"Two weeks!" Kirsten exclaimed as Seth and I walked into the kitchen for breakfast.
"Sorry?" I frowned at her.
"Two weeks unbelievable..." Kirsten continued, oblivious to all of us around her. "Who would believe it? I don't believe it!"
"Ah it's the tourettes flaring up again," Seth pointed at his mom, "it happens every now and again but its fine."
"Or its this." I pointed to the wedding invitation on the breakfast bar in front of us. "Julie and Caleb's wedding invitation they're getting married in, uh-"
"Two weeks!" Kirsten finished for me.
"Luke won't have even finished unpacking in Portland by that time." I sighed as Seth took the invitation from my hand.
"Wow!" Seth said looking through it. "They're really doing it. An unfortunate image just leapt in my mind."
"I mean I just I-I don't understand what is the rush?" Kirsten asked the room, clearly not wanting a reply.
"Honey, it's the Gruesome Twosome what do you expect?" Sandy asked, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's the shock an awe approach to courtship!"
"Julie Cooper is getting married to my father and your being flip?" She replied shrugging his hand away.
"Me being flip about Caleb? No I'm kind of softening on the guy; he may not be friendly or ethical or you know a million laughs…"
"But he is…?" Kirsten said, encouraging him to finish his sentence.
"Generous. Boy either that or he is in love and delusional, because he threw out a ball park figure for what he's offering Jimmy and me for the restaurant... it ain't chump change." He finished.
"Hmm so he's bought your acceptance?" Kirsten asked, sceptically.
"But at a very high price." He smiled at her before turning his attention to me. "Hey, how's Marissa dealing with her new step dad?"
"Well," I shrugged, "she's agreed to be in the wedding."
"So," Seth smiled, "lets all take a step back from this," he placed the invite back down and slid it along the work bench out of arms reach, "and untangle this incestuous web that I like to call the Julie-Caleb union. Now lets think about this, when this bizarro knot gets tired Julie Cooper's going to be your mother-in-law," Seth pointed to Sandy with a smile. "She's going to be your step-mom." He laughed at his mom.
"Seth, my head is spinning." Kirsten sighed picking up the invite once more.
"Me and Marissa, we could be related," Seth stopped for long enough to shake his head, "I don't know I can't even do that math but, but the real kicker is Julie Cooper, my grandma, my grandma wears Uggs."
"Yeah," I nodded back at him, "You are clearly the victim in all of this." I agreed with a sarcastic smile as the phone began to ring.
"Hello?" Sandy answered, plugging his finger in his ear and going into the other room to shut out Seth.
"She wears Uggs, Alex, Uggs."
"What are Uggs?" I frowned at him.
"Go to school." Kirsten simply told the pair of us.
"I like this," Seth told me as me and him waited for Marissa to finish on the phone in the Common Room.
"Waiting to get coffee?" I asked him, trying to get the attention of anyone behind the counter.
"No." he laughed. "Us three hanging out. Its like when you first came to Newport."
"Yeah, cept for the fact that Marissa doesn't hide hanging out with us, Luke's not here to beat us up and lesbianism's almost acceptable now." I smiled nodding my head in the direction of Summer and Anna sat on a sofa the other side of the room.
"Well its not like when you first came to Newport in that sense. But its still nice it just being us three." He smiled at me I simply smiled back at him and allowed him to revel for a while.
"A couple's shower?" Marissa said shutting her phone and throwing it in her bag.
"On second thoughts it is like when I first came to Newport, Marissa was always on the phone and interrupting us." I smiled at her.
"See told you man!" Seth smiled at me. "Plus there's the added bonus that I'm not all hung up over Summer."
"That's a good point."
"Hello?" Marissa waved her hand in front of us, snapping us out of our reminiscing. "A little attention here please, I have to throw a couple's shower."
"I think I speak for both of us when I ask: What's a couple's shower?" I asked.
"Something I am not throwing for my mom."
"We should have seen that coming." Seth laughed. "Can we delve any deeper into this watery mess that is a couple's shower?"
"That was a message from Caleb saying that per our arrangement he wants me to help Kirsten throw a shower for my mum. Deep enough for you water boy?" she asked him.
"I can cope with that as an explanation."
"What about moving in with them?" I asked, trying to get water out of the conversation. "Have you told your dad yet?"
"No… but I will. Today." She told me, a little too quickly.
"Look if you don't want to throw this shower then don't; stand your ground." I said, sensing she was still seething about the shower.
