“As you’re growing up and you’re close, you can’t trust anyone the way you trust your sister, but also they have the power to wound you in ways no one else really does.”Ally Condie
Maeve walked over to her husband, who was, as usual, composing new music or editing one of their current works in progress in their home studio, Everett looked up and stopped immediately as she kissed him, then massaged his shoulders.
Moaning he relaxed to enjoy the treat, when Maeve cooed
“Reeeeeeett …?” she dragged out.
“Ah, here it comes. I should have known, random affectionate drive-bys always end with the sound of Simoleons leaving our bank account.” he turned to face her, pulled her into an embrace, kissing her to signal he was teasing.
“First of all, that is not true and second of all, you would be wrong. I don’t want anything that costs money.”
“Ooh la la, in that case, tell me more. Much, much more …. as detailed as possible.”
Everett smiled down at her, amped up about what he thought her words were insinuating, trailed little kisses along her neck, before he kissed her deeply, making Maeve moan briefly, until she quietly said
“Cordelia is coming for a visit.”
Everett could hear the sound of imaginary brakes squealing in his head, the romantic mood instantly gone, as he first froze, then jerked backwards, reading in his wife’s face for signs of a joke. When he found her to be serious, he grimaced.
“Maeve … urgh!”
“Uh uh! Everett, let’s not do this. It’s happening. And yes, she will be staying with us, because she is family. My family.”
“Oh come on now! We don’t have room. I mean, obviously we have plenty of room if she wants to crash on a deck chair or the couch, but we are still in the midst of a full remodel. All that’s done is the downstairs and our rooms. What’s the big plan here? Is she gonna curl up on a pile of building materials like a feral cat? Maybe she could sleep in between us in our bed, for the extra close family feels?! Or does her broom come with a sleep hover function now?!”
“Oh Rett. Can you please put the past aside for a little while? I have. Besides, the guest room is mostly done …”
“Eww! My nephews are supposed to sleep there in a few weeks! I don’t want it contaminated with Cordelia Reed DiLaurentis germs. Nasty! Poor Jordan! Poor Jamie! I can’t have them sleep in that, the bed will have to be burned and replaced by a team in Hazmat suits as soon as she leaves!”
“Jeeze, Rett, now you are just childish! She is my older sister, you know! My own blood. My only sibling at that.”
“Well, your parents clearly saved the best for last. She was the failed trial run, obviously!”
“Funny, except you used to date her for YEARS. Twice! Now what does that say about you then?!”
“Says I used to be a fucking dumbass with my head far up my rear, but we already knew that! I am happy to report that I made a full recovery, obviously, seeing I got her out of my life and am happily married to you. Fine, she’s your sister, family, blah blah, can’t argue with that, have her come then. So, how long is she planning to roost here for, and how much lead time do we get to prepare ourselves mentally until the three of us have to line up to play welcome committee to the wicked witch from Windenburg?”
“I don’t know how long she is planning to stay, Rett. Also, my sister lives in San Myshuno now with her family, they moved away from Windenburg almost a year ago, remember? She arrives tomorrow morning.”
“TOMORROW?! MORNING?! Did you just say tomorrow morning as in the day after this one?! Like measurable in hours from now?! For how long?! She has a job and three kids, right? Can’t be able to stay that long, right? RIGHT?! Or is she bringing the brood and Julian! Oh gawd no!”
“No just her, no kids and no Julian. Rett, look, I do not know what’s going on. She sounded off on the phone. Distraught. I suspect she has marital issues and needed to get away. I am going to make the bed and get the room ready to give you time to process the news.”
Maeve walked out, Everett let go of a few off-color ‘terms of endearment’ for Cordelia he had been holding back with Maeve still in the room.
A few days after Cordelia’s arrival, her stay thus far surprisingly smooth and uneventful, Maeve had to go downtown Del Sol Valley for some contractual matters, Blaine was at school, so Everett had tried his best to stay out of sight. Still, Cordelia found him on the patio, handing him a coffee.
“It’s not poisoned, I promise. I saw you through the window, and that you didn’t have a coffee cup in your hands, rather unusual for a Cameron, especially in the morning, so I brought you this as a peace offering. I know me being here isn’t your biggest dream come true.” she said into his poorly hidden frown.
