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.

 

 

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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.”

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.”

Christmas Wrapping

Ethan sat in the living room surrounded by yards of silver, red and green wrapping paper. There was scotch tape resting on different surfaces hanging on for dear life while Ethan attempted to wrap an oddly shaped present. Annabelle sat at the kitchen table with her laptop in front of her. Her fingers were poised over the keys as she watched Ethan struggle with his task.
“You know. For odd shaped presents, I usually just put them in a beautiful bag. It makes life easier.” Annabelle said to him trying to hide her amusement. Ethan, losing space to place his tape, put it on his forehead.
“NO. I will figure this out.” Ethan defiantly proclaimed to Annabelle. Her nose crinkled at the tape that decorated his forehead.
“Do you need me to hold the tape or…” Annabelle offered. Ethan raised his hand dramatically in response. Annabelle made a noise and went back to her writing.
Lena sat on the couch surviving her domain. This was the first time she had complete control over the Christmas decorations. At least the inside decorations. The tree glimmered with color lights that twinkled around all the Lenox ornaments. The angel that graced the tree had been her grandmothers. It had officially been passed down to her this year. She smiled at it proudly as he reigned over the tree. She liked to pretend that the angel was keeping all the different decorations in line when she was not in the room. The thought made her laugh aloud.
“No matter how many times I have seen this it is still weird,” Ethan said to Annabelle as he watched Lena stand in front of the tree laughing aloud. Annabelle’s eyes snapped from the screen to the sight in front of her. Annabelle shrugged and turned her attention back to the laptop screen.
Lena stopped laughing and crossed her arms. She could hear J.D. come through the front door. She turned to look at him.
“How did it go outside?” She asked him as she turned. She gasped at the sight she saw. J.D. had grass stains all over his clothes and pieces of greenery stuck in his hair. She rushed over to him.
“NOT THE WRAPPING PAPER!” Ethan bellowed as Lena ran through a freshly cut sheet of paper. Her feet crumpled the fine paper as she brushed past. Lena didn’t stop, though. She was under Annabelle’s control.
“I’m sorry!” Annabelle yelled out in response. She watched as Lena rushed over to J.D. stopping at her destination. “I sincerely didn’t expect that to happen.”
Ethan huffed and waved his hands in the air. “It’s ok. I’m ok. It will be ok.”
Annabelle let out a snort of laughter. “What was that?”
Ethan took a deep breath and made the gesture again. “You worry about your children. Please just watch the wrapping paper next time.”
Annabelle bit her lip as she started writing again.
“Are you ok? What happened?” Lena asked as she tried to brush some of the tree needles off his clothes. J.D. kept a stoic stance.
“I fought a tree and the tree won. Lesson learned kids, fight mother nature and Mother Nature will always win.”
“That is so true,” Ethan commented as she snipped a piece of ribbon. Annabelle stopped typing and looked up at Ethan. She smiled and continued writing.
“That is so true,” Lena said to J.D.
“Funny,” Ethan called out wrapping the ribbon around the present.
“Either way I got the lights up. Our little piece of land is going to be cooler than the top of the Chrysler building!” J.D. proclaimed. Lena looked at him puzzled.
“That sentence makes no sense honey.” Lena looked at him concerned.
“I understand it. Isn’t that what matters?” J.D. responded taking off his jacket. Lena looked at his head in response.
“Did you hit your head?” Lena asked him pulling him close to look over his head. J.D. tried to brush off her concerns.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m positive.”
