Character List

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Never A Dull Moment

Thirsty Thursday.....I was invited to an after-work happy hour but debated whether or not to attend.  It was in celebration of one of our colleagues, Sam, who resigned earlier in the day to work at a hedge fund.  Sam was a quiet Asian middle-aged man with oversized glasse that oftentimes kept to himself.  Whenever I walked over to his desk to speak to him, he would jump and I'd apologize profusely.  He had been in the industry for two decades and spent the last eight years at SIB.  Per John (my manager) his departure would leave a huge hole within our team.  While he was probably right, I was thrilled that Sam was leaving on his own accord and not being laid off. Shortly after he gave his resignation we all received an email to join him at Pranna for his bon-voyage happy hour.

Nick shared that Sam was a wealth of knowledge that he relied heavily upon when he first started.  He was going to go for a drink or two.  "He seems nice enough but he's so quiet" I said.

"He wasn't always that way.  His wife has gone through two bouts with cancer over the past four years and it's impacted him profusely.  When I first started Sam was the one cracking jokes and talking to everyone.  After his wife's cancer returned he became really quiet and kept to himself" Nick shared.

I nodded, "How is his wife doing now?"

He shrugged, "She's nearing the end of her chemo treatment and they're hopeful that she'll be fine."

"I hope so too.  I wish I had known he was dealing with so much."

"Sam's a quiet person when it comes to his personal life.  He doesn't want sympathy.  He wants to come to work, do what he has to do and go home to his family.  That's his main concern.  His wife's health and making sure his sons stay on track.  His oldest is attending Yale in the fall and his youngest is in the National Honor Society and a All-American basketball player" Nick added

"Wow, that's amazing.  I hope that his wife makes a full recovery and gets to see her boys fulfill their dreams.  You've convinced me to go tonight.  I want to wish Sam well."

Nick cautioned, "Don't mention anything that I've said about his personal life."

"I promise...I won't."

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

It was close to six when Nick and I arrived at Pranna.  We immediately spotted our interns doing shots at the bar and I chuckled to myself.  They were so young and so unaware of how to act at a work event.  I debated whether I should say something but then opted not to.  Nick, on the other hand, was far more bold.  He walked over and told them to "cool it and stop acting like they were at a frat party!"

Sam was sitting at a table towards the back with John and a bunch of our co-workers.  He greeted us with a smile and called the waitress over, insisting that we order whatever we wanted.  I got a Madison Mojito which had lavender tea, mint, lemongrass syrup and rum while Nick opted for vodka/club soda.  We broke off into groups with me somehow ending up chatting with Shirley, John's administrative assistant.

She wasted no time whining about our interns.  "It's no fair that they're still in college and can waltz right in and work on the trading desks while I'm only an admin."

"Admins are super important you know?  I don't like how you speak of your job and admins in general.  If you want a change then you have to do something about it.  Stop whining and making comparisons" I advised.

She stuttered, "I didn't mean it like that. I know admins are important but what you guys do is so much more important."

I shook my head, "Shirley...listen to yourself.  No one's job is more important than someone else's is. I was always raised to believe that everyone is the same.  You treat a CEO the same way you'd treat the cleaning person.  Each of us are humans with feelings and shouldn't be defined by our jobs or how much we make."

She glared at me.  "That's what you say now but if you were making $50k a year you'd be singing a different tune."

Why is it that I always get drawn to these psychotic bitches?  This one was not even worth my time.  When she first started I wanted to take her under my wings and guide her...assist her to achieve her dreams/goals but then I realized that she wasn't a go-getter.  She was the type the complained about every little thing.  The only thing preventing me from telling John that she wasn't cutting it was that she actually did her job well.

With a forced smile I managed to say, "If that's what you think then there's no point in trying to change your mind.  I'm going to say goodbye to Sam.  Enjoy the rest of your evening."

I eventually made my way over to John and Sam's table.  "Elisabeth, I'm so glad you could join us tonight" Sam said with a friendly smile.

"Thanks for inviting me.  I wanted to wish you well with your new job.  It's been awesome working with you even though I'm always sneaking up on you and scaring the hell out of you" I joked.

He laughed, "That happens when you get older."

"Oh please, you're not old. You're vintage" I teased.

"Another way of saying old" he quipped and John joined the laughter.

"Sam, you will be missed immensely.  Elisabeth did you know that Sam use to be the class clown before the market started tanking and we were all overtaken by stress?  He is one the most humorous people I've ever come across and I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him through the years. Sam, if ever need anything or want to come back, please call me" John said.

John's words had a profound impact on Sam and I could see his eyes filled to the brim with tears. He looked up to the ceiling, willing those tears away.  "It has been a great privilege to not only work with all of you but to call you my friends.  We've been through highs and lows together and I will always treasure my years at SIB."

With that we all raised our glasses and toasted to Sam.  I was gathering my things to leave when Sam lightly touched my arms.  "Elisabeth I've been in this industry for a long time and I know potential when I see it.  I've watched from afar and admire your diligence and composure.  It's rare to find young people your age with so much dedication.  You're going to go far in this industry.  If you ever need advice or a job...not that I'm poaching you....please do not hesitate to contact me."

I accepted his business card with his new work number and cell phone.  I smiled appreciatively. "I'm flattered by your words and humbled by your kindness.  In an industry so cutthroat at times, it's nice to come across someone as genuine and kind like you are.  I wish that we had had more time to work together...I have a feeling that I could have learned so much from you."

He flushed slightly.  "Thank you.  The world is your oyster.  Never underestimate your potential and keep pushing forth.  I am here to mentor you and share my knowledge; all you have to do is call or email me."

"Can I give you a hug?" I asked timidly.

He nodded.  After a quick hug, I thanked him once again and wished him well before leaving.

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

That night when I got home I found Lukas sitting on the couch, staring straight ahead with a glass of scotch in his hands.  He didn't acknowledge me and seemed lost in his thoughts.  I gently called out him name and he nodded at me before taking a swig of his drink.

"What's going on?" I asked nervously.

He shrugged and slurred, "Lauren is in some hospital in California."

"How much have you drank?"

"I dunno" he said staring ahead.

I sighed, "What happened to Lauren?"

"How the fuck am I supposed to know?  My mom won't tell me anything and blames me for this.  My dad is busy trying to talk sense into my mom and Linda is halfway across the world.  I feel so damn guilty."

I took his drink and place it on the coffee table before taking his hand in mine.  "You know this isn't your fault, right?  I hope Lauren's going to be okay but no one is to blame for anything that happens to her.  She's a grown ass woman and needs to be responsible for her actions."

Lukas laughed bitterly, "Try telling that to my family.  If I had gone to find her she wouldn't be in the hospital.  I'm tired of this shit."

I sat on his lap and embraced him.  "It's going to be okay.  I promise."

"Mom and Dad are taking the red-eye to San Francisco."

"Do you want to go too?" I asked gently.

He shook his head.  "I'm tired of chasing after Lauren.  I've been doing it since I was a kid.  She gets herself into trouble and I have to clean up the mess.  She was never there for me and made my life a living hell most of the time.  My parents were too caught up in trying to save and cure her that they failed to see how she screwed with both Linda and my head.  After Isabella and I were married, Lauren did everything she could to put doubt in our minds and drive us apart.  Her crocodile tears wen Isabella died were as fake as one of those designer bags in Chinatown.  I love my sister but I can't do this anymore."

I noticed tears streaming down his cheeks and my heart ached.  I hated seeing Lukas in so much emotional pain.  As I wiped his tears away, I said, "No one could deny that you love Lauren despite her shortcomings.  You're an awesome brother to her and I know deep down you want to be there for her."

When he didn't say anything I continued, "How about you and I go to San Fran as well?  We'll check in on Lauren and make sure that she's getting the care she needs.  It'll put both of our minds at ease and make Lauren see that she has a support system."

He nodded. "I can tell that I can't talk you out of this.  I'll go but I'm not going to be blamed for whatever she's going through this time."

I kissed his cheek, "I won't let anyone blame you."

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's All Greek to Me

It was a struggle to get out of bed and go to work Monday morning after a delightful three-day weekend.  I was relieved that many people had taken off and it was a quiet day.  Nick was indulging in an extra large iced coffee when I arrived.  His perfect, golden tan was an indication that he had spent a lot of time at the beach.

"You look happy?" he said as I signed onto my computer.

"How is your tan so perfect?  What's your secret?" I asked.

He shrugged, "I'm Greek....what do you expect?"

I laughed and teased, "I almost forgot!"

"I know I might as well put a sign on my forehead in case anyone forgets" he joked.

"How can we forget when you keep reminding us?!?"

"I'm proud of my heritage...what can I say?"

I nodded, "Even in light of Greece possibly defaulting on their debt and leaving the European Union?"

"There's a fundamental problem in Greece, everyone works until they're 50 and then collect their benefits.  They need to adopt a new mindset, especially with an aging population.  I don't think that they'll secede from the EU but they might need stronger controls over their spending."

