Character List

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Engagement Bliss

Two Weeks Later

Even though it was Martin Luther King weekend and 16 days since Lukas proposed - I never thought I'd become one of those women who counted, but I have and I'm not ashamed - we were both on cloud nine.  My parents had graciously volunteered to throw us an engagement dinner and after much convincing Lukas and I agreed.  We wanted to share our happiness with our loved ones and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.  

Our time in Miami was great, except for that meeting with the lawyers - Steve and Jack.  They were both polite enough when we arrived but Jack wasted no time telling Lukas that there was a big problem.  My heart raced, preparing for the worse.  This one of Lukas' dreams and hearing those words had me on edge.  I gently squeezed Lukas' thigh as he insisted that Jack continue.  The two lawyers exchanged knowing looks before Steve (he's the one whose stepdaughter shamelessly flirted with Lukas) loudly cleared his throat.

"Lukas after careful consideration and with great regret, Jack and I have decided to end our business relationship with your company.  We wish you well with all future endeavors and this project but we cannot assist you with our services any longer" Steve explained.

I noticed Lukas' jaw clench and knew he was upset.  "Is there a reason why?" Lukas asked as calmly as he could.

"This is a family led law firm and we feel that the demands you've made are unreasonable" Steve replied.

"Demands?  What demands have I made?"

Steve nervously shifted in his seat while Jack looked down.  "You threatened to cease doing business with us if Rachel was involved.  Initially we agreed because we didn't want to lose this contract.  However, we've come to realize that what you've requested is excessive and unwarranted.  We refuse to allow you or any of our clients tell us how to run our business."

Lukas scoffed, "What the fuck do you know about running a business?  You think it's professional to have your stepdaughter making an ass of herself during client meetings?  If that's the way you want to run your law firm that's fine.  There are a shitload of law firms in Miami, more professional and prestigious than yours, that would welcome the opportunity to take on my account.  I don't need you or your incompetence."

Jack who had been quiet so far chuckled and Lukas glared in his direction.  He composed himself and stuttered, "Sorry.  If your girlfriend wasn't insecure, you wouldn't have requested that Rachel not be involved.  You're the unprofessional one."

"Don't you ever talk about my fiance" Lukas threatened, standing and motioning in my direction.

"Good luck with that" Steve replied.

I stood up, attempting to remediate the situation before it got out of hand.  I had had enough of these two assholes and had some things to get off my chest.  "If you want to run your business by having your stepdaughter sending your clients half naked pics and shamelessly flirting with them, that's your business.  Seems to me you're the one who needs to get  your priorities in check.  And one more thing, don't ever talk about our relationship...that's none of your fucking business."

I felt Lukas' hand rubbing my back gently while the two lawyers seemed surprised by my outburst. Jack even looked slightly embarrassed.  Lukas picked up where I left off, "Consider this the end of our business relationship."

With that Lukas led me out of the restaurant. Once outside, he sighed loudly.  I wrapped my arms around him, reassuring him that everything happens for a reason.  He uttered, "How fucked up is that?  I don't need those two jokers."

"No, you don't.  You're going to find a respectable law firm that is professional and I'm going to help you."

"Elisabeth, I don't want to spend our last two days here focusing on business" he said quickly.

"Nonsense.  We'll have have plenty of time for fun" I replied.

"Okay boss, tell me what we should do."

I smiled, "First we're going to get the best law firm in this city to represent you."

He chuckled, "Let's go back to the hotel and make some phone calls."

Needless to say, Lukas did manage to get one of the most reputable law firms to represent his dad's company.  In no time, they were able to acquire permits and do everything that Steve and Jack said was impossible.  It was obvious that they quit trying and were making excuses all along.  By the time we returned to NYC, both of us were feeling good about the expansion.  Now that Lukas had a competent law firm handling his business, there was a strong possibility that he wouldn't have to travel to Miami as much as he initially thought.

--------

When I finally returned to work on January 5th, I didn't know what to expect with the Cole situation.  Shirley was sitting at her desk and speaking on the phone when I entered our floor.  I smiled and waved before walking to my workstation.  As soon as I sat down, Nick gasped.  "Holy shit, you're engaged!!"

I nodded excitedly, "Yes.  I was totally surprised.  I wasn't expecting it all.  Lukas proposed on New Year's Eve and I said yes just when the clock struck midnight."  I couldn't help myself.  I started telling him all the details and didn't let him get a word in edgewise.  When I finally stopped talking, he playfully breathed a sigh of relief.  

"Sorry.  I just can't help myself."

Nick laughed. "It's all good.  Congratulations!"

I nodded, "Thanks."

Even though I wanted to ask him about Cole, I didn't know how to broach the subject without being overly nosy. Once I started up my computer I noticed a meeting invite from John to both Nick and I.  In a hushed voice I asked, "Hey, what's this meeting with John about?"

"Cole" Nick said, flatly.

The meeting was scheduled for 8:30 and it was already 8:29.  I didn't have time to ask Nick any questions. We both rushed to John's office and sat in the two empty seats.  "Happy New Year.  Hope it's a good one for both of you."

After we wished John a happy new year, we waited anxiously for him to start talking.  He turned his attention to his computer and typed something before looking at us. "I had a meeting early this morning regarding Cole's behavior.  I'm appalled."

John paused and Nick fidgeted nervously.  I was relieved when John finally continued, "I would like to thank both of you for handling the situation.  Nick reaching out to HR was the right thing to do in the situation.  Elisabeth, HR mentioned that Shirley could not say enough about how supportive you've been.  Thank you for that."

I nodded politely and he continued.  "It's good to know that the two of you could hold down the fort while I'm away.  You are both valuable assets to my team and this company."

Nick muttered a thank you, while I silently wondered about Cole.  John must of read my mind because he said, "Cole will be terminated later on this morning.  HR is finalizing the documents.  Such behavior is inexcusable."

Hearing John's news gave me a sense of relief and then fear.  How would Cole react to getting fired?  He certainly showed that he has zero respect for authority.  Would he think being fired is a joke like he thought being reprimanded for his behavior was?  In that warped head of his, would he think he was being victimized?  Did he have the potential to overreact and go crazy like the people we see on the news?  I took a few deep breaths to calm down.  I had to stop letting my imagination get the best of me.

I attempted throwing myself into work but instead watched the clock.  I listened keenly, anticipating hearing Cole receiving that dreadful phone call from Human Resources.  Nick noticed my anxiety and asked if I wanted to get coffee with him.  Just as I was about to respond, I noticed Cole standing up and talking to himself.  He looked angry and was bitching about how fucked up our HR team was.  Nick shook his head in disdain.

"That kid will never learn.  He'll live life with a self of entitlement and think that he's always right" Nick spat.

I couldn't help but agree.  "It's a shame he didn't take this opportunity to hone his skills and gain valuable experience."

"Some people are like that.  They think they're too good to work hard or feel that the whole damn world owes them something."

I examined my now chipped manicure.  "Do you think he'll go crazy and try to kill us?"

Nick chuckled, "Elisabeth, you've been watching way too much tv."

I shook my head, "No.  I swear I've seen it on the news...numerous times in fact."

"Cole isn't stupid enough to do that" Nick replied, firmly.

Needless to say, Cole didn't return to his workspace.  A security guard stopped by to speak with John and then retrieved all of Cole's belongings.  We eventually found out that once Cole heard that he was being fired, he started ranting and raving like a madman.  HR didn't want to risk him disrupting business so security gathered his belongings and escorted him out.  Upon hearing that, I felt of sense of relief.  The tension that I allowed to build since meeting with John earlier dissipated.  I felt a huge smile form on my face as I looked down and glimpsed at my engagement ring.  Memories of our engagement still fresh in my mind.

-------

As I straightened my hair, my mind drifted to Britney.  Mere days ago there was an update on her upcoming trial.  The two legal teams were in the process of selecting an appropriate jury.  I hoped that they would find jurors that would be able to see that Britney was not a conspirator of Grant's, well at least that's what I thought.  I actually felt sorry for her.  Grant had no business videotaping the two of them having sex and then using that video against her. If only she hadn't been so shady and deceptive, making up false claims of blackmail against Jason, I might have believed and possibly helped her. Now, I prayed that her name would be cleared.  I don't mean to be a bitch but I'd likely get struck by lightning before Britney and I went back to being the best of friends.

Grant, on the other hand, needs to rot in jail for the rest of his life.  Maybe he'll even find a cell mate that would treat him in the same way he treated those innocent women he lured to his apartment and assaulted while the cameras rolled.  He was one sick man.  His lawyer's smug comments on the news about Grant's innocence and how they will prove he was framed, made my blood boil.  There mere thought of my one time friendship with Grant revolted me.  I must have had blinders on.  Even when I told him I was uncomfortable with his advances, he played it off.  Then at his farewell party, he had the nerve to kiss me.  I shuddered at the thought.  Maybe if I hadn't befriended him Britney wouldn't be in this predicament.

Lukas interrupted my thoughts when he entered the bathroom.  "I'm going to take a quick shower" he said, while turning on the water.  I knew that the humidity from the hot water would wreak havoc on my hair so I took my flat iron and headed to the bedroom.  I sat on the floor and picked up where I left off, making my hair super straight and sleek.

I was just about done when my phone pinged with a text from Melissa saying that she wasn't sure what to wear tonight.  Before I could respond, she sent pictures of two dresses.  Both were pretty but naturally I picked my favorite (more on that later).  Melissa had made great strides since New Year's. She definitely stuck to her resolution and was going out of her way to make amends with Anthony.  While he didn't show resistance, he wasn't welcoming her with open arms either.  For what it's worth, he was making an effort and softening towards her.

