Character List

Monday, September 28, 2015

When One Door Closes.....

Hours later our house was swarming with guests.  Waiters flittered around the room with champagne and hors d'ourves.  Our boys and all of the other children were upstairs with Danny's nanny.  With three children all under the age of five, she traveled with them.  When our twins were a month old, Lukas and I interviewed many nannies but none met my unreachable, exceedingly high standards. Thankfully we were in a position financially where I could be a stay at mom.

Lukas had managed to successfully expand his family's business to Miami and Boston. Business was thriving and surpassed our wildest expectations. Additionally Lukas and his dad hired competent executives for the Miami and Boston locations, eliminating the need to travel back and forth.  That meant more time to spend with our growing family which we gladly welcomed because we knew that our boys will not remain this small for long.

So much had changed over the past few years and I was grateful to have those nearest and dearest to me here.  Priya and I had become even closer through the years and I was proud to consider her one of my closest friends. I was thoroughly engaged in our conversation.  As I admired her sparkly, solitaire engagement ring she filled me in on all the wonderful details.

"I was completely surprised.  Peter and I had dinner and then he insisted that we take a carriage ride around the city.  In the middle of Central Park, with the snow falling, he asked me to marry him.  I was frozen and thought that I was hearing things" she said laughing.

"I'm so happy for you" I said drawing her into a tight hug.

"I don't know what I've ever done to deserve Peter.  He's so good to me" she shared.

I nodded, "I feel the same way about Lukas."

Priya met Peter about two years ago on the subway.  He ended up sitting in the empty seat beside her, engaging her in conversation.  They exchanged numbers and he invited her out to dinner two nights later.  She went with no expectations.  In fact, she was planning on letting him down easy.  Who would have thought that would be the beginning of something wonderful.  Lukas was right.  Sometimes the best things in life are unplanned.

I scanned the room and noticed that everyone was in good spirits.  My parents and Lukas' were off to the side conversing, while everyone else broke off into small groups.  Anthony and his wife Eleanore with my brothers and their wives.  Ryan, who after a string of disastrous relationships, has sworn off women for now was chatting with Linda and Faisal who had just moved back to Connecticut with their adorable three year old daughter. I excused myself and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I was getting ice from the freezer when I felt a hand on the small of my back.  I turned around and faced Britney.

"No fair...how are you so tiny when I'm huge like a fucking whale" she whined.

Did I mention that Britney was five months pregnant with her first child?  "Oh stop it! You look amazing."

She scoffed, "I'm huge!  How do you manage to stay so small?"

I shrugged, "I dunno.  I guarantee you, we'll be the same size soon enough.  I tend to pile on the weight in my third trimester.  Remember how I gained close to 45 pounds with the twins.  I couldn't even see my feet.  One day I went to the store with two completely different shoes on."

She laughed, "That must have been a sight to see."

I giggled, "Totally.  Crazy mismatched pregnant lady in aisle 4.:

Ah the memories.  As the laughter died down I asked, "So I heard you have some news?"

"Tom and I are having a boy.  He's over the moon happy and planning all the fun things to do with the baby while I'm afraid.  What do I know about raising a little boy?" she asked.

"All you need to do is love them and nurture them for now" I advised.

"Or I can ask you since you've mastered raising Ethan and Jacob.  They're so handsome.  What are you going to do when the girls start coming around?" she teased.

I shrugged, "I don't know...I don't even want to think about that.  Right now I want to enjoy each moment with them."

"They're going to be heartbreakers!" she replied.

We were giggling like schoolgirls when Tom entered the kitchen.  "I wanted to make sure you were okay" he said with a swoon worthy British accent.

"Just catching up with Liz" Britney answered.

Tom excused himself and left us alone.  "Every since we found out that I was pregnant, it's like he's afraid to let me out of his sight.  Every minute he's asking me if I need something...it's becoming so suffocating.  I want to snap at him sometimes but he's so damn nice" Britney confessed.

"Aw, he's trying to take care of you.  I think it's sweet."

"If you say so."

Tom was in his early forties and divorced with a teenage daughter.  He was good decade older than Britney but they seemed to get on well.  Neither of them believed in conventional marriage. They were more comfortable living together in a committed relationship.  Tom was soft spoken and very generous.  He was also a pediatrician and loved children.  When he found out Britney was pregnant he was overjoyed and supportive.  He was exactly the type of man she needed in her life.

Arm in arm Britney and I headed back to the party.  "Remember when we were growing up we always talked about raising our kids together?" she asked.

"Yes...isn't it crazy that in a few months that dream will become a reality" I answered excitedly.

Truth be told.  After all Britney and I had endured there was no way I could go through life without her by my side.  The hurt and pain were a part of our journey.  We needed time apart of make us realize how much we needed each other.  In my heart, Britney will always be the sister I never had.  The past five years reaffirmed that notion time and time again. I hope that our friendship would always remain as strong as it is today.

I looked around and noticed Lukas motioning me over.  He slid a protective arm around my waist.  "Are you ready to share your surprise?"

The butterflies were starting up once again but I knew what I had to do.  I nodded.  "Yes.  I guess I am."

With that Lukas tapped his champagne glass and all eyes were on us.

I cleared my throat and stood up tall and started speaking.  "Thank you all for coming tonight.  I know you're all wondering what the occasion is and I think now is a good time to tell you about my next endeavor."

