Gerard stays to help care for Molly but memories of the past fill his mind.
When she reemerged she’d donned her new sock monkey PJ’s and had put her hair into two long braids. She saw the look Gerard gave her as she walked into the living room.
"Hey, don’t laugh. My hair’s wet, I didn’t want to take time to dry it. This was the easiest answer.”
He smiled, "It looks cute.”
Holly rolled her eyes. “It does not.”
“Yeah, it really does.” He said softly. “I like it.”
“Mommy mes donts feels dood.” Molly said in a small voice.
“I’m sorry, Baby.’ Holly said walking over to them. “But a good nights sleep with help.”
Gerard spoke softly. “I’m gonna stay here tonight.”
Holly didn’t even question him. “Thanks.” She was relieved knowing he would be there if Molly suddenly took a turn for the worse.
“Okay, M.” Gerard said. “Time to put you and your mommy to bed.”
Molly started to get off his lap when it happened. The fever had upset her stomach and suddenly the small amount of dinner she’d eaten came back up splattering Gerard’s clothes. She started sobbing.
“Oh, Gee. Sorry.” Holly said as she picked up the sick child. She rushed Molly into the bathroom.
Gerard got up slowly trying to keep the mess from hitting the floor. He walked carefully into the kitchen where he grabbed some paper towels to mop it off his clothes. When most of it was removed he heard Holly calling out his name. Fear made him sprint into the living room. “What’s wrong?”
Holly was standing holding Molly in her arms. “She’s upset because she threw up on you.”
Gerard saw the little girl was still crying. Quickly he walked over to them. “Hey M, it’s okay, Baby.”
“Mes pooked on youse.” She said through her tears.
“Don’t worry about it.” He said stroking her hair. “Baby B has puked on me lots of times. I know you couldn’t help it.”
She let go of Holly’s neck and reached out her arms to Gerard but he took a step back. “Hold on.” He smiled wanting her to understand. “I’m gonna have to take these clothes off first then I’ll hold you, okay?”
Gerard looked at Holly. “I’ll just grab a pair of Mikey’s sweats.”
She nodded. “Yeah, we’ll toss your clothes in the washer.”
He sprinted out of the room. A few minutes later he returned wearing sweat pants and a tee. Holly had set Molly down on the sofa. As she reached for the soiled clothes he started to say he’d put them in the washer but Holly nodded towards the sofa. Gerard smiled, handed the wadded up jeans and tee to Holly then walked over to Molly.
“Okay M. Now that I’ve got on Mikey’s clothes I’m ready to hold you.” He sat down and Molly crawled up into his lap.
“I don’t think that will happen again.” Holly said softly. “Think that was pretty much her whole dinner."
Gerard hugged Molly. “Well if it does we’ll deal with it.”
Holly took his clothes to the washer but when she returned she was carrying a large plastic bowl. She set it down on the table by them. “Just in case."
Holly sat down in the recliner. “Guess we should try going to bed again.”
Molly immediately balked at the idea. “Mes stays ear with Gee.”
Gerard leaned over to grab the throw from the other side of the sofa. Gently he covered Molly’s body. “There. Snug as a bug.” He whispered.
Molly’s eyes fluttered shut.
For several minutes the room was silent.
“Bandit is lucky to have you for a daddy.” Holly said softly believing Molly had fallen asleep.
Molly’s head lifted. “Mes donts ave a daddy.”
Gerard saw the pain in Holly’s eyes as she struggled to find something to say.
“Hey M.” Gerard said softly stoking her hair. “You’ve got two guys, me and Mikey who feel like you are our little girl.”
When he glanced over he saw the tears in Holly’s eyes.
“Whelly?” Molly asked looking up into his face.
“Really.” Gerard smiled.
Molly put her head back down on his chest. Again the room fell silent. Gerard watched as Holly got up without a word. When she returned several minutes later her eyes were dry but he could see she’d been crying.
