Just Ask Them How They Made It
Hi everybody! I'm May and this is my first Ringer fic! I am working my butt off to get this show renewed, but until then, here is my take on where Season One left off! Enjoy and please leave me lots of juicy reviews! And don't be scared by all of the sentence fragments and the like, which are intentional. This story is written largely in stream of consciousness, so don't be surprised to see an adverbial clause standing on its own or a run-on sentence here or there!
Disclaimer: Ringer belongs to CW and CBS Studios!
Chapter One: If Bridget Were My Mother
Henry's brownstone wasn't the most beautiful Bridget had ever seen, but it was still nicer than any she had ever lived in with her parents and sister. Gemma's designer quality definitely showed through it with all the decorative flower patterns in the kitchen; and the weird thing was that they all matched. The patterns didn't clash at all. Weird.
It was all Bridget could think about to get her mind off everything Henry had just spent at least thirty minutes telling her. She couldn't believe her sister had actually wanted her to die and that she had been hiding in her lover's house for the past three months! It was completely and utterly unbelievable. Her heart sank rapidly. Just unbelievable.
Henry hadn't even bothered asking her to leave once he had finished his story, which was a story that would be far more likely to strike a deal with a publisher than anything he could have ever written on his own. Instead, he'd gone straight to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. There was no sleeping now, anyway, and Bridget was too overwhelmed with all she had heard to leave just yet. It needed to sink in; and it almost had, until Henry brought up something else that was even more painful to think about than the fact that Siobhan had wanted Bridget dead.
"He needs time," Henry said as he sat down at the table, the legs of the chair scraping against the floor. He looked very tired, even by "Henry" standards, which, at least in Bridget's eyes, had always had one standard: dishevelment. "Andrew," he gestured toward her as she sat down as well, as if she had no idea who he was referring to. "I mean, honestly, if I were him, I probably would have killed myself by now. To find out not only that your wife was having an affair, but also that she killed herself and her sister pretended to be her for, like, the past seven months? Come on, Bridget, you really thought he was just gonna be all 'Oh, that's ok. Whatever. Hey, let's go renew our vows now'? Please." He shook his head, chuckling slightly, though hollowly, and tapped his fingers on his coffee mug, but he didn't seem interested in drinking it.
Bridget felt her face grow hot. No, she thought. It was beyond stupid of her to think Andrew would accept her just like that! That was too big of a lie. She felt devastated, like all the happiness in the world had been ripped out from under her, which it had. By Siobhan. Siobhan. Manipulating, lying, cheating, evil Siobhan.
This was all Siobhan's fault.
It had been Siobhan who had convinced John "Charlie" Delario to hire Jimmy Kemper to convince Bridget to come to her. It was Siobhan who had drugged Bridget just long enough to stage a suicide, all because Siobhan knew how desperate Bridget had been to get away from Bodaway Macawi. Siobhan knew whoever was trying to kill her would go after Bridget instead, because Bridget would certainly pose as Siobhan. Siobhan's life, after all, was too good to be true, everything beyond the imagination of a coked-up prostitute.
Uh, no, that strange little voice that Bridget was never sure was good or bad spoke up inside her head. You chose not to tell the police that your sister had drowned. You got off the boat, took her license, and went straight back to her house. You put on her clothes. You greeted her husband with a kiss.
Alright, yes. Bridget had chosen to take her sister's place. She didn't have to do any of the things she had done. Was what she did make her just as bad of a person as her sister? Maybe… Possibly…Probably. She had no right, no business, doing what she had done. But now there was no going back. She had to redeem herself somehow.
"Bridget?" Henry's tired voice brought Bridget back from her depressed, guilt-ridden, angry mind. "Your phone."
"What?" she asked, not fully understanding.
"Your phone." He gestured to her pocket. "Your phone is ringing."
"Oh." She had forgotten Siobhan's phone was still in her possession. Who could be calling at this hour? It was near four in the morning. Perhaps Solomon had some news on Siobhan. She hoped so.