Anthony is super loyal and will always have his friends backs unequivocally.  He gives so much of himself to others and rightfully expects the same in return.  Sadly, Melissa turned on him and started blaming him for Priya.  She made him feel as though he was at fault for not only Priya but Amy as well.  She hurt him deeply with her words and shadiness.  To recover and get their friendship back on track would take time and plenty of trust building.  I guess one could say that Anthony and I are similar in that respect.

-------

While Lukas got dressed, I put on my makeup.  I opted for a dramatic smoky eye, with a little blush and sheer pink lip gloss.  Next, I slipped into my dress.  I totally wanted to get a white cocktail dress but couldn't find one that was appropriate.  All of the white dresses were either long gowns or low cut sun dresses. I guess I'll just save the white dress for our actual wedding!  I put on my black suede sandals and stood up, examining my outfit in the full length mirror.

Once I was satisfied, I headed into the living room where Lukas was playing on his phone.  He looked up and did a double take.  "Wow, Liz you look gorgeous."

I blushed before doing a little twirl for him.  "You don't look too shabby yourself."  Truth is Lukas always looked good whether he was in sweatpants or a suit and tie.

"Gee, thanks" he said dramatically before chuckling.

"Are you ready to go?  I don't want to be late.  Oh my God, this is the first time our families are meeting.  What if something goes wrong?" I babbled.

Lukas' stroked my jaw lightly with his fingers before kissing me.  Silencing my crazy thoughts.  "Shhh, no negative thoughts" he said, pulling away.

-------

During our drive out to the restaurant on Long Island, Lukas and I talked about our wedding.  We were certain that we would be bombarded with endless questions.  "I'm getting really annoyed with everyone asking if we've set a date yet" I whined.

"That's a perfectly normal question.  They're only asking so that they can make themselves available."

"But I want to enjoy being engaged" I continued.

"And we are" Lukas replied.

"After we move into the new place we can work on setting a date" I said quickly.

He nodded, while keeping his eyes on the road.  "I had no idea that the renovations would take this long."

"That's partially my fault.  In the store, that marble counter top for the bathroom looked different than it did when the contractors put it in."

"I'd rather you voice your disdain now, than keep it in.  Besides the counter top is least of our worries.  The custom cabinets and the flooring have delayed us so much" he replied.

"At least when the contractors are done, we'll have the apartment of our dreams" I said in a sing-songy voice.

"Yes we will" he said, resting his hand on my knee.

"I'm a little nervous about tonight" I said quietly.

"Why?" Lukas asked, quickly glancing in my direction.

"Because I want everything to be perfect but what if it isn't?"

"Who needs perfect?  Perfect is boring.  Stop worrying so much" he said patiently.

As Lukas pulled into the parking lot, I did a quick makeup check.  The valet opened my door and helped me out of the car.  I waited, shivering from the bitter cold for Lukas.  He rushed to my side and led me inside.  We checked our coats and were escorted to a private room upstairs that overlooked Long Beach.  When we walked in, everyone rushed towards us, talking over each other, offering their well wishes and congratulations.  Eventually the madness calmed down and we were able to greet everyone properly.

Lukas' parents were super sweet. His mom hugged my tightly and shared how happy she was.  When she pulled away I saw tears in her eyes, "Tears of joy" she said with a smile.  His dad echoed the same sentiments.  My parents were over the moon and couldn't stop talking about how excited they were about our engagement.  My brother John and Danny joked with Lukas about what a pain in the ass I was to live with while Ryan seemed to be in another world.  I frowned, realizing how hard it must be for him to celebrate my engagement to Lukas when his own marriage was failing.

I was about to walk over to him when I heard a loud squeal.  I turned around and saw Linda rushing towards Lukas and I.  She threw her arms around both of us and spoke incoherently.  She pulled away and hugged us individually before motioning for someone to join her.  Moments later a gorgeous man with caramel skin and the deepest brown eyes joined us.  He was a little under 6' and his fitted suit made it apparent that he was in excellent shape.

"Lukas, Elisabeth, this is my husband Faisal."

Faisal shook Lukas hand and then kissed me on both cheeks.  "Congratulations.  Linda had told me a great deal about of you.  Please do us the honor of paying us a visit in Paris" he said in a delightful French accent.

"Elisabeth and I have discussed Paris and it's definitely in cards.  How long are the two of you in town for?" Lukas asked.

"One week" Linda said excitedly.

"How about we get dinner in the city one night?" I suggested.

"Can we do a little wedding shopping?" Linda asked.

I shrugged,  "Possibly.  We can do a little window shopping."

"Oh my goodness!!  Look at this this ring.  It's absolutely gorgeous" Linda screeched.

"Lukas did a really good job" I said happily.

We worked the room.  Stopping to speak with our respective grandparents, cousins and of course our friends.  I had finally reached Ryan, when I heard a voice that I knew was trouble.


*****  Dolls - totally apologize for the cliffhanger.  I didn't have as much time to write as I anticipated.  I will make it up to you next week.  I promise! ****

Monday, January 26, 2015

One Year Later

Hi Lovely Readers,

Just a mere year ago I started Elisabeth's story.  It seems like only yesterday she was returning to New York filled with uncertainty and having to start all over.  This past year has seen her experience the highs and lows (mostly lows) of friendship; find her true love and soul mate in Lukas though she did make it hard at times; rediscover her career and become an important part of her team; learn the importance of family and how precious life is.  She experienced so much drama, some self-inflicted, while undoubtedly growing and maturing.  I hope that you have all enjoyed reading about Elisabeth's crazy little world this past year and will continue to enjoy this story.

As I sit back in suburbia (Long Island) bracing for this epic blizzard and keeping my fingers crossed that we don't lose power through the night, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your unbridled support.  You've all been great during my sporadic posting and so encouraging.  I can't thank you enough. 

I can't promise that you'll always agree with my story lines or where I chose to take Elisabeth but I hope it continues to keep you entertained.  If we get the 24+" of snow that's projected, I will be on lock down in my home for the next couple days and hopefully I'll be able to get some writing done! Thanks for continuing to follow Elisabeth's journey.  In my opinion the best is yet to come;-)

With that said, I'd like to know your thoughts.  What would you like to see from Elisabeth this coming year?  Also, I don't know what the correct balance between wedding planning and other story lines is.  Admittedly, I love weddings and while planning my own I tried my best (note, I didn't say successfully...lol) to not bore my friends with all the little details.  Let me know how much of that you'll like to read about.  Or if you want to share your thoughts, please feel free to do so.

Arianna


Miami Nights

I stood up and excused myself while Melissa followed.  Once out of sight, we rushed into the restroom, which thankfully was empty.

"Please don't tell me something bad happened to Priya.  I can't deal with that now" I said anxiously.

"No, nothing like that.  According to Depeka, Priya dropped out of medical school and is hanging out with these two men.  This might sound outlandish to you because it does to me but here goes....Depeka thinks that Priya might be a prostitute and the two men are her pimps."

I gasped loudly.  "OH...MY...GOD.  I don't know if that theory is as outlandish as you think.  I mean a few weeks ago Lukas and I saw Priya with the two men at Eleven Madison and she was scantily dressed and acting really weird.  Then when I got home, I found my room ransacked and there was evidence of drug usage courtesy of Priya.  I don't want to believe that she's selling her body for money but I don' think we should rule it out just yet" I explained.

"But this is Priya we're talking about.  She isn't the type to fuck around with random men.  She's a good girl."

"Yes and I didn't think she was the type to get hooked on drugs and go berserk either.  Let's not jump to conclusions until we have our facts straight," I suggested.

"This Priya situation is completely fucked up.  I'm going to text her and wish her a happy new year. Hopefully she'll respond and I can get some details about what she's been up to."

I nodded, "That's not a bad idea.  Even though Priya has done some crazy shit, I still care for her and want to help."

"I know, hon.  I'm sorry for bringing this up now.  I know you're on cloud nine about your engagement, as you should be.  I didn't get a chance to tell you last night how happy I am for you. Watching Lukas propose and the love you have for one another fills me with joy for you.  I wish nothing but the best for you and you've found that in Lukas."

I hugged her, "Thank you, Melissa.  That means a lot.  Can I ask you something, though premature."

Her face lit up, "What is it?"

I smiled, "We've been friends for so long that I consider you family.  You've been there for me through the good and bad....I was wondering if you'd be one of my bridesmaids."

She squealed loudly.  "It would be my honor.  I'm so excited.  Do you have a date in mind?"

I shook my head, "Lukas and I are living in the moment and enjoying being engaged.  Once we move into our new place, we'll work on a date.  I would assume next spring or summer."

She took my hand in hers, "I know your wedding will be amazing and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

"Thanks.  I know your wedding will be out of this world.  Can you believe in just six weeks you and Josh are getting married?!?"

"Yes and I can't wait.  I've been overwhelmed with all the planning and details.  I'd rather jet down to Vegas or City Hall and get married than have a huge wedding but that's what Josh and our families want" she shared.

"Aw.  I am here to help you.  Call me when things get overwhelming or delegate some of your tasks.  I don't want you super stressed on one of the most important days of your life" I said.

"I might just take you up on that offer" she said with a laugh.

-------

All eyes were on us when we returned to the table.  As I sat down Lukas leaned in and asked what was going on.  I waved him off and insisted everything was good.  There was no need to make the first day of 2015....New Year's Day...all about Priya.  Plus, for as long as I could remember my parents always stressed that whatever you do on the first day of the new year is what you'll be doing throughout the year.  I certainly didn't want a year full of gossip and drama.  Instead I wanted to enjoy being with my closest friends and my fiancĂ©.

