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  1. #1
    After the funeral (with Sojourn)

    After the funeral (with Sojourn)

    Shades


    Pamela and Peter Carmichael were sitting in their living room when the phone rang. Peter was on a table, looking at a map and taking notes. Pamela was sitting on a comfortable chair, a Dalmatian puppy on her lap. She was watching TV, while caressing the animal’s fur gently. The ringing of the phone made both members of the household stop what they were doing. Pamela looked at her husband as though they were separated by miles and miles, despite not much more than six feet separating them. With a sigh, she stood up and went to the phone. It's not like he would pick it up anyway.


    “Aunt Bess”, she murmured. Peter lifted his gaze, and watched as the expression in his wife’s face changed. Her lip quivered a little, but Pamela pushed herself together. “Of course I will be there, Auntie”, she murmured softly. “When is the funeral? All right. I will be there as soon as possible. Do you need me to call anyone? Very well, aunt. If you need me to, let me know”.


    Hanging up the phone, she looked at Peter. “Grandma Maude passed away”, she muttered, making her way back to her chair and dropping on it, after picking up the puppy. “I told Aunt Bess I would be there as soon as I can get there. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to”.


    For Pamela’s surprise, Peter said something she had never expected. “I’m coming with you”. Pamela blinked several times. “But…”, she started, and stopped. ‘But you hate my family’, her mind supplied. She couldn’t say that, not now that he was calm. “...thank you. We should get going”, Pam finally completed, standing up.


    Peter nodded. “Are we taking Commodore?”, he asked. Pamela nodded. “Yes, he’s too young to stay. Admiral can stay, he’s too big to go and old enough to stay on his own for a while. I’ll get one of the neighbors to come check on him once a day while we’re gone”. Peter nodded while Pamela went to the phone. She called their next door neighbor, a retired lady, who agreed on checking on the dog when she heard the reason why the couple would be gone.


    With that out of the way, Pamela and Peter moved quickly. While Peter made sure the car was ready for the six hour long trip, Pamela packed their bags. Clothes for the funeral, and everything else they would need to spend a few days away. After packing, she made sure dog food was easily available so Ms. Gordon could easily feed Admiral. Once everything was done, the couple got in the car - Pamela on the back seat with the puppy - and off they went. It was about eleven PM, so they should be in the old house - as the family called it, though none of them had actually grown up there - at about five in the morning, should everything go smoothly.

  2. #2
    Sojourn


    Alexis Carmichael and her boyfriend, Travis Holsigner, had just checked into their hotel for the night when they got the call. It had been a long day. The young couple was ready to get a good night's sleep and the chance to sleep in for once. After a photo shoot, Alexis had accompanied Travis to London for a music awards show. It was nice to be back in her home country, although it would only be a little while. She was spending more and more time in the United States then she was in England since she got her break in modeling. Travis' band had won two of the five awards they had been nominated for. There was an after party they had to make an appearance at. It would look terrible not to.


    Alexis was ready to get some sleep, she thought as she and Travis entered the room. She and Travis even planned to take a small vacation before heading back to LA. It was their first time off in a long while. Travis and the band had been on tour and Alexis tried to be with him as much as she could, in between her modeling work. It would be nice, she'd even get to see some of her extended family while in England. She saw her parents often, but not the rest of them. It would be fun, she thought. Especially since when they got back home, there would be more photo shoots and Travis and his band were going to start working on their next album. There was also a big charity event coming up. There was a lot of her and Travis' plates after the vacation.


    One of things that had first attracted Alexis to her boyfriend was the amount of charity work he and the guys did. Hollywood was so full of people who only cared about themselves, it was wonderful to be around people who cared about others and used their celebrity to help out. Travis' charity work had gotten Alexis more involved in it as well.


    "I'll go start us a shower."


    Travis said with a grin. Alexis grinned back.


    "Sounds good, I'll be right there."


    She promised and kicked off her black boots. Although she was tired, they were both young and still up for some fun before heading to bed. She grabbed her and Travis' phones. She planned to put them on the chargers and was about to join her boyfriend, when she realized she had quite a few missed calls. When they had been at the awards show and the after party, they had only used their phones in camera mode. It had been such a long day and Alexis hadn't been paying attention to getting calls. She sat on the edge of the bed and played them.


