Molly does have questions.
“Hey, Gee.” She smiled as she placed Molly’s glass of orange juice on the table. “And how’s my little Bandit, this morning?” She asked smiling at her niece.
Bandit grinned as she climbed into the chair next to Molly. “Dood.”
Molly leaned over and hugged her. “Morning, sis.”
When Alicia looked over at Gerard she saw he was smiling as he watched the girls.
“So, you guys had breakfast?”
He forced his attention back to Alicia. “Yeah, but I noticed Bandit is eyeing Molly’s pancakes.”
Alicia laughed. “B you want a pancake?”
Bandit nodded happily.
As Alicia grabbed a plate for the little girl Gerard asked. “Uh, so where’s Holly?”
“She already left for the gallery.” When glanced over and saw Gerard’s smile fade she added. “So, I hear dinner went well last night.”
He pulled out a chair at the table. “Yeah, it did.” He was glad Bandit and Molly were talking so he could speak to Alicia. “Uh, so what did Holly tell you?”
Alicia set Bandit’s plate in front of her then returned to the counter. A minute later she was back at the table with a cup of coffee for herself and one for Gerard then down next to him. Gerard was in the process of leaning over to pour syrup on Bandit’s pancakes when Molly stopped him.
“I can do it for her, daddy.”
His heart swelled with pride, “Sure, honey. Thanks.” He watched as Molly carefully lifted the plastic bottle and poured a large amount onto the pancake. He wasn’t about to mention it seemed like too much.
Alicia said softly. “Mikey and M both like lots of syrup.”
Molly nodded, “Yep Uncle Mikey says they like to swim in it.”
Gerard laughed, “Oh you girls are gonna keep me on my toes today, aren’t you?” He could sense a sugar rush coming for both of his daughters.
“Gee, I want to show you something.” Alicia said suddenly capturing his attention. She wanted to talk to her brother-in-law alone.
“Sure.” He said looking slightly confused. When Alicia stood he said, “You girls be good. We’ll be back in a minute.”
“Okay daddy.” Molly nodded as she and Bandit dug into the pancakes.
Gerard grabbed his mug of coffee and followed Alicia into the living room.
Alicia walked over to the sliding glass doors then stopped. Lowering her voice she asked, “Gee, I know it’s none of my business but what were you and Holly texting about last night?”
“What? Why?” He asked confused by the question.
“She was talking with me and Mikey while texting with you. I dunno she just seemed sorta upset.”
“Did she say anything?”
“Just that it was you she was texting.” Alicia took a sip of her coffee. “Maybe I just imagined it but she got a weird look on her face reading the last text.”
Gerard sighed. This was something he really didn’t want to talk about. “I don’t know.” He finally answered. “We were just talking about dinner.” He lied. Obviously she’d been upset he’d called her Sugar. “So how was she this morning?"
“Fine.” Alicia smiled. “And her back was much better.”
“I didn’t realize anything was wrong. Was it hurting her?”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, she was limping pretty bad when she got back last night. She said you two had been sitting out in the cold and that had made it hurt.”
“Well shit.” Gerard muttered. “I didn’t even realize that.”
Alicia smiled, “Gee, I don’t think it was a big deal. Holly says it’s just something she has to live with now. But she said it’s a small price to pay. God, I was so happy to see her walk in the other night.”
“Me too.” He nodded. “She looks so damn good.”
“Yeah, much healthier.” Alicia agreed. “And happy. I know now I was wrong about wanting her to stay here. She’s so excited to move into the loft and having her own space.”
“Yeah, I got that’s important to her.”
“So me and Mikey didn’t say anything but have you told her you have her trailer?"
He sighed, “Not yet.”
Alicia laughed, “Gee, think you’re gonna have to tell her eventually. What happened about her wanting to get her stuff?”
He grinned, “Luckily she asked if she could wait to get it until she actually moves into the loft.”
“You’re gonna have to tell her.” Alicia said again.
“Yeah, I know. But last night wasn’t the time, you know?”
Alicia nodded, “She said telling Molly wasn’t that bad.”
Gerard laughed, “Yeah, that was pretty painless so far. Holly thinks Molly will have a lot of questions.”
“Yeah, she told us that too. So how are you gonna handle that?”
He took another sip of coffee before answering. “Not really sure yet. Depends on what she asks.”
The conversation was halted by a sound in the kitchen.
