Another run in at the shelter. Lindsey is worried about Holly.
“I’ll take over.” Alicia said as she moved toward the stove so Holly could take the call. When Holly returned to the kitchen a few minutes later she asked, “So, what’s up?”
“She wanted to know if I could go down to the shelter with her.” Holly answered as she pulled out plates from the cabinet.
Holly sighed, “I told her I’d call her back in a few minutes because I needed to talk to you first.”
Alicia laughed, “I’d be happy to watch M, you know that.”
“What I know is I’m starting to feel like you’re becoming a babysitter for me and that’s not right.”
“Sure it is. Besides to be honest when I watch M for you because you’re going down to help out at the shelter it sorta makes me feel like I’m doing my part, you know?”
Holly gave her a confused look.
“To be honest I think it’s great you and Christa go down there and help out but it’s not something I really feel I could do.” She paused, “And that makes me feel like a bad person.”
“Alicia, we’ve talked about this before. You’re not a bad person because you don’t go down to the shelter. It’s not something a lot of people feel comfortable doing and that’s fine. It’s just something that I started doing years ago and I actually enjoy. It makes me feel good to try to do things for others. But I know you, I’ve seen you donating money to every Salvation Army kettle we pass. You help out in your own way.”
“And I help out by watching M so you can do your part.” Alicia nodded. “So go call her back and tell her you’ll go.”
Still Holly paused, “I don’t know. I really need to finish my Christmas gifts. I’ve got Jamia and Franks wind chime done but I’ve only just started on Christa’s.”
“Hey you can work on them when you get home. If it’s okay with you I think I’ll take M to the park today.” She looked over at Holly, “Unless you’d rather we just stay here.”
Holly understood what she was really asking, “Alicia I trust you with Molly.” Suddenly she grew serious. “As a matter of fact I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something.”
Alicia checked the pancakes then looked over at her. “What?”
“If something happened to me I was hoping you and Mikey would make sure Molly is cared for. I’m not asking you to take her in but I’d like to know that someone would look out for her, make sure she got a good home.”
“Holy shit, Holly. Of course we’d take Molly but what about Jimmy’s family. No relatives at all?”
“Jimmy was adopted and parents are dead. When he and Sonja died I took care of all the arrangements. So there would be no one for Molly if I was gone.”
Alicia removed the pancakes from the pan then spoke, “Okay first off I gotta say this conversation is creeping me out. Nothing is gonna happen to you Holly. I can’t even begin to think like that.”
Holly smiled, “Alicia I have to think like that. I love Molly so I have to try to plan for any eventuality.”
“Okay, I get that.” Alicia said slowly. “But what about your ex? Would he want Molly?”
“No.” Holly answered quickly. “He didn’t like Jimmy and he told Sonja she was making a mistake marrying him. He disowned his only daughter.” Holly fought back tears, “He didn’t even come to the funeral.”
“What a son of a bitch.” Alicia whispered.
Holly forced herself to regain her emotions. “So you see it’s just me and Molly and if something happened to me…”
“God forbid if something happened to you Holly then Mikey and I would raise Molly.”
“You need to talk to Mikey about this.” Holly said softly. “It’s a decision you both need to make together.”
“I know how he feels about M. He loves her so no, I really don’t.”
Holly smiled, “Just talk to him and make sure, okay? I was thinking that when I get back home I should go to a lawyer and have something drawn up so that my wishes are clear.”
“Holly, there isn’t something you’re not telling me, is there? I mean you’re okay, right?”
“I’m fine.” Holly smiled, “And believe me I’m not planning on checking out anytime soon. But like I said it’s my responsibility to make sure that if something did happen Molly would be okay.”
“Good.” Alicia hugged her. “And you can rest assured that Mikey and I would love Molly and raise her right.”
“I know you would.” Holly smiled returning her hug.
Mikey looked over at his brother. “What’s wrong?”
Gerard shrugged, “Nothing. I’m just not really in the mood to be doing an interview today.”
“Well at least we only have one.” Mikey said hoping that would make Gerard happier. “That’s good right?”
