A day filled with fun and memories.
“Mommy.” Molly bounced on the bed next to her. “Mes ungry.”
Holly smiled at her. “You, my little baby, are always hungry.” She heard sounds outside their room and knew the others were awake. “Go on and see what’s for breakfast. I’m gonna get dressed.”
“Otay.” Molly answered happily.
Once she was gone Holly closed her eyes then whispered to herself. “A fresh new day, a new beginning. Today will be better.” It was something she often told herself in the morning.
Suddenly she remembered Gerard’s words from last night when he’d told her the same thing. She wished she could believe.
Mikey was sitting outside on the patio enjoying another cup of coffee after breakfast. Smiling to himself he listened to the faint sounds of Alicia and Molly in the kitchen. As soon as Holly woke up he was going to spring his idea on her but for now he needed to call his brother.
“Wow, sorry.” Mikey said slowly, “Woke you up, didn’t I?”
Gerard rolled over and saw that he was alone. He wondered if Lindsey and Bandit were still in the house. “It’s okay, what’s up?”
“I’ll call you back later.” Mikey said knowing his brother was a bear in the morning and what he had to tell him was not going to make him happy.
“I’m awake now.” Gerard said pulling himself into a sitting position.
“Uh, really I’ll just call you back later.” Mikey hedged.
Gerard sighed, “Mikey why’d you call?”
Mikey took a sip of his coffee than began. “Well I need to tell you about something that happened yesterday.”
“Okay.” Gerard said slowly trying to clear his mind. ‘What?”
“Well Holly and Christa went down to the shelter and Eliza was there.”
Gerard forced his mind to work. He didn’t want to admit he already knew because then Mikey would know he’d called Holly last night. And if he found that out he’d what to know why he’d called her. He hated that he had to be dishonest with his brother but he couldn’t know that the reason he’d called Holly was to talk about what happened at PR.
“Gee?” Mikey wondered why he hadn’t responded.
“What was she doing there?” Gerard asked knowing that question would sound correct.
“She told them she was down there to help out but none of us believe that. I’m afraid she’d gonna try to use Holly to get to you.”
Gerard grunted. “Fat chance of that. Holly’s not stupid she always knew how much Eliza hated her.”
“Well yeah, I agree. Still I thought you should know.”
He decided to tell Mikey about his conversation with Chris.
“Shit.” Mikey said when Gerard was done. “Eliza really is a piece of work, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, she was and still is.” Gerard slid out of bed.
“I can’t believe she’d say something like that about Holly. If ever there was a woman who wouldn’t try to steal other woman’s husband, it’s Holly. Besides why the fuck couldn’t she get it through her head that Holly didn’t feel that way about you?”
Gerard hated how he had to lie. “I don’t know.” He muttered. Suddenly he was angry his brother of all people never saw how he and Holly really had felt about each other. “Hey, I gotta go.”
Mikey wondered why he suddenly sounded so abrupt. He believed it was because of Eliza. “Gee, don’t worry. Eliza is part of your past. Just think about your life now. Anyway I was wondering what you guys are doing today?”
Since Gerard didn’t even know where he wife was let alone when she’d get home he answered. “Not sure what Linds and I are doing. I’ll call you back.”
“Okay, Gee.” Mikey answered. “But make it soon cause I got a great idea.” He was about to explain but Gerard had already disconnected.
“Here.” Alicia handed Holly a cup of strong black coffee as soon as she walked into the kitchen.
“Thanks." Holly muttered. Her headache was worse now that she was up and moving around.
“Hey Molly.” Alicia said seeing the little girl had finished her cereal. “Mikey’s out on the patio. Why don’t you go see what he’s doing?”
“Otay.” Molly slid from her chair then raced outside.
Alicia sat down at the table across from Holly. “That wine really got you last night, didn’t it?”
Holly gave her a surprised look, “You could tell?”
Alicia smiled, “You don’t drink often so when you do it’s kinda noticeable.”
“Sorry.” Holly took a sip of coffee.
“Nothing to be sorry about.” Alicia answered. “Never hurt anyone to drink every once in a while.” She paused a moment then asked, “But I was kinda wondering. I thought I heard you talking to someone.”
