Gerard takes Willow home but at what cost?
He glanced at the bag on her bed. “So you’re really leaving.”
Willow returned to the dresser and removed another stack of clothes. As she placed them on the bed by her bag she nodded, “Yes, I’m leaving with Gerard.”
Jessie didn’t like what was happening. At first he’d been overcome with gratitude hearing the money they so desperately needed was now within their reach but now he realized something wasn’t right. He walked over and perched on the bed watching Willow pack. Softly he asked, “Is he the baby’s father?”
Willow met his eyes, “Yes.”
He continued to watch her with a heavy heart. Willow might be trying to put up a brave front but he wasn’t buying it. “Willow you don’t have to go with him. If you stay here you know I’ll help you. Hell, you gotta know I’d marry you.” He decided to lay his true feeling out for her to know. “I’ll take good care of you Willow, you and the baby.”
Willow smiled sadly looking into his eyes, “Jessie, you are one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. I know you would take care of me but we both know it would be wrong.”
“Because you don’t love me.” Jessie said softly.
“Jessie you haven’t even know me that long.” Willow said with a sad smile.
He shrugged, “Don’t matter. I’d marry you.”
For several minutes he watched her as she continued packing. Finally he broke the silence, “Mom told me about your abilities” He admitted.
Willow looked up in shock. “When?” While she hadn’t asked Gracie not to tell her son, she was still surprised to learn he knew.
“Not long after you got here.” He admitted.
“You’ve known all this time?”
He nodded, “Yeah, but I didn’t say anything to you because I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to know.”
Willow realized with a heavy heart it didn’t matter now that she was leaving.
“So does he love you?” Jessie asked reaching out to touch Willows arm.
“You didn’t ask me if I love him.” Willow said smiling slightly.
Jessie shook his head, “I don’t need to ask. I can tell you do. I knew when you showed up that someone had broken your heart and for that to have happened you had to have loved them very much.”
Willow sighed, “It was that obvious?”
“Yeah.” Jessie said softy, “It was and it still is.”
Willow pushed her bag over and sat down on the bed waiting for Jessie to speak. She was trying desperately not to listen to his thoughts she wanted him to speak the words he chose for her to hear.
“So, does he love you?”
Tears sprang to her eyes. “No.”
“But I don’t understand. Why are you going with him?”
Outside in the hallway Gerard stood perfectly still waiting to see how Willow would respond. He’d come up to her room to see if she was ready but when he’d heard voices he’d stopped. It hadn’t surprised him to hear that Jessie had feelings for Willow. He’d known that when he’d seen them together. However the fact that she was playing the broken hearted woman who had loved and lost had made his blood boil.
Willow tried to decide how to answer the question. The truth that the money Gerard had given them had forced her decision if admitted would cause nothing but trouble. She tried to smile. “Because he is the baby’s father.”
“But Willow if he doesn’t love you I just don’t understand.” He narrowed his eyes. “Tell me the truth. Did he offer the money to keep this place open if you agreed to go with him?”
Gerard had heard enough. He pushed open the door and walked in. “You ready?” He asked looking into Willow’s eyes.
She got up off the bed and placed the last of her clothes in the bag. “Yeah, I’m ready.”
Jessie shot Gerard and angry look. “I need to talk to Willow a minute. Why don’t you take her bag downstairs and wait?”
Willow could see the anger in Gerard’s eyes. “Jessie it’s okay.” She said softly. “It’s time for me to go.”
“Yeah we have a plane to catch.” There was no way Gerard was leaving the room without Willow.
Jessie got off the bed slowly and stood tall. “You can spare a minute, can’t you?” There was an underlining threat to his words.
Gerard took several more steps into the room. “No, it’s time to go.”
Willow couldn’t deal with this. She was hearing Jessie’s angry thoughts loud and clear and it was making her head pound. She turned to face her friend, “It is time. You take care of your mama and tell her I’m sorry I had to leave before she got back.”
Jessie continued to glare at Gerard and spoke to Willow without turning to face her, “She’ll be upset. We didn’t realize you were leaving us, Willow. I’m still not sure it’s a good idea. I mean, why the rush?”
Gerard glared back at him. “She belongs with me.” He ground out.
Jessie took a step towards him. “Why? Just because you’re the daddy of her baby don’t mean she has to be with you.”
Willow shut her eyes trying to block out Jessie’s thoughts but it was getting harder and harder.
“Wither or not I’m the baby’s daddy remains to be seen.” Gerard spat. “But regardless she’s going with me.”
Willow saw Jessie’s whole body tense and his thoughts painfully vibrated in her head.
“You son of a bitch.” Jessie took several steps towards Gerard. Willow quickly placed herself between the two men.
“That’s enough.” She shouted. “Just stop it.” Turning she took Jessie’s hand in hers. “I’m going. Please don’t make this any harder for me.”
“Willow, don’t. If you’re doing this to save the shelter it’s not worth it.”
But Willow knew it was worth it. This shelter helped so many there was no way she would let it close knowing she could do something to keep it open. “I’ve made my decision.” She said softly, “Please don’t make this any harder for me.”
