Gerard and Holly take the girls to see Santa.
“Hey there, Squirt.” Gerard laughed unable to move. He was holding Bandit with one hand and a large shopping bag in the other.
Holly laughed. “Molly, you maybe should let them come in.”
Molly let go of Gerard. “Where are we going?” She asked impatiently.
“Slow down there.” Gerard laughed. He looked over at Holly. “Uh, Lindsey sent this.” He said holding out the bag.
Holly nodded knowing it must contain the clothing she said she’d let Molly borrow.
Bandit started jumping up and down feeling her sister’s excitement. “Lookie Bandit’s got swooshie pants on.” She pointed to her pink nylon bib outfit.
Molly’s eyes grew wide. “Swooshie pants.” She started clapping her hands with joy.
Gerard was confused, “Swooshie pants?”
Holly grinned, “Swooshie pants because of the sound they make. Molly’s always called them that but I guess B does too.”
“Swooshie pants mean snow.” Molly said grabbing Gerard’s hand. “We’re going where there’s snow?”
He looked over at Holly, “So much for the surprise. I left their jackets in the car but I didn’t realize the pants would give it away.”
Holly shrugged. “Oh well.” She reached into the bag and pulled out the pants. “Here Molly. Go put these on.”
Molly began to dance around. “Oh snow. B we’re gonna get to play in snow.” She grabbed the pants and ran for her room with Bandit following in her wake.
“Well at least they don’t know exactly where we’re going.” Gerard said softly.
“That’s true.” Holly smiled. “I’m gonna go make sure she puts on warm socks and her boots. Have a seat.”
Gerard moved to the sofa with a smile on his face. Today was going to be a good day, he was just sure of it. However a moment later his smile faded when he saw the package Molly had torn open that was sitting on the coffee table. The tag reading from Richard was in plain sight. It didn’t take him long to theorize that Holly hadn’t answered her phone last night because she’d had a guest. For a moment he stared at Molly’s glitter art pen set but then he notice the small velvet jeweler’s box sitting on the table beside the sofa. Quickly he glanced towards Molly’s room and hearing they were still getting Molly ready he jumped up and grabbed the box. When he opened it and saw the bracelet anger was his first response. What the hell was Richard trying to prove? That he could buy Holly expensive things? He snapped the lid of the box shut then sat back down.
Holly noticed as soon as they returned to the living room area Gerard’s smile looked forced. “You okay?” She asked.
He nodded, “Sure. You guys ready?” He wasn’t going to say anything to her about Richard right now. Nothing was going to spoil their day.
“You have a jacket for Molly in the car?”
“Okay let me grab mine and we can head out.”
When she had disappeared Gerard spoke softly to Molly. “I see you got a gift.”
Molly nodded. “Glitter pins and paper. Wanna see what I drew?”
“Sure.” He sat down on the sofa to allow Molly to show him her pictures. “These are great.” He smiled. “Uh, when did you get these?”
“Mommy said Richard came over last night and left them for me.” Molly answered innocently.
Again his anger flared. Obviously Richard had come by late after Molly was asleep.
“Okay, all ready.” Holly came back in smiling but when she saw Gerard looking at Molly’s work her smile slipped. Had Molly told him who the gift was from? The last thing she wanted to deal with today was Gerard’s dislike of Richard.
Gerard stood pasting a smile on his face. “Okay then lets get going.”
“But Daddy where are we going?” Molly asked.
“Oh we’re just gonna drive around. Maybe go to the beach.”
“Daddy.” Molly frowned. “Swooshie pants aren’t for sand.”
“No silly daddy. Swooshie pants are for snow. I know that.”
“Well then I guess we’ll drive around looking for some snow.” Gerard teased.
As they started for the door Molly took Gerard’s hand and Bandit ran over to grab Holly’s. His earlier anger completely dissipated when he saw the beautiful smile on Holly’s face as she looked down at the little girl clutching her hand.
“You excited B?” Holly asked.
Bandit nodded. “Bandit appy.”
“Well let’s go Happy Bandit.” Holly said leading the way towards the door. “We have some snow to find.”
The girls were growing impatient. Gerard was sure if he heard one more ‘are we there yet?’ his head would explode.
Holly turned slightly in her seat. They were now getting higher in the mountains and she had just spotted the first traces of snow. “You guys keeping your eyes peeled for snow?”
