Character List

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Family Ties

The next morning I woke up feeling slightly better.  A smile crept over my face as I remembered how good Lukas was to me the night before.  I was upset over my broken friendship with Britney and Lukas was great listening to me vent and being super supportive.  After I was emotionally drained, we retreated to my bedroom.  Lukas proceeded to give me a massage, rubbing away every last kink and relaxing me.  Needless to say, the sheer intimacy of the massage made both of us very aroused and we ended the night with a round of amazing sex before falling asleep in each other's arms.

As I slid out of bed I glanced at Lukas' sleeping body.  I couldn't help thinking how lucky I was to have found him.  After showering, I returned to my room, looking for something to wear.  Lukas stirred in bed and reached out, touching my lower back.  I turned around, "Morning" I chirped.

"Do you really have to go to work right now?" he asked sexily.

I pouted, "Yes, I have a full day ahead."

I felt his hand flutter over my stomach and move lower.  I gasped as he cupped my now pulsating sex. His fingers stroked me masterfully, my knees buckled as pleasure overtook my body.  I breathlessly begged and panted for more.  I was surprised and groaned in disappointment when he removed his fingers just when I was on the brink of orgasm.  Flushed, I watched as he slipped out of bed and walked towards me.  He stood behind me, his hardnesss against my ass.  Instinctively, I bent over the bed.  He teased me mercilessly until I couldn't take it anymore.  Finally I felt him slide into me super slowly.  My body stretching to accommodate him.  He gave me a moment to adjust before he urgently thrusted into me while one hand squeezed my breast and the other teased my clitoris.  We moved at a frenzied pace and came hard together.  As I was trying to catch my breath, I realized that I was running late for work and now needed to take a quick shower to clean up.

I ended up getting to work at 8:45 but with a huge smile on my face.  Nick flashed me a knowing smile and I blushed.  After the stress of back to back meetings I was thrilled when lunchtime rolled around.  Grant had been engrossed with work so I opted to go out by myself as get something carbalicious at Mangia. After lunch I was swamped executing deals for my clients.  I'm not complaining, I actually like being busy; it makes my work day fly by.

That night I was lounging on the couch with Priya watching Clueless when my phone pinged.  I was a little surprised to see a message from Melissa, "We need to talk ASAP."

I excused myself, telling Priya that I had a phone call to make.  Once in my bedroom I dialed Melissa's number.  There were no pleasantries exchanged.  Instead I had Melissa demanding, "What the fuck did you tell Britney about me?"

I was taken aback, "Melissa I didn't say anything about you.  She called me immature and said that I acted like a child telling you what was going on."

Melissa hesitated before sharing, "She told me that you said my marriage with Josh wouldn't last because I'm a control freak and would push him away."

"I would never say that.  I think you and Josh are perfect for each other" I said genuinely.

"I'm sorry for coming at you like that.  I'm stressed with wedding shit and then there's Britney" Melissa said remorsefully.

I sighed, "I tried to talk to her last night but she was unyielding and started attacking me like I did something wrong.  I had enough and told her we couldn't be friends anymore."

After a few seconds, Melissa said, "You did the right thing.  If you had forgiven her, she'd only continue to screw you over.  I might do the same, if she keeps up this attitude."

"I hate that I put you in this position" I said gently.

"Elisabeth, it's not your fault.  You didn't put a gun to Britney's head and caused her to do crazy shit.  Stop blaming yourself.  She's a grown ass woman and needs to be held accountable."

"I know but it's hard to move on and not think back on our friendship and the good times" I shared.

"You have to" Melissa said firmly.

We spent the next half hour catching up and thankfully by the time we hung up we were both laughing and joking like old times.

The next day was so boring and slow at work that I took Grant up on his offer to grab lunch.  We ended up at Chipolte, where I got a chicken fajita burrito bowl while Grant got a burrito.  We snagged a table and chatted while we ate.  Grant shared that he had another interview on Tuesday with the managing directors.  He was excited at the possibility of moving to greener pastures but a little apprehensive at the thought of potentially leaving a job that he's held since he finished college.  I told him that change is scary at times but you never know unless you take a chance.

He stared intently at me, "What's going on with you?  I mean the past few days, you've been really quiet."

I gave him a small smile, "I don't want to get into it too much but I've been dealing with a shitty friend that totally screwed me over.  I guess I've been mourning our lifelong friendship."

He leaned back against him chair, "That sucks.  At least now you know what type of person your friend is."

I nodded in agreement, "Yea, but it still hurt."

"It'll be fine.  You have other friends like me" he said grinning.

I playfully hit him with my napkin while laughing.

Our conversation switched gears with Grant sharing that he and Jasmine broke up.  I said that I was sorry to hear that and he quickly mentioned that he had a date Friday night with a girl he met on the train.  According to him, she was 21 and a senior at Pace University studying accounting.  I felt that she was little too young for Grant but kept my mouth shut....who was I to judge?  Instead I said I was happy that he rebounded so quickly.  By this time we were both finished eating and headed back to work.

The remainder of the day dragged.  When I left work, it was extremely humid and gross out.  I rushed to the train station only be stuck on a crowded, overheated subway platform.  There was signal problems and the trains were running at a slower pace.  You gotta love NYC public transportation.  Each year they manage to raise fares while decreasing service.  I finally managed to get onto the fourth train after being literally pushed by the man behind me.  Once inside the packed subway car, I turned and shot him a dirty look while he acted oblivious.  I was grateful that the train started to empty out after a couple stops and I had a little more personal space and breathing room.

Once I got off at my stop, I noticed that the skies had darkened.  Obviously it was going to rain soon but hoped it would hold off for few minutes until I got to my apartment.  As luck would have it, when I was two blocks from my apartment, the skies opened up and I didn't have an umbrella.  My skirt and top were soaked, my hair matted to my face and my makeup washed away.  I looked like a total mess.

After opening our apartment door, I yelled to Priya, letting her know I was home before heading to my bedroom.  I gasped as I saw my reflection the full length mirror.  My shirt and bra were so saturated that they were transparent.  I could see my breasts clearly and I turned red knowing that the people on the street and even in our own building got quite the view.  I wrapped my hair in a towel and stripped out of my clothes and dried off.  I pulled on leggings and a tank, unwrapped my hair and started to towel dry it as I walked into the living room.

Priya was in the kitchen, peering into our refrigerator.  She sighed and closed the door.  As she turned around, she jumped not expecting to see me.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."

"Don't worry about it.  No umbrella?"

I shook my head, "Nope and I probably ruined my silk blouse."

"Aw, that sucks."

The thunder clapped angrily and I looked towards the window. "Storms like these always make me uneasy" I shared.

She nodded before asking if I was in the mood for takeout.  I was starving and told her so.  We searched through the menus before deciding to order from an Italian place nearby.  As we waited for our food, Priya shared that she and Anthony were going to Wildwood for the weekend.  I giggled, "I don't' think Anthony has ever been to the Jersey Shore."

"I know but we're both really excited.  Well I'm a little scared too" she said quietly.

"Scared? Of what?"

"It's kind of embarrassing" she said looking down.

I smiled sympathetically at her, "You can tell me anything."

She nodded and was about to start when her cell phone rang.  It was our food delivery man.  Priya excused herself and went to retrieve our dinner from the lobby.  While we ate, she finally confided in me.

"This might sound weird but I haven't been with a guy in close to two years" she said nervously.

I was clearly taken aback, "What do you mean by been with?"

She blushed, "I mean sex.  And even before that I've only been intimate with two other men."

"That's nothing to be ashamed about" I said, rubbing her hand.

She took a sip of water, "Anthony and I have done other things but never had actual sex."

"Honey, I've known Anthony my whole life and he won't force you to do anything you aren't comfortable with.  Just relax and enjoy yourself this weekend."

She nodded, "I know but what if we have sex and it's not as good as either of us expected."

I smiled at her, "You'll never know if you don't try."

By the time we finished dinner, Priya was feeling a lot better.  That night we watched Leah Remini's reality TV show before going to bed.  The remainder of the week rushed by and before I knew it, it was the weekend.

My parents were throwing my brother, John, a surprise birthday party at his favorite restaurant today (Saturday) and insisted that I bring Lukas along.  He was down for meeting my family and even agreed to spend the night at my parents.  I knew my parents already liked Lukas but was worried about my brothers.  They had a tendency to give my boyfriends a hard time.

That morning I went to the salon to get my hair blown out.  When I returned to the apartment, I called for Priya but quickly remembered she was probably frolicking around the Jersey Shore with Anthony.  I loved that Anthony and Priya were dating; they were so similar and deserved happiness in love.  Maybe they would find it...together!!

I retreated to my room where I watched television for a while before starting to get dressed.  I slipped on a black fitted mini-dress with a square neckline.  My makeup was simple except for my smoky eyes.  I reached for my dainty gold necklace with the letter "E" hanging to the side and my Kate Spade "gold bangle."  I rummaged through my jewelry box until settling on gold chandelier earrings.  I was slipping on my sparkly gold Manolo's when my phone vibrated with a text from Lukas saying he was stopped in front of the building.  I told him I'd be down in a minute.

Ten minutes later I opened the door to Lukas' Range Rover and slid in.  He looked so sexy in his dark grey fitted suit and light blue shirt with two buttons open.  "You look so hot" I exclaimed, leaning over and kissing him.

"You look absolutely beautiful" he said with a smile.

Our commute seemed like it took forever with the traffic on the Long Island Expressway.  I could never understand why the powers that be felt it was a good idea to fix roads on a busy Saturday but I digress.  As we drove, we sung along to the radio and joked around.

We were getting close to Limani, a Greek restaurant in Roslyn and also one of my brother's favorites, and I was becoming anxious.  "Lukas are you cool with meeting my family?"

He turned his head and looked at me, "Of course.  I care about you and would love to get to know your family a little better."

"But I have three brothers" I started and he interrupted.

"It'll be fine, don't worry so much."

Lukas pulled into the parking lot and we waited for the valet before entering Limani.  We were immediately escorted to the private room in the back.  My mom ran over and first engulfed me and then Lukas in huge hugs.  I kissed my dad on the cheek and listened as he and Lukas exchanged pleasantries.  I grabbed Lukas' hand and introduced him to my brother Danny and his wife Victoria.  He was two years older than me and my closest sibling.  Next up was my brother Ryan, who was 31.  Ryan was cool but very uptight.  It took a lot to break through his tough shell.  Ryan was married to Tina, a beautiful Persian woman who was a lawyer.  I introduced Lukas to all of my cousins and was starting to ask Lukas if he was overwhelmed with all this when my Danny came over and asked to borrow Lukas.  I nodded and watched as the two of them walked to the corner and started talking and laughing with my male cousins.

