‘Cheyenne its me...erm Gerard I-I know you haven’t heard from me since...since Jasmine’s birthday. Can you please call me back when you get this? I’d really appreciate it. Please. Thank you.’
Gerard hung up and rubbed his head, he could feel a headache coming on. He had spent the last hour or so working up the nerve to call Cheyenne thinking that was the hardest part but the hardest part was waiting to see if she’d call him back.
‘What’s wrong?’ Donna asked as she walked into the kitchen to see her eldest son with his head in his hands.
‘Nothing’ he said ‘I’m waiting for a call.’
‘Hmm’ Donna replied.
‘I’m trying mom’ he told her, he could tell she still hadn’t forgiven him for ruining Jasmine’s birthday despite all he had done to make amends.
‘I know’ she said ‘try harder.’
Gerard fought the urge to scream that he was trying as hard as he could, he wanted to scream that he was doing everything that he could think of to make things right again but he knew that screaming wouldn’t solve anything. He sighed to himself and left the kitchen, heading for the sanctuary of his room in the basement.
‘Hi Uncle Mikey!’ Jasmine squealed as she opened the front door, as usual she launched herself into his arms. She liked being held by her uncle he was much taller than her daddy and Frank and she enjoyed being higher up.
‘Jasmine Michaela Way who said you could answer the door?’ he said sternly lowering her to the floor. It was a rule that she wasn’t allowed to answer the door unless somebody was there to watch her people were extra crazy these days and New Jersey wasn’t the safest of places.
‘Erm…nobody’ she said bowing her head knowing she was in trouble ‘bu-but I knew it was you’
‘No you didn’t’ he said crossing the threshold letting Alicia through in the process ‘Did you ask who it was?’
‘No’ She said quietly shaking her head.
‘Jasmine look at me’ he said cupping her chin in his hand ‘I’m not angry at you’ he said softening his expression, his heart melting at the sad look on her angelic face. He wanted to give in and cuddle her but he knew he had to be stern it was for her own good. He kneeled down so he was level with her before he continued ‘It’s just you have to be careful Mini I could’ve been anyone at the door okay, we put these rules in place to keep you safe, you don’t want someone to take you away do you?’
‘No Uncle Mikey’ she said shaking her head again. ‘Sorry’
‘Don’t be sorry, be smart’ he reminded her
‘I won’t do it again’ she said nodding in confirmation to her own words
‘Alright’ he said ‘now come and give me a hug.’
Jasmine’s face burst into a smile as Mikey picked her up and squeezed her tightly ‘I love you Mini’ he told her kissing her forehead
‘I love you Uncle Mikey’
‘What about me?’ Alicia cried. She watched Mikey discipline Jasmine and felt proud of him he would be a wonderful father to their child.
‘I love you too’ Jasmine said reaching for Alicia, Mikey hesitated then handed Jasmine over to his wife, she wasn’t too pregnant at the moment but Jasmine had a habit of swinging her legs and he hated the idea of her hitting Alicia in the stomach.
Just then the door bell rang and Frank let himself in along with Jamia, Ray and Christa. They all greeted each other with hugs and kisses and a few minutes later Amber and her new fiancé Richard for whom the dinner party was being thrown came through the door. The last person to arrive was a sour looking Bob. Cheyenne listened out for the familiar voices and when she was sure everyone was there she instructed Donna to take Jasmine upstairs and she and Gerard joined them all in the living room
‘Ok now we’re all here’ Gerard said ‘There’s something I would like to tell you all before we settle into the evening.’
‘You’re gay’ Bob joked ‘we know’
‘No I’m not planning to come out for another few years’ Gerard smirked ‘but seriously I have some big news.’ He paused to make sure Bob didn’t have anything else he wanted to say ‘To cut a long story short, Lyn came back to New Jersey a week or so ago and she bought some news that changed me and Chey’s lives forever’ he said reaching for his girl’s hand, he felt her fingers clasp around his and just the feel of her hand gave him the courage to continue. ‘She came back to find me because unknown to me when Lyn disappeared five years ago she was pregnant.’ Loud gasps erupted around the room.
‘Oh no’ Jamia cried ‘Please don’t say what I think you’re about to say.’
‘Sorry Mia’ Gerard said ‘I have to. She gave birth to a daughter, my daughter, five years ago and she came back to tell me.’
‘Why?’ Bob hissed his face contorted in disgust ‘Why now?’
‘The child wanted to know who her father was’ Gerard shrugged ‘and Lyn obliged’
Cheyenne could feel every pair of eyes in the room on her, she could feel them waiting for a reaction, accusing her of not sharing the information, wondering what she was thinking.
‘I met my daughter last night for the first time, her name is Paige and she truly is a wonderful child.’ He said smiling as he spoke
‘How do you know she’s yours?’ Christa asked
‘She’s his spitting image’ Cheyenne spoke ‘They might as well be the same person.’
‘Does Jasmine know?’ Ray asked
‘She came with us last night but she isn’t aware she has a half-sister all she knows is that Paige is a new friend to play with.’ Gerard explained
‘This is unreal’ Jamia said shaking her head in disbelief ‘so, what is it that she wants?’