Bandit looked confused but Molly understood the question. “Yep, lookin’ really hard.” At that moment she spotted some of the white treasure. “Snow” She screamed happily. “Lookie B, snow.”
Bandit sat up in her seat struggling to see.
“Bet we’ll start seeing a lot more.” Holly grinned at the girls. “Don’t you think?”
“Wanna stop.” Bandit decided she’d seen enough and wanted to play. In her young life she hadn’t seen a lot of snow but it had been memorable.
“Oh but where we’re going there is going to be a lot more snow.” Holly said to her. “Just keep watching and I’m sure you’ll see lots more.”
Gerard glanced over at Holly. She looked almost as excited as the girls and that made him smile. “We’ll have to hit the workshop again too.” He said softly.
Holly nodded remembering how much Molly had loved that last year. “Yeah, of course. Do you have to have B back at any particular time?”
“Nope she’s spending the night with me.” He answered as he slowed the car to make a turn. “So the day is ours.”
“More snow.” Molly cried out clapping her hands. “I see more snow.”
“Yea” Bandit clapped her little hands too.
Holly touched the glass of the passenger side window. “The temps really dropping. I hope the girls will be dressed warm enough.”
“It will be fine.” Gerard answered. “Besides remember the great hot chocolate they have?”
Holly smiled at the memory. “Yep with the baby marshmallows.”
Gerard made another turn. “Okay girls not long now.”
Both of his daughters were bouncing in their seats with anticipation.
When they finally neared the town he slowed down trying to find a good parking space. Molly was staring out her window. “Oh.”
Holly smiled looking back at her daughter. “Do you remember being here?”
“Uncle Mikey and Aunt Alicia came with us.” Molly nodded.
“Wow she’s got a good memory.” Gerard said softly. He’d been afraid Molly being so young wouldn’t remember the visit from last year.
“She does.” Holly laughed. “Sometimes it’s too good.”
“Look at all the snow.” Molly yelled from the backseat. “B we can go down a big hill of snow.” Molly said happily remembering one of her favorite things about this town. “It’s fun.”
Gerard spotted a parking space and a minute later the car was parked near the center of the downtown area. “So, what’s first girls?”
“Play in snow.” Bandit yelled.
“Yeah.” Molly agreed.
Once jackets were secured tightly against the cold wind and Gerard and the girls pulled on their stocking caps the group started walking in the direction of the sledding hill. Bandit and Molly held hands with Gerard on one side and Holly on the other. Gerard glanced over at Holly then stopped. “Uh, you really should have worn a hat.”
“I forgot it.” Holly admitted as another gust of cold wind tussled her curls.
“Hold on.” He let got of Bandit’s hand. “Stay here a minute.” When she nodded and continued to hold Molly’s hand he ran back to the car. They all watched as he pulled out a stocking cup from under the seat then quickly returned to where they were standing. “Here you go.” He smiled as he ignored Holly outstretched hand to place the stocking cap on her head. He gently pulled it into place tucking some of her curls inside. “How’s that?”
Holly laughed, “Do I look stylish?”
He pulled the hat down a bit more over her ears. “You look warmer and that’s what’s important.”
“Thanks.” Holly smiled.
Once again they started walking towards the sled riding hill.
“Uh I remember this music really well.” Gerard said rolling his eyes.
The Christmas music being played over the town’s loud speaker system was more than a bit noticeable. Holly laughed, “Yeah, me too. Pretty sure you can hear this music back in LA.” She teased.
“Hurry.” Molly said tugging on Gerard’s hand.
“Slow down.” Gerard said understanding her impatience but not wanting anyone to slip. “We’ll get there.” Suddenly a thought occurred to him. “Uh, are you going to be able to sleigh down the hill?”
Holly had already considered this. “I can try. If my back starts to hurt I’ll stop.”
“Hey you don’t need to.” He said with concern. “I can ride down with both girls.”
Taking a deep breath of the cold mountain air Holly loved the way it made her feel so alive. “I wanna try.” She admitted with a smile. “It looked fun last year.”
“Yeah, it was.” Molly chimed in. “Lots of fun. Daddy and me went down the hill lots of times.”
Bandit frowned. “Where was Bandit?”
“You were with your mommy.” Gerard answered his youngest daughter. “That’s why you didn’t come with us.”
This answerer did nothing to take the frown off her face.
