Gerard had dreaded the moment when Stella would decide to finally contact him. He knew there’d be hell to pay, and he was prepared to deal with it. He had his own bone to pick with her, as well.
When the call finally came, Gerard left his two daughters and wife to entertain themselves, and retreated to his art studio to speak in peace.
“Hello?” he answered to the call.
“Gerard what the hell did you do?!” Stella screamed. “Thomas has a broken nose! He was in the ER all night! He can’t go to work now, and how do you think his boss will react?! And you had absolutely no right to take Gia! We had a deal, Gerard, she’s living with me! Why do you always have to ruin everything, she’s perfectly happy here!”
“Stella, listen to me,” Gerard interrupted. His blood was beginning to boil of anger once again, as he thought back to the events of yesterday. “That fucker got what he deserved! If someone lays a hand on my daughter, I’m going to do something about it!”
“What the hell are you talking about?! Are you using drugs again Gerard? If you are, then I’m definitely not allowing Gia to be there with you.”
“I don’t know what he told you but Stella, Thomas hit Gia! I’m not going to just stand there and let that happen!”
“What?! Thomas would never do that! You’re just making up things so you can have Gia back! That’s really low, Gerard.”
“You know what, you can go on pretending that you live in some perfect little world but you can count Gia out of it. She’s here now. And if I see that abusive bastard near my daughter again, I will do more than just break his nose, got it?”
“This isn’t over. You can’t just make up lies and—”
“It’s not a lie!”
“You can’t make up lies and expect to have your way! I will not let you have Gia. We had a deal.”
“I’ll fight for custody if that’s what it takes,” Gerard declared. “And if you try to take my daughter from me again, I will personally make sure you lose everything. And your little husband, too.”
Gerard hung up the phone and took a moment to recollect his thoughts and to calm down. What he said was true. He’d fight himself to death before letting Gia go back there, and that’s just what he was going to do if Stella decides to do something.
He left the studio and went back to the living room which was a completely another world. Lindsey was sitting on the couch, smiling at the two girls who were on the floor. Bandit was sprawled out on the carpet, lying on her stomach, coloring a picture of Hello Kitty and staying nowhere near the lines. Beside the little girl was Gia sitting cross-legged on the carpet, putting Bandit’s black hair up on pigtails and laughing at whatever Bandit was explaining in a really booming volume.
No, this was perfect, and Gerard wouldn’t let Stella break that picture again.
Gia figured that while she’s still in New Jersey, she might as well see some old friends. She absolutely dreaded seeing Lucas, so she decided to phone Hazel first.
Hazel was absolutely ecstatic to hear from Gia, as they had kind of lost touch a few weeks after she had moved. So the girls made plans to meet up the very same day in a nearby Starbucks.
Hazel was already standing outside of the Starbucks when Gia was dropped off by her dad.
Gia’s first impression was that the girl had done something very freaky with her hair. “Wow,” Gia said when she approached her. “Welcome to the blonde side.”
Halzel’s hair had still been black when Gia last saw her, now it was blonde. “And I’m glad to see you got rid of that pink hair dye,” Hazel responded when they hugged.
“Yeah, I kind of outgrew that phase. So you wanna go in?”
Hazel quickly agreed, and they went in to order coffees and muffins, and settled into one of the booths. While they were ordering, Gia noticed that there was something else about Hazel that had changed. She had definitely grown up, and she was not ashamed of it. The low-cut shirt exposed a little bit of her bra and the skirt left very little to imagination.
“So, why’d you decide to come back all of a sudden?” Hazel asked once they had sat down, getting right to the point.
“It’s a long story. Dad got a little agitated with my stepdad and… It was messy. I think I’m here to stay, though.”
Hazel understood that she didn’t want to go into any more detail of the matter, and changed the subject. “Well, how was Connecticut? Did you enjoy the academic challenges?” she asked in a mocking tone. Last time they had spoken, Gia had still been very… Well, let’s say interested in her educational career. After that things had gone steadily downhill.
“Oh, well, let’s just say that school kind of loses its glory once you realize how much it really sucks compared to freedom.”
“Yeah I know what you mean. Hey, my boyfriend’s college brother is having a party this weekend, you should come. It’ll be fun.”
“Yeah I’ll come. Your mom lets you have a boyfriend?” The last she had heard, Hazel’s mom had been about as protective and paranoid as Gia’s dad.
“She does now. It took a little fighting but when she and dad started going out again, she got distracted.”
Gia raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Your dad? I thought he left?”
“Well, he came back, begging for forgiveness. And of course mom welcomed him back with open arms,” Hazel complained. She was clearly not okay with all this. “But anyway, speaking of boyfriends… Anyone interesting in Connecticut?”
Gia grinned. “Well… There was this guy, Sean. We went out for a while.”
“Oh, was he cute?”
“He was okay. It wasn’t the most emotionally fulfilling relationship, but…”
“But he was good in bed,” Hazel finished for her.
“Oh shut up,” Gia said, rolling her eyes at her.
Hazel’s expression suddenly got serious. “Have you seen Lucas yet?”
The smile faded from Gia’s face pretty quickly as well, and she shook her head. “No, not yet. I haven’t heard of him in months. What’s he up to?”
“He has a band, he plays the guitar. I haven’t really seen him a lot, since you left actually, but from what I’ve seen him in the school halls… I’m pretty sure he has a girlfriend.”
Gia was silent for a long time, just staring at her coffee. Of course he had a girlfriend. She should’ve seen it coming. But somehow she had grasped on the hope that what he had said was true. That they’d somehow end up together, no matter how long it takes.
But who was she to judge, she had been with Sean and a few other guys as well. Gia sighed and put on a smile.
“So, what else is new?” she asked Hazel, and listened to her tell about everything that’s changed, forgetting about the whole deal with Lucas.