1.9. Rising Action
The sun feels weaker in Aurora Skies than anywhere else Elysia has ever been, but she’s determined to find the warmest spot on the beach so she can sunbathe. It’s a ritual, something she does whenever her life feels like something is going terribly wrong. It makes it pretty hard to cope in the winter.
Things are looking up, though. Elysia found a beautiful home in the center of town to rent, and she got a job as a receptionist at the spa. It was the only place she could find that would overlook her damning job history and pending criminal charges. And her house is close enough for her to walk to work, which is good because she doesn’t have a car or a bike.
Everything’s fine. Just fine.
While Elysia basks in self-pity and the sun, Clover and Luna throw a frisbee back and forth. Although they share very little in common, the two have become cautious friends. Clover constantly invites Quentin--and thus by extension, Luna--out to shows. Luna’s not sure if she likes how loud and overly-personal Clover can be, but she’s fun at least.
Luna has hardly seen Crimson recently. She’s fairly certain he’s avoiding her, but she’s been spending so much time with Elysia she can understand why. If Elysia wasn’t her sister, she wasn’t sure she’d hang out with her either.
And although Clover is a pale substitute for her brother, Luna is enjoying herself. She used to play frisbee all the time with her youngest brother, Zenith, so it brings up pleasant memories.
Luna is so busy reminiscing, in fact, that she doesn’t notice how high Clover is throwing the frisbee until it hits her in the face.
Clover laughs before she apologizes. “I’m sorry,” she says as she wipes away a tear, “oh, your face, though! It was so funny!”
Maybe Luna doesn’t like Clover so much after all.
“How about we break for lunch,” Elysia suggests. It had been her idea to come to the beach, and she really doesn’t want it to end prematurely. She could use the company. Besides, Luna had packed a picnic lunch using fruits and veggies from Quentin’s garden, and it turns out Quentin is an exceptional gardener. He had started gardening with the distant hope of saving money on grocery bills. However, he grew so much he’s resorted to giving the excess away. It’s a nice problem to have.
Luna carefully spreads out a picnic blanket and sets out the food. “There’s plenty, so help yourselves to as much as you want.” She’s proud of the bounty her fiance has provided. In fact, she feels downright grown up right now.
“So have you and Quen set the date for the wedding yet?” Clover asks as she grabs a plate of food.
“Um, yes,” Luna’s response is hesitant, “we’re getting married the first day of summer.”
Elysia gasps, “Luna, that’s in three days. Have you even sent out invitations?”
“Um, no. I’m not going to. Quentin and I are just planning on exchanging rings and making it official and that’s it,” Luna shrugs.
“That’s unbelievable--you loves big weddings. Remember mom’s? You said you wanted a wedding just like that.” Elysia had planned their mom’s wedding--which had been objectively beautiful--and she was a little hurt that Luna hadn’t come crawling to her, begging her to help with wedding plans.
Luna sighs, “I think something intimate suits Quentin and I a little better. Besides, we don’t know many people in Aurora Skies and we don’t have that much money.”
“Why don’t you invite your family?” Clover asks, “don’t you have like, twenty siblings? They could probably fill out a crowd.”
“No, just four,” Luna gives Clover a weird look, “five if you count Elly.” Luna sometimes forgets about her youngest half-brother, Oliver, from her father’s marriage to her stepmom.
“But what about your mom? Don’t you think she’d want to be there?” Clover asks.
“Oh hell,” Luna turns to Elysia, “I haven’t even told mom I’m engaged. Have you?”
“I haven’t talked to her in weeks,” Elysia admits.
“Hey, then it’s high time for a family reunion,” Clover says. Luna wonders why she’s pushing this so much.
Luna rolls her eyes at Elysia, “What do you think mom’s toast would be if she came to my wedding?”
“Let me think: ‘I can’t think of a better man to marry and hopefully inseminate my daughter than Quentin. He’s a gentleman and a total fox, and only if I was twenty years younger I’d ride him like a horse.’”
“She sounds like fun to me,” Clover shrugs, “What about your dad? You don’t want to invite him, either?”
“Oh, I don’t know. He has his wife, and our half-brother is just starting high school so--”
“You’ve talked to dad recently?” Elysia asks.
“Yeah, he calls twice a week.”
“Figures,” Elysia rolls her eyes.
“What do you mean?”
“You were always his favorite.”
“No way,” Luna laughs awkwardly, “that’s not true. Dad never played favorites.”
“Seriously? I can read minds and you don’t believe me?”
Clover feels a twinge of sympathy for Elysia. Her brother was her parents’ favorite, and it was quite obvious. But there are more important things at hand.
“Well this is super fun,” Clover interrupts, “I love watching you guys fight and all but let's get down to brass tacks: the bachelorette party.”
“Yes,” Elysia grins, “you have to at least have a bachelorette party.”
“To celebrate your last night of being single, dummy!” Clovers says.
“I’ve never dated anyone except Quentin. There’s not much to celebrate.”
“For fuck’s sake, who cares? It’s just an excuse to have some fun,” Clover is exasperated, “I’ll rent out the HORR Bar for you and hire some entertainment.”
“Entertainment?” Luna asks.
“You know, a magician,” Elysia snickers.
“Please? Please please please?” Clover is practically begging, “I live for stuff like this.”
“Fine,” Luna sighs, “but nothing crazy! Just a small get together!”
“I promise it’ll be low-key,” Clover crosses her heart.