"Standing my ground is not really my strong suit."
"How bout I hold it for you?" I offered.
"Yeah and me." Seth said, getting odd looks from both me and Marissa. "What? I wanna join in. Like back in the day when it was just us three… we used to do ground holding stuff together."
"You are far too happy about all of this." Marissa frowned at him.
"Yeah," I nodded, "I think I liked it more when you were moping about Theresa."
"I was not moping." Seth pointed at me.
"You went to Chino on several occasions." I pointed back.
"That wasn't moping." Seth countered, slapping my hand away, "that was a road trip."
"Uh huh." Marissa nodded between the two of us, leading us over to Summer and Anna. "Can you change the subject for us?" Marissa asked them, sitting on the opposite sofa, "Seth's about to go all mopey over Theresa again."
"I am not mopey." Seth grumbled sitting down anyway.
"Anna is going to have dinner with my dad tonight." Summer offered us.
"Anna's meeting your dad?" Marissa's attention was definitely caught. "You finally came out to him?"
"Didn't have all that much of a choice." She smiled nervously. "He kinda caught us."
"That's how Marissa came out." I told her.
"Yeah but that was overshadowed by me telling everyone on a yacht that Mom and Caleb were something of an item."
"I still think you did that purposely so that the biggest news in Newport was them rather than another dyke living amongst them." Seth smiled at her, she simply responded by hitting him round the back of the head. "What was that for? Are we done being nice to me now? Do I have to play the Theresa card one more time?"
"Don't say 'dyke.'" Marissa simply told him.
"How come whatever happens in our lives, your lives always dominate conversation?" Anna asked.
"Nothings going on in our lives." I told her confused. "'Cept that Seth just lost the sympathy of four of his close friends by using the word 'dyke.'"
"And that I have to help plan a party for a woman I hate, then move in with her and her half dead husband all the time whilst my dad is now sleeping with Hailey."
"Didn't you say you had a Hailey?" Anna frowned at Summer confused.
"Same Hailey." Summer nodded. "You wait 'til Cooper tells you she was sleeping with her last summer when she was still with Luke."
"I was not sleeping with her."
"Whatever," Summer waved her off, "can we focus on us for a second?"
"Do you two ever lock doors?" Seth asked. "I mean I caught you two together-"
"I've caught you two together-" I interrupted him.
"I've caught you two together." Marissa interrupted me.
"Okay we get it."
"We need to start locking doors." Anna said. "Now can we find away for me to gain the love of a man that's clearly hates me already?"
"We're going to need more coffee." I sighed, sliding further down into the sofa.
The entire school day had passed and no one had learned anything that would take away from either Summer and Anna having dinner with Mr Roberts or Marissa throwing a couple's shower. I found that all that had changed in the school day was that we swapped the sofa of the Common Room for that of my front room. However, as Marissa had gone home for a bit Summer and Anna focused on their impending problem rather than hers, whilst Seth and I played video games in front of them.
"Hey," Anna said throwing a cushion at us, "you two are crap hosts." Seth paused the game and we turned to face them. "Drinks would be nice." Anna suggested. Seth and I threw Rock, Paper, Scissors and as I lost I pushed myself up off the floor and headed to the fridge.
"Why did you two stop talking as soon as I approached?" I frowned at Sandy and Kirsten. "You two aren't talking about the couple's shower are you?"
"Couple's shower?" Sandy frowned at me.
"As the Maid of Honour, it is my duty to throw a couple's shower." Kirsten sighed.
"You're throwing it?" I frowned at her, "Thought Marissa was."
"Can we just take a moment to talk about Kirsten being the Maid of Honour please?" Sandy smiled between us.
"No." Kirsten silenced him with a glare. "You know Julie. Everyone's got to get involved to make her the centre of attention. Surprised she doesn't have a role for you."
"I think she's delegated me the role of not sleeping with her daughter." I shrugged. "Turned her down." I looked at their aghast faces. "Wrong crowd for that joke." I sighed. "You two go back to whatever it was you didn't want me to know about." I smiled at them taking four soda's from the fridge, heading back to the others and handing them round. Seth unpaused the game as I sat down, the door bell rang, another round of Rock, Paper, Scissors and I was up again.