She retrieved the phone from her pocket, but the allotted number of rings had already exceeded. There was a "One Missed Call" text staring at her. Until, that is, the phone started ringing again, almost as soon as it had stopped. Her heart leapt when she read the Caller I.D.
She pressed the "Ok" button and brought the phone up to her ear, silent for a moment.
"Hello?" She finally said, weakly, her stomach in knots.
"Are you all right?" No preamble. Just the familiar Welsh voice that Bridget thought she might never hear again; and the fact that he was asking her if she was alright, in the same panicked tone he had shown when Rex Barton had attacked her for the second time, she felt a bit relieved. "Machado just called me. He said Macawi attacked you. Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm-I'm fine, Andrew. Don't worry." She felt an unpleasant lump rise in her throat.
Henry had his unshaven face in one of his hands, staring at the phone quizzically. He almost looked like he wanted to talk to Andrew. Almost.
"Are you sure? Do you need anything?" She could hear Andrew's unsteady breathing. He was worried about her. There was no hiding that.
"No, no," Bridget replied, wishing with all her might that she did need something, just to see him again. "I have a place to stay. I'm gonna stay with the Sheridans a little longer."
He sighed heavily. "Ok. I…just wanted to make sure you were safe…. Good bye."
Her hands trembled. "Bye."
She heard the phone beep off.
That was it. There was no mistaking it. Andrew still loved her, even after what she had done. His voice said it all. He could try to deny it, but that would be just as much of a lie as was Bridget masquerading as Siobhan. It simply wasn't true and never would be. But, it's not like he would ever admit it….
"He's worried about you, huh?" Henry stated. He scratched his head, looking miserable. "Yeah, he loves you, Bridget." He finally took a sip of his coffee and leaned back in his chair, looking off to the side, ashamed. Did he see the future Andrew and Bridget could've had together?
Yes. He wouldn't be trying to hide it if he didn't. She sighed. "We have to tell him."
"What?" His eyes darted towards her a little too quickly for Bridget to buy his question as a what-are-you-talking about response. He knew exactly what they had to tell Andrew, but Bridget let his poor attempt at ignorance slide as she continued:
"About Siobhan being alive. He thinks she's dead, remember? He has to know she's alive, that's she's in New York somewhere."
Henry was silent for a moment. He looked as if he were holding something back, but Bridget couldn't tell what.
"Well, yeah, but—"
"But nothing," Bridget protested, frustrated that Henry wasn't more inclined to take action. He was certainly angry with Siobhan for getting him involved in all of this. Why wouldn't he be more persistent? "Who knows what she's capable of? She could really hurt him. If she went to the apartment, that's a pretty obvious indication that she might want something of her old life back! If she didn't, she wouldn't have set foot in there! We have to let him know. She might to try to seduce him or something!"
"Ha!" Henry let out a chuckle, a real one this time. "Like even. After all the crap she put him through with the affair and all the other stuff he doesn't even know about yet? Not a chance. I mean, she could try, but Andrew wouldn't fall for it. He'd never take her back. He'd kicked her to the curb harder than I ever would. Come on, Bridget." He took a second sip of coffee. "Be real."
"Still." Bridget felt like punching him. "We need to go to the Hamptons and tell him. He deserves to know."
"Wait! Wait!" Henry's eyes got big, signaling more protest. "Why 'we'? Did I tell you he came in here and socked me in the face? He'd call the cops if I were a hundred feet from him!"
"He needs to hear it from you." Bridget stared him in the eye, angry. "The least you can do to try to redeem yourself is to explain the last few months to him. I'm not saying he'll forgive you, which I'm sure he won't, but he'll at least hear some honesty from you…for once."
She glanced down at the coffee in front of her, placing her hands around the mug, but not looking to drink it. It was too cold for her liking by now, anyway.
Henry sighed. "Ok. Yeah. You're right. I do need to tell him the truth." He looked off to the side again, looking even guiltier, if that were possible. Rightly so, Bridget thought, but she ignored it. Instead, she nodded and continued the conversation.
