Alicia continues her campaign to get Holly and Gerard together.
Gerard rolled over then blinked several times trying to see the clock. “Alicia?”
“Yes, Alicia.” She answered impatiently. “Now answer my question.”
He blinked again and this time the numbers on the clock came into focus. “Uh, it’s not even 8 am.”
“Gerard.” She huffed, “You’re lucky I wanted to call you as soon as I got up but Holly just left so I had to wait.”
Slowly he sat up clutching his phone. “Okay I’m totally confused. Holly just left where?”
She sighed, “Crap, obviously I woke you up.”
“Yeah.” He rubbed his eyes. “You did.”
“Sorry about that.”
Gerard didn’t think she sounded sorry at all. “So what’s this about? Is something wrong?”
“Yes something is wrong. You haven’t invited Holly to your house for Christmas.”
He slid from the bed making his way to the hall. A quick glance confirmed Bandit was still sleeping in her room. Moving down the hallway he waited until he was in the kitchen to speak. “I haven’t had a chance yet.” He answered trying to clear his groggy mind. First order of business was obviously making coffee. He pulled out the coffee can as he balanced the phone against his shoulder.
“Gerard, it’s December 16th. Christmas is on the 25th, you know.”
He tried not to sound cranky when he answered. “I know what day Christmas is on.”
“Well good. Then tell me why on earth you haven’t asked Holly and your daughter to spend the day with us.”
“How did you know I didn’t?” He asked while spooning coffee into the filter. Obviously something was going on and he hadn’t figured it out yet.
“Because Holly told me.” Alicia answered tapping her fingers on the table. She stopped long enough to pick up her coffee cup to take a sip.
“When did you and Holly talk about Christmas?”
“Last night.” Alicia heard him running water. “What are you doing?” She didn’t like to think he wasn’t giving her his full attention.
“Making coffee.” He mumbled. “Someone woke me up and the way this conversation is going I’m gonna need it.”
Alicia laughed. “Sorry but I’ve been up for over an hour. Like I said I had to wait until Holly left to call you.”
“Alicia, where are you?” He asked trying to make sense of things.
“Holly’s loft, I stayed here last night.”
He carefully poured in the water then flipped the switch. “Why?”
“Because I wanted to hang with my friend and because I’m watching Molly today.”
“Oh.” He stared at the coffee maker as if sheer will could make it brew faster. “Bet she was happy about last night.”
“You could say that.” Alicia smiled remembering how excited Holly had been. “The auction brought in over fifty thousand.”
“Holy shit.” Gerard was shocked. “That’s incredible.”
While that was true Alicia didn’t want to stray from the topic. “Yep but back to my original question and don’t give me that I haven’t had a chance line, tell me why you haven’t asked her yet?”
“About Christmas Day?”
“Duh. Crap I hope that coffee is ready soon. You obviously need it.”
Gerard laughed, “Yeah, you pulled me out of a sound sleep. I didn’t get to bed until late.”
This surprised Alicia, “But you left the gallery early?”
“Yeah, but Sally stayed a long time after I got home.” He admitted. Finally the aroma of coffee started to fill the air.
This time he as able to follow the conversation. “We were talking. She wanted to know all about the auction.”
He pulled a mug out of the cabinet then poured a cup silently loving whoever had invented auto pause. “What?”
“What else did you and Sally talk about?”
Gerard knew his sister-in-law so he understood. “You mean did we talk about Holly?”
“Yeah that’s exactly what I mean.”
His mind went back to last night’s conversation. “Yeah we did.” He offered no other information.
“That’s because Sally is a good friend. She gets how important Holly is to you.”
He was leery of discussing this with Alicia. “Sally is a good friend.”
Alicia rolled her eyes. “Okay we don’t have time for games. I know, just like Sally knows, you’re in love with Holly. Don’t even bother trying to deny it.”
Gerard carried his coffee cup to the table then took a seat. Gazing out the large windows at the beautiful bright sunlight he sighed. “Okay, I won’t deny it.”
“Good.” Alicia said shaking her head. “Now all we have to do is get her to realize she feels the same way about you.”
Gerard took a sip of coffee. “You can’t be sure if that’s true or not.”
“I know Holly.” Alicia answered, “If you’d seen how she took off after you last night you’d understand.”
