The entire Racket family prepared for the Spooky Day party at Gala Ball’s home, with the exception of Max, who had been conspicuously missing for the last few days, coming home to shower and return to wherever he had been.
Silver was also struggling to ready herself, preferring to lie wasted on the couch for the entire afternoon, even after Lolly had asked her mother for help with her costume. Silver proved to be useless, until she became jealous when Rachel helped Lolly with her necessary adjustments to her butterfly attire. Then Silver got off the chaise lounge, sloshing her martini around in one hand and pointing her finger with the other.
Shark had also been locked in his room all day, refusing to come out. Rachel had learned from Bill that his “sleepover” plans had been disastrous, and Bill had warned him to stay away from the Bayless girl. Rachel found herself wondering why Bill would care, but figured he was terrorizing his nephew again just for kicks. They argued loudly because Bill refused to explain why he was being an asshole. This woke baby Hope who had been napping through much of the chaos, and Rachel quickly ran to the bedroom to assist her newborn daughter.
“You aren’t dramatic, thank the Maker,” Rachel whispered as she rocked the babe in her arms. “At least not yet… you’re living with Rackets, though… oh dear…”
Dennis was arguing with Silver as usual, and the whole house heard about her wildly inappropriate costume and the words, “No wife of mine,” before Silver exited the house screaming and they continued their spectacle in the garage. Silver had been parading through the house in a red leather bikini with devil horns on her head, her surgery-enhanced curves practically busting out of the seams.
It was Marigold who finally got everyone to calm down. Rachel had never seen her be such a master. She threatened to disinherit Silver which got the hysterical woman to snap out of her fit and into a sullen mood. She convinced Bill to apologize to his nephew, and he actually groveled because Marigold threatened to “twist his balls” if he didn’t, Rachel smirked. It actually worked. She coaxed Shark out of his room after Bill’s apology by promising to teach him how to drive and to go car shopping with him. Lolly gladly accepted getting out of her grounding and having her allowance reinstated. Dennis didn’t need much coaxing either because he actually wanted to spend time with his kids. His tuxedo didn’t escape Rachel’s notice – a portly James Bond. Marigold tinked glasses of whiskey with her at the end of her artistry and left the younger woman very much impressed.
“The art of manipulation is a gift of the Racket women,” Marigold smirked, taking a swig and wiping her lip. “Even if some of them are floozies about it…” she glared across the room at Silver who was attempting to push her bra up even higher than it already was. “Any more and she’ll pop.”
Rachel had to smother a chuckle.
Since Gwayne Bayless had offered to watch little Hope for the night, Rachel and Bill were free to attend her best friend’s party. Bill barely said a word to Rachel n the car, still annoyed by her refusal to back him up. He insisted Chase and Shark shouldn’t be together, but Rachel couldn’t get it. What was wrong with her husband? He looked handsome in his Simdiana Jones getup, and she had tried to tell him that when she straightened his tie as they walked up to the main entrance, but he brushed her away.
Gala burst into smile, and wiggled her signature red flapper fringe as she gave Rachel a hug and shook Bill’s hand. Bill gruffly pushed past her and went in search of the refreshments table. Dennis and Silver came shortly behind, the latter having been coaxed to wear a jacket over her costume or else she would freeze. Dennis seemed relieved when his wife didn’t flash the room upon entrance. The teens brought up the rear, Lolly enthusiastically flitting off with some of her school friends, also dressed as various butterflies, and Shark, costumeless, crossing his arms, and wandering off into Gala’s library away from the party guests.
Rachel noticed Gala was positively in her element, and she seemed to be throwing warm, friendly glances in the direction of her special guest, DeAndre Wolfe, who was surrounded by much-younger women asking for autographs. He even bent down to give some of the children a signed copy of one of his records, and pulled a lollipop from his vest pocket. They squealed delightfully and bounced away through the room.
Rachel made the rounds and greeted everyone, trying to avoid directly asking for votes while still subtly discussing politics. She had practiced her notes with Marigold earlier over biscuits and whiskey. Within forty-five minutes, she had talked to everyone and found herself at the bar, requesting the party punch. She found a distressed Dennis.
“What’s wrong?” she inquired.
He covered his face and leaned against the bar. Rachel glanced over in the direction of his humiliation. Silver had, of course, shed her jacket, and was doing a keg stand with some frat boys from the local uni. Rachel couldn’t help but feel a bit disgusted as the alcohol sprayed everywhere and the college students hands grabbed wildly to keep her steady, and enjoyed every minute of it. Rachel wondered why Dennis didn’t go over there and put a stop to it, but she held her tongue.
“What’ll you have? Anything on me,” she offered.
“It’s an open bar, Rae,” he replied with a heavy sigh.
“Exactly why I’m buying. Drinks are free,” she tilted her head to the side and smiled.
“I don’t know. You pick,” he shrugged.
“Another glass of the party punch and a cherry Casimnova for my friend,” she leaned against the counter and ordered from the bartender.
They took their drinks out to the patio where a medium-sized group had started dancing. Rachel sipped on her punch gingerly and Dennis downed his beverage.
