The trip to the zoo causes tension between Holly and Gerard.
Gerard placed Bandit down on the floor keeping her hand in his. Recently even though her steps at time could be a bit wobbly she’d developed the habit of taking off at a dead run. “Molly this is Bandit.” He said introducing his daughter.
Molly and Bandit stared at each other a minute then Bandit pulled away from Gerard to run towards Molly. He sighed, “That’s why I brought the stroller. I can’t keep up with her.”
Holly, who had answered the door, laughed. “Probably a good idea.”
“Isn’t Lindsey going with us?” Alicia asked as she joined them.
Holly saw a strange look cross Gerard’s face, "Uh, no. She has some stuff to take care of today.” He saw that Bandit was grabbing for the doll Molly had in her arms. “B that’s Molly’s doll.” He glanced over at Holly. “She sorta thinks everything she wants should be hers.” When he looked back at his daughter she saw that Molly had given the doll to Bandit.
“It’s otay.” Molly said. “Mes share.”
“How old is she?” Gerard asked turning to Holly.
“Two.” Holly answered while twisting her hair preparing to put it into a ponytail.
“Tree.” Molly said sounding quiet serious.
Holly laughed, “You won’t be three until March.” She smiled at Gerard, “At her age being older is important. She’s doesn’t like it when I say she’s two.”
“Let’s get this show on the road.” Mikey said walking towards the door. “We got animals to see.”
Alicia laughed, “Yeah, I think he is more excited about this than anyone.”
Mikey scooped Bandit up in his arms. “Hey, B.” He said kissing her cheek.
“Down.” Bandit squealed. Obviously she wanted to play with Molly.
Frowning Mikey placed the little girl back on her feet. “Sorry, kid.”
Immediately Molly moved towards him, “Youse can carry mes Uncle Mikey.”
Her sweetness touched his heat. He lifted her up, “Be glad too, Molly.”
Gerard sighed when he picked Bandit up because she immediately started to scream. “B stop.” He said. “We gotta go.”
Suddenly Molly started giggling. Mikey asked her what was so funny.
“He G and her is B.”
“Yep, Gee and B.” Mikey laughed.
Gerard spoke to Holly, “Uh, do you have a seat for Molly I can put in my car?”
Holly nodded, “Yeah, I’ll grab it.”
“It’s a big gurl seat.” Molly said wanting to make sure no one thought she used a baby car seat.
“Toddler seat.” Holly explained.
Bandit was still struggling to get down and Gerard was losing patience. “Here.” He said quickly thrusting the child into Holly’s arms. “You hold her, I’ll get the seat.”
Holly was shocked to realize she was suddenly holding Gerard’s child. As soon as he walked out the door Bandit started to cry.
“Want me to take her?” Alicia asked.
“No, it’s okay.” She softly began to rock back and forth. “Hey little B, don’t cry. Daddy will be right back.”
Bandit hiccuped as she looked into Holly’s face but her crying stopped.
“Come on.” Mikey said heading for the door which Alicia opened. They all walked out and saw Gerard has just finished strapping in Molly’s seat.
As they walked across the yard towards the car Holly, who had settled Bandit on her hip, was speaking gently to the girl, “We are going to have fun today.”
Gerard took Bandit from her, ‘Yeah, fun.” He didn’t sound at all sure. He loved his daughter but his head hurt and he was beginning to think this hadn’t been such a good idea.
As he placed Bandit in her seat and fastened the belt Holly touched his arm. “Kids her age and be a handful at times.”
His eyes met hers, “Yeah, I know.”
“So have you taken any aspirin?”
Gerard stared at her, “How did you know I have a headache?”
Holly laughed, “Because you’re doing your squinty eye look. You always do that when your head hurts.”
Mikey had just finished placing Molly in her seat and had overheard them, “You feel bad, Gee?”
“Just a headache.” He answered quickly.
Mikey nodded but couldn’t help but wonder if his brother’s headache was a result of last nights drinking.
Alicia quickly climbed into the third row of seats followed by Mikey. Holly frowned realizing this meant she would be riding up front with Gerard.
“I won’t bite." He whispered catching her off guard.
Holly’s eyes narrowed but she didn’t respond. Soon they were on the way to the zoo with both girls babbling constantly.
Gerard thought his head was going to explode any minute. He glanced over to see Holly fishing around in her large purse. “Here.’ She said a moment later handing him two pills she’d taken from a bottle.
Reaching over he extended his open hand to allow her to place them in his palm. Luckily he has a bottle of water in the car, which Holly opened for him. “Thanks” he said hoping the pain relievers would kick in soon.
