A stormy start to the day.
While the coffee was brewing he considered calling her but decided against it. It was possible she was still sleeping but he did wish he’d asked her what time she was going to arrive.
By the time the girls awoke a few hours later Gerard had started on the second pot of coffee. He glanced at the clock as he fixed the girls bowls of cereal. Surely Holly would be awake by now considering it was almost a two hour drive from LA. He planned on calling her as soon as the girls were eating their breakfast.
“Daddy why is it raining?” Molly asked looking out at the raindrops streaming down the windows
He was considering the best way to answer this when she asked why it wasn’t snowing.
“Oh” Gerard sat down at the table with his daughters. “Well it’s raining because it’s too warm for snow. If it was colder outside it wouldn’t be rain…”
“It would be snow.” Molly nodded.
“That’s right.” Gerard smiled. “It all depends on the temperature.”
“Like water turns into ice cubes?”
Gerard was very proud, “That’s right. Water, put in the cool freezer turns into ice. So if it’s cold enough outside rain will turn into snow.”
“Bandit would like snow. Don’t want rain.” She pouted, “Or ice”
He turned to his other daughter with a grin, “Well honey, sorry about that.”
“When’s mommy going to get here?” Molly asked before taking a bite of her cereal.
“I’m not sure.” He admitted.
“Bandit wants to put on her dress.”
Gerard sighed, “It’s too early to put on your bridesmaid dress.”
He really wished Holly was here. “Don’t want to get it messed up, do you?”
Bandit’s bottom lip protruded, “Bandit not messy.”
“You were last night.” Molly giggled.
Gerard grinned remembering last night’s mishap during dinner. Bandit had gotten spaghetti all over her clothes. At the time he wondered if she’d ended up wearing more than she’d eaten.
“Bandit be careful.” She was staring at her father.
“I know you will.” He answered with a smile. “But it’s still too early. Now finish up your breakfast.”
“Then we’ll go check our stuff.” Molly said.
“Stuff?” Gerard took another sip of coffee needing the caffeine.
Molly nodded, “The stuff we made our dec cur a shions”
“Oh decorations.” Gerard smiled, “Good idea, but remember the caterers will be here soon and you two need to stay out of their way.”
Bandit was looking confused.
Molly explained to her sister, “That’s the people who are bringing the food.”
“Yeah” Bandit nodded, “Ollie says there be lots of good food.”
“There will be.” Gerard took another sip of coffee. “Everything is going to be perfect today.”
Bandit looked out the window. “Need snow.”
Another loud clap of thunder shook the house.
In LA Holly awoke before the alarms she’d set went off. She crawled off the sofa then immediately went to the windows. The sky was dark with clouds but as of yet it wasn’t raining.
“Today is the day.” She whispered still looking at the clouds.
“Mikey we need to leave soon.”
Her husband who was still enjoying his cup of coffee nodded. “Yeah, I know. Ma’s getting dressed.”
“I’m afraid the rain might slow us down and I want to get there in plenty of time to fix Holly’s hair and makeup.”
Alicia sighed, “It’s gonna start raining any minute.”
He set his cup of coffee down then pulled her into his arms. “Calm down. You’d think you were the one getting married today.”
“Hey this is a big deal.” Alicia said leaning her head against his chest. “I know you think it’s only your brother getting married but it’s my sister.”
“Holly’s always been like a sister to you, hasn’t she?”
“Yeah, she really has.” Alicia nodded. “I’m so happy for her.”
“And I’m happy for Gee. He loves her so much.”
“They’re gonna be happy.” Alicia smiled, “They deserve it.”
“Good morning.” Donna greeted them as she walked into the kitchen. “Do I have time for a cup of coffee before we leave?”
As much as Alicia wanted to say no she smiled as she stepped out of Mikey’s arms. “Sure.” She looked at her husband, “Uh, but don’t forget we have to pick up your dad.” Don had opted to stay in a hotel during his visit.
Mikey laughed, “I don’t think I’d forget that.”
Her eyes narrowed, she knew he wouldn’t forget but that had been her nice way of reminding him they should be leaving soon.
Her husband just smiled then winked at her.
