Duplicity Ch. 14bypartial2passion©
Hello my lovlies, I hope this charter posts by Xmas. A reader write a cute comment that said that's all they wanted for Xmas was Sean and Layla together. Lol. Aww! So cute. So what did I do? I rolled up my sleeves and got work and churned this chapter out. That's just how much I love you guys. ;) Ok ok don't hate me for this chapter, just trust that there's a method to my madness. You've been warned. Let me know what you think! I can take it... I hope. *******
"Yes... who's this?" The line went silent for a couple of seconds.
After hearing no response, a surprised warm raspy voice asked, "Layla honey, is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me."
"What's wrong baby? Are you alright?"
Layla cleared her throat as her eyes stung. She had been debating for hours if she should call or not. She gripped the phone tightly as her emotions threatened to take over. She could barely breathe.
"Everything is fine. I just... I just wanted to hear your voice." She chocked out.
Carla tore the receiver from her ear and stared at it for a second. Was this really her daughter talking?
To say they didn't have the best of relationships was putting it lightly. Ever since her husband died, Layla somehow took on the role of parent while Carla wallowed in her misery with only the bottle as her companion.
The bottle quickly turned into drugs. Layla tried and tried for years to get her mother into recovery programs, but it was no use. Carla had set a clear path to self-destruction and she was angry. She was angry at anyone who tried to set her off course. And yet her young daughter in her naïveté tried. Through it all she had an unwavering conviction that her mother could and would recuperate.
Little Layla tried with all her might to bring her back from the brink of death. Unfortunately the more Layla tried... the more of Carla's wrath she felt. Layla was the one person with the power to help her change.
Every time Carla looked into Layla's eyes, she saw her loving husband's same eyes looking back at her... judging her. And Carla resented her for it.
She couldn't even be the kind of mother her child needed.
Time passed. And one fateful night when Carla had enough of carrying so much pain for so long... she tried to end it.
Days later while recovering in a hospital and while the massive amount of pills she'd taken drained from her body, she found herself alone. Completely alone and yet full of a different kind of pain. Regret.
Regret was the one thing that had a habit of sticking to a person, regardless of time and acts of repentance.
However Carla forged ahead and vowed to get better and finally live. Not just exist, but actually live... for the sake of her daughter, in honor of her husband and for herself.
Years passed. It was a struggle and by the time Carla got back on her feet and claimed sobriety; it was too late.
Layla had become cold and distance. She made sure the wall she'd built around herself was impenetrable. Her little girl was now a fierce and independent business woman who didn't need her for anything. Carla tried for years to get close to her, inviting her to her AA meetings to hear her speak or to at least share a meal with her, but she was always too busy. And although Layla was diligent in making sure her mother's needs were met, she never allowed herself to be the same around her.
Carla couldn't blame her. A kid has to protect themselves after being hurt so many times. She knew in her drunken stupor there was so much she didn't even remember doing. But she wanted to; she didn't want to hide her sins. She wanted to take steps in making things right.
And now, as Layla's voice slightly trembled on the other end of the line, Carla couldn't help but rejoice. Not in her daughter's distress but the fact that after all this time she was finally coming to her for comfort. The fortress Layla had taken so long to build around her... was finally coming down. Carla wondered what could've happen on this trip to bring about this change.
"Well you can hear my voice anytime baby... anytime. You wanna talk about what's bothering you?"
Layla let out a bitter laugh. "Not really."
"Ok well, we don't have to. Things are ok here. It's been raining a lot so I've been putting the plants out to enjoy the rainwater. Your Mr. Elvis over here is missing you."
Layla let out a soft smile.
"I swear this cat thinks he's a person. He stares at me all day and gives me the side-eye. As if I have something to do with the fact that you're not here..." Carla cackled. "He misses you baby. We miss you."
Layla bit the corner of her lip as her eyes glazed over. She closed her eyes and two small tears carelessly spilled on her cinnamon colored cheeks.
She didn't exactly know why she was struck with a sudden case of nostalgia. It had never happened before. Actually she did know why. This thing with Merle or rather Sean, really cut her deep. She felt lost. There was a deeply buried absolute truth and it was one she vowed never to admit. You could never replace your mom and she really couldn't do this alone.
