"Well that was..fun," Brianna plopped down on the couch. Maya was finally tucked in upstairs after riding a two hour cotton candy high. Brian and Gia were on their way back to Brian's apartment. Now it was just John and Brianna. John looked over at her, wishing things weren't so tense. He hated her being unhappy. He hated being unhappy himself. He just didn't know what to do. This situation wasn't getting any easier.
"Are you still not talking to me?" she asked, looking over at him.
"Bri, I'm sorry," he shrugged. "What do you want me to say? It's been a rough couple weeks."
"You seemed happy this morning," she shrugged.
"Yeah, I was happy this morning," he agreed. "I was happy waking up in my house with my girlfriend. Then we come here to your house and you're somebody else's fiancée. I cant be happy when I have to see that."
She didn't say anything, looking out the window.
"Brianna, I love you, you know that," John said. "But every time we have to duck into a room and hide and every time you spend the night here..I wonder if this is as real to you as it is to me."
"Are you kidding me?" she turned to him. "I'm in this just as much as you are."
"How is that possible?" John asked, growing angry. "I'm with you. That's it. You're engaged to somebody else. You sleep in a bed with someone else."
"It hasn't been like that with Nick in a long time," she glared.
"I don't care!" he yelled. "I want you all the time. I don't want half of you. You need to figure out whether or not you're ever gonna be ready to give me that."
"I told you I will," she argued. "I just-"
"You just don't know how," he threw his hands up. "You just don't know when. When the hell is it gonna be the right time? You say you love me but you cant even leave that loser for me?"
"I do love you!" Brianna insisted. "No one forced you into this. You said you were willing to wait as long as it took."
She could understand why John was frustrated but she didn't like him making it seem like she was trying to have her cake and eat it too. This was just as hard for her.
Before either of them could say anything else they heard the front door slam hard.
Brianna felt as if she'd been struck. Her stomach dropped to her feet and she turned her head, her gaze falling on her fiancée.
"Nick…" was all she could get out. She could see in his eyes that he'd heard everything they said. There was no way he couldn't, they weren't exactly whispering.
"What the hell is going on here?" Nick asked, his eyes wide and confused.
Brianna knew she had to at least attempt damage control, "We were just..um…we were having a stupid argument. It was-"
"I heard what it was," Nick glared. He shook his head, running a hand over his hair, 'I knew it. I fucking knew it."
"Nick, it's not what you think," she tentatively stepped closer to him. He looked like he was about to blow and she wasn't entirely sure what to do. She looked over her shoulder at John, "John, tell him."
She gave him a pleading look, praying that he would help. This wasn't the right time or the right way for Nick to find out the truth.
Brianna begged him with her eyes and a part of John wanted to make up some lie, find some way to make this easier on her but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. He'd meant what he said to her earlier, he couldn't do this anymore.
"Brianna, we need to just tell him the truth," John shrugged.
Her mouth dropped open, she stared at him as if he'd grown another head. "What?"
"If you don't tell him..I will," John stood his ground.
Tears filled Brianna's eyes and she looked back and forth between the two men. She settled her gaze on Nick, her voice shaking, "I'm so sorry."
"You're sorry?" he stared at her. "Is that supposed to make it okay? You're sorry? How long has this been going on?"
Brianna put a hand over her mouth, holding back a sob.
"Since the night of Brooke's concert, the night we almost fought," John explained.
"So you came over here and threatened me," Nick squeezed his eyes shut, rubbing his forehead. "And then you went to the hotel and fucked my fiancée?"
"We didn't plan it," John shrugged. He didn't know what else to say.
"You son of a bitch!" Nick charged toward John.
"Nick stop it," Brianna grabbed his arm, pulling him back. "Please, just calm down."
"Calm down," he turned to her. "You've been fucking this guy behind my back and you want me to calm down?"
"We didn't mean for you to find out like this," John explained.
"Yeah, I'm sure you didn't," Nick looked disgusted. He brushed past Brianna, walking to the bottom of the stairs. "Maya!"
Brianna felt like her heart was going to stop when he yelled Maya's name. She grabbed his arm again, "What are you doing?"
"Getting my daughter so we can get the fuck out of here," Nick spat at her. "I wouldn't want her to be in the way of you and your new boyfriend."
"Nick, she's sleeping," Brianna pleaded with him. "Please, let's just..just leave her where she is."
Nick stared at her as if he was really seeing her for the first time. He shook his head, a sad smile spreading across his face, "That's all you care about. She's all you care about."
Brianna sniffed but couldn't come up with anything to say. Everything was unraveling in front of her and there wasn't anything she could do to stop it.
"If I tried to walk out of here by myself, you'd let me," Nick accused. "You wouldn't give two shits but because I wanna take my daughter, you're freaking out."
