The little stranger chapter 19

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War Child
Dec 2, 2003
Because this is a rewrite I had most of this chapter already done, just tweaked it a bit here and there. which is why I can put it up quickly Anyway any one who has read the whole story I hoped even with the name changes you recognised it was partly inspired by Bono and Ali's early relationship

The following day, as Gemma was helping Ellie finish of the rest of her lunch in the kitchen, Fiona came in looking very thoughtful.

“Hey Gemma, remember yesterday, when we were talking, then you mentioned you would have to talk with Jake, about him having to find a new nanny soon?” she reminded her

“Yeah,” Gemma replied a little warily, wondering where this was leading too, and if Fiona was going to attempt to change her mind, because Jake had said something about them.

“Well I was thinking, with only a few months to go before you leave, its better if you do it sooner than later, like maybe today”

“Oh?” was Gemma’s only response, taken of guard for a moment by Fiona’s suggestion
“Yes, well it's going to be hard finding someone to replace you I think, that’s why I think he needs to start looking straight away” Fiona then pointed out sounding very practical minded, “So, what me and Deke are going to do is take all the kids, including Ellie away for an hour or so for a nice drive, y’know, to give you and Jake a chance to talk properly and sort it out”

“You don’t have to do that,” Gemma protested hurriedly, “I am sure I can tell him whilst you are all here”

“Oh no, the less distractions the better,” Fiona insisted, “after all this is an important decision about his daughter’s future, so I think we are doing you a favour being out of the way”

“I guess so,” Gemma replied uncertainly, thinking perhaps it would be easier approaching Jake once and for all, and getting it sorted without any interruptions. Though she was still not looking forward to it.

“Well if Ellie has finished her lunch, I will just go and get her ready, and we will take her with us” Fiona then smiled, “Jake is probably in the den, he mentioned that’s where he would be this morning, he’s had some musical inspiration, or something” she breezily informed Gemma as she picked Ellie up, to take her away.

The den was a soundproof out-building in the grounds of the villa, that Rex used as his own small private music studio, Although Jake had access to it, Gemma had not ventured into it since they arrived.

“Well maybe I shouldn’t disturb him then.” Gemma realised, she wasn’t that keen on facing him with her reminder her time with Ellie would be ending soon, knowing how he would take it. She didn’t want to spoil the last few weeks of his holiday, but on the other hand, as Fiona pointed out, if she left it till later, he would probably only have a month to find someone else, and that might make more problems, like he would want her to stay on longer.

“Oh. don’t worry about that,” Fiona quickly brushed aside her concern, “I don’t think it’s anything serious. He’s just messing about with some ideas, so it will be ok” she assured her, “Y’know, you got to strike while the iron is hot” she then reminded her encouragingly.

“OK,” Gemma replied slowly, getting an odd vibe from Fiona, that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She couldn’t argue that Fiona was wrong in what she said, but still, she felt it had just come out of nowhere. And it seemed all very sudden.

Fiona and Deke had very efficiently rounded everyone into the car inside a half hour much to Gemma’s surprise

Fiona approached Gemma again before she got into the car herself, “Well that’s us all sorted, we will probably be a way an hour or so, that should give you enough time to talk with Jake”

“Yes, I suppose so, though it’s probably going to take me a half hour to muster up the courage to talk to him” Gemma joked.

“You will be fine,” Fiona gave her a quick hug, “You can let me know how it went when we get back” and with that she turned and left.

Gemma watched from the window as the car drove away five minutes later, then heaved a sigh realising it was time to go and find Jake and get it over with.

She took her time strolling down to the den, trying to go over in her head what she would say to him, to make it more palatable and reasonable.

The door of the den was opened a tiny crack when she finally reached it, but she knocked on the wooden panelling anyway, then called his name to check he was actually there

“Come in”” she heard him reply

Bracing herself, she pushed the door open and stepped in, not sure what to expect.

Jake was sitting on a small black leather couch, his guitar on his knee, and a half-drunk glass of whiskey in his hand.

“Hey, I am not disturbing you, am I?” Gemma enquired gingerly.

“No, not really” Jake replied, “I am just messing about, trying to write this song for Ellie, for her first birthday” he explained, “Not that I am making much progress, so I thought I would try this for inspiration” he gestured with the glass still in his hand towards the TV screen attached to the wall beside him, where a picture slide of a lot of photos he had taken of Ellie over the months was moving along on the screen.