‘She doesn’t want anything’ Cheyenne said ‘she’s married and pretty well off from the look of things. I think she just wanted to make her kid happy.’
‘This is madness’ Bob said angrily his fists clenched tight on his lap.
‘I know it’s a lot to wrap your mind around’ Gerard said ‘but they’re leaving tomorrow and I really wanted you all to meet Paige especially you Mikey, and Mom of course so…’
‘You invited them didn’t you?’ Amber stated. It had been a long time since she had spent time with the group and it was plain to see that there was still enough drama to keep their lives entertained. She wasn’t sure how she’d feel about seeing Lyn again all the ill feelings had been buried long ago. Would they all come rushing back or would she not care?’
‘Yes and I hope you don’t mind’ Gerard said apologetically looking to her and then Richard and then addressing everyone else.
‘Kind of takes the heat of me’ Richard replied with a small laugh.
‘Well you’ve done it now you can’t take it back’ Jamia snapped childishly
‘Mia’ Frank scolded her
‘What’ Jamia pouted ‘Lyn’s a life ruiner remember.’
‘Well we all turned out okay in the ended, didn’t we?’ Christa said rubbing her small bump happily not noticing the death glare Jamia was giving her.
‘Just about’ Bob huffed.
‘Now come on’ Cheyenne said standing up beside Gerard ‘This little girl is a part of our family, Gerard’s blood runs though her veins and yes ok, her Mom’s a psychotic bitch who nearly ruined our lives but like Christa said we’ve all come out on the other side and we’re happy. Now Gerard and I have invited the three of them here tonight so you can all meet Paige and I expect you all to be on you best behaviour please. This means a lot to us and if Lyn feels like her daughter isn’t welcome then she may not let Paige visit at Christmas and Gerard…we’d like her here. So please try and be nice, all of you.’
‘Well I for one can’t wait to meet my new niece’ Alicia said ‘I’ll be on my best behaviour Mommy Cheyenne’
‘Thank you Alicia’ Cheyenne said throwing a big smile at her most supportive friend ‘Now if you’ll please excuse me I need to continue cooking tonight’s feast.’
‘Feast’ Amber cried following her into the kitchen ‘you said you wouldn’t go mad’
‘And I haven’t’ Cheyenne said crossing her fingers.
Past February 2009
Cheyenne took a deep as she dialled his number, she hadn’t spoken to Gerard in months but that hadn’t stopped her from thinking about him or being angry at him.
‘Cheyenne?’ Gerard asked forgoing the normal polite greeting of hello.
‘Gerard’ Cheyenne said flatly ‘you left a message’
‘It’s really good to hear your voice’ he said with a small laugh.
‘What do you want?’ she asked, she wasn’t being rude the question sounded more curious then angry.
‘Another chance’ he said boldly ‘a last chance to be with my daughter’
‘You had a last chance remember’ she reminded him ‘you blew it.’
‘No, you’re mistaken that was my second to last chance’ he joked ‘this time is my last chance. Please’ he said letting his desperation show as he spoke the last word.
Cheyenne didn’t know what to do or say, so many things were going around in her head, she was screaming at herself in her mind, her thoughts were conflicting, some angry, some happy, some warning, some persuading. She needed to think but all the while she could hear his soft breathing coming through the phone making it hard to listen to what ever it was her head was trying to tell her.
‘Are you still there?’ his voice broke through her momentary paralysis
‘What do you say?’ he asked his heart pounding violently against his chest as he waited for her answer.
‘Gerard I don’t know’ she said shaking her head ‘I don’t know. Why should I? You ruined everything. Where the hell have you been for the last few months? You don’t even care, you missed so much. You’ll just leave again I know you will. I don’t know. Why are you doing this?....’ She trailed off as she ran out of questions; she had so many to ask but her brain was having trouble filtering them down from her mind to her mouth.
Gerard took her silence as his one and only chance to tell her everything ‘You should because I’m her father and I love her. The last few months I’ve been sorting myself out, I’ve been seeing therapist and I’ve been going to AA meetings. I’ve stopped drinking and I mean it this time Chey I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m finding it easy but I’m trying my hardest this time. I’m making progress everyone who’s seen me sees it. I know you think I’ll leave again but I won’t this time I promise and I know I’ve promised before but this time I mean it and I’ll show you that I do. I’ll be around all the time, whenever Jasmine needs me without fail. I know I’ve missed a lot but I can’t stand the thought of missing anymore and that’s why I did all this, I don’t want to miss another minute of her life. And to answer your last question I’m doing this because I know my life will never be the same, it’ll be incomplete if I don’t. Please I’m asking- no I’m begging you for one last chance Cheyenne, let me prove to you that I can do this. Please.’
He heard her sigh heavily over then phone and then heard the words that in that instance made him happier then any words he’d heard since he was told he had a daughter.
‘Come over at seven, I’ll make dinner or something’ She said her voice low and uneasy.
