Episode One « The Caliente Affairs

Act 6: House of Cards

“Well guys, what do you think? Will it do?” Nina asked, with a big grin stretching across her face. The Caliente’s childhood home had remained in their possession after the death of their parents. It was a grand building, starting life out as an old sorority house. There were four floors – not including the basement, with its own private entrance opening out to a hot-tub and outdoor swimming pool. Nina had always planned to move back after her mother died, but things got serious with Don and in order to keep their affair a secret she needed to stay out of Pleasantview and away from his other life… but now that wasn’t an issue! She could finally be honest and open about her love.

“Will it do! Are you kidding, this place is huge!” Dina laughed.
“It really was a great idea, Nina. After everything that’s happened,” Don quickly glanced at Dina and Nina interrupted him.
“Hey, I told you. That’s all in the past. Our lives together, our bright future, it begins here.”

‘Together’ is all Don heard. All three of them, still together. After everything, Nina stuck by her sister and still loved him. It wasn’t that Don didn’t return the love, it’s just not all of it was for Nina…

With a basket in one hand, full of preserves and other such goodwill gestures, Mary-Sue reached out her other hand and knocked on the big wooden door of the Caliente’s new home. Mary-Sue Pleasant was married to Daniel, a descendent of one of the town’s original founders. As such, she would always take it upon herself to make sure her town was running just the way she wanted it. This meant greeting (approving) new neighbours, and planning regular town-meetings. All of her husband’s family had stayed in Pleasantview since its origins and, being an orphan who was adopted and brought up by two wonderful parents in Pleasantview, Mary-Sue liked to think that nothing was more important than family. Knocking once more, she adjusted her stance, getting ready to great the town’s new residents with a warm, welcoming smile.

“Hello, I’m Mary-Sue Pleasent, from Pleasantview’s ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood‘ Committee. I’m here to… Welcome you to the neighbourhood!” Mary-Sue Pleasant had said a few hours ago, introducing herself – though completely uncalled for, as Nina and Dina were already very familiar with the Pleasant Family and their hometown traditions. Mary-Sue was elated to have original heritage back in her town, and relaxed for the afternoon, listening to Nina and Dina recall their childhood years living in Pleasantview with their parents. Nina fired up the new hot-tub and insisted that Mary-Sue join her and Dina whilst Don cooked dinner. When Don called down, Nina and Mary-Sue left Dina, who had been joined by Mortimer.
“Where’s Dina?” Don asked.
“Mortimer came over and joined her in the hot-tub.” Nina gestured away Don’s panic of his ex-fianceé’s father being on the lot. “Oh, they won’t be joining us for a while. Dina said she was going to take Mortimer for a personal tour around the house. I assume her bedroom will be the grand finale, if you know what I mean!” Nina and Mary-Sue giggled as Don smiled too, but inside his heart was hurting.

However, Dina simply wanted a romantic soak alone with her boyfriend. “Oh Dina, this house is wonderful. But not as wonderful as you!”
“Morty, my one-and-only.” Dina whispered.
“Forever?”
“Forever!”
Mortimer felt his heart begin to race, as Dina cuddled up to him in the tub. He’d only ever asked this question once. In fact he thought he’d never have to ask it again. But now, everything was perfect, wasn’t it? “Dina?”
“Yes?” Dina said, drifting off into a light sleep.
“I know that my love for you will never die, and I hope you feel the same. If you do… Dina, I’d like you to marry me.”
Dina shot up, “Marry you? Did I hear that right?” Dina looked at her beautiful boyfriend and realised she had not misheard his words. “I… I don’t know what to say.”
“If you think I’m just an old fool in love then you can say no. It won’t make me love you any less.” Dina held Mortimer’s hands.
“And why would I say no?” Mortimer smiled and so did Dina, “Yes, of course I’ll marry you!”

Before the day ended, Mortimer phoned his daughter and asked her to bring over his son, Alexander. Nina was asked by Dina to open up some champagne and the six of them met in the kitchen, plus a friend Don had invited from work.
“This wasn’t really the type of gathering for work friends.” Dina scowled.
“Oh but it is the kind for ex-fianceé’s?” Don retorted.
“I couldn’t not invite her; this involves Mortimer and I, and she is his daughter. It’s your own fault if things are uncomfortable.”
“She doesn’t know about me and Nina.”
“So? You can’t control yourself for an hour-or-so?”
“I think you know the answer to that one, Dina!”
“Oh grow-up, Don! Just shut up and listen. Things are about to change forever, and I couldn’t be happier!” Change, Don thought, what kind of changes? Was Dina going to move out with Mortimer? Don crossed his fingers behind his back.

“Everyone! We’ve brought you all together because what we have to say involves you all in some way.” Mortimer smiled and turned to his fianceé. “Do you want to tell them?”
“Tell ‘them‘ what?” Cassandra asked, who was well aware of her father’s relationship with the town bicycle! Avoiding looking directly at this car crash display, Cassandra noticed Don kept guiltily looking at her. She didn’t care what he was doing here… or more likely, who he was doing it with. Dina turned to face the five people, eagerly waiting for their news.