Inwardly Holly groaned. She didn’t want to admit she’d been talking to Gee. “Really?”
Alicia’s eyes narrowed. “You know you can’t lie for shit, Holly. Look, just forget I even brought it up. It’s not my business if you were on the phone. I was just worried it might be Bob trying to talk you into going to Chicago.”
Quickly Holly thought of a way not to lie yet let her friend think that was who she’d been talking to. “I told him I was staying here for the holidays.” That was the truth she’d told him that yesterday when he’d called.
“Good.” Alicia smiled. “Now I’m not supposed to say anything but my husband has cooked up an idea for today.”
Again Holly inwardly groaned. Her head was pounding and she just wanted to go back and lay down. “What kind of idea?”
“Oh here he comes.”
Mikey walked in smiling. “M’s on the patio coloring.” He explained so Holly didn’t worry. “I wanted to run something by you.”
“I’m all ears.” Holly said trying to smile.
“Well I was thinking there is a town just a couple of hours from here that is set up like Santa Land. It’s in the Big Bear area. The whole town is decked out for Christmas and there’s snow. It’s pretty cool. I was thinking we could go there today. M would love it. They got a Santa’s workshop….”
Alicia started laughing, “Okay you see now who’s really excited about going.”
Mikey nodded, “Hell yeah, I am. It’ll be a blast.” He looked over at Holly, “So what do you think?”
Holly thought a minute. “Real snow?”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, it’s up in the mountains. I checked this morning and they got a couple of inches of fresh snow over night.”
“Only problem is we didn’t come prepared for the cold. Molly and I only have light jackets.” Holly answered.
“You could borrow one of my coats.” Alicia said thinking out loud. “And we could stop and buy a coat and gloves for M on the way.”
“Yeah, that would work.” Mikey nodded.
It was obvious to Holly how important this idea was to her friends. “I’m sure Molly will love it.”
An hour later they all left the house heading towards the car. Molly was bouncing up and down excitedly. She didn’t know where they were going but Mikey had promised her she would love it and she believed him.
As they neared the car Gerard pulled into the driveway.
“What’s he doing here?” Alicia asked.
Mikey shook his head, “I don’t know. I was going to ask him and Lindsey if they wanted to go with us but he said he wasn’t sure what they were doing. When I tried to call him back he didn’t answer.”
Gerard got out of the car and walked towards them.
“Hey Gee.” Mikey greeted his brother.
“Hey.” Gerard nodded, “I just stopped by to see what you were doing today.”
“Uh were going to …He spelled out the name so Molly’s surprise wouldn’t be ruined.
Gerard had heard of the town and understood, “Oh, well that will be fun.”
“Yeah I thought maybe you and Linds would want to bring Bandit along too.” Mikey said.
“Oh she and Bandit had some stuff to do today.” He answered quickly. The truth was he didn’t know where they were and Lindsey wasn’t answering her phone.
Suddenly Molly ran up and grabbed Gerard’s hand. “Gee goes too?”
He smiled down at her. “No, I don’t think so. But you’ll have fun.”
Molly frowned, “Mes wants Gee to come. Pwease?”
Gerard looked over at Holly but noticed her face was blank.
“Pwese?” Molly said again.
“Hey, come with us, Gee.” Mikey laughed. “Unless you have something else to do.”
Sadly Gerard had nothing to do. “Okay, M.”
Molly giggled, “Otay. Wets gets dis show on da road.”
The adults all laughed then Mikey ran back to the house to grab one of his coats and gloves for Gerard.
Holly and Gee sat in back with Molly between them. He noticed immediately that Holly was very quiet. Placing his arm around Molly’s seat he tapped Holly on the shoulder. “Sorry." He whispered. “I shouldn’t have come.”
Holly looked over at him. “It’s fine.”
Molly was busy talking to Alicia about Santa.
Gerard whispered again. “You okay?”
“Headache.” She whispered back deciding to admit the truth.
He nodded. “Yeah, me too.”
After a quick stop at a large discount store to purchase a coat and gloves for Molly they were on their way up into the mountains. Molly talked constantly about Christmas and Santa coming to visit.