Gerard sighed as memories from this time last year filled his brain. He and Lindsey had come to the end of their marriage but neither had wanted to admit it. There had been so much heartache and pain that he tried to push the memories from his mind.
Holly was watching his face closely and could guess what he was feeling. Looking at Bandit she smiled. “Well Bandit it here now and we’re gonna have lots of fun, aren’t we?”
Bandit looked over at Holly. “Snow fun.”
“Yes, snow fun.” Holly grinned.
They continued walking for several minutes when Molly suddenly came to a complete standstill causing them all to halt.
“What’s wrong?” Gerard asked wondering why she’d suddenly stopped.
“I have to talk to Santa today.” Molly said looking quite serious.
Gerard smiled, “Well sure. That’s the plan.”
“But it’s really important, Daddy.” She looked into his eyes. “Really important.”
“Okay, Honey.” Gerard said wanting to put her mind at ease. “How about we sleigh ride first and then you and Bandit can see Santa before lunch?”
Molly considered this. “Okay.” They started walking again but her mind was still on the man in red. “Daddy do you think the real Santa is here?”
He glanced over at Holly wondering how to answer this one.
Holly smiled, “Molly knows that not every Santa she sees is the real one.”
Molly nodded, “Yeah some of them just work for the real Santa.”
“Oh.” Gerard nodded, “That’s right.”
“So you think the real one is here?” Molly asked again.
“Well I think that’s a good possibility.” Gerard said nodding his head. “Don’t you?”
Molly looked around at the colorful Christmas lights, the decorations, and the snow. “Yep, I think so.” She smiled.
At the top of the hill Gerard got Holly a red plastic sled. “Okay sit.” He grinned planning on getting her and one of the girls situated first.
“Wow, Bossy.” Holly laughed but did as he said. She carefully lowered herself then looked up. “Okay who’s riding with me?”
Both girls yelled “ME”
Gerard tried to handle the situation. “Hey one of you has to go with me.”
“Uh folks if you’d like we have bigger sleds that all of you can ride on.” A tall young boy said having overheard the commotion.
“All of us at one time?” Holly asked.
He nodded, “Yeah, hold on.”
While he went for the larger sled Holly carefully got back up.
“Hey, this is great.” Gerard said to the boy who’d returned with a much longer sled. “We’ll all fit on this.”
“Biggest to smallest.” The boy explained as he set the sled down. “Smallest in front.”
Holly noticed that the sled had a large plastic lip that would prevent the passenger in front from falling off.
Gerard lowered himself onto the sled then held up his hand to Holly. As she settled herself onto the sled snugly between Gerard’s legs she felt her heart began to beat faster. He placed his arm around her waist and pulled her back even more tightly against his body. “Gotta make room for everyone.” He whispered in her ear.
Molly got on next in between Holly’s legs and then Bandit.
“Okay put your arms around Bandit.” Holly told her daughter as she hugged her closely.
“You folks ready?” The boy asked prepared to give the sled a push.
“Ready.” Molly yelled happily.
“Weddy.” Bandit nodded.
Gerard placed his arms tightly around Holly. His breath was warm in her ear. “Ready?”
“Okay.” The boy gave the sled a push and down the hill they went. The girls screamed happily as they picked up speed. Gerard’s laughter tickled Holly’s ear. Her eyes grew wide when she felt his lips against the back of her neck.
All too soon they reached the bottom of the hill.
“Again.” Molly screamed as she and Bandit scrambled out of the sled.
“Gain.” Bandit hopped up and down clapping her hands.
Gerard hoped out then extended his hand to help Holly up. “So was it as fun as it looked?”
Holly smiled, “Yeah, it was.” Maybe she’d only imagined his lips on her neck.
The happy group went down the hill three more times but after the last trip neither of the girls wanted to walk back up the hill. That decision was fine with Holly as she was starting to feel twinges in her back.
“Now Santa.” Molly said as soon as Gerard returned from handing in their sled.
“Now Santa.” Gerard nodded.
“Up.” Bandit said to Holly as she held out her arms.
She looked so adorable Holly couldn’t stop herself from lifting the little girl.
“Want me to take her?” Gerard asked in concern.
“Nope.” Holly ignored the pain in her back. “Remember how to get to Santa?”
He looked around. “Think so.” But to make sure he asked one of the sled run workers. Soon they were trudging through the snow towards Santa’s workshop.
