A visit to Christa's house and Gerard gets advice from Sally.
“Good to see you too.” Holly laughed as Christa finally released her.
“I almost knocked her down last night when I hugged her.” Alicia laughed.
“Yeah, it was a good thing I was using my cane.” Holly smiled. “Or she would have leveled me.”
“No cane today?” Christa noticed.
“Nope, my back is much better this morning.”
Now Christa turned her attention to Molly. “Oh, look at you.” She said squatting down to the little girl’s level. “Wow, you’ve grown so much.”
Molly gave her a shy smile.
Christa stood back up. “Well, come in, come in.” She stood back to let Holly, Alicia and Molly enter her home.
“So where’s the beautiful baby I’ve heard so much about?” Holly asked with a smile.
Christa led them into the living room. There against the end of a sofa was an ornate wicker bassinet.
“Oh my.” Holly said softly looking down to see the tiny infant. “She is beautiful.”
“I wanna see.” Molly said trying to stand on her tippy-toes in order to get a better view.
Christa smiled at the little girl. “How about if your mom sits on the sofa and holds Tara and you can sit next to them?”
“Yeah.” Molly grinned.
“Tara is a beautiful name.” Holly said as she took a seat on the sofa.
As Christa lifted her daughter out of the bassinet she asked softly, “Did Alicia tell you her full name?”
Holly saw Alicia shaking her head. “Uh, no.”
Gently placing Tara in Holly’s arms she whispered. “Meet Tara Holly”
Holly was shocked, “What?”
Christa took a seat across from the sofa in the chair that matched the one Alicia had chosen. “Yep, her middle name is Holly. I wanted her to have the name of the woman who protected her and her mother before she was born.”
Tears sprang to Holly’s eyes. “Oh Christa.” She shook her head, “I don’t know what to say.”
Molly was studying the baby in her mother’s arms. “She’s got your name.”
“That’s because your mom is one of my best friends.” Christa explained to her. She didn’t say more because bringing up the attack was something she didn’t feel was right.
Holly looked over at Christa. “Thank you.” She whispered.
“You look great.” Christa answered not wanting the mood to grow serious. “I’m so glad you’re back in LA.”
“For awhile anyway.” Holly answered as her finger tip gently stroked the baby’s cheek.
Alicia frowned, “For awhile? You’re moving into a loft, right?”
“Yes.” Holly answered. “At least until after the benefit show. After that, I’m not sure where Molly and I will live. She’ll be starting school before you know it and I want to live in an area with a good school district.”
“There are lots of areas like that in LA.” Alicia said.
Holly knew Alicia was upset. “I’m sure there are. But honestly my life is sorta up in the air right now. I’m taking it day by day.”
Alicia still couldn’t let it go. “But you guys are part of our family. And being near family is important.”
Christa gave Alicia a look that definitely held a warning. She knew from speaking with Alicia earlier that Molly still didn’t know that Gerard was her father. It seemed wrong to push Holly on the subject.
Holly glanced over at Alicia. “Whatever I decide I’ll make sure is a good decision for Molly.”
“Of course you will.” Christa said trying to ease the tension in the room. “Hey why don’t you show Molly the baby’s room?” She said to Alicia.
Alicia realized Christa wanted to talk to Holly alone. “Yeah, sure.” She said unenthusiastically. “Come on M.”
Molly slid off the sofa to follow her from the room.
Waiting until they had disappeared up the main staircase Christa said, “Alicia’s really missed you. Me too.”
Holly sighed, “I understand. And I want to say to you what I told the others, I’m sorry for the way I distanced myself after the attack. I know all of you were just trying to help me.”
Christa moved over to sit next to her on the sofa. “Hey, you don’t need to apologize. We understood. What you were going through was brutal.”
Holly sighed, “As nice as it is too see all of you I don’t know if being here is right for me. I knew I had to come back and make peace with the past but...”
“But you aren’t sure what you want now that you have a fresh start.” Christa said in understanding.
“Yeah, exactly.” Holly nodded. “I feel like for the first time in my life I’m in a really good place. I’ve let go of the guilt, I’ve accepted who I was once and why. So yeah, it’s a fresh start. Right now I want to concentrate on my art, getting it ready for the show.”
Christa nodded, “That makes sense.”
