Character List

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wine Makes Everything Better

Sunday morning, I groaned as the sunlight filled my old childhood bedroom. My head was throbbing and I felt so damn queasy.  I hated being hungover.  I rolled over onto my side and glanced at Lukas laying on his back, sleeping peacefully.  I quietly got out of bed and tiptoed towards the door and then down the stairs.  I retrieved a bottle of water from the refrigerator and two aspirins before going back to bed.  I popped the pills into my mouth and chugged the entire bottle of water.  Before laying back down, I pulled the curtain and glanced at my phone.  8:12 AM.

As I laid in bed, I smiled remembering the night before.  Ryan wanted to check out this new wine bar not so far away from my parent's house.  After freshening up my makeup, we hopped into Lukas' Range Rover and drove to the bar.  It was packed with a mid-20s to mid-30s crowd.  This was a welcomed sight.  Most of the bars, lounges and clubs in the city were filled to capacity with desperate women in their early 20s drinking themselves into oblivion, create drama and then throwing themselves at whichever man would give them just a little attention.  The atmosphere here was more chill and laid back.  The men were dressed in fitted jeans or slim dress pants, button downs and sports jackets.  They all looked well groomed and carried themselves with class.  The women weren't clad in a size too small body-con dress or stripper heels but still looked extremely confident and sexy.

While we waited for our drinks I was determined to be Ryan's wing girl.  I was totally going to find him a nice woman to make him forget all about Tina.  At first he seemed a little embarrassed and annoyed that I was asking what he thought of various women.  However after two drinks he was becoming more open and playing along.  "What about that one?" I asked, nodding towards a brunette with legs to die for.

He shrugged, "She's a little too tall."

"But her legs are amazing."

"True, but I prefer petite women. She's very pretty but not my type" Ryan shared.

Lukas interrupted, "I have an idea.  When Ryan sees a woman he's interested in, he'll point her out and you can go over and do your thing."

Ryan seemed to be in agreement and I relented.  "Okay,okay.  I get it.  I'm being too aggressive with this. It's just that I want you to move on with your life and find someone worthy of you."

Ryan smiled.  "I appreciate that.  I don't know if I'm ready to jump into a relationship right now though.  It's been a long time since I've been single and dating."

I agreed with him.  "That's why we're going to take baby steps."

He laughed, "I'm a work in progress."

"It'll all come back to you when the time is right" Lukas encouraged.

Our conversation eventually shifted.  Ryan shared that he isn't going to contest the divorce.  In fact he realizes now that Tina is actually doing him a favor.  "At first I was beating myself up.  I was willing to do anything to get Tina back.  But then I started thinking, I mean really thinking and I realized that I was giving my all to our marriage and getting nothing back.  I loved Tina so much that I was willing to sacrifice everything for her.  I wanted to make her happy and didn't realize then that I was living a lie.  I thought we had a perfect marriage but now I know the truth."

"Have you spoken to Tina?" I asked.

He shook his head.  "Recently?  No.  There's nothing to left to talk about?"

"Did you have a prenup?" Lukas inquired.

"Mom and Dad suggested it but I didn't give it any thought.  Tina and I were suppose to be married forever.  We didn't need a prenup. In retrospect I should have listened to my parents but you live and learn right?" he said lightly.

I nodded in agreement.  "So true."

After three glasses of wine I was beginning to feel buzzed.  I was giggling at everything and speaking really fast.  Lukas tried to shush me and I responded by kissing him.  As I nursed my fourth glass of wine, I noticed that Ryan was gazing off to the left.  "What'cha looking at?" I teased.

He blushed and quickly said, "Nothing."

"OH MY GOD!  You're blushing.  That could only mean one thing" I squealed turning around and scanning the room.  My eyes met Eleanore's and I smiled broadly.  She waved and I waved back while Ryan grabbed my arm.

"You know her?" he asked.

I nodded, "Yea, that's Anthony's girlfriend."

His tensed and clenched his jaw.  "Is that so?"

"Yep.  They've been together for a while.  She has some pretty cute friends.  Want me to introduce you?" I asked.

"No, that's fine.  It's getting late.  Maybe we should head back?" he suggested.

"Ryan it's only eleven o'clock.  Let me go say hello to Eleanore and then we go."

"Fine" he said solemnly.

Lukas whispered in my ear that he's talk to Ryan.  I walked over to Eleanore's table and she excitedly said, "Elisabeth!  I'm so happy to see you."  She pulled me into a tight hug.

"Let me introduce you to my friends" she said happily.

All of her friends were super sweet and so nice.  "So you're Anthony's best friend?" asked Vanessa who had olive skin, long straight black hair and blue eyes that just popped.

I nodded. "Yes, Anthony and I grew up together."

"Eleanore and I grew up together.  I remember Anthony from our college days.  He was such a player back then" she said frowning.

I smiled politely.  "Key words...back then.  We've all done cringe worthy things during college."

Vanessa cracked a smile.  "Ain't that the truth.  I'm embarrassed to even mention some of things I did."

"I won't ask then" I deadpanned.

One of the other girls, a petite blond leaned over.  "Who are those guys you're with?"

"The one facing this way is my brother Ryan and the other is my fiance Lukas" I answered.

"Her fiance is the nicest guy ever!" Eleanore shared.

She was clearly tipsy and acting a bit over the top.  The blond, Khloe, continued.  "Is you're brother single?"

"That's a loaded question" I answered with a laugh.

"I swear I'm not drunk or crazy.  It's just that I feel like I'm being drawn towards your brother.  He's not exactly my type but there's something about him...." Khloe said shyly.

"I kind of understand what you're saying.  My brother is single right now but he is in the process of getting divorced" I said.

Khloe nodded.  "Do you think he'd be interested in getting to know me better?"

I shrugged.  "Only one way to find out."

Lukas and I sat back and watched as Khloe and Ryan spoke excitedly.  The literally finished each other's sentences.  It was so cute!  I leaned towards Lukas.  "Priya texted me."

"What about?"

"Collecting her rent money.  I wonder how she is.  I've been preoccupied with my own life and haven't been a good friend to her lately" I said honestly.

He swirled the wine in his glass.  "Priya will understand."

"Maybe tomorrow when we get back home, I'll stop by and catch up with her."

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

It was close to two in the morning when Eleanore and her girls came over to retrieve Khloe.  "Hate to be the bearer of bad news but it's almost closing time" Eleanore said in sing-songy voice.  Before leaving, Khloe and Ryan exchanged numbers and a hug.  Ryan promised to call her and watched as she walked away.

"Ready to go?" I asked.

"Thanks for introducing me to Khloe.  She seems like a nice, normal girl."

"Anytime!  Remember I promised to be your wing girl" I said giggling.

He chuckled.  "Right.  She's a nice girl and I can't wait to get to know her better."

--------

It was close to noon when Lukas and I left my parents house and headed back to the city.  My mom insisted that we stay for dinner but we declined.  Our ride home was quiet and fast.  Surprisingly the roads were virtually empty and we in front of Lukas' old apartment in less than an hour.  Lukas leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  "Want me to wait out here for you?"

"No, it might be a while.  I'll cab it home"

I walked through the lobby of the building and then took the elevator to Lukas' old apartment.  I knocked on the door two times and heard Priya's voice.  "I'm coming."

She swung open the door and immediately smiled when she saw it was me.  "Come on in."

I stepped into the immaculately clean apartment. "Wow.  It smells so good in here."

"I'm making brownies.  They're almost done.  We can have them a la mode in a little bit" Priya offered.

"Oh!  That's sounds so good!"

While Priya checked on the brownies I couldn't help but notice that she had put on a few pounds and was looking healthy again.  She had a bounce in her step that I hadn't seen in a long time.  "So what's going on with you?" I asked her.

She grinned.  "I went back to NYU and registered for fall.  Even though I screwed up I'm still determined to be a doctor and nothing is going to stand in my way.  I had a rough few months but I'm not letting that stop me."

"Aw!  I'm so proud of you."

"My parents are over the moon.  I talk to them daily and they've been great and so supportive" she shared.

