Gerard is better but...
“Hey, what are you doing out of bed?" She asked as she wiped flour off her hands.
“Feeling a lot better.” He answered with a smile thinking how damn cute she looked with a dusting of flour on her nose. “Uh” He pointed to his own nose to give her a clue.
Holly grinned. “Damn.” She used the dishcloth to brush off the flour. “Better?”
“Actually it looked cute.” He admitted.
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right.”
Still feeling a bit weak he walked over to the table and sat down. He’d thought long and hard for hours last night and what he was about to say wasn’t easy. “Look, I know you have a lot to get ready for Friday night. I’m better so you and Molly should take off today.”
Before addressing his comment Holly placed the cinnamon rolls in the oven then walked over to him. Placing her hand on his forehead she sighed, “You’re still running a low grade fever.”
He nodded, “Yeah, but it’s not bad. Really I can handle things here.”
She pulled out a chair at the table and sat. “Maybe you can take care of yourself but I don’t think you’re up to taking care of Bandit.” She grinned, “She’s got lot of energy.”
He nodded, “Oh hell yeah she and Molly both do.”
Holly looked out the window for a minute then said slowly. “I do have a lot to do so here’s the plan. I’ll take the girls with me. They can play while I work. That will give you some time to yourself to recover completely.”
He sighed, “Won’t that make it difficult for you?”
Holly turned to face him. “Nope, it won’t be a problem. Molly is used to me working and I’m sure she’ll be very happy to have B to play with.”
He thought a minute. “If you’re sure but I really think I can handle watching her.”
“Look.” Holly said growing serious. “I promised Lindsey I’d take care of Bandit until she got back. She trusted me.”
“Of course she trusts you.” Gerard said softly. “I told you all along Linds really likes you.”
“I wonder how she’s feeling.” Holly said once more turning to look outside.
“I was planning on giving her a call later.” He admitted.
“Good.” Holly nodded. “Okay then it’s settled. After breakfast the girls and I will go to my loft.” She stood to move back into the kitchen.
Gerard watched her while trying not to feel sad. It wasn’t easy. Having Holly and the girls here had made even the flu tolerable. But he knew how important her work was to her and that’s why he was letting them go.
“Promise to call me if you start to feel bad again?” Holly said looking into his eyes as they stood at the door ready to go.
“Stop worrying.” Gerard smiled. “I really do feel better, just sorta weak. I’ll be fine.”
Holly looked down at the little girls. “Okay troops head for the car.”
Both girls hugged their daddy goodbye then ran out the door with Holly yelling for them to be careful. She turned once more to Gerard. “Okay then…”
He smiled moving to take her hand. “I know you don’t want to hear this but thank you for all you’ve done.”
She gently removed her hand from his. “Take care of yourself. Drink lots of fluids and rest.”
“I will.” He promised.
Gerard watched from the door as Holly made sure the girls were secured in the car. He’d tried to get her to take his vehicle but she’d insisted on moving Bandit’s toddler seat to her car. A feeling of sadness descended on him as he watched them turn out of his driveway on to the road. With a sigh he closed the door then moved towards the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea.
He’d just sat down on the sofa with his tea when his phone rang. Immediately he was concerned seeing the call was from Holly. They hadn’t been gone for more then fifteen minutes so they must have stopped. “What’s wrong?” He asked quickly.
“Just pulling into the drive.” Her voice was stressed. “Meet us at the door. We’ve got a sick little girl.” With that she disconnected.
“Shit.” He jumped to his feet. As soon as he opened the front door he saw Holly getting out of the car. She quickly opened the back passenger door. Seeing Molly get out and skip around the car he realized it must be Bandit who was sick.
Sure enough Holly lifted the little girl into her arms and headed towards the house. Gerard had the screen door open waiting for them.
It tore at Gerard’s heart to hear Bandit sobbing. “Bandit pooked.”
Holly’s voice was soothing. “Hey B I told you it’s okay. Not your fault.” She looked at Gerard. “Uh can you clean her up while I take care of the car?”
“Sure.” He took Bandit from Holly’s arms.
“Just throw her clothes in the tub I’ll take care of them later.” Holly said taking charge. “Molly you help by getting a nice clean pair of jammies for Bandit.”
“Okay mommy.” Molly sprinted into action while Gerard headed towards the bathroom and Holly went outside to the car.
By the time she’d mopped up the small mess and returned to the house, Gerard was just coming down the hallway into the living room with Bandit in his arms.
