The little stranger chapter 9

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War Child
Dec 2, 2003
been brought down with a stomach bug, which was why it took this long to post this chapter

If Gemma had thought the drive to Jakes’s father’s house had been a little tense, coming away again a few hours later, it hung heavily in the air. Jake was unusually silent as they drove home, Ellie had fallen asleep in the back.

Although no more was said about Caroline, and they passed the next forty odd minutes making mostly small talk with Bob Kavanagh, who decided to be on his best behaviour after his outburst. Jake tried to put on a front, as if nothing had happened, but Gemma could tell now as she sat next in the car with him, that he was not a happy man.

“Sorry, I wasn’t such a great distraction after all,” she now spoke up with a rueful smile
“It’s ok,” Jake replied, “You still managed to nip it in the bud, before it got really ugly thankfully”

As much as Gemma was really curious about what Jake had said about Caroline, she knew this was not the time to pry, so she decided to talk about the other thing that was on her mind.

“Can I ask you what happened with you and the band, why you split up? I mean, I read about it in the media, when it happened, but I don’t think I can recall if it was for a specific reason” she then frowned

“Well I guess there wasn’t one specific reason,” Jake looked thoughtful as he decided how to answer, her query, “Just a lot of reasons, different things happening at the time, the stress of being together all the time touring and making albums, it affected us all different ways. Then we all wanted different things which caused arguments and disagreements which way we wanted to go, In the end Ken, decided he wanted to hang up the drumsticks and concentrate on his new wife and family. He couldn’t deal with it the pressure of it all, and he didn’t think it was worth the hassle anymore. So, after that, the rest of us, more or less decided not to go on together, as we were doing more fighting, than making music”

“Oh, I am so sorry it ended in such a bad way between the five of you, it must have been really hard at the time” Gemma realised sadly

“Yeah, it was,” Jake reiterated, “Which I was glad in a way, you were not around to see it. But it's all water under the bridge now, the guys all rallied around me and supported me for Caroline's funeral. So, we kind of made up, and agreed to let bygones be bygones, that was one thing I was happy about, and we are all in talking terms again” he finished in a more upbeat note.

“Well, at least something good came out of the tragic event.” Gemma felt a little relieved that at least something was going right for Jake.

“True,” Jake forced himself to smile and keep up his cheerful demeaner for Gemma’s sake. He had skimmed over a lot of the details that had led to the band’s demise, not letting her know how ugly it had gotten at times, between him and some of the others band members.

He had particularly left out that Caroline had been the catalyst for some of those problems. After they had married, he thought she might settle down when showed he was committing himself to her, trying to offer her stability. But that was before he knew how deep her problems ran.

She knew the other members of the band were not keen on her, but rather than try and get along with them, she would do the opposite and provoke them. It was like she was always trying to test his loyalty between them. And he probably would have ended up finishing with her, had he not found out during one of their many arguments over her behaviour, about the abuse she had suffered by her father, and what had happened to her.

She had been on the verge of suicide even then, threatening to cut her wrists after Jake told her he couldn’t deal with her behaviour anymore. He had caught her in the bathroom and managed to take the razor out from her hand, when she kept babbling and sobbing incoherently about being a bad evil person who was going to burn in hell for what she done.
Jake realised she wasn’t talking about upsetting him or the band, and he finally got the horrifying truth from her, what her father had been doing to her, how she had tried to tell her mother, who then blamed her, and told her she must not mention it to anyone, or talk about it because she was a bad girl who caused her father to do bad things to her.

Jake had felt sick and angry, he had wanted to find Caroline's parents and expose them. But Caroline was too scared, and too ashamed. She had begged and pleaded with him not to tell anyone. In the end he had agreed because she had been hysterical brainwashed into thinking she would burn in hell.

But carrying that dark secret by himself had its price, so that when Caroline went off the rails and he stood by her, and defended her, it had caused a friction between him and the others and their friendship was splintered, It had been a heavy burden on his shoulders, which had almost led him to rely on alcohol to get him through the day.

His manager, seeing the path he was going down, intervened. The break-up of the band, had been the final straw for Jake, he knew he was heading down the same dark hole as his wife, but he decided to do something about it before he spiralled further, and sought counselling and help.

He had encouraged Caroline to do the same. And for a while she did try, but it didn’t last long.

Jake took refuge in his music to help him recover. He realised now, Caroline had left him because she knew that she would only bring him down again, also she couldn’t stand seeing the pity in his eyes, because that was all was left that he could feel for her.

Now glancing round at Gemma, he knew he could have told her all this, and she would be sympathetic and understanding and supportive. So it wasn’t that he didn’t trust her. But that was not what he wanted right now. She had always been his ‘go-to’ person when he was troubled, but not this time.