By this time Victoria and Tina came over and handed me a glass of wine.  Maria and two of my other cousins, Kate and Jessica, hurried over.  In no time they were asking me question after question about Lukas.

About ten minutes later, my mom gathered all of us and said, "Kristen just texted me.  She and John are in the parking lot."

We took our places and moments later yelled, "Surprise" when John walked in.  He seemed completely shocked and looked incredulously at his wife and then at all of us.  The next few minutes were spent watching John hug everyone and thanking them for coming.  He engulfed me in a huge bear hug, before shaking Lukas' hand.  After he was done meeting and greeting, we took our assigned seats. Lukas sat to my right and my brother Danny was to my left.  The rest of dinner consisted of us drinking wine, eating fabulous food and sharing special stories about John.  After dinner we all went back to my parents' house for cake and coffee and of course more partying.

I was helping my mom in the kitchen when John walked in.  "Mom, you don't mind if I borrow Lizzie for a few minutes, do you? I really need to run something by her."

My mom told him that wasn't a problem and I followed John into my dad's office.  He pushed the door behind him.  "Everything okay?" I asked.

"This isn't a big deal but I just wanted to tell you in person."

I was getting a little nervous, "What is it?"

He took a deep breath, "I went to the doctor two weeks ago for my annual checkup and he had me do some follow up tests."

"What type of tests?" I asked with a quivering voice.

He sat down, his head in his hands.  When he looked up, there were tears in his eyes.

"John, please tell me what's going on" I pleaded.

***  My Fabulous Readers - thank you so much for all the well wishes and wonderful marriage advice. You're awesome and I appreciate each and every one of you. I have pre-written posts for the next few weeks and I hope you enjoy them.  As always, I encourage you to share you thoughts in the comments section.  I must say that I love how you all debate in an mature, intelligent manner.  It's refreshing and makes me so happy!  My cousin, Amanda, will be monitoring the blog and responding to comments in my absence.  She's great and I'm thankful that she's agreed to do this.  I'll be back on August 18th!!! Thanks again:) ***

Monday, July 28, 2014

Congratulations Arianna!!!

I finally got my twins down for the night and feel this is the perfect time to share some thoughts.  Please bear with me if there any typos or anything. 

As Arianna makes final preparations to marry the love of her life, Angelo, I would like to share some things.  Growing up, Arianna was and still is like a sister to me.  We've been through it all together from crushes, to first dates to heartbreaks and now marriage.  I've always admired and looked up to Arianna.  She's my older cousin (by 20 months) and has always been a positive influence.  She's the type of person that finds good in all situations and treats everyone the same.  She always has a smile on her face and her warm, bubbly, charismatic personality touches everyone she comes into contact with.

Arianna is probably going to kill me (not literally) for this.  I remember seven years ago when Arianna started her first real job after college.  I was in college procrastinating as usual and called her to find out how her first day was.  She complained that her mentor, Angelo, was annoying and teasing her nonstop. As the weeks passed, she started talking more about this guy to the point where I felt I knew him.  Months later, she was the first person he texted each morning and every night they would text or talk on the phone until exhaustion took over. I thought it was strange, no man texts a woman at those times unless he's interested. I told Arianna this and she emphatically said that he was her best work friend.  She insisted that Angelo wasn't interested in her like that and neither was she.

It came to a point where the two of them were going out for drinks, shopping together and even checking out the latest restaurants but only as "friends".  After a couple years something had to give and they went on their first date.  And as they say in the movies, "the rest is history."

I still can recall Arianna calling me two years ago, all excited from Greece at 3AM New York time to announce that she and Angelo had just gotten engaged.  I could hear the happiness in her voice and my heart swelled.  I've watched Arianna plan this wedding from the beginning, delegating responsibilities and tasks along the way while Angelo faithfully supported each idea, though he probably didn't have a choice.  Just kidding.  I was honored when Arianna asked me to be her matron of honor.  However, I had to pull out months later.  Arianna deserved a matron of honor that could fulfill their duty and I wasn't in a position to do so.  I was pregnant with twins and going through a difficult pregnancy and couldn't take on that responsibility. I am grateful that she understood and supported me.  I couldn't ask for a better cousin, sister and friend.

I'm thrilled that my cousin has found her soulmate.  Angelo is a wonderful man with a huge heart, and patience to put up with Arianna's insanity at times.  They make each other stronger, better and dare I say they complete each other.  I couldn't be happier for Arianna and Angelo and I wish them a lifetime of happiness and the most gorgeous, healthy Italian/Greek children.

Let's all come together and wish Arianna the best of luck as she starts a new chapter in her life.  I thought it would fun for us to wish Arianna and Angelo a lifetime of happiness and impart some marital advice or share some thoughts. 

I'll start.  Having been married for three years, I've learned that you have to make time for each other.  Have a date night once a week.  Second, learn to compromise.  Finally, find some "you" time.  Just because you are married doesn't mean that you aren't a separate person.

Anyway I hope that you would all take part in this and help me wish Arianna all the best in this new chapter.  Thank you. 

SHOWDOWN

The remainder of the weekend and the first half of the week flew by.  On Wednesday I was sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park, enjoying the glorious warm summer day while munching on a salad. My mind wandered to Britney as I saw two college girls, carrying on and talking like Britney and I use to.  It had been almost a week and half and I still hadn't heard a peep out of her and I was beginning to lose hope.  My phone pinged and snapped me back to reality.  I peered down and saw a text from Lukas  that said he missed me.  My disappointment about Britney faded instantaneously and I grinned asking what he was up to later.  He mentioned that he was having dinner with his dad and a potential backer for the business but could drop by after, if I was up for it.  I was more than up for it and told him so.  I was so engrossed with texting Lukas that I lost track of time and had to rush back to work.

I was preoccupied with meetings for the rest of the day and breathed a sigh of relief when I finally left work around six'ish.  As I waited for the elevator, I whipped out my cell phone and gasped when I saw a message from Britney.  She was ready to talk and wanted to know if she could drop by my apartment in an hour or so.  I quickly texted back that that was fine.  During the commute home, I felt anxious and nervous about seeing Britney. I had to tell her how I felt and lay it all out but I was uncertain of how she would react.

When I got to the apartment, Priya was lounging on the couch.  She smiled, "What's up?"

"Britney's coming over.  We have some unfinished business to discuss" I said quickly, as I made my way into my room.

"Anything I can help with?" Priya asked.

After pulling on my comfy Victoria's Secret yoga pants and a v-neck white t-shirt, I plopped my down next to her on the couch. "Sadly, no but I appreciate the offer."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

I shook my head, "Not right now but I might have to take you up on that later.  I have no idea what's going to happen."

We heard a knock on the door and Priya gave me a hug, "If you need me, I'll be in my room."

I opened the door and let Britney in.  She refused to make eye contact and didn't even so much as say "hi."  I watched as she sat on the couch.  I followed suit and sat across from her.  There was an uneasy silence that filled the room.  I glanced at Britney, taking in her appearance.  She didn't look remorseful, if anything she appeared pissed.  Her hair was perfectly blown out and she was wearing a very figure flattering floral romper with just the right amount of accessories.  Her makeup was impeccable.  She stared icily at me, "What the fuck is your problem Liz?"

This bitch honestly didn't just ask me what my problem, did she?  "My problem?  Let's see...my so called best friend tried to fuck my ex-fiance, got shut down and made up this elaborate story about being blackmailed...basically betraying and stabbing me in the back."

"You're so fucking immature" she said dismissively.

"I'm immature?  I'm not the one that claimed to be in love and then begged another man to fuck me after being away from my boyfriend for what...12 hours?"

"Grow the fuck up.  You're making this bigger than it is and acting like the victim as always.  Why can't you see that what Jason did to me was wrong?" she said replied.

I wasn't acting like the victim, I was the victim in all this.  Me, Jason and Tommy...NOT Britney.  This bitch was clearly delusional.  "What Jason did to you?!?!  How about you open your fucking eyes and see what you did to me!!" I exclaimed.

She rolled her eyes, her words laced with pure venom. "The whole fucking world doesn't revolve around Princess Elisabeth.  I wish you never came back to NY and that you were stuck with that piece of shit, Jason.  That's all you deserve. When Lukas throws you out on your ass, you'll come crawling back, begging me to forgive you but I won't because you have and always will be a selfish bitch."

If this were a month ago, I would've been sobbing uncontrollably but these past few weeks of dealing with Britney's drama made me numb.  Her words resonated but I didn't feel the pain or hurt that they were meant to inflict.  Her cruel, heartless words and her dismissal of any wrongdoing on her part, cemented that our friendship was over. I took a deep breath, "Not that I give a shit, but how have I been a selfish bitch?  Last time I checked I wasn't the one using you to cover my ass."

She leaned forward and looked me straight in the eye, "I'm not going to apologize when I didn't do anything wrong.  Jason isn't your man and if I wanted to fuck him that's MY business NOT YOURS. For you to take his side and not mine shows what a shitty friend you are."

"Did you or did you not proposition Jason?" I asked sternly.

She stammered and I repeated my question, a little louder this time.  She looked away and shook her head, "It's not what you think."

"Cut the bullshit Britney.  I tired of the lies."

She sat up straight and said defiantly, "I was trying to help you.  Lukas is an older man, that's only using you until he finds someone better. Lukas will never marry a girl like you, NEVER. Meanwhile, Jason is in love with you and I felt he deserved a second chance.  I was doing you a favor and look at how you repaid me."

I scoffed, "Yeah you did me a huge favor, trying to bang my ex and then lying and manipulating me. Sounds like you deserve the friend of the year award."

"But I did it for you" she said, trying to convince me.

"Britney I need you to hear me out, no interruptions or anything.  Just listen to what I have to say.  You owe me that much" I said firmly.

She started to say something but realized I wasn't in the mood for her shit and nodded.  I took a deep breath before starting.  "You and I have been friends for as long I could remember.  I considered you to be the sister I never had, someone that I could trust wholeheartedly.  These past few weeks have been challenging and hurtful for me."

I could tell that Britney wanted to interrupt but I gave her a stern look before continuing, "I honestly felt your pain when you told me that Tommy broke up with you and that Jason was blackmailing you. I was willing to do anything to help.  Shit, I even put the hurtful words you said behind us and turned my focus on doing whatever I needed to, to help you get revenge on Jason.  I was shocked to find out that this charade was your idea."

"It wasn't like that" she said quickly.

