The Startling Crimes in Hollyoaks, New York

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Chapter 11: A Second Chance

Brooke Amethyst King came from a long line of clairvoyants and doctors. She loves concocting antidotes with her mother. She used to love rejuvenating the sick and reassuring patients.

Until one day, Brooke and her mother were relieved of their duties.

"According to our former boss, he stated that our presence will create a 'massive disturbance' in the hospital," she tells a sullen Caleb. "That made my mom cry. She has been working there for her entire life."

"Jesus," Caleb murmurs, still wincing at the needle piercing his neck. "I am sorry to hear that."

"Yeah, me too. So before we left the stupid hospital, I slip some ipecac in the old fart's coffee while he wasn't looking." Brooke laughed. "He couldn't stop throwing up in the men's room."

After Brooke is finished stitching Caleb's bleeding scar, she cautiously dries the blood with a damp washcloth, then leads him out of her bedroom.

"If your stitches are ruptured, feel free to stop by," she says. "In the meantime, don't get shot, stabbed, or better yet—"

"Try and stay alive." Caleb interrupts with a bored sigh. "Look, I'm sorry for asking stupid questions back there."

That's when Brooke stops shoving him out of the apartment.

She shuts her eyes for a second, feeling the pain between her eyebrows. Lowering her hands, Brooke fixes herself a glass of water and presses it against her warm skin.

Caleb examines the pain on her face, then asks if she is doing okay.

"Yeah, I just have the stupid headache." she chuckled. "Probably a side effect from the vodka or something."

Astounded, Caleb saunters away from the bolted door to get a closer look at Brooke's throbbing forehead. His index finger rests on her scorched skin.

"You are burning up." he whistled. "Maybe you should lie down."

Brooke sighed. "I know, but what about my chores and the kids—"

"I'll take care of them."

She was hesitant for a moment until the agony crawled onto her forehead like an invisible spider.

"Okay," she says eventually. "But if you get stuck—"

"I'll let you know." Caleb insists firmly. His eyes are trained on the three little boys fussing with each other. "It's going to be alright, Brooke. Go get some rest."

Though reluctant, Brooke wanders upstairs and slept peacefully in her bedroom. A thick, dark blue blanket cloaks her exhausted body.

She sets the cold glass of water — close to the stack of textbooks — then attempts to rest her throbbing head on the pillow.

Sweat slithers down her skin. The rattling air conditioner above Brooke rains cold air on her face.

But why does she feel so hot?

Unbuttoning her flower-patterned blouse, Brooke slides the shirt on the mattress and went to bed in her black sports bra. As creaking wood comforted Brooke's ears, she begins to recall memories of her deceased older friend, Mia.

They were in Brooke's dorm room, painting their nails bright pink, gossiping about boys, and squealing about the latest TLC album.

"Ooh, we have to see that concert!" Mia groaned. "I heard Queen Latifah is going to be there, singing with T-Boz and Chili!"

Brooke looks up from her Botany textbook and studies her friend closely. Mia has dark brown hair that hovers close to her wide ears. Maple brown eyes were full of innocent youth, while her clothes exude color and magnetism.

Mia wore a white shirt with colorful polka dots, baggy overalls, and cinnamon brown boots. The bright sun warms her dark brown skin, making Mia appear like an angel.

"Oh come on, Mia," snorted Brooke. "Queen Latifah is not going to be singing with TLC."

"Why not?"

"Queen Latifah never joins a girl group," Brooke answered. "She doesn't let people define her for who she is."

Mia crossed her arms. She sits next to a smug Brooke, pinching her left cheek.

"Ow!" she squeaks. "What the hell was that for?"

Mia did a scoff. "You are clueless, you know that? You think Queen Latifah is overrated!"

"I am not!" Brooke pouted. "I just don't get why you are obsessed with her when there are other incredible female rappers out there."

"Like who?"

"MC Lyte, Lil Kim, Monie Love, Left Eye Lisa, Lauryn Hill, and Da Brat—"

"Who is Lauryn Hill?"

"A future rapper."

Mia puts her hands on her hips. "How did you know that?"

