Character List

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Update

Hi Dolls, 

Just a heads up....I am leaving for Paris tomorrow morning to celebrate my birthday and won't be able to post.  I actually need time to clear my mind and get some much needed rest and relaxation.  

As much as I enjoy writing this blog, I am offended by many of the personal shots and accusations by some readers.  Who would have thought a FICTIONAL blog would evoke such feelings of animosity. I never intended for the links I post with Elisabeth's outfits to make anyone feel inferior.  In fact it was my attempt to give my readers an idea of what the outfits look like.  In addition, I don't use Elisabeth as a vehicle to show off.  We're all different and have varying likes and dislikes.

I've striven to create a positive atmosphere for my readers and hope that all of you will continue to express your thoughts and opinions in a respectful manner.  If you don't agree with Elisabeth or a storyline, that's fine.  Don't use that as a reason to take personal shots at me or my family.  Let's act like the mature, intelligent women we are!

I'll be back soon!  Thanks for your patience.

Arianna

Monday, February 23, 2015

Daily Grind

I dreaded going to work Tuesday morning because I didn't know what was going to happen.  Knowing that there were going to be layoffs and having zero control over the situation was nerve wracking.  Even though I've witnessed round after round of layoffs at my previous job, it's never easy.  I loved my job and my colleagues at SIB but going to work each day with a knot in my stomach, not knowing if today would be my last day, was horrible.

I was pushed into the crowded train by the man behind me.  I wiggled my way into the center.  Am I the only one who doesn't know why commuters choose to stand by the doors instead of moving in?  I shook my head in disgust and held on to the pole.  I allowed my mind to drift back to my conversation with Lukas the previous night.

All the way home from the airport he was acting weird and being unusually quiet.  I didn't push the issue because I know at times you need your own space. We were sitting on the couch in the apartment, my feet in Lukas' lap.  He rubbed them with the perfect amount of pressure.  "Mm, that feels wonderful" I said, closing my eyes.

"I need to talk to you" Lukas said with a hint of urgency in his voice.

My eyes immediately flew open and I attempted to recall if I had done anything outlandish lately that might have rubbed him the wrong way.  I couldn't think of anything.  I've had my moments of cloudy judgement but lately I've been too preoccupied with work drama, enjoying and savoring being engaged, Lukas and my loved ones to do anything out of the ordinary.  Maybe it was something I said?  Was he still upset that I immaturely asked him about being with a prostitute?  Shit...I was totally in the wrong with that and realized that it isn't my place to judge anyone.  I don't know those women's situation and shouldn't make assumptions about their lives.  "Lukas, if it's about what I said at the Superbowl, I'm very sorry.  I don't know what got into me.  Sometimes I just say things without thinking" I blurted out.

He waved his hand, trying to stop me.  "Liz we already discussed that when it happened."

"Okay.  What do you want to talk about then?" I asked, sitting up slightly.

"Priya" he said with what sounded like a hint of worry.  

"What about her?  Did something happen?" I asked, feeling as though I was pulling teeth.

Lukas squeezed my calves and shook his head.  "No nothing like that.  Aiden's been digging into her past and it seems that she's been using weed and more hardcore drugs for years."

"But I never smelled weed in our apartment" I replied with my forehead wrinkled.  

"How would you know what weed even smells like?" he retorted.

I felt the heat rush to my face.  Slightly embarrassed I shared, "When I was in high school and college I experimented.  I wasn't a pothead or anything, I just tried it a few times.  It made me feel really lightheaded and I had the munchies.  It wasn't my thing."

He gently massage the arch of my foot.  "I tried it in college but after I had heart surgery I stopped hanging out for a long time.  When I finally got back into the swing of things, I was very cautious."

I ran my fingers over the area where the scar from his surgery remained.  "I can only imagine how scary that was for you and your family."

He shook his head.  "Liz, we're going off tangent here.  Let's focus on Priya."

I nodded and muttered that I was sorry and he continued.  "Aiden thinks Priya is running a drug ring with Mark.  They get the goods and distribute to dealers across the city."

I scoffed, "That's the most bizarre theory ever."

Lukas replied gently, "It's not conventional but we can't rule out any possibility.  We have to keep an open mind and hopefully get Priya the help she needs."

Nervously I picked at my manicure.  "That's why I think we should tell Depeka."

He shook his head emphatically.  "No, Liz.  Has it occurred to you that Depeka has not once done anything to help Priya?  None of Priya's family has.  All she says is how she doesn't want to push Priya away. Doesn't that seems off to you?  What type of sister acts so aloof?"

I shrugged.  "I've asked myself that countless times.  I mean if my brother was acting all types of crazy, I'd do my best to help him.  There must be a reason why Depeka hasn't been proactive."

The train jerked to a stop and I tightened my hold on the pole.  The conductor made an announcement that there was "train traffic" ahead.  My fellow commuters groaned, rolled their eyes and complained about the daily delays.

---------------

My workday was filled with increasing stress and anxiety.  Whenever the phone rang, all of us tensed.  The carefree, small talk with my colleagues turned into conversations about the layoffs.  The joy that once engulfed me when I got the office was replaced by dread.  I was relieved when the work day was over.  I quickly pulled on my coat and grabbed my bag, rushing towards the elevator.  I had made dinner plans with Melissa to meet at Delmonico's downtown.

After waiting for about twenty minutes for a train that was clearly not coming, I took a cab to the restaurant.  It was close to seven when I rushed inside. I found Melissa sitting at a table and immediately apologized.  She smiled politely.  "It's okay, Liz.  No need to apologize.  I know how fucked up the MTA is."

I slid into the seat across from her while the waiter filled my glass with the wine Melissa had chosen. After he stepped away Melissa asked excitedly, "So how was the Superbowl?  I saw the game and the end was unbelievable."

"Yeah, it was pretty intense.  Everyone was shocked by that last play."

I stared down into my wine glass and Melissa asked if everything was fine.  I faked a smile, "Yeah, I'm just tired.  Enough about me.  What do you need me to help you with?"

"I was hoping you'd be willing to come out to Long Island this weekend and help me with the favors.  Plus I have to go to the florist to finalize everything.  And most importantly we have to do the seating plans.  The last thing I want is to seat two people who hate each other at the same table."

I could help with smile at Melissa's frenzied tone.  She has always been so cool and collected.  To see her not in complete control was definitely weird.  "I'll help you with whatever you need.  Maybe after we can go to the spa and do something relaxing?  You seem so stressed."

"I have so much to do and each day it seems as though the walls are closing in on me.  There are nights when I wake up worrying about what I have to do.  Josh tells me to relax but he doesn't understand how hard this is."

"He's trying to help the best he can.  Maybe you can share how stressed and overwhelmed you are?" I suggested gently.

She nodded, "I don't want him to feel bad.  I mean this 'big wedding' is his idea.  I was fine with getting married in Vegas."

"I bet Josh is happy and very appreciative that you've agreed to have a huge wedding to make him happy.  He's perfect for you and would want to know what's going on with you.  Try talking to him and let him know how you feel.  You shouldn't suppress your emotions."

Melissa sighed, "In two weeks, we'll be in Bora Bora and all of the stress will be a distant memory."

"Bora Bora sounds amazing.  That's like the perfect honeymoon spot" I squealed.

She smiled dreamily, "Maybe I'll come back pregnant...you know a honeymoon baby."

I grinned at her, "Ooh. I know that whenever you have a baby, you and Josh will be amazing parents."

"Thanks.  I could talk about that forever but I do have to tell you something."

"Tell me" I said slightly impatiently.

She looked nervously at her hands which were folded in front of her.  "Priya RSVP'ed to my wedding."

My eyes widened and I blurted, "You're shitting me?"

She shook her head.  "I sent her an invitation out of courtesy but I didn't expect her to accept after all that's happened."

I tried to be positive.  "Maybe that means that she's trying to change."

"I doubt it.  She's bringing a date" Melissa said bluntly.

Mark's image filled my mind and I shuddered.  The thought of having to see him again sent chills down my spine.  He made me feel so cheap and dirty.  Then seeing Priya strung out on drugs, unable to stand made my blood boil.  Melissa tried to capture my attention, asking what I was thinking about.  Not wanting to stress her out any further I said, "Nothing. I hope Priya doesn't cause any unnecessary drama."

She nodded, "Josh and I have hired undercover security to be on the safe side."

"That's such a good idea.  I never thought of that before."

As we ate dinner Melissa prodded about my less than cheery demeanor.  Eventually I caved and told her about my work situation.  She looked at me sympathetically.  "Doll you know everything happens for a reason. If you lose your job, you'll find something better.  Remember when you came back to New York, how worried you were about finding a job?  Before you knew it you landed a position that was so much better than you had before.  Don't stress over what could happen."

"It's fucked up.  I go to work with a huge knot in my stomach now.  I'm on edge all the time, waiting for the next shoe to drop."

--------

Friday evening, I rushed through the maze that was Penn Station searching for Melissa.  After a few minutes I spotted her, standing in front of the big board.  We exchanged hugs and waited patiently for our train track to appear.  "Do you think Priya will flip out seeing Anthony with another woman?" she asked.

I shrugged.  "I honestly don't know what to expect from Priya anymore.  She's like a totally different person than the woman I moved in with months ago."

"Tell me about it.  Back when we were in college she was the life of the party.  She had no care in the world and was always so damn happy.  Seeing her so fucked up is like a bad nightmare."

I could tell that Melissa's pleasant mood was becoming clouded.  "Let's not focus on Priya.  How are you doing?"

"A lot better. I went to yoga class earlier and I feel so relaxed."

"Did you do Bikram yoga?" I asked.

"Fuck no!  I don't think I can handle being in 110 degrees doing yoga."

I chuckled, "I'm willing to try it once for the experience."

We boarded the train and snagged a two-seater.  "Going back home on a Friday night takes me back to my college days."

"Mm, college seems like it was so far ago" I replied.

"Man, I had the time of my life bar and club hopping.  The frat parties, staying up until dawn talking to Priya.  Those were some great times" she shared.

I nodded, "In retrospect, I wish I had made the most of my college years.  I was too caught up with Jason."

"Jason....I don't know what you saw in him.  He was always trying to control you.  He never wanted you to hang out with us."

"I was head over heels in love with him and didn't even it realize it.  After we broke up, I realized how disconnected I was with you guys and Anthony.  I don't regret my relationship with Jason,  We had some good times together.  If not for him, I wouldn't be the person I am today" I said firmly.

"I hear you.  Live and learn" Melissa replied.