"You mean being a mom again" my brother John howled.

"No, John.  For months now I have been working on creating a non-profit organization.  With the help of key partners in the community I have been able to make that dream a reality.  My organization will help inner city children realize that they can accomplish anything they set their hearts to.  So many children from low income families do not realize that they can break the cycle.  I want to show them that there are people who care and want to help them.  Together with my partners we will be raising funds to assist 10 inner city kids go to college this year.  We hope that that number will increase with each year."

Silence and then a look of awe on the faces of everyone, followed by a round of applause.  I smiled and felt truly humbled for a moment.

I continued, "This has been an idea that I've had for years.  Working in the investment banking world, while lucrative was not fulfilling. It was as though I was living a shallow dream.  It was an means to an end of me buying the fanciest shoes and purses.  It wasn't until that I had Ethan and Jacob that I realized that I had the ability to make a difference.  I have invited you all here to share my new business endeavor and to ask for your support.  We will be having a banquet dinner in April to celebrate and to raise money for our cause.  I would greatly appreciate it if you'd all participate."

All of my guests were buzzing with excitement at my news.  Anthony promised that he and Eleanore would buy a table at the banquet.  "It's hard to believe you're the same person" he said.

"I've grown up Anthony.  Having kids changed me and made me realize what's truly important in life.  In your twenties it's about having the time of your life and discovering what you want in your life.  At 33, I realize that I need to put others first.  I need to make a difference in this world."

He smiled, "I hear you.  Is it possible for Eleanore to play an active role?"

Eleanore was a sweetheart.  She adored children but couldn't have any of her own.  Her and Anthony had started the adoption process which is long and tedious.  They had no idea when they would be granted a child or if they would be approved.  I automatically agreed to have her help with my organization.  She would be such a great addition.

"Of course.  I'd like nothing better."

Eleanore hugged me and thanked me profusely.

I shared, "We'll have an office in the city and one in Greenwich.  That way you don't have to travel from the city to here all the time if you don't want to.  We'll work out the details."

--------

As the last of our friends departed, I rejoiced in my decision.  It's crazy how you don't know where life will take you.  A decade ago I thought I'd jet-setting across the country, indulging in the latest fashions while killing it in my career.  I can't help but smile when I think back at the woman I was and now the woman I am.  I have no regrets.  In my twenties I enjoyed my life to the fullest. I made my fair share of mistakes and became stronger as a result.

I vividly remember falling in love, having my heart broken, blaming myself for something I thought happened and then meeting the love of my life - Lukas.  Who would have thought that in one of my darkest moment, when I thought I was not worthy of love that he would enter my life?  When we met I was smitten but had no idea he would be my forever love.  After all we met at speed dating!  I had all types of misconceptions of type the of people who do go to those types of things.  Now I can't thank Britney enough for making me go with her.

With each passing day, Lukas and I grow closer.  Our children have filled us with unbridled joy and happiness.  Seeing their little smiles brighten up even the darkest days.  With another child on the way, I'm scared.  I don't know if I have the capacity to love another baby like I love Jacob and Ethan. I worry that I won't have enough time to devote to each of them.  With two, it hasn't been easy but we managed.  How will Lukas and I handle three children?  He's over the moon with happiness and swears that everything will work out perfectly.  His confidence makes me feel at ease.  Seeing him with the boys makes me fall in love with all over again.  He is truly the man of my dreams.

The choices I've made might not work for everyone but for me they are absolutely perfect.  I cannot wait to further establish my foundation and help others.  It's something I've dreamed of since I was a little girl.  I never thought I'd be able to make that dream a reality but here I am on the precipice of a whole new world.  I cannot wait to meet my baby, watch my boys grow up and spend my days with Lukas by my side.  As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens.  This chapter of my life might have ended but I know that the best is yet to come.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Thank You

My Wonderful Readers,

I can't believe 21 months have gone by so fast.  When I first started this blog, it was my escape from the stress of wedding planning.  I didn't expect this blog to last for more than a few months.  With each post I became more connected to Elisabeth and my readers.  I enjoyed the commentary and all your wonderful (and not so wonderful) thoughts!  There were many times when I came close to wrapping things up but I couldn't do that to Elisabeth.

Writing the past couple posts have been hard. I've always had a clear path of where life would lead Elisabeth.  I have thoroughly enjoyed writing about Elisabeth's life.  Maybe it's because some parts of her life are reminiscent of me at her age.  Her friends, particularly Anthony, normal Britney and Priya are based on my own friends.  Her three brothers, her super tight-knit Italian family are almost a mirror image of my own.  Certain posts like her brother John's health scare are fashioned after my own brother's issues.  I felt that writing about things that I knew about would make the storylines more real.

There isn't an easy way to say goodbye.  I'm truly conflicted.  I'm saddened but at the same time happy.  That might be a result of my pregnancy hormones;-)  I will miss writing about Elisabeth's life but it isn't fair to you, my readers, to keep you hanging.  As I get closer to my due date, I highly doubt I will have the time or energy to write regularly.

I'm welcoming this new phase of my life with open arms and like Elisabeth I am a little scared.  The thought of being responsible for a little baby makes me nervous.  There are so many what ifs that run through my mind.What if I don't make the right choices?  What if my husband and I aren't able to give our child everything that he needs?  What if something goes wrong?  Both of us are excited to meet our baby but like all first time parents we are filled with anxiety.