“What?” She was confusing him again.
“I’m the one who told her you’d been there but was leaving.” Alicia admitted sounding quite proud of herself.
“Oh.” He took a sip of coffee giving that some thought. “So she seemed to care?”
Alicia laughed out loud. “Yeah, she cared. She took off like a bat out of hell trying to find you. So I heard she did and now you guys have plans for tomorrow.”
“Guess she told you that?”
“She did and good job.” Alicia answered. “You two need to spend some time together.”
Gerard laughed, “Uh we just spent days together.”
Alicia rolled her eyes. “Not time where she’s taking care of sick Gerard and Bandit. Time where you two can enjoy each others company.”
Suddenly he wondered why this seemed to be vitally important. “Okay, fess up. What’s really going on? Does it have something to do with Richard?” He prayed that wasn’t it but if for some reason Alicia thought Holly and the restaurateur were getting close that might be the rush.
“She says he’s just a friend but I watched him.” Alicia said softly. “He’s attracted to her, I could tell.”
Gerard took another sip of coffee giving that bit of information some thought. “Maybe she is attracted to him but just didn’t admit that to you.”
“I honestly don’t think so, Gee. But regardless you need to get this Christmas problem under control.”
He loved his sister-in-law but at time she drove him crazy. “Christmas problem?”
“Invite them to your damn house.” Alicia answered beginning to tap her fingers on the table again. “I mean wouldn’t you feel stupid if someone else invited her for Christmas?”
“Are you sure you don’t know something?”
She knew she wanted Holly there when she and Mikey told the family about the baby but she couldn’t tell him that. “All I know is I mentioned it last night thinking she was going to be there and she informed me you hadn’t invited her.”
“Kinda thought you and Mikey would get this worked out.” He admitted.
“Just as I though.” Alicia sighed, “Well we can’t because Holly said it’s your house so you have to invite them.”
“So you think she’ll come?” He held his breath waiting for her answer. If she would then hopefully that would mean getting her and Molly to stay Christmas Eve night might just be a little easier.
“I think she will if you ask.” Alicia answered.
“I’ll call her tonight.” Gerard said. “I know she’s busy today.”
“Good.” Alicia took another sip of coffee then said, “Oh and by the way I’ve decided Molly is gonna help us get a tree today. So if Bandit is feeling better you guys could come by. I told Holly I’d bring M home around eight tonight but of course if you were at my house dropping off Molly for us would make sense.”
“I do love you, you know?” Gerard said softly realizing Alicia was trying to give him another opportunity to see Holly.
“Yeah, yeah, I love you too.” She smiled. “Sorry I woke you.”
“I’m not.” He admitted. “Unless B isn’t feeling well we’ll see you and Mikey this afternoon.”
“Sounds good.” Alicia said goodbye then disconnected. She felt good about the call. To her getting Gerard and Holly together was the right thing for everyone concerned. They would all be one big happy family and with the new life growing inside her that’s what she wanted more than anything.
An hour later Alicia had cleaned up the breakfast dishes and now she and Molly were waiting for Mikey to pick them up. She’d already told her niece that today they were going to get a Christmas Tree and Molly was so excited by the prospect she was nervously jumping up and down asking when Uncle Mikey would arrive.
When the doorbell rang Molly started clapping her hands. “Oh he’s here.”
“Hold on.” Alicia yelled pulling on her shoes. She saw that Molly was already standing by the door waiting for her to open it.
“Hurry Aunt Alicia.” Molly cried out.
“Hold your horses.” Alicia smiled. “What took you so long?” The words died on her lips when she saw it wasn’t Mikey standing at the door.
“Ms Lintz?” The uniformed man asked.
“Uh, she’s not here.” Alicia answered eyeing the large bouquet of flowers the man was holding.
“That’s okay.” He smiled, “You can just sign for it.”
“Oh pretty flowers.” Molly said in awe. “Those are for my mommy.”
The young man smiled down at her while Alicia scribbled her name. “Hold on.” She ran to her purse then returned with a tip. “Here you go.”
“Thanks, have a nice day.” He handed over the flowers then turned to leave.
Alicia closed the door with her foot while balancing the bouquet in her hands.
“How come mommy got flowers?” Molly asked following Alicia over to the table where she set them down.