"Julie," I smiled opening the door to her. "Don't look so surprised." I sighed. "I live here now… have done for a while." I stood aside and let her pass. "Kirsten and Sandy are in the kitchen if you wish to not talk to me from that room." I closed the door and made my way back to the other three as it rang again. "You know what," I told Seth, "lets just assume you threw Rock and I threw Scissors. I miss Rosa," I mumbled under my breath as I went back to the door, "she always answered the door." I pulled it open and found Marissa on the other side.
"Hey," She smiled at me as she stepped in. "What are you grumbling about?"
"Oh nothing. Your mom's just gone into the kitchen though."
"I'd grumble about that too." She sighed stepping back out onto the drive, I grabbed her arm and spun her back round to face me. "I'll come back later?"
"You told Kirsten you'd stop by."
"I just don't want to deal with my mom right now, I mean all I want to do is get back at her and here I am throwing her a party."
"You could always throw a stunt like you did on the yacht. That was fun." I smiled at her pushing her into the kitchen.
"Oh, honey, hi." Julie said, pulling Marissa into a hug she didn't want to be in.
"Hey." Marissa said, as she managed to get out of it.
"Thanks for coming. So you stopped by to help us, huh?"
"Actually Kirsten called me so I stopped by to help Kirsten." Marissa told her mother curtly.
"Well then I'll let you get to it," she nodded at Marissa. "Kirsten, Alex."
"Are you okay?" Kirsten asked.
"Fine," Marissa said sucking in her breath, implying that she was anything but fine. "So, um, what can I do to help?"
"You can double check the guest list with the invitations." Kirsten said, riffling through the endless pieces of paper in front of her. "I have everyone from the Newport group, all the ladies from spin class," she said as she handed Marissa one of the pieces of paper, "but there's no one from Julie's family."
"Uh, yeah well my mom and her parents sort of don't speak." She told Kirsten.
"Understanding your relationship with Julie a little better now." I nodded.
"Well what about her sisters?" Kirsten asked, trying to hide her laugh.
"Don't deny. I know you think I'm funny." I smiled at her.
"Quiet you." She said pointing a piece of paper at me. "And back to the family." She said turning to Marissa.
"Hey don't point that think at me!" she said holding her hands up. "And there's always Aunt Cindy." She suggested just before Kirsten's phone started ringing.
"Mmm." Kirsten nodded checking the caller ID. "Ah the caterers great. Aunt Cindy you'll get in touch with her?" She waited for Marissa to nod before answering her phone. "Hi, George how are you doing?" She asked walking into the dining room.
"Wow, did you just take the high road?" I asked Marissa.
"You've never met Aunt Cindy." Marissa smirked back at me before walking out to join the others in the living room.
Marissa and I walked into the house the next morning to pick up Seth before we all headed to the beach, and found the house invaded by the shower plans.
"Aunt Cindy," Marissa gasped, recognising the person sat on the sofa with Kirsten. "Look at you! Hey." She smiled as they hugged after the red head had finished squealing.
"So this is my girlfriend, Alex." Marissa told her, grabbing my hand and pulling me more into the room.
"Oh my god!" she squealed again. "You're doing the gay experiment like your mother did when she was your age."
"It's not an experiment." Marissa told her.
"Julie had a gay phase?" Kirsten and I said together.
"Jinx!" I laughed at her.
"Oh yeah!" Cindy told us. "She was completely in love with this girl called Annabelle."
"This is going to be good." I smiled sitting down. "Tell me more."
"They met at a Def Leopard concert." She told us, as Marissa came to sit next to me on the chair. "She was always driving me to Anaheim to help her scalp tickets."
"I don't know what's better Mum being gay or her being into heavy metal!" Marissa laughed.
"I can't believe she ever went to Anaheim!" Kirsten laughed with her.
"So, where is the belle of the ball anyway?" Cindy asked, looking round at us, "Doing yoga? Getting botox?"
"Uh you and Julie... do you talk often?" Kirsten asked looking at Marissa rather than Cindy, whilst Marissa hid behind a piece of paper.
"Sure... if you call once every seven years often." She laughed in response. "Look I'll hand it to you straight, I was shocked she wanted me here."
"You were?" Kirsten asked her, still looking at Marissa, who was still hiding.
"The high roads never looked so low." I whispered in her ear.
"Yeah I mean last time I saw her," Cindy continued oblivious, "and memories a little foggy on account of the jello shots, I'm pretty sure she told me to get lost... for good."
Kirsten merely nodded before leaning forward to pull down the piece of paper Marissa was hiding behind. "Marissa can I talk to you in-" Kirsten was interrupted by the door opening.
