The wedding day is almost here.
“Are you okay?” Alicia asked Holly as they stood in line to pay for the two matching dressed they’d chosen for Bandit and Molly.
Holly smiled while keeping an eye on the girls who’d just spotted glittery tiaras, “Just tired. Gee and I didn’t get to sleep last night until almost 2 am.”
“Mommy, Bandit and me think we should wear those sparkly crowns with our dresses.” Molly said running back up to Holly to tug on her hand.
“Oh Lord.” Holly rolled her eyes while muttering under her breath.
“I think it’s a cute idea.” Alicia said.
“So do I” Holly nodded. She stepped out of line to follow Molly back over to where Bandit was eyeing the tiaras.
“These do go with our bridesmader dresses.” Molly said hoping to win over her mother’s approval.
“Bridesmaids” Holly automatically corrected. She handed the satin blue dress she was holding to Alicia then took out the new phone Gerard had given her. “Okay girls. Try them on and I’ll send a picture to your dad to see what he thinks.”
Both girls immediately placed a tiara on their heads. It has hard for Holly not to giggle and the way Bandit’s was titled to the side. Quickly she took a photo then hit send.
“Uh, why are you getting Gee’s opinion?” Alicia asked.
Holly sighed, “Because the man is stressing over every little detail for this wedding. I told you we didn’t get to sleep last night until 2?” She waited until Alicia nodded, “That’s because we were going over lists. I swear his lists have lists of their own.”
Alicia laughed, “Mikey said Gee seemed a little stressed yesterday.”
Holly was about to answer when her phone rang. She connected then smiled, “Future Mrs. Way here.”
Gerard wondered if his heart would ever not race when he heard her voice. “Hello Future Mrs Way. I was wondering about the photo you just sent.”
“That photo was sent because our girls have requested to wear those tiaras with their bridesmaid dresses. Yea or nay?”
Gerard threw back his head laughing so hard Ray wondered what was going on. “I think those would look stunning, don’t you?” He finally answered.
“My thoughts exactly.” She nodded to the girls who began jumping up and down in celebration.
“So you got the dresses?”
Holly once more led them back to the register. “Yep, two matching satin dresses.”
“And two tiaras.”
“Indeed.” By now the line was gone so Alicia placed both dresses on the counter then told the girls they had to part with the tiaras long enough so the clerk could ring them up.
Gerard moved to a quieter spot. “Wish I was with you.”
“Me too.” Holly answered “But the band meeting was important.”
“Uh, did you check on the cake?” Gerard asked.
Holly rolled her eyes, “Gee, I’m positive it will be fine. Richard said the woman comes highly recommended.”
“Yeah, okay.” He still didn’t sound convinced.
“Did you call Frank?” Holly asked while pulling out Gerard’s Visa to pay.
Gerard was about to answer when he heard the clerk talking to Holly. After she explained that Gerard had authorized her to use the card he said, “It’ll be much easier when you get your own card.”
“Yep, I know.” Holly sighed, “So about Frank?”
“He said the girls are feeling better but still not well enough to travel. Shit, I really wish they were going to be able to make the wedding.”
“I’m just glad the girls are better.” Holly answered while signing the sales receipt.
“Me too.” He heard Ray calling him back to the meeting. “I gotta go.”
“Okay” Holly thanked the saleswoman the she and Alicia grabbed the bags.
“I’ll be home as soon as the meeting is over and I pick up the rings. Are you guys headed to the loft now?”
Holly shifted the phone to her other ear, “We’ve got to feed the munchkins before anything else.”
“And me” Alicia added patting her baby bump. “We’re hungry too.”
“And Alicia and baby.” Holly added with a grin.
“Okay we’ll see you soon.” Gerard answered as he began to walk down the hall. “Love you.”
“Love you too.” Holly answered before disconnecting.
“So they got your ring resized?” Alicia asked remembering Mikey had said Gerard was supposed to stop by the jewelry store after the meeting.
“Yes and thank God. That’s one less thing for him to stress about.” She herded the girls towards the door.
Alicia spoke softly, “Does he know how much he’s stressing you out?”
“I’m okay” Holly answered automatically.
“You sure? Maybe you should tell him.”
