Lindsey's discussion with Holly is disturbing. Then Holly and Christa make a fateful decision.
Lindsey shook her head, “Nope, just got here a few minutes ago.”
The waitress appeared to take their orders. Both women chose only coffee.
“So.” Holly said slowly. “What do you want to talk to me about?”
Lindsey glanced out the front windows of the diner instead of looking at Holly. “I’m guessing you took care of my husband last night?”
Holly found the question unsettling. “Uh, I helped Alicia deal with the guys when she got home.”
“Figured that.” Lindsey said still gazing out at the sunshine beyond the window. “Ain’t right.”
Holly didn’t know how to respond.
“Guess he was pretty fucked up, right?”
“Yeah.” Holly admitted, “He was very drunk.”
Lindsey sighed, “Let me guess he probably told you I hit him.”
Holly sighed, “Lindsey what goes on between you two isn’t any of my business.”
“In a way it is.” Lindsey said slowly turning her gaze from the window to look into Holly’s eyes.
“I don’t understand.” Holly felt very confused by this discussion.
Instead of answering Lindsey reached for her phone that was sitting on the table. A minute later she turned it so Holly could see the photo.
“Oh." Holly was shocked to be staring at a picture of her and Gerard ice skating.
“I thought you should see this.” Lindsey said softly. “At first I didn’t think so but I changed my mind.”
“That was taken up at Bear Lake. Gee went with us that day.” She looked into Lindsey’s eyes. “Molly was out on the ice with us.”
Lindsey set the phone down. “Holly I’m not accusing you of anything. I know when the photo was taken.”
“I don’t understand.” Holly said slowly, a feeling of dread suddenly filled her. “Where is that photo from?”
“It’s been posted on several sites.” Lindsey admitted.
‘But why? And who posted it?”
“Best guess it was posted to stir up shit.” Lindsey sighed, “Pretty sure good old Eliza is behind it.”
“To stir up shit?” Holly was growing upset. “Why?”
“Because for some reason the woman hates you. You have to know that. I’m sure she thought by posting the picture and several comments about it that it would cause trouble.”
“But it’s an innocent photo.” Holly said.
“I showed you this because I like you. What I’m gonna tell you is for the same reason.” Lindsey said. She paused as the waitress set down their coffee. Once she had walked away Lindsey continued. “I’m gonna tell Gee I want a divorce.”
Holly who had been in the process of lifting her coffee cup almost dropped it. “Oh, Lindsey.”
Lindsey shook her head, “I didn’t ask you here to talk about that. There isn’t anything to be said about it.”
“I still don’t understand.” Holly said feeling her stomach churning.
Lindsey sighed. “At first I just glanced at the picture but after Christmas Eve something about it started to bother me. So I looked at it again.” She took a sip of coffee to gather her thoughts. “What I see in his eyes is something you need to be aware of.”
Holly fought her instinct to bolt from the coffee shop.
“The way he’s looking at you.” Lindsey said softly. “I can see it in his eyes. He’s attracted to you Holly.”
Holly began to shake her head. “There is nothing going on between us.”
Lindsey nodded, “I believe that. You aren’t the kind of woman who would allow anything to happen between herself and a married man.”
“He loves you.” Holly said softly.
“He did once upon a time.” Lindsey said looking down. “And I loved him with my whole heart.”
“Then you should try to get that feeling back.” Holly said quickly. “Maybe counseling will help.”
Lindsey smiled sadly. “God, you spend your whole life trying to fix other peoples problems. Well this is one that can’t be fixed. Besides I told you that’s not why I wanted to talk to you.”
“Okay, you’re really confusing me.” Holly admitted.
Lindsey sat back. “Look, I really like you. In the short time I’ve known you I already consider you a good friend. So I feel I should warn you.”
“Warn me?” Holly’s voice slightly shook.
“Yeah about Gee and how he is. You don’t know him like I do, Holly. I know how his mind works. He knows we are finished and in his mind he’s already making plans for that eventuality. He’ll turn to you Holly, I just know it.”
This conversation was becoming almost more than Holly could bear. She understood Lindsey had no idea the kind of relationship she and Gerard had once shared still it was difficult to sit there and pretend she was surprised by what Lindsey was saying.
“That won’t happen.” Holly whispered.
Lindsey shook her head, “I’m sure of it. He can’t be alone for any length of time. Shit, just think about how quickly he and I hooked up after he dumped Eliza.”
A voice inside Holly’s head was taunting her – just think how quickly he hooked up with Lindsey after you. She blinked trying to block out that thought.
Watching her face Lindsey believed Holly still didn’t understand. “It’s true. We got married just short of three months after he broke it off with Eliza. He was engaged to her for fucks sake.”
“Do you regret marrying him?" Holly asked.
