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Re: Each Careful Step*


NINETY-EIGHT

DANI:


For all the travelling I had done throughout my life, and parts of the world I had been to, I had never actually been to Washington. This meant that I hadn’t seen the White House up close. As a fan of the “West Wing” I had seen a facsimile of the inside each week, but that was as close as I had ever been. As the cars pulled up and we alighted, it was hard not to just stand there with my mouth open, gawking like a tourist.

It was completely dark by the time we arrived and that meant all the lights were on. It truly enhanced the beauty and majesty of the building, and I loved it on sight. I couldn’t wait to get inside and see what it was like, even if I was fully aware that we would probably be limited to being in one or two rooms. Had I not been pregnant, I entertained the thought it would be worth being stopped by the Secret Service, just to take a peek around. There was no-way I could outrun them in my present condition, so the thought was gone quicker than it arrived.

As the men were part of the entertainment, it meant we had to arrive a little ahead of the other guests, so they could get ready etc. The girls, Nick and I followed them in and once we made it past security, we were taken to a room just off from the official ballroom. Already there in variant degrees of readiness were some of the other acts for the evening. Most I didn’t have a clue who they were, but I did recognize Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. When I commented about them being here too, Urs informed me that the Duchess was a big fan. I would never have picked it.

~*~*~

The men went to do their thing, leaving the rest of us to stand in a group chatting, occasionally saying hello to someone passing, or just smiling at another group of women from across the room. We didn’t have a chance to be bored though as all the non-performers were shuffled out and into the ballroom, where other guests had started to arrive. Nick managed to find our table first, which was no mean feat given the size of the ballroom. There had to be a good 200 place settings here and there was enough room for another 200 to be seated comfortably. At the moment though that extra space was used for a staging area for the acts as well as enough room for dancing.

“Can you imagine waxing the floor in this room?” Kat joked as we finally reached our table.

We all laughed before Loie added “Well, if you can afford to have a room this big with this kind of floor, one would assume you can afford to pay someone else to clean it for you.”

It was hard not to laugh out loud and draw attention to ourselves as we all agreed with her. I did notice the usher escorting us through tried to stifle a laugh as well, probably thinking to himself that he’s heard comments like that before and labelling us tourists. To be fair, that’s what we were.

As we had been walking through, I noticed the beautiful place settings for each guest and for a brief moment, I wondered if something like that would work for our reception, when David and I got married. It wasn’t until I was able to see the settings up close – dinner and bread plate, several glasses, assorted cutlery, embroidered napkins, just to name a few things - that I realized that aside from the cost, doing something this upmarket just wasn’t who we were. We didn’t need to put airs and graces on in order to give our guests a night they wouldn’t forget.

I knew it would never be approved by the parents, but at the end of the day, I would be happy with a barbecue on the beach, if it meant the guests could relax and enjoy themselves as they helped us celebrate our big day. Sitting down to a five-course meal with china and silverware that cost more than the house we were trying to buy, although nice, was far too outlandish. Neither David nor I were outlandish people.

On taking our seats, we chatted about our surroundings, none of us really believing we were in THE White House. Kat; ever the comedian; joked about ‘borrowing’ one of the plates, to which Nick commented back about frisking her when they got home. The blush on her cheeks rose so fast I thought she might pass out. The rest of us laughed, waiting for the official party to come in so we could finally get the night underway.

~*~*~

It was a good twenty minutes later when a murmur started to course its way around the room, and people started to clap. As we joined the wave in standing, it became clear that President Bush, his wife Laura and the royal couple had arrived. Having walked further into the room, they stopped for the official photographer to take photos.

I had a pretty good view of the official party and noted that both men had dressed in tuxedos, with Prince Charles having added a red poppy to his lapel. Laura was in a floor length gown of burnt orange, with long sleeves and fell just off the shoulder and a sash that tied in a bow at the front. Camilla had on what looked like a business suit jacket over a full, floor-length skirt, all in black. It was an odd outfit and yet it didn’t seem out of place.

Smiles all around for the camera were given, as were waves to people in the closest vicinity, before they took their place at the head table. They had to pass right by us to do so and so we were able to get a much better look as they went by. I wasn’t a fan of Camilla at all; much preferring the late Princess Diana; and I certainly didn’t agree with all the carry-on from either side but seeing her and Charlie together, it was obvious they were in love.

Once they were well past our table, we sat back down. “Did you see that necklace she was wearing?” Mirelle asked. “It was gorgeous! I might need to speak to Carlito about our anniversary next month and what he ‘needs’ to buy for me.”

I laughed. “Well, you best expect him to be on tour longer then; it’s going to cost a small fortune and he’s going to have to work twice as hard to be able to afford it.”

“So worth it” she laughed, before adding “Hmm, maybe you’re right though; I don’t really need the necklace that badly.”
I just gave her a knowing smile as we sat back and waited for the entertainment to begin.

~*~*~

The musical side of the evening was a great success, with each of the acts being well received. Not surprising at all was the reaction for the Divos, by the Divas on table ten. Thankfully the looks we received were followed with knowing smiles. Once that was over, we had a chance to join our partners, as they were presented to our hosts and their official guests. The men of course stood in front, with us just behind. I barely got to say hello to the prince or his bride but I did have Laura ask how far along I was, and she wished me well. I thought that was rather nice of her.

Finally, it was time to eat, once everyone had made their way back into the ballroom and resumed their places at a table. Like a swarm of bees, waiters started filtering in, delivering food in such a way it was like it had been choreographed. Soon we were all dining on a wonderful meal and while a lot of it was too rich for me, I did enjoy the roast pork and vegetables.

Throughout the meal, it wasn’t unheard of to have people milling about, talking to this person or that, and so we had quite a few people pass us by, stopping to say hello or have a quick chat about this or that. I got to speak to some people I knew, some I didn’t but the biggest thrill for me was having Bruce Springsteen stop and chat with David and me, as I was a huge fan.

Before the meals were quite done with, music started to play and so some of the guests left their tables to mingle, or went to dance. As we had been eating, I had noticed that Sébastien wasn’t his usual effervescent self and put it down to his missing Chelle, who clearly hadn’t been able to make it at all. I was disappointed for them both but suspected that there would be other such occasions they could share.

Forgoing dessert; which was unusual for me; I decided to ask Sébastien to dance. David was deep in conversation with Nick, about a PlayStation game of all things, and barely stopped when I leaned over to kiss his cheek. ‘That’s my man’, I thought with a laugh.

~*~*~

Before standing up, I turned to the unhappy Frenchman on my right. “Sébastien, would you care to dance?”

He turned to face me front on and smiled. He then looked over at my fiancé, who was still engrossed in his chat with Nick. Standing up, he offered me his hand. “I would be honoured, Cherie.”

Leaving the table, we headed out to the area designated for dancing, before he took me in his arms. As we began to move to the music, he softly spoke “Thank you, Dani.”

“Anytime, Sébastien; we can’t have you missing out on all the fun now, can we? Besides, it’s not like David dances, what with being so clumsy and all. Actually, he does dance but it’s to that weird music he likes, not to the good stuff like this. I’ve actually missed taking my dance classes since I left LA.”

“So, why do you not keep going? You are a wonderful dancer.”

I felt all clumsy, given how big I was but I loved that he was polite enough to compliment me all the same. Coloring slightly, I replied “Thank you; you’re not so bad yourself.” As he twirled me and I fell back into step, I added “I will have to look into it; the classes I mean. Although I don’t think people are going to want to see a heavily pregnant woman doing the jitterbug.”

Sébastien laughed, finally having his smile back. He was definitely more handsome with it, than without. “Perhaps no; still, if it does make you happy, you will find the way, non?” I simply nodded in agreement.

~*~*~

Just as the song ended and a new one started, up, David approached and tapped his friend on the shoulder. “Mind if I cut in?”

Sébastien stood aside for him, but not before thanking me again and kissing both of my cheeks; something I would never tire of. I told him he was more than welcome and as he walked away to re-join our friends, David took me into his arms, pulling me in close; or at least as close as was possible without squashing our son.

“I hope you don’t mind that I asked Sébastien to dance and not you. He’s missing Chelle something fierce and I didn’t want him to be unhappy tonight.”

“Of course I don’t, Gidge. I’m glad you did. Séb has been like a bear with a sore head all day, wondering if Chelle was going to show up in time. It’s a shame she wasn’t able to make it.”

I nodded. “I know. I feel guilty for being here when she’s stuck back in New York working. I am supposed to be helping her out now, after all.”

“I’m sure Chelle understands, and you will be able to help her all you like once you get back; within reason of course. I don’t want you to do too much.”

I simply gave him a winning smile as we finished our dance.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

20/3/20, 23:23 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Each Careful Step*


NINETY-NINE

DANI:


Time after the dinner seemed to fly by and things had once more fallen into their normal routine. The guys were still touring, playing to packed houses all over the place and loving it, although I also knew they were looking forward to the few weeks off at Christmas they had been promised. Everyone else also had something going on, so it wasn’t as though we were all sitting around at home waiting on them.

Kat met up with them at regular intervals, when she wasn’t in meetings with her editor or writing up a storm. Apparently, he wanted her to start putting her real name to the books, something she still vehemently refused to do. What Kat didn’t realize was that her mother, while on a short visit, had inadvertently let it slip that she knew all about the stories her daughter was writing, but made me promise not to say a word.

She wanted Kat to come clean of her own volition and tell her, although in the meanwhile she was enjoying the fact that the younger woman was so embarrassed about this. Denise also mentioned that she had loved the writing and was proud of her girl, no matter what. I didn’t ask what she thought of the stories; we hadn’t made up enough for that sort of conversation.

One another of her random visits, I had been thrown a surprise shower and amongst all the wonderful gifts, Denise had given me the christening gown that both Kat and David had worn as babies. I had been so overwhelmed it was hard to know what to say. I loved the gown but I was more grateful that she seemed to have genuinely come around to the idea of the baby. If anything, it was like she had done a complete 180-degree turn, and had big plans to spoil the baby rotten. If the two huge suitcases she brought for a three-day visit weren’t testament to that, then I didn’t know what was. Not that I was complaining, of course.