“Hey the weddings tomorrow” Holly said fishing in her purse for the car keys now that they were walking across the parking lot after she and Alicia had grabbed the girls hands. “I can survive one more day.” She sighed, “But damn, he’s making me nervous, bless his heart.”
Alicia giggled, “Bless his heart?”
“His heart and every other part of him.” Holly smiled.
Over lunch Alicia watched Holly closely wondering why something seemed not quite right. It really was bothering her but it wasn’t something she could put her finger on. On the surface Holly seemed happy and excited about the wedding but she just couldn’t help but think something other than the stress of the wedding was bothering her friend.
“Eat the rest of your burger.” Holly said to Bandit who was eying the indoor playground. “Then you guys can play, okay?”
Bandit sighed dramatically.
Silently Alicia was hoping the girls would both finish eating so she’d have a few minutes to talk to Holly alone. Since learning of the wedding there hadn’t been a spare minute she’d been able to talk to Holly without Gerard or the girls being with her.
“So any more morning sickness?” Holly asked.
The question brought Alicia out of her thoughts, “Yesterday I felt sick when I first got up but it passed.”
“That’s good.” Holly smiled as she opened another packet of ketchup for Bandit who decided her burger needed more.
“So how much more of your stuff is at the loft?”
“Not much, really.” Holly answered still distracted by the girls who were busy eating more fried than burgers.
Alicia was watching her closely, “Uh, so everything is ready for tomorrow?”
Holly rolled her eyes, “Yep, Mr List has made sure of that. The dresses and rings were the last items.”
“But mommy that’s not right.” Molly piped up. “Me and B still have to finish our decorations.”
“That’s true.” Holly nodded.
“So Bandit is going to stay with you guys tonight?”
“Yeah, Lindsey said it would be okay. I asked when we picked up Bandit this morning. Figured it would be best if the girls finished their decorations tonight so we could put them up. I have a feeling tomorrow morning is going to be crazy.”
Alicia took a bite of her burger before asking, “And Gee is really okay with Richard catering the food?”
Holly nodded, “He wasn’t at first when I told him Richard had offered but then Richard called and talked to him. He told Gee he hoped Gerard would allow him to have his restaurant cater the food for us as his wedding gift to us.”
“But he’s not coming?”
Holly shook her head, “No, he’s out of town until after the New Year.” She smiled at both girls who were now staring at her. “Okay, go.” The girls ran off towards the huge colorful tubes. Holly shook her head as she watched them, “Wonder if this place knows how difficult it is to get a kid to eat while they’re staring at that?”
Alicia laughed, “Hey, kids do love it.” She took a sip of her soda still watching Holly closely. “So, I still haven’t seen your dress.”
Holly turned her attention back to her friend, “And you won’t until tomorrow. It’s the one thing I actually got to do by myself.”
“So Gee didn’t go with you?”
“Went all by myself.” Holly answered. “It was nice. I spent a few hours looking for just the right dress.”
“This is all so exciting.” Alicia reached across the table to touch Holly’s arm. “I’m so happy for you and Gee.”
Holly smiled, “Someone is getting a bit emotional.”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, this pregnancy thing is weird. I swear I freaked Mikey out last night because there was a commercial that made me cry.”
“I remember what that’s like.” Holly said softly.
“I just can’t wait. I want to hold it in my arms.”
Holly giggled, “It?”
“Well, I don’t know if it is a boy or a girl.”
“Are you going to let them tell you?”
Alicia sat back frowning, “Mikey and me haven’t decided yet. Part of me wants to know but part of me thinks it should be a surprise.”
“What’s Mikey think?”
“He wants to know.” Alicia said softly, “I know he does but he won’t come out and tell me. But I can tell he wants to know.”
Holly’s eyes were on the girls again, “I wouldn’t let the doctor tell me when I was carrying Molly.”
Holly frowned, “Guess I was afraid.”
“I didn’t want to do anything that would jinx the pregnancy. I know that sounds weird but I wasn’t in a good place so I thought that way. I called Molly, Baby, during my entire pregnancy.”
Alicia didn’t want to discuss anything that would make Holly sad. “Baby is a good name.” She pattered her tummy. “Hear that in there? You are now named Baby.”
When Holly turned to her Alicia saw that her eyes were misty. “Want me to tell you if I think Baby is a boy or a girl?”