Soon it was obvious the little girl was worried Santa wouldn’t know where she was staying on Christmas Eve. Mikey quickly assured her that he’d sent Santa a letter telling him that Molly was at his house.
Holly smiled. “See I told you not to worry.”
Molly nodded, “Mes wants Santa to brings mommys pwesent too.”
“Honey, Santa isn’t going to bring me a present. He only brings presents for little boys and girls.” Holly explained.
“But mes asked Santa to brings mommy a pwesent.” She responded. “When mes saws Santa mes asted him to brings mommy a pwesent.”
Holly frowned as she thought back to the day Molly and Bandit had seen Santa. Now she understood that when Molly had whispered in Santa’s ear what she had been doing. “Honey that was very nice but Santa doesn’t bring presents to grown ups.”
It was at that moment that Gerard decided he would talk to Molly later and find out what the little girl had asked Santa to bring. Whatever it was he was going to try his hardest to get it for Holly. It was important to him that Molly didn’t lose her belief in Santa.
The piped in Christmas music filling the streets was doing nothing for Gerard or Holly’s headaches. They had only arrived in town about twenty minutes ago and it was everything Mikey had promised and then some. Ever little store along the main street was decked out for Christmas. There were lights, holly, Christmas figures and the very loud music. However the little girl walking between them was in heaven.
“Lookie." She pointed.
Holly smiled. “Oh my.”
“I’ll text Mikey and tell him where we’re headed." Gerard said knowing Molly wanted to take a closer took at the small hill were kids where sledding.
“Mes wants to.” Molly said watching as the kids sat down on sleds and flew down the hill.
“I never imagined we’d see snow when we came to visit.” Holly laughed. “It’s amazing that this place is just a few hours from LA.”
“Yeah, it is pretty cool. “ He stopped then squatted down next to Molly. “I don’t think you’re big enough to go down by yourself. How about if I go with you?”
Holly smiled, “Thanks.” She had no desire to sled down the hill.
“Otay.” Molly jumped up and down.
When Alicia and Mikey joined them Gee and Molly were going down the hill for the third time.
“Sorry it took so long but the lines in the shops are crazy." Alicia said setting down several bags. “So where’s Gee and Molly?”
Holly smiled and pointed.
“Wow, cool.” Mikey said seeing his brother and Molly fly down the hill on a bright red plastic sled. “I wanna do that.”
“Me too.” Alicia nodded. “How come you aren’t sledding?” She asked Holly.
Holly laughed, “I just like watching. Go ahead, I’ll guard the packages.” Soon she was watching all of them laughing as they flew through the snow. On the next trip down she noticed that Gee and Molly were waiting for Mikey and Alicia to reach the bottom. A minute later Mikey took Molly’s hand and Gerard made his way over to where Holly was sitting.
“Did you have fun?" Holly asked.
He laughed as he sat down next to her. “Yeah, that was fun but the best part was listening to Molly’s laughter. She’s having a blast. Sure you don’t want to try it?”
“Nope." Holly shook her head, “But they do have an ice skating rink. I think I’d like to let Molly try that.”
“Really? Do you skate?”
Holly laughed, “Gee I grew up in Wyoming. Lots of snow and ice there. Yeah, I can ice skate. I’d like Molly to see what it’s like.”
“Well let her sled down a few more times with Mikey then we’ll head over there.”
She nodded without looking at him.
Gerard stood, “Be right back.”
A few minutes later he returned with two cups of hot cocoa. “Here.” He said handing Holly the Styrofoam cup.
She smiled, “Thanks. I needed something to warm me up.” She glances down. “Oh and it’s even got marshmallows.”
“Yeah I remembered you liked them.” He said softly as he sat back down next to her on the bench.
Their eyes met. Holly smiled, “We do share some wonderful memories.”
He nodded, “Yeah, we really do. Some of the best memories I have are from times we spent together.”
Holly looked away.
Gerard took a sip of his cocoa then sighed, “Bandit would love this place.”
“It’s too bad you and Lindsey couldn’t bring her today.” Holly said softly still watching as Mikey, Alicia and Molly trudged up the hill for yet another run.
