Robron Fanfiction Sunday: Committed

Happy Sunday!

I’ve decided to start doing some fanfiction promotion on Sundays. So, let’s start with one of my own. I know, lame but here we are. So, check out my fanfic below and let me know if you like it or not.

One Death.
One Detective.
One Village.
Too many suspects.

What will Detective Robert Sugden do?

Committed: An Emmerdale Mystery 

(Mood Board by the lovely 

Advertisements

Confusing Rebecca White

Photo Credit and Beta Reader: Justine @BeauitfulHusbands and @klainedestined.

Rebecca White is a confusing character.  If one were to watch her first scene and compare it to her last scene, it is like watching two different characters. Normally, this would be ok. That means the character has developed and changed with time. However, that is not Rebecca’s case. She has developed many different personalities. Currently, she is rocking the victim look. Now, there has to be a reason for these drastic changes.  People have talked about it but haven’t come to an exact conclusion.  So, I decided to take a whack at it. I broke down her time on the show, all the changes I’ve noticed and what could be the reason for these changes.

I don’t like Rebecca White.  I might never like her, but that doesn’t negate how problematic her arc and characterization has been on Emmerdale. It’s important to remember this as we go forward.

So, let’s go!

Rebecca Whites Timeline (In Three Parts) 

The Beginning – Helicopter Plans

Rebecca White enters the scene in a helicopter (something the town fears after that terror) and finds her way to her family, The Whites. Robert calls her in help get her family admits that they set Andy up for the shooting.  She starts off helping but slowly it becomes evident she wants to know if she is an heir to the White fortune and she wants Robert Sugden back.  Robert tries to keep her sweet and on plan when she starts enjoying her time with her family.  Then she keeps pushing before after the second kiss Robert tells Aaron what has been going on. After Rebecca finds out she is a White, she decides to start protecting her family (especially after Andy’s name is cleared).  Once Robert pushes her away declaring Aaron as the one he wants is when she wants her revenge. Trying to embarrass Aaron in the pub, who knows all, she is unsuccessful and leaves.

Rebeca is presented as someone who has traveled the world. She was raised with money and went to, the best schools. Wearing the latest styles (in large hats), she was someone who has done and seen a lot.  She is flirty, young and headstrong.

 

Roberts and Aarons Separated – The Incident

A few weeks after Aaron tells Rebecca off, the three are now friends. Rebecca is listening to Aaron and his issues with Gordon, helping Robert out with plans for Aaron and even helps out Liv after Robert is left alone after Aaron goes to prison. During this time, something shifts. Her flirting gets heavy and seems to want, a different Robert. Robert keeps pushing her away but trying to keep her as a friend.  After a nasty fight with Aaron in prison, Robert, who is drunk, sleeps a sober Rebecca. After he pushes her away, she gets angry and throws their past in his face, especially after she finds out she is pregnant the same time Aaron comes home.

Rebecca is well on the soap vixen road.  She appears to get everyone into a false sense of security through friendship while wanting to steal Robert away from Aaron and his family.  Then she gets what she wants from the incident only to be pushed away.  From that point on she becomes the victim of Roberts ‘user’ ways.  She starts to hate him.

 

Pregnancy and Beyond

Rebecca finally tells Chrissie about the pregnancy and decides that she wants to do this on her own. She doesn’t want or need Roberts help.  When Robert says he doesn’t want the baby, she gets angry and lets Ross shake Robert down. Then changes her mind. Then gets angry when Robert thanks her for not keeping the baby and decided to keep from him that she was pregnant.  So, to a shocked pub and Robert and Aaron, Chrissie tells everyone that she is pregnant.  She doesn’t want to be in the way of Robert and Aarons relationship but still tells Aaron to break up and run from Robert. After Robert decides to not to be in the baby’s life he keeps his distance but doesn’t. Rebecca stays with Victoria, decides she wants Robert on the birth certificate, wants money to help with the baby and shows him the scan.  Soon, Robert and Aaron fall apart, and she gleefully talks about it with Debbie and Victoria at the pub.  Happily, she accepts Robert wanting to help with Home Farm and be in the baby’s life, acting like everything will be fine because the baby has both parents around.

Her personality changes from happy to sad during one episode.  She needs Roberts help at every turn but dismisses him the minute her father gives her attention.  She seems happy to see Robert and Aaron fall apart but then hoped that the three of them could have raised the child together. She even wanted the two to be together but still told Aaron to run for the hills in the same episode. She just invites herself into Roberts life and thinks she should right to do that. It’s confusing and makes the character hard to follow.

 

Confusion as Big as Rebecca’s Hats: Personal Thoughts 

See the confusion? How did this happen?  Here are some of my thoughts.

Audience Reaction

Rebecca, in my opinion, was brought in to stir up the White Family, Robert, and Robron. A classic soap vixen, which is fine. I love a great soap vixen.  From my memories and some research, people were mixed on her but didn’t see a real reason to get too upset. She seemed to be heading down that vixen road and have so interesting conflict with her family when it all seemed to stop, right around November and Aarons pub fight. Something happened that made everything confusing. Her character varied from episode to episode. The storyline seemed to stop and go depending on what was happening to Robert and Aaron. The family storyline appears to slow too. Only coming up in weird moments.

So, with that, the general audience seemed to fall from mixed emotions to hatred. Predictability, the Robron fandom turned on her (I know there are fans of the character in the Robron fandom as well). The audience seems to be having a hard time relating to someone who keeps changing personalities from episode to episode. It also doesn’t help that she was a factor in the breakup of a very popular couple. When that happens, the character needs to be developed and handled with care. Rebecca? Was not handled with care. She was thrown at us with no instruction or warning, and now she is a mess.

Writing

Usually, soap writers can keep a steady characterization when reading for a soap. Especially the writers for Emmerdale. However, when it comes to Rebecca, that steadiness goes out the window. I can tell when certain writers are writing for her. There is a set that writes her as a saint; there are set that write her with an edge and then a set that writes her like she is a blank wall.  There is no continuity there which is odd for a show like Emmerdale. That is a problem. There is a miscommunication happening there that is ruining her character.

(Ok…it happens for a few characters. I know two writers who hate Robert and it shows.)

 

Script Changes

In the same vein as the writers, there has been talk of the story changing and rewrites happening (some even think the story changed after the second Robert/Rebecca kiss).  This hasn’t been confirmed anywhere, but that could explain the confusion with the character.  When changing the direction of a story, it could mess with the characters motivation and direction in a show.  That might explain why the writers are all writing her differently.

 

Chemistry with Cast

Again, this is subjective. Personally, I never saw a connection there between Rebecca or Robert. I saw a small spark between Chrissie and Rebecca but its thin and flickers easily.  Not having chemistry with the people, you work with the sell the character and the relationships, plot points are hard to sell, and then things become confusing.It happens on every show, but usually, people don’t keep the character around.

 

Acting/Directing

Again, another subjective topic. I don’t want to step on toes but my own opinion? I’m not a fan of Emily Heads acting. It feels forced. Sometimes it seems like she is overthinking a scene and sometimes it feels like she doesn’t care. Again, personal opinion. However, that might be affecting how people see the character. Relate to the character.Much like the writers, different directors could be the reason why people are confused by her.

 

I hate Rebecca White. I can’t stand her. She isn’t a character that was written correctly. She was designed to shake things up with one of Emmerdale’s big couples. It needed a strong actress, writing, and direction. However, we have this mess. A polarizing character that has caused nothing but confusion, anger, and fighting among the fans and even media.  Hopefully, as we go into those Fall months we finally get some answers or a reason for Rebecca’s confusing behavior.

What do you think? Do you find Rebecca confusing or do you see a method to the madness? Tell me below or tweet me @AmandaJ718.  Until my next piece, see you around Emmerdale.

 

 

The Heart Wants Those Magic Moments

Lena tried her best to keep her composure as J.D. stared at her from behind his desk. She could feel his stare everywhere, and it made her burn.  She took a deep breath and looked up. He was on the phone, but his eyes were trained on her. She let out the breath and looked back down at the paperwork in front of her. She could not let him do this to her. She had someone to come home too. She had someone that counted on her. She had someone…someone…her thoughts wavered. She had to look at him again. She slowly raised her head and saw that he was standing now still on the phone looking through a file cabinet in his office. Her eyes traveled looking at his dark brown hair, his green eyes, his soft lips and then his angular bearded jaw as it moved in frustration. She smiled as her eyes traveled even further down. His striped shirt that covered his broad shoulders well. His jeans…Annabelle stopped cold. She shook her head as if it could clear her thoughts away.

“Stop it, Lena. You can’t think that way about your boss.” She whispered to herself looking back down at her work.

“Thinking what way Miss Daniels?” a deep voice asked. She jumped at the intrusion. She looked up into his green eyes and smiled appropriately. She prayed he did not know what she was thinking.

“I need to stop thinking about this paperwork,” Lena said half heartily. She knew her answer was lame but sighed in relief when J.D. accepted her answer.

“Paperwork is the bane of our existence,” he replied smiling at her. “Can I see you in my office, please?”

Lena nodded and followed J.D. as he closed the door behind them, slowly locking it tight. She stood near his desk as he closed the blinds, shutting the two of them off from the office. They both looked at each other. It had felt like hours before J.D. made the first move. He grabbed Lena’s hand and pulled her closer to him. Gently taking her head in his hands, he laid a kiss on her lips that shook her to the core. She felt her hands wrap around his neck to pull herself closer to him. They broke apart to take a breath.

