“What were you three up to?” My half-sister Louise asks meeting us on the stairs her death glare burning holes in each of us with her contempt; she thinks it’s in some way intimidating.
Grinning I reply, “In the cellar shagging!” For a moment she looks shocked she’s such a prude the thought of a threesome to her is shocking.
“It wouldn’t surprise me with you three. Eric is looking for you.” She says directing one of her glares at Pearse he flinches; god he’s such a sissy at times.
Glaring back at her, I say “We know.” For a few seconds, we are locked in a stare-off until she tuts and retreats to the garden feeling a childish sense of victory wash over me I can’t help but giggle. It doesn’t matter what age we are we act like complete brats when in the company of our siblings or maybe that’s just a de Winter thing. Joey heads off in the direction of the bathroom, shaking his head in amazement at our behaviour. He doesn’t understand, as he's never had any siblings of a similar age, his younger sister is only 12, so he’s never known the joy of bickering.
“You’re scary women sometimes,” Pearse comments as we make our way out to the garden. It’s hardly recognisable after a major overhaul. Esther never does anything by halves her precious son’s wedding day being no exception. The entire place has been relandscaped; costing my father almost nothing as he used his firm, all the materials used were leftovers from an actual paid job, unknown to Esther, she is under the impression it cost a fortune and dad is in no hurry to correct her assumption. Eric is standing at a flower-covered archway twiddling his thumbs the other five groomsmen, who needs five groomsmen, stand beside him the space where Pearse should be, empty.
“Brought the girlfriend with you have you Pearse; oh it’s just you Olivia.” One of the groomsmen comments with a smug laugh. I’d love to punch him right on his fat face, creepy little bastard but instead I glare at him, god I hope that didn’t turn him on, brrrr.
“Olivia,” Eric says, eyeing me over in that spine chilling way only he can. He’s always made me feel uncomfortable ever since we were children; he used to stare at me, maybe he was shy or just plain weird I still catch him doing it sometimes.
“Eric.” Trying to sound as pleasant as possible when speaking to him is rather a tall order. “Oh, there’s Richard have something I need to ask him.” Excusing myself, I make a beeline for the marquee.
“I can’t believe that idiot took it serious.” Simon comments as I join them in the marquee.
“Who took what seriously?”
“Old blue eyes,” Simon replies, setting his pint glass down onto the mahogany bar. “Refill please.” He says signalling the barman.
“Ouch.” Joey protests after receiving a punch to the arm.
“You deserve it, snitch. Gin neat please.”
“Oh straight gin at this time of day things still bad between you and Ali?” August asks, is there anything these people don’t find out.
“Hey, I said nothing.”
“Don’t blame Joe, he said nothing, I’m not blind I can see, Alice has a face like thunder and now you with your straight gin doesn’t take a genius to work out something is up.”
“Oh. Sorry Red, and no Alice is not speaking to me because well, reasons and I don’t think it’s all because of that stupid figurine.”
“Figurine.” August comments looking puzzled, the less said about that thing, the better.
“Yeah, I don’t think it is the problem though.”
“Oh, what then?”
“I never told her that Mike hits Anna when he’s drunk.” Simultaneously three glasses clink on to the bar. OK, I can add another three people who had no idea about Mike’s handiness with his fists.
“That fucker does what?” Simon the usually silent thoughtful one says, a murderous look on his face. “I’m gonna kill him.”
“Don’t you think I’d love to do that too. But there is nothing we can do unless she decides to leave him herself. She said she was going to yesterday; I don’t think she will. He’ll manipulate her into staying and say he can change that things will be different, but we know it won’t.”
“So what do we do stand back and let that piece of shit beat on her.” Simon rages, placing my hand on his arm, I say.
“We can only support her if and when she decides actually to leave him.”
“Why all the gloom in here?” Richard, our older half brother, like Anna and Louise, his mother is dad’s first wife. “It’s a wedding, not a funeral. Whiskey neat please good barman. So why all the long faces?”
“Does he know?” Simon asks in a rather aggressive tone.
“Chill Simon do I know what? Thanks.” He says as the barman places a small shot glass in front of him.
“Shit head Mike beating on Anna. “
“What, when, she told me that only happened once.”
“Is it my imagination or is Eric a dirty little pervert he’s checking out most of the female guests.” August comments completely changing the subject, we all look at him like he’s gone mad.
“Should have known I would find you all in here,” Anna comments placing her hand on Richards's shoulder. “Orange juice, please. Did I walk in at the wrong moment? Were you all talking about me?” Of course, we deny it. “No Ryan Olivia thought you said he was coming.”
“He’ll be here for the evening do.”
“What time do you suppose this bloody circus is going to start?” August asks, finishing off his pint; maybe we should throttle back on the alcohol consumption before the nuptials. Family weddings are always an excuse to get blind drunk, and for at least 2 or 3 members of the family to have a huge argument and fall out, this time it’s not going to be any of us.
“The sooner, the better,” Simon says in reply.
“Amen to that.” August chimes in as he fiddles with his bow tie, tuxedos aren’t exactly top on his list of fashion essentials.
“Where’s Alice?” Anna asks directing the question at me; we’re not glued at the hip.
“Around somewhere.” She raises a quizzical eyebrow.
“They’ve had a falling out, Livi did something stupid, and Alice got pissed at her.” Joey says spilling the beans like he always does to Anna.
“Oh the figurine, I thought that was kind of funny, though it’s way too nice a piece to give to someone who’d never appreciate it. If you don’t want it Oli, I’ll take it.”
“Who is this woman, and what have you done with my sister.”
“Oh and I’ll take you up on that offer to help me to move out.” Everyone’s glasses clink onto the bar.
“Of course we will, you can come stay with me until you sort a place out.”
“Oh, an upgrade an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.” August comments nudging Anna with his elbow, she laughs.
“Thanks, Oli.” She says, hugging me.
“Now this is a reason to celebrate.”
“Indeed, barman drinks all round.” Richard says, raising his glass, “To Anna and the best decision she has ever made.”
“To Anna.” We all say, each of us hugging her in turn, seems this lacklustre day just got a little of its lustre back.