Lindsey shook her head, “I’ll never regret that. I have my Baby B.” She added softly, “And I did love him.”
Holly twisted her hands in her lap nervously. “So you believe he would just hook up with me because it’s convenient?”
“I think he’s attracted to you now as more than a friend so yeah, I think he’ll want to hook up with you.” She took a sip of coffee, “I think I’m saying all of this wrong. Look, I’m just telling you this because to be honest I think you have enough problems in your life without adding Gee and his to it. His drinking is out of control but he won’t stop. Like me you have a little girl you need to think of. I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Thank you for that.” Holly said knowing she needed to end this conversation. “But this is all a mute point. I’m leaving for home tomorrow.”
Lindsey gave her a shocked look, "You’re leaving tomorrow? I didn’t think you were going home yet?”
“Some things came up I have to deal with.” Holly lied.
“But is Molly up to the trip?”
“She’s much better.” Holly answered. It unnerved her that Lindsey seemed to be staring at her.
“Why now?” Holly repeated.
“Why so sudden? Shit this isn’t because of what I just said is it?”
Holly shook her head, “No, of course not. I just need to get home.”
"Really if this is because of what I said about Gee I’m sorry. I just don’t want to see you drowned by all his problems. You deserve a man you loves you and wants to be with you not needs to be with you. Do you understand what I mean?”
Sadly Holly understood completely. “I understand.” She forced herself to smile. “And thank you for your concern but don’t worry. I’m going home and nothing will stop me.”
Lindsey nodded, “Good.”
They spoke for several more minutes before Holly said she needed to get going. She explained that she had several errands to run before meeting up with Christa at the shelter. As Lindsey watched her walk away a strange feeling she didn’t understand filled her mind. Something in the way Holly had reacted seemed wrong but for the life of her she couldn’t understand why she felt that way. If she wasn’t so sure in her heart about Holly and the kind of woman she was she’d think that maybe something more had been going on between her and Gee. No, she thought that can’t be it. Every instinct she had told her Holly wouldn’t have anything to do with a married man. Still something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
Christa cast a quick glance over at Holly while she continued to serve. What she saw worried her. Holly’s hands were shaking and her eyes looked haunted. Unfortunately Ray had dropped her off a little after noon so she hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to Holly before they started serving lunch. Now she wished she had been giving the opportunity to talk to her because it was blatantly obvious something was wrong.
Holly once more reminded herself to smile. She knew Christa kept glancing over at her and she didn’t want her friend to worry.
“Hello, dear.” An older woman said bringing Holly’s attention back to the task at hand. “How are you today?”
“I’m just fine, Marian. How are you?” Holly asked.
“Well my arthritis is acting up but other than that I’m okay. It’s always good to see your smiling face here.”
Holly scooped a large dollop of mashed potatoes on Marian’s plate. “Well it’s always good to see you.”
Marian smiled then continued down the line.
Holly continued to smile as she served. Christa could see that smile didn’t reach her eyes.
Once all the patrons were served Holly took off her apron quickly. She walked over to Christa. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Christa nodded thinking Holly was going to use the restroom before they started with the cleanup but was surprised when she saw her walk over to Joan.
For several minutes they chatted as Christa tried to inconspicuously watch the conversation. It seemed to her that something Holly was saying caused Joan to lose her smile. Finally Christa’s curiosity won out. She walked over towards the two women catching part of their conversation.
“Well certainly miss you here.” Joan said reaching out to give Holly a quick hug. “This place would be a lot better with more volunteers like you.”
Holly noticed Christa was standing nearby. “I’ll make sure Arthur gets in touch with Camille.” She said quickly.
“That would be wonderful.” Joan nodded. “Well better get back to work.”
As soon as she walked off Christa spoke to Holly. “What was that all about?”
“Just saying goodbye.” Holly said moving back towards the line.
“Goodbye?” Christa repeated.
Holly nodded, “Yeah, Molly and I are going home tomorrow.”
“What? You’re going home? But what about New Years Eve? I thought you and Molly were coming over? Didn’t Alicia talk to you about that?”
Pulling out the almost empty mashed potato pan Holly sighed, “Something’s come up and we need to get home.”
Christa placed her hand on Holly arm. “Please tell me what’s going on? Maybe I can help.”
Holly was struggling to keep her emotions in check. After last night with Gee and this mornings discussion with Lindsey she it was a struggle she was afraid she’d lose. “Nothing is wrong.” She said giving Christa a fake smile. “We just have to get home.”
Christa understood this was not a good time to talk but she had to ask, “Holly you’re not gonna disappear again are you? Please just tell me that’s not gonna happen.”
“It won’t happen.” Holly promised. “You know where I live now. Maybe you and Ray can come a visit us.” She said hoping Christa would accept the offer as a sign she was being honest.