Jessie looked into her eyes. “I can’t stop you. But if you need me, call. Promise me that.”
“I will.” She promised giving his hand a squeeze. “Please say goodbye to everyone for me, okay?”
“We’ll all miss you.” Jessie said sadly, “Give us a call from time to time, promise?”
“I promise.” Willow released his arm and turned towards her bag but saw that Gerard had already lifted it off the bed.
“I left the address where you can send the rest of her stuff.” He said heading towards the door.
Jessie nodded, “Yeah, I know.” He followed them out into the hall and down the steps. When they reached the bottom Gerard headed immediately towards the door. He wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible.
“Miss Willow” A small voice called out. “Miss Willow, wait.”
They all turned to see the small blond child running towards them. Willow dropped to her knees and was immediately hugged.
“Miss Willow, what’s going on? Where are you going?”
Willow tried to hold her emotions in check. “Emily, this is Gerard. I’m going home with him to live in New York.”
Emily’s eyes grew wide, “You’re not gonna live here anymore?”
Willow shook her head, “No honey but you and you’re mama don’t have to move now.” She hoped this would make the parting a bit happier for the little girl.
Emily looked at Gerard a minute sizing him up. She tilted her head and asked with childish innocence, “Are you Miss Willow’s baby’s daddy?”
Willow’s heart caught. She looked up at Gerard with pleading in her eyes. After what he’d said to Jessie upstairs she feared his answer.
Gerard looked down at the little girl a moment before answering. “Yes, I am and that’s why I’m taking Miss Willow home with me.”
Jessie had been holding his breath waiting for Gerard’s answer. Had the man answered any other way he knew his temper would not have held. “Emily they have to go now. Give Miss Willow a kiss goodbye.”
Willow hugged the child and blinked back tears as she gave her a kiss.
“Can I write to you?” Emily asked. “Mama says I make chicken scratches for letters but I’ll try real hard to write nice.”
“Oh course you can.” Willow said standing. “I’d really like that.”
Gerard reached over and took Willow’s arm. She closed her eyes when the sensation of his touch flooded her body.
“Run along now, Emily.” Jessie said softly. “I’ve give you Miss Willow’s address later.”
Emily nodded, waved, and then ran off into the main room.
Gerard tugged on Willow’s arm leading her to the door. Jessie followed them out onto the porch. He watched them walk down the steps towards the waiting taxi.
“I suppose you don’t really want me to give her your address, do you?” He asked looking at Gerard. “I hear your some kind of famous singer or some shit.” It was impossible for him to hide his hatred towards Gerard.
Willow glanced at Gerard waiting for his answer.
Gerard pulled open the car door and nodded for Willow to get inside. Once she was settled he turned to Jessie. “It’s okay for the little girl to write to Willow.”
Jessie looked surprised. He nodded. “Yeah, okay.”
Gerard got into the taxi and slammed the door.
“Thank you.” Willow said softly.
“Don’t make me out to be some kind of monster, Willow.” He said turning to her. “Cause that’s not what I am.”
“I never said that.” Willow replied looking away.
Gerard made sure to keep his distance from her. Earlier when he’d taken her arm his body has responded flooding him with desire and anger. He would not let his body rule his head again. “But then maybe you should think of me that way.” He smirked, “Because believe me Sugar, I’m not the man you thought you could control and you’re gonna get to see the side of me you won’t like.”
Willow turned to stare at him. “You’re wrong. I never tried to control you.”
He shook his head, “Save it Willow for someone who might believe you. Cause that ain’t me.”
She turned away and looked out at the passing city. Finally she spoke, “How long do you plan on making me stay in New York?”
He gave a mirthless laugh, “What? You wanna get back here to Jessie? I can just see it now. You can get your pay off and head back down here. Tell him all about how I mistreated you. I heard him. Poor fuck is in love with you. I realize he doesn’t have much to offer but hell, you’ll have some money so maybe that will work out for you.”
Willows anger snapped, “I never asked you for a dime.” She hissed. “I sold my house and paid you back. Stop thinking this is about money because it isn’t. I get that it makes you feel better to have something horrible to believe. You like it that way. You like to drown yourself in self-pity. You like to be the victim who been deceived. But that’s not the truth and if you’re too blind to see that there is noting I can do.”
Gerard balled his fists in anger yet something in her words struck him deeply. He glanced at the taxi driver knowing this was something that shouldn’t be discussed now. “We can discuss this later. We’ll have plenty of time when we get home.”
“Home?’ Willow repeated. “I don’t have a home.”
For a brief moment the tears in her eyes almost got to him. He shook his head angrily realizing he’s almost fell for her act. “You do for the time being.” He said lowering his voice. “You’ll stay with me until this is settled.”
Willow knew he was speaking about the paternity test. The fact that he could for one minute not believe the child she was carrying was his cut her heart deep. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes willing herself to be strong. She needed to be strong not for herself but for the baby nestled under her broken heart.
Gerard threw open the apartment door and started down the hallway before Willow ever stepped foot inside. He reached the guest room and tossed her bag on the floor.
Willow stood a moment looking around the apartment feeling sorrow wash over her. All the wonderful memories from the place she held on to tightly were fading.