"Please let me finish.  I was dumbfounded and hurt when Jason told me the truth while you just sat there saying nothing.  Now you have the nerve to come here and act like the victim while tearing down my relationship with Lukas and calling me names?  What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Her eyes narrowed, "If you really cared as much as you claim, you wouldn't have gone crying to Melissa about what a crap friend I am and get her to convince me to talk to you."

"What was I suppose to do? Sit back and wait, while you figured out a way to turn this around on me?" I asked angrily.

"Yes that would've been better than being a fucking tattletale.  You really need to grow the fuck up and stop acting like a baby, Liz.  Everything is a fucking problem for you.  You don't want Jason but you're pissed at me for trying to get with him.  Make up your damn mind."

I scoffed, "I would never go after any of your exes because I respect our friendship. I don't want Jason but isn't it girl code to not go after your friend's ex?"

Britney shook her head in disbelief.  "More like my exes wouldn't want you because let's face it Liz, you are just average and this girl code you speak of is bullshit."

Average?  Did she just call me average?  I wasn't supermodel beautiful but I knew I was attractive and garnered plenty of male attention.  On top of that I was doing well in my career and was a good person. "Trust me, hon, I don't want any of your exes" I said coldly.

"Whatever. Lukas doesn't want you either."

I rolled my eyes, "Is that so?"

"Yes, he deserves someone more mature, a woman he could take home to his parents and start a family with.  Not a twit that acts like a five year old.  You're way out of your league" she said coldly.

"Really?!?  I can't fucking believe this, you're JEALOUS of my relationship with Lukas" I accused.

"Not jealous, pissed that a good man wants a whore like you."

It took all I had not to slap her.  I closed my eyes momentarily and took a deep breath in attempts to calm down.  "I'm a whore?  I wasn't begging a man that clearly wasn't interested to fuck me.  You were."

She laughed bitterly, "Not interested in me?  Every man wants me.  Grow up, Liz."

"That's why Jason couldn't get it up, right" I deadpanned.

She spat, "Fuck you."

"Britney, I'm over you telling me that I'm immature and talking shit about me.  What you did was completely wrong and I'm not backing down."

She retorted, "Maybe if you'd stop being so childish and think like a mature woman, you'd see I was trying to help you."

"Like hell you were!  Britney, I can't do this anymore" I started and she cut me off, "What? This conversation is too intense for you?"

"No I mean our friendship or whatever this is.  I can't.  I don't know the person you've become and I don't even care anymore.  You've hurt and betrayed me like no other and I can't continue like this" I said firmly.

She stared at me in disbelief before standing up and walking towards the door.  I watched as she opened my apartment door then turned back to look at me.  Through clenched teeth she hissed, "I fucking hate you Elisabeth and can't wait until you fall flat on your face."

With that she slammed the door loudly while I sat on the couch in pure disbelief.  Moments later, I felt Priya rubbing my back gently and soothingly saying that everything was going to be alright.  My head was in my hands and the tears started flowing uncontrollably as I realized that my lifelong friendship with Britney was completely over.  It felt as though someone I loved had died and in essence, the Britney that I loved and thought of as a sister had.  My tears, turned into gut wrenching sobs.  Priya allowed me to get all of my emotions out and didn't say a word.  When the tears finally subsided she asked if there was anything I needed.

I shook my head and proceeded to tell her everything.  Once I was done she squeezed my hand.  "I'm so sorry that Britney hurt you like that.  I think you did the right thing.  You don't need negativity in your life."

I nodded and smiled appreciatively, "Do you think that Lukas is using me?"

"No. If he were using you, he wouldn't have gone to such lengths to protect you from Amy, taken you to meet his family or even plan such awesome dates.  He would've just contacted you for a booty call every now and then.  Don't let Britney get in your head.  Lukas adores you" she said sweetly.

"Thank you, Priya."

"What for?" she asked.

"For being here, listening and supporting me."

She smiled, "That's what real friends do."

Priya was super sweet making us breakfast for dinner.  At first I declined but she insisted and I was glad that she did.  After eating and talking about normal things I was beginning to feel more like myself. I had been overly consumed with Britney and lost sense of the little things that made me happy, such as the growing friendship I had with Priya or just sitting and having scrambled eggs and pancakes for dinner.  Knowing that Priya cared and that she was going out of her way to make me feel better, filled my heart with happiness.  Moving in with her was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

That night Lukas stopped by after his business dinner.  The three of us - Priya, Lukas and me - chatted for a while before Priya excused herself.  As Lukas and I settled on the couch, he could sense that something was wrong.  He took my hand in his and positioned himself so that he was facing me.  "What's going on?"

"I ended my friendship with Britney" I said quietly, leaning my head on his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Elisabeth" he said gently, rubbing my arm.

"It's not your fault."

He sighed, "What Britney did to you is really fucked up.  You deserve better "friend" than that. I understand that this is difficult for you to deal with but you did the right thing.  You have a huge, forgiving heart but sometimes you have to cut off those who don't add any anything positive to your life."

I nodded, "I know but it still hurts.  We grew up together and have been friends forever.  We always talked about being friends for life.  It's hard to fully digest everything when it all this seems so surreal."

He held me close, kissing the top of my head.  Gently, he said, "I know baby.  It'll be okay."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cause and Effect

The next week flew by and before I knew it, it was already close to mid-July.  Things with Lukas were better than ever and being that it was summer, work was definitely slowing down.  Generally August is prime vacation time at an investment bank.  That's when all of the directors and managing directors went away. It's usually a quiet, almost dead month.  Kind of like the calm before the storm because as soon as Labor Day hits, it's time to play the numbers game once again.  I'll elaborate more when we cross that bridge.

The only downside of my week was Britney.  Even though I reached out to her repeatedly by calling and texting, she chose to ignore me.  She acted as though I was the one who did something to her and it pissed me off.  As each day passed, my anger and disappointment grew.  I was disappointed that I let myself get sucked into her drama; that I believed her when she cried and said Jason blackmailed her and that I attempted to help her because I hated seeing her in so much pain.  I valued our friendship and I thought she did too but after all the lies and her ignoring me, I wasn't so sure.

On the way home from work, my mind drifted from Britney to Grant.  While we were having lunch earlier in the day, he nonchalantly brought up us possibly becoming more than just friends.  I interjected, telling him that I would never get involved with a man I worked with when he gave me a sly smile.  I asked him what was so funny and he said, "Well you won't be working with me for long, if things go the way I hope they will."

"What's that suppose to mean?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

He waved me off and started rambling about his sex life with Jasmine.  All I can say is, I hope that ten years and two/three kids from now, I have a similar sex drive to hers, with my husband of course;)  I was getting annoyed and ordered that Grant explain what he meant.  He pretended not to understand so I repeated myself.  I was becoming exasperated and annoyed.  Instead of arguing with him, I finished up my salad and was about to leave when he grabbed my hand.

"Don't go. I'll explain."

My eyes narrowed, "Grant I don't have time for games."

"Fine. I'm sorry.  It's not a done deal but I interviewed at another investment bank for a Senior VP role.  From the feedback I received from the headhunter, they seemed really interested.  I mean, I won't have to put in crazy hours and I'll make at least $30k more.  The downside is I won't get to see you each day but the trade off is we wouldn't be working together so there's hope that you and I can possibly take this to the next level one day."

I exhaled slowly, "Two things.  First, I'm happy for you.  I know that you're a hard worker and will do great whether it's at SIB or the new job.  I think they would be foolish to pass up on you."

He smiled, "You said there were two things."

"Second, I have a boyfriend who I'm very much in love with and all this conversation about us being more than friends makes me super uncomfortable.  It makes it hard for me to want hang out with you.  I hope you would respect my feelings and drop this."

He ran his hands through his hair before genuinely saying, "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable.  I'll stop, I promise."

"I appreciate that.  We really should get going" I said, standing up and smoothing my pencil skirt.

As we walked back towards the office, I asked, "When are you going to know for sure about the new job?"

"I think I'll have to interview with the global head and then they'll decide.  I'm guessing I'll know in two maybe three weeks time" he responded.

He asked about my weekend plans and I told him I had a family thing.  He mentioned that Jasmine didn't have the kids this weekend so they were planning to stay in.  TMI.  Alison was at the receptionist desk when I swiped in.  She looked from me to Grant and then diverted her attention to her monitor.

"Everything okay?" I asked, making my way past her desk.

She only nodded, refusing to make eye contact with either of us.  I thought she was acting strange but didn't push.  I promised myself that I wouldn't overextend myself and maintain a civil, professional relationship with her.  After all, I already had way more drama in my life than I needed at the moment. The remainder of my workday, thankfully flew by.

My mind snapped back to the present as the train pulled into my station and I pushed my way out.  I walked slowly, literally turtle paced, to my apartment.  Even if I wanted to walk quickly, I couldn't.  I'm such a sucker for fashion and decided to wear my brand new Prada shoes and they were killing me.  My feet were so sore.  Once in my apartment, I pulled off my shoes and breathed a sigh of relief. Usually I'm smarter and break in my new heels slowly but this time I was infatuated by their sheer beauty and couldn't resist wearing them to work.

I was sitting on the couch, rubbing my aching feet when Priya walked in with a bunch of shopping bags.  "Elisabeth, I'm so glad you're home" she said happily.

"What's up?" I asked curiously.

She giggled, "I went shopping to find the perfect outfit for my date tomorrow night with Anthony and need a little help."

I rubbed my hands together, "Ooh, what'd you get?"

She motioned for me to follow her to her bedroom and I did.  I sat on the edge of her bed and watched as she tried on three very different outfits.  One was a super sexy color block bodycon dress which looked amazing on Priya.  The second was a flirty skirt with a midriff top - it was more for a casual outing in my opinion.  The third was a sexy jumpsuit that showed off a little side boob and cleavage, a little too much for a first date if you ask me.

"So what do you think?" she asked nervously.

"I think all three outfits look absolutely gorgeous on you.  However, before I pick one I need to know where you and Anthony are going."

"A restaurant called Narcissa" she replied.

I clasped my hands in front of me, "At the Standard Hotel?"

She nodded and I continued, "You so have to wear the bodycon dress.  It's stunning and absolutely perfect for Narcissa.  I've never been but I heard the food is uniquely great. Plus it's at the Standard so you totally have to dress the part.  Oh my gosh, I am so excited for you!  I know you and Anthony are going to have such a great time."

I was starting to ramble and stopped myself.  Priya gave me an appreciative smile, "I"m a little nervous.  This is the first real date that I've been on in a long time."

"Just be yourself.  It's not like Anthony is some random guy that doesn't know how awesome you are" I advised.

"That's true" she said with a laugh.