“Good thing they hadn’t planned on getting married outside.”
Christa looked over at her husband, “Yeah, that’s true. I was watching the weather and there are some wicked storms predicted for today.”
Ray took a sip of coffee the answered, “Really? Last I heard it was just supposed to rain.”
“Out near Gee’s place it’s worse. Lots of lightning in these storms.”
“Oh Lord I hope they don’t lose power. Gee will freak, it will mess up all his plans.”
Ray laughed, “You should have seen him yesterday. He actually brought lists to the meeting. You’d think this was a Broadway production not a wedding.”
Christa smiled, “I think it’s sweet. He’s trying to give Holly the perfect wedding.”
“That’s exactly what he said.”
“They both deserve the perfect wedding.” Christa said softly. “I’m so happy for them.”
“Me too. Oh and just to let you in on a little secret. I talked to Frank last night and we cooked up an idea. He and Jamia are really bummed about not being here for the wedding so I’m taking my laptop and I’m gonna Skype the ceremony for them.”
Christa’s face lit up. “What a cool idea.”
Ray nodded, “Yeah, but the credit really goes to Frank. He said he wanted so see Gee and Holly get married so this will be then next best thing to being there.”
“And you haven’t told Gerard?”
“No, want it to be a surprise. He was really upset they aren’t going to make the wedding.”
“Well that can’t be helped.”
Ray agreed, “True, little ones have to come first. Speaking of little one’s….” He smiled looking over at the baby monitor, “I hear ours is awake.”
Christa started to stand by he waved her back down. “I’ll go get her. You enjoy your coffee.”
“I love you.” Christa smiled as she watched her husband leave the room.
Gerard was downstairs with the caterers when Mikey, Alicia and his parents arrived. They all knew something wasn’t right when he ran back up the stairs to greet them.
“Hey” He said running his hand through his hair. “You’re the first guests to arrive.”
Mikey nodded, “Uh, yeah we figured that. Only saw the catering vans outside. Sorry we’re late but driving was slow because of the rain”
Alicia who was slipping out of her coat asked, “So where’s Holly’s car? Is it in the garage?”
Instead of answering he turned to his mom and dad. “Hey, why don’t you guys let the girls take you downstairs so you can see the decorations they made?”
Donna realized something was wrong but nodded, “Okay” She smiled down at her granddaughters. “I want to see your work.”
“Me too.” Don said reaching for Molly’s hand while Donna took Bandits. He squeezed Gerard’s shoulder when he passed by his son.
Gerard waited until they’d gone down the stairs. “Holly’s not here.”
Alicia’s eyes grew wide, “Not here? Well where is she?”
He forced himself to take a deep breath, “She wanted to stay at the loft last night. She said she needed some time to herself.”
“Oh” Alicia said softly, “Yeah, I kinda think she did. But why isn’t she here yet?”
“Don’t know.” He led them over to the sofa then took the chair across from them. “I’ve been trying to call her for the past hour but it just automatically goes to voice mail. I’m fuckin’ worried sick.”
Mikey tried to calm him, “Hey, it’s probably just because of the weather. I mean it is raining pretty hard so she’s probably driving slower than usual.”
“She knew you guys were gonna get here around eleven. I was sure she’d be here before now.” Suddenly he looked at Alicia. “How did she seem yesterday?”
“Well, a little stressed but happy.”
Gerard lowered his voice, “Did you know yesterday was Sonja’s birthday?"
“Oh shit.” Alicia obviously was shocked, “No, I totally didn’t remember that. Poor Holly no wonder she seemed sorta….”
“Sorta what?” Gerard asked, “You just said she seemed stressed but happy.”
“That’s true.” Alicia said slowly, “But I thought something else seemed wrong. Damn it why didn’t she tell me?”
Gerard leaned back tiredly, "Hey, she didn’t tell me either. I didn’t find out until Bob called last night to see how she was doing.”
“Bob remembered?” Mikey asked.
“Yeah, Bryar remembered. He said it was because he and Sonja’s birthdays were just one day apart.”
“Fuck, today is his birthday, ain’t it?”
Gerard didn’t want to discuss that he wanted to discuss Holly. With each passing minute the feeling that something was wrong grew. “Why the fuck ain’t she answering her phone? Where is she?”