"That's wonderful.  I know it isn't my business but I was wondering if you've spoken to Depeka?"

She shook her head.  "I don't know what to say to her.  In a way I partially blame her for all that's happened."

I told her I understood and changed the subject.  "How are you feeling?"

As she retrieved the brownies from the oven she said in a serious tone, "There's something I need to tell you."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Love Doesn't Hurt

I stopped dead in my tracks.  Why is Britney saying that she's going to jail?  I already felt duped into coming to Long Island to speak to her.  She had this big epiphany she wanted to share, yet all she wanted to do was relive the past.  Hadn't I told her that I accepted her apology that day when she ambushed my lunch with Melissa at the mall?  Ah that faithful day....I heard her out, wished her well and put an end to that chapter in my life.  Yet here I was in Britney's basement not knowing what to think or believe.

Even though Britney felt I was being a selfish bitch, I was doing what was best for me.  Admittedly I had put up impenetrable walls this time.  I wasn't going to let Britney pull at my heart strings and automatically revert back to how we use to be.  Repairing such a damaged friendship would take a long time and there was still a possibility that I would never be able to completely trust her.

Was she just saying that she was going to jail to fuck with me?  Her conspiracy trial wasn't scheduled to start for a while.  What did she do to warrant a three year jail sentence?  I was torn between turning around and asking her what she was talking about and getting the fuck out of the basement.  "What did you say?" I asked from the stairs.

"I said I'm going to jail for three and a half years" she said, her word dripping with anger.

"Why?"

She didn't say anything and quite frankly I was tired of playing this silly game with her.  I proceeded up the stairs and turned the doorknob.  Her mom was perched on a chair in the kitchen.

"How did it go?" she inquired.

I shrugged.  "No clue."

"Britney is struggling and I was hoping that you might be able to get through to her."

I frowned, "Get through to her?"

She nodded, "Yes.  Talk some sense into her.  Her life has been spiraling downwards for months now.  Nothing I say registers and I fear for her."

"I'm sorry.  It sucks that Britney's hurting and her life isn't going as planned."

She rubbed her temples with her fingertips, her eyes closed momentarily. "What did Brit say?" she asked quietly.

I sighed, "She just kept on bringing up the past and trying to rationalize.  I'm like over talking about that.  It's like beating a dead horse."

She nodded politely.  "Maybe it still bothers Britney and weighs heavily on her mind.  Think about it from her perspective.  She made a mistake that not only cost her her best friend but also spiraled and caused her to get involved with the wrong crowd."

"I guess I never thought about it like that" I said in a small voice.

"Honey I'm not trying to make you feel bad.  Britney hurt you and your feelings are justified but have you stopped to think about how she's feeling? Britney's guilt is consuming and eating her up inside; I thought you'd be able to see that and help her."

I cleared my throat uncomfortable.  "I really should get going."

"Elisabeth, did Britney tell you her decision?" she asked sadly.

"What decision?" I asked.

She spoke super slowly.  "Britney doesn't want to have our family name dragged through the mud anymore and decided to plea bargain.  Her lawyer told her that the maximum time she'll have to serve is three and a half years.  He's working to get a her a plea deal with less time in jail since she doesn't have a past record."

Holy shit Britney was telling the truth! I took me a few moments to compose myself.  "Why would she plea bargain if she did nothing wrong?  It's like basically admitting you did something wrong."

"Because it's better than the alternative.  Yes she didn't do anything wrong but what if a jury of her peers decides that she did and finds her guilty.  She'll spend at least a decade behind bars" she said in a matter of fact tone.

I shook my head in disbelief.  "But what if the same jury sees how Grant played her and realizes that she wasn't involved?  Obviously this isn't my choice or even any of my business but I think Britney is making the wrong decision."

"Well you're right....it's isn't your choice.  It's Britney's and I would hope that you'd support her" her mom said firmly.

Her words caught me by surprise and stung just a smidgen.  I didn't know what I was thinking agreeing to visit Britney.  This was a mistake and I needed to cut ties and be done with this chapter for good.  I stood up slowly.  "I wish Britney the best."

"You aren't leaving are you?"

I nodded.  "I really have to get going.  My parents are waiting."

She wrapped her arms around me and drew me into a tight hug.  Softly she said, "I hope that you'll come to your senses and be a good friend to Britney.  She needs you."

I didn't respond.  I couldn't.  I knew what I needed to do and wasn't going to let anyone guilt me.

-------

An hour later I was having dinner with my parents, Ryan and Lukas.  My mom, being the gracious host that she, kept insisting that we take more food.  "Mom!  Sit down and eat" I screeched.

"Liz you're suppose to cater to your guests" she explained.

"We're not your guests. We're your children.  We need you to sit down so we can have a normal family dinner and catch up" I replied.

She threw her hands up in defeat and tried to hide a small smile.  "Fine.  I'll sit down and eat but you have to tell me what happened with Britney.  You've hardly said a word since you got back."

I spent the next half hour telling them all about my visit.  Ryan asked incredulously.  "I think there's more to her involvement.  No person in their right mind would agree to jail time if they were completely innocent."

"Or maybe Britney's not thinking straight" Lukas rationalized.

"What type of lawyer let's their client plea if she's innocent?" my dad asked aloud.

All at once they were speaking and it was hard to keep track.  It was apparent that everyone felt that Britney was making the wrong decision.  My mom said loudly, "What type of parents would support such a decision?  Joanne (Britney's mom) knows better.  She wants you to be a good friend to Britney?  Why can't she start being a good mom and parent her daughter instead of chasing after men at the country club?"

My eyes widened.  "Chasing after men at the country club?  Where's that coming from?"

My mom reddened.  "People talk and Joanne gives them a lot to work with."

Ryan interjected.  "Is that why her husband is never around?"

"He's doing his own thing as well.  Having Brit back at the house must be cramping their style" my dad quipped.

"I thought they were happily married....I mean Britney never mentioned anything about her parents having martial issues" I said confused.

My dad chuckled, "They like to keep up appearances.  Rumor is they have an open marriage."

My head was literally spinning.  One minute I was telling them about Britney and the next we were talking about open marriages.  "Can we get back to Britney?" I asked exasperatedly.

"Honey, Britney needs to do what's best for her.  I'm saddened to hear about her condition and the death of her grandmother.  She was a lovely woman with grace and a strong moral compass.  Her decision to plea bargain is hers alone."

I nodded, "Do you think I should reach out to her?"

"Do you want to?" Lukas asked.

I shook my head. "No.  I know that makes me sound like a heartless bitch."

"It doesn't" my dad reassured me.

"You're only saying that because you're my dad and you have to" I countered.

"Liz, remember when you said that someone that loves you won't knowingly hurt you?  If Britney really cared about you and your lifelong friendship she wouldn't have betrayed you.  She has to live with her choices.  Don't let her mom make you feel bad" Ryan added.

I took a huge sip of water.  "Thank you Ryan."

"No thank you.  I'm in a better place mentally because of you."

I smiled.  "I'm glad."

As we devoured dessert Ryan asked if we were interested in going to a bar around town with him. Lukas and I immediately agreed.  It had been a long time since I've seen Ryan so happy and relaxed.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You've Got a Friend

Lukas was a little disappointed that I decided to spend my afternoon in Long Island.  He whined, "But you promised that we were going to have a nice, romantic evening."

"Britney needs me" I pleaded.

"I need you too" he whispered as his hands moved up and down my sides, brushing the sides of my breasts.

"Mmm, you really need to stop that."

"Tell me you really want me to stop" he said huskily.  His hands working their way under my shirt and cupping my breasts,  His thumb gently moving over my nipples, making then hard.  My body immediately responded to his touch and become putty in his hands.  My hand trailed down his stomach and stopped at the waistband of his sweatpants.  I looked into his eyes while my fingers wrapped around his hard, thick cock.  I moved my fingers up and down slowly.  He swallowed hard. I smiled at him before pulling his pants over his ass, his cock springing free.  I slid down his body and licked all along his hardness before taking the head in my mouth.  He moaned loudly and threw his head back as I took him deeper in my mouth.  I bobbed my head up and down before sliding his cock out of my mouth.  I stroked him with my hand, thoroughly enjoying the effect I was having on him.  Slowly, and I mean painstakingly slowly I licked the underside of his cock and he breathlessly called my name.

