I love that everyone is so immersed in this story and anxious to see how it turns out. Even I'm anxious to see how it turns out (writing wise I mean). My only hope is that I do not disappoint you readers because at the end of the day if you stopped reading I would have no reason to write. I know I make it difficult but thanks a bunch for sticking with me through the drama thus far.
23 – There's a Shark in the Water
Metro Court - Brooke-Lynn's POV – August 2nd
This summer was turning out to be one of the best in a very long time without me having to put too much effort into making it happen. The universe was smiling favorably upon me, and everything was falling into place better than I could have expected. Who knew a few pictures would have done so much damage. As luck would have it, when I was returning to Port Charles I happened to see Johnny and Lulu at JFK trying to make it through the crowd of travelers. Rendezvousing with your best friend's boyfriend, how selfish could you be? I thought. Being the upstanding concerned citizen I am, I decided it was my duty to give Maxie a heads up on what her boyfriend and best friend were doing behind her back. Anonymously from an internet café computer of course, because there was no way she would believe it if she knew the pictures were from me. That fact that the pictures would piss her off was retaliation for the brawl at Jakes, and putting a dent in her relationships with Lulu and Johnny was the bonus. Divide and conquer!
What I did not expect was for Dante to get his hands on the pictures. This was just supposed to be payback for Maxie and Lulu with the possibility of Johnny as the prize, but things quickly spiraled out of control causing Dante and Lulu to implode instead. Lulu was no good for Dante anyway so there was no love lost for me with the demise of that relationship. In fact I had actually done Dante a really big favor; I felt bad for lying to his face, but it was for his own good. Although Maxie was trying to stir up trouble with her big mouth, Dante was too hurt and angry to see beyond those pictures. Thank God he had inherited the Corinthos deadly sin of pride, for that alone would not allow him to forgive Lulu. Plus I was one of his oldest friends. Without solid proof he would never believe Lulu and Maxie over me. I still had to work on breaking up Johnny and Maxie, but if that failed it was nice to have Dante still in my corner without Lulu to undermine everything. A total win-win situation for me.
It was a cloudless day with the sun out in all its glorious brilliance like my mood, so I treated myself to lunch at the Metro Court then decided to top it off by adding some annoyance to Maxie and Lulu's day.
I approached the elevators intending to go to Crimson, when the day got even better and Johnny stepped off. "Hey stranger." I said with a million dollar smile, very thankful I had decided to wear a skirt today. He would have a good view of what a real woman with legs looked like rather than that short, anorexic twit.
"Brooke – Lynn, it's been a while. I didn't know you were still in town." He mentioned.
My eyes scanned him from top to bottom lustfully. The things I would love to do with that body and the things I would let him do to me.
With a flick of the wrist, I casually dismissed the prospect of me leaving town. "I'm from Bensonhurst sweetie, it takes more than a little bar fight to scare me off."
A wry smirk formed on his lips, "I'll keep than in mind." And the temperature within me rose a few degrees. My goodness he is gorgeous.
"Good! Because I think we got off on the wrong foot with that mess at Jakes. Even though I'm not fans of Maxie and Lulu, there's no reason you and I can't be friends." Taking a step closer, I reached out to adjust he collar of his shirt, allowing my fingers to stray to the back of his neck then slowly trace downward. "Very good friends." My voice purred with suggested seduction.
Johnny's gaze maintained mine and my entire body tingled from the bad boy sexiness he exuded. I could stay like this all day. He grabbed both my wrist that were now resting against his shoulders and easily put them back at my side. "Goodbye Brooke-Lynn." Then walked away.
Disappointed but not deterred, I watched him leave the hotel. Maybe swaying him from Maxie would be a little more difficult than I thought. Difficult but not impossible; I simply needed to use the right bait.
Crimson's office was quiet, making the sound of my heels on the floor louder than usual. Lulu was not at her desk, though her purse was still there so she must have been close by. Maxie on the other hand was vigilantly typing until I approached the desk. Her eyes shifted towards me for a brief moment, then returned to the computer screen without acknowledgement. "Note to self: Remind Kate to talk to Carly and Jax about better security; they're letting trash in the building." She mentioned snidely, still typing.
"Someone could use a little customer server training." I commented with a grin. No one could get on my nerves with the fabulous day I was having, but it was oh so easy to get on Maxie's. Even more so that Lulu was not around to subdue her. "I just came to tell you thanks for running to Dante to tattle on me. It turns out you did me a huge favor because now our friendship is stronger than ever and there's an even bigger wedge between him and Lulu."
Maxie finally stopped typing to look up at me. Her eyes narrowed to slits but she held it together and simply glared at me "I wouldn't get too cocky if I were you. You're bound to make a mistake and when you do I'll be right there to make sure everyone knows what a conniving little bitch you really are."