Alicia saw the small envelope protruding from the bouquet. “I don’t know.” She said slowly. By quick estimate there was at least three dozen roses in various shades. She quickly made a decision. “Hey M, go grab yourself another pair of shoes okay?”
Molly gave her a confused look, “How come?”
“Because those might get dirty. We’re gonna have Mikey take us to a tree lot to pick out our tree.”
Molly smiled, “Okay.”
As soon as she ran off to do her aunts bidding Alicia grabbed the small envelope. Luckily it wasn’t sealed. A frown covered her face as she read the card inside. Just as she’d thought, the flowers were from Richard.
When she heard Molly returning she shoved the card back inside the envelope then returned it to its original spot.
“Ready.” Molly sang out happily carrying another pair of shoes.
Alicia pasted a smile on her face. “Now if that old Mikey would just get here.”
Molly giggled. “He’s not old.”
This time when the door bell rang it was Mikey.
“Hey.” He said giving Alicia a kiss as soon as she pulled open the door. “Sorry it took me so long. Lots of traffic today.”
“Uncle Mikey we have to get to the lot.” Molly said tugging on his shirt.
Alicia grinned, “Christmas tree lot.”
"Oh.” Mikey reached down to lift Molly into his arms. “You’re right kid. We gotta get to the lot. What if they run out of trees?”
Molly gave him a serious look. “Really?”
He kissed her cheek. “I’m just kidding. I’m sure there are still lots of trees.” He glanced over at his wife but saw she was looking over at the kitchen table. “Ready?”
“Yep.” She nodded turning her attention back to her husband and niece. “Lets go.”
“Not catching you at a bad time, am I?”
Holly shifted her cell phone from one shoulder to the other before answering her friend. “No, I just got through giving an interview about the auction and the shelters.” She answered. “So how’s the family?”
Christa sighed, “Well, Tara had a slight fever this morning but it’s gone now. I just wanted to tell you again how sorry Ray and I are we couldn’t be there last night.”
“I understand.” Holly said as she made her way towards her car.
“So what do you having going the rest of the day?”
“Now I’m on my way to meet Richard at the restaurant. This will be the first time I get to actually see the place. Supposedly the walls are all studded in so it will give me a better idea of where he wants my art work.”
“I know the area where the restaurant is but I’m confused is it a new construction?”
“No, they gutted the building. Richard said it was actually already a restaurant but he wanted to pretty much start over to make it more his own design.” Holly reached her car then climbed inside.
“This whole thing must be exciting for you.” Christa smiled as Ray walked in holding the baby. He gave her a questioning look. “Holly.”
Christa laughed, “I was answering Ray. He wanted to know who I was talking to.”
“Oh, well tell him I said hi.”
“Holly says hi.” Christa said as her husband sat down next to her.
He leaned over and said hello by Christa’s ear.
“And give that baby a big hug for me.” Holly smiled.
“Will do.” Ray answered having heard her request.
“Anyway” Christa said getting back to the real reason for the call. “We were wondering if you and Molly would like to come over tomorrow.”
“Oh sorry but we can’t. Tomorrow we’re driving out to Gee’s to help him get a Christmas tree. Bandit will be there and he wants both girls to help him.”
“That sounds like fun.” Christa said smiling. “So maybe one night this week?”
Holly tired to mentally remember what she had going on this week. “I’d really like that. Is it okay if I give you a call maybe tomorrow night?”
“Sure.” Christa reached over to stroke Tara’s soft cheek. “We don’t have any plans so pretty much any night. Or you could just come over and visit me and Tara during the day if that’s better for you. The guys will be in the studio so we’ll be here alone.”
They talked a few more minutes then said their goodbyes. Ray spoke when Christa set down her phone.
“So the auction was a success?”
“We really didn’t talk about it but I know it was because I talked to Alicia this morning. Can you believe it, the auction brought in just over 50 thousand?”
“Wow that is incredible.” Ray said settling back against the cushions. “I’m sure Holly is pleased.” He looked at his wife, “You know you’re the person who first took her to one of the shelters.”
Christa frowned, “Yeah well as much good as Holly is doing for them I still have some regret.”
“Babe, you can’t blame yourself for what happened”
She shook her head sadly, “I still have nightmares about that day.”
He reached over and took her hand. “I know.”