“Okay.” Holly said struggling out of her coat. “Molly go grab a blanket and pillow for B. We’ll make her a nice little spot on the sofa.” She looked at Gerard then added. “Actually for both of you.”
Gerard nodded as he moved towards the sofa. Soon he was in a comfortable position with Bandit on his lap. “She’s sorta hot.” He said softly to Holly who was covering them with a blanket.
Holly nodded. “I’ll grab the children’s fever reducer. I thought ahead and bought some when the girls and I went into town.”
Molly crawled up on the sofa next to them and laid her head on Gerard’s arm.
“How are you feeling, Squirt?” He asked smiling down at her.
“I’m okay but I don’t want B to be sick.” She said sadly.
Gerard stroked Bandit’s head gently. “Me either but we’ll take good care of her, right?”
Molly lifted her head to look at Bandit. “Yep, don’t worry B. We’ll take good care of you.”
Bandit nodded tiredly.
“Okay.” Holly had returned with the liquid medicine. “You need to take this B. It will make you feel better.”
Bandit immediately started shaking her head no.
Gerard sighed. “She doesn’t like to take medicine.”
“Yucky.” Bandit’s bottom lip began to tremble.
Molly sat up. “It’s not bad, B. It tastes like cherries.” She recognized the medicine as the kind Holly gave her when she was sick.
“Yucky.” Bandit repeated her eyes tearing up.
Holly smiled trying to sooth the child. “No really Molly’s right it doesn’t taste bad. How about if your daddy tries it first?”
Gerard’s eyes grew wide a moment but he understood. “Yeah, B. I’ll take some so you’ll see it tastes okay.”
Bandit looked unsure but finally nodded.
Holly poured a small amount into the bottle top measuring dispenser then handed it to Gerard. He swallowed it then smiled. “Hey that does taste good.”
Molly nodded. “Yep, mommy gives me that kind when I’m sick.”
Gerard looked down at his sick daughter. “B it tastes good. Just like cherries. You know you like cherries.”
Bandit nodded slightly.
By this time Holly had returned from washing out the cup. She refilled it to the correct level then as soon as Gerard had lifted Bandit’s body slightly she held it to the child’s lips. Bandit swallowed it all.
“Good job.” Holly smiled then leaned down to place a kiss on the girl’s cheek.
Bandit laid back down. “Bandit like cherries.”
“Gotta remember to tell Linds.” Gerard said softly. “We’ve been using one that tastes like oranges and B definitely doesn’t like that.”
Holly nodded. “Yep neither does Molly.”
She started to turn towards the kitchen speaking without turning around. “I’ve got a few phone calls to make. Molly you take care of things for me, okay?”
Molly nodded happily to be trusted with such an important task. “Okay mommy. I’ll take care of both of them.”
Gerard’s heart swelled with pride at his daughter’s words. He smiled as Molly tucked the blanket around Bandit.
“There you go, sis.” She said in a serious tone. “Just try to get some sleep.”
“Not tired.” Bandit whined.
Molly nodded. “Okay how about I see if Dora is on?”
Gerard couldn’t believe how grown up Molly seemed at times.
Bandit nodded but by the way her eyes were drooping it was doubtful she’d be awake much longer.
Molly grabbed the remote and flipped through the channels. “No Dora right now.” She said sadly. “What else do you want to watch?”
“Dora.” Bandit said her bottom lip protruding.
“Molly, why don’t you put in a DVD of Dora?” Gerard said softly. “Do you know how to do that?”
Molly nodded. “Sure daddy. I know how.”
Soon the Dora DVD was on but Bandit’s eyes fluttered closed. Molly had leaned back against Gerard’s arm to watch it.
Holly came back in after making her calls and sat down in the large leather chair. “I see B is asleep.” She whispered.
Noticing how tired he looked Holly got to her feet. She pushed the large footstool from the chair over to the sofa. Gerard smiled when he realized what she was doing. She placed it in front of him waiting for him to lift his legs so she could slide it in to place.
“Slouch down a little.” Holly whispered. “That way you can nap too.”
She was right. He moved his body down slightly without waking Bandit. Now he was in a reclining position. “Thanks.” He whispered.
Holly grabbed the afghan from the chair. She covered his legs then stood. “There. Now nap. Tonight will probably be long.”
“Think she’ll be pretty sick?” He worried.