“After the show I’m not sure what Molly and I will do or where we’ll go. For a while now I’ve been relying on the kindness of others but I want that to change.”
“You mean like living with Bob?”
“Yeah, it was kind of him to take me and Molly in after I left The Cedars. He even found me a job. For the past few months I’ve been doing some secretarial work for a promoter he knows in Chicago so I do have a little money set aside. But it won’t last long, especially out here in LA. After the benefit show for the shelters I’m hoping to have at least ten pieces of work done for Arthur to place in the gallery and hopefully those will sell. Still I know I’m going to have to find work.”
“What?” Holly asked noticing her look.
“I want to ask you something but I don’t want to overstep my bounds.”
Holly smiled, “Christa you’re my friend and friends have the right to say what they think.”
“Okay.” Christa smiled, “I understand what you’re saying but what about Gerard?”
“Well I mean…” She paused trying to phrase what she wanted to say correctly.
Holly understood, “Oh, you are wondering if I will accept help from him because he’s Molly’s father?”
“Gee and I haven’t discussed that yet.”
“But you are going to discuss it?”
“He did say last night that he wants Molly to know and so do I. I think it’s only right that we tell her together.”
“How do you think she’ll react?”
Holly laughed, “Well knowing my daughter like I do…I have no idea. Lord, sometimes the things she comes up with shock me. Molly is very intelligent and advanced for her age. She’s already started to read.” There was definite pride in Holly’s voice.
“Wow that is impressive.” Christa smiled.
Holly nodded, “Yep, I’m damn proud of her. I’m sure she will be happy when she finds out about Gee. The only thing that worries me is the questions she might ask.”
“Like why you haven’t told her before now?”
“Exactly.” Holly sighed.
Christa listened a minute to make sure Alicia and Molly were still upstairs the asked, “So how was it really seeing Gerard again?”
Holly gently shifted the baby in her arms. “Not gonna lie I was nervous. But it was okay. I was worried he might be angry with me.”
“Angry? Oh Holly, no. Gee’s not angry. I can tell you he was shocked when he found out about Molly but he understood why you hadn’t told him. Believe me he felt a lot of guilt when he found out but he wasn’t angry with you.”
Tara started to fret. “I think someone is hungry.” Holly said glad the baby had given her a reason to change the subject.
Christa laughed, “Think you’re right.” She took the baby from Holly. Settling back against the cushions she prepared to breast feed.
Holly smiled, “I breast fed both my girls.” Suddenly her smile faded. “At least I tried for a while to breast feed Molly but my milk dried up so fast.”
Christa noticed, “You’re a great mom, Holly.”
“I did the best I could for Sonja.” Holly whispered. “For so many years I beat myself up thinking I could have done more but I realize now I did my best.”
“You did and when I knew Sonja she was a beautiful girl one to be proud of.”
“I am proud of the woman she became.” Tears came to her eyes. “She was strong and determined never to let her illness stop her.” She took a deep breath. “But her disease didn’t stop her, a drunk driver did. Which has made me realize that I want to become involved in another fight.”
“Yep.” Holly wiped her eyes. “I really want to do what I can to help that cause.”
Neither woman spoke for several minutes.
“So how’s Ray?” Holly finally asked wanting to change the subject.
“He loves being a dad.” Christa smiled, “And he’s already fretting about the leaving on the next tour.”
“When will that be?”
“Not until next year. Right now the band is working in the studio a lot on their next album.”
“And how’s that going?”
“Really good. Ray’s happy with what they’ve been working on. He says it’s like everyone in the band has new energy.”
Christa nodded, “Ray says Gerard has been writing songs like a madman. When they returned from the last tour he’d already written at least ten songs.”
“Gee seemed like he’s happy now.” Holly said softly.
“He is, I think. I know Mikey has been a little worried because Gee’s sorta been keeping to himself but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think Gerard needed time to sort through his feelings and find a new direction for his life.”
“One without Lindsey?”
“Yeah, that’s true. The divorce was hard on him that was obvious. But…” She paused, “I don’t want this to sound wrong but I really thought Gerard would take it a lot worse than he did.”
“Maybe because he made peace with the fact that it was for the best.” Holly said softly.