“Oh,” Luna has a sudden realization, “you’re going to hire a stripper. Duh. Um, please don’t tell Quentin about that.”
“Well, if the party is going to be in a couple of days, I have a lot of planning to do,” Clover stands up, “and besides, I need to get ready for my gig tonight. But I’ll be in touch ASAP.” She pulls Luna in for a hug.
“Thanks for doing this,” Luna has her doubts--parties aren’t really her thing--but it is thoughtful of Clover to plan her bachelorette party.
“No problem--it’s my pleasure,” Clover smiles.
Luna waves at Rex as she enters the bar. She’s thankful that he’s shut down the bar for her party, though she’s not quite sure he ever gets that much business anyway.
“Aren’t you the girl that broke my table,” Rex furrows his brow.
“...I don’t recall that.”
Rex grumbles and returns to wiping the counters. He can’t believe Clover talked him into this.
“There you are,” Clover practically screams at Luna, “ready to party?”
“Hello, ladies,” Elysia happily greets the paltry party. She’s not complaining, though--it’s better than nothing. Besides, she has a feeling this is going to be a good night.
“Hey, and if you smile, maybe there’ll be a tip in it for you,” Elysia winks.
Rex smiles, but it’s unconvincing.
“I have something for you,” Clover says as she pulls out a bottle of nectar.
“Oh, how nice--wait, what are you going to do with it?” Luna’s suspicions are aroused when Clover begins to shake the bottle.
“This,” Clover pops the cork and sprays Luna. A geyser of syrupy nectar pours over Luna, soaking her.
“Great,” Luna whines, “now I’m all sticky.”
“Yeah, well, it’s practice for the honeymoon.”
“Don’t be crass” Luna blushes. She’s heard worse from her mother, though.
“It’s a bachelorette party--that’s the whole point.”
“Shut up, losers, the drinks are ready,” Elysia impatiently taps her foot as she holds out a tray of drinks to her comrades.
“Thanks--I’m only having one, though,” Luna says. Elysia rolls her eyes. As if she cares about how much Luna is going to drink. It’s not going to stop her from having fun.
Light debauchery soon takes over the party when Harry Chesterman, an “exotic dancer” from a studio called Rising Action, enters the bar. “This one is going out to the bride-to-be,” he announces in his attempt at a sultry voice while he begins to dance clumsily.
Luna guesses she’s supposed to be titillated, but frankly she finds the baby-faced dancer to be pretty boring. That doesn’t stop Elysia and Clover from joining in. They’ve also been continuously drinking, though, while Luna has remained true to her word.
Rex nearly has a heart attack when he sees not one, but two inebriated women dancing on his tables. He just replaced one of those! People have no respect.
Luna looks around the bar, bored. She spots a couple of arcade machines and approaches them like a moth drawn to a flame. It appears Crimson left a high score on one of the video games. Luna’s going to take care of that, though. She shoves coin after coin into the machine, determined to outscore him.
After a few games, Luna glances over her shoulder at Clover and Elysia. It appears the two are having a good time. She should have realized the bachelorette party was more for them than it was for her. She doesn’t begrudge them their fun.
The evening seems to be winding down when Clover suggests one last drink: a bottle of nectar she has been saving for a special occasion.
“This is one of my favorites,” Clover gushes as she hands glasses of nectar to Luna and Elysia, “It’s a great vintage, and I’ve been itching to share it with you.”
“Thanks,” Luna says as she takes the glass. She thinks nectar tastes like sour grapes, but she politely takes a few sips.
Elysia, on the other hand, smells the drink, drawing in the aroma of grapes and oak. She loves nectar, and happily drinks.
“While you enjoy, I’d like to make a toast: Luna, I’ve only known you for a short time but it feels like I’ve known you for half my life. You don’t even realize the effect you’ve had on me.”
Luna smiles, “you’re too sweet, Clover.” Really, though, Luna feels very awkward right now.
“I was hoping your mother would come to your wedding, though,” Clover says wistfully, “you know, you really need to understand the importance of family.”
This has taken a weird turn, Luna thinks as she takes another sip of nectar. There’s something oddly metallic about the taste of it, and the alcohol seems to be working extra fast. Luna can feel the room spinning around her.
Suddenly, Luna drops her glass and slides out of her seat, crumpling on the floor. Clover laughs.
Elysia looks at her sister in disbelief. She hadn’t had that much to drink, had she?
“She hadn’t had that much to drink, had she?” Elysia repeats her thoughts out loud, creating a strange echo. Is that what her voice sounds like? Wait, why does she feel like she’s on a merry-go-round?
What is Clover doing?
“Wow, she went out like a light,” Clover laughs, “didn’t expect that, though I wasn’t exactly careful with the dosage. I mean, what is it going to do, kill you?” Clover punctuates that question with a cackle.
“Dosage?” Elysia is confused for a moment before it clicks. She lurches forward to the floor and retches, trying hard to empty her stomach. She can only manage a dry heave, though.
“Oh, Elysia, honey. Just stop, that’s not going to work,” Clover snickers, “the drugs are pretty fast acting. Just look at your sister. C’mon, try to face to inevitable with a little bit of dignity.”
“You--” Elysia passes out before finishing whatever it was she was going to say. Clover grins at the satisfying thump her body makes as it hits the floor.
This is quite a mess. She has some time before they wake up, though. She needs to get everything ready before she calls her brother. Crimson will want to be here for this.