I thank all of you for following my blog and being so supportive.  I hope that you have enjoyed Elisabeth's journey and the final post (scheduled for Tuesday).  As I move onto a new chapter in my life, I will always remember how much joy this blog provided and all the wonderful people that I've interacted with.  Maybe in my quiet time I'll post an update post on where Elisabeth is!  No promises though.

Anyway, you are all wonderful and I appreciate each and everyone of you.  Goodbyes are always hard but sometimes it's for the best.  I cannot thank you all enough and I hope that Elisabeth's story has brought some happiness and reprieve from the craziness of life.

Arianna

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Five Years Later.......

Five Years Later

I looked around at the messy disarray and couldn't help but laugh.  Who would have thought that this neat freak wouldn't be obsessing over the toys scattered all over the pristine hardwood floors and the toddlers running around aimlessly.  I have accepted motherhood wholeheartedly. Before experiencing the joys of pregnancy and giving birth, I had always been one of those women that swore up and down that I would not ever quit my job and be a full-time mom.  However, the mere thought of leaving my twin boys to go back to work filled me with panic and sadness.  I couldn't imagine waking up each morning and dropping them off at daycare or leaving them with a nanny only to pick them up 10-12 hours later.  Call me selfish but I wanted to be there for all of their firsts and could not bear the thought of missing out on their childhood.

Our identical twin boys, Jacob (older by two minutes) and Ethan, are a joy for both Lukas and I. This might sound insane but I honestly cannot imagine life without them.  It took months for Lukas and I to finally settle into a routine.  Being pregnant, while great, was full of surprises.  We attended all of the classes and read all of the books...wanting to be as prepared as possible.  However, we found out that no matter how prepared you are, things don't always go as planned.

For example our birthing plan.  I was hellbent on having a natural childbirth with an epidural of course.  However that didn't go as anticipated and I ended up having an c-section.  Recovery took a while.  How is it women in the movies and on television always make is seem so easy?  I was grateful that my mom moved into our house temporarily to help.  While I rested she took care of the boys and made sure that I was taking care of myself.  Even though Lukas wanted to stay home, I insisted that he go to work.  Once my mom returned to Long Island he could take off and spend time with me and the boys.

I was regretting that decision when we were both sleep deprived and cranky.  Our boys were on completely different schedules.  When one was asleep the other was awake, when one was hungry the other wasn't.  We were literally up all the time.  In addition to taking care of the boys, I had a house to maintain.  When we found out I was pregnant, Lukas and I purchased a brick colonial in the heart of Greenwich, Connecticut.  It was something we both had agreed upon even back when we were engaged.  I was seven months pregnant when we finally moved in.  Almost three years later this was still our dream home, even though things were strewn all over the place.

Jacob and Ethan were babbling with each other.  It seemed at times they shared a secret language that only the two of them could understand.  They laughed, played and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company.  They had friends from play groups, cousins and of course our friend's children to interact with but still preferred each other.

I stood in the middle of the room.  My hands on my hips, surveying the mess.  Our guests would be here in five hours and there was still so much to do.  Jacob strolled over to me, "Mama, me help clean."

Ah bless his heart....his voice and that precious smile completely melted me each time.  "Yes sweetie.  Can you please put your toys in the toy box?"

"Okay.  I get Ethan to help me" he said sweetly, looking up at me with those deep green eyes that mirrored Lukas'.  I knew that soon enough I'd be longing for those broken sentences and the heart warming moments.  Children grow up too fast.  I felt my eyes welling up but I blinked the tears away.  I was determined to not let my emotions get the best of me.  I wanted to treasure each and every moment with Ethan and Jacob.

I thanked the boys for doing such an awesome job helping me clean up before giving them a snack.  I watched them out of the corner of my eye as I straightened up the kitchen.  A sharp kick made me quickly realize that in four and a half months, this dynamic that we had perfected was going to change.  This pregnancy was a complete surprise to both of us.  I had always taken the pill at the same time each day.  A week before Lukas and I were going away for the weekend I had gotten sick and was placed on antibiotics. That weekend we made up for lost time...it's hard finding time for each other when you have children. Both Lukas and I were sexually starved and craved each other's touch.  We threw caution to the wind and enjoyed every moment spent together.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I was pregnant.  The morning sickness, the tenderness in my breasts and extreme fatigue were sure giveaways.  I dreaded telling Lukas because this was not a part of our plan.  I remember putting the boys in their car seats and driving my BMW X5 to Walgreens to pick up pregnancy tests.  I wasn't surprised when all three of the tests came back positive.  Ethan and Jacob just stared at my perplexed face. I took them in my arms and hugged them both so tightly.  I was scared and didn't know what to do.

That night when Lukas came home, we had dinner before giving the boys baths and reading to them until they fell asleep.  When Lukas and I retreated to our bedroom, I told him we needed to talk.

He looked concerned and asked what was going on.  I sat next to him and nervously said, "I'm pregnant.  I'm terrified and I don't know what to do?"

"That's wonderful!  Why are terrified?" he asked with a huge smile, that type that shows genuine happiness.