“Me and Mortimer… We’re getting married!” Dina smiled and hugged her fiancé. She looked around the room and saw her sister grinning from ear-to-ear, Cassandra looked annoyed and wouldn’t stop starring at her father. Alexander looked a little sad and Don… Don didn’t seem to be showing any emotion on his face.
“Congratulations!” Nina said with a look of pure happiness for her sister. Dina looked at the other three and waited,
“Congratulations.” They all forced out of their mouths. Don’s workmate gave a rapturous applause, and Mary-Sue even seemed to shed a tear, making Dina realised that maybe her union had caused more harm than good.

“Oh to heck with them!” Nina whispered to her sister, as the two talked amongst themselves. “This is your day, don’t let them spoil it.” Nina said, referring to the gloomy looks on most of the guests.
“I really wish you could be there for the ceremony, but Mortimer was right in thinking that the sooner we’re married the better it will be for everybody. He’s got a limousine coming to take us to the airport tonight! I mean, on some part, I understand their worries. Maybe we are rushing things.” Dina sighed.

“Rushing things? I’ve seen aeroplanes that don’t go as fast as you two. Tell me right now what it is you intend to do with my father.” Cassandra said. Dina rolled her eyes,
“I plan to marry him and then hide the body under the porch!” Cassandra’s mouth fell open and Alexander began to sob. “Oh, Alex! It was just a joke. Me and your sister were joking.” Cassandra comforted her younger brother and turned to face Dina.
“Hear me now, Dina, you will never get a simoleon of my father’s money.”
“Why would I want his money when I can have his love for free.” Dina smiled, as she knew she had won this round.
“Dina. Could we talk alone for a second” Don asked, as Nina sighed and tried to catch up with Cassandra to offer a more dignified goodbye. Alone, Dina thought. She sighed and wished that everyone could just leave her and Mortimer’s love alone. There were things that needed to be said, but not without Nina present.

“Of course it’s okay with us if Mortimer and Alex move in. You are going to be the man’s wife soon!” Nina answered her sister’s question.
“Actually I’m not so sure it’s a good idea.” Don added quietly.
“Erm, Don, remember how I didn’t ask Dina if you could live with the two of us. At least Dina is asking and I would have thought you’d understand it’s the least we can do.”
“Actually the least we can do is say no.”
“Don,” Dina demanded, “What is this really about?” Don looked at Nina.
“Don? Is there something you want to tell us?” Nina asked.
“Well, you know. I agree with Cassandra, I don’t think you love Mortimer. I just think you love his money.” Don revealed on the spot.

Dina slapped her former boyfriend, as Nina rolled her eyes and left the two to discuss things.
“Is that what this is about?” Dina whispered so Nina couldn’t hear, “Or are you just realising that your perfect house of cards is crashing down around you?”

“Okay, I admit it. I’m just a little disgruntled that you’re choosing Mortimer over me.”
“There was no choosing involved, Don. It was never going to be you and I don’t know where you got that idea from.”
“Oh I don’t know, maybe it was all those times when we were in bed and you whispered that I was the only one who made you feel… Complete.” Don said softly but with anger.

“I seem to remember you always replied by saying that without me you were nothing.” Dina shot back.
“I am nothing. Without you, my life is empty.” Don confessed.
“And so you’re going to tell Nina all this?” Dina whispered. Don looked to the floor. “Don, you haven’t changed a bit. I should just come clean to Nina about everything right now.” Dina said, but Don grabbed her.
“Wait.” Don said.

“I stopped waiting for you a long time ago, Don.” Dina said, pushing Don’s hand away from her. “You need to get a clue and figure out what it is you really want, because if I come back and you’re still trying it on with me then I won’t hesitate to tell Nina. Even if it means she never speaks to me again, at least you and her would be over.”
“You’re the one that needs to get a clue, Dina, before it’s too late and you’re stuck with a man you don’t love.” Don replied.
“No actually, what she needs to get is married.” Nina said, as she joined the conversation. But how much had she heard, Don thought?

As everyone waved goodbye to Dina and Mortimer, a worried Don decided to pretend as if Dina was never coming back. For the next few days it would be only him and Nina, he could finally figure out who his heart wanted without any distractions. He just hoped Nina felt the same.
“So… how much did you hear?” Don asked Nina, as she kept on waving to the back of a limo.
“Enough! Enough to know that just because you don’t want to live with Mortimer you think it’s okay to ruin Dina’s happiest day.”
“Don’t want to?” Don realised Nina still knew nothing. “Of course I don’t. His daughter’s my ex-fianceé. It won’t be long before he realises we’re more then just friends and he tells Cassandra.”
“So? It’s over between you and her why should you still care? She certainly doesn’t.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Don asked.
“Well, it’s just she gave me the impression that she wasn’t going to end the night on a low.” Nina said with a sly grin. Don wondered whether Nina was right, had Cassandra moved on already?

END OF EPISODE ONE

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