Chelle was working more than even in preparation of the upcoming holiday season, although it was still only the middle of October. At six and a half months, I was down to helping out a couple of days a week, as opposed to a full week. This was more Felipe’s doing than my own. For all of his attitude, snarkiness and seemingly gruff nature, deep down he was a pussy cat. He didn’t want me on my feel all day, or to be out in the cold weather, so he insisted he could cope without me. I knew he hadn’t gone completely soft when he added that the minute the baby was born, I was expected to be back at work two days later. I had just laughed.

Mirelle had returned to Spain a couple of weeks after the dinner, wanting to be with her sister who was due to give birth to twins at any minute. Between her sister, time with me and Carlos being all clucky, something must have rubbed off as she now found herself pregnant also. When she gave me the news, I asked if she was happy about it, given our chat in Washington. She told me that once the shock wore off, she was over the moon. Carlos, as expected, could not contain his excitement and it showed in his performance and despite her only having just found out, he had already started to nest and get things ready. Despite learning myself as time went on, I offered to help her out when and where possible.

Loie too had undergone a change of sorts, although it was more professional than personal. While still remaining head of security, these days it tended to be more of a title than her actual job, leaving Nick to head up the team. Sony had finally got their crap together and bought the guys a better plane and now Loie was the pilot. Given her passion had always been flying, she had jumped at the opportunity, although I suspect that spending more time with Urs was a bonus. David mentioned that on a lot of the flights, Sébastien would join her in the cockpit, so they could talk all manner of aviation together, save boring everyone else with it.

Several weeks after the dinner, I was surprised to learn that Jack had come home; his whole unit had, in fact. The war was still going on and didn’t look as though it was going to end anytime soon, but his team were being replaced with fresher blood. After six months, if they wanted to go back, they had the option. I had only been talking with Jack for five minutes when I realized he would be at the airport waiting to go, the minute those six months were up.

That wasn’t all we talked about though. At a get-together with friends, I had inadvertently overheard him tell Kat that despite her warnings in London, he hadn’t been able to let his feelings for me go. I was beyond stunned, to say the least but it did at least make some of his behaviour understandable. I was embarrassed as hell and hated having to do it, but the following day I had a talk with him, telling him that I loved him but not like that, and so we could only be friends. David was the one I truly loved and wanted to spend my life with going forward, and he needed to accept it.

He took it surprisingly well and promised he would move on and find someone else, but sometimes on other visits, I would look at him and he would have a far-away look on his face, or I would catch him looking at me before he quickly turned away embarrassed. I didn’t like keeping it from him but I never spoke of this with David, not wanting anything to come between them. Jack would get over me soon enough and at least this way, he could keep his friendship with David intact.

How was it that you could finally get one part of your life sorted and squared away, and then something else had to break or get more complicated?

~*~*~

Our new home was finally at a point where the only thing left to do was get the nursery ready. It had been a big job to get the rest of the house done, and taken a while given I was still working regularly. Now that I had more ‘me’ time, I could decorate at my leisure. All of the baby furniture had been stored in one of the spare rooms and would be moved into the nursery once David got home. I knew better than to move it myself.

He had also asked me to leave the painting for him to do, when he came home on holidays, but of course I was too impatient for that; and I couldn’t risk him painting the room pink; and so, I made a start on it myself. It also gave me something to do at night, when I found I really missed him and no amount of reading, watching a movie or soaking in the tub could get my mind off that fact.

Like tonight, for instance. There was bugger all on TV, as normal, and I was feeling restless, more than usual. I hadn’t spoken to David all day but between going out for a walk and going to the shop for some milk, I hadn’t been near a phone. Of course, had I not accidently dropped my cell into a container full of turpentine and paintbrushes, he might have been able to reach me on that. Oh well; after dinner I would give him a call.

Not feeling at all inspired to cook myself something; even if meant throwing a frozen dinner into the microwave; I called Gino’s. I had been craving pizza all day and knew it was the only thing that was going to work. The cravings had kicked in about four weeks ago and thankfully to this point, they hadn’t been for anything too outrageous.

I had heard some horror stories from some of the other mothers at my Lamaze class about theirs and that was enough for me. Some had or were still craving things like chalk, tomato soup and ice-cream (together) or fruit loaf smeared with liver pate. Thankfully so far, I had found the only things I really wanted were chocolate, or pizza, although I did actually try pickles and ice-cream, to see what the fuss was about. I wasn’t a fan and neither was Elijah, if the kick he gave me was any indication; it had been the first time I felt him move.

~*~*~

I had only just hung up the phone after calling for dinner when the door-bell rang. It couldn’t have been them, surely, but I still walked (read, waddled) to the front of the house and opened the door. It was a courier.

“I have a parcel here for Mrs Danica Miller” he stated matter-of-factly.

Although it wasn’t officially my name yet, I still loved the sound of it – Mrs Danica Miller. With what I assumed looked like a stupid grin on my face, I told the guy that was me. He asked me to sign for whatever was in the huge box on the trolley behind him. When he asked where I wanted it, I suggested just in the front room. Until I knew what it was, I didn’t know where it needed to be. It wasn’t until he made a move to bring it in that I realized he had a friend standing behind the trolley. Clearly despite having said trolley, the parcel was too big for one man to move.

It took a moment but after finding my purse so I could get some money to tip the guys, I went back to the living room once they had gone. Whatever it was, it had been postmarked from Georgia so I guessed it was from David, as the group had been there a couple of days ago. Curiosity was getting the better of me so I went as quickly as my swollen feet could take me to the kitchen to grab a knife so I could open the box.

It took a moment because it had been well and truly sealed, and then I had a mountain of stuffing and bubble wrap to wade through but when I did make it, I gasped. Under all that padding was the most beautiful crib I had ever seen, already assembled. It was just stunning, the craftsmanship on it and carvings in the headboard were exquisite. I was about to learn that it wasn’t just a crib, but a crib that turned into a toddler’s bed and then a single bed, so Elijah was going to be set for somewhere to sleep for at least the next 16 years.

Looking over the design of the headboard, I noticed the envelope. I opened it to find a note from Loie.

“Hey, Dani

Surprise! Here’s a little something for the little one, from us. Urs made it himself, if you can believe that. Who knew he was so talented? He didn’t want you to know it was his handiwork but I think he should be proud. You will notice that it came already assembled – we know you well enough to know that you would try and put it together by yourself and that’s a no-no.

Anyway, we hope you like it and that the little one gets a lot of use from it – it actually coverts into a toddler’s bed and then a single. I’ve attached photos but I’m sure Uncle Urs will be more than happy to show you how it all works when next we’re in town. In the meantime, I hope it gets to you in one piece. Missing you; rub your belly for me – ha-ha.

Loie”


As the tears formed, I looked into the envelope and sure enough, there were the photos. It was gorgeous as a crib but to know that it was flexible, it truly was a wonderful piece of carpentry. Loie was right; Urs should be proud. I was speechless but I still tried calling David all the same, to see if I could speak to Urs and thank him but the cell was engaged. Oh well, it could wait. I needed to thank Urs and Loie in person for such a thoughtful and beautiful gift.

~*~*~

No more than five minutes after the pizza arrived, so did my best friend.

“Chelle; great timing chick. Pizza has just arrived and you can save me from eating the whole thing myself. Pull up a pew.”

Dropping her bag on the floor near the couch, she next commented on the crib. I mentioned that Urs had made it but she didn’t seem surprised; apparently, she had known about the gift this whole time. Knowing about it and seeing it in person were two different things however and so she did have to concede that it was beautiful, and that should the Divo gig go south, Urs could always become a carpenter.

Once she had gone to the kitchen to grab her own drink, she came back and gave me a quick hug, as well as patted my belly. “And how are my two fave girls going then?”

I smiled at her. “Well, this girl is going great. But my son is doing even better. With all the rolling about he’s been doing of late, he is either going to be a gymnast or a diver. He has been really active today.”

Chelle laughed. “Dan, you know I love you, right, but you are kidding yourself if you think you are having a boy. As I’ve already told you, I had the premonition that you were pregnant and you are. I then had a dream that your first born was going to be a girl. I’m right; I can feel it in my bones.”

I could only shake my head and smile at her as I reached for a slice. It was great having her here, what with David being away more often than not, to give me the support I needed as I went through the pregnancy. We did live 90 minutes away from each other now but she still came as often as possible and I truly appreciated it. Although I wouldn’t admit it out loud, I was a little nervous and a whole lot scared but having her around helped. It would have been better to have the father of my child here but he had the tour to think of.

~*~*~

“Umm, sweet? What exactly is on this pizza?” Chelle asked, picking up a slice and checking it out, before screwing up her nose in distaste.

“It’s just a Hawaiian, with olives and anchovies. Oh, that reminds me…” I said, slowly getting out of my seat and heading for the kitchen.

As I looked through the fridge, I heard her say “You cannot be serious! It’s bad enough you ordered just a plain Hawaiian but you had to go and have anchovies added too? That’s almost sacrilege.”

I laughed as I came back out and took my seat once more. “What can I say; ‘Lij likes what he likes.”

She looked at me before putting the slice back on her plate and moving it away. With a less than impressed look on her face, she asked “Elly likes anchovies? I’m going to have to have words with her about this, I do believe.”

I chuckled. If my son was anything like me, or even his father, then no matter what anyone else thought, he would eat what he liked. Taking the sauce bottle I had just gone to the fridge to get, I opened the lid and squeezed a big dollop onto the slice. Chelle almost choked on the Pepsi she was drinking.

“Dani! What the ever-loving hell are you doing? That’s chocolate sauce!”

I looked at her, as though to wonder what she was complaining about. “So? I happen to like chocolate sauce; so does the little one.”

I actually thought she was going to throw up. “That’s beyond twisted; even as far as cravings go. I am really going to have those words with her now! I can’t watch…” Backing up her words, she actually turned her chair so that she could look out over the room, rather than me.

I laughed before taking a bite, sighing as though it was the most perfect thing I had ever eaten. Once I was able, I said “Hey, it’s actually quite good. I’ll admit to being a little sceptical the first time I had the craving. I did try to have the pizza and the chocolate separately, but my boy had other ideas and wasn’t satisfied. I’m thinking now that with such a weird craving, he is going to be his father’s son. David eats junk food like no-one else I’ve ever met.”