"Oh hi, I'm so sorry I don't mean to interrupt but you-" Julie stopped as soon as she spotted her sister, her smile vanishing. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Well its nice to see you too," Cindy beamed at her. "I'm here because I was invited. By Marissa." She told Julie before turning to look at Marissa.
"Marissa is this true?" Julie asked her.
"Well you guys probably have tons to catch up on," she said laughing nervously as she stood up, "so I'm gonna give you some alone time."
"Yeah we should probably get that cake too." I said, following her out of the living room. "I'll get Seth."
"Right," she told me. "Have fun." She said to the adults.
"You should have seen the look on Mum's face!" Marissa laughed, as we filled Seth in on what he'd missed.
"You know she used to be a gay rocker?" I asked him as I opened the door to the bakery.
"A gay rocker?" Seth laughed, "Tell me why I was upstairs and missing all this?"
"Because you were sitting in your room reading comics like a loner?" Marissa asked.
"You're mean," Seth pointed at her, "you know that right?"
"I'm okay with that." Marissa smiled at him. "Hey, we're here to pick up a cake, name of Cooper." Marissa told the woman behind the counter.
"Mmm-hmm let me check on that for you." The lady told her before going out back.
"Thanks." She smiled at her before getting distracted by the sample cake.
"Oh dear, we're going to get no sense out of her now that she's spotted free cake." I warned Seth, as we watched her pick up a piece.
"Mmm! Oh my god!" She said with a mouth full, "This is amazing you've got to try this." She told me holding out the remainders for me.
"Mmm-hm. Mmm-hmm." She smiled at me, putting it in my mouth.
"That is good." I agreed.
"Do I get to try any of this cake?" Seth asked as he watched me and Marissa munch.
"Yeah, you have to!" she smiled at him, handing him his own piece. However, her hand stopped mid way between the two of them when she spotted something over his shoulder.
"What?" He asked, looking behind him, but I was already gone.
"Theresa." I said, taking the cake from her hand and passing it to Marissa. "What happened to you?" I asked cupping her cheek, rubbing her black eye with my thumb. "Don't tell me this was Eddie."
"I didn't want to get you involved. Either of you," she told me moving my hand away from her face and looking between Seth and I, "You weren't even supposed to know I was here. I guess Sandy went ahead and told you anyway." She said, looking down from our gaze.
"Dad knew about this?"
Neither of us spoke. Marissa drove us home before leaving us to it. Neither of us spoke. We simply went to our rooms. Neither of us speaking. Kirsten called me from dinner and I can only assume Seth did too as the next morning Sandy came into my room with Seth in tow and instructed him to sit.
"I know you're pissed off," he began as I curled up and hugged my knees beneithe my covers and Seth looked anywhere but at him, "I would've explained things to you last night but I couldn't. Not until Theresa gave me the okay."
"Dad, its Theresa." Seth said simply breaking his silence for the first time.
"I'm a lawyer she asked for privacy she's entitled to it."
"Not if the privacy is her hiding bruises." I spat at him. "And you made her go through it alone."
"You should know me better than that to say that. You know if someone comes to me they are never alone." Sandy said, hurt by my words. "Anyway, what if I had have told you? What if you had of known then what would you have done?"
"I- I don't know, help her." I shrugged.
"How? Go to Chino see Eddie, land in the hospital, or jail, or worse? Theresa was protecting you."
"Theresa's the one getting hit, she's the one that needs protecting – not us." Seth met Sandy's gaze with a glare "You should have told us."
"Well I didn't! Cause I knew you'd get riled up and do something stupid. And now that you do know... I sure hope you don't prove me right."
"What about Theresa?" I asked. "Tell me you're helping her."
"What do you think?" Sandy smiled at me.
"She going to stay here?"
"She's on her way. You know if she's around people who care about her, she's less likely to go running back to him."
"Hey, I'm just doing my job." He said. "You're not still mad at me."
"I was never mad as such-"
"-just hurt." Seth finished for me.
"It's a very private thing." He told him, resting a hand on his son's shoulder. "You can't understand it until you've been through it."
I slipped out of the shower and threw on a dress that looked reasonably ironed, my hand was on the door handle to step out towards the main house when I saw Seth and Theresa talking in the garden. I waited for Seth to dissapear before taking his place next to her on the bench.
"I can't deal with you too Alex." She sighed.
