Frank woke to a colossal headache that assaulted his entire body. He sat up slowly, with his head held firmly between his two hands as if the touch of his fingertips could stop the pain.
He moaned to himself a deep sound of regret as his bloodshot eyes fell upon the empty bottle on the floor and he felt his stomach churn as he remembered the taste of the bitter whiskey in his mouth.
‘Morning’ Lyn yawned beside him her eyes squinted against the day light.
At the sound of her voice Frank whipped his head to the left to see her and immediately wished he hadn’t as the room instantly begun to spin. He fell back onto his pillow and let out another pitiful moan.
‘Easy there tiger’ Lyn giggled ‘you all right Frankie?’
‘What do you think?’ he croaked squeezing his eyes shut tight in a bid to stop the room from circling around him. ‘What did I do?’ he groaned.
‘Got yourself good and drunk’ Lyn said matter-of-factly
‘What happened?’ he asked opening his eyes slowly.
‘You don’t know?’ Lyn asked in surprise
‘No, I know that’ Frank said the broken shards of his heart aching in recollection ‘I remember that, what happened after? What are you doing here?’
‘Came to check on you’ Lyn said ‘found you three sheets to the wind up here so I tucked you in and stayed to make sure you didn’t swallow your own tongue or choke on your own vomit.’
‘Thanks’ Frank said flinching at the word “vomit”.
‘How are you feeling?’ Lyn said rolling onto her side to face him he stayed as he was staring up at the ceiling.
‘Like the world has ended’ he whispered
‘You know it hasn’t though right?’ Lyn said softly
Frank didn’t answer. The world may not have ended but his world sure had.
‘Come on, let’s get you up and out of this bed’ Lyn said sitting up.
‘What for?’ Frank said ‘I’d rather just wallow, thanks’
‘No’ Lyn said sadly ‘don’t do that, there’s so much for you out there.’
‘I’m not interested right now’ Frank said rolling on to his side and facing away from her.
Lyn fell quiet, she so badly wanted to argue with him in a desperate bid to make him see that this was the not the end but she knew what it was like to have her heart broken and that fact that he said he wasn’t interested right now instead of saying he wasn’t interested at all gave her some hope. He’d come around in time she thought
‘Frank’ She said, spooning him, cuddling close to his back ‘Marcus and I are leaving soon, I need to know you’re going to be all right when I'm gone’ she said ‘can you promise to call me?’
Frank didn’t really want to make that promise, he already knew how he was going to spend the next seventy-two hours or more and it involved his dark room, his bed and lots of alcohol. Maybe even something stronger, something to numb his heart and mind. Phone calls and conversations we’re not part of his plans, but a call to Lyn tomorrow was the least he could do after all she had done.
‘I promise’ he whispered and he allowed himself a smile when Lyn cuddled closer to him.
Lyn held him close letting her mind drift to her life back in Arizona and how uncomplicated it was there. They lived happily together her little family, drama free and easy and she wished that one day Frank would be able to live the same. She listened to his breathing and smiled as she realised he was drifting back off to sleep where he was unable to feel any pain. No sooner had she begun to drift with him the loud ring of the bell snapped both their eyes open. Lyn leapt off the bed and raced to the window.
‘I don’t want to see anyone’ Frank said bolting up right and then clutching his head as the spinning resumed.
‘Are you sure about that?’ Lyn sighed.
‘Why? Who is it?’ he asked not believing that the one person he wanted to see would be at his door.
‘It’s Cheyenne’ Lyn said quietly turning her attention from the window back to Frank.
She was about to ask if he wanted to see her when Cheyenne's voice sounded loud from outside.
‘Frank, please open the door’ she called out ‘I know you’re home.’
Frank held his breath as her pained voice rocked him to his core and his broken heart stirred as she spoke. His eyes were wide as his heart began to beat a fast lively pace in his chest as he waited for her to say more, to say the one thing he wanted to hear.
‘I’m so sorry Frank’ she cried ‘I just wanted you to know that. I’m so very sorry’
‘I don’t want to see her’ he sighed laying back down and turning on his side away from the window.
