A brutal truth is revealed.
Alicia laughed, “Would you stop worrying? It’s gonna be fun.”
“I’m gonna be a fish out of water.” Holly tried to explain her feelings.
“You’re gonna be just fine.” Mikey said. “All you have to do is stand there and take compliments.”
Holly rolled her eyes, “Oh yeah, sure. That’s all there is to it. And what do I say when the first person asks me where I studied Art? Oh yeah, this will sound great.” She pretended to be answering that question. “Well I studied art in grade school in Wyoming.”
Alicia giggled, “Is that really the last time you took an art class?”
“Yep.” Holly nodded, “Didn’t even take art in high school.” She sighed, “And I didn’t go to college.”
“Well I didn’t either.” Alicia reminded her.
Holly took a bite then sighed again.
Mikey smiled, “Really this isn’t gonna be bad. All you have to say is that you’re self taught.”
“I’m gonna look like a hick.” She took a sip of coffee then added, “Crap I am a hick.”
“Whatsa hick?” Molly asked.
Holly smiled at her. “Never mind me I’m just nervous about tonight.”
“Why? Uncle Mikey says wese gonna have fun.”
Mikey nodded to her, “And it will be fun. We’re gonna watch a whole lot of people looking at your mama’s wind chimes.” He was still a little surprised that Holly insisted her daughter go tonight but she had said in no uncertain terms that Molly was going to be there.
Molly smiled then went back to eating her breakfast.
“Have you decided what you’re gonna wear?” Alicia asked.
“No.” Holly realized she had something else to worry about. “What should I wear?”
“Well you could wear that red dress again.”
“Oh no.” Holly shook her head, “Too short. I’ll wear that dress I bought that you don’t like.”
“Never said I didn’t like it.” Alicia frowned, “It’s just sorta boring.”
“Good.” Holly said, “Boring is good.”
“You can’t hide forever.”
No one had heard Gerard walk in.
“Yes, I can.” Holly answered. “I’ve done it this long, so why not?"
He pulled up a chair. “Because there is no reason to do it.” He paused a minute to wipe some syrup off Molly’s chin then continued, “You’re a talented, beautiful woman.”
Holly heard her phone ringing. “Excuse me."
When she left the room Gerard asked, “Why is she so nervous?”
“Don’t know.” Alicia answered. “She’s been like this since she woke up.”
“Mes done." Molly announced.
Gerard laughed. “Okay well we’d better wash your hands.” He lifted her out of the chair then took her over to the sink. Once her hands and face where washed she headed into the living room where Holly was still on the phone.
“Wonder who she’s talking to?” Gerard said as he sat back down.
Mikey gave his brother an uncomfortable look. “Gee I gotta tell you something. Bryar is gonna be there tonight.”
“What?” Gerard was clearly shocked; “He’s coming to LA for that?”
“That’s probably who she’s talkin’ to on the phone.” Mikey explained how she had talked to Bob when they’d been out.
“Shit.’ Gerard muttered.
Holly overheard them as she walked back in. “Gerard, don’t you start.” She warned. Her nerves were shot and the last thing she needed was for Gerard to be upset. “Bob is my friend and he’s gonna be there. At least I hope he’ll be his flight got delayed.”
“One can always hope." Gerard said darkly.
Holly glared at him. “Seriously, don’t. I mean it Gerard. I’ve got enough stress right now without you going into Jackass mode on me.”
At first her words angered him but suddenly he smiled.
“What?” Holly asked narrowing her eyes.
“I’d forgotten how cute you are when you’re pissed.”
She lowered her voice, “Well I’m gonna be so fuckin’ cute you won’t be able to stand it if you don’t behave.”
“Such language." Gerard said smiling.
Holly sighed, "I mean it Gee, please be nice tonight, okay?”
“I’ll be on my best behavior.” He promised even though he knew it wouldn’t be easy. “Anyway do you want to leave M at my house tonight?”
“Nope, she’s going with me.” Holly said. “I want her there.”
He nodded, ‘Yeah, okay. Just thought I’d ask since me and Linds have a babysitter lined up for B.”
