The farewell was an emotional one for Alicia and Christa who had gone to the hospital the morning Holly was to be released. Sadly Holly showed little if any emotion. That was until Alicia handed her a small box.
“This is from Hal.” She’d explained. “Since Mikey has been gone me and M go over and see him almost everyday.” She lowered her voice. “I know he’d like to come and see you but he can’t make himself leave his house.”
Holly had stared at the box. “Hal is afraid to leave.”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, that’s true. But he always asks about you and this morning since he knew you are going to Chicago he gave me this to give to you. I don’t know exactly what it is but he said it belonged to his wife and that she told him it always had brought her luck.”
Slowly Holly had opened the box. Inside was a delicate rose gold cross on a thin chain. “Oh, it’s lovely.” Holly said in a shaky voice.
Bob who was standing by the bed had offered to place it around her neck. Holly simply nodded.
“Please tell him thank you.” Holly said looking over at Alicia.
“Mes gonna miss em.” Molly had said sadly.
Alicia had smiled trying to lighten the mood. “Hey, you’ll see him when your mommy is better and you come back.”
Molly had smiled but Holly’s face had remained impassive. Sadly no one in the room realized that what Alicia had said would never happen.
Gerard had surprised and pleased his fellow band members when the tour started. He was focused and giving the tour his full attention. Everyone had worried about his state of mind with all the turmoil going on in his life but he hadn’t shown any signs of stress. To the casual observer he seemed happy. However his brother had worried. Gerard kept to himself when at all possible. He spent hours alone on the bus or his hotel room. But when questioned by Mikey Gerard had simply smiled and told him that he was doing fine, that he was getting his life back in order.
News of Gerard’s divorce was of course a topic every interviewer wanted to address. However Gerard made it clear it was something he would not discuss. Early on in the tour he allowed one interviewer to ask about his failed marriage. Gerard’s statement had simply been that he and Lindsey remained close and that they both loved their daughter very much.
And he and Lindsey had remained close. Every few days he would call to talk to Bandit. He spent many hours talking to Lindsey also. When, five months after their divorce was final, she told him about someone she’d met, he put aside any hurt feeling. Deep in his heart he just wanted her to be happy.
Holly had settled into her life at The Cedars at first with little hope. However as the weeks went by that slowly changed. The first operation she underwent went well and with promising results.
Three times a week she met with a psychologist, Dr Lews, who was helping her finally come to terms with her past and move foreword. By the second and final operation Holly was so much better mentally that her physical progress soon improved greatly.
By deciding to go to The Cedars she had given herself the best possible opportunity to fully recover mentally and physically. A recovery that was closely monitored by Bob who visited at least twice a week. Often he would take Molly out for the day something Holly appreciated. While it was wonderful that she and her daughter could share a small bungalow at The Cedars she knew at times Molly was bored. Unbeknown to Holly, Bob was also keeping Gerard abreast about her recovery. When, a few minutes before a concert he called and told Gerard that Holly was able to move her legs he had heard the happiness in his voice. Gerard had said softly he’d always known she’d walk again, that his Holly was a fighter.
There was however some hurt and confusion back in LA. Once Holly had gone her cell phone had been disconnected. She hadn’t paid her bill and in truth she was glad that contact with her friends had halted. While she felt slightly guilty knowing that they wanted to keep in contact she felt that she needed to break off ties, that she needed to focus all her time and energy on her recovery.
Bob had tried his best to explain this to Alicia but knew the woman was still hurt. Christa too tried to understand Holly’s decision but still, she missed her friend. Often as the baby grew in her womb she’d think about Holly and wish she could at least speak to her.
Six months after the attack the band had returned to LA. For now touring was over and they decided to take a short break before heading back into the studio to work on new music.
One day when Gerard was visiting Alicia had finally been unable to keep from mentioning Holly. Mikey had cast an angry glance in her direction when she said she wished she knew what was going on in Chicago.
Gerard had sighed, taken a deep breath then announced that Holly had left The Cedars but had remained in Chicago.
Alicia and Mikey had both been shocked by his answer.
Gerard had gone on to explain that she was still seeing a physical therapist twice a week. When questioned about how he knew he explained that he had spoken to Bob. And that Holly and his daughter were now living in Bob’s home.
Mikey had tried later to speak to Gerard about the situation, to find out how he truly felt about this turn of events. However Gerard had simply said he was happy that Holly had regained the use of her legs. He refused to discuss the matter further but made it clear he just wanted everyone involved to leave Holly alone.