When they reached the large wooden structure a light snow began to fall.
“Oh how pretty.” Holly sighed looking up.
Gerard looked over at her upturned face, her smile, and thought he’d never seen anything so beautiful.
“There’s Santa.” Molly cried out as they walked inside.
Gerard sighed seeing the long line of children waiting for their turn to speak to St Nick. “Hey why don’t you sit a while?” He said to Holly as she lowered Bandit to her feet. “I’ll wait in line with the girls.”
“You sure?” Holly was ready to take him up on the offer. The pain in her back was becoming worse.
“I’m sure.” He nodded to a wooden bench. “Just relax I got this.”
Before sitting down Holly whispered in his ear. “Remember you have to hear what Molly asks him for. I’m afraid she won’t tell us if we ask.”
He nodded, “Yep, okay.” He took both little girls hands to lead them to the end of the line.
Holly watched as both girls impatiently wiggled in line and Gerard tried to keep them calm. It was hard not to laugh at the look on his face. Dealing with two very hyper little girls was obviously putting him to the test. When at last it was their turn both Molly and Bandit crawled up on Santa’s lap. Holly stood and walked over so she could get a better look. She was about to pull out her phone to take a picture but saw Gerard talking to Santa’s photographer. Obviously he was having one taken of the girls and Santa.
Holly wished she could hear what was being said. Something Bandit told Santa caused the man to throw back his head and chuckle. Gerard grinned sheepishly. Then Santa turned his attention to Molly. The little girl nodded and Holly guessed she’d been asked if she’d been good this year. Then suddenly Molly leaned over and whispered in Santa’s ear. Holly saw Gerard take another stop closer but with a sinking feeling she bet he hadn’t heard what Molly had whispered. Whatever Molly had said caused Santa to smile and nod. He then said something to Molly that made her smile.
Gerard paid for the two photos he’d had taken then he and the girls made their way over to where Holly was standing. He handed her both photos.
“Oh how cute.” Holly said softly staring at the almost identical pictures.
Gerard smiled, “Yep. Two little angels.”
Holly had to know. “Uh, what did B say that made Santa laugh?”
Gerard rolled his eyes. “Santa asked if she’d been a good girl this year and B said “Bandit always good you know that.”
Holly giggled, “Oh.”
“When he asked Molly the same question she told him she’d been extra good.”
This caused Holly’s smile to widen. “That’s true.”
“Let’s go eat.” He said suddenly. He was already formulating a plan.
“But we have to make stuff.” Molly said looking around at the other children making Christmas decorations.
“Sure you do.” Gerard smiled, “But lets eat lunch first then we’ll come right back here.”
“Okay Daddy.” Molly nodded. “If you promise.”
He smiled “I promise.” He moved closer to Holly as they followed the girls to the door. “We’ll order then I’ll sneak back and talk to Santa. Sorry I couldn’t hear what she said to him.” He whispered.
“I sorta figured that.” Holly whispered back.
He frowned, “I tired really hard to hear her but…” He sighed. “Whatever it was I think old Santa seemed to think it was a good gift.”
Holly nodded, “Yeah it looked like it.”
“Don’t worry.” Gerard said placing his arm lightly around Holly’s shoulder. “I’ll find out what she asked for.”
For a moment Holly’s whole body stiffened when he’d placed his arm around her. However she forced herself to relax. “I just hope it’s something we can find.” She said softly.
Gerard nodded, “Tomorrow you and I will go shopping and I promise we’ll do Santa’s job. Can’t let Molly down.”
Holly wanted to believe that would happen but she was still worried.
As it turned out she had a right to be worried. Soon after they crowded into a small booth for lunch Gerard had excused himself. He was gone quite a while and didn’t return until right after their food was delivered to the table. Holly knew immediately by the look on his face it hadn’t gone well but she couldn’t ask why in front of the girls. It wasn’t until after lunch when they took the girls back to the workshop that she got the opportunity to ask what happened.
They were sitting on a bench watching the girls make ornaments with the help of “elves” when Holly questioned Gerard.
“When I got back there another Santa had just walked out of the back.” Gerard explained. “I asked the photographer and she explained that the Santa the girls talked to was a last minute fill in. Seems the regular guy was running late and didn’t think he’d be able to make it today so they had the other guy step in for him.”
“Well couldn’t you find the other Santa?”