“Tonight will probably be the worst.” Holly said softly. “But kids are tougher than us adults. She’ll be fine.” She said trying to reassure him. She looked over at Molly. “I’m going to throw some laundry in the washer. Keep an eye on them.”
Molly nodded. “Sure thing.”
Gerard leaned his head back then closed his eyes. Once more Holly to the rescue, the thought. Then he smiled, actually this time it was Holly and Molly to the rescue.
Right after lunch Gerard and Bandit both woke up. Holly touched Bandit’s head gently. “Here fever is down.” She smiled looking into Gerard’s eyes.
He nodded feeling relieved.
“B are you hungry?’ Holly asked.
Bandit nodded. “A wittle bit.”
“Okay, you sit up and I’ll bring some chicken soup and crackers.”
Gerard frowned. “Uh, think we should come to the table?”
“You can hold the bowl for her.” Holly answered. “She probably won’t want much.”
He and Bandit were both sitting up when Holly returned with the bowl of soup. Behind her Molly brought up the rear with a small plate.
Bandit looked at the plate with a confusion on her face. So did Gerard.
Holly smiled, “Soda crackers with a little bit of margarine.” She explained. “Molly likes them so I thought we’d see what Bandit thinks.”
Carefully Molly sat down next to them holding the plate.
Gerard took the bowl from Holly. “Okay B. Dig in.” He held on tightly to the bowl as the little girl dipped her spoon in. After just a few bites she lost interest.
“Here B, try a cracker.” Molly said holding out the plate to her sister.
Bandit obviously wasn’t sure but the fact that Molly thought it was a good idea seemed to make the decision to try one easier.
“Yum.” Bandit said crunching away. “Likes.”
Holly who was seated across the room watching them smiled. “Guess we found another thing the girls have in common.”
“Molly have one.” Bandit said looking at her sister.
“Thanks.” Molly took a cracker quickly devouring it.
Once the crackers were done Gerard told Bandit he needed to get up to use the restroom. Bandit nodded that it was okay.
Holly was on her feet to take the bowl of soup from him.
“Thanks.” He said as he untangled his legs from the afghan.
While Holly took the bowl and empty plate to the kitchen Gerard headed down the hall. When he was done instead of heading back to the living room he walked into the kitchen were Holly was washing dishes.
“I called Lindsey.” Holly said spotting him. “Jake answered.”
“How is she?” Gerard asked leaning against the counter.
“Still pretty sick. Jake says he’s not sure when they’re gonna fly back.”
“You tell him B’s sick?”
Holly sighed, “I think Lindsey should know but I don’t want her to worry. I sorta left it up to Jake to decide if he should tell her or not.”
Gerard frowned. “Yeah, I suppose that was a good idea.”
Holly pulled out the plug releasing the water. She turned to him as she wiped off her hands. “You really don’t feel good, do you?”
He tried to pretend her words weren’t true. “I’m okay. Just sorta tired.”
“Will sit down and I’ll heat you up some soup.” Holly said taking his arm to lead him to the table.
Her touch made him smile. “Gotta admit Bandit’s soup did smell pretty good.”
“See you’re getting your appetite back.” Holly said. She turned back towards the kitchen. Soon she returned with a bowl of chicken soup.
Gerard frowned, “What? I don’t rate crackers with margarine on them?”
Holly laughed. “You made a face at the ones we made for Bandit.”
“It was a confused face.” Gerard said picking up his spoon. “But the girls seemed to like them.”
“Fine.” Holly laughed. “I’ll make you some.”
She had just returned to the table and was setting the plate down when Molly suddenly jumped off the sofa to head down the hallway.
“Oh shit.” Gerard said. “Don’t tell me she’s sick too.”
Holly didn’t answer because she was already moving down the hallway. A minute later they both came back into sight.
“She was just getting the trashcan.” Holly watched as Molly set it down by the end of the sofa. “Bandit said her tummy hurt so Molly thought it was a good idea to have that close.”
Gerard gave a sigh of relief. “Damn that kid is smart.”
Holly grinned. “Takes after me.”
He was surprised to hear her tease like that. “Yeah, smarts and good looks.” He said softly.
Holly rolled her eyes. “Nope it’s already been decided. She’s pretty so she gets her looks from you.”
Gerard looked at her a moment then said softly. “Her mother is a beautiful woman inside and out. That is the truth.”
For a minute Holly stared at him then she quickly left for the living room to check on Bandit.