“I think that’s true.” Christa agreed. “And the fact that he and Lindsey are still close helped a lot. It’s not like he lost her, it’s like their relationship changed direction. Gee told Ray that he treasures the closeness he and Lindsey still have.” She smiled, “Oh and I hope you don’t mind but I told her you’re back in LA.”
“Well Lindsey and I are still good friends, I was just talking to her this morning and she’s asked about you so I knew she’d be happy to hear you’re in town.”
“I really like her.” Holly admitted.
"But being friends with her before was sorta weird.” Christa said knowingly.
“You could say that.” Holly sighed, “I knew Gerard hadn’t told her he and I had once been together so yeah, it was weird and it felt wrong somehow.”
“She and I talked about that.” Christa admitted.
Holly was surprised, “Really? What did she say?”
“She understood how uncomfortable the situation was for you. She….” Christa snapped her mouth shut.
“I don’t know how much of this you want to talk about.”
“Christa, it’s okay. I’d really like to understand.”
“Well, she defended you.”
Holly leaned back against the cushions to ease a twinge in her back. “Defended me?”
“I really shouldn’t have brought this up.” Christa said hearing the sound of Molly and Alicia coming back down the stairs.
Holly believed she knew the answer. “You mean against Donna, right?”
“Just another thing I need to get settled.” Holly said sadly. “At first Donna blamed me for the divorce. I knew that and unfortunately some things were said by both of us that was hurtful. I want to try to fix that situation. I truly care about Donna and I hate that the last time I saw her there were bad feelings between us.”
Alicia caught the last part of what Holly had said but remained silent on the subject. If things went as she hoped it would be something Holly would be able to deal with soon.
“So do you like Tara’s room?” Christa asked Molly as she sat back down on the other side of Holly.
“It’s very pretty.” Molly answered. “She has lots of toys.”
Christa laughed, “Yes, she’s a bit spoiled.” She noticed Molly was watching her feed the baby and looking confused. Holly turned to her daughter.
"Christa is feeding her baby milk. Remember the story book we read about the mommy feeding her baby that way?”
Molly nodded, “Yes, but I have never seen it in real life.”
“Wow.” Alicia giggled. “That was an intelligent answer.”
“It really was.” Christa nodded. “Molly, you are a very smart young girl.”
“Thank you.” Molly grinned. “Uncle Bob says I’m the smartest little girl he’s ever known.”
Holly sighed, “And Uncle Bob also spoils you.”
Molly frowned, “I miss him. When are we going home?”
An awkward silence fell on the room.
“Honey, I’ve already told you that Bob’s house is not our home. We were just staying there until I got better.”
“But I like it there.” Molly answered.
Holly was uncomfortable having this conversation in front of Christa and Alicia. “I liked it too but it was time for us to move on. Arthur is letting us stay for now in a really nice apartment.”
Molly wrinkled her nose. “I want a house with a yard and a swing set.”
“I know.” Holly said softly. “But we’ve talked about this.”
Immediately Molly’s look changed, “I’m sorry mommy. I don’t mean to make you sad.”
“Honey, it’s okay to tell me how you feel and I promise to do my best to find us someplace nice one day. Remember how nice our Twinkie trailer was?”
Molly giggled, “It was silly but I liked it.”
“Me too.” Holly smiled sadly. “Who knows what kind of home we’ll have? Maybe a tree house.” She teased trying to lighten the mood.
This caused a fresh outburst of giggles from her daughter. “That would be cool.”
“Well tonight you are going to a house with a swing set.” Alicia said joining the conversation.
Molly looked over at her. “Really?”
“Yep, Gerard has a swing set in his back yard.” Alicia nodded.
“For Bandit?” Molly asked.
Alicia glanced at Holly. “Uh yeah.”
Christa once again felt Alicia was bordering on pushing. “So you’re going to Gee’s?” She asked Holly.
“He invited us for dinner.” Holly admitted.
“I like his house.” Molly told them excitedly. “It’s pretty and has lots of room.”
Holly was unhappy with the tern the conversation seemed to be taking. “We’re just going for dinner.”
Molly nodded “Yeah and I get to see Bandit.”
Alicia smiled, “You’re excited to see her, aren’t you?”
Christa saw that now Holly was glaring at Alicia. “Why don’t you show me Tara’s room?"