    "Oh my God..."


    Alexis said, starting to cry. At first they were just calls that she needed to call her family, but her father finally decided to tell her, in a message, why they kept calling. Saying he knew she was busy but she needed to know that her grandmother had died. She and Grandma Maude hadn't always gotten along. Alexis had always been really outspoken, not caring who she made angry. Grandma also had never approved of the amount of makeup Alexis wore or that she dyed her blond hair black. But still...Travis came out wearing just a towel. His body was covered in tattoos. He thought Alexis was taking too long. His brown hair, that was usually done up as a mohawk, especially when he was performing or making appearances, was down and wet from being in the shower, waiting for his girl to join him.


    "Hey, what's taking-Alexis? What happened?"


    He asked, sitting down next to Alexis on the bed. She didn't care that her makeup was running down her face as she cried.


    "I just...I...My grandma...She...I just found that...she died..."


    She choked out in her tears and Travis wrapped his arms around her. Alexis cried against Travis' chest. It took Travis a few minutes to calm her down enough to find out about the funeral and such. Travis helped Alexis clean up her face and he cleaned off her makeup that ended up on his chest. Not that he minded. It hurt him that his girlfriend was upset. He knew she loved her family, at least a lot of members of them, and Alexis wished she had spent more time with them. She couldn't believe that Grandma was dead. Travis wished there was more he could do for her, then just comfort her.


    Travis got dressed, and although they had paid for a few days stay at the hotel, they grabbed their bags that they had barely unpacked. Travis dropped off the key to the front desk, while Alexis headed to they car they had rented for their mini vacation. Alexis was far too upset to drive and didn't talk much, except to offer Travis directions to her grandmother's house. That's where her dad told her to go. Everyone was going to be staying there until the funeral. Her parents would be there in the early morning.

  3. #3
    Shades


    While everyone was making their way to the old house where Grandma Maude had lived her entire life, Aunt Bess was busy making sure everything was all right. She had made a point of calling all of the remaining family members, hoping that they would be able to come to the funeral. Working also helped her fill her mind. The house seemed so empty now… When Father was alive, it was a much brighter place. Father - or Grandpa John - had always been much better with dealing with the new generations than Grandma Maude. Everyone loved him, and when he had passed, the house seemed to become empty, even when everyone was around.


    With a soft groan, the woman started up the stairs. Time had passed. The children were now all grown up. Pamela had married that horrible man. What she saw in him, only God knew. Alexis had changed so much she barely recognized her. Not only the hair. Everything about her had changed. She remembered how distressed Mother had gotten the first time she had seen Alexis with the new hair color. Those children, never happy about anything. Still, she would prepare rooms for all of the children, as she always did. And hopefully, they would all come, at least this time.


    First room, for Pam and that husband of hers. Pam always came, no matter what. She had been the only one to come for Christmas last year. At least someone had. With a sigh, she made sure they had everything they would need. The few people who still worked there were also old, so Aunt Bess did a lot of the work around the house to make work lighter for them. Next room would be for Alexis, in case she would come. Everything seemed to be in order as well. Opening the windows, Bess let some air come in. Good thing all rooms were big enough for a double bed, in case Alexis brought her boyfriend along with her.


    Pausing to rest, the woman went downstairs. She had to make sure there would be something for them to eat. All of them would probably have a long drive, after all. And coffee, a fresh pot of coffee would have to be sent to the table. She remembered that man Pam had married liked it. Thinking of Peter reminded her of something. She had better have the liquor cabinet locked before the couple could arrive. The last thing they needed was for him to drink too much and start mistreating poor Pam.


    Once that was taken care of, Bess was about to go into the kitchen and make sure everything there was in order, when she heard the doorbell ring. They were starting to come in. Everything better be in order. They would have the whole day ahead, as the funeral would be at four, so things better work out smoothly until then.


    Letting out a sigh, Bess looked around. Everyone else seemed to be busy, so she’d better answer the door and get this over with. Before she could get to the door, though, the butler appeared out of nowhere and cleared his throat. With a sigh, Bess took a few steps back. She knew what Joseph meant without him needing to say anything. “All right, Joseph, I’m sorry”, she apologized with a sad smile. “I will check if we have coffee. Please, do what you do best and make whoever it is feel welcome”, she requested.