“I’ve wanted to do that all day.”

Annabelle stopped. Her eyes glazing over. She continued Lena’s thoughts in her head. She knew what she had written. She sighed and let her head fall onto the table with a loud ‘thunk.’

“Ow,” She said aloud to no one. She knew she had to write this. To get Ethan out of her head. His looks. His voice. His concern. His advice. His annoying ways. The way he smiles. The way he moves. The feel of his beard on her cheek. His eyes. His lips.

“STOP IT,” Annabelle yelled aloud to herself. She raised her head and ran her hands through her hair. She needed to stop thinking this way. She needs to write it and then burn it. Just to get it out of her mind. This was one piece of writing Ethan didn’t need to see. She looked up at Lena and J.D. in mid-embrace. She felt her jaw go slack.

“Oh my God,” Annabelle said noticing something different about J.D. His eyes had changed from brown to green but most importantly of all, J.D. sported a beard that he never had before. A panic grew.

She saved the small piece of writing under a different name and a different file. Never to be seen by anyone but her. Taking a deep breath, she shut her laptop and watched her two characters carefully. It was like watching the beast turn into the prince. J.D.’s green eyes and new beard disappeared into thin air as he dropped his arms from Lena.

Annabelle let out a sigh of relief as her little secret died the minute she closed that laptop.  That relief short lived as she realized what had just happened.

“Shit.”

“Let me guess? You don’t like what you wrote again? God, why can’t we get a creator that knows what she is doing?” Lena asked walking away from J.D. to lean against the kitchen table towards Lena.

“Why are you so bitter? I don’t write you that way.” Annabelle asked her earning a shrug in return.

“I like being bitter.” Lena announcing letting out a loud laugh.

“Why don’t you guys start dinner. I know J.D. wanted to try out a new recipe.” Annabelle responded, rolling her eyes in response. J.D. smiled at her as he turned towards the kitchen.

“Should we expect Ethan?” Lena asked with interest. Annabelle looked up startled at the question.

“No. Not tonight. It’s guys night with Eli and Jack.” Annabelle said getting her wits about her.  Lena raised one eyebrow before giving Annabelle a lazy smile.

“Right. Guys night.  Not like Ethan hasn’t ditched that before for you.” Lena said getting J.D.’s attention.

Annabelle sat up straight, her fingers messing with the top of her laptop. “Don’t make me lift this back up and have you do the Macarena for hours on end.”

Lena let out a laugh before winking at Annabelle. “J.D.! Buddy. Let’s make some dinner!”

As Lena distracted J.D. from the conversation Annabelle didn’t want to have, she laid her palms down on the top of her laptop.

“Shit.”

Men in Santa Hats

It was the week before Christmas. Most people would be out shopping, rushing to get the last perfect gift for their friends and family.  That is not what Annabelle is doing. She is sitting in a bar, an elf hat on her head, gripping onto a beer bottle.  She let her brown eyes scan the bar around her.  Her mother was at the end with three of her friends taking shots, Elizabeth was closer to the live band, reindeer antlers adorned on her head as she swayed to the music. Lena sat next to her a sour look on her face.

“This is pathetic.”

“We haven’t even started yet. This is the meeting point for everyone.” Annabelle explained taking a sip of her beer. “Get a drink and relax. It’s going to be a long night.”

Lena gave Annabelle a look before calling over the bartender.  Annabelle swung herself around on the bar stool to watch Elizabeth sway to the band who were playing a rock version of ‘O come all ye faithful.’

“Who is paying for this?” Lena asked loudly as the bartender made her vodka soda for her.

Annabelle turned around in her chair to look at the bartender. Leaning in she whispered, “Men in Santa Hats.”

The bartender nodded and walked away to take care of another customer. Lena looked at Annabelle a big smile growing on her face. “Is that how I should have been paying all this time? Why have money?”

“No. It was set up in advance. Each bar we go to will have that code. They will bill my mom later.” Annabelle explained taking a long swig of her beer.  Lena raised her glass towards Sarah in appreciation before downing her drink in a few gulps.

“Bartender!” Lena called out all excitedly as the bartender made his way back to the two girls. Lena leaned in suggestively towards the bartender. “Men in Santa Hats.” The bartender winked at her as he took her glass.

“I need to reevaluate how I’m writing you these days,” Annabelle muttered under her breath as she finished her beer. As the bartender came back with Lena’s drink, Annabelle pointed to her own. The bartender grabbed her beer from the cooler without breaking eye contact with Lena.

“4.50.” The bartender said to Annabelle leaning against the bar towards Lena.

Annabelle stared at him in amazement. She had ordered from him just five minutes before. She looked around quickly to make sure no one was close enough to hear. “Men in Santa Hats.” She said flatly. The bartender didn’t respond.

“She’s with me,” Lena said to the bartender moving in closer across the bar.

“Who is me?” The bartender flirted back.

Annabelle sat there for a moment before grabbing the beer from the bar and slipping off her seat. “Jokes on him. I have never written a sex scene with her in it. God knows if she knows what she is doing.” Annabelle muttered as she walked towards Elizabeth on the dance floor.

“HEY!” Elizabeth yelled over the music. The band was now playing ‘Hotel California, ’ but Elizabeth was still swaying to a nonexistent beat.  Annabelle playfully rolled her eyes as Elizabeth put her arm around Annabelle’s shoulder forcing her to sway to the music with her. Annabelle laughed as they swayed to the music, the band appreciative of their participation. Annabelle felt herself relax for the first time today as she took a sip out of her beer bottle.

“Annabelle! ANNABELLE!” a screeching voice came from behind the two, Annabelle tensed up, dragging her beer bottle back to her lips, chugging what is left.  She moved away from Elizabeth and made her way over to her mother, who was flanked by two of her best friends.

“Hey, mom,” Annabelle said as she walked over with her empty beer bottle. She placed it on the bar.

“Annabelle? Your buddy is keeping the bartender busy. Can you get him to come back over here?” Sarah asked with a big smile.

Annabelle gave a strained smile back as she looked down at the other end of the bar. Lena was practically sitting on the bar now as she twirled her hair and batted her eyelashes at the bartender.  He was talking animatedly about something that Annabelle was sure Lena didn’t understand.  She was like a newborn in so many ways. Taking a deep breath she walked towards the two of them, trying to work out a way to get the bartender back to her mother and her friends.

“Hey, bartender guy,” Annabelle said as she walked up. Lena looked over at Annabelle with a disgusted look.

“Annabelle! We are in the middle of something here.” Lena said through gritted teeth.

Annabelle cocked her head in amusement. “Do you want me to call J.D.?”

Lena’s demeanor changed as she hopped off the bar.  She gave a brief smile at the bartender before running off towards Elizabeth.  The bartender yelled after her.

“Who is J.D.?” The bartender asked giving Annabelle a confused look.

“Her husband.”

“She didn’t have a ring on.”

“Yeah well, I’m not there yet in the book,” Annabelle responded leaning against the bar. “I’m going to need you to go back down the bar towards those three ladies. They will be giving this fine dive bar lots of money tonight so you better start sucking up for a great tip.” Annabelle told him, slightly surprised at her candor towards the stranger.  Looking confused he nodded at Annabelle as he made his way towards her mother. Annabelle watched as her mother mouthed a ‘thank you’ before giving the bartender her order. Annabelle felt herself smile.

“Lena, that’s not how normal people dance,” Elizabeth yelled before falling into hysterics. Annabelle couldn’t take her eyes off her mother. She was proudly showing off her ring to the bartender, a bright smile on her face as he took her hand to look closer.  She hadn’t seen her mother that happy since she was a little kid.  Her mother let her hand drop to her side as she grabbed her Cosmo to take a sip.

“You don’t have a drink.” A voice asked breaking Annabelle’s thoughts.  She turned towards the voice and came face to face with a stranger. He looked like the guys she saw coming out of the frat houses in the morning.  Skinny jeans, a button up shirt and meticulously styled hair.

“Nope. I don’t.” Annabelle answered.  The bartender made his way back to them grabbing a beer from the cooler underneath and handing it over to Annabelle. “Now I do.”

The stranger laughed as he took a sip of his drink. “So, what brings you here?”

“It’s my mom’s bachelorette party,” Annabelle told him pointing over at her mother at the end of the bar.

“Congratulations are in order then. What are the plans for the night?” the stranger asked leaning in closer to Annabelle. Annabelle leaned away.

“We are just hanging out here. Maybe we will bar hop around. It’s all up to the bride.” Annabelle told him taking a swig of her beer. She saw the other two bridesmaids walk through the door, their hats on their heads, Annabelle waved at them as they passed, hoping they would stop. They didn’t.

“Sounds like a fun time. Excited to have a stepdad?” The man asked moving in even closer to her.

Annabelle gave a polite smile and moved back. “What are you up to tonight?”

The guy sighed and looked down at his drink. “I’m waiting for some friends. Decided to get here early. Check out the talent.” He said, winking at her.

Annabelle tried to keep her polite smile up. “Talent?”

“I have to admit, I didn’t expect to find anyone, but I see things are looking up.” The stranger said to her with a low voice, moving closer again.  Annabelle let her smile fall, her mind scrambling to find a way out of the conversation when a godsend appeared.

“THE MEN IN SANTA HATS HAVE ARRIVED.”  A familiar voice yelled out into the bar.  Eli and his groomsmen walked into the bar all wearing the same pair of Santa Hats that had lights on the ball at the end. Annabelle could see out of the corner of her eye her mother perk up.

