“Bitterness is how we punish ourselves for other people’s sins.”― Matshona Dhliwayo
Windenburg Lake House
Vivien stepped closer to Lana, who was rinsing off dishes in the sink, the intimate familiarity with which she moved about Liam’s kitchen, stung deep in Vivien’s heart. It startled her slightly when Lana ripped the dish towel out of Vivien’s hands as she tried to help.
“Don’t ruin your perfect manicure, Vivien, I don’t need help. Almost done anyway. And whom are you trying to impress with your fake domestic goddess spiel? Liam’s still on that call in his home office, so he won’t even see your performance. Besides, he would know better anyway, one would hope. Then again, this was supposed to be a dinner for two, but you just had to crash it. Typical.” Lana told her; it was impossible to miss that she was beyond upset.
“Why do you hate me so, Lana?”
“Do I? And even if I did, what’s it to you? Do I have to be part of your fan community now? Don’t have enough followers yet?”
“I am not talking about that. I am talking about the fact that you and I just have to get along at some point. Like it or not, but I am not going anywhere.”
“Tell me about it.”
“What is that supposed to mean now?”
“Nothing, forget it.”
“No, I won’t forget it. Let’s have it. You got something to say to me, then say it. Get it out there in the open, because I am tired of your bullshit.”
“Yes. The glares, the huffs, the annoyed sighs, the demonstrative stomping away if you only see a glimpse of me.”
“Let me emphasize properly: MY bullshit? What about YOUR bullshit, Vivien? Liam might be blind to what you are doing, but you are not fooling me.”
“Good, cos I wasn’t trying to fool anybody, but since you seem to think I am, help jog my memory then. What exactly am I doing, per you? Being a good mother to Liam’s son by not starting a bitter war with his father and trying to get them to see each other as much as humanly possible? So, you’re accusing me of good parenting then?”
“Don’t play coy with me, I am not gullible like Liam. You are trying to win him back by any means necessary, including your son. And he keeps falling into your honey traps. I have had it up to here with your games! I know you keep reeling him in with sex, clouding his confused mind. Unfortunately for you, that doesn’t work on me.”
“What?!” Vivien felt naked and exposed. How did Lana know?
“Don’t even try to insult my intelligence by denying it, Vivien. It’s called female intuition. I can tell every time he has been with you, by the way he is with me. Woman to woman, as much as I try to rise above it all, the fact that you still have him wrapped tightly around your little finger and at your beck and call bothers me immensely. Truth be told, if it weren’t for the baby I am carrying, HIS baby, I might have already given up, like last time we were at this crossroads. Which woman in her right mind with even an ounce of self-respect would let all that slide, while trying to compete with a famous celebrity? Not an easy fight, and probably not one I can win. Unfortunately for the both of us, this time there is a lot more at stake than just semi-requited love by a man still so clearly obsessed with you. For once, I would like the chance to have a decent father for my unborn child, which we both know, he will be. So, knowing that I can read you like a book, do you not feel at least a little bit bad toying with him as you do, while sabotaging what he and I could build if it weren’t for your interferences? Can you not let him be happy at long last? I can make him happy like you never could. Lord knows you had enough chances.”
“No Lana, it’s not quite so simple and I give him a lot more credit than to assume he’d be stupid enough to allow that, even if it were true, which it’s not. Liam isn’t the helpless dumbass you paint him to be, he is literally the smartest person I know, and he might well be the only person in this world who REALLY knows me. Besides, what are you complaining about? You keep claiming you do not want a relationship, he says he doesn’t either, so if this is something as casual and no-strings-attached as you both say, who cares what he does with me? I haven’t heard him, or you, claim you are exclusive. If you were so worried about Liam and prim and proper behavior, then you shouldn’t have pounced on him the minute he and I split up. Especially as a lawyer you should know that is frowned upon, to put it mildly. Before our divorce was legal, you were CHEATING with him. YOU were the other woman. Still feel so high and mighty now? Besides, there are things at stake for me too, Lana, more than meets the eye. For one, he and I already have a son together, dismiss that all you want, but Nick is what’s paramount over your little affair here.”
“No need to remind me of the token child. I am reminded of that by him every single time I try to talk sense into him and open his eyes to your games. Nick here, Nick there, Nick everywhere. I applaud him being a picture book father, but that’s not what this is, is it? You are using the child like a pawn in a chess game to keep control of Liam. This ‘affair’ could easily be so much more if it weren’t for you and your possessive manipulative ways with him and your evil routine of involving Nicholas to guarantee a tight leash on Liam. This is all because of YOU, Vivien. You and your selfish manipulation games.”
“My games? Our son is hardly a game!”
“Preach sister, yet you make him one. You should be ashamed of yourself! I am so sick and tired of it. I get it, Vivien, I do, Liam has a lot going for him and is a tough act to follow, but you had your chance, now it’s my turn. Accept it and move on. What you two are doing has nothing to do with Nick, and everything with you trying to win him back, if only out of spite so I can’t have him, and it can only end in disaster, hurting Liam and probably Nick too. Surely, for someone as famous as you, finding a new man to please all your senses cannot be so hard that you have to keep running after your ex.”
