The airport was swarming with people hurrying along each lost in their own worlds. Monica and Gee were the same. Right now as they stood together it was if nothing else mattered. It was getting closer to the time Gerard and Bob would have to go through the gate. Gerard hated to go. He led Monica to a small out of the way alcove. "I'm gonna miss you, Honey." He whispered pulling her into his arms.
"I already miss you." Monica snuggled as close to him as she could.
"I'll call you before the concert and find out how it went with the court, okay?"
Monica nodded without raising her head from his chest.
He gently lifted her face to his, "It's gonna be okay."
"I know." She sounded so unsure. "I still can't get over that Kara did all of this for Kelly. It should have been me, Gee. I should have been the one who took her to a counselor. I should have had her file the police report. Face it I'm a shitty mother." Her voice trembled.
Gerard took her face in his hands, "Honey, dealing with abuse is a hard thing for you. Stop being so hard on yourself."
"My past is no excuse, if anything it should have made me more knowledgeable. Only thing is I never handled my own abuse correctly. No wonder I fucked this up."
He felt badly that this had come up now when he had to leave. "Monica, just stop this. You did the best you could given your situation. Fuck, you were ready to die to protect your children. Let it go."
Monica lowered her head, "I'm sorry. You are leaving. I shouldn't have brought this up now."
"Honey, it's okay." He raised her face to his, "Maybe it would help if you talked to an abuse counselor."
Monica shook her head, "No, I don't want to."
He hated that she looked so scared at the thought. "It's just something to think about, okay?"
She nodded and blinked back tears.
Gerard kissed her lips. "Hey, I'll see you soon. I didn't ask. Is Kell gonna come to Denver too?"
Monica shook her head. "I asked but she told me that she thought just Kara and I should go. When I asked her why she just rolled her eyes at me and said 'Come on Mom. Like I don't know you and Dad want to spend time alone.'"
"Smart daughter I have there" He laughed.
"What do you think of your other daughters?" Monica asked softly.
Gerard smiled, "Well the oldest still ain't too fond of me"
"Gerard" Monica said frowning.
"Hey, you know it's the truth but I'm hoping that will change. As for the youngest she's pretty fucking smart and cute."
"Cute like her, Dadgee." Monica teased. "Of course you really aren’t cute; you’re beautiful."
Gerard leaned down to nuzzle her neck, "Don't start that shit again, I ain't beautiful."
Monica just laughed.
Gerard realized it was time to go. "I'll call you as soon as I can." He promised.
"Love you Gee'" Monica walked him to the entrance of the secure area.
He kissed her deeply not caring who saw. "Love you, Hon. Always."
“Do you really have to leave?” Kara asked, only half kidding. She was playing with the zipper of Bob’s hoodie, not looking up.
“As much as I’d love to stay, we do have a concert tonight.”
“Oh phooey…Have Matt sub for you, He subs for everyone else. I’m sure no one would notice.” Kara seemed quite pleased with her idea.
“Ouch. Thanks for pointing out that I’m disposable.” He clutched his heart, “I feel so loved.”
“That isn’t what I meant and you know it.” Kara looked up and sighed. “If you gotta go – you gotta go. Have a safe trip.”
“I will. Call me after you file the papers today. Let me know how it goes.” Kara nodded, “And promise me you’ll be careful when you go back to school Monday. Stay away from that jerk.”
“Are you kidding? I’m pretty sure I can do a lot more damage now that I have this thing.” She lifted up her cast. Bob opened his mouth to day something but Kara quickly interrupted, “I’m joking.” She laughed, “I’m not going anywhere near him.” She took on a new persona. “Besides he’s like, negative vibes were, like, ..totally bringing me down.”
Bob laughed and kissed her. “Just try to stay out of trouble.”
“I’ll try but….” She shrugged her shoulders.
“I’ll text you when we land. Bye Kara.” He kissed her again.
“Elle, wherever you are, I’m gonna go answer the door.” Kelly yelled out. She and Elle were playing hide n’ seek and she had just started to look for Elle when the doorbell rang.
Kelly looked out and was surprised to see Liv standing on the porch. She opened the door quickly. “Hey, Liv. I didn’t think you were gonna pick up Elle until this afternoon.” She pushed open the screen door but Liv didn’t make a move to come inside.
“Can you tell Elle I’m here?”
“Sure, but you might as well come in cause I got to find her.”
Liv’s face registered shock. “Find her?”
“Oh it’s not like it sounds. She and I are playing hide n’ seek.”
Liv still stood rooted to her spot on the porch.
“Uh, Mom and Kara took Dad and Bob to the airport so I’m watching Elle.” She understood Liv’s reluctance to come in. “We’re the only ones here.”
Liv paused a moment then walked into the house.
“You can help me find her.” Kelly said trying to make Liv feel more at ease. “I told her she could only hide in the rooms downstairs so it shouldn’t be all that hard.”
Liv looked very uncomfortable.
