The little stranger chapter 10

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War Child
Dec 2, 2003
Gemma’s confrontation with him about his relationship with his daughter, had given Jake a lot to think about. So much so, it kept him awake later that night as he lay in his bed.

Of course, everything she had said had been a valid point, he wasn’t going to deny that. But it just irked him a little. Not because of what she had said, but more about how it had made him come across in her eyes.

He had been all about showing her lately, how he was more mature and responsible, and reliable. But that was hardly the case when she called him out, in her own gentle way, about how he was basically running away from his responsibility as a father.

His mind was now working overtime how he could show Gemma he was going to take her advice on board. and try to be a better father, having that closer bond with his daughter. No matter how daunting it was going to prove to be, in the short space of time he had before he went away on tour

But before the week was over, he got his opportunity one afternoon, as he came through the front door, just as Gemma was getting ready to put Ellie in her pushchair.

“And where are you two off to?” he enquired with interest

“Oh, I was just going to bring Ellie along with me to help her Auntie Fiona do some last-minute shopping for stuff for her new little cousin, who will be arriving into the world very soon” Gemma explained.

“Sounds like fun,” Jake remarked then paused thoughtfully, “Tell you what, I actually have a few hours free right now. So, why don’t I look after Ellie, then you and Fiona can get on with the shopping in peace, without having to push a pram around”

Gemma looked up at him, from where she was leaning down over the pushchair, “Are you serious?” she found herself asking uncertainly, making him grin.

“What do you think? After all you were the one telling me to spend more time with my daughter, now here is the perfect opportunity” he pointed out brightly

“Yeah, I guess so,” Gemma replied, “But if I go out, you will be on your own with her. Are you sure you will be able to cope ok?”

“Of course,” Jake insisted, “After all, how hard can it be?”

Gemma decided it was best not to answer that, not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm, but thought he was still diving in at the rather deep end.

“ Y’know, I can phone Fiona and let her know I can’t go with her, just in case you might need me around,” she then suggested.

“No, no, you go out and do the shopping with Fiona and enjoy yourself,” He insisted, “I do allow you a day off now and again, I believe.”

“I don’t mind really?” Gemma still wasn’t sure it was a good idea.

“No, really, its ok. I am sure I will be fine just for a few hours,” Jake replied firmly, and she realised he was not going to have it any other way.

“Alright,” Gemma finally relented, “You have my cell number in case you need it, so just give me a call if you have to,” she reminded him, deciding that would have to do, to ease her own mind at least. She now took Ellie out of her pram again and handed her into Jakes open arms.

“Ok, no problem,” Jake agreed, taking Ellie. She went to him happily enough, and he kissed her chubby cheek

“Are you sure you are going to be alright with this?” Gemma couldn’t help asking again.

“Yes, how else are we ever going to get to know each other, if we don’t have some time alone? Just me and her together, that’s what you suggested after all.” he pointed out.

“I guess so,” Gemma found herself agreeing, “But just remember if you need me, just call me,” she then reminded him.

“I will don’t worry,” he replied easily wishing she didn’t sound so doubtful about his ability, it was making him feel more nervous, and he was doing his best not to appear nervous, and this was the most natural thing in the world.

“If she cries, she will either be hungry or need changed. Her bottle is in the fridge, already filled up,” Gemma informed him, then went on to give him some more information on her favourite toys, and where certain things where he might need, such as the play pen and the nappies. He listened dutifully and nodded, letting her know he understood, and convinced her he was going to be fine again.

“Well, have fun,” she then said, feeling she had covered everything she could think of, before finally turned to leave, still feeling a little jittery about the whole thing. But she decided she needed to show Jake she trusted him with his own daughter. It would be the only way to build up his confidence

“We will, don’t worry,” he replied, “You have fun too” he then called after her.

“I will try,” she replied. But she knew she would not feel completely at ease again, until she returned to find them in the same state she left them.

And she just hoped that would be the case

Jake found himself wandering around the house from room to room with Ellie in his arms, not exactly sure what he planned to do now they were finally alone together.

When he had first came through the door, he had found himself offering to take care of Ellie on a crazy impulse. It was just to prove a point to Gemma, that he was a changed man, and that he was going to try and show more interest in his daughter.

