Due to the move and his recent spur-of-the-moment wedding, Mortimer had had little time to plan his son’s momentous occasion on this Thursday afternoon. He’d stopped by his old house earlier to pick Alexander up. His eldest, Cassandra, had reluctantly agreed to move her brother’s possessions over to his new home the day before, so all Alexander brought with him on this day was one small suitcase. Cassandra assured him his bedroom would still be there for him if he ever needed it, but Alexander said nothing. He had always been a quiet child, ever since the disappearance of his mother, Bella Goth. And now, his family were being torn apart again. Nobody had asked Alex how he felt about being moved out of his childhood home (in fact, nobody had even asked Alex if he wanted a birthday party, but with the noticeable lack of youth arriving, Alex knew this party was more about acclimation than recreation), but truth be told, he welcomed leaving the past where it belonged. Mortimer offered his daughter a ride to the party, but she informed her father she’d be coming later with her ‘good friend‘ Darren. But not his son, Dirk. As a reward for not complaining about Cassandra for two whole days, Darren had let him stay home alone for the evening (and alone means alone, Darren had said). At the Caliente house, Nina had been setting the table and putting down coasters, whilst Dina had been getting herself ready! Still under the impression she was on her honeymoon, Nina assumed, she insisted that the bar be open (not all teenagers are booze-hounds like you were, Nina had scowled at her sister), and the hot-tub bubbling and ready for guests! Despite being wary of Don, Mortimer let him help with the cooking, though later finding out it had been down to Nina’s bargaining that Don was helping. In return, Don got to invite a guest to the party. Unfortunately that was where her expectations of Don’s involvement stopped…
“You did buy a gift, didn’t you, Don?” Nina asked, despite knowing the answer.
“Gift? Uh, how about this; I paint his bedroom – any colour he wants!” Don said, hiding the fact that Alexander’s birthday had been the last thing on his mind. No, something else was on his mind. All of the time he and Nina had spent together had made him fall crazy in love. And he had to have been crazy, he thought, if he was actually thinking of going through with what he had planned.
“Oh no!” Nina gasped, looking towards the front door.
“What… oh, my God!” Don moaned, seeing Cassandra walk inside – followed by Darren Dreamer. “Is she serious?!” Don said, getting ready to walk over to the couple.
“Don, no! Please just try and get along, for Alex’s sake.”
“Alex’s sake?! What d’you care, he’s not your stepson.” Don walked over to Cassandra. “What are you doing in my house?”
“Your house?! I’m at my father’s house celebrating my brother’s birthday. Is that a crime?”
“No, but last time I checked having an affair was.” Don said firmly.
“Are you insane?” Cassandra said laughing at Don.
“I’m not insane, you and that creep were screwing each other behind my back!” Don accused, as Nina rolled her eyes and tried to get the guests focused on the true cause of the party.
“Oh, my God! You know what, Don, I wish we had’ve been, because it would have made my time engaged to you a lot happier.” Cassandra felt her face glowing red, realising she had yelled that last part out loud.
Don leaned in towards her, “I think for Alex’s sake we should just forget about what happened and try to enjoy ourselves.”
“I know I will. After all, I have Darren with me.”
“Well try not to let him bore you to death like he did his wife.”
“How dare you, Don Lothario! Understand me when I tell you to NEVER speak to Dirk Dreamer again.” Cassandra demanded. “You’ve already caused him enough heartache for one week.”
“I’m sorry if the truth hurt him, but I figured he should find out what his dad’s girlfriend is really like.”
“How would you know, you never…” But Cassandra was interrupted by Mortimer’s loud verse of ‘Happy Birthday to you‘.
Mortimer sang and the other guests chimed in. Alex put on a smile for his father and his new family, despite not being happy at all. For months he had been content with the many changes teenage life brought on, sometimes even excited after reading about them so much in his father’s science books. But things had begun to confuse him the closer he got to his birthday, and to make matters worse there was nobody around with whom he could confide in. As if being moved out of the one house he’d known all his life wasn’t bad enough, his dad had been too wrapped up in his new girlfriend to notice Alex’s changes. His sister, too; flitting from one man to the next! They all seemed to have developed a sudden craving for love at the exact same time. But Alex couldn’t grasp this thing his family called love; he had feelings, sure, but they were knew and confusing. Scanning his eyes across the room at the strange and unfamiliar faces, he was sure not one of them could define the true meaning of love to him. He wagered they had all undoubtedly been guilty of breaking hearts at one point or another in their lives. Was this ultimately all life had to offer in the way of love for him too?