‘I’ll be there’ he said a tear sliding down his cheek ‘Thank you’
‘You’re welcome’ She said and Gerard thought he heard a smile in her voice.
‘Go ahead Bob let me have it’ Cheyenne said
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ he said
‘I don’t know’ she shrugged ‘I’ve been having a hard time adjusting to the situation. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone.’
‘What’s the deal here? Aren’t you upset?’ He asked his face etched with concern, why was it always her who had to battle so much, hadn’t she been through enough?
‘I was, I am I guess I don’t know. All I know is this is the situation and Gerard needs my support he wants to know his little girl.’
‘He HAS a little girl’ Bob hissed ‘isn’t that enough for him?’
‘Would it be enough for you Bob? Imagine finding out you had a daughter out there wouldn’t you want to meet her, to be there for her, to love her.’
‘I guess’ Bob said reluctantly his anger starting to subside ‘I just, I worry about you so much Chey, you take on so much, too much, you been through a lot in the last five years with him and his drinking, his coming and going and now this. I’m scared you’re going to break.’
‘I won’t Bobby us Bryars aren’t made of glass, you know that’ she said with a smile ‘and a lot of that stuff has been over for years Gerard’s been sober for a good three years now and we’re happy, this is just another little bump in the road.’
‘But how many more little bumps are there going to be Chey?’ he said turning her so she was facing him.
‘I don’t know Bob, hopefully only a few but nobody’s life is perfect. I love Gerard and I love my family and despite what’s going on at the moment I am happy’ Cheyenne said speaking the words with confidence.
‘I love him too’ Bob sighed ‘But I love you more and I can’t stand it when he hurts you Chey and you can’t say that this isn’t hurting you.’
‘It is but I’m willing to work it out for the sake of my family.’ Cheyenne said ‘Everything’s going to be fine Bob, you’ll see. I’m a Bryar. I’m a winner.’
Bob sighed but said nothing as he watched his younger cousin race around the kitchen putting the last little bits together for dinner. He felt helpless and unsure of how to protect her from this he didn’t want to see her hurt again. He didn’t think he’d be able to handle it. But she looked so sure of herself, so confident in what she was doing that all he could do was watch and wait and hope that she wouldn’t fall.
Past February 2009
Gerard finished his cigarette, popped some gum into his mouth and slowly made his way up Cheyenne’s garden path. His hands shook as he pressed the door bell and his heart pounded as he heard the shuffle of her feet as she walked to the front door.
‘Hello Gerard’ she said as she opened the front door. She wore and unsure smile and he could see that she was uneasy.
‘Hey’ he said with a smile. He’d forgotten how pretty she was, she wasn’t even made up, she was in casual jeans, a t-shirt and her hair was loose and unstyled but she looked happy and well and Gerard felt even sorrier that he hadn’t been around to help her more.
‘Well come on in’ She said beckoning him in ‘You’ll catch your death out here.’
Gerard wiped his feet on the worn welcome mat and followed her in closing the door behind himself.
‘How are you?’ Cheyenne asked giving him a once over. He looked a damn sight more healthy then the last time she saw him. He looked clean and fresh. He looked like the Gerard she remembered. The Gerard she fell in love with.
‘Fine’ he said quietly shifting his weight nervously.
‘What’s the matter? Why you so quiet?’ she asked
‘I’m nervous’ he admitted with a sheepish grin ‘I don’t know how to act right now.’
Cheyenne laughed and shook her head ‘just act yourself Gerard, or act your new self I don’t know, just be comfortable. Here let me take your coat.’
He nodded and slid his coat off his body and handed it to her, she hung it on a peg and motioned for him to follow her into the living room.
‘Jasmine’ Cheyenne called out as they walked into the living room ‘look, someone’s here to see you.’
‘Oh my gosh’ Gerard whispered as he laid eyes on a toddler sitting in the middle of the room playing with colourful bricks and babbling to herself.
‘Is that her?’ Gerard asked knowing it was a silly question
‘Of course it is’ Cheyenne laughed shaking her head ‘who else would it be?’
‘But she’s so big’ he said dragging his eyes away from his daughter to look at Cheyenne.
‘You’ve missed a lot Gerard’ she stated a sad look washing over her face.
‘I’m sorry’ he said ‘I never knew-I didn’t know what I was missing. Can I play with her?’
‘Sure’ Cheyenne said with a nod a smile replacing the frown that was there seconds before ‘I have to check on the food anyway.’
Cheyenne lingered for a moment as Gerard sat by Jasmine and introduced himself to her, she responded by handing him a brick and he laughed as they played together. In the kitchen Cheyenne checked on the lamb chops she was preparing and sent a quick message to Frank telling her what was going on, she had to tell him, he had become her best friend and she wanted to know what he thought of the situation.
‘I didn’t know what you’d want to drink so I just brought you in a coke’ She said to Gerard as she returned to the living room her face looking apologetic in case he wanted something else.
‘No this is perfect.’ He said accepting the can but not opening it yet.
‘Have hum’ Jasmine said reaching for the can.
‘Erm’ Gerard said looking to Cheyenne for help.