"Because we didn't plan this.  How are we going to manage another child when we have two already?"

He wrapped one arm around me, "Sometimes the best things in life are unplanned.  This time around it'll be a cinch.  Trust me."

I automatically felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  "I worry that I won't be able to love another child as much as Jacob and Ethan."

"I'm sure that this baby will be loved and cherished just like the boys.  Now tell me, how are you feeling?  What do you need me to do?"

I kissed his cheek.  "You're so sweet.  I feel like crap but I can handle it."

Jacob's voice interrupted my thoughts. His voice tenderly calling me, "Mom."

I looked in his direction, his fingers in his thick brown hair.  His green eyes looking around.  "What's the matter love?"

"Want more" he said, grinning.

I slipped into the chair across from them and munched on grapes while engaging them in conversation when Lukas returned.

"It's freezing out there" he said rubbing his hands together.

I got up and wrapped my arms around his back.  "Mm, did you get everything?"

"Yeah.  I ended up having to go to three different stores but managed to get everything you wanted.  Did you tell everyone why they're coming over tonight?" he asked.

I shook my head and smiled, "Nope...I think this a surprise that I'd like to share in person."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Forever Love

Sunday morning...ahem I mean midday, I awoke to the sun streaming into our room.  I squinted, attempting to adjust to the brightness before rolling onto my side.  Lukas was still asleep, his forearm covering his eyes from the intruding light.  His wedding ring sparkled and I smiled knowing that he was finally my husband.  Our relationship had faced many obstacles and had not always been perfect but managed to weather the storms and grow stronger.  I trusted him wholeheartedly and knew that with him by my side we could make it through anything.

After stretching I quietly slipped out of bed and went to the bathroom.  I brushed my teeth and looked at my once perfect wedding hair which now looked like a bird's nest.  I definitely needed to wash out all of the hairspray and products from my hair but that could wait.  I pulled the curtains and slipped out of my lacy cami and panties before pulling the sheets back and taking in Lukas' semi-hard penis.

I traced my fingers around its length before stoking him slowly.  I could feel him stir when I slipped his cock into my mouth, finally tasting him.  I was working him in and out of my mouth, getting even more aroused as he got harder.  I looked up at Lukas who was still asleep.  I swear there are time when he could sleep through anything!  I took him deep inside my mouth and sucked as hard as possible before sliding his cock out.  I stroked it slowly but urgently before licking the underside super slowly.  Lukas moaned, trying to pull me up.

I giggled, "Good morning."

"Come here" he said huskily.

I continued teasing him with my fingers, knowing how close he was.   I moaned and slid up his body, placing kisses on his flat stomach, his chest, his neck before brushing my lips against his.  Our kisses were filled with hunger and passion.  His hands kneaded and squeezed my ass.  By the time he rolled me over onto my back I was panting and begging him for more.  His eyes locked with mine, as his fingers explored my wetness.  I sucked in a breath when I felt his fingers slide inside me.  I bit my bottom lip as he made small circles around my clitoris with his index fingers. My hips were bucking uncontrollably.  I needed him so badly inside me.  

Lukas nibbled on my neck and my eyes closed.  Every single touch, kiss magnified the pleasure I felt. I gasped when Lukas filled me in one motion.  I used my muscles to squeeze him tightly inside me.  He whispered my name and started moving quickly.  My hips met each thrust and my moans started getting louder.  My legs were tightly wrapped around his strong back, his fingers teased my nipples.  My breathing became shallow, nails raked down his back, my teeth nipped on his shoulder as I orgasmed.  Lukas gave me a moment to recover before moving faster and deeper.  His eyes were glazed and they closed as he came inside me.  I wrapped my arms around him holding here when he collapsed on top of me.  My lips on his, each kiss become more and more urgent as I felt his cock beginning to swell inside me once again.

Needless to say we spent most of the day rediscovering each other and celebrating the beginning our married life together.

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

The next day we left for our spectacular honeymoon in Bora Bora.  Lukas had gone to great extremes to keep the destination a secret and in a way I'm glad he did.  During our flight we reminisced about our wedding.

"I'm really sorry about Lauren" he started and I waved him off.

"I can sit here and be pissed at her but she's sick.  It's something that she can't control."

He shook his head, "Elisabeth it's more than that.  Being sick doesn't give anyone that right to attack others.  What she said was completely out of line and I know she hurt you."

I sighed, "She did but then Britney and I spoke and I decided to forget about her."

"I keep hearing how well she's doing, how much progress she's made but I don't see it.  All I see is the hateful, spiteful person I grew up with.  I wish Lauren would make a full recovery but she is her own worst enemy."

I frowned, "What do you mean by that?"

"Ever since we were little kids Lauren has always been more concerned about ruining anyone that she thought was happier than she was or had more than she did.  As a kid, I didn't know better.  Seems like she never grew up.  Hate to say it but her kids are more caring and understanding than she ever was."

"Speaking of the kids, Stephanie and Liam looked so happy with Jeff.  They were full of energy and so bubbly" I gushed.

He nodded, "Jeff's a good guy and he's exactly what they need right now."

"I know it isn't any of my business and you don't really have to answer if you don't want to....I was wondering why they didn't sit with Lauren."

Lukas gazed out at the clouds before replying.  "Jeff doesn't want them to get too attached to Lauren.  He's afraid of her hurting them emotionally again.  They visit with her from time to time but he is very protective of them."