As the train pulled into the train station, we approached the doors.  "So what's the plan for this weekend?" I asked.

"I was hoping you'd come by tomorrow morning and we'll go over everything that needs to be done.  Not super early but let's say 10'ish?"

We stepped out into the cold air.  "Sounds like a plan."

I spotted my mom's car and Melissa pointed out her dad's.  She waved at my mom before heading in the opposite direction.  I opened the door and hugged my mom.  "It's so good to see you honey."

"You look amazing mom" I said, admiring her new layered shoulder length haircut.

She ran her fingers through her hair.  "I needed a changed.  I went to the stylist and told her to do whatever she wanted."

"It looks fabulous.  Kinda makes me want to do something with my hair" I replied.

"Honey, you can't cut your hair too short now."

"Why?" I asked as she backed out of the parking spot.

She glanced in my direction quickly.  "You're getting married soon and will have so many more options with longer hair.  After the wedding, you can get a pixie cut."

"You do know I could always get extensions" I replied quickly.

"Yes but it won't be the same" she answered firmly.

As my mom turned onto our street she started speaking softly.  "Dear, Ryan is staying at the house. I meant to tell you when we've spoken but I didn't know how to."

"What does that mean exactly?"

She shrugged, "You dad and I have been talking to him and trying to convince him he deserves someone better than Tina.  Each time we think we've made progress, he slips back into believing he can't live without her.  As a parent it kills me to see him like this.  I want to make it better but don't know how."

"Ryan needs time.  Right now the breakup is too fresh.  He was totally blindsided and can't accept that it's over with Tina.  I kinda understand how he's feeling."

----------

The next morning, I was making an egg white omelette when Ryan lazily strolled into the kitchen.  He obliviously opened the fridge door and pulled out a bottle of orange juice.  After pouring himself a glass he finally noticed me.  With a small smile I asked him if he wanted me to make him breakfast.  He declined and sat quietly on one of the bar stools surrounding my parent's granite island, staring mindlessly into his drink.

Even though he said no, I quickly made him an omelette with toast and placed it in front of him.  He looked up, "Liz, you really don't have to make me breakfast.  I'm capable of taking care of myself."

"I know you can.  I just wanted to have breakfast with my brother.  Is that too much to ask?"

He sighed, "More like you want to see where my head is at."

I smiled, "That too.  You're my brother and of course I want to see you happy."

"Why the fuck wasn't I good enough for Tina?" he asked angrily.

I stopped mid chew and looked at him.  His head was resting in his hands as he slumped over.  I touched his forearm.  "Who says you weren't good enough?  You were too good for Tina."

He scoffed, "You don't know what you're talking about."

"I know that you loved Tina more than anything and made so many sacrifices for her.  You did whatever it took to make her happy.  Tina never once went out of her way for you."

"I tried calling her but she sent my calls straight to voicemail.  I tried texted but no response.  It wasn't until Wednesday that I found out that she blocked my number.  It's as though our relationship meant nothing to her" he said sullenly.

"I don't know what to say Ryan.  I understand how you're feeling.  Maybe you need to get out and do something fun...even if it's only for a couple hours....to take your mind off Tina" I suggested.

He shrugged.  "Most of my friends are married and don't have time for that."

"I'll go out with you. I have help Melissa with wedding planning today but how about you and I go to dinner tonight?  My treat.  We'll go anywhere you want."

I waited anxiously for him to respond.  "Fine but only because I know you'll nag the shit out of me if I don't agree."

I giggled, "You know me so well."

--------

After spending most of the weekend helping Melissa with last minute wedding details and spending the remainder of my time cheering up Ryan, I was exhausted.  As I took the train back to the city, I struggled to keep my eyes open.  I kept dozing off and then catching myself.  It's a good thing that Penn Station was the last stop.

When I got to the apartment, I found Lukas cooking dinner.  I wrapped my arms around him from behind.  "I missed you."

He turned around and kissed my gently. "I missed you more.  It's hard sleeping without you."

I smiled.  "Aw.  You could've come out to Long Island."

"Yeah and sleep in your parent's guest room" he replied with a chuckle.

"You know you would've snuck into my room after everyone went to sleep."

"What makes you so sure?" he teased and I playfully hit his arm.

"I just know" I replied confidently.

I helped Lukas set the table while he put the finishing touches on dinner.  As we ate he shared that apartment should be completely done in a week.  We were both excited to move into our new place.  He shared that he wanted me to go with him to the apartment to make sure that everything was to our liking.  I immediately agreed.  "I'm so excited that it's almost complete.  It seems like the renovations took forever."

He nodded, "Yes, I've learned that renovations usually take much longer than what the contractors estimate."

"We did make changes to the original plan so it's not entirely their fault."

Lukas shared that he went to Greenwich to have dinner with his parents and discuss Lauren.  The doctors were becoming concerned with her aggressive behavior and felt she had repressed anger.  His parents were beside themselves.

"Growing up my parents were supportive of all of us.  My mom went to every sporting event, parent-teacher conference, dance recital....she checked our homework, stayed up while we studied, she was involved with everything.  My dad worked a lot but still found time to bond with us.  I remember he would take us into to the city to Broadway plays or for dinner.  My parents were very strict about us having dinner together most nights.  To see them blame themselves for Lauren kills me because we couldn't ask for better parents."

"Your parents are so loving and kind.  I don't know Lauren well enough to even assume what's going on with her" I replied gently.

"I'm beginning to think I don't either."

"Lukas, stop it.  Lauren is clearly troubled and not acting like herself.  Maybe she needs a little more support" I said.

He shook his head.  "You never cease to amaze me Liz.  After all the shit my sister has pulled, you still want to help her."

"One day I would like to at least be civil with her.  Family is the most important thing and I wouldn't want to come in between you and Lauren."

He took my hand in his and brought it to his lips.  "You're amazing."


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Superbowl Sunday

I woke up the next morning and immediately thought back to the night before.  Even though Lukas tried to convince me that the vandalism was accidental, a case of mistaken identity, and that our rental car was erroneously targeted I couldn't shake the feeling that something was off.  It didn't seem plausible that in a packed parking lot our car would be the one with the busted out windows and windshield.  It didn't make any sense.

I sat up and stretched, my eyes glancing over at Lukas' peaceful, sleeping face.  I kissed his forehead softly before getting out of bed and walking towards the bathroom.  I needed a long, warm shower to relax and clear my head.  After I was done, I walked back into the bedroom.  Lukas was now laying in bed, watching CNN.  "How'd you sleep?" I asked.

He muted the TV and focused on me.  "Very well but you tossed and turned all night."

"I couldn't stop thinking about the car or shake this feeling that something is wrong."

He sighed, "Liz, I think it's a mere coincidence.  Neither of us know anyone in the area nor have we had time to make enemies.  I agree with the police that it's a case of mistaken identity.  Whomever broke the windows probably thought the car belonged to someone else.  Both of us are wasting our time worrying about this."

I shrugged, "You probably right.  I just think we should be extra careful just in case."

He nodded, "I promise we will take extra precaution."

I smiled, "Thank you love.  How are we going to get around without a car?"

"I called the rental car company and explained the situation and they will send us another car by noon."

"When did you have time to do all that?" I asked.

He laughed, "When you were taking that long ass bath or whatever the fuck you were doing in the bathroom."

I threw a pillow at him playfully.  "I was trying to relax."

"I could've helped you with that" he said, pulling me onto the bed.

"I know but you looked so peaceful and I didn't want to disturb you" I admitted as his finger slipped into my robe and pinched my nipples.  A surge of pleasure spread throughout my body to my core.  I leaned back against his torso, allowing him to have free reign over my breast.  He squeezed and kneaded them; pinched and pulled at my hard nipples until I was squirming.  In no time, I was naked straddling Lukas.  His hands cupping my breasts and I rode him with increasing speed and intensity. I leaned forward and placed my hands on his chest and moved faster.  My moans became louder, filling the room.  His hands held my hips tightly and he thrusted from underneath me.  I couldn't take anymore; the pleasure was too much; I threw my head back and breathlessly muttered his name as I came hard.

He gave a moment to catch my breath before thrusting into my fast and deep.  I leaned forward and kissed him, my tongue massaging his.  I felt his nails digging into my hips holding me in place and I squeezed my muscles around him.  He groaned and thrust deep in me. climaxing.  I leaned forward and kissed his forehead and down his face before reaching his lips.  I kissed him softly before rolling off of him.  Our cuddling session was interrupted by his phone ringing.

Lukas shook his head and reached for the phone.  I listened as he spoke to the person on the other end and quickly realized it was the car rental company.  After he ended the phone call, he gently stroked my face, "That was the rental car company.  They'll be dropping off a new rental in about a half hour."

I nodded and groaned when he rolled out of bed.  "I'd love to stay in bed with you all day but I have to get ready.  Plus, it's freaking Superbowl Sunday.  We have to get out of here soon and head to the University of Phoenix Stadium."

"Ugh. Don't they have a real football stadium here?  I don't understand why the biggest game is being played at a college venue."

He chuckled, "They do have a real NFL team - the Arizona Cardinals - and they play at the same venue.  It definitely won't be like the games you went to in college."

"I didn't go to any college football games.  I don't even think NYU had a team to be honest.  I was a cheerleader back in high school and went to my share of games."

He looked to be deep in thought for a moment.  "Do you still have your cheer leading uniform?" he asked with a wink.

I giggled, "Mm, I'm almost positive it's at my parent's house.  Next time I go over there, remind me to get it."

---------

It was a little before two when we slipped into the hot rental car.  I squirmed as I sat on the steamy leather seat.  Lukas turned up the air conditioning and rolled down the window to eliminate the hot air.  He was just about to pull off when I asked, "Do you have the tickets?"

He put the car into park and searched frantically.  "Fuck.  I left them on the coffee table.  Stay in the car.  I'll be back in two minutes."

I watched as he made a mad dash into the hotel.  While I waited for him, I pulled out my cell phone from my brand new nude Balenciaga bag.  I immediately noticed texts from Melissa and Anthony.  Melissa wanted to know if I could help her with last minute wedding things.  Naturally I said yes.  Anthony wanted to know about the Superbowl was.  As I texting Anthony back, my phone pinged with a message from Melissa.

"Make sure you make an appointment for the final fitting of your bridesmaid dress!"  Fuck, I totally forgot about that.  I replied and told Melissa I would and that she shouldn't worry so much.  I was making a note in my calendar when Lukas knocked on the driver side window.  I opened the doors for him.  "Sorry babe.  I was caught up texting Melissa."