‘She said “have some”’ Cheyenne translated ‘and the answer is no’
‘No’ Gerard said his voice coming out unsure and slightly higher pitched then usual
‘No’ Jasmine repeated shaking her head and going back to her toys.
‘Why not?’ Gerard asked Cheyenne feeling bad that he had to deny Jasmine something that she wanted
‘Because it’s full of sugar and it’s bad for her.’
‘Mommy get you juice Jasmine.’ Cheyenne said nodding her head. Jasmine smiled and copied her actions, she leaned forward, her hands on the floor and pushed herself up on to her legs, she straightened her little body, found her balance and then toddled towards her mother’s outstretched hand.
‘She can walk!’ Gerard exclaimed
‘Of course, she’s nearly eighteen months old’ Cheyenne said amused by the surprised look on his face ‘we’ll be right back, try not to have a heart attack while we’re gone ok.’
‘’k’ Gerard said nodding his head weakly ‘I’ll try not to’
‘It’s going to be alright’ Cheyenne said pulling Gerard close to her as they stood in the kitchen both preparing for the arrival of Paige.
‘How mad do you think everyone is?’ he asked wrapping his arms around her.
Cheyenne shrugged ‘they’ll get over it I’m sure, we’ll talk about it properly to them all later.’
‘Why aren’t you nervous?’ he asked burying his face in her hair and inhaling her wonderful scent.
‘This is what you want isn’t it?’ she replied.
‘Yes I want Paige to be a part of our family’
‘Then we’re confident in our decision, if we we’re unsure, if there was any shadow of a doubt that this wasn’t right for us then I’d be on edge’ she said
‘Then why am I all nervous’ he asked.
‘Because you’re a pussy’ Cheyenne joked and they both laughed.
‘Come on’ Gerard said leading her into the living room where there family chatted as they awaited dinner and the last of their guests.
Just a Gerard sat down a knock on the door snapped everyone to attention, Cheyenne reached the door first and she opened it with the biggest smile she could muster, despite the cold feeling that flooded her heart as she looked upon Lyn and Gerard’s oldest daughter.
‘Hey’ Cheyenne said as she moved aside to let them all in ‘how you guys doing?’
‘Good’ Marcus answered as he planted a kiss n her cheek.
‘Hello everyone’ Lyn said a shy smile playing on her lips as she surveyed the room of people. The last time they had all been together she had made a speech that changed all their lives.
‘PAIGE!’ Jasmine screamed as she clambered off of Bob’s lap and ran to the blonde haired girl who was hiding behind her surrogate father’s legs. Paige came out from behind him and smiled at Jasmine.
‘Hi Jasmine’ she said and gave a little wave
‘You took forever to get here’ Jasmine told her rolling her young eyes, her tiny lips pursed.
‘Yeah I know my mom and dad took ages to get ready, I don’t know what took them so long’ Paige replied with a shrug
Gerard watched the interaction with a smile on his face completely forgetting his guests it was only when Donna cleared her throat that he remembered them.
‘Oh right’ he said snapping back to attention he stood and walked towards his two daughter ‘Everyone this is Paige’ he said his hand resting gently on her shoulder.
Alicia was the first one out of her seat ‘Hi I’m Alicia’ she said kneeling down in front of Paige. ‘Its nice to meet you.’
‘And you too’ Paige said beaming at her
‘How old are you Paige?’ Alicia asked
‘I’m five’ she said
‘Wow you’re so big’ Alicia said
‘I’m five too’ Jasmine said her hand clasped around Paige’s
‘I know you’re the same’ Alicia said ‘Mikey why don’t you come over here and say hello to Paige.’
Mikey barely even heard what she was saying he was too transfixed staring at the child who looked the same as his brother save for the beautiful blonde curls that framed her face.
‘Mikey’ Frank nudged him ‘Go say Hi’
Mikey got up slowly and walked to the centre of the room where his wife was conversing with the girls and making them giggle.
‘I’m Mikey’ he said crouching down and offering Paige a smile.
‘No’ Jasmine said ‘his name is Uncle Mikey.’
‘I’m Gerard’s little brother.’ Mikey said with a smile.
‘How comes you don’t look the same?’ Paige asked looking at Gerard and then back at Mikey
‘Because I’m pretty and Gerard isn’t’ Mikey whispered making her giggle.
‘That’s not nice’ Gerard said pretending to pout ‘Come here Paige’ he said beckoning her over to where he was now seated, he was perched on the arm of the sofa next to his mother.
Paige obediently walked over to them trailed by Jasmine and Gerard could see his mother’s eyes welling up. ‘Paige this is my mommy Donna.’
‘No Nana Donna’ Jasmine said rolling her eyes and climbing onto Gerard’s lap. ‘She’s nana remember.’
Gerard laughed and kissed her cheek.
‘Erm Nanna Donna’ Paige said cautiously
‘Yes my darling’ Donna replied trying not to stare at the little face that was staring back at her, she looked exactly as Gerard did when he was a boy, it was like looking at the past.
