Gerard's health is improving.
Gerard didn’t answer at first because to be honest he wasn’t sure yet. He’d just woken up when he’d heard her footsteps coming down the hallway.
Holly pulled open the drapes to reveal the morning sun then turned to the bed. “Well?”
“Better, I think.” He said slowly. While his body still ached at least his head didn’t feel like it was about to explode.
She walked over to the bed to place her hand on his forehead. “Low grade fever, that’s good.” She said more to herself then to the patient.
“How are the girls?” He asked coming more awake.
“Fine. They just finished breakfast and are playing dolls right now. I promised them a tea party after I take care of you.”
His eyes narrowed, “Take care of me?”
“Yep, we need to get your sheets changed and you need a shower. Believe me it will make you feel better.”
“Yeah that’s true.” He slowly sat up to watch as she bustled around the room. It was then he saw she already had brought in fresh sheets and blankets for the bed.
“Okay then, where do you keep your jammies?” Holly asked turning to face him.
Gerard smiled, “I don’t exactly wear jammies.”
Holly grinned, “Okay let me rephrase that. Where are your jammie pants and matching tees?”
“Don’t have to match.” He muttered as he pointed towards the dresser. “Third drawer down.”
Holly nodded and a moment later she had a pair of PJ bottoms and a tee in her hand. “Underwear?” She asked.
“Uh.” I can get those.” He felt weird at the thought of Holly getting in his underwear drawer. Much to his surprise Holly started laughing.
“Gee, I’m gonna put your stuff in the bathroom then help you get there. Remember you’re still pretty weak so stop being a baby and just tell me where you keep your underwear.”
“Bottom drawer.” He answered knowing she wasn’t going to let him get them himself.
Holly pulled open the drawer and grabbed the pair on the top. “Okay then. Be back in a minute.” She hurried across to the bathroom. A minute later he heard the shower running.
“Bathroom is nice and warm.” Holly said walking over to the bed and throwing back the covers before he could react. “Let’s go.”
As much as he wanted to be able to walk to the bathroom alone she’d been right he was weak. Holly took his arm and helped him.
Before closing the door Holly said. “Now don’t lock the door. I’m going to change your sheets and blankets but if you start to feel bad call me.”
“You gonna come in if I do?” He asked with a grin.
Holly rolled her eyes. “Gee don’t take this wrong but right now you’re just not all that alluring.”
Starting to feel a bit dizzy he leaned against the wall. “Yeah, that’s true.”
“Take a shower, you’ll feel better.” Holly pulled the door closed behind her.
Gerard sighed as his eyes caught his reflection in the mirror. It was starting to fog up because of the hot shower water but from what he still could see Holly had been right, he definitely wasn’t at all alluring.
The muscles in his shoulders hurt as he pulled the tee over his head then let it fall to the floor. He held on tightly to the sink while stepping out of his pants. He honestly couldn’t remember feeling this weak in a very long time.
Holly quickly pulled the old blankets and sheets off the bed then threw them in a pile. She’d wash them later today. Then she set about the task of remaking the bed. Once that was done she walked back over to the bathroom door and knocked. “Gee you about done?”
She strained to hear through the door. The sound of the shower still running made her knock louder. “Gee?”
Still no answer.
Quickly Holly turned the knob and pushed open the door. Through the frosted glass she could see Gerard’s form leaning against the back wall.
Gerard opened his eyes with a start when Holly knocked on the shower door. “Shit you scared me.” It was then he realized he actually nodded off leaning against the wall. The warm water had felt so good.
Holly spoke loudly to be heard over the water. “You didn’t answer me. Are you okay?”
He started to push away from the wall when a wave of dizziness hit him. He stumbled and in the process knocked into the shower door. “Shit.” He muttered.
Before he knew what was happening Holly opened the shower door with one hand while quickly turning off the water with the other. Then she reached over to grab the towel she’d set out for him. Gerard, feeling very embarrassed, kept his eyes closed as Holly wrapped the towel around his waist.
“Come on.” She said gently. “Step out slowly.”
“Fuck.” He whispered. “I got dizzy.”
“Yeah, I know.” Holly helped him the few steps to the toilet. She flipped down the lid. “Sit.”
He sat down heavily then lowered his head hoping to stop the dizziness.
Holly closed the bathroom door afraid the cooler air coming into the bathroom would make him start to chill. “Okay.” She said grabbing another towel. “Let’s get you dried off.”
“I can do it.” Gerard said tiredly. “Just gotta rest a minute. Shit I feel so weak and shaky.”