"It's all good.  I got the tickets.  Thanks for reminding me" he replied, squeezing my knee.

--------

When we got to the stadium there were already fans tailgating and having a grand old time.  Lukas was fortunate to snag one of the remaining parking spots.  Our walk to the stadium was slow and long.  My feet were killing me when we finally approached one of the entrances which had a massive line.  I shifted my weight from one foot to the next while Lukas looked on concerned.  "My feet hurt" I whined as he glanced down at my black, flat Valentino, pointy toe shoes.

He shook his head, "I don't understand why women buy shoes and then complain about them being uncomfortable."

"Two reasons.  First women love sexy shoes and two beauty is pain.  In order to look good you have to put up with a little suffering at times.  Don't you think these shoes are cute?"

He glanced at my shoes once again, "They're alright.  But then again I think everything you wear is hot."

I blushed.  "Then you'll definitely like what I'm going to wear later."

"That cheerleader outfit?" he asked grinning.

I shook my head, "Something even better."

That totally peaked his interest.  "How about we skip the Superbowl and go back to the hotel?" he asked half jokingly.

"Nope.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Plus considering the price of these tickets, there's no way I'm skipping out."

"I was only pulling your chain" he replied.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got to the front of the line.  We went through the security checks and were finally allowed into the stadium.  The atmosphere were complete electric. Everyone (men, women, children) were clad in football jerseys, not only of those participating in the Superbowl but of their local teams as well.  I nudged Lukas gently.  "I should have totally gotten an Eli Manning jersey, to you know, show my support for the Giants."

"Eli Manning?  He's an underachiever."

"But he plays for the Giants!" I exclaimed.

"He hasn't lived up to that $100 million contract.  He needs to focus more and stop throwing inceptions all the time."

"I hope the Giants or even the Jets make it to the Superbowl next year" I said happily.

"I'd be thrilled if either get into the playoffs" he replied.

--------

Before settling in our seats for the pregame festivities we stopped at the concession stand where Lukas got himself a beer for $16.  Yes I said $16?!?  Even though I was use to New York prices, that seemed a little over the top.  I mean, I could get a cocktail at the hottest rooftop venue in NYC for that price!  Lukas ordered me a bottle of Coca-Cola for another $7 and of course popcorn to share for about $15.  Once we arrived at the correct section, one of the ushers graciously showed us to our aisle seats.

As we people watched I asked Lukas about the skanky women we saw outside the venue and when we were exploring the stadium.  "You have to understand that at events like these, you're almost guaranteed to find high end call girls.  There are many wealthy men here without their wives or girlfriends who don't have a probably shelling out big bucks to hang out with them."

I thought about that for a second. "Isn't it illegal though?"

"Yeah but it's not like they're soliciting on the streets.  They try to be inconspicuous."

I laughed, "By wearing tops so low cut that their breasts are practically hanging out and short skirts that don't cover anything?  And what the fuck is wrong with the men who pay for that shit?"

He shrugged, "Maybe they need attention or aren't happy in their relationships."

That got me thinking and I pressed forward.  "Would you ever consider that?"

He wrinkled his forehead and shook his head in disbelief.  I immediately felt bad for even allowing the thought to cross my head.  "I know you wouldn't.  I guess I'm trying to get a better understanding of all this."

"I've never been with a prostitute and never will be" he said defensively.

"I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to imply that.  I'm so fucking stressed with Priya that I'm projecting and trying to make sense of her situation."

"I understand being concerned.  However, no one knows Priya's reasons or even what she's involved with except her.  Right now all we know if that she's strung out on drugs.  Is she a prostitute?  I don't know, nor do you.  Her sister suspects it but we have no concrete proof either way.  I'm hoping Aiden will get us all the answers we need."

Lukas was probably right.  I wanted answers that he was unable to provide and unfairly projecting.  I sipped on my soda quietly.  While looking around, Lukas touched my arm gently.  I tilted my head in his direction.  "How about we focus on the game and this weekend?  Once we get back home, we'll deal with Priya."

I immediately agreed.  "I would like that."

Our attention turned to field where the players were being introduced.  It was so loud that the stadium felt as though it was shaking.  It seemed that the majority of the fans were rooting for the Seahawks.  Yay!  After the National Anthem and the coin toss, it was finally game time.

The first quarter was a drag with neither team scoring.  Halfway through I texted Anthony, sending him a selfie and a pic of the game.  It took him a while to respond, "Wish I was there."

I was about to respond when my mind traveled to last year's Superbowl.  I had just returned to NY and Britney practically dragged me to Anthony's party.  That was the first time I'd seen or spoken to him in years. I recalled how Amy flaunted her massive engagement ring and was all over Anthony.  I didn't realize then that she saw me as a threat.  Britney was super supportive and at the time seemed like she'd be my lifelong friend.  I shook my head realizing how much things have changed in a mere year. Britney and I weren't friends. In fact, I didn't even want to see her.  Amy was dead.  Anthony was once again a part of my life and one of my dearest and closest friends.  I was no longer lonely and had found my soulmate in Lukas.  I had definitely grown and become a better person.

The roar of the crowd switched my focus back to the game.  The second quarter was far more interesting.  Just when I thought the Patriots had the upper hand, the Seahawks managed to score a touchdown in record time to take us to halftime tied!  The halftime show was loud and a little boring.  While I adore Katy Perry, she seemed to be holding back and trying too hard to keep her performance "G" rated.  The halftime show definitely became more fun when Missy Elliot came out.  Who doesn't like Missy.  I was singing and dancing to "Work It", without a care in the world.  Of course the performance ended with Katy Perry belting out "Firework" and the sky above being lit up by endless fireworks.

By the fourth quarter I was pretty confident the Seahawks were going to win; they had a ten point lead.  The Patriots managed to score two touchdowns but the Seahawks weren't out of it.  With less than a minute left they were in control of their own destiny.  I was shocked, as was everyone in the stadium and probably those watching at home, when the Seahawks quarterback threw the football into the endzone only to have it intercepted by one of the Patriots player. Why he threw the ball instead of handing it off to one of his players is beyond me.  I'm sure that would be a play that he'll forever repeat in his mind.  Tom Brady and the Patriots rushed onto the field and started celebrated while all of us looked on in shock.

"What the fuck was Russell Wilson thinking?  He should have passed the damn ball!" Lukas said in disbelief.

"Damn Patriots" I muttered.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Road to the Superbowl

I left work early on Friday and rushed home to finish packing for the Superbowl.  I wasn't a huge fan of either team but felt the Seahawks were the lesser of two evils.  Tom Brady's smugness irritated me. Also, being a New York girl I was destined to dislike all Boston teams!  I looked at my huge suitcase, filled to capacity and couldn't help but chuckle.  We were only going to be away for four days, three nights but you couldn't tell that from looking at my suitcase.

I threw in some sexy lingerie.  I was totally planning on seducing and having my way with Lukas.  I was attempting to zip up my suitcase when I heard our apartment door open and Lukas call out my name.  "I'm in the bedroom babe" I yelled.

He stood in the doorway, looking at me amused.  "You sure you packed enough?" he teased.

I shot him a dirty look, "I like to be prepared."

He laughed, "Uber will be here in a half hour, is that good for you?"

I nodded, "Yes, I just have to change and fix my makeup.  How was your day?"

"Eh.  Same shit, different day.  My dad has agreed to become more involved in the business until things settle down" he shared, taking off his tie and unbuttoning his crisp white shirt.

"How come your dad took such a huge step back from his business?  I mean I know he got sick and had to but he's better now" I asked while pulling on my skinny jeans.

"My mom wanted him to take extra precaution.  We all did.  The idea of him almost dying scared us.  We didn't want him to overexert himself.  Plus, I had things under control" he explained.

"You still do" I said, getting on my tiptoes and brushing my lips against his.

He wrapped his arms around, "Did I tell you how lucky I am to have you in my life?  You're amazing."

I held him tighter, "I'm the lucky one."

"You are" he joked and I swatted his arm playfully.

"We should finish getting dressed.  Did you pack everything you need?"

He nodded and pointed to a smaller suitcase, "Yeah.  I'm a light packer compared to you."

"That's because you're a man.  You don't have to worry about accessories, makeup, toiletries.  All you have to pack are a couple pairs of pants and tops."

He laughed, "If you say so."

I pulled on my riding boots.  "I hate having to wear these damn snow boots and layers.  It's so not flattering" I complained.

"You look amazing to me."

I glanced at him, "You're way too good to be true."

--------

It was close to six when we got to JFK airport.  Lukas got our luggage and rushed me inside.  We only had 35 minutes to check in and board our flight to Phoenix.  There were two people ahead of us in line at the American Airlines counter.  I glanced nervously at my watch,, afraid that we'd miss our flight.  Once we checked in, we barely had ten minutes to get to our gate and board.  We had to make a run for it.  We joined the line and I anxiously tapped my feet.  I was relieved when finally stepped aboard and found our seats in first class.

"This is a packed flight" I said quietly.

"Yeah, these were the last two available seats."

I peered out of the window at the runway.  Lukas' hand found mine and squeezed.  I turned to face him.  He looked serious for a moment, "There's something I need to tell you" he said before the damn flight attendant interrupted.  She pointed out the emergency exits and went over that entire safety spiel while her counterparts walked around, ensuring that everyone had their seatbelts buckled.

The plane started moving and I gripped Lukas' hand tightly.  I'm not afraid of flying at all but I always get anxious when we're about to take off.  The plane sped up and propelled forward.  I closed my eyes and squeezed tighter as we went higher and higher.  I took a deep breath and opened my eyes.  "You okay?" Lukas asked, bringing my hand to his lips.

 I nodded, "Yeah.  What were you saying before about having to tell me something?"

That serious look swept across his face once again.  "It's about Priya.  Remember I told you I'd have a private investigator follow her and Mark?"

"Yes" I answered quickly.

"Aiden, the PI I hired, did a background check on Mark.  Apparently, he's a convicted embezzler.  He's also been arrested on domestic violence charges in the past."

"What's Priya doing with someone like that?" I asked.

Lukas shrugged, "I don't know.  He's currently on probation and has listed your old address as his place of residence."

"So Priya moved him in?"

"Seems that way.  Aiden is going to trail them for the next week and if anything shady happens I've ordered him to contact the authorities.  Without proof we don't have a leg to stand on" he replied.

"I know.  I'm worried about Priya getting hurt.  Did Aiden find out anything about her?" I inquired.

"Depeka was correct; Priya did drop out of medical school in early October."