I retreated to my room and pulled on a pair of distressed skinnies and a blingy tank.  Lukas was working late and I had made plans to have dinner with Melissa at eight..  We ended up at a local diner and gorged on comfort food.  She was very apologetic for bailing on us but I insisted that it was fine. She shared that she and Josh went out for brunch on July 4th and when they got back home he wasn't feeling well. She didn't think it was right to leave him all by himself all weekend, especially when he sick.  I told her that I understood.  A small smile formed on her face, "What did I miss?"

"So much" I said enthusiastically.

"How are things with Brit?"

"Not good, there's a lot I need to tell you" I said nervously.

She raised an eyebrow, "What now?"

"Turns out Britney's entire story was just that....a story" I said flatly.

"What do you mean?" she asked, baffled.

I filled her in on all that transpired over the weekend.  She stopped me a couple times to express her disbelief.  When I finally done, she said angrily, "Wow, that's fucked up.  Imagine if we went to the authorities with that info, we could've screwed up Jason's career and future."

"I know.  The texts and the messages are supposedly a lie too.  Jason thought it was a joke and Britney said nothing to dispute his story.  I feel so blindsided, as though Britney stabbed in the back.  I still can't understand why she would do this to me."

Melissa shook her head, "I'm shocked.  Have you spoken to her since?"

"No.  I've tried to get in touch with her but she's been ignoring me."

"I can't believe this" Melissa said, shaking her head.

"Me neither.  I expected that after we confronted Jason, our friendship would revert back to how it use to be.  I never thought or imagined that all this was Britney's doing.  This might sound crazy, but in a way I feel that I came down too hard on Jason."

Melissa frowned, "Jason was sketchy for going along with her plan but what Britney did is unforgivable. I don't even know how to justify her actions."

I nodded in agreement and Melissa continued her rant.  "What, she wanted to get laid so bad that she propositioned Jason promising him that if he banged her, she'd get you to give him another chance. That's wrong on every freaking level."

I took a huge sip of my iced tea, "I feel the biggest idiot.  I can't believe I let myself get played by her."

"Honey, it's not your fault.  Shit, I believed her too.  I even believed her sob story about losing Tommy."

I chuckled nervously, "I don't know what to do anymore.  I have all these emotions that I'm dealing with....one minute I feel angry, then I'm sad because of how fucked up all this is, then I feel betrayed, then I'm livid and then I'm pissed.  I really need to talk to her but I don't know how she can make this right.  There isn't any glimmer of hope or silver lining."

She rubbed my hand gently, "Let's not get ahead of ourselves.  You two need to talk first and clear the air.  Get everything out in the open once and for all.  After that you can decide about the future of your friendship."

"Do you know that bitch apologized to Lukas and acted like me and her were cool?  He even forgave her and felt bad that she was going through so much" I shared angrily.

"Man, I hate this. It's a freaking nightmare" she said emotionally.

I gave her a small smile, "Trust me, it's not easy living through it either."

I was tired of talking about Britney and changed the subject.  I mentioned running into Joe at the barbecue.  She asked how he was and I filled her in on our conversation.  She smiled, "Joe always had a huge heart and I bet he's such a great dad.  He's good people and I'm glad he's back and trying to get his life together for his daughter."

I nodded, "I am too.  He's awesome and I hope that things work out for him."

"You still care for him?"

I shrugged, "He was my first love, my first everything.  How could I not have a special place in my heart for him?  We experienced so much together and a part of me will always have love for him but that doesn't mean that I want him back by any stretch.  I'm cool with being his friend, nothing more."

We talked about our plans for the weekend.  Melissa was going to meet with some prospective wedding planners and start looking at venues while I was going back to Long Island tomorrow for my cousin Diane's baby shower.  Before going our separate ways, Melissa promised to get in touch with Britney and convince her to talk to me.  I hugged and thanked her.

When I got home that night, I decided to call Anthony.  I hadn't spoken to him much the past week and wanted to catch up.  During our conversation, he shared that he was excited for his date with Priya. It was the first time in God knows how long that I heard such glee in his voice.  He wasted no time sharing all the details of the night he had planned.  First they were going to have dinner at Narcissa and he figured afterwards they could grab a drink at a rooftop bar.  I reassured him that he and Priya would have a great night.  It wasn't long before the conversation shifted to Jason.  Anthony insisted that if he were 100% he would've stepped in and put Jason in his place.  He proceeded to ask me how I could've stayed with someone like that for all those years.

"Well turns out that he isn't as fucked up as we thought.  99% of Britney's story was made up" I shared.

"You're shitting me right?" Anthony asked in disbelief.

"I wish I were" I said sullenly.

I was taken aback when Anthony said sternly, "I'm a little disappointed in you Elisabeth."

"What?  Why?" I asked, surprised.

He cleared his throat, "We spoke so many times and I was shocked that you didn't tell me what was going on."

"I wanted to tell you and get your opinion but I figured you had too much going on and I didn't want to impose" I said honestly.

"I would have preferred you did.  At the very least I could've helped and it would given me a chance to think of something other than Amy."

I took a deep breath, "I didn't think about it like that."

"Listen no matter how much shit I have going on, I always have time for you."

I smiled, "Thanks Anthony, that means a lot to me."

"Do you want to know what I think?"

"Of course" I responded.

"I think that it's fucked up that Britney tried to screw you over. What type of friend does that shit?  I understand being desperate but what she did was completely and utterly wrong.  I think you need to reevaluate your friendship."

I was surprised by Anthony's words. "So are you saying that you think I should end my friendship with her?"

"No, well yes, but that's your call.  You need to think about her actions and how you truly feel.  I get the impression that you're brushing your feelings under the rug because you still feel sorry for her.  Unless you get to the bottom of this and clear the air completely, her betrayal will always be lurking.  You'll always second guess her."

I remained quiet, processing Anthony's words and he continued.  "Are you going to go back to being completely cool with Britney?"

I sighed, "I don't think that's possible.  I've reached out to Britney to talk but she's been icing me.  She's acting like I'm the one who screwed her over."

"See that's exactly what I mean.  Britney doesn't give a shit about anyone but Britney.  She fucked up and instead of owning up to her mistakes, she's hiding and probably trying to spin this" he said pointedly.

"I'm so confused, Anthony."

"I hope you don't misinterpret what I'm saying.  I want you to talk to Britney and try to fix this if possible but clearly there's a huge pink elephant in the room that you have to deal with first" he replied honestly.

"I totally get what you're saying and you're right.  I honestly don't know if we could ever go back to how we use to be.  Right now, I just need to talk to her and get a lot off of my chest."

We talked for a little more before hanging up.  I laid in bed and felt grateful to have Anthony in my life. He hit the nail right on the head regarding my issues with Brit.  I genuinely hoped that he and Priya would have the best date ever; they both deserved some happiness in their lives.

The next day, I got my hair trimmed and blown out.  Before going back to the apartment I stopped in at Sephora and picked up some things that I was running out of - Philosophy Purity, Shiseido Eye Creme, Diorshow Mascara and Nars blush in Orgasm.  I also got a sample of Korres anti-aging moisturizer.  Even though I was only 26, I was focused on prolonging the aging process for as long as possible.  By the time I got home, it was close to 2. That meant I had about two and half hours to get dressed for my cousin's surprise baby shower at the country club.

I sat on the couch and watched a rerun of Keeping up with the Kardashians.  I was so engrossed that I didn't realize that it was well after 3.  I hurried to the bathroom and took off my makeup and washed my face.  I then slabbed on my Clinique Superdefense moisturizer before rushing to my bedroom. Rummaging through my closet, I settled on a coral dress with a sweetheart neckline and empire waist.  I started doing my makeup - dramatic smoky eye, a little blush, sheer pink lip gloss and a dusting of powder to set it all.  I stood up and slipped on my dress, which fit me like a glove.

I selected the perfect pair of Jimmy Choo strappy stilettos.  I then put on the infinity necklace Lukas gave me, my tennis bracelet and diamond studs (both gifts from my parents) and my Cartier watch.  I spritzed myself with my Marc Jacobs Honey perfume before starting to pack an overnight bag.  I was just about finished when my phone rang.  It was Maria telling me excitedly that Diane went into labor and the baby shower was cancelled.  I fell back on my bed and shared that I was so excited for Diane and her husband.  I was confident that they would be amazing parents.  

After hanging up I texted Lukas and asked if he had anything planned.  He said not really and he agreed to stop by within the hour.  He texted me once he was in the lobby.  I hurried downstairs and felt butterflies when our eyes met.  Lukas looked hot in fitted jeans and a tattersall button down shirt.  I hugged him tightly before kissing him on the cheek.

"You look absolutely beautiful" he said with a smile.

As we cabbed it to Havana NY, Lukas mentioned that he was going to Miami on the following Thursday with his dad and will be back Sunday night.  They had a couple prospective properties to look at and they were also meeting with potential investors.  I was a little disappointed that he didn't invite me along but at the same time it would be a super awkward with his dad there.

"Will you be going back and forth between New York and Miami until this entire project is finalized?" I asked tentatively.

Lukas shook his head, "No.  The plan is to find a location and then get someone to oversee the project from start to finish.  I'll have to go down there a few times but not every weekend.  It's not a big deal and if you'd like, you can come with me."

I smiled and rubbed his muscular thigh, "That would be nice but completely weird with your dad being there."

He chuckled, "My dad is only going with me to find a good location, after that I'm on my own."

"Hmm, in that case I might have to take you up on that offer."

Dinner was delectable.  We sipped on super strong Margaritas, I was buzzed after only one drink while munching on plantain chips with guacamole and lobster empanadas as appetizers.

"Not that I mind, but how come you're not at cousin's shower?"

I laughed, "My cousin went into labor and they had to cancel the shower."

"Ah, that happens sometimes.  My sister when she was pregnant with Steph ended up going into labor six weeks before her due date."

"I bet she was so scared" I said gently.

He nodded, "Yes she was, but thankfully Steph was healthy."

"So how are the kids doing?"

Lukas cleared his throat, "I know they miss their dad but there's nothing I can do about it. Lauren is being stubborn.  I'm trying my best but I'm not their father."

I nodded, "It's a difficult situation."

"How are you and Britney?"

I scoffed, "Britney, who?"

At this point our charming waitress arrived with our entrees and another round of margaritas.  I got the grilled chicken breast with yellow rice, while Lukas got grilled skirt steak with a chimmichurri sauce. As we ate I shared that Britney and I hadn't spoken in a while and that she was ignoring me.

"That sucks" he said gently.