“Whoa there, sir!” she giggled, starting to feel a bit tipsy. “Might want to go easy on the booze. It’s still early.”
“Yeah, not happening,” he ran his hand through his slick hair.
“You know Bond smiled, right?”
“Bond. James Bond… he smiled occasionally. How do you think he got all those women?” her eyes twinkled and she took a step toward him, feeling warm in her cowgirl getup.
“Rachel?” he leaned toward her, closing the gap quickly.
She felt his hand steady her arm and he gave her a look no man had ever given her before – a dangerous look. Suddenly she felt like being the center of this man’s attention was very very bad. He was a married man. She was a married woman. But with her senses swirling, she couldn’t help but lean further into him, inviting him down to the one place he shouldn’t go.
“Rachel…” Dennis took a deep breath. “I lo….”
She was grateful for the interruption when several young men collided into one another and fell into the nearby swimming pool. Someone yelled “fight!” and Rachel watched a tearful Lolly run up outside with a few of her friends and a very pregnant and distressed Jenni Jones-Brown in a Cinderella costume.
“Don’t hurt him,” Lolly cried louder than she meant because she drew attention to herself.
Dennis took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and took off his shoes before jumping in the water to separate Goodwin Goode, his roommate, Sinbad Rotter, and surprisingly, Robert Castor. The four men stepped out of the pool dripping wet and some of Gala’s catering staff brought towels. Robert was wiping his face yelling threats at Goodwin.
“I’ll kill you!” he screeched. “You touched my wife. I’ll kill you.”
Beverly made an appearance in her perfect Stepford Wives attire, obviously humiliated, and tried to stop her husband from hurting anyone else.
“Robby, it was one time!” she insisted. “You’re drunk. Let’s go home.”
“That bastard slept with my wife!” Robert thundered, pointing a finger at Goodwin.
“Yeah, and she enjoyed it!” Goodwin snarled, and admitted proudly.
“And now she’s pregnant!” Robert shrieked.
“Robby, shut up,” Beverly hissed, and whipped her head back around at Goodwin’s young, pretty, pregnant girlfriend.
Jenni stood there in shock, tears streaming down her face. Everyone knew she was due within the month, and now the shocking announcement that Beverly Castor, perfect housewife, was pregnant by her boyfriend was enough to put her over the edge. She began to wail and sob, dropping to her knees. Gala and Marigold helped the poor woman to her feet and led her away from the pool deck.
“Jackass!” Sinbad muttered under his breath as he passed by his roommate, yanking a towel from one of the servers.
“What did you say?” Goodwin grunted.
“You heard me… jackass…” Sinbad wiped his face and rubbed down his hair. “All those times I covered for you and I was an idiot. I knew you were with someone else. I just never assumed you’d be damn stupid enough to knock up a married woman while you’re engaged to someone else.”
“You’re one to talk!” Goodwin howled, rubbing a cut above his right eye. “I bet you’ve bagged hundreds of women. And I bet you thought you were pretty great too. Everyone knows you can’t even shit straight, let alone please a woman.”
With that, Sinbad pulled his fist back and slammed the other man square in the nose.
“Alright, that’s enough,” Dennis stepped between the two guys, and offered his hand to Goodwin who was on the grass, wiping blood from his nose, laughing like the asshole he was.
Sinbad stalked off around the corner, and Lolly fled after him. Rachel stood in shock and the rest of the party guests began to wander back to their various activities again.
“What an evening!” Bill stumbled next to her, lifting what was probably his fourth or fifth beer to his lips as he dropped his arm around his wife’s neck. “Next we’ll be seeing Silver streaking.”
As if on cue, a butt-naked Silver ran through the open double doors and cannonballed into the swimming pool. Bill let out a loud whoop and Rachel grimaced, disgusted by her sister-in-law’s actions. Shark picked the least opportune moment to walk outside as a bunch of Gala’s other party-guests, mostly male and around the age of eighteen, stripped down and leaped into the pool to join his mother. He gagged and turned around, colliding with Bill’s shoulder.
“Excuse me,” he said through gritted teeth.
“What’s your problem?” Bill narrowed his eyes.
“Bill, let him pass,” Rachel sighed, trying to take the bottle from her husband’s hand.
“No, he’s got an issue with me and I wanna hear it,” Bill said, slurring a few words.
“Yeah I’ve got a freaking issue with you,” Shark snapped. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me sooner that Chase was my cousin?”
“Chase is your cousin?” Rachel quirked a brow.
“Yeah, he busted on in the room the night Chase and I were going to… well…” Shark trailed off, the heat rising to his cheeks. “And then he tells me she’s my cousin.”
“Bill…” Rachel gasped. “Is that true?”
“Well of course it’s true,” he waved his arms. “Why would I say it otherwise?”
“Bill, let’s go somewhere else and discuss this,” Rachel said quietly, trying to avoid drawing any more attention to themselves.
“No, I wanna know… did Uncle Bill bang Chase’s mom or something?” Shark screeched, seeming not to care about the spectacle he was causing.
“Gawd… no… that woman is hideous!” Bill made a face and waved his bottle around nearly smacking Rachel in the face.
“Then what do you mean?” Rachel asked.
“She’s Dudley’s daughter…”