Halloween came and holiday that had once been one of Gerard’s favorites was this year bittersweet. He’d been pleased when Lindsey had invited him over to take Bandit trick or treating. When he’d first saw this daughter’s costume it had been hard not to laugh. Bandit had chosen to dress as a puppy. Lindsey had whispered that she’d tried to convince B to choose another costume but ultimately she let her daughter’s choice stand.
The night had been filled with a lot of memories Gerard would always treasure. After they returned home he’d tucked Bandit into bed and kissed her forehead. However a feeling of sadness filled him as he drove through the darkened streets to his home. He wondered if Molly had gone trick or treating and if so what costume she’d chosen.
He’d just pulled up to this house when he received a text from Bob. There was no message simply a picture attachment.
His laughter filled the car when he viewed the photo of Molly dressed as a cat.
Weeks passed and life went on. It was now mid November. The band was still working in the studio on new music. After a full day Mikey had told Gerard that Alicia had called and insisted he come over for dinner.
Two hours later Alicia was flittering around the kitchen trying to get dinner ready while muttering to herself.
Mikey walked over to her, “Okay, what’s wrong?”
Alicia glanced over her shoulder to make sure her husband had come into the kitchen alone. Lowering her voice she said, “I thought you were just bringing Gerard home.”
This confused Mikey, “What? I thought you like Sally.”
“I do.” Alicia sighed, “Oh shit.”
“Honey, what’s going on?” Mikey asked touching her arm.
“I should have told you but I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“Told me what?”
“Holly called me a few days ago.”
“Well why didn’t you tell me?” He asked. “And how the hell is she?”
Alicia leaned against the counter. “It was sorta a weird conversation. I mean I was so shocked to hear her voice. She said she was coming out to LA and wanted to know if it’d be okay to stop by.”
Mikey leaned against the counter next to her. “Wow, I can’t believe this. All this time she’s not wanted to have any contact with us.”
Immediately Alicia came to Holly’s defense, “I don’t think it’s really that she didn’t want to have any contact with us, I think it was something she had to do. After her call I thought a lot about it. Holly was so messed up, I think she knew she had to get her life back under control.”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, but I know even though he’s not come out and said anything that Gerard was hurt, especially when she got out of the hospital and moved in with Bob.”
“She said there are a lot of things she wants to talk to us about.” Alicia said gazing into the living room. “I told her that of course it was okay for her to stop by, that we’ve missed her and Molly.”
“So when’s she coming to LA?” Mikey asked. When he saw the look on his wife’s face it dawned on him, “Oh shit, she’s supposed to come by tonight?”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, that’s why I told you to bring Gerard home with you.”
“Shit, this could be awkward with Sally here but I didn’t know. I mean when you called the studio she’d just stopped by with some papers for Gerard. So I asked her for dinner too.”
“Is there anything going on between them?”
Mikey frowned, “I don’t think so. I mean Gee has pretty much been staying to himself, you know. He and Sally have a good working relationship but I think that’s all.” He sighed “To tell the truth I kinda had hoped something would happen between them. I don’t like my brother being alone.”
Alicia turned back to the stove. “Well dinner is ready. Let’s eat and hopefully Holly won’t come by until later.”
A hour later Holly pulled her small car to a stop in front of Mikey and Alicia’s home. She took a deep calming breath then spoke. “Honey, we’re here.”
Molly opened her eyes then looked out the window.
“Do you remember this house?” It had been almost nine months since the last time Molly had been here.
“Yep.” Molly smiled, “I do.”
Pure love for her small daughter made Holly smile, “They are going to be surprised at how much you’ve grown.” She took another calming breath, “Ready?”
Holly took her daughters hand as they started towards the door. She noticed there was another car in the driveway she didn’t recognize. Immediately her heart started to beat faster. Was Gerard here? Had Alicia told him about her impending visit?
The two couples had just sat down in the living room after dinner when the doorbell rang.
Alicia jumped to her feet.
Gerard knew immediately something was happening. He looked over at his brother but Mikey glanced away. A moment later when he heard Alicia cry out Holly’s name his heart started racing.
Getting to his feet he stood watching the scene at the door.
“I’m so happy to see you." Alicia threw her arms around Holly almost making her loose her balance. It was then she noticed Holly was leaning against a cane. “Oh damn, sorry.” She muttered helping Holly regain her balance.
Before Holly could answer Alicia squatted down in front of Molly. “Hey, M. I’ve missed you too.” She hugged the little girl tightly.
Mikey was now at their side.
“Holly.” He hugged her carefully. “It’s so good to see you.”
“Good to see you too, Mikey Boy." Holly smiled. His gaze fell to Molly. “Wow, M you’ve grown so much.”
“Hi, Uncle Mikey.” Molly grinned. “I’m much taller.”
“You are.” He nodded.