"Ok. I'll call Solomon and we'll go around five. I told him to stay awake just in case I needed him." She paused and added "he doesn't really sleep anyway. We better leave early if we want to catch Andrew."
"Wait? Why right now?" Henry demanded in his whiny voice. "It's not like he's going to leave the Hamptons any time soon. Can't we wait a day or so?"
Bridget's eyes narrowed. "No. He needs to know now. Besides, you know he's not sleeping. What better time to tell him when he's wide awake?"
Henry rolled his eyes and looked down at his coffee for a moment. He sighed.
"Ok, um, I… need to call Annafried to come stay with the kids. Hold on."
About thirty minutes later, both Solomon and Annafried had arrived. Bridget had trouble figuring out how Henry could afford a nanny based on his salary, or lack thereof, especially now that Gemma was gone. He hadn't published his one book yet, and his father-in-law certainly wasn't giving him a penny. Bridget couldn't grasp it. Annafried was no cheap, minimum wage baby sitter. She meant business, and everything from her tight bun atop her head to her rear so huge that Kim Kardashian would pelt a bag of flour at her said she was a strong woman.
Henry's twins, Dash and Becks (whose names Bridget could never get over), were still sound asleep in bed, not getting up for pre-school until eight, so Annafried went to sleep on the couch, but not before staring at Bridget with a bit of disdain. She was obviously aware of Henry's involvement with Siobhan. This gave Bridget another pinch to her heart. She hated what a person Siobhan was, but it was worse when she herself was getting blamed for everything. Hopefully, soon everyone would be able to see her as Bridget Kelly, not Siobhan Martin.
She felt a pang in her stomach. Bridget Martin would've been even better.
As she, Henry, and Solomon got into the limo, the realization that she was about to see Andrew sunk in. What would he say upon seeing her at his beach house uninvited? Would he call the police? Would he decide then and there to turn her in to Machado, exposing her entire charade? No, she thought. He wouldn't go that far. He would protect her secret, especially if he loved her the way she was sure he did. Hopefully.
"So…" Solomon began an attempt at conversation about five minutes down the road. He looked into the rearview mirror to where Henry was sitting. "You're Siobhan's boyfriend?"
Henry looked annoyed. "Was is the keyword. I broke up with her last night."
"Great…" Solomon's drawn out tone gave Bridget the impression that he already harbored some dislike for Henry. Why, she didn't know. Maybe it was the fact that he couldn't believe Siobhan would leave her wealthy British husband for an unemployed writer? That had always been Bridget's opinion, which she didn't regret. Why would a woman leave a man who was willing to die for her?
Andrew. Bridget could only look out the window. Would he ever accept her as Bridget? What about Juliet? Bridget was aware of the ways both Catherine and Siobhan had treated Andrew's daughter. Was she really as horrible as they were? She remembered what Juliet had said earlier that night:
"You're just like Mom. No…worse. She's sick."
More tears filled her eyes. Was this true?
&& East Hampton, New York &&
In another life, I would be your girl.
We'd keep all our promises.
It'd be us against the world.
Juliet turned off her iPod hastily, ripping the tiny white plugs from her ears, and angrily wiping the tears from her face. She threw the expensive music player on the floor, wishing it would explode on contact. Why was it that every time she was miserable, every song she listened to always mirrored her situation? Music was supposed to calm anger and frustration and sadness and all the other emotions that she was feeling, but it never did that to her. Furthermore, it was very, very odd (and not to mention, a bit creepy) to know that a Katy Perry song could mirror her own life. Ok, maybe not that odd. Juliet had blacked out drunk a few times, and woke up not having any memory of what she had done the night before. She knew had never danced on tabletops, though. However, that was beside the point. In another life, if she had had Bridget as a mother, everything would've been fine. Immediately after the words had come out of her mouth, she had regretted telling Bridget that she was worse than her own mother. It was simply not true. Yes, Bridget had pretended to be someone she was not, in the worst way possible. There was no excuse for doing what she had done. She had no business lying to the world like that. Juliet had every right to cast her away, hate her, spout insults at her. But, she knew it would be wrong to do, because, unlike her own mother, Bridget had never pretended to love Juliet. Her love was as sincere as was the sunrise in the morning. Although she had started out pretending to be someone she was not, in the end, Bridget had fallen in love with Juliet and her father, making them, while it lasted, a true happy family for the first time in Juliet's life.
