A change in plans concerning the band sends Gerard's spirits crashing.
“Gots ta go potty.”
He nodded. Looking over he saw that Holly was still asleep. “Climb off my lap and we’ll try not to wake up your mama.” He whispered. Once Molly was standing beside the sofa he moved very slowly allowing Holly’s body to slide down his shoulder. Here eyes suddenly opened slightly. “It’s okay. Go back to sleep. Molly just has to use the bathroom.”
She blinked as her head gently hit the sofa.
“Go back to sleep Holly.” He said touching her cheek. He reached over to pull the blanket up higher over her body.
She smiled knowing that Gerard was taking care of things then drifted back to sleep.
Gerard took Molly’s hand as they started down the hallway. “How you feeling?”
“Nots so dood.”
Gerard noticed that her face now had several red blisters on her cheek. When they reached the bathroom he opened the door. Molly went in and he pulled it closed but remained just on the other side.
“Gee?” She called out.
“Youse still dare?”
He smiled, “Yep I’m here.”
A few minutes later when he heard the toilet flush he pushed open the door to see she was standing at the bathroom sink. He understood she wanted to wash her hands but couldn’t reach the faucets. He lifted her up and held her while she applied soap then ran her hands under the water. “Dare.” She said quite proud she’d remembered her mama always told her to wash her hands after using the potty.
Gerard held the towel while she dried her hands. “It’s still pretty early.” He said. “Wanna go into your room and color so your mama can sleep a bit more?”
Molly nodded. “Otay.”
For the next hour he and Molly colored in the books he’d brought her. He loved watching her as she carefully chose colors. When he sighed Molly looked up.
“Youse otay?” She asked innocently.
He was touched by her concern. “Yep I’m fine. Just sorta missing Baby B.”
Molly nodded, “Mes too.”
They both looked over to see Holly standing in the doorway.
“How long have you guys been awake?”
Gerard glanced at his watch. “About an hour.”
“Thanks for letting me sleep.” Holly yawned.
“Lookie mommie.” Molly held up the picture she’d been working on.
Holly walked over to the bed. “That’s very nice.” She glanced at Gerard’s purple elephant. “Oh that’s nice too.”
He smiled. “Molly said I should make him any color I wanted.”
“Purple is a nice choice.” She reached out to tilt up Molly’s face then frowned at the new pox marks.
“Mes gots new ones.” Molly frowned.
“Are they itching?” Holly asked knowing it was important that Molly resisted the urge to scratch them.
“A wittle. Mes legs scuath too.”
Holly laughed. “Your legs itch. That make you want to scratch.” She explained.
Molly nodded. “Yep.”
“Okay how about we start the day off with a bath in the oatmeal soak?”
Gerard sat up. “While you do that I’ll make breakfast.”
“Gee, it was nice you stayed last night but I’m sure you have things to do today. Molly and I will be fine.”
He frowned. The truth was he really didn’t have anything he’d planned to do because he was supposed to be gone with his family.
Holly saw the unhappiness in his eyes. “But we’d love to have you hang with us.” She said softly.
“Mes wants Gee to stay.” Molly added.
Gerard smiled, “How about pancakes?”
“Otay.” Molly agreed happily.
Holly looked into Gerard’s eyes. “That sounds wonderful.”
“Who you calling?” Mikey asked. He thought they were supposed to be getting ready to go to Kansas City to do some shopping then have lunch at one of Alicia’s favorite restaurants.
“Just want to check on Molly before we go.” Alicia said as she listened to the phone ring.
Mikey sat down on the bed beside her. “Good idea.”
Gerard heard Holly’s phone ringing in the living room. Knowing she was busy giving Molly a bath he tried to decide if he should answer it or not. By the time he’d picked it up and saw it was his sister in law calling the phone went silent.
As he started back towards the kitchen it rang again.
“Shit.” He muttered knowing Alicia would worry that Holly wasn’t answering. He lifted it then pushed the button to connect.