"It sucks that they can't have a normal, happy childhood like we both did?"

Our conversation was bringing both of us down and I was relieved when Lukas changed the subject and asked, "What were you and Priya talking about earlier."

Did I mention that Priya called while we were getting ready this morning?

"She called to apologize for missing our wedding and wanted to explain" I started.

"And? "

I shrugged, "And I told her I understood."

"Why couldn't she come to the wedding?" he asked.

"Remember I told you she was obsessed with Dr. Khan and that they were dating but he hadn't really tried anything...she was always making the first move and he always stopped things from going too far.  I mean it's been months and the most they've done was kiss."

Lukas frowned, "That is kinda strange."

"Turns out that he's gay" I blurted out.

Lukas eyes widened, "What?"

"He's gay.  He explained it all to Priya while they were cabbing it to our wedding.  She felt like a complete fool and couldn't face anyone."

"Wow.  That's crazy.  How is she doing now?" Lukas asked with a look of concern.

I shrugged, "I don't know.  She was really into him.  I think she envisioned settling down with him.  He was her hero.  He saved her when she was sick both medically and emotionally.  He was there to comfort her, talk to her and make her feel special.  Each day she was falling more and more in love with him.  Maybe she was blinded by her feelings and infatuation?  Regardless it sucks that she had to find out this way."

He nodded, "At least she found out."

"Yeah.  She says she's doing a little better.  She's planning on going to California for a little while to get away from everything and spend time with her family."

Lukas entwined his fingers with mine, "Who would have thought after all the crazy shit that happened that Priya would still be in our lives?"

"She's had a difficult road.  I'm proud of her for taking the necessary steps to get better.  I told her that this is temporary setback and that she'll find her forever love once she stops looking so hard."

"Good advice.  That's exactly how it happened for me" he replied before kissing me gently.

"Mm...my forever love."


Sunday, September 20, 2015

I Could Not Ask For More

Her outburst had people turning their heads and staring inquisitively.  The perfect day that I envisioned was beginning to crumble before my very eyes.  Lauren was clearly intent on sucking away any happiness of this day.  It couldn't be more obvious that she wanted to be anywhere but our wedding.  Lukas looked panicked as she angrily demanded that he answer her.

He shrugged and tried to play it off as calmly as possible. "To celebrate our wedding day."

She laughed bitterly.  "And why would I want to celebrate your wedding day?  I don't know what inclined you to marry this thing" she said pointing at me.

I felt my face redden with embarrassment and anger. I wanted to knock her off her high horse and defend myself but didn't.  I couldn't.  She was sick and me caving and playing into her games would give her the satisfaction she craved.  Instead I stood there hoping that she would come to her senses and that whatever her mom was whispering to her would stop her venom laced outbursts.  Lukas realized that if he didn't answer her question she would continue her assault.

"I married Elisabeth because I love her and can't bear to live without her. She makes me happy" Lukas answered.

"Love?  She doesn't love you, she loves your money and lifestyle.  Watch she'll get knocked up and leave you.  Ha...she'd probably abort the kid, she doesn't have a maternal bone in her body.  No lemme rephrase that, she'll pawn the kid off because she wouldn't want to be bothered with that shit.  All she cares about is clothes and shoes and what you can give her." Lauren replied coldly.

Her words hurt me and I felt my eyes well up with tears.  Losing our baby was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced and those words were like a knife twisting in my heart. I might be a lot of things but I do have a good heart and know deep down that I would be a good mother.  Sure I questioned my ability when I lost the baby but with therapy and the support of my loved ones, I realized that I was overreacting. Hearing Lauren's hurtful words brought back such terrible memories.

Before a teardrop fell, I turned on my heels and walked away.  In the confines of the bridal suite, I allowed myself to cry.  That heartless bitch hit me where it hurt.  I was trying to calm myself down when there was a knock on the door.  It was Lukas but I insisted I was okay and needed a moment to myself.  He didn't push.  A couple minutes later another knock.  This time I opened the door and was greeted by Britney.

"Why are you crying?" she asked, brushing away a tear with her thumb.

I filled her in and she said, "Don't let that bitch get you down.  She's clearly not well.  She's trying to get a reaction from you and you're falling into her trap."

"It's just that I already felt like a failure when I miscarried...you know like I didn't take good care of my baby and now to have her play on those fears set me off" I explained.

"I know, honey.  It's hard but focus on all the good in your life.  God will bless you and Lukas with a baby one day and it will be the most loved and fashionable kid."

I forced a smile, "Thank you.  I'm so glad you're here."

"There's no place I'd rather be.  Now let's fix your makeup and get you back out there before people start looking for you and gossiping."

"Britney, what's the deal with Priya?"

She shrugged, "No clue.  I texted her and she said that she's dealing with something and would make it up to you.  She didn't give me details."

"I hope she's okay."

"Elisabeth! Stop worrying and sit still!"

I did as she said.  By the time she was finished I didn't look like I had an emotional breakdown at all. I smiled from cheek to cheek as we reentered the reception room.  Lukas rushed to my side asking if I was okay and I nodded.  His mom appeared out of nowhere.