“He’d already left.” Gerard sighed as he kept his eyes on the girls. “I even asked if they had a phone number for him.”
“And they didn’t?”
“Not a working one.” Gerard answered. “I tried it.”
“Crap.” Holly said sadly. “I was afraid this would happen. Now what am I supposed to do? I know Molly, she won’t tell me what she asked him for.”
He hated how she continued to act as if this was only her problem. “I don’t know what WE are going to do.” He said softly. “But we’ll figure it out. Maybe she’ll tell me.”
Holly rolled her eyes. “Not likely.”
He thought a minute. “Okay maybe B heard what Molly whispered to Santa. I’ll ask her tonight.”
“Maybe.” Holly said slowly. “But that’s if she heard.”
He just wanted to see her smile again. “I’m sure she did, nothing to worry about. So when the girls finish their ornaments we’ll head over to the ice skating rink. How’s that sound?”
Holly didn’t want to let this incident ruin the day. “Sounds good.” She grinned, “So you are going to skate, right?”
“You know I don’t really know how.” He answered.
“You skated last year.” Holly reminded him.
“You hauled me around and held me up.” He laughed.
“And that’s what I’ll do today.”
Just knowing she’d hold his hands made him smile. Suddenly he had to know. “Are you having a good time?”
His abrupt change in mood surprised her. “What?”
“I just want to know if you’re having a good time.” He sighed “I guess because for me this day is perfect and I want to know if you feel the same.”
Holly glanced over at the little girls dusting their ornaments with glitter and smiled. She allowed her heart to speak. “Yeah, Gee. This day is perfect.” As the words left her lips she noticed a young girl standing a short distance away with a cell phone. “Oh.” Holly said looking down.
Gerard frowned wondering what had upset her when he too spotted the girl. He sighed, “Uh, that’s not the first one.”
“You’ve seen other people taking our picture?”
“I’m sorry.” He said reaching out for her hand but she quickly moved it away. “If I say something I’m afraid it wouldn’t help.”
“I know.” Holly sighed. “Guess you’re used to this happening.”
“Yeah but I’m sorry it upsets you.”
Holly kept her eyes on the girls. “It’s not your fault.”
“Shit.” Gerard muttered as he saw the same young girl make her way towards them.
Holly quickly followed his gaze. She felt bad she’d made an issue out of this and didn’t want him to say anything to the girl that could possibly hurt her feelings.
“Excuse me.” The young brunette said softly. “I don’t want to bother you but I just wanted to say I think it all the charity stuff you’re doing for the shelters is great.”
Holly blinked in surprise. She’d assumed this girl was one of Gerard’s fans. “Oh, thank you.” She said slowly.
The girl smiled, “I’m a junior leader of a Girl Scout troop and we were just talking about you at our last meeting. My friend’s mother attended your charity auction. The stuff you make is so beautiful.” She nervously went on. “We’ve been trying to do our part having a clothing drive and some of the stuff we’ve collected is going to a homeless shelter.”
“That’s wonderful.” Holly smiled. “So you know I’m Holly, what’s your name?”
“Lissa.” The girl answered.
“It’s nice to meet you Lissa.” Holly extended her hand.
“Wow my troop is going to be so excited when I tell them I got to meet you. I thought being dragged her today with my little brother was going to be so lame.”
Holly and Gerard both laughed.
Lissa looked up as she heard her name being called out. “Gotta go.” She said as she spotted her mom and dad waiting for her. “But it was great meeting you.”
“Same here.” Holly nodded.
“Wow.” Gerard said softly as Lissa walked away. “We just met one or your fans.”
Holly grinned. “Okay I’ll admit I was shocked. I was sure she was one of your fans.”
His face took on a serious look. “Holly, you inspire people.”
“No.” She shook her head.
“Yes.” This time when he reached for her hand she didn’t pull it away. “You really do.”
Gerard ran back to the car to safely store the handmade ornaments while Holly waited with the girls. The late afternoon temperature was dropping but the little ones at her side seemed oblivious to the weather. Gerard and hold them that ice skating was up next and they couldn’t wait.
“Olly.” Bandit tugged on Holly’s hand.
“Bandit never skate.” While she shared Molly’s excitement was she was still a bit unsure.
“It’s fun.” Molly told her.
“It is fun.” Holly smiled, “At first it’s kinda hard but you’ll get the hang of it. I’ll help you, okay?”