I sighed, "Maybe.  I think it's really screwed up that they've frozen people's bank accounts and some people don't have money for food or anything.  I heard on the news this morning that there's this Greek couple honeymooning in NYC and they can't do anything because there's a freeze on their debit card.  Thankfully for them one of the Greek Orthodox churches came to their aid."

"That's fucked up.  It's sad to see such a strong country with so much history....we brought democracy and philosophy to the world....we were a country that many look to with admiration.....it's sad that we're in such dire financial straits.  Something has to be done quickly."

I agreed with him.  "I've been to Greece a couple times and it's gorgeous.  The people are so kind and make you feel welcomed and the food is out of this world."

"When my kids are old enough, my wife and I are going to take them to Greece to see our relatives and learn about their culture" he shared.

"I'm sure they'll love and treasure those memories.  When we were kids, my parents use to take my brothers and I to Italy to explore the old country and learn about our roots.  I appreciate and look back on those memories with a huge smile now."

"Did I tell you, my wife and I agreed that it's time to enroll our twin boys in Greek school?  We want them to learn the language and culture" he confided.

I smiled, "Is that a Greek tradition?  I mean every Greek American that I know has attended Greek school."

"Yeah it totally is."

While we worked we compared notes on our weekend.  Nick had taken my advice and hired a party planner for his annual Fourth of July party.  He shared that it eliminated a lot of stress and allowed he and his wife to relax.  Their baby girl wasn't crying as much and they attributed that to switching formulas.  Apparently the one that she was originally drinking upset her stomach.  The boys had a blast playing on the beach and attempting to bury Nick in the sand.  His kids were all terrified of the fireworks...the loud explosion like sounds were too much for them.  All in all he had a great time out East and was looking forward to doing it again this weekend, without all of the guests.

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

I was shutting down my computer and gathering my things when my phone pinged with a text message from Chloe.

Hey Elisabeth....it's was so nice hanging out with you this weekend.  Are you and Lukas free this weekend for dinner with the 'family?'"

My immediate thought was that she wasn't wasting any time.  I wanted to speak with my mom first and give her a heads up.  I thought I was in a better position to make my parents realize that sometimes first impressions are completely wrong and to consider giving Chloe another chance.

I texted back, "Hi Chloe.  It was nice getting to know you too.  Can I talk to Lukas and get back to you?  I don't want to say yes and then flake out if he has something pre-planned."

Immediately after I hit send, I saw the dot, dot, dot indicating that she was replying.  "That's cool.  Thanks so much for everything:-)"

As I took the train home I thought about Chloe and Ryan.  After getting to know her, I realized that she was nothing like Tina.  She was actually on the shy side and apprehensive at times.  I liked that she admitted and apologized for her attitude that day when we met.  In a way, I sympathized with her.  I made such a shitty impression when I first met Lauren, not that it matters since she is fifty shades of crazy, and would have felt horrible if Lukas' parent's used that against me.  If anything Ryan was at fault for putting Chloe in that situation.  This weekend allowed me to get a closer look at Ryan and Chloe's relationship.  They seemed very compatible and into each other.  I liked that she brought out a relaxed, humorous side of my brother.  That's something that he's been lacking for years.  There was something about the way they looked at each other that brought a smile to my face.  I knew that if my parents got to know the real Chloe and saw how much she made Ryan happy, they would be more accepting.

Upon getting home, I stripped out of my clothing and took a cool shower.  Waiting for the train on the steaming hot platform made me feel so sweaty and gross.  After showering I slipped into one of Lukas' old button downs and thong.  My breasts felt tender and didn't need to be confined in a bra. I assumed it was because I was pre-menstrual.  I ordered pizza and opened a bottle of wine.  I filled my glass and took a long sip before retreating to the living room.  I settled on the couch and called my parents.  My dad answered and we talked for a few minutes before he handed the phone to my mom.

"Oh Elisabeth.  How was your weekend?  Did you decide to go back and get that dress?" she blabbered.

"No...I didn't go back and get the dress even though it's all I can think about at times.  I don't know what's wrong with me sometimes" I replied.

"Dear....some women try on hundreds of dresses and can't make up their mind.  I was watching Say Yes to the Dress and this woman tried on over 150 dresses and still didn't know what she wanted."

I laughed, "I think I saw that episode.  Is it just me or do most of the brides try on the same exact dresses in each episode at Kleinfelds?"

"When I was getting married, every bride dreamed about getting a Kleinfeld gown" Mom said nostalgically.

"Mm...I wanted to go there until I spoke with my friend Michelle. When she was getting married she went there and said she felt so rushed and they kept on asking her if she was saying yes to the dress.  It wasn't the laid back, happy appointment that she was looking for."

Mom paused before saying, "I don't know if I mentioned it before but I got my wedding dress there many years ago and it would be an honor if you'd appease me and make an appointment.  Maybe Michelle's experience was isolated?  What do you say honey?  Will you do it?"

I hesitated.  "Mom there's something I need to discuss with you first."

"Oh my...that sounds serious.  What's going on?  Are you pregnant?"

Why is it that every time I tell my mom I need to discuss something she automatically assumes I'm pregnant?  Ugh!  So damn annoying.  "No Mom, I'm not pregnant" I bristled.

"I didn't mean to upset you" she replied quietly.

"It's fine....I want you and dad to have dinner with Ryan and Chloe.  Lukas and I will be there too.  I got to know her over the weekend and I think that our first impressions were way off.  It would mean a lot to both Ryan and Chloe if you and Dad would agree to this" I said, speaking quickly.

"Elisabeth...that woman came into my home and disrespected me.  I don't want my son to be with someone like that" Mom declared.

I sighed and defended Chloe, "How would you feel if you met your boyfriend's parents for the first time and they were against your relationship and didn't even want to take a second to get to know you?  If you want to be mad at someone, maybe it should be Ryan!  He should have told you about Chloe before.  Him showing up and announcing that they were moving in together set off all types of emotions and made you want to protect him from getting hurt again.  All you heard was move in together and attacked."

"Elisabeth" my mom warned but I continued.

"I think she's a nice girl and makes Ryan happy.  All she wants is another chance.  Why is this so hard for you?"

My mom took a deep breath.  "Fine Elisabeth.  I'll give her another chance but the moment she starts acting like Tina, the gloves come off."

"Ryan's a grown man and can make his own choices.  We should be more supportive.  He didn't have to come over and tell you that he wanted to move in with Chloe...he did it because we're such a close family and wanted you to be happy for him.  He's been through so much and it's time we let him make his own decisions and love him unconditionally."

"Enough Elisabeth!  I said I'll give her a second chance.  Give it a rest now.  Until you're a mother you won't understand how hard it is to see your child hurt.  You want to protect them and sometimes you overreact but it's out of love" my mom shouted.

All this drama was making me tense and I downed the remainder of my wine.  "Okay Mom.  You're right...I don't know what it's like to be a mom but I do know that if Lukas' parents were so against our relationship, I'd be heartbroken and constantly wondering why I'm not good enough.  Chloe means well and I think she's a nice, sweet girl."

"Are they moving in together?" Mom asked.

"No. Chloe has an apartment in Manhasset somewhere and they don't intend on moving in together until her lease is over.  That's almost a year from now."

My mom breathed a sigh of relief.  "Good.  Your dad and I will go to this dinner but if Chloe cops an attitude, I will put her in her place."

"You're so gangsta" I teased.

"Elisabeth!

"Sorry Mom."


Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 4th - Part 2

Independence Day.  A day that all Americans should be thankful for the sacrifices made by so many brave men and women so that we can have the freedoms we have today. Sometimes we forget and take the little things for granted.  When I see on the news the oppression that women face I'm saddened and angered for them but at the same time grateful that I have had such wonderful, strong women pave the way for me and my generation.

July 4th is consumed with the beach, barbecues and fireworks.  It's a celebration of our freedom.  I was slightly thrown off when I awoke to a gray, overcast day.  Slightly disappointed, I rolled over and laid my head on Lukas' chest.  I ran my fingers over his stomach playfully while he slept.  He was such a deep sleeper and could sleep through anything sometimes.  I scooted up and smothered kisses all over his face.  No reaction.  I sighed and silently admitted defeat as I crawled out of bed.  By the time I finished showering, Lukas was up and on the phone.

"Mom I told you, I'm not willing to put myself out for Lauren.  I'm not going to go on some while goose chase to find her.  If she really gives a shit about her family, she'd come back home" I overhead.

He was standing with his back towards me, staring out of the window.  I wrapped my arms around him from behind and felt his heart pounding madly in his chest.  Whatever his mom was saying was making him upset.  "Mom...stop with the guilt trip.  Instead of trying to find a scapegoat, place the blame where it belongs.  Lauren has always been like this and I refuse to fall into her trap."

