Life After Dark
Chapter 7

Tommy looked at his reflection in the mirror. His clean shaven face stared back at him, and for the zillionth time that night, he wondered what he was doing. Why was he getting ready to go to a dance club of all places while his mother lay in a hospital bed?

He pulled his black socks from the dresser drawer and moved to sit on the bed. As he quickly put on his socks and shoes, he thought about his earlier session with Gail.

He told her that he remembered the fairy tale book and that he remembered most of the stories that were in there. As usual, she asked him how did remembering make him feel. And in his usual response, he mumbled that he didn't know. Remembering didn't make him feel anything. As soon as he said the words, he knew he was lying.

Remembering made him feel a lot of things, but mostly it made him feel scared. In order to cope with the prison-like accommodations, Tommy had forced himself to forget. As a young boy, he didn't realize that by making himself forget, he was building up walls. Walls which were necessary for him to survive in hell, but weren't necessary when he was released.

But, was he really released? No, Tommy thought, as he moved to take his shirt off the hanger. He would never be released. As long as he lived, the memories of being held against his will and watching his mother slowly wither away before him, would live with him for the rest of his life.

At the thought of how sickly Simone had become before he made his daring escape, Tommy roughly flung the shirt onto the bed. Running his fingers through his short, brown wavy hair, he turned to stare sightlessly out of his window into the starry night. As he released a deep sigh, he prayed that his mother would come back to him soon. He didnít know if he would be able to continue to go on if she didn't. He wasnít sure if he would want to.

His mind was a million miles away, as his bedroom door opened.

"Why aren't you dressed, yet? Gina will be here soon."

"Haven't you ever heard on knocking, Elizabeth Webber?" Tommy asked, turning to face his cousin.

"No, I haven't Thomas Hardy, Junior," Lizzie replied, teasingly. She noticed the unshed tears that gleamed Tommy's eyes and asked, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Tommy said, moving to grab his shirt. He looked at the shirt he held and then looked at her. Shaking his head, he said, "I'm not too sure about this. Maybe I should just go back to the hospital."

"I'm sure that you should go. You need a break. Now, give me that," Lizzie said, taking the shirt from him. She held it open for him and continued, "Put your arms through. That's it. You're coming with us, and for a little while, you're going to have some fun."

"Fun. What's fun about listening to a bunch of loud music and then getting hit by people who can't dance," Tommy grumbled.

"Well, when you put it that way, nothing. But, it won't be like that. You've heard them play. They sound great. And you if you know what to watch for, you won't get hit by dancing people," Lizzie said, moving away from him to lean against the dresser.

Tommy mumbled as he buttoned his shirt, "Sure. Tell me anything."

~*~

The pep talk which began in her room above Kelley's and continued through the ride over to the Hardy home, and while she waited for someone to answer the doorbell, did little to soothe Gina's apprehension.

She was nervous. She must have chosen and discarded at least a dozen dresses before she decided on the silver halter-top dress she wore. Her hair had seen half a dozen different hair styles, too, before Keesha convinced her that the French Roll was right for the dress and for her. Luckily, the shoes weren't so hard to decide upon. The matching silver sandals were the perfect choice to go with the dress and she felt comfortable wearing the platform shoes. From the stares she received as she went to her car, she knew she looked nice. But even knowing that, she couldn't prevent the butterflies from fluttering around in her stomach.

She nearly jumped out of her skin when the door suddenly opened to reveal Audrey.

"Good evening, Gina," Audrey said, moving aside to give her room to come in. "You look very lovely this evening."

Gina smiled as she walked into the Hardy home. "Thank you, Mrs. Hardy."

"Please have a seat. I'll tell them that you're here."

"That won't be necessary, Gram. I heard the doorbell," Lizzie said. Looking at Gina, she added, "Hi, Gina. You look great. Your hair is perfect. The dress is nice, too."

Gina smiled and nervously patted her hair. "You look great, too, Lizzie."

Lizzie smiled and said, "Why, thank you."

Tonight, Lizzie was dressed in a mauve cat suit. She wore matching mauve colored platform sandals which added an inch to her petite frame. Her hair encircled her face in soft brown curls and a pair of silver mini hoops dangled from her ears.

"We'll be ready to go as soon as Tommy stops primping in the mirror," Lizzie said with a grin.

"Lizzie, stop teasing your cousin," Audrey said with a small smile. Her two grandchildren had developed a warm relationship. Lizzie often teased Tommy and even though, Audrey had a few misgivings about it, Tommy didnít seem to mind at all.

"It's okay, Grandmother. I'm used to it. Besides, she knows that what goes around, comes around," Tommy said as he came down the stairs. Dressed in black dress pants and a dark green button down shirt which set off his eyes, Tommy was a handsome sight.

"Those sound like fighting words, partner," Lizzie said, laughing.

"That's because they ar-"

Tommy stopped in mid-sentence when his eyes fell upon Gina as she sat on the sofa. He couldn't believe his eyes. He had never seen her look so beautiful before.

Gina became self-conscious at Tommy's perusal and deciding to laugh it off, said, "It's not polite to stare."

Tommy blushed and placed his hands into his pockets. As he walked towards her, he gruffly said, "Sorry. You look very nice tonight, Gina."

Gina shyly smiled and said, "Thanks. So do you."

Lizzie locked her arm through Tommy's and said, "Can we go now? I want to see Lucky before they go onstage."

"Sure. I'm ready," Tommy said. He held out his hand to Gina and said, "Ready?"

Gina nodded and took his hand. Their hands touched longer than necessary as an electric current passed between them. Not sure as to what exactly was happening, Tommy dropped her hand and pulled Lizzie towards the front door.

Gina felt the current, too, and was just as embarrassed as Tommy was. The touch of his hand on hers felt almost hypnotic and she didnít know what to make of it. Grabbing her purse from the sofa, she followed the cousins to the door.

Lizzie went outside to claim her seat in the car while Tommy waited for Gina at the door. Green eyes locked on hazel eyes as they paused to look at each other. The current passed between them again and they both looked away.

Gina turned to Audrey and said, "Goodnight, Mrs. Hardy."

When Gina moved passed him, Tommy smiled at Audrey and said, "Goodnight, Grandmother. After the band plays, Gina's taking me back to the hospital. I'll probably spend the night there, again."

"I really wish you wouldn't," Audrey said with a worried frown.

Tommy went back to his grandmother and planted a kiss on her cheek. He said, "I know, but I have to. Goodnight."

"Have a good time tonight," Audrey said, as Tommy moved back to the door. He turned towards her and smiled at her. Then, he went through the door and closed it behind him.

Chapter 8

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