The Little stranger chapter 15

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War Child
Dec 2, 2003
This is just a bit filler chapter, I will probably have it all finished in about another three or four chapters hopefully, so things will heat up

Gemma returned to her room. At first, she occupied herself with the pretence of being busy clearing things away. But then after ten minutes give up the pretence, and instead sat on the edge of her bed clutching one of her tops she planned to pack away, staring at the wall in front of her.

Her mind was all over the place, trying to take in everything Jake had told her about Caroline, and what had happened to her. Having to carry the terrible secret for so long, obviously had not been easy on either of them. Gemma was feeling little guilty, because she always imagined that Jake had everything he wanted, fame, fortune. and she had always assumed he had been too occupied enjoying it all, to even think of her or want her in his life anymore.

Now, she knew that had not strictly been the case, and she felt like crying, not sure if it was for Caroline and Jake and what had happened, or for herself and Jake. Things had become so messed up along the way, and she didn’t know what to do for the best.

She had been so used to functioning by hiding her true feeling and emotions, even from herself for so long, as a protection, that she wasn’t sure she could be any other way.
But she knew that was what Jake was wanting her to do lately.

Even after all that had happened with Caroline, he was still willing to go with his heart, and take chances. Whilst she was the opposite, preferring to rely on herself and thinking with her head. So far it had saved her from ever being hurt again, even if it meant she went it alone. Even now, she forced herself to stay in control and not give way to the tears that were threatening, after all. blubbering would get her nowhere. She just had to think straight, and try and deal with this sensibly for her sake, as well as Jake and Ellie’s.
They had all been through enough without any more turmoil.

Although have the reputation of acting on impulse, and rushing headlong into some sort of mayhem for the majority of his life, Jake had learned his lesson from being with Caroline, this was not always the best way to go. He had been so busy at the time trying to figure her out and fix her. thinking in his arrogance it was going to turn out all right, and she would hail him as her saviour, and they would be happy ever after. He never gave a second thought that he would fail.

But he had failed, as much as he hated admitting, he hated failure. Which was why he was not going to make that mistake with Gemma. He wasn’t going put any pressure on her to do things his way, or push her further than she was willing to go. Even though inside, all his usual impatient instincts, were wanting to do just that.

So, when he encountered Gemma later that evening after the concert, when he went to check on his sleeping daughter before going to bed himself, he decided to behave as if their previous conversations were far from his mind, and play it cool. “How’s her teething problems, is she settled any better tonight?” he queried, and could see Gemma’s body and expression visibly relax that he was sticking to the safe topic.

“She has been fine, I think one of her back teeth have finally started cutting through, but I gave her some Calpol before she settled for the night, just in case”

“Good,” Jake smiled and nodded, then stopped, as he remembered he had something else he had to tell her, although he wasn’t sure how she was going to take it.

“Oh, by the way, I think I should mention this to you now, just so you know, after the tour finishes, I have just arranged for a little break for us all”

“Oh?” Gemma looked a little taken aback by his unexpected announcement.

“Yeah,” Jake confirmed, his tone remaining casual, “I was talking to a pal of mine, Rex Murray, on the phone earlier, he was one of the ones who helped produce my album, and he’s offered to let me use his Villa in the south of France for a few weeks, to chill and recuperate after the tour, and everything else that’s happened” he then explained.

“I see,” Gemma replied digesting this new information a little warily, whilst trying to look pleased, “That was very good of him. So, er, when is it all happening exactly?”

“Well as soon as possible, if I can help it,” Jake informed her, “Maybe a week to sort things out, once the tour finishes, will that be ok for you?”

“Uh yes, I guess so,” Gemma nodded automatically, whilst her mind was working overtime with the new implications of this break.

“Great,” Jake beamed, “Y’know, I just thought it was the perfect opportunity to chill with Ellie have some down time, be with her properly, and bond with her, as you have suggested. This last year has been so hectic and crazy, I am looking forward to actually being able to relax at last” he admitted.

Gemma’s posture, on the other hand, seemed slightly tense, “So, when you say, for us all? will it be just you with Ellie, and me tagging along as her nanny?” she then queried uncertainly

“Well of course, I need you to come along to help out with her, I am not that confident with the idea of looking after her all by myself just yet,” Jake grinned, “Anyway, don’t be too concerned, because I have invited Fiona and the family along for the break as well. But they will probably arrive a bit later, as her hubby, Deke, has to make arrangements to get free from work first” he then explained reasonably, smiling inwardly, as he watching her shoulders sag in relaxation again, at this latest information, knowing that she was not going to left alone with just Jake over the whole time away.

“Oh, I am sure Fiona will like that. She needs a break too, with looking after her own little one and the rest of her family” Gemma smiled enthusiastically.

“Yeah, she was more than happy when I told her earlier, and we might as well make the most of it while we can. Some sun, sea, and family time together, relaxing, no pressure is just what is needed” Jake returned also smiling, whilst inside telling himself optimistically, who knows what might happen in that time...