Chelle finally turned back as she laughed. “Well, if ‘she’ does, she had better be tall like her daddy, or she is going to be a little butter ball. As cute as that is when you’re two, it’s not such a good thing at 16.”

I nodded; never having been tall or thin myself, I knew how hard it was trying to fit and be accepted. Still, I knew my little guy was going to be the spit out of his Daddy’s eye and that meant he would be tall, thin and have a grin that was going to melt many a young lady’s heart. I couldn’t wait to meet him.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

20/3/20, 23:41 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE-HUNDRED

DANI:


Chelle had the following day off and so offered to spend it with me, to help me finish painting the nursery. At the time we bought the paint, neither David nor I knew for sure what the sex of the baby was, so we decided on off-white; or rather I decided and he reluctantly agreed but it seemed to be the best of the gender-neutral colors, meaning we could accessorize with a rainbow of colors once the baby was born.

I sensed I was having a boy but I didn’t want to jinx things and even once David had found out for sure, not being able to wait until our child was here, he at least promised not to tell or let it slip to me. Often when he called and asked after us, he would ask how Elly was in one breath and then Elijah or Deacon – a name he seemed to favour more and more – in the next. It was kind of cute and I appreciated how he didn’t want to ruin the surprise for me.

At six and a half months, I was very obviously pregnant, and finding it ever increasingly harder to bend and get around as I once had. This was to be expected, of course, but it still frustrated the !@#$ out of me that I wasn’t able to do more and more things as each day passed. I suppose I really should have left the room for David to paint but I had wanted to do it and have it ready as a surprise for when he was next home.

Aside from the paining of the walls, there were pictures to go up – an ‘ABC’ banner to go around the top of the wall, under the beading, a ‘Sesame Street characters’ type banner that would go around the middle of the wall and a couple of mobiles to hang from the ceiling – leaving the rest of the walls plain for now. Once the baby was born, there was going to be more than enough room to add just the right embellishments. Either way, the room was going to be plenty colorful, no matter the sex of the occupant.

~*~*~

After making sure that the room had all the windows open for ventilation, Chelle set about painting the top part of the one wall that hadn’t been done yet. She was adamant about me not getting up on a ladder; not that I wanted to get up on it anyway; and so that left me to make a start on putting the banner on the two walls that had already been done.

At one point, I dropped the brush that I was using to paint on the adhesive, and had to bend over to get it. Elijah wasn’t impressed and gave me a solid kick to let me know how much he disliked being scrunched.

“Ok, little guy; I promise no more bending if you can promise to settle down for a minute.” I smiled as he did what felt like a back-flip triple somersault with a half pike. Yes, he was definitely going to be his father all over – David couldn’t still for five minutes at a time either. Chelle just laughed at me.

A good five minutes later the phone rang. “Typical…” I muttered. “The minute you start doing something that shouldn’t be stopped half way through, the bloody phone rings. What’s the bet it’s your father?” I asked my voluminous stomach.

Chelle offered to go before I could make a move, saying she was expecting a call from Sébastien. I didn’t have a chance to question why he would ring my home number and not her mobile but she was gone, managing to pick up the phone before it buzzed a fourth time. I just smiled.

My best friend loved that man so much, it was plain to all that knew them. I was glad now that she hadn’t let me set her up with David, as much as I had wanted them to be together at the time. It would seem that things were just as they were meant to be and for that I was truly grateful.

~*~*~

I was just looking around the room for the next piece of banner when I noticed that Chelle had left a big drip running down the wall. Not quite sure how long she would be and not wanting it to leave a mark that couldn’t be painted over, I walked over and picked up the brush. I was able to clear up most of it, except at the top of course and so I had to get up on the ladder. I would be done by the time Chelle got back, so that would mean I didn’t have to worry about getting the ‘a woman in your condition…’ speech.

Once the drip was gone and you could no longer tell it had even been there, I made to get down but had to stop as I was feeling a little dizzy. I had actually been having the spells off and on for a week now, but put it down to my blood pressure being higher than it was meant to be. The fumes of the paint in the room weren’t helping either.

My first impulse was to grab for the ladder so I could steady myself but it didn’t help. I had overcompensated for the baby and missed completely, falling off the ladder and hitting the ground. Besides getting covered in paint from the open tin that had been on the ladder, I also managed to hit the spare tin as I landed, causing me to cry out in pain.

The first thing I did was feel my stomach. “’Lij, sweetie; are you ok? Move for Mommy…” At first nothing happened and panic set in. OH GOD! What the hell had I done? But then I felt a sharp pain, followed by a wriggle. He was moving and obviously not impressed at practically being beaned by a paint tin.

I cursed, then cursed some more as I tried to sit up, something that was quite difficult. I was so embarrassed; I was pregnant, not an invalid and yet I couldn’t even manage to stand on a tiny step ladder without falling off. Part of me was grateful David hadn’t been here to see me do it, because I knew exactly what he would be saying to me at this point.

Chelle rushed through the door, and on seeing me on the floor, dropped the phone and raced over. Panic was spreading across her face quicker than wildfire. “Dani! What the ever-loving hell happened? Please tell me you were not up on that bloody ladder?”

I gave her a sheepish look as she helped me up. “It was nothing, just a small fall. I’ll be fine.” Once on my feet I asked “So, was it Sébastien?”

“Don’t change the subject. Are you hurt? What about Elijah? Is he ok? What the !@#$ where you thinking?”

I understood then just how freaked out she was. Not only by the language or her tone of voice, but the mere fact that she had referred to my unborn child as a boy, not a girl as she had been adamant about since she learned I was expecting. I gave her a hug and assured her I was ok. Sure, I was shaken up and was going to have a bruise the size of Texas where I landed on the can, but I was fine. Why then was she now looking at me with a look that said she didn’t believe that for one minute?

~*~*~

“Right, young lady” she said, leading me towards the bathroom. “I want you to strip off and get in the shower before the paint dries and you need turps to get it off. I’ll clean up the mess back there, and be back with some clean clothes. Don’t look at me like that; you got yourself into this mess, literally.”

I gave her a mock salute; which didn’t impress; and started to undress as she went in search of something that was going to wipe off the painted footprints I had made from the baby’s nursery to the bathroom. All I could think was how grateful I was that it was tiled, not carpeted and it wasn’t going to be as hard to clean. The carpet in the nursery however was going to need replacing, there was just no way to salvage it. The pants I was wearing would probably have to be scrapped too.

Stepping into the shower, I noticed on my side the beginnings of the bruise. I had clearly landed harder on the tin than I first thought but in my panic over Elijah, hadn’t noticed. It was a lot tender but not overly sore; at least not yet. Hopefully the bruise would be gone by the time David came home because I didn’t want to have to explain how I got it, knowing he would hit the roof and then some.

Thankfully the pants wore the brunt of the paint so I only had a little on my hands and feet to get rid of. Recalling how my son didn’t like it when I bent over, I tried to squat, not that that was easy or any more comfortable than bending. A brief smile crossed my lips as I imagined David being here to film this; between the lectures on how to take better care of myself and our child, he would be cracking jokes, I’m sure. He loved getting all of these candid moments on film, a draw full of DVD’s was testament to that.

I was just getting ready to try and stand again, when I saw the blood. I checked all over and couldn’t see where I might have cut myself, but had no idea where it was coming from. The moment I finally realized where it was coming from, I screamed.

“CHELLE!”

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE-HUNDRED & ONE

DAVID:


I had been trying to get a hold of Dani for close to an hour now, and no success. I had had this gnawing feeling concerning her, eating at me since yesterday, and I needed to hear her voice. Once I had spoken to her; even if it was just a quick ‘hello, I love you’ kind of call; things would be fine and I could get on with my day. Until then, that feeling was growing and it was really starting to niggle. I couldn’t explain it, only that it left me feeling uneasy.

I tried again and still the call went through to the answering service so I decided to leave it for now. Maybe my wife-to-be was out with her best friend, shopping, although it didn’t occur to me to ring Chelle’s phone. I knew what the two of them were like once they hit the shops, having many a bank statement to prove it. It had always been that way, only getting worse once we found out Dani was expecting.

Then again, it was preferable to think of them out spending money we didn’t really have, rather than thinking the worst. I grabbed an apple and went to join the guys. Rehearsals were almost done and then I was going to have a bit of time to myself before tonight’s show; I would call again then.

Walking out to the staging area of the arena we were to play in, I found Urs and Carlos already there, just standing around and chatting. “Where’s Séb?” I asked, taking another bite of my apple.

“Who knows? He got a call and had to take it out back; the electrics in here were interfering with the reception” Urs explained, taking his seat on one of the stools left out for us.

As if he knew we were talking about him, Sébastien came back in. Something was wrong; his face was ashen and he looked visibly upset. Rather than wait for him to walk all the way over, I went to him, that gnawing feeling intensifying with each step.

~*~*~

“Séb, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost” I asked.

Just as the other two joined us, he replied “Can I talk with you a moment.” It was all he said.

Dread washed over me; it was bad, whatever it was, if he wanted to speak to me alone. I didn’t have time for that, though. “Just tell me what it is Séb; what’s wrong? Is it Dani?”

My friend could only nod, seemingly unable to find the words. When it looked like he wasn’t going to continue, I prodded more until he finally took a deep breath. “There has been an accident. Danica is in the hospital. They are to keep her a day or two, but she if fine, according to Rochelle.”

“And?” I asked, even knowing the answer before he could confirm it. If it had been little more than Dani needing observation, then Sébastien would have come out and said so. Without realizing, I stopped breathing, waiting for him to confirm the news I knew was coming.

“She has lost the baby. I am so sorry, Mon Ami.”

I dropped the apple without realizing and as I stood there, I vaguely heard Carlos and Urs swear in their native tongues. Any other circumstance I might have laughed. Not today. Once I started to feel lightheaded, I remembered to breathe, although Urs did put his hand out to steady me at one point, fearing I might fall over.

“I have to go and see her” was all I could think to say, all my thoughts now on Dani and nothing else.

My friends nodded but it was Urs who spoke. “What about the show?”

Deep down I knew that he hadn’t meant that the way it had sounded, and that he wouldn’t really care about the show at this point either, but with my mind in turmoil, I took it to mean he had more concern about the show than my Dani. I turned and punched him in the face.