There was silence at the other end.
“Alicia?’ Gerard said knowing he’d shocked her by answering Holly’s phone.
“Yeah?” He walked back to the kitchen. “What’s up?”
“I didn’t mean to call you.” Alicia frowned. “I was trying to call Holly.”
Gerard sighed, “You called Holly’s phone.”
Mikey gave Alicia a confused look. “What’s going on?”
Alicia shook her head. “Gee why do you have Holly’s phone?”
“Cause I’m here at your house.” He said as he opened a cabinet to look for a proper skillet.
“Uh why? You’re supposed to be at Lindsey’s folk’s house.”
Gerard found what he was looking for then placed it on the stove top. “Change in plans.” He said quickly not wanting to go into detail about how Lindsey hadn’t wanted him to go. “So they went and I stayed here. Lindsey’s the one who told me Molly had the chicken pox.”
“Yeah, Holly called and told her.” Alicia said trying to sort all of this out.
“Yeah, she did.” Gerard confirmed. “Lindsey’s the one who suggested I come over and give Holly a hand.”
Alicia knew something wasn’t right but for the moment tried to ignore that feeling. “Oh well, so how’s Molly today?”
“She seems a bit better but…” He laughed. “She says she’s scratchy.”
Alicia smiled, “Oh they are starting to itch.”
“Yep.” Gerard said. “So Holly’s giving her a bath in some oatmeal shit that’s supposed to help with that and I’m making breakfast.”
“Oh you got there early.” Alicia said calculating the time difference between Missouri and LA.
Gerard was wishing he hadn’t answered the phone. “Actually I stayed here last night. Molly was pretty sick. Hell at one point she puked on me.”
Mikey was wondering what he brother was saying that was making Alicia look so confused.
“But she’s better?” Alicia asked.
“Yep. Hey I’ve got to get this pancake mix ready. I’ll have Holly call you if you want.”
“No, that’s okay.” Alicia said slowly. “I really just wanted to check on Molly. We’re going into KC today. I’ll give Holly a call later tonight.”
After she’d disconnected Mikey started questioning her.
“What the hell is going on? Why’s Gee in LA?”
Alicia shook her head. “I’m not sure. All he said was that there was a change in plans.”
“And he’s at our house helping Holly?”
“He spent the night with them.” Alicia answered frowning. “He said Molly was pretty sick last night.”
“Well then I guess it was good he was there.” Mikey said, “But why the hell didn’t he go with Lindsey?”
“Maybe they had another fight.” Alicia guessed.
“Shit.” Mikey said sadly. He noticed Alicia still looked very concerned. “What are you thinking?”
Alicia really didn’t want to tell him so she shrugged.
Mikey thought a minute. “You think it’s bad he stayed there last night? You think it would bother Lindsey?”
Alicia sighed, “No not really. He said that Lindsey’s the one who suggested he go over and give Holly a hand taking care of M.”
“So what’s wrong?”
“Look it’s nothing.” Alicia said forcing a smile.
“Oh no, I know that look. What’s going on?”
“I wasn’t even gonna mention this.” Alicia said slowly. “But ….” She told him about the picture that had been posted of Gerard and Holly skating. She also told him about some of the comments. A friend had sent her an e-mail with the link.
“Fuck.” Mikey said angrily. “What a load of crap.” He paused, “Shit, Eliza’s behind it, ain’t she?”
“That would be my guess.”
“Gee and Holly are old friends.” Mikey sighed, “Everyone who really knows them gets that.”
“I know.” Alicia said. “But what worries me is if Holly finds out about it how she will react. Shit for that matter what would Lindsey think?”
“Well I hope Lindsey would understand.” Mikey said, “I’m sure Gee told her about us taking M up to Bear Lake.”
“Yeah but to be honest the picture, if you didn’t know the truth, does look sorta bad.”