“Ok.” Rett mumbled, staring into the crema of the steaming coffee as if it were from a witch’s cauldron, not his own espresso maker.
“No roofie in there either. Look Rett, I never got the chance to apologize to you for that moment of weakness during the last family dinner. Well, the only ever family dinner with our side of the family, which is sad really. I didn’t mean to upset you then. I was just melancholic, that’s all. I wouldn’t destroy your marriage.”
“I also never apologized for what I did to you. It was bad, I know that. I knew it then, but I felt stuck and panicked. You know my parents, Maeve is the lucky one, the one who got out. My father already has to deal with the fact that they have no boy to carry on the family name, or to put it in his terms ‘only’ two girls. So we got the pressure to live up to impossible standards. Maeve rebelled, I obliged best I could. But you did not deserve what I did. Especially not after you really had tried to change for the better already, even then.”
“Jesus Rett! Could you say anything more than one syllable platitudes?! I am trying to clear the air between us, but it needs to be a dialog for it to work, not a self-shaming monolog by me with brief cameos of your acknowledgement.”
“Now you sound like your sister. No, your father. Just waiting for you to try to kick me out of my own house. Bet he would try.”
“Oh, forget it …” Cordelia seemed hurt, as she turned to walk away, Rett quickly held on to her arm.
“Cordelia … wait. I am sorry too. That was immature of me. Fine, let’s clear the air. I have a lot to be sorry about and apologize to you for. I was an asshole as a teen, probably deserved every bit of what you did to me, and my attempt trying to make up in my twenties for what I put you through during high school didn’t cut it anymore, too little, too late, I get it. We just weren’t right for each other after all, beyond prom king and queen. But I am sorry I treated you like shit back then, you did not deserve that. Truth be told, I think it worked out for the best in the end. Maeve and I are perfect together, and Julian is a much better fit for you and your standards than I could have ever been. We are just too different, you and I, always have been, just neither of us saw it then. Now I think we both do.”
“You’d think so, about Julian and me. Except the reason I am here is very hush-hush still, I haven’t even really told Maeve everything yet, but you both probably already suspect why I practically fled so far away from house and home. If not, here goes: my marriage is on the rocks. No, I am still trying to fool myself. My marriage is pretty much over. Infidelity. Ironic, isn’t it? The sad, ridiculous cliché, Julian has an affair with the secretary. Mom and dad would be so proud, if they knew, pardon my sarcasm. I really check off all the marks of the conventional upper class wife now. Guess it’s true what they say, what goes around, comes around. And you really have changed, a lot, for the better. I am very impressed. Oh, and by the way, thank you for never telling my family about what I did to you, why we broke up. I know at that dinner you must have been very tempted to tell everyone that I was a cheater too.”
“Nah, not really, I am just not wired that way. Trickling low blows down the line isn’t really my style. Plus, I am used to their verbal right hooks. What I WAS tempted to do however, was pull up my bank accounts and show your father the balances, since he told me when you and I were dating that I was not good enough for you, and would never amount to anything but a hapless, penniless fool, strumming on his guitar for a buck. Well, guess that buck brought all his friends and family, all multi-millions, almost a billion, of them. Who’d’ve thunk.”
“Did you hear what I said about my marriage?”
“Yup. I heard ya. Whatcha want me to say? I am not a marriage counselor. I mean, damage is done, you seem understandably hurt by it, you have two choices, forgive him or dump his ass, divorce him and find someone more deserving. I mean, you are a very attractive and accomplished woman, eligible bachelors should be running down your door once you de-snoozeball’ed yourself. What you ever saw in him is a mystery to all, except he’s from wealthy stock, Julian may be a nice guy, but then again, who can say for sure, since you have to feel for a pulse half the time to see if he’s even still alive. How you ever ended up pregnant … well, never mind, that’s really none of my bees wax and TMI.”
“Well, best I can give you is that Julian is not as quiet and calm as everyone seems to think, he can be quite temperamental if the situation calls for it. What I saw in him? Well since you asked, he is handsome, rich, smooth, charming, he was in the right place at the right time saying all the right things and he checked off all the marks and I was an idiot. Too late you notice you are not the princess from the fairy tale at all, but caught in the spider’s web. The DiLaurentis’ are influential, which impressed my father to no avail, but backfires in my current situation. If I really try to divorce him, fur will be flying and it will be all mine for sure. His family and their friends in high places will see to that.”
