The guys bond with Christa. Monica finds the right dress.
"Well" Christa said smiling. "I actually didn't know he was a musician when we first met."
"You just thought he was some wild haired maniac?" Bob cut in.
Christa laughed, "No, I thought he was a pretty cute guy who was staring at me."
Ray set down his margarita. "I was staring,” he admitted. "I had been listening to her talk to one of her friends and just knew I wanted to talk to her." He reached under the table and put his hand on her thigh.
"Okay, but when did you fall in love with him?" Mikey asked before popping a chip dipped in salsa in his mouth.
"I fell in love with Ray that day on the beach" She answered Mikey but was looking into Ray's eyes.
Ray nodded with a smile, "Yeah, best day ever."
"Ray at the beach?" Frank laughed, "Oh man, that's a visual. Sand in the fro."
"Funny Frank." Ray said looking over at him. "I'm a romantic guy. You know long walks on the beach in the moonlight."
Gerard was trying very hard to be part of the conversation but his mind was on Monica. "Hey, be back in a minute." He told everyone at the table. Finding a quiet spot towards the back of the restaurant he pulled out his cell phone to give Monica a call. He was surprised when Kelly answered.
"Hey, Dad. What's up?"
"Kell, how are you today?" He remembered Monica said she was going shopping and Kelly must have gone with her since they had a day off from school.
"Pretty good. Mom's in the dressing room right now." She glanced over at Bert and smiled. For some reason she knew her mom hadn't told Dad she was shopping with Bert so she remained quiet on the subject.
"Oh, that's okay I really didn't want anything. Just thought I'd check in. So are you guys having fun shopping?"
"Yeah, it's nice getting out of the house." Kelly answered honestly.
Bob walked by him on the way to the restroom. "You talking to Monica?"
Gerard shook his head, "Kelly. Monica's in the dressing room."
"Kara with them?" Bob asked. When he had talked to Kara first thing this morning she hadn't been sure what she was going to do today.
"Kell, is Kara with you guys?"
"No, she's babysitting Elle." Kelly answered. She noticed Bert look away.
Gerard was surprised. "Liv brought Elle back so soon?" It wasn't that he minded, he was just sort of surprised.
"Yeah, Mom said she had an appointment she had to keep."
Gerard explained to Bob who nodded and continued on to the restroom. "So what's your mom trying on?" Gerard asked. He couldn't explain why but he didn't want to hang up yet.
Kelly answered quickly, "Uh, just some dresses."
Gerard frowned. Monica rarely wore dresses. Oh, well he did tell her to buy some new clothes. "Make sure you get some stuff too."
Kelly giggled, "Well if you insist. Want me to have Mom call you back?"
"That's okay, I'll call her later." He could see across the restaurant and the waitress had just delivered their orders to the table.
"Talk to ya later, Dad." Kelly said before closing her mom's cell and placing it back in her purse.
Bert giggled, "Man, it sounds so weird to hear Gee-man called dad."
Kelly smiled, "He's a good Dad. He listens to me"
"He's a fuc...uh, damn lucky man." Bert said once again looking away.
"Bert, can I ask you a question?" Kelly glanced in the direction of the dressing rooms to make sure her mom wasn't coming.
"Sure" He looked over at her.
Kelly took a deep breath. This wasn’t going to be easy.
Gerard walked back towards the table when a young girl stopped him.
"Excuse me, uh Gerard?" It was obvious she was extremely nervous
"Hi" Gerard said stopping at her table where she was seated with a woman he suspected was her mom.
"Can I have your autograph?" She blurted out then looked down.
Gerard smiled hoping to put her at ease, "Sure. What do you want me to sign?"
The girls looked up. "Uh, oh, I don't know." She picked up her purse and started fumbling with the contents.
Her mom smiled, "Why don't you have him sign your napkin?" She suggested. She pulled out a pen from her purse.
Gerard took it "What's your name?"
