There was no one in charge.
Vanessa came up to Tarine. “Are you looking for the Rivas?” she asked.
“I can’t find a single one of them.”
“Neither can I. I’ve been looking for Kit for a half hour. Can’t find anybody. But I don’t think Nina will be happy.”
Tarine frowned. It would have to be her that put a stop to this.
“Greg,” Tarine said. “Turn off the music, please.”
Greg nodded and cut the sound. People groaned but no one headed for the door. They didn’t really need the music anymore.
There were models crying in the corners and rock stars smoking weed on the stairs. There were writers fighting in the dining room and pop stars having sex in the bathrooms and studio execs passed out on the sofas. There were surfers puking on the lawn. Actors throwing wineglasses like footballs. TV stars putting on Nina’s clothes and pocketing her jewelry. One of the kids from Family Ties was lying in the middle of the fallen chandelier singing “Heart of Glass” and staring up at the hole left in the ceiling.
“Let’s get rid of the caterers,” Vanessa said. “Maybe stop the flow of booze at least.”
Tarine nodded and the two of them proceeded to tap every single bartender and cocktail waitress on the shoulder and send them home.
But as the last one was out the door, Vanessa and Tarine turned back to the party and saw no discernible difference. It was still loud, things were still getting ruined.
“THE PARTY IS OVER,” Tarine yelled, cupping her hands to her mouth to project her voice.
No one moved but Kyle Manheim. He ran out the front door, sheepishly waving goodbye to Vanessa as he did so. She winked at him as he scurried by. The rest of them barely even looked up.
“Do you all care about anything other than yourselves?” Vanessa asked.
Tarine shook her head. “Of course they do not,” she said. “You people are revolting.”
Greg came up behind her and grabbed her hand. “Maybe we should go, honey,” he said. “This isn’t your problem.”
Just then, a bullet came through the living room door and hit the mirror above the fireplace.
Vanessa and Tarine ducked. Greg followed suit, putting his arms over the both of them. Then the three of them stood back up to see Bridger Miller with a rifle in one hand and his other hand up in the air, as if showing he meant no harm. “I found it in a trunk upstairs. I thought it would shoot BBs,” he said, laughing. “I didn’t realize it was a real gun, I swear.”
“Everyone out, now!” Tarine yelled. “Or I’m calling the cops.”
Two girls got scared and ran out the door. Seth Whittles came running in after hearing the gunshot and grabbed the gun out of Bridger’s hand.
“What the fuck are you doing, man?” Seth yelled at him. “You could have killed someone.”
“I wasn’t going to kill anyone!” Bridger said. But then he walked away, no longer interested.
“Yeah,” Seth said, turning to Tarine and Vanessa. “Call the cops.”
Vanessa walked right into the kitchen, picked up the receiver, and dialed the police.
“Yes, Officer?” she said, suddenly at a loss. “We need you to … come here …. Well, we need someone to … There’s a party, you know? And it’s …” She could not seem to figure out what to say that wouldn’t get Nina in trouble. “Can you just come?”
Tarine grabbed the phone out of Vanessa’s hand. “Please send multiple police units to 28150 Cliffside Drive. There is a party here of over two hundred people and it has gotten out of control.”
Casey had been making her way down the rickety stairs when she noticed everyone looking at her. She lost her focus and took a wrong step, tumbling the last few feet. Mick instinctively caught her.
And, because he caught her, Casey thought for a moment that Mick must be her father. But by the time Casey straightened herself out, she remembered that life doesn’t work that way.
“You OK?” he asked her.
“Yeah,” she said, nodding. She stood up, but couldn’t put weight on her ankle. “Thanks.”
“Casey, are you all right?” Nina asked, running to her.
“Who the fuck is Casey?” Kit mouthed to Jay. Jay shook his head, No idea. But both of them felt a twist in their chests, watching their sister take such special care of someone they had never met before in their lives.
Hud wasn’t paying attention. He was calculating how long he could bear it before he had to get to the hospital. His nose needed to be reset. He could just tell. He tried to pinch the very top of the bridge of it, wondering if that would stop the throbbing. It didn’t. So he let go and looked up to see Casey hobbling toward him.
He was unclear on exactly who she was. But by the time Nina got Casey safely seated next to her on the surfboard, Hud had figured it out.
Maybe he was intuitive or maybe he saw Casey’s lips. Or maybe the reason Hud made the leap was because he, of all people, knew there had to be more children like him, Mick’s kids who weren’t from June.
“Sorry, everyone,” Casey said. She was overwhelmed, somewhat from the shock of the fall but mostly from trying to take in the faces of the people she had been anticipating meeting all night. Jay was skinnier, Hud was … much more beat up. And yet, Kit seemed to match perfectly with the picture Casey had had in her mind. She always assumed there would be at least one Riva who looked at her with suspicion. And here she was.
“What, exactly, is going on?” Kit asked.
Mick, too, was confused.
“This is Casey Greens,” Nina said.
Casey waved and half smiled, not looking directly at any of them.
Nina lacked the energy to ease them all into it. She had spent so much of her young life being tactful and gentle and making things OK. But Nina couldn’t fix everything, could she? For fuck’s sake. “She’s probably our sister.”
Everyone was surprised, but it was Jay who spoke up. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Mick ignored Jay’s incredulity. “Casey?” Mick said to the girl.
“Care to fill me in here, hun?”
Casey began searching for the words. But Nina jumped in and Casey felt taken care of, like she was being wrapped up in a soft blanket.
“She was adopted in 1965,” Nina said. “She was raised by the Greens family in Rancho Cucamonga.”
Nina nudged Casey and put her hand out. Casey handed her the photograph of her mother.
“This is her mom,” Nina said. “I mean, her birth mother. You can see on the back, someone wrote a note that you are her father.”
Hearing the phrase birth mother gave Hud the very strong instinct to stand up and sit next to Casey. He had so many things he wanted to ask her.
Nina offered Mick the photo and Mick took it from her hands gently, as if he was reluctant to touch it. He looked at it, front and back.
“Her name was …” Nina realized she had forgotten. “What was her name?”
Casey found her voice. “Monica Ridgemore,” she said, and it really sank in that she was talking to Mick Riva. One of the most famous men in the world. A man she’d seen on billboards and on TV her entire life. “She would have been eighteen. Apparently, she told people that she was carrying Mick Riva’s baby. Your baby.”