"Dear, I'm so sorry for Lauren's outburst.  I assure you that you won't have to worry about her for the remainder of the night.  Jack, one of Lukas' cousins, is taking her back to the hotel.  I'm sorry that she's upset you.  If I had known she would react like this I would not have insisted that you invite her.  It's all my fault" she said dramatically.

"It's fine.  I appreciate your apology and don't want to spend the rest of the night focusing on Lauren" I replied honestly.

She hugged me and mentioned how happy she was that I was now a part of their family.  I wanted to clear my mind and have some fun so I convinced Lukas to hit the dance floor with me.  Our dance floor was packed for most of the night because we had an awesome deejay.  Every song was better than the last.  By midnight, Zoey, our amazing wedding planner insisted that we get ready to cut the cake.

Our cake was wheeled into the center of the dance floor.  We took a ton of pictures before finally cutting into our red velvet cake which both of us loved. I think our guests were disappointed that we did not smash cake all over each other's faces...who came up with that silly idea anyway?  Instead we looked into each other's eyes and fed each other before kissing.  After the staff wheeled away our cake to cut and serve it was time for the father-daughter dance.

For this dance I struggled trying to find the perfect song.  Something sentimental but not too mushy. A song that fit perfectly.  "Butterfly Kisses" was totally overdone and I could not make it through the song without bawling.  I considered "What a Wonderful World" but it just didn't feel right.  After listening to what felt like hundreds of songs I finally chose "Cinderella".  As my dad and I swayed to the music he reiterated how happy he was for me.  I could see the tears in his eyes and did my best to blink back my own.  It was a lost cause for both us, overcome with emotion.  I brushed back my dad's tears and hugged him close, thanking him for all he's done for me over the years while our guests watched on with misty eyes.

Next Lukas and his mom danced to "My Wish" by Rascall Flatts.  It was such a sweet and tender moment watching them together.  After the emotion of the dances, our deejay started playing much needed up-tempo music and once again our dance floor was packed.  Lukas and I relaxed at our table for a little, graciously accepting envelopes from our guests.

I was becoming slightly bored looked on and grabbed Lukas and dragged him onto the dance floor.  We partied with everyone until close to three in the morning.  My feet were killing me and my head was pounding.  I noticed Lukas make a beeline towards our deejay and whisper something to him. Moments later the deejay was announcing that this would be our last dance.

As the deejay played, "I Could Not Ask For More" we danced.  My arms around Lukas holding him near.  All the wonderful memories of our wedding day filling my mind.  I could not believe that this wasn't a dream with the sweetest ending.

After the last of guests had left Lukas and I went up to our private room.  One of the perks of getting married at Oheka was having a private suite for the night.  I was relieved to take off my shoes and lay back on the bed.  Lukas joined me for a moment.  "I can't believe that this is real."

He turned his head, "I love you Elisabeth."

Lukas eventually helped me out of my wedding dress. After showering we slipped into bed and immediately fell asleep.  I know most couples can't wait to consummate their marriage on their wedding night but Lukas and I were way too exhausted.  We didn't want to have sex for the sake of having sex.  Sleeping in Lukas' arms as his wife was more than enough.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Family Time

As the night progressed, I became overwhelmed by the kind words and wishes from everyone.  I knew that there were two tables we hadn't really spent much time at....the one with Lukas' immediate family and the one with mine....albeit for completely different reasons.

We all took group and individual pictures together but hadn't had the opportunity to really converse.  A part of me felt that I would overwhelmed with emotion speaking with my immediate family.  With Lukas' family I didn't want to get into any type of conflict with Lauren.  After her little "coughing fit" during our wedding ceremony, my guard was definitely up.  Speaking or being near her could be volatile.

"Let's go thank you family" Lukas urged.

I nodded. My brothers and sister-in-laws looked amazing and their eyes shone with happiness for Lukas and I.   John congratulated us again and teased that I was a horror to live with while wishing Lukas well.  I rolled my eyes and countered, "This comes from a guy that spent hours in front of the mirror fixing his hair and making sure every strand was perfect.  Thankfully he's gotten over that looking like an oil spill phase."

Kristen laughed, "I met him when he had that hair.  When we would go out I'd be the one waiting on him."

"At least he's move on and gained some common sense!" Danny added.

"You should be the last one to speak.  Danny thought he was so hood wearing his jeans off his ass and a big gold chain that made Mr. T look modest" John teased.

I giggled, "Let's just say we all went through pretty awkward stages but turned out okay."

"You think you turned out okay?" Ryan asked.

"Yes....I'm a better version of who I use to be" I replied confidently.

"Lukas thank you for taking our sister off of our hands.  She's a pain in the ass when she doesn't get her way but we wouldn't want her any other way.  She's our baby sister and you better treat her right" Danny said seriously.

John nodded before adding, "And if we ever hear that you've hurt Elisabeth in any way, we will kick you ass."

Ryan continued, "That's not a threat, but a promise."

"I assure you that I will treat Elisabeth like the princess that she is.  I love her and would not hurt her" Lukas reassured my brothers.

We all chatted amicably for a few more minutes with everyone in our family extending the kindest, warmest, most sincere wishes.  They welcomed Lukas with open arms.  My brother Danny mentioned that he and my sister-in-law Victoria had something that they wanted to share with the entire family.  I was almost positive I knew their news....Victoria was glowing and abstained from alcohol all night.....I was grinning waiting for them to say it.

