Sequel to Fly Away, Dance on the Milky Way. Over a year has passed, and Gerard is reunited with his daughter Gia. She has a lot to hide, and Gerard finds that she has grown up and changed.
As always when he visited, all the memories started to come back to Gia. Most of the time she didn’t think about New Jersey much, but when she saw her father, she was reminded of her old home.
That’s when Gia dug out the collection of photo albums from her closet, wiped off the dust from the pale yellow covers, sat down on the rug and found herself dwelling in all the things she left behind.
The three photo albums represented the three different aspects of her life. One whole album was dedicated to pictures from her childhood, before Gerard went to rehab and got sober. It wasn’t a happy time, but when Gia looked at these pictures, she realized that perhaps it wasn’t as terrible as she thought. At least she had her father and her uncles. Granted, she had no friends, and she was miserable most of the time, but there were some good moments. Like that time when Frank took her to Disneyland, or when Mikey dressed her up as a unicorn for Halloween. Gerard was absent most of her childhood, but he did his part.
Gia finished the first album, and picked up another one. The second album was also of her family, after Gerard finally came around and started acting like a father. That’s when Gia was happy. She got to know her father and spend time with him, even though he did become nearly crazy in his attempts of trying to keep her safe and under control. Gia grinned when she imagined what he would think if he knew what she did on weekends these days.
And last but not least, the third photo album.
If pictures of her family caused the longing to go back to Belleville, then this one made her teary-eyed and she felt like marching up to her mother and announcing that she was going back.
As she browsed through the various pictures of herself and Lucas, she couldn’t decide if she wanted to cry or smile. Gia and Lucas sitting on the swings at the park. Gia and Lucas baking. Gia and Lucas playing basketball. Gia and Lucas with Jersey. Gia and Lucas on the beach at California…
One of the hardest things of leaving Belleville was leaving Lucas. He was her best friend, her boyfriend, and even though she didn’t know much about relationships, she had come to realize that yes, she did love him. Her only regret besides leaving him was that she hadn’t realized sooner exactly how much he meant to her.
Gia thought of Sean, and sighed. What on earth was she doing with that guy? Compared to Lucas, Sean was nothing.
Gia got to a picture from her last Christmas in Belleville. Herself, Lucas and Hazel, her other friend, were sitting on a couch, Hazel with a can of beer, Lucas with a sandwich half way into his wide open mouth, and Gia in the middle, nearly completely blocked by Jersey, the gray Weimaraner who sat on her lap.
Gia heard someone coming up the stairs, so she quickly put away the photo albums. They weren’t a secret, but she didn’t want anyone else looking at them. They were too personal.
Just as she had put away the albums, the door opened. Her stepfather, Thomas stood tall at the entrance.
Thomas was a scary man. He was tall and all brawn, and Gia and him did not get along. The only thing they agreed on was that this house was not big enough for the both of them. Stella, Gia’s mother, of course had no idea of this ongoing dislike, but they didn’t want her to know.
At first Thomas had merely ignored her, while Gia somewhat learned to tolerate him, accepting the fact that he came with the package as did her mom’s new kids. But then his attitude towards her changed when Gia was introduced by her new friends at school to a whole new world.
The parties, drinking and smoking began, and while Gia understood why Thomas didn’t like her doing that while staying at his house, he became very violent in his way of showing his disapproval.
“What do you want?” Gia groaned.
“Your mother wanted me to inform you that dinner will be late tonight. So you will have to postpone partying with your little friends by a few hours.”
When Gia didn’t reply, but only stared at him warily, waiting for him to leave, Thomas smiled. His smile made him look charming to anyone but Gia, because she had learned to see that with that smile, he was just hiding the desire to bash her head against the wall. She knew he wanted to hurt her, beat her up to a pulp, but the most he ever did was threaten her and give her a few bruises.
“Oh, that’s right,” Thomas said. “You wouldn’t want your daddy to know what a little whore you really are. How do you think he’d react if he knew?”
Panic hit her like a ton of bricks. She had worked hard to keep everything from her father, and if Thomas told him, it would ruin everything. Gerard had had problems with alcohol, and she knew that he wouldn’t accept her ways of living. Her biggest fear was that he’d get fed up with her and, even though she was the one who left, she feared that he’d kick her out of his life, and forbid her from seeing Bandit ever again. Gia knew her fear was completely ridiculous, her father would never abandon her like that, but the fear still had a very big effect on her.
“What if I told him?” Thomas pondered out loud. “And what if somehow your mother found out as well? Then she’d kick you out, and your dad surely wouldn’t want you around his new kid, and you’d have no place to stay. What would you do?”
Gia knew she shouldn’t let him get to her, but he knew which buttons to push. He knew what her biggest fears were and he knew how to make her feel insecure. He held all the cards.
“I think the most important question is, what would you do in order for me to keep your little secrets?” Thomas asked, and looked completely innocent, as if they had just had a normal, nice conversation.
Thomas left, but Gia was overcome with panic. What would she do? Somewhere inside she knew that the simplest solution to all of this was to just stop doing what she wants, because in the long run it’s bad for her and will cause problems even though right now she loves it. It would be easiest to just do what Thomas wants her to do.
But she couldn’t do that. The second someone tells her what to do, something in Gia’s head just snaps. She used to be obedient and good, now she just felt like doing the exact opposite of what she was supposed to.
Gia found herself considering calling Sean and going to the closest party or bar or any other place that served alcohol, but it was too big of a risk. She would have to wait a few more days until her father leaves. Then she’ll be free to do whatever the hell she wants.
As much as she despised the fact that her father was so insanely protective, she had no other choice but to obey when he demanded that he gets to meet her new boyfriend.
So, two days before Gerard’s departure, Gia hesitantly found Sean at school to talk to him.
As usual, Sean was surrounded by his goons at their usual table in the lunch hall. They were the loudest group in the whole room, and there were hundreds of teens in that cafeteria. At first Gia had been quite intimidated by Sean’s friends, but eventually she had realized that all of them were too dumb to be scared of. They were like a group of gorillas, brawny, but hardly any brain.
“Sean, can I talk to you?” Gia asked, walking up to him.
Sean grinned even wider, and there was a round of ooh’s, whistling and applause when Gia grabbed his hand and pulled him away.
“What’s up?” he asked when she led him out of the cafeteria.
“I need you to do me a favor,” Gia started. “As you know, my dad’s in town for a few days and my mom told him about you… And now he kind of wants to meet you.”
“What? You want me to meet your dad?” he asked, looking at her strangely. Sean was hardly the type of boy you take home to meet your daddy.
“No, I don’t. I said he wants to meet you. So mom told me to invite you to dinner tomorrow night.”
“I don’t know…”
“Please Sean? For me?”
He looked hesitant, but then sighed and gave up. “Fine. But you owe me big time. And I know how you can make it up to me.”
With that grin Gia had grown familiar with, he suddenly pushed her against the lockers that covered the school walls. The corridor was empty besides the two of them, as everyone else was at lunch, so of course Sean would assume that he was free to do what he wanted.
Being pinned against the lockers, Gia had very little room to wiggle out of the situation, so she went along with it.
But one thing was absolutely certain. This dinner was going to be dreadful.