Unfortunately Holly had been right, that night proved to be a bad one for Bandit. After a light dinner she’d promptly started throwing up. Holly held her part of the evening giving Gerard a break. Molly had sat by sadly wishing there was something she could do to make her sister feel better.
Now it was almost nine pm and Bandit, in Gerard’s arms, had fallen into a troubled sleep. Her temperature had risen and they were waiting nervously for the fever reducer to start working again.
Holly was sitting in the large chair with Molly on her lap. When her phone rang she asked Molly to grab it for her off the table.
“Hello?” Holly answered without looking at the caller ID.
“Hey Holly. Hope it’s okay I’m calling.” Richard asked.
Holly saw that Gerard was watching her. “Of course.” She answered careful not to mention Richard’s name.
“I spoke to Arthur earlier and he told me what’s been going on. I’d been worried. I stopped by the loft yesterday.”
“Yes, I spoke to Arthur this morning.” Holly answered hoping Richard would get to the point of the call soon as Bandit was stirring.
“It’s nice you’re caring for Gerard.” Richard said.
Holly cut him off. “Actually his daughter is sick now too. That’s why I didn’t return home as I’d planned.”
“Oh I’m sorry to hear that.” Richard said quickly. “I guess this really does mean you won’t be able to finish the last two pieces for the show.”
“Yes, I suppose that’s true.” Holly said softly. “But I promised Bandit’s mother who had to leave town that I’d take care of her.”
“Of course, of course.” Richard said. “I understand that completely. However I want to help out. I’ve already spoken to Arthur about this…I’m going to donate the wind chime I bought for the auction.”
“Oh” Holly said in surprise, “That’s very kind of you Richard.” She noticed Gerard’s look turned to a glare.
“Hey, it’s for a good cause.” Richard said. “Besides you’ll be doing other works for me.”
“True.” Holly smiled, “But thanks.”
“No problem.” He sighed, “Well I just wanted to tell you that and to see how you’re doing.”
“I’m just fine.” Holly noticed that Bandit’s eyes were open and glassy. “But I really have to go now. Thanks for calling.”
“Take care of yourself Holly. See you Friday night.”
“You too.” She disconnected just as Bandit started crying.
Gerard tried to comfort his daughter to no avail.
Immediately Holly was on her feet. She kneeled down by the sofa. “Poor B. I’m so sorry you don’t feel good.”
“Want mommy.” Bandit cried.
Gerard gave Holly a look of despair. He hated he felt so powerless to make her feel better.
“I know, Honey.” Holly crooned stroking Bandit’s hair. She turned to Molly. “Can you please get a washcloth out of the bathroom and get it wet with some cool water?”
“Sure” Molly ran off to follow her mother’s instructions.
Holly stood. “Be right back.”
Gerard cuddled Bandit in his arms trying to sooth her with his words. Nothing seemed to help. Bandit started crying harder.
Holly picked up her phone then walked towards the kitchen. A minute later her call was answered.
“Yeah, Holly. It’s me.”
“How’s Lindsey?’ She asked quickly.
“Resting right now. I did tell her Bandit’s sick.” He figured she would want to know.
“She’s actually pretty sick right now and wanting her mommy. Think Lindsey would be up to talking to her?”
“I’m sure she would.”
Holly could hear him moving. A moment later she heard him explaining to Lindsey what was going on.
“Hello?” Lindsey’s voice sounded weak.
“Hey, Lindsey.” Holly came right to the point. “Bandit’s fever is up at the moment and she’s crying for her mommy. I think it will really help if she hears your voice.”
“My poor baby.” Lindsey said softly. “Let me talk to her.”
Holly walked back over to the sofa. She took the wet washcloth from Molly’s hands and gently wiped Bandit’s face trying to calm her. “B, it’s your mommy on the phone. She wants to talk to you.”
Bandit stopped crying. “Mommy?”
Holly smiled, “Yeah, Honey. Here.” She held out the phone to Bandit.
“Mommy?” Bandit said with a hiccup.
Gerard wasn’t sure what Lindsey was saying to Bandit but it seemed to be helping. After a few minutes Bandit had completely stopped crying. Holly sat down on the floor in front of the sofa.
Finally Bandit said goodbye then handed the phone to Holly. “Mommy wants you.”
“Hey.” Holly took the phone then stood.
“Holly I can’t thank you enough for being there.” Lindsey began.