“Whoops.” It was Bandit’s voice.
They walked in to see Molly trying to sop up the orange juice spill.
“Me spilled.” Bandit said taking responsibility.
The adults laughed. As Alicia grabbed some paper towel Gerard smiled, “Yeah, you girls are definitely gonna keep me on my toes today.”
Holly glanced down at her phone. “Excuse me a minute.” She smiled then walked towards a deserted spot in the gallery.
“Hey, Gee.” She answered.
“Sorry to bother you.” He said quickly hearing the background noise. “You busy?”
“Is something wrong?” Holly asked with concern.
“Uh not really wrong but do you have a minute to talk?”
Holly glanced at the crowded gallery. “Uh, sure. I’m just meeting some of Arthur’s new clients and in a few minutes the woman is supposed to be here to interview me.”
“Okay I’ll make this quick.” He said making sure to keep his eyes on Molly and Bandit who were both swinging at the moment. “Uh, Molly is asking questions.”
Holly sighed, “Told you she would.”
“Yeah well I just want to know what you want me to tell her. I mean I think it’s important we’re on the same page.”
“That depends on what she asked you.” Holly answered smiling over at Arthur who she knew was waiting for her.
Gerard clutched the phone nervously. “Uh, she wants to know how come we weren’t married. She knows I was married to Lindsey….”
Holly spoke quickly, “She knows you were married to Bandit’s mom.” She clarified.
‘Yeah, right. Uh, so what do I tell her?”
Holly’s back was starting to hurt and a headache was threatening. “Gee, what did you tell her?”
“I kinda changed the subject real fast. I wanted to talk to you first.”
Holly nodded to Arthur letting him know she understood there were people waiting to speak to her. “Gee, I really can’t think about this now. I know it sounds bad but there is a whole gallery of people here to meet me.”
Gerard tried to hide his disappointment. “Yeah, I understand. Sorry I called.”
“Look if she asks again just tell her I’ll answer her questions later.”
He sighed, “Holly, it ain’t right you have to answer all her questions. I want to handle this.”
“Okay.” Holly said slowly, “So what are you gonna say?”
Instead of answering she heard him yelling at Bandit not to wander off. A minute later when he spoke he said. “Hey, I’m gonna let you get back to what you were doing. I got this covered.”
The headache was becoming more pronounced. “You got this covered?” She repeated trying to control her impatience.
He heard by her voice she wasn’t happy. “Yeah, no problems. Have a good day.” Before she could replay he disconnected.
“Is everything okay?” Arthur said kindly seeing she’d re-pocketed her phone.
Holly forced a smile. “Everything is fine.”
“Good.” He placed his arm around her shoulder. “Come, the interview from Art LA Way is here.”
It was late afternoon when Gerard got a text from Holly. He read it then frowned. She wanted to know when to expect Molly. He took it as meaning she was worried and wanted to know when he was bringing her back. He sent a text saying that they had changed their plans and had just gotten out of the movies.
A few minutes later she again asked for a time.
Gerard sighed. His text asked if there was a particular time she wanted him to return Molly. However when received her next text he smiled. She explained that she was at the grocery store getting supplies for dinner and was wondering what time they would be at Mikeys. He got Bandit and Molly into the car then replied.
DOES THIS MEAN ME AND B ARE INVITED TO DINNER?
Holly read this text then rolled her eyes. Since leaving the gallery her headache had worsened and her back was aching. However, since she hadn’t discussed dinner with Alicia other than she was making it, she’d decided to send a text to Gerard thinking he and Bandit might like an invite. Obviously she’d been right.
OF COURSE. DINNER WILL BE A SIX
He read the text then started the car.
“Hungry.” Bandit yelled from the backseat.
Gerard laughed, “Well dinner’s not gonna be for a few hours.” He explained knowing she really wasn’t hungry they’d had lunch only a couple of hours ago.
“Mommy’s making dinner tonight at Uncle Mikey’s.” Molly explained.
Gerard nodded, “Yep that’s where we’re having dinner.” He saw Molly smile at him in the rear view mirror.
“Yea!” Bandit giggled happily.
Gerard pretended to be hurt. “Hey, don’t you like my cooking?” He saw Bandit smiling but Molly suddenly looked sad.
“I like your cooking daddy.” She said sounding very serious.
He smiled at her in the mirror. “Thanks but your mommy is a much better cook.”
