Monica feels she hasn't been a good mother.
She blinked awake as Bob tapped her thigh. She saw that their appetizer had arrived. The thought of eating the deep fried onion turned her stomach. Bob had no such qualms and was already digging in with his free hand. Kara sat up and stretched. She picked up a piece of the breaded onion. Instead of eating it, she merely twirled it, making patterns in the ranch dressing, lost in thought.
"What's wrong, Hon? Aren't you hungry?"
"Huh?...Oh, yeah. Just thinking." She continued to play with the onion piece.
"Do you think this is how it's always going to be?"
"I get something good and then screw it up."
"What do you think you've screwed up?"
"I shouldn't have hit that jackass. I had everything straightened up at school; passing everything, graduating in a couple of months and then I had to do that." She closed her eyes. "Now, I'll have to work a 100 times harder to get back to where I was. I don't get it. It's like I have a self-destruct button or something. Like I can't let myself just be happy and ahead of the game."
"All this angst because you hit the jerk who was using your sister as a punching bag?"
"Shit, you know full well that that probably wasn't even the dumbest thing I did THIS week."
"Are you fucking kidding me?"
Kara just shook her head.
Bob grabbed her chin and forced her to look into his eyes. "Knock it off. I don't want to hear that crap coming out of your mouth again. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now... open up. He held up an onion, popping it in when she opened her mouth. "Eat your dinner."
Kara made a face but chewed the mouthful.
They lapsed into silence.
"Bob, can't we move out of Mom's house?"
'Not until you graduate." He said, moving the remains of the appetizer to make way for the steaks that the waitress had just brought.
Kara frowned. "Why can't we find our own place now?"
"Kara, I don't want you to be alone while I'm gone. I'd worry too much about you."
"I knew it. You're afraid I'd fuck it up."
"Kara, I said knock it off. I just want you to have a support system while I'm gone. It's only a couple more months and then you'll be with me on the road.... if you want."
Kara visibly brightened. "Really? You never said you know."
"I guess I just took it for granted that you'd be coming with me." He looked over at her, a bite of steak halfway to his mouth. "Now eat Mrs. Bryar. I predict that you'll be needing energy later."
Kara made no move to eat.
"Aren't you hungry?"
Kara held up her right hand, which was now encapsulated in a cast. She pouted at him.
Bob cracked up. "I'm sorry. I totally forgot. Let me get it for you." He proceeded to cut her steak into bite-size pieces. He stabbed one and brought it to her lips. "Now eat your dinner like a good little girl and you'll get a big surprise." He chuckled wickedly.
Kara took the piece of steak in her mouth, making a big show of seductively licking her lips.
They ate together in silence with Bob feeding Kara periodically.
"You don't think I'm one of your mistakes do you?"
Kara turned to look at Bob, tears springing to her eyes. She shook her head vehemently.
"No." She grabbed him, burying her head against his chest. "You're the good thing I don't want to fuck up."
Kara and Bob were laughing as they entered the house. Kara, carrying a doggie bag, headed down the hall to the kitchen to put her leftovers in the fridge. Gee and Monica were in the family room watching a movie. Kara looked straight ahead willing them to ignore her.
"Hi Kara." Gee called out.
"Hi." Kara walked on to the kitchen, depositing her bag in the refrigerator. She walked back down the hall, anxious to join Bob upstairs.
"Kara." Monica called out. Kara sighed and went to the door of the family room.
"Did you and Bob have fun tonight?"
Kara rolled her eyes. "Yeah. I'm going to bed now." She turned to leave. Monica caught sight of the cast. She sprang up off of the couch. "Kara, wait." She quickly crossed the room to where Kara stood.
"Your hand...." Monica's voice trailed off.
"Is broken?" Kara helpfully offered.
Monica remained speechless.
"Okay, on that note, I'm going upstairs to bed. It's been a long day."
Monica reached out to stop her.
"Mom, don't worry about it. Bob took care of it. I guess I'm not your responsibility anymore."
"Of course you're my responsibility."
Kara snorted. 'Forget it. Just take care of Kelly." She turned around to the hall again but then turned back. "Did you even think to have her checked out?" She waited for an answer that wasn't coming. "Of course you didn't."
"Kara, come on. I've got your bath ready." Bob appeared at her side, gently guiding her toward the stairs. He looked at Monica over Kara's head, his jaw clinched.
"We'll talk about this in the morning." He said.
He walked up the stairs after Kara, shaking his head. Monica just stared after them.
Gerard walked into the bedroom smiling. “Kell said she was glad I was home to turn off her light and tell her goodnight.” Her words had touched him deeply.
“It means so much to her that you’re here.” Monica said crawling into bed.
“I’m just glad Bob and I could get away.” He flipped off the lights and crawled into bed next to Monica. “Man, it feels good to be home.” He rolled over and gazed at Monica. The moonlight slipping through the curtains allowed him to see her expression. She looked so incredibly sad. Gently he touched her face, “What’s wrong?’
