Because of the suddenness of this life-changing decision, she had rented a furnished house in the Newcrest neighborhood--a new neighborhood that was largely uninhabited--so, perfect for someone with Lou's personality.
She heated up a frozen dinner in the microwave,
and sat down in front of the TV to watch the late news.
"How do you think Peter's doing?" Bill asked his wife.
"I bet he's a mess," she responded. "You know you have to go over there, right?"
"Oh, yeah," Bill said, exasperated. "Because I'm SO good at emotional shit!"
"At least try to get him to go to Alice and Dude's house tonight for dinner, because Dude's cousin is arriving this afternoon with the antique rings his mother sent for Alice."
"Hey, dude," Bill said, approaching Peter, who seemed to be in the middle of painting a very depressing artwork.
"Hey, yourself," Peter muttered.
"So, how're you doing?" Bill asked, uncomfortably.
"Don't want to talk about it," Peter responded.
"Hey, how about you go to Alice and Dude's with us for dinner tonight--his cousin, Ophelia, is coming in."
"Not feeling really sociable today," Peter grumbled. "I'd be terrible company."
"Come on," Bill pleaded. "She's a photographer, and none of the rest of us know anything about art. You'd really be helping out."
Regina and Bill were happily fishing together mid-afternoon,
when they heard someone call out.
"Hi, hi, hi, guys!" the striking young woman said.
It was Dude's cousin, Ophelia--who turned out to be a BIG hugger.
Dude had seen Ophelia's cab arrive from his house next door, and rushed over.
"Hi, cousin!" he cried.
Ophelia was wearing the family heirloom wedding ring set that Andromeda had sent for Alice.
"Wow--those rings are spectacular!" Bill exclaimed.
"Yes, and PLEASE take them, Dude," Ophelia said. "I've been scared to death to lose them or damage them the whole trip!"
Regina was getting Ophelia settled into their spare bedroom.
"Boy, you and your cousin could NOT be more different!" Bill exclaimed to Dude.
"Yeah, Ophelia's always been a bit over the top," Dude agreed.
"She's a treasure, though," he added. "She's really helped out with my parents, since she and they are all in the old country and I'm not."
Alice and Ophelia got on well instantly.
"And here are the rings that Mama sent for you, and that Ophelia brought here from Greece," Dude told his wife.
"Gosh, they're SOOOOO beautiful!" Alice gushed.
Dude sat down to entertain everyone by playing piano,
while Alice made drinks,
and Ophelia got to know her new cousin.
"What a cool little dude you are!" she said.
"You have a GREAT house!" Ophelia enthused to Alice.
"Well, your aunt certainly doesn't think much of it," Alice responded.
"Haha!" Ophelia laughed in delight. "Aunt Andromeda doesn't like much of anything, but I adore Uncle Daedelus, and he totally makes up for her!"
Regina and Bill arrived,
and Alice prepared fish tacos.
Peter trudged over to Alice and Dude's house, dreading the evening.
The last thing he wanted to do was be around a bunch of happy, bubbly people.
"Hi, guys," he said, slouching through the front door.
Regina--ever optimistic--sprang to her feet. "Peter! Glad you made it! This is Dude's cousin, Ophelia. Ophelia, this is our dear friend, Peter."
"Hi!--I hear you're a FANTASTIC painter!" Ophelia gushed.
"I would LOVE to see some of your work!"
Peter showed her the one of his paintings that was hanging in Alice and Dude's house, and another that was in progress on the easel.
"These are SO cool!" she exclaimed.
Everyone sat down to eat.
"So, have you brought any of YOUR work with you?" Peter asked Ophelia.
"No, all I have is a couple of selfies I took right when I got off the plane," she told him. "I think they're pretty decent, but I'd need to print them out."
"Do you guys have a photo printer?" she asked her cousin.
"No," Dude answered, "but Peter does."
"Sure," Peter said to Ophelia. "Just come by anytime tomorrow to use it--I live just next door. And I can show you more of my paintings."
Regina and Bill smiled at each other.