“I think I can take her now. She’s asleep.” Holly whispered.
Gerard shook his head. “Lets not try to move her yet. Grab another blanket.”
Holly didn’t think another blanket was necessary but followed his instructions. When she returned he whispered.
“Sit down next to us. That way if she wakes up she’ll see we’re both here.”
Holly was touched by his thoughtfulness. Carefully she sat down next to them.
“Put your legs up and lean against me."
“Please, Holly.” He said looking into her eyes.
Holly pulled her legs up on the sofa then shifted her body so that she was leaning against his shoulder. She placed the blanket over her legs and got comfortable.
“Close your eyes and try to get a little sleep.” He whispered.
Holly turned her head to look at him. “Thanks, Gee.”
He smiled. “It feels good that for once I’m actually helping you."
For a moment their eyes locked. Then Holly turned her head again and closed her eyes.
Gerard sighed realizing just how glad he was to be here. He knew in his heart if he was at home, alone, he’d have turned to the bottle tonight. But knowing he was needed changed all that.
When he heard Holly’s even breathing he knew she’d fallen asleep. His head titled slightly and he got a whiff of her hair. The strawberry scent made him smile. Her hair had always smelled like strawberries and that scent made his mind travel back in time.
July 2 2007
As they drove past the sigh wishing travelers who were leaving Long Branch a safe trip Gerard sighed. These past few days he and Holly had spent together had been magical. They had simply talked, laughed and made love. Actually they had made love often and that thought caused him to smile.
“What?” Holly asked glancing over at him.
“Just thinking what a great time I had.” He answered reaching over to gently touch her cheek. “And wishing it didn’t have to end.”
“Me too.” Holly said softly. “But Sonja will be getting home tonight and I’ve got to work in the morning.”
He nodded, “Yeah, I know.”
Nervously Holly fingers drummed on the steering wheel. These past few days had been so wonderful she didn’t want it to end but sadly she understood it must. “Uh Gee, about Sonja.”
Holly tried to put into words what she had to say. “Since she’s gonna be home..”
He nodded, “I know I gotta go back to Moms.”
She was slightly relieved he understood that. “Yeah.”
He grinned, “I get that you don’t want me staying with you like I was.”
Holly wanted to make sure he understood. “Well I mean I don’t want to set a bad example.”
“A bad example?"
She sighed, “Gee, I know this probably sounds stupid to you.”
“Hey, I understand.” He said quickly. “But Holly you’re a grown woman. I’m sure Sonja will understand that we want to spend time together.”
Holly bit her bottom lip nervously. “Gee I’ve been thinking.”
“These past few days, actually since you showed up on my doorstep have been some of the happiest times I’ve ever had.”
“Me too, Sugar.” He nodded. Sitting up straighter in the seat he wanted to tell her something before she continued. “Holly, I have to tell you something.”
Holly felt her stomach start to churn. The tone of his voice made her fear the worse; he was going to tell her to lighten up. That they were just having a good time so she shouldn’t worry about what happened next.
Gerard took a deep breath trying to calm his nerves. “Holly Lintz I’ve fallen in love with you.”
The car swerved when her head snapped around to face him. Gerard grabbed the dash to steady himself while she got it back under control.
“Shit, sorry." She muttered.
Gerard was staring at her. “Guess that wasn’t something you wanted to hear.” He said softly.
Holly’s brain was still processing his words and her emotions. “Gee, I ..”
“It’s okay.” He said quickly. “I shouldn’t have said it.”
She knew there was no way she could have this conversation and drive. Pulling off the road she put the car in park then turned to him. “Did you mean it?”
“Yeah, I really do.”
“Then you should have said it.” Holly said slowly.