“Oh come on! How come he can yell out the secret code word!?” Lena shouted to Annabelle, her hands on her hips in annoyance.

“What code word?” Annabelle yelled back giving Lena a dirty look. Lena gave her a dirty look back as she turned her attention to the men walking into the room. Annabelle’s eyes quickly searched for one person.

“Ethan! Hey, baby! Come here.” Annabelle yelled once she spotted Ethan wander in.  He stopped short and looked at her from the door.  He looked at her with one eyebrow raised as she waved him on.  He pushed through and slowly walked towards Annabelle, his puzzled look still present on his face. Annabelle wrapped her arm around his waist and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek.

“What are you guys doing here?” Annabelle asked with an extra sweetness in her voice.  Ethan looked down at her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders in response. He looked up at the guy who was still standing a little too close.

“You know Eli. He can’t stay away from Sarah for too long,” Ethan told her as he looked the stranger over, “Hi. I’m Ethan Cooper.”

“My boyfriend.” Annabelle quickly added to the end of Ethan’s sentence. The stranger backed up a bit and put out his hand for Ethan to shake.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Harry. I was just keeping your girl company. Have a great night.” Harry said backing off and walking away.  Annabelle and Ethan stood there, their arms still around each other.

“Is he gone?” Annabelle whispered as she leaned in closer to his ear.

Ethan looked around and leaned down slightly. “He is behind us. Hold on, baby.” Ethan whispered in her ear making her laugh.

“I’m so sorry for that. I owe you one.” Annabelle whispered back into his ear.

“Eh. This one is on me, honey.” Ethan whispered back. Annabelle squeezed his waist in response.

“So, seriously, why are you idiots here?” Annabelle asked as she watched the groomsmen wander around the room.  Annabelle craned her neck to see J.D. and Lena having a conversation on the dance floor, every so often J.D. looked over at them.

“I wasn’t kidding. Eli missed Sarah. It’s sweet.” Ethan told her.  He let his fingers rub at her shoulder. The two of them stood there in comfortable silence as the two parties mingled around them.

“Hey, you two. What’s going on?” Elizabeth asked as she came over.  The two of them broke apart, Annabelle a bit faster than Ethan.

“He saved me from a real charmer. Where the hell were you?” Annabelle asked crossing her arms.  Ethan smirked as he walked over to lean against the bar.

“I was listening to Lena talk about the bartender. I thought she and J.D. see each other?” Elizabeth asked looking back at where J.D. and Lena were standing.  “Also, I could have sworn J.D.’s eyes were brown.”

Ethan’s head snapped over to J.D. Annabelle looked over to trying to see J.D.’s eyes. “Maybe he has the type of eyes that change color. It does happen.” Annabelle reasoned as she heard Ethan huff in response.  J.D. looked over at her giving Annabelle a good look at his face.

“They are green,” Annabelle said. J.D. noticed Annabelle staring and waved over at her.  Annabelle waved back before turning to Ethan, who was now staring down at his beer bottle. Before anyone could talk again, Jack popped through the doors of the bar. “Hey! Next time warn a guy when the whole party changes location.” Jack yelled as he noticed the three of them standing next to the bar.

“Ah. The ladies of the hour. How are you two doing on this fine night?” Jack asked slightly stumbling into the side of the bar.  Elizabeth laughed as he grabbed onto her shoulders to steady himself.

“We are good. I see you are doing good too.” Elizabeth said to him still laughing at his antics.  Annabelle gave a smile as she turned back towards Ethan who was staring at Jack.

“Maybe you should call it a night,” Ethan suggested.

Jack shook his head. “Nah. I just need some water and coffee. I have to be here for my dad.”

The four of them turned their attention to the end of the bar where Eli was hugging Sarah, big smiles on their faces. The bar had gotten considerably louder, but you couldn’t tell just looking at them.  They were in their own little world.  Annabelle felt herself smile at the couple as they stood there oblivious to their looks.

“It’s been a weird month, hasn’t it?” Ethan asked Annabelle quietly.  Annabelle broke out of her trance.  Elizabeth and Jack had moved down the bar to order their drinks, leaving Ethan behind with her.

“Really weird. I didn’t change his eye color. I don’t think I did.” Annabelle said to him.  They both looked over at J.D. who was still looking at Annabelle.

“You know J.D. has a crush on you,” Ethan said suddenly, taking a long sip out of his beer.  Annabelle looked at Ethan with a big smile on her face.

“No, he doesn’t!” Annabelle said to him laughing at his serious expression.

“Yes, he does. I can tell.” Ethan told her moving in a little closer towards her.

She leaned in closer to Ethan looking at him with fake outrage. “Explain yourself then.”

Ethan wrapped his arm around Annabelle’s shoulders again, pulling her in close to his body.  She let him do that, melting into him.  He leaned down and pressed his lips against her temple. It was a simple sweet act that sent shivers down her spine.  Annabelle looked up at J.D. who had a scowl on his face.  She saw him put his hands into his pockets as he watched Ethan.  She saw a similar flash in his now green eyes.

“Oh my God,” Annabelle whispered.

Ethan pulled his lips away from her temple and put them near her ear. “Told you. Somehow, your creation has a thing for you.”

“No. Well, yes but I know what is going on now.” Annabelle whispered back.  She looked down and then back up at Ethan biting her lip. “I’m turning J.D. into you, Ethan.”

Watching My Stories

Annabelle walked up to her apartment carrying take out for the four of them when she heard Ethan yelling through the door. Concerned, she quickly opened the door and threw herself into the apartment. There Ethan sat on the couch yelling at the television in front of him. Annabelle took a deep breath and dropped the bags of food onto the counter. She turned her head to survey the apartment.
“Where are J.D. and Lena?” Annabelle asked Ethan. She was met with silence. She could see Ethan physically stiffen. “Well?”
“Um. Lena is in your room reading a book and J.D. is in the bathroom.” Ethan reported, his voice soft. She could see him slowly inching his way towards the remote that sat next to him on the couch.
“What are you watching?” Annabelle asked moving closer to the couch. She could see his fingers stop their journey. Almost like they were embarrassed. Annabelle leaned against the back of the couch and leaned down towards Ethan’s neck. She could see his green eyes were panicked, his whole body frozen. She placed her mouth close to his ear.

“Ethan. Is that a soap opera?” She whispered dramatically.
She saw his eyes dart around the room before letting out a sigh, his whole body relaxing. “Yes. It is a soap opera. I like to watch soap operas.” Ethan announced a slight quiver in his voice.
Annabelle pushed herself back up and away from the couch to grab some French fries out of the take-out bag. She wandered back towards the front of the couch, plopping down next to Ethan. “I love soap operas. I was raised on the CBS lineup. Every day after school my grandma used to pick me up, and we would watch all the soaps she taped that day. I don’t think I know this one.” Annabelle told him as she gingerly bit into a fry.
Ethan looked over at her in wonder. She noticed, out of the corner of her eye, Ethan bite his bottom before giving her a small smile. “This is a British soap called Emmerdale. I got addicted during my freshman year in college.” Ethan told her reaching over to grab a fry.
Annabelle moved the fries out of his reach giving him a playful look. “My fries. Yours are on the counter.” Ethan kept reaching over, Annabelle moving even farther away on the couch. With a smirk and gleam in his eyes, he ran his hands down towards her sides.