“Hey Lindsey likes Holly. She knows that she and Gerard are just friends.”
“I’m probably worrying about nothing.” Alicia said tying to convince herself more than her husband. “But I’m still worried about how Holly would view it. She wouldn’t want people thinking Gerard would cheat on his wife.”
“Well he’s not so there’s nothing to worry about.” He frowned, “Except the fact that my brother and his wife obviously have some serious problems with their marriage.”
They both heard Alicia’s mom calling for them.
“We gotta go.” Alicia said standing.
Mikey gave her a quick hug. “Lets forget about this for now. We’re here to have a good time.”
“I agree.” Alicia smiled. Still in the back of her mind she couldn’t help but feel there was trouble brewing.
Gerard carefully poured syrup onto Molly’s pancake. “There, how’s that?”
“Dood.” Molly smiled.
He glanced over at Holly. “Uh Alicia called while you were giving Molly a bath.”
She wondered why his voice sounded strange. Then it hit her. “You answered it?”
He nodded, as he was poring syrup on his own short stack. “Yeah.”
They both understood they needed to be carefully speaking in front of Molly.
“What did she say?” Holly asked.
“She just called to check on Molly. I told her I was here helping out.”
Holly took a sip of coffee. “Didn’t think you wanted anyone to know you were in LA?”
He nodded, “Yeah well I figured that info would get out anyway.” He glanced over at Molly who was enjoying her pancake.
“That’s true.” Holly said softly.
He didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable about the situation. “I explained how Lindsey called and told me about M having chicken pox." He paused then added softly,” and how she suggested I come over.”
His phone rang ending the discussion. “Gotta take this.” He said as soon as he’d pulled the phone from his pocket.
Holly continued to eat slowly but from the snippets of conversation she was overheard Gerard was upset about something. When he returned to the table it was to grab his cup of coffee.
“Gee aren’t you gonna finish eating?” Holly asked.
“No, I’ve lost my appetite.” The anger in his voice was apparent.
He had intended to make the phone calls that were necessary but the concern on her face made him pause. Heavily he sat back down at the table. “We’re not gonna play Times Square.”
He tired to control his anger. “Hey guess we’re just not a big enough draw now. Instead we have to fly out to New York on Wednesday night and tape some songs they’re gonna show on New Years Eve.”
“That sucks.” Holly said softly.
Gerard shook his head in disgust. “Hey, for sure. And now I’ve got to call the guys and tell them.”
“Poor Mikey. He and Alicia are supposed to get home Wed afternoon.”
Gerard sighed, “He’ll probably just catch a flight from there. That would be easier. I’m not sure what kind of problem this will present for Ray.”
“I’m really sorry.” Holly said softly.
He glanced into her eyes. “Yeah, me too. But then it’s my fault.”
“No, it’s not.” Holly answered quickly.
“Sure it is. The new album ain’t doing good and that’s my fault. The new direction was my idea.”
“Gee your fans like it.” Holly said trying to be positive.
He looked at her closely. “Be honest have you even heard the new album?”
She couldn’t lie to him. “Only the singles on the radio.”
His face fell. “Yeah, I figured that.” He shook his head. “Man and to think how many times you listened to the last one.”
“That was a different time for me.” Holly said looking down at her plate.
Gerard stood. “I’m gonna go make the calls.”
It broke Holly’s heart as she watched him leave the room looking like a man who had been defeated.
“We’re gonna have to change our plans.” Ray said finding Christa in the kitchen. “I just got off the phone with Gee. Now we’re not gonna play Times Square. They just want us to fly out Wednesday and tape a few songs that are gonna be shown New Years Eve.”
“What?” Christa said looking up from the cup of tea she was steeping.
“Yeah.” Ray sat down at the breakfast bar. He explained about Gerard’s phone call.
“How the hell can they just change the plan like that?” Christa asked angrily.
“They can do anything they want.” Ray said tiredly. “You know I sorta expected something like this to happen.”