Molly seemed to be considering this as she turned to look out the window.
As he drove Gerard tried to keep his thoughts on traffic but his mind kept thinking back to earlier in the day. He hoped the answers he’d given Molly had been good ones. Hopefully, he thought, Holly and I will get a chance later tonight to discuss that.
Holly had just finished carrying in the last of the grocery bags when she heard a car pull up in the driveway. A moment later Gerard and the girls came through the kitchen door laughing at something Bandit had said.
“Hey.” Gerard greeted Holly. His smile faded when he looked into her eyes. She was obviously tired but he saw something else. “You okay?” He asked softly.
Holly made herself smile. “Yep, just fine. But what timing you have. A few minutes earlier and you and the girls could have carried in the groceries.” She teased.
“Sorry.” He said glancing at the kitchen table now covered with plastic grocery bags.
Holly laughed, “Yeah sure, you probably were parked down the street waiting for me to finish hauling them in.”
Molly shook her head, “No, mommy. We really did just get here.”
“Honey, I’m teasing.” Holly said ruffling her daughter’s hair. She then turned to Bandit. “So did you have fun today?”
Both girls immediately launched into a recap of the days events. Holly listened while she started to pull the perishables out of the bags first.
Gerard was watching her closely. When he saw her lift the ten pound bag of potatoes off the table he understood. “Uh, hey girls why don’t you guys go on in and see what’s on TV. I’m gonna help Holly with dinner.”
“Okay daddy.” Molly nodded taking Bandit’s hand.
Gerard waited until they were out of the room to ask. “So how bad does your back hurt?”
“Caught me cringing, did you?” Holly tried to joke.
“Yeah, I did.”
“Hey, I’m fine.” Holly said as she opened the fridge. ‘Why don’t you go on in and make sure the girls pick something appropriate to watch.”
“Yeah I will. Then I’m gonna help you make dinner. What time are Mikey and Alicia supposed to be home?"
She ignored that question. “Gee, I don’t need any help making dinner.” She was annoyed he kept staring at her. “Really.” She added for emphasis.
“I’m guessing you’re gonna wanna chance clothes.” He said his eyes still lingering on her silk blouse.
Holly hated that her cheeks suddenly felt hot. She hated to blush and the fact that Gerard was causing it made her slightly angry. “Yeah, I’m gonna change.”
His smile was slow. “Good I’d hate to see that blouse get ruined.”
Holly brushed past him. “If you insist on helping after you check the girls you can start peeling potatoes.”
“Will do.” He smiled.
Holly quickly changed into jeans and a large sweatshirt, threw her hair into a pony tail then took a pain pill. By the time she got back to the kitchen Gerard was peeling the potatoes.
He looked up as she walked in noting she obviously chosen her clothes to send a message. That message was …nothing to see here, move along. He sighed then picked up another potato. “Uh they are watching Princess Bride. Is that okay?”
“Has Bandit seen it before?”
He nodded, “Yeah a couple of times. The Rodents of Unusual Size don’t scare her at all.”
Holly grinned, “Molly either. She loves that movie.”
For several minutes they worked in silence as Holly too started peeling potatoes.
“So I was noticing what you bought. Dare I hope this means tonight’s dinner is round steak with mushroom gravy?” Gerard asked.
“Yep, Alicia’s request.” Holly confirmed. She went to grab a pan for the potatoes but winced as a pain shot through her back.
“Hey.” Gerard said moving towards her quickly. “Why don’t you sit down and tell me what to do.” He grinned, “You know boss me around?”
Holly stared at him.
He was trying desperately to get her to smile. “Come on, Bossy.”
“Don’t call me that.” She said her eyes flashing.
He was taken aback by the anger he saw covering her face. “Sorry.”
Holly sighed, “Really, I’m okay. Just throw those potatoes in the pot.” She took a deep breath trying to control her emotions.
They worked in silence for several minutes as Holly got the steak ready to fry.
“Uh, Holly?” Gerard finally broke that silence.
“Yeah.” She answered without looking at him.
She forced herself to smile. “Not a thing.”
He knew she was lying.
“So.” Holly said as she floured the pieces of tenderized steak. “How did you handle Molly’s question?”
While he’d hoped to talk to her about this her present mood had made him want to postpone this discussion. However since she’d asked he saw no way to get out of it. “Well, since she wanted to know why we hadn’t gotten married I told her that sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.”
