Reinette was angry. No, not angry—she was furious. Never in her life had she been treated so contemptibly. Jamie had spent virtually no time with her since their wedding. And during the time that he had spent with her, that chav, Eve, had been there. It was abundantly clear that there was something between them; Reinette may have been blonde, but she was definitely not dumb. Jamie had practically ogled at the sight of Eve when she had entered the living room. And Eve…well there was something about Eve that Reinette couldn't pinpoint. Whatever it was though, of one thing Reinette was absolutely certain—she did not like her. From the moment she laid eyes on her, Reinette knew that Eve was a problem—one that needed immediate attention. Unfortunately, her efforts to enlighten the classless trollop had apparently been too subtle, and Eve had shown no sign of defeat. Worse, she had stayed and Jamie had left Reinette upstairs alone to spend time with her and those two unrelenting little chatterboxes. When he had finally shown his face, Reinette could tell that there was something he wanted to say but then he scampered off at the first opportunity. After almost two hours of waiting, she had searched for him but he was nowhere to be found. Once she became aware of that, she quickly verified whether or not Eve was still in the house. On seeing that she was, Reinette quickly threw some essentials into an overnight bag and took a taxi to her sister's house. She needed a place to think, to plan.
It was almost eleven when Reinette finally arrived and, using her spare key, let herself in.
"Cassandra?" she called out while moving further into the house.
Cassandra came out of the den clad in a long, silk leopard print nightgown and robe, her long blood red nails encircling a ridiculously large goblet of equally red wine. Though Cassandra was almost ten years older, Reinette's impeccable surgical skills made it nearly impossible to distinguish the younger sister from the older.
"Reinette?" Cassandra inquired as she sauntered towards her. "Darling, what on earth are you doing here at this hour? I thought you said James—," she stopped abruptly as she took in Reinette's countenance. There was no trace of sadness or despair about her. Her eyes were cold, almost calculating, and she looked the epitome of indignation.
"I'll get more wine…"
Two hours and one and a half bottles later, Cassandra had been appraised of the events of the last twenty-four hours and was as equally enraged as her sister.
"And you didn't take care of that blonde inbreed? Reinette, I thought you had more sense than that!" she chastised. "You've worked so hard to get where you are. Are you just going to lie down and roll over like a dog, while that trashy bit of skirt tries to take your place?"
Reinette stiffened at Cassandra's reprimand. "Well, what am I supposed to do? It's clear that she has some sort of power over him—whatever it is! It's almost like he…loves her or something. What am I supposed to do with that? I mean I'm fond of him, but…"
Cassandra snorted at such an absurd notion. "Darling, this has nothing to do with love. This whole thing is a business transaction; and she's nothing but a new competitor. And what did Daddy always tell us to do with competitors?"
"Crush them," she said assuredly as her lips curled into a smile.
Cassandra matched her smile with a wicked one of her own.
Rose only slept roughly about twenty minutes after James left, but it was by far the most refreshing sleep she'd had in three years. She'd awakened to find Zoe and Sarah still nestled into each side of her. She laid there for a few moments, taking in every detail she could about them. Like the way Zoe gently snored, almost like a hum. Or, that Sarah had the same freckles as James. Rose brushed a few curls out of Sarah's face with one hand before taking the other hand and softly stroking Zoe's cheek in reverence. Her attention was swiftly diverted as she moved her feet under the duvet, causing her ankle to throb though not as painfully as before.
Donna walked past the open bedroom door and Rose called out to her for assistance.
"Red!" she called, then winced as she realized the pitch of her voice could've easily awoken the girls.
Donna stopped and backtracked to the bedroom door. Her gaze met Rose's and she smiled.
"Better than good," Rose beamed as she sat up, careful not to disturb the sleeping figures next to her.
"Nice dreams, then?" she asked, leaning against the doorway.
"Amazing dreams," Rose said somewhat exaggeratedly, but it was all in an effort to rib Donna. In fact, she hadn't dreamt at all.
Donna held her hand up. "Please don't elaborate."
Rose grinned and chuckled at her reaction. "Oh shut it! I was just havin' ya on. Can you help me get downstairs? My ankle's still a mess."
It took some concentrated effort, but Donna was able to help Rose out of bed without waking Zoe and Sarah. When they reached the stairs, Donna stood on one side and helped brace her while Rose clung to the stair railing and began her descent. In relatively short order, they were on the ground floor and Donna helped Rose to the couch and Donna went to make them some tea. She had absolutely no doubt there were many juicy tidbits about the afternoon just waiting to be dished, and she wanted to be properly prepared to hear them entirely. Rose saw the girls' copy of Pride & Prejudice near her. She reached over and pulled the book to her, flipping through the pages and smiling each time she came to a messily colored illustration. She couldn't help but become lost in thought with each turn of the page.
"You and I need to talk."