My eyes widened,  "October?  That was when she was complaining about how busy and overwhelmed she was."

"Aiden saw her and Mark along with another man go to 1OAK the other night.  He believes from their behavior that they were all high."

I shook my head in disbelief.  "This entire situation is becoming more complicated with each passing day.  I don't know what the fuck is going on and why Priya suddenly did a 180.  So much doesn't make sense to me."

"Trust me, it doesn't make sense to me either.  I promise you, I'll get to the bottom of this and make sure that Priya gets the help she needs."

With a small smile, I said, "I wish we could tell Depeka what's going on."

"She's a liability.  If she tipped Priya off then we're screwed.  We'll be back to square one; struggling to find answers to this mystery."

I leaned my head on his shoulder, "I know."

He rubbed my shoulder gently.  "It's going to be alright.  Trust me."

----------

Lukas was typing a proposal on his laptop while I played on my iPad.  My ass was becoming numb from sitting in one spot for the past two hours and I shifted uncomfortably.  Lukas glanced at me with a puzzled look.  "My butt hurts and I'm cold" I complained.

He chuckled before flagging down a flight attendant and requesting a blanket.  Moments later I snuggled under the new fleece blanket that covered both Lukas and I.  I reclined slightly and closed my eyes.  I was surprised when I felt Lukas' hand brush against the side of my breast.  I smiled and arched my back.  His fingers trailed under my oversized sweater and I nearly gasped when he cupped my breast and brushed his thumb over my hardening nipples.  My eyes shot open and I glanced at him.  He looked at me hungrily as his fingers tugged and pinched my nipples.  I shivered and felt pleasure surge throughout my body.

Lukas kept his eyes on mine as he masterfully unbuttoned my jeans and slid his hand inside my thong, cupping me.  I bit my lip as he teased me and brought me closer and closer to orgasm. I spread my legs as much as I could, wanting and needing more.  Lukas rubbed my clitoris in small circles, with hardly any pressure.  I closed my eyes, trying to silence the moans that were dying to come out.  He upped the tempo and pressure and I couldn't contain myself.  I whimpered softly as my body convulsed with my orgasm.  I sat there, trying to catch my breath, watching as Lukas brought his wet fingers to his lips and licked them.  I couldn't help myself and reached over and grabbed his rock hard, thick cock.  I stroked him over his jeans, wanting to get him off.  I continued my assault until he whispered for me to stop.  Breathlessly, he told me he was going to the restroom.  I wanted to follow him but the plane was packed and I was afraid of being caught.  However, as he walked towards the bathroom, I made a mental note that someway, somehow Lukas and I were totally going to join the mile high club.

Lukas looked slightly flushed when he returned.  I wasted no time snuggling close to him.  We attempted to pay attention to the in flight movie but thoughts about Priya's "double life" kept sneaking in.  How could I not have recognized that something was wrong?  I lived with her!  I should have seen some sort of sign or at least figured out that she wasn't going to school anymore.  Why didn't she talk to me, confide in me, share her insecurities?  Was I this cold, insensitive, judgmental bitch?  I embarrassingly jumped and felt the heat rising to my face, when the flight attendant asked if we'd like a drink.

I nodded appreciatively, "May I have a glass of wine?"  Lukas smiled as requested the same.  The flight attendant made small talk and upon handing me my drink, stared at my engagement ring.

"That's a gorgeous ring. I don't think I've seen a setting like that before" she gushed.

"Thanks.  It's a halo setting and I absolutely love it" I replied happily.

She handed Lukas his glass of wine and said with a smile, "Great job buddy."

As she proceeded down the the aisle, I sipped my wine.  "She was nice" I said.

He leaned back and tilted his head towards me.  "Yeah."

I frowned, "You seem distracted."

"I'm mentally and physically exhausted.  Sometimes I think I'm in over my head with the expansion."

I rubbed his hand gently, "Why do you feel that way?"

He shrugged, "Because I don't have the time or energy to run two offices.  When I have both offices up and running at full capacity, how am I going to split my time?  Not to mention, I don't want to have be married to my work.  I want to have time to spend with you and unwind."

"Lukas you're not a quitter.  I know how overwhelmed you've been but I also know that this is your dream.  Giving up on the expansion will only lead you to have regret down the road.  You'll always wonder what if.  Even if you have to split your time between the two offices, we will make it work.  I'm in for the long haul and will support you in all your endeavors.  If you need me to pitch in and help with the business I'm here."

He squeezed my hand gently.  "I appreciate that.  I hate complaining about something so minute."

"You're not complaining.  Shit, I come home and bitch about everything to you and you've always listened and been there for me.  Not to mention you give me awesome advice and call me out on my craziness.  I want to do the same for you.  I'd rather you share how you feel with me than keeping it all bottled inside. I love you and want to help you through this."

"Thanks babe" he said, kissing my cheek.

"This weekend is exactly what we need.  Rest and relaxation and of course the Superbowl."

He chuckled, "I love how you think."

--------

It was close to midnight Arizona time when we landed.  After retrieving our luggage, Lukas picked up our rental car and we drove through the dark night to our hotel.  We pulled up to the Arizona Biltmore and I stretched lazily.  Once checking in we were escorted to our suite.  Though the only thing on my mind was getting some sleep, but I needed to take a shower.

I turned on the shower and the warm water started steaming up the state of the art bathroom while I undressed.  I stepped into the shower and all of the tension started melting away as warm water cascaded down my body from the massive rainfall shower head.  I immediately thought that Lukas and I totally needed one of those shower heads for our place.  I closed my eyes and blocked out everything; relaxing completely.

I was completely startled when I felt Lukas' hands on my hips.  I jumped and turned around, facing him.  His eyes stared at me hungrily.  His lips found that sensitive area on my neck and nibbled, while his hands cupped and kneaded my ass.  Tingles shot through my body.  I moaned and reached between our bodies, my fingers wrapping around his hard, thick, pulsating cock.  I stroked him slowly.  His breathing became more shallow as I increased my pace and he became more aroused.  I gasped in pleasure as his fingers slid between my thighs and teased me until I was begging him for more.  I turned me around and I placed my hands on the shower wall.  He rubbed his hardness against me and instinctively I pushed back against him.  In one thrust he filled me, moaning into my neck.  He plunged into me, over and over, while he alternated between rolling my nipples between his fingers and stroking my clitoris.  My body was completely under his control and his mercy.  He sped up his pace, his grunts and moans getting louder.  He whispered in ear, "Come for me, Elisabeth."

Before I could catch my breath, his fingers were on my clitoris.  My knees buckled and I screamed out in pleasure as I came hard.  Lukas paused for a moment before plowing into me deeply.  He dug his fingers into my hips as he came.  I turned around, facing him.  My arms around his neck, my lips finding his.  He sucked on my bottom lip before pulling away.  "Mm, that was so good" he said breathlessly.

"We need to go away more.  Hotel sex is freaking amazing."

He grinned and helped me clean up.  Needless to say we didn't get very far.  Instead we went for round two right there in the shower before washing up quickly in the now cool water.  We must've used up most of hot water.  We were both exhausted but completely relaxed when we got under the covers that night....well more like morning.

--------

The next day after brunch, Lukas shared that he made reservations at the spa.  I squealed excitedly, "Oh my God, you're awesome!"

"We have to hurry.  We're already running late" he replied.

After changing and pulling on a plush, white robe to conceal my nakedness, I found Lukas.  "I always feel weird having a complete stranger give me a massage while I'm naked" I confessed.

"I can give you a massage then" he said with a wink.

"Mm, deal.  And I promise not to fall asleep!"

"I'm going to hold you to that" he replied playfully.

We were escorted to the couples massage room and slipped under the sheet, awaiting our personal masseuses.  Lukas' was an older woman with a thick Russian accent, while mine was a middle aged woman with a friendly face and smile.  I closed my eyes as she rubbed my back perfectly.  I could hear Lukas conversing with his masseuse and hear her say how she's always wanted to visit New York City.

"Are you two married?" she asked him.

I faintly hear Lukas say, "We recently got engaged and will be getting married soon."

"Congratulations.  My son got married last month and I can't tell you how happy it made me knowing he found the best woman for him" she shared.

"Having a wonderful woman in your life does make life so much better" Lukas answered.

My heart fluttered, hearing him speak of my so lovingly and kindly.  I tuned out their conversation and focused on enjoying my massage.  I was almost disappointed when our 75 minutes was done.  As the masseuses prepared to leave Lukas' said with a big smile, "If the two of you have time and are interested, we offer a five hour couples massage class."

I returned her smile, "That sound amazing.  We'll definitely consider it."

She looked from me to Lukas.  "I wish you both happiness and love."

After we slipped back into our soft robes, Lukas and I got pedicures.  We were both completely relaxed when we finally made it back to our room around dinner time.

"I made reservations at the restaurant downstairs.  I don't know the area well and I'm guessing most of the local restaurants will be packed with Superbowl visitors" Lukas said.

"Should I get dressed up or not?" I asked flipping my hair over my shoulder.

"Your call.  You always look great anyhow."

I blushed, "You're so sweet sometimes."

"Sometimes?  I'm always sweet" he said with feigned disappointment.

"You know what I mean.  I'm a pain the ass and frustrate the hell out of you a lot."

He chuckled, "I wouldn't say a lot.  Honestly, you make life worthwhile and fun."

"Aw.  You too" I said emotionally.

-------

After dinner we decided to check out Glendale, Arizona's nightlife.  We knew it was a college town and wanted to steer away from bars and clubs that attracted that type of crowd.  As we walked through the parking lot to Lukas' rental car, I enjoyed the warm air.  After being in cold, snowy New York, the seventy degree night felt like heaven.

About a half hour later Lukas' pulled into a parking lot of a lounge.  Once inside I did a quick assessment of the clientele.  Most of the patrons seems to be in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties.  Of course there was a sprinkling of cougars and sugar daddies but that's expected.  We ordered our drinks and took a seat at one of the tables off to the side.

I was taken aback by the scantily clad women, practically throwing themselves at the men.  Lukas followed my glance but didn't say anything.  I took a huge gulp of my French martini.  "It's pathetic that women degrade themselves like that."

"I agree but we don't know their situation and shouldn't judge."

I frowned, realizing that he's right.  "It's fucked up that some women have no choice but to sell their bodies to make ends meet."

"Liz, we don't know their circumstances. Live and let live" Lukas replied impatiently.

"Sorry, I wasn't trying to be judgmental" I answered apologetically.

