Still In The Past
The moment Randolph had announced his attention to marry me Rachel and Marge decided they were going to host the ceremony. I think I was supposed to fall to my knees and thank my stars they were interested in me, but I had my own ideas at one time. Randolph had known I had some definite thoughts for my own wedding after years of directing and orchestrating others. Yet, I allowed myself to be persuaded to let the terrible two take over my own wedding because I felt guilty.
I felt guilty because I didn't love Randolph, and it meant so much to him to have his mother and cousin help. He pleaded with me, saying that they lived for him and his happiness. Which I knew to be true, to my dismay, as I'd never had anyone care that way about me. After a painfully awkward dinner with them a month or so before the wedding I elected to allow them to do everything. My only exception was my wedding dress.
My mother had saved her wedding dress with the hopes I would wear it one day. It had been carefully stored in the back of my closet for years. Her grandmother, Lynette Williams, had hand-beaded pearl seeds over almost half the dress. The silk shimmered with pearls and delicate lace that accentuated the bodice and sleeves. I was pleased when the dress took Randolph's breath away.
We departed from the ceremony to go on a weekend cruise down the Pacific Coast to Mexico since I had to be back to work the following week and couldn't afford to take too much time off. We planned to take a more traditional honeymoon the following spring when our schedules permitted. To be honest, Randolph and I hadn't been very passionate, much less sexual before our marriage. He treated me with a great deal of respect and consideration in the time we'd dated. Not being lovers before the wedding actually heightened my interest. I thought Randolph was showing old world charm. But then I pretty much could be an idiot when it came to romantic idealism.
My wedding had been shanghaied by Randolph's mom and cousin, Rachel and Marge, who might not have been fans of mine, but they loved making our wedding the most talked about event in years. The blur of time has helped me forget some of the over-the-top parts but their ill-suited wardrobe choices remains etched in my brain to this day. They really weren't out to make me look good, but protest my mere presence with their ugly dresses.
I mean look, the crown prince of their clan wed without their approval and I wasn't even anywhere near their choice. I found that out over time. I was pleased my family wedding dress took Randolph's breath away because I look back and know that probably began the cold war between us all. I didn't pick some off the rack chiffon and frilly dress, but something elegant and timeless -- a family heirloom. I still like the way that dress made me feel.
When I headed out to my honeymoon with my new husband I was a rarity. We hadn't slept together before our marriage. Randolph always had been gracious and well mannered with me. I never felt any sexual urges towards him, but was committed to being married. Randolph had religious background of some sort. Yet, as far as I knew, he didn't go to any church or formal service. I, on the other hand, had been raised with little to no formal religion. My parents had been free spirits and didn't force me to go to any structured service as a child. Since they died in an automobile accident before I turned sixteen, I never found any reason to chase any faith. Their deaths jaded me to the whole structure. The accident was due to another's inability to see the road in an alcoholic haze. The driver was sent to prison for deaths. Even with that, I was left feeling angry and anti- any form of religion promoting a caring, loving deity.
Needless to say, as a rebelling youth I was fairly wild. The need to be loved and cherished saw me engaged within a year of my parents' death. The money from their life insurance and death benefits from my dad's work made me a popular, but naïaut;ve, rich girl. The man I was to marry had neglected to inform me he already had a lovely wife and family. Only when my college roommate published my formal engagement notice did this fact come to life.
Randolph was surprised that evening, but didn't express any problems. I'd told him of the broken engagement and resulting scenes but he hadn't made the connection. He asked me for details about my previous lover. Honestly I told him it had been many years ago and I really couldn't remember much. I wasn't lying. I had erased as much of that embarrassing time in my life as possible. He dropped the subject reluctantly, after making me swear that I would be faithful.
Mystified, I swore also, to tell him any facts or feelings I could remember no matter how many years had passed. I still recall how vehemently he'd insisted on this detail. He truly wanted to know what I'd felt and experienced before him.
The semi-romantic cruise weekend was otherwise uneventful. Looking back, I noticed he'd grown a bit cooler towards me once we'd shared our 'marriage bed'. I figured it was due to the awkwardness of being newlyweds with limited knowledge of each other. What I didn't know was that he'd thought I'd been 'untouched.' Given it was well past the age of consent I didn't know what he'd imagined. I quickly figured out that Randolph didn't like sharing -- anything -- ever!
