“Happy birthday, Raphael!” My mother said, beaming at Rafe. We were at Tiburon’s admiring the fish in the aquarium they had in the middle of the room. I liked the mood lighting and the subtle atmosphere. We were the first ones there, and the server graciously led us to our table so we could wait for the rest of the clan.
“Rafe! Happy birthday, man.” It was Hank, and he had a woman with him. The woman from the picture. Beth. She must have cancelled whatever other plans she had. “We’re keeping presents until after at the parents’ house, right?” His date waited patiently for him to introduce her, and I took the opportunity to discreetly look her over. She was more beautiful in person than in her picture, which was saying a lot. She had on a green dress that accented her red hair nicely, and a warm smile that was aimed at everyone. “Guys, this is Beth. Beth, this is my family.” He went around the table and introduced us as he and Beth sat next to our parents.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Beth said in a pleasant contralto. “Hank talks about you all the time.”
“Does he?” I murmured. I was grateful that he had introduced me as Trish and not as Dodo or Beezus or Beatrice.
“Oh yes. I am an only child, so I love to hear his stories of growing up with three siblings.” Her eyes rested on my sling, but she was much too well-bred to say anything. Hank leaned over and whispered something in her ear that made her look sharply at me. I smiled, and she reluctantly smiled in return. The chatter was light as we waited for the rest of the family. Next was Mona and Michele. They were wearing matching red dresses which looked great on both of them, but too precious. I hated it when couples dressed alike—I thought it was tacky. Though come to think of it, I was wearing my little black dress and Rafe was dressed in black slacks and a black shirt, so I shouldn’t talk.