“Yeah.” Gerard sighed, “I’m really just tried. Yesterday wore my out.”
Mikey laughed, “Yeah must have been all that ice skating you did.”
“Funny.” Gerard smiled. “Holly is the one who should be tired. She pulled me around on the ice.”
“You looked terrified out there.”
“I was.” Gerard admitted. “So what’s she and Alicia up to today?”
“I just talked to Alicia and she was getting ready to take M to the park. Holly went with Christa down to the shelter. This time of year they really need volunteers to help out.”
“Shit I hope they don’t run into Eliza again.” Gerard frowned.
“Me too.” He thought a minute then said. “Alicia told me something that she and Holly discussed this morning and I gotta say while I understand it still sorta freaks me out.”
“Well Holly wanted to know if Alicia and I would take care of Molly if something happened to her.”
Gerard sat up in his chair. “What?”
“Yeah, I mean I understand she’s just being a responsible parent. Alicia said that Holly told her that ex husband of hers didn’t even go to Sonja’s funeral. So she knows that he wouldn’t want Molly.”
“That’s fucked up.” Gerard said angrily.
“Yeah, totally.” Mikey agreed. “But because of that and the fact that Sonja’s husband didn’t have any family, Holly realizes that if something were to happen to her then M would be all alone.”
“Nothing is gonna happen to Holly.” Gerard said feeling his heart begin to race. “Shit, I hate even thinking about something like that.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. But like I said I get where she’s coming from. She wants to make sure that M would be okay.”
“So what did you tell Alicia?” Gerard asked.
“Alicia already knew what I’d say. She and I would be honored to take M and raise her. I love that kid.”
Gerard smiled, “She’s a sweet kid.”
“Yeah so by the way did you find out what she asked Santa to bring Holly?”
Gerard laughed, “So you knew what I was up to?”
“We think alike. I was gonna do the same thing but once I heard you wanted to take Molly off alone I knew what you were up to.”
“Hey guys.” Ray said taking a seat across from them. “They said it will be a few more minutes.”
Both Mikey and Gerard nodded.
“So.” Mikey said looking at his brother. “Did you find out?”
Gerard nodded, “Yep, and it’s pretty damn sweet. And believe me Santa will leave the gift for Holly under your tree.”
“Hey girlfriend.” Alicia answered. “What’s up?”
“Alicia is Holly with you?” Lindsey asked. “I tried calling her cell but she’s not answering.”
Alicia gave Molly another push on the swing before answering. “Nope she’s down at the shelter with Christa. I’m sure that’s why you can’t get a hold of her.”
“Oh.” Lindsey smiled at Bandit who was tugging on her shirt. “Well I wanted to talk to her because my friend Richard is interested in commissioning her to make several wind chimes for a restaurant he’s opening next year.”
“Cool.” Alicia said giving Molly another push. “That sounds great.”
“He’s really into her work. Matter of fact he’s the one who won the silent action for charity so he’s already got one of her pieces.”
“Really?” Alicia had wondered who had won that wind chime. “Man, he paid a lot for it.”
Lindsey laughed, “Yeah, but he said it was for a good cause so he didn’t mind.”
“Well that should make Holly pretty happy.”
“I though so. Anyway I told him I’d run the idea by Holly and have her give him a call.”
“Want me to have her give you a call when I see her?” Alicia asked.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea. B and I are out running errands today so that would probably be easiest.”
Alicia nodded to Molly who was pointing to the slide. As she followed the little girl she said, “Man I wish you and B could have gone with us yesterday. It was a blast. Sled riding was so much fun.”
Lindsey frowned, “Oh you went sled riding?”
Alicia laughed, “Yeah, I couldn’t resist. But I did resist ice-skating. Have to say though it was pretty funny watching Gee try it.”
Even though Lindsey had no idea what her husband had done yesterday she wanted to continue the conversation as if she did. “I imagine that was funny. I’ve never seen Gee on ice skates.”
“Well I don’t think he was really to cool with the idea but since Holly was pretty much holding him up he did it.”