Gerard was out of breath from having run back from the car. “Okay girls, ready to skate?”
“Olly’s gonna help Bandit.”
Gerard smiled at his little daughter. “That’s good and Molly can help me.”
“Daddy you skated last year.” Molly giggled.
“Not very well.” Gerard answered. “Your mom had to help me.”
They started walking towards the ice rink. “You sure you should do this?” Gerard asked sliding up next to Holly. He’d already noticed she seemed to be moving a bit slower so he was worried her back was hurting.
“I’m okay.” She smiled. “Stop worrying.”
He wanted to tell here there was no way he could stop worrying about her but remained silent.
Luckily when the reached the skating rink just a hand full of people were gliding over the ice. They rented their skates then sat on a long wooden bench. Holly laced up Molly’s skates while Gerard struggled to get Bandit’s on.
“Bandit no like them.” She said looking down with a frown.
Holly looked over. “Are they too tight, Honey?”
By this time Molly was already standing impatiently wanting to hit the rink. Holly sighed. “Go ahead but stay right were we can see you.”
Gerard was shocked when Molly skillfully started skating in circles while waiting for everyone else. “Uh, she’s awful good.”
“She took lessons in Chicago.” Holly explained. “There was a rink not far from Bob’s house.”
“Crap, she’s really good.” Gerard muttered watching Molly while Holly adjusted Bandit’s skates.
“How’s that?” Holly asked the pouting little girl.
Instead of answering Bandit tried to stand but promptly fell back down on to the bench.
Holly sat beside her and quickly donned her skates. Then she reached for Bandit’s hand “Just hold on, okay?”
“Olly Bandit is scared.” Her bottom lip trembled.
“I’m gonna take her out. Get your skates on and meet us there.” Holly said narrowing her eyes. “And don’t be long.”
Gerard laughed, “Okay.”
Slowly Holly walked Bandit towards the ice. Once there Bandit’s eyes grew wide as her feet slipped out from beneath her.
“It’s okay.” Holly said holding the little girl up. “I promise I won’t let you fall.”
Molly skated to a stop beside them. “See this is fun.”
Bandit shook her head. “Not fun.”
Holly kept a tight hold on her hands. “Don’t worry about falling.” She said softly. “I’ll just pull you around okay?”
Instead of looking at Holly Bandit was watching Molly zip along on the ice. It was obvious she wasn’t happy her sister could do something she couldn’t.
“Molly’s had lessons so that’s why she can skate.” Holly said as she slowly started to pull Bandit across the ice. “This is your first time and you’re doing wonderful.”
Bandit stared up at her.
“See?” Holly continued to skate backwards pulling Bandit along. “You’re skating.” She glanced over to see Gerard standing at the rail. “Lets go get your daddy out here.”
“Otay.” Bandit nodded. When they neared Gerard Bandit said happily. “Look Daddy Bandit is skating.”
His smile was full of love. “And you’re doing great.”
Molly swooshed to a stop beside him. “Come on Daddy.” She put out her hand.
Gerard’s eyes grew wide. “Uh, I’ll just stay here and watch.”
“Oh daddy.” Molly said rolling her eyes.
Holly laughed, “Chicken.”
“Yeah but a chicken who’s butt isn’t sitting on the ice. If I let go that’s what’s gonna happen.”
“Olly skate.” Bandit said growing impatient.
Slowly Holly started skating pulling Bandit along carefully. They made it completely around the rink twice with Molly skating beside them before Bandit decided she’d had enough. Her little ankles were starting to hurt.
When they reached Gerard he happily announced he’d help Bandit take off her skates while they went around the rink a few more time.
Holly spoke to her daughter. “Can you sit with Bandit for just a minute while I take your daddy out on the ice?”
“Sure mommy.” Molly nodded.
Gerard watched as Holly got Bandit over to the bench. When she retuned to the ice he was frowning. “Uh, I really should help Bandit take off her skates.”
“In a minute.” Holly said grabbing his hand. “Come on.”
He refused to release his other hand from the railing. “Holly, I can’t skate.”
She laughed, “Sure you can. You did it last year.”
“You pulled me along.” He reminded her.
“And that’s what I’m gonna do now.” She reached for his hand that had a death grip on the rail. “Trust me, Gee.”
“I think you get some sick pleasure from seeing me scared.” He muttered.