Christa thought a minute. “What about Mikey? When are they supposed to be back?"
“Gee called him first. He’s gonna just catch a flight from Missouri. Alicia is gonna come back Wednesday afternoon like they’d planned.”
“You mean Alicia, Holly and M.”
He shook his head. “No, M came down with the chicken pox so they didn’t’ go.”
“What? How come no one told me?”
Ray shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe because it happened at the last minute. Gee said that Molly woke up with them yesterday morning.”
“Well you think Holly would have called me. I should go over there and see if there’s anything I can do to help.”
Ray shook his head. “Actually she has help. That’s where Gee called from.”
“What?” Christa said in shock. “He’s supposed to be with Lindsey at her parent’s house.”
“I sorta got the impression from what he said that Lindsey changed her mind at the last minute and didn’t want him to go.”
“And Holly knew and asked him to come over?”
“I don’t know about that he didn’t say.” Ray shrugged.
“Something seems wrong.” Christa said picking up her phone. “I’m gonna call Holly.”
“You could.” Ray said slowly. “But it’s kinda none of our business and the mood Gerard is in might make it a bad idea.”
“He’s really upset about this taping, isn’t he?”
“Yeah.” Ray answered. “I am too.”
“Oh you know how things change.” Christa said trying to downplay the whole thing. “Besides if that just means we can spend a quiet New Years Eve together.”
“Sure, Babe.” He said with a slight smile, “That will be nice.”
Molly had just finished eating when Gerard returned from making his phone calls. “I’m gonna head home now.”
Holly had expected this but had hoped it wouldn’t happen. He was very upset and she hated to think of him alone at a time like this. “Oh, will you be back?”
He shrugged, “I dunno.”
“Well.” Holly said, “It’s time for someone to lie back down and rest. She got up pretty early.”
At once Molly grew objected. She was feeling sick again and didn’t want Gerard to leave. “No, mes donts wanna takes a nap. Me donts want Gee to weave.”
“Honey, he’s got stuff he has to do.” Holly said softly. “But you should thank him for coming by and staying with us.”
Molly broke into tears. “Gee pwese stay.”
Gerard tried to ignore her tears. “Hey M I’m sorry but I really do have some stuff I have to do at home.”
She continued to cry.
Gerard gave Holly a pleading look.
“Honey tell Gee goodbye.” She urged the little girl.
Molly pulled her hand away and ran to him. Gerard scooped her into his arms.
“How about if I tuck you in for your nap?” He hoped that would appease her a bit.
“Otay.” Molly said as her little arms tightened around his neck.
Holly stayed behind in the kitchen. When Gerard returned several minutes later he was frowning.
“I didn’t mean to upset her.”
“It’s worse because she feel so bad.” Holly explained softly.
He nodded. "Yeah, well I see you’ve got my clothes ready.” He’d spotted them folded on the kitchen table.
“All clean, no sign of puck.” Holly teased.
“Thanks.” He picked them up. “Uh call me if you need anything okay?”
Holly nodded. “Call me if you need anything.”
Their eyes met. “I just need some time to myself.” He said softly.
“Okay.” Holly paused, “Just remember you know where to come if you need to talk.”
“I know.” He nodded. “Take care of M. Hope she feels better soon.” He started for the door.
He turned around.
“I’m sure if I heard the whole album I’d love it.”
He shook his head. “I doubt it.”
“I don’t.” Holly spoke from her heart. “I love your voice.”
He forced himself not to let her words affect him. “See ya, Holly.”
Alicia pulled Mikey aside as soon as they’d returned from shopping. She knew he was trying to keep up a positive attitude but Gerard’s phone call had upset him.
“Tell me what you’re thinking?” She urged as they set down in the living room.
“What I’m thinking?”
“Mikey I can tell you’re upset. Is it because of the taping? Do you want me to go with you?”
