"And I see your true colors
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful." – Cyndi Lauper, "True Colors", spent two weeks in the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in October, 1986
"I'm here, sorry I'm late!" I yell as I walk through the door of my childhood home only to find the newly decorated living room empty. Where the swingin' 70's floor pillows once lay in the brown and gold room, there's a brand-new L-shaped couch with fancy recliners on either end sitting on a mauve carpet. "Hello?"
"In here, sweetie!" Renee calls out. I'm glad to hear her voice somewhat chipper considering what day it is, and make my way to the kitchen.
"Ready to get physical, Olivia?" Renee is dressed in her head-to-toe spandex workout gear complete with leg warmers even though she's never used the Jane Fonda video I gave her four years ago.
"I like the way it makes my body look. I feel so young!" She wraps her arms around me, and I hug her tightly. We stay like that a beat longer than usual, and Renee sighs. "I'm glad you're here. When's Edward coming?"
I look at the new Swatch he gave me for my birthday. "He landed a while ago, hopefully Carlisle and Esme already got him and they're on the way."
"What's he working on? Something new? Nothing will beat that movie about the puppet who phoned home." Charlie comes into the kitchen and also hugs me. We've become a very huggy family.
"A few quick reshoots for that World War II boy in a prison camp movie. Same director, much different vibe." I wave my hand towards him. "Dad, what happened to your face?"
Charlie rubs the newly-bald spot above his lip. "Time for a change. I think I look like Tom Cruise in Top Gun."
"Uh…." I trail off and leave it at that. "How about a cocktail? I could use one."
"Coming right up!" Charlie snaps his way to the bar, which is the only decor that hasn't really changed in the house since the makeover. I'm glad to see he's happy today too, even though I suspect it's a bit of a mask.
We're sitting on the couch making small talk, when Edward and his parents show up. I immediately fling myself into his arms and hoist myself up so my legs are wrapped around him. "I've missed you!" I plant a bunch of wet kisses on his face before finally making it to his fantastic mouth.
"Jesus Bella, can you, uh, be less affectionate in front of me?" Charlie clears his throat.
"Hey Dad, guess what? Edward and I live together, you know. I do this to him all the time when we're naked." Charlie just groans and moves to shake Carlisle's hand.
"You really shouldn't say things like that." Edward is holding me tightly, his eyes tired but bright and lips all sexy as they smile.
"It's the truth. I didn't wear white to the wedding, that should've been his first clue you and I do the deed." He groans much like Charlie did even though he's palming my ass before giving me a big kiss in return.
"I've missed you, too."
He lets me down and I hug my in-laws. Esme is especially touchy-feely today, much like Renee. "How are you, honey?"
"I'm good. Work is kicking my ass, but what else is new?"
Esme takes the wine cooler Charlie hands her. "I want to hear all about it," she says and means it. Most people don't like to hear about the depressing side of my career in social work, but Esme has a big heart and volunteers at one of the shelters I unfortunately have to frequent.
We sit on the couch with our drinks and I scooch as close to Edward as I can without sitting directly on him, listening as he tells us about the last few days of shooting in Shanghai. "You must be exhausted," Esme says and moves some of his hair off his forehead in a motherly gesture.
"I am, but I wouldn't miss today for anything." He looks at me with sadness in his eyes, but a smile on his face, which we're all trying to maintain. I rub his shoulder and whisper that I'll hold him close in bed tonight.
"Bella, I asked you to stop," Charlie complains and I grin, knowing I wasn't really whispering. Someone has to be the funny one tonight, so of course I take it upon myself.
"Well, who's hungry?" Renee gets up with a clap of her hands and Edward and I sigh.
"I hope you ate on the plane." I laugh.
"As much as I could." We stand and hold hands as we walk out onto the patio.
It's a beautiful early evening in the middle of spring. The shadows of dusk fall over the backyard, making the pool water that's rippling with an invisible breeze a deep indigo hue. Every time we come out here, I can't help but think about our wedding during his senior year. I had wanted to wait until we'd both graduated, but because of my awesomeness, Edward disagreed and proposed monthly until he finally wore me down. It was just close family and friends, but more perfect than I could imagine. I did make sure the grotto was roped off with "do not enter" yellow caution tape just in case.