“…Make a wish.” Mortimer ended, as Alex prepared to blow out the candles. He closed his eyes tight, throwing all logic out of the window and forcing his heart to believe that blowing out birthday candles supposedly grants wishes… I wish, more than anything, that I can figure out where it is I fit in this new family…
Blowing hard, Alex eventually opened his eyes and surveyed himself. His outsides may have changed, but his insides had remained the same. It looked like Alex was left to figure out his place in the world all by himself.
“So brother! What’s the first thing you’re gonna do now that you’re a teenager?” Cassandra laughed, as she ate cake with her brother and his new family.
“Oh, probably rebel against society by writing poetry about pain and suffering – and get a wicked-ass haircut to go with it!” Alex laughed.
Cassandra giggled at her childish brother, “So I take it you’re going to take the Goth name literally?!”
“Either that or…” But Alex stopped himself, seeing his father’s confused look. figuring he’d took that conversation far enough.
“It must be weird to see him growing up so quickly huh, Mortimer?” Nina asked.
“My, it sure is. I remember his childhood years like it was yesterday.”
“Oh, how sweet! I can’t wait to experience that!” Nina slipped out. She suddenly looked at Don, who had dropped his fork.
“You think about… those things?” Don asked honestly.
“Well, not right now. But of course it’s what I want… Hopefully with you.” Nina smiled.
“I’m glad.” Don said, getting out of his chair and pulling Nina into the kitchen.
“Don, what are you doing?” Nina asked.
“Everyone, can I have your attention. This past week, I have had the most amazing time of my life. And it’s all because of this woman!” Nina blushed, as everyone else in the room looked confused, except Dina, who looked a little worried. “And after spending all that time together with her… I’ve realised that I never want to spend my time together with anyone else ever again.” Don proclaimed and nervously got down on one knee, reaching into his pocket. Dina’s eyes widened, upon seeing Don pull out a small box.
“Don, what are you..?” Nina stuttered.
“Nina Caliente, will you marry me?” Don asked, presenting his girlfriend with an engagement ring. The whole room was silent, but inside Dina’s head she was screaming at her sister to say no.
Nina’s face broke into a smile and she choked out one word… “Yes!”
“Of course I’ll marry you, yes!” Nina accepted the proposal and put the ring on her finger. Don picked her up and the two hugged to the chorus of a small round of applause. It was all staged of course: Alex, adding another pair of names to his list of people that were suddenly under love’s spell; Mortimer, unimpressed by his once almost son-in-law’s whirlwind romance; Cassandra. simply humouring Nina. And then there was Dina, who could only feel sick inside, helplessly watching the man who loved her propose to her sister.
Three unplanned hours later, and the birthday-turned-engagement party was looking as if it was finally coming to a halt. With Alex now a teenager, Mortimer allowed him to have his first taste of alcohol along with everyone else during the toast to the ‘happy‘ couple. Alex found that he liked it… he really liked it. So whilst the party was busy spilling into the hot-tub, Alex had been sneaking in drinks with Don’s friend from work, Ed Wilson. That was some time ago, and now Ed was in desperate need of relief. Exiting out of the first floor bathroom, Ed stumbled into Dina, who was also on her way to the bathroom.
“Oh! Uh, Ed, isn’t it?” Dina asked, as Ed steadied himself by holding onto Dina. She should have been offended by his inappropriate touching, but the moment he opened his mouth Dina felt flustered.
“Yeah! Alright?” Dina was shocked to learn Ed was actually British.
“I’m… fine! I had no idea you were from England.” Dina enquired.
“Who?” Ed asked, losing his footing again. Dina reached out to stop him from falling over. With their hands on each other, Dina looked up into Ed’s eyes and found her heartbeat quickening.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
“Nah! I need to get home, my flatmate’s gonna be doing his nut in!” He leaned in towards Dina and she smelt the liquor on his breath, but rather than being repulsed, she urged herself to stay close. “I don’t have a key so he has to let me in. But I can’t drive!” Ed said, shouting the last part with passion, exciting Dina a little.