“Because you haven’t eaten in a few days.” Holly said ignoring the fact he said he could dry off himself. She gently towel dried his hair getting out most of the moisture. Then she dried off his shoulders and chest. He kept his head lowered the whole time. However when Holly kneeled down to dry off his legs he opened his eyes. Without thinking he reached out to cup her chin in his hand forcing her to look into his eyes. Gerard could feel his heart pounding; he could hear it in his ears. Slowly he moved foreword slightly unable to stop himself. Holly’s eyes grew wide but she didn’t move. Time seemed to stand still. That was until Bandit called out for Holly and judging by the sound of her voice she was standing in the doorway of the bedroom.
“Hold on Hun.” Holly answered as she jumped to her feet. She was out the door before Gerard could speak.
“Damn.” Gerard whispered angry at himself for trying to kiss her and angry that the moment had been lost. Slowly he forced himself to pull on his pajama pants. He’d just got his tee pulled over his head when Holly knocked on the door.
“Are you dressed?”
He pulled open the door in answer. Holly took his arm and helped him back to the clean bed.
“There, you must feel better now.” She smiled completely ignoring what had almost happened.
Gerard’s head sunk into the pillow. “Yeah.” He closed his eyes. “Better.”
“Rest for a bit and I’ll be back in a while with some breakfast. I think today you’ll be able to keep it down.”
“Okay.” He whispered.
Holly stared down at him. “Oh.” She said suddenly. “You need to take your pills. That will give them time to get into your system before you eat.”
He opened his eyes. “In case it don’t stay down?”
Holly sighed, “Yeah, but think positively I think the worst of this flu is over. Soon you’ll be up and on your feet.”
“And you’ll leave.” He said softly.
“Well I do have the auction I need to get ready for.” She answered.
“Oh shit.” Gerard frowned, “I forgot about that. That’s Friday night isn’t it?”
Holly really didn’t want him to worry. “Yeah, but it’s okay. I’m predicting by tomorrow you’ll be much better. And I can just take Bandit with me. She and Molly can keep each other company while I work.”
“I’ll keep Bandit.” He said softly. “You’ve done enough.”
Holly folded her arms. “Gee, taking Bandit is no problem for me. While I think you’ll feel better I don’t think you’ll be up to watching her. Besides I promised Lindsey I’d take care of Bandit while she was gone.”
He could see she was determined. “Whatever you think is best.” He’s head was starting to pound again and he didn’t want to argue with her.
Holly opened the bottle and got out two pills. “Here.” She handed them and the glass of water to him.
Gerard washed them down then tried fell back against the pillows. Holly left without saying anything else.
Holly had been right. Gerard ate his small soft boiled egg and toast with no problem. Then he’d slept all afternoon. When he awoke at dinnertime he realized he actually did feel better.
“Hey.” Holly said entering the bedroom.
“Hey.” He sat up and smiled, “What time is it?”
“Just after five.” Holly felt his forehead; it was cool to the touch. “Feeling better?”
“Yeah, I really am.” He stretched noticing his body didn't ache nearly as much as before.
“Good.” Holly smiled. “The girls just finished dinner. Want to try some?”
He frowned. “What did you make?” While he felt better food still didn’t sound all that appealing.
“Homemade Mac and Cheese.”
“Oh that don’t sound bad.” He said slowly.
“Good comfort food.” Holly turned to the door. “I’ll be right back.”
He was sitting up ready for his tray when she returned.
“This even smells good.” He smiled. “Nothing has smelled good to me in days.”
“See I told you that you’d be better today.” She teased. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Where you going?” He wanted her to stay and keep him company.
Holly sighed, “I was just gonna start washing the dishes.”
“Aren’t you using the dishwasher?” He asked before taking a bite of the cheesy dish.
“Don’t like dishwashers.” Holly shrugged. “I like washing dishes by hand.”
Gerard stared at her. “Really?”
Holly laughed, “Yeah, I’m total old school on that.” She paused a minute then decided to sit with him while he ate. For now the dishes could wait.
Gerard was pleased when she sat down. “So what’s everyone been doing all day?” He asked.
“Well we had a tea party. Then we made more Christmas decorations. Then we watched Dora the Explorer. Then we had lunch.” She paused, “Then we went outside but just for a few minutes because it’s windy and sorta cold.”
Gerard took another bite then said, “Sounds like you’ve had a full day of fun.”
Holly smiled, “Yeah, it really was. Oh.” She remembered what she was going to tell him. “You’ve had lots of phone calls today.”
“I don’t know.” Holly laughed, “It wasn’t like I was going to answer your cell phone. But I’m sure you’ve got a lot of voice mails. I’ll get the phone for you after you finish eating.”
“You could have answered my phone.” He said frowning slightly.
Holly sighed, “Well I wasn’t’ sure if you’d want me to.”
He grinned, “What to personal? Come on Holly you pretty much saw me naked this morning. Now that’s personal.” He wished he could take that last comment back when he saw the look on her face.
“I didn’t really see you naked.” She finally said. “I averted my eyes when I wrapped the towel around your waist.”