In the middle of brunch Eric suggested that we go around the table and make our New Year's resolutions.  Everyone for the most part had the same goal in mind - eating healthier and getting in the best shape of their lives.  Melissa, on the other hand, surprised us all.  When it was her turn she said, "This past year, I got involved in situations that I had no business getting into and hurt lifelong friends. I can't explain my actions or even defend them.  However, I resolve to be a better friend and work on building the friendships I've destroyed.  I know it will take a lot of time and I'm ready to do whatever it takes."  She paused and nodded in Anthony's direction before continuing.

"I also resolve to be the best wife possible.  I am blessed to have Josh in my life and will show my love and appreciation more.  Finally, I will try to stop being a judgmental bitch and be more supportive of all of my loved ones."

Anthony's face softened and I swear I saw the start of smile as he listened to Melissa.  I had a strong feeling that this year wouldn't be filled with the crazy friend drama I experienced in 2014.  After rounds of mimosas and all the food you could imagine, we decided to wrap things up.  Most of our friends were flying back later that night and we wanted to give them ample time to make it to the airport.  We said our goodbyes.  As I hugged Anthony he quietly asked if I spoke with Melissa.

"Not about you.  I was surprised by her resolution and thrilled that she recognizes her weaknesses and wants to work on them.  Maybe in time you'll consider giving her a second chance."

He nodded.  "Possibly.  Anyway, I'm happy for you and wish you the best in this new chapter."

I hugged him again.  "Thanks.  And I forgive you for not telling me about all this" I teased.

He chuckled, "Come on.  How could I ruin Lukas' plan?  He went through a lot to pull this off."

"I know.  The past 24-hours seems so surreal to me.  I might sound cliche but I feel as though this is all a dream."

"It's not.  You deserve all of this and more" he said genuinely.

"Have a safe trip back!" I said happily.

---------

When Lukas and I got back to our room, I was exhausted.  The combination of the excitement of our engagement and mimosas was a bit much for me.  I pulled off my sandals and crawled under the covers while Lukas was in the bathroom.  That was the last thing I remembered when I awoke hours later.  I snuggled close to Lukas who was busy on his laptop.  "Did you have a good nap?"

I nodded, "What are you doing?"

"Finalizing the details of the contract.  I wanted to have everything ready for tomorrow" he explained.

"You're not tired?"

I shook his head, "I'm too happy to be tired."

I giggled, "I'm more than happy.  How did you know this is what I wanted?"

Lukas closed his laptop and placed it on the nightstand before wrapping his arms around me.  "To be honest, I wasn't 100% sure until Christmas.  Obviously we've spoken about marriage and it's something that we both wanted.  This might sound lame but I felt it in my heart.  I just knew that proposing was right.  I'm grateful you said yes."

"How could I say no to you Lukas?  There's no one I could picture wanting to grow old with.  You're the perfect man for me in every way.  I was an immature, selfish drama queen when we met but you've made me grow and become a better person.  You're my rock and I don't know what I'd do without you."

"I'm not going anywhere, Elisabeth.  And just for the record, you still are dramatic at times" he said with a laugh.

I rolled my eyes.  "Whatevs...I'm starving."

He chuckled, "Me too.  Want room service or do you want to go out?"

"Hmm, I want to go out" I replied, getting out of bed and heading to the bathroom.

"I'll make a reservation someplace" he yelled behind me.

----

It was close to nine when we strolled into Milos - an upscale Greek restaurant.  All around we were surrounded by beautiful people.  The women had perfectly coiffed hair, impeccable makeup and the cutest dresses.  I felt a little plain in my Alice + Olivia dress and my Valentino strappy shoes.  We were seated in a corner, which was perfect for people watching.  Lukas ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that was made in Greece.  I'd never really indulged in Greek wine and was excited to give it a try.

I started looked through the menu and was immediately conflicted by the wonderful selections.  At first I wanted lobster but then the lamb chops sounded amazing and then there was the fresh fish selection and grilled octopus...I couldn't decide.  Lukas grinned at me, clearly aware of my predicament.

"Everything sounds so good" I whined.

"You can't go wrong with anything here.  The food is impeccable.  I've been to the Midtown location and it was out of this world but this one is my favorite."

"There's a Midtown location?" I asked.

He laughed, "Yeah.  When we get back to New York, we'll go."

I nodded happily.  "I'm such a foodie.  I can't even chose what I want."

"That's one of the things I love about you.  You are aren't afraid to eat and talk about food.  So many women go out to dinner and order a salad...it's annoying as fuck."

"Well Lukas, you'll never have that problem with me" I said, with a wink.

"Good.  How about we order a bunch of different things and eat as much as we can?" he suggested.

"Oh my goodness, you totally read my mind."

By this time our charming waiter arrived with the bottle of wine Lukas ordered.  He poured a little in Lukas' glass and waited for his approval.  I watched on fascinated as Lukas swirled the wine in his glass, inhaled and then took a slow sip.  He nodded at the waiter.  "It's perfect."

After filling up our wine glasses the waiter took our order.  I allowed Lukas to take over while I looked around.  I was staring at group of middle aged men with half naked young women draped across them when Lukas gently touched my hand.  I jumped and brought my hand to my now thumping chest.  "Sorry.  I didn't mean to startle you" he said apologetically.

"I was being nosy" I said with a giggle.

"Hard not to be when you have a group of old men making asses of themselves" he replied.

"Those girls look young enough to be their daughters."

He nodded and raised his glass, "I'd like to propose a toast to you, Elisabeth.  There aren't words to express how much I love and adore you.  You are everything I've every wanted and more.  I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you."

Before clinking my glass against his, I cleared my throat.  "And I'd like to propose a toast to you. With each passing moment, my love for you grows.  I'm truly blessed to have you in my life. I love you Lukas."

We both took sips from our wine glasses.  "Mm, this is so good.  Who would have thought Sauvignon Blanc from Greece would be so bold and flavorful.  I think I'm in love!"

Lukas nodded, "Greek wine is pretty awesome.  You just have to experiment and find the good ones."

"How do you know so much about wine?"

He shrugged, "My dad always had catered corporate events with a slew of wine and liquor.  Needless to say my sisters and I helped ourselves."

"So you're self made" I replied, putting my hand on his.

"No quite.  I did go to a wine lovers class and learned the fine art of making wine.  After visiting numerous vineyards and attending wine tastings, I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur."

"I love how accomplished you are" I said happily.

Between bites of grilled shrimp and endive salad, grilled octopus, tzatziki and Greek salad we discussed our upcoming wedding.  Lukas' only request was that we wait until the Miami expansion stabilized before getting married.  He wanted to help me and couldn't do so if he had to travel from New York to Miami.  "That's so sweet. Do you have like a preference of where we should get married?" I asked.

He shook his head.  "Liz, I want you to have the wedding of your dreams.  If you want a huge princess wedding, I'm down.  Same goes if you want something small and simple."

I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.  "That's so sweet. I want us to have a wedding that works for both of us.  I mean, I've always dreamed about getting married at Oheka Castle but it's just a dream.  The waiting list there is insane and the cost would be crazy.  We're going to find a venue that we both like."

"That sounds good."

"I asked Melissa to be one of my bridesmaid earlier" I said quickly.

"Speaking of Melissa...what were the two of you talking about this morning?" he inquired.

"Priya.  Her sister is worried about her.  Apparently she dropped out of med school and is hanging out with those two men we saw her with."

"That's disappointing to hear.  When I first met her, I was blown away by her maturity and sense of purpose.  She was determined to be a doctor.  I'm surprised by how quickly she became a train wreck" Lukas shared.

By this time the waiter arrived with our entrees.  After much consideration I opted for the lamb chops with Greek styled fingerling potatoes.  Lukas had the grilled lobster with Greek pasta.  We ended up sharing and I still can't tell you which dish was my favorite.  They were both so freaking good.

We were both too engrossed in our meals to continuing discussing Priya.  In a way I was relieved. Call me selfish but I wanted to savor this time with Lukas and not worry about stupid shit. Eventually our conversation shifted to Lukas' meeting tomorrow.  He was a little apprehensive and I volunteered to go with him.  He smiled appreciatively, "That would be great."

"It's the least I could do.  You've always been so supportive of me.  I want to do the same for you" I said honestly.

-----

That night when Lukas and I got back to the room, there was a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries awaiting us on the coffee table.  As appetizing as the strawberries looked, I was stuffed from our incredible meal and dessert.  Lukas picked up the bottle of champagne and followed me onto the balcony.  A warm breeze filling the air; the blue sky above full of stars.  Lukas popped open the bottle of champagne and poured us each a glass.

It was only a matter of time before our hands were tugging at each other's clothes.  Lukas backed me into our room and we fell onto the bed.  We pulled off each other's clothes and our bodies entangled.  We spent the night making round after round of passionate love.  We would drift off to sleep and then pick up where we left off.

The next morning when Lukas' alarm went off, we were both exhausted and hesitant to get out of bed.  Lukas was sweet enough to tell me that I didn't have to go with him and could lay up in bed all day but I insisted.  I promised that I would be supportive and there was no way I would rescind on my word.

On our way to the restaurant I could sense Lukas' nervousness and attempted to reassure him that the meeting will go well.  He shook his head, "It's not that."

"Then what is it?" I asked, confused.

"I'm worried about getting all of the necessary permits and approvals.  This entire process has become more complicated that I envisioned and I'm beginning to question the entire expansion."

I frowned, "Lukas you're not a quitter.  This is something that both you and your dad had your hearts set on.  Stop being so negative and start believing."

Lukas remained quietly and seemed deep in thought for a moment.  "Thanks, Elisabeth.  I needed that" he said, squeezing my hand gently.