I kissed the back of his neck before slipping into these really cute peach shorts and lace cropped top. After I was done getting dressed, I went downstairs wanting to give Lukas a little privacy.  I was making coffee when Maria sauntered down the stairs.  You would have thought she would have been completely hungover and miserable from the night before but she was full of energy and smiling.

"Morning Elisabeth" she sang.

"Morning...want some coffee?" I asked.

She nodded, "Of course I do."

"Why so happy?"

She grinned.  "I found someone to forget about my ex."

"Is that why you got here so late last night?"

"No.  I was late because I didn't know if I wanted to come out here.  I was debating it and then I realized you'd just bitch and annoy the shit out of me if I stayed home."

I was taken aback and slightly hurt by her words.  I shook my head, "Wow..I didn't know I was such a pain in your ass."

"I didn't mean it like that."

"Whatever" I muttered filling our coffee cups.

"You're a little over the top and bossy at times...that's all" she said, attempting to ease the tension.

"Fine...I get it" I bristled.

Chloe appeared out of nowhere and pleasantly said hello to us.  She introduced herself to Maria before pouring herself a cup of coffee.  "This house is unbelievable" she said cheerfully.

"It is.  Can you imagine being down here every summer?  It would be like the ultimate getaway" I replied.

She agreed.  "So I was talking to Ryan last night and I convinced him to invite your parents to have dinner with us.....but I have a favor to ask you."

I put my coffee cup down and looked at her.  "A favor?"

"Would you and Lukas join us?  It would make the entire situation a little less uncomfortable.  I mean I understand if you can't but it would mean a lot to me if you can."

"Lukas and I would very much enjoy having dinner with you guys" I replied genuinely.

She gave me a quick hug, "Thank you so much Liz."

Maria scoffed off in the distance and we both diverted our attention to her.  "You really think Liz's parents are going to 'come around' because Liz and Lukas are there?"

I glared at her.  "Maria you're really getting on my last nerve this morning.  It's like you're going out of your way to get under my skin.  How dare you think you know my parents better than me or Ryan?  In fact who are you to judge when you know nothing about this situation?"

"Fine...let's just drop it.  Chloe, disregard what I just said" she replied bitchily.

"Chloe, I promise, I won't let my parent's intimidate you.  They aren't nearly as bad as Maria is implying.  Sometimes they're overprotective but know that deep down they mean well" I said reassuringly.

Chloe seemed relieved and replied, "I know how parents are.  Mine can be a nightmare at times and I know it's out of love."

Before I could reply I heard Anthony's booming voice, "Guys we have freshly made bagels."

He and Eleanore entered the kitchen with bags of bagels, every single type of cream cheese and butter.  "I thought it would be a good idea to make a bagel run this morning" he shared.

"I've been craving a hot bagel with scallion cream cheese" I said excitedly.

In no time the kitchen was packed.  I noticed that Lukas looked tense and unhappy.  I didn't want to pass judgement until I heard from him what was going on.  From the corner of my eye I noticed Maria and Blake giggling and whispering into each other's ears.  They seemed to be very much in lust with each other.  I gathered that Blake wasn't looking for anything serious and maybe Maria just needed someone to take her mind off her ex.  I know this might sound selfish but I rationalized that if Blake was engrossed with Maria, then Lukas would not be so preoccupied with thinking that he was up to no good.

"Dude what's up with this weather?" Carmine asked animatedly.

"Eh.  It's suppose to clear up in the afternoon" Anthony replied.

"What do we have planned?" Ryan asked.

"The usual.  Barbecue, pool party, fireworks.  I have a company coming over at three'ish to cook" Anthony shared.

"Did you invite anyone else?" Maria asked.

"Of course we did" Eleanore squealed excitedly.

"Who?" Maria pestered.

Blake looked amused, "What does it matter who?  The more the merrier, right?"

"Just friends who are out here this weekend.  Should be a good time" Anthony answered.

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

As Anthony predicted, the weather did clear up and it turned out to a be a gorgeous summery afternoon.  The sun had just set and the sky was a deep blue, full of sparkling stars.  We were all seated around the table enjoying a dinner of lobster, rack of lamb, macaroni salad, mashed potatoes, corn and sauteed broccoli.  The tension from the morning had been  lifted and we were all in good spirits.

"After the fireworks anyone interested in going to a bar?" Blake asked.

When no responded, he shrugged and mumbled, "I guess not."

After dinner Lukas and I walked towards a gazebo in the middle of yard.  When I was sure that no one would be able to hear us I asked, "So what's going on?  You don't seem like yourself."

He took a deep breath, "My mom is giving me shit about Lauren.  She wants me to run after her and bring her home."

"Oh.  Is everything okay with Lauren?" I asked gently.

"She's on the West Coast having the time of her life with zero regard for her family.  What am I suppose to do to make her see the errors of her ways?  If her kids can't make her come to her senses why does Mom think I can?" he asked.

"I think your mom is worried and feels that you're very dependable and can do the impossible."

"I feel so guilty.  What if something happens to Lauren?  I'll blame myself because I was too selfish to go find her and bring her back home" he said angrily.

"Does you Mom know where Lauren is?" I asked.

He shook his head, "No one knows where she is.  My point is if she wants help she needs to take the first step.  Lauren can't even admit that she has a problem."

"Yeah.  The first step is always to admit you have a problem and work on fixing it."

"Lauren's always been like this and there is no changing or fixing her" he added.

I nodded, "I'm sorry your mom is holding you accountable for Lauren.  She's a grown woman and needs to wake up and realize that what she's doing is detrimental to her kids. Not to mention that all her issues are self-inflicted.  You're not responsible for any of that.  I get that your Mom is concerned and she's probably reaching out to you because you're her only hope.  She doesn't know who else to turn to."

"I hate being put in these situations" he exclaimed.

I wrapped my arms around his back and held him tightly.  "You've done all you've can and now the ball is in Lauren's court.  I know it's easier said than done but you can't blame yourself for Lauren's problems.  She made her bed and now has to lie in it."

"Too bad my mom can't comprehend that."

"Oh Lukas....she probably does but is expending all options.  I don't think either of us can blame her for wanting to find Lauren and get her the help she needs.  Her methodology is clearly wrong but her heart's probably in right place" I reasoned.

Lukas looked pensive...analyzing what I said....for a moment before we heard the loud boom of the first firework to fill the clear blue sky.  We diverted our attention to the sky, watching it magically light up.  Lukas' arms snaked around my waist and pulled me near.  I placed my two hands flatly against his chest and looked into his intense green eyes.

"Just think this time next year we'll be married" I gushed.

"I can hardly wait to marry you" he whispered before tipping my chin up with his finger and kissing me.  My arms automatically wrapped around him and pulled him closer. My heartbeat quickened and a feeling of euphoria filled me.  There's just something about kissing under the fireworks that makes me weak in the knees.

We were both breathless when Lukas pulled away and rested his forehead against mine. "Little things like this make me realize how lucky I am" he said gazing into me eyes.

"Me too" I replied emotionally.

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

After the massive fireworks display Lukas and I retreated back into the house to our bedroom where we talked, kissed and cuddled until we both fell into a deep sleep.  It filled my heart with happiness to know that I had finally found someone that I could talk to about anything and vice versa.  Maybe we both have crazy families but at the end of the day, we had each other.  With Lukas by my side, I knew that everything would be okay.

The next morning after we showered and got dressed, Lukas and I made sure we had our things packed. To beat the traffic, we had planned to leave around midday.

"Maria and Blake seemed pretty cozy last night" I shared.

Lukas looked at me puzzled, "Does that bother you?"

"No...I don't want her to do something she'll regret.  She's still reeling over her ex getting engaged and is so vulnerable.  It's crazy....when I saw them together last night I was thinking that maybe Blake was exactly what she needed to forget about her ex but now I'm worried that he'll just add to her list of problems" I explained.

"She's a grown woman who's capable of making her own decisions.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, let's get the facts first.  No sense in worrying about something that might happen."

I nodded, "I guess....I'm starving.  Let's go eat and get out of here."

He chuckled, "Don't eat too much.  On our way home I want to make a pit stop at my favorite place out here for lunch."

My eyes lit up, "Which place?"

"It's a surprise.  You'll find out soon enough!"

When we got downstairs, I was immediately greeted by Melissa sitting on Blake's lap.  They seemed to be engrossed with each other.  I turned my attention away from them and joined my brother and Chloe.

Between mouthfuls of his omelette Ryan said, "Chloe was telling me that you and Lukas are cool with having dinner with us and mom and dad?"

I nodded, "Yeah.  Why not?  As long as you're paying that is."

We all laughed and Ryan quipped, "That's my sister...as long as there's food involved, she's game."

After breakfast we all hung out by the pool area. I was slightly surprised when Maria walked over and asked if we could talk in private.  We walked in relative silence outside the house and sat around the patio table.

