“Good Morning.” He said moving closer.
“Daddy.” Molly cried happily. “We’re making turkeys.”
“I see that.” He smiled. “I’m glad because we need some Thanksgiving decorations, don’t we?”
Molly nodded, “Yep. Look.” She held out the turkey she’d just finished. “I make them and mommy cuts them out.”
Gerard sat down on the sofa. “Wow, that’s a nice one.”
“Thanks.” Molly smiled, “See I do it like this.” She took a piece of white construction paper and placed her hand down. Carefully she traced around her fingers making a turkey pattern from her hand print.
“I used to make those too.”
Holly glanced at him. “We didn’t wake you, did we?”
“Heck, no.” He grinned, “I set my alarm thinking I’d be up before everyone else.” He glanced over at the TV “Uh, the Macy’s Parade is already on?”
“No, that doesn’t start until 9:00” Holly explained, “We found another parade to watch until then.”
“Yeah.” Molly nodded, “Cause the Macy’s Parade is the best. That’s when Santa really comes.”
Gerard nodded trying to sound very serious. “I know. When you see Santa it’s the official start to the holiday season.”
“Wanna make a turkey, daddy?” Molly asked while she colored the feathers on the one she’d just traced.
“Sure.” He got down on the floor by them. “But my turkey is gonna be bigger than yours.” He said holding up his hand.
Molly laughed, “Yep.”
“Well I’m gonna go get dressed.” Holly said as she finished cutting out the turkey she’d been working on.
It was hard for Gerard not to frown. He really wished she wouldn’t do that. Sitting here with her and Molly, both in the Sock Monkey PJ’s, was making him ridiculously happy. “There’s no hurry.” He said softly.
Holly looked over at him and for a moment their eyes locked. She forced herself to smile, “Yeah, I know but while you take over Turkey making duties it’s a good time for me to dress.” She placed the scissors by his side then stood.
Gerard couldn’t help but watch her as she stretched then moved towards the bedroom. How could a woman make Sock Monkey PJ’s look so damn sexy? Maybe it was her sleep tossed hair, he thought.
“Daddy.” Molly was trying to get his attention.
“What is it Squirt?”
“Like this one?” She asked holding up the freshly colored turkey.
“I love it.” He answered. “We should definitely put that one on the front door.”
Holly pulled on her jeans and a simple black tee. Once her hair was pulled back into a pony tail she returned to the living room. Unfortunately she was greeted by the sight of Molly’s tears.
“What happened?” She asked as she saw Gerard jump up.
“Oh shit.” He said moving to pick up Molly.
It was then Holly saw the blood.
“She cut her finger.” He said brushing past her to take Molly towards the bathroom.
Molly hiccuped. “It hurts.”
Holly followed closely behind. She saw Gerard set Molly down on the rim of the rim of the tub.
“Okay let me see, Squirt.”
Molly held out her bloody finger.
“Hey, it’s not too bad.” He said soothingly. “We’ll just wash it off and put some medicine on it.” He spoke knowing Holly was watching. “Just a small cut.”
As he doctored Molly’s finger Holly returned to the living room. She grabbed her coffee cup and refilled it. It was hard for her to allow Gerard to handle this but she knew in her heart it was something she needed to let happen.
A few minutes later they both returned. Molly held up her new bandaged finger. “All better.”
Holly smiled, “Good. Now no more scissors for you, Missy.”
“Okay mommy.” Molly returned to her turkey making area.
Gerard walked over to Holly. “Shit, sorry about that.”
“It’s my fault. I should have told you I was doing all the cutting. We forgot to bring scissors so we found a pair of ours. Unfortunately they aren’t the blunt end kind Molly is used to.”
“That’s why you set them down by me.” He sighed. “I should have realized that.”
“Molly knew she wasn’t supposed to use them.” Holly said trying to ease his guilt.
“Yeah, but I’m the adult.” He moved into the kitchen to pour himself a cup of coffee.
Holly followed him. “Gee, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it. She’s fine.”
He took a sip but remained silent.
“You handled it perfectly.” Holly said wanting to reassure him.
“It’s important to me that you realize I can, you know?” He said looking over at her.
“Gee, I know you take good care of Bandit. I know you’ll take good care of Molly when she’s with you. Now, shake it off we have work to do.”
He smiled, “Yeah, thanks. Time for Tom to go in?”
Holly glanced at the clock. “Time to turn on the oven.” She quoted the degree she believed his oven should be set to given it was ‘wrong’
Once he did that he turned to her. “Okay now what?”
