Oak Island Chapter 4: Various celebrations

Oak Island Chapter 4: Various celebrations

A Chapter by SweetNutmeg
"

Various celebrations (Originally Tinder Island)

"
Chapter Four
Cheryl invited me to join the ladies in a movie and drinks after. They had chosen a period movie with tons of great costumes from the 1940's and a predictably spunky and triumphant leading lady. 

Ezra derided their movie choice. “It's spoon fed pap of the worst kind. How can you watch that trash?”

“It's called a chick flick for a reason. It's just us girls. You don't have to watch it.”  

“Couldn't you do something with Susan or Nadine?”

“Why do you think they would like to do something with me? What ever gave you that idea?”

Ezra looked taken aback. “Well, why wouldn't they?”

“You don't understand women  at all. Cheryl's picking me up in a few minutes. I'd better wait in the lobby.” I gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Don't wait up for me.”

***

The movie was as wonderfully silly as I had hoped. When we got to the Bamboo Bar, Cheryl called the table to order.

“Raise your glasses to Ted's sperm! We're going to try for a baby!”

There were five of us... Janine, Cheryl, Marie, a woman named Meg from Janine's work, and myself. We raised our glasses and drank to Ted's virility. 

Marie was in town for her sister's wedding, more good news. They were welcoming another Italian man into the family. A toast to the new couple. Yet another toast, to Italian men.

I was drinking margaritas and basked in the warm fuzzies I had gotten from the movie and the companionship and Cheryl's news. This was much more fun than the restrained evenings I spent with Ezra's friends and their wives. Because they were Ezra's friends. Not mine. I barely hurdled the high bar Ezra's friends had set for inclusion in their group. I went to an Ivy League school, yes, but for business. I just scraped by. 

We continued our rowdy party until 11, when Cheryl had to go home  to get her beauty rest before the busy day at the salon tomorrow. 

 Ezra had waited up for me. He was reading in bed. I got ready for bed myself, but when I got there, I was not interested in sleep. I snuggled up and energetically kissed him. When I took his book away from him he did not object.

***

The next Tuesday afternoon was a hectic whirl of work. When I got home, I was surprised to see Ezra's car in its usual parking spot. He usually got home after me. Curious, I trudged upstairs and unlocked the door. I found him in the kitchen, checking a steaming pot. Something smelled delicious. He looked up from his labor and indicated the busy kitchen with a sweeping hand. “Spaghetti alle vongole. Just like we had in Italy last summer.” 

I came to hug him. “What's the occasion?”

“We are celebrating the day we met. May Tom and Gina be as happy as we are!” Tom and Gina's wedding was where we were introduced. “Here, have a glass of this pinot grigio. I thought Italian wine was appropriate.” As I settled into a stool at the kitchen island, Ezra excused himself. He reappeared moments later brandishing a huge bouquet of sweet heart roses, my favorite arrangement.

“Oh, Ezra, how lovely. Thank you.” I accepted the flowers and carefully placed them on the island so that I could give him a thorough kiss. Sometimes I wondered how I ended up with such a romantic. I could count on Ezra remembering every anniversary and special occasion. I had to set a reminder on my phone to remember his birthday, but he always knew mine and always made sure I felt loved and pampered. 

Over the clams and spaghetti in white wine sauce, Ezra told me of his plans for our next trip to Europe. We lingered over our meal and finished with rum baba, my favorite Italian dessert, a type of rum cake. Ezra could be tactless and judgmental, but then he would do something like this. 


***

Labor Day was coming up. Ezra informed me that Anthony and Frances were having a party. Cheryl had invited me to their party as well. Anthony was an intense, driven man much like Ezra. Frances, his wife, came from money and did volunteer work instead of pursuing a career. I liked Frances more than the other wives and girlfriends. But I really would have rather gone to Cheryl's. 

Ezra thought that idea was preposterous. 

“Cassie, you have to be there. We are  a couple and you are expected to come. I already told Frances we'd be there.”

“Maybe I could make an appearance with Anthony and Frances and leave early to catch the end of Cheryl's party.” 

After much back and forth, we finally agreed I would stay with Ezra for at least two hours. After that I would go to Cheryl's. 

I wasn't really looking forward to socializing with Ezra's friends, but I knew at least that the food would be incredible. And I was right. Waiters were circulating with canapés, tiny creations of beauty and deliciousness. I tried the shrimp and the baby bella, both delectable. 

I was dressed in a jaunty white and navy dress with a cropped crochet sweater. I had to dress so carefully for these get togethers. Not too formal but not too casual either. I had to guess the degree of formality, and Labor Day I managed to guess correctly. I knew from experience that missing the mark in the formality or quality of clothing drew stares.

Frances greeted us and directed us to the bar, where a white jacketed bartender was mixing drinks. Ezra ordered a Balvenie scotch and I took some Champagne and we set off into the milling guests. Ezra saw John and joined him with Anthony and another man I didn't know. I drifted through the crowd, not seeing any familiar faces, and ended up looking over the back balcony into the most fantastic view, the city laid out below us. This is what money could buy, a house on the edge of the heights, looking down on a whole city full of people. 

Frances, a gracious hostess, noticed my lack of conversation partner and soon had brought over another guest.

“Holly, this is Cassie Crown. I believe you have the same Alma Mater. I think you both studied economics at Cornell.”