“No problem.” She said as she put the bottle back in her bag. “I’m always prepared.”
“Yeah, you always are.” Gerard agreed. “Remember that time I ripped out the crotch of my pants right before I was supposed to go on?”
Holly laughed, “Oh yeah, I remember the look on your face when I told you to take of your pants. I mean really did you want me to sew them while you still had them on?”
“Hey, how was I supposed to know you had sewing shit with you.”
A voice from behind his head piped up, “Gee said bad wud.”
Gerard glanced over at Holly clearly confused.
“Shit.” Holly silently mouthed the word.
“Oh.” Gerard said remembering what he’d said. “Uh, sorry Molly. That was a bad word” He told her looking at the child through the center mirror.
Molly just smiled.
Lowering his voice so only Holly could hear he asked, “Shit is a bad word?”
Holly laughed, “Yes, Gee it is. Seriously do you think that’s a word I want Molly to use?”
Gerard leaned back a bit trying to get comfortable but now his back hurt. “Guess not.” He muttered while at the same time realizing he said that word in front of Bandit all the time and so did Lindsey.
“Hey Holly?” Alicia said loudly to be heard over the girls, “Mikey and I were wondering if maybe tomorrow you want to go over to Ray and Christa’s? She called earlier and invited us.”
Holly turned in her seat slightly, “Sure.”
Alicia laughed, “Christa said something about how we could go shopping with her too. Maybe Molly can stay with the guys for a few hours.”
When he saw Holly frown Mikey quickly spoke up. ‘Hey, Ray and I can watch Molly. Ain’t that right Molly? He asked touching the toddlers head, “Don’t you think Uncle Mikey can take care of you?”
Molly turned her head to look back at him, “Mes ikes Uncle Mikey.” She nodded happily.
Again Gerard was watching what was happening behind him in the mirror. For some reason it suddenly bothered him that Mikey seemed to be forming such a good relationship with Molly but he remained silent.
“We’ll see.” Holly answered turning back around. She glanced over at Gerard and saw his frown, “Head still hurt?”
“Yeah,” he answered forcing himself to concentrate on the traffic but still trying to figure out why he was bothered. Maybe it was because suddenly “uncle Mikey” was good and he was the guy who said bad words.
A few hours later as he pushed Bandit’s stroller Gerard realized as fun as this was he was ready to go. For the past ten minutes Bandit has been struggling to get out of her stroller and now she’d begun to cry. He hoped Mikey and Alicia, who had gone ahead to buy some bottled water for everyone, would hurry back.
“Hold on a minute.” Holly said touching his arm making him stop. She leaned down and released the belt on the stroller then lifted Bandit in her arms.
“Not a good idea.” Gerard said shaking his head.
“She’s tried of sitting in the stroller.” Holly said as she placed the little girl on her feet while keeping a tight hold on her hand.
Gerard laughed when Molly immediately climbed into the stroller, “Me ride now.” She said seriously.
Holly walked slowly with Bandit towards the railing overlooking the lion area, however when they arrived Bandit couldn’t see over the wall just beyond the rail. Scooping the child up she settled her on her hip, “Look B. See the lions?”
Bandit’s eyes grew wide.
When Molly and Gerard joined them Molly quickly climbed back out. “Mes wanna see.” She said jumping up and down. She turned to Gerard lifting her arms.
He lifted her up so that he could hold her while she too viewed the lions. Stealing a glace over at Holly he saw that Bandit had laid her head down on Holly’s shoulder and was hugging her neck tightly. “She likes you.” He said softly speaking his thoughts out loud.
Holly turned slightly to face him. “Yeah, kids and animals always like me.” She teased.
“Everyone likes you.” Gerard answered honestly. Holly was one of those unique people whose personality drew people to her.
“Not everyone.” Holly answered quickly then turned away.
Gerard frowned wondering why she’d answered that way. He searched his mind wondering trying to remember anyone who hadn’t liked her. Finally he spoke softly. “She doesn’t count.”
Holly realized he was taking about Eliza. “She wasn’t the only one.”
Again he was confused by her words but before he could think about it Mikey and Alicia joined them at the railing.
“Who wants a drink?” Mikey asked while holding out one of the ice-cold bottles.
“Sounds wonderful.” Holly said reaching out for one of the bottles. Mikey opened it for her but instead of taking a drink she held the bottle to Bandit’s lips.
Gerard took the bottle Alicia offered him then handed it to Molly.
“Tank youse.” She said politely. Once she had taken several swallows she innocently held it up to his lips.
“Molly Gerard probably doesn’t want to drink after you.” Holly said looking over at them.
