A happy time putting up Gerard's Christmas Tree can't hide the truth.
Alicia looked over at Molly who was watching a Christmas special on TV to make sure she wasn’t listening. “I’ve got no idea. I’d think she’d want to go help them put up their tree.”
“You think she’s not feeling good?” Mikey asked with concern in his voice.
Alicia sighed, “I don’t know. She seemed okay earlier but I noticed a definite change in her mood when we started talking about going over to Gee’s.”
“I’m confused.” He said softly, “Holly said she and Lindsey had a nice visit today. So I’m not sure why she’s dragging her feet about going.”
Holly walked out of the bedroom causing them to end their conversation.
“Ready." She sighed while thinking to herself I was going to try to distance myself from Gerard and here I am going over to his house. However since Molly was so excited she justified she was going for her and no other reason.
After stopping for a quick bite the group arrived at Gerard and Lindsey’s house a bit before seven.
“Lindsey’s car isn’t here.” Alicia said as they pulled into the driveway. “I guess she isn’t home yet.”
“We are a little early.” Mikey answered as he put the car into park.
In the backseat Molly was bouncing up and down in her car seat filled with anticipation.
Gerard answered the door forcing himself to smile and sound happy. “Hey guys come on it. Me and Bandit pulled out the tree already.”
Alicia laughed at the sight before their eyes. Tree branches were scattered around the room. Bandit was holding one deciding were to place it on the rug.
“Uh, she’s not to sure what’s going on.” Gerard said as they all walked into the living room.
When Molly saw Bandit she ran to the little girl. The adults watched as the two started conversing in their own language.
“What are they saying?’ Mikey laughed.
“I don’t know but they seem to understand each other.” Alicia smiled. “So should we wait for Lindsey before we start?”
Gerard forced another smile. “No, it’s okay. I just talked to her and she’s not sure what time she’ll get here.”
Holly knew immediately he was lying. It broke her heart to see the sadness in his eyes. “Well then." She said trying to make it seem she accepted his comment as truth, "we’ll just start by putting the tree together.”
That proved to be harder than anyone had imagined. Bandit had scattered the branches everywhere. It because almost like a scavenger hunt to find them all. Almost an hour later all the branches were in place, the lights were added, and the tree was ready to decorate.
“Anyone want anything before we start?" Gerard asked taking a seat tiredly.
Molly began jumping up and down, “Uncle Mikey mes forgot mes ornments.”
“They are in the car.” Holly explained.
“Oh no problem, M. I’ll go grab them.”
“I’d like a glass of water.” Alicia said moving towards the kitchen. “Sure you don’t want one, Holly?”
“No thanks." She smiled taking a seat on the floor by the boxes of ornaments.
“I understand Lindsey visited you today.” Gerard said suddenly. He wanted to ask her about the visit without the others overhearing.
Holly nodded, “Yeah she stopped by just to chat.”
“How was she?” He asked softly.
Again she could see sadness fill his eyes, “She seemed a little down.” Holly answered honestly. This was a very uncomfortable situation for her. Whatever was wrong in their marriage wasn’t her business and she wanted it to stay that way.
“She ain’t coming.” Gerard said just a Mikey bounded back in carrying Molly’s decorations.
Holly didn’t have time to answer.
“Here ya go, M.” Mikey said handing them over to the little girl who had been conversing with Bandit in their special language.
“Tanks.” She took them from him then ran over to Gerard. “Gee mes make des for youse.”
He smiled, “Oh thank you M.” He looked at each one carefully. “These are very beautiful. Should we put them on the tree first?”
“Peas.” Molly said jumping up and down.
Holly was sitting quietly still thinking about Gerard’s last comment to her. So Lindsey wasn’t coming home for the tree decorating party. Sadly she had expected that was the case. She stood up and went to stand by Gerard and Molly. Gerard was reaching up to place one of Molly’s ornaments when Holly whispered softly “I’m sorry.”
He glanced over at her then shook his head.
Once all of Molly’s ornaments were on the tree the adults all praised the little artist. She smiled happily. While that had been happening Bandit had pulled off the lid to an ornament box and was busily pulling them out.
“Crap.” Gerard muttered turning to see his daughter’s actions.
Molly looked over at him.
“Sorry.’ He said to Molly with a small grin.
“Not a bad wurd.” Molly answered sounding very serious. “Mommy says dat.”
Holly rolled her eyes. “Yes, well while it’s not bad it’s not very nice. And it’s not a word little girls should use.”
Molly nodded that she understood.
Gerard had walked across the room to stop Bandit’s pillaging. “Okay B, slow down.”
Bandit started to cry.
Immediately Gerard turned to Holly for help.
Holly laughed, “This isn’t going to be very easy." She knelt down by Bandit. “B look at this.” She held up a plastic snowman. “Isn’t he pretty?”