“Listen Lana, I have been trying to be nice here, I have swallowed most of your bitchiness for Liam’s sake, but enough is enough. Whatever you think you know about me, you are wrong. And whatever you think you know about Liam, I guarantee you, I know him better. I have known him longer, I was there long before you were, and I will be there long after you. He and I have something very special together, and if you were to spend one hundred years with him you could never scratch the surface about what he and I have. Married or not.”
“Well, sadly will I not have the option to test that theory, as I am not the one with the fanged celebrity family who probably will preserve your skinny fakeness for all eternity to ruin Liam’s life until his is over, then move on to the next hapless fool! Don’t tell me I don’t know who and what you are. It is so obvious, on-stage and off that you are just an insecure, manipulative, egocentric, selfish, cruel, evil, artificial, glorified prostitute.”
Vivien’s temper took over and she slapped Lana, who instantly returned the favor, turning it into a scuffle, which Liam walked into. After separating the women, he laid into them.
“What the hell are you two doing?!”
“She attacked me first! She’s out of control!” snarled Lana.
“She spewed bullshit, accusations and then insulted me and my family!”
“What? Lana what did you say?”
“Oh, this is just so typical! You take her side. I am done with this. You two more than deserve each other, so have fun.” Lana pulled away from Liam, then purposely rammed Vivien passing her on her way to the door.
“Lana, wait! Please. Be reasonable. Come on, this is a lot of drama over nothing. Please, stay.” Liam tried, Lana halted and spun around to face him, visibly beside herself for anger.
“All right, I’ll stay, under one condition. She leaves immediately and you don’t see her again, unless it is because of Nicholas and only for however long handing the boy over may take. No more secret hook-ups. This has to stop and we need to be official, no more casual fling rubbish. Ball’s in your court this time, Liam. Make your choice. Her or me. Pick, can’t have both anymore. I am more than over this. You both have tried my patience enough. I won’t play the jester for you any longer, while you pick her over me every single time whenever it counts!”
“What the fuck kinda bullshit is this now, Lana? I am not gonna pick between the two mothers of my children, present and future. How is that supposed to make sense?” Liam looked genuinely torn and confused.
“That’s what I told her too. Unreasonable behavior!” Vivien interjected.
“Oh, will you shut up for once!” Lana hissed at Vivien.
“Viv, please, stay out of this!” Liam snapped at her.
“Liam, pick, or I’ll go, and I won’t be back this time. Not even in another decade. Choose already, will you?!” Lana urged, very upset, her eyes nearly shooting sparks. Liam had never once seen her lose her cool like this, he didn’t recognize her at all.
“Are you giving me an ultimatum?” he asked, feeling cornered.
“It’s a decision. One you have to make. Now.” Lana said.
“Calm yourself down, and THEN we’ll talk. Not when you are like this, that would be pointless anyway. What the fuck, Lana?” snarled Liam.
“Yes, what the fuck, indeed, Liam. What’s taking you so long? I am almost done waiting for your answer. Make your choice now or I have to assume that no answer is the loudest answer of all!” Lana was fuming.
“I told you before that I don’t bend to blackmail, Lana. If you want to take your toys and run home to pout, have at it! Not like this, not with me! But know I will be fighting you for custody of the baby.” Liam’s eyes narrowed, now he was angry as well.
“Just remember this VERY moment, Liam, because I will never forget this. I cannot believe this is happening – AGAIN! You ripped my heart out before, I set you free and you just stood there, relieved you didn’t have to be the bad guy breaking up with me so you can throw yourself at her. This time I am making you the bad guy, because you are. The way I feel right now I never wanted to feel ever again. But you did it again, and again, because of HER, knowing full and well that she will hurt you again and again as a thanks. Maybe you need that sort of abuse. I tried to be patient. I endured, thinking you will see what you could have with me, but I cannot continue to compete with some celebrity who has her manicured talons dug so deeply into your heart. I have nothing left to give, this was the final straw, I give up. I am done! I am DONE! Congratulations Vivien, he’s all yours. She’s gonna drop you like a hot potato soon, Liam, just you watch, but I will not be there again to pick you up. Never again, this. I was such a fool thinking this could have a real future for us.”
Lana turned to storm out, but froze in mid-movement, awkwardly, groaning, moaning, letting out a shrill cry of pain.
“Lana?!” Liam wondered, worried.
Lana jackknifed, then collapsed to her knees.
“LANA!” Liam screamed, jumping to catch her, talking to her, while she wailed in pain.
“Oh my god, Liam, she’s bleeding! We need to take her to a hospital – I’LL GET THE CAR, YOU CARRY HER! HURRY!” Vivien felt ready to faint when she noticed the drops of blood at Lana’s feet, which were starting to turn into a pool of blood quickly now, then she turned and ran to the door, grabbing the car keys on her way.