~*~*~

URS:

“You !@#$ bastard! It’s always about the show for you, isn’t it?”

Sébastien and Carlos managed to pull David away before he could take another swing, something I could see he very much wanted to do. I simply stood there, knowing that I couldn’t explain to him what I had actually meant, not when he was this upset. The minute the words were out of my mouth, I realized how callous it had sounded.

I will never understand why I was never able to learn how to not always speak my mind. Normally my friends appreciated this aspect of my personality. Today, perhaps not so much. All I knew was that I was never going to forget the look David had given me, right before his fist made contact with my face.

Sébastien led David back towards the change rooms, leaving Carlos to make sure I was ok. I wasn’t surprised when Loie was standing beside me minutes later. Apparently, she had heard David yelling and hadn’t appreciated his tone. As she took my face into her hands and gently examined the cut lip I was now sporting, Carlos explained to her about Dani, although he left out the part about what I had said to cause the punch. I told her that myself.

“Urs, I love you; you know I do, but sometimes you are too bloody Swiss for your own good!” I gave her a pitiful look so she added in a softer tone “I’m sure he will be fine when he has had a chance to calm down. He probably even knows that you didn’t mean it like it sounded, but with the shock of the news… I can’t believe it myself. Poor Dani; she must be devastated.”

Carlos let us be as I pulled her into my arms. Any other day, she would have pulled away; it couldn’t be seen that the Head of Security was out canoodling with one of the performers; but today was not like any other day. For as tough as she was and as much as she had seen in her long career, this news was heartbreaking for my girl. It had taken a moment but I knew that she now considered Dani a real friend, so the loss was hitting harder than it might have had this happened sooner. When she finally broke down and cried, I held her tighter. It was all I felt capable of doing at this point.

~*~*~

DAVID:

As the plane made its way to New York, I willed it to go faster. Surely Loie could get this rust bucket to move quicker, given she was supposed to be the best pilot around. I couldn’t attest to that but in this moment, it felt like she was a driver on tourist bus and was taking the scenic route.

This was unfair to Loie, of course. She was the best, which is why Management agreed for her to be our pilot. I knew she was doing all she could, probably even breaking a rule or two to get me to Dani sooner rather than later. It was just a shame that she hadn’t managed to master how to bend time and space, so she could blink and have us where we needed to be in an instant. It didn’t mean I was going to stop sitting here and willing her to go faster all the same.

Sébastien had offered to accompany me back, although to this point, he hadn’t said much. No doubt he was in two minds as to what to say to me, or knowing how to comfort me. It had been a good hour since he broke the news and it hadn’t quite registered, although I had heard the words. Right now, I was oblivious but I would eventually come to realize how much it meant to me that he was there when I needed him most.

The plane had barely come to a complete stop before I was out of my seat and heading towards the exit, grateful for a private jet and not having had to fly commercial. Loie had already organized for a car to be waiting for us, and thankfully it was already there and, on the tarmac, waiting now that we had come to a complete sto[. Leaving the plane to be moved to its proper place by one of the ground crew, she then piled into the car with Sébastien and me, on the phone the whole time with her contacts.

At first, I didn’t understand what was so important but then I realized she was making sure that none of this was leaked to the press. Once the news that tonight’s show had been cancelled suddenly and was leaked out, there was going to be no ending to the speculation about the reason. Hopefully with Loie and her contacts’ help, we could have several hours peace before it finally caught up to us.

~*~*~

Thankfully, we were able to get to the hospital and up to the ward Dani was on without being stopped. Now was not the time for autographs and pleasantries, and I prayed no-one would ask. In my current mood my response wouldn’t be pretty. The nurse at the desk we stopped at seemed to recognize us however and a smile instantly lit up her face. It disappeared seconds later when I asked to see Dani.

“I’m sorry, Mr Miller. Ms Matthews has asked for no visitors.”

I wasn’t in a mood to be polite, which is why I said “I’m not a visitor; I’m her fiancé! Are you going to tell me where she is, or do I have to go room to room myself looking for her?”

“She’s in room 4D, down the corridor, last door on the le…” I didn’t hear the rest, sprinting off down the hall. My guess was that Sébastien would apologize for me; something else I will have to thank him for later.

When I got to the room, I found Chelle outside, sitting in a chair, her eyes red and puffy. On seeing me, she stood and hugged me tight. “I’m so sorry, David.” I could do little more than hug her back. As Sébastien reached us, I let her go so she could go to him, before I took a deep breath, opened the door and went in.

~*~*~

DANI:

Laying in the bed, I looked out the window. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze rustling the curtains thanks to the slight breeze of the air-cooling system and I was sure had the window been open, I might even have been able to sense the definite smell of spring in the air. All I wanted was to die so what did I care if I could finally put away my winter clothes? For the sake of a stupid drip of paint, I had killed my unborn son. How could I possibly go on, knowing that? Even worse, how was I going to face David? I just wanted to close my eyes and never open then again.

My doctor was of the opinion that it wasn’t the fall alone that had been the cause of death, but I had been in no mood to hear him explain it away with a whole bunch of medical terms. It was all my fault and no amount of reassurance from him that I was going to lose my son anyway was ever going to make me believe differently. David was going to blame me and he had every right, so why couldn’t I blame me?

I felt so empty. It was almost like a part of my soul had been taken; the best part; and I wanted my boy to still be there inside me, growing, doing backflips and making me crave outrageous food combinations. I wanted the chance to welcome him into the world in a few short months, to then watch him grow from a baby to a boy and then a man. I wanted to help him live his dreams before he got married and had a family of his own. None of that was going to happen now; I had robbed my son of his life.

I heard the door open but didn’t turn to see who it was. Probably just Chelle coming back in, or the doctor to check on me. I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. I didn’t want to see anyone so why couldn’t they just leave me the hell alone? Without a word, whoever it was got on the bed and lay beside me, putting their arms protectively around me.

“I’m so sorry, sweetheart; I love you.”

I could do little more than start to sob again, pulling David’s arms around me tighter. I never wanted him to let me go.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

21/3/20, 23:08 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE HUNDRED & TWO

KAT:


“I know pronounce you man and wife; you may kiss the bride.”

Moving just a small step so he could be close enough, Nick leant down and kissed me. I interlaced my hands behind his neck and pulled him in closer, never being happier than I was in this very moment. It was still too surreal to believe what we had just done.

When our lips finally parted, reluctantly I might add, we each thanked our minister (yes, dressed like Elvis), grabbed our licence and headed out of the chapel. There was no time for a honeymoon or to even stop long enough to consummate the nuptials; we had a plane to catch.

The Divo touring party had arrived in Missouri from Atlanta the day before and once everyone was settled in, that gave us a day to do with what we liked. Nick and I had spent most of our day indoors, although that was nothing knew these days. When it came time for dinner, we begged off joining the others and Nick cooked for us instead. I was blown away with the meal; I knew he could cook but this was something altogether different. As we were eating and just chatting away, it occurred to me that I loved this man; more than I had ever loved any other.

It was about more than his cooking though, although that was special. It was little things, which alone were wonderful enough but together, they were proving to be my undoing. Like the way he would look at me, or how he made me laugh when I was in a mood. He also listened to me when I spoke, really listened and took an interest, not just nodding and going through the motions. Yes, in a short span of time, this man had breezed into my life and made me feel whole. It was all of these things and more that had me wake up the following morning and proposing.

Nick, who hadn’t expected to be woken in such a way, was taken aback but he didn’t hesitate in saying yes. That was something else I loved about him; he didn’t have to stop and agonize over things. He then made a joke about Vegas only being three hours away, so why didn’t we do it now. I was up and out of bed before he had a chance to change his mind.

The plan was that we would fly to Vegas, get married and then fly back, in time to go to the show. We would then share our news with everyone after the performance. As we didn’t want anyone to know of our plans, or to call and ask us to do something, we both switched off our cells. This was why we didn’t know about the show being cancelled, or Dani’s accident.

~*~*~

We managed to arrive back in Missouri with a couple of hours to spare before tonight’s performance. The moment we were in the taxi heading for the hotel the touring party had been booked into, I turned on my cell. It didn’t take long for it to start beeping and buzzing, alerting me to several missed calls and text notifications.

“Well, damn; it looks like they can’t get by without me, even for a day” I joked, noting that most of the messages were from Sébastien and Carlos, all of them asking me to call them straight away.

“Well, neither can I, Mrs Weatherly.”

I had to smile at the sound of my new name; it was strange and yet not in a bad way. The smile was gone moments later after I finally saw Chelle’s message, calling her before I was even half-done reading.

“!@#$! You’re kidding? How’s Dani? Is David there? We’re on our way.” Why was it so hard to form a complete sentence?

Chelle tried to explain but it was hard to understand her, given she was crying. This was so not good. I disconnected the call with a barely uttered “bye”, before leaning forward to ask the driver to take us back to the airport. Fighting the tears, I explained to Nick what had happened, the worried look on his face turning to one of distress as he heard the awful news. He then pulled me into his arms and let me cry on his shoulder. This was not exactly the start to married life we had been hoping for.

~*~*~

DANI:

The air in the hospital room was so thick, I imagined a machete would have struggled to cut through. I wanted to be left alone, David was clearly going no-where, having been my side since he arrived yesterday. He looked like hell but refused to leave the room until he could take me with him tomorrow, once I was discharged.

Through a tsunami of tears; all mine; I had explained to him what happened, and the doctor had been in to reaffirm his findings and all throughout, he just sat in silence, taking it all in his stride. I knew he had to be upset, devasted even, but he hadn’t cried with me, or yelled and blamed me, as he had every right to do. Maybe he just didn’t want to upset me further but the lack of emotion he was portraying was worrying.

 I may well have cried enough for ten people and I still had more to give, so why couldn’t he let it out? Elijah was, had been a part of him as well. Didn’t he care? Perhaps it was because he had wanted a daughter and so losing a son wasn’t so bad. It was wrong and unfair of me to think such things but I was in no place to be rational.

A faint knock at the door heralded the arrival of yet more visitors. I sighed. I knew everyone was worried about me, wanted to show me they were here for me and to see if I needed anything, but after what I had done, I didn’t deserve their kindness. How could they seriously bare to look at me, knowing what I had done?