With all eyes on the two of them, Victoria squealed, "We're pregnant."

I immediately threw my arms around her and congratulated them.  Victoria had experienced issues conceiving and ended up going to a fertility specialist.  Eventually she became pregnant but then had a miscarriage early on.  Knowing that after all these years of trying that there dream was becoming a reality filled me with unbridled joy.

Victoria mentioned that she wasn't sure how I'd react and I waved her off.  "Why wouldn't I be happy for you and Danny?  You're both going to be excellent parents."

I beginning to feel that this was going to be a night full of unexpected surprises.  First Anthony mentioning that he was going to propose to Eleanore.  Victoria sharing that she's pregnant.  Third, Ryan and Chloe broke up.  I found that out early in the day when we were taking pictures.  While they both cared for each other, they wanted different things.  Chloe wasn't interested in pursuing a career and constantly pressured Ryan to propose.  He wasn't quite there and wanted to take things slowly.  They pictured life differently.  She wanted as many kids as possible, while he wanted two at most.  They argued about money.  Ryan was footing all of the bills and was becoming irate.  Whenever he mentioned the bills she made up excuses as to why she couldn't contribute.  In a way he felt that she was using him for what he had.  While they were broken up, Ryan mentioned that they were still friends.  I told him I understood and supported his decision.

---------

I dreaded having to converse with Lauren and timidly followed Lukas to his family's table.  Linda immediately rushed over to us and repeated how glad she was that we were finally married.  Did I mention that only Lukas and I sat at our own table.  We aren't super traditional and felt that it would be inconvenient to force our bridal to be with us all night instead of with their better half or their friends.  Faisal reiterated Linda's words and told us that we had to go back and visit them in Paris.  Naturally we agreed.

The tension at the table was thick and suffocating.  We were not sure what type of mood Lauren was in or what she was bound to do or say.  Depression can be a debilitating disease.  In my heart, I felt for Lauren and prayed that she would recover and be as close to normal as possible.  From all of the reports we've received from Mr. and Mrs. DiPalma we were confident that she was making progress.  Seeing her sitting there in an ivory cocktail dress made me uneasy.  You can't tell me that Lauren didn't know that it isn't proper to wear white or ivory to a wedding.  It's as though she wanted to be the center of attention.

She mumbled something under her breath and scowled at me.  Mrs. DiPalma spoke quietly and calmly to her. Lauren sat up straight and shot daggers at me with her eyes.  I wanted to walk away but knew how much this meant to Lukas.  I didn't want us to start our marriage with any type of negativity.

Lukas was patient asking Lauren is she needed anything.  She replying by scoffing and angrily asking him why she's even here.  Hmm, this was definitely not going how we planned and I was beginning to feel myself unravel emotionally.

Lauren glared at me  coldly and asked repeatedly, "Why the fuck am I here Lukas? Tell me"

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Did We or Didn't We

Thump...thump...thump...my heart pounded wildly against my chest.  I felt as though my world was closing in on me.  Lukas knew about my past indiscretions but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that Lukas and I would have to deal with Nate on our wedding day.  I could see Nate grinning as he got closer and strangely so was Lukas.  I began to put the pieces together and realized that the two of them knew each other.  Silently I prayed that they weren't related.  How awkward would that be? All this time I was worried about Lauren or one of my crazy former friends creating drama at the wedding....never did I think that my past would confront me.

Lukas and Nate did that half hug thing that men love.  Time seemed to move slower than a snail as I looked on.  I heard Nate congratulate Lukas before Lukas started to introduce me to Nate.  My mouth felt so dry as I plastered on a fake smile.

Nate interrupted, "Lukas, Elisabeth and I use to work at the same investment bank in Los Angeles."

Lukas looked at me and I nodded in agreement.  I was rendered speechless and clearly uncomfortable.  It was as though Lukas read my mind explaining that Nate was his "little brother" during his senior year in college.  Generally in sororities and fraternities you're paired up with a senior member, hence "older brother/sister".  They had kept in contact through the years with Lukas always giving Nate valuable advice and steering him down the right path.

"So Elisabeth last I heard you were at SIB....how are you liking it?" Nate asked, making small talk.

I shrugged, "I loved it but I've moved on.  I now head up my own team at a relatively new hedge fund."

His eyes widened with surprise.  "Really?  Good for you.  I always knew you were a go getter."

I seriously wanted to slap that smug smile off his face but knew this was neither the nor place to rehash the past.  Lukas excused himself for a moment to speak with one the managers of Oheka leaving Nate and I alone.

"Look, I know seeing me is uncomfortable for you but there is something that you should know" Nate said quietly.

"What's that?" I asked evenly, not wanting to show too much emotion.

With a small smile he said, "Nothing happened between you and I.  Yes we flirted and were touchy-feely with each but we did nothing more than makeout."

"But when I woke up were both naked in your bed" I replied incredulously.

"I remember that night vividly.  We were at a bar and you were very intoxicated.  I didn't want someone to take advantage of you in that state so I insisted that we take a cab together.  I'd watch you go into your place and I'd be on my way.  You agreed but once we were in the cab you started crying and talking about how shitty your boyfriend was.  How he had no time for you and was always with his female friends.  You didn't want to go home and in your state I couldn't take you to another bar."