Christa nodded then turned back to the line to grab and empty pan. She intended to talk to Holly once they were done.
When the last of the pans were washed Holly and Christa started for the door. “Holly, lets go grab some coffee before you take me home.”
Holly was about to offer and excuse why she couldn’t when Joan’s voice stopped them.
“I was wondering if it wouldn’t be too much trouble could you take this paperwork over to Safe Harbor.” Joan asked holding out a large folder.
Holly inwardly groaned. She had planned on dropping Christa off at home before heading down to the other shelter.
“Sure.” Holly took the folder from her hand. “No problem.”
Joan smiled her thanks before turning to leave.
“You’re going to Safe Harbor now?” Christa asked as they walked out into the bright sunlight.
“After I drop you off at home.” Holly answered fishing her car keys out of her bag.
“I’ll go with you.” Christa said in determination. She didn’t want Holly going alone and she figured it would give them time to talk.
“That’s not necessary.” Holly said as she unlocked the car.
Christa wasn’t about to take no for an answer. “Didn’t say it was necessary. I said it’s what I’m gonna do.”
Holly slipped into the driver’s seat then sighed. “I don’t need a babysitter.” She said as she started the car.
Christa reached out and touched her arm gently. “No you don’t need a babysitter but I think you could really use a friend right now.”
When Gerard made his way into the kitchen it was almost two in the afternoon. He ignored the glare his sister in law cast in his direction as he made his way over to the coffee pot.
“It’s from this morning.” Alicia said as he poured a cup.
“It’s fine.” Gerard muttered. His head was pounding and the last thing he wanted was for Alicia to start bitching at him. He turned to face her. “So where is everybody?”
Mikey is out back with the girls.” Alicia answered pouring herself a glass of ice water.
“So Lindsey didn’t pick up Bandit?”
“Holly offered to take Bandit to her but she said she’d pick her up later.”
Gerard frowned. “What?”
Alicia rolled her eyes. “Has your hearing gone bad? I said Holly offered to take her because she was meeting Lindsey this morning but she said she’d pick B up later.”
He took a sip of the very strong brew. “Hold on I don’t get it. Holly and Lindsey got together this morning?”
Alicia drummed her fingernails on the table causing Gerard to cringe. “Yeah, Lindsey called her this morning saying she wanted to talk to her.”
“How the hell should I know?” Alicia stood up. “All I do know is I’m still pissed about last night. Not that you care.” She sailed past him giving him one more angry look.
Gerard leaned against the counter trying to clear his mind. What the hell was going on? Why did Lindsey want to talk to Holly? Suddenly he had a very bad feeling. He pulled out his cell and tried to call his wife. As he’d expected she didn’t answer. Making his way outside he saw that Mikey was out in the grassy area playing with the girls. Alicia was watching from the shaded patio.
“Now what?” She asked.
Gerard sat down heavily on the metal chair. “Uh you said Lindsey called his morning?”
“So Holly’s not back yet?”
“She was meeting Christa at the shelter to serve lunch. She said she’d be back after that.”
“Oh.” He lifted his phone to make another call when Alicia spoke up quickly.
“Just leave Holly alone, Gee.”
Anger coursed through him. “What?”
“You heard me, leave her alone. After the shit she put up with from you last night she don’t need you bothering her.”
A feeling of dread came over him. He tried unsuccessfully to recall what had happened when they’d gotten home. “What shit?”
“God you’re such a piece of work.” Alicia said finally allowing her anger to be released. “Yeah, it was just great Molly got to see you puking your guts out.”
A small bit of memory forced it’s way to the surface of his brain. “Fuck." He whispered.
Alicia shook her head, “Gee why are you doing this? Can’t you see how much you’re hurting yourself and everyone who loves you?”
He couldn’t deal with this now. Standing up he walked back into the house.
Ray had just read the text Christa sent when his phone rang. “Hey, Gee.”
“Hey, I was wondering if Christa is back from the shelter yet?”
The question surprised Ray. “Uh no. Actually she just sent me a text that’s kinda upsetting. Holly was supposed to bring her home after they served lunch down at Helping Hands but now they’re headed down to East Compton to Safe Harbor. You know I really don’t like Christa going down there.”
Gerard ran his hand over his face in frustration. “Yeah, I know what you mean. Where are you right now?" He asked an idea forming in his brain.
“Just left Jones Music.”
Gerard thought quickly. “I’m at Mikey’s. Why don’t you swing by and pick me up. We can meet up with them at the shelter. That way you can take Christa home from there and Holly can give me a ride home.”
Ray frowned, “Why?”
“Well I need to talk to Holly and besides we can make sure they’re okay.”
“I suppose that’s a good idea.” Ray said making a turn that would lead him in the direction of Mikey’s house. “I’ll call Christa and tell her what we’re doing so we don’t miss them.”