He gently placed the girl down on her feet. “I don’t mind drinking after you but you shouldn’t drink after me.” He explained taking another bottle from Alicia.
“Hows come?” Molly asked.
Gerard squatted down so he was eye level with her. “Cause I’m a big old germy guy.” He teased.
Molly looked confused, “Germy?”
“It’s a bad habit but she and I always share drinks.” Holly explained.
“He is germy.” Mikey teased. “And smelly.”
Even though he knew his brother was teasing he glared at him.
Mikey shrugged, “Hey, just kidding.”
“Mes donts tink youse smelly.” Molly said reaching out to touch Gerard’s face. “Youse smells purty.”
Alicia and Holly both laughed earning them glares from Gerard.
“So where to now?” Alicia asked after taking a drink of her water.
Gerard stood back up and reached to take Bandit from Holly’s arms. He knew she still hadn’t gotten a chance to take a drink. As soon as Bandit realized what he had planned she started shaking her head while tightening her grip around Holly’s neck.
“It’s okay.” Holly smiled as she reached for the bottle Molly was holding. She took a quick sip then handed it back to Molly. “I’ll carry her for a while.”
“Sure.” Holly nodded as Bandit once more quieted.
“So how about we head over towards the tigers?” Mikey suggested.
Molly started jumping up and down, “Uncle Mikey, gurrrr.”
Mikey lifted her up into his arms. ‘Gurrrr.” He said nuzzling her neck while pretending he was going to bite her.
Molly giggled uncontrollably.
Holly wondered why Gerard was glaring again. “You okay?” She asked softly as the walked behind Alicia and Mikey who was still carrying Molly.
‘Yeah, sure.” He answered shortly.
“Well then stop glaring Mr. Cranky Pants.” Holly teased.
Gerard started to give her an angry retort but he stopped the words before they could leave his lips.
Holly smiled, “Nice.”
“Nice, you just stopped yourself from saying something that I’m sure would have fallen in the JA category.”
It took him a moment to realize JA stood for jackass. “Oh ha ha.”
Hours later when the arrived back at Mikey and Alicia’s house both girls were fast asleep. Gerard pulled into the driveway.
“Hey you guys stay here with Bandit. I’ll carry Molly in then be right back.” Gerard said quickly.
“I can carry her in.” Holly said as she opened her door.
Gerard ignored her as he rushed around to the side door. He quickly released Molly’s belt and lifted her out of the seat.
Mikey handed the key to the front door to Holly.
Once inside the house Gerard headed towards the guest bedroom. He gently placed Molly on the bed. Holly pulled off her shoes then placed a light blanket over her still sleeping child “Thanks” She whispered.
Gerard nodded then they walked out into the hall.
“It was fun.” Holly said as they moved towards the front door.
“Who didn’t like you?” Gerard suddenly asked.
Holly stared at him. ‘What?”
“At the zoo when we were talking you said someone other than Eliza didn’t like you.”
“Oh Gee.” Holly sighed, “We’re back to that art of letting it go thing again.”
He reached out to grab her arm. “I wanna know what you meant.”
“Stop being a pain.” Holly said pulling her arm from his grasp. “Let it go.”
“Not a chance.”
“Why is it important? Can’t you just let go of the past?” Holly asked.
Gerard stared into her large green eyes, “No because there is shit we need to talk about.”
Immediately Holly started shaking her head, “No, there’s not.”
“Yes, there is.” He answered angrily. “You know there is. Like why the fuck you just suddenly disappeared.”
Now Holly was growing angry, “Why the fuck wouldn’t I just disappear? You think I should of stuck around so I could be there for you to introduce to your wife?”
Gerard was surprised by her anger, “Well..”
Holly sighed, “Jackass.”
“Mikey’s still with Molly.” Alicia said suddenly appearing in the open doorway unaware she’d walked in on a tense situation. “But I gotta pee.” She rushed past them then headed down the hallway.
“Go home, Gee.” Holly said softly.
“You know this wouldn’t be so awkward if back then you’d just let me tell everyone we were together.” He said in anger.
“Oh yeah that would have been a stellar idea.” Holly shot back.
“Well why wouldn’t it have been?” He challenged.
Suddenly Holly felt drained, “Look just let it go. The past is over.”
He was about to say more when Alicia reappeared. “You’re still here?” She said looking at her brother in law.
“Just leaving.” He said giving Holly one more look before turning to walk out the door.
“Everything okay?” Alicia asked Holly seeing that her friend looked upset.
Holly forces herself to smile, “Yeah, I’m just tired.”
“Me too.” Alicia nodded, “But it was a fun day.”
“It was.” Holly agreed softly trying to block out the last conversation she’d just had with Gerard.