‘Who do you like better Gerard or Mikey?’ she asked
Donna and Gerard burst into laughter at the question and Marcus lightly chastised her for asking such a question.
‘I don’t have a favourite’ she said honestly ‘I love them both the same.’
‘Are you sure?’ she said ‘you could whisper it to me I wouldn’t tell anyone.’
The entire roomed laughed at that statement and the tension was slowly starting to drain its way out of the room.
‘That’s alright’ Donna said picking the child up and placing her on her knee ‘I’ll stick with my original answer.’
‘We’ll talk after dinner’ Paige said patting Donna’s shoulder reassuringly and everyone laughed again.
‘Ok everyone dinner is served’ Cheyenne announced from the door way.
‘Yay! Carry me Daddy!’ Jasmine said and Gerard obediently stood up with her ‘what about Paige?’
‘You wanna come up here?’ he asked Paige and she nodded with a smile, her hands in the air.
‘I got ya’ Frank said scooping her up from behind ‘you wouldn’t be able to fit in his tiny arms. I’m Uncle Frank.’
‘I know you.’ Paige said with a big smile as Frank followed Gerard and Jasmine into the dinning room.
‘You do, how?’ Frank asked as he pulled out the dining room chair and lowered her into the seat beside Jasmine.
‘My mama was talking about you, she said you’re nice’ Paige said looking across the table at her mom to make sure this was ok.
‘That’s nice’ Frank said winking at Lyn ‘and what do you think of me?’
Paige shrugged ‘I think you’re ok.’
Frank laughed ‘Just ok huh?’
‘No Paige’ Jasmine intervened ‘Uncle Frank is the bestest in the whole world. Trust me he really is.’
‘Thanks Mimi’ Frank said holding up his hand and Jasmine automatically gave him a high-five.
‘Enjoy your dinner ladies.’ He said as he walked around the other side of the table and settled himself between Lyn and Jamia a seat that he realised much too late was probably the worse seat in the room.
Past February 2009
‘…And I would drive on to the end with you a liquor store or two keeps the gas tank full and I feel like there’s nothing left to do but end my days with you in a hail of bullets….’ Gerard sang. He hummed the next few bars aware that Jasmine had fallen asleep but not wanting the moment to end. He couldn’t believe how great the evening had been, how much fun his daughter was and how stupid he had been to have missed the last few months. Cheyenne had been great too and he wasn’t foolish enough to think that anything had changed between them or her opinion of him. He knew he’d have to take it very slow with both of them but he had the patience now, he would show them how worthy he was.
‘She asleep?’ Cheyenne whispered from the door, her voice although low snapped him out of his day dream. He nodded his head and slowly got up doing his best not to disturb the bed as his weight lifted off it.
‘She’s something special’ Gerard said once they were in the living room.
‘I know’ Cheyenne said proudly
‘Listen I just-thank you.’ Gerard said his face full of sincerity ‘thank you for give me this one last chance I can’t even begin to explain to you how much it means to me. Today has been simply wonderful, I’m so glad my therapist convinced me to call you.’
‘You had to be convinced?’ Cheyenne asked wondering if it wasn’t for the therapist would he even have bothered coming.
‘No it’s not like that’ he said quickly seeing her face drop ‘I wanted to call I just didn’t have the guts, I thought you’d be angry and disappointed I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared.’
‘Well the hard parts over now’ Cheyenne joked ‘I’m glad you came by its nice to see you with Mini.’
‘Could I maybe come by tomorrow and see her again, you know just for a little while, if you’re not busy. Maybe…’
‘Oh I don’t know Gerard, I don’t think so’ Cheyenne said shaking her head softly
‘Oh okay.’ Gerard replied bowing his head slightly ‘erm that’s fine. I understand. I’ll just err- I’ll go then. I’ll call you about another day maybe…’
‘Gerard’ Cheyenne said and he raised his head reluctantly to look at her ‘I was thinking that I’d like to bring her to your mother’s tomorrow if that’s ok with you, it’s been a few weeks since she’s seen Jasmine, I thought it would be a nice surprise.’
‘It would’ Gerard said his lips breaking into a broad smile ‘it would be perfect.’
‘Great’ Cheyenne replied ‘around lunchtime.’
‘Yes definitely’ Gerard replied rushing over to her, embracing her tightly, He held her close and noted that she was reluctant to wrap her arms around him but she did eventually and they shared a friendly embrace.
‘Thank you for this’ he whispered to her ‘I won’t let you down.’
‘We have a lot to talk about Gerard’ Cheyenne warned him as they pulled a part. ‘You can’t just swan back in our lives and think…’
‘I know’ he interrupted ‘and I’ll accept any ground rules or condition you set for me, I just want to be able to see my daughter.’
Cheyenne nodded but didn’t answer she walked Gerard to her front door, seeing him out before settling on the sofa for a long talk with Frank.
‘This looks yummy mommy’ Jasmine said smiling at he mother as she surveyed the feast that was laid out on the table.
‘Thank you baby’ Cheyenne said leaning over to kiss her daughter’s head ‘I made extra potatoes just for you.’