A smile covered his face. “I do mean it. I guess the first time I realized I was falling in love with you was sitting on that fuckin’ plane flying to Australia. I just keep thinking to myself, God I wish I was back home with Holly. Fuck, at first I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true. I mean I was with Eliza who I thought I loved. But all the time I was thinking about you. I didn’t know what to do. Then when all that shit happened and I found out the truth..” He paused. “I was pissed but deep down I was so relieved.” He reached over for her hand. “I couldn’t wait to get home to you.”
Holly smiled, “Gee, I love you too. But for so long I fought the feeling. You were with someone else and I never thought in my wildest dreams you would feel the same way towards me.”
“How could I not?" He whispered. “You are perfect.”
Holly shook her head, “Not even close to perfect.”
“I think you are.”
Even though her heart had taken flight the fear she held close refused to let go. “Gee, what we feel, we shouldn’t rush it.”
He nodded, “Yeah, I know. I don’t want to rush it. But that’s hard because I want to be with you all the time.”
She took a deep breath. “This feeling is so special. What we have together means the world to me but..”
“For now I don’t want to share that feeling. I want us to take our time to make sure it’s right.”
He frowned, “Yeah, I think I know what you mean. We’ll take it slow, Sugar.”
“I don’t want anyone to know.” Holly said softly. “Not yet. I’m afraid if they did it would change things too quickly.” She looked deeply into his eyes, “I don’t want to risk what we have, do you understand?"
Part of him did understand. “Okay. For now we won’t tell anyone.” He thought a minute. “Even Mikey?”
Holly squeezed his hand. “Even Mikey. Heck, I haven’t even seen him and Alicia in weeks. They have been so busy settling into married life.”
He nodded, “Yeah, I’ve missed him. Playing concerts without him just don’t seem right. I get out there on the stage and when I don’t see him my heart just sorta sinks. I really hope he’ll change his mind and do PR with us.”
“Me too.” Holly said knowing how much he missed his brother.
Gerard’s face suddenly broke into a smile. “Hey, anyway I’m just gonna be a few houses away.”
Holly understood he had returned to their previous conversation. “That’s true.”
He leaned over and brushed his lips against hers. “So maybe since we can’t be together at your house, you can come down to moms. You know I could just leave the basement door unlocked.”
“I guess you could.” Holly said before her tongue darted out to run along his bottom lip.
Gerard sighed. Opening his eyes he saw that they were both sleeping soundly. Thinking back he realized at the time he’d only thought he understood Holly’s reasoning. He’d believed in time that their love would transcend any problems they faced. Now that he knew so much more about Holly he realized there had been so many things he hadn’t understood. He hadn’t even begun to understand all the mental abuse she’d suffered at her ex husband’s hands. He hadn’t understood her concern over Sonja’s health. But mostly he hadn’t understood how deeply Holly’s fear of being hurt had run.
Closing his eyes again he let his mind return to that first evening when they’d returned home.
Gerard was lying in bed when he heard the basement door open. A moment later his bedroom door closed. Through the shadows he saw her moving towards the bed. Silently he threw back the covers and she crawled in next to him.
“Hey Sugar.’ He nuzzled her neck.
“Gee." She whispered as she moved into his arms.
For a moment he thought he’d heard something in her voice that sounded wrong but as his hands pushed their way under her sweats that thought went out of his head.
“I love you.” He whispered.
“I love you.” She pressed her mouth against his neck. “So much I can’t think anymore.”
Again he thought he heard something in her voice. He was about to question her when he felt her hands slip inside his sweatpants. All thought flew from his head in that moment.
Holly’s eyes fluttered open and for a minute she was confused. As her brain cleared she remembered where she was and who was with her. Sitting up slowly she saw that Gerard’s eyes were open and he had a huge smile on his face.
“Hey.” She whispered. “What time is it?”
He glanced down at his watch. “A little after midnight. You’ve only been sleeping for a few hours.”
Gently she touched Molly’s cheek and was relieved to feel it was only slightly warm. The fever reducer was doing its job. “I’ll take her now.” Holly said softly.
“This is fine unless you are uncomfortable.”