Dinner was amazing but dessert was out of this world.  We ordered both tres leche and flan.  Each bite was like a little piece of heaven.  By the time we left the restaurant I was feeling lightheaded from the drinks.  I held onto Lukas' hand tighly as we crossed the street.  He hailed a cab and we hightailed it back to my apartment.  Once at the apartment, we went straight to my bedroom.  I changed into a black silk nightie and laid on the bed while Lukas went to the bathroom.  The next thing I remember was waking up still completely clothed with Lukas snoring softly.  I tiptoed to the bathroom, where I brushed my teeth.  I grabbed a bottle of water before getting back in bed.

Lukas turned onto his side, his arms now wrapped around me.  His erection against my back.  I somehow managed to roll onto my back without waking him up.  My hand slid into his boxers and gently stroked his hard penis.  I heard him moan in his sleep and flip over.  He was on his back when I pulled back the covers and took his penis in my mouth.  I licked slowly around it's head before sliding it in my mouth.  I alternated between sucking and licking all around it's length.  Lukas' hands stroked my back and I looked up into his sleepy eyes.  "Good morning" he said huskily.

I slid his penis out of my mouth and straddled him.  I lowered myself down onto his hard, thick, pulsating penis while pulling off my nightie and throwing it on the floor.  I gasped in pleasure, feeling completely full.  Lukas started moving underneath me and I threw my head back, enjoying every sensation.  His fingers found my clitoris and rubbed it in a circular motion.  That was all it took for me to orgasm.  As I spasmed and clenched tightly around Lukas' penis, he lost control and came.  I leaned down with him still inside me and kissed him.  "I wish it could be like this everyday."

He smiled mischievously before flipping me onto my back.  "Maybe it will be."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tangled Web

My stomach churned with anxiety while my mind searched for the right words to say.  My heart pounded loudly and my pulse quickened.  I couldn't listen to anymore of Jason's lies and had to end this parody once and for all.  Jason stared intently at me, as though trying to read my mind.  I exhaled slowly.

"So Jason, that night at the wedding, you and Britney just talked?" I asked calmly as possible.

He scoffed, "God, Elisabeth.  I can't believe you're insinuating that I "hooked up" with Britney?  You should know me better than than."

I challenged, "I know that Britney wouldn't get involved with you.  Your character however is questionable."

"Questionable?  You're the one who was fucking your co-worker while I was working my ass off in law school?" he retorted.

I laughed bitterly, "You should be the last one to throw stones."

"Let's not rehash the past, it's not worth it" he said evenly.

I nodded in agreement, "Okay.  Let me start by saying that I was perplexed when Britney insisted that I talk to you; I couldn't help thinking that there had to be a motive.  After all a normal person doesn't go from disliking someone to suddenly becoming their biggest proponent.  I still can't shake my gut feeling that I'm not getting the full story from either of you."

Jason took a swig of his beer.  "The full story?  I saw Britney at the wedding and we talked.  She listened to all I had to say and thankfully realized that I still loved you.  It wasn't like you wanted to talk to me."

I could tell that Jason was lying and it made my blood boiled.  I chuckled and sarcastically said,  "Hmm, interesting."

"What's interesting?" he asked, getting agitated.

I knew it was now or never.  "Jason, I know everything and you should be ashamed of yourself for blackmailing Britney."

With a look of shock, he stuttered, "Wha...what....wha....what the fuck are you talking about?"

I lowered my voice, not wanting to bring attention to our conversation.  "I know that you caught Britney in a compromising situation and threatened to tell her boyfriend if she didn't do what you said."

Jason leaned forward, his elbows now on the table as he rubbed his temples.  He looked bewildered as he asked in disbelief,  "That's what she told you, that I caught her in a compromising situation?"

"Yes, I had to dig it out of her but that's what she said happened" I said firmly.

"That's not what happened at all, Liz.  Whatever Britney said is completely false" Jason said frankly.

There was something in Jason's voice that made me want to hear him out.  I was insisting that he continue when Britney interrupted, "Jason, can you honestly say that you weren't blackmailing me?"

"Blackmail is a strong word.  I did no such thing" he countered.

Britney said angrily, "Like hell you didn't.  You kept sending me texts and Facebook messages threatening me and now you have the nerve to lie about it.  You're such a fucking loser."

"I'm a loser?  You're the one who begged me to fuck you in the bathroom and when I turned you down you promised that you'd get Liz to talk to me.  This was your fucking idea Britney" he retorted.

"Fuck you, Jason" she said through clenched teeth.

My mouth dropped open and I could feel the blood drain from my face while my heart thumped swiftly against my chest.  Jason's words replaying in my head.  I didn't know how to react.   I felt completely blindsided and didn't know what to believe anymore. All I wanted and needed was the complete truth. I felt numb as I looked pointedly at Britney, "I need for you to cut the bullshit and the lies and tell me the truth."

Her hands shook and she looked away, refusing to meet my eyes.  It seemed like an eternity before she said quietly, "I didn't want you to find out this way.  I'm so ashamed of myself."

"Let me get this straight.  You lied to get me to talk to Jason, claimed he caught you with the best man and made up this extravagant story about how he videotaped you and threatened you. Meanwhile all this, was your idea?" I said seething.

Her voice broke as she said, "When you say it like that, it sounds so bad."

I laughed bitterly, "When I say it like that it sounds bad?  Can't you see how fucked up this is?"

"Liz, calm down" Britney said quietly.

I became more enraged with each word that she said.  My nails dug into my palm as I said angrily, "I can't believe this shit.  You're suppose to be my best friend.  I forgave you and even agreed to help you get back at Jason because unlike you I genuinely cared about our friendship.  You lied to me from the start and now I'm left looking and feeling like a total idiot."

"Please Liz" she begged.

I cleared my throat and coldly said, "I don't want to fucking hear it.  I can't believe you would stoop so low."

I saw tears fill Britney's eyes as she continued to insist that she was ashamed of her behavior.  I didn't give a fuck anymore.  I was completely hurt, betrayed and fooled by her.  I turned to Jason and asked how could he claim to still love me and take part in this elaborate scheme.

He pleaded, "Elisabeth, I did it because Britney convinced me that this my only shot at a second chance.  I know I was jerk when we broke up and I shouldn't have ignored you; I was hurt and didn't know how to react.  If you just give me a chance, you'll see that I've changed."

"Yes, you've changed for the worse.  There was time when all I wanted was to be with you but then your true colors started showing after you started law school.  There were so many times when you would talk down to me and make me feel terrible about myself; you had me thinking that I was the cause for everything that went wrong in your life.  We would go out and you would sit there criticizing my food choices or even what I was wearing.  Whenever I needed you, you always had something better to do. Meanwhile you magically found time for your law school friends."

He interrupted, "You don't understand.  I did all that to make you a better person."

"Maybe instead of trying to make me a better person, you should've focused on yourself.  Look at you....you've morphed into the biggest self absorbed asshole."

"Really?" he asked in disbelief.

"What type of man uses someone for their own benefit?  I could sit here and all call you every name in the book but you're not worth it.  I'm so fucking tired of this shit."

"You don't mean that Elisabeth" he begged.

I looked his right in the eyes and strongly said, "Can you imagine what would happen to your law career if word got out of you blackmailing Britney?"

He looked stunned and spoke slowly, "Elisabeth, please give me two minutes, no interruptions and I'll tell you everything?"

"Fine" I said shortly.

"At the wedding, Britney approached me.  I didn't want to talk to her but she kept insisting.  She started saying that she always found me attractive and I admit it stoked my ego.  She dragged me onto the dance floor and we dance for a little but you know dancing isn't my thing.  I excused myself to go the bathroom not expecting her to follow me but she did.  I was shocked when started begging me to fuck her.  I told her I couldn't because I still loved you but she wouldn't take no for an answer.  She promised that if I hooked up with her, she would get you to give me a second chance."

Britney tried to interrupt but I waved her off.  I was sick of her lies.  There was something in Jason's voice and his temperament that made me believe every word he said.  I told him to continue.

"I didn't have sex or do much of anything with her.  She tried to entice me by stripping but I wasn't feeling it.  Don't get me wrong she's a pretty girl but I couldn't do that to you.  You'd never forgive me and any chance, however slim, of us reconciling would be lost.  Britney wouldn't take no for an answer and ended up trying to give me a blowjob but I couldn't get it up."

He looked embarrassed as he continued, "I pushed her off of me and went back to the reception.  I was talking to Tiffany when Britney pulled me aside and kept promising that she'd work her magic and get you and I to reconnect.  I was amused and thought she was joking.  I played along not knowing that she was serious."

"Why, Jason?" I asked despondently.

"Honestly, I thought it was a joke.  Yes I sent her two or three texts but I never threatened her in any way.  I'll show you my phone right now, if you don't believe me.  I was enticed by her promise and wasn't thinking straight" he said genuinely.

I rolled my eyes, "Jason, how many times do I have to tell you, it's over.  I'm completely disgusted by both of you"

"I'm sorry, Liz" he started and I cut him off.

I started icily as him, "I need you to leave."

With a pained look he said, "You don't really mean that."

"Actually I do.  I'm over the drama and the childish games"

"I know I screwed up and shouldn't have gotten involved in Britney's scheme and I apologize" he said with such sincerity.

I shook my head, "No Jason, I don't want any apologies or anything from you.  I'm completely done with this" I said intensely.

He looked crestfallen.  "But I love you."

"Sometimes love just isn't enough."

Britney interjected, "Just so you know I told Tommy the truth.  I'm just glad I didn't lose my best friend because of you."

I scoffed, knowing that I would have to deal with her delusional ass next while Jason sat there looking completely defeated.  "Jason, you're not welcome here and need to get going" I said firmly.

He nodded and stood up slowly, looking from Britney to me.  "If you ever change your mind, give me a ring."

I stared straight ahead, not saying a word.  I wish I could've said the same about Britney.  "I can't believe that you would do this Jason.  I fucking hate you" she said irately.

He started walking away and before turning back, "I'm so sorry, Elisabeth."

With that, I watched as he walked away.  My heart was heavy and my mind was all over the place as I tried to make sense of all this.  I was surprised when Britney stood up and hugged me, "I'm sorry, Elisabeth."

"Britney, I can't do this right now.  There's a lot you I have to say to you, but now isn't the time or place.  I need space."  We sat in silence as the magnificent fireworks lit up the perfectly blue sky.

After the firework display I needed to clear my mind.  I was in a terrible mood and felt like going inside, getting under the covers and crying.  I knew there was no way I could leave the party without raising suspicion. Instead, I downed a glass of wine which in a weird way relaxed me slightly.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Britney being all touchy feely, while chatting and laughing way too loud with a group of men.  It was as though the past hour didn't happen.  I closed my eyes and took multiple deep breaths before deciding to make the most of what was left of the night.  I had plenty of time to deal with Britney.  I started mingling with Melissa's friends who were all super nice.  I was chatting about shoes with one of the girls when Joe walked over.  "Ladies, you look like you need a drink.  What can I get you?"