“The truth is I don’t know where they are today. When I got up this morning they were gone.” He admitted.
Holly glanced over at him and saw the sadness on his face. “I’m sorry, Gee.”
He shook his head, “I just don’t know what to do. I’ve tried to talk to her but every time we just end up fighting. She’s not happy anymore at least not when she’s with me.”
Holly sighed, “I wish I could make this all better for you.”
He looked into her eyes, “I believe that Holly and I thank you for that. But you can’t and I understand that now. I’m sorry that I made it sound like I thought you could fix all this shit for me.” He smiled sadly, “It was stupid but I just fell into the old pattern of Holly making everything better thought process.”
“I always tried.” She whispered.
“Yeah, you did and I was selfish. You tried and tried to help me and I never did shit for you in return.”
“That’s not true.” Holly said quickly. “You don’t understand but there were times that you just being with me was all I needed. When we would just watch TV together or talk then I wasn’t alone. I needed that.”
“But I could have done more. I could have really listened to you and realized there was shit going on in your life, that you were struggling but I didn’t.”
Holly reached over and gently touched his arm. “None of that matters now.”
He didn’t agree but remained silent.
Holly looked up to see Molly running towards her.
“Did you have fun, Baby?” She asked once Molly reached her.
Molly nodded happily.
“Man, I’m getting to old to be walking up and down that hill.” Mikey said as he and Alicia reached the bench.
“Oh my boy is feeling old.” Alicia laughed.
He threw his arm around her shoulder. “Yeah, I am. So what’s the plan now?”
Gerard explained about the ice-skating.
“As fun as that sounds I’d really like to hit a few more stores.” Alicia said hoping that would be okay with everyone.
Mikey rolled is eyes, “Why am I not surprised?"
In the end Mikey chose to go with his wife leaving Gerard, Holly and M to head over to the ice skating rink. Once there it was apparent that Gerard wanted only to watch.
“Oh come on.” Holly playfully punched his arm. “You gotta try.”
“I did once years ago and that was enough.” He answered.
They were in line to rent the skates.
“Gee, you gotta try, it’s fun.” Holly smiled.
He had no desire to skate but he found it impossible to tell Holly no.
After twenty minutes on the ice Gerard was really wishing he had found a way to deny Holly. His ankles hurt and so did his fingers that were tightly gripping the wall to keep himself from falling on the ice. His eyes however were on Holly as she held M’s hands gently urging her to move. Surprisingly the little girl was doing quite well. Slowly they made their way over to Gerard.
“Gee you have to let go of the wall eventually.” Holly laughed.
“Uh, no I don’t.” He shook his head.
“Molly is trying.”
“And she’d doing great.” Gerard said smiling down at her. “But that still don’t mean I have to let go.”
“Molly will you stay right here?’ Holly asked. Once Molly nodded Holly put out both hand to Gee. “Come on.”
He glared at her.
“Trust me.” She smiled.
Still he glared.
“Gee twy.” Molly urged him.
Slowly he removed one hand from the wall and placed it in Holly’s hand.
“Now the other.” She urged.
He looked into her face. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold and her eyes were dancing. “If I fall I’m taking you with me.”
“Yep, you probably will.” She laughed.
He took a deep breath then placed his other hand in hers. Immediately he began to wobble.
“Just move slowly.” Holly said as she skated backwards.
They made it a short distance before he began to panic. “Okay I let go and I haven’t fallen. Get me back to the wall.”
Holly smiled, “Gee, you’re doing great.”
“Hey.” Mikey said to Molly. They had just arrived at the rink and spotted the little girl.
“Hey Uncle Mikey.” She smiled. “Lookie.” She pointed to Holly and Gerard.
“Oh good Lord she has Gee out on the ice.” Alicia laughed.
Mikey pulled out his phone. “I so have to have a pic of this.”
Out on the ice Holly was speaking softly to Gerard, “You’re doing great.”
“I’m gonna fall on my ass.”
“Well so far you haven’t lifted your feet.” Holly laughed. “I’m just pulling you around.”
“Shit, and here I thought I was skating.”