But now he turned his attention back to Gemma, “But, as I am finding it a chore now, I could do with some company, so come in and close the door, and sit down here, and tell me what’s up” he patted the space on the couch beside him, before setting his drink on the floor at his feet beside him.

Gemma joined him on the sofa finding it hard to look him in the eye, “Well seeing you have this time, there is something I need to remind you about” she then said her hands clasped together on her knees, “And I think it’s better we discuss it now rather than later, even though this is not a great time” she admitted

“There is never a good time,” Jake murmured more to himself than her, now messing around with the strings of his guitar still sitting on his knee, before he looked up at her directly, knowing exactly what was coming, thanks to his sister.

“Well, it's about our arrangement, you know me being Ellie’s nanny, I have just been thinking lately that my six months will almost be up soon, and perhaps you should start looking for a replacement before I go” she then explained staring down at her now fidgeting fingers, wondering how he would react.

“Oh yeah” his tone was so casual that Gemma now looked round at him, he had started checking his guitar strings again but his expression seemed distant, like he was miles away, “I guess I should get in contact with Maggie, and get her to start looking and make all the arrangements I suppose”

“Ok, that sounds like a good idea,” she nodded, yet taken aback he was so calm, it was not what she had been expecting at all. But getting over the initial surprise of his reaction, she ploughed on with what she had planned to say in her head, “anyway if you need any help, I can recommend several good agencies where you can find someone”

“Yeah fine, I am sure you and Maggie can sort it out it all out” Jake seemed distracted with other things on his mind much to her puzzlement, He abandoned his guitar turning his attention to the screen, picking up the remote control and freezing the picture that had just come up on the screen, a close up of Gemma holding Ellie in her arms, that had been taken just before she had joined him on the tour.

“How much does Ellie look like Caroline in that picture?” he then said, sounding a little sad, “Poor Ellie she is never going to have a chance to spend her birthday with her mother” he finished morosely, bending down to pick up his drink and take a gulp of it

“But she still has you,” Gemma pointed out, now wondering what was going on with him

“It’s not the same though, is it?” Jake looked round at her, his expression a little bleak.
“At least I was able to have my mother for most of my childhood, it makes me appreciate that even more now” he said.

Gemma smiled encouragingly “Well, that’s a good thing, I suppose”

“Then there is you,” Jake eyed her speculatively, and heaving a heavy sigh “It couldn’t have been easy when your father walked out on you all those years ago. Even worse I suppose, because he had a choice in the matter, and just didn’t want to be with you; I can’t imagine how that made you feel” he finished sadly

“Well we just have to get over these things and move on” Gemma replied shifting uneasily that the conversation had now turned on her.

“Is that what you are still doing now Gem, moving on?” he enquired softly his blue eyes staring at her directly.

She wasn’t sure how to reply, not sure exactly what he was trying to get at. But he didn’t seem to want an answer as he looked away again towards the screen .

“I just don’t know how I am going to deal with answering Ellie’s questions when she grows up, and wants to know more about her mother,” he then admitted.

“I am sure you will find a way,” Gemma said, wondering if this was why Jake was in this strange mood

“Perhaps, I just worry that she will end up blaming me for not preventing her mother’s death, because in a way, I guess I am responsible.”

“Jake don’t do this to yourself, Caroline was always unstable, it’s not your fault” Gemma protested, now putting her hand on his arm,

“Yes, she was unstable, and she already had a bit of a drug problem, and then she gets involved with me. I am in the music business. Even you must realise how easy drugs become available, moving in those circles” Jake now pointed out a little bitterly.

“Oh c’mon, even if that were not the case, she still would have been able to get her hands on them somehow, if she really wanted to” Gemma counter argued. “And you were not the one to introduce her to taking drugs in the first place. If I am right, one of the reasons for your first arguments and falling out with her, was because you were angry with her, when you found out she was taking them” she recalled. “And that was way long before you were famous”

“Yeah,” Jakes laugh was brittle, “Even then she tried to warn me that I was better just letting her go, and forgetting about her. But I didn’t listen, I didn’t understand, I thought I could save her from herself. How arrogant was that? Only I never realised the true enormity of her hell, that made her turn to the drugs in the first place, until it was too late”

“What happened with Caroline was not your fault Jake” Gemma reiterated, wondering where all this had come from, had thinking about Ellie’s up and coming first birthday affected him so badly? “Her parents are to blame, you know that”

“Yeah I keep telling myself that,” Jake replied, now looking troubled, his brow furrowing “But lately I have just been thinking about Ellie, and what if she wants to know about her mother when she gets older. What the hell am I supposed to tell her? how can I explain what happened without messing up her mind?”