His eyes pleaded with me.  I knew he was so close. He pulled me up and practically ripped off my clothes before bending me over the couch.  I felt him against my wetness and I pushed back against him.  He got the idea and thrust into me, filling me deeply.  I moaned feeling my body stretching around his thickness.  He pumped in and out rapidly.  One of his hands on my hip, the other rolling my clitoris slowly.  My orgasm building with each second.  I could tell from his breathing that he was so close too.

My legs started shaking so much that was a struggle to stand.  My moans filled the silence as wave after wave of pleasure washed over my body.  Lukas grunted and dug his nails into my hips as he came.  As we both caught our breath, he pushed my hair away, kissing my neck.  "I love you so much Elisabeth" he whispered with so much love that tears filled my eyes.

After a quick shower, Lukas and I headed to Long Island.  I was super relaxed and allowed myself to doze off.  Lukas was kind enough to wake me up when were about fifteen minutes away.  I fixed my makeup and popped an Altoid.  "Can we stopped at Starbucks?" I asked sweetly.

Lukas nodded.  "So how is this going to work?  Do I go to your parent's house after I drop you off at Britney's?"

I shrugged.  "We can do that.  Or we can go to my parent's house and then I'll take my mom's car to Britney.  It's up to you."

"It might be best for you to take my car to Britney's. That way if you need to leave, you don't have to wait on me" Lukas rationalized.

"That makes sense" I replied.

We made a quick stop at Starbucks where I both Lukas and I got grande iced chai lattes.  I greeted my parents and Ryan before taking Lukas' Range Rover and driving to Britney's parents house a couple blocks away.  I stopped in front of the house and took a deep breath, trying to compose and calm myself down.  I finished my chai latte and slowly approached the front door.  Britney's mom swung open the door before I could even knock.

She took me in her arms.  "It's so good to see you honey.  You look beautiful."

"Thank you.  How have you been?"

"It hasn't been easy but we're trying to not lose courage and hope.  Seeing you Elisabeth brings me back to the good old days. I still remember you and Brit playing in the front yard and helping me bake cookies.  You two were so close and inseparable" she replied nostalgically.

I nodded.  "Yes those were good times."

"I'm glad that you're here.  Britney has been going through a difficult time."

"Is she home?" I asked nervously.

"She's in the basement.  I should warn you though....she isn't in a good mood.  In fact she hasn't been since her grandma passed on two weeks ago."

I gasped in shock.  "Her grandma?  The one that she was so close to?"

Her mom nodded, "Yes.  Her dad's mom.  She died in her sleep.  It was shock to all of us and Britney has taken it especially hard."

"I'm so sorry."

With a small smile she said, "Thank you dear.  How are things with you?"

"Not too bad" I said humbly.

She gasped.  "Is that an engagement ring on your finger?" she exclaimed.

I grinned, "Yes.  Lukas and I got engaged New Year's Eve.  It was a complete surprise."

"You positively glow when you speak of your fiance.  I'm happy for you."

"Thanks" I replied uneasily.

She smiled. "Honey don't try to hide your happiness for my sake.  I am truly happy that you've grown into a wonderful woman and I could not be any happier for you.  I bet seeing you and hearing your wonderful news will lift Britney's spirits."

I stiffened hearing Britney's name.  I didn't know what to expect and part of me wanted to walk out the door and head back to my parent's house.  What the hell was I thinking agreeing to see Britney?  I had no idea what she wanted to tell me and quite frankly I was scared.  Memories of her lies and betrayal were fresh in my mind while my heart ached for her and yearned for the friendship we once shared.

Her mom gently touched my shoulder, snapping me back to reality.  I smiled sheepishly as she said, "You're scared.  I can tell but you don't have to be.  If you want I'll go downstairs with you."

I shook my head.  "I'm fine but thank you."

I opened the door that led to the basement and walked down the creaky stairs, a small light leading my way.  I wondered if Britney were asleep.  I reached downstairs and looked to my left and right, trying to locate Britney in the darkness.  I cleared my throat and quietly called out her name.  "Britney."

No response.  I walked towards a couch and thankfully found a light switch which I immediately flipped on.  I literally jumped seeing Britney sitting in a corner.  Her sunken in eyes taking in my appearance.  Her hair was tied in a simple ponytail.  Her face gaunt and her eyes lifeless.  Long gone were her curves.  Now she looked like a bag of bones in an oversized t-shirt and sweatpants.

She stood and walked towards me, her eyes filled with tears.  She reached out to give me a hug but immediately reconsidered.  Her hands lightly gripping my shoulders.  "I can't believe it's you" she said weakly as tears slid down her cheeks.

I wanted to embrace her and tell her that everything would be okay but hesitated.  Instead I stared at my former best friend, my heart breaking to see her like this.  I cleared my throat uncomfortably.  "You said you wanted to talk in person?" I said quickly.

She turned and headed towards the couch in the corner, drew her knees to her chest before covering with a fleecy blanket.  She wrapped her arms around her legs and rocked back and forth.  I honestly didn't know how to react.  I hesitantly approached and sat slowly on a leather recliner facing her.  "Britney" I said softly and her eyes met mine before quickly retreating back down.

"I didn't know what to expect coming here.  I didn't know how I'd react to seeing you after all this time.  I hoped that you were doing well in spite of the trial coming up.  Seeing you like this is killing me.  I wish you'd speak to me.  Shit, I wish you'd look at me.  I'm not here to judge you.  You said you needed to talk and I want to hear what you have to say" I said emotionally.

"Why do you even care about me?" she asked still not meeting my eyes.

I sighed.  "How could I not care? Even though you hurt me, I still care.  We went through so much together and I guess you'll always be in my heart.  I would never wish any ill will on you.  I need you to know that.  Do you think I'd come here if I didn't care?"

At this point her thin body shook with her gut wrenching sobs.  I knew that her life had been turned upside down and she was trying her best to cope.  Maybe she was even making strides in the right direction only to have her world shaken by the death of her beloved grandmother.  Growing up her grandmother played a huge role in her life.  She was one of Britney's biggest fans, supporting even her most outlandish dreams.  She was there for every major event in Britney's life and always had these fabulous words of wisdom.  In a way she reminds me of Sophia from the Golden Girls with her stories...."picture it, 1957, Brooklyn".

I moved closer and eventually settled next to her on the couch.  My hands making gentle circles on her bony back.  Eventually her sobs subsided and I fished out some tissues from my bag.  She blew her nose loudly.  She finally looked up and said through the fresh tears already streaming down her cheeks, "My life has been so fucked up.  I feel like I have no one but that's my fault.  I'm the one that fucked up and pushed you out of my life.  I don't know what I was thinking and I can't tell you how sorry I am.  I don't know why I did the things I did."

Not wanting to dwell on the past I said, "Let's move on.  I know you're sorry."

"No.  Not yet.  I've had a lot of alone time to think about everything.  I was jealous and afraid."

I urged her to continue and she did.  "I was jealous that you found Lukas.  When you moved back to NY I pictured us hanging out all the time but then before I knew it you were coupled up with Lukas.  I thought I was losing my best friend all over again.  That's why I started trying to make you doubt everything about your relationship.  I know it's fucked up but I was desperate."

"Okay" I said evenly.

"I was afraid of losing our friendship."

I took a deep breath and let the air out super slowly.  "Our friendship wasn't destroyed because of Lukas.  It was all your doing.  I get that you were afraid but why not talk to me?"

She shrugged, "What was I suppose to say?  Liz I'm afraid that you're going to get too engrossed with Lukas and forget about me?"

"Yeah.  It would've been a hell of a lot better than you betraying me."

She shook her head in disbelief.  "Why are you making this so hard?  I'm spilling out my heart and soul and you can't even try to understand?"

"Britney, I'm not here to talk about the past.  All you're doing right now is bringing back horrible memories.  I don't need you to justify your actions and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's okay and I understand.  If I had known that you wanted to rehash the past, I wouldn't have even bothered coming over here."