“Calm down.” Gerard said to his brother. “I’m sure she’ll be here any minute.”
“Did you talk to her last night after she left here?” Alicia asked.
“Yeah, she called me.”
“And what did she say? Did you mention anything about Sonja?”
Gerard tried to replay the conversation in his head, “I told her I’d been talking to Bob before she called and she immediately knew he’d told me.”
“So was she upset?”
“She seemed okay. I mean she told me she wasn’t mad I hadn’t remembered, that she understood. She admitted the day was hard for her but that she knew in her heart Sonja was happy for us.”
Alicia nodded, “That’s good. So she wasn’t really trying to hide from her feeling she just needed some time alone with them.”
“That’s what I thought.” Gerard said softly, “But now I’m not so sure. Fuck, she shouldn’t have been alone last night.”
“Gee” Alicia smiled, “Holly loves you. But the last couple of days you’ve kinda been stressing about the wedding. I’m sure she just needed some time alone. I can understand that.”
“That still doesn’t explain why she ain’t answering her phone. Fuck, the wedding in less than an hour. People are gonna be arriving soon.”
Mikey had a thought, “Have you tried calling the gallery?”
Gerard grabbed his phone. “I tried earlier but no one was there. Maybe they are now.”
Unfortunately since the gallery didn’t open until noon no one answered the call.
He had just disconnected when the girls followed by Don and Donna came up the stairs. Gerard could see the concern on his parents faces.
“Hey girls.” Alicia said as she stood. “How about we play with that cool doll house you got for Christmas?” She figured this would give Gerard time to tell his parents what was going on.
Both girls liked that idea.
“Son, what’s going on?” Don asked as soon as they’d disappeared down the hallway.
Gerard explained to them what he’d told Mikey and Alicia a few minutes ago.
“I didn’t remember yesterday was Sonja’s birthday until late last night.” Donna said sadly.
Gerard looked over at her. “You remembered?”
She nodded, “I was thinking back to when Holly lived down the street from me. Lord that seems like ages ago. I remembered how you guys took her to Times Square to see your show that year. She was so excited about that.”
“So why did that remind you it was Sonja’s birthday?”
“During the conversation when she told me she was going with you she admitted she was sad Sonja didn’t want her to do anything special for her birthday. Holly had wanted to have party but Sonja just wanted to spend the day with her friends.” She shook her head sadly, “It’s still so hard to believe Sonja’s gone.”
Hearing a car door Gerard jumped to his feet then ran to the window. “Shit, James his here.” He walked out onto the porch to meet him.
James got out of the car then raced towards the porch. “Hey, Man.” He greeted Gerard, “Hell of a day to get married. Shit, that rain is coming down in sheets. Hope you don’t mind I’m a little early but I was hoping as soon as everyone gets here we could start. I’ve got a hell of a drive to the airport from here and with this rain….” It was then he looked up from brushing the raindrops off his coat and saw the look on Gerard’s face. “Something wrong?”
Gerard forced himself not to panic. “No, it’s just Holly’s not here yet.”
“Oh” James said slowly, “Uh well guess we can’t start without her.”
Gerard was staring out at the storm. “No, we can’t.”
James clasped him on the shoulder, “Hey, don’t worry. I’m sure she’ll be here soon.”
“Yeah, I’m trying not to worry but she’s not answering her phone.”
“Some of the roads are pretty bad.” James hated to be the one to tell him but felt he should know. “This rain is causing some mud slides. I had to detour off one road on the way here.”
“Oh shit.” Gerard muttered. “What if she’s had an accident?”
“Hey” James said softly, “Don’t think like that. I’m sure if something had happened you’d know.”
They both walked into the house but now Gerard was even more upset than before.
“I’m gonna call highway patrol.” He said grabbing his phone then heading to his office for some privacy.
Don spoke to James, “What’s going on?”
James took off his wet coat then explained, “I told him I got detoured coming up here because of a mud slide across the road.
Donna was visibly upset. “So he’s worried Holly’s been in an accident? That’s why he’s calling the highway patrol?”