"I am a walking fortune cookie," Brooke smirked. "Remember?"

"Okay, they are incredible rappers," began Mia. "But Queen Latifah is better than all of them."

Brooke circled her eyes before rifling her green backpack. "Whatever. Anyway, I am going to buy some concert tickets. Do you want to come?"

"Sure, let's go," Mia gathers her belongings, and followed her best friend out of her dorm.

Unbeknownst to Mia, this was the last time she would see Brooke's smiling face. Poor Brooke King — once full of ecstasy and innocence — had her friend caught amid a drive-by shooting, orchestrated by Vincent Maroni.

His golden Cadillac steered away, leaving a broken girl to console her withering best friend. Tears begin to spill down her eyes as Brooke struggles to keep herself together.

She discards the bed covers and hugs her knees. Her dark brown hair brushes against acne-ridden skin. Brooke thought if she had killed Vincent, then she avenged Mia's death. But now, she doesn't know what she is doing.

After Caleb is finished taking over Brooke's household chores, he went upstairs to see the girl crying on her bed.

"Hey, what's wrong?" he asks softly. "Are you okay?"

Caleb attempts to console the girl. He sits down, held her warm hands, and give her a gentle look.

"I am right here," he says sweetly.

Brooke looks up from the bed, then into the boy's attentive eyes. "Did you need any help with chores?"

He wipes the tears from the girl's face.

"Everything is clean," said Caleb. "The kids' mom picked them up, and your grandma called and said that she'll be coming home very soon."

He asks if she wanted a drink of water or a snack, but Brooke graciously turns them down. So the boy pulls her close to him and questions if she had any bad dreams.

"Yeah," she answered, completely shaken.

"What were they about?"

"It's complicated."

Caleb raises her chin and studies Brooke closely. "I am not going to tell anyone."

"Are you sure?"

"I promise."

"Seriously?" Brooke's tone grew urgent. "I am not fucking around Caleb—"

"I know!" he cried. "I won't tell anyone!"

Brooke seemed nervous lowering her guard around Caleb, but since she came to Hollyoaks, he is the only person who treated her with respect.

Taking a deep breath, Brooke releases a long sigh, then told him about her best friend dying in her arms. She discusses her true feelings towards Vincent and wishes to kill him.

Instead of disgust, Caleb is impressed by Brooke's masterful plan. He praises her ruthless strategies and wits, but Caleb told Brooke that the Maroni family is not as dumb as she believes.

"How come?" she asks him. "What do they do for people like me?"

Caleb gets up, shuts the door, then calmly sits down beside Brooke.

"Before I helped Solomon Sal move his shit around," he began. "There was an undercover cop trying to infiltrate a drug ring in New York. I tried talking him out of it, but he went ahead and got himself shot in the head by Vinny's dad."

"Jesus," Brooke shivered. "Did the cops ever find his body?"

Caleb simply shakes his head.

"Well, since there aren't any other people willing to take down the Maroni family, why don't we kill Vincent together?"

"Louis Davison," Caleb began, "November 4, 1981. He was a wonderful reporter, an amazing husband, and he loves his kids."

"Okay, but—"

"He ran a newspaper article detailing the Maroni family's crimes. Next thing you know, he and his family are found in oil buckets full of battery acid. You connect the dots."

"Well, I am not saying that we should expose them," began Brooke. "I am saying that we should just—"

"October 2, 1987. An FBI agent tried to arrest Vinny for a string of robberies he had committed. He came, they fired, they conquered."

Brooke leans against the wall, defeated.

The boy's list went on. He discussed the Maroni family ranging from murder, sexual assault, torture, and disparaging the local authorities.

"So what now?" Brooke growled. "Call the police? Tell them what I had done the past five weeks?"

Caleb pursed his lips. His honest eyes transform into a fearful gaze, like a deer struck by an alarming predator.

"No, I don't want you to call the cops!" he says in a quiet voice. "I want you to be smart about this."

Brooke picks up her disheveled floral blouse, slides her arms through the sleeves, and buttons it up.

"I know you care about me, but I want to kill Vinny." she hissed.