    Whoever was at the door could still see the black dress disappearing behind the butler, before he addressed them. “Hello, Miss Pam, Mr. Peter, come on in”, the man beckoned the couple inside. Peter walked in carrying the bags, while Pamela cradled the puppy in her arms. “Hello, Joseph”, Pamela greeted, shifting the dog to one arm and giving the man a half-hug. “Are we the first ones in?”, Pamela asked, while Peter simply nodded to the butler and made his way up the stairs to get their things settled.


    “You are indeed, Miss Bess called the entire family, I hope they all come”, the man replied, before looking into Pamela's eyes. “Will you be all right, Miss Pam?”, the man asked, since Pamela had basically lost a mother all over again. Pam sighed and nodded. “I will, thank you, Joseph. I will check if aunt Bess needs any help”, she replied, trying not to burst into tears and making her way into the kitchen. She would drop the puppy off in the bedroom if her help was needed, but for now, it made her feel a little less devastated to hold on to it.

  4. #4
    Sojourn


    It been a while since Alexis had been to Grandma Maude's house, the young woman couldn't honestly remember the last time. When Grandpa had still been alive, she had loved going there. He got her, he always seemed to get everyone. She had loved her grandfather, he didn't him snide remarks about her hair or how she dressed. He seemed to want each of his grandchildren to just be themselves. That's not say she didn't love her grandmother. She had but...She wished Grandma Maude had understood that she wasn't going to be the perfect granddaughter. Alexis had to be who she was, not who anyone else wanted her to be. After Grandpa John died, everything changed. Her father, Johnny, would fight with Grandma Maude about how Alexis dressed. Like Grandpa, her father and mother thought there were far worse things Alexis could go do besides dying her hair black and wearing dark clothes. Her parents had wanted her to be happy. Grandma Maude hadn't agreed.


    Alexis had been with Travis for almost four years. Things were pretty serious between them, they thought of getting married. They hadn't set anything in stone or officially got engaged because they were both so busy with work. She had spent the last few major holidays with him. Her parents loved him and his family loved her too. In fact, her parents had spent Christmas with her and Travis in LA, instead of coming back to England. In hindsight, Alexis felt awful. If she had known it had been Grandma's last Christmas, she would have come. Even if she would have made snide remarks about her hair and Travis' tattoos. At least she would have seen her grandmother one last time. Everything looked better in hindsight. And now...She never even got to say goodbye.


    Alexis wasn't her normal self, not very talkative at all during the drive. She loved Travis so much, he didn't push her to talk. He was there for her, letting her talk as much as she wanted. Which wasn't much on the drive. Just having him with her helped a little, though. She was glad she didn't have to do this alone. And she was happy that her father told her he and her mom would be there soon too. Although they weren't leaving until morning. Her mother didn't drive and her father's eyesight was starting to go. He wasn't supposed to drive at night.


    "Turn right here."


    Alexis told her boyfriend and, before she knew it, they had arrived at her grandparents' home. Aunt Bess would be there, she thought. Aunt Bess had lived with Grandma Maude, taking care of her in her final years. Pamela no doubt would be there, she had always been the good grandchild. Always coming around, even if she had married a douche bag. Better then Alexis had been. Her thoughts about Pam and her asshole husband were confirmed when she saw the their car. She and Travis got out of their car.


    Alexis knocked on the door and Joseph, her grandmother's old butler, answered. She had known him all her life. Alexis gave him a sad smile.


    "Hello, Joseph. It's me, Alexis."


    She said, wondering if he remembered her or not. If he did, he'd probably would remember how much her grandmother had hated her dying her hair black. She was naturally a blond and her black hair made her skin look so pale. It worked well for her modeling career. She took a hold of Travis' arm.


    "And this is Travis, my boyfriend."


    "Hello."


    Alexis wasn't sure if Joseph would remember Travis either, she had been dating since she was eighteen. She had brought him around a few times, Grandma hadn't liked how many tattoos he had or his mohawk. It wasn't up right now, he hadn't had time coming here from their hotel room.

