Gee, Monica and Bug time. Liv has a bad experience
Gerard nodded, “I’ll get Elle.” He stood “Hey, lets go out for dinner.”
“We went out to dinner last night.” She reminded him.
She rolled her eyes at him. “Don’t like my cooking?”
“I love your cooking. I just thought it would be nice if you didn’t have to cook tonight.”
“Gee, aren’t you sick of eating out?”
He laughed, “That’s pretty much all I do.”
“So what if you and I make dinner together?” Monica said “Or better yet, you make dinner.”
The look on his face was priceless. “You’re gonna trust me in our kitchen?”
“Good point” Monica said throwing all the wrappers on the tray.
He frowned, “Hey, I’ve cooked for you. It wasn’t bad.”
She smiled, “Breakfast?”
“Oh, yeah. I should have known you’d bring that up. No, I was talking about the meal I made you at Mom’s. You said you liked it.”
She walked over to the trashcan and emptied the tray. “I did like it” she said as she returned to the table.
“So it’s settled then. I’ll cook dinner tonight.”
Monica grinned, “If you insist.”
He looked at her grin. “You just goaded me into making dinner, didn’t you?”
“Oh, Honey. Is that what you think?” She leaned over and kissed his cheek.
He nodded, “Yeah, I totally fell for it.”
He walked over to the play area and called to Elle.
“Gee lookie at me’s.” Elle was standing at the top of the steps with her arms open wide. “Catch me’s.” She flung herself towards him before he was close enough to reach her.
Monica had her back turned and didn’t see what happened. When Elle screamed she turned and saw the blood.
"So did you really think that you weren’t gonna have to pay me bitch?" He took another step closer to her. "I want my fucking money. You got the shit I want my money."
Liv looked around hoping that someone would come along the street so that she could scream for help. Joe had pulled her into the alley before she realized what was happening. Slowly she took a step back but hit the rough brick wall behind her.
"Come on Liv, just pay me what you owe." His words were kinder but the tone was not.
"I don't have it. Shit, it's been years." She strained her ears hoping to hear the sound of a passing car, anything she was desperate. She hated that she had been stupid enough to come to this part of town. If she hadn't been looking for Molly this wouldn’t have happened.
"So you think there was a time limit?" He sneered. "I never forget. You promised you'd pay me for the shit and you never came through." He took a step closer and reached out to touch her cheek. Liv flinched from his touch. "Come on Livie just pay up. If you ain’t' got the money get it from one of your friends. Get it from Way."
"I haven't seen him in years." Liv answered quickly.
"Well then you better fucking think of someone else you can get it from. I ain't no fucking charity. I've wasted a fucking lot of time looking for you bitch. I got you now." He still couldn't believe his luck. He had just been coming out of the bar and there she was pretty as you please walking down the sidewalk. Talk about fucking luck.
Liv tried to explain again how she didn't have the money. He was losing his patience. He hated the fact that she had disappeared on him. She was always one of his best customers.
"I'll try to get your money." She said slowly.
The word try made him snap. He slapped her hard causing her head to snap back and hit the bricks. "Look you fucking whore, try ain't what I want to hear."
Liv whimpered and slid down the wall. He brought his foot back and kicked her hard.
"Hey, what's going on?” a voice from the mouth of the alley called out.
He looked up intending to tell whoever it was to fuck off but was surprised to see two young men moving towards them.
"This don't fucking concern you." He shouted at them.
"The hell it don't." The shorter of the two had his cell phone in hand. It was time to get out of here. He looked down at Liv who had collapsed into a ball.
"Later, bitch" He kicked her once more then took off running.
One of the men chased after him the other knelt down in front of Liv. "Are you okay?"
Liv looked up through tear stained eyes. "Please, just help me up."
Slowly he helped her stand. The pain in her side was intense. Her cheek throbbed.
"I'll call for help." He opened his phone.
"No" Liv pleaded. "I'm okay."
"But ma’am you're hurt."
"I'm fine. Thank you for your help." She took a few very painful steps.
The other man reached them clearly out of breath, "I couldn't catch him." He looked at Liv, "We can take you to the hospital."
"No, please. I have to go."
Both men exchanged a look. The older man took her arm to steady her. "At lease let us take you some place safe. This ain't a good neighborhood."
Liv looked at them. "I live about ten blocks from here"
"Okay, our car is close. We'll drive you home." They began to walk out of the alley. Liv looked around making sure he wasn't still watching. She had to make sure he didn't find out where she was living. She just couldn't move again. It was too hard on Elle.
"He's gone." The shorter man said kindly. "Don't worry."
Their kindness made fresh tears run down her face. She was so tired of running from the past. So afraid of the future.
By the time Monica reached them Gee was on the floor with Elle in his arms. "I wasn't close enough when she jumped." He said his voice shaky. "I kept her from hitting the floor but her lip hit the rail."
Monica with years of mother experience started talking to Elle. "Honey, calm down. Tell us what hurts."
Elle was sobbing. "Me's wip hurts" she touched it. "Oh it's bweeding." She cried harder.
"Honey I want you to stand up, okay. We gotta make sure the rest of you is okay."
Slowly Elle moved out of Gerard's arms. Monica checked her over for any other injuries. Another mom who had seen the accident handed Monica a napkin filled with ice. Monica thanked her and gently placed it on Elle's lip. The bleeding had slowed.
"Ok, baby. We gotta keep the ice on your lip so it doesn't get all big and silly looking."
Elle hiccuped "It's cowd."
"Yep, it's cold but it helps." Slowly the three of them walked back to their table. Monica waited until Gerard sat down then lifted Elle into his lap. He gave her a surprised look.
"Hold this on her lip." She placed the napkin in his hand.
Gently Gerard placed the ice on Elle's lip. "Does it still hurt?" He asked her softly.
Monica went into the restroom and returned with some wet paper towels. She wiped Elle's face. "That's better." She stood back and smiled. Gee was cradling Elle in his arms. He checked her lip.
"It quit bleeding."
"Me's wants to go home." Elle said sadly.
"Honey, I'm not talking you back to your mommy until tonight." Monica told her. She and Gerard locked eyes. They hoped this wouldn't start off another round of crying.
"No, me's wants to go home to Mommyca's." Her little voice sounded so tired.
Monica and Gee smiled to each other. "Come on baby, let's go." Gee said to her before kissing the top of her head. She scooted out of his lap. Gerard stood and quickly scooped her up. He carried her to the car with Monica following closely behind. Monica opened the rear door and watched as he settled Elle into the car and fastened her seat belt. Elle smiled at him. "Luv you."
Monica saw the look on Gerard’s face. It was a look of shock, confusion and happiness. He pressed a kiss on her cheek. "I luv you too Little Bug."