Lena did not look so sure. She let go of him and watched him go to the kitchen to grab some coffee.
“Are you sure?” Lena asked again still concerned for J.D.’s safety. J.D. huffed and took a big swig of the warm coffee.
“I’m PERFECTLY fine. I think the author is just trying to pad out her word count while she decides where she is going with this.”
“I’m with you J.D. I have no idea where you two are going with this either. It’s like your mom is distracted or something.” Ethan said as he moved onto a new present to wrap. He didn’t need to turn around to know that Annabelle was going to retaliate for that remark.
“Do you know what? I think dad needs to mind his own damn business. Just awkwardly wrap your presents and watch your slightly creepy religious movies on Hallmark. Mom has this. She just needs inspiration.” J.D. said defiantly taking another big gulp of coffee.
“Don’t disparage the Hallmark Christmas movie. They are awesome. You just wanted to hurt me.” Ethan said to Annabelle while he tried to tape one side of the wrapping paper to the present.
“You know what else? Right now he thinks he has it down. Some might say that he is the master wrapper.” Lena said sweetly winking at J.D.
“Oh. OH. I’m not even going to touch that one. Dirty. ” Ethan declared as he looked over his shoulder and gave Annabelle a wink. As he did this, he pushed the scissors down onto the wrapping paper in front of him. Or so he thought. Annabelle had looked back down onto the keyboard when she heard the yell.
Djlfadklfkldazfdlkmfkldklg
Both Lena and J.D. yelled out gibberish. Annabelle’s fingers had pressed down on the keyboard in surprise as Ethan yelled out in pain. She jumped out of her seat and ran over to Ethan’s side. She forced his hand up so she could get a better look. He had sliced his finger but not enough to cause any real harm.
“Hold on. I’m getting the first aid kit.” Annabelle told him as she got up to walk to the bathroom.
“Not through the wrapping paper!” Ethan yelled out. Annabelle smiled to herself as she jumped over the haphazardly placed paper around him. She did not have the heart to tell him that his precious wrapping paper had some blood on it. She grabbed the kit out of the bathroom and rushed back over making sure not avoid the paper. She sat next to him and opened the case. She looked up at him and noticed that his eyes were trained on the cheesy Hallmark movie. She smiled and gently grabbed his injured finger. He winced at her touch.
“This is one of my favorites. Hallmark has done a ton of rags to royal Christmas movies, but this one actual earns its payoff.” Ethan said as calmly as possible as Annabelle applied some pressure to the finger to make sure the bleeding stopped. She listened to Ethan babble about Hallmark movies as she splashed some water on the wound before putting some antibacterial spray. He hissed.
“I have a tiara,” Annabelle said to him trying to distract him from the slight pain. He looked over at her with a smile.
“I’m sure you do. I think you would like this movie. Everyone is normal. Except for the royalty part.” Ethan told her as she started to place gauze on the cut.
“All the good ones have a royalty subplot,” Annabelle said back as she taped the gauze to his finger. “I should have J.D. and Lena go down the same route.” She finished up and gave his finger a quick kiss. “You will live for now. Don’t let the scissors ruin your wrapping dreams, my dear.”
Ethan laughed and looked down at his finger. Annabelle sat back on the couch and watched Ethan inspect his finger. He looked up at her.
“Are you going to leave them like that?” Ethan asked her. Annabelle looked over her shoulder and the frozen J.D. and Lena. She turned back and hummed to herself.
“If we are going to make J.D. and Lena royal I have to do my research,” Annabelle told him trying to get herself conformable on the floor. Ethan stared at her letting a small smile grow on his face.
“Good to know you do your research. Thanks for the finger.”
“Thanks for wrapping my gifts for me.”
“What? Have I been wrapping yours too?”