“Don’t you dare.” She warned.
Both were still. Annabelle felt her breathing grow labored as she waited for the tickle assault on her body. Ethan stared her down, biting his bottom lip. “Does Jack know you have your stories?” Annabelle asked with baited breath.
Ethan’s eyes darkened as he slowly smiled at her. She could feel his fingers start to press down on her waist lightly. The first assault made her giggle before he began to tickle. Once he got going, she felt she was going to die from laughter. She squirmed on the couch trying her best not to flash the guy. He laughed along with her as she yelled for a truce at the top of her lungs. He stopped looking down at the floor next to the couch. Annabelle took the interruption as the time to catch her breath. That is when she noticed she was laying down on the couch and he was straddling her hips.
“The fries fell onto the floor,” Ethan announced. Annabelle tore herself away from the scene in front of her to see her fries spilled all over the floor.
“Come on! I guess you are sharing your fries now. See? Tickling is a lose/lose situation.” Annabelle told him crossing her arms over her chest in defiance. Ethan’s eyes shifted over to Annabelle’s. He let his hands travel down to her hips as Annabelle gently wrapped her legs closer to Ethan’s.
“I don’t know. Things don’t seem so bad now.” Ethan whispered. Annabelle’s breath hitched as she uncrossed her arms and let her hands glide up Ethan’s arms cupping his face. She gently rubbed her thumb across his cheek. He melted into her touch, moving down, his lips inches away from hers. She licked her lips and closed her eyes as she felt his warm breath.
“I don’t understand why so many adults love Harry Potter? It’s just an allegory for innocents, war and standing up to bullies!” Lena’s voice ran through the living room. Annabelle opened her eyes and pushed Ethan off her. She watched in horror as he fell off the couch and onto the floor near the fries.
“Oh my god. I’m sorry!” Annabelle heard herself squeal as she sat up on the couch. Ethan, on his back, stared up at her with a dazed expression.
“What’s going on? Is everyone ok?” J.D.’s voice rang out as he left the bathroom. He rushed over to the couch. “Are you ok Annabelle?”
Ethan huffed in response.
“I’m fine. Ethan?” Annabelle asked putting her hand out for Ethan to grab. He looked at it for a minute before taking the offer. She helped him sit up and lean against the edge of the couch.
“I think we interrupted Mom and Dad.” Lena sing-song to J.D. as she gave Annabelle a wink.
Annabelle looked at her concerned. “I need to adjust how I am writing you. At least you aren’t so angry anymore.”
Ethan hummed in response as he cleaned up the French fries on the floor. Annabelle watched him, but her mind was somewhere else. Mostly remembering his breath as he got closer. She placed her fingers gently onto her lips, remembering.
“Is this our food?” Lena asked as she opened the bag, pulling out the other set of fries.
“HEY! Those are Ethan’s fries. Drop them.” Annabelle bellowed making Ethan jerk in response.
“It’s fine. We all can share.” Ethan said giving Annabelle a wink. He stood up with the floor fries and wandered over to the kitchen to throw them out. Annabelle grabbed the remote and paused Ethan’s soap opera.
“Tell me more about this soap you are so embarrassed to be watching,” Annabelle asked as she turned her attention to the paused screen. Two guys were sitting in a pub with pints in front of them.
Ethan looked up at the screen and gave a smile. “Well, that is Emmerdale. It is set in a village, and it’s about the adventures the village people have.”
“Sounds good. Want to watch from the beginning of the episode?” Annabelle asked him.
Lena groaned in response. “I’m going to eat in your room. I’m not into soaps. J.D.? Wanna watch with me?” Lena asked batting her eyelashes. J.D. shrugged and followed Lena into the bedroom.
Annabelle made herself comfortable on the couch as Ethan got his food. He walked back and looked questionably towards Annabelle. “Aren’t you hungry?”
“Nah. I’ll eat later. Let’s watch.” Annabelle said changing the subject. Pressing the remote to play the show from the beginning, Annabelle settled in. As she watched the opening theme, Ethan offered her a French fry. She considered it a minute before taking it and throwing it into her mouth. She could see him smile at her.
They watched in silence, Ethan handing her a French fry every couple of minutes. After a while, Ethan becomes engrossed as they get to the scene she walked in on earlier. Two guys, Annabelle guessed were married, stare at each other from across the street. Both take a deep breath before running to each other for a hug, one throwing his bag to the ground and pulling the other man close to him. Both were breathing as heavily as their hearts beat, the show went into a commercial break.
“Wow. That was intense.” Annabelle said looking over at Ethan. She noticed his eyes were shining as he stared at the screen. “Are you ok?”
He broke from his spell and quickly rubbed his eyes against his arm. “I’m all right.” He murmured.
“Were you crying?”
“Maybe. It’s just, these two have gone through so much, and there have so much more to face.” Ethan said to her his voice uneven. “They have one hell of a love story. I should show you what happened from the beginning some time.”
“What? Like, true love? Yeah, ok. That can only happen in a soap opera.” Annabelle replied reaching over to his plate to take another fry. She slowed after seeing Ethan’s astonished face. “What?”
“You don’t believe in true love?” Ethan asked grabbing the remote and paused the show.
Annabelle felt a shift in the atmosphere. “I feel like true love is manufactured for movies, tv shows, novels and holidays that require greeting cards.”
“You write romance,” Ethan said as if he was still trying to get his mind around her statement.
“Yeah, I can control that romance. I can make it work out the way it should. I can make it messy, and I can make it clean. I’m the master of the romance universe.” Annabelle explained feeling slightly uncomfortable at Ethan’s expression.
“That’s no fun. Romance is that factor that throws your world off kilter. It is the thing you didn’t know you needed there. It is that person that keeps you center. It’s your partner in crime. It’s the other half of our damaged, broken soul.” Ethan told her, his voice rising with excitement.
“Are all souls damaged and broken?” Annabelle asked with a teasing tone.
“All the best ones are. Maybe that’s why you are having so much trouble writing for J.D. and Lena. You deny your romantic center.” Ethan told her grabbing the remote and fiddling with the buttons.
“I don’t think I have that romantic center,” Annabelle admitted. Ethan looked her with soft eyes that made her stomach flip and flutter away. “Does that mean I will be stuck with those idiots forever?” Annabelle quickly joked trying to defuse the intense feeling that went through her. Ethan laughed in response and put his arm around the back of the couch and started the episode back up.
Annabelle watched him as he watched this couple he seemed to love. She sat back and slowly moved in closer to him, letting her body lean against his. His eyes never left the screen as he took his stretched-out arm and moved it around her shoulders pulling her in closer. She smiled and watched the show Ethan seemed to love so much.
Maybe she did have that romantic center. It just needed to be woken up by the right person.

The Mary Sue Project

Wrote this three years ago. Still cracks me up. Don’t know if it’s going into the novel I’m writing now. Either way, enjoy!

*****

“I just don’t know what to do,” J.D. said to his best friend as he picked at his pancakes, “I miss her so much. I don’t know if I can go on without her.” J.D. gave up on eating his pancakes and dropped the fork.
“I know it is hard. It has been a year since she died.” His oldest friend Jack said to him, almost as a reminder.
J.D. sighed. “I know it has been a year. A year and no closure. For all, we know she may still be out there! Looking for me.”
“In the ocean?” Jack snapped back. He immediately wanted to take it back the minute it left his mouth.
J.D. sighed again. His placed his head in his hands and muttered, “I know. I know. It’s hopeless.”
“Nothing is ever impossible. You always got to think positive!” an unfamiliar voice said. J.D. slowly raised his head back up. There was a young blonde waitress with big brown eyes carrying a pot of coffee with a big smile. J.D. could not help but smile back.
“Hi,” He said.
“Hi yourself,” the waitress said, winking.
“What is happening right now?” Jack asked confused at the situation in front of him.
“What is your name?”J.D. asked leaning forward.
“My name is Bell. Anna Bell. I’m just a waitress to help pay my way through graduate school.” She said confidently.
“That is so fascinating. I must know
Annabelle stopped herself. She stared at the words and then changed focus to J.D. and Lena, who stood in front of her. She was not sure if this would be a gamble. At least killing off Lena did not kill her off in this world. Lena sat on the couch staring forward, her eyes glassy and her body unmoving. It was creepy. J.D. was facing Annabelle and talking to her as if she were Jack. A new character she pulled out of her, well, you know where this is going. Annabelle watched J.D. as he stood frozen, that goofy smile on his face. She took a deep breath and pushed a piece of her hair behind her ear. She set her fingers on the home keys but could not make herself write. She bit her lip before doing the one thing she never wanted to do.
“Ethan? Ethan! I need you!” Annabelle yelled out. She heard a door open, and footsteps come down the hall.
“You need me?” Ethan said suggestively. Annabelle looked at him and rolled her eyes.
“You wish baby doll. I need another pair of eyes on this.” Annabelle said to him pointing to the computer. Ethan got closer. A confused look came over his face.
“Why is J.D. facing you with that creepy look on his face,” Ethan asked, “is the joker looking for a new sidekick?”
Annabelle playfully hit his stomach and pointed to the computer screen. “Read. Need advice.” Ethan leaned over Annabelle’s shoulder and read the scene. She sat quietly waiting for him to finish. Ethan leaned back when he was done.
“Wow,” He said. “It is like watching Skynet become self-aware.”
“I know.”
“It’s like seeing what teenagers fangirl brain is like when running on all cylinders.”
“Ethan…”
“Bell. Anna Bell? Come the fuc..”
“Got it. Deleted.”
Click.

Intoxicated Consequences

Two hours later the party was still going. Annabelle’s mother glowing with attention was she made her way around the room again.  Annabelle watched her from the bar, a place she considered her new home for the rest of the night.  Her hand gripped onto the bar as she let her eyes travel across the crowd. She saw Eli and Elizabeth having an animated conversation on a couch in the corner, and Jack was floating from each group in the room like a butterfly. Annabelle used her hand to turn back to the bar.  Swaying a bit, she picked up her drink and chugged it down.  Without signaling to the bartender, he appeared to refill her glass. She thanked him, wondering how he got so blurry.

“How much have you had tonight? Five or six drinks?” a deep voice to her right asked.  Annabelle gripped her glass as she looked over, sighing at who she saw.

“What, counting my drinks now? Weren’t my sentences enough?”

Ethan rubbed his beard before leaning against the bar.  “Just making sure you are ok.”

“Why do you care?” Annabelle shot back taking a sip of her scotch.  Even she wasn’t sure what scotch she was on either.  She just knew it didn’t sting her throat.

“No one else is checking up on you.  Not like you are handling any of this well.” Ethan calmly said.  Annabelle looked over at him as he called over the bartender for a drink.

“Can I have two glasses of water please?”

“Thirsty?” Annabelle asked him as the bartender went to get the two drinks.

“One is for me, and one is for you. You are welcome.”

“I don’t want water. I got my water right here.”

“Scotch is not water. Believe me, in the morning when your head is ready to burst off your body, this water will be your saving grace.” Ethan shot back as the bartender dropped off the two glasses of water. He slid one of the waters towards her and watched her closely. Annabelle stared at it for a minute before being interrupted by a laughing Ethan.

“What?”

“You just looked at that water like it was the devil and you were an angel,” Ethan said through his laughter. Annabelle stuck her tongue out at him before grabbing her scotch to take another sip. Ethan settled down and took a sip of his water. Both stood in silence as Ethan nonchalantly pushed the water towards Annabelle. Annabelle rolled her eyes and grabbed the water and took a sip.

“Happy?” She asked taking another sip, letting the cold-water smooth over her scotch ravaged throat.

“I’m jumping for joy over here.” He replied.