“Hold on, B.’ Lindsey said to her daughter who was anxious to leave the restaurant. “Sorry.” Lindsey said into the phone. “Yeah, I wish B and I had been able to go. Sounds like you all had a great time.”
“We did.” Alicia confirmed, “And believe me B would love Santa’s Workshop. I didn’t think we’d ever get Molly out of there.”
“I’m sure B would have loved it.” Lindsey said as a feeling of sadness washed over her. “Well anyway, have Holly give me a call, okay?”
“Will do.” Alicia answered. “Talk to ya later.”
Lindsey disconnected then sighed wondering why Gerard hadn’t told her where he’d gone yesterday. Of course she had to admit she really hadn’t spoken much to him last night. She and Bandit had gotten home late. He’d asked her what they had done all day but she hadn’t asked him about his day. In her heart she knew why, it was because she didn’t care. And that realization just made her more depressed.
“Holly.” Joan rushed over to her as soon as the women walked into the kitchen area of the shelter. “I’m so glad you’re here. I want to thank you for what you did for the shelter. Bob Kline, the shelter’s director stopped by this morning and told how much money your artwork raised. I have to admit I didn’t even know about the auction or that you were the artist. When he showed me a picture from your show I was shocked. I didn’t know you were an artist and he didn’t know you have been helping out here.”
Holly smiled, “I was very happy I was able to do that for the shelter.”
“Well because of your generosity we are going to be able to buy gifts for the children. Budget cutbacks had made it so we weren’t going to be able to do that this year but now we can.”
“That’s great.” Christa said smiling over at Holly.
“Oh yes.” Joan smiled, “And I know this is a lot to ask but I was wondering if both of you would be able to help out with the children’s gifts. We will need people to help wrap them.”
“I’d love to.” Holly nodded. Christa echoed her sentiment.
“Great.” Joan nodded. “When we get everything bought can I give you a call?”
Holly nodded, “Of course.” She recited her cell phone number to Joan who programmed it in her phone.
“Okay well I’ve got to get back to work.” Joan smiled. “Come on lets get you two your aprons.”
As the walked towards the kitchen Christa touched Holly’s arm and whispered. “Don’t look now but she’s here again.”
Holly followed her gaze and saw that Eliza had just arrived and was talking to another volunteer. When she saw Holly was looking in her direction she raised her hand and waved. Holly waved back but kept walking.
“Just try to ignore her.” Christa said softly.
“That’s my plan.” Holly admitted.
Unfortunately that was not an easy thing to do. Eliza made sure that she was standing on the other side of Holly as the volunteers lined up to start serving.
“Holly I just wanted to tell you how great I think it is your art raised so much money for the shelter. It’s all anyone is talking about.” Eliza said smiling.
Holly forced herself to be polite. “Thank you.”
“Wow Gee never told me you were an artist.’ Eliza said as she scooped up green beans. “I mean the man talked about you all the time but he never mentioned that.”
“Probably because I’m not really an artist.” Holly said trying to keep her mind on her task of dolling out scoops of mashed potatoes.
“Well of course you are. I’ve seen your work.”
Holly remained silent.
“Anyway.” Eliza said, “I think what you did for the shelter is great. I just wish I could do more.”
“Well you are helping out and that’s nice.” Holly said. “They really need volunteers.”
“I do what I can.” Eliza said softly. “I just feel it’s the right thing to do. I remember years ago Gee told me you helped out at a shelter in Jersey. At the time I didn’t understand, I guess I was too selfish to understand.”
Holly truly wanted to believe what Eliza was saying was honest and true. She always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt but her past with Eliza was making that a difficult thing to do.
Eliza continued, “You know I’ve changed a lot since then.” She said softly. “I guess you have too.”
“You think I’ve changed?” Holly asked glancing over at her. “Why?”
Eliza smiled, “Well for one thing your appearance defiantly has changed.”
Holly spoke up quickly, “That may be but I’m still the same person inside.”
“Oh of course you are the same caring woman.” Eliza said with a smile. The last thing she wanted was to make Holly distrust her. “I didn’t mean that. I only meant that you seem to have a lot more confidence.”