Gerard had thrown his own bag in his room then returned to where she was still standing. “I’m going out.” He said shortly. “You know where everything is.” And with that he walked back out the door slamming it closed.
Willow felt her legs begin to shake. They’d not said a word to each other since the taxi ride in Savannah and even though she’d expected this anger seeing it was just too much. She slowly walked down the hallway and into the guest room. It was early but she was bone tired. Kicking off her shoes she moved towards the bed and soon had curled up on her side praying for sleep. Praying she would wake up and find this had all been a terrible nightmare.
Gerard had stayed away all day. He was exhausted fueled only by endless cups of coffee and cigarettes. Now as he let himself back into the apartment he was still full of anger and confusion. He’d tried to clear this thoughts but it had been impossible. The apartment was completely silent. Where was she? He quickly moved down the hall towards the guest bedroom. Pushing open the door he saw her curled up on the bed sleeping. He silently crossed the room and saw by the light of the hall that it was obvious she’d been crying. At first he felt remorse but that emotion quickly gave way to anger. She had lied to him the voice in his head taunted. Lied about the birth control, and who knew what else.
Willow’s eyes fluttered open to see someone standing over her and she cried out.
“It’s me.” Gerard said quickly.
Her heart was still racing. The nightmare had been so vivid she was having trouble pulling herself awake. She sat up and tried to get her bearings. Then the events of the day came crashing back. Tears filled her eyes.
Gerard glanced away not wanting to acknowledge the feelings that were washing over him. He took a step back before speaking. “You need to eat something.”
Willow shook her head, “I’m not hungry.”
“Don’t be stupid. You’re pregnant you gotta eat.” He said roughly.
She knew he was right but the thought of food was nauseating. Sliding her legs off the bed she moved past him and into the bathroom without a word.
Gerard had just heated up some soup when she appeared in the kitchen. Slowly she moved to the table and took a seat. He sat the bowl of steaming chicken and noodles before her then left the kitchen.
Willow was surprised when he returned a few minutes later. He sat down across from her. “I’m gonna be gone all day tomorrow. We’re laying down the vocal tracks.”
Willow didn’t look up from her soup.
Gerard exploded, “What the fuck am I supposed to tell everyone?”
She flinched and almost dropped her spoon. Looking up she met his eyes but remained silent.
“So?’ He repeated. “What the fuck do I tell them tomorrow?”
Willow finally spoke, “About what?”
He pulled out his cigarettes and lit one trying to calm down. “You know damn good and well about what.”
Willow knew but her own anger was building. “About us?”
“There is no us.” He ground out.
“Then what is it you’re asking me?” She challenged.
“You know what the fuck I’m asking. They all knew I went to Savannah to get you. What am I supposed to say?”
“Well you brought me back.” Willow took another sip of her soup trying to keep her hand from shaking.
“Yeah I did but this wasn’t how it was supposed to be.”
Willow dropped the spoon to the table with a clank. “And how was it supposed to be?”
Gerard pushed back from the table and stood. “Like a fucking fool I told them I loved you. I told them I was going to bring you back with me because I’d been an idiot to let you go.”
“You are an idiot Gee.” Willow said standing as well, “An idiot who refuses to see the truth. An idiot who can’t let go of the past.”
“The past?” He shouted, “What the fuck are you talking about?”
Suddenly Willow was so tired she knew she couldn’t deal with this anymore. She’s spent the day alone wishing with her whole heart he’d return so they could talk. Now that he was back she knew that had been a mistake. He would not listen no matter what she said he had convinced himself he’d been wronged. “Nevermind. It doesn’t matter what I say you aren’t gonna believe me.”
“That’s the fuckin’ truth.” He said taking a step towards her. “You’re nothing but a fuckin’ liar. You tricked me into getting you pregnant.”
“Tricked you?” Willow screamed, “I tricked you?”
“You already admitted that.” He reminded her. “Or have you forgotten?”
Willow shook her head. “I haven’t forgotten one thing about the time we spent together, not one second have I forgotten since the day I met you.” She turned to leave the kitchen, “Since the day I saw Elena.”
At the mention of his grandma he snapped. Quickly he crossed the kitchen and roughly grabbed her arm spinning her to face him. “Don’t you ever fuckin’ mention my grandma’s name again.”
Willow tried to pull her arm from him but he only held on tighter. The feeling that flowed through her body angered her. “Let me go.” She hissed, “Don’t touch me.”
Gerard’s body was humming. The feeling he now believed he hated flowed through his veins. He saw the look in her eyes and knew she was feeling the same thing. “Oh Sugar, you can lie about a lot of things but not this. You want me to touch you.”
“No.” She tried again to yank her arm away, “I don’t.”
“Liar.” He pulled her to him. “You want this.” He painfully twisted her arm behind her back forcing her body to his. “You want….” His lips crashed down on hers in a brutal kiss. There was no tenderness only hurt and anger. Willow tried to pull away but the pain in her arm brought fresh tears to her eyes. And then it happened. Gerard was shocked when she went limp. Without thinking he released her arm and watched in horror as she slumped to the ground.