She was lying on the plush couch in the living room of the beach house, overlooking the best part of the beach. She used to love sitting on the couch and looking out of the huge window. When she was little, she was mesmerized by the color that the sunlight would make on the ocean's surface, a pretty mixture of green and blue with shimmers of light thrown in. But now, there was no sun of speak of. The sky was dark, just like her life.
She sobbed quietly and wiped the tears from her face, turning over and taking her frustration out on the pillow that she was resting her head on, punching it to a lump. In another life, if Bridget had been her mother, there would be no one calling her "bitch" or "whore" or "stupid," or "collateral damage", or "a waste of space," as Siobhan did; and there would be no one getting drunk and smacking her around, and then having her blame her injuries on falling down the stairs, as Catherine had done, strategically, during one of Andrew's business trips to Toronto. She had even bought cheap wine with cash so that Andrew would not get suspicious as to the charges on her credit card. In a way, as much as they had hated each other, Siobhan and Catherine shared almost the same characteristics. Neither of them had ever wanted Juliet, despite Catherine always calling her "Angel" and buying her useless expensive items, and despite Siobhan simpering in front of Andrew and stating how "cute" Juliet was the first time they met.
No, not even Juliet's own mother had ever truly loved her. She had always liked to think otherwise, but deep down, she knew it wasn't true. In fact, in light of the recent conversation with her mother in the hospital, Juliet had the suspicion that her existence was nothing but a ploy to keep Andrew around Catherine.
"I never wanted kids," Catherine had said, drugged up on morphine and countless other pain killers and nerve relaxants, "until I met your father. He wanted kids."
"So," Juliet had come to conclude her mother's train of thought and logic in this way, "knowing that he was a young, Welsh finance Major already on his way to becoming a millionaire, I decided for him to get me pregnant. I knew he would stay with me then. He loved children. He would never abandon his own child."
She could imagine her mother's evil smile when coming up with the idea. It made her stomach turn. Granted, Juliet had no real evidence for this. Not any concrete evidence, anyway, as her mother had never actually admitted to anything of the sort. But the circumstances were certainly suspicious, to say the least.
Andrew and Catherine had met in October of 1993 after Andrew, a twenty-year-old prodigy, had won a scholarship to come across the Atlantic from Cardiff University (or, then, as it was called, The University of Wales, Cardiff) to NYU. He was already on his way to making several investments in the stock market, making his chances of success grand. Meanwhile, Catherine was nothing more than a twenty-five-year-old down-on-her-luck waitress at several local restaurants, making minimum wage and having no real career path to speak of. She had studied at NYU for three years before dropping out, never settling on any Major. Instead, she had used those years in college, by her own admission, to get wasted and high. So, of course, Juliet concluded, she would have gotten involved with a man like Andrew, regardless of the fact that he was five years her junior and—not to mention— not even of legal drinking age in the States.
In April of 1994, Catherine and Andrew married, making Catherine two months pregnant with Juliet at the time, as Juliet would be born full term that November. That fact was what hit the nail on the head for Juliet. Her life had to be a ploy, and that was that. She wasn't sure exactly when her mother started drinking, but she guessed it was probably soon after Juliet quit breast-feeding. At any rate, she didn't notice her mother's pleasure that was alcohol until she was five years old, when Andrew came home one night and found his wife lying on the couch with three empty liqueur bottles on the floor. Juliet was also in the living room, "cooking" dinner in her plastic kitchen for her Barbie dolls. Andrew was so shocked and angry that Catherine would treat their daughter in such a way that he kicked her out of the house, forcing her to stay in a cheap one-hundred-dollars-a-night motel (the worst way to torture her, Juliet imagined).