Caleb places his hand on her left shoulder.

"I don't blame you," he whispers.

"It should have been me lying dead on the concrete, not Mia." Brooke sobbed. "She didn't do anything wrong. She was just trying to buy those fucking TLC tickets from her asshole ex-boyfriend."

Caleb slides next to Brooke, whose tears fell on her jeans.

"No one gives a damn about her," Brooke continued. "Her parents are dead, she has no home, and if I tell the cops what I saw, they won't do anything about it."

So that's why she left California. Caleb thinks, pulling away from her embrace.

"What did your parents say?"

"They suspect that I am doing something extreme, but—"

Just then, the hair on Brooke's arms stood up. She quickly storms out of the door, alerting a confused Caleb.

What the hell is going on? he wondered.

Caleb attempts to follow her when Brooke pushes him inside her bedroom.

"What the fuck is going on?" he asked.

"It's my dad," she whispers urgently. "Go through the window, I'll keep him distracted."

Caleb nods. Her father's presumptuous thoughts coursed through his brain. He staggers towards the bedroom window.

But before he hoists the windowsill, Caleb asks Brooke a strange question.

"Will I see you, again?" he queried. "I want to take you somewhere fun."

"Like where?"

"You'll see."

After sliding out the window, Caleb leaps into the darkness—just before Brooke's father appeared in her empty room. He wears an oversized brown coat, a white turtleneck, coal-black slacks, dark gray socks, and penny loafers.

"Brooke, why haven't you been answering our calls?" her father demanded. "Your mother is worried sick about you."

His daughter hugs her knees, eyeing him with complete annoyance. "I have been busy. I was doing homework, looking after the kids, and other things."

Her father checked the opened window to see a shadowy figure scrambling down the fire escape.

Brooke's heart skipped a beat. She prayed that it wasn't Caleb outside, but as her dad takes a closer look, it was a baby tabby cat slinking behind the trash can.

"Honey, was someone in your bedroom?"

"No." she lied.

Brooke's father stares at her. "You better not be lying to me. We came from a long line of seers, remember that?"

"Yes, but I didn't let anyone in my room." she insisted.

"Good, because I don't want you hanging around those punks." her father takes his seat beside her daughter, then adds, "The last thing your mother and I want is for you to get hurt."

He plants a warm kiss on her forehead, then asks Brooke how she is feeling.

"I am fine," she chuckles. "What brings you here?"

"Your mom and I want to check and see how you are doing."

"Where is she?"

"She is picking up some Chinese takeout."

"Oh." Brooke nods. Initially, she felt at ease talking to her restless father. They talked about her job at the record store, her naive grandmother, and the overwhelming stack of bills on the table.

"You could have called us," Brooke's father sighed. "We would have helped around the flat."

Brooke smiled, "it's fine. And besides, you and Mom are overwhelmed with work."

The mattress squeaked as a small mouse caught in a trap. The girl was quiet for a moment until she tells her father that she wants to stay in Hollyoaks.

That made her father confused. "Why?"

"Because I want to take care of grandma."


"I want to stay here," she pleaded. "I am almost caught up with homework and—"

Her father stops her from talking. "We can't let you stay here in this crime-infested town."

"Dad, I can handle danger," she says. "Isn't that why you and Mom enrolled me in Idlewild?"

The old man examines the determination in her eyes and strokes her long hair.

She has her mother's willful spirit. Her father thinks to himself. He inspects the black eye and bruised lip but decides not to interrogate her further.

"I'll speak to your mother about this." her father promised. "For now, set the table and pour the drinks. Your boyfriend has already straightened up the place."

Brooke's eyes widen in horror. "Dad."

"Who was that boy in your room?" he asks sternly.

"An old friend I met in school." she lied. "He helped me with chores and looked after the neighbor's kids."

Her father grinned, "Okay, I believe you, but boys are off-limits. Got it?"

"Got it."

Brooke's father leaves the empty bedroom to wash his hands for supper, while his daughter sat on her mattress, staring at scraps of old homework on the floor.

Brooke is relieved that her father doesn't know anything about Vincent. She just hopes it will stay secret.

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