Bandit nodded through her tears.
“We are going to put him on the tree, okay?"
Slowly Bandit nodded but it was obvious she wasn’t really sure.
“Gee pick her up and let her show you a spot on the tree where he should go.” She handed the snowman to Gerard after he’d lifted Bandit into his arms.
“Okay Baby B where does he go?” Gerard asked his daughter.
Bandit’s tiny finger pointed to a spot. Gerard carefully hung the snowman.
“Oh that’s perfect.” Gerard said. When Bandit giggled he kissed her cheek.
Soon Holly was handing out ornament and Gerard and Mikey were placing them for the girls. Occasionally they were even allowed to hang one on the lower branches. Alicia was praising their efforts.
It wasn’t until the last box of ornament that Holly’s breath caught as she spotted the ornament she’s made Gerard.
He sat Bandit down who was by now growing tired of the “game”. “One of my favorites.”
Holly looked up at him in shock, “You still have this?”
He nodded, “Mom kept it for me. I always put him way up neat the top of the tree. You know so The Force covers everything.” He carefully lifted it out of Holly’s hand.
She watched as he hung Yoda near the top.
“Isn’t that the ornament you made Gee?’ Mikey asked.
Holly nodded unable to trust her voice. She was surprised and deeply touched her gift had meant that much to him.
“There now.’ Gerard said standing back and surveying the tree. “I think it looks perfect.” Suddenly he frowned, “But of course we can’t be sure yet.” He swiftly went around the room turning off most of the lights.
Molly understood what he was doing and reached down to grab Bandits hand. They two little girls stood in front of the tree.
Gerard reached back behind the tree. When the lights flashed to life Molly happily jumped up and down. Bandit did the same.
“I believe the girls think it’s perfect.” Mikey laughed.
“It is beautiful.’"Holly said softly.
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, beautiful.” He whispered looking into Holly’s eyes.
“It’s too bad Lindsey wasn’t there.” Alicia said as the group drove home.
In the backseat Molly had fallen asleep so Holly remained silent.
Mikey sighed, “I just don’t understand what’s doing on with those two. I really thought things were better between them but I could tell Gee was upset she wasn’t there.”
Alicia turned; saw that Molly was sleeping so she whispered. “How did she seem today? Did it seem she and Gee had a fight?”
Holly shook her head, “She didn’t talk about Gee at all.”
“Well I hope they’ll be together tomorrow night.” Mikey said as he pulled onto the highway.
Looking out her window into the darkness Holly sighed. She really didn’t have any desire to go to tomorrow night’s party. However she knew how much Alicia wanted her to go.
“It’ll be fun.” Alicia said softly looking at Holly. It was if she’d read her mind.
Holly nodded but remained silent.
Mikey closed the bedroom door then started to undress. Alicia was already in bed.
"I know he hasn’t gotten a chance yet but if Gee’s gonna be the one to talk to Holly he needs to do it soon. Did you see how little she ate tonight?”
Pulling off his tee shirt Mikey answered sadly, “Yeah, it’s like the little she does eat she has to force herself to do it.”
“Maybe I should just confront her about it.” Alicia said pulling her knees up to her chest then leaning her arms against them. “This shit can’t go on.”
Mikey sat down on the edge of the bed to pull off his shoes. “Yeah but lets give Gee a chance. He hasn’t had time yet.” Wanting to keep an upbeat attitude he said with a smile, “But she did seem to have fun tonight. I was totally freaked that Gee still had that Yoda ornament she made him.”
Alicia gave him a surprised look, “Really? I knew he had it. It’s been on his and Lindsey’s tree every year.”
She nodded, “Yeah, up near the top. I can’t believe you never noticed. Too bad you broke your Luke Skywalker she made you.”
Mikey sighed, “Yeah, that sucked. Maybe she’ll make me another one.”
Alicia laughed, “Uh, I think she’s pretty busy making her wind chimes.”
He finished undressing then crawled into bed. “So what’s going on tomorrow?” He asked. He and Gerard were meeting up with some friends for lunch but he hadn’t heard if his wife had any plans.
“Well Holly said she’d like to try shopping again but we’re gonna have to take the munchkin with us. Holly said I can distract M if she sees anything she wants to buy for her.”
Pulling Alicia in his arms he hugged her tight. “So what am I supposed to get you for Christmas?”
Alicia giggled, “Oh how romantic. Am I supposed to pick it out, buy it and then wrap it for you?”
“No. I that’s not what I meant. I just wondered if there was something special you’d like.”
Alicia’s looked into his eyes, “Yeah there is something I want but …”
He reached out and gently touched her cheek, “What?”
She sighed having lost her nerve. “Oh I don’t know.”
“Sure you do. Now tell me.”
Taking a deep breath she spoke from her heart. “I’d like for us to start trying for a baby.” She braced herself believing he’d object to the idea. When he moved away she knew she’d been right.