~*~*~

Sébastien walked in first, followed by Chelle. Although her eyes were still a little bloodshot and puffy, she was wearing different clothes than yesterday, so that meant that Sébastien had been successful in getting her to leave the hospital at some point. It must have been a rough night for them both, as they looked haggard, something else I could feel guilty for. Putting yet another vase of flowers on the table at the foot of the bed, both then gave me a hug. I put on a smile I didn’t feel and thanked them.

Standing at the foot of the bed, Chelle asked “Is there anything you need, chick? I know you’re coming home tomorrow but can I get you anything for tonight?”

I never had a chance to answer, as David stood up and gave her a filthy look that even made me flinch. In a cold and hurtful tone, he said “You want to do something for us, appease your conscience maybe? You can get out and stay the hell away. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here right now so don’t think that bringing in clean clothes or magazines are going to make up for it.”

“David!” both Sébastien and I said at the same time, shocked that he could actually stand there and blame Chelle. It wasn’t her fault in any way and he had no business suggesting otherwise. I added “This is not Chelle’s fault and you know it. Apologize to her right now!”

My best friend was pale and visibly shaken by the accusation, and started to cry before running from the room. Sébastien gave David a questioning look that was also mixed with hurt and anger, before he chased after her.

Without turning to face me my fiancé, in a fit of defiance, said “I will not. She was supposed to watch over you, make sure you and the baby were ok. If she had of been more vigilant and paying attention to the job at hand, then you wouldn’t have had a need to get up on that !@#$ ladder. I don’t thin…”

I had to stop him right there, my own anger surfacing. “David, it was me who chose to get on the ladder; Chelle didn’t force me to do it. You cannot seriously blame her for this; it’s my fault and mine alone. You told me to leave the room but I thought I knew better and started it anyway. Blaming Chelle is just as ridiculous as blaming the person who called her away, or the ladder company.

“If you want to be mad and blame someone, then take a look in the goddam mirror.” With that he turned to me, clearly not getting it. “Well, if you weren’t always off flying around the world, you might have been home for a change and helping me prepare for the baby, rather than leaving it someone else. I bet you’re glad this has happened.”

That hurt, I knew it the minute the words left my mouth. It was like I had reached into his chest and pulled out his still beating heart, so I could throw it on the ground and stomp on it. I regretted it but I couldn’t, or wouldn’t take it back. “How can you even say that to me?” was all he asked.

How could he not understand why I had said it? We clearly weren’t going to sort this out, both of us feeling so much hurt and anger right now. Fighting back tears I knew would fall anyway, I turned and looked back out the window. “I want you to leave.” He made a grab for my hand but I pulled it away before he could reach it. “I’m serious, David. Go. I don’t want you here.”

My brain was forcing the words from my lips but my heart was screaming out for him to stay. I wanted it to go back to the way it had been, before all of this had happened. Two days ago, my life had been perfect. I was happy, pregnant, had the love of a great man and the prospect of a perfect life. Now, my life was in the toilet and someone had just pushed the button.

I suppose deep down I knew I still had the love of a great man, only I didn’t believe I deserved it any more, so I had to push him away. I wanted him to go before I said something that I would not only regret but never be able to take back.

Kissing the top of my head, David whispered “I love you, Dani. Nothing you do or say is going to change that.” And then he was gone, just like I had asked. Why then did I feel worse, not better?

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

21/3/20, 23:20 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE HUNDRED & THREE

DAVID:


Such was the anger I was feeling, as I stormed from the hospital I almost knocked over an orderly. I barely took a moment to apologize as I continued out, my anger growing with each step. A small group of people near the entrance seemed to recognize me but something about the look on my face clearly suggested it would be unwise to approach. I managed to get into a waiting cab without incident and after giving the driver the address, I sat back and glared out the window as we headed off.

I was so beyond pissed off at this point, only it wasn’t at Dani, or even Chelle; I was angry with myself. I had no business accusing Chelle of not caring for my fiancé and I would apologize and try to make it right as soon as I saw her, assuming she would even talk to me. I had no excuse other than a night of worry and self-recriminations but that didn’t make it right. It had just come out of my mouth before I could stop myself.

Even after all that Dani had said, I couldn’t be mad at her; not really. It had hurt, cutting me to the quick but that was because I knew she was right. I should have been there with her. We both knew and understood that the Divo thing was just taking off and would require a lot from me, but the birth of our first child should have been more of a priority. I could have tried harder to be home a lot more than I had been.

If I had to be angry with her about anything, it was accusing me of being happy that this had happened. That had hurt the most and it was going to take a moment for me to try and forgive her for it. Admittedly, when I first heard she was pregnant, I had been shocked but we had only just become engaged and I was hoping for some ‘us’ time. Having said that, not once have I ever wished that she wasn’t having my child.

With each passing day, I found myself not being able to wait to meet my little princess; or prince, as the case turned out to be, once I found out; but now I was never going to have the chance. I could feel the tears threaten but I managed to hold on long enough, to be home alone, where I finally let it all go.

~*~*~

Slamming the front door behind me, I stood in the foyer and actually yelled. My heart ached, like nothing I had ever known. It ached for Dani, for me, for our lost son. I hadn’t cried in front of Dani, wanting to be strong for her, to give her support and comfort. Clearly now she thought I didn’t care. This was all so screwed up!

Why was this happening? We were good people. We should be enjoying this phase of our lives. I knew I had it good – a dream job, great friends and family, the love of my soul mate. A child would have just been something new and beautiful to add to the mix. That wasn’t going to happen now, leaving me to wonder what was going to happen. How was I going to be expected to back to performing, acting as though nothing had happened?

Standing in the foyer was getting me nowhere and I soon found myself heading for the nursery; the scene of the accident. I don’t know what compelled me to go; it should be the last place I want to be, but go I did. The first things I noticed was the smell of paint and the ladder, still upturned, with paint all over the carpet, still wet in places. The wall was incomplete.

I had a very real urge to pick up that !@#$ ladder and just start swinging. I had so much emotion coursing through me at this point, I could have fought a lion and won. Instead, through the tears, I set about cleaning up. By the time I went in to get Dani the following day, the room was set up as it had meant to be – new carpet, painted walls, crib and other furniture in place and all.

~*~*~

CHELLE:

The last person I expected or wanted to see this morning was David, but there he was, standing at the door. I was going to slam that very same door in his face; it was the least he deserved after what he had accused me of yesterday, even if he was right; but I didn’t do it, instead stepping aside to let him in. The look on his face told me that no matter what I did or said to him, it couldn’t be worse than what he was doing to himself.

Sébastien; who had just come from having a shower; joined us as we sat in the lounge area, where it was awkwardly silent for several minutes. I had no idea what I was supposed to say and although I suspected Séb had more than enough words for both of us, he stayed quiet. Finally, David spoke up first.

“Chelle, I am so beyond sorry for what I said to you yesterday. You have to know that I wasn’t really aiming my anger at you, but me. I don’t blame you for this; any of it. I have no words that are ever going to be able to show just how sorry I am.”

The tears in his eyes were enough for me to start and all my resentment was gone, just like that. I got up and went to hug him and as he cried, I cried too, trying to tell him it was ok and that he was right to blame me. I hadn’t appreciated his words yesterday but it didn’t take me long to realize that he was right and I had my share of blame in this.

“I know, David” I tried to speak. “But it really is my fault. I should never have left her alone, knowing exactly what she is like when she gets her mind fixated on something. I should have left her to go and answer the phone herself, leaving me to finish the wall…”

This went on for several minutes, both of us admitting guilt while trying to assuage the other’s part. Sébastien sat with us but never said a word. He had been a rock last night, doing all he could to comfort me but I had been inconsolable; mostly over Dani and the baby but also my role and David’s words.

 Had it not been for fatigue, I suspected I would have been up all night, although I was pretty restless. Thank god he was with me every step of the way. Something in the back of my mind told me that it was going to be a very long while before there was any kind of peace within our group and his being here was a blessing.

After a good hour or so, both David and I were talked out. We had made peace; or as close to it as we could manage for now; and it was a start. Freshening up a little, we all headed over to the hospital to pick Dani up. I suggested to David that it would be better if Séb and I didn’t go but he wanted us there. I grabbed my bag.

~*~*~

Because word had started to leak that a Divo or someone involved with a Divo was in the hospital, we entered via a back entrance to avoid any chances of running into the media or fans. Concerned they might be but they had no sense of boundaries at the best of times and the last thing the guys needed now, was to stop and play nice.

Walking into Dani’s room, it took all I had not to start crying again. My best friend was seated in a wheelchair over by the window, waiting to leave. She was staring out the window but with soul-less eyes; I knew she wouldn’t be seeing anything, no matter what was out there. No, the last thing she needed was for me to start crying; I would do that in private. All I could do was be here for her, and see to her needs.

David approached her, asking “Gidge; are you ready to go, sweetheart?” Normally I would smile over his still using that cutesy nickname, but not today.

Dani never answered, or even acknowledged we were in the room, continuing to stare out the window like her life depended on it. David simply kissed the top of her head and whispered something to her before he made to start wheeling her out. Séb and I grabbed her few possessions and most of the flowers before following behind.

The trip back to the house was mostly silent, once attempts by me and David to break it fell on deaf ears. Once we arrived, we headed inside where David then took Dani straight to their room, setting her up in bed before coming back to join us.

“She’s resting” was all he said. It was all he could say.

~*~*~

DANI:

After David helped me get onto the bed, he left, leaving me to just lie there and look at the wall. He hadn’t even tried to speak to me, although that was hardly surprising, given what I had done. I suppose I should be grateful he even came to get me.

At least it looked as though he and Chelle had made peace, given they had come to the hospital together, so that was something. I hoped it was real and not just for my benefit; I hated the thought that I was the reason for them falling out to start with.

I was in a fair bit of pain but I didn’t want to take anything for it. I deserved all the pain I was getting and then some. I also knew that if I were to take some of the medication prescribed for me, it would make me sleep and that was definitely the last thing I wanted to do. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw Elijah.