“Great, see you in a few.” Gerard said before disconnecting. This would work out perfectly. It would give him the time he needed to talk to Holly. The last thing he wanted was for Lindsey to be poisoning her mind against him and that was something he was afraid was happening.
“Hey, Honey.” Christa answered happily.
“I’m picking up Gee and we’re heading down to the shelter.”
Christa wasn’t sure but for some reason she just knew she didn’t want Holly to hear this piece of information. As of yet she hadn’t gotten Holly to admit what was wrong but she had a feeling Gerard had something to do with it. Alicia had called her after Holly left his morning so she knew what had heard all about last night. “Oh, why?”
“His idea, really.” Ray admitted. “He said he needs to talk to Holly. Anyway that will keep her from having to drive you home.”
“Oh okay.” Christa answered but she was suddenly distracted by what she saw looking over at Holly. Her hands were shaking even though she was gripping the steering wheel tightly. “Uh, see you in a bit.” She said then disconnected quickly, "Holly, what’s wrong?”
Holly sighed, “Just a bit shaky. Guess I should have eaten something.”
“You haven’t eaten anything today?”
“Just had lots of coffee.” Holly admitted.
Christa spotted a fast food place just up the road. “Hey, lets hit that drive thru.” She suggested knowing Holly needed to eat something. She now looked even paler than she had before. “I’m sorta hungry.” She lied.
Holly really didn’t want to stop but she was starting to feel sick to her stomach. “Yeah, okay.” She reluctantly agreed.
Christa was relieved she had agreed. This way it would allow the guys more time to get to the shelter because she had the feeling that if Holly knew what Gerard was planning she would balk at the idea.
A half hour later when they neared the shelter Holly was starting to feel better. Lately she found that when she didn’t eat she started to get sick to her stomach and shaky. While part of her understood this was a bad sign until now she’d simply ignored the symptoms.
They circled the lot but unfortunately there were no vacant parking spaces.
“Guess we’ll have to park down the road a bit.” Holly sighed.
“Yeah, I think you’re right.” Christa nodded her eyes scanning the lot but seeing no sign of Ray’s car.
Two blocks down Holly finally found a parking spot. Christa got out first while Holly reached back to grab the founder Joan had asked her to deliver to the shelter. The sound of a male voice started Holly as she prepared to get out of the car.
“Well lookie here. These two fine ladies seem to be lost.”
Quickly Holly got out of the car and saw that three men had Christa surrounded on the sidewalk. She slammed the door closed then hurried towards her friend. She could see the fear in Christa’s eyes.
“What’s wrong, Baby.” One of the men taunted Christa.
Holly spoke up. “We’re on our way to Safe Harbor.”
When the man turned his attention to her she could see the look in his eyes. His whole body was twitching, his eyes vacant. Holly knew he was high. “Is that a fact?” He grinned. “You two don’t look like you’ve missed any meals. Why you going there?”
Christa spoke softly understanding the danger she and Holly were facing. “We don’t want any trouble.”
“Trouble.” Another man laughed, “Baby you might not want it but you found it.” He moved closer and touched Christa’s arm. She tried to take a step back but the third man was now behind her.
“Please.” Holly said in what she hoped was a calm voice. “We need to be going.”
“That’s a fine car you got there.” The first man answered ignoring her plea. “Maybe we could all go for a ride?”
“Yeah, a ride.” One of the others echoed.
Christa slowly moved her hand towards her purse but it was roughly grabbed from her shoulder by the man behind her.
“What you tryin’ to do?" He taunted while pulling the purse open. “You looking for this?” He laughed as he held up the can of mace.
Christa’s actions had enraged the man standing in front of her. “You bitches are all alike. Come down here to help out us poor folks.”
Holly tried to control the fear that was flooding through her body. “Please.” She said again. “We don’t mean any harm.”
“Whatever bitch.” He sneered.
Holly gasped when she saw the knife in his hand.
"Yeah, that’s right, bitch. You be afraid.”
“Take whatever you want.” Christa’s voice shook.
“Plannin’ on it.” The man who was standing behind her suddenly moved towards Holly. “We’ll take whatever the fuck we want.” He grabbed Holly’s bag. She offered no resistance.
“Hey. That’s a nice ring you got there pretty lady.” The man holding the knife suddenly said spotting Christa’s wedding ring.
Christa’s eyes filled with tears.
The man behind Holly spoke up. “Yeah, that is nice.” He laughed.
Holly twisted her head slightly and could see he too now held a knife. Her mind was suddenly on sensory overload. How could this be happening, it was broad daylight but those who passed moved by quickly not stopping.
“I want that ring.” The man sneered.
Christa had slipped her hand into her pocket.
"Give it to me now bitch.” He moved towards her, the knife blade gleaming in the bright sunlight.