You must be starving.”
There is was again. She was apologizing to him. He didn’t like this version of Willow. He wanted the fiery tempered woman who had told him off this morning when he’d unintentionally said things that hurt his brother. “Would you please stop that?”
Willow gave him a confused look. “What?”
He wasn’t sure how to explain it. “Stop acting so pathetic. You had a fuckin’ rough day and I get that. I’m not really that much of a bastard, Willow. I wasn’t gonna leave you alone so I could get something to eat. I don’t always put myself first.”
“I didn’t say you did.” Willow answered. “I didn’t even mean to imply that.”
Gerard realized he’s said the wrong thing. He was about to try to explain when the doorbell alerted him to the fact that room service was delivering their dinner. He got off the bed and went into the main room. Willow slid out of bed as soon as he was gone and headed towards the bathroom.
Several minutes later when she entered the living room she saw that dinner had been set up for them out on the balcony. Gerard saw her and beckoned for her to join him.
“It’s a bit chilly.” He said seeing she still wore her gown. “Hold on.” He went back in and returned a moment later with one of his warm hoodies. Placing it around her shoulders he smiled, “If you’re still cold we can move this inside.”
Willow shook her head, “No, this is fine.” She sat down in the chair he had pulled out for her.
“I hope you like steak.” He said sitting down across from her.
She looked down at her plate. Besides the steak there was a baked potato and fresh asparagus. “This really looks good.”
He smiled. “Then I made a good choice.”
“Very good.” Willow felt herself relaxing. The remnants of the bad day were slowly fading. Still she was worried. “Have you talked to Mikey? Made sure he’s okay?”
Gerard shook his head, “No but I’m sure if there was a problem he’d call. Now I want you to stop worrying. Just enjoy your dinner.”
She knew he was trying to put her mind at ease but there was so much they needed to talk about. Looking down at her plate she sighed.
Gerard cut off a piece of his steak. “Eat Willow and then we’ll talk.”
“We need to talk.” She said looking up into his eyes.
“I know.” He agreed. “I need to understand what happened today. And after dinner you can take your time and explain.” He was pleased to see her nod and pick up her fork. For several minutes they ate in silence but he could see she was very preoccupied. “Do you want to talk about it while we eat?”
Willow nodded. She hated putting things off. “If it’s okay with you.”
“It’s fine.” He told her softly. “ I know you’re worried about Mikey so if you want to talk now go ahead.”
Suddenly she wasn’t sure where to begin. Finally she just blurted out. “Martha was murdered. I saw it happen.”