I made polite sounds and cringed. I had not studied economics, I had studied accounting. 

“When did you graduate?” Holly asked.

“I was class of 2014.” 

“But I don't remember seeing your name in the Arts and Sciences alumni magazine. What did you study?”

“I went to Dyson, not Arts and Sciences.” Dyson was the business college I had graduated from.

Holly, never very warm to begin with, cooled significantly. “I see, Dyson. What firm are you with?”

I named my employer.

 “Well, I suppose someone has to do that kind of work. Where do you know Frances and Anthony from?” 

We talked on, both held by social rules to this awkward conversation. I was relieved when Holly left to get a drink. Nadine came out to the balcony not long afterwards. 

“Have you seen Susan?” asked Nadine.

“No, not yet. She's here?” I looked around.

“Yes, wearing this awful yellow thing. Sometimes her background shows, you know. Yellow with white shoes.” Susan, like me, did not come from money. I supposed Nadine told other people my background showed. If she talked about Susan like that, she would probably talk about me the same way.

I turned towards the living room, hoping for a distraction and received it. Susan came to join us. She was holding a mixed drink and wearing a very nice yellow jacket dress with the advertised white shoes. She looked fine to me. Was there some unknown rule about white shoes I didn't know? Or was Nadine criticizing the color combination, or maybe the style of shoe? 

I liked Susan more than Nadine. She was less critical and wasn't in the habit of talking about people behind their backs. So I complimented her on her shoes, then asked after John. 

“Ezra told me he's moving up. Congratulations.” 

“Thank you, Cassie. I think this will be our ticket out of Columbia. I'd love to live in Boston. That's where HQ is.”

“You're from up there, aren't you?” 

“Yes, New Hampshire. I've never adjusted to the heat down here.” 

Nadine cut in, “Oh, that's right, Cassie. I had forgotten you were from Mantville. Dreadful place, so common. I bet you can't wait to get out of here.”  

I was saved the trouble of answering as we were called to the large gas grill for grilled prawns and tender beef shishkebabs. 

Ezra joined me and we nibbled our lunch standing together. By my watch, two hours had passed, so Ezra allowed me to make my excuses and leave.


***

I was horribly over dressed for Cheryl's party. I gratefully took off my shoes and stockings in the bathroom and joined Cheryl in the back yard, barefoot. 

“Cassie, you must try one of Ted's burgers,” Cheryl urged me. 

I did not need to be asked twice. The shrimp and shishkebabs, while delicious, were not terribly filling. I went to the charcoal grill where Ted was wearing an apron emblazoned “BBQ Guru.” 

“Cassie, I'm glad you made it. You're in time for my very last burger.” He slid a thick glistening burger onto a bun for me and directed me to the picnic table covered with condiments and side dishes. I piled my hamburger with lettuce and tomato, onions and mayo. My juicy creation complete, I took a seat at the empty table. I ate with gusto, employing napkins frequently. When I had satisfied my appetite, I once again drifted to the edge of the party. This time I felt quite relaxed and content to inspect the begonias  on my own. They were flourishing. Someone in this family had a green thumb. I was bending over to smell them when Leo appeared. 

“You've been moving up in the world,” he said, indicating my dress. 

“Oh god, Leo, I am so glad to be here. Ezra wouldn't let me off going to this awful party. Please judge my by my feet, not by my dress.” We both looked down on my feet, toes painted with sparkly pink polish. “I wanted to come here, not go to that stupid party. I snuck out early to be here.” 

“So you're not enjoying the high life?”

“You would not believe these people. They smile and say the most awful things. They are--” I groped for a word. “They are so stuck up.” 

“And this is a surprise? Sounds like that boyfriend of yours would fit right in.” He said this with an acid bite to his tone. I realized he had not forgiven Ezra for his rude behavior. And really, why should he? Ezra had been awful and never apologized or tried to be conciliating or pleasant.  

His words stung. I looked off, trying to hide my reaction. Leo and I came from the same back ground. His father worked at the  paper mill and my mother raised me single handed off the wages she earned assembling circuit boards. I hated looking like  a snob, especially around Leo. I found I was on the verge of tears. 

I got a tissue from my purse and carefully dabbed at my eyes. 

“S**t, I didn't want to make you cry.” 

“I think I'd better go, Leo. I know you didn't mean to hurt me, but I have to go.”

Leo took me by the elbow and led me around to the drive way, so I could leave without anyone seeing my tear stained face. 


© 2017 SweetNutmeg


Author's Note

SweetNutmeg
Thanks for reading. Any and all comments welcome

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Reviews

So good I had to grab a bag of chips to read by. ... I still hate Ezra he is a snob in a bad way. awesome write

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

1 Year Ago

Thank you.
"Blavenie scotch" - This might be why it didn't connect in my head! Aside from the misspelling, good job letting us know what it is the first time you mention it! I've said it before, I adore details like this!

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

The highs to the list. Rollercoaster chapter. It works well.

Might be interesting for Cassie to reflect on what the romantic side of Ezra means to her.

The small thoughtfulness of leo perfect.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Years Ago

Thank you for reading and reviewing. That's a good idea to have her reflect on that, it would tell a.. read more

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Added on April 25, 2017
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SweetNutmeg
SweetNutmeg

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