Tiffany and Bridget deleted chapter

August 2006

Bridget

Bridget lay on her comfy new couch with her feet propped on the armrest and a book in her hands. She was taking full advantage of a rare quiet moment where she had no place to be and nobody to take care of.

She had only read a handful of pages of her novel when someone knocked on the door. She assumed it was Diane or Billy since they were the only ones who ever came over.

"Come in," she yelled. Without looking up, she asked, "What's up?"

Billy cleared his throat and said, "Someone is here to see you."

Sitting up in surprise, she almost fell off the couch when she saw her guest. He had tried to block the woman from entering, but she managed to push her way past.

"Tiffany." They hadn't seen or spoken to one another since graduation.

"Hey, girl! Surprise!" Tiffany waved with jazz hands and a million dollar grin.

Bridget managed to smother the shock and produce a forced smile. Tiffany was as beautiful as ever. Her hair, now an unnatural shade of red, was pulled into a tight ponytail. Sunglasses sat on the top of her head, like a hair accessory, and tiny white shorts and a silk tank did more to strategically expose flesh than hide it. Completing the picture, a pair of strappy sandals with impressively high heels made her legs look longer than they already were.

Bridget glanced down at her yoga pants and several sizes too large t-shirt. Her old insecurities flared as she stared at her former BFF, feeling dowdy in comparison.

"I tried calling, but your phone must be off." Billy looked ready to jump off the landing. He must have read the discomfort on her face.

"It's okay." Bridget waved them in.

Tiffany placed a possessive hand on Billy's arm. "This fine piece of eye candy reluctantly told me where you lived." He blushed as he pulled his arm away from her, only to have her reattach herself more firmly before he could escape.

It didn't take more than a minute in Tiffany's presence to realize Bridget didn't miss her. In fact, the more Tiffany flirted with Billy, the more Bridget despised her and wanted her out of her apartment, possibly through the window.

Billy lifted a brow and mouthed, "Sorry."

Bridget tilted her head in his direction and directed the obvious question to Tiffany. "What are you doing here?"

"Wow, Bridge, you don't have to be bitchy. I thought it was about time we talked about-you know? Stuff."

Bridget hadn't meant to sound snooty, but with her attention glued to Tiffany's hand on Billy's arm, she couldn't help herself. She didn't want Tiffany anywhere near him, nor did she want Billy to know about their 'stuff'.

"Thanks, Billy. I'll see you later." He took the hint and managed to unhook himself from Tiffany's claws.

"I'll be in my office all afternoon if you need anything." She appreciated his concern and gave him a knowing smile.

"What about me? What if I need something?" Bridget scowled at the woman, who was too busy licking her lips and smiling coyly to notice.

His jaw dropped at the sight. He gave Bridget one more glance before saying a quick, "Have fun," and shut the door behind him.

"Awww, he's shy," Tiffany teased.

"Not really," Bridget said dryly.

"Hmmm. Well, you're lucky you get to see him every day." Tiffany had no idea though it was more of a lucky torture most days. "Will you set me up?"

NO!

"He's dating someone." It was partly true. He had gone on a date last night though he came over after it ended early to hang out with her and Katie.

"Too bad." Tiffany shrugged. "So. Where's your baby? Um, what's her name? Kate?"

"Her name is Katie, and she's ten."

"Oh God. That sounds so old. Has it really been that long?"

"Yeah." It was odd talking to her. She looked a little older, but she hadn't matured much past sixteen. "You want anything to drink?"

"Do you have any alcohol?"

"No, not usually. I have soda, water, and apple juice."

"I'll take a soda with ice. Thanks. This place is...cute. It has a certain kind of charm."

Bridget had never been self-conscious about her apartment. She loved everything about it. But as she looked at it through Tiffany's eyes, she noticed the used furniture, Katie's artwork that hung on the walls, and the shelves that held books and photos of them. It was decorator's nightmare, but it was her home. Katie liked it, and that was all that mattered.

"So where is she?" It took her a moment to realize who Tiffany was talking about.

"At a friend's. She'll be home soon."

"Good. Then you have time to talk?"

"Yup." As much as she didn't want to.

They sat at her small table, taking sips of their drinks. When the silence became too uncomfortable, Bridget asked, "So how are you?"

"Excellent. My divorce was finalized last week, and I took him to the cleaners." She stuck out her chest a little, obviously proud. Her lips formed a pout. "Don't look at me with that judgy face. He cheated on me. It was the least he deserved."

"I wasn't judging. I didn't even know you were married."

"Yup. Three years. We worked together. Word to the wise; don't screw coworkers. It'll only turn out bad. Never again." Bridget's thoughts went straight to screwing Billy, causing her to blush. Tiffany was probably right, screwing him might not be a good idea, no matter how often she thought about it.