“Uh sure.” Alicia said slowly.
When Molly started to move Christa said quickly, “Molly would you like to help me change Tara?” The baby really didn’t need to be changed but she knew Holly wanted to speak to Alicia alone.
At the top of the stairs Alicia led Holly into the nursery. “Here it is.”
“Alicia.” Holly said softly. “Please stop.”
“What?” Alicia fringed ignorance.
“You know what. I understand you want Molly to know Gee is her father and Bandit her half sister, I get that. Lord, anyone in the room would have picked up on that.”
Alicia frowned, “I didn’t say anything.”
Holly sighed, “Look, I’m not mad at you I understand how you feel. But at the same time please understand how I feel. This isn’t easy for me. I understand Molly needs to know the truth but it’s not going to be easy. And you pushing isn’t helping.” She was shocked when Alicia broke into tears. Immediately she put her arms around her. “Alicia, what’s wrong?”
"I’m sorry.” Alicia whispered. “I didn’t mean to upset you. But damn, I’m just so glad you’re back and I want you to stay and be part of our family.”
Holly gently pushed her back to look into her eyes. “What else?”
Alicia took a deep breath, “I love Molly. The time we spent together while you were in the hospital really meant a lot to me. When she was gone the house seemed so empty.”
Suddenly it dawned on Holly what was happening. “You want your own baby.” Holly whispered.
A fresh batch of tears caused Alicia to turn away. “It’s not just that...” She sobbed. “Yeah I want a baby but I don’t think that will ever happen. Mikey and I keep trying.” There was more but right now she couldn’t tell Holly the truth.
Holly turned her around then pulled her in for a tight hug. “It’s okay.” She whispered.
“But I don’t want you to think that’s the only reason I want you and Molly to stay, just so I can have a kid around.”
“Alicia, I know you love Molly. And I think she’s one lucky little girl to have an aunt that loves her so much. I promise you no matter what happens we won’t lose touch. I want Molly to know her dad and her aunt and uncle. That’s important.”
Alicia wiped her eyes. “Shit, I’m a blubbering mess.”
Holly laughed, “No you’re not.”
“Yes, I am but you’re too nice to admit it.”
“Okay, you are a blubbering mess.” Holly teased. “But I luv ya anyway.”
“I love you too, Holly.” Alicia said giving her another hug. “You’re like my big sister I can always count on.”
“I wasn’t for a while there.” Holly said sadly.
Alicia shook her head, “That’s not true. I never once felt that if I truly needed you that you wouldn’t try to help me no matter what. I just hated that I couldn’t help you.”
Tears formed in Holly’s eyes. “Oh crap now we’re both gonna blubber. We gotta stop this.”
Alicia wiped under her eyes trying not to smear her eyeliner. “Yeah, we do. So am I still invited to go with you guys to see the loft?”
“Of course you are.” Holly laughed. “But we need to be leaving soon. I told Arthur we’d meet him before noon.”
“Okay.” Alicia took a deep breath, “And I promise I won’t even say that you and Molly could just stay with us instead of moving into the loft.”
Holly gave a dramatic sigh, “Alicia, Molly and I need our own space. And so do you and Mikey.”
“Yeah, okay.” Alicia agreed. “But can I ask a favor?”
Holly nodded slowly, “Sure.”
“Tomorrow night will you make that damn round steak and mushroom gravy for dinner? Damn, I've been jonesing for that.”
Holly burst out laughing. It felt so good to be sharing tears and laughter with her friend.
Gerard got out of his meeting feeling a bit upset with himself. The meeting had been an important one but he’d had some trouble concentrating. He hoped it hadn’t been noticeable but he had a bad feeling. When he heard his name being called out as he walked down the hallway he realized he’d been right.
“Way to zone out in there.” Sally laughed.
“Sorry.” Gerard muttered. “Just have a lot on my mind this morning.”
“So you gonna tell me how it went with Holly last night?”
To be honest he was surprised Sally hadn’t asked before the meeting. “Uh, it went okay.” He answered slowing down so she could catch up with him.
Sally smiled, “You can just tell me to mind my own business, I’d understand.”
The smile Gerard gave her was genuine. “I wouldn’t say that to you.”