Holly looked over and saw that Mikey and Alicia were watching Molly. She let go of Gerard’s hand to wave.
“Fuck, Holly.” Gerard almost yelled, ‘Don’t let go.”
Holly grinned, “I’m still holding on.”
“Yeah well I feel better when you’re holding on with both hands.” He admitted. “So have we skated long enough?”
“Gee I’m gonna let go for a minute. I want you to see that you can stand up on your own.” She said softly looking into his eyes.
He understood the underlying meaning to her words.
Slowly Holly released his hands. While he was still not moving he didn’t fall. As he watched Holly skated off her long curly hair trailing behind her. She looked like an angel. Moments later she skated to a stop in front of him. “You see you didn’t fall.”
He looked into her eyes, “Yeah, but still I know if I had you would have helped me up.”
“Yes.” She whispered. “Always.”
As they sat down in a cozy restaurant Mikey was still talking about his brother’s skating. “Man, you looked terrified when Holly let go.”
Gerard rolled his eyes, “You’re never gonna stop talking about that, are you? I didn’t see you out there on the ice.”
After ordering Holly, Alicia and M headed towards the restroom.
“Coming here was a good idea.” Mikey said sitting back and smiling.
“Yeah, it was.” Gerard agreed.
“Oh yeah.” Mikey pulled out his phone and flipped to a photo. “Look.” He handed it over to Gerard.
A smiled covered Gerard’s face. In the picture Holly was holding on to his hands, her smile was beautiful. “Hey send me that pic, okay?”
Mikey took back the phone, “Sure. Gonna show Lindsey you were really out of the ice today?"
Gerard forced himself to smile and nod. The truth was he wouldn’t share that picture with anyone. That was a memory he wanted to keep only for himself.
As they were finishing up their meal Gerard said casually. “Uh if it’s okay I’d like to take M and do a bit of shopping.”
Holly gave him a surprised look, “What?”
“Yeah, I need her help. I want to pick out something for Bandit and I figured she could help me with that.”
“Oh and you and I can go back to this one store I found, Holly.” Alicia said quickly. “It’s got all kinds of cool things I want you to see.”
Holly nodded, “Okay.”
Gerard knew this was the perfect opportunity to find out from Molly what she’d said to Santa.
It was almost four pm when they all met up again. The air was growing colder and everyone was exhausted. Gerard was carrying Molly and several bags when they returned.
“Mes tyrod." Molly yawned.
“But you haven’t been to Santa’s workshop yet." Mikey reminded her.
Molly’s eyes grew large.
“Come on kid.” Mikey said as Gerard gently set her down. Slowly they made their way through the crowds.
“Oh." Molly suddenly forgot she was tired. “Lookie.”
The huge barn-like structure had been designed to look like a workshop. There were even elf workers and of course Santa was there overseeing everything.
It was an hour before they could convince Molly it was time to go.
Once they started for the car the little girls was tired again. “Mes cants go on.” She said stopping.
Gerard laughed then scoped her up in his arms. “It was a pretty big day.”
Holly who was walking beside them smiled, “But it was a wonderful day.”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, I’m glad I thought of this.”
Alicia punched him on the arm playfully. “Yeah, my boy did good.”
“Oh Holly don’t forget you’re supposed to go shopping day after tomorrow with Dad.” Mikey said as they walked across the parking lot to the car.
“Yep, I remember.” Holly nodded.
On the way back to LA Molly fell asleep. Holly was finding it hard to keep her eyes open too.
“Lean back and nap.” Gerard said softly.
She smiled, “I am pretty tired.”
Gerard leaned back himself then closed his eyes. Memories of the day filled his mind. It had been a wonderful day, a day to remember. He made a mental note that next year he would bring Bandit here. Suddenly his good mood began to evaporate. In his heart he was afraid that by this time next year he would be a single parent.
Holly reached behind Molly’s seat and tapped him on the shoulder. “What’s wrong?” She whispered.
He hadn’t realized she’d opened her eyes. He shook his head not wanting to admit his fear.
Holly smiled, “It will all be okay somehow.”
Once again he found himself wanting to believe her words. And wanting to believe that somehow Holly would not disappear from his life again.