“Holly risked her life for me and Tara even though at the time she didn’t know this little one was on her way.” She impulsively took the baby from his arms.
“Wouldn’t have mattered, she’d have done it anyway.” Ray said softly. “That’s just Holly.”
“And I hope that never changes.” Christa said looking down at the baby.
Ray understood. “You’re worried all the success she’s getting will change her.”
“I honestly don’t think it will. I just wish I could spend more time with her. Since she’s been back I’ve hardly seen her and now with this whole restaurant gig I know she’s gonna be busy.”
“So why can’t they come tomorrow?”
Christa smiled, “She and Molly are going out to Gee’s. Bandit is still there so they’re gonna get a Christmas tree.”
“Hope that goes well or Gee will be a pain on Monday at the studio.” Ray sighed.
“I wonder how she really feels about Gee.” Christa admitted.
“I know how he feels about her.” Ray answered.
“You and he have talked about it?”
Ray nodded, “As much as Gee will talk about things. But it’s obvious to me he loves her. Shit, that whole time she was gone we all could tell that she and Molly were on his mind.”
Christa nodded, “Yeah, that’s true.” She decided to share with him something she learned this morning. “Alicia is worried that the guy Holly is doing the art work for is attracted to her.”
Ray frowned, “Oh. Does she think Holly’s attracted to him?”
“She doesn’t think so or at least Holly says that nothing is going on between them.”
“Holly’s a good looking woman with a great personality. I could see how that guy would be attracted to her.”
“I just hope whatever happens she’s happy.” Christa said softly. “Holly’s had a rough life up until now but it seems things are really starting to change for her.”
“Yeah, I agree.” Ray said. “But I really hope whatever happens she and Gerard maintain a good relationship because of Molly.”
Gerard and Mikey sat on the sofa watching as Alicia tried to corral the girls who were decorating the tree. It was fun to watch the enthusiastic way both girls chose ornaments out of the box then decided just the right spot to hang each one.
Mikey looked over at his brother. “Damn, you’ve got some cute kids.”
Gerard laughed, “You say that like you’re surprised. What did you think because I’m their father they’d be hideous?”
It pleased Mikey to see his brother in such a good mood. “No, as Holly always said, you’re pretty.”
“Oh ha ha.” Gerard shook his head. “It’s a good thing my daughters have beautiful mothers.”
“Yeah, true.” Mikey laughed watching Bandit standing on her tippy toes trying to hang a candy cane. He turned his attention back to Gerard, “So what time will Lindsey be back tomorrow?”
“Their plane doesn’t land until five so I don’t think they’ll pick up B until after seven.”
“They?” Mikey had thought Lindsey had flown alone.
Gerard nodded, “Yeah they. Jake went with Lindsey.”
“Oh.” Mikey said wondering how his brother felt about that but not wanting to come right out and ask.
Gerard could sense his brother’s question. “Hey, Jake is a good guy. I like him and he makes Linds happy.”
“Daddy.” Molly’s voice halted their discussion.
“B keeps taking the ones off that I put on.” She said sadly.
Gerard had already noticed his younger daughter was indeed redoing Molly’s ornament placement. He walked over to the tree then knelt down between the girls. “B, its not nice to move the ones Molly puts on.”
Bandit folded her arms defiantly.
Gerard tried another tact. “You’re kinda hurting her feels and you don’t want to do that do you?”
Bandit looked over at her sister. Suddenly her eyes teared up. “Bandit not want to hurt her.”
Gerard was about to speak when Molly rushed over and gave Bandit a hug. “It’s okay.”
Bandit was still upset. “Here.” She pointed to the plastic candy cane she’d just placed on the tree. “You moves it.”
Molly shook her head. “But it looks good there.”
Gerard smiled but when he looked over at Alicia he was shocked to see tears in her eyes. “You okay?” He asked getting to his feet.
Alicia swiped her eyes. “Oh yeah.” She realized being so emotional might set off warning bells in Gerard’s head. “They are just so cute.”
He tilted his head to study his sister-in-law. “You sure you’re okay?”
She was so happy right now thinking that next Christmas she and Mikey would have a child of their own it was hard not to let her emotions take over. “I’m great.” She smiled. Then she quickly turned away. “Okay girls lets get this tree done so we can have some hot chocolate.”
Both girls thought that was a wonderful idea.