Yet, it was not until two years later, when Juliet was seven, when she was actually hit with the reality that was her mother's alcoholism. She was literally hit and ended up with a sprained wrist. Well, more like thrown to the ground, but anyway. That was the time Andrew had gone to Toronto. He had gone for a meeting with several potential investors over a span of four days. Of course, with him gone, Catherine could now drink her heart out and he would never know. Taking cash out from the ATM was the first step. She could withdraw just enough money for two bottles of wine without giving her husband any need for suspicion.
It started out as a normal day for Juliet. Having said good-bye to her daddy that morning, she went to second grade without an issue in the world. After a day that included a spelling test (Juliet remembered the word "eagle" being the one that stumped her) and two-digit subtraction and addition, Catherine picked her up from school as usual. It was not until later that night, when Juliet had walked into the kitchen to sneak some dessert, that the horrible incident occurred.
All she was going to do was tip-toe into the pantry and get a fruit roll-up, a rainbow one. Those were her favorites, especially when they had the jokes printed on the little paper strips and could be ripped apart to make different shapes. One time she found a triceratops that was blueberry flavored. Unfortunately, every thought of dessert escaped her mind as soon as she saw her mother sitting at the kitchen table, one wine bottle already empty, another one almost three-quarters of the way gone. Juliet knew what her mother was doing. She had seen Andrew kick Catherine out that one time, and a few times since then she had seen her with alcohol. But she had merely brushed it off. Certainly, her mother would never go so far as to get kicked out of the house again. Juliet knew that a little drinking wasn't a bad thing for adults, as her father and several of her friends' parents drank a glass of wine around their children without any problems.
But this time, she knew something was wrong. Two bottles had to be a bad thing, especially from the odd look in her mother's eyes and the strong odor issuing from her mouth.
"Mommy!" Juliet protested, feeling as though she might cry. She really had thought her mother knew better now. "Daddy says you can't drink that much! He's gonna be mad at you!"
Catherine gave her daughter a lop-sided smile. "Mommy'sjushuffinfun, Angel." Her speech was so slurred that Juliet, apart from "Angel," couldn't understand a word of it.
"I'm telling Daddy!" She responded in a way that made her feel powerful for the first time.
Unfortunately, that feeling of power died as soon as Catherine grabbed her by the wrist and slammed her on the tile floor to prevent her from reaching the phone. Juliet heard a crack in her wrist as her hand hit the floor, followed by the worst pain she had ever felt in her life.
Catherine had her sit with a swollen purple blob for a forearm until five o'clock in the morning when she decided to call the ambulance (A good mother couldn't call an ambulance while she was drunk, of course. Sobriety was a must, or at least as sober as Catherine could get.) When the ambulance finally arrived, Catherine made up the story about Juliet falling down the stairs in the dark and hurting her wrist while trying to catch her balance. Juliet made no contradictions to this story, as her mother told her she would be in even bigger trouble if she let anyone else know what really happened. So, of course, Andrew came home a few days later thinking that his daughter's injury was a result of nothing more than an act of little girl clumsiness.
Not that Juliet would ever tell him the truth, at least not so soon. She had tried her hardest to block that incident from her mind, trying to convince herself that her mother had meant her no harm. She tried to make herself believe that Catherine really did care about her; and remarkably, for a while, Juliet's attempt at reverse psychology succeeded.
Until Tessa got hurt.
Poor Tessa. Thinking about her situation made Juliet even more of a crying wreck. If Bridget had been her mother, Tessa would've been fine. She wouldn't have been beaten black-and-blue and now forced to have therapy for PTSD, memory loss, balance, and whatever else, because, if Bridget had been Juliet's mother, Tessa wouldn't have spent so much money, because would have been no need for an elaborate rape scheme, because Juliet never would have had her trust fund taken away, because she wouldn't have been tempted by wild parties or drugs, because Juliet would've been perfectly happy….