‘I’ll go talk to her’ Lyn said heading for the door not questioning why he’d chosen not to see her. She was certain the minute he knew it was Cheyenne he’d have jumped from the bed and raced down to see her but she had been wrong.
Frank lay on his side fighting back the tears as he clutched his covers close around him. The second he heard her voice he had convinced himself that she had come to say that she had made a mistake about last night and that she wanted to marry him instead but she hadn’t, she had came to say she was sorry and Frank didn’t care about that. He knew how sorry she was because he was sorry too.
Lyn scowled at her husband as she passed his sleeping form in the living room and raced to the door. The man could sleep through anything. Lyn steadied herself and calmed her nerves as Cheyenne called out to Frank once more. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
‘Cheyenne?’ she said softly. She knew she had caught the other woman off guard just from the open eyed expression that stared back at her.
‘Lyn, what are you doing here?’ Cheyenne asked completely taken aback by her presence. It took a split second for her to recover and before she knew it her hatred for Lyn was racing through her veins. This was the woman who had ruined everything to begin with.
‘I came over last night to check on Frank’ Lyn said ‘I know everything.’
‘I know’ Cheyenne said bitterly. She swallowed back the hurl of insults she wanted to scream at Lyn as she took a step toward the open door and she was surprised to have Lyn step in her way.
‘I’m sorry but you can’t come in’ Lyn said an apologetic look on her face.
‘What?’ Cheyenne asked not quite believing that Lyn was denying her access to Frank’s home. 'Why not?'
‘Because he doesn’t want to see you’ Lyn said honestly ‘he asked me to tell you to please leave.’
‘What?’ Cheyenne repeated taking a step back and looking up at Frank’s window to see if he was watching.
‘Look Lyn’ Cheyenne said taking a deep and claming breath in a bid to keep her temper intact ‘I just need five minutes to talk to him that’s all.’
‘He doesn’t want to see you’ Lyn said again seeing Cheyenne’s anger flash in her eyes ‘Respect that.’
Frank watched the exchange from behind his net curtains, he inhaled sharply when he saw Cheyenne look up at his window and he took a step back just in case even though he knew she couldn’t see him. He watched their muted exchange through the glass and reading their body language, Cheyenne paced slightly, agitated at the restriction to his home and Lyn stood firm with her arms across her chest showing her defense to Cheyenne’s angry pleas. Frank watched the woman he loved from behind sad eyes. His heart hammered in his chest as he clutched tight to the windowsill stopping him from running down the steps and out the door to sweep her in his arms and kiss her lips. He wanted so badly to feel her in his arms but he knew he wouldn’t be able to take the pain once she left.
‘Frank would you please just come down’ He heard Cheyenne call to him and his whole body pressed closer to the window as though her voice was a magnet, a force pulling him towards her. He pressed his forehead to the cool glass closing his eyes as she cried out to him, the tears clear in her voice but he didn’t move, he just stayed as he was clutching the windowsill for strength.
‘Frank please’ Cheyenne cried not caring that she was making a scene on his door step or that the woman she hated was watching her through shocked eyes. ‘I’m so sorry. I wish things could be different but they can’t. I have to do this for Jasmine and for Gerard. I wish you could understand’ she sobbed ‘Would you please just come down? I want to see you Frank’
‘Enough’ Lyn snapped at Cheyenne’s outbursts ‘ Just stop. You’re making a fool of yourself.’
‘I don’t care’ Cheyenne stated staring up at the window where she was sure Frank was watching her. She could feel his eyes on her even if she couldn’t see them. ‘I need to see him’
‘He needs to heal’ Lyn said ‘He’s hurt’
‘I didn’t mean to hurt him’ Cheyenne sniffed ‘I just want Frank to know that I am sorry.’
‘He knows. You need to leave.’ Lyn said fearing that the longer Cheyenne stayed the weaker Frank became.
‘I can’t leave’ Cheyenne snapped angrily. Annoyed that the woman she hated was standing between her and Frank.
‘Why?’ Lyn challenged
‘Because I love him’ Cheyenne cried ‘Oh God. I love him so much.’