Throwing the strap of her large bag over her shoulder she grinned, “Well that’s good because I would have just ignored you. You’re my friend and I care about you so I’d have pressed you anyway.” She pressed the elevator button. “So just okay? Did you guys talk about Molly?”
“Holly said she wants us to tell Molly together.”
Sally nodded, “That’s good. I think you two should tell her together.”
“Yeah but I gotta admit I’m nervous about doing it.”
The empty elevator doors slid open and they boarded. “You think Molly might be upset because she’ll wonder why no one told her before now?”
Gerard sighed, “I don’t know. Maybe.”
“So when are you gonna see Holly again?”
“I invited them over for dinner tonight.” He answered mentally making a note of a few items he’d need for dinner.
Sally nodded. “And that’s making you nervous.”
He glanced over at her. “I’m that obvious?”
She nodded. “I figured what was what was wrong in the meeting.”
“Sorry.” He muttered.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Sally said softly. “I understand.”
“Yeah, well it’s good you do because I sure as fuck don’t.” He answered shaking his head.
Sally smiled, “Gee, of course you do. You’ve been waiting a long time to get things settled.”
“Well yeah, that’s true. But…shit, I don’t know.”
The elevator doors slid open. Sally reached for his arm. “Come on, you’ve got a few minutes to talk.” She led him out the front doors of the building to a small shaded area with benches. Once they were seated she spoke.
“Tell me the truth, how did it make you feel to see Holly again?”
If it had been anyone else he would have been annoyed with this line of questioning but over the last several months he’d opened up to Sally about a lot of his feelings and he understood she was simply trying to help. “It was so weird. I mean of course I was happy to see how great she looks and that’s she walking.”
“But when I went back to talk to her…I just don’t know. In a way it seemed like old times, almost.” He sighed, “That sounds stupid.”
“No I understand. You and she share a lot of history. A personal history that others don’t really understand completely.”
He smiled at her. “Yeah, well you do.”
“Because I was lucky that you trusted me enough to tell me." Sally answered. “So I think I understand what you mean. In a way talking to her was easy because you know her so well.”
“But that’s just it, now I realize there was so much about Holly that I never knew so I wonder why I still feel this way.”
“Just from the little time I saw her last night I think I understand. Holly is a very open, friendly person.”
“True.” Gerard nodded, “But at the same time last night when I listened to her she seems different now. She seems so together. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy about that. She said she really opened up to a psychiatrists and I think that made a lot of difference.”
“From what you’ve told me about her I’m sure that did make a difference. The woman was carrying around a lot of baggage."
“She was and a lot of it was my fault.” He sighed.
“Are you worried she blames you for that?”
“Hell she should blame me." Gerard said pulling out his cigarettes then lighting one.
Sally sat back to find a more comfortable position. “Gee, I think once you get a chance to really talk to her alone you’ll find answers. But I’m guessing that she doesn’t blame you. I don’t think she would have come back if she felt that way.”
“She’s back because of the art show.” Gerard reminded her.
“Well sure, that’s one reason. But you need to remember that the first thing she did when she got to LA was go by your brother’s house."
Gerard had wanted to take that as a good sign but he still wasn’t sure. “She and Alicia have always been very close. Hell, she and Mikey are close too."
“Yeah, that’s true. But I’m sure she knew there was a good chance she’d run into you there. I’m guessing by the way Alicia acted she knew Holly was coming last night?”
“Yeah, Holly called her a few days ago.”
“And Alicia made sure you were there.” Sally smiled, “And I wasn’t supposed to be."
Gerard frowned, “Hey, no one said that.”
Sally laughed, “Man, you don’t pick up on things. I knew as soon as I walked in last night that something was up. Alicia looked so flustered. I’m sure she didn’t think it would look good for you to have a woman with you when Holly showed up."
He took a deep drag off his cigarette before answering. “Don’t know why that would matter. There hasn’t been anything between Holly and me for a long time.”
Sally narrowed her eyes. “Holy crap, Gerard. Did you just forget who you’re talking to? I know all about you and Holly.”
He tried to keep his anger in check. “What’s that mean?”
“Don’t get pissy.” Sally sighed, “I know when Holly first came to LA nothing happened between you two because you were still married. But you can’t deny you’ve never stopped caring about her. This whole time since the accident she’s been on your mind.”