If Bridget had been her mother, Juliet would've spent that day in second grade, not in an emergency room, but in an ice cream parlor; and instead of a doctor putting an air cast on her arm, Bridget would've put polish on her finger nails. They would've had mother-daughter time, just the two of them. Maybe they would've done something special for Andrew to see when he got home from his trip.
If Bridget had been her mother, Juliet would've had a real family…. She sighed again and put her head back down on the pillow, tracing lines on the couch cushion.
But, the fact remained, she admitted to herself as her stomach tightened into what was possibly the tiniest ball that a stomach could achieve, that Bridget wasn't her mother, and at this rate, she never would be.
The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs broke Juliet out of her misery for a moment and back to reality. She couldn't let her father see the tears. Wiping the rest of them away as hastily as possible, she snatched up the blanket that she had kicked off onto the floor earlier and pulled it over her head. There. Now she was sleeping and he wouldn't think anything of it.
She heard him walk passed her toward the kitchen, flipping the light on and opening one of the cabinets, presumably to get some water. Correct. Next, she heard the water dispenser on the front door of the refrigerator running.
Ok, she thought. Now he'll just go back upstairs. The dispenser stopped and the footsteps commenced back in her direction, when the doorbell rang.
Wait. The doorbell? Who would be knocking on the door of a beach house, of all places, this early in the morning?
Juliet heard her father whisper something, probably something along the lines of what she had been thinking, and then his footsteps headed for the door. She heard the front porch light flip on. It was silent for a moment (Andrew might have been looking through the peephole). But the door soon opened, and right when it did, two voices sounded at once.
"Bridget?" Andrew sounded both angry and suspicious.
"Andrew!" Bridget sounded scared and urged.
Juliet popped up from her pretend sleep and headed for the door, trying her best to feign sleepiness with a yawn.
Standing in front of her angered father was Bridget, whom Juliet was half-hoping Andrew would allow back in the house, that thin black guy who'd been Bridget's limo driver for the past few months, and the one person in the world that Andrew probably didn't want to see at the moment, Henry Butler, who, for very good reason, was situated in an almost cowering stance behind the other guy.
"What do you want, Bridget?" Andrew still sounded angry, but with the help from the porch light, Juliet could see that his face was getting red, which, as Juliet knew, was a sign that a man was on the verge of tears. Since men didn't cry in public, she expected he would probably slam the door and run upstairs at any moment. It was something he would never let his daughter see.
"We have to let you know…." Bridget had her foot over the threshold of the door, as if to make sure Andrew didn't slam it shut. "Henry just told me the truth." Her emphasis on "Henry" was very acidic. Did the whole world hate Henry now? Bridget looked back at the cowardly, scruff-faced man behind her chauffeur (who looked very annoyed at the moment, as anyone that close to Henry Butler should be).
"Get over here and tell him!"
On noticing Henry, Andrew looked like he was ready to push him through a window. Juliet thought he looked almost as menacing as he did the night Juliet had told him about her "rape" by Mr. Carpenter. That hadn't gone too well, either.
Instead, however, Andrew stayed silent and waited for Henry to speak.
"Ok, look." Henry had moved just enough to get in view of Andrew, but still had plenty of room to get a head start back down the driveway if he had to run. "I know you're very, very mad at me—I'd be mad at me, too—I mean, I'm a complete jackass and I shouldn't've…slept with your wife." The last four words were barely audible, which, if the situation hadn't been so serious, would have made Juliet laugh.
Andrew didn't move.
"But," Henry continued, voice still shaking, "Siobhan's alive and she's in New York."
"What?" Juliet burst out.
"Sh! Be quiet, Juliet!" Andrew looked as if were as mad at her as he was at everyone else.
Henry sighed. "She's in New York. It's a long story, but she's been living with me since January."
"January?" Andrew repeated incredulously. "January?"
"Yeah, I-" Henry looked very scared now. "She came back from Paris—she'd been there since she'd…faked her suicide…back in September…and- yeah. So I knew Bridget was Bridget…for a long time."