"I just don't want-"
"I don't care what you want!" he yelled at her.
John stepped in, "Don't talk to her like that."
"Both of you can go to hell," Nick glared before walking up the stairs. "Maya! Maya get up!"
Brianna followed him, "No, no, Nick please."
"Shut up!" Nick turned on her. "Just shut up."
Brianna could hear Maya moving around in her room. She felt John put a hand on her shoulder and she shrugged it off, following Nick up the stairs. Nick pushed the door open and grabbed Maya's suitcase that she hadn't even finished unpacking.
"Put on some clothes," he ordered the young girl. '"We're leaving."
Nick put her suitcase down in the hall and then stormed into he and Brianna's bedroom.
Maya stumbled sleepily out of her bedroom, jeans obviously pulled hastily over her pajamas.
She walked over to Brianna who tried to wipe away her tears before the young girl could see.
"Where are we going?" Maya asked.
"She's not going anywhere," Nick walked out of the bedroom, gym bag stuffed with clothes. He picked up Maya's suitcase and walked over, taking Maya's hand. "Come on, it's time to go."
"Brianna's not going?" Maya started to look panicked.
"No!" Nick yelled. "Now come on."
"Don't yell at her like that!" Brianna insisted as Maya wrapped her arms around her legs. Brianna ran her hand over Maya's curls, trying to comfort the frightened child.
"Daddy, I don't wanna go," Maya pleaded. "Cant I just go back to sleep?"
"No, we have to get out of here," Nick insisted. "Brianna wants to be alone with John."
"Nick, just let her stay tonight," Brianna pleaded. "We can figure this all out in the morning."
"She's not your kid Brianna," Nick pulled Maya's arms from around her, lifting his daughter up into his arms. "And now she never will be."
Nick walked down the stairs and Brianna's heart broke as Maya's big hazel eyes looked up at her, confused and scared. All she could do was stare. She knew there was no way that Nick would listen to her and the truth was, she couldn't stop him. He was right. Maya wasn't hers.
When she heard the door slam, she felt like it hit her. It rocked her whole body. She felt like her legs were about to give out so she sat down on the stairs, tears filling her eyes until she couldn't see.
John walked up the steps, heart breaking for Brianna. He couldn't stand to see her so upset. She'd broken into sobs, her head in her hands. He knew this wasn't how she'd wanted Nick to find out about them.
He knelt in front of her, "Bri…baby-"
She looked up at him and John was taken back by the icy look in her eyes.
She got up, walking down the stairs, "Get out."
"Brianna," he followed her. "Come on, talk to me."
He caught up to her, taking her arm. She yanked it away, turning to face him, "I told you that if you couldn't do this, we didn't have to. We could wait. But you said you could handle it. You said you wanted to be with me no matter what and you'd give me time."
"I know and-"
"Then why did you do that to me?" she cried. "Why did he have to find out right here, right now with Maya in bed upstairs?"
"He had to have heard out in the hall, what was I supposed to do?" John asked.
"You didn't even try to hide it!" Brianna yelled, pushing him away from her.
"I've been hiding it!" John retorted. "I've been hiding it this whole time. Brianna I'm sorry it went down that way but it had to happen eventually. I have done everything you asked me to, exactly how you asked me to because I love you. If we didn't tell him today, when were you gonna do it?"
"Soon, I told you that!" she insisted. "But it doesn't matter now. Because now he knows and I don't know if he's ever gonna let me see Maya again."
"Get out," she glared through her tears. "Get out!"
John knew she wasn't about to budge. She needed some time to cool off and after what just happened, he had to give it to her. He walked toward the door, stopping to turn and look back at her. She had her back to him and wasn't about to turn around.
"You sure you wanna be alone right now?" he asked.
"I don't wanna be alone," she answered. She turned, "But I don't want you here."
Her words hurt but John knew she didn't really mean it. She was hurting too.
He watched as she walked up the stairs, not once looking back at him. He took a deep breath and walked out the front door, closing it softly behind him. They would get past this. He loved her and she loved him. That was all that mattered.
1 Week Later…
"Bri, I think you should just talk to him," Raquel advised as her sister grabbed water bottles out of the refrigerator. The icy glare she got in response was enough to give Raquel a chill.
"Come on," Raquel pleaded, accepting the bottle her sister handed to her. "You love him."
"And?" Brianna raised a brow.
Raquel couldn't remember ever seeing Brianna like this. She was being so difficult. She wasn't trying to understand John's side at all. She was just..angry.
"Can we talk about something else please?" Brianna requested. "I have a headache and Nick's coming over later to pick up the rest of his things."
"Bri I'm sorry," Raquel put her hand over hers.
Brianna shook her head, "Subject change..Please."
"Okay…umm…I'm going to dinner with Matt tonight," Raquel shrugged. "Jeff's staying at the hotel, he's got some kind of phone interview."