‘Is there dessert?’ she asked greedily, she was a sucker for sweet things.
‘Eat your dinner first’ Gerard said as he spooned some green beans onto his plate ‘and then we’ll think about dessert.’
‘Wow Cheyenne!’ Lyn said as she tucked into a piece of chicken and vegetable pie ‘this pastry is to die for.’
‘I have to agree it’s better than yours honey’ Marcus said and laughed as Lyn pretended to be offended and then elbowed him in his ribs.
‘I’ll give you the recipe if you want’ Cheyenne said
‘Would you?’ Lyn said in surprise knowing that some people can be very funny about sharing their food secrets ‘I’d like that.’
Jamia watched their display of friendliness and scowled. How could Cheyenne be so casual with her after everything that had happened? Why did they invite them? Jamia picked at her food as conversations continued on around her, every time she heard Lyn voice, she felt like stabbing her fork into her plate. Was she the only one who still suffered from what happened and if so how come she wasn’t over it?
‘Jamia’ Cheyenne’s voice broke through her thoughts ‘wanna help me bring some more wine in?’ Cheyenne asked giving her a knowing look.
‘Sure’ Jamia said quietly, she removed her napkin from her lap and rose from the table.
‘Ok let me have it’ Cheyenne said for the second time that day once they were out of ear shot.
‘What the fuck?’ Jamia said ‘I mean seriously what the fuck?’
‘I know this is difficult for you to comprehend.’ Cheyenne said as she opened the refrigerator to retrieve the white wine ‘but it’s like Gerard explained we’re doing this so Lyn will feel comfortable letting Paige come to visit.’
‘Why are you being so nice to her though?’ Jamia asked her voice verging on whining.
‘I’m just being polite, I told Gerard I would be supportive and that’s what I’m doing. I need you guys to help me too you know, I need your support.’
‘But I hate her’ Jamia pouted ‘I really do, I can’t be nice to her not even for your sake.’
‘Don’t be nice then, but just don’t be mean either. You don’t have to talk to her.’ Cheyenne said honestly handing her a bottle of red wine that she retrieved from the counter.
‘Why are you taking this so well?’ Jamia asked
‘I’m not’ Cheyenne said honesty ‘It hurts like hell and Gerard knows that, we’ve talked about this and I want to be there for him and for Jasmine and so I can put my feelings on the backburner for a while. He knows I’m not thrilled with the situation but he wants this.’
‘What about what you want?’
‘I want to be happy and I am and I will be again once this whole thing settles down. You don’t have to be nice to Lyn, Jamia, you just have to not be unpleasant, this is important to Gerard so it’s important to me.’
Jamia sighed heavily ‘I guess I can be tolerant for one evening’
‘I’d really appreciate it if you could Jamia.’ Cheyenne said wrapping her arm around her friends shoulder.
‘Don’t mention it’ Jamia said with a smile and she truly meant it.
As dessert was served there was a nice atmosphere in the dining room, Lyn chatted happily with those who bothered to speak to her. She had been in the presence of the people whose lives she disrupted five years ago for two hours and yet she was still extremely on edge waiting for an attack from someone. Her eyes shot to Paige who was sitting on Ray’s knee now and she was telling him a joke, Jasmine was perched on Alicia’s knee and she giggled as she anticipated the punch line, she had no doubt already heard the joke a thousand times already. She smiled as she watched them together and was glad at how fast they had become friends, it would make her feel easier letting Paige come here knowing Jasmine was there to keep her company.
‘What’s funny?’ Donna asked as she sat down in what was Marcus’s seat, everyone was chair hopping whilst they waited for dessert to be served and Donna decided to do the same.
‘Nothing’ Lyn said her heart racing as Donna settled beside her. ‘I was just watching the girls play, its nice to see Paige getting along with her half-sister.’
‘About that’ Donna said cautiously ‘I appreciate you allowing us to meet Paige. I’m not happy that I missed a full five years of her life though.’
‘I didn’t know what to do Donna’ Lyn said evenly ‘it was my choice as her mother to do what I thought was best for her.’
‘How can keeping her from her father be best for her?’ Donna replied keeping her voice light and a small smile on her face to fool anyone who maybe watching their interaction.
‘I didn’t know what state Gerard would be in’ Lyn responded ‘I didn’t want her to be disappointed.’
‘What you did was wrong’ Donna told her ‘It was unfair and selfish.’
‘No, it was necessary and I’d do it again if I had to. She is my child and it is my job to protect her, like it was your job to protect Gerard and look what happens when you fail.’
‘What is that supposed to mean?’ Donna hissed ‘I did my best for that boy but he made his choices.’
‘And I made mine Donna’ Lyn said looking the older woman straight in the eye.
‘Dessert is served’ Cheyenne announced happily carrying in a large backed Alaska. ‘Sorry it took so long but you know this work of art is very delicate.’
‘Wow it looks lovely Cheyenne, really it does, but we have to get going.’ Lyn said standing up abruptly
‘Already?’ Gerard said looking between his mother and Lyn.
