The beats of the recording hammered through the air, strobe lights underlined the perfectly sync’ed dance routine. Practice for the latest “2Dark 2C” song release, first from their upcoming album, those were always followed by many live performances to promote them.
Into the routine sounded the ringing of a mobile phone, causing Colton to stumble and Chase to crash into him, Hailey cut the music and all stared at Maddie.
“Oops! My bad. Sorry! I forgot to silence it.”
“Are you new or something? NO PHONES during practice! Jeeze Mads. Now we have to start over for the umpteenth time. I do wanna do something else at some point today!” Hailey whisper-yelled, while the boys were trying to get back into position to resume, as completely unfazed, Maddie checked the Caller ID, then answered.
“Hey mom!” she said, Colton rolled his eyes, while Chase grimaced at Hailey, who rubbed the back of her hand against his cheek.
“Just give her a second, we’ll take a little break and restart when she’s done.”
The phone call wasn’t long, but seemed to have a lasting effect on Madilyn. Still, the boys hated interruptions like this, Colton grumbled in the background.
Maddie just stood there, staring oddly at her phone.
“Seriously Mads! You KNOW interruptions like this are shit. When we’re in the zone and get pulled out it really puts a hitch in everything. Chase and I need to be able to do the dance routines in our sleep, while remembering the lyrics and the guitar riffs.” Colton addressed her.
Maddie said nothing, just looked confused, so Hailey walked over to her.
“Maddie? Everything okay?” Hailey worried, looking at her friend, who shook her head.
“That was my mom. She and dad split up.”
“Why?! We just saw them … they seemed … fine …” Colton mumbled, shocked to hear the news about his in-laws, whom he, and everyone else knew as a very typical, harmonious older couple.
“He has an affair …”
That same night Hailey and Maddie walked up to the front door of an old familiar house, neighboring the now empty and abandoned looking home she used to share with Chase, Colton and Maddie for many years, before moving to the large estate in Forgotten Hollow. Melancholy and memories popped up, but she swallowed the reflective feeling and knocked on the front door she and Maddie had now reached. Hadley Hammond’s door. Hadley had been Hailey’s best friend since junior high.
The door was unlocked and opened.
“Hailey! Maddie!” Hadley exclaimed surprised, when Maddie wordlessly pushed her aside and ran past her, first into the kitchen, when she found it empty she ran to the living room, where she stopped short.
“So – it’s true! Oh my GAWD it’s true! I didn’t want to believe mom. I can’t believe this. What the hell?!” she exclaimed.
Hailey and Hadley appeared behind her, while the elder gentleman rose up off the couch.
“Sweet pea, let me explain …” the man was Maddie’s father, who now attempted to calm his daughter, but she jumped backwards.
“Don’t come near me! How could you do this to mom!? And to me?! HOW COULD YOU!?” Madilyn screeched at a painful level.
“Maddie … Madilyn … sweet angel …” the man tried to justify and diffuse the obviously uncomfortable situation.
“No! I don’t want to hear it. And you ….” Maddie swiveled around and now faced Hadley
“You WHORE! You BITCH! You BACKSTABBER! You dirty sow! How could you do this to me?! We helped you! Hailey and I were there for you every single time you needed it. You went through hard times and Hailey and I were there for you. I gave you the best makeover ever, made you look like a model – and this is your thanks!? You use it to steal my dad?! You dirty bitch!” Maddie ranted, then slapped Hadley hard, before pushing her out of the way, running out of the house again, leaving the door open.
“Oh boy!” Hailey sighed.
“Hailey, I am sorry. I was gonna tell you. It all happened so fast. Gary and I ran into each other at the store, got to talking, and with Hudson gone, everything in the house was broken and I couldn’t afford calling handymen all the time. Gary offered to look at my clogged drain and …”
“Hadley – I honestly don’t want to hear about Gary unclogging your pipes! Are you crazy? Maddie’s dad?! And seriously Gary … what the fuck?! You and Beth were at our weddings, we told you about Hadley’s marriage mess and divorce drama … and you turn around and do THIS?!”