“Not really.” Holly muttered unable to stop herself.
“Oh I think you do.” Eliza answered. “I can tell. Before you were so quiet.”
Holly tried to hold her temper but her intense dislike for Eliza not only for the things she’d said to her but for what she’d done to Gerard was making that difficult. “No before I only seemed quiet because I bit my tongue a lot.”
Eliza gave her a surprised look, “Really? About what?”
Holly deposited another scoop of potatoes on a plate then tried to choose her words carefully. “When someone would say something to me that hurt I simply choose not to respond. I didn’t do that for myself.”
Eliza’s eyes narrowed, “Oh you mean when I upset you, you ignored it for Gee?”
“Exactly.” Holly nodded.
“Well believe it or not I did the same thing. Do you really think I wanted to listen to him talk about how wonderful you were all the time?”
Holly gave her a look of surprise.
Eliza nodded, “Oh yeah, he did it all the time. Holly this, Holly that. It got pretty old, pretty fast.”
“He and I were friends.” Holly sighed.
“Oh yeah, friends.” Eliza’s original plan of trying to get close to Holly was fading. “Very close friends. You really don’t think I was that stupid, do you? You wanted him and I knew it.”
It was obvious by the looks the two women were receiving that their conversation was starting to draw attention.
“Look.” Holly said evenly. “You can blame me all you want but you and I both know your break up with Gee was because of your actions.”
Eliza suddenly threw down her serving spoon. “That’s a lie.” She spat. “He and I were happy together until you came along.”
“Is there a problem here?’ Joan asked.
Eliza turned to her. “No, no problem at all. I’m done.” She turned and walked away.
“Sorry.” Holly said.
Joan smiled, “It’s okay. Christa explained to me that you and Ms Siep were acquainted and that there might be a problem.
“Yes well I’m sorry you lost a volunteer.” Holly said seeing Eliza storm out the door.
“Don’t you worry.” Joan said as she picked up the serving spoon Eliza had dropped.
Holly nodded the returned to serving. She hoped with all her heart that would be the last time she ran into Eliza. However, she had a bad feeling that would not be the case.
After helping with the clean up Christa and Holly tiredly made their way through the parking lot to the car.
“Okay what the hell happened? Christa asked. “What did she say to you?”
As much as Holly didn’t want to rehash the incident she’d known Christa would ask. “Well she started off trying to be nice but that went down hill. She blames me for her break up with Gerard.”
“You?” Christa was shocked, ‘Why the hell would she blame you?”
Holly shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
“That’s insane. The woman lied to him over and over.”
“I know but I guess she just wants someone to blame and since he and I were close friends back then it’s me.”
“God she was so vile to you. I was always telling Ray how much I hated it but he told me not to say anything because of Gerard.”
Holly waited until Christa unlocked the car door then side inside. Once Christa got behind the wheel she said, “Does it ever bother you how much that went on back then?”
Christa glanced over at her. “What?”
“Think about it.” Holly sighed, “Most everyone knew what Eliza was really like but no one would say anything because they didn’t want to upset Gerard. You know that wasn’t right. He was set to marry her not knowing about all her lies because no one would tell him.”
Christa thought a minute, “Yeah, that was pretty messed up but I think no one wanted to say anything to him because they didn’t want to make him mad.”
“Yeah, because if you make him mad he holds a grudge.” Holly said.
“That he does. Well at least he used to. I don’t think he’s nearly as bad about that now.”
Holly didn’t agree. “I don’t know. I still think people are doing the same thing. Only now it’s his drinking that’s the problem. But as far as I know no one is saying anything about it to him.”
Christa hated to admit it but she knew Holly was right. “To be honest I asked Ray why he didn’t talk to Gee about his drinking. He said it’s because Gee has to make his own decisions.”
“But those decisions affect the rest of the guys.” Holly said. “Last night after everyone had gone to sleep I got on the Net and saw the last show the guys did. Gee was drunk, that was obvious.”
“Yeah, he was.” Christa said softly.
“Yet I bet none of the guys called him on it, did they?”
Christa shrugged, “I’m not sure.”