"So how long are you in town?" Please, say not long, Bridget repeated in her head.

"I'm not sure. I'm staying with my parents for a while until I get settled. I obviously had to quit my job, so I'm searching for something new."

"Around here?"

"Oh God, no!" Tiffany's face scrunched in disgust.

Thank goodness for small favors.

"I'm applying everywhere and anywhere other than here. I'd slit my wrists if I had to stay." Tiffany did a full body shiver. "What about you? You're not with that Billy guy even though he seems awfully protective of you. It took a lot of cajoling to get him to tell me where you live. I had to use the high school friend card, and he was still pretty reluctant. Anyway, he's hot. I'm tempted to break up whatever he has going on. He would be a fun distraction." This was the Tiffany Bridget remembered. The one that enjoyed the sound of her own voice and didn't need anyone else to speak to have a conversation.

It took Bridget a moment to realize Tiffany had stopped talking and was waiting for her reply. "We're just friends. He's a great guy, and Katie loves him." She gave her as little information as possible.

"Well, that's good news. I didn't want to have to step on your toes to get a date with him."

Even though a sick feeling of jealousy bubbled up, Bridget knew better. He'd never be interested in someone like Tiffany. "What have you been up to since graduation?"

"Work and Katie. That's about it."

"No boyfriend?"

"I just started dating someone, but it's still pretty new. We'll see. What about you? What have you been up to?"

"Well, I went to University of Nevada Las Vegas. Graduated and moved in with my boyfriend. We were together until I started working with my now ex-husband, and you know the rest."

Yes, she did.

"I guess you're wondering why I'm here."

"Yeah. I'm a little curious." And a lot worried Bridget finished in her head.

"I wanted to apologize. I was mean in high school and, though, it still bothers me that you told Phillip your age, which made Shawn dump me, I should've handled it better."

Bridget supposed for someone who didn't apologize, that was as good as it would get. "Uh. Thanks. I appreciate it."

"I knew you'd forgive me. You're still the same old Bridge." Bridget couldn't decide if it was an insult.

A moment later, Katie walked in after being dropped off by her friend's mother.

"Hi! You must be Katie. I'm Tiffany, a friend of your Mom's."

Katie stood next to Bridget and shyly said, "Hi."

"Wow. You look just like your mom." Tiffany glanced back and forth between them.

Katie pushed up the glasses that constantly slid down her nose. "I know. People tell me that all the time."

"Except for those eyes, you get those from..."

"Katie. Why don't you go change and we can get dinner with Tiffany," Bridget interrupted.

"Oh, that sounds fun. Why don't we eat downstairs, so I can get another glimpse of that tastiness who brought me up here?"

Katie scrunched her nose in confusion. "Is she talking about Billy?"

"Yes." I nodded while holding back an annoyed sigh.

Katie rolled her eyes. She was used to women flirting with him. At times, she'd get a little possessive, because he was her Billy.

When Katie shut her bedroom door, Bridget leaned close to Tiffany and reluctantly whispered, "Please don't bring up Phillip."

"Oh. I didn't realize." Tiffany smiled as if she held the world's biggest secret. It made Bridget sick to her stomach to think that Tiffany could hold this over her head in some way. "I ran into him years ago and told him that you worked here. He said he was going to come see you guys."

"He did." There was no way she was going to discuss it with Tiffany.

Katie led the way down the stairs and through the back door of the diner.

As they passed Billy's office to head to the dining area, Tiffany stuck her head in and invited him to sit with them.

"I'd love to." He turned off the computer monitor and reached for Katie, strategically placing her between him and Tiffany. Bridget smiled at the obvious avoidance of her 'friend'.

By the time Tiffany left, Bridget's cheeks had hurt from her counterfeit smiles, and Billy's skin had turned to a gray pallor. She had never seen him so uncomfortable. Unfortunately, Tiffany threatened to return the following week to take her and Katie to get pedicures.

"For the record, I'm not here if she comes by again," Billy warned.

Bridget laughed so hard, tears streamed down her cheeks. "You better be nice to me, or I might accidentally forget."

He froze mid-movement. "You wouldn't do that to me, would you?"

She shrugged. "Maaaaaybe." She tried to hold back a smile as she saw the fear in his eyes.

"For the life of me, I can't picture you being friends with her." He shook his head. "Did you at least enjoy your visit?"

"It was fine. A little awkward."

"You didn't look happy to see her."

"I wasn't, and I'm glad she's gone."

"You okay?"

Bridget took a moment to really think about it. "Yeah. Seeing her brought up memories I prefer not to think about. You know?"

"I do."

With their conversation heading in a direction she'd rather avoid, Bridget changed the subject. "Katie and I are watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tonight if you want to come up."

Billy nodded his head in understanding. "I'll bring the ice cream."





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