He grabbed my hand and our eyes met.  "Don't apologize.  My intent was not to scold you or make you feel bad. I wanted to shift the focus back to us instead of those surrounding us.  Does that make sense?" he asked, his green eyes looking intensely at me.

I nodded, "Yes.  I want that too.  Sometimes I get preoccupied by things that don't matter.  How about we start over?"

He eyes sparkled, "That sounds like a plan."

For the next hour, I focused primarily on Lukas.  We talked, flirted and of course discussed our wedding. "Location wise where would you like us to get married?" I asked.

Lukas shrugged, "Honestly, it doesn't matter to me where we get married."

"What if I said Dubai?" I asked with a grin.

"Dubai is gorgeous. However, have to consider our guests.  I wouldn't want anyone to feel obligated to spend money they might not have to come."

He definitely had a point.  "I never thought about that and I agree with you.  Just so you know I was totally being facetious when I suggested Dubai.  I'd love to visit there one day though."

He nodded, "That can be arranged."

"You're so good to me."

He grinned and said modestly, "I do try."

By the time we left the lounge that night I was feeling tipsy and giddy.  I held on to Lukas as we stepped into the warm night; the stars above twinkling like sparkly diamonds in the stark blue sky.  "It's such a gorgeous night.  Such a difference from frozen New York."

He chuckled, "It is a beautiful but Glendale is too much of a college town for my liking."

"I wasn't suggesting that we move here" I said, giggling.

Lukas opened his mouth to speak but was stopped in his tracks when he saw our rental car.  My eyes widened and my mouth dropped open.  The windows were bashed in and shattered glass was on the concrete.

"What...the...fuck?" Lukas muttered angrily.

"Who would do this?" I asked shakily.

Lukas shrugged and whipped out his cell phone.  I held his hand tightly while he spoke with the police.  "We should go inside and wait until the cops come" he suggested.

"Who would do this?" I asked again.

He turned and faced me.  "Liz, I have no fucking idea.  I don't know anyone in this area."

"Neither do I."

From the corner of my eye, I noticed the flashing lights approach.  "The cops are coming" I said flatly.

An hour later, Lukas and I were both overwhelmed with this situation.  The cops wanted to know if either of us had known enemies or if we had any idea who would do this.  They went inside the bar and spoke with the owner, who was more than willing to provide video footage of the parking lot.  The cops followed his downstairs to his private office and watched the surveillance video.  Once they returned we were informed that the perpetrators had covered their faces with ski masks and wore all black clothing.

"Does that mean you won't be able to find the culprit?" I asked angrily.

"No ma'am.  We will do our best.  The video did not provide any leads.  We will check the car for fingerprints and go from there.  We will be in touch should there be a break or if we need additional information from you."

With that the cops were kind enough to drop us off at our hotel. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Unsettled?!?

I paced back and forth in our apartment waiting for Lukas to come home.  My mind was filled with all types of thoughts and I needed someone to talk to.  I texted Lukas and he replied that he would be leaving work in about fifteen minutes.  I was worried shitless about Priya.  What if Depeka's theory was right and Priya was selling her body for drug money?  Mark certainly had it in him to be a pimp.  I shuddered, thinking about his eyes lecherously taking in my breasts and then his finger tracing my jaw.  The more I thought about it, the angrier I became.

I was seething and scared when Lukas walked in the door.  I rushed over and wrapped my arms around him.  I shivered as the cold from his cashmere coat engulfed me.  He hugged me back and kissed the top of my head.  "You okay, baby?" he asked gently, brushing a strand of hair behind my ear.

"No" I answered shakily.

He took my hand and led me into the living room.  He motioned for me to sit while he took off his shoes and coat.  He walked to the kitchen and retrieved bottle of water before sitting next to me.  "What happened?  You look so upset?"

"I had an awful day."

"Tell me what happened" he said patiently.

"I went to my old place after work.  I realized that I left my journal in the closet; it had some phone numbers that I wanted."

I paused and he asked, "And you saw Priya?"

I nodded, "This middle aged man, Mark, opened the door and the way he looked at me made me feel so uneasy and dirty."

"That's the man from that she was at the restaurant with?" he asked calmly, thought I could tell from his clenched jaw that he was getting pissed.

"Yeah.  I realized that she changed the locks and I was going to leave but I heard Priya's voice and I couldn't.  I knocked on the door and Mark answered. Eventually Priya staggered out.  She looked terrible Lukas.  Bloodshot eyes, dirty hair and she looked so thin.  She could hardly stand up on her own or speak.  I asked how she was and she sarcastically said she was great before slamming the door in my face.  I'm so scared for her well being.  I called her sister and she's worried too.  We don't know what to do to help her."

Lukas gently brushed away the tears that were steadily making their way down my face.  He pulled me near and tried his best to comfort me.  "We could have a private investigator trail her and this Mark fellow.  That's a start" he suggested.

I pulled away from him, "But what if that takes too long?"

"I'll get on it tomorrow, first thing in the morning."

"I'll tell Depeka" I replied.

Lukas shook his head, "Let's keep this between the two of us for now.  I don't want Depeka running her mouth and tipping Priya off.  And Liz, next time you want to go to your old place, please give me a heads up.  Priya is unstable and anything could have happened to you."

"I know.  I was terrified when Mark started insisting that I go inside.  I don't know what he's capable of."

Lukas kissed my forehead, "You don't have to be scared of Mark or anyone else, I'll protect you.  I hate that he made you so uncomfortable; it pisses me off."

"You're my hero" I said in a sing-songy voice to lighten the mood, though deep down I really did mean it.

"The wind beneath your wings, right?" he added with a wink.

I grinned, "I love you so much."

"I love you too.  I'm starving, do you want to order something?"

"I do but there's more" I replied.

"More?"

I nodded before filling him about my work situation.  Lukas, my rock, knew exactly what to say.  "Babe, that's part of the industry.  You're hard working, intelligent and have many connections.  Don't worry about something that might or might not happen.  Live in the moment."

"But what if I lose my job?"

He took my hand in his, "Then you'll have a little free time to plan our wedding.  Life's too short to worry about what if scenarios. If you really think you're at risk, circulate your resume now.  There's no harm in that."

He was right.  I had to be proactive and not spend my time focusing negative thoughts.  "Maybe I'll call that headhunter that found me this job and see if he knows of anything."

He smiled, "That's the spirit.  Regardless of what happens, I'm here for you.  You don't have to worry for anything.  I'll take care of you."

"I know but I like having my independence and working.  It makes me feel as though I doing something worthwhile."

Lukas was so understanding and supportive that night, reassuring and encouraging me.  He was truly my rock.  After he ordered dinner, we lounged on the couch for a little before he suggested we go to bed.  I took a quick shower, slipped into my pajamas and crawled under the covers.  I was settling in when Lukas entered the room.

"Ready for your massage?" he asked with a wink.

"Lukas you don't have to do that.  I know you've been overwhelmed at work."

He shook his head, "Liz, you're completely stressed and I want to help you relax.  Take off your top and flip over onto your stomach.  I'm not taking no for an answer."

I nodded and unbuttoned my pajama top and place it on the other side of the bed, before laying on my stomach.  I let out a moan as Lukas' hands moved across my back.  I could feel the stress start melting away and I closed my eyes to savor the sensations surging throughout my body.  That was the last thing I remembered when my alarm went off the next morning.  I felt Lukas' arms around me, one hand cupping my breast.  I didn't want to wake him but I needed to get to work.  I moved as slowly as possibly but was unsuccessful.  He rolled onto his back and his eye fluttered open, "What time is it?" he asked huskily.

"Almost 6:30.  Go back to sleep."

"I have to get up in a little.  Did you sleep well?" he asked.

"Like a baby.  I'm sorry about last night.  I didn't mean to fall asleep like that."

"Don't apologize.  I wanted to make you relax and it seems like I was successful" he responded proudly.

------------

As I commuted to work the next morning, I felt a huge knot growing in my stomach.  It was difficult to not think about the upcoming layoffs.  When I swiped in Shirley was at her desk.  I politely told her good morning and started on my way when she called out my name.  I turned on my heel and looked at her.

"Can we talk for a minute?" she asked nervously.

I nodded and approached her, "Of course, what's up?"

"These cuts that John mentioned, do you know anything about them?  I mean do you know if they'll cut me?  I really like working here and all of you but I don't know what I'd do without a job" she shared.

"I think we're all in the same boat.  None of us know what's going to happen and who will be impacted.  For all we know my job could be cut" I said honestly.

"Is this normal though?" she inquired.

I nodded, "In this industry there's always turnover.  At my old firm I witnessed round after round of layoffs.  It's a complete morale buster and you end up going to work each day fearing the worse.  It sucks.  Our business, Fixed Income, has been on the decline for years.  If you look at our competitors, they've all substantially shrunk or eliminated Fixed Income."

"If the companies are moving away from this area, what are you guys going to do?" she asked.

"Probably move to another area. We all have Series 7 and 63 licenses and can get marketing jobs in other areas" I said wishfully.

She frowned, "I don't have that luxury."

"Honey, you're young and have the ability to be successful in any area you chose.  Plus you're very intelligent and hard-working.  That alone sets you apart from so many people.  As hard as it might be, we all have to stop focusing on the layoffs.  If we don't we'll go crazy!"

The rest of my work day was quiet,eerily quiet.  Nick had taken the day off to help his wife with the twins who now had the flu.  Everyone else seemed absorbed with work or updating their resumes.  I was relieved when the clock struck five.  I fixed my makeup in the bathroom and gave myself a once over in the mirror before heading to a nearby bar.  I was meeting with Anthony to talk.

When I got to the bar, I did a quick scan but could not find Anthony.  I grabbed an empty table and slid onto the stool.  A waiter came over and took my order. I was sipping on my Grey Goose and club soda when Anthony arrived. He smiled and gave me a hug.  "Sorry to keep you waiting; the subways are completely fucked up."

"When aren't they?  If it's too hot or cold, rainy or snowy or even a perfect day, the trains always have some issue" I retorted and he laughed.

"What are you drinking?"

"Grey Goose and club" I replied.

"I'll get you another one" he said walking towards the bar.

Ten minutes later he arrived with drinks for both of us.  I sipped on my second drink while Anthony practically chugged his.  "Have you and Lukas set a wedding date yet?"

I shook my head, "I had a lot of shit going on in my life.  We're focusing on getting our apartment renovations complete and then moving in.  After that we can start wedding planning."

"Not a bad idea.  What shit do you have going on?  Don't tell me Lukas' sister is fucking with your head and giving you a hard time again." he replied.