"And if I were you I would worry more about keeping my man rather than getting involved in other people's relationships." Leaning against Lulu's desk, I fiddled with a small snow globe paperweight acting as if Maxie and I were two girlfriends having a friendly chat. In a way I really might be doing her a favor. Maybe there was something actually going on between Johnny and Lulu – I doubted it because Lulu appeared to be hung up on Dante, and Johnny was clearly into Maxie – but you never know. Either way by the time I was done insinuating and speculating, I was counting on Maxie to be her own worst enemy and derail her relationship. "Don't you find it the tiniest bit strange that your best friend and your boyfriend are so cozy? The men who leave Lulu do have a track record for wanting her back: Dillon, Logan, even Dante misses her. Johnny might be having that Lulu itch, and poor, lonely, heartbroken Lulu is in a perfect position to take care of that for him." I shook my head the notion as if it were utterly ridiculous to even think such a thing. "What am I talking about; you and Lulu are the best of friends. You would never try to steal each other's boyfriends. And I'm sure Lulu would never dream of getting back at you for any of the stuff you did to her before you two were friends."
The seeds of doubt had been planted and no matter how confident and sure Maxie was pretending to be, one innocent glance between Johnny and Lulu could germinate those seeds into paranoia and mistrust.
"Get out before I push out… through a window." She seethed.
The smile never left my face as I shrugged unfazed by the empty threat, then went to the elevator. "Enjoy your day." To add one final touch that would surely make her combust, I held the doors for a moment to deliver a few parting words. "By the way, I saw Johnny earlier and we had a great talk about getting to know each other and becoming friends. He's such a flirt though, and that smile was enough to set the place on fire."
"Get OUT!" Maxie all but screamed, and I removed my hand to wave tauntingly as the elevator doors closed.
Mission accomplished! This was way too easy.
[b]Park - Lulu's POV – August 8th[/b]
One would think that today of all days I could at least allow narcissism to prevail, but Dante was still the focus of my thoughts. That lost forlorn image he had before leaving the apartment was not sitting well with me; in fact it was starting to worry me. He wanted to believe me, I could see it, but the doubt, jealousy and his friendship with Brooke-Lynn were winning. I shook my head in disbelief at how vindictive that girl was. After the stunts I pulled with Dillon God knows I was far from a saint, but I would never set out to hurt someone as close to me as Dante is to her. There were just some lines that should not be crossed, but apparently Brooke-Lynn had no regards for moral lines. Nonetheless, I had no intention of begging or pleading with Dante to believe me. A relationship needed trust to survive, so if Dante did not trust me we would be doomed from the start.
Sitting on one of the park benches, I lazily savored a small cup of cookies and cream ice cream on yet another hot summer day. I never really planned much when it came to my birthday, but when Dante and I got closer I allowed myself to fantasize that we would spend the day together in our happy bubble. Oh how times quickly changed. Even though I could not spend the day with Dante, I had my best friend and was very grateful because she was making a valiant effort to ensure I enjoyed the day. She treated me to breakfast this morning, insisting I wear a ridiculous pink tiara that said 'birthday princess'. At first I refused, deeming it childish, but she swore it would make me feel fabulous so I relented. I had to admit it was nice having everyone who passed wish me well.
I got up to throw away the empty ice cream container when Johnny came towards me from the opposite direction. "Hey, happy birthday." He greeted.
"Thanks." I replied surprised that he actually remembered, but then I followed his eyes to the pink tiara still sitting atop my head and quickly pulled it off. "I forgot I was still wearing that."
He chuckled lightly in response to my embarrassed reaction. "I'm glad I ran into you. I've been meaning to talk to you about something. Give me a call when you have time."
My interest was piqued. Johnny and I had not had any in depth conversations in a long time, and whatever he wanted to talk about seemed important. Did Maxie tell him about the pictures? Was he mad? Were they having problems because of it? It was bad enough that my relationship with Dante was ruined; I did not want the effects to trickle down to Johnny and Maxie. This was the first time in a very long time I had seen her genuinely happy so I did not want to be a part of anything that would threaten that happiness.
"I have time now."
We took a seat on the bench I was sitting on previously and I waited anxiously for him to talk. "Maxie is a handful, and half the time she drives me crazy but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love her and I can't see my life without her in it so I want to do something special to show her how much she means to me. Since you're her best friend I'm pretty sure you would have some insight that I don't, so I was hoping you'd help me plan something really special."
Happiness, relief and longing flooded my soul all at once. I was overjoyed to hear the love and surety Johnny felt for Maxie. They exemplified a solid force, impenetrable against whatever power that conspired to destroy them, and I would be lying if I said I did not wish night after night to hear those same words come from Dante about me. I swallowed the lump forming in my throat. Today is my birthday; I am not going to cry. I'm done crying. I chided myself.
Determined to hold it together – if not for me then for Maxie - I took a deep breath and willed myself to focus on helping Johnny plan an amazing time for her. She deserved this. "Of course I'll help in any way I can. Are you proposing?"