“Yeah but maybe that was a mistake." Gerard muttered. “She’s finally got her life together why the hell would she want to fuck that up again?"
“Oh." Sally said softly.
“I get it. You’re worried because now you’re not sure how she feels about you. Things have changed, she’s got her life together and you’re no longer a married man.”
His eyes narrowed, “I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t have to." Sally smiled, “I know you. But Gee, you had to know this day was coming.”
“I did but I didn’t.” He sighed, “I mean I hoped Holly would recover mentally and physically and I think she has. But at the same time I just never really let myself think about what if anything would happen between us. Yeah we have a history together but a lot of it has been brutal. I’m just afraid she won’t want to go down that path again.”
“But both of you have changed.” Sally reminded him. “She’s different now but so are you.”
“I ain’t changed that much.”
Sally squeezed his arm. “Oh Gee, that’s not true. I’ve known you a long time but it wasn’t until after your divorce that you opened up to me. And believe me you have changed.”
“Cause I don’t drink anymore?”
“Well that’s part of it but only part. You’re focused on what’s important in your life now. Crap, don’t get mad but it’s like you grew up.”
He laughed, “Thanks you’re saying at my age I just grew up?”
“Sorta.” Sally laughed, “Look it’s obvious you’re very happy now. You love your daughter, you love the band, you love your comics and your house. I think for the first time in your life, you really love your life.”
Gerard impulsively hugged her. “Yeah, all that is true. But now I have another daughter who’s back and I want to love her too.”
“From what you’ve told me about Holly I really don’t think she’d do anything to keep that from happening. I mean she told you she wants Molly to know you’re her father, right?”
“Well then I’m sure she expects that you’ll want to be a part of Molly’s life.”
“Yeah, I guess.” He sat back considering Sally’s words.
She ruffled his hair, something that if anyone had done he’d be annoyed but with Sally he wasn’t bothered. “Look Way, I think you need to realize something. You have a chance at a fresh start with Holly.”
“What if she don’t want that?”
“What if you don’t want that?” Sally asked. “I’m sure Holly is different now. Maybe you two will realize that the feelings you once had for each other are gone.” When she saw him frown she continued, “But on the other hand maybe both of you will realize that there is still something there. But now I’m gonna give you some advice, because you really should have expected me to.”
Gerard laughed, “Yeah, I expected you to and I welcome it.”
Sally gently stroked his cheek, “Gee, don’t rush things. You and Holly both need time to get reacquainted.”
He looked into her blue eyes. “You know there were times I wished…”
Gently she placed her fingertip over his lips. “I know what you wished and at times so did I. But I also am smart enough to know when a guy is still carrying a torch for someone.”
“You think that’s what I’m doing? Carrying a torch for Holly?”
“Oh absolutely.” Sally said sitting back. “I could hear it in your voice every time you said her name. Besides, I’m good with us being just friends. To be honest you drive me crazy most of the time.” She laughed.
“Oh thanks.” Gerard smiled but then the smile faded, “I mean that Sally, thanks. You’ve been such a good friend.”
“Hey you’ve been a good friend to me too, you know.” She stood up. “Now I’ve got to get going. What are you making for dinner tonight?”
“I was thinking spaghetti. Bandit loves it and I remember Molly liked it too.”
“Not many kids don’t like spaghetti.” Sally grinned. “Good choice. Now promise me you’ll relax and not get stressed.”
He shook his head, “Not sure I can promise that.”
“Yes you can. Just look at tonight as nothing more than having dinner with an old friend.”
“An old friend who just happens to be the mother of my child, a child I didn’t even know was mine until her mother thought she was dying and told me.” Gerard said looking down at his shoes.
“Gee, you know stress is bad for you.” Sally said shaking her head.
“Yeah I know but I’ve gotten much better at handling it.”
“That’s very true. And I know you’ll handle this. But…” She waited until he looked up. “If you need to talk you call me, okay?”
“I will.” He promised. “But you’re right, I just need to relax about this.”
He gave Sally a quick hug then started towards his car. What Sally had said was right, he needed to stop stressing. This was Holly he was having dinner with, after all. As he climbed in and started the car the voice in his head reminded him of something he was trying to forget – yeah it was Holly but not the Holly he’d known from before. That thought troubled him.