Admittedly, I was anxious about attending this meeting with Lukas.  Memories of our last meeting came flooding back.  I couldn't help remembering that bitch flirting with Lukas and then texting him. I knew deep down that he would never be untrue and didn't encourage her behavior but I couldn't stop myself from accusing him.  I pushed the memory out of my head and plastered on a huge smile.  I was going to be strong for Lukas and support him.

When we got to the restaurant we were immediately led to a private room.  Inside sat the two lawyers we had met with before.  Lukas shook their hands and we exchanged pleasantries before sitting down.

The lawyers waited no time saying, "We wanted to meet to discuss moving forward with this project.  Unfortunately, we have some bad news for you."


Thursday, January 22, 2015

New Year's Eve

**** My Dears -  I totally screwed up and forget to set this to post earlier.  Apologies.  I hope you enjoy this post and can't wait to read your thoughts!!! ****

As Lukas and I cabbed it to JFK airport, I was relieved to be leaving frozen New York and heading somewhere warm. It was about twenty degrees out and the winds whipped through you.  I leaned back and stared out of the window taking in the sights of NYC.  I felt Lukas' hand on my knee and I looked at him.  "I'm happy you're coming to Miami with me" he said genuinely.

"There's no other place I'd rather be" I said, snuggling close to him.

He kissed the top of my head.  "I'm sure we'll have a great time tonight."

"I've never been to Miami for New Year's Eve but I have heard that that the party at LIV is off the hook."

He laughed, "And it's a lot warmer than New York."

"That too" I said slowly.

I had envisioned getting a table at one of the hot spots in the city and bringing in 2015 with my friends and Lukas but now all I wanted was to be with Lukas and have a drama free night.  I had enough drama with Melissa and didn't need anymore.  It was apparent that she was not going to waver and would continue to blame Anthony for Priya's actions.  There was no way I could change her mind and at this point I didn't want to.

After she left, I wondered if I was too hard on her but then decided that her actions were wrong.  If she didn't want to be friends with Anthony and felt that he was the root of Priya's problems, so be it.  However, calling him and relaying those sentiments was unnecessary.  I began questioning her motives in the past.  Inviting Depeka (Priya's sister) to crash our pow-wow session with Anthony; inviting Joe to the celebratory brunch she threw Lukas and I months prior. I gave her the benefit of the doubt but now I wasn't so sure what to think or even believe.  Regardless I wasn't willing to give up on our friendship anytime soon.  I treasured her friendship and hoped she would come to her senses soon.

I was lost in my thoughts when Lukas asked what I was thinking about.  I shrugged and told him it wasn't important.  "Do you have to work New Years Day?" I asked.

He shook his head, "Nope. I'm all yours until 11 a.m. Friday when I meet with the lawyers to discuss our contractual agreement.  You're more than welcome to come along."

"I'd only be a distraction" I replied.

"A welcomed distraction" he said, smiling.

"I'll think about it.  Is that girl going to be there?  The one who was flirting with you?"

He shook his head, "Elisabeth, you don't have to worry about that.  You're the only woman I want and need.  I told our lawyers that I would cease all business with their firm if she was involved and they agreed."

"I know but I can't help getting a little jealous sometimes.  You're such a great catch and I don't want to lose you."

"I'm not going anywhere, I promise.  You mean the world to me and I would never do anything to screw up what we have" he said gently.

I nodded, "I know you wouldn't.  It's those women I'm worried about.  Some of them are relentless."

"Elisabeth" he started and I cut him off with a kiss.

"I love you and trust you wholeheartedly" I said honestly.

-----

Our flight to Miami was fairly uneventful, except for the screaming baby a few rows back.  After about fifteen minutes of the high pitched screams, I felt a headache starting.  I rested my head on Lukas' shoulder.  "You okay?" he asked concerned.

I nodded, "The screaming is giving me a headache."

"Aw.  Let's ask the flight attendant for aspirin or something" he suggested.

"Let's do it quietly though. I don't want the parents of that screaming baby knowing" I whispered.

He nodded and pressed the button above head.  When the flight attendant arrived, Lukas quietly asked if they had anything for headaches.  Turns out they had a wide array of pain killers.  I ended choosing Aleve and took two really quickly while chugging a bottle of water.

"Lukas, do you want kids?" I asked, completely taking him off guard.

"Of course I do.  I love kids.  At times, I feel as though I'm a big kid myself" he answered quickly.

"Do you see yourself having kids with me?"

He studied my face for a minute.  "I do but down the road when we're both ready."

I smiled, "We'd have to be married first."

He nodded, "Did you have a time frame in mind for having kids?"

I shook my head, "No.  I figured whenever the time is right, it will happen."

"I agree. Why'd you bring it up?"

I leaned towards him, "The crying baby got me thinking about kids.  I feel horrible for the parents.  They're trying their best and I'm sure they feel awful."

"Yes.  Kids are a handful.  When Liam and Stephanie were younger, they spent a weekend with me and Isabella.  Those two cried all night.  When we calmed one down, the other would start.  Sometimes there's nothing you can do."

"I bet they felt out of place by their surroundings" I offered.

"Probably."

"How many kids would you like?" I asked, pressing forward.

"As many as you want" he responded.

"Two or three?  Any more than that and I think I'd go crazy" I replied giggling.

"Two or three it is then" he replied, holding my hand.

-------

It was close to five when we checked into the Ritz-Carlton.  We took the elevator to our oceanfront suite.  "I was going to get a regular room but this was the only thing they had available on such short notice" Lukas explained as we walked into the stunning suite. Our suite had an oceanfront view, what appeared to be a balcony and floor to ceiling windows.

"This is gorgeous" I squealed, rushing towards the balcony and stepping out.

Lukas joined me, "I take it that you approve."

I nodded, "We could stay at a motel and I'd still approve because I'm with you."

He pulled me towards him and kissed me.  I wrapped my arms around him, wanting to savor this moment.  "Do you want to grab a bite to eat?"

I shook my head.  "No but I do want to shower and do my hair.  What time do we have to be at LIV?"

Lukas tilted his head to the side.  "About that, there's been a change in plans.  We're not going to LIV anymore. Instead I got us a cabana at the Mondrian."

I wrinkled my forehead, "But why?  Isn't LIV like one of the hottest places on South Beach?"

He shrugged, "I figured that Mondrian would be better."

"What time do we have to leave?"

"I was thinking we could order room service for dinner and then I'll schedule for a pickup around 8:30.  Does that work for you?" he asked patiently.

"Yeah, let me get started" I said, rushing to the bathroom.

------

After having dinner, I slipped into a black Herve Leger dress that accentuated my curves and made my breasts look every perkier than they already were and black Jimmy Choo sandals.  I gave myself a once over in the mirror before deciding I needed another layer of mascara.  I spritzed myself with Dolce, my favorite new perfume, before entering the room.  Lukas took in my appearance.  "You look amazing" he said, walking towards me and giving me a kiss on the cheek.

"You look so hot in that tuxedo" I cooed.  There's something about a well dressed man that turns me on.

"We should get going" he said smiling.

I nodded and grabbed my clutch. Lukas led me, with a hand on the small of my back, through the corridor towards the elevator.  When we got to the lobby there were many twenty-somethings entering, decked out to the nines.  I nudged Lukas, "Why didn't we just party here?"

He chuckled, "Because the party here is lame as fuck.  Trust me, you'll have fun tonight.  I guarantee it."

Outside of the Ritz, was a Mercedes Benz S500 waiting for us.  The chauffeur opened the door and ushered us in.  I noticed Lukas nervously looking at his phone but didn't think anything of it.  I was shocked by all of the traffic.  We didn't get to the Mondrian until well after nine.  We were promptly led to one of the VIP Skyline Cabanas.  I didn't say anything but silently wondered if were going to have to share our cabana with strangers.  That would be super awkward.

Once we got to the cabana, I was taken aback.  Sitting there was Anthony and a cute blond girl, Eric and his girlfriend, Melissa and Josh and Lukas' buddy Gino and his wife.  I glanced at Lukas and he winked at me.  "Didn't I promise you a good time?"

"But how'd you do all this, without me knowing?"

"It took a little work but I managed to figure it out.  Melissa and Josh were the last two and admittedly it was hard trying to convince them to come but I did" he explained.

I threw my arms around him, "Thank you so much.  This is unbelievable."

"I take it that means you approve?" he teased.

I nodded, "I more than approve it."

I rushed over and greeted everyone.  When I got to Melissa it was a little awkward.  I wasn't sure how either of us would react since our last meeting didn't end on a positive note.  She stood up and hugged me warmly.  "I love your dress.  It looks amazing" she said excitedly.

"So does yours" I said taking a step back and admiring her lacy white dress.

I grabbed a glass of champagne and walked towards Lukas when Melissa stopped me.  "Liz, can we talk?"

I nodded, "I think we should."

We walked towards a secluded corner and I turned to face her.  "I'm sorry that our conversation got out of hand the other day.  Even though I completely disagree with your actions, I shouldn't have been so hard on you."

She smiled appreciatively.  "Thank you.  After a lot of thinking and soul searching, I realize that you're right.  I don't know what caused Priya to flip and blaming Anthony is wrong.  I do treasure his friendship and yours.  I don't want to make excuses.  I feel awful for making him feel bad.  I shouldn't have done that and I hope that he will find it in his heart to forgive me.  I don't want to start off the New Year with all these issues lingering."

"Thanks.  I was disappointed when Anthony told me and then seeing how hurt he was by your words killed me.  I think talking to him is a good idea."

She looked at me nervously, "Does that mean we're good?"

"Yes.  I don't want to fight with you" I replied, embracing her.

-------

It was well after eleven when I plopped down next to Anthony.  "You having a good time?"

"Of course."

"Eleanor seems really sweet" I said politely.

