Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chapter 86: Over the Threshold

Eleanor was never the kind of girl who fantasized about her wedding day, and had even declared several times in her life that she would never get married at all. If pressed for reasons, she would point out the inherent sexism of the whole institution, and of the ceremony itself, which puts a woman on a pedestal for one day as she passed like chattel from a father to a husband. And while that's all true, Eleanor's secret is that she's terrified of that pedestal, that one day where everything is supposed to be about her, all eyes on her. And now that day is come, and though she and Justin have arranged the smallest and most private of ceremonies, Eleanor quakes a little as she looks at herself in the mirror, wishing she could just disappear into the background.

"It's a beautiful dress," Regan comments from the couch where she and Gavin sit, available to help her get dressed. With no complicated veils and just a simple gown, the only help Eleanor needed was to have Regan zip it up for her. "You look gorgeous."

"I'm surprised you went with the traditional white," Gavin comments, "But it suits you."

"It was Justin's idea," Eleanor admits with a smile, "I would have preferred a suit, but he wanted a bride in white."

Gavin laughs, "He's always surprising, I'll give him that." 

Because of Justin's fake identity and lack of a birth certificate, they had to have their wedding in a state like Nevada, which wold grant them a marriage license with just their IDs. And it just happened that one of Gavin's new Hollywood friends had a mansion just outside os Las Vegas that he was willing to let them use for the occasion.

"Where's this preacher?" Justin growls, pacing like a caged tiger across the rug in the living room on the first floor of the borrowed mansion.

"Saraswati isn't really a preacher," Zach comments from his chair, "She is a licensed minister, though, and I'm sure she'll be here soon."

Neither bride nor groom have any religious affiliation, but Zach's offer to ask a friend of his who was a minister of the Vedanta church to conduct a non-denominational ceremony for them in the privacy of the borrowed house was too convenient not to accept.

"Why is it taking her so long to get dressed?" Justin continues his pacing, "I should go help her."

"Justin," Jeanette chuckles as she gets up from her chair, "Calm down. Eleanor will be down soon, and your minister will show up on time. Everything will be fine." She kisses her brother gently, almost nervously, on the cheek. Getting close to him again after their long separation has been difficult. He was never one to trust easily, and the way they had left things had just closed him off even more. But he never stopped loving her, Jeanette has learned that much from his bride, and she's used that love to slowly chip away at his armor.

Zach's minister friend finally arrives.

Moments later, Eleanor comes downstairs, dressed and ready.

Justin pounces on her as soon as he sees her. "Are you ready?" he asks, "I want to do this."

"I'm ready, tiger," she answers.

The small party gathers outside on the patio for the ceremony. They kept their vows simple and direct, neither one of the comfortable with expressing their true feelings even to their closest friends.

As the ceremony ends with the traditional kiss, Justin whispers a simple, "I'm yours, princess. All yours," in her ear.

The celebration afterwards is subdued, a small meal prepared by Justin himself, and as the sun sets, the couple disappear into their suite, leaving their guests to fend for themselves.

Jeanette and Zach find themselves thrown together as Gavin and Regan move off to share a private moment. 

"Justin tells me you're some kind of scientist?" Jeanette asks.

"A physicist," Zach clarifies, "I work at JPL."

"That must be interesting," Jeanette says, because she can't think of anything else.

Zach laughs, "When I was a kid, I had everything planned. I was going to be the science officer on a starship, exploring strange new worlds, new life and new civilizations. Seriously, I thought it would be all possible by the time I grew up. But it turns out, the best I can do is work on getting unmanned missions to Mars. I guess it's interesting, but it's a serious downgrade from what I wanted in life. I'm stuck on this planet, forever."

Jeanette can't help but laugh. "I've never written science fiction," she says, "But I think you just gave me an idea for a story."

"Nah, I'm a side character at best," Zach says, "Are you going back to Seattle soon?"

"That was the plan," Jeanette answers, "But Justin and I...repairing that relationship will take time, and work, and being in another state won't help. I can write anywhere, and I don't have anyone in Seattle to go back for, so I'm thinking of relocating."

"My last tenant was a writer, too," Zach tells her, "She and her boyfriend just moved out to Arizona together. So the guest cottage behind the main house is empty again. If you think you might be interested. I don't really need to rent the space out, I don't even have a mortgage to pay off. But I hate to see all the space go to waste. It's so much more house than I need. Eleanor used to live in that cottage. That's how she and Justin met." Jeanette smiles at him indulgently, and Zach blushes as he realizes he's rambling.

"I'd like to see it," Jeanette says, her shoulder brushing against his hand as she shifts her weight, "A guest cottage in the backyard sounds perfect for me."

"Have you decided yet?" Gavin asks, pulling Regan close to him.

"You want to talk about that now?" she sighs.

"It's just such a great opportunity, for both of us. To work together."

"It's a vampire movie," Regan groans, "I don't want to do a vampire movie..."

"You've done toilet paper commercials. How is a vampire movie worse than that?"

Regan laughs. "It will be proof to everyone that I've sold out and gone Hollywood."

"If you turn it down, I'll have to turn it down too. I don't want to be away from you," Gavin insists. With the Sandman movie wrapped and in post-production, Gavin and Regan have been offered roles as romantic leads in an upcoming vampire movie. "How many chances are we going to get to be co-stars?"