Holly let herself into the loft with a tried sigh. It had been a long day and she was hoping she’d have time to take a shower before they brought Molly home. She had just slipped off her shoes when her eyes caught sight of the huge bouquet of roses.
“Oh.” She smiled as she made her way over to the table. She quickly located the card and read it. “Damn.” She muttered throwing the card down on the table. She’s spent hours today with Richard but hadn’t known about the flowers. Now before her shower she had to call and thank him making sure he realized they’d been delivered after she left the loft his morning.
“Bandit has to go potty.”
Gerard glanced in the rear-view mirror to meet his youngest daughter’s gaze. “Can’t you wait until we get to Molly’s?”
Bandit shook her head. “Gotta go now.”
Gerard sighed. “But we just left Mikey’s.” Even as he said it he wondered why he was trying to reason with her.
Bandit just stared at him.
“Look there’s a gas station.” Molly pointed out trying to help.
“Yep, I see it.” Gerard said as the slowed down the car. He parked then helped both girls out of the backseat.
“Let’s make this quick.” He said as he held their hands moving towards the entrance. “We’re already running late and Holly might worry.”
They walked through the sliding glass doors and Gerard quickly scanned the place for the restroom sign. “This way.” He said spotting it in the back.
They reached the doors and he started to lead them to the men’s restroom when Molly started shaking her head. “Daddy, that’s the boys potty.”
“I know.” He said looking down at her. “But I have to help Bandit and I can’t go into the girls restroom.”
“Bandit not a boy.” Until now she’d never realized her father had been taking her into the wrong restroom when they were together.
Gerard groaned, “I know Honey but…”
Molly piped up. “Daddy I can help Bandit.”
The suggestion caused him to pause. “Uh, you sure?” He honestly wasn’t sure it was a good idea.
“Daddy.” Molly said rolling her eyes. “I’m sure.”
It was hard for him not to laugh, but when she rolled her eyes she reminded him so much of her mother. “Well, okay. I’ll wait right here. But don’t lock the door.”
“Okay.” Molly took Bandit’s hand and soon the door was closed leaving Gerard standing just outside. A few minutes later a woman walked over.
“Uh, it’s occupied.” He said realizing she was waiting to use the restroom.
The older woman smiled, “I know I saw them go in. Your daughters?”
“Yep and at times like this being a dad ain’t easy.”
The woman laughed, “Probably not but they are both adorable. The good Lord has blessed you.”
“Thanks, I think so too.” Gerard grinned.
The door slowly opened.
“All done.” Bandit announced as she and Molly walked out.
Gerard laughed. “Okay, good. Let’s get back on the road. He once again took a hand of each girl then started walking towards the front of the store.
“Candy.” Bandit cried out as she spotted the colorful display in front of the cash register. “Bandit needs candy.”
“Bandit does not need candy.” Gerard said tightening his hold on her hand.
Molly too was eyeing all the goodies. “I think she does.” She reasoned if Bandit got candy she would too.
Gerard groaned, “Girls, you had desert at Mikey’s.” He reminded them.
“Candy, candy.” Bandit chanted.
“Candy.” Molly joined in but added “Please?”
The young clerk behind the counter laughed, “Hey, man. I think you’re outnumbered.”
Gerard looked over at the young man. “Yeah, I think you’re right.” While he knew he shouldn’t give in he hated reasoned he should buy something since they’d used the facilities. “Okay girls one small piece of candy.” He released their hands and immediately both girls raced to the candy display. Gerard watched as they pondered over the choices.
Luckily no one else was in the store at the moment so they weren’t blocking the register. Gerard moved up prepared to pay for whatever the girls chose.
“Like you music.” The young clerk said as they waited.
“Thanks.” Gerard thought the guy had recognized him.
The clerk’s eyes went over to the girls. “Cute kids.”
Gerard laughed, “Cute but unfocused.” He looked over at his daughters. “Come on guys, pick something out.”
Soon both had a very sugary treat in their hands.
“Put them on the counter so I can pay.” Gerard said as he slid his wallet out of his pocket. It was then he noticed the vase of single bud roses. “Uh, the candy and this.” He said pulling one of the wrapped flowers out and setting it on the counter.
As they made their way back to the car Molly noticed the rose. “Who’s that for?” She asked.