"Sure he does," Brianna rolled her eyes.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, I'm sorry, I'm just cranky," Brianna rubbed her eyes. "Where are you guys going?"
"No clue," she shrugged. "Doesn't really matter, you know? It's just Matt."
Brianna took a deep breath, remembering the promise she made to Jeff. She swore to her friend that she wouldn't tell Raquel about his feelings or Matt's but she had to do something.
"Have you thought about talking to Jeff?" Brianna asked.
Raquel shook her head, "I don't know what to say. Hey Jeff I wanna be your girlfriend."
"Okay, you don't have to revert to elementary school but…I think you two really need to talk," Brianna said. "I've never seen you like this."
"Like what?" Raquel asked.
"In love," Brianna rested her chin on her head. "You're in love with him."
Raquel laughed, shaking her head and looking away.
"Am I wrong?"
Raquel didn't know how to respond to her sister's question. She hadn't really been trying to classify her feelings for Jeff, she just knew that they were strong.
"I don't wanna think about this right now," Raquel sighed.
"Because I'm right," Brianna said. "Raquel don't be afraid to tell him how you feel. I think you'll be surprised by the reaction you get."
Raquel shrugged, "When I figure out how I feel, I'll let you know."
2 Hours Later…
"Nick, you don't have to do this," Brianna insisted as her ex shoved more of his clothes into a box.
"Brianna stop it," he put a hand up. He hadn't listened to a word she said since he got there. He'd been packing up for two hours and he would barely look at her. She felt terrible. He looked tired and sad. She'd hurt him and she knew there wasn't anything she could do to fix it.
He walked past her out into the hall and she followed as he went into Maya's room. He turned, glaring at her, "I asked you to have this packed up."
"I know but.." she started wringing her hands. "I was just hoping that maybe-"
"Maybe what?" he asked angrily. "You were hoping I would leave my daughter with you."
"No, that's not it, I was just hoping that maybe we could keep some of her things here, you know just in case-"
"Stop," he put his hands up again. "I cant even look at you right now."
"Nick, I don't know how many times I can tell you I'm sorry," she said, feeling tears coming again. She'd been crying for days. She was surprised she still had tears left.
"I know you're sorry," he said. "I heard you."
"Then why wont you talk to me?" she pleaded.
"Because it's hard Brianna." he shook his head. "You don't get it. Not only did you cheat on me but now…"
"Now what?" she asked.
"Now I know you never really loved me," Nick shook his head.
Brianna didn't know what to say. He was furious and he had a right to be. He was right.
"You cant even admit it, can you?" he asked.
"I tried, Nick," she sniffed. "I tried as hard as I could..I cared about you, I really did."
"But you didn't love me," he said. "You loved John, right? So what was I this whole time, just a god damn stand in?"
"No!" she insisted. "It was never like that. I didn't even think about John until…until he showed up."
"And the second you saw him, you tossed aside everything you had with me," he pointed.
"That's not true!" she argued. "I didn't want this to happen."
She knew in her heart that she meant what she was saying but she couldn't blame Nick for the look of disbelief on his face. She'd handled everything in the wrong way. She should have come clean the second she realized that she was having feelings for John again but she thought, at the time, that she could push them away.
"You know, I know I'm not perfect," he said. "And I may not have been the love of your life but at least I never cheated on you."
His words stung but she didn't respond.
"Do you realize that?" he asked. "That you're giving up what we had for your high school sweetheart who fucked some other girl and broke your heart?"
Brianna looked away.
"You told me once that he hurt you more than anyone else ever has," he reminded her. "And that's what you gave up our relationship for. That's what you're giving Maya up for."
"I don't want to give her up," she insisted. "I'm the closest thing to a mother she's ever had and I would never, ever abandon her."
Nick picked up another box, shaking his head at her, "You already did."
Raquel wrapped a towel around herself and wiped the mirror so she could see herself. It was still nice for her to see her face without those awful bruises. She thought back to that first night in the hospital, the first time that she saw herself in a mirror. She looked and felt like a completely different person. She remembered wondering whose face she was looking at because it couldn't possibly have been hers. Then, she thought about waking up in that terribly uncomfortable hospital beds with someone holding her hand, gently stroking their thumb over her knuckles. Her eyes had opened slowly and there was Jeff, half asleep leaning back in his chair. He spent an entire day there before anyone could kick him out. Almost every time she'd woken up, he was there. He waited on her hand and foot. He talked to her, made her smile, made her laugh. He didn't care that she looked like a different person. He just cared about her. She was no stranger to men paying her attention but with Jeff it was different. He made her feel like she was the most important person in the world to him and she loved that. She loved him. She hadn't truly realized it until that moment but there it was, right in front of her face. She was in love with Jeff. Now she just needed to tell him.