“If you call out to her I’ll bet she’ll come. She really missed you last night.”
Liv smiled slightly. “I really missed her.”
Kelly tried not to stare at Liv but the bruise on her cheek was so noticeable. Liv pushed the sunglasses up her nose and lied, “I ran into a door last night.”
“Oh” Kelly didn’t know what to say.
“Elle, Honey… Mommy’s here.” Liv called out wanting to find Elle quickly and get out before she had to make up any more lies.
“Mommy” Elle ran from the living room where she had been hiding under a table. She jumped into her mom’s arms and Kelly saw Liv flinch in pain.
“Mommy missed you, Baby. Are you ready to go?”
“We’s avent ‘ad our tookies.” Elle said with a frown.
Kelly explained, “She and I made chocolate chip cookies. They are cooling in the kitchen. Would you like one?”
Liv shook her head, “We really need to be going.”
“Me’s made em’ all be me’s self.” Elle said sliding back down out of her mom’s arms. “Pweese?”
“I can make coffee if you’d like.” Kelly said smiling.
Liv looked at her trying not to sound rude. “No thank you. I’ll take a cookie with me.”
“Mommy me’s wanna ave milk” Elle had been looking foreword to having a fresh cookie with milk since they had come out of the oven.
“Please?” Kelly said softly.
Liv sighed. She hated being in Gerard and Monica’s house but she didn’t want to disappoint Elle. She had missed her so damn much and didn’t want to upset her. “Just one cookie, okay? Then we have to leave.” She wanted to be gone before Monica came back and got a good look at her face.
Kelly smiled and led them into the kitchen. “Would you like coffee?”
Liv took a seat at the kitchen table, “Milk will be fine.” She watched as Kelly and Elle got the milk and cookies. It touched her heart to see Elle acting like such a big girl. Kelly poured the milk into plastic mugs and let Elle carry them one at a time to the table. She also got to carry the cookies that Kelly had placed on a plate.
“Tookie dood.” Elle said taking a big bite.
“Very good” Liv agreed.
Across the table Kelly was lost in thought. Liv noticed she had grown quiet. There was something about the way the young girl looked at her that was unnerving.
“Me’s made sketti last night.” Elle told her mom. “No me’s didn’t.” Elle corrected herself. “Me’s made garluck bwed. Dadgee made the sketti.”
Liv almost dropped her mug of milk. Kelly explained softly, “I call Gerard Dad and Elle just sort of copied that in her own way.
Suddenly Liv felt the cookie in her mouth turn to dust. She nodded and looked down at the table.
Elle grabbed a second cookie. Liv didn’t even notice. Her side hurt and so did her heart. Hearing Elle call Gerard Dad was overwhelming.
“We need to get going now.” Liv said to Elle. Go get you clothes.” Elle was wearing a tee-shirt that didn’t belong to her.
:”She can just wear that one home, it’s mine.” Kelly said.
Liv nodded, she was too tired to argue. “Okay then go ahead and get your own clothes, okay?”
Elle slipped out of her chair and headed upstairs.
“What happened to her lip?” Liv asked as soon as Elle was gone.
“Oh, Mom and Dad took her to McDonalds yesterday and she fell while playing.”
Liv nodded but said nothing.
Kelly looked down at her plate. “Liv, what happened to your face?”
Liv was about to snap that it was none of her business when she remembered her talk with Monica. This must be the daughter who had been abused by her boyfriend. She felt compassion for the young girl. “I ran into someone I shouldn’t have.” She answered honestly.
Kelly nodded. “I’m sorry.”
Liv’s heart went out to her, “Look, sometimes we do stupid things that come back to haunt us. That’s what I did. But sometimes people hurt us and they have no reason. No reason at all.”
Kelly looked up and met her gaze. “Yeah.”
Liv searched for the right words. “It ain’t right. It’s never right for someone to hurt someone else.” She shook her head trying to explain, “Look your mom told me, okay?”
Kelly was shocked. She had no idea her mom would have told Liv about Mike.
“She was upset and it just came out. Don’t be mad at her.”
“I’m not. My real daddy used to hurt Mama. She always tried to keep it a secret but I figured it out.”
Liv nodded, “Yeah, I figured that. Look, just know that what happened was in no way your fault. He probably tried to make you think it was your fault or that it was someone else’s fault but that’s a load of shit.” She paused, “You did right by telling some one.”
“I told my sister first.” Kelly said.
“Telling any loved one is okay.” Liv started to stand.
“Then why didn’t you ever tell him?” Kelly whispered.
Liv sat back down. “What?”
Kelly looked into her eyes, “Why didn’t you ever tell Gerard about what happened?”
Liv sucked in her breath. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Kelly simply stared at her. The kitchen was deathly silent.
“How?” Liv whispered. “How do you know about my past?”
Kelly wished there was some way to explain to her how she knew. But the truth was she had no idea how she knew, she just did. The knowledge was just suddenly there in her brain. All the pain Liv has suffered when she was young overwhelmed her.
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