Monica didn’t want the short time she would have with him to be full of drama. She brushed aside her true thoughts. "How did your talk with Kelly go today?"
Gerard wondered what was really on her mind. He decided to keep her talking until he found out. "I think it went good. I mean I hope she listened to what I was telling her. Listening to her today I realized she lacks confidence in herself." His thoughts went to the darkroom he had seen for the first time today. "I'm really hoping that the darkroom will give her a chance to discover the talent I know she has. Expressing herself artistically through her photographs will really help her confidence. She has such a gift for seeing things other people overlook. I've showed so many people those pictures she sent with me on tour. Man, some of them just blow me away."
Monica smiled at his enthusiasm "She's gonna freak when she realizes that the darkroom has been under her nose the whole time."
"Just make sure she stays out of the basement. I don't wanna miss the look on her face when she sees it. Man, I hope the rest of the tour goes by fast." He hugged Monica tightly.
Monica snuggled up to him, “Gee, thank you.”
He stroked her hair, “For?”
“For being here. For loving my children, for loving me.”
His chest rumbled with laughter tickling Monica’s ear. “Monica, you gotta know there is no place in this world I would rather be.”
The darkness settled around them. “Gee?”
“Think Kelly’s gonna be alright?”
“Yeah, she’ll be fine. She’s working through a lot of emotions right now but I know she’ll be okay.”
“I wish I was a better mother.”
He had been expecting this comment since the earlier encounter with Bob and Kara, “Monica you are a good mother.”
She shook her head. “Pretty sure Bob wouldn’t agree with you. He’s pissed and I understand why. I should have gotten Kara’s hand looked at,
Gerard interrupted her, “Did Kara tell you her hand hurt?”
“No, but I should have thought to check.”
“Monica, Kara is a big girl now. Fuck, she’s a married woman. She should have told you something was wrong with her hand.” He shifted slightly pulling her even closer. “Bob is just upset. I’m sure he doesn’t think you’re a bad mother. He knows the hell you went through to keep your children safe.”
Monica closed her eyes trying to block out the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. “I’ve done so many things wrong. Kara was right.” Her voice trembled “I just wish I had been a better mother back in Kansas. I wish I could go back and do things differently.”
Gerard frowned, “Monica, you have to let it go. You did your best for your children. You protected them.”
“Kara doesn’t think so.” She said softly.
He stopped stroking her hair, “What?”
Monica’s voice was small, “When I found out that Mike had hurt Kelly I asked Kara why she hadn’t told me. She wanted to know what the police said. I thought she meant about the whole driving thing. I said that they fined Kelly but that’s not what she meant. She wanted to know why a police report wasn’t filed about Mike abusing Kelly. I told her the school didn’t call the police.” She paused hearing Kara’s words in her head, “She asked me why I hadn’t thought to file a report myself.”
“What did you tell her?”
“She didn’t give me a chance to answer. She told me that I hadn’t cause it was just like old times. That I just wanted to sweep it all under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen.” Gerard could feel her tears on his chest.
“Oh, Honey” he hugged her tightly.
“I really thought I was doing what was best for my girls.” Her body shook as she sobbed. “And I’m still screwing up. I didn’t even notice Kara was hurt.”
“You were upset about Kelly.” He reasoned.
“That’s no excuse. I should have paid attention to her too. I’m just not a good mother.”
Gerard closed his eyes feeling her pain. “Kara loves you but she has a lot of unresolved anger towards her father. You know that. She’s just lashing out at you because in her mind she wishes things could have been different. But Honey, they couldn’t have been any different. Kyle was a sick bastard. He hurt you and he threatened to hurt his own children.”
“But what if…”
Gerard placed his finger over her lips, “No, what if. That was just how things were. You can’t go back and change anything. Deep down Kara knows but she’s scarred. You’re scarred and so is Kelly.”
“I just want the past to stay buried. I want to forget.”
Gerard kissed the top of her head, “I know, Honey.”
“But that’s not right. I just keep trying so hard to forget about the fucking past I’m messing up the here and now.”
“It’s all gonna be okay.” He gently stroked her hair once again. “Things are gonna get better for all of us.”
The lay entwined in the darkness. Gerard was holding her tightly, silently offering his love and support. So much time passed that he thought she had fallen asleep when her voice called to him again.
“Are we gonna make love?”
Once more his chest rumbled with laughter, “Honey, it’s okay if we don’t. Sometimes just being held is all you need.”
Monica snuggled even closer. “I feel safe in your arms. I feel loved.”
“Yeah, me too,”
Monica could FEEL how much he loved her. She smiled in the darkness. “So are we gonna make love?”
His laugh warmed her heart. “What do you think?”
“I think, yes.” Her hand moved down his chest slowly causing his heartbeat to quicken.
He shifted so he could pull her body over his own. “I love you.” He whispered before proceeding to show her just how much.