"Yes.  We went to college together.  I ran into her last week and we've been practically inseparable."

I raised an eyebrow, "That's great but don't rush into anything.  I want you to do what's best for you."

"I appreciate that" he said, downing his drink.

"How come you didn't tell me you were coming to Miami?" I asked, punching him lightly on the arm.

"Lukas wanted to surprise you.  I talked to Melissa" he said, quickly changing the subject.

"Oh yeah?  How did that go?"

He shrugged, "Eh.  She explained that she's upset by Priya's actions and lashed out at me because she's trying to make sense of this and needed some rationale.  She apologized and said she was wrong."

"And you and her are cool now?" I prodded.

"We're cool but not like before.  How can I go back to being good friends with her knowing that deep down she thinks I'm fucked up?  I accept her apology but feel that she's stirring the pot and creating drama."

"Okay.  I don't want to take sides.  I'm always going to be there for you and I support your choices" I said gently.

"Thanks.  I don't know how I would've gotten through this year without you" he said emotionally.

I felt my eyes well up with tears as I hugged Anthony.  "You're pretty awesome too."

-----

It was 11:56 when Lukas led me away from our table.  "Where are we going?" I asked clearly confused.

"They view is so much better over here" he said, leading me towards the edge of the balcony.

A waiter handed us both glasses of champagne and I turned my attention to the countdown clock.  Two more minute and it would be a New Year.  I felt Lukas grab my hand.  He looked so nervous and I swear he was sweating.  So not like the cool, confident Lukas I was use to.  I was about to ask him if he were feeling okay when he started talking.

"Elisabeth, before I met you I was letting my life pass me by without any purpose.  Now I feel like I can conquer the world as long as I have you by my side.  You bring out the best in me and fill me with happiness like no other.  I cannot imagine life without you.  You are my heart, my soul, my everything.  You've captivated me with your beauty and heart.  You've given me hope and made me see that it is possible to love again.  With each passing day my love and admiration for you grows.  I don't know what the future hold but I promise you that I will do whatever it takes to make you happy.  Will you make me the happiest man in this whole world and be my wife."

I heard the words and I felt the tears streaming down my face but for some reason I thought it was a dream or that I was imagining things.  Behind us the crowd started counting down.  As I looked at Lukas he was down on one knee, a box with a gorgeous diamond ring in his outstretched hand.  "Elisabeth, will you marry me?"

As the clock struck midnight, I nodded and shouted, "Yes, yes....a million times yes."

My hand was shaking as Lukas slipped a three-carat Cartier diamond halo ring on my ring finger.  It had an infinity band and was a perfect fit.  As our friends looked on, I pulled Lukas up and kissed him.  I was the happiest I had every been in my entire life.

Our friends gathered around us, offering their congratulations and well wishes.  Anthony proposed a toast to an unbelievable 2015 before we hit the dance floor.  As I danced with Lukas I asked, "Is this a dream?"

"If it is, I don't want to wake up."

I giggled at his lame attempt at humor.  "When did you plan all this?"

"I was planning to propose in NYC but then everything got fucked up and I had to come to Miami.  It took some quick thinking and a lot of planning but I think I did an okay job."

"All of Me" blasted throughout the Mondrian and I pulled Lukas near.  My arms around his neck as we swayed to the music.  "So when I had my little meltdown on Christmas you already had this planned."

He nodded, "Yes but that made me realize that I was doing the right thing.  That you wanted what I wanted."

"I love you so much" I said, pressing my lips against his.

We broke apart when Pitbull's "Time of Your Life" started playing.  I grabbed Lukas' arm.  "I have to tell my parents."

He grinned but agreed.  "They already know, don't they?" I asked.

He nodded, "Yes.  I discussed my plan with your dad and John over Christmas and they were very much on board.  They know I was planning to propose tonight."

"You're so fucking awesome.  I can't believe you're my fiance!!" I squealed.

By one we left our friends and headed back to our hotel.  Once inside our suite, I reached for my phone and dialed my parents number. My mom answered on the second ring.  Before she could say anything I excitedly shrieked, "Mom, Lukas and I are engaged."

My mom seemed giddy.  "I'm so happy for both of you Elisabeth.  I know how happy Lukas makes you and how happy you make him.  I couldn't be any happier."

I heard my dad in the background and my mom sharing our good news.  My dad immediately got on the phone.  "Honey, I love you and I am thrilled you've found your soulmate.  Lukas is a wonderful man and everything your mother and I have wanted for you.  I can still picture you as a little girl, following me around and hearing that you're engaged makes me realize that you're no longer my little girl. You're all grown up now, preparing to embark on a new chapter" my dad said emotionally, his voice cracking towards the end.

I stifled back a tear.  "I'll always be your little girl."

"I know honey.  I love you and Lukas" he replied.

My parents talked to Lukas and expressed their happiness before hanging up.  "Do you want to call your parents?" I asked Lukas.

"It's the wee hours of the morning in France.  They know I'm proposing and were very excited.  I'll send them a text and then later we can call them."

I nodded and stared at my ring.  "Do you like it?" Lukas asked.

"It's gorgeous.  In my wildest dreams I've never pictured getting a ring like this.  It's stunning and so unique" I gushed.

"You deserve nothing but the best."

"Do you think that I should take a pic of the ring and send it to my siblings as an engagement announcement or is that too much?" I asked.

Lukas laughed, "Just do it."

--------

The next morning I awoke to Lukas' arms around me.  I pushed back against him and felt him stir and eventually roll onto his back.  I snuggled close, draping my arm around him.  His eyes fluttered open, "Morning beautiful."

"Was last night a dream?" I asked.

"Not a dream.  Just the beginning on our life together."

I couldn't help but glance at my engagement ring.  "Lukas, did my friends know that you were planning to propose?"

"Only Anthony did.  I needed him to pick up the ring for me yesterday.  I swore him to secrecy.  Melissa was a tough one.  I had to convince her to come to Miami."

"Mm, I'm glad you did.  Thank you" I said gently.

"No thank you. You've come into my life and made it worthwhile.  You make me want to be a better man."

"You definitely complement me.  You balance my craziness and put up with my madness.  I can't imagine being with anyone but you" I said genuinely.

Before Lukas could say anything his phone rang.  "It's my mom" he said before answering.

Naturally his mom was super happy and excited that we engaged.  She volunteered to help me with the wedding planning and even suggested some venues.  I was a slightly taken aback when she asked, "Have you two set a date?"

I looked anxiously at Lukas before saying, "We haven't yet.  Right not we want to savor being engaged."

"Oh honey, I understand.  I'm overjoyed and would love to help you, if you'd let me."

"I'd like that a lot.  I promise once we set a date, you along with my parents will be the first ones to know" I said quickly.

Next we spoke to Lukas' dad who was more chill.  He was happy for us and suggested that we plan our wedding at our own pace.  After, Linda got on the phone and gushed her congratulations and suggested we go to Paris to celebrate.

Lukas cleared his throat, "Linda, we have a lot going on right now.  I mean this Miami deal is more tedious than I expected.  We'd love to come to Paris but I don't know if it's the right time.  Maybe you and your husband can come to NY and celebrate with Liz and I?"

"That's not a bad idea.  Let me see what I can do.  Liz, if you need me to help with anything, call me, FaceTime me, anything.  I can't wait until you're my new sister" she squealed.

"Thanks Linda.  You guys are all so awesome and I feel so blessed."

-------

That morning we had brunch with our friends, who for the most part were nursing massive hangovers.  They were all excited for us and talked about how surprised they were by Lukas' proposal.  We were finishing up our meal when Melissa grabbed my arm.

"What?" I yelped.

"Sorry.  I was trying to get you attention" she said, slightly panicked.

"Are you not feeling well or something?  You look awfully pale."

She shook her head, "I just got a text from Depeka about Priya."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tying Up Loose Ends

The days following Christmas were filled with mixed feelings.  Even though Lukas and I had a wonderful night, sans my mini-breakdown, I started feeling guilty for getting upset about Lukas not proposing.  I was taken aback by my own feelings.  I mean I truly love and adore Lukas.  Many days I've fantasized about getting married to Lukas, starting a family and growing old together.  However, I've always thought that I wanted that down the road.  Now I wasn't sure.

Did my emotional reaction to him not proposing mean that I was ready to get married?  I was confused, not by love for Lukas but by what I truly wanted.  Plus, I knew in my heart that I needed to do something special for Lukas.  He was so sweet and thoughtful.  His face and reaction when he saw that I got him Superbowl tickets, filled my heart with joy.  I robbed him of that luxury when I got lost in my own selfish feelings.  

As I sat at work Monday morning, I started thinking about what I could do to show Lukas how much he meant to me.  Needless to say work was a drag; half of our team was out and there wasn't much to do.  Typical year end at an Investment Bank.  I was busy perusing through Expedia when Cole walked in.  I glanced up at the clock on the wall....10:20.  I shook my head and looked incredulously at Nick.  He shrugged and focused on Cole, who was now standing by his seat, texting away.  

"What...the...Fuck?" Nick mouthed.

I shrugged and lowered my voice.  "Should we reprimand him?  Waltzing in two hours late is unacceptable."

"After the shit show Friday, I can't deal with him" Nick replied.

I wrinkled my forehead, "What are you talking about?"

"Oh shit, you don't know."

I shook my head, "Nope, I was off."

"Fuck.  Sorry.  Friday he was being inappropriate with Shirley.  When I got to the office she was in tears.  I asked if she okay.  Long story short, Cole had sent her inappropriate emails and left her an inappropriate present."

"What did he get her?" I asked in disbelief.  Could Cole be as green as he appeared or was he a straight up jerk, I wondered silently.

"She was embarrassed to show me.  From what I heard, it was an um...sex toy" he whispered.