"Listen I want to apologize for being a bitch to you.  I didn't mean to.  It's just that William being engaged has thrown me for a loop.  One minute I'm with my friends and loved ones thinking that everything will be fine and then all of sudden my mind drifts back to William being engaged and I feel sick to my stomach.  Some days I'm so on edge that I can't even think straight.  I don't know what the fuck to do."

I reached over and gently rubbed her hand, "I don't know what to say to make this better.  I'm sorry that you're feeling so down and of course I accept your apology.  I love you and I'm here for you if you want to vent or even get away for a little."

"I appreciate that" she said as her eyes filled with tears.

"I have an idea....why don't we go to kickboxing?  It's allow both of us to get rid of some aggression."

She forced a smile, "Can I pretend the punching bag is William?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way!" I quipped.

"Thanks Liz.  For being so understanding even when I'm a completely miserable bitch."

I hugged her, "You're not...you're a wonderful person and deserve happiness.  Fuck William.  There's someone out there that will sweep you off of your feet...love and appreciate you and make you so happy."

She nodded, "You know that guy Blake?  He's been really sweet.  We stayed up most of the night talking.  He told me about his ex girlfriend and how hard it was to get over her.  I feel like he understand what I'm going through."

I was relieved that she didn't have a one-night stand with Blake.  "That's nice.  I'm glad he was there for you."

"He's a nice guy.  He told me that he's too scared to get into a relationship" she said with a laugh.

"That sucks" I answered.

"I'm beginning to think that maybe I am too."

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 4th - Part 1

Blake flashed his perfect smile at me before engulfing me in a hug.  He shook Lukas' hand and Alex followed suit.  "You two should have met up with us in Miami" Blake said amicably.

I cleared my throat, "Lukas and I were really busy."

"Some other time then" he replied with a smile.

After pizza and few drinks we were all chatting and having a good time. I was a little perturbed when Blake sauntered over to where Lukas and I were and requested that the three of us speak in private.  Lukas hesitantly agreed and we walked towards the front of the house.  Blake paced behind us slowly.

"I wanted to apologize to both of you.  That picture that I texted wasn't meant for you.  I'll show you my phone.  I was texting this girl Emily that I met at a bar the night before and one thing led to another and we started sending each other pics.  I thought I was sending it to her but accidentally sent it to you.  If you want I'll show you my phone so you can see I'm not making this up" he pleaded.

I shook my head.  "That won't be necessary."

"I'm sorry.  After being cheated on, I would never try to break up anyone's relationship.  If my 'girlfriend' got a pic like that from some dude, I'd be livid and want to kick his ass.  You both have every reason to be pissed but know that my intention was never to hook up with you" Blake replied.

I didn't know what to say and was grateful when Lukas said, "Everyone makes mistakes.  Let's put this behind us and have a good weekend."

I was completely surprised by how well he was taking this.  "Thanks man.  I'm sorry for this.  I'm an careless idiot at times."

"Aren't we all?" Lukas quipped.

"Before we go in I want you to know if anything I'm envious of your relationship.  I don't think I'd ever find that and it's refreshing to see two people genuinely in love with each other" Blake shared.

I smiled.  "Thanks Blake.  Maybe with time you'll start to see things differently."

"Maybe if I ditched Alex, I'd start to see things differently.  Going to the clubs or bars each night is getting old" Blake replied.

Lukas added, "You never know when the right person will walk into your life."

After Blake wandered off to get a drink, I commented, "I guess he made a mistake.  Maybe he isn't that bad?"

Lukas scoffed, "Really Elisabeth?  You fell for that shit?"

I furrowed my eyebrows, "He seemed sincere and apologetic."

"It's all an act.  He's trying to save face and act like he made a mistake.  I'm positive he knew damn well what he was doing.  That entire 'you two should have met up with us in Miami' spiel....complete bullshit.  He asked you to hang out."

I sighed, "So what now?"

"I'm going to keep my eye on him. I don't trust him one bit."

I shook my head,  "Fine.  But what if you're wrong and he was being honest?"

He laughed, "Then I'll own up to it and admit my mistake. You don't have to worry about that though because I know I'm right this time."

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

The next morning I was conversing with Eleanore and Diana on the front porch while we indulged in coffee and donuts.

"What do you know about this Blake guy?" Eleanore asked.

I shrugged, "Nothing really.  He just happened to have the seat next to me on the plane and we started talking and he mentioned he knew Anthony and wanted to reconnect."

"There's something about him that rubs me the wrong way" Eleanore admitted.

"I think he's really hot" Diana chimed in.

"Yes he's attractive but he seems shady" Eleanore shared.

"I don't know" I replied quickly.

Diana leaned in, "When he walked in all I could think was 'OMG it's the guy from Magic Mike'.  He's so hot and those eyes" she squealed.

"Aren't you suppose to be in love with Carmine?" I asked annoyed.

"Are you saying that because I'm in a relationship I can't find another man attractive?" she inquired.

Eleanore interrupted, "No.  I don't think that's what Elisabeth was implying.  It's just really weird to hear you go on and on about him when you're here with Carmine."

I agreed adding, "We all just met last night and I'd like to get to know the real you since you and Carmine so much in love."

She nodded, "I guess I'm not making much of a first impression.  I love Carmine and don't want to be with anyone else.  What I said about Blake is something I'd say to my girlfriends if we were out."

"I get it.  Let's forget about it...it's not a big deal" I answered.

We were getting to know each other when that same brand new Volkswagen that was in my parent's driveway pulled up.  I took a deep breath knowing that Chloe and my brother Ryan would soon be making their way up with walkway.  What would I say?  Would they even want to speak with me? I haven't spoken with Ryan since that day and I didn't know if he proceeded with his plans or not. Whenever I spoke with my parents we talked about everything but Ryan.  I braced myself for a potentially awkward moment.

Time seemed to move at a snails pace.  My anxiety had my pulse racing and my mouth feeling so dry.  I gulped down the remainder of my coffee and wiped my sweaty hands on my cutoff denim shorts.  Ryan eyes locked with mine and he offered a smile.  "Lizzie, how are you?" he asked pleasantly while pulling me in for a hug.

I hugged him back, "I'm doing well.  What's going on with you?"

He shrugged, "Same old, same old.  You know how it is."

Chloe nervously said, "Hi Elisabeth."

"It's so good to see you again Chloe.  I'd very much like the opportunity to get to know you since you are such a huge part of my brother's life."

She nodded, "I'd like that too."

Eleanore excused herself to show Ryan and Chloe to their rooms, leaving Diana and I.  "That's your brother?" she asked.

"Yes.  Why?" I replied.

"He looks like a nice guy.  And his girlfriend seems sweet."

"I guess.  I don't really know her well."

Diana nodded, "My older brother brought home an Asian girl and my parents flipped out.  They're old school Italians and couldn't fathom him being with a non-Italian woman.  They did everything they could to break them up but soon came to realize that love conquers all.  Today she and my mom are the best of friends.  Goes to show that first impressions are sometimes way off."

Exasperatedly I asked, "Why are you telling me all this?"

She was taken aback by my response but forced a smile.  "It was so tense when they arrived and I thought that I could help by sharing my personal experience."

"I didn't mean to snap at you.  I'm glad that you're family came around and accepted your brother and his girlfriend."

She grinned, "Wife.  They got married a couple weeks ago and all I can think about is my future wedding.  I think I'm driving Carmine insane."

I giggled, "You got wedding fever!  It happens.  Do you think Carmine's the one?"

Her face lit up at the mention of his name and a huge smile encompassed her face. Her eyes twinkled as she said, "Without a doubt.  I can see myself growing old with him.  I am so in love with everything about him...even his really annoying habits."

I couldn't help but smile at that notion.  "I feel the same way about Lukas.  It's so hard to explain but when you've found the one you're meant to spent the rest of your life with you just know."

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

That afternoon the men decided to barbecue while we were lounging by the pool.  While I conversed with the women, I glanced at the time on my phone.  It was close to four and there was no sign of Maria.  Where the heck could she be?  The last time we spoke she said that she'd be over by midday.  I sent her a quick "where are you text" before turning my attention back to the larger group.

"Elisabeth, Eleanore was filling us in on your wedding dress shopping experience" Diana said happily.

"Ugh.  I fell in love with this gorgeous dress and it's all I can think about but I can't pull the trigger.  I keep thinking that as soon I purchase the dress I'm going to find another that's even more perfect and I'll be left with buyers remorse.  I don't know what the hell is wrong with me"

They all laughed and Chloe suggested nervously, "If you keep thinking about it, maybe that's a sign that it is the one."

"Probably but I'm stubborn sometimes."

Seeing Chloe in this environment gave me a different impression of her.  She seemed a little insecure and timid but that might be because she didn't want to make a bad impression.  She was also hilarious and very sweet.  I was beginning to see why Ryan was smitten with her.

"Why is there so much tension between you two?" nosy Diana asked looking from me to Chloe.

I cleared my throat.  "No tension.  We don't know each other well enough for there to be any tension."