Lyn watched open mouthed as Cheyenne cried, her face hidden in her hands as she wept on Frank’s door step.
Frank raced to his door his fingers wrapped around the handle but his feet no longer moving. His heart was hammering in his chest and his breath was coming out in small pants and his mind fought his body for control. He had to stay strong, no matter how bad he wanted to run and comfort Cheyenne. He hated to see her cry but he knew if he was to comfort her now it would be him who needed comforting after she left. With his head bowed low he headed back to his place at window and was shocked to see that Lyn was holding Cheyenne, stroking her hair no doubt uttering comforting words to the younger woman.
‘Don’t touch me” Cheyenne cried suddenly, shaking off Lyn’s embrace and taking a step back “This whole mess is your fault”
‘How’d you work that out?’ Lyn said taken aback by Cheyenne’s sudden change in emotion.
“If you hadn’t slept with Gerard none of this would’ve happened” Cheyenne yelled.
‘Bullshit! It probably would’ve happened anyway. I didn’t push you into Frank’s arms, you got there all on your own” Lyn retorted annoyed at the accusation that she had caused this trouble.
“I got there after you told my family and friends that you and Gerard were having an affair” Cheyenne cried “if it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be in a mess like this”
‘You’re pathetic, and I know deep down you don’t really believe that’ Lyn said ‘You wouldn’t have slept with him that first time if there wasn’t something already there. Don’t you dare blame me for your weakness, the only person to blame for the mess you’re in now is you.’
Cheyenne tried to think of a comeback but no words left her lips. Lyn was right, there was something between her and Frank long before the revelation of Gerard’s infidelity, they were always flirting, always messing around. Was their sleeping together inevitable, was the path they were on now fate?
‘Just tell Frank I’ll be back later’ Cheyenne growled turning to leave. She had to leave and get her thoughts and emotions under control.
‘I don’t think that’s a good idea….’ Lyn started
‘I don’t remember asking for your opinion’ Cheyenne shot back cutting the other woman off completely ‘just tell him, its up to him whether he lets me in or not.’
Lyn bit her tongue so the acid reply that wanted to drip from her lips couldn’t escape and she headed back inside. As she closed the door behind her she suddenly could wait to get back to Arizona, this drama was too much even for her.
‘So how’d it go?’ Bob said quietly down the line to Amber. He had missed her terribly since dropping her off very early that morning and he worried about her.
‘Fine, he doesn’t know or suspect a thing’ Amber whispered with a smile. It wasn't that she was being malicious it was more relief than anything else.
‘Oh good I was worried’ Bob said in a hushed voice.
‘Bob? I know why I’m whispering, but why are you whispering?’ Amber asked
‘Oh!’ Bob said having not realising the quiet tone in which he was talking to her in ‘I don’t know but I can’t stop’
Amber giggled quietly into the receiver as they shared a laugh. She missed him so much already and it had only been a few hours.
‘I miss you' he admitted and Amber could swear she could hear the blush in his voice, she could see his face too clear in her mind, his blue eyes sparkling and his cheeks aflame.
"I know, me too" She sighed her head falling forward until it rested gently on the wall in front of her. "I choose you Bob.' she whispered 'I'm going to tell him that the wedding is off.'
Amber covered her mouth to stifle her giggle as Bob whooped in delight his voice loud and clear down the phone.
'Are you serious?' he asked the excitement ripe in his voice.
'Yes' Amber said 'I want you.'
'I want you too' He said, and then everything came out in a rush 'and we can live anywhere you want and get that stupid little dog you've always wanted and the ugly painting of those flowers that I despise and we'll have the gang over for BBQ's and you can yell at me for leaving the toilet seat up and everything else I can't think of right now.' he laughed 'You can have it all Amber, anything you want as long as you have me.'
Amber smiled as she wiped the happy tears from her eyes 'It sounds great' she giggled 'it sounds perfect.'
'When are you coming home, baby?' Bob asked clutching the receiver.
'Soon' Amber said 'very soon my love.'
'And when you and Mommy get married, can I help you cut the cake?' Jasmine asked.
