Isabelle looked up from her magazine and looked Alice right in the eye. Alice realized Isabelle knew she wasn't really welcome but was going to come along for the sole purpose of thwarting her. The lines were drawn, but who would be the victor?
Isabelle closed her magazine. "Great, ladies. I'll see you in the morning around 10 o'clock. Dad, I'm going to my room to finish up some work on my computer. It was nice meeting you. I look forward to our outing tomorrow. It should be very interesting."
"Nice meeting you Isabelle," called Ruthanne to her retreating back. Isabelle gave a back handed wave as she walked down the hallway.
"It was sure nice of you ladies to include Isabelle," said Jim.
"Well, she will be my step-daughter soon so this will give us a good chance to get to know one another," said Ruthanne.
Alice stayed quiet. She didn't have anything positive to say and was trying to keep the peace.
Ruthanne and Jim talked wedding plans. How many bridesmaids or should there be bridesmaids, wedding cake, guest lists, colors, flowers, etc. Alice piped in occasionally but mostly just kept to herself. This was the conversation she wanted to be having with Troy, not her mother and Jim, the man she had just met and who was soon going to marry her mother and become her stepfather.
Instead Alice reflected on tomorrow's event. She couldn't think of it as anything else. Isabelle had said it should be interesting, but Alice knew “interesting” was one way to describe what might happen tomorrow. She could make it a living hell. It was her birthday for heaven's sakes. How could she get out of this now? She could pretend to be sick, but everyone would know it wasn't true since they'd all just been together and she was perfectly healthy. Alice didn't want to seem like a coward to these people who would soon be connected to her family.
"Alice? Alice? What do you think?" asked Ruthanne.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" asked Alice.
"Never mind, dear, let's go home. You're probably tired after your long drive today and we have a big day tomorrow. We can make more plans tomorrow at lunch. We are meeting Jim at 1:30. That should give us enough time to try on some dresses," said Ruthanne.
"Okay. It was nice meeting you, Jim," said Alice as she gathered her purse and sweater, trying not to look too eager to escape. Her weekend and birthday celebration with her Mom had suddenly turned into way more than she had expected or wanted.
Jim walked them out to their car and opened the door for her Mom. It was nice a nice touch, Alice admitted. He seemed like a nice guy but that daughter of his was another story. Tomorrow was going to prove very difficult.
The next morning her mother got up early, made her pancakes with fresh strawberry syrup (her favorite) and brought them to her in bed. It was a good start to her twenty-fifth year. There were a lot of good things about to happen this year. Her mother was getting married, she was getting married, her career seemed to be taking off and life was generally good if she could just get through the next couple of hours of dress shopping with Isabelle without saying or doing anything that might sour the family forever. It would prove even more difficult than Alice had anticipated.
Check back tomorrow to see how the dress shopping goes!