Chloe breathed a sigh of relief.  "I don't have an issue with Elisabeth either."

It was apparent that Diana didn't believe either of us but thankfully dropped the subject.

While Diana dominated the larger conversation I gently nudged Chloe and she turned her head to look at me.  "Listen I'm sorry that things got out of hand at my parent's house.  In retrospect, I can only imagine how you felt and I understand your frustration.  Ryan really likes you and I'd like for us to have an amicable relationship."

She smiled.  "I'm sorry too.  I didn't mean most of what I said and I realized that I came off as such a bitch.  I'm really a nice woman deep down."

"Aren't we all?" I quipped.

She laughed, "I want to get to know you and the rest of Ryan's family.  Ryan told me about his soon to be ex wife and I understand why you're all so guarded and protective of him."

I nodded, "His announcement was a complete surprise and caught us off guard.  I know you aren't Tina and I'm willing to start over if you are."

"I'd like that a lot."

"Hi there, I'm Elisabeth" I said, extending my hand.

She played along, "I'm Chloe.  It's nice to meet you."

After we playfully bantered back and forth for a little she said, "Ryan and I didn't end up moving in together.  The more we discussed it, the more we realized we were rushing it.  Ryan's not even divorced yet and I want to make sure I'm not just some rebound chick.  I love him with all my heart and I am willing to wait until the time is right.  I wanted to let you know."

"That makes sense" I replied quietly.

"My lease was up on my place and I ended up getting an apartment close to where your parents live."

I clasped my hands together, "Whenever you and Ryan are completely comfortable and ready to take your relationship to the next level, I'll be there to cheer you on.  My parents want the best for Ryan too and I think if you got to know them a little better they would totally be on board."

She nodded, "Funny you say that...I told Ryan the same exact thing last night but you know how he is at time."

"Stubborn" I said laughing.

"Yes!!!"

"It's a family trait" I deadpanned.

"What is?" Ryan asked behind me.

"You're stubbornness" I teased.

He chuckled, "You should be the last person to call anyone out on being stubborn."

I playfully rolled my eyes dramatically, "You are so annoying Ryan."

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

That night we were sitting around the patio, drinking wine when Maria arrived.  She said hello to everyone before pouring herself a large glass of wine.  In record time she downed it and poured herself another glass.  I whispered to Lukas, "Do you think I should say something about her drinking?"

"No.  Let her be.  Sometimes you need a drink to take your mind off things."

I sighed and sat back, watching as she drank herself into oblivion.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Prelude to July 4th

It's always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of living in Manhattan.  Lukas and I schlepped our luggage to his Range Rover before heading out east to the Hamptons for July 4th weekend.  As we drove, he asked how Maria was doing.

"She doing so much better.  She's been scouting out wedding venues on Long Island and has even created a scrapbook for us" I shared.

"Are we definitely getting married on Long Island?" he asked.

I shrugged.  "I don't know Lukas.  I think ideally it will come down to what both of us want.  Right now all this is taking Maria's mind off of her issues."

"True.  Would you be opposed to checking out my parent's country club in Greenwich?"

"Not at all.  I'm not opposed to anything right now. When I was a kid I wanted to get married in this castle in Long Island but now I realize it was a pipe dream.  Who in their right mind spend close to half a million dollars on a wedding?  I'd be crazy to think that my parents would spring for that."

He chuckled, "Why not Elisabeth?  Both of us do well financially and can afford an over the top wedding if that's what you'd like.  A wedding for 200 people in NYC would run us close to a $100k."

"I don't want be one of those couples that goes all out to show off what they can afford and then get divorced weeks later.  I want a wedding that's full of love.  Our wedding day is important but so are all the subsequent days.  I want a marriage not just a fancy wedding.  I don't know if that makes any sense."

"It makes complete sense and I agree with you wholeheartedly."

I smiled, "So there is one thing that I've been toying with.  I don't want you or anyone to think that I'm marrying you for what you have.  What are your thoughts on getting a prenup?"

He sighed, "I'm not a fan.  I understand wanting to protect your assets.  However going into a marriage and making plans for what will happen if things don't work out seems hypocritical to me.  I want to marry for the long haul.  I want to grow old with you.  Even when I'm bald, half deaf and probably with a beer belly, I want you to look at me like you do today."

"So when my boobs are sagging and I have stretch marks and wrinkles you'll still love me?" I teased.

"Of course.  Because when I look at you, I see both you inner and outer beauty.  How you physically look thirty years from now doesn't matter."

My heart fluttered.  "That is the sweetest thing you've ever said."

"I meant every word of it" he said honestly.

"I know.  Do you think we can add that to our wedding vows?" I inquired.

He chuckled and joked, "The part about your boobs sagging or my beer belly?"

"Both!  No just kidding.  The part of loving each other unconditionally."

He nodded, "Of course but I didn't know we were writing our own vows."

"Nor did I until now.  I mean those words that you said from your heart mean so much more to me than repeating the traditional vows."

"We can write our vows together" Lukas offered.

I joyfully agreed.  "So I heard from Anthony that my brother might show up with Chloe for the party.  They aren't probably won't be staying at the house though.."

"How do you feel about that?" he asked.

I shrugged, "Honestly, I don't know.  I think it's fucked up that Ryan's jumping into another relationship so quickly. He's still married to Tina!  I was annoyed with Chloe's attitude but then I guess I softened a bit.  It must suck to think that your boyfriend's family hates you.  I'm going to be receptive to getting to know her.  At the end of the day Ryan is my brother and I want him to be happy."

"And you think Chloe makes him happy?" Lukas inquired.

"I don't know.  Only he knows what makes him happy.  If my family was against us moving in together, I'd be so hurt and pissed.  I want Ryan to know that I support his decisions even if I don't agree with them."

Even though he kept his eyes on the traffic in front of us I knew from his demeanor that he agreed with me.  "Family is everything."

"Plus Maria is coming out too.  I wanted to kick William's ass for putting her through this shit again."

"Yeah he's pretty fucked up.  Too bad for his fiance" Lukas said.

"She doesn't know what type of man she's marrying."

He nodded.  "Do you really want to get married in that castle?" he asked changing the subject.

"I don't know.  I'd have to see it first.  From the outside it looks amazing and I've been to events there before but I'd...I mean we'd have to make an appointment and see if it's what we both want."

As he gently squeezed my knee he said, "Let's do it.  I want to see this castle you've raved and dreamed about all these years."

"But Lukas what if we visit and I fall in love with it and it's out of reach" I whined.

"Nothing's out of reach" Lukas proclaimed."

"We can't waste all our money on a wedding.  What about our other dreams?  You know that house with the picket fence to raise our kids in?" I said being the rational one for once.

He laughed, "It'll work out.  Trust me."

As we drove we talked about our families.  I was surprised to hear that Lauren had cut off all communication with her family.  Jeff, her soon to be ex-husband, was raising the kids and they seemed to be happier than they have been in a long time.  I knew that would be short lived because it would only be a matter of time before they start asking for their mother.  Lukas shared that his mom was devastated by Lauren and her behavior.

"She says that this isn't the way she and dad raised us and she's right.  I don't know what caused Lauren to behave the way she does.  We all had a picture perfect childhood" Lukas shared.

"Maybe she's being rebellious?" I suggested.

"I don't know what it is but she better snap out of it quickly for her kids' sake."

I agreed with him and was slightly surprised when he asked, "Are you still yearning to have a baby?"

"Sometimes I am and then sometimes I realize the timing isn't right.  I'm only 27...isn't that too young for my biological clock to be ticking?  Sometimes when I see babies all I can think of is having one of our own.  Is something wrong with me?"

He shook his head.  "Absolutely not.  Listen whenever you're ready, I'm right here.  We don't have to wait until we're married unless you want to."

"I do.  How can we tell our children not to have kids out of wedlock if we had them before getting married."

"You have me there.  You'll be an awesome mom" he said sweetly.

"Mm you'll be the best dad.  You're so calm and patient.  It melts my heart to see you Stephanie and Liam."

He glanced in my direction quickly.  "We've both been incredibly blessed with wonderful parents."

That I couldn't argue with.  As we neared our destination the traffic was going at a snail's pace.  We made our getaway midday Thursday because we assumed most people would head out east Thursday night or Friday morning.  We couldn't have been anymore wrong.

I complained, "This is why I hate coming out here.  We could walk and get to the house quicker."

"Patience Elisabeth.  We'll be there soon enough" Lukas replied soothingly.

After getting off at Exit 70 on the Long Island Expressway, tt literally took an hour for us to get to the house. As Lukas turned into the circular driveway, I took in the beauty of this gorgeous, sprawling Mediterranean house.  The garden was immaculate with a wide array of colorful blooming flowers and a perfectly manicured, luscious green lawn.

"Lukas what do you think about renting a house similar to this or maybe even a little more extravagant for our wedding.  We could get a company to set up a massive air conditioned tent with wood floors for our reception" I questioned.