The question surprised Alicia, “Do you really think you know? I mean how could you?”
Holly used a napkin to dab the corners of her eyes. “Just a feeling. But I’m not going to tell you.”
Alicia smiled, “That’s evil.”
“Yep.” Holly giggled, “It is.”
Knowing that Alicia was tired Holly insisted on taking her home after lunch. While Alicia claimed she felt fine Holly could see in her eyes she was exhausted.
As she pulled out of their driveway she considered going by the loft but chanced her mind. She too was tired but more than that another thought was now going through her mind and she wanted to get home.
During the drive both girls fell asleep giving Holly a bit of time to think. While she loved the girls, and their chattering, the quiet was welcomed. She hoped she’d have a bit more time to herself before Gerard returned home. Her plan was to make herself a cup of tea then curl up on the sofa. However as she finally drove up the hill she spotted his car already in the driveway.
“Hey, how’s my girls?" Gerard asked reaching the car just as Holly was opening her door.
“They’ve slept most of the way here.”
Gerard opened the back door. “Hey Sleepyheads” He said softly. “Wake up.”
Both girls opened their eyes.
While Gerard got them out of the car Holly grabbed the bags.
“Daddy we got our bridesmader dresses.” Molly said happily.
“Bridesmaid.” Holly automatically corrected then wondered why she bothered.
Gerard put his arm around her as they walked towards the front door. “I missed you.”
Holly smiled, “Miss you too.”
As soon as they were in the house the girls insisted on showing their dad the dresses.
“You two are going to look like princesses.” He smiled.
“Especially with the tiaras.” Holly added before making her way to the kitchen. She still wanted her cup of tea.
The girls ran off to their bedroom to pay with the dollhouse. Gerard followed Holly into the kitchen.
“I talked to James.” He said watching as she placed the teakettle on the stove. “He’s bummed but he’ll have to leave right after the wedding.”
“Because of his flight?”
“Yeah.” Gerard sighed, “Still wish Frank and his fam were gonna be here.”
“Well it’s understandable why they can’t be.” Holly reminded him. “If the situation was reversed and your girls were sick you wouldn’t leave them.”
He nodded, “Yeah, I know.”
Holly retrieved a tea cup from the cabinet not noticing he’d left the room. A moment later when he was back it was hard for her not to sigh. In his hand was another of his famous lists.
“Okay” He said studying the paper. “The caters are arriving at nine.”
“Yep.” Holly answered looking back down at her tea cup.
Gerard was so busy studying his list he didn’t even notice. “I’ve informed the gate and given them a list of our guests…
“Uh, was that necessary? I mean everyone who’s coming are people that are already on your list of approved visitors.”
“Well yeah but I just wanted to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
Holly tapped her nails on the counter praying the teakettle would hurry up, she needed a cup of tea badly.
He made a few marks on the paper. “Okay, we’ve got the girls dresses. What time do you think they should put them on?”
“Not too early.” Holly sighed, “They’ll want to put them on as soon as they wake up but….”
He nodded, “Right, I get it. Don’t want them spilling anything on them.” Suddenly he frowned, “I checked the weather. There is a chance of rain tomorrow.”
“That’s okay.” Holly answered. “There is plenty of room downstairs.”
“Well yeah but I really was hoping we could open the doors to the patio.” He glanced down the hall to make sure the girls were still out of earshot. “And I really wanted to give the girls their cars tomorrow. If it’s raining we can’t.”
As of yet the girls didn’t know their father had bought them motorized cars. The snow which was now melted had prevented that.
“Gee” Holly tried to keep her voice light, “It will be okay. If it rains we’ll just make do. We can always give the girls their cars another day.”
“But it would be so cool for them to get to drive them around the backyard.”
Holly nodded, “I know but really, it’s still pretty muddy and kinda cold.”
As she finally poured the water into her cup Gerard moved to the table with is list. “Okay, so I guess Alicia is supposed to help you get ready in the morning, right?” Before she could answer he went on. “She and Mikey are supposed to arrive around eleven.”
Holly sat down in the chair next to his with her cup of tea.
“Oh shit.” He suddenly looked up. “What about that something old shit?”