Juliet watched her father's dark eyes glisten. It was the same thing her eyes did when she was positively enraged (she knew because every person who'd ever witnessed her in a moment of anger told her so). Hurriedly, she clung to his arm. Just in case.
"You son of a bitch." It wasn't a yell or an exclamation. His voice was very steady, but it still didn't conceal any of his feelings. "Get off my property. Now."
Henry's face went white with a stamp of shame. He twitched.
Serves him right, thought Juliet, feeling satisfied with his demeanor.
"Solomon," Bridget interrupted, looking just as afraid as Henry did, "could you wait in the car with Henry, please?"
"Solomon" the chauffeur looked relieved. He obviously knew something bad was on the verge of happening if Henry didn't get out of the way. Either that, or he just felt awkward being there. Probably both. "Sure thing, Bridget."
Henry didn't need telling twice. He began walking not-so-casually away from the house and to the limo that was waiting far down in the driveway. Solomon followed suit.
Bridget stayed silent until both were out of ear-shot. Finally, she sighed. "Solomon showed me surveillance footage of the day Siobhan drowned, and…it showed her getting in a car with John Delario."
Andrew's eyes suddenly got wider at the mention of "John Delario." Juliet had no idea why. Maybe he was business associate or something. But Bridget continued.
"Henry told me that she faked her death so that I would assume her identity. She knew I was that desperate, and since she thought you were going kill her, she wanted you to think I was her so you'd kill me instead." Silence, but Andrew's expression changed back from shock to rage.
"Um…." Bridget looked as if she were about to crumble right there. It was so sad for Juliet to watch. She wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be ok. That she could come back with them. "I just had to let you know…that Siobhan's still alive. You don't need to be told any more lies, and…" she gulped, trembling, "sh-she might hurt you guys, so…." She couldn't finish, not without a tear breaking free.
"I understand," Andrew responded, levelly. "Thank you." His voice was level, at least, but his ever-so shaking body told Juliet otherwise.
She felt awkward standing there. She had just found out that her stepmother wasn't really dead, which was a shock. Her evil stepmother might still be around to call her names and tease her about stupid things. But, deep down, all she wanted was for Bridget to come back. She was the best woman in Juliet's life. Ever. Period.
Bridget hesitated for a moment. "Well, I better be going, but, before I do, I wanted to give something back to you." She unclasped her hands to reveal that she was still wearing Siobhan's wedding band and the engagement ring that Andrew had given her a few months back. Slowly, she removed each one and held them out for Andrew to take, along with Siobhan's blackberry, the one she had gotten after Juliet had flushed the original one down the toilet after being called a slut, and her wallet, presumably with Siobhan's driver's license inside.
He hesitated for what seemed like an eternity. For a moment, Juliet thought he might tell her to keep them. But, eventually, unfortunately, he did accept what she was holding out to him.
There were more tears in Bridget's eyes now. "I want both of you," she said, looking straight at Juliet and giving her a weak smile "to know that I never meant to hurt you. I've grown to love you both…" she choked as the tears fell down her cheeks, "so much. You've changed my life in such a wonderful way, and, um, I'm gonna stay sober and live a good life, just for you two." She smiled at them weakly before wiping her eyes and sniffling loudly.
Andrew was staring at her intently, but not making a move to say anything.
"And," Bridget looked at Andrew and let out a very deep sigh, "I'll look for you in every poem, every song, every piece of art, just like you said you would me." She took a deep breath and gave another smile, one that Juliet never saw on Siobhan. "I love you both, and I always will. I'll never forget you."
Juliet wanted so desperately to say something, to let Bridget know that she loved her more than she did her own mother, and that she was sorry for even daring to say that she was anything like her, but she was frozen in disbelief that Bridget was willingly walking away.
After blowing them both kisses, she did just that.
Andrew closed the door slowly, staring at the expensive wooden frame for a few seconds, just before he did something that Juliet had never expected him to do, at least, not in front of anyone: he actually burst into tears, collapsing right in front of the door, leaving her to wonder:
Would their lives ever get better?