During her stay in Connecticut with her mom, Gia had found out something remarkable. Something that she took advantage of quite often, whereas now she would be lucky to even go outside without thinking her dad would pop up if she did anything wrong. In Connecticut, she wasn’t stifled like she was in New Jersey. She wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.
One night she and a few of her friends had gotten their fake ID’s, dressed up like they thought a 21-year-old would, and headed to a night club. When they got there, the bouncer took one look at their very exposed cleavages and let them in. No fake ID’s needed. Since then, Gia had carried the ID with her, but not once had she needed to show it to a bouncer. Of course, that was a very good thing, as she would hardly pass for a 35-year-old Indian woman who weighed 200 pounds, as her ID claimed she was.
From Hazel Gia had found out exactly what bars and nightclubs were worth going to, and she headed straight to the closest one. Hazel would’ve joined her in her quest to get wasted, but unfortunately she was unable to thanks to being grounded. She had tried to sneak out with Gia, but her dad was watching her like a hawk. And Gia understood Hazel’s frustration very well. Her dad would have done the same if she had been arrested at a party.
But being alone didn't stop Gia, oh no.
The appearance of the bar hardly gave a welcoming impression. The clock was nearing 11 pm when she arrived, so the bouncer was in place, and there were some people scattered around the entrance area. Gia had made sure she’d get in. That meant a new outfit. A couple of garments borrowed from Hazel and a little bit of makeup, and she was sure to get into the bar.
And just as she had predicted, the bouncer’s eyes lingered on her face only for a moment before his gaze descended further down. To Gia, all bouncers looked the same. They were all tall, overly muscular, and they were all wearing tight black t-shirts that showed off their muscles. This one was no different.
“Hey,” Gia said to the guy, smiling in a way that one would never smile to their parent. She wouldn’t be caught dead looking at a guy like that when her father was in the room. But it worked, and the brawny man stepped aside to let her in.
The bar was just like any other bar. It was packed with people, and when someone with a cigarette in the corner of their mouth walked past her, Gia inhaled the intoxicating smoke. The loud music hit her like waves, and she loved the way it made her relax. The previous fight between her mother and father disappeared from her mind with every step she took towards the bar.
Without asking any questions, the bartender gave her a glass of vodka as she ordered. Her choice of poison was never understood by her friends in Connecticut, as they preferred fruity, colorful drinks with those little umbrellas. Gia’s tastes were more modest. She liked hard liquor without the umbrellas. She needed the relief, even if it was for a short time away from home. She seemed to be the cause for everyone's down fall and now she knew why her dad had turned to alcohol. It solved her problems, at least for a short time. Now Gia couldn't see why she didn't start drinking sooner.
The bartender kept refilling her glass as she emptied it on a steady pace. She had no other goal with this than to clear her mind from all the negative thoughts. At first, she ignored everyone around her and concentrated on chugging down that liquid down her throat. After a few shots, she felt like she was up in the clouds. Her head was getting dizzier and her eyes droopy. Gia realized that she had drank too much too quickly when her stomach started to feel queasy. But she didn't budge from her seat, instead she asked the bartender for a refill. He gave her a look of concern and sympathy.
“Don't you think you've had enough?” the bartender asked, pouring the clear liquid into her glass.
“Just keep them coming,” she told the man and chugged down the drink. She wasn't in the mood to talk.
“Well, aren't we cheerful today,” he said, raising an eyebrow and looking at her. “Troubles?”
Gia nodded. “You have no idea.” She set down the glass after emptying it once more, and finally looked around her.
The bar was packed, that much was clear from the moment she came in, and it hadn't bothered her. Now she realized that it was a bit too full for her tastes. There was always that one creep who pried on any female, and Gia had realized that she was practically a creep-magnet.
“Hey, what’s your name?” a guy who was wearing his shirt backwards asked her. He leaned on the bar and stared at her boobs.
“Fuck off,” she told him.
“Do you know CPR? Because baby, you just took my breath away!”
Gia rolled her eyes. “Just go away, okay?”
Apparently realizing that his pick up line was unsuccessful, he tried another one: “Did it hurt?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake! Just get the hell away from me!” she told him, wanting nothing more than to slap him. He eventually got the message and moved on to the next pair of boobs he saw.
A few other guys hit on her and tried to buy her drinks, and she didn't want to go with any of them. She wasn’t that desperate or hurt. Nor was she that drunk, at least not yet. So she blew them off and claimed to be a lesbian or a transvestite on several occasions.
Still, would she have rather gone back home? No. She turned back to the bartender who had moved on to another customer after refilling her class. But he had left her the bottle, which she more than gladly emptied herself.