He couldn’t help it, he laughed, “Averted your eyes?”
“Well yeah.” She nodded.
Gerard set his fork down then stared at her. “Why?”
“Why?” She repeated.
“Yeah, why? It’s not like you haven’t seen 'it' before.” He realized this might be a mistake but for some reason he felt the need to push her.
Holly stared at him. Finally she spoke. “Yeah, I’ve seen ‘it’.
He nodded, “Yeah and ‘it’ now belongs to a single man. And since you’re a single woman….”
Suddenly Holly stood. “Just because I’m a single woman doesn’t mean I want to see ‘it’.”
He grinned, “You’re so damn cute when you’re flustered.”
Holly glared at him. “I’m not flustered.”
“Yep you are.” He nodded still grinning.
“Look Gerard, I don’t know what you’re thinking.” She paused, “Oh hell yes I do know but you can just stop that right now. We are friends nothing more.”
He picked up his fork again then dipped it in the bowl. “Yeah, right now that’s what we are.”
Holly actually started tapping her foot. “Gee.” Her voice held warning. “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”
“And what would be the wrong idea?” He asked.
“Well you know…” She sputtered.
He smiled, “This is really good.” He held up his fork.
Holly was shocked by the sudden change is the conversation. “Uh, thanks.”
He went back to eating.
“I’m going to go wash dishes.” She practically ran from the room.
Gerard watched her go a smile on his face. No, he still was going to try hard not to push her but unnerving her had seemed a good idea. She needed to slowly realize how he felt about her because it was getting harder and harder to hide.
Hours later Holly was in the guest bathroom watching as the girls, surrounded by bubbles, played with the rubber ducks.
"Look mommy.” Molly said as she looked up from the spot where she and Bandit has just corralled all the ducks at one end of the tub. “What’s it called?”
Holly gave her daughter a confused look. ‘What?”
“A bunch of ducks. What’s the name?” Molly asked.
“Oh.” Holly had to actually give that some thought. “Well let’s see. Geese are a gaggle…” She paused then knowing Gerard was awake yelled out. “Hey Gee?”
“Yeah.” He looked up from his phone where he’d been going over his messages.
“What’s a bunch of ducks called?" Holly hollered.
Gerard laughed, “Uh, I don’t know. A gaggle?”
“That’s geese.” Holly yelled.
“Hold on.” He grabbed his table from the other side of the bed. Quickly he googled the question. “Uh it says they can be called a bunch, a paddling or a raft.” He could hear the girls giggling.
“Thank you.” Holly yelled back.
“My pleasure.” He smiled placing the tablet back down on the bed.
Holly let the girls play in the tub a bit longer than told them it was time to get out or they’d prune. Bandit who obviously had never heard that word used before in that context started to laugh.
Once they were dried off and in the PJ’s Holly led them down the hallway to their father’s bedroom door.
“Okay, tell your girls goodnight.”
He smiled at the sight before his eyes. Both of his girls looked adorable but then so did Holly. “Night girls. Love you.” He said with emotion.
“Night Daddy.” They both answered at the same time.
He had just finished checking his phone messages when Holly came back in.
“Okay, girls are asleep and I’m heading to the sofa.” She said making no move to come into the room.
“Already?” He frowned, “It’s kinda early for you to go to sleep.”
Holly nodded, “Yeah, you’re right. Think I’ll take a bath first.”
“You and the paddling of ducks?” He teased.
She grinned, “Me and the raft of ducks. So anyway I’ll just say goodnight now in case you’re asleep when I get out of the bath.”
“You could take a shower if you’d rather.” He nodded towards his bathroom.
“No a warm bath sounds good. Uh after.” She laughed, “I remove all the ducks.”
Holly ended up taking a very long bath only deciding to leave the tub when the water cooled. Now her back felt much better. She pulled on Gerard’s tee and sweatpants again then left the bathroom. First she checked on the girls who were sleeping soundly then she headed towards the end of the hall.
“How was your bath?” Gerard asked as soon as he heard her nearing the doorway.
“Thought you’d be sleeping.” Holly said coming into view.
“Nope, waiting for you.” He thought to himself how sad it was she really didn’t understand how true that statement was. “Since I’ve slept all day I’m not tired. Want to watch a movie with me?”
For a minute his heart sank because by the look on her face she was going to say no. However he was pleased when she spoke.
Gerard grinned, “What ever you want to watch. I can stream it on my tablet.”
Holly nervously glanced over at the tablet beside him. “Oh.”
Deciding to act quickly before she changed her mind he patted the other side of the bed. “Come on. I’ll probably fall asleep before the end of the movie but we can watch until I do then if you want you can finish the movie on the sofa.” He had not intention of falling asleep but thought that might sound like a better plan to her.
Slowly she crossed the room and took a seat next to him on the bed.
