Soft art music played over the hum of the crowd at the Plum Oasis Gallery. Rose stared disinterestedly at the frenetic canvases decorating the walls, then sighed loudly. Ruby glared at her, and even Copper gave her a vaguely disapproving look.
"This is boring," Rose pronounced.
"No one asked you," Ruby snapped back.
"Ruby," Copper said, squeezing her girlfriend's upper arm gently. "Why don't you go drink some champagne, Rose? I've found it always makes boring things...um, less so." She smiled sunnily at her younger sister and turned back to the paintings.
Rose gave her an incredulous look and sniffed, "I don't drink." She rolled her eyes and headed off into the crowd. Ruby sighed with relief as she left, then furrowed her brow as she caught sight of one of the waiters making his way through the crowd.
"I can't believe this. How could they hire Midnight Snack over us?! I hate that woman," she fumed, her eyes burning holes into Midnight Ruby's back. "How could Plum do this to us?"
Copper snatched a quiche off the waiter's tray and popped it into her mouth, chewing experimentally. "It's dry and too salty," she said shortly.
"The food doesn't matter. It's the presentation, the way the company comes across. We always get the gallery jobs, and now they're stealing them right out from under us. If the investors hadn't agreed to back us, I don't know what we would have done?"
"It was dry," Copper said again. "People don't like dry quiche. It's ummm, not good tasting."
"Do I have to look like this?" Spice looked down at the long velvet dress and black spike heeled boots, her nose wrinkling. "can't I wear like, you know, jeans or something?"
"At a goth club? With me? No." Licorice looked seriously at Spice as she drew smoky black circles around the redhead's eyes. "I meant what I said, Spice. I have a reputation to uphold in the Rosewood goth community, and I will do whatever it takes to do so. So you have to wear the black dress."
"But what if I fall over?" She looked anxiously down at the tall heels of the boots.
"Then we will pretend that it is a brand new dance that we just invented." Licorice stepped back and scrutinized Spice's makeup. "There. I'm done."
Spice rushed to the mirror and looked anxiously into it. Her eyes were heavily made up with black and grey eyeshadow, her skin was dead white, and her mouth was matte and black.
"I look like a sexy ghoul!" she said in awe.
"Good, that was the look I was going for."
Blackie stared down at the delicate flute of champagne in her hand. "Red?" she asked.
Red turned away from a conversation and looked at the older woman. "Yes?"
Blackie sighed. "It's getting late...do you..." She took a deep breath. "Do you want to go home?"
Red looked at her watch. "Oh, yeah, it is getting late. I should be going home...I have to open up the bar early tomorrow...the lunch crowd will be hectic...I have to clean up a little bit..."
Blackie shook her head. "No, no...I meant..." She paused again. "Do you want to go home with me?"
Red stopped, startled. "Oh...well..." Her face became cool. "With you."
Blackie nodded. "Well, yeah...I mean, meeting you, that was good. And the coffee...that was good too. And we talked, which was good. And I thought that..."
Red frowned. "You thought what? That things were normal?" She shook her head. "Things can't be normal between us, Blackie. They never were...right from the start."
Blackie glared at her angrily. "That was a long time ago, Red. We're..." She searched for the words. "I'm normal now. And normal people in a normal relationship do go home with each other after meeting and coffee and talking."
Red looked at Blackie, a mixture of anger and sadness on her face. "But this can't be a relationship..." She looked down. "I...I was stupid to think it could be..." She looked back up at Blackie, tears glittering in her eyes. "Not when I still remember."
"Remember, huh?" Blackie said, her voice getting louder. "Remember what? Me beating the crap out of someone who would've killed you? Remember me saving you?" The champagne glass slipped from her hands, crashing on the floor.
Red and Blackie stared down at the slowly spreading champagne. In a low voice, Blackie continued. "Remember me going to prison because I was the only person who cared enough?"
Red looked at Blackie and shook her head. "Please..."
Blackie closed her eyes, turned, and walked away.
Rose wandered aimlessly around the gallery, stopping every once in a while to eat one of the quiches. She stopped as she saw a familiar figure leaning against the wall of the crowded room.
"Hey," she said and waved at the redhead who was scowling at a smoked shrimp. She started to walk over.
"Hey," Cherry said back. "I think this shrimp is still alive."
"Exactly." She dropped the shrimp into the potted plant next to her and smiled at Rose. "You're Rose from the group, aren't you?"
Rose nodded. "Yup, and you're Cherry. What are you doing here?"
The redhead smoothed down the hem of her bright green plaid dress and ran a hand through her currently curly hair. "It's my dads' show. I figured I better show up."
"Your...parents did this show? It's...interesting."
Cherry shrugged. "It's post-modern avant garde, Jackson Pollock-esque metaphoric urban landscape abstracts." She paused. "It pays the bills." She looked over at Rose. "So what're you doing here?"
"My sister knows the owner of the gallery so she came, and I'm staying with her while my mom's in Rome, which she has been for about the last two weeks, so I had to come too."
"Your mom's in Rome? Cool." As she spoke, she stopped a waiter and snagged two glasses of champagne off his tray. She offered one to Rose. "What's she doing?"
"I don't drink."
"C'mon, that's half the fun of these parties, no one cares."
Rose sniffed. "Do you drink a lot?"
"It's cheap gallery champagne and I get like one glass of it every six months." She narrowed her eyes at Rose as she looked the other girl up and down. "I think it's gonna be my mission to loosen you up. There's a party animal inside you wanting to bust out." She grinned slyly. "By the time I'm done, you'll have more tattoos than I do."
"You have a tattoo?" Rose said, her eyes wide.
Cherry quirked an eyebrow. "Maybe."
"Ok," Rose said, taking the champagne flute from the other girl. "Just this once."
Dark smoothed down the pleats on his Breakfast at Tiffany's dress. It had been his present to himself when Barbara had broken up with him-he though he should spoil himself a little. Sighing, he checked his watch again. Ten more minutes. Ten more minutes and then he could leave and go home to his TV and couch and quiet room that reminded him hopelessly of Barbara-her smile, her touch, her face--had it really been more than a month since they'd broken up?
"Excuse me?" He turned at the slightly accented voice behind him, smiling softly at willowy woman who was standing next to him.
"You are a man, no?" She smiled crookedly back at him, brushing wine red hair out of her eyes.
"Yes, yes I am," he answered and braced himself for the accusations and teasing.
"You have such wonderful style...in France, where I am from, you would be the peak of chic." She laughed musically at her rhyme. "My name is Bordeaux."
"Dark." He extended his hand and she shook it. Her hands were warm and slightly callused. "What brought you here to Rosewood all the way from France?"
"Teaching...I teach art history at the university...or at least, I will, starting tomorrow. One of their professors didn't work out, so I stepped in.."
"Have you found a place to stay yet?"
"Oh yes." She sat on the low bench in font of them and patted the seat next to her gently. Dark gulped and sat down next to her, crossing his legs at the ankle. "The university found me an apartment near campus...I share it with my...how do you say...best friend. Her name is Roast. She's very...hmmm, flighty? She wanted to come to the U.S. just to shop, I think."
Dark chuckled. "Your English is very good."
"Oh, thank you! I work very hard at it. Do you speak any French?"
"No...I mean, I took a couple years of it back in college, but I don't really remember any of it..."
"Tu es un transvestite executive." She grinned wickedly and he couldn't help but laugh.