"Well that wasn't on my mind but yes Lauren is being a bitch to me."

"What's bothering you?" he asked with a concerned look on his face.

I downed the remainder of my drink.  "Work and Priya.  At work our managing director announced that there will be layoffs."

"Shit, Liz  I'm sorry to hear that."

I waved him off.  "Don't be.  It's the nature of the business. At least that's what I keep telling myself."

He nodded, "You mentioned Priya?"

"Yeah but that's not important. I don't want to talk about her."

"Fair enough.  I spoke with Britney earlier" he shared.

"What about?"

"You" he said quickly.

"Why me?"

"Britney misses you and feels all alone.  I completely support and agree with your decision to end your friendship with her.  She betrayed and lied to you...completely unacceptable" he replied.

"Thanks, that means a lot.  Even though we aren't friends, I don't want to see Britney going to jail because of Grant.  He was an opportunistic loser."

Our waiter finally returned and Anthony asked him to bring us another round of drinks. Somehow our conversation shifted back to Priya.  I shrugged and filled him in quickly.  He ran his fingers through his thick hair and looked to be deep in thought.  "I love Priya, always will.  However, how she treated me is unacceptable and unforgivable.  I hope she finds her way but at the same time I'm moving on with my life."

"With Eleanor?" I asked.

"Eleanor is a great woman and I enjoy the time we spend together.  I care about her greatly."

"Is she your soul mate?" I teased.

He chuckled, "Way too early to tell."

After my third drink I was being to feel the effects of the liquor.  I felt lightheaded, very warm and very happy.  I giggled at everything.  "What are you doing for the Superbowl?" he inquired.

"Fuck.  The Superbowl is this weekend right?"

He nodded, "Yeah.  Sunday, February 1st."

"I got Lukas tickets but he hasn't said anything.  Do you think he's forgotten?"

"No man will forget about going to the Superbowl" Anthony said firmly.

I smiled, "I'm still going to ask him tonight."

Anthony leaned back.  "Eleanor asked me to go with her to her Dad's 60th birthday."

I cocked my head to the left.  "And how do you feel about that?"

He shrugged, "I don't know.  We both want to take thing slowly."

"And you think going to her Dad's party will change things?  Have you discussed this with Eleanor?"

"No.  I really like her and I don't want to fuck things up.  At times I think that if I went with Priya to California, we'd still be going strong" he confided.

I frowned, "Priya made that shit up.  She wasn't going to California.  She threw it out there because she knew you'd decline and she''d have a reason to break off your relationship.  Eleanor is a sweet girl and deserves honesty.  If you don't want to go to her dad's party, tell her and explain why."

"I'll think about it.  I meant to thank you earlier for being accepting of Eleanor.  She told me how much fun she had with you, Melissa and Lukas' sister the other night."

"It's the least I could do.  Eleanor is great...I can totally see why you're so happy being with her" I answered with a huge smile.

--------

Admittedly I was tipsy, almost drunk when I got home.  Lukas was sitting on the couch, typing away on his laptop.  He looked towards me and smiled.  I giggled and rushed over, wrapping my arms around him.  I breathed in his scent, a mixture of cologne and manliness.  I kissed his neck before asking euphorically, "What are you doing?"

"I've been overwhelmed with the Miami expansion and the projects we have in the pipeline.  I hate having to bring my work home but I have no choice at the moment."

I kissed his cheek and laid my head on his shoulder, "Why don't you hire an assistant?"

"An assistant?  Liz, I don't have the time to train anyone.  Assistants require a lot of hand-holding and I can't do that at the moment" he said exasperatedly.

"Maybe I can help you?"

He turned his head and studied my face.  "Mm, tell me how you'd help me."

"Well I could help you relax and do little things around the office."

"How about you help me relax now?" he asked, pulling me onto his lap.

I giggled, alcohol has the affect on me.  "Not before we talk."

He looked at me puzzled.  "What do you want to talk about?"

As his hands trailed down my back and cupped my ass, I tried to regain my composure.  "The Superbowl."

Lukas' eyes widened, "Oh fuck.  I almost forgot."

"You are going aren't you?"

He nodded, "Shit.  Of course I'm going and you're coming with me.  I booked a hotel room but forget about the airline tickets!"

"Well it's already Thursday and the Superbowl is on Sunday.  That doesn't give us much time."

He nuzzled my neck, "I got it.  Take Monday off, we'll make it a mini-vacation."

I brought my hands up to his face before kissing him.  "A mini vacation?"

"Yeah.  We both deserve some down time."

"I love how you think" I whispered as my hands trailed down his stomach.

He had pushed me onto my back and was kissing and sucking on my neck when my cell phone rang.  He glanced at it. "It's your mom" he said before brushing his fingers over my sensitive nipples.  I gasped and looked at him pleadingly, "I really should take that.  I promise I'll make it up to you."

He nodded, "I'm going to hold you to that."


Monday, February 9, 2015

Uncertainty

When Lukas and I arrived at the restaurant Wednesday night Faisal and Linda were already there, sipping on cocktails.  Because of the dreadful weather the place was almost empty.  The both stood when we approached and we exchanged warm hugs and greetings.

"It's terribly cold and snowy out.  Is it always like this in winter?" Faisal inquired.

"Not really.  We usually get a snow storm here and there but nothing too crazy" I replied.

"I've never been to NYC before.  Apart from the snow, everything else is gorgeous" he shared.

Dinner was filled with wonderful conversations and of course Faisal inviting us to France with the promise of taking us to the countryside where he was raised.

"Elisabeth, I talked to Faisal about what we discussed the other night and he's completely on board" Linda said excitedly.

It took a moment for me to realize what she was referring to.  "OMG, did you guys set a date?" I squealed happily.

She shook her head, "Like I said I'm not stepping on your toes!  After your wedding we're going to do our thing."

Lukas looked at us, confused.  Faisal caught on and explained, "Linda wanted to have a post wedding reception so that my family could meet yours."

"Or maybe even a wedding and reception" Linda chirped.

"That's wonderful.  Do you have a location in mind?" Lukas asked.

"Maybe Paris, maybe an island?  I don't know.  I have so many ideas" Linda shared.

"Plus we have a budget and I'd like to stay within or as close to it as possible" Faisal added.

I smiled, "Once you iron out all the details, definitely let me know."

After a scrumptious dinner, we said our goodbyes and headed our respective ways.  As Lukas and I cabbed it back to his apartment he said, "I'm exhausted.  I had a rough day going over contracts."

"Aw, what can I do to make you feel better?" I asked, gently rubbing my way up his thigh and brushing my fingers over his now hardening cock.

Instead of responding, he tilted his head and kissed me.  My fingers stroked him slowly over his pants while our tongues played together.  When he pulled away, we were both breathless.  We rushed into our apartment, not worrying about formalities.  In no time, he had my dress pushed up to my waist.  He unbuckled his belt and stepped out of his pants and boxers.  My back was pressed against the wall.  One of my legs wrapped against his hip.  He pushed my panties to the side and entered me in deeply.  I gasped in pleasure and held onto to him tightly.  His thrusts were deep, quick and urgent.  Every thrust making me more and more aroused.  It didn't take long for me to lose control.  My body shaking, my breathing heavy as I orgasmed.  My legs were shaking and standing became a chore.  Lukas realized this and lifted me up, both of my legs now wrapped tightly around him.  His thrusts became deeper and his moans made it apparent that he was close.  I squeezed him tightly inside me and he whispered my name.  My hands found their way under his shirt and my nails raked down his back.  He thrust hard into me and nipped my neck with his teeth as he came.

------------

It wasn't until Thursday when everyone returned to work.  Most of our managing directors lived out on Long Island or Connecticut and couldn't make it in.  I immediately noticed a meeting invite from John when I logged into my computer.  Nick was speaking with Shirley and everyone else seemed to be catching up.  When Nick finally sat down he asked, "Did you make it in yesterday?"

I shrugged, "Kind of.  When they finally called off the driving restrictions, I took a cab in.  I was the only one and ended up leaving at four.  I guess most of our business was taken care of by the San Fran office.  How'd you make out yesterday?"

"I took my boys to the park and we made snow angels and did a little sledding.  They had a grand old time but it freezing cold."

"Aw that's so cute.  At least they had a great time."

"Too good of a time...today they're under the weather.  I feel awful that my wife has to take care of them while being so pregnant" he confided.

"Maybe you could leave early and pick up dinner?  Do something nice to show her how much you appreciate her" I suggested.

"That's not a bad idea" he replied.

I smiled, "Nick did you ever think of moving out of the city now that you and your wife are about to have a third child?"

He took a deep breath, "I have, we have many times.  It's in the cards but the timing is off right now. Once the baby comes and we fall into a routine, we'll start looking."

I clasped my hands in front of me, "That's a wonderful idea!  If you don't mind me asking, is there any particular area you're looking at?"

"Rye out in Westchester or Greenwich, Connecticut." he said quickly.

I wrinkled my forehead, "That's a nice area.  My brother and his wife have a place in Rye and my fiance is from Greenwich originally.  Have you considered Long Island?"

He laughed, "My wife thinks Long Island is filled with self-centered, materialistic people who care more about their fancy luxury cars than their families."

My mouth dropped open and I closed it quickly.  "And she thinks Rye or Greenwich are better? Both are hubs of yuppi'ism."

"Yuppi'ism??  Is that a word you just made up?"

I nodded and giggled, "Yes, I make up words at times when I can't think of the right word to say. Long Island isn't that bad.  I grew up there and I'm relatively normal or at least I think I am."

"I know.  It's a possibility.  I love Oyster Bay and Old Westbury...both are very charming towns."

"Yes.  All kidding aside, I know you'll find the perfect house for your family....even if it isn't on Long Island" I replied genuinely.

He smiled, "Thanks."

"What do you think John wants to talk about?"

He shrugged, "Same shit as usual.  Maybe he found a replacement for Cole?"

-------

Our staff meeting with John was shocking to say the least.  He paused before saying, "As you might have read, most financial firms are shifting away from the Fixed Income world."

We all stared at him, hanging on his every word.  Silently wondering where he was going with this conversation.  He rubbed his hands together and spoke slowly.  "Hiring Cole was one of the biggest mistakes I have made in my entire career and I apologize for his incompetency and unprofessional behavior."

Catherine cleared her throat before asking, "Will you be hiring replacement soon?"

John paced slowly, back and forth.  "About that.....this isn't hard for me to say and I assure you it isn't my doing.  To answer your question Catherine...no we will NOT be hiring a replacement for Cole. Fixed Income has been put on hiring freeze by the powers that be."