Rose's entire body came to attention at the sound of that odious voice, and she slowly turned her head to meet its source. She was not surprised in the slightest to see Reinette; she was, however, taken very off guard by the appearance of the other artificial blonde with her. Rose raised an eyebrow appraisingly at them. Reinette obviously had a specific intent based on her mannerisms and sudden statement. Bottle Blonde No. 2 had this air about her, almost as if her role was to intimidate and threaten Rose into submission. The idea of this stretched flap of skin doing anything remotely threatening caused Rose to snort in amusement. The two women before her didn't appreciate any humor in the situation and glared icily at her. It hadn't even really started, and yet Rose was already tired of this stint.
"And just what exactly do we need to talk about?" Rose said. Her voice was strained as she tried to maintain her composure and some semblance of politeness.
Reinette straightened her posture as she addressed Rose. "Actually, I misspoke. It's more like I'm going to talk and you're going to sit there and listen silently. I'll even use small words so you'll understand."
Rose raised her eyebrows questioningly. "Excuse me?"
"She seems slow. Maybe you should try drawing pictures," Bottle Blonde No. 2 chimed in as she moved closer to Reinette.
Rose bit her tongue as she tried to keep her anger in check. Even though this woman made her blood scorch through her veins, she refused to let Reinette or this new ninny get the better of her. She released a slow breath to steady her emotions before she spoke again.
"I believe you had somethin' ya wanted to say. So, if ya don't mind—get on with it."
Reinette took a step forward towards Rose and crossed her arms. "Let's be honest, shall we? I loathe you. You're unrefined and ill-bred. And the fact that you've set your sights on Jamie, someone clearly above your class and worth, screams to everyone that you lack not only common decency, but intelligence as well. I'm not sure what sort of relationship you think you have with him, but let me assure you that he feels nothing for you. I mean, how could he?" she sneered as she gave her a once over.
Rose stood up and turned so she could better face Reinette, the excruciating pain in her ankle forgotten as adrenaline and rage coursed through every fiber of her being.
"Are you finished?" she asked with an eerie calmness.
Reinette smirked and took another step closer towards Rose, though still remained outside of her reach. "Not quite. Before I let you go pack, I want to give you a friendly word of advice—know your place. This," she gestured around her, "this is beyond you. Don't reach for the stars when you're so low to the ground. It only ends in disappointment."
Rose tasted something bitter and realized she had drawn blood from her tongue. She wanted nothing more than to tear into this pretentious beast before her, but she was fighting to maintain the moral high ground. She clenched and released her fists several times, struggling to divert her building fury away from her core.
"Alright, you've said your piece, now I'll say mine. You don't know a single thing about me. You don't know who I am or what I mean to James, what we mean to each other. You obviously think I'm trying to take your place, which is rather amusing when you stop 'n think about it."
"And why's that?" Reinette said hotly, completely taken aback and irritated by Rose's challenging demeanor.
"Because it was never yours to begin with. I can't take something that's already mine. You seriously think you know anything? You didn't even know that James can't stand being called 'Jamie,' and y'think you know how he feels about me? You just natter on like you're the bloody authority on everythin'. You're the most—"
"What are you two doing here?" Donna's voice suddenly demanded.
Reinette and Bottle Blonde No. 2 turned to look at Donna, both of them clearly surprised and annoyed with her arrival.
"Oh, perfect. The Ginger Banshee decides to make an entrance," Bottle Blonde No. 2 sneered.
"Oi! Leave Donna outta this and keep your cheap shots to me!" Rose snapped, feeling her fierce protectiveness starting to emerge. She didn't respond well to her family being attacked.
"It's okay, Rose. I know how to handle Cassandra. Just give her a bottle of whatever, and she's like a kid with a lolly."
Cassandra and Donna exchanged heated glares. Obviously, there was no love lost there.
"Rose? You said your name was Eve," Reinette asked, spinning back around to look at her intently.
"'Eve' is a nickname a friend gave me. My real name's Rose. It's just one more thing you're clueless about. You may think you're better than me, but the truth is you're not. What kind of person gets their kicks from tearing others down? Ya talk 'bout me being 'ill-bred and classless' but every vile word that comes outta your mouth proves that you're the classless cow. Now get out of my house!"
"Listen here, you cheap bint," Reinette snarled, "I'm Jamie's wife and this is my house, so if—"
"Why's everybody yellin'?" a small, tired voice asked.
All of them turned to see Zoe at the bottom of the stairs, her little fists rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"ZoZo, sweetheart, why don't ya go upstairs and play for a bit? I'll be up soon, 'kay?" Rose said soothingly, smiling softly at her.
"M'kay. Can we get chips when Sarah wakes up? Oh, and milkshakes like we di—"
"Just stop nattering and go upstairs!" Reinette shouted at the little girl.