As he stood he saw that Holly was looking beyond them and into the living room.
Slowly Gerard moved towards the door. “Holly.” He said softly.
“Hi, Gee.” She smiled.
“You look great.” He said moving closer. And she did, her long hair was pulled back by clips, her huge eyes were bright and although she was still thin she’d put on enough weight that she looked healthy.
“You look great too.” She touched her hair with a smile, “Much better.”
He laughed, “Yeah, I got tired of the red.”
“Well come in.” Alicia said excitedly as she closed the door behind them. “Sit, let’s talk.”
Holly took a few stops then stopped, “Uh, I really need to use the bathroom first.” She grinned, “That hug you gave me almost had dire consequences.”
Alicia laughed, “Sorry, I almost knocked you down and squeezed the…uh, you know, out of you.”
“Yep, that’s true.” Holly slowly made her way down the hallway while Alicia took Molly’s hand to lead her into the living room.
As Holly was washing her hands she whispered to her reflection. “You have to deal with this, you can do it.”
“Molly said you guys just got into town.” Mikey said as Holly reappeared.
“Yes, and believe me it was a long drive. We stayed over night in Vegas.”
“How long are you gonna be here?” Alicia asked.
Holly sat down then placed her cane beside her. “Well actually we’re gonna be living out here for awhile. In mid December Arthur’s gallery is going to have a showing of my work. It’s a benefit for the shelters. He’s been kind enough to offer the loft above the gallery to Molly and me.”
“But it’s not done.” Molly added to the conversation.
“Not done?” Gerard asked.
“He’s having some remolding done but it will be ready in a few days. The work was supposed to be completed before we got here.”
Gerard couldn’t help it but he was staring at Holly. She looked so good, so happy.
Holly could feel his gaze. Looking over she smiled, “We haven’t been introduced.”
“Oh, sorry. Holly this is Sally. She and I are working on a new comic.”
“So you’re an artist?” Holly asked the blond.
Sally nodded, “Yes, I’m doing most of the artwork.”
“Go get their bags.” Alicia said to her husband.
Holly shook her head, “No, we’re going to stay in a hotel. Really we just wanted to stop by to say hello.”
Alicia shook her head, “There is no way you are staying in a hotel.” She turned to Molly who was seated at her side, “Remember when I told you that you’d always have a room here?”
Alicia grinned over at Holly, “So you can’t make me look bad. You two have to stay with us.”
Still Holly was unconvinced, “Really, we’ll stay in a hotel. It’s only for a few days.”
Alicia rolled her eyes then spoke again to her husband, “Go get their bags.”
Mikey smiled, “Will do.”
Gerard got to his feet. “I’ll help.”
“Uh, if you wouldn’t mind there are a few boxes in the back seat. Could you bring them in too?”
“Sure.” Gerard nodded.
As soon as the brothers were outside Gerard asked, “Did you know Holly was coming?”
Mikey shook his head, “Not until Alicia told me right before dinner. Holly called her a few days ago and she wanted it to be a surprise.”
“Yeah, it was definitely a fuckin’ surprise.” Gerard muttered.
Mikey pulled a suitcase out of the trunk then spoke, “Gee how do you feel about seeing her?”
“She looks fuckin’ great.” He answered.
“Yeah.” Mikey agreed. “And Molly’s grown so much.”
“I noticed that from the Halloween photo Bob sent me.” Gerard said softly.
“Bob sent you a picture of Molly?” Mikey was surprised, he hadn’t realized Gerard had been in contact with their former drummer.
Gerard nodded but offered no further information. He pulled out the boxes from the backseat. “These must be the ones.”
Inside Alicia was still fussing over Molly, asking if she was hungry.
Sally looked over at Holly. “Gerard has mentioned you often.”
Holly wasn’t sure how to respond. As of yet she wasn’t sure of the relationship between Gerard and Sally. Did the woman know that Molly was Gerard’s child?
“And he talks about Molly a lot too.” Sally said smiling over at the little girl who was yawning.
Immediately Holly became nervous and her eyes grew wide.
Sally nodded and said gently, “I understand.”
Before Holly could respond the guys walked back in.
“I’ll take these to your room.” Mikey said hauling the suitcases down the hallway.
Gerard walked over to Holly. “These the right boxes?”
“Yes, thank you.” She said as he placed them on the coffee table.
Alicia spied her name on the top box. “What’s this? Prezzies?”
Holly laughed, “Yeah, it’s a prezzie for you. Go ahead and open it."
Alicia got up to grab the top box. Gerard frowned in confusion when he saw the box below it had Lindsey’s name written in ink.
“Oh, Holly.” Alicia cried as she pulled off the top of the box throwing it to the floor. “This looks so much like the one you gave me.”