Renee has all her fancy tiki lights lit and Charlie puts on some Sade. I'm not a fan, but say nothing 'cause I'm polite. There's a scattering of candles over on the glass end table next to the chaise, and I look at the arrangement before sitting in my usual spot, while Edward takes his next to me. Every time we sit like this, I can't help but think back to the days when he sat across, not looking at me, making me think he hated me.
I'm so glad I was utterly wrong.
"Okay! Here we are!" Renee ceremoniously puts a Pyrex dish in the middle of the table and my stomach protests. "Crunchy Turkey Almond Casserole! A new recipe in Mademoiselle!" I see Carlisle grab the bread basket and help himself to three pieces.
"The dish is very hot, watch out. Charlie got me a new microwave! You can cook a whole chicken in it!" We all let her serve us the sort-of gray but kind-of brown food with toasted almonds on top. At least that part looks edible.
We give it our best efforts, because despite the glass dish and the food being burning hot on the outside, its dead cold in the middle. I push mine around and give Carlisle the stink eye when he tries to pull the bread basket away from me before I can get any.
Even with the gunk eating out our insides as we sit there, the conversation is light and happy. Edward tells us a little more about the next project he's working on, and Charlie is thrilled to find out it's going to star his self-proclaimed mustache-less doppelgänger, along with the guy from Tootsie, which happens to be Renee's favorite movie. She loves the part when he takes off his wig on live TV.
I'm sad he's going to be away for a while when shooting starts all over the country, but thrilled that he's as busy as he is. I constantly tell him I'm picking out my Oscar gown, and he just laughs in his humble, shy way, even though I think he hopes he'll win one someday, too.
Everyone tries to eat for as long as possible until I make the first move and start clearing plates. While I'm washing the dishes and considering putting a fork in the microwave set on max power, Ang comes in. "Sorry I missed dinner." She smirks and takes her blazer off.
"No, you're not."
"Not one bit. I'm gonna grab a drink. You want one?" She kicks off her heels as she walks to the bar.
"I've got a fresh one outside. You alone tonight?"
"Yup. Bye-bye Larry."
"Is that the lawyer?"
"That was the lawyer. Too clingy." Ang has had multiple boyfriends since she and Ben broke up when he decided to go to Northwestern, and she decided Chicago had no proper beaches. She's perfectly happy playing the field, she says, and it seems to be true. She even dated a woman for about a month 'cause she didn't want to miss out on anything.
While she mixes her drink, she tells me a little about a situation she's got with one of her patients without breaking confidentiality, and we talk shop for a bit. I often send some of my cases to her, especially the women who need more therapy and mental help than the state can give. She always grumbles and complains even though I know she secretly feels good about helping with the pro bono work.
"How's Renee?" She leans on the counter and takes a healthy swig of her rum and Coke.
"She seems okay. I mean, I'm sure she's not, but…"
"I could use a cigarette." I laugh.
"You're an asshole."
"Bella, you were never a true smoker. I'm trying that new nicotine patch that just came out." She holds up her sleeve.
"I wish you luck." She dries a few plates and we make our way outside. Renee squeezes her tight and even though Ang isn't the most affectionate person, she reciprocates the gesture just as hard.
Charlie and Carlisle go refresh drinks, Edward pulls up a chair for Ang on the other side of me, and Ang catches Esme and Renee up on her dating life 'cause they're nosy. As they're talking, Esme opens up the box of peanut blossom cookies she made and passes them around.
Renee takes one from the box and holds it to her nose, inhaling the sweet scent with closed eyes. When she gets up, no one says anything as she places it in the middle of the candles, right in front of the eight by ten photo framed in silver. She touches the picture with two fingers before sitting heavily in her chair. Esme reaches over and grabs her hand.
Leaning back, Renee puts one sneaker-clad foot on the table leg and sighs. "I told myself I wasn't going to get sad today. I wasn't going to just drink the day away and stay in a fog." She holds up her glass and we laugh. "Didn't work out so well."