They both fell back into a comfortable silence as Ethan looked around the room. His eyes lingered on Jack and Elizabeth who have now found each other at one of the tables.  He made a humming noise before turning his attention back to Annabelle.

“You do look very lovely tonight.” He said to her.  The comment caught Annabelle off guard.

“You look nice too. Your bowtie is still crooked, though.” Annabelle told him as her eyes trailed down his body.  Ethan’s hands immediately went to his bowtie to fix it.

“I think I have an irregular neck.”

“We all have something irregular about us. I have one boob smaller than the other.” Annabelle announced taking another sip of her scotch.

Ethan stopped fidgeting with his bowtie in surprise. “That’s good to know.” He muttered trying to fight a smile.

Annabelle shrugged in response before downing the rest of the scotch in the glass.  The bartender came over and filled it back up.

“Hey, guys! Let’s do some shots!” Jack yelled as he made his way over towards Ethan and Annabelle. Elizabeth was in tow giggling in response.

“Shots!” Annabelle yelled turning towards Jack and Elizabeth. Ethan sighed in response.

“Bartender, four shots of tequila, por fovor,” Jack asked stepping in between Ethan and Annabelle. Elizabeth landed behind Annabelle giving her big hug from behind.

“Don’t you feel better now. I told you this would be fine.” Elizabeth said to Annabelle squeezing her tight.

“Alcohol makes everything fine,” Annabelle said back as Elizabeth hugged her tighter.

“Oh dear God,” Ethan said under his breath taking a big swig of his water.  Annabelle gave him a dirty look in response. He gave one right back.

“Alright, everyone. Let’s take a shot for the happy couple!” Jack announced when the bartender came back with four shots of tequila. Everyone straightened up and grabbed their tiny shot glasses. Ethan looked at Annabelle, motioning to the water. Annabelle pretended not to see him.

“Alright. Let their marriage but fun and full of adventures!” Jack exclaimed as they all clinked their glasses together. Annabelle rolled her eyes as she took the shot.

“That was awesome. Another one?” Jack asked putting the glass down. Before anyone could answer Jack was distracted. “Elizabeth! You have to meet my Uncle Frank. He just finished his graduate work. He could shed some light on your problem.”

“What problem?” Annabelle asked looking back at Elizabeth. She didn’t get an answer, though. Elizabeth had run off with Jack to talk to Uncle Frank. Ethan scooted down to get closer to Annabelle.

“Fun family fact. That isn’t his actual uncle. You draw your conclusions.” Ethan told her waving off the bartender who motioned to the shot glasses.  Annabelle watched the two of them as they talked to Uncle Frank. She felt herself get a little dizzy.

“How much did I miss being away for these last couple of weeks?” Annabelle asked aloud.  Ethan looked over at Jack and Elizabeth and then back to Annabelle.

“Everything. You missed everything. Regret not hanging out with us? Storming out?” Ethan asked her.

“Excuse me? I was blindsided.”

“True. You were. I don’t know why your mom handled things like that, but here we are. She is engaged to a great guy. Get used to it.” Ethan told her.

“I don’t know anything about Eli.” She retorted back, feeling herself getting worse.

“You could have if you stuck it out these past weeks,” Ethan told her grabbing his water.

Annabelle didn’t know what to say. She looked at the two drinks in front of her and grabbed the water.

“I wouldn’t have written it that way,” Annabelle muttered taking a swig of the water, hoping it would help with the dizziness.

“Are you a writer? I figured. You had all those books in your place.”

“Reading books means you are a writer now?”

“It is a natural conclusion,” Ethan said evenly watching Annabelle closely. “Are you ok. You are leaning a bit.”

The water hadn’t helped at all. She could feel herself getting worse, her stomach deciding to join the party. “I don’t feel well.”

“What’s wrong?” Ethan asked letting go of his drink. His green eyes looked her over as he reached over.  Annabelle felt weak.  She tried to stand up straight but only fell forward. Ethan grabbed her and tried to hold her up.

“Twice in one night. My knight in bearded armor.” Annabelle muttered.  Ethan huffed in response looking over at the bartender who had made his way back over.

“If anyone of those two come back and asks about us, tell them I escorted Annabelle upstairs. Ok?” Ethan told the bartender getting Annabelle upright.  He nodded as Ethan wrapped one arm around her waist and another around her shoulders. He slowly walked her out of the ballroom and towards the elevators.

“You might have to ditch the heels.” He said to her. Annabelle didn’t argue as she leaned on him to push her shoes off her feet. She wrapped an arm around his waist, and she reached down to pick them up.  The elevator doors opened, and Ethan walked them forward.

“You don’t happen to know what floor and room you are in,” Ethan asked as the doors closed. Annabelle, still leaning against him, wiggled her shoulder. Ethan looked over and saw the strap of her purse.

“Can I look through your purse?” He asked edging it off her shoulder. Annabelle nodded as he opened the purse. Her key card still in its little pouch with all the information he needed. “How lucky for me.”

“I’m an author. I don’t believe in luck. Just coincidence.” Annabelle muttered wrapping herself tighter around Ethan’s waist. The smell of his Old Spice cologne filling her nostrils. She felt her eyes start to close.

“You are a writer. What are you working on right now?” Ethan asked. Annabelle could feel the elevator start to travel upward.

“J.D. and Lena. Couple. They don’t do much but stare at each other right now.” Annabelle told him.

“Why are they just staring at each other right now?”

“I don’t know what to do with them. They almost kissed before I came down for the party. Almost like I left them suspended in mid-air.” Annabelle said sleepily, keeping her eyes closed.  The elevator doors opened, and Ethan gently shook her awake. As he dragged the two of them off the elevator and towards her room, a thought crossed her mind. “Why do you care about my writing?”

“I was trying to keep you awake by talking,” Ethan told her as they reached her room. He put the keycard into the slot throwing open the door.

“Didn’t leave the lights on?” Ethan asked his voice strained. Annabelle dropped her shoes in the hallway and detangled herself from Ethan throwing herself against the wall with the IPAD that controlled the room.

“I can do it.” She announced grabbing the Ipad and hitting it with force. Ethan stood there stunned as the lights turned off and on, Annabelle just pounding away.

“Alright, Alright, ALRIGHT,” Ethan yelled taking the Ipad away from her. “We don’t need your room to turn into a club. Just need the lights on.” He said, lowering his voice.  Annabelle used the wall to navigate down the hallway to the bedroom. Ethan put the Ipad back onto the wall, shut the door and followed.

Annabelle had taken two tentative steps towards her bed before she belly flopped onto it. Her laptop jumping in the air at her presence. Ethan hesitantly walked in after her.

“Are you ok?” Ethan asked edging his way towards the bed. Annabelle picked her head up and turned to look at her laptop, which landed near her hip. She wiggled backward so she could grab the laptop and pull it up against her chest. Ethan watched his lips curving into an amused smile.

“I should write this down,” Annabelle said opening the laptop and pressing her hands onto the keys.

Lena pushed forward captured her lips against his. She sighed and pushed harder.  Pushy harder. Harder pushed. Ouch. OUCH. What will happen next? Even I dohn’t know. What am I doing? Who am I? What am I………………………..

Annabelle had fallen asleep on the computer keys a long strand of periods growing on the blank word document. Ethan sighed and walked over to where she fell asleep. Crouching down he watched her for a moment before gently pulling the laptop away from her head. He closed the laptop and stood up. He placed the laptop and purse onto the right chair. He walked over to the bedside table and left her keycard. He grabbed the notepad and pen that rested there and bent down to write her a note. He smiled as he heard her start to snore.  He finished his note and walked over to the mini bar hidden in a chest of drawers to grab her water. Placing it on the bedside table next to the note he watched her for a bit before making his way out of the room, making sure the door securely locked itself.

“Goodnight dear author.”

****

It was the cold light of day that woke Annabelle up.  The sunlight traveled across her room to land right onto her face blinding her as she opened her eyes.

“Oh god. No. Stop.” Annabelle moaned as she buried her head into the covers of the bed.

“I think she is awake.”

“I told you we were making too much noise.”

“No, we weren’t. We are perfectly quiet.”

“Except for the talking part.”

“Well, doesn’t matter now. She is awake.”

Annabelle moaned and wondered when she put the television on.  She didn’t remember much past that shot she took with everyone.  The world went black after that.

Annabelle slowly lifted her head letting her eyes adjust to the sun. Spreading out she stretched her body before forcing herself to sit up.

“Good morning! Can I have these shoes I found in the hallway?”

Annabelle froze as she saw two people sitting in the two chairs at the end of her bed.

“Well? Can I?” A women’s voice asked turning her head towards her.

“I don’t think you can just take someone’s shoes, Lena.” A male voice said turning towards Annabelle too.

“There is no harm in asking. Not like she is using them now J.D.”

Annabelle dumbly stared at the two of them.

“Well?” Lena asked pointing to the shoes in the hallway.

Annabelle looked between the two of them being opening her mouth to scream in their face.

Devil with a Purple Dress

Lena walked towards the door, her hands reaching out for the handle. She held it over the cool metal for a minute, gearing herself up for the conversation she was about to have. She took a deep breath and threw the door open.

“Hey! What’s up?” Lena asked, trying to appear as casual as possible. 

“Hey? You texted me?” J.D. asked holding his phone up to show Lena.

“Yes! Come on in.” She said cheerfully moving out of the way.  J.D. looked around cautiously before moving into the apartment.

“Are you still not talking to me?” Elizabeth asked as she checked her lipstick in the camera on her phone.