Her jaw dropped open and she quickly closed it.  "How could you be such a cold hearted bitch?"

With a bitter laugh I answered, "A cold hearted bitch?  You have a lot of nerve Britney.  I came here because you had something so important to tell me.....you had to do in person....so here I am.  Instead you're rationalizing your actions.  I'm so over this shit."

"It's obvious you don't want to be here, so just leave" she yelled.

I stood and retrieved my things.  I was walking up the stairs when I heard Britney say, "I'm going to jail for three and half years."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Call Me Crazy

I had to put an end to the internal struggle waging within me.  My heart was heavy and pleading with me to reach out to Britney; help her as much as I can.  My brain was telling me to stay away from her and not let her hurt me again.  There was so many times where I had my mind made up but then the consequences and what if's flooding my mind.  Could I go through the rest of my life knowing that the woman I thought to be my sister, my confidante, my best friend needed me and I turned my back on her?  Could I live with myself knowing that I allowed myself to help Britney only to have her stab my in the back once again?  Clearly no one knows what the future holds and I was over-thinking things.

In my heart I knew what I needed and wanted to do.  As I had dinner with Lukas, I nervously told him plans.  "I've been thinking long and hard about what Anthony said about Britney."

His eyes met mine and urged me to continue.  "You're not going to like this but I need to talk to Britney.  Even if it's one last time."

He nodded, never breaking eye contact.  "Why would you think that I won't like that?"

I shrugged.  "Because you told me not to let her hurt me."

He took my hand in his.  "Liz I need you to do what's best for you.  Seeing you struggle with this decision was hard.  Britney was your lifelong best friend and I can only imagine what it's been like to not have her in your life.  I support your decision.  It's slightly disappointing that you make it seem like I'm going to get pissed if you do something I don't like."

I looked down. "I didn't mean it like that. You've warned me about things in the past and you've always been right. Even though you haven't said I told you so , you probably think it."

He chuckled.  "If everything worked out like we envisioned, life would be perfect.  Sometimes you take a chance and it goes really well, other times it comes back to bite you in the ass.  I don't want you live life with regrets.  I think your decision to speak with Britney is a good one.  If you want me to come with you or be there, I will."

I nodded.  "Thank you.  I don't even know how to reach out to her.  Do I just call her like old times?  Or maybe I should text her and ask her to meet me for coffee or something? I don't know how to approach her anymore."

He shrugged.  "I wish I had the answer but I don't.  I would think it's better to rip off the band-aid instead of prolonging the agony."

"I'm so afraid that I'm making the wrong choice" I admitted solemnly.

"At least you'll know you tried" he said confidently.

"But what if she doesn't want to talk to me?" I asked.

"What if she needs you?" he responded walking over to me.  He tipped my chin up and brushed his lips against mine sending shivers down my spine.  I leaned into him and wrapped my arms around his strong back, intensifying our kiss.  Never breaking our kiss, he picked me up and carried me into the bedroom.

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

I was awoken by Lukas Saturday morning attempting to quietly getting out of bed but instead stubbing his toe and yelping.  He sat on the edge of our bed rubbing his toe and cursing quietly.  I sat up and rubbed his back gently.  "You okay babe?"

"Shit.  I didn't mean to wake you."

"Where you planning on sneaking out?" I joked.

"Nah, just going for a run in the park.  Wanna come with me?"

I stretched lazily.  "I'm not much of a runner."

"You sure?"

I nodded.  "I really want to take a nice, long bath and think about how to deal with Britney."

He kissed me softly before leaving.

An hour later, I was sitting on a bar stool, my wet hair wrapped in a towel, and staring at my iPhone; my fingers nervously hovering over the send button.  I sighed loudly and put my phone down, my head now in my hands.  I literally jumped when my phone pinged with a message from Lukas asking if I wanted him to pick up breakfast.  I smiled to myself and responded that I would love a fresh bagel with scallion cream cheese.

My heart was pounding as I pulled up Britney's contact information.  I knew that if I thought about it I would only psyche myself out.  With shaking fingers I hit send and held the phone to my ear.  I heard Britney's voice on the other end saying hello repeatedly as I tried to talk.  My mouth was so damn dry and I took a quick sip of water before croaking out a hello.

"Elisabeth, is that you?" she asked in disbelief.

"Hi Britney.  How are you?" I responded.

"Oh my goodness!  I haven't spoken with you in forever.  I have so much to tell you.  Oh my God!!  I missed you so much Liz.  My life has had this void without you.  I've been wanting to call you for so long but then figured you'd only hang up" she babbled.

I cleared my throat and she stopped speaking.  "It has been a long time.  How are you?" I asked again in a calm voice.

Britney sniffled, "I don't know Liz.  I don't know anything anymore.  I feel so alone."

My heart ached hearing the hurt in her voice.  "I'm sorry to hear that."

"I don't know what to do Liz.  My life is so fucked up and it keeps getting worse each day.  It's like a never ending nightmare."

"I know your worried about the trial" I started and she interrupted.

"It isn't about the trial.  There's something I need to tell you" she said with urgency.

I took another sip of the water in front of me before saying, "Tell me."

"Can you come over?  I can't really talk about it on the phone."

I took a deep breath.  "Is it really important?"

She started sobbing on the other end of the phone.  "I don't know why I even asked you.  I hurt you so bad and destroyed our friendship. I fucked up and have the nerve to expect you to be here for me.  What the fuck is wrong with me?" she asked despondently.

I could tell that she was in a terrible place and needed me.  "Okay.  When do you want me to come over?"

She gasped in surprise. "Wait, you're actually going to come over?"

"Yes.  I know you need a friend and I want to hear what you have to say."

"Can you come over later today?  I'm at my parents house and I can't really leave.  I mean I can but it's so hard to go out without people pointing and talking about me" she said quietly.

"Okay" I said softly.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Work-Zone

Britney weighed heavily on my mind the next few days.  Should I speak with her or leave things as they are?  I weighed the pros and cons and still couldn't make up my mind.  Honestly I felt guilty about "turning my back" on Britney in her time of need but what choice did I have.  Lukas and I had a long conversation about Britney and he said that he'd support me in whatever I choose to do.  However, he did warn me to be careful and not let her get too close too fast if I do choose to talk to her.

When I swiped into work, Shirley motioned for me to come over to her.  I smiled, "How are you?  It's seems like forever since we've spoken."

"Yes.  John changed my hours.  I only work from nine to four now.  Since I'm a consultant I get paid based on the number of hours I work."

I nodded.  "The company is trying to cut costs as much as possible.  That's why there have been all these layoffs."

"This is all new to me.  When I was in college, getting a job at an investment bank was the dream.  I thought that I'd get a six figure job on Wall Street and live the life.  Instead I'm a secretary and I'm no where near six figures.  Now with my hours being cut, it's going to take me much longer to get a place of my own.  I'm doomed to live at home with my parents" she confessed.

"Living at home isn't so bad.  I bet you can save a ton of money that way.  Our industry is cyclical.  The highs are really high and the lows and really low.  Don't get discouraged.  Network.  You don't know how important that this.  In this industry you never burn bridges because everyone is connected in some way."

She smiled.  "So I've seen.  It's not what you know but who you know it seems."

"Yes but that's only to get your foot in the door.  You still have to prove yourself once you land the job."

"My expectations were too high" she said despondently.

I shook my head.  "No.  You probably watched Wall Street and pictured living that life.  I'll tell you when I started my salary wasn't where I thought it should be either but I worked my ass off.  I showed my managers that I wanted to be there and that I was willing to take the initiative to get things done.  It worked.  Senior management saw that I was a good worker and started giving me more responsibilities.  With that came performance reviews, raises and eventually promotions."

She cocked her head to the side and said disappointed.  "Oh."

"I've found from my own personal experiences that it's so much more rewarding to get something on your own than have it handed to you.  To know that you worked hard for something makes it more worthwhile."

She shrugged, "I'm so discouraged because I try so hard and I'm only a freaking admin.  That's not what I went to school for....I don't want to answer phones, order supplies and make reservations for the rest of my life."