Holly smiled, “Gee you can’t sleep like that all night.”
“Sure I can. Truthfully I’ve already been dozing on and off.”
“Why were you smiling a minute ago?” She asked.
Gerard grinned. “I had just remembered something.” He wasn’t sure if he should tell her the truth or not.
“Remembering what?” Her curiosity caused her to ask.
“Oh nothing, really.”
Holly’s eyes narrowed, “What?”
“You and the dust bunnies.” He said softly hoping she wouldn’t be upset.
It took Holly a minute to understand and when she did several emotions hit her. Why was he suddenly thinking about their past?
“It was funny.” He whispered.
“Yeah but why on earth were you thinking about that?”
He shook his head. “Don’t know for sure.” He wasn’t about to tell her lately he was thinking a lot about their past. Not wanting her to dwell on it he said softly. “If the way you were laying isn’t comfortable you could stretch out on the other end of the sofa or you could go to bed. I’ll watch over Molly.”
As sweet as it was for him to offer here was no way Holly would go to bed. She wanted to be near Molly in case she woke and her fever returned. Not answering she simply pulled her feet back up and reassuming her previous position leaned against him.
“It really means a lot to us that you’re here.” She whispered closing her eyes.
“Glad to be here.” He answered from his heart.
Holly tried to fall back asleep but his comment about the dust bunnies was running through her mind. He was right, it was a funny memory but at the same time it was a memory that made her feel uncomfortable. It seemed wrong he was remembering that day because while the dust bunnies had been funny what had happened before that…..
July 4th 2007
The party outside was loud and in full swing. Donna had invited her family and friends over for an outdoor BBQ which had been a totally success. Holly had laughed when she and Sonja first arrived a few hours earlier and she’d seen Gerard standing at the grill wearing an apron that said “Kiss the Cook.” As she’d stood before him holding out her plate for a hamburger their eyes had met. “Nice apron.”
“So you wanna?” He whispered.
She gave him a small smile. “You know I do.”
He grinned, placed a burger on her plate then went back to his grilling duty.
After everyone had eaten their fill the guests broke up into groups. Some were simply talking while a lively game of horseshoes was talking place at one end of the yard.
Holly stopped Donna as she was walking by. “Thanks for inviting us.”
Donna smiled over at Sonja who was sitting next to her mom. “Did both of you get enough to eat? There’s still plenty of food left.”
“I’m stuffed.” Sonja answered. “But thanks.”
“Glad you both made it.” Donna answered. “How was the shelter today?” She asked knowing they both had gone there this morning.
“Busy.” Holly answered. “Holiday’s always are.”
“It’s nice you go with your mom.” Donna said with a smile to Sonja.
The teen shrugged. “Hey I kinda like helping out.”
Holly was so proud of her daughter.
“That’s wonderful.” Donna nodded. “Well I’d better go make sure Mikey’s cutting the watermelons.”
“Hey mom is it okay if I leave now?” Sonja asked.
Holly frowned, “Why?” She had believed her daughter was going to stay for the entire party.
“Well I just got a text from Alice and Todd. They’re gonna go to the big fireworks display in Newark and want me to go too.”
“Oh.” Holly frowned.
Before her mother could think too much about this Sonja moved in. “Please Mom. I really want to go. I won’t be out too late, I promise.”
Still Holly wasn’t convinced. She knew earlier in the day Sonja hadn’t been feeling good and had complained her body felt stiff. While both mother and daughter knew this was one of the symptoms of Sonja’s disease they had tried to chalk it up to working at the shelter.
"Please Mom.” Sonja said again.
Holly knew in her heart she had to let her daughter live her life without letting her own fears get in the way. “Promise you’ll be careful?”
Sonja rewarded her with a huge smile, “Promise.” She stood up but before leaving she gave Holly a kiss. “Love you mom.”
Gerard walked up to Holly just as Sonja was leaving. “Hey.” He smiled. “Kid taking off?”