“Well you were kind enough to give that one up for the auction I wanted to replace it for you.” She paused, “I thought it was close to the one I’d originally given you but…well I’m still having trouble remembering some things. The doctors assure me that it’s nothing to worry about.”
Mikey leaned down to carefully lift the wind chime from the box. He slowly moved towards the patio door. “Look we still have the hook ready.” He said as he hung the new wind chime where the original one had been.
Holly smiled up at Gerard who was still standing by her chair. “I made one for Lindsey too. Her original one I remember was eight tiers. I’ve tried to duplicate it the best I could.”
Gerard was touched by the gesture. “I’m sure she’ll love it.”
Holly shrugged, “I just wanted to return the favor. That auction brought in a lot of money that helped with my medical bills.” She glanced back at the table. “And I made one for Christa too. Jamia’s I mailed to her right before leaving Chicago.”
“So are the boxes in the trunk wind chimes?” Mikey asked as he sat back down next to his wife.
Holly nodded, “Yep, I’ve been working on them for months. Bob set up a studio for me in his garage. I still have a few more to complete before the auction.”
Suddenly an awkward silence fell on the room. There was so much that needed to be said but no one seemed to know how to begin.
“Uh, I’m just gonna call a cab.” Sally said rising to her feet. She knew Gerard wanted to speak to Holly.
“What?” Gerard frowned.
“I’m sorta tired.” Sally lied. She turned to Alicia, “But thanks for dinner, it was excellent.”
“I’ll drive you home.” Gerard said.
“That’s not necessary.”
“Yes, it is.” He smiled. In truth right now he was feeling so overwhelmed with emotion he needed a little time to get those feeling under control.
“Well it was nice meeting you.” Sally said to Holly. “And believe me I will be attending the benefit auction. I’ve seen several pieces of you work and love them. And I love the fact that you are going it for those shelters.”
“Thanks.” Holly smiled.
“See you later, Holly.” Gerard said softly before taking Sally’s arm to lead her from the room.
After they’d gone Holly spoke, “If it’s okay I’d like to get Molly a shower then into bed.” She smiled “I need a shower too.”
“Of course, you’re both tired.” Alicia nodded. “Just make yourself at home.”
Slowly Holly rose then grabbed her cane. “Don’t like using it but I’m pretty stiff after the long drive.” She explained.
Molly jumped off the sofa then went to her mom.
“Uh Holly, if you want once Molly is settled we can talk but if you’re tired we understand.” Mikey said.
Holly nodded then started down the hallway with Molly at her side.
“She looks so good.” Alicia said softly. “And she seems really happy.”
Gerard pulled into Sally’s driveway then cut the engine. He started to open his door but Sally placed her hand on his arm to stop him.
“Gee, I can see myself inside.”
“Hey, I should at least walk you to the door.”
Sally smiled, “No need. Besides you should get back to Mikey’s.”
“Gee.” Sally sighed, “I know how excited you are that Holly’s back.”
His first thought was to disagree but he stopped. “I honestly don’t know how I feel. I think I’d finally come to terms with the idea that she wasn’t ever coming back.”
“But she has.” Sally said gently. “And you two have to deal with the past.”
Gerard reached out to touch her cheek with his fingertip. “Sally, I…”
She placed her fingertip over his lips. “Gee you and are friends, that’s all it was meant to be. I’m not going to lie, I’d hoped it would turn into more but it didn’t. I always knew you were waiting for Holly to come back.” She said dropping her hand.
“I don’t know what to think or how to feel." He whispered. “Shit, she’s been living with Bryar for months. I thought she’d a least call me.”
“From what you’ve told me I think Holly needed the time to get her life in order. But the fact that she’s back…well, think about it. You two finally have a chance to start all over.”
“Maybe that’s not what she wants." Gerard whispered.
“And maybe it is. And maybe it’s what you want too. My advice is just take it slow. Give her and yourself time to figure out what you want.”
Gerard almost decided to drive home after leaving Sally’s house. The shock of seeing Holly and his daughter had left him feeling confused.
However as he neared the turn that would take him back to Mikey’s he found himself unable to keep the car from taking the exit.
As he quietly let himself in the back door he heard Holly’s voice. Not wanting them to know he’d returned yet he crept through the dark kitchen to a spot where he could see into the living room. His breath caught when he saw her. Her long hair, still damp from the shower was now in two long braids. But it was what she was wearing that made him smile. He’d never seen a woman look so damn good in sock monkey pajamas.
Holly suddenly looked towards the kitchen. Through the shadows she saw his outline. Instead of verbally acknowledging his presence she simply smiled.