We both insisted we were fine but that didn't stop Joe from getting us some more sangria.  I'm not quite sure how Joe and I ended up chatting in a corner, it must have been the sangria.  Anyway, it wasn't long before Joe brought up the past, "Look I want to say that I made mistakes and I am sincerely sorry for hurting you."

"I accept your apology.  I can't hold a grudge, especially since we were both teenagers."

He smiled, "We did have a lot of good times and seeing you tonight brings back so many fond memories."

I quickly changed the subject, "So where are you going to grad school?"

He laughed, "I think you're great but I'm not looking for a relationship or anything but friendship from you."

I nodded, "At least we're on the same page."

"Yep.  To answer your question, I'm going to Hofstra."

I giggled, "Seriously?  So you're going to be one of those super metro guys driving around in a little BMW around campus."

"Not you too" he said laughing.

"Sorry I couldn't resist."

While catching up I found out that Joe recently got out of long term relationship and has a two year old daughter that lives in West Palm Beach with his ex.  Joe excitedly pulled up pictures of his daughter on his phone and proudly showed them to me.  "She beautiful" I exclaimed.

"I miss her a lot" he said sullenly.

I asked, "How are you going to see her now that you are in New York?"

"We have a custody agreement where I get Jennifer every other weekend and one entire week during the month.  I was thinking for the weekends, I could fly down to Florida and then for the week I have her, I'll fly her up to New York.  I don't know if that'll work but it makes the most sense."

"I'm sure it'll work out" I said politely.

"So what's your deal?"

I cleared my throat, "I'm dating a wonderful man, Lukas, and living each day to the fullest."

"Nice. I'm glad you're happy."

By the time our guest left it was close to four in the morning.  We decided that we would clean up later and headed inside and went straight to bed.  Seven hours later I made my way downstairs and found the girls chatting about the party.  We had breakfast and then got ready to go to Lido Beach, about five minutes away.

On the way to the beach, Maria told us that she invited Caleb but wasn't sure if he was up to it.

"Um, about Caleb" I said nervously.

"He's great, isn't he?" she asked cheerfully.

There was no easy way to say this, "He's great but I don't think that you're his...um....his type."

She looked hurt and I quickly followed up, "I could be totally wrong here but I think he might be gay."

Maria started laughing.  She laughed so hard that tears started streaming down her face.  I honestly didn't know what to say or how to react.  Thankfully once she pulled into the parking lot, she finally spoke.  "I'm actually relieved that you think he's gay."

"Why?" we all asked in unison.

"I was beginning to think that there was something wrong with me.  I've had my doubts about him, especially when he insisted on picking out my outfits and shoes but I ignored them because he's so damn hot."

Britney added, "I almost died when he told me that my boob was hanging out of my chevron dress. Which straight man knows what a chevron dress is?"

I rolled my eyes, the mere sound of Britney's voice made me my blood pressure rise.  I still hadn't spoken with her and didn't want to with Priya and Maria around.  Everyone except me was in good spirits as we exited the car and made our way down to the beach.  We found a spot that was semi-private and wasted no time laying out.  As we basked in the sun, I asked Priya about Anthony. She relayed that they had so much fun together last night and that they were finally going on a real date on Saturday.  Britney started playfully teasing her about Anthony and Priya admitted that Anthony was a good kisser.  The conversation turned to Jason and I sharply said, "I don't want to talk about that."

Maria propped herself up on her elbows, "You okay, hon?"

"Just tired" I lied.

"Ladies, I think it's safe to say our party was a success," Maria said happily.

Priya tentatively asked about Joe and I filled her in on our history.  Maria asked if Joe and I were cool and I shared, "We cleared the air.  He's back in NY and going to grad school and trying to become a teacher."

Maria interrupted, "Do you still have feelings for him?"

I shook my head, "Hell no!!!  He's a great guy but that chapter in my life is over."

Priya prodded me to continue while Britney stared straight ahead, "He also has a the cutest two year old daughter that lives in West Palm with his ex.  He's trying to figure out how to see her and be the best dad possible."

"That's a total dealbreaker for me" Britney interrupted.

Maria nodded, "For me too.  I don't have anything against kids, I love them and I'm a big kid myself but the whole situation screams drama for me."

We all agreed that getting involved with a man that had a child wasn't the most ideal situation.  After a few hours in the sun we were all parched and hungry.  We packed our things and headed towards the car. Shortly after we were walking into Maliblue Oyster Bar.  We devoured lobster mac and cheese, crab cake sandwiches, lobster rolls and fries while sipping on iced tea.

When we got back to the house we had the dreaded task of cleaning up the backyard. Britney completely ignored me and acted as though I wasn't there.  She was treating me like I was the one that screwed her over and it pissed me off.  Hours later I hopped into the shower, hoping the warm water would calm me down a little.  After I was done, I threw on an oversized t-shirt and shorts and headed downstairs.  I plopped on the couch and looked at my messages, mostly from Lukas.  He was having a shitty time in Greenwich and I told him to come out to Long Beach.  He said he'd think about it.

I was a little startled when Maria asked, "Do you want to go out tonight?"

"I'm down for whatever."

We ordered pizza for dinner and then got ready to go to the Saloon.  The Saloon was packed with twenty somethings doing shots and having a good time.  There was a 3 to 1, men to women ratio.  We walked up to the bar to get drinks and unsuccessfully tried to get the attention of the bartender who was busy flirting. Thankfully, the man next to us called her over.  I appreciatively smiled at him before proceeding to give her our orders.  While we waited, the man introduced himself as Marco.  He told us he was from Spain and was visiting relatives in the area.  I was handing the bartender my credit card when Marco pushed a hundred dollars bill her way.  "It's my treat ladies" he said in a delicious accent.

We thanked him and proceeded to find a table.  "He's kinda cute" Britney said.

"I love his accent" Maria said.

Priya chirped, "He could probably make you forget all about Caleb."

Britney nodded in agreement as we encouraged Maria.  I had no doubt that Marco overheard our conversation as he walked over with a huge grin.  He and Maria hit it off and ended up going outside for some fresh air.  Priya tried to play matchmaker with Britney but she wasn't having it.  "I am totally holding out that after this 'break' thing, Tommy and I will get back together.'

"But what if Tommy is out doing his thing?" Priya asked.

"I fucked up once already and I can't do it again" Britney said firmly.

I scoffed, "That never stopped you before."

Britney eyes narrowed as she said angrily, "What the fuck do you mean by that?"

"Get the fuck over yourself Britney.  You and I have a lot to talk about."

She rolled her eyes, "You're so fucking dramatic and insecure.  The world doesn't revolve around you, Elisabeth."

"That's rich, considering you tried to fuck my ex and made up a story to get me to do what you wanted.  You're such a manipulative bitch" I hissed.

"Grow up and stop being immature" she said, getting up and approaching the bar.

It was well after two and we were ready to go home but Maria was no where in sight.  I texted her stating that we were going to cab it to the house.  We walked outside and immediately spotted Maria and Marco making out and groping each other in the parking lot.  We diverted our attention and started walking past them when Maria spotted us.  Breathlessly she said, "Are you guys ready to leave?"

"Yes, it's after two and we're kinda beat" I replied.

She told us to give her a minute. We overheard as she and Marco exchanged numbers and promised to get together soon.  She gave him one long, last kiss before joining us.  Once in her car, Maria couldn't stop talking about how wonderful Marco was.

By the time we got home, I was exhausted and only wanted to sleep.  The next morning I woke up to the worst cramps ever.  I groaned and made my way to the bathroom where I realized that my period had started.  Shit, I muttered, realizing that totally miscalculated.  Usually my period starts around the third sugar pill in my birth control pack but this month it was after the first one.  Thank you mother nature.  I knocked gently on Maria's bedroom door and she groggily told me to come.  I apologized for waking her up and asked if she had any tampons I could borrow.  She did and even told me to help myself to some Midol, if need be.

My stomach was still killing me hours later when the doorbell rang.  We looked at each other confused and Maria got up and walked slowly to the door.  Moments later, I heard her call out my name, "Elisabeth, there's someone here to see you."

I groaned and walked towards the living room.  I shrieked in surprise and ran towards Lukas.  I gave him a quick kiss and proceeded to introduce him to Maria.  He said hello to both Priya and Britney.  I was about to show him the awesome waterfront view when Britney asked if she could talk to Lukas alone for a minute.

I was annoyed as I watched them walk into the living room.  "What's that about?" Priya asked.

I shrugged and told her I wasn't sure.  My mind was filled with different scenarios.  What the hell did Britney want to talk to Lukas about?  I was livid and needed to talk to her but I kept pushing it off because I wasn't in the mood to fuck up everyone else's weekend.  Ten minutes later Britney and Lukas returned. I took his hand and led him outside.  "This is nice" he said happily.

"I know. What did Britney want?" I asked impatiently.

He led me to one patio chairs and motioned for me to sit.  He sat next me and said, "She said she felt awful for meddling in our relationship and apologized."

"That's all?"

He grinned, "Just that she feels that I make you happy and she's ashamed of her actions."

"You do make me happy."

He wrapped an arm around me, "I missed you this weekend."

I wasn't ready to drop the topic and plowed ahead, "Did you believe her?"

"I don't know. She was in a difficult spot and was desperate.  I'll admit I was upset that she was talking shit about me but after talking to her, I don't think she did it maliciously.  She seemed genuinely apologetic and life is too short to hold grudges."

I leaned my head on his shoulder, "There's so much I need to tell you."

By this time the girls made their way outside.  We talked (everyone except Britney) over Chinese food. The hours flew by and it was getting starting to get late. Lukas had his car and offered to drop us home.  That meant we wouldn't have to deal with the crowded trains and Penn Station.  Before leaving I hugged Maria tightly, thanking her for an awesome weekend.  I also made her promise to meet me in the city for drinks or dinner or even shopping. She did and I gave her another hug before hopping into Lukas' Ranger Rover.

I waved to her as we pulled away.  Our car ride was filled with awkward silence and tension. Lukas dropped Britney off first and then Priya and me.  He said that he would stop by after he dropped his car at his place.  I leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek before walking into our building.

I had just come out from the shower when I heard a knock on the door.  I opened it and let Lukas in. He followed me to my bedroom, grabbing me from behind and kissing my neck.  I sighed loudly in disappointment, "As much as I want you, I can't.  I just started my period this morning."