A piece of steak was flung onto the plate so hard that a little cloud of flour rose into the air. “Beyond our control?” Holly repeated slowly.
Gerard stared at her. “Uh, well what was I supposed to say?”
For a moment she glared at him. Then she took a deep breath. Gerard could almost see her counting to ten in her head. “I suppose that was a fine answer.” She finally said then returned to her task.
He waited a few minutes then decided that even though she was obviously angry he might as well get it all out in the open. “Molly told me that you said when a man and a woman love each other sometimes they are blessed with a baby.”
Again she was staring at him. “Yeah, I told her that.”
He leaned against the counter. “So she asked me if that’s what happened.”
Holly tossed another floured piece of meat onto the plate. “And you said?”
Their eyes locked, “I told her that was exactly what happened.”
“Not exactly.” Holly muttered turning away.
He reached out to touch her arm but she pulled it away quickly. “Holly, talk to me. Tell me what you’re thinking.” He begged.
“What I’m thinking at the moment is I have to start dinner, they will be home soon. I’m also thinking my back is screaming and my head is pounding. That’s all I’m thinking.”
He stared a moment longer then opened up the cabinet to pull out the plates.
“Sorry.” Holly said softly. “I know I sound really bitchy.”
He answered while moving towards the table. “You sound like you’re in pain.”
“The pill I took will kick in soon.” She sighed.
He walked back over to where she was standing. “Fine, well until it does I’m gonna fry the damn steak. Got any objections?”
Instead of answering she walked over to the table and pulled out a chair. “Nope.” She crossed her arms. “But you better get it right or you’ll have Alicia to answer to.”
He laughed, “I don’t fear her.”
It wasn’t until after dinner that he found out why her mood had been so bad. Mikey and Alicia were playing a game of freeze tag with the girls and he and Holly were sitting at the patio table watching.
“So how did the interview go?" He asked. He knew immediately by the look on her face the answer wasn’t going to be good.
“It went okay.” She said her eyes on the game.
Gerard sighed, “Damn woman. Are you gonna make me pull the truth out of you?"
She sighed, “It started out okay. We talked about my pieces and how each one is made unique by the materials I use. Then Arthur was called away. Suddenly she was asking about my attack. Was I angry the men responsible had never been caught.”
“Oh.” He wasn’t sure why that had upset her so much.
“I told her I don’t hold any anger about it in my heart. The only thing that did worry me was that they were still free to do the same thing to someone else.”
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, that’s true.”
“Then I started talking about the benefit auction the gallery is having for the shelters.”
Holly suddenly turned to him. “Gee, I don’t understand it. It was like the woman had something against me. I mean all I was doing was trying to promote the auction because it’s important to me to raise as much money as I can for the shelters. I hate that they both received so much negative publicity after my attack.”
He nodded, “I understand how you feel.”
“Yeah, well this woman didn’t understand it. She seemed to think I have some ulterior motive.”
“What? That’s crazy. What kind of ulterior motive could you have for wanting to raise money for homeless food kitchens?"
Holly drummed her fingers on the glass table top. “Well, it seems she thinks I’m doing it to gain publicity for myself.” Angrily she lifted one hand and ran her fingers through her hair. “She said that while my attack was brutal it had certainly helped me.”
“Are you fuckin’ kidding me?” Gerard asked angrily.
“Nope. She said that my attack had gotten me lots of publicity and that was good because…” She snapped her mouth shut.
“Because?” He knew he had to get this out of her.
Holly took a deep breath. “Because it was much better than just playing the struggling single parent card.” She paused again. “Then she added that since it was well known the father of my child was part of a famous music group no one would really believe that one.”
“Oh fuck.” Gerard exploded, “What a bitch.”
Holly glanced back out at the yard. Her voice was soft when she asked, “Gee, is that what people really think about me?”
He wanted so badly to take her in his arms but knew he had to resist that feeling. “Sugar, there are always people who want to think the worse thing they can about others.”
“Please don’t call me that.” She whispered without looking at him.
Gerard lowered his eyes. “Sorry.”
For several minutes they sat in silence.
“I just don’t understand.” Holly finally said. “It’s so unfair. I’ve never taken one damn dime from you. I’m certainly not trying to capitalize on the fact that you’re my child’s father.”