"Kelly" the young girl said shyly.
"I was just talking to my daughter Kelly,” he told her. "I'm guessing she's about your age."
"I didn't know you were married?" The mother said looking surprised.
Gerard looked up from the napkin he was signing, "Actually I'm not yet. Kelly is my fiancée’s daughter." He finished signing and even drew a small vampire character.
"Oh, thank you." Kelly said taking the napkin from him.” This is so rad."
“You're welcome. Nice to have met you." He smiled and continued on to his table. Suddenly he realized his mood wasn't as happy as it had been a few minutes ago. Monica wasn't his wife and Kelly and Kara not legally his daughters. He should be married. If Monica hadn't put him off things would be like he wanted them to be.
"Dude, your food is getting cold." Mikey told him as he sat down.
Gerard shrugged. He wasn't hungry now anyway.
Monica looked at herself in the mirror shaking her head slowly. This had to be the ugliest dress yet. So far she had tried on four dresses with the help of Cleo and she had hated each dress a bit more than it's predecessor. She didn't want to hurt Bert's feeling but there was no way she would wear any of these gowns. They were reminiscent of the hideous gowns Madonna wore onstage for her 'Like A Virgin' tour.
"Not your cup of tea." Cleo said seeing Monica's frown.
"Sorry." Monica said, "It's nice, but just not me." She ran her fingers down the side of the dress. The sequins tickled her palms.
"Well, don't fret. There is a prefect dress for you. We just have to find it. Tell me why the idea of a wedding dress upsets you."
Monica gave her a shocked look. "I'm not upset."
Cleo laughed, "Honey, please. You came into this dressing room like you were walking into a doctor’s office. Aren't you excited about getting married?"
"Of course I am." Monica answered a bit too quickly.
Cleo looked at her. "Are you scared?"
Monica's first thought was to answer no. However when she looked at Cleo she saw understanding in her face. "A little, I guess." Suddenly she found herself confiding in this near stranger, "My first marriage was bad. No it was terrible."
Cleo took her arm and led her to a chair. Taking a seat next to her she asked, "Tell me about your fiancée."
Monica smiled, "He's has my heart. He's loving and very understanding. I had given up on love until I met him. Even then it took him a while to make me realize I could love again."
"Do you want to spend your life with him?"
"Oh, yes. I can't imagine my life without him." Monica stopped, "Then why am I scared?"
Cleo laughed, "Cause you’re afraid something will happen to your happiness. But Hon, that's part of life. Don't let fear keep you from enjoying your life."
Monica nodded, "You're right. I do love him so much. I couldn't bear it if anything happened to us."
"And he's head over heels in love with you.” She saw Monica's surprised look, "That's what Bert told me and he should know. He and Gerard understand each other."
Monica nodded. "Yeah, they've been through a lot together." A vision of Liv filled her mind.
Cleo stood. "I think I have the dress for you." She went into another room leaving Monica to her thoughts. Several minutes later she returned carrying a beautiful satin dress. "Try this one on."
Minutes later Monica stood in front of the mirror. Her eyes filled with tears. This was the kind of dress she had dreamed of when she was young. It was candlelight in color and full length. It was satin with delicate lace over-laying it that puddled into a short train in the back. The entire fit and cut of the dress was designed to give the illusion of added height while slimming the lucky wearer. The long fitted lace sleeves ended on the top of her hand. The high lace collar made her neck look even longer and more delicate. "It's beautiful." Monica said a bit breathlessly.
"Let's show them." Cleo led her out towards the room where Kelly and Bert were deep in conversation.
"Well what do you think?" Cleo asked.
"Wow, Mom. It's great." Kelly said smiling.
Bert stood slowly and walked towards Monica. "You are beautiful,” he whispered.
"You mean the dress." Monica said with a smile.
"No, I mean you, Monica. Gerard is one fucking lucky man." He said this time not able to edit his words for Kelly.