The loud music and sound of people shouting and laughing over it slowly disappeared. The barstool was high, and Gia had to take support from the bar so she wouldn’t fall. With shaky hands she drank straight from the bottle, as it was easier than trying to pour some into the tiny glass. Every time she tried, half of the liquid ended up on the bar top. It was actually odd how drunk she was. At her mom's it took a lot of alcohol to get her buzzed. She got her alcohol tolerance from her dad. It took a lot to get her wasted.
“You've drank almost two bottles,” the bartender told her, looking at her with pity. Somehow the sight of the miserable girl, drinking her worries away made him feel bad for her. “Isn’t it about time you went home? We’re almost closing.”
Gia’s blurry eyes scanned the bar around her. There were only a few people left beside herself. She really just wanted to stay here all night and drink till she thought she had enough. Which will be never.
“Do you want me to call you a cab?” the bartender asked.
She shook her head, realizing that she had to go. She couldn’t stay there any longer. She couldn’t be bothered to count, so she just grabbed a few bills from her pocket and put them on the bar. She didn't even know how much she gave him or if it was even enough. He didn't stop her, so it must have been enough.
Gia nearly fell on the floor when she got off the stool. She realized that the high heels were a very bad decision when she did almost fall on the floor on her way to the door. However, before she hit the cold concrete ground, she was caught by a pair of strong arms.
At this point, she didn't care anymore and felt herself slip away into a comfortable darkness where nothing was wrong.
Gerard felt himself get more desperate and nervous by the second as he knocked on the white wooden door and waited for it to open. He felt his heart beat fast, afraid of what she’ll say to him. Would she still be mad? Upset? Or will she have had enough time to think about things? He didn’t dare to wish for forgiveness, but bringing his wife and daughter home were first on his list of priorities right now. Even if it would cost him his other daughter.
Once the door was finally opened for him, an instant smile spread on his face. After having not seen his wife in few days, simply seeing her made his heart jump.
Lindsey took one look at him and sighed. “Where’s Gia?”
“At home. Can we talk?”
Lindsey let him in to her mother’s house. “My mom took Bandit shopping.”
Gerard, who had been hoping to see the girl, was a bit disappointed. But he still had things to discuss with his wife.
“If you’re here to blame me of Gia’s problems some more, then I don’t want to hear it,” she told him.
“No, I’m here to ask you to come back home. Linds, this is ridiculous!”
“It might be to you! I don’t think you realize how serious this is.”
“No I really don’t. I don’t see what the problem is. You don’t really even care about Gia, so I don’t understand why you’re making such a big deal out of this.”
Lindsey groaned in frustration. “You really don’t get it. I do care about her, but she doesn’t want me to. Nor do you! You have no idea bad it makes me feel that you somehow want to keep me and her apart. It’s like you want two separate families. I can’t go to her anymore because she always pushes me away, and you actually want her to!”
“That’s not true at all!”
“Gerard… I know we have to make this work somehow, so I want you to realize what’s going on. I know she still thinks of me as the woman who stole her daddy. And I don’t want the role of the bad guy.”
“Then what do you want me to do?” he asked her. “I’ll do anything to get you and Bandit back home.”
“Just… fix it.”
Gerard sighed. He sat down on the armrest of the couch and looked down on the floor. He had no idea how to fix this. Well, he didn’t really understand the problem so how could he have fixed it.
“Her mom came by today,” he admitted. “I’ve been considering letting Gia go back with her, even if it means she’ll be near Thomas. I mean, I don’t want her to get hurt and I realize this makes me incredibly selfish but… Things were easier when she was there. Now Stella doesn’t want her there.”
Lindsey saw that he was hurting. The emotional pain and the confusion were crushing him.
“I just wonder if it would be easier to let her go. You know, let her do what she wants and leave,” he said.
When she realized what he meant, she felt like slapping him. “So you want to kick her out? Because she made a mistake? Gerard, do you realize what you’re saying?! She stuck by you for years when no one, even you, would’ve expected her to! She dealt with your drinking and drug using and not caring about her, and now she’s having a problem and you want to get rid of her like she’s some sort of a sick animal? You don’t do that!”
“Then what do you want me to do?!” Gerard asked. “I can’t live with her but living with her is hell! The second she comes here, everything starts to break apart. If it means you and Bandit will come back home, I’ll do anything.”
The look on her face was harsh, as were her words. “Me and Bandit are coming home in a few days. And if you’ve kicked her out by then, I swear to god I don’t want anything to do with you then. Who’s to say you won’t do the same to Bandit when she grows up and rebels? You have to deal with it, Gerard. Now go back home, and talk to your daughter. Who else does she have?”
Lindsey stormed out of the room, and Gerard took that as a sign to get out as well. He left the house, knowing that he’ll have to patch things up with Gia, but he had no idea how to do that. He could hardly look at her, let alone speak to her.
Yes, things might be much easier if she was gone, but it wouldn’t fix anything. He’d just be avoiding the problem. Lindsey was right. He had to learn to deal with it.