Gemma now fully understood Jake’s dilemma at last. It was certainly not going to be easy for Jake in the future, when Ellie was old enough, and started asking questions about her mother.

He was right. How did you deal with trying to give an explanation for such terrible tragic circumstances? Gemma was still trying to take it all in, so she certainly didn’t know the answers, and for once she didn’t know what to say to give him some reassurance.

Jake silently watched Gemma trying to get her head around his problems, He didn’t really expect her to have all the answers… not this time. Besides this just wasn’t about bearing his soul over what happened in the past, this was also about his future.

He downed the rest of his drink, before putting the glass on the floor again, knowing his next words were only going to bring more confrontation. But he needed to know Gemma’s true feelings for him, whether they were good or bad, then at least he knew where he stood with her.

“I am sorry, I shouldn’t have brought all this up, it’s not a good time. I guess I will just have deal with the problem when it happens in the future. After all when that time comes around, you will probably be living it up somewhere in Australia, so it won‘t even be your concern anymore” he reminded her pointedly.

Gemma now gaped at him in disbelief, that he was actually going there, and stung by his remark, “Jake that’s hardly fair, you make it sound as if I am just going to clear off, and not care what happens with you and Ellie, and that’s not true.” she objected.

“Well what else am I expected to think? When you want to travel across the other side of the world, and won’t be there for us,” Jake replied gruffly, shooting a side glance at Gemma, and seeing the angry indignation grow in her eyes.

“I don’t believe it!” she exclaimed, “I mean you really have the nerve to have a go at me like this. All I am doing is what you did over five years ago, looking out for myself now. It’s not like you were there for me, when I needed you” she finished heatedly before she could stop herself.

And there it was at last. her true feelings, just as he had suspected all along.

Jake grabbed her hand now, clutching it tightly as his eyes met hers, “I didn’t know Gem,” he then said quietly, “I didn’t know how much you needed me, you were always the strong one, but that was my mistake. I was so busy trying to be Caroline Saviour, I never noticed what was going on under my nose where you were concerned. You were just as vulnerable as the rest of us, and I should have been there for you”

“We have already been through all these before,” Gemma pointed out wearily, refusing to meet his eyes, “It’s all in the past, it doesn’t matter now”

“Yet it does, obviously to you, after what you just said” Jake reminded her.

“You made me angry, I didn’t mean it” she argued weakly.

“Yes, you did, and you are right, I wasn’t there for you, and I don’t blame you for not trusting me now, but all I am asking is for a chance to make it up to you, to make things right between us” He set his guitar aside so he could move closer to her.

“Please Gemma, I happily admit I messed up going off with Caroline, but it was you that I always loved and cared about, only I wasn’t brave enough at the time to take that chance. I didn't believe I could make you happy back then. But I should have trusted in what we had together, and I could make it work, instead of running away from it.” Jake was in full flow, pouring out his heart and everything he had wanted to say to her for a while.

Getting his sister Fiona to agree to take Ellie away with them that afternoon, had made it impossible for Gemma to use her as an excuse to escape, as she had done on previous occasions. Plus, in the den there was no other room she could go away to.

Jake had made sure this time, she was going to hear him out.

“We can’t get back the past, and it’s no good dwelling on the what ifs” Gemma then pointed out, “anyway, you were probably right, we might not have made it work back then, the situations we were in, it was impossible” she insisted.

“But I could have tried to still be part of your life someway, that’s what is really the crux of the matter” Jake pointed out quietly, “Then you might not feel like you have to shut people out, and go it alone, because you are scared they will leave or desert you again”

Despite trying to keep it together, tears betrayingly started forming in Gemma’s eyes, much to her dismay. Wrenching her hand free from his, she stood up with her back to him, so he couldn’t see how upset she was.

“Why are you doing all this to me now Jake?” she demanded unsteadily.

“Because you are leaving me with no other choice,” Jake replied, also getting up, and coming over to stand in front of her, “You can’t keep running away from me Gem, we have to sort this out”

“There isn’t anything to sort out,” Gemma replied dully.