  5. #5
    Shades


    As soon as Alexis and Travis knocked on the door, Joseph, who had been making sure the table was set, went to see who was coming. He took a look through the small window they had on the door and then opened. He remembered the girl, of course. Her hair was distinctive enough for him not to. And he also remembered the 'young gentleman' she had brought along with her. He looked odd, but from what Joseph could remember, he was a nice young man. Youth these days was different, but as long as they were honest and polite, Joseph didn't mind too much.


    "Of course, Miss Alexis", the old butler greeted her. "Welcome to the old house", the man completed, opening the door in full and stepping back so the couple could come in.


    "Hello, Mr. Travis", the man greeted, waitig for him to settle to exchange a handshake with the young man.


    "I am very sorry for you loss, Miss Alexis", he murmured kindly, in the proper hushed tone for when someone died. Joseph was still an old school man, and he had Victorian type of values and notions of politeness, passed down from parents and grandparents. Still, he was more flexible than Grandma Maude, closer to the way Grandpa John - the two men had been very close friends - saw the world.


    "Miss Pam and...", the man paused and cleared his throat, "...Mr. Peter are here already", he informed. It wouldn't even have been necessary if he had waited for a few seconds, though, as Pam emerged from the kitchen, still carrying her puppy. In seeing her cousin, Pam handed the sleepy puppy over to Joseph and took hold of one of Alexis' hands. "Thank you so much for coming, dear", she murmured with her usual kind intonation. It was clear from her eyes that she had been crying just a while ago. "Travis, right? Welcome, welcome. Did you have a safe trip?", Pam asked, kicking into hostess mode. "Come on, I will take you up to your room".

  6. #6
    Sojourn


    Alexis smiled, happy that Joseph did remember her. She knew he was getting up there in years, so she wasn't sure how well his memory was working. Although, she supposed, she might be a little unforgettable. Especially the fights she and her parents would have with her grandmother about her dying her hair. To think how angry she used to be at Grandma Maude about it. It seemed so stupid now, Alexis thought sadly. At least Joseph had never been as judgmental about that.


    "Thank you."


    She told him and walked inside. Travis followed his girlfriend in, carrying their two bags with him.


    "Hello, Joseph."


    Travis replied pleasantly to the butler and shook his hand, after he set their bags down. Travis squeezed Alexis' shoulder when Joseph offered his sympathy.


    "Thank you, Joseph. I'm going to miss her."


    Despite all her arguments with Grandma Maude, Alexis had loved her. She had respected how stubborn and headstrong her grandmother was. While she had not agreed with her, she had respected that her grandmother always held true to what she believed in. Even if it was something as silly in hindsight as a hair style.


    Alexis nodded her head and made a face when Joseph said Peter was here. She liked cousin Pam but hated her husband. He was a giant asshole and would love nothing more then to punch him in his big fat nose. Travis caught the look on her face and muttered to her.


    "Be nice."


    When he saw Pam coming out the kitchen to greet them. There was no need to start a fight, especially not a time like this. Pam was nice but she'd probably defend that giant jerk.


    "I'll try."


    Alexis muttered back, it would be hard, though. Alexis had a hard time being nice to people she didn't like. Especially people like Pete, who didn't deserve that politeness. Although seeing the adorable puppy helped a little. Alexis squeezed her older cousin's hand.


    "You're welcome."


    She replied and Travis nodded his head to Pam.


    "Yes, it's nice to see you again. Although I wish it was under different circumstances."


    It made him sad to think that people only got together at weddings or funerals usually. He nodded his head again when she asked about their trip.


    "Yes, it was a pretty quiet drive."


    Both with traffic and the fact that Alexis hadn't want to talk very much. The couple agreed to follow Pam up their room. Travis grabbed the bags off the floor and let the ladies lead the way up the stairs.


    "How have you been, Pam?"


    Alexis asked, realizing she hadn't seen her cousin in a long time. Was it last Christmas or the one before? She wasn't sure. She was so busy with her and Travis' careers, it felt like holidays ran together.