Mistletoe Kisses

Oh, look. Another mini story that won’t make sense unless I sit here and explain it. Once again, grammar/syntax issues blah blah blah. Read and enjoy.

********

Annabelle hung the last ornament on her Christmas tree. It was her favorite. A popsicle reindeer she made when she was in the first grade. She had her mother’s decorations this year since her mom did not have time to do the tree this year. Wedding plans were taking over her life. It was up to Annabelle to keep the traditions that make the holidays what they are. She walked back to admire her work. The tree held pink and white twinkle lights and all of her childhood keepsakes. Placed on top was her great grandmother’s angel that held a special place in her heart.

“Dinner is served.” She could hear J.D. yell out into the living room as he opened the door. Behind him, Lena held the Chinese food up into the air like it was the Holy Grail. She presented it to the group carefully letting it settle on the kitchen counter. Ethan came in last, dramatically shutting the door behind him.

“Do you know what your children did today?” Ethan said sharply to Annabelle. She turned at the melodramatic sound of his voice. She raised one eyebrow in response. Ethan tore off his gloves and jacket and placed them on the kitchen chair, leaving his ratty old scarf around his neck. He ran his hand through his short brown hair in frustration.

“They aren’t my children…” Annabelle muttered to herself as she watched Lena and J.D. pull the food from the bag. Ethan looked up in surprise.

“Did you create them from your head? Did you create their looks, their thoughts, and personality?” Ethan asked as he advanced towards Annabelle. She watched him get closer as she considered his questions.

“Technically, yes. I did create how they look. However…” Annabelle faltered, as Ethan got even closer to her, a playful glint in his eye.

“However…I didn’t create their personalities. You know they say that the environment around them makes their personalities. It is not from DNA.” Annabelle said confidently even though she knew she might be completely wrong.

“I don’t think it applies to these two. These two are all you. Which…is a bit worrisome.” Ethan teased. Annabelle felt a rush go through her body. She didn’t know if it was anger, but some feeling was growing through her body.

“What is that supposed to mean?” The words came out of Annabelle’s mouth with a harsher tone that expected. Loudly too since J.D. and Lena stopped their pillaging of the Chinese food to look up at them. Ethan smirked at her.

“Touchy subject I see. Well, kiddo, those two in there came from you. We do not know why they are here among us, but here they are. They are a reflection of what you are and what you feel. Isn’t that what you told me once about writing?” Ethan jokingly argued. He had gotten close enough that Annabelle had to look up to engage with his eyes. She grabbed onto his scarf to pull him closer to her face.

“I don’t know if that is a compliment or a criticism doll face.” Annabelle hissed. Ethan looked down at her in surprise. Annabelle kept eye contact with Ethan. She could feel how thin the scarf was under her fingers as she held on tight. She could feel him place his hands on her shoulders gently rubbing them with his thumbs. Annabelle rubbed her thumb over the old wool. Both were silent for a moment.

“You need a new scarf,” Annabelle muttered breaking eye contact to look down at the scarf. Ethan stopped moving his hands and looked at his scarf confused. She continued, “how long have you had this thing?”

“It’s my dad’s,” Ethan whispered. Annabelle felt her breath catch in her throat at the answer.

“Hey. You guys! You are under the mistletoe!” Lena excitedly yelled from the kitchen. Both Annabelle and Ethan looked up at the hanging toxic plant.

“I did not put that up there,” Annabelle muttered.

“I did! I got the idea from those movies Ethan likes to watch on television! Hallmark…Hallmark Christmas movies!” J.D. announced as he took a big spoonful of rice into his mouth. Both Ethan and Annabelle looked back down at each other; Annabelle’s eyes naturally fell to Ethan’s lips.

“Um. Well…” Ethan stammered. Annabelle, taken off guard, looked back up at Ethan’s eyes in amusement.

“Come on. Kiss her! Dinner is getting cold, and we want this tension to end.” Lena said with an edge in her voice. She looked longingly at the chicken and broccoli and then back at them. She rolled her eyes in annoyance. “Like this dollfaces!” she exclaimed as she grabbed J.D. by his shirt and planted a loud smooch onto his lips. She pushed him away and gave a pointed look at Annabelle and Ethan. Annabelle let out a light laugh as she moved in closer to Ethan.

“Ok. Maybe you are right. My children are insane.” Annabelle whispered into Ethan’s ear before giving a quick peck on his cheek. She let go of the scarf and pushed herself away from Ethan.

“Alright my friends. What did you get to eat?” Annabelle asked as she traveled towards the kitchen. She noticed out of the corner of her eye that Ethan still has not moved from his spot. He had moved his hand to his cheek.

“Hey, Ethan. Do you want some white rice or do you want to keep standing there like a chump?” Lena growled out. Annabelle looked at Lena with alarm on her face.

“I need to review how I am writing you tonight.” Annabelle declared as Lena shrugged her shoulders in response. Ethan had moved back towards the kitchen, taking his scarf off as he walked.

“Like mother like daughter.” Ethan teased earning a light slap on his arm from Annabelle. He winked in response.

“So. What did the children do today?”