“So, what will we do with ourselves, now we got this time together. You got any idea‘s, huh?” he enquired, as he stood in the kitchen jiggling Ellie in his arms.

Her big brown eyes just stared back at him wonderingly, letting him know she expected him to take the lead on such matters.

But then she caught sight of the nice shiny gold hoop earring attached to his left earlobe and decided to investigate, trying to grab it with her chubby fingers.

“Whoa!” Jake quickly jerked his head back out of her reach, and chuckled “That’s not for you, though I promise, I will buy you a nice pair when you get a little older.”

Ellie let out a little squeal of indignation that her father was spoiling her fun.

“Hmm, why don’t we go find you something you can play with safely.” Jake suddenly realised, going into the lounge where in the corner of the room there was a small toy box.

“Right, you sit here,” he told her, kneeling down and sitting her in the middle of the floor, whilst he went over to rummage in the toy box to bring out several soft plastic bricks and a fluffy blue bunny, that made a jangling noise when it was shaken.

But when he glanced around to see if Ellie approved of these toys, he realised she was already amusing herself. She had discovered the remote control for the television, which had been left on the floor nearby, and she was now trying to chew on it, whilst making noises of delight.

Jake moved swiftly over beside her, snatching the remote control from her hands.
“No, no, no, you can’t have that,” he told her, putting them up on the arm of the chair, safely out of her way.

Ellie wasn’t too happy about having her new toy taken away from her so suddenly, and let out a wail of protest.

“Here, why don’t you try playing with one of these,” Jake then said in his desperation to placate her, waving one of the bright blocks he had in his hand, “You can chew on these all you want”

Ellie seem to consider it for a few seconds, her lower lip still pouting slightly, then she decided she much preferred the remote control, and started to cry again for it.
“Wait, what about this?” he now grabbed the blue bunny rabbit shaking it frantically in front of her face, making it jangle.

The sound caught her attention enough to stop her crying, and she reached out and snatched the bunny from his hands, then proceeded to try and see how it tasted as well”

Jake was just relieved she had stopped crying. He put the blocks within her reach, as well just in case she got bored with the bunny, then he heard his cell phone ringing

At first, he thought it might be Gemma phoning up to check on him, but it was Maggie phoning him, to remind Jake that he had a television appearance on some show, where he would be promoting his latest single. He could barely hear her, as Ellie decided to converse loudly in her own baby language with her rabbit, whilst smacking it on the floor making it jangle, much to her delight.

“Sounds like someone is having fun,” Maggie sounded amused from her end of the phone.
“Yeah, I am just looking after Ellie for a while, you know, we need our quality time together, so it has been pointed out to me,” Jake replied a little dryly

“Just right too,” Maggie agreed, “Though you alone with Ellie, and looking after her, I so want to be there with a video camera to record this moment for posterity” she then teased him.

“I bet you would,” Jake laughed. But his smile vanished as he watched Ellie abandon her blue rabbit. And with a determined look in her brown eyes, she now shuffled along on her backside, making her way towards the occasional table in the corner.

He hadn’t been aware she had even learned to do that!

“Can you ring me back later Mags, I have to go..” he told her with a sudden urgency in his voice.

“Sure thing,” Maggie replied understandingly. Jake hurriedly hung up, then went over and swooped Ellie up in his arms.

“Oh no you don’t, little lady,” he told her a little sternly, making her squeal once more in protest, for being hampered from doing what she wanted to do, yet again.

He snatched up the bunny nearby, and jangled it in front of her, hoping it would quieten her down like before, “Oh look, lovely bunny!” he exclaimed. But it held no interest to her anymore, and she just swatted it away continuing to cry.

“Right, well I guess that means we will have to find another way to amuse ourselves,” Jake realised a little despairingly, whilst inwardly pondering with some frustration, how could a little girl be so damned demanding and exhausting.

He was beginning to wonder being all alone with his daughter, had been such a good idea after all….


“I wonder if Jake is coping ok with Ellie?” Gemma wondered aloud. She and Fiona had taken a break from their shopping, to have a coffee.

“I hope she is giving him hell,” Fiona replied with a good-natured chuckle, “it's about time he learned what being a parent is all about.”

“Or it might put him off, and he could be running for the hills” Gemma grinned, “Still, maybe I should give him a call, find out if everything is ok” she then added, becoming more serious again.