"Honestly, it wouldn't make sense to rent a house like this when both of our families have similar homes.  Even my house in Connecticut....it has a huge yard and plenty of space inside" he replied.

"I guess.  I was just thinking out loud.  I don't know where we'd put our out of town guests if we did have a wedding in the Hamptons."

As he shut off the engine he said, "Maybe this isn't the place for us."

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

Inside the house was even more elegant that the outside.  We were greeted by hardwood floors, fancy moldings and classic artwork.  The furniture looked like something out of a magazine.  There wasn't a thing out of place. Anthony suggested we put our stuff in one of the guest rooms upstairs.  After we were done we joined him and Eleanore in the chef's kitchen.  All of the appliances were stainless steel and immaculate....not a fingerprint in sight.  The island we sat around was covered by dark granite.  As we indulged in wine and cheese Eleanore started talking.

"I've never been out here before and I'm so star struck. I swear I saw Billy Joel but Anthony thinks I'm imagining things" she shared.

"You and I should go shopping in East Hampton.  There's a ton of high end stores and it totally feels like you're in another world" I suggested.

She grinned, "We should leave these two here and go now!"

I knew she was kidding but played along until the doorbell rang.  In walked Carmine (Anthony's best friend, whom I've known most of my life) and a very curvy brunette with olive skin.  After greeting all of us, he introduced us to his girlfriend Diana.  Slowly but surely the house started to fill up.  There were at least 14 of us when the doorbell rang again.  I nearly choked on the cracker I was nibbling on when I saw Blake and Alex walk into the kitchen.

Monday, July 13, 2015

There's a Reason He's an Ex

My heart was pounding as I waited for Maria at Tony DiNapoli's...an Italian restaurant in the theater district.  I texted Maria and she told me she should be there in a few minutes.  I scanned the crowd and saw a mixture of Broadway theater go-ers and tourists in shorts and t-shirts.  Tony DiNapoli's is more a family restaurant with a happening bar in front.  Our waiter asked if I wanted a drink and I nodded.  "May I have a glass of Moscato?  Actually make it two?"

Moscato wasn't one of my favorites but I knew that Maria had an affinity for it.  As the waiter returned with the drinks Maria arrived.  She gave me a quick hug before sitting across from me.  "I will give you ladies a moment to go over the menu."

I looked at Maria who didn't seem to have a care in the world.  She was dressed to the nines and her hair was perfectly blown out.  She didn't look like she was missing sleep or worried about anything. She scanned the menu and suggested that we get baked clams for our appetizers and split something for dinner.

"Yeah, that's a good idea.  The portions here are huge!" I replied.

After the waiter took our orders, I turned my attention to Maria.  She smiled.  "I guess you're wondering why I needed to see you."

I nodded, "Yes.  Is everything alright?"

She shrugged as tears filled her eyes.  "I'm such an idiot Liz.  I thought that William wanted to get back together with me and fell for every word he said only to find out that he was playing me."

Sidenote:  William was this man that Maria dated for over three years. He wasn't classically good looking but there was something about him that was very sexy and appealing.  On surface he seemed to be the perfect man for Maria but he wasn't.  He tried to get Maria to conform to his ideals and wanted to make her into something she wasn't.  He was never emotionally available and whenever they got into arguments he would act as though she was crazy.  There was never any talking things through.  All issues were brushed under the rug.  He was the type who would criticize how she looked and what she wore, making her feel so insecure at times.  Hearing that she was talking to him again made my blood boil.

"When did the two of you reconcile?" I asked evenly.

"We never really reconciled but have been talking that past two months.  He texted me out of the blue and started saying everything I wished he would while we were together.  He had me convinced that he had changed and wanted the same things I did.  He made me feel so special and I started to get feelings for him again."

"So you and him have been dating?" I asked.

She shook her head.  "I guess I should have known that something was off.  I mean he never took me out in public.  Instead he'd show up at my place and we'd have sex and then he'd make some excuse about having to get early for work and leave."

"Okay....so you two had a friends with benefits thing going?" I asked as calmly as possibly even though I had a good idea where this was headed.

A lone tear drop made it's way down her cheek and she brushed it away with the back of her hand.  "He made me all these promises and I was beginning to fall in love with him all over again."

I rubbed her hand gently, trying to comfort her.  She sighed and looked me straight in the eye. "Sunday night I went out to dinner with a bunch of friends...some of them mutual friends of both William and I.  Anyway, during dinner I got the shock of my life."

"William showed up with another woman?" I offered angrily.

She shook her head and took a couple deep breaths to compose herself.  "Matt, one of our mutual friends, mentioned that William got engaged the day before.  I thought I was hearing things until I saw the pics of him and this beautiful woman on Matt's Facebook feed.  My heart was leaping out of my chest and I felt so sick.  I ran to the bathroom and threw up.  I couldn't face any of our friends and just left.  I've been crying and in bed the past day or so.  I can't keep anything down and I keep thinking about him.  How could I be so fucking stupid?"

I gave her a hug and allowed her to vent before saying.  "You're not stupid.  William is an asshole.  How dare he string you along when he had a girlfriend?  Part of me wants to go and kick his ass for you."

"I feel so guilty.  We had sex Thursday night!  Two nights before he proposed to this girl.  I feel so cheap and used.  It took me so long to get over William and now I have to go over all this shit again.  I feel like my world is collapsing" she said honestly.

My heart broke for her.  "Oh honey.  I'll help you get over William.  You deserve someone that will love and respect you.  Not some asshole that's playing you and feeding you lines.  I'm so pissed that he hurt you like this."

"Don't blame him completely.  I'm partially responsible.  It's not like he forced himself on me.  I was a willing participant" she said sadly.

"This is NOT your fault.  You didn't know he had a girlfriend.  He's such a fucking loser for doing this to you and his now fiance.  It's a damn shame she doesn't know what a piece of shit she's marrying" I said angrily.

She sipped her Moscato and played with the baked clams.  "What am I suppose to do now Liz?  I feel so hurt and angry.  All I can think about is him and all those good times we shared and then I hear those words that he's engaged and then I feel like a part of me is dying all over again."

"I don't know how to make the hurt go away.  I wish I did but there isn't a magical cure.  The most you can do is to do things to take your mind off of him.  Maybe every time a memory pops into your head you think about something else that you enjoy?  And you have to get back to your normal life.  You can't lay in bed an mope all day.  William is not worth it."

"I don't know if I can" she said quietly.

"You can and you will.  You are so much better than William and you will find a man that will appreciate and love you.  You were always too good for him" I replied.

"How could he use me like that?"

I shrugged, "I don't know.  He's a fucking loser."

"You know he texted me last night asking to come over" she shared.

I shook my head in disbelief.  "First thing you're going to do is delete all his contact info from your phone and block his number."

"I know.  Part of me wants to see him one last time though.  Like the final goodbye."

"No....because then you'll only get pulled deeper into this mess.  No more William."

She sat there staring at the food before us.  "You need to eat something and I'm not taking no for answer.  There's no way I'm going to sit back and allow William bring you down."

Maria tried to protest but I gave her a stern look and she took a bite of the chicken parm we ordered.  The rest of dinner was filled with conversation about Will and Maria's feelings.  I felt that I was making great strides in helping her get over the hurt when she said, "You're right.  I was just a pawn in William's fucked up games."

I nodded, "Listen I know this is hard for to deal with but I know you.  You're one of the strongest women.  This is just a blip in the radar."

"Thank Liz.  I need to get away from here for a while."

I frowned, "Like a vacation?"

"Something like that.  A weekend where I can cut lose and not have to worry about any of this shit."

I thought quickly, "Well Anthony's having a party at a house he rented July 4th weekend.  I don't think he'll mind if you come."

"Are you sure Liz?"

"Of course.  I'll double check with him but I'm positive it'll be okay."

She laughed, "You remember last July 4th when you and Britney confronted Jason?"

I flinched at the memory.  "Let's not talk about that."

"So much has changed since then.  You're engaged and found the love of your life" she said genuinely.

"And you will too!  Do you know what I just realized?"

She wrinkled her forehead, "No...what?"

"In a little over a year, I'm going to be a married woman...and I haven't even started wedding planning yet.  We don't have a venue or anything figured out" I panicked.

"I can help you with that.  It'll take my mind off my own issues" she offered.

I graciously accepted.  "You're the best Maria."