Zoe jerked back at Reinette's sharp outburst, but fearfully remained where she stood.
"Go!" Cassandra snapped.
Tears formed in Zoe's eyes as she turned around and ran up the stairs. Rose felt an unstoppable force overtake her as she saw the frightened look in Zoe's eyes. Fire burned within her and her eyes sparked with uncontrollable rage. These two cows could say what they wanted about her and treat her like dirt—that's fine; she could handle it. But, they were not going to treat her baby like that!
"THAT'S IT!" Rose growled and lunged at Reinette, grabbing a handful of her blonde hair and yanking with every ounce of strength she possessed. Reinette staggered further into the living room, almost tumbling to the ground, but catching herself at the last minute. Reinette stared wide-eyed at Rose, stunned that she had actually put her hands on her. Donna and Cassandra, too, seemed dumbfounded at what had transpired. Rose stood fuming in front of Reinette, angry breaths ravaging her body. Her wild eyes were blazing and she appeared almost feral.
"Don't you EVER treat my children that way! You've got exactly ten seconds to get your sorry bum outta this house before I tear out every single one of your extensions and strangle you with them!"
Reinette continued to stand there, mouth slightly agape.
"One!" Rose counted.
"You're a bloody psychopath!" Cassandra shrieked.
Rose continued undeterred. "Two!"
"Both of you leave!" Donna commanded firmly. A tendril of frantic worry began to grow within her as she watched the scene play out before her. Rose was escalating and those two were just standing there gaping like idiots.
But the standstill shattered in an instant as Reinette unexpectedly retaliated, grabbing Rose's hair and clawing at whatever she could reach. Rose was shocked at Reinette's attack, but it faded just as quickly as it had presented itself and she instinctually reacted. Reinette had surprising strength, but Rose clearly had the upper hand. This woman had pawed her husband and made her children cry—twice. The resulting fury from those actions was enough to fuel Rose for days.
As Rose and Reinette's territorial aggression escalated, Cassandra flew into a flurried panic and whipped out her mobile, dialing frantically. Donna ran upstairs to make sure the girls were preoccupied. She found them playing quietly in their room, and instructed them to remain upstairs until she came for them before dashing back to Rose.
The scene hadn't changed much since she had left. Cassandra was hovering near them, making a show of intervening but no real attempt to do so. Donna pushed her out of the way and began pulling at one of them, unsure which one she was actually touching. With one more rough pull, they parted and Rose fumbled back onto the couch while Reinette stumbled but remained standing in the middle of the floor. Both of them were panting, Reinette a little more so than Rose. Both were flushed with a mixture of anger and exertion. Reinette still seemed flustered by what had just happened, but maintained a defensive stance. Rose's untamed fury seemed to have subside to a degree, but could still be seen simmering just below the surface. Donna positioned herself between them, her hands slightly extended upward as if keeping the two of them at bay.
"Alright! This has gone beyond far enough! Cassandra, take Reinette and leave before someone loses their head—literally!"
"I don't think so!" Cassandra shrilled. "This animal attacked my sister. The only one who's leaving is her in a bloody police car," she said pointing to Rose.
Donna scowled at her. "You and your sister are the ones who started all this trouble. Now. Get. Out!"
Flashing lights appeared outside the window and before anything further could be said, Cassandra rushed to the front door. She returned almost immediately with two officers.
Donna's eyes widened as a plethora of emotions rushed over her. "You called the police?"
"Of course, I did," Cassandra sniggered.
Donna began to panic, and suddenly, everything became inaudible. Her eyes immediately went to Rose who appeared rather calm as the officer helped her from the couch and handcuffed her. He began leading her towards the door and Rose flashed a small smile. She mouthed something that Donna couldn't decipher due to her current state of shock. Another officer moved towards Reinette and began to handcuff her as well, sending her into visible hysterics. She began to jerk away from their grasp as Cassandra pushed them away from her. Donna sunk to the couch as two additional officers came in to assist. Cassandra began to thrash around at them as they approached her. They were finally able to restrain both Cassandra and Reinette and led them out of the house as an officer—the superior ranking based on his stance—approached Donna. Muffled sounds finally began to reach her ears as he addressed her.
"…in for questioning. Do you understand?" he asked in a firm, yet polite, voice.
Donna forced herself out of her daze and did her best to focus her attention on the man before her. "Um…I'm sorry?"
The burly man gave a low exasperated sigh. "We'll be taking 'em in and needing you to come down after you give your statement." Without waiting for further questions or clarification, he turned and left. Donna ran a worried hand through her hair and hurried over to her purse, pulling out her mobile. She was at the end of her rope and events where spiraling out of control at an alarming pace. She decided it was time to call the person whose idiocy had started this insanity train into motion. Donna forced herself to breathe as the phone began to ring.
He better bloody well answer or Rose won't be the only one in jail!