Geni was still sniffling as Detective Wolfe drove her back to her car at the police station. After the paramedics looked Luke over and gave him a good bill of health, Newman had taken him back to his parents--probably the best moment of their lives--it would be for Geni. What a night. It was hard to believe it had only been, she glanced at the clock on the dashboard, wow, it had only been four hours. It felt a lot longer.
The two men from the dance studio were taken to the hospital to treat their drug overdose. The paramedics figured that they would have died, and Luke Hansen left forgotten in that attic, if the police hadn’t found them when they did. Geni shuddered at the idea that Luke may not have been found.
The closer the car got to the station, the quicker the adrenalin of the nights events wore off. Geni was bombarded with feelings; feelings from college when the four friends would party to take their minds off exams, feelings from two years ago when Danny lied to Todd and caused problems in her marriage--then later Todd passed--the feelings of anger and hatred she felt toward Danny at that time hit her, and then the feelings of this evening. The laughter between old friends, the excitement of finding Luke, and the guilt of being out with someone other than her kids and Lex--and it had been nice to be somewhere without them. Try as she might, Geni couldn’t get all the mixed feelings swirling inside her to calm down, to become one main feeling she could control.
How could she have liked spending time with Danny Wolfe, the man who broke Lex’s heart and caused Todd’s death? Yes, she knew Danny hadn’t caused Todd’s cancer, but because of what he did, Todd didn’t have the strength to fight it that second time round. No, no, Danny had nothing to do with Todd’s passing, Geni knew that.
But how could she have betrayed Lex?
How could she have enjoyed Danny’s company?
Was she so desperate for friends? Someone other than just Lex.
Geni felt like crying. Again. Man, she hated crying and she’d done it three times tonight already.
Detective Wolfe parked in the slot next to her car and killed the engine. The awkwardness of the moment reminded her of when she’d opened her door to him earlier that evening. Geni fiddled with the door handle and Wolfe turned in his seat to face her. She could tell that he felt the awkwardness seep between them and kill the comradery they’d built through the evening.
He cleared his throat, “Thanks Geni, for helping find Luke.”
She nodded and opened the door, but paused before getting out. She needed answers before she went home, and Danny was the only one with them.
Geni pulled the door shut and turned to him, “Why?” she asked, not needing to clarify more--he knew what she was asking.
Danny looked away and tapped his fingers against the steering wheel, “Will you listen?” He looked at her, “I mean, really listen, and not just brush me off?”
He started off slowly, “That was the worst night of my life, worst mistake of my life.” He sighed, “Todd and a few guys from the precinct took me out for my bachelors party. I was happy, knowing that the next morning I’d be marrying the woman I loved. I did love her Geni.” He looked at her, “I still love her.”
“If you loved her, then why did you stray?”
“Because of an old cliche, I was drunk.” He laughed bitterly, “I got back to my hotel room and there Lex was, waiting for me, in the sexiest black dress I’d ever seen her wear.”
Geni looked at him confused, Lex was nowhere near his hotel room that night, she’d been with Geni at her bachelorette party. It wasn’t until the early morning that Lex left to find Danny. There was only one who left the party early, claiming she was sick. Geni grit her teeth, the tramp.
“We’d decided together to wait to consummate our relationship on our wedding night. So at first I was confused as to why she was there, but because of the alcohol, I didn’t question her for too long. Dang it! I should have pushed her for more answers. I shouldn’t have drunk so much that night,” he rubbed his eyes, “I shouldn’t have done a lot of things that night. But she was so beautiful. I found it odd that she didn’t say much, so not Lex,” he smiled, “but my mind was so muddled up with the alcohol that I couldn’t think straight. She had a weird smell around her, but I couldn’t think through the fog in my brain.”
Geni leaned her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes. She could picture Danny, drunk, being confronted by who he thought was the woman he loved, and not able to fight the alcohol--to see the difference between that woman and Lex. But then, Nichelle Carter was really good at deception. She’d played them all. Lex even made Nichelle her Maid of Honor for her wedding. Sick. That’s what Geni felt thinking about that woman. Poor Danny. Geni looked at him, he hadn’t stood a chance against Nichelle.
Danny continued, “Before I knew it, we were beyond the point of turning back,” he dropped his head on top of his hands, “I realized later that hours past, but in my mind it felt like minutes when the door opened and Lex walked into the room.” he turned his head to face Geni, “The alcohol haze was fading, but the first thing I thought was, ‘how was Lex in the doorway while laying next to me’. Then I heard Lex scream. I’m haunted by that sound. I snapped out of my alcohol funk real quick after that,” his face twisted with many emotions, “looked down and saw Nichelle laying in the bed next to me. She was smiling at me. As if I’d be happy to find her there.
“Everything fell apart. Lex and Nichelle had similar body types and height, but Nichelle had dyed her hair to complete the deception--that was the odd smell around her, newly dyed hair. I tried to explain to Lex, but she wouldn’t listen. Nichelle kept making lewd statements about the night. Lex was angry and yelling. And my hangover was starting to come on--I wasn’t thinking clearly. Despite my attempts to speak to Lex, she stormed out of the room as quickly as she entered it. I managed to kick Nichelle out while she argued, saying we were meant to be together since our mothers were best friends and we grew up neighbors.”
Danny’s voice trailed off and he stared out into the night. Geni’s mind was reeling. She’d heard the story from Lex, but not like this. All Lex said was that she’d found Danny in bed with Nichelle. Hearing Danny tell what happened made it more real to Geni. She’d been angry with him--even hated him--for two years, but as he talked, she felt the anger fade. Danny had been a victim just as Lex had been. Nichelle Carter was the criminal who destroyed their lives.
“Once I was alone in the room,” Danny said, “I ran to the bathroom, threw up, and then sat on the cold floor and cried. And that’s the end. I lost her.” his hand touched her arm then fell away, “Geni, I lied to Todd because I couldn’t lose him too. I’m sorry.”
Yes, she knew it wasn’t his fault, but it was still hard to just forget two years of heartache. Looking at Danny’s bowed head and seeing the effects of that night and the two years following melted the last bits of heartache she had.
She laid her hand on his back and said, “I hated you for two years Danny. I blamed you for Todd’s death--irrational, I know. I wanted to kill you for what you did to Lex,” she took a deep breath, “but I forgive you and I’m sorry I wouldn’t let you attend Todd’s funeral, that was cruel of me.”
“Actually, I did,” he chuckled, “I snuck in and hid behind a tombstone.”
She laughed too and checked the time on her phone. Midnight.
“It’s been quite a night Danny, and tomorrow is a busy day. I’m glad we talked, and I hope we can do it again. It would be nice to be friends again.”
“What about Lex?”
She paused then said, “I love Lex, but she doesn’t choose my friends. What happened between you two touched us all, but I’m willing to put it behind me and try to be friends again. It might work, it might not,” she shrugged.
“Okay,” he nodded, “But if Lex doesn’t like it, it’s done. I won’t hurt her again, Geni.”
“Deal. I’ll see you around Danny Wolfe.” She said and climbed from the car.
Written by Linsay Ernst
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