"I'm thinking about it, but I know how much getting her career on track means to her so I'd be okay with waiting until she's ready. I just want her to know I'm all in with her. Maxie is it for me." He revealed with so much conviction that I wished Maxie was here to hear how lucky she was to have a man who trusted and loved her without reservation. Why couldn't I have that? Why couldn't Dante simply trust me? Gosh I sounded pathetic. "There are a few things I liked at the jewelry store but it would be great if you could take a look at them and give me your opinion. I know you have a lot going on, so whenever you have the time."
Johnny tactfully skirted about my marital status even though it was no secret Dante and I were separated. In a small town like Port Charles, news travelled very fast and it did not take a neon sign for the people in our circle of friends and family to realize we were no longer living together. "What did Maxie tell you?" I asked, still curious if she may have told him what was really happening between Dante and me; especially since he was inadvertently part of the problem.
"She didn't give me the details, she just came over to my place one night ranting about Brooke-Lynn trying to destroy our lives and I need to stay away from her."
"You should stay away from her!" I snapped, feeling my blood heat at just the sound of her name. Since Brooke was determined to slither her way into our lives like the snake she was, I decided to give Johnny a heads up without revealing too much information. "Maxie suspects Brooke-Lynn is trying to make it look like something is going on with us to break up me and Dante."
Johnny rolled his eyes, most likely finding the thought of us getting back together as absurd as the grass turning blue and the sky turning green. We were incompatible as lovers, and had no desire to ever go down that road again. How is it that everyone realized that except Dante? "You know I can't stand the guy but I'll talk to him if it helps you out." He offered.
"I appreciate that but if Dante doesn't trust me, we don't stand a chance." Although I missed him so much, I was not going to explain myself over and over like a broken record when I did nothing wrong. I said my piece and it was up to him to figure out the rest on his own. "Now let's go shopping." I told Johnny, jumping to my feet with as much enthusiasm as I had.
He wanted to say more but I shook my head refusing to rehash what was already broken. Instead we exited the park and I found myself getting excited at the plans already formulating in my mind, and welcoming the distraction this project would bring. If I could not make my relationship work, the least I could do was help two friends solidify theirs. That had to count for some kind of good karma, then maybe the universe would finally give me a break and allow me to be happy once and for all.
My mother unfortunately found out that Lulu and I were on the outs, most likely from Carly, and had been calling me or showing up unannounced every waking minute to interrogate me on what happened. Refusing to give up any information, I reasoned it as a temporary thing and abruptly ended the conversation until she got the hint to butt out. I was not in the mood to do anything - least of all work or talk to my mother - so I opted for spending the day on the streets of Port Charles' main shopping area. As much as I tried to run from the significance of today, I found myself constantly stopping into various stores whenever something Lulu may like caught my attention. Every time I considered getting her a gift my nerves got the best of me and I retreated. She had made it extremely clear that outside of the divorce she wanted nothing to do with me, so I was pretty sure accepting a gift from me was out of the question.
The divorce was another issue I failed to address. For personal and business reason I had not initiated any sort of divorce proceedings in hopes that it would take a while before Lulu realized or that she would change her mind. From my head's point of view I still had the inheritance to consider so we needed to stay married for another eight months in order for me to collect. My heart on the other hand had very different motives. Lulu had subtly become such an intricate part of my life that being alone all the time did not hold the appeal it once did. The longer she was gone the more I missed her, and the more my subconscious was pleading with me to swallow my pride and ask her to come back. Lately it felt like I had been living that scenario where the devil was one shoulder telling me to forget Lulu and the angel was on the other shoulder saying to believe her and apologize. The devil had won the initial battle but the angel was determined to win the war.
I walked further up the street to a nearby café for some coffee when I saw Lulu on the opposite side with none other than Johnny Zacchara. The devil on my shoulder proceeded to laugh hysterically pointing out that I would be a fool to believe anything Lulu had to say, and the more I saw I had no choice but to agree. Johnny held the door to the jewelry store open for Lulu, then followed after like the dutiful boyfriend. I should have walked away. What more did I need to see? Her lies and betrayal were staring me in the face yet again, but like a stalker zeroed in on the object of his obsession, I crossed the street and stood frozen, peering keenly through the store's glass window.
After a brief conversation with the attendant, another appeared with a bracelet and clasped it on Lulu's wrist. She held out her hand towards Johnny, both of them admiring the jewelry frosted with diamonds. He whispered something to her and a smile spread across Lulu's face escalating to laughter. A part of me ached remembering how deterrent she was when I wanted her to choose a wedding ring that she considered too expensive, and now she was all smiles and full of life over a just as expensive birthday gift. I guess the rings were from the wrong man. My subconscious reasoned solemnly. There was no way she could explain her way out of this one, and to make sure I had my own rock solid evidence I was going to document her comings and goings for a while. That was the only way I could think of to get her to stop lying and finally admit the truth.
Every second I continued watching them happily pick out her birthday gift, the knife in my back – or possibly my heart- twisted a little deeper until every possibility I had of forgiving Lulu vanished. The devil had won the war.
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