‘Yeah it’s past Paige’s bed time anyway.’ Lyn told them
Gerard nodded his head as he realised what must’ve happened, he shot his mother a look of disapproval and he felt his heart sink wondering what the consequence of his mother’s inference would be.
‘But I’m not tired mommy’ Paige protested ‘I want to stay a little bit longer. Please.’
‘I ain’t leaving until I get a piece of that dessert’ Marcus said picking up on the look his wife shot him but not wanting to disappoint his daughter ‘but you’re right it is late, so we’ll go after dessert.’
‘Fine’ Lyn said her lips forming a tight smile as she settled herself back in the seat next to Donna’s while everyone ate dessert around her.
‘No Brian you’re not listening I know what I want’ Frank said as he paced the floor in Gerard and Cheyenne’s bedroom ‘I am making the right choice, trust me I thought about this a lot and there’s no changing my mind.’
Cheyenne took the stairs two at a time as she raced up stairs to get the camera as Donna had requested a photo of Jasmine and Paige. It made her blood boil but she didn’t say anything she just nodded her head and smiled. Not pausing she flung her bedroom door open and as she did saw Frank stop mid pace and heard him say ‘I want a divorce.’
Cheyenne gasped as she stood frozen like a statue at the door’s threshold one hand on the golden knob her other hand over her mouth.
‘I have to go Brian, we’ll finish this later.’ While Frankie hung up and slid his phone into his back pocket Cheyenne regained her composure and walked into the room closing the door behind her.
‘What was that?’ She asked her arms folding across her chest.
‘A private conversation’ he said ‘I was talking to Brian.’
‘You know what?’
‘I want to hear you say it’
‘I told him I’m going to divorce Jamia’
‘Why’ Cheyenne growled
‘You know why?’ he said walking towards the door ‘excuse me please’ he said as she blocked his way.
‘Don’t do this Frank’ she asked him her hands resting on his chest as she prevented him form leaving.
‘Its what I want.’
‘No its not, you’re confused’ she said ‘you love Jamia’
‘Not in the way I used to, this is for the best’ he said ‘I can’t go on pretending.’
‘It’s not pretence, you do love her’ Cheyenne repeated
‘And that’s why I’m doing this. She deserves better, she deserves a man who loves her and wants to have children with her. I used to be him but I’m not anymore. I want those things but not with her. I want them with you.’
‘Don’t do this for me because I can promise you it won’t change a thing between us. Don’t break Jamia’s heart I am begging you.’
‘I’ll only hurt her more if we stay together.’ Frank said ‘I don’t want to be unhappy anymore.’
‘If you leave Jamia you’ll have nothing Frank.’
‘Not for long, I’ll have you eventually’ he said wiping the tears that were now falling from her eyes.
‘Don’t’ Cheyenne cried pushing his hand away ‘you have to stop saying that.’
‘You and I are written in the stars Chey I feel it, I know it.’
‘And what about Jamia and Gerard huh what do the stars say about them, where do they end up?’ she snapped
‘I don’t know’ he said with a small shrug of his shoulders ‘but we won’t have to wait too long to find out.’
‘Frank I am begging you with every fibre of my being please do not break up with Jamia, stay with her please, you can’t hurt her like that.’
‘Why are you so upset about this?’ he asked brushing the stand of hair out of her eyes
‘Why shouldn’t I be? You’re going to break the heart of one of my best friends.’
‘Or maybe you’re upset because I’ll be single and it’ll make it easier to see how well you and I fit together and you won’t have to work so hard to resist me. You’re upset because you’re afraid that I’ve been right all along’
‘You’re not right Frankie and I have two perfectly good reasons to resist you’ Cheyenne retorted ‘and they are downstairs waiting for me with your wife and our friends.’
‘And yet they’ve never really stopped you before’ he said taking a step forward and snaking his hand around her waist. ‘Have they?’ he pressed his lips to her before she could object and Cheyenne felt the familiar whoosh of butterflies in her stomach before she snapped to her senses and pushed him off.
‘What?’ he said innocently a sexy grin breaking out on his lips ‘I know you want to.’
‘I don’t want you to’ she hissed. ‘Don’t you ever touch me again or I’ll tell Gerard, Frank I swear it.’
‘I can’t help myself Cheyenne’ he said softly his arm falling from her body. He moved away from her not wanting to offend her anymore and he sat on the edge of the bed staring at the cream carpet ‘you have no idea how badly I want you, how much I love you.’
‘You are all I think about do you know that, day and night. I sit there thinking about how good life was when it was just me, you and Jasmine. The chemistry between us was electric and we never acted on it but I want to now. Do you remember those days? Just the three of us most of the time laughing and spending time together it was wonderful. I want those days back Chey.’
‘They’re in the past Frankie’ she said with a sigh. She moved across the room to sit beside him on the bed.
‘But you wanted me then, I know you did you told me so, how comes you don’t want me now? What changed?’ he asked unable to look at her.
‘It’s like you said we never acted on it Frank I wanted you to, do you remember and you told me you couldn’t do that to Jamia and now I can’t do it to Gerard and you shouldn’t ask me to.’