“Perhaps.” Holly laughed as she finally got hold of her other hand. “Now just relax.” She slowly started to skate backwards pulling him along.
He was so lost in her huge green eyes that he didn’t have time to be scared.
“See you’re skating.” Holly said softly.
It was then he noticed they were out in the middle of the rink. “Shit.” He muttered.
“I won’t let you fall.”
“But if I do you’ll help me back up.” He said staring into her eyes once more.
Memories of last year suddenly filled her mind. “Yeah, Gee. I promise.”
The rest of the day was spent exploring the town. The girls especially liked the ice sculptures, toy stores and of course the hot chocolate. Sadly however as the sun slowly started to set the temperature plummeted. By the time Gerard came out of one more store after saying he had to stop in and pick something up both girls as well as Holly were more than ready to go. Poor Bandit’s teeth were chattering when they reached the car.
“Bandit cold.” She told her father as he secured her seat belt.
“Me too.” He saw that Holly had already made sure Molly was in her seat.
He quickly went around, slid in the driver’s seat and started the car. “It’ll be warm soon.”
“Good.” Holly giggled, “Cause I’m cold too.”
“So what do we do about dinner?” He asked softly so only she could hear.
Holly glanced back at the girls who were chatting with each other. “They are both tired and I hate thinking about getting them out of the car again.”
He nodded, “I was thinking the same thing. How about we just hit a fast food drive-thru on the way home?”
Before leaving town that’s exactly what they did. By that time the car was warm and both girls happily ate their Happy Meals while discussing all the fun they’d had. But as they neared LA the car became much quieter.
“Both are out.” Holly whispered looking into the back seat.
Gerard nodded, “I figured that would happen. It was a big day for them.”
Holly leaned back in her seat. “Big fun day.”
Gerard pulled the car to a halt in front of the gallery. “Give me your keys, I’ll go unlock the doors then carry Molly in.”
Holly pulled the key ring from her bag. “Thanks.”
A few minutes later Gerard returned. While he carried Molly up to the loft Holly stayed in the car with Bandit. She was just beginning to wonder what was taking so long when Gerard reappeared.
“Sorry.” He said as he opened Holly’s door. “She woke up while I was taking off her boots and wanted me to tell her a story. I only got out a few sentences before she fell back asleep.”
Holly smiled, “Not surprised. She’s exhausted.”
“So.” He said slowly. “I’ll pick you up about ten, okay?”
While they had briefly discussed plans for tomorrow Holly was still unsure. “Are you positive Alicia wants to watch Molly?”
He grinned, “Hey they’re gonna make Christmas cookies.”
“Molly will love that.” Holly nodded. “But I don’t know what we’re gonna do about getting Molly’s Christmas present.”
“I’ll talk to B in the morning. Let’s just hope she heard what Molly said Santa. If not we’ll just pick out some stuff she’ll like.”
Holly frowned, “Yeah, okay.”
“Well.” He took a step towards her. “Thank you for going today.”
“The girls had a blast.” Holly answered looking down.
“So did I.” He said softly.
Holly forced herself to look into his eyes. “Me too.” She whispered. Then before he had a chance to say anything else she sprinted for the door.
Gerard watched her go trying not to be disappointed. He’d wanted so badly to kiss her goodbye but he reasoned today had been a very good day regardless and tomorrow he hoped would be even better.
Holly pulled off her boots at the door then tiredly made her way towards her bedroom. She peeked in at Molly first and saw her daughter curled up with Bobo bear sleeping soundly.
She noticed the small jeweler’s box laying in the center of her bed as soon as she walked into the room. Slowly she walked over and picked it up. The note was written on a piece of Molly’s paper form her glitter set. It simply read, “Holly, thanks for the perfect day”
“Oh” She sat down clutching the box. “Damn.” Her first thought was he’d bought her a piece of jewelry because he had seen Richard’s gift. Feeling annoyed because she no more wanted Gerard to give her expensive gifts than Richard she tried not to be angry. However as she opened the lid and saw the necklace her annoyance faded. Inside was a simple sterling silver chain with a snowflake shaped pendant. While not expensive it was beautiful. Gently she lifted it out of the box then noticed it was engraved on the back.
12/22/11 A perfect day
Tears filled her eyes as she held the necklace in her hand. As much as her head didn’t want it to be true her heart knew that it had been a perfect day.