"Umm... well the wedding is today but maybe I can leave a little early. I'm going to see if it's ok, but I'll book the next flight out."
A wide smile parted on Carla's face as her tears flowed freely. She finally let out a shaky breath and touched her racing heart as if she couldn't contain her excitement. "Oh honey. That's wonderful. We'll be here waiting for you when you get back, ok?"
"Ok mom... I'll see you soon." Layla sniffled and wipe the tears away.
Carla's smile continued to widen as she couldn't remember the last time she called her mom. She was sure her cheeks would hurt after this. She always had faith her baby would come back to her and it was actually happening. She looked to up to the sky and silently thanked God she lived to hear it.
"I love you baby."
Layla nodded as if she could see her over the phone. "Me too. I'll call you when I land."
There was so much they needed to talk about and Layla finally felt she was ready.
Two soft knocks echoed out on the wooden door. After a couple of minutes, a grumpy Nicole trudged to the door as she grumbled under her breath. Being a light sleeper meant she was up by the first knock. It was way too early for anyone to be awake, let alone be knocking on her freaking door. It better not be who she thought it was; if it was, she would murder him with her bare hands.
She swung the door open and was surprised to see Jason on the other side. Her expression quickly changed to one of worry.
Jason put up his hands. "She's fine... Everyone is fine. But your presence has been requested."
Nicole snorted and a soft smile graced her lips. It was about time she came to her senses. Without any hesitation she walked out of her room and followed him down the hall. She didn't seem to care she was in her pajama pants and tank top while a messy bun flopped on the top of her head. She silently followed him and it was then she realized he was fully dressed.
"Are you going somewhere?"
"I gotta go... finish some things up."
Nicole held a serious expression and nodded in understanding. It was happening. Everything was happening today.
Soon they arrived at Jason and Sienna's room. He motioned toward it, mumbled good luck and continued on his way. Nicole knocked on the door and when she heard Sienna's voice she went in.
"Hey." Sienna's sleepy eyes peered from under the covers.
An awkward silence waft the room. Neither one of them wanted to speak first. Nicole stood with her hands behind her back as she shifted from one foot to the other. They'd managed to avoid each other since that day. The day when both of their lives were forever changed. When Nicole found out Sean was in fact alive and in disguise this will whole time and when Sienna found out Jose was her brother and sister's biological father. There were a lot of raw emotions unleashed that day. Everyone hurt.
It was time to clear the air, they were both miserable.
"What was that? Come closer I can't hear you." Sienna whispered.
Nicole smirked because she hadn't said anything. She looked at Sienna for a minute then broke out into a wide smile. Suddenly she pounced on the bed. Sienna couldn't help but giggle as Nicole continued to jump on the bed as she did when they were little.
"Ok ok... You're making me dizzy." Sienna said.
Nicole smiled and crouched down. She shuffled to the top of the bed and quickly got under the covers as well. Both sets of hands folded over the top of the duvet.
Sienna exhaled and rolled her eyes. "Do you have to ask? You'll always be my friend Nic. You're my sister..."
After a moment of silence she added under her breath. "Well I guess not technically like everybody else."
Nicole regarded her with a raised eyebrow. Sienna obviously needed to get it off of her chest.
"I mean I'm not gonna to lie, I was mad and hurt as hell that day. But after thinking about it, you probably had your reasons for not telling me. Just like I had my reasons for not telling you about Sean. I shouldn't of lashed out like that. I was just frustrated that I didn't know and everyone else did. We've always told each other everything. I mean I could've been there for you when you found out. It couldn't have been easy knowing all that shit about your dad."
Nicole inhaled and exhaled deeply, then shrugged. "It is what it is."
"Hmm. You wanna talk about it?"
"I've never wanted to. I just don't think about. It never really changed anything. You guys were always like family. So when I found out, it was just like, ok well they really are family. However I wasn't thrilled to know that you weren't blood related but the skank Suzy was. I always hoped she got the crazy from the other side of the family."
Sienna chuckled and playfully shoved her. After thinking about it she pondered, "Man, you were just 15 years old! How did you find out by the way?"