“Holly your breakfast is getting cold.” Alicia said softly.
Looking down at her plate Holly sighed, “Yeah and since you all are watching I have to eat it.”
Gerard reached over and touched her arm, “Yeah, we’re all watching because we care.”
Stuffing a piece of French Toast in her mouth she chewed it slowly because her stomach was doing nervous flips.
“You see this is fun.” Alicia said looking around the gallery filled with people.
Holly’s eyes were wide. “Holy crap where did all these people come from? Arthur said it was going to be a small gathering.”
“Well, since it’s open to the public some people just come by, see there is a show going on, and come in.” Alicia answered. “Oh and have you seen all the people going over to the silent auction table?”
That was the only thing Holly was happy about. Arthur had agreed to her idea of auctioning one of her wind chimes for charily and it was being done by silent auction. People were placing their high bid in a sealed envelope and placing it in a wooden box. At the end of the night it would be announced who had won the wind chime. All the proceeds were going to Helping Hands.
“The shelter is going to get a nice donation from you, Holly.” Alicia said touching her arm.
Holly nodded, “Yeah, that’s good but holy hell, have you seen the prices Arthur put on the pieces?” she whispered.
“Hey, did you see that two of them already say ‘sold’?”
“This is crazy.” Holly said trying to ignore the headache that was getting worse by the minute.
“Oh look, Gee and Lindsey just got here.” Mikey said joining his wife and Holly.
Holly looked across the room and immediately her eyes locked with Gerard’s. He leaned over, said something in Lindsey who had stopped to talk to a friend, then moved towards Holly. He could see in her eyes she was terrified.
“Take a deep breath.” He said softly to her.
“I’m that obvious?” She asked.
He smiled, “Yeah, to me you are. It’s gonna be okay. There is nothing to be nervous about.”
“But Gee, all these people?” Her wide eyes looked around the room again. “I just keep expecting them all to start laughing any minute.”
“Why would they do that?” He asked.
“Oh holy crap, Gee. These are stupid wind chimes, for God’s sake. This ain’t art.”
Molly who was holding Mikey’s hand was confused. She knew her mother was upset but didn’t understand why.
“Mese wants to goes.” She said to Mikey.
He understood the little girl was upset because her mother was upset. Squatting down so he was eye level with her he spoke kindly. “We can’t go yet, M. These people all came to see your mama’s wind chimes.”
“Mommy not appy.”
Holly heard her comment. Taking another deep breath she forced herself to smile. “I’m fine, Molly.”
“Hey, wanna go get one of those little sandwiches?” Alicia asked hoping it would distract the child.
Molly looked at her mom.
‘It’s okay, Honey. I’ll be right here.”
Mikey went with them leaving Gerard and Holly alone.
"Really try to calm down, okay?” Gerard said kindly.
Lindsey joined them. “Holly, this is fabulous. Zane just told me he’s going to buy that first one by the door for his mother.”
Holly sighed, “That’s nice.”
“She’s a little nervous.” Gerard explained.
“Hey, I get it.” Lindsey smiled at Holly. “I was nervous too at my first show. I was just sure people would start laughing or at least snickering under their breath.”
Gerard gave his wife a surprised look, “You were?”
She rolled her eyes, “Yeah, you just didn’t notice.”
Holly smiled at Lindsey, “That’s what I keep thinking too. I’m so out of my element here.”
“No, you’re really not.” Lindsey said kindly. “You are an artist and these people are here because they like what you do.”
“Thanks.” Holly said softly.
Just then she heard Molly’s voice over the din.
Holly smiled as she saw Bob walk through the front door. “Excuse me.” She said then moved towards him.
“Holly.” He pulled her to him and hugged her tightly. “Shit, it’s good to see you.”
Alicia had arrived holding Molly’s hand. Bob smiled down at the little girl. “Molly Dolly.” He scooped her up into his arms causing her to giggle wildly.
Alicia moved away to find her husband.
“God, I didn’t think I was gonna make it.” Bob said turning to Holly.
“Did you come here straight from the airport?”
He nodded, “Yeah, the flight was delayed twice. The weather in Chicago is brutal.”