After all, it was just too soon. She had just come back into his life, and was now taking care of his daughter, which was more than he deserved, after he had just lost touch with her and had made very little effort into trying to keep in contact, or find out how she was doing.
He was not going to dump her with all the rest of his hang ups and problems, and insecurities it just didn’t seem right. Though he knew that sometime in the future, he probably would let her know all the murky details at some stage, he owed her that much.

But right now, he just wanted to show Gemma he was going to be there for her for a change, and prove to her how much she meant to him. He wouldn’t take her for granted as he had done when they were younger, and though couldn’t get back those lost years, he could surely make up for them.

Her calming presence with him today, visiting his father, after the little spat between them, had helped Jake far more than Gemma would ever realise, and he really did appreciate her more than ever. He just wanted her to realise that, without putting any more pressure on her.


It was almost a week since they visited Jake’s father, and although Gemma had not exactly approved how Bob Kavanagh tackled his son on his life, there had been one issue and concern that had she had familiar train of thought with him, even before the visit even happened. And that was about how much time Jake had spent with his daughter.

But after Bob had mentioned it, it had brought it once again to the forefront of Gemma’s mind as well.

After his outburst with his father, Gemma had no wish to antagonize Jake any further, but at the same time she felt she should say something before he went away on his tour.
She understood he was busy, getting ready for the tour and the album being released, but that was not the problem.

She had noticed since she had started to look after Ellie, that Jake seem to shy away from getting too involved with his daughter, and spending time with her and sometimes she had the feeling he was using the excuse of his busy workload to avoid it. Gemma wasn’t even sure Jake was consciously aware that he was even doing it.

One morning Gemma had been trying to encourage Jake to engage more with his daughter, suggesting he could feed her breakfast, but he had just looked alarmed at the prospect of it, and claimed he was worried he might make her choke. When Gemma had laughed his concerns off, he then had made a hurried excuse he really didn’t have the time.

It was then it hit Gemma that she believed Jake still felt nervous around his daughter and didn’t know how to deal with all this fatherhood business, so he was happy enough leaving her in the care of others, feeling they were better qualified. Just coming in occasionally giving her a quick kiss and a cuddle.

Knowing he needed to bond with his daughter, if they were ever going to have a proper relationship, Gemma felt it needed to be done sooner than later. She just wasn’t sure how he was going to take it when she got the chance to sit him down and talk about it.

Getting the chance to talk about it was another thing, as he was always on the go and surrounded by people as usual. In the end Gemma decided drastic measures had to be taken by sending him a text message telling him it was urgent that she spoke to him about Ellie in private, before he went off on his tour

It got his attention, he messaged back asking if everything was ok, and that if it was urgent, he could spare a few hours that evening.

She texted back that that would do just fine, and she would discuss it further when she seen him face to face.

Her message was enough to intrigue him to turn up a little earlier at his house, just as she was bathing Ellie.

Jake looked openly concerned, “How is she, is she ok?” he queried his brow creased with worry

“Oh, she is fine, enjoying her bath, and she loves the bubbles” Gemma replied cheerfully grabbing a handful of the suds and setting them on Ellie’s damp head, she immediately reached up gurgling with joy trying to wipe them of her head. making Gemma chuckle at her antics, although inside she was now a little apprehensive, in case Jake thought she was interfering where she had no right to, by pulling this stunt.

Jake now looked a little confused, “When you texted me earlier, I thought she was sick, or something was wrong with her, especially when you said it was urgent. What is going on?”
“This.” Gemma replied gesturing to Ellie sitting splashing in the bath, “This is the of the kind of thing you are missing out on with your daughter?”

Jake’s frown deepened, “You think its urgent that I watch my daughter in the bath?” that’s why you got me to come here, to talk to me about?

“Look, I am sorry if I got you worried, and thinking something was wrong with Ellie,” Gemma then apologised, deciding to get down to the nitty gritty, “But yeah, what I have to say is urgent and important, and you need to hear it before you go on your tour"

“OK.” Jake replied gingerly, feeling like he was about to get a scolding judging by Gemma’s tone, but he just wasn’t sure what he had done wrong.

Let me get her out of the bath and dressed, and then we can talk in the nursery,” Gemma said, “You might want to pour yourself a drink while you are waiting” she added in good humour.