“Don’t you dare!” Fiona scolded her, “He will be fine. Let him manage on his own. Since he hit the big time and became famous, he has got to used to having other people doing nearly everything for him. It will do him no harm coming back down to reality for a while,” she finished sagely before taking a sip of her coffee.

“I guess so,” Gemma agreed, “Besides If he needed me, I am sure he will phone.” she then comforted herself uncertainly.

“Yep exactly,” Fiona nodded, “And he hasn’t phoned you yet, so everything must be ok” she then pointed out logically.

“Yeah, you are probably right,” Gemma smiled, deciding to push aside her concerns and relax to enjoy the rest of her coffee…

Luckily for her, she was far enough away not to hear Jake swearing and turning the air blue, as he tried to change Ellie’s wet nappy, She was wriggling about and kicking her legs, finding the game of seeing fathers frustration amusing, as she laughed and gurgled at his attempts to put the new nappy on.

When he thought he had finally succeeded and picked her, he realised had put it on too loosely and it slid down her legs, making him swear again.

“How come I can play a bloody guitar with no problem,” he now addressed Ellie as he lay her down on the mat, “But I am all fingers and thumbs just trying to put this stupid thing on.”

Ellie just looked up at him, and ‘oohed’ in response.

“Thanks for being so understanding, now perhaps you can stay still, so I can get this right, pretty, pretty please” he finished beseechingly,

Ellie laughed, and kicked her legs some more.

“You are not going to make this easy for me, are you?” he realised aloud Then sighed heavily, he prepared himself for the next round of Nappy changing.

Although Gemma had enjoyed her shopping trip with Fiona, deep down she was still a little anxious about Jake and Ellie. She was glad when she finally drove into the driveway of the house again eager to find out how things had gone with father and daughter on their time together alone.

She entered the house, half expecting to hear Ellie crying, and Jake standing pulling his hair out, being ever so glad to see her back. But instead she was met by silence.

Going into the lounge, she noticed some of Ellie’s toys lying scattered on the floor, signs they had been in that room at least, She strolled into the kitchen, and found the remains of her finished bottle sitting on the counter.

Gemma now went up to the nursery, and as she approached the open door, that was when she heard Jake. He was singing softly.

Peeking in, she found him sitting in the rocking chair, Ellie was in his arms asleep. He continued to go on singing to her, as he looked down on her with an obvious fondness.

Gemma remained standing where she was, taking in the sight of Jake with his child. She found herself suddenly moved by the tender little scene, and felt the tears threatening to well up in her eyes. It seemed it had been the right thing to do, leaving them alone after all, Jake seem to have everything under control.

She went to back away, and leave him to it, but as she did so, her movement caught his attention, he looked around towards the open doorway, and realised she was there.

Jake now beckoned her to come in, with his hand, and she reluctantly did so.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you,” Gemma apologised quietly.

“It’s ok, I think she is fast asleep now anyway,” Jake replied, “Why don’t you put her in her cot,” he then suggested.

“Sure,” Gemma smiled in reply and gently took Ellie out of his arms, and placed her in her cot, she stirred a little but didn’t waken. So, they breathed easy.

“Well it seems you managed fine after all,” Gemma said proudly, as they stood just outside the nursery door again.

“Yeah, I did actually,” Jake was looking rather pleased and smug with a himself, much to her amusement.

“I played with her, I gave her the bottle, and I changed her Nappy,” he then informed Gemma loftily, but he decided to leave out the part about how it had taken three attempts and a lot of swearing, before he got it right.

“I am impressed,” Gemma replied with genuine pleasure.

“Yeah, well I will let you take over the reins again, so to speak.” he then said jovially, “she should sleep for a while, she has been pretty active for most of the time, so my guess is. she was pretty tired.”

But what he wouldn’t admit aloud, was that after two hours keeping an eye on his daughter, he was feeling pretty exhausted himself. He had new admiration for Gemma and her job as nanny, and was just glad he was a musician.

Babies could be way too stressful.

Yet despite all that stress, he had done it, and he had survived through his first two hours alone with her. Strangely he felt like when he recovered, he was looking forward to doing it again sometime soon.

Despite the shaky moments, he had enjoyed spending time with his daughter, more than he had ever imagined.
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