1 Hour Later…
Matt sat in his car, waiting outside Raquel's building. He'd tried calling at least 5 times and she hadn't answered. The doorman let him up to check on her but she wasn't there. At first he was angry but now he was just worried. Where the hell was she?
Jeff walked over to the door when he heard a knock.
"It's about time," he mumbled, picking up his wallet and walking to the door. He'd ordered room service an hour earlier and he was about ready to start gnawing his own foot off. He pulled the door open, surprised to see Raquel standing on the other side. She looked painfully beautiful in jeans and a simple black shirt. Her brown waves flowed over her shoulders and she wasn't wearing a stitch of makeup. He liked her best with nothing on her face. She looked perfect.
"Hi," she smiled, seeming a little nervous.
"Hey," he smiled, stepping aside. "Come in."
"Thanks," she walked past him, tucking her hair behind her ear.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, sitting on the couch. "I thought you were having dinner with Matt."
"I was going to," she nodded. "But I was about to get ready and I just…I couldn't."
"Why not?" he asked.
"I needed to talk to you first," she sat beside him. "And if I don't tell you what I have to tell you right now…I don't know if I'll ever say it."
Jeff took a deep breath, "What is it?"
Raquel clenched her hands together, trying to collect her thoughts. She'd never done this before and she had no idea what to say.
"It's okay, you know you can talk to me," he assured her.
She smiled, nodding, "I know..I can talk to you about anything. Jeff, you're one of my best friends. You've been really important to me the last few months."
He nodded, "You're important to me too."
She smiled, "The reason I'm here is that…I wanna tell you that you're more than just a friend to me. I've never felt like this about anyone before…I…"
She took a deep breath, "I'm in love with you."
Raquel bit her bottom lip, waiting for him to say something back. There was a silence that stretched on for eons.
"Raquel…" he looked surprised. "I…I don't know what to say."
"Saying you feel the same way would make this a lot less embarrassing," she half joked.
"I…I wish I could say that," he said quietly, looking almost pained.
"What?" she stared.
"Raquel, you mean so much to me," he insisted, taking her hand. "I care about you so much."
"You're just not in love with me?" she felt completely humiliated and deflated. Tears sprung to her eyes. She looked away, not wanting him to see her cry. "I cant believe I thought…"
"I'm sorry," he apologized.
She pulled her hand away, "I should go."
"You don't have to-"
"No, I do have to," she stood up, walking toward the door.
She rushed out of the room as quickly as her feet could carry her. She could barely see anything as she walked down the hall, her eyes filling up with tears. She felt like she couldn't breathe. She pushed the button for the elevator over and over, praying it would come before Jeff came after her. Once it open, she rushed inside, pressing the close door button. She put a hand over her mouth as sobs threatened to overtake her. How could she have been so stupid? How could she have read everything wrong? Her phone rang and she pulled it out of her purse, throwing it against the wall. She slid down the wall, clenching her hands in her hair, unable to hold back anymore. For the first time in her life, she told someone she loved them first…and he didn't love her back.
Later that night…
"Is it extremely classless if I drink out of the bottle?" Gia asked, walking into the living room with two bottles of wine.
"It's classless if you drink wine out of a box," Brianna said. "If you have a bottle that costs as much as these, you can do whatever you want with them."
"Bri…are you okay?" Gia asked, sitting beside her sister. She'd been drinking for the better part of 3 hours and she didn't look like she was going to stop anytime soon. Gia had tried calling Raquel repeatedly but she wasn't answering.
"I'm great," Brianna smiled the fakest smile Gia had ever seen. "Nick moved all of Maya's stuff out. I have no idea when or if I'm gonna see her again. Everything is wonderful."
"Honey, I'm sorry," Gia wrapped her arms around her sister.
"I don't need you to be sorry," Brianna pulled away, standing up. "I brought this on myself. It's all my fault."
"Gi, don't," Brianna pointed. "Don't bother."
Gia was about to argue with her sister but then she heard a key in the door. Nick had gotten everything earlier and Troy was still out of town so she couldn't imagine who would be coming in. She stood up, she and Brianna both moving toward the door. When it opened, Raquel walked in looking pale, her eyes bright red.
"Raquel," Gia rushed over, Brianna on her heels. "What's wrong?"
Raquel's eyes filled with tears as she spoke through sobs, "I told Jeff..how I feel about him..I told him I love him."
Brianna put down her wine bottle, seeming to sober up a little.
"What did he say?" Gia asked, knowing it clearly hadn't gone well.
"He…he doesn't love me back," Raquel broke into sobs. Brianna wrapped her arms around her and Gia hugged both of them tightly. She'd never been in this position before. Both of her sisters were broken. And she didn't know how to fix them.
That's it peeps....Thoughts?