“Your mom.” Gerard answered as he pushed the unlock button on the key fob. “Now hope in.”
It wasn’t until they were secured in the car and unwrapping their candy that Molly spoke. “Mommy will like that. She got flowers this morning too.”
Gerard shoved the key in the ignition but instead of starting the car he turned to look back. “She got flowers this morning?”
Molly nodded. “Yep, lots of them but she wasn’t there just me and Alicia.”
He turned back around then engaged his Bluetooth before starting the engine. As soon as his sister-in-law answered he said, “I heard Holly got flowers this morning.” A quick glance in the rear view mirror let him know both girls were to busy devouring the candy to pay him any attention.
Alicia sighed, “Yeah, a big bouquet.”
He had a sinking feeling he knew but still asked, “From who?”
She’s hoped Gerard wouldn’t notice them but obviously Molly had mentioned it. “Richard. But hey, the card just said congratulations, you’re a rising star in the art world.”
“You read it?”
“Well I did sign for them” She said trying to defend her actions.
“That’s not right.” He said softly. Glancing over at the single rose on the seat beside him he sighed. “Okay, catch you later.” He disconnected before she could say anything else.
Holly was out of the shower and towel drying her hair when the bell rang. She pulled open the door and was greeted with a big hug from Molly.
“I thought Mikey and Alicia were bringing her home.” Holly said moving back so they could enter. As she did Bandit latched on to her leg.
“Olly.” She said happily. “Bandit is all better.”
Holly laughed, “Well I can see that. I’m very happy you are.” She thought it was adorable how Bandit referred to herself by name.
“Daddy got us candy on the way home.” Molly said as her mother closed the door.
When Holly turned he gave her a sheepish look. “Uh, we had to stop because of a potty emergency.”
Bandit nodded. “Yep, Bandit had to go.”
“Mommy can I show B the doll Hal gave me?” Molly asked.
“If you’re dad isn’t in a hurry.” Holly answered. She looked over at Gerard to see his gaze was on the table across the room where the huge bouquet of flowers sat.
Gerard pulled his gaze back to Holly. “Guess we have a few minutes.”
Both girls raced towards Molly’s bedroom area. However Molly suddenly stopped. “Daddy, you forgot mommy’s flower in the car.”
He groaned inwardly. After learning that Richard had sent Holly a huge bouquet of flowers he hadn’t planned on giving her his crappy single rose. He looked over to see that Holly was staring at him.
“My flower?” She asked softly.
He tried to play the situation off with a shrug. “Just a crappy rose I picked up at the convenience store.”
Holly now understood the look that had been on his face when he’d been gazing at the bouquet. Knowing the girls had retreated to Molly’s room she paused only a moment then walked towards the kitchen. Gerard watched her wondering if he was supposed to sit down or follow her. He didn’t have to wonder long because a moment later she was walking back towards him with something in her hand. As she got closer he saw it was a bud vase.
Holly stopped in front of him then held out the vase.
He realized what she meant. “Really it’s just a sad single rose.”
She rolled her eyes as she held out the vase. “Uh, my flower?”
Gerard laughed, Okay, okay. I’ll be right back.”
When he returned to the loft Holly had left the door open and was sitting on the sofa. She already filled the vase with water.
“Here.” He said handing the rose to her. “Told you it’s pathetic.”
She ignored him as she carefully unwrapped the cellophane from around the rose then removed the single water tube. Gently she touched the petals. “It’s lovely.” After inhaling the aroma she placed it in the vase. “Thank you.” She said smiling over at him.
Gerard lowered himself into the chair across from her. “Well it was just a last minute thought.” Again his gaze went to the bouquet Richard had sent. “I should have got you something nicer to celebrate your success last night.”
“It really wasn’t my success.” Holly said softly.
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, I know what you mean. The shelters are the ones who really had a success.”
His words touched her soul. While Richards’s card had made it sound like last night had been all about her but it definitely didn’t seem that way to Holly. Gerard understood what the auction had really meant to her.
Gerard smiled, “Just think of all the good that money will do.”
Holly was still gazing at the rose he’d given her. “Gee, thank you.” When she looked over at him their eyes locked. Finally she looked away. “So.” She needed to get the conversation on a less personal level. “You had to deal with a potty emergency?”