‘I’m so glad you’re here.” Holly said softly.
“Well Molly Dolly wanna show me your mama’s wind chimes?” Bob asked lowering her to her feet. She took his hand.
Holly walked along with them talking and laughing.
“Stop scowling.” Lindsey whispered to her husband.
He tore his gaze away from Bob and Holly. “I ain’t scowling.”
“Yeah, you are.” Lindsey sighed, “Remember you promised to be nice. He’s Holly’s friend.”
“I know that.” Gerard answered angrily. “I just wish he wasn’t fuckin’ here.”
“Well he is so deal with it.” Lindsey answered then walked off towards a group of her friends.
An hour later Holly was standing talking to a group of people Arthur had said wanted to meet the artist. She had to admit she’d finally calmed down and was having a good time.
Alicia walked over trying to catch her attention. Holly excused herself then spoke to Alicia. “Is something wrong?”
“Well it’s just that M’s getting pretty tired. Bob’s with her but I can tell he’s running out of way to keep her occupied. Mikey and I were wondering if we should take her home.”
“Oh.” Holly said. “I guess I could leave now too.”
Alicia laughed, “No, you can’t. You gotta be here when they announce how much you raised for charily. I talked to Bob and he said he’d bring you home after the show.”
Holly looked across the room and saw that both Mikey and Bob were dealing with a very tired Molly. “I see the guys are talking?”
Alicia smiled, “Yeah, they are getting along fine. Gerard however is keeping his distance and so is Ray.”
“I haven’t even had a chance to talk to Christa.” Holly sighed. “There just so many people.”
“Well you can talk to her after we leave, okay?”
Holly agreed so they walked back over so she could say goodbye to Molly. At first she wasn’t happy about leaving but once Mikey promised he’d read her a bedtimes store she reluctantly agreed.
“I’ll be home soon.” Holly said hugging her tightly. “Okay?”
“Otay.” Molly yawned.
Next Bob gave her a hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He and Holly had made plans for the three of them to spend some time together in the morning before he had to catch a flight back home.
“Otay, Uncle Bob.” Molly said kissing his cheek.
As they left Bob put his arm around Holly’s shoulder. “I’m really proud of you.” He said.
Holly smiled, “Thanks.”
“But.” He said softly, “You have lost weight and I’m worried.”
“Don’t worry.” Holly said quickly. “Stress was getting to me but I’m doing better. Alicia is watching me like a hawk making sure I eat.”
“Yeah, she told me.” He admitted.
“I really wish people wouldn’t talk about me when I’m not around.”
“Hey, we do it because we care.” Bob smiled but the smile suddenly faded. “Shit, here comes Gerard.”
Holly smiled, “Hey, Gee.”
Gerard kept his eyes on her ignoring Bob. “Linds and I are leaving now. Just wanted to say goodbye.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks for coming. And please tell Lindsey thanks for giving me the pep talk.”
He nodded. “Will do.” With that he turned and walked away.
“Fucker still hates me.” Bob muttered.
Looking down into her eyes Bob asked, “Holly are you really doing okay, here?”
“You think it’s a bad idea, don’t you?”
Bob shrugged, “It’s your decision. You know I’ll stand by you no matter what.”
“I know.” Holly hugged him tightly.
“Thanks for the ride.” Holly smiled as Bob put the car in park.
“My pleasure.” Bob turned to face her. “I’ll pick you and Molly up about nine is that okay?”
Holly nodded, “Perfect.” She leaned over and brushed his lips. ‘See you then.”
As he drove away she started up the path to the front door. Spending time with Bob had lifted her spirits but she really hadn’t planned on staying out so late. However after the show they had gone to a coffee shop and talked for hours.
She was about to slid the key in the door when his voice stopped her.
"You and Bob have a nice evening?”
“Shit, Gerard. You scared me.” Holly said her heart pounding. “What the hell are you doing out here?” As he moved closer she could smell the alcohol.
“Waiting to talk to my friend.” He said emphasizing the last word.
“I thought you went home.” Holly sighed.
“Did.” He answered, “Then Lindsey picked a fight with me so I came here.”
Holly crossed her arms; “She picked a fight with you?”