Annabelle stuck out her tongue in response before turning back to the story on her laptop.  She poised her fingers back over the keys waiting for inspiration to come back. After a minute she sat back and turned her head towards the window of the town car.

“That’s mature.” Elizabeth drawled as her phone clicked off.

Annabelle didn’t respond. Being rushed out the house with very little packed didn’t put her into the most jovial of moods.   Then again, one could argue that is her fault. Hiding under the covers and telling Elizabeth to leave a message didn’t seem to work. Now she was stuck in a town car on her way to her relatives and The Plaza Hotel.

“This would have been easier if you just called your mother back,” Elizabeth commented to Annabelle.

Annabelle turned her head back to the computer, staring at that blinking cursor.  A little notice in the right-hand corner told her she had ten minutes before the computer shut down on her completely. She sighed and slammed the laptop shut.

“You don’t think I know that?” She replied.

“I know. What is making you act like this?” Elizabeth asked dropping her phone into her purse.

“I’m not over dad.”

“Obviously. Such a daddy’s girl.”  Elizabeth teased hoping to get a smile out of her.

“It just feels too soon,” Annabelle replied letting her index finger on her right hand outline the top of her computer.  Elizabeth opened her mouth to respond when her purse vibrated. She paused and grabbed her phone out of her purse.

“You have been talking to someone a lot today.” Annabelle drawled, looking up from her computer.

Elizabeth typed quickly on her phone. “I’m talking to a combination of your mother, my mother, and Jack.”

Annabelle sat straight up in her seat. “Jack? You have Jack’s number?” She squeaked.

“We have been in contact. Since you wouldn’t answer anyone, I’ve been your go-between. You owe me some hazard pay. Jack is, um, unique.” Elizabeth commented.

“He is a nice guy.” Annabelle weakly said letting her eyes fall to her computer again.

Elizabeth went quiet for a moment as she finished typing. “I let them know that the two of us are five minutes out.”

“Them?”

“Jack and Ethan.”

“Ethan is still here?” Annabelle asked.

“Yeah. He is Jack’s best friend. He is practically a groomsman at this point.” Elizabeth said throwing her phone into her purse. “Ah, I believe we are here.”

Annabelle looked up and over at the opposite window. The car slowly made its way down the short street towards the front of the Plaza Hotel. Annabelle’s eyes traveled over the lush red carpet and black and gold doors that lead to reception.  The car stopped, and a well-dressed bellman opened Elizabeth’s door.

Annabelle considered pushing her friend out the car and locking herself in but quickly determined that too childish, even for her. Putting her computer into her single bag, she followed Elizabeth out of the car. A cold wind whipped her hair around as she looked around. The cold gum splattered concrete glowed against the warm colors of plush red carpet and shining gold fixtures that surrounded the door. She turned towards the foundation across the street that had seen better days but stood as a testament to what came before.  Annabelle watched as tourists with their cameras took selfies nearby trying to get the huge Apple logo that gleamed beyond the foundation into the shot. Another testament to how fast things change.

“Annabelle? Earth to Annabelle.” Elizabeth yelled from the stairs that lead to the front doors of the hotel.  Annabelle turned back and noticed Elizabeth waving her on.

“Coming. I’m coming.” Annabelle replied, taking her time walking up the stairs towards the lobby.

****

Annabelle followed the bellman around her room like she hadn’t been there before. She was shown the IPad to control the lights, heating and other electronics in the room. She was shown the bathroom and all it entails. Then the bedroom where they dropped off the hastily packed bag and dress bag that hung in the closet off to the side.  She walked the bellman back to the door passing his tip into his gloved hand with a smile. He smiled back and shut the door behind him.

“Well, here we are,” Annabelle said out loud. Didn’t expect a response seeing as she was alone.  She made her way down the hallway towards the bedroom making a sharp right towards the closet. Opening it, she grabbed the dress bag and swiftly threw it across the bed.  Without even looking at what was inside she walked away, flopping onto one of the two chairs that flanked the front of the bed.  She bit her lip and turned her head back towards the bed. She stilled for a moment before getting back up she walked with purpose towards the bag, reaching for the zipper.  She slowly let her fingers glide the zipper down the track, small bursts of purple peering from beyond the brown bag. Annabelle let go of the zipper and pushed the brown bag away to get a better look at the dress she had to wear tonight.

Her ringing cell phone broke the silence. Annabelle let go of the brown bag and shuffled over to her purse pulling out her cell phone. She sighed and put the phone to her ear. “Hi, Mom.”

“Wow. I didn’t even know you could speak. This is truly a great day.” Her mother droned into the phone.

“Funny. I’m here. Isn’t that what is required of me?” Annabelle said walking back over to her dress on the bed. “I assume you picked the dress for tonight. Purple. Always purple.”

“Purple is your color honey, and I already knew you were here. Elizabeth’s mom texted me.”

“Oh great. I got minders now. I wonder if this is what it is like being in the Trump family?”

“Annabelle. That’s not nice. You know damn well that we acknowledge our crazy.” Her mother said with a hint of a smile in her voice. Annabelle sighed. “I just wanted to make sure that you knew all the details for tonight.”

Annabelle made a noncommittal noise.

“I will take that as a no. You are to be expected at 6 pm in the Terrace Room.  I assume Elizabeth will make sure of that. Please wear the dress I got you. Purple is very much your color. I want you to look good. You are representing our family.” Sarah said forcefully through the phone.

Annabelle gave a tight smile. “Can’t wait to represent the family. See you at 6 pm.” Annabelle clicked the phone off tossing it next to the dress on the bed. She stared down at the phone before she reached down for her bag that rested just below the bed on the floor. She pulled out her computer letting the bag fall to the floor. Walking back towards the one chair, she sat down and sat the computer down onto her lap.  Opening the computer open she was presented with the blinking cursor once again. She poised her fingers over the home keys and waited for inspiration to strike.

Stop Fondling My Books

“This is really nice. I’m glad we did this.” Sarah said picking up her wine glass and taking a sip.  Everyone sitting around the table muttered in agreement. Annabelle did a quick assessment as everyone settled in.  Eli only had eyes for her mother; Jack was staring thoughtfully at the menu while Ethan stared straight ahead while drumming his fingers on the table.

“So, Eli, how did you and my mom meet?” Annabelle asked breaking the silence.

Eli gave Annabelle a blinding smile. “So, a few months ago, I was sitting there with my coffee in Starbucks reading the paper when I noticed your mom sitting nearby. She was giggling at her nook, and she has one hell of a laugh. I had to talk to her. I didn’t want to look like a creep or someone with a bad pick up line or anything,” Eli explained. “I decided to be brave and walk over there and ask her. Point blank.”

“The rest they say is history,” Sarah said giving Eli a wink. Eli gently grabbed Sarah’s left hand across the table and planted a kiss.  Annabelle watched them eyes traveling to their joined hands.  She could not help but notice that her mother’s ring finger was sparkling.

“Your finger is shining,” Annabelle said.  Eli and Sarah paused before letting go of each other’s hands.

“That shiny object is one of the reasons why we had this dinner,” Sarah said.  Annabelle looked over at Jack who was looking over at her confused.

“Eli and I are engaged.” Sarah blurted out.  Annabelle stared blankly at her before sitting back in her seat, her fingers gripping the armrest of the chair.

“You two are engaged?” Annabelle asked quietly.

Jack looked at his dad and then Sarah.  “I thought Annabelle knew about this. I thought this was a celebratory dinner.”

“Does it look like she knew?” Ethan muttered. Annabelle looked over at Ethan before shooting a look at her mother.

“When did this happen?”

Annabelle asked. Sarah looked down at the table. “Two weeks ago.”

The three of them looked over at Annabelle.  She gave a quick nod towards her mother before standing up and walking straight out of the restaurant.

She felt the cold instantly on her bare arms as she walked out the restaurant door.  Annabelle crossed her arms as she walked faster towards her place.  Her mother. Engaged. Annabelle was in uncharted territory.  She was used to her mom dating, but she never expected it to go this far.  Annabelle was convinced her mom would be an old blue haired lady in Florida having a Golden Girls moment. Not engaged in Jersey.

Annabelle slowed when she got to her building and walked inside. As she walked the two floors to her apartment, she could hear a Talking Heads song blasting through her door. Annabelle instinctually reached towards her purse quickly remembering it wasn’t there. She left everything she needed at the restaurant.  She sighed and raised her fist to bang on the door trying to compete with the wailings of Road to Nowhere.  She waited a few seconds before banging on the door again.  She could hear the music stop and the locks clicking open.  The door swung open to reveal Elizabeth with a beer in one hand and a cookie in her mouth.

“Don’t you ask who it is before opening the door? Do you know how dangerous it is just to open the door?” Annabelle yelled barging past Elizabeth who was stunned to see Annabelle banging on her door.

“Don’t crazy people, like you, usually use a key?” Elizabeth asked her voice muffled from the cookie.  Annabelle had already made her way to her fridge and was rummaging for something stronger than beer.  When she spotted the Silver Patron tequila bottle behind the Slim Fast shakes, she could hear a heavenly chorus.  She grabbed the bottle and the closest glass and poured a little of the clear liquid out.  Elizabeth watched her friend, confusion evident on her face.  Annabelle downed a shot of the liquid and coughed violently.

“I left everything at the restaurant,” Annabelle told Elizabeth her voice strained.   Elizabeth swallowed what was left of her cookie and walked over to the kitchen counter slowly.

“Why are you walking so slowly?” Annabelle asked pouring more Patron into the glass.  Elizabeth gave a strained smile in response.