“I just hate to see this happening to him.” Holly admitted unable to stop herself from speaking about something that was troubling her.
As she pulled into traffic Christa asked, “Have you said anything to him about his drinking?”
“I’ve tried.” Holly said sadly. “But I know him. As long as the people close to him don’t call him on it, he’ll continue. I’m only going to be here until after New Years. What then?” She shook her head sadly. As much as she wished it wasn’t so, she couldn’t stop herself from worrying about Gerard.
Over dinner Gerard reminded his wife that his father would be arriving the next day.
“I know.” She said as she took her seat at the table.
“Yeah, well so we should leave here about nine.” Gerard said. “His plane comes in at eleven but I’m sure the traffic will be brutal.”
Lindsey spoke while spooning peas onto Bandits plate. “I was thinking you should pick him up by yourself. I’ve got a ton of things to do tomorrow.”
Gerard frowned, “I thought we were going to go together? You know he wants to see B.”
“He’ll see her here.” Lindsey answered.
Gerard tried to hold his temper. “Yeah, I know that. What’s going on? Would you rather I just put him up in a hotel?”
“Gee, I never said I didn’t want Don to stay with us. Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“Whatever.” He took a sip of his water. “So what are you doing tomorrow?”
Lindsey sighed, “I just have lots of things I need to do to get ready for Christmas.” She was relieved when her phone rang. Getting up from the table she walked into the living room.
When she returned ten minutes later Gerard glared at her. “Dinner is pretty much cold now.”
“I had to take that.” Lindsey said sitting back down. “That was Holly.”
Gerard gave her a surprised look, “Holly?”
Lindsey nodded then explained about her friend who wanted some of Holly’s pieces for his restaurant.
“Oh.” Gerard said slowly. “So is she gonna do it?”
“She’s not sure but she said she’d give him a call.”
“Don’t know why she wouldn’t.” Gerard said. “That would get her work even more exposure.”
“That’s what I told her.” Lindsey nodded, “She said she’d have to see if he’d be open to the idea of her working on the pieces back in Arizona. Guess she’s worried he’d want to be able to see their progress first hand. The pieces he wants her to do are very large.”
“Oh yeah I keep forgetting she’s gonna be leaving.” Gerard said softly.
Lindsey looked over at him. “You wish she’d stay, don’t you?”
Her question caught him off guard and he wasn’t sure how to answer.
Lindsey continued to stare at him.
Gerard knew she was waiting for an answer. “It’s been nice having her back in all our lives."
“I’m sure that’s true." Lindsey said. “You know I really like Holly. She’s one of those people who just seems to become a friend so easily.” She paused. “But I worry. What will happen when she returns to Arizona?”
“Oh, you mean because we think she has an eating disorder?”
“ She does have an eating disorder but that’s not the only reason. Holly seems to have made a world for herself that’s only her and Molly. I’ve spoken to her and it sounds as if she doesn’t have any friends back home. It’s like she’s built her whole world around Molly.”
Gerard sighed, “I guess that’s because of Sonja.”
“Yes.” Lindsey nodded, “I think losing her daughter has caused that. But she’s a beautiful woman who should be living her life not hiding from it.”
Gerard was touched by her concern for Holly. “I think you’re right.”
Lindsey looked up at him. “But maybe being here isn’t the best thing for her either.”
Lindsey knew her words would upset him but she couldn’t stop herself from saying. “Because she needs to worry about her own problems not take on other’s problems.”
He set down his fork. “What do you mean?”
“Gee I’m not stupid. I know she hurt her hand because she came to help you.”
Gerard stared unable to speak.
“I asked her and she admitted it.” Lindsey sighed, “Wasn’t really too hard to figure out. I’m sure Holly wants to help you stop drinking.”
“What about you?” He asked, “Why don’t you want to do that?”
Her anger flared. “Because I’m tried of dealing with all your shit.” She said regretting her words as Bandit looked up at her.
Gerard’s face fell. He quickly got up and left the table.
Lindsey called out softly. “Gee, I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean that.”
At the doorway he turned, “Yeah, you did and we both know it.”