"John, we're all overwhelmed by our day to day functions and cannot take on Cole's responsibilities.  It's not feasible.  Is there a way to work around the hiring freeze?  Can we hire a consultant?"

John took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, "I'd appreciate it if I could get through this without the interruptions.  I promise once I'm finished I'll address all questions to the best of my ability."

Catherine looked down at her nails, "Sorry" she muttered.

John nodded in acknowledgment,  "We all know that Fixed Income has not been pulling in huge numbers the past few years.  We take on immense risk and the rewards have been minimal.  With financial firms become more risk averse and new regulatory requirements, senior management feels it best to reduce the Fixed Income business."

My heart dropped and my mouth became dry. I thought about being out of a job and having to start over.  All aspects of my life had finally fallen into place and now this.  I looked around the room at the faces of my sullen colleagues.  Catherine again spoke up, "Are you saying that our jobs are in jeopardy?"

John shrugged, "I know there will be cuts.  Senior Management will make those decisions.  I will in no way be involved in that process."

Nick tapped his fingers nervously on the conference room table,  "How soon will the cuts be implemented?"

"It could be as early as next week" John responded morosely.

"I thought the economy was picking up and there was increased job growth.  I don't understand why there would be cuts when things are going well" Shirley said quietly.

I flashed her a sympathetic smile.  She was new to the industry and green.  I wanted to explain the cuts to her but not in a crowded room.  John, however, tried his best.  "This isn't only an SIB initiative.  Other investment banks on the street have slowly and surely been moving away from the fixed income business.  SIB, on the other hand, withstood the storm and maintained head count.  In fact, we grew during those years. However, after looking at the financials, SIB has decided that this is too risky of a business to maintain.  They aren't completely doing away with their Fixed Income business.  Rather, they are condensing it."

"What about our bonuses?" Nick asked.

"You'll all still get your bonuses.  I'll speak with each of you this afternoon, individually, to give you your numbers for this year which will get paid out on February 13th" John replied.

John looked around the room.  "Please know that this was one of the hardest announcements I've had to make in my career.  I appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to this team and SIB.  If you want to discuss this matter further, my door is always open."

Like zombies we walked out of the conference room, without a sound.  I went to the bathroom quickly and upon returning I found Nick with his head in his hands.  I could only imagine what was running through his mind.  Just thinking about losing my job had me feeling uneasy and nervous; it's probably a hundred times worse for Nick who was the sole breadwinner in his family; not to mention he and his wife were preparing for baby number three.

It was close to three when John called me into his office.  I sat across from him and waited nervously.  "Elisabeth, you have exceeded all of my expectations.  When we hired you, I knew were getting someone with experience and an excellent work ethic.  You've willing taken on any project I've thrown your way, assisted your colleagues and became an imperative member of my team."

I nodded, "Thank you.  I enjoy being a part of SIB and feel that I have so much more to accomplish here."

With a small smile he pushed a large envelope towards me.  "I did the best I could; I wish I could give you more to show my appreciation."

I slowly opened the envelope, not knowing what to expect while John looked on.  I pulled out the piece of paper inside and scanned it quickly.  I gasped seeing that my incentive bonus was $62,500.

"I asked for more" John started and I interrupted.

"John please don't apologize.  I'm fine with the amount."

He nodded, "Based on your sparkling end of year review, your base salary will increase by 6% starting March 31.  That bumps you to $170,000 annually."

"Ok.  That's fair."

"Do you have any questions?" he asked.

"Do you feel my job is in jeopardy?  I know the final decision isn't up to you but what are you hearing?"

He shrugged, "Honestly, Elisabeth I wish I could answer that question.  I don't even know the status of my own job.  Right now we're all going to have to play the waiting game.  You're an excellent employee and if I had a say I would fight tooth and nail to keep you."

"I understand.  I've witnessed the round after round of layoffs before.  It's never easy.  All of the uncertainty makes me so nervous."

"Please be assured that once I get additional details, I will keep you in the loop.  This has been a rough day for all of us.  Why don't you head home and relax before the snow picks up?"

My eyes shifted to the window; it was snowing once again.  "Thanks John."

---------

Thoughts about getting laid off consumed my commute home.  Under normal circumstances I would have been over the mood with my bonus and new salary but how could I be knowing that there was good chance I would lose my job soon.  I got home to an empty apartment; since it was hardly four o'clock, Lukas was still busy at work . In fact all of my friends were probably working.  I needed someone to talk to and looked through my phone book for Michelle's phone number.  She was a girl I worked with back in Los Angeles that got laid off and ended up started her own wedding planning business.  In fact she is now one of the premier wedding planners in the Los Angeles area.  I figured I'd get a first hand account about what it's like to lose your job from her and then pick her brain about some of my wedding ideas.  I looked through my contacts and frowned....she wasn't in there.

I thought back and remembered I had jotted her number in a journal that I had put on the top shelf of my closet in Priya's apartment.  Technically since I was still paying rent, I was within my right to go back to the apartment.  I pulled on my snow boots, my warm down coat, grabbed my keys and left.  I walked on the icy sidewalk and pulled my coat's hood over my head to shield me from the snow.  I had fully intended to take the subway but the snow was hitting my face like ice pellets and the winds penetrating through my entire body was too much.  I hailed a cab and gave the driver my old address.

As I walked into the building the doorman smiled and waved hello.  I took the elevator and rummaged through my bag searching for the apartment key.  I walked slowly towards the door.  I slipped the key in and tried to turn it but it wouldn't budge.  I tried again and again to no avail.  I took the key out and examined it....it was the right key, that I was certain of.  I was about to try one last time when I heard a male voice inside the apartment.

I pushed my ear to the door and eavesdropped.  Unfortunately the male's voice was muffled and I couldn't make out a word he was saying.  I thought about knocking but quickly changed my mind when I heard Priya slurring her words, "Mark, get me another drink."

Who the fuck was Mark?  Before I lost my courage, I knocked softly on the door.  I heard a gruff voice yell back, "I'm coming."

Moments later a middle aged man swung open the door.  He looked me up and down.  Immediately I felt uncomfortable.  "What can I do for you sweetie?" he asked staring at my breasts.

I cleared my throat.  "Um, I use to live here and I thought I forgot something but maybe I was wrong.  I should get going."

"Nonsense.  Come on in.  You can have a drink with us and warm up" he replied licking his lips.

I cringed.  "No, that's okay.  I really should get going."

"Priya won't mind.  I'm sure she'll be happy to see her old roomie" he said, rubbing his index finger across my jaw.

I swallowed hard and took a step backwards.  I heard Priya slur, "Mark, come keep my company."

He didn't respond fast enough and Priya staggered over, gripping his arm to keep her balance.  Our eyes met and glared at me.  "Elisabeth, what are you doing here?"

"I thought I forgot something here.  How are you?" I asked nervously.

"I'm fucking great" she said sarcastically.

I took in her appearance.  Bloodshot eyes, straggly hair.  She wore a thin white t-shirt (it was apparent that she wasn't wearing anything underneath) with leggings.  She looked exhausted and unstable; she had lost weight and was struggling to stand up on her own.

"I should leave" I said quickly.

She scoffed, "Typical Elisabeth.  Running away."

"What's that suppose to mean?" I asked defensively.

She shook her head and quickly slammed the door in my face.  I knew something wasn't right.  This Mark guy was bad news.  The way he looked and spoke to me made me feel so dirty.  I had to get Priya help and away from Mark.  Once I got into the elevator I texted Depeka, Priya's sister, asking her to call me ASAP.

I was cabbing it back home when my phone rang.  I didn't waste time with small talk.  Instead I relayed everything I observed at Priya's place, not allowing Depeka to get a word in edgewise.  Once I was done, she said, "Do you think he's her pimp?"

"I don't know. I just got a really bad vibe from him" I replied.

"Do you think he's dangerous?" she asked, her voice cracking.

"I don't know, Depeka. I honestly don't know.  All I know is I'm worried about Priya."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bilzzard Bust

The night was euphoric, almost too perfect.  Drinks were flowing and the conversations became more animated.  It was close to two in the morning and there was no sign of it stopping.  My parents were completely in their element; there was nothing they loved more (except each other and their kids) than entertaining.  Everyone seemed to be getting along grandly.  It was beyond my wildest expectations.

The alcohol was beginning to take its toll on me and I knew it was time for me to get some water.  I excused myself and headed towards my parent's open concept kitchen.  I was chugging my bottle of water when Ryan appeared.  He looked troubled and I automatically felt guilty for having such a wonderful time when my brother was suffering.

"You okay?" I asked softly as he opened the refrigerator.

He retrieved a bottle of Vitamin Water and took a long drink.  He shook his head, "Am I okay?  How can I be Liz?  My entire life is falling apart. Everything I've worked hard for, my dreams, all shattered."

He took a seat around the island and I rubbed his back gently, trying to console him.  "It'll be okay.  Right now it hurts but with each day it'll get better."

"What makes you think it will get better?  Do you really think I can picture my life without Tina?  She had her faults but I had mine too.  No of you understand how much she meant and still means to me.  Not being with her is killing me" he ranted.

"I'm sorry.  I know this is a difficult time for you and I should be more understanding.  You're hurting and I want to help.  Tell me what you need."

"Tina" he scoffed.

My heart broke for him in that moment....seeing my brother broken because of Tina's selfishness.  That bitch never deserved my him.  She was nothing but a gold digger that felt she was above everyone else.  Shit....I'm beginning to sound like Lauren.  I shook my head and shuddered at the mere thought her.  "Aw, Ryan" I said quietly, laying my head on his shoulder.

"Don't you think I know how fucked up her behavior was; that she treated me like shit while I did everything to make her feel like a queen; she berated and put down my family...she tried to keep me away from all of you....the demands, the ultimatums.  I finally had enough Liz....I stood up for myself.  I told her that I was tired of her disrespecting me and my family and look where it got me.  She changed the locks and threw my shit out.  I can't even go to the house that I bought with MY money.  Yet, in spite of all the shit she put me through I can't let her go.  I still love her.  How screwed up am I?" he asked as tears gathered in his hazel eyes.

"You're not screwed up.  You're heartbroken.  Ryan, you're my brother and I love you.  We've had our ups and downs and have not always seen eye to eye but that doesn't mean that I don't want the best for you.  Sweetie, this might sound harsh and maybe even a little cruel....Tina didn't deserve you and she wasn't right for you.  You need a woman that will love and accept you; someone that will laugh and cry with you; a woman that will make you smile.  I don't know the last time I've genuinely seen you smile."