  7. #7
    Shades


    Joseph was indeed old enough to start forgetting things. He could easily forget things he had done during the day and then go back to do whatever it was to find it already done. Forgetting about people was harder, though. At least people he had known for a few years. New acquaintances were hard to remember. So, of course he remembered Miss Alexis. She was a part of the family he partially considered to be his own, after all.


    When Alexis said she would miss her grandmother, the old butler nodded. He was sure she would. Sure, they had gotten into spats, but every family had their little disagreements. That didn't mean the love wasn't there. And he had to admit that Alexis had taken after the grandmother when it came to being headstrong. Miss Pam was much more flexible, but they were all good girls.


    "We all are, Miss", he replied quietly, finally.


    The man was about to say something more when Pam stepped back into the room. The man held the puppy carefully and tried not to get bitten, as the little animal was looking for something to chew on, as small puppies often did.


    Once Pam was sure her puppy was secure, she greeted both her cousin and Travis, and then picked her furry child back up, walking up the stairs.


    When Alexis asked how she had been, Pam sighed very softly, but replied in her usual positive way. "Oh, not bad at all. Finally found a job, I am now teaching music at a small school for girls near the cottage", she replied quietly, minding her way up the old stairs. "You should come visit, if possible, when you are around. Peter is gone most of the time, and even though the house is small, it can get pretty lonely", she admitted, not wanting to share that it could get lonely even when Peter was around. "How have you been? I really miss you", Pam completed, trying to sound positive again.


    Once she stopped at the door of the room the family usually reserved for Alexis, Pam moved towards the couple. "Could one of you hold him for me so I can open the windows? Don't worry, he is very tame", she requested, waiting for one of the couple to get the puppy before stepping in and opening up the windows for the wind to enter the room and get the 'closed room' smell off of it.

  8. #8
    Sojourn


    Alexis nodded her head sadly to Joseph. In her own grief, it was easy to forget that she wasn't the only one mourning her grandmother. Of course, Pam and Aunt Bess were grieving, but also was Joseph. He had worked for Grandma Maude for basically forever. Or at least that's how it felt to Alexis. Since she had known him all her life.


    "Yeah...I'm sorry, Joseph."


    Alexis reached over and squeezed Joseph's hand. She turned her attention to her cousin and followed her up the stairs with Travis. Alexis smiled at Pam as she told them what she had been up to.


    "That's great, I'm sure you're doing wonderful there."


    Pam was always a kind and patient person. Alexis was sure Pam was a great teacher and that her students loved her. Alexis nodded her head at what else her cousin said. Not that she was surprised the jackass wasn't home a lot. Pam should dump his ass, but Alexis didn't say that out loud. She promised Travis she would behave.


    "Yeah, we should."


    Travis nodded his head.


    "That sounds fun, maybe I could visit your class sometime."


    He offered, his band was more popular in the US then in England, but when he was growing up, he thought it would have been fun to meet a real musician. He loved music himself and definitely believed in encouraging children to embrace music, no matter what genre they loved. And Travis did like kids. He hoped someday he and Alexis would have kids of their own.


    Alexis smiled at what Travis said.


    "I'm sure they'd like that."


    She then replied to Pam.


    "I've been good and busy. I just did a cover shoot for 'Vogue' and...I miss you too. I should come home more often."


    Alexis said sadly and Travis squeezed her shoulder. They should make more time to visit her family in England, he thought.


    "I'll take him."


    Travis offered, holding out his arms to accept the puppy. He loved animals but didn't have time to properly take care of one being on the road so much.

  9. #9
    Shades


    Joseph smiled kindly to Alexis. "No need to apologize, Miss. I should have kept my mouth shut. Forgive this old man", he murmured gently, while squeezing the young woman's hand back.


    Joseph sighed in relief as Pamela led Alexis and Travis upstairs. He had really allowed his emotions to get the best of him, and wasn't really satisfied with that.


    Pamela smiled softly when Alexis said she was sure she was doing wonderful in the school. She really was, and really loved her job in there. She would probably have done it for free. "Thanks, I think I'm doing pretty well. The children are just amazing", she replied, quietly.