****** Hi Dolls - just wanted to say a huge thank you for being so sweet and sticking up for me.  I don't want to disable comments because I love reading your thoughts.  All I ask is that we remain respectful (which 99% of you are) of each other's opinions.  This blog is suppose to entertain and be fun....an escape from reality;-)

Let me know what you thought of this post and what you think Maria should do to get over William. I wrote this post a couple weeks ago....one of my best friends is dealing with a similar situation. She actually read this post yesterday (Sunday) and gave me her approval.  I didn't want to post something so close to her real life experience without her consent. Anyway, you guys are awesome and I hope all of you have a wonderful Monday and a fabulous week ahead!  *******

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Daily Grind

It has been a week since Lukas and I returned to New York from our unpredictable Miami trip.  We were back on track and things couldn't be better.  I realized that even though I was uncomfortable with some of Alex and Blake's actions and words on the flight, I pushed those thoughts to the side; I was beginning to think maybe I liked and was flattered by the attention.  Not that Lukas wasn't attentive and loving.  He was all that and so much more.  Blake texted me sporadically throughout the week but I ignored his messages.  I heard from Anthony that they two of them were going to have drinks after work last Thursday.  Anthony graciously invited me but I declined.

I was finishing up a conference call when Nick got to work.  I nodded in his direction before focusing on my call.  Once I was done, Nick asked, "What was that call about?"

I sighed, "Nothing fun.  Just all the changes that will take place once Volcker goes into effect."

For those who are not in the financial industry, Volcker is the last component of the Dodd-Frank act that more of less prohibits large banks from speculating transactions.  For large investment banks like SIB, we were subject to many new reporting rules.  

Nick nodded, "I think we have many of the action points in place already.  What's the deadline?  July 21?"

"Yep.  There's mandatory training sessions for all of us too."

"Great" Nick said flatly.

I frowned, "Why so cranky?"

"I'm sleep deprived.  Our baby cries all freaking night long.  We've tried everything but nothing works.  When we finally get her down, the boys are awake so it's like an ongoing saga.  I don't know the last time I got at least four hours of sleep."

"Aw,  It'll get better soon" I said gently.

He shook his head.  "It sure as hell can't get any worst."

"Maybe the baby sleeps too much during the day and isn't tired at night?" I suggested.

"I have no fucking clue.  Between my sleep deprivation and all this shit I have to do at work, my brain is fried."

"Do you want me to get you coffee?  That might help" I offered.

He smiled, "No, you're not my secretary."

I chuckled, "True.  How about we send our intern over there on a Starbucks run?"

"Now that's not a bad a idea" he replied.


Nick was in better spirits after coffee.  As the work day progressed we talked about our plans for the summer.  "My wife and I rent a house out east every July.  It's generally quiet and relaxing and we have this annual July 4th party with all of our friends and family."


"That sounds like fun.  The Hamptons is amazing."


He nodded, "I know.  What I don't know is how to pull off this party?  Both my wife and I are extremely tired and don't have a minute to spare."


I rubbed my hands together excitedly.  "Why don't you hire a party planner?  They can arrange everything."


"Wouldn't that be expensive?" he asked.


"I don't know.  I believe you'd tell them your budget and they'll work with you.  With only two weeks left before July 4th, you better get on it if you want to have this party."


He chuckled.  "I'll talk to my wife.  If she's down I'll contact a planner.  Do you happen to know one?"


"Nope.  Sorry."


"It's okay.  I'll check online" he said with a smile.  


I was in good spirits as I left work and decided to stop at the supermarket to pick up something for dinner.  Lukas and I were in a good place and I wanted to show him how much I appreciated him.  Plus, I was tired of eating out and felt that a nice home cooked meal would be a welcomed change.

After scouring the aisles I finally settled on getting large shrimp, parsley, a bottle of white wine, pasta and vegetables for a salad.  I planned on making shrimp scampi with linguine and maybe a warm brownie sundae for dessert.

I was schlepping my grocery bags to our apartment when my phone rang.  I ignored it.  My hands were full and in three minutes I would be home.  After I put the bags in the kitchen I reached for my phone.  I was greeted with missed call from Anthony but he didn't leave a message so I assumed is wasn't anything serious.

While dinner was cooking I called him back and was greeted with "hello stranger."

"Hi yourself.  How have you been?" I asked pleasantly.

"Not too bad.  Blake and I missed you the other night."

I hesitated for a second.  "I don't know how comfortable I am hanging around Blake."

"Come on Liz! He's a good guy.  We go way back."

"Would a good guy, who knew I was engaged, sext me a picture of himself wearing boxer briefs only?" I challenged.

He asked surprised, "He sent you a pic like that?"

"Anthony I can't make this shit up if I tried.  You know what's even worst?"

"What? He propositioned you?" Anthony offered.

"Worse. I had just finished telling Lukas that he was wrong about Blake and how he wasn't interested in being anything but my friend when he texted me the pic.  I insisted that Lukas check my phone to see for himself that our convos were purely innocent and guess what he was greeted with?!? A pic of Blake is his underwear with a hardon."

"Fuck.  He must've been pissed.  I know I would've flipped the fuck out if a man was sending Eleanore pics like that" Anthony admitted.


"At least you get it" I replied flatly.

He chuckled, "How do you always get yourself into these situations?"

Even though he couldn't see, I rolled my eyes.  "I....DON'T......KNOW.  I thought that Blake was nice enough."

"Deep down he is" Anthony shared.

"Yeah beneath his player lines and lifestyle, right?" I quipped.

"Listen you don't have to hang around them if you don't want to.  At the same time, I'd like to reconnect with Blake.  We use to hang out all the time."

I sighed, "That's fine...just don't bring him around me and Lukas.  I don't want any unnecessary drama."

Eventually our conversation shifted to Melissa.  "Blake told me how she's banging some dude behind Josh's back.  He wanted to tell Josh but I told him to stay out of it."


"Why would you do that?" I shrieked.

"Because it's not Blake's place.  Can you imagine your boss telling you your significant other is fucking someone behind your back?"

He had me there.  "That would be really awkward."

"Yeah.  I was thinking I'd catch Melissa in the act and gently break the news to Josh.  Even though we were never exceptionally close, he needs to know.  Melissa is playing him for a fool."


"Isn't it weird that they just got married and Melissa is already stepping out on him?  I always thought that they'd be together forever.  They seemed like that couple that totally got each other.  I wonder if something happened to make her flip out," I replied.

"Who knows or cares?  Nothing she can say or do can justify her behavior.  If she realized that getting married was a mistake, why not get an annulment or file for divorce?"

He had me there.  "I agree.  I feel terrible for Josh."

"Enough about Melissa and her fucked up marriage.  I was calling to invite you and Lukas to spend the Fourth of July with Eleanore and I in the Hamptons.  I rented a house for a week and figured we could have a huge bash."

I grinned, "That's perfect.  My colleague Nick was telling me that he has a party out there each year and I was a little jealous.  I'm almost positive that we can make it but let me double check with Lukas and get back to you."

"Sounds good."

With that we ended our phone call.  I checked the time and realized that Lukas would be home any minute.  I put the linguine in a pot with scalding hot salted water before heading to the bedroom to change.  I slipped into comfy lace lingerie.  I giggled remembering that episode of Friends when Rachel was trying to seduce her boyfriend in a similar getup only to have his parents show up.  She played it off as though her lingerie was the latest fashion trend and even went out to dinner like that.  Anyway, I fixed my hair and makeup and slathered my legs with lotion before running back to the kitchen to strain the pasta.  I was washing the dishes when I held Lukas opening the door.


"Babe I'm home" he yelled.

"I'm in the kitchen" I said happily.


"Mm it smells so good in here.  What are you making?" he asked before scanning his eyes down my body and then slowly back to my face. 

"It's a surprise!  While you get changed I'll get everything ready."

He walked towards me and ran his hands up my side before kissing me gently.  "Lukas!"

"Fine I'm going" he said laughing.

Dinner was filled with a lot of sexual tension.  I allowed my fingers to gently brush against Lukas thigh and then higher.  He gasped as I grazed my finger over his erection.  As I attempted to move my hand he held it in place with one hand before kissing me passionately.  In no time my lace chemise was pushed up around my waist and my panties pulled to the side as he entered me.  I threw my head back and started riding him slowly, stopping to grind against him.  His lips found the side of my neck and then he kissed his way down.   He pulled down my nightie and cupped my breasts before suckling on my nipple.  I gasped as started moving quicker.  I grabbed his face and kissed him, moaning into his mouth as I orgasmed.   Lukas started bucking underneath me and came shortly after.  While we recuperated, I stroked his jawline tenderly.

"Ready for dessert" I asked sweetly.

"Mm, I thought this was dessert."

I giggled, "Nope this was just an appetizers.  There's more to come."

Needless to say we spend the rest of the night making love and enjoying each other before falling asleep in each other's arms.

The next morning I didn't want to get out of bed and get ready for work.  I just wanted to be with Lukas.  I groaned and sat up before trudging to the bathroom.  I was a little sore from last night but it was so worth it.  After showering and getting dressed, I checked my phone.  There was message from my cousin Maria. 

"Liz I need your help.  Can you meet me after you're done with work?"


Monday, July 6, 2015

Bigger Picture

I awoke Saturday to Lukas sitting on the bed, putting on his dress shoes.  I rubbed my eyes and stretched while asking him where he was off to.