"Shirley you're fresh out of college.  I get this isn't your dream job but everyone starts somewhere.  When I was in college I interned at a financial firm where I archived their file cabinets.  Do you know how boring that was?  I get you're unhappy here.  Maybe instead of keeping it all inside you should be proactive.  You can take advanced classes or even circulate your resume.  You're young and the world is your oyster.  It's up to you to make your dreams come true.  Don't depend on anyone else."

With a small smile she turned her attention back to her computer, essentially dismissing me.

I walked towards my desk and sat quietly in my seat, not wanting to disturb Nick who was on the phone. I couldn't help but overhear his conversation with his wife.  He sounded very upset and I tried to occupy myself with my emails.  Once he hung up, he sighed loudly.  I shot him a sympathetic smile but didn't ask any questions.

"My wife's doctor put her on bed rest" he said sadly.

I frowned.  "I don't want to pry.  If your wife needs you, I'll cover for you here."

He shook his head.  "No.  We're going to get a nanny to help with the boys. She's going to start tomorrow.  Hopefully that will take a lot of stress of her."

"Yes.  I'm sorry she has to deal with this again.  I remember you saying that going on bed rest with this pregnancy was one of her biggest fears."

He nodded. "Yes it is.  She's 35 weeks along this time so it shouldn't be as bad as her first pregnancy."

"I think you should do something sweet for her to lift her spirits."

With a raised eyebrow he asked, "Such as?"

"Maybe you can order her favorite meal from her favorite restaurant and get her some flowers?  Or since she can't really do much, you could bring a spa day to her.  Hire someone to give her a mani and pedi and maybe even a facial.  I don't think pregnant women can have massages."

"That's a good idea.  I might need your help with that though."

I smiled, "That's not a problem."

I managed to keep my mind occupied with work and not focus on Britney until I was headed home.  Memories of a different time and place keep rushing back.  Nostalgia had me feeling all teary eyed.  My heart and mind were in a tug of war.  Both holding their own and not backing down.  The internal struggle was coming to head and I had to make a decision before it consumed my every thought.  I knew what I had to do but worried if I would look back with regret at my choice.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Decisions, Decisions....

Hi Dolls,

Elisabeth is still trying to figure out what she's going to do about Britney....will she or won't she speak with her?!?  Hmm, there's so many possibilities and she's definitely weighing the pros and cons.

Honestly, I've been swamped at work and spending my free time enjoying this glorious spring weather we're finally having in NY with my husband.  I did start the next post but didn't get to finish.  Hoping to have something up soon!

Thanks for being so understanding and I hope all of you have a fabulous day:-)

Arianna

Monday, April 13, 2015

No Place Like Home

The next three weeks literally flew by. Lukas and I were getting settled in our new place and the weather was finally warming up.  After the rough winter that NYC experienced, a 50 degree day was a welcomed relief. In fact such days felt like summer to us.  Being able to lose my knee high snow boots, multiple layers and wear cute clothing definitely lifted my spirits.  I still went to work with a huge pit in my stomach but tried to not focus so much on the what ifs.  I can't control with senior management chooses to do and I was beginning to accept that.

April was only two days away and I was counting down the days to our trip to Paris.  The wonderful weather, exploring one of the most gorgeous cities in the world with the love of my life, the fabulous food and of course a little shopping.  I was lounging around our apartment when I heard a knock on the door.

I hesitantly walked to the door and opened it slowly.  I grinned when I saw a very tanned and relaxed looking Anthony.  He gave me a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek before standing there expectantly.

"Aren't you going to invite my into your swanky new place?" he asked with a smirk.

"Oh my god...sorry!  You're our first real guest" I answered pushing the door and allowing him in.

He laughed, "I guess I'm you're only real friend?"

"Nah. I got tons of friends. Just haven't had time to entertain."

"Yeah, you're way too preoccupied with Lukas" he shot back jokingly or at least that's what I hoped.

My lips formed a thin, tight line. "Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black?" I challenged.

"What's that suppose to mean?" he asked surprised.

I shook my head.  "Nothing.  Let me show you around."

We walked through the apartment in uncomfortable silence.  I observed Anthony admiring the view from the floor to ceiling windows.  "You gotta be careful with these windows.  People can see straight into your apartment."

"I guess but they probably can't see much."

He chuckled.  "Well I can see that woman in the building across the street walking around in only her panties."

"Sure you do" i retorted, rolling my eyes.

"Come and see for yourself!"

I walked towards the window and gasped.  There was woman with long blond hair and breasts that defied gravity walking around what looked to be her bedroom.  She peered outside before cupping her breasts sensually and trailing a hand down her stomach and over her tiny panties.

I cleared my throat started walking towards the kitchen. "Um....this is a little awkward."

He turned around. "Live porn from the comfort of your apartment.  Doesn't get better than that" he joked.

"Eh.  I'm not impressed" I muttered, pouring wine into two glasses.

"That woman's body is smoking hot" he answered.

"I'm sure Eleanore would love to know that."

He glanced at me. "She's not the jealous type."

"Hmmm interesting" I replied.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?  Maybe this passive aggressive shit works with Lukas but it's pissing me off" he said sternly.

"Passive aggressive?  I don't know what you're talking about" I said innocently.

He downed the entire glass of wine before him.  "Cut the crap.  I don't even know why I even came over" he said exasperatedly.

"Anthony" I started and he cut me off.

"I don't know what the fuck is your problem. What are you jealous that I'm with Eleanore? You can't fucking stand to see anyone happy" he said a angrily.

My heart sank when he said those words because nothing could be further from the truth.  I wanted Anthony to be happy and was thrilled when he started dating Eleanor.  I swallowed hard and caught Anthony's ice cold stare. "What...all of sudden you're speechless Liz?!?" he challenged.

I took a deep breath and willed the tears away.  I was stronger than that.  I didn't need tears to get my point across.  "I'm....I'm just taken aback by what you said" I replied honestly.

He chuckled. "Don't tell me you're going to turn this around on me.  You've acted like a bitch from the moment you opened the door."

"Maybe that's because I've been too preoccupied with Lukas" I said sarcastically.

"Grow the fuck up."

I sipped my wine.  "You always say stupid shit and then get pissy when I get upset."

"Stop being a drama queen" he replied, getting up and reaching for his jacket.

I knew I couldn't let him leave like this.  I grabbed his arm and he glanced down at me.  "Let go of me Liz."

"No.  We need to talk" I said firmly.

"I'm not Lukas and don't need to put up with this shit."

"Please" I pleaded.

He sighed.  "Why Elisabeth? So you can act like a condescending bitch?"

"No.  I want to hear about your trip" I said quietly.

"Sure could have fooled me" he said angrily.

Anthony glared at me while I groveled.  I had said everything but what was necessary.  "I'm sorry.  When you said that I'm so preoccupied with Lukas it hurt and shocked me.  I didn't know that's how you really felt.  I guess I was trying to hurt you because I was hurt by your comment.  I'm not making excuses.  I'm trying to make you understand."

His face softened slightly but it was apparent that he was still upset.  "Elisabeth, we're not little kids anymore.  If something I say or do pisses you off, don't act all passive aggressive and condescending.  That's what an immature teenager does not a woman who's seemingly smart and confident."

"Fine....you have a point there.  I hate confrontations and act like that as a defense mechanism."

"At least you admit it" he said flatly.

I refilled our wine glasses.  "I really am sorry."

"I didn't mean anything by that comment.  I was just teasing.  If you had called me out you would have known this."

"Well neither of us are perfect.  I let my emotions get the best of me sometimes" I explained.

"That's an understatement" he said with a laugh. The tension was slowly lifting as I joined in his laughter.

"How about we put all this behind us and you tell me all about Cabo?"

He smiled.  "What do you want to know?"

"I don't want to pry.  Tell me whatever you think I should know" I replied cautiously.

"Well I think I'm falling for Eleanore. I'm not in love with her but I can see falling in love with her."

I smiled.  "That's awesome.  Was there some defining moment that gave you all this clarity?"