“Not if the judge knows he fucked around on ya. Case closed. He’s a douche and you get alimony and child support. Done and done!”
“Adorable and so naïve of you, Rett, to think for a second he and his powerful family would let me take the kids. See my problem now? I may not please everyone’s taste, but I am a mother and I love my children. No way I can leave them behind.”
“Okay, well you are here without them and I am still not really clear why. Maeve and I are not attorneys. My cousin is, but he is pretty busy already and cannot take a case in San Myshuno. My aunt is in Windenburg, but mostly retired. Not sure how Maeve and I can help ya.”
“I don’t need a lawyer, Rett. I need support. If I really go through with filing for divorce, it will not be easy for me. It already is hell on wheels as he knows that I know. We had the worst fight, you wouldn’t think he is so calm and boring had you seen and heard him then. Julian can flip out too. I am probably where you always wanted to see me, on my knees. Whatever you say now to mock me is nothing short of kicking someone already on the floor.”
“I am not kicking anyone, Cordelia. You are here, aren’t you? Stay as long as you like, if you can do without your kids for so long. Just doesn’t fix your problem long term is all I am saying. Sweeping problems under rugs just makes for bumpy rides and lots of tripping.”
“I just needed to get away, somewhere neutral, where I can really think and reflect on my options. That’s all. So you can really relax, Rett, I know you thought I still had designs on winning you back or something. I do not. One Reed girl with a failed marriage is plenty. Believe it or not, I love my little sister. I still deeply care about you as well, but before you freak out, not like THAT. Not anymore. I do not believe it possible to re-heat old love when it so clearly died a painful death at some point. We have all grown up, Rett, at least I’d like to think so. We were young, foolish, made bad choices and here we all are dealing with them.”
By the time Maeve got home some hours later, the scene that presented itself to her wasn’t at all what she had expected to find.
As soon as she walked into the front door she heard music and laughter from the patio. As she got out there, she saw her sister awfully cozy practically fangirling a laughing Everett, who was playing one of the brand-new pieces from ‘Rett & Reed’s upcoming, still unreleased album on the guitar, with one of their best wines open on the table behind them. The entire scene rubbed Maeve very wrong.
When both of them noticed her, Rett’s face lit up and he immediately stopped playing, put down the guitar to come and greet his wife, while Maeve eyed her sister suspiciously. Since when did Cordelia care about guitar play and the type of music she and Rett made?!
Maeve let Rett kiss her, still eyeing Cordelia, sending a clear message with her eyes, before she grabbed Everett tight and kissed him purposely demonstratively like they had not seen each other in days, not just hours.
When they let go of each other, both breathless, Maeve stomped over to her sister, turned to Rett and with a determined voice told him.
“Oh baby, I’ll take a glass of wine too! Make sure my glass is nice and chilled before you come back. 5 minutes in the freezer should do it. Thanks and love you, my sweet HUSBAND.” she cooed at Rett, but turned to face her sister, measuring her up for the latter part of the last sentence.
“Oh boy, here we go. I’ll have the paramedics on standby.” Everett mumbled to himself but left, knowing refusal would only piss off Maeve more.
Maeve had a temper, once she lost it, feathers would fly. Rett knew if he insisted on staying now, Maeve would only interpret that as him siding with her sister, which would set her off. Besides, Cordelia could handle herself and he would only be a few steps and a window away.
“Maeve, darling, Rett and I were just …” Cordelia started, but Maeve cut her off, glaring at her sister.
“Oh, shut up! I saw what you were just, Cordelia! This stops right now, do not test my patience on this! Everett is my husband. MY husband. HUSBAND. You had your chance, sorry, chances, plural, with him. He is not a doll we can fight over. You know full well I liked him back when I was 13, 14 even though he didn’t even see me then, but that didn’t stop you from flaunting him again and again in my face. Now he is MINE. I love him, he is the father of my son, and if you make one false move trying to destroy that, I will make you pay.”
“Jesus Maeve, for heaven’s sake, are you off your meds? If not, you definitely should be on something. You are delusional. Or bi-polar. I was merely being polite and friendly with my brother-in-law, as you asked me to be. That’s all. But you should work on your insecurities. I may not know much about the entertainment business, but I know that there are a lot of women who want a piece of Rett. If you can’t even trust your own sister around him, it will be bleak times ahead for you, especially since none of us is getting any younger, but alas, some things never change. Men supposedly get ‘distinguished’ as they age, women get replaced.”