“I guess.” James sat down. “It’s really getting bad out there.”
When Gerard returned a few minutes later he explained that there had been no reports of accidents involving vehicles that matched the description he’d given of Holly’s car. However he’d learned that several roads not far from his home had been closed and traffic was being detoured.
As he was explaining Ray, Christa and the baby arrived. The first thing Gerard asked after ushering them in was about the road conditions.
Ray could tell by looking around everyone in the room was tense. “Uh, kinda bad.” He answered truthfully. “At one point we had to pull over for a few minutes because it was raining so hard I couldn’t really see the road. What’s going on?”
Donna got off the sofa to go admire Tara. “Let’s go make a fresh pot of coffee.” She said to Christa who was still holding the baby.
Christa waited until they were in the kitchen to speak. “What’s going on?”
“Holly spent the night at the loft.”
Before she could continue Christa spoke, “You mean she’s not here?”
Donna sighed, “No, and we’ve not heard from her. Gerard is beside himself with worry.”
“She’s not answering her phone?”
“Oh my.” Christa shifted Tara in her arms. She was still digesting that information when Alicia joined them.
“Hey” She greeted Christa then immediately held out her hands to take Tara.
Christa turned over her daughter then spoke again to Donna. “It could just be she got detoured. Coming from the loft she wouldn’t have taken the same route we did.”
“That must be it.” Alicia agreed. “I know Holly would have been here by now if something hadn’t happened.”
Another loud clap of thunder rattled the windows.
“What should we do?” Christa asked nervously.
“Gee called the Highway Patrol and found out that some roads have been closed.” Donna explained, “But I don’t know what else anyone can do.”
The door bell caught their attention. This time it was Arthur arriving.
Gerard opened the door and welcomed the art dealer trying to hide the fact he was in full panic mode.
Alicia who was watching from the kitchen knew her brother-in-law needed some help. “Here ya go mom.” She said handing Tara back. She walked over to where Gerard had placed Arthur gift next to the others on the floor. “Gee, I’m going to take these downstairs.”
He nodded absently. Right now his only concern was Holly. After filling Arthur in on the situation the older man pulled out his phone. “I’ll call the gallery and make sure her car isn’t still there.”
“I tried that, no one answered.” Gerard told him.
“Sara should be there now.” Arthur explained. Gerard stood by nervously as Arthur spoke to his employee. When he disconnected he said, “Sara told me Holly’s car isn’t there.”
Gerard leaned heavily against the wall. “But we don’t know what time she left.”
Again the doorbell rang. Sally, Jake and Lindsey had arrived at the same time.
Alicia who had come back upstairs took their gifts while Gerard explained the situation in a haunted voice.
Lindsey immediately hugged him. “I’m sure she’s okay.” She whispered.
Gerard wished so badly he could believe her but it was now just fifteen minutes before the wedding had been scheduled to begin.
“Mommy.” Bandit ran to her mother.
Molly had followed her sister into the living room. “Daddy?” She tugged at Gerard’s hand. “Me and Bandit need to put on our bridesmader dresses. Everyone is here.”
It broke his heart his little girl didn’t realize her mom wasn’t here. Lindsey saw the look of desperation in her ex husbands eyes. She moved closer to Gerard to whisper. “Why don’t I help the girls get dressed. It will keep them occupied.” She hoped he understood she was trying to help.
He nodded, “Yeah, okay.”
“Come on girls.” Lindsey said with false enthusiasm. “Let’s go get you two ready.”
Gerard was again leaning against the wall. “Ready for what?” he whispered.
Jake who was standing near him clasped him on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t give up hope. She’ll be here. I’m sure she just got detoured. Matter of fact the main road leading up here is closed.”
“Closed from where?”
“Just past the highway. I asked the cop directing traffic and he said it was because of a mudslide across the road.”
“But she should have been here hours ago.”
Everyone started talking discussing the routes they’d taken. The general consensus was that Holly, coming from the gallery would have taken a different road.
“So, probably the way she was coming up here caused her to get detoured.” Mikey said placing a comforting hand on Gerard’s shoulder.
“I gotta do something.” Gerard said shaking his head. “I can’t just sit here and wait. What if she’s been in an accident?”