He had been so tiny, so helpless; so unmoving. Not even a first and only cry, to signal that there had once been life in his little body. I was never going to forget that for as long as I lived. So, sleep was out, leaving me to just stare into space, thinking about all the ways I hated myself. Denise would find me in the very same position a few hours later.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE-HUNDRED & FOUR

DAVID:


I wanted to go to Dani and yet I wanted to give her space and tossing between the two was doing my head in, which is why I started to pace. Chelle and Sébastien had stayed for a while but I asked them to go. I appreciated them being here but they couldn’t do anything and all of us sitting around feeling miserable wasn’t helping anyone. I also wanted them to have some alone time, before Séb and I had to fly back. It was thinking about that that reminded me to call Gary.

While he had been sympathetic and asked me to pass on my best to Dani, I got the impression that I wouldn’t be able to put off going back too much longer. He of course didn’t say that and he did tell me to take as much time as I needed, saying he would cancel shows and other commitments, but of course he couldn’t do that indefinitely.

There was more than just Dani and me to think about in this whole nightmare and it wasn’t fair for me to put anyone else out but for now, there was no desire to go back. Despite Dani’s wish to be left alone, I wasn’t going anywhere. Within an hour of speaking to Gary, Simon had called and told me virtually the same as our director had – take the time, don’t rush, love to Dani etc. I was grateful but it didn’t ease the pain I was feeling, or the guilt over the others, and it was another reason why I was pacing.

At some point I knew I had to stop and I did so, going to check on Dani, quietly opening the door and finding her in the exact same position I had left her in a few hours earlier. I couldn’t tell if she was asleep or not, so I quietly closed the door and headed for the kitchen. It was there where I thought about pacing some more but was interrupted by the ringing of the front door bell. ‘Great, visitors’ I thought ungratefully as I headed to answer it.

~*~*~

Sam:

“Mom, Dad?” our son asked in a surprised voice, although he probably shouldn’t have been that shocked to see us.

Denise walked in first and hugged our youngest, while I followed with the bags. I didn’t think she was going to let him go but she did eventually, so I could could hug him too. As that was happening, she answered his unasked question.

“Chelle called us yesterday, which I’m not all that pleased about. She, or someone else, should have called straight away. We couldn’t get a flight until this morning, or we would have been here sooner. Where’s Dani?”

David had barely told her when Denise headed straight for their room, clearly not worried that Dani might be sleeping. I just looked at him and shrugged. “So; how are you, son? Holding up?”

He shook his head. “Barely, but I have to try; for Dani. She is going to need me more than ever now. I just wish I knew what I could do or say because everything I’ve tried so far comes out wrong or gets no reaction. I clearly have nothing that is helping her at the moment.”

I had no idea what it’s like to lose a child and so I had no words of advice to offer my son. I wasn’t going to fill him with platitudes however. “I don’t know what to tell you, son. I guess all you can do is be there for her, give her what she needs.”

Heading for the lounge area, David threw up his hands. “That’s just it, Dad! I don’t know what the hell she wants, or needs. She hasn’t said a word to me since yesterday and the last thing she told me was to leave her alone. She didn’t even acknowledge Chelle or Sébastien when they were here.”

I took a seat beside him on the sofa. “I can’t even imagine what she is going through at the moment but you know none of it is good. It’s cliché but just give her time, and love. That’s all we can do until she’s ready to let us in. Forcing her will only make things worse. I know it hurts, but you might need to give her that space she wants.” He didn’t like that answer so I quickly asked “Are Dom and Robyn on the way?”

“No. We haven’t been able to get a hold of them. Chelle’s been trying since it happened, but they’re on holiday in Australia somewhere, and I guess they’re out of cell range. We just have to keep trying, although it’s not a conversation I’m looking forward to, let me tell you.”

I could only give him a sympathetic smile. Like David, I didn’t really know what to do or say that would help. Hopefully Denise would have some success with Dani, get her to come out and be with David, so they can start the healing together.

~*~*~

DANI:

I heard the tap on the door but before I could turn and tell whoever it was to leave me alone, the door creaked open a little. “Dani?” a small voice that I recognized as Denise’s asked. I didn’t move, keeping my eyes closed in the hopes she would get the hint and leave. I wasn’t surprised when a moment later she was seated on the foot of the bed. I kept my eyes closed, not trusting myself to look at her.

“Dani, sweetheart; talk to me.”

I wanted to scream at her that talking wouldn’t do !@#$ for me right now but if in doing so it meant she would leave sooner, I had better give in. I rolled over carefully, still in a world of pain. I managed to get into a half-seated position although that hurt more so I laid back a little. While not actually looking at my future mother-in-law, I finally spoke.

“And tell you what, exactly? How I was stupid enough to ignore my better instincts and ended up killing your grandson? Well, it’s true and now that you know, you can leave again. I don’t want any company.”

Rather than leave, she actually moved up the bed so she was able to hug me; or as best as she could, given the way I was lying/sitting. I was surprised at this but I didn’t fight her. In fact, I did nothing at all, keeping my arms passively by my side. This only forced her to hold me tighter.

“You did not kill him, Dani. It was an accident, plain and simple. You can’t seriously blame yourself for this.”

“Well, I do and nothing you or anyone else can say is going to disavow me of the truth. Look, I’m still a little tired; can you go?”

Pulling back, she held me at arm’s length so she could see my face. “Dani, no matter how much you blame yourself, or try and push us away, we are not going anywhere. We love you and nothing will ever change that. We will get through this but we will do it together, as a family, whether you like it or not. If it helps to be angry, then be angry but we’re still not going to leave.”

That was obvious; all I wanted was to be left alone in my misery and everyone was in my face, wanting me to talk and express myself. Well, !@#$ them. With more attitude than was necessary, I snipped back “Fine; you love me, it’s not my fault and we’re family so no-one is leaving. Did I forget anything?”

Standing, she kissed my forehead. “I will be outside, when you want to talk. Call if you need anything.”

I watched her leave. There really had been no reason to be so rude but I couldn’t help myself. I suppose I could justify it as a coping mechanism but at the end of the day, I was being a !@#$ for the sake of it. I laid back down and went back to staring at the wall.

~*~*~

DENISE:

“How is she, Mom?” David asked the minute I was in the lounge.

Holding back the tears that were very close to falling, I simply shook my head. Dani was in so much pain and it was more than the physical kind. As much as I wanted and needed to grieve, I would do that in private. Right now, it had to be all about Dani and David both.

“It’s going to take some time, sweetheart. Dani blames herself for this and it’s going to take a lot of convincing to have her believe otherwise. I guess all we can do is be there for her and give her what she needs.”

That clearly wasn’t the response he was hoping for. “I tried, Mom, but she won’t talk to me, tell me what she needs or what she wants me to do. It’s like she’s cutting me out of her life and I don’t know how to stop it. How can I help her heal if she won’t let me in?”

I went and hugged my son. “I don’t know, baby; honestly I don’t. Just be strong and hope that she will let you in, when she believes she’s worthy of helping. I saw the look on her face; it’s not going to be easy to get her to realize that this wasn’t her fault.”

Just then the phone rang and so Sam went to answer it. My boy continued to hold me, clearly not wanting to let go. He really wanted; no, needed; to be holding Dani but I was going to have to do for now. It was understandable that everyone was focusing on Dani at this point but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that David had also lost a son.

When Sam walked back in, he informed us about the call. “That was Dom; they’re on the first flight back they can get. Hopefully they will be here in a day or so, given the time differences.”

“Did you tell them what happened?” David asked.

My husband shook his head. “Not in as many words. I simply said that there had been an accident, that Dani was fine but that they needed to get here. Dom was off the phone before I could really go into much more.”

“Thank, Dad.” Seeming to be a little disorientated, he added “Look, I don’t want to be rude and leave, seeing as you just got here, but I might go and lay down for a bit; get rid of this headache. I want you to call me the minute Dani is up.”

I thought that was an odd request, given that he would be with Dani anyway, but then we saw him walk into the study, not their bedroom and I understood. He needed to be alone. Sam and I watched as he closed the door, the minute it was done I fell into Sam’s arms and cried the tears that I had been holding back.

~*~*~

DANI:

What felt like a minute but was a couple of hours later, I got up. I hadn’t slept; the pain and the fear of the nightmares prevented that; but I had no choice. Aside from an urgent need to use the bathroom, Denise was back.

Unsurprisingly, she insisted that I join her and the others for dinner because I needed to keep my strength up. For what, I had no idea and she wasn’t elaborating. I had no great yearning to face anyone but I knew I had to, at some point. They wouldn’t say anything to my face, about the accident being my fault, but I would still be able to see it in their eyes. That would be worse than have them yell and accuse me to my face.

“Freshen up, sweetheart and then we can have a bite to eat. David ordered in your favourite, Japanese chicken rice.”

With a sigh that came from my toes, I slowly got off the bed and made my way to the bathroom, with some help, and about ten minutes later, I was a little more presentable, albeit barely. I still had dark circles around my eyes, I looked like I had been hit with the weed-whacker and I couldn’t stand up straight, but Denise insisted I looked fine. I knew she was lying but I was just too tired to fight her about it.

As we headed into the dining room, I noticed the crib was missing but I didn’t think too much on it. It was taking all I had not to just slump to the floor and start bawling again. Before David called into the hospital to get me, the doctor stopped by, and one of the things he told me was that I was going to be emotional for a while, what with all the excess hormones still floating around in my system. Like a lot of other people the last few days, I ignored him. Turns out he might know what he was talking about after all.

In the dining room, Sam got up to hug me before I had a chance to say anything. Once more, I held my arms passively to my side but when David joined us a minute later and tried to hug me also, I moved out of his reach and sat on the opposite side of the table.

I wanted nothing more than for him to hold me, tell me it was ok, that we would be fine and could move past this but I still held a little of the residual amount of hurt I harboured, after his outburst at Chelle, and his seeming lack of grief in the hospital. He never said a word but his face spoke volumes. I avoided his look the rest of the night, barely saying a word to anyone. Perhaps I should have made the effort before the !@#$ was really going to hit the fan and things were going to be a hell of a lot worse.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

6/4/20, 16:06 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE-HUNDRED & FIVE

DANI:


A few days later and I noticed the house was still full of people. Both sets of parents were staying with David and me, while other guests were in hotels or at Chelle’s. At any given time, there was any combination of parents here, along with Sébastien, Chelle, Kat, Nick and or Loie. Even Carlos and Urs showed up, once it became clear that David and Sébastien weren’t returning anytime soon. I appreciated them coming but with all these people, anytime I felt like I needed space – i.e., all the time – I usually had to go outside or hide out in the bathroom.