We were planning on living in the city at my place. With my business and life being centered for some many years in Los Angeles, I wasn't giving up my home. Letting some women plan and execute my wedding was one thing, but my home was my personal comfort zone that I wasn't willing to give up. The three-bedroom house was just outside downtown and one of those rooms was my office. It was fully paid off and still in a decent urban neighborhood -- which was saying something. The first few weeks went pretty smoothly.
As fall went by, Randolph and I developed a routine that seemed to be successful. He didn't work outside the home but spent time on the phone and computer working on his family finances. This was how he'd met Brad, I discovered. We kept our finances separate. The only exception was the household bank accounts. That was the only account we had in both of our names so we could pay the monthly bills like groceries and utilities. Never did I delve into his personal or business finances, and I assumed he'd never cared much about mine. Randolph didn't ask me a single question about my income. That was because he had hired a private investigator.
We'd been married over two months when I discovered the first 'secret'. Randolph had gone off for the afternoon to visit his mother when this particular bombshell hit my life. The house on Hollyberry was roughly two hours travel from my home. He said he had some documents to deliver and get signed. Then he told me not to expect him before nine or ten pm at the earliest. The day had been exhausting, I had been doing corporate breakfast and lunches the whole week and the four am wake up calls had finally worn me down. After delegating the remainder of tasks for the following day I went home early. Randolph was just getting ready to depart when I drove up.
He seemed surprised to see me. I still remember his exclaiming, "Alanna, what are you doing home?"
When I filled him in on my day and told him I was tired and was going to go rest he nodded and said he'd see me later. He didn't seem inclined to linger so I shrugged and watched him bail. A quick kiss on my cheek and he was off.
Since Randolph had moved in I'd cleared out the spare bedroom for his use; at one time it was supposedly my sewing room -- which I never had any time for so it wasn't a loss. We moved in his desk and put my dusty sewing machine out in the garage. That afternoon I received a phone call from an old college friend who was going to be in town for a few hours. He was catching a transfer flight from Oklahoma to LAX and then he was on to Hawaii for a much needed vacation.
The layover was so long he decided to give me a call and catch up. Kerry and I had been friends for years and we spent an hour chatting, catching up on all the gossip and his life. He hadn't realized I'd gotten married. He told me his long time companion, Chris, had left him. Kerry had been openly gay for years when he lived in California. He and Chris had moved to the Midwest chasing jobs and I thought they had a lasting relationship. They'd been together for well over twelve years. Now with so many of their friends dying or falling off the map Kerry wasn't pleased to be single again.
Chris had written a small poetry book he'd given to a group of us one year. The book was self-published and well bound. When they broke up, Kerry had spitefully burnt his copy in some ceremony of vanquishing and now he was more regretful and wanted to read the book again. He'd called quite a few of his friends and nobody seemed to have their copy. He asked me if I had my copy and if I'd mind sending my copy to him. Naturally I didn't mind, and took down his new address and phone number and let him go get in line for his connecting flight.
Once we'd hung up I began to look for the book before I forgot. My nap was long forgotten as Kerry had revitalized me with his scandalous self-absorbed pain and frantically funny gossip. He always was part stand up comic, and he was getting over a huge hit on his heart and cheered me up far more than I had him. So I figured the least I could do was find the book so he'd have it waiting for him by the time he came back from his week vacation over in Maui.
My search ended in my old sewing room. There were a few boxes of books in the closet I hadn't bothered to move. I knew that was a logical place to look for Chris' poetry book. When I pulled the box off the top corner shelf in the main closet, a manila envelope fell off from the top of the box glancing off my shoulder and landed on the floor. I opened up the box and sure enough the book was inside. I pulled it out and returned the box back to the original place on the shelf. I went to pick up the large envelope intending on simply putting it back on top.
The clasp wasn't properly hooked and when I picked it up the contents began to spill out. Some glossy black and white pictures, I began to stuff them back to the envelope I saw was addressed to Randolph, and then I noticed the pictures. Stunned I carried the contents over to Randolph's desk.
The leather chair was comfortable yet I sat like a stone. I sat there staring stunned at the still full envelope and the half dozen pictures I hadn't put back inside yet. Because I'd been raised to respect other's privacy, I rarely ventured into this room because I considered it Randolph's. Never did I open mail not addressed to me so firmly did I believe in privacy. Sure I knew plenty of other women who systematically went through pockets and tried to read the mail of their lovers and husbands. But I found those types of behavior distasteful and demeaning, not to mention unethical. Yet, having glimpsed myself in the pictures I was now torn.