"The thing with Eleanore is she's not afraid to be herself with me.  She opens up and allows herself to be vulnerable.  I know the real Eleanore and I love everything I've discovered so far about her.  Plus we both have a love for food.  She's the first woman I've been with that isn't ashamed to order what she wants and doesn't settle for a salad."

I couldn't help but grin.  "A woman after my own heart.  I really like Eleanore.  She seems like a great girl."

"I had the time of my life.  We climbed a mountain.  Even though it wasn't Eleanor's thing she didn't complain and almost did better than me.  We laid out on the beach, ate and drank...we lived life like there was no tomorrow."


"That's great" I said.

"I'm glad to be back...there's no place like home."

I swirled the wine in my glass nervously.  "I'm not jealous of you and Eleanore.  I haven't seen you this happy in a long time and you deserve it."

Anthony interrupted, "Liz, I really didn't mean that.  It just came out because I was frustrated and angry.  If I really felt that way do you think I'd still be here?"

"Okay...but I want you to know that I treasure your friendship and want to see you happy in all aspects of your life.  I know I ask a lot of question but that's because I care and don't want you to get hurt."


He nodded.  "I know Liz.  I shouldn't have said.  I apologize."

"Thanks" I replied.

"There's something I wanted to run by you" Anthony said anxiously.

"What?"

He took a deep breath and let the air out slowly.  "How do you feel about talking to Britney?"

Admittedly I have thought about Britney and our crumbled friendship.  There are days when I think about the good times we shared.  There were plenty of those.  The lies and hurtful words she spewed cloud those memories.  Sometimes I wrack my brain trying to conjure a reason for her behavior but come up empty.  I've mourned our broken friendship and the loss of someone I considered to be the sister I never had.  Months ago I thought I closed that chapter but now hearing Anthony asking whether I was open to speak with Britney had my mind spinning.

I needed to make sure I wasn't hearing things and stuttered, "Come again."

Anthony repeated himself and I shook my head in disbelief.  "I don't even know how I feel anymore.  Some days I'm open to speaking with her and others I'm disgusted by how Britney acted."

"Britney hurt you and you're justified in feeling the way you do" he said gently.

"Why do you ask?"

He shrugged, "She sent me a text while I was on vacation and I called her earlier."

My attention was peaked.  "What did she say?"

"She sounded down and out, like she doesn't have a support system apart from her family. The trial is coming up and she's afraid that she'll end up in jail for years."

I frowned, "It's fucked up that Grant played and get her entangled in his shit."

"She told me that she wants to talk to you....she needs you."

I sighed, "I feel bad for her and I don't want to see her pay for Grant's actions.  I don't know how I'd feel talking to her one-on-one.  It's been so long since we spoke and have been cool.  I do think about the fun, happy times we've shared and have considered extending an olive branch but then my logical side tells me I'm an idiot for even considering it."

I heard our apartment door open and heard Lukas' voice.  "Liz I'm home."

"In the kitchen with Anthony" I answered.

"Take some time and think about what I've asked.  If you don't want to talk to Britney that's cool and if you want to talk to her that's even better.  Regardless of what you decide, I'm right there behind you.  Don't think that I'm trying to strong arm you to speak to Brit.  This is your decision."

I nodded.  Lukas walked over and shook Anthony's hand before giving me a quick peck on the lips.  "How was your trip?" he asked Anthony.

"Fantastic.  We had a nice, relaxing time."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

27 and One Day

The next morning I walked into work with a huge smile on my face.  Not only did Lukas make a mouth-watering dinner....well he didn't cook it himself, he ordered from one of my favorite restaurants....but he made me see how foolish I was acting over turning 27.  Sometimes you don't realize how good you have it and need a little nudge to knock some sense into you.  Lukas was great, listening to my concerns and allowing me to express myself.  He didn't ridicule or try to change my feelings.  Instead he shared his experiences and made me feel loved.  After spending a wonderful day with the most important women in my life, I was relieved to have a quiet night with Lukas.

After dinner, Lukas insisted on leaving the dishes.  We retreated to the living room with our glasses of champagne in tow.  He motioned for me to sit on the couch and of course I obliged.  I watched as he reached for an envelope and box on the coffee table.  He smiled and said, "I wanted to do something special for your birthday and make it unforgettable. I hope you like what I got you."  His eyes sparkled as he handed me the envelope and present.

I opened the card and tears filled my eyes as I read the front. I gasped when I opened the card and found two first class tickets to PARIS.  I squealed and looked at the tickets again, just to make sure I wasn't imaging things.  I looked at Lukas incredulously and exclaimed, "We're going to Paris?!?!"

He nodded, "Yes.  You seemed so excited when my sister mentioned it."

I threw my arms around him, kissing him.  "This is the best present ever!"

"I'm glad you like it" he said urging me to open the box.

I finished reading the card and then slowly opened the box in front of me.  My breath caught in my throat as I saw a dainty diamond bracelet.  "Oh my God!  This is too much Lukas.  I mean the trip and then this.  You really shouldn't have."

"No it isn't nearly enough.  You deserve nothing but the best and this is only a small trinket to show you how much I love and appreciate you."

I was so overwhelmed with love and emotion that the tears flowed freely.  Lukas gently wiped away my tears with his thumb before tipping my chin up so that I was looking into his loving eyes.  "This is just the tip of the iceberg.  The best is yet to come."

He was right about that. We spend the rest of the night making love...nice, slow and passionate.  Lukas made me feel so loved and special with each touch and kiss.  I blushed thinking about the night we shared.  I almost didn't want to crawl out of bed and get ready for work this morning.

---------

I was in my own little world, thinking about Lukas and our upcoming trip to Paris.  I've been to Paris before but knew that this time it would be different.  Exploring Paris with the love of my life would be an experience that I'd treasure forever.  I was caught off guard when Nick dropped his iPhone.

"Fuck" he muttered.

"What's up?" I asked him.

He shrugged.  "Same shit, different day.  Christine got laid off yesterday."

I felt the color drain from my face.  Christine was awesome and I considered her to be somewhat of a mentor. When I first started at SIB she took me under her wings and was so supportive.  Hearing that she was laid off was like a kick in the stomach.  It took a moment for me to compose a coherent thought.  "How? Why?"

"I don't know the details.  HR called and she went to meet with them.  About a half hour later she came back teary eyed and said her goodbyes.  It was a shock.  None of us saw it coming.  Christine made so much money from this company and they repay her by getting rid of her.  It's fucking ridiculous" he said angrily.

"Wow.  I'm shocked.  Christine was great and I will definitely miss her."

Nick nodded.  "Yeah.  After she left John called us into his office to give us a pep talk.  Basically telling us that we're all safe for the time being."

I wrinkled my forehead.  "What do you mean by safe for the time being?"

"Some shit about how the powers that be will reassess layoffs in three months time.  I guess that means this round is over."

I sighed.  "I don't even know what to think.  For a long while, I've been coming into work with a huge knot in my stomach not knowing if it would be last day.  Knowing that in three months we have to go through this shit again in a couple months is disconcerting."

"I hear you.  It doesn't matter about our numbers or work ethic or anything we do for the company.  Seems like senior management is going to do what they want.  There's no logic to who they chose to get rid of."

----------

When I got home that night all I could think about was work.  So many what ifs ran through my mind.  If Christine, who had been one of the biggest producers for so many years, was let go then anything was possible.  I knew I couldn't control this situation and it was driving me insane.  I reclined back against the sofa and turned on the TV.  I was flipping through the channels when my phone rang.  I hit mute and answered.

"Hey  Liz, what are you up to?" Anthony asked cheerfully.

"Just relaxing.  What's up?"

"Chilling.  I just booked a little trip to Cabo."

I squealed, "Oooh, I'm a little jealous!"

He chuckled, "I'm taking Eleanor with me.  It should be a relaxing weekend."

"Does that mean that things are getting serious between the two of you asked?" I asked.

He hesitated and I remembered that night at the diner when he virtually agreed with Lukas' assessment that I was being too nosey.  Before he could respond I said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to pry.  I don't want to force you to divulge things about your relationship."