"You got this," Charlie says, and I look over at him smiling at his wife with so much love. Just a few years ago, it would've had to be Charlie we'd look to for guidance. Renee would've holed up in a martini haze, not lead us through a night we've never celebrated before. Rosalie's life made her older, but it's also made her stronger.
"I can't believe it's only one year since we lost her." She shakes her head and takes a deep breath. "Rosalie was my beautiful angel, my baby girl, and I'll miss her for the rest of my life. I might not have agreed with all the choices she made, but I'm so proud of her for having made them and for doing the best with them that she could."
"She did," Charlie says and we all murmur in agreement. Edward squeezes my hand on top of the table, and I see his other pat Charlie on the arm. It warms my heart when I see Charlie place his own over my husband's. On the other side of the table, Carlisle rubs Esme's shoulder as she leans against him.
Renee sighs. "I know people look at me differently now, I know they whisper and talk. 'There's that poor mother of a porn star. There's that sad woman whose daughter died of AIDS'." Renee wipes a tear. "But I'm not ashamed of my baby. I'm not ashamed of the person she became." She turns to look at the photo. "I love you, Rosalie, and I know you're up there in heaven, probably rolling your eyes at me."
We all chuckle at that and take a bite of our cookie. I don't know about anyone else, but my mouth feels a little drier tonight. Charlie clears his throat and rests his arms on the table, a small smile crossing his face as he looks at his cookie. "She was a good daughter. I don't know that I ever understood what she wanted, but it doesn't make me love her less. Your mother and I miss you every day, Rosalie." Charlie holds his cookie up and looks at the sky. "Here's to you, kid."
Esme is quietly crying across from me while she mentions making these cookies with Rosalie one day. Carlisle just sits and nods his head at his wife's memory.
"My turn, I guess." When I start to say a few words, Edward grips my hand tighter, and I lace my fingers with his. I feel Ang squeeze my knee under the table.
"If it weren't for Rosalie, I'd never have Edward. I thank her every day for being a dumb blonde and not realizing what she had." I get a few giggles. "She was an okay step-sister at the beginning, but turned into a pretty good one. I'm happy to call her just my sister." I shrug my shoulders and smile. "It's not every day your sister takes you to Vegas for the AVN Awards. I never felt so overdressed."
The laughter increases with that, everyone remembering my tales of the event that made my jaw drop. "I'll never forget the press everywhere, fans lining up, companies wanting Rosalie Hale to promote them. Against my advice, I think she said no to the blow-up doll company."
Charlie puts his head on the table with a loud thud, which makes me grin.
"But in all seriousness, I'm proud of what she became and proud of the success she worked so hard for. I hope people don't just remember her for the movies. I hope they remember her for being a tough bitch in a profession where women are degraded. I look up to her, for taking power in her career and not letting the pitfalls of the industry suck her dry." I pause, thinking about so many of the girls I see at my job. "Like the girls the industry chews up and spits out, having nothing but the Emmett's of the world pushing them around."
"I'm proud of her for kicking that sleazeball to the curb. I hope he rots in prison," Edward interjects. Everyone agrees loudly at that one, thinking of the jerk serving eight to ten for drug possession, intent to sell, and solicitation of a prostitute. Rosalie kicked him out when he punched her in the stomach and gave her a black eye because he remained a small time hustler and couldn't stand her rising fame. "I've never seen Charlie so angry as that night we went to hold him at the apartment until the cops came," he finishes. "What a badass."
Charlie smirks. "You know it."
I move my hand to the back of Edward's neck, loving the fact he never stopped caring for Rosalie. "Well, because of all that, Rosalie gave me my career in social work. She introduced me to the women that weren't as strong as she was and needed someone to care for them. I owe her so much for that." Edward grabs my hand from his neck and kisses it. He's the one that listens when I come home with horrible stories and want to quit. But we both know I'll never stop doing what I'm doing. I care too much even through the tough times.
I pull a bag out from under the table I stashed earlier and hold a photo album out. "Okay, enough melodrama. I have something for you both." Charlie takes the book and Renee gets up, leaning her arms on his shoulders to look. He flips open to the first page featuring a cover of Rosalie's first movie. He thumbs the rest of the pages quickly.