"I accidentally overheard Sharon and my mom whispering one day. Your mom was folding clothes and remarked how quickly Sean was growing. She said she couldn't keep buying him new clothes and that she'd already blown through the money Jose had given her that month for the kids. Then my mom told Sharon to brace herself because Sean would probably grow up to be as tall as his father because all the men in Jose's family were will over 6 feet tall."
Sienna groaned. "Ugh! It sucks you found out that way."
"That was like the worst and best day of my life. I remember thinking, Yes! I'm not an only child anymore. That was all I ever wanted. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks... our parents had been lying to us all that time. I wanted to yell and tell them off, but in the end I just kept it all in."
"If I remember correctly that's the summer when you went buck wild..."
Nicole's lip turned into to a grin. "I thought I was a little badass."
Sienna let out a laugh. "You were a badass! You got your first tattoo... that crooked ass butterfly on your lower back. You lost your virginity, smoked, drunk alcohol... You did it all in a matter of a month or two. I thought my best friend had lost her mind. I was always too scared to do anything bad but nothing scared me more than seeing you unravel like that. Thank God you quickly got out of that phase."
"Shiiiit... As if I had a choice. I was forced to get out of that phase. My dad might've had his faults and made his mistakes but..." She shrugged her shoulders. "He was still my dad. I realized what was done was done. I guess I just wanted some attention, acting out and shit. But pop didn't play. No sir. When he got sick and tired of me, he made plans to send to my ass to the Dominican Republic for good. I got my senses back and quick! I was like ooh hell no... Over there if you act out, everyone and their momma will take turns whooping your ass. No thank you. I'd take my chances here where a motherfucker still has a chance."
Their uncontrollable laughs made any bit of resentment or hurt they felt disappear.
When the laughter subsided, Sienna turned her head towards her. "I missed you, Nic."
"I missed you too. I'm sorry I never told you. I think I just wanted things to stay the same."
Nicole smiled. It felt so good to finally get all of that out and in the open. Now for the more pressing matters. "Have you talked to Sean?"
Somehow the Sean situation was harder for Sienna to talk about. She was scared. They both were.
Sienna pursed her lips and shook her head. "Not since that day. But I know he'll be there today. He wouldn't just up and leave us again, right? Or try to handle this on own... Right? No of course not." She sounded as if she were trying to convince herself.
Nicole sympathetically patted her head. "Of course he'll be there." She said as she tried to reassure her. "Listen, everything will be ok. Just like Jason and you explained everything is being handled, we all know what to do. Just have faith it will all work out."
Sienna sniffled and wiped her suddenly watery eyes. "I have faith."
"Good. Now get up..." She said as she bounced on her knees and she shook her simultaneously.
"You're getting married today!" Nicole screamed.
Sienna chuckled, "Not before you go brush your teeth, stinky." She swatted a pillow at her head which made Nicole almost fall off the edge.
Although she was still a little shaky, Layla managed to be in her zone.
With military precision tasks were delegated and completed. Everything was on schedule. Nothing was out of place. There would no complications. Most of the workers skirted around her because they sensed something was wrong. She mostly kept to herself and didn't say much.
It was the midmorning and the house was bustling with activity. The flowers and linens were set, the hors d'oeuvres were being placed on serving trays, the bottles of wine and champagne were being chilled and the uniformed waiters were ready with big sliver platters on hand.
Everything was as it should be. The house was a vision of draped soft whites with touches of blues and purples. The women were finishing up getting ready with hair and makeup while the men were off getting ready as well.
A surprisingly subdued Raphaele and the girls made their finishing touches and left to finish getting dressed. Sienna decided to do an intricate updo for her hairstyle with a small pearled hairclip finishing the look. Her makeup was of expressive eyes and her skin had soft glow to it. She was every bit of what a blushing bride should be.
While in the room Sienna noticed how different Layla was for the first time that day. With the running around she hadn't been able to talk to her in a while. Sienna noticed Layla no longer had that glow about her. The small smile that always threatened to form on her lips as if she knew a secret she wasn't willing to share... had disappeared.