'Maybe' Gerard said. This was the tenth "Daddy, when you and Mommy get married" question and he was running out of ways to say "we'll see"
'Enough now Jasmine' Donna interceded as she saw her youngest granddaughter open her mouth to ask more "whatever will be, will be, now leave you Daddy alone" she chastised playfully.
Gerard shot his mother as grateful look before looking down at his oldest daughter who was drawing by is feet.
'Hows it going?' he asked. She looked up at him with a smile, their hazel eyes meeting and Gerard felt his heart skip a beat as he saw himself in her.
'Good' she said 'I'm done. Here you can have it now' she said carefully handing him the picture she had been drawing. Gerard smiled at the picture that he held in his hands.
'That's me, you and Nana Donna and Jasmine' she explained pointing out the four people in the picture.'
'This is really good' Gerard said just to her, he didn't want Jasmine to overhear and be jealous.
'Thanks' Paige grinned 'I like to draw.'
'Me too' Gerard said 'You know if you keep practicing when you get bigger you'll be really good.'
'Like you?' Paige asked hopefully.
'No' Gerard replied seeing her frown and smiling 'you'll be even better.'
"Really?' Paige asked her eyes lighting up.
'Yep' Gerard laughed as Paige climbed onto him. She settled on his lap and he held her much tighter than necessary as he watched the clock on the wall ticking down their time together. He glanced over at Jasmine, she was happily making a cake out of Plasticine with his Mother's help and Gerard couldn't help but smile. Jasmine was so much like her mother whilst Paige was so much like him and yet they got on so well and for that he was grateful. Suddenly he couldn't wait for the girls to learn that their bond was closer than that of friends, that they were sisters, he imagined it would be a great day when they could finally know the truth.
The doorbell rang and Paige tensed in his arms as Jasmine cried "no". Lyn and Marcus were here and it was time to go.
'I'll get it' Donna said 'Jasmine run up stairs and get your mother.'
'So this is it' Gerard said turning Paige around on his lap to face him. 'I'll see you in a few weeks.'
'I don't want to go, I want to stay here.' she said her eyes pleading with his.
'I know' Gerard smiled sadly 'but its only for a while. Did you have fun at least?'
'Yes lots.' Paige said nodding her head.
'Come on' Gerard said, he could hear Lyn and Marcus's voices as they walked through the hallway toward the living room 'Give me a big hug.'
Paige wrapped her arms around him and nuzzled his neck as he held her close.
'Hello you two' Lyn said walking into the room. The sight of her daughter wrap around Gerard, caught her off guard.
'Hi' Gerard said forcing himself to smile wider then he wanted to.
'Hello Mommy' Paige said turning her head to see her mother and Lyn was surprised that her daughter hadn't run to her as she normally did.
'I guess its time to go' Gerard said standing up as Cheyenne and Jasmine entered the room. He smiled at them as he placed Paige on the floor.
Cheyenne held her head up high as she walked passed Lyn and Marcus to stand by Gerard's side. When she had left Frank's she had gone straight to Donna's and insisted she had a headache. She needed to be by herself and she went straight up to Mikey's old room to cry.
'So when can we expect you back?' Donna asked her hands resting on Paige's shoulders.
'Christmas' Paige and Jasmine said in unison.
'Can we talk about that?' Lyn said speaking to Gerard directly. Cheyenne felt her heart drop into her stomach. What was this about? They had a deal. Was Lyn backing out, could she do that? Was it something she had done?
'Are you coming?' Gerard asked holding out his hand to her, she was so wrapped up in her mind that she didn't realise they were heading to the kitchen to talk away from the children.
'Ok so let's talk' Gerard said closing the kitchen door behind Cheyenne. He too was worried but he kept his cool, hiding his fear.
'Marcus and I were thinking that we'd prefer it if we didn't come back at Christmas but flew down for New Years Eve instead.' Lyn said
'Why?' Cheyenne asked simply.
'We just feel like we'd like to have Christmas as our time, with our family and friends. Plus we figured it would be nicer for everyone to ring in the New Year with Paige and Jasmine together. What do you think Gee?'