“Mikey?" She asked as he slid out of bed. Tears willed her eyes as he pulled on his sleep pants then left the room. She closed here eyes fighting not to cry. A few minutes later when he returned she opened her eyes giving him a confused look.
He locked the bedroom door and walked slowly towards the bed.
“Mikey what’s wrong?’ he was moving strangely.
Stopping he slowly pushed down his pants. He grinned when he heard Alicia’s sharp intake of breath.
“What the hell?’ She laughed looking at her husband, dopey look on face, standing there with a red bow tired around his penis.
“I told you I could wrap it myself."
She slid from the bed and ran to him. “Mikey are you sure?" She had to know if he truly wanted this.
“I’m sure, Baby.” He whispered. “But this ribbon is kinda itchy. Maybe you should get to unwrapping.”
Holly had just closed her eyes when her cell peeped alerting her to a text. She lifted it off the nightstand and read the message.
I NEED TO TALK. CAN I CALL YOU?
Slipping from bed she pulled the blanket up over Molly then walked out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. Once there she sat down and responded. A moment later her phone rang.
“What is it Gee?” She answered.
“I didn’t wake you did I?” He asked believing her voice sounded sleepy.
“No, I was awake. What’s wrong?”
Now that he had her on the phone his mind stalled. “I just wanted to talk.”
“You talked to me all evening.” Holly reminded him.
“Well yeah but there were people around.”
Holly glanced over at the clock and saw it was almost midnight. “I guess Lindsey isn’t home yet?” She asked softly.
“No." He answered, “She ain’t. Fuck, she might not even come home at all.”
Holly tightened her grip on the phone nervously. “Gee I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry she wasn’t there tonight when we decorated the tree.”
“She don’t fuckin’ care.” He said angrily.
“Gee.” Holly said taking a deep breath, “I don’t believe that’s true but the fact is I don’t really know what’s going on.” She paused then added, “And I want it to stay that way.”
He was shocked, “What do you mean?”
“I mean I don’t know what’s going on between you and your wife and I don’t want to know. I’m sorry things are bad between you two. I consider both of you my friends. I hope you two find a way to make it work out.”
Standing he waked over to the cabinet and pulled out a bottle. “Do you really?” He asked angrily as he plunked two ice cubes in the glass intending to make a rum and coke.
“Do I really hope it works out?” Holly repeated. “Of course I do.” She tried not to let her anger take over. “But I really don’t think that drink you’re pouring is gonna help.”
He realized she’d heard the ice hitting the glass. “I’m having a coke.” He lied as he twisted off the cap on the rum bottle.
“I can’t do this Gerard.” Holly said sadly. “I can’t sit here and listen to you lie to me. I can’t sit here and talk about your problems with your wife.”
“Why the fuck not?” He spat. “You’re my friend, aren’t you? I need someone to talk to.”
“Been there, done that." Holly whispered. “But this time is different. You weren’t in love with Eliza. You are in love with your wife. She’s who you need to be talking to not me.” She disconnected then lowered her head.
Gerard downed his drink in one swallow. He was hurt and angry so he poured another while he called her back. The call went to voice mail so he sent a text.
ANSWER YOU FUCKIN’ PHONE.
As Holly read it another appeared.
I MEAN IT. I’M GONNA CALL NOW.
She stared at the phone when it began ringing. Finally she answered.
“We weren’t through talking.” He shouted. “Damn it Holly don’t do this to me. My fuckin’ life is going to shit. I need you.”
She had to make him understand, “Gee, please. This whole situation is so hard for me. You have to get that.”
“Why?” He asked before taking a long swallow. “Why should being there for a friend be so hard?”
“Because we were more than friends.” Holly answered, “Damn it don’t be stupid. I feel so uncomfortable in this situation. It feels wrong that Lindsey doesn’t know.”
“That’s your fuckin’ fault.’ Gerard said angrily. “I never told her because I never told anyone. That was your decision not mine.”
“I’m not gonna rehash this with you, Gee.” Holly said tiredly. “When I came here I knew you were drinking again and I stupidly thought that maybe somehow I could help you with that. But I can’t help you with your marriage. What is going on between you two isn’t my business.”
“So you’re not even gonna be there for me?”
She could hear the anger in his voice but not even that could stop her words, “You’re surprised because that’s how it was before. I was always there for you. I’d listen to you rant about Eliza, rant about how everything was so wrong. Well not this time. I won’t listen to you say anything against your wife. I like Lindsey a lot. Both of you are hurting that’s obvious. It’s up to you both to fix it.’ She paused and took a deep breath, “Now, I’m going to bed. I suggest you do the same. You have a little girl in the house with you who needs her daddy to be there for her. Stop thinking about yourself and think of her.” With that she disconnected then turned off her phone.