“Well, where do you live?” She offered, knowing that she hadn’t even finished her glass of champagne from the toast, so was capable of driving.
“Not far by car… too far by foot.” Ed laughed.
Dina found herself laughing too. However, upon spotting Mortimer, she immediately let go of Ed and rushed over to her husband. “Morty, my sweet, I’m just going to take Don’s work friend home.” She purred.
Mortimer nodded, seemingly distracted, but stopped Dina just before she headed downstairs, “You haven’t seen Alexander, have you?”
Ed butted in, “Short fella? Yeah! Went upstairs before me, muttering ’bout the rebellion and what not!”
Dina slipped into an overcoat, whilst Ed remained in his bathing suit and climbed into the car with her. It was less than two minutes before Ed hollered at a house, signalling to Dina this was his stop. He got out, thanking Dina gruffly, and that was that, thought Dina, until she spotted he’d left his clothes-bag in the car. Rushing out, Dina caught up with Ed before he’d gone inside. “You forgot…” she started, as Ed smacked his forehead and laughed.
“This,” He started, taking the bag from Dina, “…is why Shaun doesn’t trust me with a key! Ooh, speak of the devil!” Ed added, as Shaun opened the door and then proceeded to walk out.
“I’m off out now!” Shaun demanded, not even giving a second look to Dina.
“I hope he’s not mad.” She wondered, as Ed held the door open. Dina couldn’t distinguish the emotion in Shaun’s British accent.
“Nah, he’s just horny!” Ed laughed, and Dina let out a surprised scream of joy!
“Well that makes two of us!” She suddenly let slip, turning red and composing herself afterwards. She wasn’t sure Ed was sober enough to have caught that last part, so she tried to carry on as normal. “Do you mind if use your bathroom before I go back?” Ed accepted and showed Dina the way to the convenient downstairs bathroom. Finally getting a moment to catch her breath, she looked at her reflection in the mirror and gave herself a little pep-talk. This is ridiculous, you’re a married woman, for God’s sake. You’re happy, Don’s happy… there’s no need to go messing things up. Hanging up her coat on the hook on the back of the door, Dina forgot to turn the lock, so was shocked when a little while later, Ed burst in with a bottle and two wine glasses. Blushing, she flushed the toilet and composed herself.
“Oh sorry, you not done?” Ed noted and turned his gaze towards the floor.
“Um, what are those?” Dina asked pointing at the glasses. Ed looked up, and for the first time Dina saw him smile.
“Thank yous! For never before ‘ave I been escorted home by such a smashing bird.” Ed slurred, trying to sound polite. Dina found herself giggling once again at the charming man. Inside she couldn’t fight off her attraction to that strong British accent and once again felt her heart jumping.
“That’s not necessary; I really should be getting back.” Dina said. Ed nodded and scooted to one side, allowing Dina to pass through the doorway. It was a tight squeeze, though, given Ed’s size. Dina knew she should leave, but as she brushed past Ed she caught his gaze and found her body frozen.
As Ed was about to move out of the way, Dina pulled him into her body and kissed him hard. She didn’t know what she was doing. Amidst the hot passion between the two, the most she could figure out was that Don’s proposal had gotten to her more than she first thought. Ed broke the kiss and looked at Dina, catching his breath, “Aren’t you married?”
Dina simply looked back at Ed and replied, “Is that a problem?” Carefully setting down the glasses and wine bottle, perhaps thinking any loud noises and sudden movement might snap Dina out of her state, Ed slowly stepped forward and closed the bathroom door gently. As soon as the latch clicked, there was barely a second to think before Dina resumed kissing Ed and the two quickly shed what little clothes they had left. No surface was exactly comfortable in the cold, tiled bathroom, but Dina didn’t care; she needed instant gratification and Ed was more than adequate to provide it for her. Barely five minutes had passed when Dina found herself back in her husband’s car, still fighting to catch her breath…
What have I just done?, she thought, sinking into the car seat. Sanity finally prevailing, Dina woke up to her actions. What the hell have I done?!