Disclaimer: I don't own Dirty Sexy Money, because if I did we wouldn't be worried that it's going to be cancelled… or is that if I were Queen of America... whatever.
Like any good WASPs, Darlings know how to drink and maintain their composure --- most of the time, especially when there's company about. Don't make a spectacle, don't make a scene, there are people watching, DON'T embarrass the family. It's something that was drilled into all three of their heads from a very young age. They definitely wouldn't have gotten off with just having their credit cards taken away after a DUI and underage drinking citation, like Jeremy last week.
After a party celebrating --- what was it they were celebrating? Brian's graduation from seminary, Karen's appointment to the board of the Darling Foundation, Patrick's promotion, all three, something else, they had so many parties it seemed --- Amongst siblings, however, things are relaxed. They all know the family's dirty little secrets, or at least most of them did---
"Wait wait wait--- you mean Mom has been having an affair with Dutch, Dutch George, the family lawyer and Dad's best friend, Dutch George?"
"God, Patrick, where have you been? Everyone knows about Mom and Dutch --- Except Daddy," Karen laughs, but her fingers rub at her ring finger.
"Yeah, 'wow'…," Brian sneers, taking a large drink of his scotch. He tugs irritably at the collar of his vestments, before giving in and opening them and carefully placing the stiff white material on the side table.
"So when did you find out?"
"Nineteen," Karen sighs, eyes rolling. "Nick and I announced our silly little engagement, and Mom and Dutch shared this look. Then Mom came to me and started asking if I wasn't a little young to be getting married, and that I really hadn't seen the entire world, and perhaps there would be someone better out there if I just waited. She wasn't much older than me when she married Daddy, and then there were those trips where they both just happened to be going in the same direction --- well, it seemed pretty obvious."
"Is it why you broke off the engagement with Nick?"
Brian would be the one to ask the question that had been lingering in the air since Karen said nineteen, because that was the year where Karen got engaged, broke it off, and was… not herself for a long time afterward, still isn't really. It's a time period that no one really likes to talk about.
"What?! No, Mom was right, look how long this marriage lasted," Karen smirks, displaying the pale tan line where her wedding band used to be. "Nick and I never would've made it."
They all try to ignore how soft and uncertain Karen's voice got in that last sentence. They certainly won't offer up the theory that Karen broke it off with Nick because she realized if their parents' fairytale marriage wasn't real, then no marriage could be.
"So, what about you, Brian, when did you know," Karen says, maybe a bit louder than she should have, composure returned.
Brian downs the rest of the scotch, one he'd been nursing all night, with a shudder, before answering:
Eyebrows are raised, as Brian glares sullenly into his empty glass.
"I spilled, you have to too," Karen snips, kicking Brian's ankle.
"I walked in on them in the library, and ---" Brian pauses, looking slightly green at the memory over a decade old. "And they were---"
"Oh GOD…" Patrick shudders, the image already burning itself in his brain as Karen dramatically gags beside him.
"Pretty much. They took me aside after they pulled themselves together and explained that what I saw was a secret and that if I told anyone it would make a lot of people very unhappy and upset, and I didn't want to do that, now did I?"
There must have been more to that conversation, judging from Brian's grim expression; but Brian is the one who asks the uncomfortable questions, not them.
"So what are you going to do with your trusts," Patrick asks as the silence transitions from thoughtful to awkward. Born ten months apart they used to jokingly call Brian and Karen 'The Twins' (something the two of them hated, because as they both firmly insisted they were "nothing" alike), before the actual twins were born.
"Oh, I don't know, invest it probably… I've got five more months to decide." Karen says with a flip of her hair, expression thoughtful.
"Travel, see something the Darling family doesn't own," Brian grumbles.
"Buying a house isn't a bad investment---"
"I wonder if any of us are really Dutch's," Karen interrupts.
"That's gross, Karen," Brian snarls, slamming his glass down on the table.
"What, it's a possibility! They've been going at it for what, at least thirteen years, probably longer--- how do any of us really know---"
"You really want to be Nick's sister? That's one way to get in his family---" Brian snarls, and Karen goes pale. "Besides, there's no way that either of them would risk their relationship with Dad by having some bastard."
"…yeah," Karen mumbles, standing and pouring herself several fingers of scotch.
It was a low blow, another thing Brian's good at. Patrick shoots several pointed looks at Brian, who must be feeling some guilt because he lets out a sigh, before standing and coming up behind Karen, taking her glass from her.
"Do we really want to more liquor to this? We've all had too much tonight ---" At Karen's glare, Brian hands back her glass. "At least we know it's not you; they would've had to have said something then," Awkwardly, he puts his hand on her shoulder, because there's really nothing to say about the real accusation, that Karen is still in love with Nick, the now very married Nick.
After a moment Karen shrugs him off, taking a drink before smiling at all of them.
"Well, there is that isn't there."
Silence reigns for several minutes as Karen sits down in the window seat and Brian pretends to neaten the wet bar.
"I'm going to bed… my flight leaves early tomorrow--- congratulations, Karen."
That's right, they were supposed to be celebrating Karen's new job on the Board of Trustees for the Darling Foundation.
"Where are you going?"
"Don't you keep up with any of the family gossip, Patrick? Brian's running off to 'see the world'."
"Oh… well, good luck."
"Thanks," Brian grumbles, giving a half-hearted wave before disappearing through a side door.
"I should probably go too, wouldn't want to be late to work on the first day," Karen finishes off her drink and sets it aside, standing gracefully and making her way to the elevator with only the slightest hint of a weave in her step.
Now that the shock has worn off, the idea that their mother had taken a lover is not so unbelievable. The fact that it's Dutch George, their father's closest confidant, friend and lawyer is, but he is with the family so much that it isn't completely out of the realm of possibility.
The fact that their mother managed to keep this affair a secret from most everyone for so long, especially in a family like theirs where secrets were hoarded like precious jewels to be bartered for favors at a later date--- that's what shocking still.
Which means it's possible ---