“Yeah, she fuckin’ did.” He answered angrily. “Oh wait I’m sure you’re on her side now so it must have been my fault, right?”
“Gee, I’m not on anybody’s side.” She moved to unlock the door but he quickly grabbed her arm. “We gotta talk. Let’s go around back.”
Holly tried to pull her arm out of his grasp. “I don’t want to talk to you right now. Maybe tomorrow.”
He tightened his grip. “No, tomorrow you’re gonna be busy with Bryar. We talk now.” He pulled her roughly towards him.
“Gee, let me go." Holly said struggling with him.
It was easy for him to pull her around the side of the house. When they got to the back yard he suddenly let her go. “All I’m asking for is a few minutes.”
Holly saw that he’d left the back door open.
He moved to stand between her and the door. “Just a few minutes. I really need to understand what the fuck is going on.”
“I don’t want to do this now, Gee.” Holly said softly.
For a moment he stared at her then suddenly his anger took over again. “You owe it to me.”
“I don’t owe you jack shit." Holly was becoming angry herself. She had just had a lovely evening and he was intent on ruining it.
“I want to know how the fuck you know Lazzara." Gerard said roughly. “That’s all I want to know.”
“Why the hell are you dwelling on that?” Holly asked crossing her arms.
“Because it don’t make sense.” He said trying to keep his mind clear. He’d had just enough alcohol to make him mean and Holly understood that.
“Gee, I don’t want to talk to you know and you know why.”
“Fuck that.” He retorted. “Just tell me and I’ll leave you alone.”
Holly snapped. “Fine I’ll tell you.” Her voice shook with anger. “I’ll just tell you the fuckin’ story. Remember when you went off for PR?”
“Of course I do. You broke up with me.”
Holly’s anger was out of control. “I didn’t break up with you, you stupid jackass. I tried to explain to you that I couldn’t go but you wouldn’t listen. Not you, oh hell no. You wanted something and when you couldn’t have what you wanted you’d get pissed. So you’d call every couple of days. The calls were always the same. You’d tell me how much you missed me and beg me to join you. When I tried to explain to you why I couldn’t you’d hang up on me. Well after the fifth time you called I had a moment of madness come over me. I thought what the fuck? Why not for once in my life don’t I do something I want to do and not worry about the consequences? So I made all the arrangements. Made sure everything was taken care of so I could join you on tour for a week. I was gonna surprise you. I flew to Phoenix thinking to myself I’m being fearless for the first time in my life.” She paused.
A feeling of dread came over Gerard.
“I took a cab to the venue and Worm spotted me. You know thinking about it now I should have known but I was just so excited, so fuckin happy…” Her voice shook. “He led me to your bus. Said that you’d be so surprised to see me and for me to go on in. Fuck, I knew how much he hated me. I knew it. But I didn’t stop to think. I fuckin' thanked him and went into the bus." Tears had now filled her eyes. “Yeah, Gee you were on the bus. You were in the back of the bus with Lindsey. Believe me I could have gone my whole life without seeing that.”
“That son of a bitch let you on the bus?” He tried to move towards her but she backed away.
“Why the fuck are you mad at him? He was just letting me see the truth. So I turned and walked off the bus and I just stood there. Fuck, Gerard you had begged me three days earlier to come.”
"Oh Holly.” He whispered. “I never knew you were there.”
She shook her head violently. “What difference does that make? I saw how much you cared about me. Anyway I stood there unable to think, sensory overload I guess. Suddenly Adam walked by. He took one look at me, never asked me one question just said, ‘what can I do to help you’? I remember whispering I had to get back to the airport. He got a car and drove me himself. That was the night he was almost late to his set because he stayed with me until I could board the plane.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “For the next few weeks he called me almost everyday to make sure I was okay.” Holly angrily wiped her eyes, “So now you know how I became such good friends with Adam. He took pity on the poor pathetic woman who’s heart you broke.”
Gerard stared at her unable to speak.
“Now leave me alone.” She ran for the backdoor.
Gerard stumbled over to a patio chair and sat down. Slowly he lowered his head unable to control his emotions.