Layla and Sienna were finally alone in the dressing room. Layla was busing herself flitting from side of the room to the other when Sienna called her over. She titled her head as she analyzed at her. She patted the seat and Layla slid next to her.
"I wanted to thank you for all the hard work you put in. Everything looks so beautiful and it's all because of you."
Sienna handed her a small box. Layla smiled and was truly touched from the thoughtful gesture. It was definitely not customary for the bride to give the planner a gift on her wedding day. She opened and found a gorgeous necklace with a turquoise pendant. Layla was speechless.
Sienna picked up the necklace and placed it around Layla as she spoke. "When I first met you, you were this no nonsense, take no prisoners kind of girl. But I'm so happy to have found a friend in you. You really are a special lady that deserves to be happy."
Layla had been in the zone up until this moment. She had been unstoppable, unshakable cruising through her tasks until Sienna spoke. Her semblance threatened to crack and her eyes held unshed tears.
Layla slowly nodded. Sienna bumped her shoulder with hers as if that would make more words fall out of her.
"Talk to me."
"It's just... I don't know what to say. You've been so great to me and I want to thank you for that."
Sienna smiled and noticed Layla's smile didn't reach up as high as it normally would.
"Why does that sound like a goodbye?"
Layla cleared her throat. "Umm... I know this is highly unusual, but do you think I could leave early? I've made sure everything runs like clockwork. I just think it's time... for me to go back home."
Sienna was taken aback for a moment. "Of course, anything you need. Everything is set and we couldn't thank you enough for making it happen." Maybe it was for the best, Sienna thought.
Layla sighed in relief. "Thank you. There's a ferry that leaves in a couple of hours that I think I can make."
After a moment of silence Sienna spoke. "He told you, didn't he?"
Layla now looked in her eyes and slowly nodded.
"He loves you, you know."
Layla shook her head. "It's just crazy. All of it. I can't believe he was in disguise this whole time. I feel like a fool. He could've told me and not lied to my face the whole time."
"I understand. Completely. But not all things are how they seem. Believe me... Sometimes we do things we think are best at the time and don't think of the consequences. Not everything is black and white." She shrugged her shoulders. "Sometimes you have a little faith in the people you love. Just don't give up on him completely, that's all I'm asking you."
Layla inhaled and exhaled. "I-I-I just can't. I can't be with someone who could lie and deceive so easily. I promised myself I would never let myself to go through that again. There's just no way."
Sienna winced at her words but pat her hand in understanding.
"Thank you for the gift Sienna." Layla smiled as she tried to seem upbeat. "I'll cherish it always. Maybe when you get back to New York we can meet up for lunch or something."
Sienna smiled. "You better! Don't think you can rid of us that easy. Because you know Nicole and I will hunt you down!"
Layla chucked. "I'm sure you will." She inhaled and exhaled. "Ok let's get you dressed!" She jumped up towards the hanging dress and brought it to her.
Sienna slowly stepped into her gown and Layla carefully zipped her up.
"Gorgeous." Layla softly said as she beamed at her.
They walked from the bedroom to adjacent living room where the length sized mirror was.
"You're the most beautiful bride I've ever seen." A deep voice remarked.
A surprised Sienna and Layla turned to see Sean dressed in a crisp white shirt, black tuxedo and skinny tie. He looked sexy as hell.
Sienna smiled and felt herself calm. The plan was still on. "You don't look so bad yourself baby bro." She laughed as she gave him a tight hug. She groaned. She was so relieved to see him she didn't want to let him go. Suddenly she remembered Layla was in the room.
Sienna put her hands on the sides of her mouth and whispered loudly, "Don't be an idiot!" Then she promptly glared at him.
"Sometimes I can't help it." Sean replied but kept his gaze directly on Layla. He looked her and drunk her in. She wore a simple eggplant purple gown with laced capped sleeves; it hugged her in all the right places but was still comfortable enough for her to move around in.
"Well I'm going to go check on... something." Sienna rushed towards the door but stopped next to Layla and gave her hug as well.
"Be safe. I'll talk to you soon." Then she swiftly left the room leaving them alone.
Layla stood rooted in the spot not remembering how to move her legs.
"How have you been?" He nervously asked.