Home > The Fiancee(4)

The Fiancee(4)
Author: Kate White

What I ultimately want, and have wanted ever since my mother took me to see a touring company perform The Fantasticks when I was twelve, is to engage fully in theater and film, both as an actor and writer. This fall, a short play I wrote is going to be staged as part of a small theater festival just north of the city, and I’m hoping that will help me make more inroads in the theater world at least. Plus, playwriting and possibly screenwriting, too, will be a way to stay involved in my career when Gabe and I have a baby—which we hope to do next year.

As I finish my tea, I discover to my shock that it’s closing in on six thirty. I run upstairs and quickly wash my face, dab on fresh makeup, and grab a cotton sweater. I’m halfway up the path to the house when Henry comes tearing toward me, dressed now in khaki pants and a white polo shirt.

“I’m on a mission to find you,” he calls out as he approaches.

“Mission accomplished. And my, don’t you look smashing,” I say, wrapping an arm around his shoulder.

“Gee bought the shirt for me,” he says, wrinkling his nose.

“Don’t you like it?”

“The little polo player looks stupid.”

“Well, wear it just tonight,” I say as we resume walking. “It’ll make your grandmother happy.”

“Yeah, okay. Guess what?” He flashes his dimpled smile, and his blue eyes twinkle.

“What?”

“The mystery date is here!”

This kid doesn’t miss a thing. “Ah, so what do you think? Does she meet with your approval?”

“The jury’s still out.”

I laugh out loud at his choice of words. “I’m sure she’s perfectly nice.”

“And guess what else?”

“What?”

“She’s an actress, too.”

Oh fabulous. I have plenty of friends from my college acting program and years in the business, but meeting other actors is rarely fun—because an ugly compare-a-thon is almost always unavoidable. As Billy Dean, a pal from college, says, “Two actors at a dinner table is, at the very least, one actor too many.”

“What’s her name?”

“She told us it’s Hannah, but do you think that’s her real name?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, your name isn’t really Summer. My mom said it’s Sara.”

Bless your heart, Amanda. I wonder how she’d feel if I told Henry everything I knew about her—like the fact that her “outgrowing the marriage” coincided with a fling with a coworker. Not that I’d ever do that, of course.

“Some actors have to change their names—because there’s a more famous actor with the same name.” What I don’t add is that in my case I was mostly going for something more memorable than Sara.

Henry grabs my hand, urging me to speed up, and as we round the house to the back patio, I see that everyone else is there, talking and sipping cocktails against a soft, early evening sky. As Henry darts away to romp with the dogs, I spot Gabe in a circle with Blake and his aunt and uncle, who have driven over from New Jersey for dinner along with their recently divorced daughter. Gabe cocks his chin up in greeting and I signal to him that I’ll be over in a sec.

I step toward the drinks trolley and pour a glass of sparkling water, knowing there’ll be plenty of wine later. Spinning back around, I finally spot the mystery guest, dressed in a summery red dress with a deep-V neckline and lips painted to match. Nick’s arm is locked around her waist, and they’re chatting with Ash, who’s wearing a grin the size of a cruise ship.

And I realize at that moment that I’ve met her before. Three—no, two—years ago. We were both performing in a theater showcase involving an evening of very short plays, each one by a different aspiring playwright. She was in the last one of the night, so I not only mingled with her backstage but also had the chance to watch her performance after I was done.

It’s no surprise I remember her. She’s about five eight, a little taller than me, with brown eyes and wavy, dark brown hair worn just below the ear—so different from the long hair that I and everyone else our age seem to favor. Probably around twenty-seven. Not a bad actress, if I recall correctly, but if she was in a showcase only two years ago, she’s probably still struggling like I am.

As I rake my memory for her name, which I can’t recall at the moment, Nick spots me, flashes his trademark half-cocked grin, and beckons me over to the trio, his light blue eyes sparkling.

“Summer,” he says, enveloping me in a hug when I reach him. “It’s been wayyyy too long.”

“I know, I know. Is your dad working you to the bone?”

“Only twenty-four, six—he actually lets up a tiny bit on Sundays,” he jokes, glancing at his father. Then, looking back at me, he says, “Summer, this is Hannah Kane. Hannah, this is my amazing sister-in-law Summer Redding.”

Hannah Kane. Funny how I remembered her stunning looks but not her name.

“Lovely to meet you,” she says, as a blend of patchouli and vanilla wafts from her creamy white skin. “Nick’s absolutely gushed about you.”

“Nice to meet you, too,” I reply, realizing she has no recollection of me. Good to know I leave such a lasting impression.

“Summer,” Ash says with mischief in his tone, “can you assure Hannah that she’s under no pressure whatsoever, but that we desperately need her for the badminton tournament this week? Keira’s had to bow out.”

Before I can respond, Hannah does. “Oh, absolutely count me in.”

“Fabulous,” Ash exclaims. A split second later I see Claire signal for his assistance from the other end of the patio, and he excuses himself and hurries off.

Nick shakes his head good-naturedly. “I’d promised Hannah she wouldn’t have to engage in a single group activity the entire time she’s here, and now she’s just been railroaded into a badminton tournament that will probably go on for days.”

“I’d actually love to do it,” she tells him.

“Seriously?” he asks.

“Absolutely.” She eyes him flirtatiously. “I’m actually pretty good with a shuttlecock.”

Oh please, I think. Get a room. But before I can duck away from this exchange, Nick redirects his attention to me.

“I’ve been so eager for you guys to meet. You’re both in the same field and I’m sure you’ve got a ton to talk about.”

He starts to elaborate, but then Henry pops over, begging Nick to pull a quarter out of his ear, and suddenly Hannah and I are left alone, like we’re two characters in a movie scene in which everyone else is frozen.

“What a fabulous place this is,” Hannah says, sweeping her gaze around the grounds. “You must love coming out here from the city.”

“I do, very much. And I’m glad you could join us. How long have you and Nick been dating?”

“About two months,” she says. “It would have been great to have met Nick’s family sooner, but with work, this was my first chance.”

“Actually, you and I have met before.”

“Really?”

“We were both in the same playwriting showcase. Two Octobers ago.”

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