“You bitch! YOU BITCH!”
Out of the blue Maeve swung and nailed her sister straight on the side of her face with her fist, the unexpected impact send her to the ground, summoning Everett, who grabbed Maeve holding her back, she struggled hard to free herself to no avail.
“Baby! BABY! Stop! Calm down! Enough!”
Behind them, Cordelia scrambled onto her feet, ran inside, presumably to her room.
“She is such a bitch! BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH!” Maeve hissed and yelled, her eyes narrowed and welling up with tears, so Rett pulled her into an embrace, which she allowed.
“Yup, sure is.”
“She thinks she can just take, take, take whatever she wants! But no, oh no, not this time, not with me! Not you!” Maeve pulled free from Rett’s embrace.
“Nope. Plus, I am not in the market for taking. Especially not by her.”
“She is so high and mighty! Arrogant to the T!”
“Yup, always has been, that’s why we all love to hate her.”
“She … are you making fun of me?!”
“No, your sister. And maybe a little of the Jerry Springer moment here.”
“I am glad YOU are amused! I am not. I do not think this is funny in the least?!”
“It’s not, it’s ridiculous, unnecessary and sad and I will admit, a little scary.”
“I don’t see how your nonchalance is warranted! She is trying to take you from me. You’re just being a typical man and totally oblivious!”
“Maeve, baby. Look at me. That ain’t never ever gonna happen. You know why most men cheat? To prove something to themselves. I got nothing to prove. Some cheat because they are bored in the bedroom. Well, all I am gonna say to that is Sulani. We could have taped that shit, published and be even richer now. I do not want, need or even consider any other woman, not now or ever. I love you. That’s all I need. I knocked out my man-whoring days in my teens.”
“She said I was getting old.” Maeve pouted.
“Well, we all are, and don’t that shit backfire on her, seeing how she is older than both of us? What else ya got?” Rett smiled.
“I … oh man … I flipped for nothing, didn’t I? Oh my god, Rett, I am THAT woman. That overly jealous for no reason woman …. Oh. My. God! I am like a … a … Karen. A celebrity Karen.”
“Well, my ego doesn’t really like the ‘for no reason’ part, but I get what you mean and no, you have no reason. And you are NO KAREN. Okay? OKAY?!”
“Oh boy, she is probably on the phone with my parents now, telling them hot of the presses what a bitch I am.”
“She isn’t. She’s right here, crawling back to you to apologize. I shouldn’t have said what I said. Sorry Maeve. Really, sorry. For what it’s worth, you got me pretty good.” Cordelia had joined them again, unnoticed.
“Ha, you’re lucky you ain’t got no balls or you’d’ve known getting you good.” Everett laughed to diffuse the situation more.
“Sorry Cordy!” Maeve said softly.
“It’s okay. Come here you!” Cordelia’s voice was soft.
The sisters hugged, Everett shrugged, shaking his head. What in the world was this now?!
“I love you, Maeve, you are the best little sister any girl could ask for.”
“Love ya too, Cordy. You were the only one of our family who helped me when they kicked me out. Gave me money and all. I haven’t forgotten. Really, sorry. But Rett is definitely mine.”
“I know. I would never take him from you, sissy. Never.” Cordelia stated, followed by another hug.
“Uh – and let’s put on record that I am a fully sentient being and make decisions of my own, among them whom I am with.” Everett added.
“Oh, Rett, would you be a doll and get us more wine please?” Cordelia’s tone was sweet, but a definite order.
“What?! So, the sister war turns to a hug fest and I get demoted to lackay? Oh, I will NEVER understand women. Yeah, whatever. Women. Seriously. Women.”
Shaking his head, Everett went to get said wine, but dialed his brother’s number.
“Hey, Dec-Man. Just a really quick call to tell you thank you for being such an easy brother! Oh, and thank you for not being a sister. That’s all. I need to go serve wine now and probably play ringmaster. Or hand tissues out, maybe a group hug or kumbaya around a fire, not sure yet, but just had to tell ya.”
“Rett, are you okay? Have you been drinking?”
“No, but excellent idea! Love ya, Dec-Man. Talk to ya soon.”