He forced himself to get over the hurt he was feeling. “That’s true. But I told you there are always people who want to believe that everyone plays some sort of angle.” He thought a minute. “What’s her name?”
Holly told him.
“Oh shit.” He muttered.
Holly looked back over at him. “What? Do you know her?”
He sighed, “Not really. I’ve met her but mostly she’s been in contact with Linds. She has been at all her art shows.”
Holly’s eyes grew wide. “Are you thinking that the reason she has something against me is because she likes Lindsey?”
“It’s possible.” He hated to bring this up but it was necessary for his explanation to make sense. “I guess maybe since she is Lindsey’s acquaintance she might think she’s on her side.” He went on quickly when he saw Holly open her mouth. “Look, I know it’s wrong but to someone who doesn’t understand what really happened it might look like you had something to do with my divorce. The timing of your attack, the truth about Molly and my divorce all happened at the same time.”
Holly digested this information for a few minutes then said, “So I get the blame for your divorce from someone who has no fucking idea what really happened?”
It was hard for him not to grin at her language but in a way he was happy she was releasing her anger. “Yeah, I’d say that’s what happened. But Holly think a minute. You met a lot of people today, right?”
“And weren’t most of them really nice?”
“Is this supposed to make me feel better?” She asked.
He nodded, “Yeah, it is. You can’t let one person ruin your day. She obviously had no idea what the truth is. Believe me I understand getting hatred from people based on what they believe is the truth. It sucks but that’s how it is especially when you’re in the public eye.”
Holly shook her head. “It’s not fair.”
“Nope, not at all.” He agreed “But that’s just how it is. Now please tell me you’re not gonna let this get to you. You’re stronger than that Holly.”
Holly stared at him. “I am strong.”
“Never doubted that.” He said softly.
“But now I’m just pissed off.” She muttered.
Gerard laughed, “Hey, pissed off is good. But ya gotta shake it off and move on.”
A slight smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Put on my big girl pants?”
Again he laughed, “For sure.”
“Mommy, Uncle Mikey is cheating.” Molly yelled from across the yard.
This interruption caused Holly to laugh. “Michael stop cheating." She yelled.
A few minutes later Gerard decided to bring up something he knew was important. “So anyway.” He began. “Uh while we’ve been talking since you got back and it’s been nice there are things we need to discuss.”
Holly’s eyes narrowed. “We’ve told Molly.”
“Yeah.” He nodded, “And that was important but I’m talking about our unresolved issues.”
Suddenly Holly stood. “I’m gonna go jump in the shower while I have the chance.”
He grabbed her arm. “Holly, you know I’m right.”
Quickly she pulled her arm out of his grasp. “Damn it I’ve only been here a few days and you’re already pushing me to talk about shit. Well guess what? I don’t want to. As far as I’m concerned we have no unresolved issues.” With that she turned and fled for the house.
“Fuck.” Gerard muttered softly knowing she was right, he was pushing her. But damn it, it was so hard holding back when he was near her.
Holly gave a sigh of relief when she finally emerged from taking her shower because Gerard and Bandit had left. She acted as if nothing was wrong telling Molly that it was time for her shower then bed.
“Mommy, daddy said to tell you bye.” Molly they walked down the hallway towards the bedroom.
Holly smiled, “Okay, honey.”
As her mom began to gather up her PJ’s Molly said, “I had lots of fun today.”
“That’s good.” Holly answered as she walked into the bathroom with Molly’s stuff. “I’m glad.”
Molly kicked off her shoes. “Yep, lots of fun.” She watched as Holly started the shower. “I asked daddy how come he didn’t marry you.”
Holly had really hoped this wasn’t going to come up. “Yeah, he told me.” She said hoping that would put an end to the discussion. “Come on kiddo, waters ready.”
However Molly was determined. “Mommy, remember when you said that when mommies and daddies love each other they get babies?"
“I said that some times they get babies.” Holly corrected as she pulled Molly’s shirt over her head.
“Daddy said that’s right.” Molly answered as she sat down on the toilet seat to pull off her pants.
Molly grinned. “He said he loved you a whole lot, that’s why you got me.”
This conversation was getting harder and harder for Holly. “Okay into the shower.” She said forcing herself to smile.
Molly stood but before stepping into the tub her last sentence caused Holly’s breath to catch. “Daddy says he still loves you a whole bunch.”