It was impossible for her not to roll her eyes, “Something old shit? I’m assuming you mean, something old, something new, something borrowed something blue?”
He’d seen her roll her eyes. “I’m driving you crazy aren’t I?”
“A little.” She admitted. “You’re really stressing out over this.”
“This, is our wedding.” Gerard said softly, “And yeah I guess I am but I just want it to be perfect for you.”
Immediately tears came to her eyes “For me?”
Gerard smiled, “Of course. I know you never really had a nice wedding. You know, a traditional ceremony.”
“No, that’s true. We just got married before a justice of the peace.” She tilted her head, “But neither have you.”
Gerard sighed, “Yeah getting married backstage after a concert wasn’t traditional but I didn’t care about shit like this.”
“And you think I do?”
He stated at her. “Don’t you?”
The love she felt for him was overwhelming. “The only thing I care about is being here in our home surrounded by our friends when we become husband and wife. Nothing else matters. I’m marrying the man I love with all my heart, my best friend. Rain or shine the day will be perfect.”
He grabbed her hand, “I love you, Holly.”
“Ditto.” She smiled but then turned to glance out the windows.
“So what’s wrong?”
For a moment she struggled with how to answer this question. The last thing she wanted was to hurt him in any way.
“Holly?” He gently squeezed her hand.
She’d changed her mind, gave us her plan. “Nothing is wrong. But I do still have to go by the loft.”
“My dress is there.” Holly forced herself to smile.
Gerard was confused, “Your wedding dress is at the loft?”
Holly nodded, “Yeah, I was supposed to stop by and get it earlier but Alicia was tired and so were the girls.”
He realized this didn’t make sense unless….”Oh” Gerard said softly.
“Gee” Holly knew he was upset. “I know this sounds bad but I just thought maybe I could stay at the loft tonight, by myself.” She hurriedly tired to explain. “These past few days have been so stressful and I just felt like I needed a little bit of time to myself.”
“So you sorta planned this.”
Holly’s heart sank, he was hurt. “Not really until today. I was planning on picking up the dress but…”
Gerard lifted her hand to his lips. He kissed it gently then spoke, “I understand.”
She had to make sure he truly did understand. “Gee, tomorrow my life will change forever. This is all so much more than I ever dreamed but it’s happening so fast. I just want to take a bit of time to myself to relish all of this. I want to stop, take a deep breath and realize how blessed I am. I’m marrying the only man I’ve ever loved.”
He kissed her hand again. “I really do understand and it’s okay. I’m sorry about all my lists.”
Holly spoke quickly, “I love your lists even more now that I know why you’ve been stressing so much trying to give me the perfect wedding. But believe me it will be perfect. Even if during the ceremony the roof springs a leak, it won’t matter. If the electricity goes off, who cares? We are getting married in front of our Charlie Brown tree.”
Gerard nodded, “Very true, woman. Now go tell the girls goodbye and I’ll walk you to the car.”
“Are you sure? I could just go get the dress and come back?”
“No, you spend the night there. I completely understand you need some ‘me’ time.”
“I love you.”
“Love you too.” Gerard said releasing her hand then standing. “Now tell the girls goodbye and remind them that we have a lot to do tonight, gotta finish up those decorations.”
As Holly stood Gerard added, “Just know that when I walk you to the car I’m gonna kiss you senseless before you leave.”
“I certainly hope so.” Holly smiled, “Cause I need that too.”
Gerard had just gotten the girls to sleep when Bob called. “Hey” He answered, “What’s up?”
“Just wanted to thank you again for putting us up in this hotel.” Bob answered glancing across the room at the hot tub where Angie was waiting for him. “This is really nice.”
“Glad you like it.” Gerard answered as he took a seat on the sofa.
“So, how’s Holly doing?”
The question confused Gerard, “How’s she doing?”
Bob sighed, “I just thought today might be hard for her, you know?”
Gerard gripped his phone tightly, “Why would today be hard for her?”
“Oh” Bob said slowly, “I thought you knew.”
“Today is Sonja’s birthday.”
“Oh fuck.” Gerard’s heart sank, “No, I didn’t know. Shit.”
Now Bob was slightly confused, “Guessing Holly didn’t say anything about it? Is she listening now?”