Yes I knew I was being immature but I couldn't stop myself.  Anthony cleared his throat.  "Look I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.  I don't mind your questions it's just that sometimes you ask questions that I don't even know the answers to."

"What do you mean?" I asked trying to get a better understanding of where he was coming from.

"I don't know what the future holds for Eleanore and I.  All I know is that I really like her.  I love spending time with her and getting to know her better.  I feel sometimes you want a definitive answer about where our relationship is headed and I can't give you that.  I'm taking it one day at a time and don't want to get my expectations up too high."

I sighed.  "I guess I never really thought about it like that.  I knew that you were spending time with Priya and I didn't want that to fuck with what you have with Eleanore.   Maybe I do push too much at times and I'm sorry for that.  I want you to be happy."

"I know Liz.  Let's move on."

I immediately agreed.  "When are you going to Cabo?"

"In two weeks" he replied.

"Wait...isn't that like spring break time?"

"Even if it is I think most college kids would be in Cancun and not Cabo.  Plus we're staying at a five star resort so I think we'll be good" he replied.

I chuckled, "I hope you have a great time."

"Thanks.  How was your birthday?"

"Good.  Lukas and I are going to Paris" I exclaimed.

"Very cool."

"Yeah I was totally surprised and excited."

He paused before saying.  "That's great."

We talked about work.  Anthony shared that he had interviewed for a position at one of the largest accounting firms and was awaiting a response.  A headhunter reached out to him and at first he was hesitant.  He enjoys his current job but couldn't pass up the opportunity.  At first he thought it would be a long shot but now he was becoming more excited about the possiblity.  "Elisabeth if I land this job then I can move into the city and still maintain my lifestyle."

"What are you talking about?"

"The increase in salary will take care of my rent.  It would be like I'm living rent free" he explained.

"That would be great."

"Yeah and then I'll be able to hang out in the city more and not worry about missing the drunk train back home" he said laughing.

I giggled, "The drunk train is crazy."

"Tell me about it.  Plus I'll get to see Eleanore more."

"Ah.  So that's you're incentive" I said teasingly.

"Maybe."

Monday, April 6, 2015

27 Candles

My birthday was very relaxing.  Lukas had pre-planned a spa day for me.  I surprised to see Melissa, my cousin Maria, my mom and my sister-in-law Kristen waiting for me in front of the spa.  They all rushed towards me and pulled me into a huge group hug.  They spoke over each other, wishing me happy birthday. When they finally pulled away I turned to Lukas and asked in disbelief, "You planned all this?"

He nodded, "I wanted you to have a special day."  

"Thank you" I said quietly as he pulled me near to him.  

"Listen I have to head to work.  I have a meeting with one of the developers that I can't miss.  Promise me you'll have fun."

I gave him a quick kiss, my lips brushing against his.  "I'll try.  Will I see you later?"

He tilted his head to the side.  "Well we do live together" he joked.

I rolled my eyes.  "Such a smart ass.  Do you have anything else planned for me?"

He chuckled, "Maybe I do, maybe I don't."

"Come on Lukas!  Tell me" I pleaded.

He kissed my forehead.  "Enjoy yourself and stop trying to control everything.  Sometimes the best surprises are unplanned."

With that he turned and walked towards the exit.  I sighed and looked at the happy faces staring at me.  "Maybe we should get changed?" my mom suggested gently.

After massages and manicures, we got dressed and headed to Chola for lunch.  Chola is an Indian restaurant that I've always wanted to try.  The food was suppose to be out of this world.  After the waiter returned with our lychee martinis and an iced tea for Kristen, my mom raised her glass.  "Elisabeth...first I'd like to wish you a happy birthday.  I know that this year will be magical for you."

We clinked our glasses together and sat in relative silence for a moment.  Kristen cleared her throat and I looked in her direction.  She positively glowed.  "You have to tell me what type of making you're wearing.  You're skin looks amazing" I said.

She smiled widely,  "Pregnancy hormones and prenatal vitamins.  My hair is growing faster than ever, my skin feels so supple and I have so much more energy now that I've entered my second trimester."

"Hmm, what about your first trimester?" Melissa inquired.

"I was so exhausted all the time which sucked because I had to tend to my kids.  I couldn't just lay down all the time.  Plus I had bouts with morning sickness...who am I kidding?  I had all day sickness.  I couldn't deal with smells and I was moody as hell" she shared.

"Was it like that with all your pregnancies?" Melissa prodded.

My mom interrupted.  "Every pregnancy is different. Some of them are easy from conception to delivery and others are very trying.  When I was pregnant with Elisabeth, I had the craziest mood swings and cravings."

I laughed, "No wonder I'm so damn dramatic."

"No dear, that's your personality" she deadpanned.

Maria chuckled, "Elisabeth was always a bit of an attention whore growing up.  She would make John and Danny cater to her.  If they didn't do what she said, she'd get them in trouble."

"I was preparing them for what laid ahead" I joked.

Kristen giggled, "I guess I should thank you for making John so understanding and compromising."

I shook my head.  "Well I can't take all the credit for that...mom definitely played a part."

"John was always the responsible one.  When Elisabeth came along, we told him that he'd have to look out for his sister.  You make sure she didn't get herself into any type of trouble" Mom reminisced.

I interrupted.  "Yeah, he was worse than dad at times.  I was so glad when he went away to college.  John would literally threaten every boy I spoke with.  I remember when I was dating this guy, Scott, in high school and he came over to pick me....John was home from college and totally interrogated poor Scott.  I was surprised that he even wanted to see me after that."

Maria added, "My brother was the same way growing up.  In retrospect, I'm thankful he was."

I nodded.  "Me too.  John's great....all my brothers are."

"Did you plan your pregnancies?" Melissa asked Kristen.

"This last one was a pleasant surprise but the others were planned" she shared.

"Why all the pregnancy questions?" I asked.

Melissa shrugged, "Josh and I have been trying for months now but nothing.  I'm getting scared and beginning to think something is wrong."

My mom reached over and gently touched Melissa's hand.  "Sometimes all you have to do is stop stressing about getting pregnant."

"I know but I have these thoughts creeping in. What if I'm infertile?  Or what if something is wrong with Josh?" she asked.

"You can see a fertility specialist...you know to make sure that everything is good" I suggested.

She sighed.  "Will you come with me Elisabeth?  I'm afraid to go alone."

I nodded.  "Of course I will."

I was grateful that our conversation moved away from babies and pregnancies.  We were all catching up happily when Kristen asked panicked, "Oh my God Elisabeth, I totally forgot to ask....have you set a date for the wedding?"

"Kinda.  We've decided on June of next year but that might change depending on whether we can get a venue we like" I shared.

She breathed a sigh of relief.  "That gives me time to lose the baby weight. I had a dream the other night that I went into labor at your wedding."

I laughed, "Well that won't happen unless you and John decide to have another baby."

She shook her head.  "I'm done after this one."

My mom played with the stir in her drink while asking, "How is Priya?"

"I visited her earlier. She's getting stronger and stronger and in good spirits.  She said that she's going to start seeing a psychiatrist and work on her issues" Melissa answered.

"And she's talking to Dr. Khan a lot" I added.

Melissa smiled, "She showed me a pic of him....very hot."

"Wait, what about Anthony?" Maria asked.

"What about him?  He's moved on and is happy" Melissa said quickly.

"But wasn't Priya his soulmate?" Maria continued.

I looked at Melissa before saying, "Soulmate is kind of subjective.  Sometimes you meet someone and think they're absolutely perfect for you in every way but then as time goes on you see flaws in their character."

"Do you think Lukas is your soulmate?" Maria asked me.

I took a big sip of my drink.  "I think Lukas is perfect for me.  I read somewhere that soulmates never truly end up together."

"I read that too!  If that's true then I want Josh to not be my soulmate" she said animatedly.

Kristen scoffed.  "Honestly, all this talk about soulmates is bullshit.  If you love someone, you love them and it's not because you have this connection with them from past lifetimes."