‘But I am asking you’ He said ‘I was an idiot back then I should’ve taken you when I had the chance but I’m willing to do it now.’
‘And you shouldn’t’ Cheyenne said softly ‘you should stay with Jamia where you belong.’
‘God’ he shouted rising up off the bed ‘what is so fucking special about Gerard? What does he have that I don’t? I have never hurt you, ever’ Frank cried ‘and I never would so why won’t you be with me?’
‘Because I love him Frank and…’
‘I’m afraid that if I leave him to be with you that he won’t be able to cope, I’m scared of what the impact of something like that would do to him. I won’t let him become the person he was four years ago Frank, I won’t let him become that person again.’
‘So its all about how he’ll cope’ Frank said ‘for God’s sake he’s a big boy Cheyenne.’
‘I know that but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I want our family to work and it can’t if I’m with you.’
‘We’ll have our own family’ he told her. ‘You, me and Jasmine and who ever else comes along’
‘But Mini and I are already a part of a family’ she told him her hand gripping tighter to his ‘we belong with Gerard.’
‘Can you really not see how great we would be together?’ he asked looking into her eyes, his pleading with hers.
‘Of course I can.’
‘Then I don’t understand what stopping you form saying yes’ he told her.
‘Jamia, Gerard, our friends, our family, the band.’ Cheyenne said counting them off on her fingers. ‘If we were to get together all those people could get hurt, we’re all too closely bound together Frank you can’t hurt one without hurting the others and what about Paige huh?’
‘What about her’ Frank huffed
‘If I left Gerard for you and he didn’t cope well you know what would happen, and not only would he lose me and Jasmine but he’s lose Paige too. Lyn won’t let her see him if he relapses and that’s not fair on either of them, they’ve only just met.’
‘You’re doing this for him’ Frank said ‘what about you, what do you want?’
‘I just want to be happy’ she said honestly
‘I can make you happy’ he said kneeling down in front of her ‘I can make you so happy.’
‘I know you could but at whose expense’ she said stroking his face ‘Gosh Frankie, I do love you, I love you so so much but I don’t want to hurt everyone else.’
‘You’re hurting me’ he whispered taking her hand from his face ‘but I guess you can live with that.’
Cheyenne didn’t know what to say she knew the pain she caused him ripped through his body and affected every part of him, not just his heart and it saddened her. She didn’t want him to feel that way it was the last thing she ever want but she had to do what was right for her family.
‘I’ll stop’ He said ‘I won’t tell you that I love you anymore I’ll try my best to hide it and I won’t kiss you or touch you anymore.’
‘Thank you’ She said ‘I know this is ahrd for you.’
‘If you grant me one last request.’ He said his eyes meeting hers.
‘What is it’ Cheyenne asked her heart beat suddenly speeding up.
‘Kiss me’ Frank asked ‘I’ve been holding on thinking that you’ll eventually come round to my way of thinking and you and I will be together someday but I see now that you’ve made up your mind and there’s nothing I can say or do to change your mind now or in the future. So I’m asking you to kiss me because for one last time I want to feel how I felt that night we made love, I want to feel how I felt the very first time you kissed me in Donna’s kitchen. I want that feeling one last time because I know now I’m not going to feel it again’
‘Oh Frank I’m so sorry’ she said as a sobbed escaped her lips ‘I don’t want to hurt you.’
‘Stop crying’ he said softly ‘I don’t want a wet sloppy kiss’ he joked ‘will you do what I asked’
‘Yes’ Cheyenne said ‘It’s the least I can do.’
‘You know even when you cry you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.’ He said leaning into her and Cheyenne met him in the middle. She kissed him softly, pressing her lips against hers firmly but gently, she pulled him closer to her as she parted her lips and captured his bottom lip between hers and he moaned softly as he kissed her back. Frank cautiously snaked his tongue into her mouth and was pleasantly surprised when he felt her tongue massaging his. They kissed gently but passionately for what seemed like forever to Frank and as he ran his fingers through her hair he pictured the life he envisioned for them so many times before and then he saw it slipping away as Cheyenne began to pull back. He held her closely to him as tears ran down his face, his head on her shoulder as he cuddled her, afraid to let go. Eventually they pulled apart. Frank quickly wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his sweater and cleared his throat.
‘I better get back downstairs’ he said ‘I’ll take the camera, you should fix your makeup before you come down.’
Cheyenne nodded silently feeling her heart breaking as she looked at the sullen figure that used to be her lively and loving friend Frank, she didn’t recognise him now, his eyes were no longer full of life they seemed dark and dead.
‘Just so you know’ he said picking the camera off of the dressing table ‘I’m still going to divorce Jamia.’
‘If that’s what you want I can’t stop you, maybe you’ll find someone else to make you happy’ she said with a small smile.
‘No I won’t’ he said looking her dead in the eyes ‘If I can’t have you, I don’t want anyone else.’
A/N – Aww poor Frankie! If there’s anyone still out there, I’m still writing despite my super long absences, it's the updating that I'm not good at. Please R&R as I still love feedback. Thanks for reading xoxo