Gee's birthday dinner. Kelly has a secret.
“Maybe it sucks and you’re just too old to realize it.” Frank said before taking a bite of his salad. “I mean you are getting up there in age.”
“Oh no, thirty is the new twenty.” Ray repeated what Gerard had said in an interview.
Christa laughed, “You’re not that much younger.” She reminded him.
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, heed her words. Thirty is looming on your horizon.”
Ray shrugged, “But I don’t care. It’s just a number.”
“So who said I care?” Gerard asked.
“You kinda have mentioned it a few times.” Bob said. He smiled, “But it’s okay. So you got a few gray hairs, no one will notice.”
“That’s right” Mikey piped in, “They’ll notice that bald spot you got in back first.”
Gerard threw a bread stick at each of them. “Funny.”
Frank cleared his throat. “Here” he said producing a large wrapped gift from under the table. Gerard hadn’t never even seen him bring it into the restaurant. The guys and I “ he smiled, “and Christa” all wanted to get you something for your birthday,
Gerard looked at the large box, “You guys know I wasn’t expecting anything.”
Frank laughed, “Well in that case, I’ll just take my present and leave.”
Frank went to grab for the gift, but Gerard was faster and snatched it up. He quickly unwrapped the box and squealed like a kid on Christmas. “It’s for the hamster I’m gonna buy.” He hugged the Habitrail to himself. If had he looked around he would have noticed quite a few odd looks from fellow dinners.
Christa laughed, “Hamsters?”
Gerard nodded happily. “Yeah I’ve always wanted hamsters. Now I’ve got my own house this is just perfect. Thanks guys.”
“Monica will be thrilled.” Ray said rolling his eyes.
“What?” Gerard said looking over at him. “You don’t think she’ll like hamsters?”
Everyone at the table snickered.
He thought a moment. “Well, I bet Kell will.” His cell phone rang at that moment. Glancing down he saw that it was Kelly. “Hey, it’s Kell. Be right back” he told his friends. Leaving the table he found a quiet spot outside the restaurant. “Hello, Kell.”
“Hi, Dad. Are you having a good birthday?”
“The best ever. Right now I’m having dinner with the guys. They all wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday. They got me a Habitrail. Isn’t that rad? You like hamsters, don’t you?”
Kelly smiled, “Sure, they’re great. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your dinner.”
Gerard laughed, “Don’t worry about it. The food hasn’t come yet, just the salads. So how was your day?’
Kelly had wanted to talk to him about it but now wasn’t the time. “It was okay. School’s pretty boring”
He heard something in her tone. “Kell, is there something you want to talk about?” He saw Frank come out and mouthed to him that the food had arrived. He nodded that he understood but still waited for Kelly to speak.
“I’ll talk to you later. Maybe later tonight?”
“Sure, call me later, okay? Unless you want to talk now.”
Kelly sighed, “No, Mom just called me to come down to dinner.”
“What did she make?” Suddenly the idea of the food waiting inside the restaurant wasn’t nearly as appealing. He would much rather be at home at his own dinner table.
Kelly sounded disgusted “Meatloaf.”
Gerard laughed “What’s wrong with meatloaf?”
“Don’t like it.” Kelly told him honestly, “Talk to you later, okay?”
“Bye Kell” He closed the phone and frowned. Had she called for a reason or just to talk?
“Food’s getting cold” Frank appeared again. “Come on Birthday Boy.”
Kelly replaced the phone and rolled over carefully on her bed. She tried to decide if she should talk to Gerard about what had happened. Was it really that big of a deal? Mike had lost his temper but he did seem really sorry. It wasn’t like he was drinking or anything. How could he have been? They were at school and she knew he hadn’t been drinking when he picked her up this morning. He did seem sort of off though, kinda jumpy. Had he been drinking? Maybe she should have smelled his breath. No, that was stupid and he would have gotten mad if she had tried. But he had gotten mad anyway. All she had said was she didn’t like one of his friends. She sat up slowly and lifted her hoodie. Across the room she could see her reflection in the mirror. The big ugly purple bruise seemed to mock her. She lowered her hoodie and turned away from the mirror. It has just been an accident. Mike had been so sorry when he helped her up from the floor. He said he’d only meant to push her away from his locker. It wasn’t his fault she had tripped and fallen on her side. She shouldn’t have said what she had. Downstairs Monica called to Kelly again. She slipped off her bed slowly holding her side. No, it would be silly to bother Dad with this and she sure wasn’t gonna tell her mom. She knew her mom would make a big deal out of it. It was all okay. Just an accident. Mike would never deliberately hurt her. Didn’t he keep telling her how much he loved her?
