Because she and Owen were already late, it seemed like everyone was waiting on Vera to pull out her identification to prove she was 21 or older. Vera pretended to be looking through her wallet before deciding that blowing her cover wasn’t worth a glass of sweet vermouth, whiskey, and bitters.
“You know what,” Vera said. “I left my ID. I’ll just take a Shirley Temple.”
Just then, another waiter brought a cocktail to Betsey, setting it down in front of Vera like a carrot in front of a rabbit.
“You really don’t look 20,” said Betsey, as she took a sip of her cocktail. “That’s kind of ridiculous.”
Vera didn’t know whether Betsey was trying to be nice to her or whether it was a backhanded jab. For some reason, it felt like the latter. Thankfully, the attention was taken off of Vera, and everyone resumed their dinner chatter.
“Denise,” said Owen, gesturing to the man sitting next to Betsey. “This is my father, Richard Staley.”
Richard stood up, prompting Vera to stand, and they shook hands before returning to their chairs. Richard Staley. Vera suddenly realized that her mother had kept her maiden name on Facebook—no Staley. Why would she do that?
“So Denise,” said Betsey. “Where are you from?”
Vera looked to Owen, since he was directing the story.
“Las Vegas, Mom.”
Betsey looked at Owen, as if he were interrupting.
“And did you go to school out there?”
“Yes,” said Owen. “UNLV.”
“Owen, honey,” said Betsey. “Let Denise talk.” Directing her attention back to Vera, Betsey continued her interrogation.
“Are your mother and father from out there?”
“Yes,” Vera answered. “My father’s a bartender, and my mother’s a drug and alcohol counselor. So one makes them drink, and the other makes them stop.” Vera had made this up on the spot and was surprised how natural lying had come to her.
“But wasn’t your father in jail for a while?” Owen really wanted to make sure his mother hated Vera.
“Owen,” scolded Betsey. “Really?” Turning her attention back to Vera, Betsey apologized for Owen’s rudeness.
“Where are you from, Betsey?” Vera asked.
“Small town,” said Betsey. “I got the hell out of there at a young age. Never looked back.” She turned to Richard, grabbed his hand in hers, interlacing their fingers, and squeezed.
“How did you two meet?”
“I was 20, working at Clyde’s restaurant,” she said, looking at him dutifully.
“And my family came in for dinner,” Richard finished her thoughts. “We were from out of town.”
“He and I just clicked,” she said. “We stayed in touch over the next couple of months, and then his family offered me a job with their corporation.”
“The rest is history,” Richard said.
Vera recalled Clyde’s restaurant, back in her hometown. It had since been turned into a car dealership. Vera wondered whether Richard had any idea that Betsey had had a two-year-old daughter at home. From the way he talked, Richard had no idea of the excess baggage.
Halfway through dinner, after a couple of rounds of drinks and when the lobster was about to be brought out, Charlie clanged on his glass for attention at the end of the table, standing up with Catherine at his side.
“We’d like to thank everyone for being here for our wedding this week, and we’d like to make an announcement.” Charlie and Catherine looked at each other with a smile. What is their announcement? Please return to the top of this episode to vote on what happens next!