"Probably a lot," Regan says, "Have you seen the tabloids? We're a hot item, and the Hollywood machine won't waste that."

"Well, that's a good thing, Regan. I'm not sure I could do a romantic part with anyone else. You know I can't act, not really, and I'm not going to be a convincing romantic lead without you."

"So, I should do this for the sake of cinematic quality?" Regan laughs.

"Do it for us," Gavin says, "Hollywood wants to use us...let's use them, to pay us to be together."

"Well, when you put it that way..."

Gavin squeezes her hips and leans down to kiss her neck, "Be my vampire queen," he whispers in her ear, making her giggle.

It's not their bedroom, but Justin carries his bride over the threshold, anyway. He'd never imagined himself in this position, in such an intimate, binding relationship. Adapting to it hasn't been easy, but the rewards have more than justified the effort. He's valued his privacy, and still does, but now that privacy encompasses more than himself; she's part of his world now, part of himself.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chapter 85: Happy Birthday

"I can't believe you did this," Portia cries, throwing her arms around him, "It's beautiful."

"Now you'll be able to play while you are here," Rainier says with a smile, "I've made a copy of my key for you, so you can come in any time you like."

"To play piano?" she asks with a teasing smile.

"If you like.  But I was thinking more about coming home from work and finding you here waiting for me."

"And what am I wearing in this fantasy scenario?" Portia laughs.

"Mmmm, I'll let you surprise me," he answers.

Portia giggles and takes him by the hands, "Your gift is downstairs. Get your luggage, we need to meet my father."

"Bill bought you a Ferrari?" Rainier says when they approach the car parked in his pot.

"No," Portia says, "That's yours. Happy Birthday. From me and Dad."

"Portia, I can't accept--" he protests, but she covers his mouth with her hand.

"You can," she says, "I know you want to. And I'm not letting your silly pride get in the way."

"All right," he says, getting into the car beside her, "It's a beautiful gift." He'll speak with Bill about this later, but for now he decides to enjoy the ride.

They drive across town to Beverly Hills, to her house, where they meet up with Bill. Then they pack all their luggage into the waiting limo which takes them to LAX.

Rather than throwing Portia a huge birthday party, she Bill decided on a a more private family celebration  at their vacation house in Hawaii. Portia, of course, would not dream of celebrating her 18th birthday without Rainier, so it's the three of them together for the weekend.

"Bill, about the car..." Rainier says, getting Bill alone on the porch while Portia showers.

"You aren't going to try to refuse the gift," Bill says.

"It's too much," Rainier protests.

"That's what I said to Portia when she told me her plans. Not that it's too much for me, you understand. Drop in the bucket. But I knew you'd want to turn it down. But, she turned her puppy eyes at me and it was 'Daddy, please,' for weeks. And I'm not going to be subjected to her tears when you give it back. So, you're keeping the car."

"We have that in common," Rainier laughs.

"We have that and a lot more," Bill observes, "And we've had our disagreements, too. But you've been there for Portia when she's needed you, and you set me straight when I failed her. You've made yourself a part of this family. And I'm glad to have you. My daughter could not have chosen a better man."

Rainier intended to have Portia with or without Bill's consent, but having it is certainly better than not. He finds himself unexpectedly moved by Bill's blessing; his own father was gone long before he died, and never did give Rainier the approval a son needs from his father. Getting it from Bill comes a bit a late, but it means a lot more than Rainier would have anticipated.

"What are you two up to?" Portia asks, joining them on the porch, giving Rainier a chaste kiss in greeting.

"I'm taking my drink and heading out to the hot tub," Bill answers, "I suppose you two can entertain yourselves for awhile."

With Bill out of the way, Rainier pulls Portia into a tight embrace.

"This feels like a honeymoon, doesn't it?" she asks, "After all the waiting, all the build up to this day..."

"Except we won't be taking your father along on our honeymoon," Rainier laughs.

"C'mon," she says, taking him by the hand to lead him up to their room, "I have a surprise  for you."

"Another birthday gift," Rainier says when the surprise turns out to be the lingerie she's wearing under her clothes. "Do you mind if I unwrap it?"

The long wait is at last over, and she is finally, legally his love. And though they had made love before, in some distant past, before he knew her true age, this time feels like the first, or even better, if there is such a thing. Because they had waited so long, and had grown so close in the waiting, learning each other, falling in love.

"Happy birthday," she sighs, wrapping her legs around him.

"And to you, my love," he answers.

"Maybe we should come back here on our honeymoon," Portia says.

"You're making plans for our honeymoon when we aren't even engaged," Rainier laughs, and Portia pinches him, gently, just enough to deliver the slightest twinge of pain.

"I expect you'll be proposing soon enough."

"I was going to wait for you to graduate," Rainier says, "Are we joking around now or is this a serious conversation?"

Portia rests her head on his shoulder, "It doesn't matter," she sighs, "I know you're the one. And I know you know it, too. You said so yourself. We can wait until I graduate to make it official, as long as you know you are mine, and I am yours."

"Je sais," he whispers, "I've known that for awhile now."