Holly sighed, “Yeah she and some friends are going to the fireworks display in Newark.”
Gerard nodded. “She’ll have fun."
He lowered his voice, “So wanna sneak away for a bit?”
Holly looked over at him. “Don’t think we’ll be missed?”
They walked around to the side of the house then down the basement stairs. As soon as he closed the door behind them Gerard pulled Holly into his arms. “Shit, I’ve wanted to do this all day.” He said nuzzling her neck.
Holly sighed happily. “Yeah we’ll I’ve wanted to kiss the cook since I got here.”
Their lips met urgently. Gerard was trying to control his desire but having Holly’s body pressed against his was making that impossible. “Oh Sugar.” He said as his hands snaked their way under her shirt to cup her breasts. The sound of people upstairs make him curse. Pulling his hands away he rolled his eyes. “Too damn many people.”
Holly smiled, “Yeah, know what you mean.”
He looked into her eyes and saw she was feeling the same passion he felt. Grabbing her hand he led her into his bedroom, closing the door just as Holly surprised him by throwing her arms around his neck. When their lips crashed against each other the rest of the world seemed to disappear.
Never letting each other go they stumbled to the bed. “I want you so damn much.” Gerard ground out as he pulled her shirt over her head. His fingers trembled as he unhooked her bra.
“Oh." Holly moaned closing her eyes as his lips suddenly latched on to her hardened nipple.
Gerard’s tongue swirled a wet path around each nipple as his hand worked on the button of her jeans. “I want to bury myself in you right now.”
His mother’s voice caused his head to shoot up.
“Oh fuck.” He realized he hadn’t locked the bedroom door.
Holly rolled off the bed. “Shit.” She whispered grabbing her shirt just as Donna’s footsteps grew closer. Looking around the room frantically she realized she didn’t have time to make it to the bathroom to hide. Her eyes were huge when the doorknob started to turn. Holly fell to her knees then rolled under the bed just as Gerard sat up. He spotted Holly’s bra on the floor and with his foot pushed it under the bed.
“Yeah?” He asked trying to sound normal. “What’s up, ma?”
“Have you seen Holly and Sonja? I was talking to Mary about St Tim’s and she wants to ask Holly some questions but I can’t find them.”
Gerard forced his mind to work. “Uh I heard Sonja saying she was going to Newark with some friends for the fireworks.”
Donna frowned. “Holly went with her? I can’t believe she’d just leave without saying anything.”
Under the bed Holly was trying desperately not to sneeze. She closed her eyes, scrunched up her nose and prayed Donna would leave.
“She probably just walked Sonja home. Bet she’ll be back soon.”
Donna nodded. “So why are you down here? Mikey’s looking for you.”
“Just wanted to take a breather for a minute. Tell Mikey I’ll be back outside in a minute.”
“Okay.” Donna started to turn. “Sure you’re okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be okay?” Gerard asked slowly.
Donna sighed, “I mean about Eliza.”
“Ma.” Gerard said trying to control his anger. “I don’t wanna talk about that.”
“I know.” His mother said softly. “I just worry.” She smiled, “When you come back out I want you to meet Carla’s daughter. She’s here visiting from LA.”
Gerard inwardly groaned. “Ma, please don’t start that. I don’t want you to try to set me up with anyone.”
Donna leaned against the doorway. “I’m not doing that.” She lied. “I just think it might do you some good to met her. She seems like a nice girl. She just graduated from college a few years ago with a degree in Art.”
He really wanted his mother to leave knowing Holly had to be uncomfortable under the bed and not wanting her to hear this discussion. “Okay, I’ll say hello to her.” He said shortly.
Still Donna didn’t make a move to leave. “Good. Maybe you could take her out to dinner? She’s gonna be in town a few more days.”
“Ma.” Gerard said trying not to sound upset. “I’m not gonna take her out to dinner. I don’t want to take her out to dinner.”