“Hey I told you I’d take care of her. Gee and I have been taking turns. He’s still pretty wiped out but he’s been a great help. But I knew when she started crying for you that only your voice was going to help.”
“God this flu is so wicked.” Lindsey said tiredly. “All I do is sleep and puke.”
Holly laughed, “Yeah, that seems to be the norn. Now try to get back to sleep and don’t worry. Bandit will be fine.”
“Not sure when we’re coming home.” Lindsey said worriedly.
“Just get better.” Holly said softly. “Don’t worry about anything.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow.” Lindsey promised.
“Okay. Take care.” Holly said good bye then disconnected.
“She’s a lot calmer now.” Gerard said softly.
Holly nodded. “She just needed to talk to her mommy. Isn’t that right, B?”
Again Holly used the cool washcloth to wipe her cheeks. “Here fever is slowly coming down.” She said softly.
“Maybe a Popsicle would help?” Molly said wanting to do something to ease her sisters pain.
“Do you want a Popsicle?” Gerard asked Bandit.
“Cherry.” Bandit answered.
“I’ll get it.” Holly said knowing Molly couldn’t reach the freezer. However when she got it out Molly was waiting to take it to her sister.
As Bandit slowly sucked on the frozen treat Holly told her daughter it was time to get ready for bed.
Molly frowned, “But I want to help daddy take care of Bandit.”
Holly sighed, “I didn’t say you have to go to bed yet. Just go put on your jammies.”
“Okay.” Molly nodded still looking very unhappy.
“I was thinking I’d put B in bed with me tonight.” Gerard said softly. “That way if her fever comes back I’ll know right away.”
Holly nodded, “Good idea. I changed Bandit’s sheets so I’ll sleep in her bed tonight.” She knew her daughter wasn’t going to want to sleep alone.
Gerard nodded while absently stroking Bandit’s hair. “So.” He said softly. “What did Richard want?” He tried to make the question sound nonchalant.
At that moment Molly returned but instead of returning to the sofa she crawled up in Holly’s lap.
Holly waited until she was settled to answer his question. “He talked to Arthur so he knew I was here.”
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, I caught that part.”
She decided to leave out the part where Richard had said he’d been by the loft and had been worried. “He is going to donate my wind chime he has for the auction.”
“He has one of your wind chimes?” Gerard’s eyes narrowed. “Did you make it for him?”
“No.” Holly explained, “I guess he bought it from the gallery. He really didn’t say. I’m just grateful he’s doing it because that means another piece for the auction.” She narrowed her eyes. “He said he understands it’s for a good cause.”
Gerard could tell she was angry but then he was a bit miffed Richard had called. “Yeah, that’s true. Of course I’m sure that gets him some nice brownie points with you.”
Holly looked down and saw that Molly had fallen asleep. Not wanting to wake her by having an argument with Gerard she sighed. “I’m going to carry her to bed.”
“Hold on.” He carefully sifted Bandit off his lap on to the sofa then stood. “I’ll carry her.”
“It’s not necessary.” Holly said beginning to scoot out of the chair.
Gerard quickly crossed the room before she could try to stand. “Give her to me, Holly.” He said tiredly.
Holly handed her over without a word. She followed him down the hall to the girl’s bedroom. He placed Molly in her bed then gently pulled the blanket over her sleeping body. Then he placed a kiss on her cheek.
Crossing the room Holly slid into Bandit’s small twin bed. She held her tongue when Gerard walked over and tucked the blanket around her body. He stood then spoke. “Don’t be mad at me.”
Holly chose to ignore his plea. “Wake me if Bandit gets worse.”
He nodded. “I will.” With that he left the room.
Snuggling down in the small bed Holly listened to the sound of Gerard moving back to the living room. A few minutes later she heard him as he carried Bandit to his room.
As much as she tried she couldn’t sleep. An hour passed as she lay in the tiny bed staring at the ceiling. She was surprised and concerned when she heard Gerard’s steps moving out of his room. When his form appeared in the doorway she snapped her eyes shut pretending to be asleep. Suddenly she felt bad, what if Bandit was sick and he’d come to tell her? She opened her eyes and through the shadows saw that he was gently touching Molly’s forehead checking for fever. Obviously she had none and he moved a step back. Again Holly closed her eyes. It was hard not to open them when she sensed him by the bed.
“Night Holly.” He whispered softly then leaned down and kissed her cheek.
Holly’s eyes opened once she heard him leave the room, eyes that were wet with tears.