He sighed, ‘No, you should fly back to LA tomorrow. I mean if Holly wasn’t there and M wasn’t sick that would be different. Besides I’m not really upset I’m more worried than anything. Gee sounded really bad when he called.”
“He’s upset about the change?”
“Yeah, he’s looking at it as almost a slap by the record company because of the new albums disappointing sales.”
“Do you think that’s what it is?” She asked softly.
Mikey shrugged. “Yeah, it seems like it and as much as I hate that I can kinda understand but not Gee. He’s blaming himself and I know it.” He paused, “And shit this came at such a bad time. At least if he was with Lindsey and Bandit maybe it wouldn’t have affected him so much.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Alicia nodded.
“I just worry about him being alone.”
Alicia lowered her voice. “You’re worried about him drinking.”
Mikey nodded slowly. “Yeah.”
“Is he still at our house with Holly and M?” Alicia asked.
“Don’t think so. He said he was going to go home and take care of some stuff. I wish he had stayed.”
Alicia knew what he was thinking. “Mikey it’s not Holly’s job to watch over him. I’m sure she had enough stress right now taking care of M.”
He frowned, “That’s true but still I’d rather he be with them than alone.”
“Why don’t you give him a call?”
Mikey stood. “Yeah, I think I will.” He headed to the guest bedroom so he could speak in private.
Gerard looked down at his cell. He pressed the ignore button but immediately felt guilty. He knew his brother was concerned about him but right now he just didn’t want to talk.
Walking through the silent house he made his way into the study then sat down behind his desk. With a sigh he pulled the whiskey bottle out of the bottom drawer and unscrewed the cap. For several minutes he simply sat looking at the bottle. Suddenly he placed the cap back on then lowered his head.
“Drinking is just an escape.” He whispered.
Still he needed an escape from his thoughts. For the first time since he’d started the band he was worried about its future. He was worried about his future.
He closed his eyes and chose to escape the only other way he knew how, into the past. A memory of the past that was a happier time.
July 4th 2007
Once he had everything ready he’d sent Holly a text. Now as he waited he noticed the air still contained the scent of the fireworks that had filled the day. The smell made him smile. It had been one of the best 4th of July’s he could remember and that was simply because of Holly.
He heard a door close up the street so he strained his eyes watching. It was very late and the street was deserted. A moment he saw her figure walking down the sidewalk.
As she approached he tossed away the cigarette. “Hey." He whispered.
“Hey.” Holly smiled. “I tried to get here earlier but Sonja was still awake.”
“She have a good time at the fireworks display?”
Holly’s smile slipped for a moment. “I’m not sure. I kinda thought something was wrong when she first got home but when I asked she said everything was okay.”
“You know how teens are.” He pulled Holly into his arms. “They thrive on drama.”
Holly tried to let go of her worries. “Yeah, that’s true. So what’s this big surprise?”
He grinned. “Well I figured after today’s little incident with mom you’d feel uncomfortable in the house.”
Holly rolled her eyes. “Yeah having your mom almost walk in on us was a bit stressful. I’m still finding dust bunnies in my hair.”
He laughed then took her hand. “Come on.”
Quietly they walked around to the garage door.
“Uh, what are we doing?” Holly asked as he pulled her inside the dark garage.
“Gonna make out." He said closing the door behind them.
“In the garage?”
He felt so happy to have her near he couldn’t stop from grinning. “Yeah, how about we make out in the backseat of mom’s car?"
“Okay how about no.” Holly shook her head.
Gerard laughed, “I’m teasing you. I’ve got a much better place.” In the dark he held her hand tight as he led her to a small staircase. Once they reached the top of the stairs he whispered. “Don’t move.”
Holly wasn’t about to move. It was dark and she couldn’t see a thing. She heard the sound of his lighter and a moment later her eyes started to adjust to the small amount of light given off by the candle. “Oh.” She smiled as she saw the small attic above the garage was small but clean. She also saw the sleeping bag on the floor by the candle. Gerard held his hand out to her.