He tried to muster a smile but couldn't and instead sighed loudly.  "I appreciate all you've said and you're probably right but I'm not ready to accept that yet.  I'm angry and hurt."

"I've been there babe and it will get better.  I promise."

"You should be out there having a good time, celebrating your engagement not commiserating with me" he said flatly.

"I'm not commiserating, I'm supporting you" I said, giving him a side hug.

"I'm proud of you, Liz.  You've grown a lot.  You're not that immature, selfish brat anymore.  Lukas has brought out the best in you."

I chuckled, "Thanks...I think."

With a small smile he replied, "I meant it in a good way.  I'm glad you've found Lukas and that you're moving into the next chapter in your life.  I remember when you got engaged to Jason...you were no where near this happy.  Right now, you're radiating with happiness."

--------

Lukas and I didn't have an opportunity to even discuss Lauren until we got back to our apartment.  Linda and Faisal were heading to Greenwich, Connecticut and insisted that Lukas drop them off by Grand Central so they could take the Metro North.  They didn't want Lukas to go out of his way. We were sitting on the couch with Lukas rubbing my feet when he asked about Lauren.

I filled him on our confrontation in the bathroom and watched as his expression changed from happiness to worry.  "I'm disappointed in Lauren" he said despondently.

"It's not your fault.  She has a problem and is working on it.  It's going to take a while" I said gently.

"She's not making progress though.  I told you how she flipped out during Thanksgiving and then the same shit last night. I want to give her the benefit of doubt but how can I when she keeps repeating her behavior?" he asked.

"I don't know babe.  Maybe she needs time?  I keep thinking she overheard Melissa and I discussing her behavior and that pushed her over the edge."

He shook his head.  "Lauren was disrespectful from the time we sat down for dinner.  You shouldn't blame yourself for her actions."

I shrugged, "Is it weird that part of me still wants to be civil with her?"

"No" he answered quickly.

"Let's give her time to get better and go from there.  I don't mean to sound like a bitch but I can't have her come to our wedding if she doesn't stop acting so erratically."

"Lauren is my sister and of course I'd like her to be there.  I understand where you're coming from but I can't just not invite my sister" Lukas explained.

I sighed loudly, "Let's cross that bridge when we get to it."

"Yea. What do you think of Faisal?" he asked.

"I think he's a good looking man and seems really sweet.  I'd very much like to visit them in Paris one day."

"We can plan a trip there once we get settled in our new place" Lukas said.

"That would be unbelievable" I squealed excitedly.

-------------

The next week was quiet but busy at work.  No one mentioned Cole's name.  It was as though his time at SIB didn't exist.  Thursday night I met with Linda for drinks with Melissa and Eleanor.  We grabbed a table at a lounge in the Flatiron District.  All around us were young business professionals mingling and having a great time.  After the waiter brought us our drinks, Linda reiterated how happy she was that Lukas and I were engaged.

"Thanks" I replied gratefully.  It was nice knowing that Lukas had one normal sister.

"So this might sound a little strange" she started and then looked at me nervously.

"Tell me" I insisted with a smile.

She smiled sheepishly.  "Faisal and I never had a real wedding and I don't want to step on your toes or anything...."

Eleanor interrupted, "Are you proposing a double wedding with Lukas and Liz?  That would be so exciting!"

I flashed Melissa a panicked look.  I had zero inclination to share our wedding day with another couple.  Linda shook her head, "No.  I would never do that.  Faisal and I would like to have a destination wedding.  Not an actual wedding but maybe a get together with both of our families.  I'd like a big, white wedding dress but I don't know yet."

"That's not a bad idea.  Do you have a date in mind?" I asked.

She shook her head, "No.  I wanted to run the idea by you first and get your opinion.  I don't want you thinking I'm trying to steal your thunder."

"Not at all.  Doll, Lukas and I probably won't get married until next summer at earliest.  You and Faisal deserve to have your dream wedding or reception" I replied honestly.

She grinned, "I appreciate that.  I'm not going to say anything until Faisal and I are completely sure this is what we want to do.  I want you and Lukas to have your moment."

"Speaking of which, I hope you don't think I'm putting you on the spot but I have a question" I said timidly.

"What is it?" she asked with a worried look.

I smiled, "Don't look so scared.  I only wanted to know if you'll do me the honor of being one of my bridesmaid.  I know that you're in Paris and won't be able to be involved as much but that doesn't matter to me."

I gazed at her nervously, waiting for a response.  She took a long sip of her martini.  "I'd like that a lot.  I've never been a bridesmaid before and couldn't be more happy.  When my girlfriends got married, I didn't have the time to be in their wedding or even fly back and attend."

"I promise I won't be a brideszilla."

"You're entitled to a be a brideszilla.  Maybe we could Facetime while you're planning.  That'll make me feel more involved" she suggested.

"I love that idea.  Obviously I'll send you pics of my bridesmaid dresses and ideas because I want to keep you in the loop and get some feedback" I answered, squeezing her hand gently.

"Me too.  About Lauren, will you be inviting her to the wedding? I'd understand if you won't" she said quickly.

"Lauren is Lukas' sister, yours as well, and I can't not invite her to our wedding.  If she doesn't come, then that's on her" I replied.

"I'm worried about her behavior.  What she did to you at your engagement party was unwarranted. Our family isn't like that" Linda said.

I nodded, "I know.  Your family has been great and I can't wait to get to know all of you better. Lauren has problems she's dealing with and I hope that with time she'll get better."

"From your lips to God's ears" she said smiling appreciatively.

The rest of the night was spent listening to Linda's fascinating stories about Paris and the gorgeous French countryside.  She enjoyed spending time with her in-laws but missed her own family.  As she spoke excitedly about Faisal, Eleanor interrupted asking, "Did you convert to Islam?"

"No.  Faisal knew I was Catholic when we met and he isn't the type to make me into something I'm not."

Melissa shifted uncomfortably.  "It's surprising in this day and age there are still ignorant people spewing hate.  You can't judge a person by their religion or nationality. You can't help who you fall in love with and if you don't mind me saying; Faisal is very handsome and is extremely personable."

Linda beamed, "His zest for life and his positive personality drew me to him.  We've dealt with more racism than I care to discuss but things are getting better.  Or maybe both Faisal and I are getting better at blocking out the nasty comments and hate."

------------

Sunday night, the meteorologist were abuzz warning about the "storm of the century", a blizzard of epic proportion. New York City was projected to get over two feet of snow.   I was excited at the potential of seeing so much snow.  As Lukas and I made supermarket run, we wanted to get the essentials just in case we were holes up in our apartment for a while, we talked about how much fun we had during snow days as kids.

We were paying when I overheard the woman in front of me tell her friend that the last time there was a major snowstorm, nine months later there was an influx of babies being born.  I smiled as my mind drifted to my prospective children. I could almost picture Lukas and I sitting on our front porch on our tree lined block in suburbia watching our children laugh and play on the lawn.  I must have zoned out and jumped with Lukas touched my forearm gently.

"What were you thinking about?" Lukas asked as we placed the contents of our basket on the conveyor belt.

I played it off, "Nothing at all."

Lukas smirked, "It sure didn't look like anything at all."

I shrugged, "That woman got me thinking about our own future children."

"Are you ready for that?" he asked.

I shook my head quickly.  "No but one day I will be.  Right now we have to move into our place, plan our wedding, get married, spend some time together and then think about kids."

He chuckled, "What are we talking, two or three years?"

"Possibly.  But when the time is right, you and I should discuss it in detail.  I want to make sure we're on the same page."

"I agree" he said softly.

------

The next day when I left for work, it was cloudy out.  Even though the meteorologists were going on and on about the intensity of this storm I didn't completely beleive.  By ten in the morning, the snow started.  At first it was light but then it picked up strength.  It looked it the predictions were coming through.  John must have felt the same because he sent an email advising us that we could leave before the situation got worse.  My colleagues that lived in Connecticut or Long Island, rushed out, not wanting to be stranded in the city or worse on a train.

By four, I left.  The streets were extremely slippery and coated with at least three inches of snow.  When I got to the subway, I was surprised by how crowded it was.  Everyone was taking this storm seriously and attempting to get home as soon as possible.  I pushed my way onto the train and listened as my fellow commuters yelled at each other to move further into the train.  One of the problems with NYC subways is when commuters get on the train and stand right by the door with no regard for other commuters.  If they would just move in slightly, other passengers could get on the train and the train wouldn't be detained longer than necessary at each station.

It was hard to ignore the conversations about the epic blizzard and "deflate-gate" around me.  Being a New York girl I was programmed to dislike all teams from the Boston/New England area.  No matter how pretty Tom Brady is, I couldn't root for his team.  Plus I hated his smug attitude during media day when asked about deflate gate.

After an hour I finally got home.  I slipped out of my snow boots and changed into leggings, fuzzy socks and an over-sized NYU hoodie.  I made myself a cup of coffee and curled up on the couch waiting for Lukas to get home from the office.  There was nothing to watch on television; all the channels were on storm watch.  I laid back on the couch, covered with a super soft sherpa throw and before I knew it I had dozed off.

Lukas shook me gently, waking me up around eight.  I rubbed my eyes and looked at him confused.  "Did you just get home?" I asked hoarsely.

"Yes.   It was impossible to get a car to bring me home and the subways are at a standstill.  I'm exhausted both mentally and physically."

"Aw, my poor baby.  Anything I can do to make you feel better?"

He winked at me, "Let me take a quick shower and we could discuss that."

-------

The next morning I was expecting to wake up to a snowed in city.  I jumped out of bed and rushed to the window and looked outside.  I was shocked to see that there was hardly any snow.  I turned on the television and listened as the reporters talked about the "blizzard bust".  NYC dodged the bullet getting only eight inches but Long Island was hit hard.  Since the mayor and governor had shut down the subway system and halted driving on city streets I was stranded at home with Lukas who was gently snoring.

By the time I returned to work on Wednesday most of the snow was cleared.  There was hardly any evidence of the blizzard bust.  I was sitting at my desk, staring at my monitors when my phone pinged with a message from Lukas.  "Don't forget about dinner tonight with Linda and Faisal."

I wrinkled my forehead.  Dinner with Linda and Faisal?  I quickly texted him back, "What time?"

"7PM" Lukas answered.

"Cool.  When did we plan this?"

Lukas wrote back, "When we were driving back to the city after our engagement party, Linda brought it up and we all agreed to get together today."

"I totally forgot but I'll try to leave early to come home and freshen up."