“So what movie do you want to watch?” He asked picking up the tablet. “How about a Christmas movie?”
"Whatever.” She sounded less than enthused.
Gerard ignored her attitude. “A Christmas movie it is. So which one?”
“Really it doesn’t matter.” She said leaning back against the headboard.
“Well name one you like.” He prodded.
“Gee, just pick a movie you like.” She sighed.
He thought a minute trying to come up with a title he thought she’d like. “How about a classic? Uh, maybe It’s A Wonderful Life?”
She actually grinned. “Just watched that one with the girls today.”
“You did?” He frowned. “Well damn. Okay name a classic you don’t think I’ve seen.”
Holly just wanted him to start a movie so he’d fall asleep. “Christmas in Connecticut.”
“Good choice.” He pulled up his movie account.
Her eyes narrowed, “You’ve seen it?”
He laughed, “Sure have. I love it when they think the baby swallowed the watch.”
She was surprised. “Oh.”
“Thought I was lying, didn’t you?” He asked without looking over at her.
“It just doesn’t seem like a movie you’d like.” She said feeling a bit guilty she’d doubted him.
“Believe it or not Holly, there are lots of things you don’t know about me.” He turned to look her in the eye. “But there are a lot of things you do know about me.”
Holly stared at him a minute then said, “Start the movie.”
He grinned, “As you wish.”
Soon they were both watching the movie and laughing. Gerard realized that for the first time in days he truly didn’t feel terrible. He glanced over at Holly happy to see she was smiling.
Unfortunately she could sense he was looking at her. “Watch the movie.” She said softly.
He glanced back at the tablet but soon his eyes were once again drawn to the woman beside him.
“Gee.” Holly sighed. “Stop it.”
“Stop what?” He said softly.
“You know what.” Holly turned to him. “Stop looking at me and watch the movie.”
“I’d rather look at you.” He said opening his heart.
She stared at him a minute then looked away. “Please don’t do this.” She whispered.
“Do what, Holly?”
She sat up straighter. “Look, it’s important to me we stay on good terms.” She paused, “Good friendly terms.”
He nodded. “And we are.”
Nervously she started tapping her fingertips on the bed. “Yes, we’re friends.”
“And we have a daughter.” He added wanting to make her think.
“Right. So it’s important we stay close. That’s the reason I came back here. So Molly would learn the truth and get to know her father.”
“That the only reason?” He asked.
Holly didn’t want to be having this conversation. “Well my coming back was because of that but it’s really worked out well. I’m doing what I’d promised to do for the shelters and now I have a great opportunity to be financially stable.”
He frowned, “Because of Richard.”
“Well yeah. This is an incredible opportunity for me.” She suddenly turned to look him directly in the eyes. “You don’t understand how much this means to me. For the first time in my adult life I don’t have to stress about money. Getting this commission means that and hopefully it will give me the exposure to get even more offers. That’s important to me, Gee. I want that for me and Molly.”
“But Molly’s also my responsibility.” He said slowly trying to choose his words. “Her care shouldn’t just fall on your shoulders.”
This was something else Holly didn’t want to discuss so she turned away.
Gerard felt hurt and slightly angry. “But you don’t like that because to you that means I have some sort of claim to Molly.”
“Of course you have a claim.” Holly said, “You’re her father.”
He shook his head sadly. “You still don’t trust me. You don’t think I’ve changed.”
“If I didn’t think you’d changed I wouldn’t have wanted Molly to know the truth.” Holly answered quickly. “I would have kept her away from you.”
“Okay so you think I’ll be a good father.” He reached for her hand. “But what about us?”
Holly’s eyes grew wide and she quickly pulled her hand from his. “We are friends, Gee.”
He was angry and knew he should stop but he couldn’t. “So all this time I waited..” He paused, “You do realize I waited.”
Holly stood up. “If you say so but no, I didn’t know what you were doing. I was a little busy trying to get my life back.” She took a step back suddenly afraid of the feelings that started to overwhelm her and with that she also started to feel anger. “Look to tell you the truth I more than half expected you to be with someone. Hell I’m sorta shocked you aren’t married.”
By the look on Gerard’s face she knew she’d hurt him.
“Oh shit.” Holly whispered. “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said that.”
He looked down. “But you meant it.”
Holly couldn’t deal with this anymore tonight. “Good night.” She said moving towards the door.
Gerard watched her go. For a moment he was filled with sadness but then suddenly as he replayed their conversation in his mind he found hope. Taking a look at himself honestly he understood why she’d felt like she did. Holly had watched him go from one relationship to the next with incredible speed. What she didn’t realize was he had changed. For the first time in his life he was okay with being alone. He didn’t need a woman to make him feel complete. But heaven help him he wanted one and only one. Now he just had to figure out a way to make her believe that.