We did hold a small service for Elijah, having him cremated so we could scatter his ashes, although where that was to be was still open to debate. Jack; who had come for the service; suggested we plant a tree in his honour and scatter the ashes there, but I was too distraught to take in his words. It had been hard enough keeping it together, feeling like everyone’s eyes were accusing me, as the tiny casket was gently whisked away, taking along with it my son.

Everyone was being fantastic and I would come to appreciate that down the line but for right now, it was all just too much; I felt like I was being smothered and it was hard to breathe. They no doubt all thought they were being helpful, and they were but none of them could, or would, give me the one thing I wanted most, aside from my son back, and that was to be left alone.

I still hadn’t spoken with David about it, barely saying anything at all but I had at least let him hold me. It felt good to be in his arms but it wasn’t enough to make me want to open up. In the end, he gave up trying to get me to talk, seemingly happy just to be near me. Or at least that’s what I thought. Turns out I had misread the situation wrong on many levels.

~*~*~

A week after the accident and the house was finally empty aside from David and I and where once that was like a dream come true, now it was anything but. Both sets of parents had gone out to dinner, no doubt not wanting to eat in a gloomy atmosphere at the house, which I could appreciate but without the others here to buffer, things reached snapping point; at least for me. I was at the end of my tether, filled with grief, anger, hurt, guilt and I just wanted out; out of the house, the relationship, the whole sordid mess.

Not having the guts to actually leave, I did the next best thing, heading out and into the back yard. Winter was coming and it was cold but I hadn’t stopped to grab a jacket, something I would regret fairly soon. Standing in the middle of the yard, I let the breeze rush over me, eyes closed as I took in the silence. I had been there maybe five minutes when David popped his head out the door.

“Gidge, sweetheart; aren’t you cold?”

“No.”

“Do you want some company? Maybe we can take a walk down to the park and back.”

“I’m fine. I just want to spend five minutes alone, if that’s ok.”

He started to come out and I instinctively backed up a little. I’m serious, David. Stay inside.”

He continued out although he did stop at the top of the landing. In this light it made him seem a hundred feet tall. “Dani; for the love of god will you talk to me, please? We have to at some point. I can’t go on like this anymore.”

“And I can’t stand being fussed over like an invalid. I know you all love and care about me but I feel like I’m being constantly crowded and it’s hard to catch my breath. It’s like I’m being suffocated in all the love and well-wishes. I just want things to go back to the way they were.”

Thankfully our house was on a large block so unless they were hanging on the fence, our neighbours wouldn’t have had to listen to us. At least until our voices started to rise and then who the hell knew what they could hear. Not that either of us was worried about that at this point.

“And you think I don’t? I’d give up everything for that to happen but it’s not going to, so we need to find a way to move past it. You need to stop blaming yourself for this, Dani; no-one else is so you shouldn’t either. You heard what the doctor said, about losing Elijah even if you hadn’t had a fall. It was meant to be, as much as that hurts to hear.” He stopped a second before adding “Tell me what I can do or say to help you, us, to get past this because up until now, everything else I’ve done doesn’t seem to have worked.”

There was more than a little bit of anger in the last part of his statement and to be fair, it was more than justified. Unfortunately, I was still in the ‘all about me and my loss’ phase and so I distorted his words and headed down a path that would lead to no place good.

“You can go back to the tour; I know you want to and it’s not really fair to the others or to the fans that this has put them all out.”

“!@#$ the tour, Danica! I just lost a son too you know, although everyone seems to have forgotten about that.”

“You wouldn’t know it from the way you have been behaving. I haven’t yet seen one sign that this has affected you at all; I mean, you were laughing with Nick and your mother a couple of days ago. That’s hardly conducive with someone who is supposed to be grieving the loss of a child.”

Even from where he was standing and under crappy lighting, the glare David gave me actually caused me to flinch. Regardless of how I was feeling, I had no right at all saying that to him. As usual though, I spoke first, not giving a flying !@#$ about how it would sound or how the words would affect him. Before I could say anything more however, he got in first.

“I have been trying to comfort YOU; be strong for YOU. Just because you haven’t seen me cry it doesn’t mean I haven’t.” Once more he paused. “I’ve had enough, Dani; I can’t do this anymore. I have to be allowed to grieve too.”

“No-one is stopping you, David.”

Rather than say anything further, he turned and walked back inside, slamming the door behind him, leaving me out in the middle of the back yard, in the dark, crying and cold. Well, it was what I wanted, right?

~*~*~

DAVID:

Had I not been so worked up with anger, I might have been able to let the tears flow. Aside from the day of the accident and the day Dani came home, I had been holding back. All the time I was trying to help Dani with her grief, it had been to the detriment of my own needs. !@#$ that; enough was enough.
 
I could forgive her anything but for her to actually believe I didn’t care, that I wasn’t hurting and that I would rather be working, well, that was more than I could bear. I needed to leave before either of us really said something hurtful that could never be taken back. It was bad enough we had already said more than enough things that would take a long time to be forgiven or forgotten.

After packing a bag, I called Sébastien to let him know that I was heading back to join the rest of the touring party. My friend had questions I’m sure but thankfully kept them to himself. Next, I called Loie, who had just come back from taking Carlos and Urs back to Kansas, where the tour had picked up, asking if she could be ready in an hour. She promised to be waiting for us and to make any other necessary arrangements, leaving me to finish the packing.

By the time I walked out of the room, bags in hand, I noticed Dani was gone. She wasn’t in the house but she wasn’t still standing out in the yard either, without a jacket and I was glad about that. The last things she needed now was to get sick. I had no real idea of where she might have gone and while that scared me a little, it wasn’t enough to make me want to stay.

I was just in the middle of writing a note to say that I had indeed gone back to the tour when all four parents walked back in. Noticing my bags, they wanted to know what was happening, so without divulging anything, I simply told them I had to go back to work. My mother; who really should have been a cop she asks so many damned questions; wanted to know the who’s, where’s and why’s but I wasn’t going to get sucked in. I wasn’t in the mood for it. After a quick round of goodbyes to my mother and Robyn, Dad and Dom droved me to the airport.

~*~*~

The thankfully short ride to the airport was sullen and silent and I suppose with men being men, it was understandable. We needed to talk and it would have been beneficial but no-one was willing to go first and so we made the trip in silence. I was fine with that as it turned out. The fight was leaving me with each mile we travelled and while the closer to the airport we got the more my anger dissipated, my sadness was growing in its place.

I felt shitty about some of the things I had said to Dani but at the same time, they needed to be said. I may not have carried the baby but I still felt every bit of his loss. How was it that people just assumed the mother was the only one who suffered when something like this happened?

She wasn’t the only one to dismiss me in this either; Mom saw me break down for a brief moment but for the rest of the time, it was all about my fiancé. I got it, I really did but it didn’t mean I had to like it, or that it didn’t hurt all the same.

We finally managed to get to the airport and find parking and it didn’t take long to find Séb, Chelle and Loie waiting on us. The jet was fuelled and ready to go and so after a brief goodbye to the parents and Chelle, we left. Not a lot was said, in reference to my leaving early or what had happened but that was a good thing; how many different ways can you rehash something before you go mad? At least I had sorted things with Urs while he was here, so I didn’t have to fly back to that shitstorm too.

~*~*~

DANI:

One of the benefits of having a huge backyard was that you could take more than twenty steps and still not be anywhere near the back fence. It was one of the reasons we had loved the house; the big backyard that was to one day be full of swings, toys and treehouses; but I loved it for another reason. I was able to get further away from the house and not have to leave the property line.

It was quite dark now and it took a moment to get my eyes to acclimate, not that there was anything to look out this far back. If anything, the darkness helped me clear my mind a little easier, something I really needed to do. I needed to sort out what it was that I wanted and I had to do so quickly, or I was going to lose David for good.

I was so conflicted it was tearing me up inside. I wanted him to go but I wanted him to stay more. I wanted him to let down his guard and show me his emotions, not bottle them up and release them in secret, like he’s embarrassed to let them out. On the other hand, I wanted him to be strong and to help me try and cope. It was a vicious circle that seemingly had no end. Was it any wonder he finally got sick of me and my !@#$ and stormed off inside?

It hadn’t occurred to me up until now that by being a snarky !@#$, needy and moody, I was pushing him away and it could be permanently. He loved me; I knew this beyond doubt but I also knew beyond question that he didn’t like me very much at this point. If I was to keep pushing, even his love wasn’t going to be strong enough to keep us together. I couldn’t live with that. Losing Elijah was bad enough but the thought of losing David too really would kill me.

We had to sort this through, sooner rather than later. I had to grow the hell up and realize that I was in a relationship so it couldn’t be all about me, all the time, and I had to fight to keep us moving forward. It sucked that we had to fight like this for me to realize but now that I was finally getting my head back in the game, I knew what I needed to do.

I headed inside, hoping he would talk to me at least. I was freezing at this point and the pain had come back with a vengeance but I needed to make peace with David before I could deal with that. I owed him that much. Walking into the house, I was only able to locate my mother and Denise.

“Where’s David; I need to speak to him.”

Both of them looked to the other and then back to me, although neither said a word. They didn’t have to. He was gone and from the extent of that look, I knew it wasn’t just for a walk up the road to cool off. The pain that shot through my heart at that moment was more severe than the pain in my abdomen; much, much worse.

“He’s gone” was all I said and it wasn’t even a question.

Mom nodded and came over to hold me before the tears came. It was like the only thing she had been doing since she arrived, holding me, trying to take away the ‘boo boo’ like she had when I was a kid. It helped, just not enough. Denise came over and joined us, where we all stood there hugging, crying enough tears to fill the Hoover Dam.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE-HUNDRED & SIX

KAT:



 Looking at my husband of just on a week, I sighed. How could I explain myself and hope he understood where I was coming from? It was bad enough we hadn’t yet broken the news to anyone but no honeymoon either? I had to at least try.

“I love you, babe; you know I do but I can’t think of us starting out our life together when all of this is happening around us. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable honeymooning while everyone back here is still hurting. And now that my brother has left, Dani is going to need more support; whether she wants it or not.”