‘Hectic’ was the only word Gemma could describe the following week after the tour finished.

She was no sooner unpacking, just to start packing up again to get organised for the south of France the following week

But it kept her busy, so there was no time to think or dwell on other things, which suited her just fine.

She ignored her first initial uneasiness about this break, and the fact her and Jake would be more or less on their own for the first week or so. After all that had happened this past year and what she had learned about Caroline’s death, Gemma knew that Jake needed this time really badly. It would be a great way for him to be with his daughter and relax for a change, that was the most important thing, so her personal feeling and worries had to be set aside.

With the help of Maggie and Jake’s sister Fiona, who couldn’t wait to join them once her husband finished work, Jake Gemma and Ellie were all packed and sorted and on the plane that following weekend, on their way to Rex Murray’s Five bedroom Villa in the South of France, which was situated by the sea with, its own private beach.

Once they got off the plane, Jake had hired a car, to drive them to their destination. Ellie was in the back in her car seat, the journey had already tired her out and she was napping, Gemma sat up front in the car with Jake looking out the window admiring the passing scenery. Jake had turned the car radio on, and looked pretty chilled out, dressed in long khaki shorts and a black top, and wearing a baseball cap sitting back to front on his head, as well as sunglasses, for his minimum disguise, just in case.

Gemma was glad she had just dressed in a blue and white printed floral sleeveless frock with a low neckline. It was so hot, her window was wound down a bit, so she caught the breeze.

Jake was already in a buoyant mood, humming along to the music on the radio, and glancing round at Gemma picturing in his head, how they looked like a proper family, together, and just for a little while he told himself it was ok to fantasize that they were. Though he found he had to resist the temptation to reach out and touch Gemma’s bare knee, that just peeked out below the hem of her frock, whilst wondering why he never realised until now, how great her legs looked.

But he was on his best behaviour, when they chatted, it was on safe subjects. about Ellie and Fiona and his dad, and other mundane things like the scenery and the weather until they finally reached their destination.

Jake went first. carrying some of the cases, and unlocking and opening the door, whilst Gemma fetched Ellie out of car seat from the back and carried her, following behind Jake into the Villa

Ellie was wide awake now, and seemed happy she had a new place to explore
The villa with its tiled floor felt cooler much to Gemma’s relief.

“Here we are, I guess we should make ourselves at home” Jake mused

“Yeah, I guess so,” Gemma agreed less enthusiastically, feeling a little like an intruder who had no right to be there for some reason.

Jake who had been to the Villa a few times, had no such qualms, and busied himself showing Gemma around showing her where the kitchen was, as well as the swimming pool and jacuzzi, outside in the back courtyard, before taking her up the stairs and showing her the bedrooms.

There were travel cots in the rooms, one for Ellie, and another for Fiona’s little one, when they arrived.

Gemma’s room was next to Ellies, and Jake was across the hall from them, they all had their own ensuite bathrooms with showers, much to Gemma’s relief, the last thing she wanted was coming out of the shower in a shared bathroom in the mornings, and perhaps bumping into Jake. That would be rather awkward.

Jake went to get the rest of the luggage, whilst she changed Ellie’s damp nappy, now she had the chance. Straight after it, Ellie was wanting to explore enjoying her freedom, after being trapped in seats for most of the day.

She was pulling herself up, and walking around the furniture a little warily, getting her bearings in her new surroundings. Gemma watched her in amusement, realising how confident she was getting on her feet. Jake appeared with the luggage, dumping it on the bed, Ellie who was walking along holding onto the wall a few yards from him, now turned herself around, letting go of the wall, then took an unsteady step all by herself, before falling on her backside.

Jake just happened to turn as she was doing it, so caught it, then with a look of amazement on his face, he turned to Gemma, “Hey! Did you see that? She took her first step” he exclaimed excitedly.

“Yeah, she did,” Gemma grinned, glad Jake had been there to witness it.

He now reached down to swoop Ellie up in his arms, rewarding her with a sloppy kiss on her chubby cheek, “My little girl is so clever, aren’t you?” he then said proudly hugging her to him.

Ellie wasn’t impressed at being confined again in his arms, despite her father’s pride in her achievement. She squealed in protest to get down again, making him chuckle and sit down her on the floor again, where she immediately crawled away to continue her exploring.

“You women, seem to find it hard to take any praise from me,” Jake then remarked wryly, but Gemma felt the little dig in his remark.

“Well someone has to keep you in your place. Sometimes flattery doesn’t get you anywhere” she returned.

“So, I am starting to realise,” Jake murmured, keeping his gaze on his daughter.

Gemma not wanting the conversation to get any more personal, now suggested he take himself off with Ellie downstairs, and spend time with her, whilst she got busy unpacking.

She had the feeling there was going to be a lot of verbal sparring between them over the next few days, and she was bracing herself for it. She couldn’t get the time in quick enough for Fiona and her family to arrive, so Jake wouldn’t be able to focus all his attention on her.
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