Holly smiled, “Well, you have a choice. You can make the dough for the dinner rolls or you can make turkeys with Molly.” She was surprised when he looked torn.
“I was supposed to make the dinner.”
She laughed, “Okay but I am giving you a choice.”
“I’d much rather make turkeys.” He muttered.
“Good choice, sir.” Holly nodded her head towards the living room. “Get going.”
He nodded, “Yeah, thanks.” As he walked past her he added, “Let me know when the oven is ready.”
Holly had the dough made by the time the oven reached the correct degrees. She called out for Gerard.
“Time to put Tom in. But first you have to stuff him.”
“Cool” He got the stuffing and turkey out of the fridge. “Uh, I just stuff this inside him?”
“Hence the name stuffing.” Holly laughed.
He glanced over at her. Damn she looked adorable with a small dusting of flour on her nose. He couldn’t stop himself from gently brushing it off. “Uh, flour.”
“Thanks.” Holly whispered as she took a step back. His touch was something she didn’t want to admit felt very right.
Soon Gerard had the stuffing in place and the turkey in the oven.
“Can’t wait until it starts to cook.” He said leaning against the counter. “I love the smell.”
“Me too.” Holly admitted. She refilled her coffee cup again knowing his eyes were on her. “You and Molly need to finish up making those turkeys. You still have to hang them."
“Yeah, but now she’s making small name place markers for the table.” He smiled. “But she told me I have to write the names because her printing isn’t that good.”
“She stresses about things being perfect like you.” Holly sighed. “But she can print if you spell the names for her.”
“Good idea.” Gerard said moving past her to return to the living room. In his mind he was already making plans to keep everything Molly had made including the name place holders that would feature her printing. So far this Thanksgiving was already giving him lots of wonderful memories to cherish.
Holly refilled her coffee cup then moved towards the living room. By that time Molly had many more decorations to cut out but wanted her dad to draw more than just turkeys.
“Uh, like what?” He asked.
Molly looked at her mom, “What else would be right?”
Holly smiled “Well, traditional fall things I would think. How about an acorn?"
Gerard frowned, “Never tried to draw on of those. Suppose I could try.”
“Mommy don’t forget about our corncopie thing.”
“Corncopie thing?” Gerard looked up in confusion.
“Cornucopia.” Holly explained. “We brought one to place in the center of the table. I’ll go grab it out of the car.”
“Corn a cope p a” Molly said slowly. “That’s what I meant.”
Gerard reached over and tussled the hair on the top of her head. “Hey, that is a hard word to say.”
“Yep.” Molly nodded, “Very hard.” She colored her last turkey. “Daddy, mommy said Bandit is with her mommy today."
He sighed, “Yep.”
“Will Bandit ever get to have Thanksgiving dinner with us?” She asked innocently.
While he loved that she obviously assumed she would be spending every Thanksgiving with him, something he truly hoped would happen, he wanted to explain the situation. “Well, I hope so. Bandit’s mommy, Lindsey…”
Molly nodded, “I remember her, she’s nice.”
“Very nice.” Gerard smiled, “Well Lindsey and I are going to take turns. This Thanksgiving she has Bandit with her but next Thanksgiving I will have B.”
Molly frowned, “Oh.”
“But it’s okay.” He said softly. “Because I’m gonna have B with me on Christmas day.”
“But not Christmas eve?” Molly asked.
Sadly he explained, “Well she’s gonna be with her mommy Christmas Eve.”
“Does Lindsey let B wait up to hear Santa coming?”
He smiled as he remembered how Holly had the wonderful tradition of letting Molly stay up to “hear” Santa’s sleigh bells. “I don’t know for sure.” He admitted.
“I hope so.” Molly said with emotion. “That’s important.”
He was touched by her words and emotion. “Yeah, it is important. So given any thought to what you’re gonna ask Santa for this year?”
Molly nodded, “Yep I think so.”
“Really?” He said fishing to figure it out. “Something special you really want?”
“Yep.” She smiled but offered no information.
“We’ll kid you definitely need another pair of PJ’s. Those are pretty short on you now.”
Molly stretched out her legs. “Cause I’m so much taller.” She sighed, “But these match mommy’s so that’s why I still wear them.” Suddenly she frowned, “Daddy?”
“Yeah?” He wondered why she looked sad. “What’s wrong?”
“How come last Christmas I didn’t know you was my real daddy?”