"That's cool" he said, cupping my face and kissing my forehead.

"Tell me about your weekend."

He laid out on my bed and I joined him, my head on his chest while my fingers made tiny circles on his abdomen.  "I don't even know where to start" he said laughing nervously.

"Start from the beginning, silly."

He pulled me near, "Remember I told you that Jeff was coming to the family reunion?" I nodded and he continued, "Well he showed up an hour early to see his kids.  Lauren didn't like that and started ranting and raving that no one in her family supports her and that we're all on Jeff's side.  Mind you the kids are right there while she's talking shit about their father."

"That sucks" I said gently.

He proceeded, "My dad got on her for that and she became even more irate.  She started screaming and threw her glass across the room.  Jeff offered to leave but my parents insisted that he stay.  Lauren stormed upstairs and we thought she'd calm down and not make a bigger fool of herself."

"But she did?" I asked cringing.

He nodded, "Yep.  She started tearing into Jeff in front of the entire family.  At first he ignored her but it was too much."

"What did he do?"

Lukas exhaled loudly, "Called her out for cheating.  Everyone was shocked.  My mom thought he was kidding until Lauren started justifying her behavior.  Anyway that night, Jeff took the kids home and I went to my house.  I didn't want to deal with the drama.  It was so freaking lonely in the house and I missed you."

"Aw, I'm sorry your weekend didn't go well."

"Me too but the truth was bound to come out and maybe now things will get better."

I licked my lips, "Maybe.  Where's Lauren?"

"Back at my place with the kids.  She's like a parasite I can't get rid of" he said exasperatedly.

"Lukas, it'll get better.  I know it will."

He looked at me, before saying optimistically, "I hope you're right.  How was your weekend?"

"Eventful."

Confused, he asked, "What does that mean?"

"I saw Jason."

"Who's Jason?" he asked bewildered.

"My ex.  Britney and I confronted him about blackmailing her."

He looked expressionless and I couldn't tell how he was feeling.  "I called him out and defended Britney but it turns out I didn't know what the fuck I was talking about."

"I'm not understanding, Elisabeth."

"Everything Britney said was a complete and utter lie.  She's the one who told Jason she'd get me to give him another chance after she begged him to fuck her and he refused."

Lukas eyes were big as saucers, "Whoa.  Are you serious?"

I nodded "I'm so fucking mad, Lukas."

"Did you talk to Britney?"

I shook my head, "I need to but didn't want to do it with Priya and Maria there.  I'm pissed that she would do this to me.  I was willing to put our issues behind us to help her get back at Jason.  Turns out I was the fool.  I got played.  I feel so betrayed and hurt."

He took me in his arms, "I'm so sorry, baby."

"It's not your fault" I said sniffling.

"If I had known all this, I wouldn't have even spoken to Britney" he shared.

"Thank you, Lukas."

"What for?" he asked.

"For always being there for me.  I love you and don't know what I'd do without you."

He smiled and tipped my chin up, "Well you don't have to worry about that, I'll always be here for you."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Independence Day

As we exited the train, I instantly spotted my cousin Maria leaning against her black BMW M5, technically her dad's, but more on that later.  She waved excitedly and grinned as we approached.  I rushed over and threw my arms around her.  I hugged her tightly and squealed, "I've missed you so much."

She gave Britney a quick hug and I introduced her to Priya.  We placed our bags in the trunk and hopped into the car.  We listened as she talked, excitedly about all she had planned for the weekend.  Let me tell you a little about Maria.  She's my first cousin and 27.  At 5'7" she had shapely legs that seemed to go on for days.  She was thin with curves in all the right spots.   Her long, thick brown hair was perfectly layered and blown out.  With big brown eyes and perfect, glowing skin, she turned quite a few heads. Maria was sweet without being overly cloying.  Her natural charisma and an infectious smile gained her many friends and admirers.

Growing up we were close but admittedly I dropped the ball after I moved to Los Angeles and didn't speak with her as much as I should have. The last time I saw Maria in person was at her dad's funeral ten months earlier.  His death was unexpected and Maria was inconsolable.  To this day, I still feel a little guilty for not completely being there in her time of need. After her dad passed on my aunt gave Maria her dad's BMW and her son (my cousin Michael) his dad's Cadillac Escalade.  Maria was a speech pathologist and worked with little children right on Long Island.  She loved her job and had this incredible zest for life.

I caught off guard when Maria asked, "What do you guys want to do tonight?"

"Um, I don't really know this area all that well.  Maybe we can have dinner and go to local bar or something?" I suggested.

She smiled, "Perfect.  One of my friends is having a get together tonight but I wasn't sure if you'd be up to it."

Maria quickly turned into her driveway and unlocked the doors.  "Welcome to my humble abode" she said in a sing songy tone.

I giggled to myself.  There was absolutely nothing humble about her house.  Actually it was a house that her parents purchased when they first got married that they never got around to selling. Instead they used it as a summer retreat.  The extravagant five bedroom high ranch had the the most breathtaking waterfront view.  I had heard from my mom that the house sustained substantial damage during Hurricane Sandy and had to be completely renovated.  I drew in my breath when I walked into the foyer which now had marble floors and a stunning crystal chandelier.  The floor plan was completely open and modern.  We followed Maria into the kitchen and watched as she opened the wine refrigerator and selected a bottle of Riesling.

"I was think we should have a glass or three of wine and get to know each other" she said, motioning towards the wine glasses.

We each took a glass and I grabbed one for Maria and followed her out of the sliding doors that led to the backyard. "This is absolutely gorgeous" Priya said in awe as she took in the view, "It brings me back to my parent's place in California."

Maria poured us each a glass and we toasted to a great weekend.  In no time we were talking about relationships.  Maria shared that she recently met a British man, Caleb, who she went out with a few times. She liked him but wasn't sure if he was into her because she was always making the first move.  Even though they had been on at least five dates, they never went further than kissing.  They got along really well and could talk for hours but she was completely stumped why he wasn't making a move.

Britney chimed in, "Maybe he's unsure how you feel and doesn't want to push too much?"

I nodded, "That could definitely be it or maybe he wants to take things slow because of his past relationships?"

Maria looked to be deep in thought and after moments of silence said, "That's possible but I can't sit around waiting indefinitely.  He'll be here tomorrow night and I want your honest opinion"  She looked directly at all three of us and we nodded in agreement.

I filled her in on Lukas and she clasped her hands in front of her and screeched, "I'm so happy for you.  I totally have to meet this guy."

"Come into the city and we'll do dinner" I replied enthusiastically.

She giggled, "I'd love that.  Maybe we can double?  I'm totally free until school starts in September."

I looked at her a little confused and she proceeded, "I just finished my first year as a speech pathologist at the local middle school.  The pay is pretty good, I have a ten minute commute and summers off."

I felt uneasy.  I should have known all this, but I was too caught up in my own life.  "Maria, I feel terrible for not talking to you as much as I should have.  It's just that my life got in the way and I really am genuinely sorry."

"You don't have to apologize at all.  I understand and I'm happy you're back" she said, squeezing my hand.

We had finished the bottle of wine and Maria proceeded to get us another.  By this time we were talking about anything and everything; all filters flew out of the window. We were giggling like schoolgirls as we shared stories and got to know each other.  After three and half glasses of wine, I was beginning to feel tipsy and was relieved when Maria suggested we order food.

The sky looked ominous and dark as we headed inside where we debated what we should order; we finally settled on Mexican.  The thunder roared angrily and the winds howled.  As the thunder roared louder and louder, I brought my knees to my chest.  Storms like these always frightened me. Sheets of rain poured from the sky as flashes of lightning lit up the dark night.  I observed as Maria lit candles as a preventive measure in case we lost power.  The storm were unrelenting and in full force when our food arrived an hour later.  We were all starving and gobbled up the chicken quesadillas, nachos and guacamole and taquitos as the claps of thunder became more menacing.

Between the severe thunderstorms and the two bottles of wine we consumed, we were in no position to go out.  We had a huge day ahead of us and decided to spend the remainder of the night lounging around and watching the Great Gatsby.  Fifteen minutes in, Priya asked, "So what's the plan for tomorrow?"

Maria slurred, "I don't know how this is going to play out with Hurricane Arthur wreaking havoc but I've invited a bunch of people for a three o'clock barbecue/party.  When it gets dark we'll have a great view of the fireworks from the backyard."

Priya suggested that we check the weather.  It was suppose to be stormy all night long with showers throughout the next morning.  Thankfully, it should clear up just in time for the afternoon.  We crossed our fingers and hoped that the meteorologists were wrong and that we would awake to a sunny July 4th.

Changing the subject, I turned to Maria and asked who she invited.  Maria started off rattling off a list of names.  Truthfully, I didn't know the majority of her guests.  I had invited a few of my friends who promised to come.  Namely Melissa and her fiance Josh, some of my high school friends, Eric and of course Anthony who told me he wasn't sure if he could make it.  I knew that a change of scenery would do the world of good for him but I didn't push.

That night before bed, Lukas and I texted back and forth before I fell asleep mid conversation.  The next morning I awoke to three new texts from Lukas.  I pulled up our conversation and refreshed my memory. It looked like Lukas was in the midst of telling me about Lauren when I feel asleep.  His three new texts read as follows:

11:16 PM - "My parents invited Jeff to the reunion tomorrow and Lauren is freaking out and screaming that they need to disinvite him."

11:38 PM - "You there, Elisabeth?"

12:17 AM - "Lol, good night. Sweet dreams;)"

Suddenly, I was relieved that I wasn't at Lukas' family reunion, I could only imagine all the drama.  I texted him back, "I'm so sorry sweetie, I fell asleep):  I bet the kids will be so happy to see their dad."

After breakfast we started getting ready for the barbecue.  Luckily, the rain started to taper off a little after noon.  Britney and I decorated and set things up outside while Priya and Maria cooked inside. It was a little awkward being alone with Brit.  We made small talk but things were definitely not like they use to be. Britney seemed a little timid and I had a wall up that prevented me from allowing her to get too close.  I have this terrible habit of forgiving but not forgetting immediately.  It would take me a little time before I could completely trust Britney again.

As we laid a white table cloth on a long, plastic table, I broke the awkward lull of silence, "Do you have any idea how we're going get back at Jason?"

"I do but I'm not sure you'll like it" she replied meekly.

"Why don't you just tell me and we'll talk about it?"

She took a deep breath and looked extremely nervous, "I'll understand if you aren't cool with this but I was thinking we could invite Jason over tonight and confront him."