“Hailey, please understand. I never meant for any of this to happen. You know me, sweet girl. Please PLEASE tell Maddie I love her … and I love you too, like a daughter. But … this just happened. It wasn’t planned.”
“Understand? Gary, Hadley and I went to high school together. She is literally my age and the age of your own daughter! No, I don’t understand. And after this mess, hearing you say you love me scares me. But, this is not my problem, I am not getting involved here. You have fix things with Maddie and her mother yourself. But Hadley, a word. Under four eyes please! RIGHT NOW!”
Hadley followed her long-time best friend into her kitchen, where Hailey whirled around facing her, angrily, shaking her head.
“You have to break it off with him. You can’t do this, Hads. I support you, I always have. We have been through shit together. But this – no. I won’t support it. End this, and keep looking.”
“Hailey … it’s a lot more complicated than that. I was gonna call you and explain all this to you. I hate that you found out this way.”
“It’s not complicated, it’s impossible. And whatever happened to Vaughn? He’s handsome, he’s our age, has a great career, … You were all over him … and now suddenly you replace him with an old man? As nice and funny as Gary is, he’s Maddie’s dad, could be your dad, but not a lover. And what about poor Beth, Maddie’s mom? Don’t you feel awful doing to her what Hudson and his hoes did to you, over and over again? Have you forgotten how that feels? Hadley, seriously, what kinda wires do you have crossed?”
“Hailey – I know it looks bad. Vaughn and I just didn’t work out. We tried, I tried, but it started feeling like Hudson all over again, Vaughn’s so handsome and perfect, I am everything but perfect, I felt inadequate whenever he and I went out. And then the long-distance thing. He and I both realized it won’t work long term. Gary is different. He already knows me, knows all about me, through you and Maddie for all those years. He doesn’t expect me to look my best every moment of every day. And even if I wanted to, even if I didn’t love him as much as I already do, I can’t break it off. Not even for you. It’s too late for that now. I am pregnant.”
“What? What?! WHAT?! Hadley, I REALLY hope I am fuckin’ hearing things now, cos you just cannot have said what I just heard you say!!! You better not be knocked up, and if you are, it had better be Vaughn’s!!!”
“I did say that, you heard me right. This is the reason why all this happened so fast. We meant to talk to Beth, and Maddie and you, calmly, but when I realized I am pregnant Gary made the cut right away. The baby is Gary’s, no doubt about it. It just happened, and since Vaughn lives far away, I took a break from birth control, you know, all those hormones all the time cause breast cancer and …”
“HADLEY! WHAT THE FUCK!? Breast cancer? Are you deranged?! Fuck hormones and breast cancer, okay fine, there is a small chance for that, I’ll give you that, however, not only are there other ways of birth control, but unprotected sex almost ALWAYS causes pregnancies. Especially with you, as hyper-fertile as you are, you just need to look at a naked man and you are pregnant. Do you EVER think BEFORE you act?! Oh my God, Hadley.”
“I am sorry. I just found out and when I told Gary … he … well … chose me. He wanted to make the cut right away and he moved in with me right away. He chose me, Hailey, and our unborn child. He loves me, he loves kids, he always wanted another kid, but his wife … “
“Nah! Uh uh. Don’t even go there. I need to go home and wrap my head around this, plus find some way to calm poor Maddie down. Do you even get what this did to her? And her mom? Beth had a nervous breakdown when we went to see her, Colton and Chase are with her. What a clusterfuck. I can’t believe after what Hudson did to you, you would turn around and do this to another woman. Gary and Beth were talking about buying a retirement home in a warm climate – instead now they are getting a divorce.”
Hailey rushed out, leaving a sad looking Hadley behind.
“I am really sorry Hailz … I know you are disappointed in me, and I hate that you are, you are the best friend a girl could wish for, but I hope one day you – and Maddie – will understand that this is the real deal and can forgive me. I am in love. With a man who finally loves me as I am, who knows about all that Hudson did to me. He’s my soulmate. He already is a great father to my children, and will be a great father to our baby. He’s my fresh start.”