After a scrumptious lunch and about three lychee martinis each, we are all feeling buzzed.  While we were leaving the restaurant, my mom suggested we go shopping.  I glanced at my watch and it was only four o'clock.  I tried to get out of it, "Mom, I'm kind of tired and want to go home and lie down for a little while."

My mom gave me a disapproving look and I gave in.  "Fine. We'll go shopping" I muttered unenthusiastically.

The next two hours were spent wandering through Saks.  My mom insisted on getting me a the cutest pair of Christian Louboutin pumps.  I also picked up a basic color block dress with a judo belt.  It such a simple dress and it fit like a glove.  While we wandered through the baby section, Kristen hesitated.  She looked at each of us for a moment before breaking into a huge smile, her face glowing.  "There's something I need to tell you guys" she said excitedly.

We all nodded and waited in anticipation for her big news.  "We weren't going to find out but then we changed our minds because we had to know.  You know how much John hates surprises.  Anyway we went to the doctor the other day and we were debating whether or not we wanted to know the sex of our baby.  He didn't say anything during the ultrasound.  John and I even turned our heads so we wouldn't know.  Long story short, he wrote the sex on a piece of paper that he placed in an envelope."  At this point she paused to catch her breath.

"Aaaannnnnddddd?" I asked expectantly.

"We're having a baby girl.  Well I'm having a baby girl...John isn't pregnant" she squealed.

We all hugged and congratulated her.  I was super excited to have another niece. I couldn't wait to dress her up in the cutest little dresses and hair bows, cuddle with her, give her bottle, be her friend.  As we trekked through the baby section, I picked up a cute little pink outfit for the baby.

"No Elisabeth, you don't have to" Kristen insisted.

"But I want to" I said firmly.  I also picked up a cute Easter dress for my niece and a Burberry polo and khakis for my nephew.  I didn't want them to feel left out and unloved with a new baby coming.  Kristen and John could have ten kids and I'd still love and treat each of them the same.

While I paying for my purchases my phone pinged with a text from Lukas saying that he was home.  I told him that I was at Saks and should be home soon.  Upon leaving the store we all went our separate ways.  My mom, Maria and Kristen taking a cab to Penn Station to catch the Long Island Railroad.  Melissa said that she was meeting Josh for a drink.  I ended up taking a cab home.  My mind drifted to my conversation with Lukas weeks prior when he mentioned a birthday/house warming party.  I quickly whipped out my compact and proceeded to fix my makeup and hair.  I wanted to look half way decent for my surprise party.

I was a little nervous as I walked towards our apartment.  I knocked softly on the door and was greeted by Lukas embracing me.  "How was your day?" he asked, leading my into our apartment.  I stopped in my tracks and looked around.  There were hundreds of tea light candles around the apartment, a small box on top of the coffee table.  Our breakfast bar was illuminated with candlelight and pink and white roses.  Two plates were covered and a bottle of Cristal lay in the ice bucket.

"What's all this?" I asked in surprise.

"It's my birthday present for you.  I know how stressed you've been and thought you'd like a nice, quiet evening at home."

I wrapped my arms around him appreciatively.  "You're the best.  I was dreading walking into a surprise party looking so shitty."

He laughed.  "I did consider throwing you a surprise party but decided that would be too predictable.  Plus after the last two three weeks, I'm exhausted and wanted you to myself."


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Birthday Blues

Wednesday March 4th, my birthday, my 27th birthday.  I groaned when the alarm went off.  I hit the snooze button and reached for Lukas, wanting to snuggle before I had to get ready for work.  Most years I can't wait for my birthday.  I start counting down from weeks before but this year was different.  This year it seemed liked any other day and I didn't want all the pomp and circumstance.  Everything was going right in my life and I was the happiest I've been in a long time but I still felt rather indifferent.  Lukas wasn't in bed and I assumed that he left for work already.

I took a shower and slipped into black slim fit pant with a lacy top and black jacket. It was icy out from the day before when we had a few inches of snow, then freezing rain and regular rain which turned back to snow.  Whatever liquid remained had frozen.  I was so over wearing layers and snow boots.  It was already March, yet you'd guess it was still January from the below normal temperatures and above average snow totals.  I pulled on a pair of knee high cable socks before heading into our kitchen.

I stopped in tracks, immediately noticing a huge bouquet of pink roses.  Lukas was in the kitchen plating breakfast for the two of us.  I picked up the flowers and smelled them. I closed my eyes enjoying the delightful scent.  I put them down and plopped myself onto the couch.  Lukas looked at me at frowned.  "What's wrong?  You look sad."

I shrugged.  "I don't know.  I think I'm depressed about getting older.  It's weird but I just feel so eh today."

"Elisabeth, you're at the prime of your life.  You have a great job, wonderful family and friends and the best fiance in the world" he said with a smile.

I couldn't help but laugh.  "You're so modest, aren't you?" I teased.

"I try.  Let's have breakfast.  Maybe a little food will make you feel better" he suggested.

I shrugged and hesitantly agreed.  Lukas had gone to so much trouble making me breakfast, the least I could do was try to enjoy it.  I slowly ate the delicious french toast before me while making distracted, small talk with Lukas.  He realized this and reached over and brushed his thumb gently over my cheek.  My eyes meeting his.

"Liz, I think I understand how you feel" Lukas said.

I scoffed.  "Yeah sure you do."

"When I turned 30, I felt depressed and unsatisfied with where my life was.  I thought I would have been married with a child by that time, in a career I loved.  Instead I was mourning the loss of my wife, thinking I would never find love again.  My dreams of having a family of my own dashed.  I thought my life was over and didn't know how to cope.  It didn't help that the majority of my friends were married and either had or were expecting kids.  I know what feeling depressed is and I'm telling you have no reason to feel that way.  It's your birthday.  I wish you'd see how loved you are and how much you have going for you."

I lowered my eyes, staring down at my half-eaten breakfast.  "When you put it that way, I feel kind of silly."

He shook his head.  "Me telling you about my experience was not meant to make you feel silly.  I wanted you to realize that you have no reason to be depressed over turning old.  You're 27 for crying out loud!  You're gorgeous, smart, caring, loving, successful, generous, sweet..." At this point I interrupted, blushing.

"Stop Lukas!  You're making it seem like I'm perfect and I'm not.  What if I never life up to my potential?  I like my job but it's not where I see myself forever.  I'm still conflicted and blame myself slightly for Priya's fucked up situation.  Then there's Britney....what type of friend have I been to her?  I turned my back on her when she needed me most.  All these thoughts have been consuming me for a while now but I've pushed them back and now it's all I can think about" I admitted.

Lukas took my hand in his.  "I didn't know you were harboring these feelings.  Why didn't you tell me any of this before?" he asked, clearly concerned.

I sighed.  "I didn't want you think I was being immature and dramatic."

"Elisabeth when we first started dating, there were instances when you acted dramatic and immature.  I'm guilty of the same behavior from time to time."

I raised my right eyebrow.  "Seriously Lukas?!?  When have you been dramatic and immature?"

"Well I was completely wrong to advise you not to tell Priya's parents that she was in the hospital" he replied.

I shook my head.  "That's because you thought Depeka was keeping them in the loop."

"I was wrong to snap at you at dinner the other night. Anthony is your friend and I shouldn't have yelled at you" he said quickly.

My mind drifted back to that evening at the diner.  Me asking Anthony questions about his love life and Lukas basically telling me to shut up and mind my own damn business.  Well maybe he didn't say those exact words but he was rude nonetheless.  "Yes you were wrong" I replied flatly.

He sighed.  "There is no excuse for my behavior and I apologize."

I nodded.  "Okay."

He stared at me for a moment.  "That's it?"

"Yeah.  Our lives have been so complicated lately and I can't hold that against you.  I mean you've been great with Priya's situation.  I don't know how I could deal with all the drama without you."

He smiled.  "How do you feel about calling in sick today?"

I shrugged.  "I'm indifferent to be honest.  I'm just in a really shitty mood."

"Take the day off" he said firmly.

I studied his face.  His green eyes sparkled mysteriously.  "What are you up to?" I asked.

"Elisabeth, just trust me for once" he pleaded.

"Alright fine" I replied, relenting.