“Gee, you need to move on.” Donna said softly.
“I am.” He replied thinking about the woman he loved who was at this moment under his bed. “I’ve very happy with my life so stop worrying.”
“Can’t.” Donna said smiling, “It’s a mother’s job to worry about her son.”
“Okay well worry outside. I’m just gonna change my shirt.” He said looking down. “Then I’ll be right out.”
Just as Donna started to walk away it happened. Holly sneezed. The sound startled Gerard and Donna turned back around looking confused. Gerard threw his hand over his nose. “Think I’m getting a summer cold.” He muttered.
“Oh I hope not.” Donna answered with concern.
Gerard knew he had to get Holly out from under his bed and now. He stood and was relieved to hear Mikey’s voice upstairs calling for Donna. “Hey tell him I’ll be right up.”
“Okay.” Donna nodded.
As soon as he heard her footsteps reach the steps he closed his door this time remembering to lock it. When he turned he saw Holly roll out from under the bed. He couldn’t help it he burst into laughter.
Holly’s eyes narrowed as she slowly stood. “What’s so funny?”
He tried to stop laughing. “Uh, guess it’s pretty dirty under there.”
Looking across the room Holly caught her reflection in the mirror. “Shit.” She immediately started trying to shake the clumps of dust from her hair. “I was trying so hard not to sneeze.”
Gerard leaned down and picked up her bra. “Sorry.” He said trying to sound sincere but watching Holly as she walked over to the mirror made him simile. Suddenly he was surprised when she turned, grabbed her bra from his fingers then sprinted into the bathroom.
“Holly?” He walked over to the closed door. “What’s wrong?”
Looking at her reflection in the mirror she sighed, “Nothing. I”ll be out in a minute.”
He didn’t believe nothing was wrong, he’d seen the look on her face. “Sugar, talk to me.” Was she upset about his mom trying to fix him up with someone?
A few minutes later she reemerged dressed. “You better go. Mikey’s waiting for you.”
“Not until you tell me who you’re upset. Is it cause Mom almost walked in on us?”
For a moment she simply started at him then her words rushed out in a flurry of emotions. “Well yeah that’s part of it. But damn it I’m too old for this shit.” She shook her head dislodging another dust bunny she missed. As it floated to the floor she continued, “And damn it I know I looked like an idiot standing there topless covered in dusty bunnies. I hate those things.”
He took a step closer. “You looked adorable standing there covered in dust bunnies.”
Holly gave him an incredulous look. “Seriously, how can you say that? Holy shit, Gee.”
He silenced her with a kiss. “Adorable and sexy as hell.” He murmured against her lips.
Holly closed her eyes letting his kiss work it’s magic on her brain. When he released her he smiled,
“Sugar you gotta admit the whole thing was kinda funny.”
“I thought you just said I looked adorable and sexy?”
He nodded, “Oh hell yeah that was true. I’m talking about you hiding under the bed. Shit for a moment I was afraid for you. No telling what’s under there.”
Holly smiled, “Uh, I’m not sure but I think there may be new forms of life growing under there. Oh and by the way there is a bra under there.” She wasn’t going to mention that but it slipped out.
Gerard laughed, “Uh, it’s mine.”
He nodded, “From when I used to dress up in drag.” He answered sounding as if that response made perfect sense.
"You dressed up in drag?” Holly looked at him closely. “Something you want to tell me?”
His laugher was instantaneous. “Not really.”
Shaking her head she grinned, “Bet you make a pretty looking woman.”
Gerard hugged her tightly. “Tonight after everyone is asleep we’re gonna continue where we left off and this time no dust bunnies, I promise.”
He understood her reluctance. “I’ve got an idea just trust me, okay?”
Mischievously she grinned, “Yeah okay but how about tonight you wear the bra?”
“Oh Sugar.” He moaned holding her close. “I will if that means you’re not gonna wear one.”