Gerard heard Holly walk in the door. He turned to her struggling with an answer for Molly and wondering if she’d overheard the question.
Holly had heard but she wanted to talk to Gerard about it. “Gee, could you grab this?”
He jumped to his feet. “Sure.” Taking the wicker cornucopia shaped basket and the bag she’d carried in he walked towards the kitchen with Holly following behind him. “You heard?’ He asked lowering his voice.
Holly sighed, “Yeah, I heard. I’m just not sure how we should answer that question. I know it was my decision that kept her from knowing.”
He nodded, “And I do understand it but I get what you mean. I think we should just say that we decided to wait until she was older to tell her.”
Again Holly sighed, “And she’ll want to know why.”
Gerard didn’t want anything to ruin this day. “And then we pull the oldest parent move in the book we say...just because”
Holly smiled slightly, “That’s a cop out.”
“Yeah but damn parents need it sometimes. Man, my mom used to say just because all the time when I’d ask questions.”
“Daddy.” Molly’s voice drew his attention.
“Better get back in there I have acorns to draw.” He laughed.
Holly nodded then walked towards the table. She smiled to herself as she placed the corn, miniature pumpkins, nuts and grapes to design the cornucopia. Taking a step back she was pleased. “Like it?” She knew Gerard and Molly had walked over to the table.
“Pretty.” Molly nodded.
Gerard smiled, “Yep, looks perfect.” He suddenly thought of something. “Oh, I gotta text Mikey about the whipped cream.”
“Molly and I will start putting up the decorations after...” She smiled at her daughter. “someone gets dressed.”
“Okay.” Molly smiled happily. She ran down the hall to the bedroom.
As he was taking out his phone he lowered his voice. “Didn’t have to say ‘because’ by the time I got back in there she forgot her question.”
Holly shook her head, “Yeah well she’ll remember it again.”
He sent the text to Mikey then smiled, “And when she does I’ll handle it. All that’s really important is that she knows we love her.”
Gerard had excused himself after Molly returned to the living room dressed and ready to decorate the house. He need a few moments alone so he headed towards his bedroom. As he waited for his call to connect he stepped outside on his small balcony. The wonderfully clean crisp air felt good.
‘Hey.” Lindsey answered. “Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Happy Thanksgiving to you.” He answered. “How’s your holiday so far?” He was guessing because of the time difference her family had already had their holiday dinner and he was right.
“It’s been good but I’m stuffed.” She laughed. “How’s yours?”
“Turkey’s in the oven.” He answered as he pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
“You at Mikey’s?”
“Uh, no. I decided I wanted to have it at my house.” He wondered if she’d understand why.
“First Thanksgiving in your new place.” Lindsey said softly.
“Yeah. Mikey and Alicia are bringing Mom in a few hours.”
“Tell your mom hello for me.” Lindsey said the added, “Who else did you invite?”
He inhaled deeply before answering. “Holly is helping me with the dinner. She and Molly are already here.” He didn’t add that they’d stayed the night because he wasn’t sure Holly would want that information shared.
“So how’s that going?” Lindsey asked as she pulled out a chair in the now deserted kitchen and sat down.
“Dinner?” He wasn’t sure what she meant.
Lindsey laughed, “Uh, Gee I meant how are you and Holly getting along?”
“Oh.” He paused, “We’re getting along fine.”
Lindsey understood he felt uncomfortable talking to her about Holly. “Gee, I’m glad they are spending the holiday with you.” She suddenly had a thought. “Uh, can I talk to Holly a minute?”
Gerard frowned, “Uh, sure. Hold on.” He found Holly in the kitchen peeling potatoes. “Hey, I’m supposed to do that.” He said then held out the phone. “Uh, Linds wants to talk to you.”
Holly gave him a surprised look then quickly wiped off her hands before taking his phone. “Hello.”
“Hey, Holly. Happy Thanksgiving.” Lindsey said warmly.
“Happy Thanksgiving to you too.” Holly answered.
Lindsey got right to the point. “Gee told me you’re helping him with dinner. I’m really glad. And I’m glad he’s getting to spend Thanksgiving with Molly. I know it’s tough on him not having B there so I’m glad he has his other daughter with him, you know?”
“Yes, I understand what you mean.” Holly said softly. She looked over and saw that Gerard was watching her closely.
“Anyway.” Lindsey went on. “I heard through the grapevine you’re gonna be doing the restaurant project for Richard.”