"Oh my god," Renee says, covering her mouth. "Is this every one?"
"All thirty-two of Rosalie's films pressed between the plastic. I bought them all and cut the covers off especially for you."
Charlie stares at me as Renee starts slowly flipping through the pages of dissected VHS boxes. "What is wrong with you?" He shakes his head and looks at me, but as I'd hoped, he starts to grin.
"Too much to mention," Edward replies, rolling his eyes which earns him a swift elbow to the side.
"Oh, bag your face. They love it."
"I do!" Renee says and starts to tear up again, even though she's giggling. She sits in Charlie's lap to turn the pages.
"Hey, I want some credit for this, guys," Ang pipes up. "I added the penis stickers." We touch our cookies together as cheers for a job well done.
"Very creative!" Renee compliments her.
Esme raises her hand and waves it in the air. "I bedazzled the cover!" Renee beams at them both and my heart sings that the night isn't turning out to be as much of a sob-fest as it could've been.
"Well, I for one can't wait to have my ladies group over," Renee pipes up. "This is going to make a very interesting topic of conversation on the coffee table."
"I'll say," Carlisle adds as he leans over for a closer look, which earns him a red-hot glare from Charlie.
"If you point any of these out and tell me you saw it, I'll kill you," he growls.
Carlisle wisely says nothing, and holds his hands up in surrender. He starts his bad imitation of Rodney Dangerfield, pulling on his collar and saying he gets no respect.
Maybe it's the release of letting the heaviness go, maybe it's the horrible imitation, but soon we're all full-on laughing. We take turns poking fun at the stupid movie titles and some of the porn-star names.
I grab another cookie and look at my family, my gaze stopping on Edward. He has the decency not to be looking and it makes me fall in love with him all over again. I lean over, my mouth close to his ear. "You are so getting road head tonight."
Charlie lets out a guttural moan. A sound of pure torture not even Freddy Krueger could rip out of someone. "Bella, for the last time, would you please, please, please stop with the road head?!"
For anyone that cares, Alice and Jasper have five children, own a small community theater in New Jersey where he writes and directs and she is his lead actress. Bella and Ang will find this out when Facebook is invented.
PB Fun Fact #1: Peanut blossoms are my husband's favorite. When we moved in together, I emailed his mother for the recipe and surprised him. I still make them for him every Christmas, it's been 15 years.
PB Fun Fact #1a: CarrieZM once sent me a box of a variation on these, Reese's peanut butter cup blossoms! OMG.
PB Fun Fact #2 Valley Girl speak (the 'bag your face' comment) was a little before this, but lingered for way too long. BUT, out of that came one of my favorite movies of all time, Valley Girl starring a very young Nicolas Cage. I highly suggest you check it out. Me and my friend Claire used to watch it every day after school. No joke. And the soundtrack is kickin'.
Annoying PB A/N:
Well, that's it! I appreciate you strolling down memory lane with me! It was a blast for me reliving my youth and thinking about my siblings and what we were doing. There were a few times through this that I picked up my phone to text them something silly I had remembered and we had some good laughs at our own memories and lives. Not to mention Googling all the 70's references was a ton of fun!
But I really enjoyed reading all of YOUR memories this story brought back for you. Thanks for opening up your hearts and sharing.
Even though I am still somewhat mad at those two for making me live this one on the edge (never again) and give me ulcers, enormous thanks are due:
Thanks to LayAtHomeMom who not only is a great pre-reader and saved me by making my lovely banner, she was a fantastic sounding board for me on this one when I'd get stuck. I enjoyed our lunch hour talks while I was in my car, LOL. Not to mention I love the fact that we have that fascination with a certain side of life. Read that book, Lay!
As always, so much love and devotion goes to my beta and BB, CarrieZM. She was always there and dropped everything when I'd send her a chapter the night before I needed to post. I told CarrieZM I wished I'd shared with you guys the memories she and Lay commented with 'cause they made me smile and would've made you smile, too. So here's a hint: if you ever want to win CarrieZM over, mention Saturday Night Fever.
I hope I see you all soon, you never know.
- This one's for Rose.