Nick reached for my hand, something that still gave me a thrill. “It’s fine, sweetheart; honestly. We have the rest of our lives to be together and honeymoon. I just wish I could stay and help out too; for better or worse I’m a part of this family now. Maybe I should call Loie and have her find someone to cover me.”

“I love that you want to but it’s probably best you don’t. With all of us women here, you’ll only feel left out anyway. I promise to make it up to you.”
He gave me the smile that had me fall for him almost from the get-go. “I am going to hold you to that. Maybe we can come up with some new and interesting twists for your next book.”

I blushed as I laughed. “Sounds like a plan. I love you, Mr Weatherly.”

“And I love you right back, Mrs Weatherly.”

~*~*~

DANI:

Seriously; Kat and Nick were married? When did that even happen? Given what had happened, I suspected that had they got married in front of me, I wouldn’t have taken it in. I hadn’t meant to listen in but I had been lying on the sofa and I guess they were oblivious to that fact. I wondered why they hadn’t said anything.

For as fucked as my life was right now, this was wonderful news and needed to be shared. I wanted to believe that I wasn’t the reason they were holding back but the feeling deep in my gut, and hearing what Kat had said told me I was. I needed to talk to her about this. It took what felt like forever but I managed to get off the couch without doing myself any further damage, before I headed off to find the two of them. Kat was coming in the front door but she was doing so alone.

“Kat, where’s Nick? We need to talk.”

“He just left for the airport; he’s going back to the tour. Why; what’s wrong?”

Taking her hand, I led her back to the sofa, where once seated, I asked “Why haven’t you told anyone you’re married?”

The look on her face was genuine so they really hadn’t known I was just a few feet from them. I explained how I heard them speaking, albeit accidently. “I suppose the better question is when did you get married?”

Kat never shied away from telling you what she thought, or offering an opinion when it wasn’t needed but right now, it was almost as though she didn’t want to answer me. After a little more prompting, she did so. “The day of the accident.”

I thought that was it, but she went on “I had joined up with the touring party the day before and after a wonderful night with Nick, I proposed the following morning. We flew to Vegas and back the same day, getting the news as soon as we landed. We didn’t say anything because it didn’t feel right. It still doesn’t so I don’t want you to say anything, Dan. Not just yet.”

“But why not, Kat? This is excellent news; god knows we could use some of that right about now.”

She squeezed my hand. “I know, but just not yet; please?”

I hugged her. “Ok, I won’t say a word but you can’t leave it too long. You know how secrets work amongst this group. Besides, I don’t want to have to hold onto this secret until you’re celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary. I can keep a secret, just not for that long.”

She gave me a slight laugh. “I promise; thanks Dani, I appreciate it.”

Leaving me to my thoughts, I sat there and mulled it over. I was going to have to find some way of making this up to her, them, and I would. Perhaps it wouldn’t be soon but there had to be a way. Working it out might just be the thing I needed to help me cope with my grief, even if only for a little while.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

6/4/20, 16:28 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Each Careful Step*


ONE-HUNDRED & SEVEN

DAVID:


Sitting in the dressing room alone, I stared into space, wishing I was anywhere but here. Normally I loved the night of a show, the anticipation, getting ready, joking with the crew but not tonight. It had barely been a week since the loss of my son and now I had to push myself into going out on stage, singing and acting as though everything was peachy. I doubted I could do it.

We had a couple of weeks off coming up but management at Sony, Gary and Simon had all advised that they could hold off the last handful of shows of this part of the tour, to allow Dani and I the time we needed. I valued the thought but I needed to get back to work. The other guys were still giving me space, which I both hated and appreciated; I needed to be with people, Dani specifically but I couldn’t face them. Especially Urs.

He had apologized for what he had said, when he came for the service and I reciprocated, for punching him. He was gracious about it but something had happened with the dynamic between us. I wondered if we would ever get back what we had. We hadn’t been super best friends or anything but I was starting to think of him, as the others, as family. Would it affect the work now, I wondered?

While it was important to sort that out, what I really needed to be doing was trying to find a way to make peace with Dani first. We had barely spoken the two days I was home and after yelling at her and saying some hurtful things, I had stormed off and we haven’t spoken since. Clearly, we were both hurting and wanted to be there for each other, we were just too stubborn to admit it. You only have to look at how long it took for us to get together to start with, to know that was true.

“Five minutes, Mr Miller” Gavin, the stage managed called out to me from the hallway, interrupting my thoughts.

Standing, I called back that I would be ready. I took a look in the mirror and after a glance at the photo of my girl I had put there earlier, I readjusted my tie, brushed some imaginary lint from the shoulders of my jacket and sighed. I looked almost the same as I had for the last show; dressed immaculately, hair gelled just so, tie done up but not quite pulled into its correct position, allowing me to breathe easier.

I even managed to try out a smile, although it never reached my eyes. To the audience, I hoped it would appear as though nothing had happened. I would perform, crack jokes, do my mis-step as usual; follow the formula. Only I and my friends would know of the true torment in my heart. Putting the photo of Dani into my pocket, I went out to join the others.

~*~*~

‘So far, so good’ I thought as we finished up the third song of the night. With each song, I found myself throwing all of my emotions into it, making each one seem a little more poignant. I must be pulling it off because the audience were lapping it up and hollering out for more.

As we sang and walked about the stage, I couldn’t help but notice the glances from the guys, knowing they were probably wondering how I was coping. In between Regresa A Mi and Isabel, Sébastien had actually quietly asked how I was. If my heart could speak for itself, it would have told my friend how hard it was to act normal, while all the while it felt like it was being shredded. But of course, my heart couldn’t speak so I simply told him I was fine.

At least that had been the case until the next song. Over the past week I had forgotten the order of our playlist so when the opening bars of the next song started to play, I felt my stomach lurch and my chest tighten.

It was just a song and until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t really thought too much about it in this context but now, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sing it. Given I had the opening lines, this proved a little awkward.

The song was Mama.

~*~*~

Sensing something was wrong, Carlos tried to pick up where he could and kept going. The other joined in too, but the murmurs in the crowd had started. For the first time in my professional career, I did something I had never done before; I walked off stage mid-song. While the others continued their best to finish the song, I paced up and back off the side of the stage, trying to control my emotion. The last thing I wanted or needed was to break down; especially in front of the crew.

At the end of the song, Urs explained that they would be back shortly, apologizing for the early interruption to the show. Gary started the band playing, allowing Sébastien, Carlos and Urs the chance to leave the stage. They joined me as I paced, becoming more and more agitated with each step.

“David; mon ami? Shall we cancel the rest of the show? It is too early for you to be back. The audience, they will understand.”

Looking up at my friends with eyes that were no doubt red-rimmed at this point, I shook my head. “No; I will be ok. I guess the song just got the better of me. Sorry, guys.”

They rallied around me then, telling me it was going to be fine. Urs was the first to give me a bear hug, telling me that I had only to say the word and they would cancel the show. I appreciated it, I really did and while it would have been so easy to say yes, too many people would have been put out or disappointed. I could do my grieving later in the privacy of my room; right now, there was a show to finish.

“Give me five minutes, and I’ll be right back” I said, before rushing back to my dressing room to freshen up. As the old adage goes, the show must go on.

~*~*~

DANI:

It has now been some six weeks since Elijah’s passing and life was pretty much back to normal. Well, as normal as it could be, despite the huge hole in my heart that was never going to be full again. David and I were talking but it was never much more than ‘hi, how are you’ or ‘how’s the tour going?’ kind of thing.

The tour schedule was changed slightly, with most of the shows in November and early December being cancelled and the recording of the new album bought forward. According to Gary, this was so the guys could have an extended break. I suspected it was for another reason entirely although I kept that opinion to myself.

I was finding more each day that I couldn’t wait to have David home for more than a day here or there, so we could work on our problem. It had already gone on longer than it should have so waiting ‘for the right time’ was just asking for trouble. They had performed a one-off show in Oahu, the day of my birthday, before they headed to Sweden to work on the album. They were due to start the break in a week and it couldn’t come quick enough for me.

Going back to work for Felipe and Chelle a week ago was just what I needed, although my heart wasn’t quite in it just yet and it showed. While he had been understanding in the beginning, Felipe’s patience was fast wearing thing, to the point where he told me to go home and not come back until I was ready. Normally I would have fought him and told him I was fine but I wasn’t and I knew it, so I came home.

I needed something to fill in the void and working wasn’t it, as it normally would have been. I wondered if there was going to come a time when I could get through a day without crying, or sitting around and playing the ‘what if’ game. The house was empty now, except for me, with all the parents and other friends and family having gone back to their own lives. I found I was lonely, which was laughable, given that when they were all here, all I wanted was to be alone.

~*~*~

For the first time since the accident, I tried to go into the nursery. I hadn’t been in there at all until now, even going so far as to pretend the room wasn’t even there but I knew I couldn’t put it off indefinitely. I reached for the handle, only to find my hand was shaking so much it slipped off. I got my act together and opened the door and while I wasn’t sure what I had expected to find, it wasn’t what I was now looking at - the room was perfect.

The walls had been finished - painting and banners both up – the furniture in place, including the crib and all the toys, books and other items from the shower were in their rightful place. It was just as I had pictured it in my mind, when I first started to decorate. Even the carpet wore no sign of the disaster that occurred, although in a different light I might have been able to tell it was a different shade of cream.

I was speechless, well and truly. I hesitated a moment but then tentatively stepped inside, to take in the surroundings. That was when I spotted the Pooh Bear that David had bought, causing the tears to fall; again. I walked over to pick up the bear before going to sit in the rocking chair. I just sat and rocked, holding the bear close and crying for all the things I had lost; Elijah, my faith, the closeness that David and I had once shared, our happiness.

I continued to cry, until the point of exhaustion and then went a little bit further. In a strange way, it was cathartic and I actually felt a little freer. Absolutely the pain and hurt was still there and would be for some time to come, but just being able to sit here and cry with no interruptions, or having to worry about someone watching me, it felt good.

There had been plenty of tears since it happened but this felt different somehow, just what I needed. By the time I finally stopped and left the room, I felt for the first time in all these weeks that there was perhaps a smidge of hope that things could and would be better. A couple of events that followed the next day would go a very long way to helping that happen, sooner rather than later.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

6/4/20, 16:39 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 


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