A family traditions is shared
On the steps of the church he spoke "Would you like to ride back to the house with me" he asked.
She readily agreed. Donna hugged him tightly before she and Kelly started towards her car. Monica followed him to the car she recognized as Mikey's. Once they were under way she spoke "Thank you for the locket. I will always treasure it." Silence filled the car and she added, "No one has ever given me anything as special as this"
He pulled out of the parking lot before speaking "It is a gift from my heart, Monica. I know Grandma would have loved you. Just as my mom does, just as I do"
Her heart ached. She looked over at his beautiful profile illuminated by the moonlight. He looked so sad and defeated. It was Christmas Eve and she couldn't let it be this way. "Gerard I love you more than I ever thought possible. I'm sorry about his afternoon. I pushed you away and it was wrong."
"I know you love me Monica. You just don't trust me enough to let me help you." He sighed "but I love you so much that I am willing to take what you will give me. Please let's go back to what we had. Last night I felt as the world was truly mine. When I held you in my arms, when I was inside you I knew true happiness. Love me, stay with me until I leave on tour."
Her heart was breaking "I will Gee" she whispered the nickname for the first time. He reached across and took her hand. They drove the rest of the way home in silence.
Donna and Kelly were already at the house when they arrived. Gerard smiled "I hope you like fish"
"What?" That question seemed to come out of left field.
"Our family tradition was after mid-night mass we would have our Pronzo Delta Vigilia." He parked and they walked towards the house. "It is an Italian tradition were on Christmas Eve you have a big feast made up of fish dishes. Growing up Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Arthur and a few other relatives would come over. One time I remember we had seven different fish dishes. Man the house stunk. I told mom that and she threatened to ground me. Anyway mom has toned it down now but I bet she has some kind of fish stew ready."
"She was making some sort of stew earlier," Monica told him. "I was wondering what it was"
Donna smiled as they entered the house, "Merry Christmas" she told them giving each a big hug. "Are you ready for my seafood stew"
"See I warned you" he told Monica. "Fish something"
"Gerard, do you remember the Christmas Eve when you said the house stunk?"
He laughed, "I was just telling Monica that story. You were so mad at me. Well I really don't think you can threaten to ground me anymore."
His mother narrowed her eyes, "But I can threaten that I won't let you have any cannoli"
He stopped smiling "Oh that is mean. You wouldn't deprive your best son cannoli"
"I didn't know Mikey was here?" Monica threw in
Gerard turned to her "Oh very funny. I am the best son"
Donna snorted "Oh really, then what do you think of my seafood stew?" She knew she had him. He loved her cannoli. She has her own special recipe that contained ricotta, candied fruits and chocolate plus several secret ingredients. She stood waiting for his answer.
Damn he had to have some of the cannoli. "Mom I adore your seafood stew. I just can't wait to have a big bowl." He turned his back to his mom and faced Monica. The face he made has hilarious. Monica tried no to burst out in laughter.
"Did he just make a face? Did he" Donna asked Monica with laughter in her voice.
Gerard whispered, "For the love of God don't tell or I won't get any of the cannoli."
He turned back to his mom and smiled. "Do I also get Mikey's cannoli too? Cause he isn't here tonight so too bad for him"
Getting the bowls from the cabinet she began to ladle the thick stew from the pot. Kelly got the glasses and filled them with ice and Monica grabbed the fresh bread that had been made earlier. Once everything was in place they took their seats around the dining room table. Donna said special occasions called for the dining room. The large chandelier above the table was lit and it truly was a special occasion. Briefly Monica wished her other daughter was seated here too. Donna smiled at her
"I wish my other son was here too." She looked over at Gerard with a grim "you know my good son"
Gerard pretended to be hurt "Oh mom you hurt me for sure."
Donna asked them all to join hands and said the blessing. After which she added "Thank you lord for bringing Monica, Kelly and Kara into our lives. We have all welcomed them, they are our family now."
Monica felt tears forming "Thank you Donna. Thank you for taking us in and making us family."
Kelly added "Thank you for giving us such a nice home to live in and for the cannoli"
Gerard shot his mom a look "You let her have a cannoli? You never let me have one until after the dinner. Man now I'm third on your favorite kids list. First Mikey, then Kelly then me."
His mom laughed "Honey you forgot Kara. That makes you forth. Now be good and eat your stew"
Because it was almost 2:30 in the morning it was decided that the dishes could wait until morning. The guests wouldn't arrive until around noon so there would be plenty of time to do them. What had started out as a terrible Christmas Eve had turned into something special. Kelly gave her mom a kiss goodnight and headed downstairs. Donna kissed both Gerard and Monica before retiring.
Only Gerard and Monica remained in the kitchen after stacking the dishes. Monica absently reached up and touched the locket. Why couldn't her life be different? She wished with all her heart it could be. Gerard looked over at her and smiled.
"Thank you for sharing all of this with me. I could never have walked into that church if I hadn't known you were there."
"It meant so much to your mom that you came." Monica told him. "It really is a beautiful church. I know Elena would have been very proud of you." She closed the distance between them and kissed his lips. His arms encircled her.
"It's late and tomorrow will be a big day. I guess I should go to bed," she whispered but still made no move to leave.
He stepped back and took her hands in his "Merry Christmas, honey."
She started to leave then turned back "Merry Christmas Gee" There was so much more she wanted to say but the words failed her.