“That is what I usually do when I don’t want to scare an angry person with alcohol,” Elizabeth told Annabelle as she took another shot.  She coughed again and reached for the bottle, but Elizabeth put her hand over it.

“I think it’s cookie time.  You had your fill of tequila for one night.” Elizabeth said using her left hand to pull the bottle of Patron closer to her body while her rights hand pushed the cookies into its vacated place.  Annabelle grabbed for the cookies, took one out, and shoved it into her mouth.  As Annabelle busied herself with cookies, Elizabeth picked the Patron up off the counter and made her way back to the refrigerator.

“Now tell me why you have no coat, no keys, and no phone and are self-medicating,” Elizabeth asked opening the refrigerator door and placing the patron back behind the slim fast shakes.  She slammed the door and made her way back to Annabelle who was now looking at a piece of cookie in her hand.

“My mom did have an ulterior motive for the dinner tonight,” Annabelle muttered as her right hand rubbed her left.  Elizabeth stared at Annabelle blankly before she gasped dramatically.

“Do I get to be your maid of honor?  I can help you find a dress, and we can try to make the best out of this situation.  Maybe I can smuggle you to Canada, and you can start a French pine comb statue making business!” Elizabeth told her, no irony ever entering her voice.  Annabelle just stared at her, the grasp on a cookie growing tighter.

“Do you think you can reach Canada before I fling this cookie at you?” Annabelle asked darkly.  Elizabeth tilted her head in confusion.

“Ok.  There won’t be a double wedding…”

“No. There will be a wedding.  My mom is engaged!” Annabelle exclaimed interrupting Elizabeth. She froze and let the new information process.

“This is new behavior for her.” Elizabeth finally said.  Annabelle popped the rest of the cookie into her mouth and reached into the bag for another one.

“She has never gotten engaged before,” Elizabeth said to Annabelle who nodded in agreement.

“I know. I never expected her to get married again. It is unnatural.  She can’t really love this guy.  She barely knows Eli Cooper.” Annabelle said shaking her head in disbelief.  Elizabeth leaned against the counter and looked at Annabelle thoughtfully.

“Cooper. You knew a Cooper at some point, right?” Elizabeth asked.  Annabelle sighed and leaned against the counter.

“Jack Cooper. We went out on a date our freshman year. Well, no. I thought it was a date. He thought it was a day out with a friend.” Annabelle volunteered.

“Was Eli Cooper nice?”

“Yes, he was very nice.  He really likes my mom and seems to treat her well.  I can’t handle another guy taking the place of…” Annabelle said trailing off and looking down at the cookies in front of her.  Elizabeth gave her a sad smile.  Before either one could say what they were thinking, Annabelle grabbed her stomach.

“Ok. Cookies and tequila were not a good idea.  I’m sorry.” Annabelle told Elizabeth running off to the bathroom next to her bedroom. Elizabeth went to follow her but heard a knock at the front door.  Elizabeth sighed and made her way towards the front.

“Sarah? I think you should come back tomorrow…” Elizabeth said stopping short after she saw who was standing there.  Elizabeth gasped and slammed the door and locked it and then she looked through the peephole.

“Who is it?” She asked sweetly.  She could hear a laugh coming from the other side.

“Oh, now you ask!” Annabelle yelled through the bathroom door.  Elizabeth looked back at the bathroom and stuck out her tongue.

“We have Annabelle’s jacket and various objects.  Her mom sent us to check on her.” The man said through the door.  Elizabeth shook her head at the peephole.

“What is Annabelle’s mom’s name? And who are you?” Elizabeth asked.  She could see the guy smile at the door and adjust Annabelle’s jacket on his arm.

“I’m Jack Cooper, and this is Ethan Parker. Annabelle’s mom, Sarah, is going to be my new Stepmom. Carol Brady if you will.” He told her.  Elizabeth recognizing the Cooper name unlocked the door and threw it open.

“Jack Cooper or is it Greg Brady? Who are you supposed to be?” Elizabeth asked Ethan as the two men cautiously walked into the apartment.

“I guess I’m Cousin Oliver,” Ethan responded dryly.  Jack motioned for Elizabeth to ignore him.

“Elizabeth, right? I was told you would be around. Sarah said you are Annabelle’s best friend.” Jack said.  Elizabeth nodded reaching out for the coat and purse resting on Jack’s arm.

“Don’t worry. Her phone and keys are still in there, but I didn’t see a wallet.” Jack said looking at the kitchen.  Elizabeth followed his gaze and threw everything onto the couch.

“She didn’t bring it with her tonight. Sister Cindy is in the bathroom if you are looking for her.” Elizabeth said smiling at him.

“Does that make you Marsha or Jan?” Jack asked as he smiled back at Elizabeth.

“I’m Alice.  I take care of things around here.” Elizabeth told him.

Jack opened his mouth to respond as his cell phone rang. He excused himself before turning away to answer. Elizabeth quickly ran her fingers through her blonde hair and tried to brush off any crumbs left on her shirt.  As she cleaned, she noticed that Ethan was now freely wandering around the apartment.

“Where is Annabelle?” Ethan asked Elizabeth as he paused in front of her bookcases.

“She is in the ladies room,” Elizabeth responded.  “Who are you again?”

“Jack’s friend,” Ethan said as he pulled out a book, looking at the back cover.

“Oh no. Here comes the book snob.” Jack joked walking over towards Ethan. Elizabeth followed Jack, her eyes looking over at the closed bathroom door.

“I’m not a book snob. I’m just very protective over my books.” Ethan responded as she flipped the book onto the side, running a long finger over the spine. “Annabelle apparently doesn’t feel the same way.”

“Come on!” Annabelle yelled as she opened the bathroom door.  She threw open the door and walked with purpose towards the three of them.  Elizabeth and Jack shared a look while Ethan continued to run his finger over the spine.

“Stop fondling my books,” Annabelle demanded of Ethan.  He raised one eyebrow and smiled at her.

“You think this is fondling?”

“Put down the book,” Annabelle asked pulling it out of his hand and holding it close to her chest. “What are you two doing here?”

“Your mom wanted to make sure if you were ok and return your stuff to you,” Jack said pointing to the pile on the couch.

“I know she has a phone and legs. She could have done it.” Annabelle muttered as she put the book back up onto the shelf.

“That’s what I said,” Ethan muttered back.

“She wasn’t sure you wanted to see her. You did just kind of run out of there. Which is unlike you Annabelle.” Jack said running his hand through his dirty blonde hair, letting a few strands fall over his blue eyes.

Annabelle stalled, her eyes taking in what Jack was doing.

“Thank you, boys. In one more hour, she would be lost without her phone.” Elizabeth said to break the silence in the room.

“Are you ok?” Ethan asked as his eyes moved over the other books in her case.  He paused and looked over at her waiting for a response. Jack and Elizabeth shared a look between them.

“I’m fine. Thanks for the visit. Time to go.” Annabelle whispered to Ethan turning away to walk back to the kitchen.

“It will be okay.  It’s not like they are getting married tomorrow. Sleep on it. It will look better in the morning.” Jack yelled towards Annabelle who was making her way back towards the cookies.

She stopped in front of the counter and turned back towards the group. “How many sentences?” Annabelle asked. Elizabeth and Jack looked over at her confused. Ethan turned towards her with a smirk on his face.

“Uh, time to go. She has officially lost it.” Elizabeth crooned pushing the two guys towards the door. Jack nodded at Annabelle as he walked by towards the front door.

Ethan slowed down. “Twenty-two. Why?”

Annabelle shrugged in response. “Just wondering.” She watched Ethan nod and walk out the front door to meet Jack.

“Thanks for stopping by! Have a great night guys.” Elizabeth said waving as she shut the door. Once she locked it tight and turned back to Annabelle. “Hello? What the hell just happened?”

Annabelle picked up a cookie and looked around. “Where is my Patron?!”

Counting Sentences

The snow that had started in the middle of the night had not slowed by the time Annabelle bundled up to meet her mom at Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant that evening. Annabelle looked down at herself to make sure she was up to pass the inspection her mom was sure to give her.  She was wearing the medium length velvet red dress her mom bought her last winter with her black boots and black tights.  Her long straight brunette hair was out of her face, as requested, with the help of an old banana clip she found in her closet.  After double-checking, she grabbed her black coat and ran out the door to walk down the street to the restaurant.  She thrust her hands into her coat pockets and bowed her head down slightly as she walked down the street.  The snow swirled around her as she walked past different groups of people, her ears always open to hearing what they are saying.  It was an old pastime, listening to stranger’s conversations.

When she reached the restaurant, she pulled her phone out of her pocket and checked the time.  With about fifteen minutes to spare, she stood in front of the restaurant.   She leaned against the brick front and watched the snow as it fell onto the concrete.  Through the snow, she watched different groups enter and leave the restaurant.  Some older couples enjoying a night out together, others were younger and on dates.  Annabelle could not help but remember the last time she went on a date.  It was not in a place like this, but some pizza joint nearby her college.  The pizza date with Jack Cooper and his ability to transfix her mind is not something she easily forgot over the years. Little did she know then, he was transfixing most of the female freshman too.  Annabelle was shaken out of her thoughts when her phone vibrated in her hand.  Nothing it was Elizabeth calling she answered quickly.

“There are more cookies behind the carrot sticks,” Annabelle answered with a smile.  There was a gasp on the other end of the phone.

“How do you know what I’m calling about?”  Elizabeth asked amazed.  Annabelle just shrugged and chuckled into the phone.