"I have a meeting at the office but will be back soon" he promised, kissing me on the forehead. 

I pouted, "But it's the weekend.  I thought we''d spend it together."

"We will.  After this meeting I'm all yours.  I promise."

"Okay....go to your meeting" I replied dramatically.

Lukas chuckled before giving me a long, passionate kiss.  "I'll see you in a little."

I watched him leave and couldn't help but smile.  I was truly blessed to have found such a wonderful man.  I attempted to fall back asleep but couldn't and decided to check my phone.  I was slightly surprised that I didn't have any messages or texts but that's expected when your friends get coupled off.  It was close to eleven in the morning.  I remembered my Matt Bomer lookalike from the plane and immediately started to text Anthony.

"Morning...do you know this guy Blake that went to Chaminade? He claims you were his wingman back then;-)."

Anthony didn't waste anytime responding.  "Blake Roberts?  Of course I know him."

"Small world.  He was sitting next to me on the plane."

"Lol.  He's a good guy.  What's he up to?" Anthony texted.

"Bachelor party in Miami this weekend.  He works at his dad's hedge fund."

 Anthony and I texted back and forth for a good half hour before I told him I had to get ready.  I found out that Blake was an All-American swimmer and lacrosse player during his high school days.  He and Anthony were really close but drifted apart in college.  He was super excited to rekindle their friendship.  I asked him what he was up to this weekend and he mentioned that he and Eleanore were going to hang around the city and maybe go to lounge later on.  I told him we'd talk later and he told me to have a wonderful time in Miami.

I stretched one last time before hauling my ass out of bed and straight to the bathroom.  After a relaxing shower, I slathered my body with lotion and slipped into cutoff white jean shorts and a midriff top.  I was looking over the room service menu when the door opened.  In walked Lukas with Starbucks and a bag.  "I got us breakfast."

I quickly retrieved my chai latte from him.  "You really know how to make a woman happy" I cooed before taking a sip.

"I also got us freshly made croissants" he said proudly.

While I nibbled on a croissant Lukas undressed and pulled on a pair of plaid shorts and a white Burberry polo.  He looked so good and I felt my heart do a somersault.  After breakfast we decided to walk around Miami.

I shared, "I texted Anthony this morning and he's psyched to reconnect with Blake."

Lukas nodded and I noticed his jaw clench.  He didn't say anything but I could tell that something was wrong.  "Why so quiet?" I asked gently.

He sighed, "Elisabeth, I want you to know that I trust you implicitly."

"But?" I asked.

"I didn't like the way Blake and that other dude were gawking at you.  They might be Anthony's high school friends but I don't trust them."

I rolled my eyes, "Seriously Lukas?  I told them all about you.  They know I'm off limits."

"Are you saying if I met two hot women at the coffee shop or anywhere for that matter, it would be okay for me to hang around them knowing their intentions because I told them about you?" he inquired.

I hesitated before saying, "That's totally different."

He scoffed, "How is it different Liz?"

"It just is" I said flatly.

"Whatever.  I'm not comfortable with them.  I can tell they want more than to be your 'friend'."

"Blake wanted to reconnect with Anthony...it isn't a big deal.  There's nothing for you to worry about" I answered, annoyed.

We walked in uncomfortable silence before Lukas said, "I'd appreciate if you'd respect my feelings for once.  I told you how I felt about Grant and you disregarded everything I said.  You still hung around him and got caught up in his shit.  You're doing the same thing with these two guys now."

"If this is such a big deal to you, why didn't you say something yesterday?"

He shook his head in disbelief.  "You want to hang around with them, that's cool.  Just don't come bitching to me about how you didn't know when this blows up in your face."

I rolled my eyes.  "You're being way too dramatic about this!"

Lukas glared at me before shaking his head in disbelief.  He started walking quicker; at first I tried to keep but then decided that we both need some alone time.  "Lukas, I'm going do a little window shopping and meet you later."

He sighed and nodded.  "Cool."

With that he was off and there is was all alone.  I walked around and popped into some boutiques but my mind was distracted.  I was upset that Lukas had the nerve to try and tell me who to talk to.  Even if he were right and Alex and Blake were interested in more than reconnecting with Anthony and being my friend, I could handle that.  I'm a strong, intelligent woman that didn't need to be controlled.

As I continued walking around my anger dissipated and I realized I needed to speak with Lukas.  Running away from our issues was not an option.  Maybe I should be more cognizant of his feelings for once.  My feet were killing me when I got back to the hotel room and wasted no time pulling off my sandals.

I scanned the living area for Lukas to no avail.  I gently called out his name but there was no response.  After quickly using the bathroom, I walked towards the bedroom where I found Lukas sprawled out on the king size bed in only boxers.  He was fast asleep.  I pulled the covers over him and retreated to the living room where I watched reruns until he awoke.

Lukas groggily walked into the living room, rubbing his eyes.  He did a double take when he spotted me.  "You're back?" he asked.

I nodded, "We need to talk."

"Okay...talk" he said firmly, sliding into the arm chair facing me.

"I'm sorry I didn't hear you out.  It upsets me when anyone tries to control me.  I'm a grown ass woman and can take care of myself.  I don't need you or anyone else telling me who to speak with.  Blake and Alex are nice guys and I think you're being unreasonable" I said really fast.

"Elisabeth, I have always taken your opinions into consideration. When you were uncomfortable with the lawyers daughter sending me texts and hitting on me, I ended our business relationship.  I could have handled that girl on my own but I wanted to do right by you" he said.

I interrupted, "But that's different."

He shook his head, "Whatever.  How about when I told you that I wasn't comfortable with you hanging around Grant.  He made it clear to you what his intentions were but you 'knew what you were doing'.  You get pissed if a woman even looks my way but see nothing wrong with hanging around men that you know are interested in you."

"Lukas that's not true at all.  I trust you wholeheartedly and wouldn't get pissed if you made female friends."

"Are you shitting me Liz?  Seriously?  How many times have you wrongfully accused me of cheating on you?  How many times have you jumped to the wrong conclusion about me?  We all have baggage from past relationships and I've put with your insecurities."

I laughed incredulously, "You're totally exaggerating."

He stared at me.  "Exaggerating?  Okay.  Fine.  All I'm asking is for you to respect me and my feelings like I do for you."

"And I do.  You don't have to worry about Blake and Alex....you're the only one in my heart and the only one that I want."

Even after our heart to heart conversation things were strained between us.  We spoke and carried on like everything was good but I felt that there was a disconnect.  Even during house hunting our conversation seemed forced.  Lukas and I had argued before but this time seemed different.  It was as though were on opposite ends of the spectrum and neither of us wanted to budge.  After tossing and turning most of Sunday night, I awoke Monday morning with a pounding headache.  While Lukas slept I took a shower and ordered breakfast from room service.

By the time the food came he was up and about.  I insisted we eat outside on the balcony and he agreed.  We were enjoying a pleasant breakfast when my phone pinged. I ignored it but it pinged a couple more times prompting Lukas to say, "Maybe you should check your phone."

I was immediately greeted by texts from Blake asking what I was up to and if I wanted to hang out with he and Alex.  I noticed that Lukas was focused on me and I smiled.  "Nothing important" I replied flippantly.

He nodded.  I texted back Blake that I'd have to take a rain check before putting my phone down between Lukas and I.  "Who was that?" he asked.

"Just Blake.  He wanted to know if we wanted to hang out with them later."

He didn't say anything but I could see his jaw clench.  "Oh."

I was about to tell him that he had nothing to worry about when my phone pinged again.  "You can check if you'd like" I said evenly.

" I trust you Elisabeth and don't need to check your phone" he answered.

"I want you to" I replied.

"Fine."  He picked up my phone and looked at whatever Blake texted.  His face hardened and his eyes narrowed.  With a sigh he gave me back the phone and headed into our hotel room.

"What the hell what that about?" I muttered under my breath.  I looked at my phone and gasped seeing a pic of Blake in only a pair of tight black boxer briefs that pulled down low on his hips.  You could clearly see the outline of his hard cock straining against the thin material.  I gasped reading his message.

"You sure I can't change your mind.  Look at what you're missing;-)"

Fuck.   I downed my orange juice before finding Lukas packing.  "Um...I'm sorry.  I didn't know he would send me that pic.  I honestly thought that he wanted to e friends."

He sat down next to me on the bed.  "Liz, you have to look at the bigger picture.  I know men are going to be attracted to you, you're a beautiful woman. However, it pisses me off when you encourage men like Blake."

"I get it.  I won't talk to him or Alex" I replied.

"Liz do you get why I'm uncomfortable with this?" Lukas asked calmly.

"Yes."

He took my hand in his.  "Okay.  Let's just drop it.  I'm tired of fighting over this."

"Me too.  I didn't expect him to send me a pic like that" I said honestly.

"I know.  You think the best of everyone but sometimes you need to look at the big picture and not be so trusting."