“Our own hideaway.” He smiled.
Slowly she made her way towards him. “This is nice.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I thought about it and decided we needed a place where we can just be together and not worry about being interrupted.
They both sat down on the sleeping bag.
“So what do you think?” He asked reaching out to touch her cheek.
“I like.” Holly smiled. “A lot.” Her lips parted and she ran her fingers through his thick black hair.
His mouth opened on hers, forcing her lips apart, penetrating deeply in an assault that was all wind tenderness. He’d ached for Holly since this afternoon and now she was here, they were here alone. His hands slid under her tee shirt to cup her warm breasts. She trembled then moaned softly.
“Holly.” He breathed her name. His thumbs edged over the taunt peaks in a lazy, maddening rhythm and all the time he looked at her watching her reaction to him. “You like this, Sugar.”
“Oh yes." The fire in her eyes flashed. “I love your touch. It makes me feel…” Her mouth snapped shut.
“What Sugar? How does my touch make you feel?"
Her eyes dropped. “It makes me feel desirable.” She whispered embarrassed to admit the truth.
“You have no idea just how desirable you are.” He wanted her to understand. “Holly look at me.”
When her eyes met his he smiled, "Sugar today was agony for me. I’d see you and suddenly I wanted to touch you so bad it hurt.”
He wanted to erase all the insecurities from her mind. “Yeah, really. But as much as I wanted to touch you I wanted more than just this..” He removed his hands from her breast and sat back. “Yeah I wanted you physically but more than that I just wanted to be with you like this. I wanted to be alone with you.” He shook his head smiling. “You touch my heart and that is the truth.”
“Gee I feel the same way.’ She said softly. “And it scares me.”
“Why?” He titled his head. “I don’t understand.”
She wished for once she could just stop thinking and enjoy the moment but the unhappiness in her past made it impossible. “I’m afraid this feeling will pass and I’ll be alone again.”
He shook his head. “It won’t.” As much as he wanted to make love to her he understood it wasn’t what she needed right now. Slowly he laid back on the sleeping bag then held out his hand. “Lay by me.” He whispered. When she had stretched out next to him he hugged her tightly. “Holly as long as we love each other we’ll be okay.”
She wanted so desperately to believe him.
“It will.” He said turning his head to kiss her gently.
Gerard lifted his head to stare at the whiskey bottle. How naive he’d been. He’d truly believed that the love he felt for Holly could conquer all their problems.
“Fuck.” He whispered. "And as soon as those problems came I did what I always do, I ran. I fuckin’ ran and left Holly alone.”
Angrily he twisted the cap of the bottle opening it again.
“Mes hot.” Molly cried.
Holly placed the cold washcloth gently against her forehead. “I know baby. But the medicine will start working soon." She prayed Molly didn’t hear the fear in her voice. Molly’s fever had returned almost fifteen minutes ago and as of yet the fever reducer hadn’t started to work.
“Mommy mes feels sick.” Molly moaned her glassy eyes wide.
“Let me hold her for a while.”
Holly looked up in shock. “Gee."
He smiled at Molly who was holding out her arms to him. He lifted her gently then walked over to the recliner. “Sorry you feel bad." He said in a soothing tone. “But it’s okay. Pretty soon you’re gonna start feeling all better.”
Molly smiled. “Otay Gee. Mes beweves youse.”
Across the room Holly blinked back tears. “You came back.” She whispered.
“Yeah.” Gerard said softly. “I figured you guys might need me.”
It pained her to admit it but the truth could not be denied. “We do."
He soothed Molly’s damp hair back from her forehead.
“Mes luvs youse Gee.” She smiled.
“Love you too, M.” He answered. “Now close your eyes and try to rest. I’ve got you.”
Holly felt a tear roll down her cheek which she quickly brushed away but not before Gerard saw it.