“You just got out of your environmental class and want cookies and beer.  I remember I wanted that combo when I got out of that class last year.  You know, the amount of time you spend at my place, you might as well just become my roommate.” Annabelle said.  She could hear Elizabeth bite into a cookie.

“That would require me to pay rent which can’t happen until I get a job which will only happen after I get into the perfect graduate school!” Elizabeth told Annabelle, her voice getting a bit hysterical at the end.

“You know you don’t have to pay rent.  I don’t even pay the rent on the place.  Just consider it. You get to know where all the junk food is hidden if you move in.” Annabelle teased.  She could hear Elizabeth laugh.

“Believe it or not that offer sounds really good to me. Are you there yet?”

“Yes.” Annabelle offered looking down at her black boots. They had some salt runoff on the sides. Shit.

“Are you planning to go in or just talk to me?” Elizabeth asked as she bit into another cookie.  Annabelle huffed and looked up.

“I still have ten minutes left to enjoy before I have to go in there and go through hell.” Annabelle could hear Elizabeth crunching away on another cookie when she saw a tall but lean guy walk up to the restaurant.  He gave a quick look at the door and turned back around.  He started to pace.  Annabelle watched him for a few moments before hearing Elizabeth’s voice again.

“You know she doesn’t usually let you meet her boyfriends.  Let alone their kids.  She tends to skew younger these days or at least she used to.”

“I’m sure this is just an odd experiment on her part.” Annabelle retorted back.  She was still watching the person in front of her.  He had stopped pacing and was now just staring out onto the street.  He sighed as he looked down at his watch.

“Are you there? Annabelle?” Elizabeth asked. She did not answer right away.  She saw him shake his arm and look again at his watch.  He raised the watch to his ear and swore aloud.  He dropped his arm and turned back towards the restaurant. That was when his green eyes met Annabelle’s brown. He smiled at her as Annabelle gasped softly and looked down at her feet.

“What? Did you see her?  Are you hiding from your mother?  What did we discuss?  You are a twenty-three years old. You are an adult. Your mom doesn’t control you.” Elizabeth said.

Annabelle took a breath and tried to act as normal as possible. “Just a gust of wind. Wearing a dress wasn’t my best idea.”   Annabelle said, trying to be as casual as possible.  She could hear his footsteps as he approached her.

“Excuse me. Do you have the time?”

Annabelle looked up at the deep male voice. She let her eyes travel over his body taking note of his easy smile and manly stubble on his chin. He raised one eyebrow as she stared. Annabelle couldn’t help but think he was handsome and he knew it.

Annabelle raised her naked wrist in response. “It’s about 7:50,” Annabelle told him.   He glanced down at her arm in amusement. Oh, he knew he was handsome, Annabelle thought.   He nodded a thank you and leaned against the brick wall, close to Annabelle.

“He sounded cute. Is he cute?” Elizabeth asked with delight.

“I should go inside. Right?” Annabelle said into the phone ignoring her question. She kept one eye on the falling snow and one on the man next to her.

“You should. One of us must be an adult, and I declare you the adult. Congrats. Checks in the mail.”

“Thanks. Send it to my loan officer. Don’t overdose on cookies and beer.  I might need them later.” Annabelle told Elizabeth. She heard a huff in response and hit ‘end’ on her phone. She stood here holding onto her phone, noting the time was now 7:55. Annabelle sighed as she slipped her phone back into her pocket.  She stood there for a few minutes debating her next move.

“You are going to run, aren’t you?” a male voice asked breaking into her thoughts. She turned her head towards the man standing next to her.

“No,” Annabelle said moving to face him fully.

“I mean, you didn’t sound all that excited to go in. Is it a boyfriend? Afraid to commit?” He suggested, his tone light and airy.

“Uh. No.” Annabelle offered as an answer. He huffed in response.

She watched him give her the once over before speaking again. “My goal is to get at least a sentence out of you before my friend meets me.” He said confidently.

Annabelle couldn’t help but stare at him in disbelief. “I’m sorry. Do we know each other?” she asked.

“Don’t think so.”

“Then don’t worry about how many sentences I say to you. Ok?” Annabelle heard herself say to him, her voice sounding tight. She didn’t even know where that outburst came from.

“Ok. Except you said four sentences to me. Goal accomplished.” He said back. She shot him a look. He laughed in response.

Annabelle turned back towards the street as his laughter died down. Determined to ignore him she reached into her pocket to check the time. 7:58.

“I can’t believe it is snowing in November.  It felt like spring last week.” The guy said to her.  She stared at her phone, not responding.

“I love snow.  It is just another way for the world to clean itself again.  In the process, it leaves behind something so beautiful…”  He responded, his voice trailing off as Annabelle looked up and over at him. Annabelle felt uncomfortable at the silence and struggled not to express her opinion.

“Not really.  Snow just causes accidents, closures, and destruction.  Sure, it’s pretty but is it worth the price?” Annabelle told him, cursing at herself for not holding back.

“I’ve never met anyone that was so vocal and adamant about snow. Most girls love snow and that line I just fed you.”  He told her.

“I’m not every girl.  I can smell bullshit from a mile away. I was thinking of adding it to my resume under special skills.” Annabelle told him.  He laughed in response.

“You should put it there. Companies will appreciate the honesty.” He told her as he popped his coat collar.  Annabelle felt herself smile at his comment, her annoyance melting a bit.

“By the way, we are officially up to ten sentences. I say that is a win for me.” He told her giving her a wink. That easiness Annabelle felt before seemed to dissipate at the comment.

“With that, I’m going inside. Have a great night, whoever you are.” Annabelle said, trying to keep her voice light.  She pushed herself off the brick wall of the restaurant and walked towards the door. She could feel his eyes on her.

“It was great talking to you. My name is…”

“I don’t care.” Annabelle interrupted as she opened the door and walked in.

****

She unbuttoned her jacket and shrugged it off her shoulders as she followed the host towards the table.  She gave a quick look at her cell phone clock and saw that she was almost five minutes late now.  She brushed off some imaginary lint off the coat in her arms and prepared herself for the onslaught of questions from her mother.  The host ended up leading her to a table near the back of the restaurant.  She saw her mom first.  Her signature eighties hair had been deflated for a more modern look, a straight and dyed a chestnut brown.  She wore a long light blue dress that made her look elegant, and it brought out her blue-gray eyes.  Annabelle self-consciously smoothed out her dress before heading over to the table.

“Hi, mom!” Annabelle said brightly trying to get her mother’s attention.  She stopped talking and looked over at her daughter.  A large familiar smile grew on her mom’s face as she got up to hug Annabelle.  She held her close and pulled back to get a better look at her.

“You look beautiful honey! I told you that dress works on you. Come now, you have to meet Eli!” Annabelle’s mom told her grabbing her hand and pushing her closer to the table.  Annabelle took a deep breath.

“Eli, this is my daughter, Annabelle.  Annabelle this is Eli Cooper.” Her mom introduced.  The older gentleman, Eli, stood up from the table with his hand out towards Annabelle. She smiled as she reached to shake his hand. She noticed his hand was clammy and warm.

“It is truly an honor to meet Sarah’s daughter. I’ve heard so many great things about you.” He said as he pumped her hand twice before letting go. “You don’t have to worry about being late; we are waiting for Jack and Ethan too.”

Eli told Annabelle pulling out a chair for her.  Annabelle placed her jacket on the back of her chair and sat down, thanking Eli. He ran a quick hand over his bald head before sitting back down at the table.

“Jack and Ethan? I thought you only had one son.” Annabelle asked as soon as everyone was settled. Eli was quick to give an explanation.

“Jack is my son. Ethan is his best friend from way back.  He is staying with us for the next month, so we invited him along.” Eli said adjusting his glasses as he picked up his menu.  Annabelle nodded in understanding as she followed his lead. It was a quiet moment before she heard it. That voice.

“I’m so sorry I was late. I told Ethan to go inside, but he waited for me.”

Annabelle slowly put her menu down and turned her head towards the voice. She couldn’t believe it. “Jack?”

He turned his attention from his dad towards Annabelle, his eyes lighting up in response. “Annabelle! I haven’t seen you in a long time. Come here!” Jack said to her, his arms open for a hug. Almost on autopilot, Annabelle stood up and let Jack hug her like he used to back then. His arms enveloped her as she closed her eyes and was instantly brought back to freshman year.  She opened them mid-hug to a familiar face.

The man from before stood there, a smirk on his face as he wrote ‘11’ into the air with his pointer finger. Annabelle pulled back from the hug.

“I guess you two know each other already,” Sarah asked, her voice questioning what was happening in front of her.

“Yeah! We hung out a lot during freshman year before I transfered.” Jack said with a big smile. “Oh. Let me introduce you two. Annabelle, this is Ethan Parker. Ethan, this is Annabelle Jones.” Jack introduced the two of them as he stepped out of the way to give Sarah a kiss hello.

Annabelle looked over at the man from outside. “Nice to meet you, Ethan.” She said to him as she gave him her hand to shake.

Ethan met her hand with his own and shook it. “Nice to meet you, Annabelle.” He glanced at the table noticing they were busy saying their hellos. He gently gripped her hand and pulled her closer. “Twelve.” He murmured, his eyes dancing.

She pulled her hand away and stared at him in disbelief.

“Oh. This should be fun!” Ethan proclaimed as he pushed past Annabelle to take a seat.

“Tons of fun,” Annabelle whispered to herself. “Tons and tons of fun.”