Cheyenne watched them converse well aware the Lyn was leaving her well out of the discussion, she eyed the other woman carefully determined to find out exactly what her angle was.
'Sounds fine to me' Gerard said honestly, relieved to see that it was only a week they were delaying the visit and not more 'Its only a weeks difference and I think it'd be a nice start to the New Year to wake up with Paige here. What do you think, baby?'
Cheyenne slapped on a smile and answered keeping her eyes on Lyn 'Sounds like a plan honey. Marcus what do you think?'
'I'm happy if you're all happy' he replied, not knowing what else to say, he wasn't aware that Lyn was changing the plan even though she had dropped his name in it moments ago.
'Ok so its settled' Gerard smiled 'I'll get Paige ready to go.'
'Lyn can I have a word please' Cheyenne asked sweetly as the guys let the room. She closed the door behind them before turning on Lyn. 'What are you playing at?'
'I don't know what you mean?' Lyn said innocently 'what's the problem?'
'Why are you rearranging Paige's visiting dates?'
'Because I figure you could use an extra week to get your head sorted' Lyn retorted, now the men had gone they women could speak frankly.
'Excuse me?' Cheyenne gasped
'Come on Cheyenne, I saw you today, you're all kinds of messed up at the moment you need time to get straightened out.' Lyn said honestly.
'What you saw has nothing to do with Paige and you know it.' Cheyenne hissed.
'Of course it has, you're not in control of yourself and I don't want you looking after Paige when you're like this.' Lyn said
'How dare you?' Cheyenne growled 'you know I'm more than capable of taking care of your daughter, you're just doing this to hurt Gerard.'
'Did he look hurt?' Lyn said 'Its a valid request and he sees the reason in it but what he doesn't see is his Fiance's feelings for his best friend.'
Cheyenne's hand flew across Lyn's face so fast she couldn't stop herself even if she wanted to. She felt the sharp throb through her hand where her palm connected with Lyn's cheek and despite the pain it felt good. She stood rooted to the spot her eyes on Lyn who clutched her face in her hands.
'What a great example of how in control you are' Lyn spat once she recovered 'I was wrong about you clearly?'
'You deserved that' Cheyenne argued 'you've had that coming for a while.'
'And what do you have coming to you, if you don't fix the mess you're in huh?' Lyn asked.
'Its none of your business' Cheyenne said 'Its my mess I'll clean it.'
'Be sure that you do' Lyn warned yanking the kitchen door open 'cause if you don't get your shit together and your head back in the game I'll take Paige out of it altogether and you can explain to Gerard why.'
'You wouldn't' Cheyenne said looking into Lyn's eyes for assurance that she was bluffing.
'Try me' Lyn hissed as she stormed off.
It had been three hours since Lyn and Marcus had left Frank alone. After the altercation with Cheyenne, Lyn had come back and comforted him, his tears dampening her clothes as he cried against her after watching Cheyenne leave. He had fallen asleep,, his crying taking away the last of his energy and when he had woken it was to Lyn shaking him gently, telling him that she and Marcus were leaving and that she had made him some food for later, for when he was up to it. It was three hours later and he still wasn't up for it. He stared at the digital clock on his night stand, they'd be eating dinner now, Gerard, Cheyenne and Jasmine. He imagined them sitting together laughing and talking eating something delicious that Cheyenne had prepared and the imagine made him sick to his stomach and lonelier then he had felt all day. The tears came again then as he thought about Jamia, knowing this is how she must've felt the day he told her he was leaving. Was this Karma for breaking her heart? What goes around comes around and he was definitely reaping what he sowed. He rolled onto his side as he sobbed, clawing at his pillow as the pain of his loss once again exploded in his chest. He cried hard gripping the sheets to him in a bid to stop himself falling apart as images of Cheyenne and their time together flashed through his mind like a cruel picture show and he screamed into the darkness hoping the sound would snap his mind out of the past. Just like the first and the second time the tears stopped and the pain faded into numbness. He opened his red eyes to the clock and watched the minutes tick by, promising to himself that this was how he was going to spend the remainder of his life, in his bed, by himself and counting the minutes since Cheyenne let him go. This was all there was to Frank Iero now.