“Yeah, I think I might just do that,” Jake replied, “I have a feeling I am going to need it”
When Gemma carried Ellie into the nursery a little while later, all freshened up and dressed in her sleep suit, Jake was casually pacing around the room holding his drink, still frowning trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Gemma had taken the opportunity to brace herself for what she had to say to him. and how she would go about saying it, without him feeling guilty, or getting upset about it.
“So, what is this big urgent problem that is so important?” He stood now, his arms wide apart outstretched by his sides, letting her know he was open and ready to whatever was coming his way whilst his blue eyes piercing her expectedly

“The problem, is I think you need to be more involved in your daughter’s life a little more” Gemma replied gently

Jake just looked more bewildered, “What do you mean, more involved, I am involved as much as I can be at the moment, I am rather occupied with things at the moment like this tour and my new album, that’s why I needed to hire you so urgently remember?” he pointed out a little defensively

“I understand that,” Gemma replied in her most reasonable tone “And of course all that is very important to you, and needs to be done, there is no denying that” she paused now, to think how she could put her next words, “It’s just, even with all that on your plate, I think it would be good for Ellie if you could somehow make the time, to be with her a bit more as well. She needs you”

Jake seem to find this slightly amusing, letting out a small laugh “I don’t see how, it's not like she is neglected. She has you and Fiona always fussing over her, besides which, she is what? Six months old? It’s not going to make much difference to her if I am around right now or not” he counter argued

“Well that’s where you are wrong,” Gemma replied, “She might have me and Fiona, but you are her father.” she added pointedly.

You really don’t have to remind me” Jake’s tone was a little brittle, as he took a swig from his glass, “and despite what you think, I do care and want the best for her. That why I was glad you agreed to be her Nanny” he then said

“I know that,” Gemma said, “And right now, I am trying to do what is best for you and Ellie.” Her tone softened again as she continued

I have no doubt in my mind you care about her, and the most important thing is that she knows it, and now you can build a good relationship with her.”

Gemma paused before making her next point, letting Jake take in what she was saying,

“You have already missed out on the first few months of her life, because you didn‘t even know about her. Then since she has come into your life, I don’t think you haven’t had a chance to be with her as much as you should. Soon you will be going off on this tour for about three months. She will almost be one year old by that time” she then reminded him, trying to make him understand how much he was missing out in her life

Jake digested what Gemma was trying to tell him, then huffed out a weary sigh, before taking another drink from his glass.

“I guess you could have a point. It's just really hard. y’know, most other fathers have about seven months' notice at least to prepare them. I only had two days, then into the bargain I had to handle Caroline’s death. and it doesn’t help that sometimes when I look at Ellie, I see Caroline staring back at me, and I just can’t deal with it,” he admitted a little despondently.

“I know, and it is understandable that’s the way you feel,” Gemma replied sympathetically as she could, realising her suspicions were proving true, as far as Jake was concerned.

“It hasn’t been easy for you these last lot of months after everything has happened, and I can understand how you found it easier burying yourself on your work with your album, than having to think about what was happening. But I want you to try and get something positive from it all Gemma pointed out,

“Developing a good relationship with your daughter now, is going to be a positive thing. Believe it or not, these are the most important years to cement that bond, because before you know it, she will be all grown up, and you will be practically strangers. And I don‘t think you would be happy with that.”

Gemma could see he was thinking hard on what she was telling him, as he stared into the glass, his brow creased thoughtfully

“I don’t know where or when to start, I‘ve messed it up so much already,” he then sighed
“It’s still not too late,” Gemma reassured him. “All I am saying is, try and make the time to be with her a bit more, before you go away on your tour. Spend some quality time together, so you can bond with her, and she knows who you are”

She now used her ultimate weapon as she continued, “You are always troubled by your relationship with your own father, and how the two of you never get on. And I know you wished at times it could be better. I just don’t want to see that happening with your daughter as well” she finished with a small encouraging smile.

Jake knocked back the rest of his drink, now looking round at her with a small dry smile, “You are right of course Gem, I guess I have been in denial where Ellie is concerned, because the thought of being a father to her, scares the hell out of me. And I just didn’t want to deal with it. But that’s not going to make things alright for her, or me,” he admitted a little grudgingly

Gemma found herself inwardly sagging with relief. She was just glad that Jake was not going to get mad at her, and at least was agreeing there was a problem. But best of all, he wanted to do something about it.

“I am just glad you understand I am not trying to stick my oar in, and criticize you as a father, or tread on your toes” she then said, “that was never my intention”

“I know that Gem,” He shot her another smile, then he came over, taking Ellie from her arms holding her up in front of him, “Well that’s me well and truly put in my place young lady” he grinned, “I just hope I am up to the challenge” he then added now hugging and cuddling her closer to him, trying to quell down his anxiety.

As if sensing this, Gemma reached out and rubbed his arm supportively smiling.

“I know you can do it” she told him, confidently.

“I think this calls for a group hug” Jake held out his arm to embrace Gemma as well, and she happily let him embrace her, glad it had turned out just as she hoped.
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