My mouth dropped open and I closed it quickly.  "Are you shitting me?  Am I on Punk'd?  I feel like this is a terrible movie."

"I wish it were.  Cole is a piece of shit" Nick said bluntly.

"That's been established,  Did you talk to him Friday?"

He shook him head.  "Fuck, no.  I went straight to HR.  They spoke with Shirley and then Cole.  From my understanding, he was given a warning."

I sighed, "I'm such a fucking idiot.  Instead of going to HR, I tried to fix all this.  I didn't want to get Cole in trouble since he's so young and I thought that if he knew we knew what was going on, he'd stop.  Instead it's the opposite....his actions are becoming more bold.  I feel awful that Shirley has to deal with this shit."

"You did what you thought was best.  Your heart was in the right place but maybe not your judgement.  Nor was mine" Nick replied.

"This is so fucked up.  Poor Shirley" I said genuinely.

"I'm going to put an end to this" Nick said firmly.

"How?"

"Watch" he said, picking up the phone.  He punched in a number and in a hushed tone started talking about Cole's lateness and him being written up on Friday for harassment.  After about a five minute conversation he hung up and turned to me.  "HR.  I think it's best for us to keep them in the loop, instead of trying to remediate the situation."

I nodded and glanced in Cole's direction.  It had been over fifteen minutes since he arrived and he still had not logged into his computer or even taken a seat.  Instead he was pacing while texting.  I shook my head.  Nick started talking about New Years.  He and his wife were going to have dinner in the city and then shortly after the ball dropped head home.  He explained that his wife is exhausted most of the time with this pregnancy and can hardly stay up past ten on most nights.  I smiled sympathetically, "My sister-in-law is pregnant too and she told me that this time around she's exhausted all the time."

"It definitely wasn't like this when she was having the twins.  She was full of energy and so disappointed when she was put on bed rest towards the end" he shared.

"Well I think it's really sweet that you're taking her out for New Year's Eve."

He nodded, "Yeah.  Our babysitter is making a killing that night."

I laughed, "That's prime babysitting time."

"Exactly.  She's getting $250 for six hours and that's after negotiating."

"I should have totally got into the babysitting game during my teenage years" I joked.

------
Cole pretty much slacked off for the remainder of the morning.  It was about two in the afternoon when I noticed him walking towards the elevators.  I cleared my throat.  "Leaving already?"

He shook his head, "Those fucking incompetent assholes in HR want to see me."

"Cole, this is a place of business and you really need to check the attitude and behavior."

Before he could say anything I turned on  my heel and headed back to my work area.  I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn't see Shirley approaching and walked right into her, causing her to drop all the papers in her hand.  "I'm so sorry" I said, helping her retrieve the documents.

"It's alright, Elisabeth" she replied with a smile.

"How were your holidays?" I asked.

She grinned and spoke excitedly, "I love Christmas.  All of my siblings, I have five of them, come home and it's like a big party with so much food."

"That's sounds perfect."

She nodded, "It's so much fun. I love my family and look forward to the holidays."

"That's nice.  Are you from the area?"

"I grew up in Toms River, New Jersey.  My parents still live there.  I moved to Hoboken after college with my best friend" she shared.

"That's like right over the river and Hoboken is so much fun."

"I love it there" she said, standing up and smoothing her skirt.

I apologized once more and started to walk in the opposite direction when Shirley said,  "Can we talk for a sec?"

I nodded, "Let me get my coat and we can make a coffee run.  I need some caffeine to get through this day."

-----

A half hour later we were seated at a corner table in Starbucks.  I sipped my Chai Latte while looking expectantly at Shirley.  She played with the stir in her latte nervously.  "I wanted to talk to you about Cole" she said.  Her voice shaky.

"I'm so sorry about him.  I should've gone to HR instead of trying to fix things.  I'm such an idiot at times" I prattled.

She dismissed me with a wave of her hand.  "Elisabeth, stop.  Please.  You didn't do anything wrong.  Cole is the one who's screwed up."

"Thank you.  I wish I had handled the situation differently."

"Listen I appreciate all you've done for me.  Your kindness has meant so much to me.  Plus, it's nice having someone I can confide in and look up to."

"That's so sweet of you" I said, flattered.

She smiled, "Well I wanted your advice."

"I'll do my best" I said reassuringly.

"On Friday, Cole gave me a...sex toy.  He didn't actually hand it to me.  He left it on my desk with a note" she said, turning a bright shade of red.

"He was totally out of line" I said firmly.

"Nick went to HR and I had to speak with them.  I was so embarrassed.  I'm not a prude or anything but I was very uncomfortable telling them about the toy and then they had it right there on the table in the conference room.  I'm worried they're going to think I encouraged his behavior or that I'm that type of girl."

After a huge sip of my drink, I locked eyes with Shirley.  "Don't worry about that.  All HR is concerned about his Cole's inappropriate behavior.  What you do or don't do behind closed doors isn't their business."

She nodded, "I know.  I'm scared they'll terminate me because of this."

"I wouldn't let them.  I will vouch for you if I have to.  You don't have to put up with harassment or work in an environment where you're uncomfortable.  Cole created a hostile workplace and HR needs to put a stop to that.  You, from what I've heard, have done nothing to encourage his behavior.  Don't worry about being terminated because of his actions" I said sincerely.

"This is my first real job and I want to prove myself. I don't want to be a receptionist forever.  I actually just started studying for the GMATs."

I nodded, "I understand.  I think you're doing a great job and I'm sure everyone else agrees too.  Don't worry so much."

-----

That night before I went back to Lukas' apartment, I stopped at a Thai restaurant to grab dinner.  While waiting for my order, I went next door and purchased a bottle of wine.  I texted Lukas and he said he was wrapping things up at work and should leave within the hour.  That gave me some time.

When I got the apartment, I placed the food in a heated oven to keep warm and then set the table, lit some candles and put the wine to chill.  I took a quick shower and slipped into comfy yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt.  I planned to slip into sexy lingerie and seduce Lukas after dinner.  It's the least I could do.  By the time Lukas got home, he looked beat.  He took off his tie and carelessly tossed it on the couch. I walked over to him and gave him a tight hug.  "How was your day?" I chirped, helping him unbutton his shirt.

"Shitty.  This Miami expansion is more complicated than I envisioned."

"Aw, I'm sorry" I said replied, rubbing his back.

"There's a lot of unexpected red tape we have to deal with" he said flatly, as he sat on the couch.

I laid my head on his shoulder.  "So what does that mean?  You can't give up on this because it's harder than you expected."

He sighed loudly.  "I know but I don't have the time or energy to go travel back and forth between Miami and here."

"Honey, I'm not going to let you quit.  If you have to go to Miami, you will go and make sure this expansion is a success" I said firmly.

He smiled weakly, "But Elisabeth...."

I held up a finger, "No buts, Lukas."

"However, Elisabeth, my main concern right now is making sure our apartment is complete so we can move in."

"Lukas, it's not like you have a lease on this place.  If renovations have to be put on hold, so be it.  I'm not going to let you give up on the Miami expansion so easily" I explained.

He tipped my chin up.  "I love you and I'm grateful for your support.  Would you come with me to Miami?"

"Depends on when you're going."

"Well I thinking about going down there on New Year's Eve.  I have a meeting on January 2nd and thought we could make it a mini-vacation.  That is, if you're interested" I said nervously.

"Interested?!? Of course I'm interested.  I'd go anywhere to bring in the New Year with you."

His hands cupped my face as he kissed me gently.  I pushed him away, not wanting things to get too heated.  "Um, I'm starving.  How about we have dinner and then pick up where we left off afterwards?"

He kissed my cheek gently.  "Whatever you want, babe."

Dinner was great.  We indulged in the best Thai food and wine while catching up.  I told him about everything going on at work and after a long pause Lukas asked, "Why didn't HR terminate Cole on the spot?  If it were my company, I'd fire his ass.  His behavior is unwarranted and unacceptable."

I shrugged.  "No clue.  Maybe there's steps that need to be taken before terminating an employee?"

"Possibly.  Elisabeth, you have a huge heart and want to help everyone.  That's something I love and admire about you."

"I feel a but coming on" I joked.

"A small one.  If there is a next time, don't take matters into your own hands."

I nodded.  "I know.  I feel horrible that Shirley is dealing with all this shit.  I could've put an end to it if I had spoken to HR immediately but I thought I could fix it on my own."

"You meant well.  I'm not trying to come down on you" he said, squeezing my hand gently.

"I know.  I've thought about this all day and you're right" I said quickly.

"Okay.  How about we drop it and talk about something fun?"

"Miami?!?" I offered.

"Of course.  What would you like to do for New Year's Eve?"

"I'm sure whatever you have planned will make me happy.  Honestly, it doesn't matter what we do as long as we are together" I replied shyly.

After we finished eating, Lukas went to take a shower and I quickly cleaned up the kitchen before slipping into a pink lacy nightie.  I was perched on the bed waiting for him when he entered the bedroom, wrapped in a towel..  His eyes scanned my body, stopping at my breasts and then lower.  My body felt flushed.  My heart raced as Lukas walked towards me.  He leaned forward and kissed me passionately while one hand squeezed my breast. I arched my back thrusting my breasts forward while my tongue played with his.  My hands moved from his thick hair and my nails raked down his back.  His lips moved lower, kissing, sucking on my neck.  I gasped and wrapped my legs around him, pulling him closer.  He breathlessly whispered my name and stepped back, helping me out of my nightie.  He pinched my nipples, making them even harder before sliding his hands down my stomach and hooking his fingers in the waistband of my panties.  He tugged at them and I raised my hips allowing him to slide them off.  I gasped as his fingers explored me expertly.  He locked his eyes with mine as he brought me to the edge of orgasm and then stopped.  I groaned, in disappointment.