"Can you deal with another Newpsie party?" I offered quietly. "Marissa's mom is marrying Kirsten's dad."
"Seriously?" Theresa looked up from her knees.
"You wait til I get to the part where Marissa's ex is sleeping with her dad."
"That may be weirder than you, me and Seth." She smiled weakly at me. "I have nothing to wear." I pointed towards the pool house. "Thank you." She nodded as she stood up.
"For allowing you to borrow a dress?" I frowned at her.
"For not saying anything about…" her hand instinctively went to her eye, then she shrugged, "… and then there's the whole Seth issue."
"Be careful." I warned her as she walked into my room, without having to say it we both knew I was talking about Seth rather than Eddie.
We stood silently simply watching the party around us. I didn't know what to say to her and I don't think she knew what to say to me. I really don't think Hallmark make a cards for domestic violence, so I just stood there, with her, her hand in mine. Seth was holding her other one.
"Hey I'm going to go find something to drink." She told us after a long while. "You want anything?" We both shook our heads, she let go of each of our hands and left us in silence.
"This isn't really a Rock, Paper, Scissors situation is it?" Seth mumbled nervously.
"That's what you're thinking about?" I growled at him. "She just got beat up by-"
"The man she left me for." He said back, making himself as big as possible. "Do you really think my head isn't in this?" He shrunk back down. "I don't know what to do." He sighed out after a pause, "I love her."
"I have to find Marissa." I told him after a longer silence. I walked all around the party. Twice. I found Summer and Anna bickering before I found Marissa in the catering tent sat on an upturned box besides Theresa. "I was looking for you." I smiled at her.
"Everything's okay?" She frowned at me.
"Just Seth." I sighed and watched as they both weakly smiled. Theresa stopped though as soon as her phone started ringing. I watched her glance at the caller ID before choosing to let it go on ringing. "That him?"
"Yeah he's just calling to apologise again. I'm not gonna get it." Theresa was as quiet as I'd ever heard her. I snatched up her phone and dropped into a glass of champagne. "You know if there's water damage I can't claim that back on the insurance." I merely shrugged. "And you've gone back to being quiet, angry Alex." She nodded. "You're taking this better than I was expecting."
"Taking what better?" I sighed dropping between her and Marissa. "The fact that your fiancée is scum or the fact that your boyfriend is my brother?"
"I'm going to go make one of my famous toasts." Marissa said leaving us quickly behind.
"What was I meant to do?"
"You could have not slept with Seth." I told her. "That would have been a start. You could have not have left him. That could have been the middle. You could not have-"
"Get beat up by my fiancée?" She snapped at me. "God, I'm so sorry Alex to inconvenience you like that."
"That's not what I meant."
"Then what did you mean Alex?" She was stood and staring down at me. "Cause I can't wait to hear your pearls of wisdom."
"You should have picked Seth." I said simply going out to find Marissa and hold her hand as she made a toast to her mother.
"WE CAN'T ALL WAIT FOR SOME RICH, PERFECT FAMILY TO ADOPT US AND STICK US IN THEIR BEAUTIFUL POOL HOUSES!"
I spun back round to face her, I'd made it to the door of the tent before she'd started yelling, I'd got so close.
"Then you shouldn't have started fucking their son and have him fall in love with you." I told her simply, trying so hard not to raise my voice. "You shouldn't then have left him and you certainly then shouldn't have come back."
"So you wanted me to stay with Eddie?" A tear was running down her face. "You wanted me to go through what I saw your mom going through? You want me to go through that? Cause I remember you hiding around mine a lot of the time whilst we were growing up. I can't live that life. I shouldn't have to live that life." My arms were around her and I was holding her so tight that I thought she was going pop. She was crying so hard now that I was carrying all her weight in my arms. All the weight of her world.
"If you're going to stay here," I whispered in her ear trying to hold back tears of my own, "you're going to have to work out what you had with Seth because its going to get real awkward you living under our roof and him loving you if you don't love him back."
The sun had set and I was staring out onto the beach beyond the garden. Kirsten had just dropped the drapes so I could no longer see her settling Theresa into my room. I felt Marissa drop down besides me.
"Sorry I missed your toast."
"It was a great one."
"They always are."
She placed her arm around me and I dropped my head onto her shoulder. "Sorry I couldn't get away sooner and watch the sunset with you."
"You missed the tide turn."
R&R, thank you again guys. We're nearing the end... its only been two years... thank you all for your patience I really appreciate it. Circus