I remained silent as I thought about her plan.  In a way it kind of made sense.  "You know what that's not a bad idea.  We'll have our friends around in case Jason tries anything and at the same time we can expose him for the asshole that he is."

She shifted her weight from her left to right leg, "So does that mean I can text him and ask him to come over."

"Yes but let's text him together."

As we sat on the back step, Britney started to text Jason.  We went through many drafts before settling on, "Hey Jason.  I talked to Elisabeth and she wants to hear you out and talk."

After hitting send, we started decorating the yard with American flags.  Once done, Britney retrieved her phone from the table and read Jason's text aloud.  "Good job.  When is she available?"

Britney texted back, "Tonight, you free?"

"Of course"

"Come out to her cousin's party in Long Beach" Britney said.

"Cool, send me the info and I'll be there"

Britney texted him the address and he replied that he couldn't wait to see me.  We were so preoccupied with decorating and texting Jason that we lost track of time.  We rushed inside and hurriedly got dressed. It was already 2:45 and our guests would be here soon.  I pulled on my white short (mid-thigh length) eyelet fit and flare dress and silver flat sandals. I opted to leave my hair down and gave it a once over with my flat iron to eliminate any frizzies.  My makeup was light and natural.

I heard the girls calling from downstairs and rushed down.  "How do I look?" I asked spinning around.

The three of them started talking over each other but I gathered I looked great.  Priya was wearing a navy blue romper while Britney settled on a blue and white chevron printed maxi tube dress that she kept pulling up; Maria looked stunning in her red halter mini dress.  While we waited for our guests to arrive, Britney and I filled them in on our plan.  Both Priya and Maria looked shocked as we recanted how Jason was blackmailing Britney.

Maria was the first to speak, "What a fucking loser.  How dare he blackmail you?  You know if you want I can kick his ass, I took karate as a kid and can take him."

"You will do no such thing" I said giggling.

Priya, as always, was the voice of reason, "What happens if your plan backfires?"

Britney said confidently, "It's a fool proof plan, nothing can go wrong."

I nodded in agreement.  We all jumped when the doorbell rang.  Maria rushed to to the door.  Moments later we heard her exclaim excitedly, "Hi Caleb."

Caleb was about 5'9" and all muscle.  He had dark tanned skin, dark brown eyes and perfect teeth.  His hair was dark and thick and his voice and accent were swoon worthy.  He was definitely attractive but I felt my gaydar ping.  Maria introduced Priya and Britney first and then said happily, "And this is my cousin Elisabeth."

I extended my hand and shook his, "It's so nice to meet you Caleb.  Maria has told me so much about you."

"It's pleasure to meet all of you lovely ladies" he said in the sexiest British accent.

We were sipping on the sangria Maria and Priya made when Caleb turned and looked at Britney, who was having a wardrobe malfunction.  "That's a lovely chevron dress but it's not covering much."

Britney looked down and saw that her tube dress had slipped down, exposing her areola.  "Shit I knew I should've packed a strapless bra.  Elisabeth, can you help me pick out another outfit?"

I nodded and silently followed her up the stairs.  We locked the bedroom door behind us, "No wonder he isn't making a move on Maria, he's totally gay" she said in a hushed voice.

"I was thinking the same thing" I admitted as Britney took off her dress and slipped into a bra, a strappy blue top and white shorts.

"Do you think we should tell her?" Britney asked.

I shook my head, "We have to be 100% sure first."

"Girl, he just told me about my "chevron dress" and didn't stare at my boobs which were hanging out" she said.

She had me there.  I wasn't in the mood to speculate about Caleb's sexual preference and changed the subject, "I can't believe that you went braless in that dress."

"Why?  I have nice boobs" she said happily.

When we returned downstairs a few more of Maria guests had arrived.  She introduced us to her friends before directing everyone outside where Caleb was manning the grill.  Once Maria was out of earshot, Priya whispered to me, "My gaydar totally went off."

I smiled knowingly, "Mine and Britney's too but we have to know for sure before we say anything.  What if he's just extremely metro?"

We agreed to observe Caleb a little more before sharing our opinion with Maria.  I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a familiar voice calling out my name.  I turned around and shrieked excitedly, throwing my arms around Anthony. He groaned and I pulled away, "I'm so glad you made it."

He rubbed his ribs as Eric gleefully shared that he made him come.  Priya and Britney watched from the sidelines.  "Let's go mingle a little" I suggested and they both followed me.

In no time the five of us were talking happily.  Eric excused himself to get drinks.  I took this time to quickly fill Anthony in on the Jason situation.  Once I was done he asked if we knew what were doing and Britney insisted that we had everything under control.  I was glad that at least one of us was 100% confident. Minutes later Eric returned with two Corona's for him and Anthony and three glasses of sangria for us.  We toasted to Anthony's health and great evening.

By seven o'clock, the party was in full swing.  Bailando blared from the strategically placed speakers around the backyard and at least 60 guests were eating, dancing, drinking or happily mingling.  Priya and Anthony looked super cute; they sat close and were completely engrossed with each other.  It was as though they were in their own little world.  Seeing how happy they looked made me miss Lukas just a smidgen. Eric, on the other hand, was surrounded by women who were hanging on his every word.  I glanced to my left and saw Caleb looking uncomfortable as Maria sat on his lap.  I took a bite of a chicken burger when I felt Britney tug at my arm.

I looked at her totally confused.  She apologized before saying, "Melissa sent us a group text.  She said that she can't make it.  Something about Josh not feeling that great."

I frowned, "That sucks.  It's been so long since all of us have gotten together for something happy."

She nodded and continued nervously, "Jason also texted me."

I felt like as though I was pulling teeth, "What did he say?"

"Well he sent this like 20 minutes ago.  He said he was at Penn Station waiting for the train."

I glanced quickly at my watch.  "It's 7:35 now, so I'm guessing he'll be here by 8:30'ish?"

"Yeah, that makes sense" she said fidgeting.

I was become increasingly nervous just looking at her and told her to stop.  I needed to get away for a little and went inside to freshen up.  As I walked back to my friends, I felt someone grab my arm.  I turned around quickly and was face to face with my high school boyfriend, Joe.  "Elisabeth, you look great.  How have you been?" he asked, engulfing me in a hug.

"Good, how are you?" I asked flatly.

Joe and I dated throughout high school and had the best relationship or so I thought.  He was my first everything and I loved him.  We were inseparable.  I honestly believed that we would be together forever and seeing him again brought back all types of memories.  After high school, I moved to the city while Joe went to Florida State on baseball scholarship.  We maintained a long distance relationship through our first semester of college but things just fizzled.  Later, I found that he wasn't as faithful to me as I thought. I remember calling him two months after our breakup, crying because I was heartbroken and hurt that he cheated on me during high school.  It wasn't my finest moment.  Joe tried to explain but I shut him out. Breaking up and moving on from Joe was extremely difficult but I learned so much from our relationship and became much stronger.

"I'm doing well.  What are you up to?" he asked.

I gave him a small smile, "How much time do you have?"

He laughed, "As much as you need."

"In a nutshell, I recently moved back home and now I live in the city, work for an investment bank and have a wonderful boyfriend. You?"

He smiled, "Sweet.  I was in the minor league system for the Phillies but ended up blowing out my knee.  I had multiple surgeries and rehab but they felt that I was too risky and dropped me.  I'm back at my mom's house trying to figure it out."

"I'm sorry to hear that" I said genuinely.

He sighed, "Thank you.  My mom is actually thrilled that I've decided to get my Master's and be a teacher."

My eyes widened, "That's awesome."

"Yes my parents are thrilled, more so my mom.  She can't stop telling everyone that I'm following in her footsteps."

I nodded, "Is she still teaching?"

He shook his head, "She's actually the principal of an elementary school in Oyster Bay.  My parents live out there now."

"Cool.  Anyway, I really should be getting back but it was so nice seeing you again."

His eyes pierced into mine, "Maybe we can catch up sometime?"

"We'll see" I said coyly.

When I got back to my friends, Anthony wasted zero time saying,  "Lemme guess that's Joe Aiello, right?"

"In the flesh" I deadpanned before filling them on our conversation.

Anthony looked over my head, "I wouldn't look now, but Jason is twenty feet behind you."

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves.  To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure how this would pan out and I was a little scared that our plan would totally backfire.  Britney and I exchanged glances before she started telling an animated story to create a diversion of sorts.

It wasn't long before Jason found us.  He looked sexy in khaki shorts, a white button down with rolled up sleeves and brown boating shoes.  He was growing somewhat of a beard that totally worked for him.  Even though I didn't want to be with Jason, I was still physically attracted to him.  I watched as he shook Anthony's hand and embraced Britney before leaning down and kissing me on the cheek.  I cringed as he sat down beside me.  He tried to make small talk but there was so much tension. Anthony and Priya excused themselves and walked towards the water.  "So Elisabeth I heard you wanted to talk" Jason said with a grin.

I mustered up the biggest smile and said, "I definitely think we need to talk."

He cleared his throat, "Me too but wouldn't it be best to do this in private."

"No, I think having Britney here will make this a little more comfortable for me" I said gently.

"Okay, whatever you want."

I nodded and he insisted that I go first.

After taking a sip of my drink and turned to face him.  "You know Jason, I've been thinking a lot about you lately. You are one of the kindest, sweetest, most honorable men that I know and I was taken aback when Britney said that you wanted to talk.  I feel terrible that things went so poorly at the bar and I guess I should have been more receptive" I lied.

"It's okay, Elisabeth.  I'm just glad that you've come to your senses and realized that what you and I had was special and rare" he said emotionally.

I almost felt guilty continuing but then I recalled that he was blackmailing Britney. "Yes, that's so true."

"I'm so glad that I ran into Britney at the wedding.  It was definitely a life changing moment."

I saw Britney shift uncomfortably in her seat.  "Yes, so I heard.  Why don't you tell me about it?  I mean, you and Brit never really got along and I was really surprised when she told me the two of you spent all night catching up."

A look of guilt covered Jason's face, "People change.  Back in college, I didn't have time to talk to Britney. You consumed my every thought and free moment.  At the wedding I saw Britney in a different light and I'm glad I had the opportunity to get to know her her."

"Really?" I challenged.

"Yes, I knew she would be able to get through to you."

"So are you saying that you used my best friend to get what you wanted?" I asked with a smile.

Jason turned red and started sweating, "Why would I do that?  I just spoke with her, nothing more."

I was getting tired of this charade and scoffed.  "Seriously, Jason?"

"Yes, I swear" he pleaded.

My heart was pounded and my pulse raced. I glanced at Britney, who looked flushed and nervous.  I knew I had to expose Jason and I had to do it now.