He dipped his head and took my nipple in his mouth, sucking, then gently biting before moving to the next.  "I want you so bad" I moaned, trying to sit up.  I pulled at his towel and let it fall to the floor.  His hard cock springing free.  My fingers wrapped around it's thickness and moved up and down painstakingly slow.  Lukas' breath quickened as I licked around the length of his cock before taking it in my mouth.  His fingers were in my hair and his eyes were half closed.  I bobbed my head up and down his thickness until neither of us could take no more.  He pushed me onto my back and entered me in one quick, hard thrust.  I gasped loudly, feeling so full.  With each thrust I felt my climax nearing.  He pulled me by the hips to the edge of the bed and lifted one leg over his shoulder and started moving quicker.  One hand grasping my breast and playing with my nipple.  My breathing became shallow and my body was shaking as I came hard, moaning his name.  Lukas didn't allow me anytime to recover and continued his skilled assault.  A layer of sweat covered his perfect body.  His eyes focused and glazed.  He thrust deep into me and whispered my name as he came inside me.

He collapsed on the bed next to me.  Breathlessly, telling me that he loved me.  I rolled over and placed my head on his chest.  His heart beating wildly.  I kissed his jawline and threw a leg over him, while his hands made small circles on my back.  "That was amazing" he said softly.

"Mmmm, so good" I cooed.

----------

The next morning when I awoke Lukas had already left for the office.  I had taken the remainder of the year off.  I rolled onto my back and stretched.  My body a little sore from our sexcapades the night before.  I sat up slowly and trudged out of bed.  I was rummaging through my closet, attempting to pack for Miami when my phone rang.  After a frenzied search I found my phone entangled between the duvet.  "Hello?" I answered quickly.

"Liz.  How are you? Everything good?  You sound as though I caught you in the middle of something."

I knew that voice...Melissa....I had put off talking to her for two reasons.  One I was annoyed that she would blame Anthony for Priya's mistakes and two she was with Josh's family and I didn't want to bother her.  I took a deep breath, "No, not at all.  How are things?"

"Great.  We just got back to NY and Josh went to work.  I was bored and hoping you'd grab lunch with me."

I hesitated, "I can't today."

"Why not?" she inquired.

"Because I'm not in the mood and I have to pack.  Lukas and I are going to Miami."

"Maybe I can stop by for a little and help?" she asked optimistically.

"Fine" I said flatly.

-----

It was a little after one when Melissa showed up, a bag of Chinese food in her hand.  She kissed me on the cheek and rushed in.  "Oh my God, it's so cold outside."

"Thanks for bringing lunch."

She shimmied out of her coat and gave me a hug.  "So tell me all about your Christmas."

I retrieved two plates and glasses and placed them on the breakfast bar. "Not much to talk about.  Ryan's wife threw him out.  But other than that it was a great Christmas.  How about yours?"

She smiled broadly.  "It was so good.  Josh and I were glad to have some time away from everything.  Well not everything. More like time away from wedding planning. I'd been overwhelmed and needed a break."

"That's nice" I said, picking at my chicken with broccoli.

She frowned, "Are you sure you had a good Christmas?  You're acting really strange."

She shrugged, "My Christmas was great."

"Then why are you in a shitty mood?" she prodded.

"I have a bone to pick with you" I said, staring at her.

She looked confused.  "What about?  We haven't spoken in days."

I took a sip of water.  "About you blaming Anthony for Priya's issues.  What the fuck is wrong with you?  You know none of it is Anthony's fault.  You even promised to not say anything to him but then you went behind my back and called him to blame him."

She stared down at her plate guiltily.  "I was upset and misspoke" she said quietly.

"I don't think you misspoke at all.  You knew damn well what you were doing.  In fact, I'm tired of this little act.  You stick your nose where it doesn't belong and when the shit hits the fan, you act all innocent" I ranted.

"You really want to know why I said that to him?" she asked, raising her voice.

"Honestly, I don't give a fuck.  I just want you to know that I'm onto this little game you're playing and it needs to stop.  You have no business causing unnecessary drama" I retorted.

"Do you really think that Priya flipped out for no reason whatsoever?  Everything was great with her life until Anthony.  You can defend him all you want but I know the truth."

I shook my head in disbelief.  "If you think so poorly about Anthony, then why are you still friends with him?"

She nervously shredded the napkin before her.  "Elisabeth, you know what I'm getting at.  I don't think 'poorly' of him.  I think his relationship with Priya was a mistake."

"I don't know what you're getting at.  After what Anthony went through with Amy, why would you insinuate that he made Priya and I guess even Amy have dependency issues?  Don't you see how wrong and fucked up that is?" I rationalized.

"Open your eyes Elisabeth.  Anthony isn't perfect.  Stop coddling him and let him learn from his mistakes."

"His only mistake was falling for Priya and having her break his heart" I said forcefully.

She stood up, "I guess we'll just agree to disagree on this one."

"How about you mind your own fucking business and stop judging?  Did it ever occur to you that you don't know everything and you're not always right?"

She rolled her eyes, "Elisabeth, you're not going to change my mind.  I'll stay away from Anthony to make you happy but I stand by what I said. I'm not budging."

"Fine" I said shortly.

After moments of silence, Melissa said, "This is silly.  I don't want to fight over Priya and Anthony."

I sighed, "Nor do I.  However, I think you need to think about what I said."

She nodded, "I should get going."

I walked her towards the door.  Before exiting she gave me a quick hug, "Have a great time in Miami."

****Thanks for all the kinds words, prayers and support.  My aunt has a rough road ahead but the worse has passed...fingers crossed.  One small note.  I have enabled all comments.  Hopefully this won't come back to bite me in the ass! *****

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Update

My Dears,

First Happy 2015!  I wish all of you nothing but the best.  Second, I know you're probably wondering where the next post is.  I shall explain.  I have a close relative that has been ill for a while and was in denial about her condition.  Long story short, she's been in the hospital for the past week and is having heart surgery tomorrow.  I've been spending as much time with her as possible lately. Combine that with work and life in general and that leaves me with no time write.  I'm my biggest critic and hate rescinding on my word and schedule but sadly I have no choice at the moment.  I'm hoping to have a post ready to go Monday, fingers crossed.

Thank you all for being so understanding and supportive.  I promise to get back to being fully involved with my blog and responding to comments as soon as I can find time.  I read all the comments and a little friendly banter with my lovely readers.  

Please stop by on Monday for the next installment of Elisabeth's life.

Thank again.

Arianna

Monday, January 12, 2015

All I Want For Christmas

It was close to two in the morning when Danny and Victoria left and the rest of us retreated upstairs to bed.  John and Kristen stayed in his old room, their kid's in Danny's childhood bedroom.  Naturally Ryan went up to his old room, which my parents had turned into an office.  Once again Lukas was shown to the guest room. There was no way that my parent's would allow us to sleep in the same room....they're old fashioned like that sometimes.  Plus they had a full house and the kids were staying over.  As I changed into super comfy sleep boxers and a white tank top, I hoped that Lukas would sneak into my room.  It was Christmas and I wanted to spend some quiet time with him.

I slipped under my duvet and settled into my bed.  I must have immediately drifted to sleep because they next morning when I awoke, I found a card with a rose on the pillow next to me.  I stretched before opening the envelope.  Inside was Christmas card from Lukas with a handwritten message.

"Elisabeth, this past year has been unforgettable.  Each moment with you is better than the last.  I can't remember what my life was like before you.  You are my everything.  I love you and I can't wait to make more memories with you.  Love, Lukas."

I reread his heartfelt words with a huge smile on my face.  Lukas' words meant more to me than the most expensive present in the world because they came from his heart and soul.  As I dragged myself out of bed, I momentarily regretted not getting him a card and expressing my love and gratitude for him.  I quickly pushed that feeling to the side.  My present for Lukas was heartfelt and definitely took what he'd want and love in mind.  

I quickly brushed my teeth, washed my face and threw my hair into a ponytail.  I looked through my almost barren closet for my warm, fuzzy robe.  Once I looked presentable I made my way downstairs.  John immediately spotted, "Looks like Sleeping Beauty finally woke up" he quipped while Kristen rolled her eyes.

"Merry Christmas to you too, John" I responded, pretending to be upset.  He pulled me into a quick hug.  "Just kidding, Lizzie.  Although it is close to noon."

I playfully pushed him away.  "Where is everyone?"

"You boyfriend and dad went to the bakery" John answered quickly.

"The bakery?" I asked, confused.

Kristen nodded, "Yeah.  Your mom wanted them to pick up dessert.  I guess Ryan being here and his news threw her off her game."

"She's really good with having everything prepared and ready to go.  Have you guys seen Ryan?  How is he?" 

John shrugged, "He's outside in the backyard playing with the kids.  It's hard to believe it's Christmas when it's 60 degrees out."

I chuckled, 'We can't please you, can we John?  I mean if it were snowing you'd be bitching about it. Now today we have a warm, sunny spring-like Christmas day and you're still complaining."

"Oh please Liz.  You're the biggest complainer in this family.  Always was, always will be" he countered playfully.

"Whatevs" I retorted, dismissing him.

"You two are such children" Kristen said, laughing.

"Speaking of children, did Matt and Emma open their presents yet?" 

Both John and Kristen shook their heads.  "We wanted to wait until everyone was here.  Danny called and said he and Victoria are having brunch with her family.  They should be here by four'ish" John shared.

I nodded, "You know when we were little, there was no way we'd wait until the afternoon to open our gifts.  I gotta hand it to the two of you...your kids are very well mannered."