    When Travis said he might visit her class, Pamela showed a happier smile. "That would be really great. I'm sure the girls would be thrilled", she replied. "We should talk about that later, before we part ways", Pamela completed. She knew the girls she taught probably had never heard of Travis, but she was sure they would love to meet him and ask him questions anyway. Maybe, she thought to herself, she could even invite them both and have a sort of informal career day, with both her cousin and her boyfriend telling the children about their lives and what it took for someone to have their professions. They could talk about all of that later, though. Right now, all of them needed to relax and rest a little. Maybe they should discuss the matter after the funeral, when they would all need something to occupy their minds.


    When Alexis said she had done a cover shoot for Vogue, Pam's eyes widened. "Wow, you're doing really well out there!", she commented, really happy for her cousin. "I would love to se the issue, will you give me a heads up when it's out?", she requested, before nodding to Alexis's comment on coming home more often. "You know you are always welcome here, or to my home, dear", she offered gently.


    As Travis offer to hold the puppy, Pamela nodded and handed the dog over. As soon as the little animal found himself in the man's arms, he snuggled up and yawned, comfortable.


    Pamela shook her head and smiled. "He seems really comfortable, I don't think he'll want to leave your arms", she commented, making sure the bed was in order and that everything was tidy in the room.


    "Please, call for me if you see that you need anything you don't have, okay?", Pam offered, stepping back out of the room after checking if there was something inside the closet or dresser. There are sheets and towels inside the closet, everything is clean, Aunt Bess probably put them up before we got here", she commented.


    After speaking about the practical matters, Pamela finally sighed, feeling a bit sad. "I think I'll take a nap myself", she said after a while. "Would you like to hold on to him a little longer, or would you like me to take him?", she asked Travis, indicating the now sleeping puppy.

  10. #10
    Sojourn


    "There's nothing to forgive, Joseph."


    Alexis replied to him with a sad smile. As long as Joseph had worked for her grandmother, he might as well be family. He had every right to mourn the loss of her grandmother as well. Alexis wasn't upset at him all.


    Alexis smiled at her cousin as she told her about the school. She could tell Pam really loved her job and she was sure the girls loved her too.


    "Yeah, definitely."


    Travis replied to Pam. While he was sure the girls at her school wouldn't know him, he still thought it would be fun. Actually, Travis would surprised if they did recognize him. His band was more popular in the States and with teenagers and adults. But he had always liked kids and his own love of music made him encourage that same love in others.


    Being on Vogue was a huge deal in the modeling world. Alexis was sure it would help her gain bigger contracts and become more mainstream. She nodded her head with a smile to Pamela.


    "Thanks and of course. Actually, I'll get you an advanced copy."


    The magazine had offered to give her a few advanced copies of the magazine once it was ready for printing. When Pam said she was always welcome here, she replied.


    "I know and if you ever want to take a vacation when the school is on holiday, you are more then welcome to come visit us in California. I'll even pay your airfare."


    She supposed she'd have to pay for Pete's way too. That jackass probably wouldn't let his wife go anywhere without him. Well, Alexis could always try to throw him off a pier and hope the sharks ate him. Travis scratched the puppy's ear and smiled at his girlfriend's cousin.


    "That's okay with me. He's a sweet little guy."


    Holding Pam's puppy made Travis missing having a dog. Alexis smiled, thinking it looked sweet. Maybe they should see about getting a pet when they went back home. Perhaps not a dog, since they required more work. But they might be able to get a cat. They were more independent.


    "She didn't change it much, did she?"


    Alexis commented when she entered the room she had always slept in visiting Grandma Maude's house. There was still a 'My Little Pony' horse and a Barbie doll sitting on the dresser. Toys from her childhood, she hadn't played with them in years. Alexis picked up the pony and nodded her head to Pam.


    "Yeah, we will."


    She replied, although Pam didn't need to play the hostess. Alexis knew that Pam was mourning but realized that maybe taking on this role was helping her cousin with her own grief. Sleeping sounded good. She and Travis had had a long day at the awards show and its after party. They had not gotten a chance to sleep.


    "Sleep sounds like a good plan."


    Alexis said and Travis agreed. He reluctantly handed Pam her puppy back.


    "As much as I'd like to hold him longer, we all need to get some sleep. I think he'd sleep better with you."

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