Gerard settled back in the chair while laughing. “Not sure if B was conning me or not. Molly went into the bathroom with her.” He wanted to share the story with Holly. “When it’s just me and Bandit I take her into the men’s bathroom.”
Holly nodded understanding why.
“But.” Gerard grinned, “This time when I tried that Molly pointed out it was the boy’s bathroom.”
Holly laughed, “Oh my.”
“Yeah.” Gerard nodded, “You can imagine how that went down. Bandit informed me she wasn’t a boy. But then Molly said she’d help B so I stood outside guarding the door while they went in.” He paused then added, “It was funny. I asked Molly if she was sure she could handle it and she rolled her eyes at me.”
“Did she?” Actually Holly wasn’t surprised. Her daughter liked to take control of situations to prove she was a big girl.
“Looked just like you when she did it.” He said softly. “Hell, you’re always rolling your eyes at me.”
“Do not.” She said rolling her eyes.
Gerard laughed, “See? You do that all the time, woman.”
Again their eyes locked for a brief moment.
It was Holly who broke that moment again. She tucked her bare feet up under her and sighed. “So I’m guessing you and B helped with the Christmas tree at Mikey’s?”
“Yep oh and I’m supposed to tell you that Molly’s already had a bath. Alicia gave both of them one.” He grinned, “Because Molly said they had tree goop all over them.”
He nodded, “Yeah, she and Bandit kept crawling under the tree to make sure it had enough water.”
“Those trees do get thirsty.” Holly kidded.
“That’s what Molly said. Oh and I checked the Net and there is a tree lot just a mile from my house. We can go there tomorrow if you want or there is a tree farm about five miles away if you think we should cut a fresh tree.”
Holly thought a minute. “I think the tree lot will be fine. I always sorta feel like it’s best to get a tree that’s already been cut. It makes me sad to think about the ones who don’t get chosen.”
This didn’t surprise him at all. He knew this side of Holly. “Because they’re gonna die and you want them to have a purpose before it happens.”
She gave his a surprised look. “Well, yeah.”
He nodded, “Thought so. You’re very tender hearted.”
She glanced away not wanting to deal with the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm her. The Gerard sitting in front of her was the man she’s once fell in love with and she didn’t want to admit that.
“So we’ll be there around ten?”
He knew she was deliberately trying not to let the conversation stay to anything personal. “Sounds great. But I guess I better get B home now. I’m sure she’ll probably fall asleep before we get there.”
Holly nodded then called out for the girls.
Molly reached them first. “Mommy can B stay here tonight?”
“Oh.” Holly gave the request a bit of thought before saying. “Well it’s okay with me since we’re going out to Gee’s in the morning but you need to ask your daddy.”
“Daddy?” Molly gave him a hopeful look. “Can she?”
“Bandit stay here.” Added another little voice. “Peas?”
Gerard was looking at Holly. “Sure you don’t mind?”
Holly smiled, “Not at all. We’ll see you in the morning.”
It was nearly midnight when Gerard fell tiredly into bed. Thinking back he decided today had been very good indeed. Suddenly he picked up his phone. He wanted to text Holly but it was late. He wrestled with the idea for only a moment then gave in.
GERARD: Still awake?
HOLLY: Yeah, what’s up? You’re home, right?
GERARD: Yep, thanks for keeping B
HOLLY: No prob girls are nestled in bed sleeping
GERARD: What are you doing?
HOLLY: Looking a my rose
Gerard smiled seeing she’d typed rose not roses.
GERARD: Why aren’t you in bed? It’s late.
He worried because she had looked tired earlier.
HOLLY: I am in bed.
Gerard groaned as the image of Holly lying in her bed crossed his mind. At the same time he had to smile. She was in bed looking at the rose he’d given her.
GERARD: Get some sleep. We have a big day tomorrow.
He smiled when he received her text.
HOLLY: Now who’s being bossy?
GERARD: Nite Holly. Sweet dreams.
HOLLY: Nite Gee. See you tomorrow.
Gerard placed his phone on the nightstand then flipped off the light. In the darkness he smiled once more thinking today had been a damn good day. Maybe since he and Holly were connecting so well he should have asked her about Christmas Day but he hadn’t wanted to chance anything ruining the mood. He’d ask her tomorrow because he just knew it would be a good day too.