“She’s not here.” Gerard answered. “She’s spending the night at the loft. Said she needed some time to herself. Well, fuck, guess I know why now.”
“Hey’ Bob said kindly, “It ain’t your fault you didn’t know. The only reason I remembered is because Sonja and I once talked about how our birthdays were only one day apart.”
Gerard had even forgotten Bob’s birthday was tomorrow. “Shit she shouldn’t be alone.”
Bob thought a minute, “Maybe she should be. Look, I talked to Holly last night and I know how happy she is about tomorrow. Maybe she just needed some time to deal with her emotions about today. If that’s true than it’s good. She’s dealing with her emotions not burying them.”
“She should have told me.”
“I’m guessing she didn’t because she mentioned how stressed you were about the wedding and I’m sure she didn’t want to bring up anything sad right now.”
“That ain’t right.” Gerard shook his head, “She should be able to tell me anything. What am I gonna do? I’m here with both girls…”
“Just give her a call.” Bob suggested. “Don’t make this into a big thing. If I’m right Holly is dealing with her emotions and that’s good.”
Gerard was staring at the Christmas tree, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Bob wanted to lighten the mood, “Wish you’d said that more often.” He laughed.
“Me too.” Gerard admitted. “You were always a good friend.”
“Still am. Well Angie is waiting for me in the hot tube and I don’t want to keep her waiting any longer.”
“See you in the morning.” Gerard said goodbye then disconnected. For several minutes he sat wondering what to say to Holly when he called. He jumped when his phone rang. It was Holly.
“This is the future Mrs Way, checking in.” Her voice sounded fine. “Just wanted to check to see if the girls are okay.”
“And the tree?” Holly asked, “Did you water it?”
He started to relax maybe she really was okay. “The girls did before they went to bed.”
“So what’s wrong?”
Her question caught him off guard. “What?”
“You sound funny.”
“Nothing” He lied.
“Did you find something on one of your lists we forgot?”
She wasn’t going to let this go. “No. Double checked all lists.”
Holly giggled, “Uh, are you thinking damn what am I getting myself into marrying that crazy woman?”
“You know that ain’t it.”
“So what are you doing?”
Gerard sighed, “Just looking at the tree.” He forced himself to add, “I uh, just was talking to Bob right before you called. He and Angie sound like they are loving the hot tub in their room.”
“Oh” Holly said softly, “Bob remembered.”
There was no point in pretending anymore. “Holly, why didn’t you tell me? I feel like shit because I didn’t remember.”
“Gee, it’s not surprising you didn’t. Back in Jersey I didn’t even get to do anything for Sonja’s birthday because she had plans with her friends.”
“It’s okay.” She took a deep breath, “I’m okay. I won’t lie today has been a little difficult for me. Its the same way when the anniversary of the day she died comes around. Honestly, sometimes I’ll see something random that will suddenly trigger a memory of Sonja. Sometimes even a smell will trigger a memory. It will always be that way and I accept that and in a way I welcome it. Before I would have tried to bury the memory now I’m to the point where I can remember her and I can remember all the good things.” She sniffed, “Do you understand? Tonight I just want to remember those good things, I want to remember my daughter and in my heart I know she’s very happy for me.” Her voice was full of emotion, “That’s why I wanted to stay here, you do understand, right?”
“Yeah Honey, I do.” He answered “But damn I wish I could hold you in my arms right now.”
“Me too.” Holly wiped her eyes, “But your love is what helps me.”
“Well then I must be giving you a hell of a lot of help because you’ve got every once of my love.”
Holly gazed towards the windows across the dark loft. “It’s raining here.”
“Yeah, weatherman says it’s gonna rain all night and tomorrow.” He sighed.
“We don’t care, do we?”
Gerard smiled, “Nope, nothing will ruin tomorrow, it can’t.”
“That’s the truth.” Holly agreed. “Now I think I’m going to take a long bubble bath and relax. I’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
“I’m glad you called.”
“I had to hear your voice.” Holly whispered, “I need to hear it.”
“See you in the morning future Mrs Way.”
“Yes, you will.”
Once she’d disconnected Holly again picked up the photo of Sonja. The picture was one of her favorites. “I love you, Baby.” She whispered running her fingertip over the photo. “Happy birthday.”