“Gee…” Mikey’s comment was cut off when Gerard’s cell rang.
“Hello?” He answered without checking the caller ID.
“Hey Gee, it’s Angie. Bob just wanted me to call to tell you we’re on our way and trying our hardest not to be late but we got detoured.”
“Yeah, okay.” At this point he couldn’t make himself explain again what was happening.
“We should make it.” Angie went on unaware of the situation. “But the road we got detoured on is now closed so we’re having to take a second detour. Bob’s turning around now. There’s an accident up ahead.”
Gerard’s heart stopped, “An accident?”
Angie was shocked by his voice. “Uh, yeah.”
“Let me talk to Bob.” Gerard said knowing everyone in the room was staring at him. As soon as he heard Angie hand over the phone he asked, “Can you see the accident?”
Bob slowed then pulled slightly off the road. “What?” He knew by the sound of Gerard’s voice something was terribly wrong.
“Holly’s not here.”
“She never made it back from the loft?”
“No.” Gerard whispered.
“I’m gonna go back and talk to the cops that put up the road block. I’ll call you back.”
“What’s going on?” Angie asked as Bob pulled the collar of his jacket up.
“I’ve got to go find out about the accident. Holly’s not there.”
“Oh God.” Angie whispered realizing they were afraid Holly was involved in the accident.
She turned in her seat to watch as he ran through the rain to the road block. For several minutes he spoke to the officers than ran back.
“What did they say?” Angie asked as he slid back behind the wheel.
Bob wiped the rain off his face then grabbed his phone. “Not her.” He said quickly waiting for Gerard to answer.
“The accident was between two trucks.” Bob explained quickly.
Gerard closed his eyes. “Thank God.”
“The cops said a lot of roads are impassable now. They suggested you call Highway Patrol.”
“Already did that.” Gerard sighed.
Bob started the engine. “Okay we’ll be there soon. We’ll figure out what to do.”
“Thanks” Gerard whispered then disconnected.
“Gee, you need to try to stay calm.” His father had moved to stand beside him. “I know it’s hard but I’m sure she’s okay.”
“Dad, I’m sure something is wrong. I can feel it.” He looked around the room at all the guests who were talking in small groups. “I should go look for her.”
“Give it a little more time.” Don suggested. “If you do and she arrives…”
“I don’t care about the wedding. I just need to find Holly.”
Don sighed, “James is worried about making it to the airport with all the closed roads.”
“Maybe he should just go.” Gerard said looking down. “There ain’t gonna be a wedding today.”
Don placed his hand on Gerard’s shoulder. “Don’t give up just yet. I talked to him and he said he can wait a while longer.”
In his heart Gerard felt waiting was fruitless but he remained silent.
When Bob and Angie arrived it was a few minutes after noon, a few minutes after the wedding had been slated to begin.
“What route to you think she would have taken from the loft?” Bob asked as soon as he and Angie took off their coats.
Gerard had a map already pulled up on his laptop. “This would have been the most direct route.”
He said pointing to the screen. He’d been studying the map for several minutes.
Bob nodded, “Yeah, I think you’re right.”
His attention was pulled from the screen by Molly.
“Me and Bandit are ready.”
Gerard glanced up at Lindsey who had followed both girls in. She gave him a look which explained she hadn’t been able to keep the girls in the bedroom any longer.
“You both look beautiful.” Gerard said softly.
Molly beamed, “We look like princesses.”
It was hard to keep the emotion out of his voice looking at his two daughters in their dresses and tiaras. “Yeah, you both really do.”
Suddenly Molly looked around the room. “Where’s mommy?”
He forced himself to smile, “Well the roads are pretty bad because of all the rain. She’s just having a little bit of trouble getting here.”
Molly’s smile faded. “Is mommy okay?”
Before he could answer Bandit ran up to tug on his hand. She’s been staring out the front window. “Daddy, there a powice car.”
Gerard’s eyes grew wide. “What? A police car?”
Bandit nodded, “Ins the driveway.”
“Oh God.” Gerard jumped to his feet as a hush fell over the room. He ran to the door pulling it open just a Highway Patrol office reached the porch.