“Yes, there is,” Jake insisted with sincerity in his blue eyes, “I care about you, and you care about me, in more than a friendship way too. Why are you trying to deny it?”

“Because one of us has to be rationale about this,” she replied shakily, “You are not thinking straight. Obviously, you have been through a lot these last few months, and now you think I am the answer to your problems, but I am not. It would be a mistake”

“It would be a bigger mistake if we missed this chance” Jake replied softly.

“What is it I have to do to convince you Gemma? I told you I should have chosen you over Caroline in the beginning, and that I made a mistake” he reminded her in desperation, “ I gladly admit it, I screwed up where you were concerned, and I have suffered for that mistake. But must we both keep on paying for it still?”

“It's not only that,” Gemma now admitted, feeling the tears starting to trickle down her cheeks, “I am just scared. You always seem to need me when things go bad in your life, like when you lost your mother, and now all this with Caroline. But one day you will probably look at me, and see how dull and boring I am, compared to someone like Tanya, and then you will realise you made a mistake and regret it. I don’t want to risk it, I can‘t” she finished with a small sob.

Jake frowned bewildered by Gemma‘s reasoning, which didn‘t make any sense to him, his hands grabbed her shoulders as he looked into her tearstained face.

“Why would I want to be with Tanya? she is just a friend, I have no interest in her that way"

“W-well maybe not Tanya exactly, but someone like her,” Gemma replied, wiping her eyes and bowing her head, “I can’t compare to all those glamourous women that come into your life, I am not even going to try” she sniffed.

Much to her chagrin, Jake started to laugh, making her look up at him again in bewilderment why he found it so funny.

“Oh Gemma!” he exclaimed at the ridiculousness of that particular worry in his eyes. He now enveloping her in his arms in a tight hug, “You won’t have to try competing with any other woman no matter how glamourous they are, because I already know, the only woman I have ever wanted is you,” He pulled away so he could look into her face again, “It’s always been you, and if you give me a chance, I can prove it” he pleaded

“C’mon,” he spoke in his most persuasive tone, as he watched her wavering now, “Jake and Gemma, Gemma and Jake, they sound right together. and it has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” he smiled teasingly.

“You are crazy,” Gemma persisted unsteadily, trying to keep it together and try not to smile, but finding it hard, especially the way he was looking at her with such warmth and adoration in his eyes, and the feel of his arms around her, “You have always been crazy!”
Even as she tried to remain defiant, He felt her body betrayingly relax against his, the fight leaving her.

“I am even crazier now, for you,” he murmured huskily, his lips daring to meet hers. When they offered no resistance, he kissed her, a long arduous kiss, to let her know how much he meant what he had said.

“Don’t leave me Gem. Stay, I need you, and Ellie needs you, so be part of our lives. let me make you happy, and make it up to you” he then pleaded.

“But I can’t go on being your nanny under these circumstances” Gemma pointed out dazedly, still recovering from the onslaught of Jakes mouth, and the feelings it arose in her, it was hard for her to think straight.

“Idiot,” he chuckled softly, kissing her briefly again, “I don’t want you to stay be my nanny, I want you to be my wife”

Gemma just looked up at him, not sure she was hearing right.

She opened her mouth, but no words came out. She was suddenly overcome with a mixture of emotions, mostly disbelief that he was proposing to her, but still not sure if he was being completely serious.

Seeing this, Jake decided the best way to convince her he meant it, was to kiss her again with even more passion than he had done previously.

When he finally managed to release his hold on her lips, he gave a small involuntary shudder, trying to reign in his desire for her, and control himself.

“I love you Gem. I want you to marry me, and I promise, I will never leave you again whilst I‘ve got a breath in my body. You just have to trust me, it’s going to be alright this time,” he said quietly, but with as much conviction as he could muster, squeezing her to him again.

“Oh Jake!” Her voice wobbled, as the tears started to stream down her face, again and she now started sobbing into his chest,

Despite the tears, Jake found some comfort and a glimmer of hope, because she was not pushing him away any longer, or trying to escape. Instead she was clinging to him tightly, as if she didn’t want to let him go.

He decided this had to be a good sign,

When he kissed her again, she happily kissed him back, making his heart soar, as he realised he had managed to start breaking down those protective walls she had built up around herself over the last five years.

And at last, he had finally felt like he had won that battle for her heart.

The End
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