When the guys got back to the hotel it was after ten. As soon as he got to his room Gerard called home.
“Hello, Birthday Boy.” Monica answered. She had been watching a movie.
“Hello, Hon. What are you doing?”
Monica was puzzled by the question. “What am I doing? Just watching An Officer and a Gentleman.”
“I love Richard Gere. Where are ya?”
“In bed. Why?”
He explained, “I want to picture you in my mind when we talk. How come you’re already in bed, it’s not that late.”
“Well, cause Kara and Kelly have already turned in for the night so I figured I would too but I was waiting for you to call.”
“Kell’s already asleep?” He was disappointed. Ever since her call earlier he had been wondering what she had wanted to talk to him about.
“Yeah, she told me she had talked to you earlier.”
“She did but she was supposed to call me back. Is everything okay with her?”
Monica turned the movie off, “Far as I know. She seemed okay. Why? Did she say something to you?”
“She called during dinner. I sorta got the idea she wanted to talk but she said she’d call me later.”
“Guess it wasn’t important but I’ll ask her in the morning. So how was dinner? Did you have a girl jump out of your birthday cake?”
Gerard laughed, “I didn’t even have a cake and you can bet if there had been one with a girl popping out, Christa would have called you by now.”
“Christa is not spying for me.” Monica said.
“Didn’t say she was but she’d tell you all the same. So guess what the guys gave me?”
Monica couldn’t help but laugh. He sounded as excited as a little kid. “What?’
“A Habitrail. Isn’t that rad?”
“For gerbils?” Monica asked slowly.
“Well I love gerbils but I’ll probably get hamsters.” He told her very seriously.
Monica had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing. “That’s nice.” She finally said.
“You do like hamsters, don’t you?”
“Is our relationship over if I say I don’t?” Monica teased.
Gerard laughed, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry but if you don’t love hamsters it’s over.”
“I love hamsters, Gee. Almost as much as I love you.”
They ended up talking for almost forty-five minutes. It wasn’t until the end of the conversation that Monica told him about Liv calling.
“Man, she didn’t wait long for me to be out of town, did she?”
“She asked me to watch Elle tomorrow while she runs some errands. I kinda felt bad when I told her I wasn’t at Jamia’s anymore.”
Gerard lit a cigarette, “Why?”
“I don’t know really. I just think it probably bothers her that we bought a house and moved into it.”
“What difference would that make?’
Monica shook her head wondering why he couldn’t understand. “Gee, the two of you were together years and never bought a house. Come on. Think about it. We have a beautiful home. I just think it will bother her.”
“Liv and I lived in a crappy apartment. She didn’t care and neither did I. We weren’t really interested in shit like that. Besides when we were first together we couldn’t have afforded anything else anyway.”
“But now Liv has a daughter to think of. She’s not the same person just like you’re not the same person.”
“So you think she’ll want money from us after she sees our house? I mean she’s gotta know I’ve got money now. Hell, I’ll pay child support.”
“Gee, I don’t know what if anything Liv wants. The only thing she’s asked is if I’ll watch Elle.”
He took another drag and thought a minute. “So are you gonna try to talk to her?’
“You mean about letting us see Elle more often? Yes. I would like to form some sort of a friendly relationship with her but Bert didn’t think that would be easy.”
“So now Bert is an expert on Liv?’ Gerard said sarcastically.
Monica sighed, “Okay time for a topic change. I don’t wanna discuss Liv anymore.”
He almost said something but held his tongue. “So what do you want to talk about?’
Monica giggled seductively. “Is Frank back in the room yet?’
Gerard knew where this was going. “Nope, but he will be soon.”
“Well then you better start talking now. Tell me just how much you miss me?’ she purred. The airwaves between Jersey and Canada sizzled.