Summer 2011: Dina Caliente and Nina Wright are 30, Gregory Wright is 32, Alexa Wright is 5 and Reagan Wright is 2. Last update: Summer 2011

Soundtrack: “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone.

A.N: Long, almost 4,000 words long but I added pages so it should make it easier to read.

Dina hadn’t expected him to believe her, not simply on her word alone. She expected him to stutter and stumble his way through questions before dismissing her from his office to make a hasty phone call to Nina. She hadn’t expected his eyes to narrow in concentration and to feel the heavy weight of his gaze assessing her, taking in the shape of her face, the curve of her lips and the arch of her brow. He nodded his head, stood taller and Dina had thought maybe there was something to this man her sister had married. He hesitated only once before settling on whatever decision he’d made. “Do you have dinner plans tonight?”

She couldn’t agree to dinner quick enough and now her heart beats faster the closer she gets to the front door. Their home is impressive like all the houses in the Warehouse District, a modern blend of brick and glass, and her stomach tightens with anticipation and jealousy. She passes homes like it every day on her walk home and aches each time to pull a key out of her purse and walk inside. She can see the opulence through the floor to ceiling windows and can only imagine what it would feel like to sit on something hand crafted and covered in silk or get to pluck away at the exquisite baby grand piano. Dina knows her sister – seven years couldn’t change her that much – and she knows that this house is filled with the best money could buy.

Dina rings the doorbell and runs her hands nervously down her dress. She feels too messy for this, her beauty slightly diminished by a day of work, but it can’t be helped. She just wants her life back. She wants luxury and opulence and isn’t ashamed to admit that it’s an obsession of hers. Maybe she’ll get an apartment in the Historic District or an ultra sleek townhouse in the Warehouse District near the pier out of this whole thing. Dina shrugs and smiles prettily at Gregory when he opens the door, her mind already working on ways to charm her brother-in-law.

“Hi, I’m not late am I?”

His smile is kind but cautious and he steps back to allow her entry to the hallway, arms carefully cradling a sleepy toddler. ‘Not at all. We tend to eat dinner a bit late, a holdover from that year we lived in Paris I guess.”

Her smile wavers at that news, jealousy nearly pushing her to confront her sister immediately at the injustice of it all. She struggles to reign in her temper but she’s never been good at tempering her whims. Dina shakes her head in annoyance and notices Gregory staring at her openly. A man adoring her is nothing unusual but she loves the attention none the less. She preens subtlety under his gaze and wonders if he prefers blondes to redheads. She could feel embarrassed about the idea of flirting with her sister’s husband but why create stress lines? She’d only sample him, not take him outright.

Dina turns around to look at him again and is startled to see him staring at her intently but instead of the curious, flirtatious look she’s used to he appears frustrated. She’s lost for a moment and the sound of the maid taking out plates and moving pots briefly drowns out her ability to think. Maybe she should acknowledge the baby…

“He’s beautiful.” Her wave is vague and her arm drops heavily to her side.

He rubs his hand soothingly across sleeping toddler’s back, his expression softening as he focus shifts. “We think so. This is Reagan, our youngest. Our eldest, Alexa, is the one you can hear on the piano. You’re welcome to go into the dining room; Nina is just about done with dinner. I have to put him to bed.”

Dina can only nod mutely as he moves away from her, her thoughts reeling from the news that it’s her sister in the kitchen, not some maid and his downright dismissal of her. Men never disregard her; she’ll simply have to fix that later. Dina moves to walk into the living room where she could see a little girl playing on the baby grand piano while stealing glances at her but his words stop her cold

“I can’t believe I missed it.” She can’t bring herself to turn around and he continues quietly. “You look alike, you have similar voices, even your names match but — I mean, I’ve seen you around, glimpses here and there, but I couldn’t imagine this, not this.”

The silence hangs heavy between them, thick and cloying. Dina searches for something light to say, some joke that will push away the tension and show her as the bubbly lost sister not an interloper but she fails.

She’s shaken as she walks into the livingroom but quickly shoves the anxiety away, taking a moment to compose herself and ignore the knot of tension in her stomach. This is her moment and they’re trying to steal it from her with doubts and suspicions. She doesn’t care if he’s right to suspect, she won square and fair and that means she gets what she wants.

Bolstered by that thought Dina relaxes and assesses the furniture in the living room, her eyes darting from item to item in delight. There’s Italian silk covering hand carved furniture, original art and Persian rugs. There’s even a gilded bird-cage perched on the most divine end table. Oh God she wants it all! The whole thing is so right and perfect she could smack herself for not thinking of it before. Why did she even bother with those old men when she could have simply waited for Nina to get all this?

She moves closer to the piano, her fingers ghosting over the shiny black frame and a smile on her lips for the little girl who continues to stare at her. She’s about to introduce herself when Nina walks out of the kitchen, a steaming plate in her hand and a pensive look on her face that quickly turns into a scowl when she notices Dina. They stare at each other and she practically devour her sister with her eyes, attempting to catalogue every change that she can see.

Her hair is darker and her clothes are deliciously expensive but there is, unfortunately, fullness to Nina’s face and waistline that spoke of an overindulgence of rich food and one child too many. She really should have stopped after the girl. A hand lifting to her own trim waist, Dina realizes that her sister is in desperate need of her presence in her life. She wants to call out to her, she wants to run to her and put all this silliness behind them but she’s pinned by the hostility in eyes so much like hers. The knot coils tighter.

“Nin-” She cuts her off, wordlessly dismissing her to address the little girl still sitting at the piano yet not longer bothering to play.

“Alexa, honey, please wash you hands and come eat dinner.”

They watch the little girl run off to the bathroom, brown pigtails bouncing against her back. There isn’t an invitation for Dina but she rallies and smirks mockingly at her sister before moving to sit at the table.

Dina can hear the husband coming back downstairs and speaks quickly. “This whole I’m-so-mad-at-you-I-don’t-want-you-around act you have going on has to go. It’s not fun anymore. We can have so much fun now that I’m here. We’ll get you trimmed up, out the kitchen and spending some of that well-earned money.”

Dina laughs openly at her sister’s squeak of outrage and turns on a dazzling smile for her brother-in-law and niece as they join her at the dining table.