"Nah.  They were distracted with Ryan wanting to play with them outside.  I'm sure once they realize it's Christmas, they'll come back in here demanding to open their gifts" John responded.

I giggled, "Don't let them open anything until I get back.  I'm going to shower and get dressed."

--------

Three hours or so later, we are all gathered in the living room opening up presents.  The kids were super excited and happy.  I was a little nervous about whether they would like my gift and looked on anxiously.  I couldn't help the huge smile on my face when my niece Emma squealed and lit up seeing the Frozen doll I got her.  She ran over and practically pushed me over when she enveloped me in a tight hug.  She was talking quickly; too quick for me to understand what she was saying. As she started towards her mom, I grasped her hand, causing her to turn around.  "Not so fast, Emma" I said grinning.

She looked at me quizzacally, as if she were trying to read my mind.  "But I want to go play with my Elsa doll" she whined.

"And you will but I have one more surprise for you" I said happily.

She squeaked, "What is it?  Tell me.  Please, Aunt Liz."

I motioned for her to sit next to me on the couch and she did.  I handed her an envelope and she frowned.  "A card?"

I shook my head, "Open it."

She did and took out two tickets.  "What are these for?"

I giggled, "They're tickets to Frozen on Ice.  I know how obsessed you are with Frozen so I thought this would be perfect."

"I love you Aunt Liz" she cooed, hugging me again.  "Will you go with me?" she asked before pulling away.

I stuttered, "Um..I...I..um...I wasn't really..."

Thankfully Kristen interrupted me, "Liz would love to take you.  Now tell her thank you Emma."

She did as she was told and skipped towards the Christmas tree, Elsa doll in tow.  I glanced towards Kristen and whispered, "I never saw Frozen before."

"You'll love it" she said smiling.  I made a mental note to myself to watch Frozen on Netflix.  It had to be available there, right?

Next up was my nephew Matt.  He seemed a little stumped by the huge box before him with a huge gold bow.  He quickly tore into the gift wrapping and then after a little bit of struggle he managed to open the box.  "What's in there buddy?" my brother John asked.

Matt shrugged, "Another gift."

I giggled, "I promise it's something you'll love and well worth this."

Matt continued going through box after box.  I could sense he was becoming frustrated after the third box, but I insisted he continue.  I knew that the fourth box had his present and he'd be happy or at least I hoped he would be.  He paused and squealed with delight when he saw a Wii U.  I knew it was something he wanted (and probably my brother as well) and got permission from Kristen before purchasing.  "Can we play with it now?" he asked impatiently.

My mom wrapped one arm around him.  "Honey, if we set it up here, then you won't be able to take it home.  You wouldn't want that, would you?"

Matthew shook his head and pouted.  "I guess not."

Kristen chimed, "Matt, aren't you forgetting to thank your Aunt Liz?"

"Thank you Aunt Liz" he said quietly.

I felt for Matt.  Getting a gift that you really wanted and then having to wait to play with it is torture for a little kid.  I tried to cheer him up tickling him until he was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down his cheeks.

After we done opening presents (I received a gift card to Williams-Sonoma from John and Kristen, a DeLonghi espresso maker from my parents - which was a Christmas/Housewarming gift -, one of those Apple TV thingamajig from Danny and Victoria and a spa gift certificate from Ryan), we had dinner.

I was impressed by how seamlessly Lukas fit into my family.  My brothers usually gave my boyfriends a hard time, but with Lukas there seemed to be mutual respect.  They talked about politics, the weather and naturally sports.  We were having dessert when my dad asked, "Lukas, how is the Miami expansion going?"

"Very well, sir.  We've more or less finalized everything.  The next phase is to renovate and get the offices up to speed and then fully open."

"Correct me if I'm wrong.  It seems that you'll be spending a lot of time in Miami getting your business up and running?" Ryan said in the form of question.

Lukas shook his head.  "Not at all.  My dad and I have a business manager that will oversee everything.  We'll still have to go to Miami ever so often but I don't anticipate spending an extended period of time there."

"I'd be there every weekend" Ryan chimed.

"Everything that's important to me is in New York" Lukas responded and I blushed.

After we were done eating, it was time to head back to the city.  My parents graciously asked, no begged us to spend the weekend, but we wanted to have some alone time.  John and Kristen had left a half hour earlier; the kids were tired and John had to work in the morning.  Danny and Victoria left shortly after.  I noticed Ryan and Lukas talking while I gathered all my things.  I gave my mom a huge hug.  "Thank you so much" I said into her hair.

"Oh honey.  We're so glad to have both you and Lukas with us for Christmas. He's definitely a keeper" she said lowering her voice.

I smiled, "He definitely is.  Mom, are you and Dad okay with me moving in with him?"

"Liz, you're a grown woman and have to do what's best for you.  We want you to be happy and it's clear that Lukas makes you happy.  Your Dad and I didn't live together before we married because it wasn't acceptable when we were dating."

"I wanted to make sure.  I hate disappointing you and Dad but this something I really want to do" I replied.

"We will always support you Liz.  My only request is that you don't become one of those girls that end up living with their boyfriend forever without commitment."

I glanced at Lukas, who was now conversing with my Dad and Ryan.  "Mom, I don't think that'll happen with Lukas and I."

"Good.  We want you to move to the next phase in your life but at your own pace."

I nodded.  "Mom, what's up with Ryan?"

She sighed, "He's going to stay here for a little while and get in touch with a lawyer.  He's heartbroken over Tina and needs our love and support more than ever."

"I know.  I've been there before.  I told him that if he needs to talk or needs anything to let me know."

It was close to ten when we finally left my parents house.  My parents and Ryan stood on the porch and waved as we backed out of the driveway.  As we drove through the quiet residential streets, I entwined my fingers with Lukas'.  "Did you have a good time?" I asked.

"I did.  Your family is awesome and very welcoming."

"Where were you and my dad this morning?" I inquired.

Lukas chuckled.  "We went to the bakery and your dad showed me around town."

"Oh" I responded.

"Your dad is a good guy and quite the talker.  He was telling me about when he was a child."

I smiled, "My dad is a talker.  You can't get him to shut up once he gets started."

"So that's where you get it from" Lukas teased and I rolled my eyes.

--------

I was exhausted by the time we got home.  Once inside Lukas apartment, I noticed a Tiffany's box on the coffee table.  My heart started pounding wildly in my chest.  It was all starting to make sense (at least in my head), Lukas was with my Dad this morning probably getting his blessing.  He was going to propose!  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, attempting to calm down.

My heart raced as Lukas walked towards me with a bottle of champagne and two glasses in his hands.  After pouring me a glass, he proposed a toast.  "Here's to an unforgettable Christmas."

I clinked my glass against his before taking a huge sip.  He studied my face for a moment.  "Are you okay?  You look flushed" he said.

"I'm fine.  Just a little warm" I answered quickly.

He leaned over and gave me a quick peck.  "I've been trying to find the perfect present for you.  Something that would show you just how much you mean to me."

Oh my God, this is it, I thought to myself.

Lukas retreated the box from the coffee table, "I hope you like this."

I took the box from him, slightly confused.  He insisted that I open it.  My hands were shaking as I attempted to open the box.  Once again he asked, "Liz, you're shaking.  Are you sure you're okay?"

I nodded and proceeded to open the box.  Inside was a gorgeous diamond and aquamarine necklace.  I struggled to find the right words to say and just stared at the necklace.  "Do you like it?" he asked.

I cleared my throat and eventually managed to croak out a yes.  "What's wrong?" Lukas prodded.

I reached for my glass of champagne and downed it quickly.  I felt Lukas' eyes on me, trying to figure our what the hell was going on with me.  I sighed.  "Nothing, it's silly."

"Please tell me" Lukas said, taking my hands in his.

"I guess I kinda thought you were getting me something else.  I mean I love the necklace, it's stunning but I felt like such an idiot" I said quietly.

He pulled me close to him, engulfing me in his arms.  "What did you really want?"

"You've given me all that I could ever want or need and so much more."

"But what were you expecting?" he continued.

"I don't know why but I thought you were going to propose" I said embarrassed.

He tipped my chin up with his index finger so that I was looking him in the eye.  "Elisabeth, I love you. When we've discussed the future, you've always said you wanted to take things slower."

"I know.  I got myself worked up for no reason" I confessed.

He shook his head, "No.  You don't ever have to feel bad or apologize for expressing how you feel. You and I are definitely on the same page about the future of our relationship.  I'm sorry I gave you the wrong idea."

I wrapped my arms around his strong back. "You didn't.  I love the necklace.  It's so perfect and I know that it came from the heart.  That's all the matters to me."

He kissed me softly.  His hands gently moving up my sides.  I playfully pushed him away.  "Not so fast.  I have something for you too."

I rushed to the bedroom and retrieved my present for Lukas.  I slipped into a sexy lacy babydoll and then a robe.  I grabbed  Lukas' present and rushed back to the living room.  "So, this is for you" I said, handing him the box.

I watched anxiously and he opened the box and pulled out an envelope.  He studied it for moment before opening the flap.  His eyes widened, "Are you serious?" he asked with a huge smile.

I nodded.  "I wanted to get you something you'll love."

"Oh my God, Elisabeth.  This is fucking awesome.  SUPERBOWL tickets.  This is the best present ever" he said excitedly.

Naturally I was pleased with myself.  I had initially wanted to do a romantic ski weekend but then changed my mind.  Lukas loved sports and even though our New York football teams suck, which man wouldn't want to go to the Superbowl.  It felt amazing seeing how happy Lukas was.  It was like watching a kid getting his dream toy for Christmas.  Before Lukas could say anything else, I stood up and shrugged off my robe.  "I have one more surprise for you" I said with a wink.