Lindsey laughed “Yeah, sort of. Anyway I’m guessing you’re gonna need a lot of stained glass.”
“Definitely.” Holly answered wondering where this conversation was going.
“Well I have a friend out in Riverside. I was telling him about you because he was over at the house and saw the wind chime you made me. He loved it by the way. But anyway when I was telling him about the restaurant project he said he has several barns full of old church windows and he said that you’re welcome to them.”
“Oh.” Holly said slowly. “I’d love to see them but I’ll pay him for them.”
“Holly you don’t understand. John is an artist himself so I know he won’t let you do that. He likes to help other artists, that’s just how he is. And like I said he’s really impressed with your work. He even went down to the gallery to see more of you pieces.”
“Well, that’ very nice of him.” Holly smiled.
“So what are you doing next Saturday?” Lindsey asked. “I was thinking if you’re not busy we can drive out to his place and take a look. He said he even has an old pick up and he’ll deliver the windows to the gallery for you. That’s where you’re working right? Gee said you and Molly are living in a loft above the gallery.”
“Yeah, we are and I have a large work area.”
“Cool.” Lindsey continued to press Holly. “So next Saturday?”
Holly tired to think. “Uh I’ll have to find a babysitter for Molly.”
“Nope that’s covered. You’re at the babysitters house right now. Gee is going to have Bandit next Saturday so I’m sure he’ll want Molly too.”
Holly saw that Gerard was giving her a questioning look.
“Lindsey knows someone with some stained glass church windows and she wants me to go with her next Saturday to see them.”
Gerard understood, “Oh well of course I’ll watch Molly I’m gonna have Bandit.”
Holly nodded, “That’s what she said.”
Lindsey was listening to their exchange. “See, told you that would work.”
“Well, okay.” Holly said slowly. “What time?”
“I’ll swing by and pick you and Molly up about nine. We can drop off the girls then head to John’s place.”
“Sound great. Thanks, Lindsey.” Holly said softly.
“No problem.” Lindsey answered. “Well better let Gee talk to Bandit now.” She got up and walked into the family room where her daughter was watching TV with some relatives.
“Okay. See you next Saturday.” Holly said then handed the phone back to Gerard. “She’s putting Bandit on.”
As he talked to his daughter Holly walked back into the kitchen and resumed peeling potatoes. She had them all peeled and in the pan when he walked in. “Uh, so it’s all set you and Linds are gonna drop the girls off next Saturday.”
“It’s not a problem is it?” Holly asked as she turned on the burner under the potato pot.
“Of course not.” He frowned “Why would it be?”
“Well I don’t know.” Holly sighed “Maybe you were looking forward to spending the day alone with Bandit.”
“Hey it’ll be great to spend the day with the girls.” He assured her. When she sighed he said softly, “Linds really likes you Holly.”
“I really like her too.” Holly answered. “But I don’t know...”
Gerard understood. “Seems kinda weird I know. But believe me I’m happy the mothers of my girls get along. It makes it better for everyone.”
Holly nodded, “That’s true.”
“Okay then.” He smiled, “What else needs to be done now?”
Looking around the kitchen Holly answered, “Nothing right now. Well, except the decorating needs to be done before the parade starts.”
“I’m on it.” Gerard smiled. He turned to make his way back to the living room where Molly was waiting. “Okay kid, let’s do this.” He said picking up a stack of her decorations.
“Okay daddy.” Molly smiled.
“I’ll get it.” Holly said glancing over at Gerard who was sitting on the sofa with Molly on his lap. They all had been watching the parade for almost two hours now. Holly had just been in the kitchen checking on the turkey and was returning to the living room when the door bell rang.
“Thanks.” Gerard smiled over at her.
“Daddy look.” Molly’s little hands reached up to turn his face back towards the TV. “That’s Spongebob.” She explained to him as the huge yellow balloon character filled the screen.
“Sure it.” Gerard nodded. “I think Mikey and Alicia and…”He paused wondering if Molly would feel comfortable calling his mother, grandma.
“Grandma Donna.” Molly said. “Mommy told me she was coming too.”
Holly was half listening to them as she pulled open the door. “Happy Thanksgiving.” She greeted the others.
Immediately Mikey pulled her in for a hug. “Same to you. How long have you guys been here?”
Instead of answering Holly stepped back so they could walk in. She hugged Alicia happily then stepped back her eyes locking with Donna’s.
Gerard was watching the scene closely almost holding his breath, he wanted nothing to ruin this day.