I tried to recall that night but it was so fuzzy.  "So you took me back to your place to take advantage of me instead?" I asked defensively.

He shook his head.  "No.  I took you back to my place and you said you would sleep on the couch for a little and I retreated to my bedroom."

"Wait...I don't understand....how did I end up in your bedroom them?"

He chuckled, "I was asleep and you woke me up complaining that the couch was uncomfortable and asked if I minded if you shared my bed.  I didn't so you slipped under the covers.  Sometime during the night I awoke to you taking off your clothes saying that it was too hot."

"Are you sure?" I asked incredulously.

He nodded, "Yes..we even but a pillow barrier between us.  I might be a jerk sometimes but I wouldn't take advantage of any woman in that situation."

"So nothing happened between us?  We didn't have sex?"

"No...not even close" he said honestly.

"But the pictures on Facebook?"

His face fell, "The guys at work did that.  I felt terrible when you resigned and then when I heard about you and your ex breaking up.  I felt responsible.  I tried to call you numerous times to tell you the truth."

"I blocked your number.  I didn't want to deal with you because I blamed you for all the shit I was dealing with."

"I understand.  Now that you know the truth, can we put the past behind us and move on.  Lukas is a great guy and I can see that you make him happy.  I don't want to cause any problems for either of you" he explained.

I still wasn't completely convinced, "But you were naked?"

He looked utterly confused.  "That night?  No offense, you're a beautiful woman and if something did happen I wouldn't deny it.  When I awoke you were long gone and I was in boxers."

I frowned, "Maybe I just assumed the worst?"

He nodded, "We all make mistakes.  Sometimes our memories are fuzzy and we believe things that aren't necessarily true.  I didn't take advantage of you.  I'm sorry you've been carrying around this unwarranted guilt.  The past is the past and I would like to move past that night."

With a small smile I answered, "Thank you for telling me all this.  I've always wanted to know the truth about that night....I don't blame you for anything....if anything I should thank you.  You led me to Lukas!"

He laughed, "Let's put this in the past and move on."

"I agree" I replied, giving him a quick hug.

We both looked uncomfortably at each other.

He cleared his throat, "I should get back to my date.  I wouldn't want her to think I ditched her."

I chuckled, "Thanks Nate."

With that he walked away.  I sipped on the champagne in front of me, relieved that I didn't have drunk sex with Nate.  It dawned on me that if I had known the truth from the start I would have never left California and would probably be married to Jason.  The mere thought of that sent chills down my spine.  Jason, while a good man deep down, always made me feel insecure.  I felt I was never good enough for him because he was always criticizing every little thing.  Couple that with the fact that he tried to minimize my interactions with those closest to me.  Lukas was so different,  He trusted me wholeheartedly and supported my choices even if he disagreed. I loved him unconditionally and knew that I owed it to him to explain how I knew Nate.

I jumped as he planted a featherly, light kiss on my cheek.  I blushed and smile as he slid into the chair next to me.  'Did you enjoy catching up with Nate?  He's a good kid.  A bit of an overachiever and perfectionist with a heart of gold."

I swallowed hard.  I had to tell him.  He could probably see the worry etched on my face.  "About Nate, I actually knew him really well."

Lukas' looked surprised but allowed me to continue.  "Please don't get mad at me."

"What are you talking about Elisabeth? I'm completely lost."

I took a deep breath and spoke as quickly as possible.  "I thought I had cheated on Jason with Nate but turns out nothing happened between us.  That's what we were talking about."

A look of relief swept over his face.  "Elisabeth, whatever happened back then doesn't change how I feel about you."

"I just didn't want you finding out from him or someone else" I explained.

"I appreciate that" he replied.

"You're not upset?"

He chuckled, "What's there to be upset about?  Nothing happened and even if it did that was long before we met.  I want to enjoy tonight and not start our married life focusing on the past."

"Me too."

---------

As the night progressed, my feet were killing me from dancing and I was feeling light headed from all of those glasses of champagne.  My face was starting to hurt from smiling so much but I couldn't help it.  After freshening up, Lukas and I walked from table to table to thank our guests for coming.

Table 4 consisted of my dear friends, Britney and her date, Anthony and Eleanore, Josh and his new girlfriend, Eric and a date.  I noticed two empty seats.....one for Priya and her plus one.

Seeing my confusion, Eric said, "Priya didn't come.  We're not sure why.  Britney texted her and she said she'll explain everything to you later."

"Yeah, she said to tell you she's fine but couldn't make it" Britney added.

"That sucks.  I was hoping she'd be here.  We've made such strides over the past year and it would have been nice to celebrate with her.  I hope she's okay" I said disappointed.

Everyone congratulated us and then we took a group picture together.  Lukas and I were headed to the next table when Anthony asked if he could have a moment to speak with me in private.  I nodded and led him to our bridal room.  I sat on the cozy couch and he sat across from me.  "I wanted to ask you something" he said nervously.

"What?"

"I wanted to ask Eleanore to marry me and tonight just seems perfect for that" he replied.

Not wanting to sound like a horrible bitch I chose my words carefully.  "I'm happy that you've found Eleanore and want to take your relationship to the next level.  She's perfect for you.  Today is my wedding day and I would like for Lukas and I to be the ones in spotlight.  I don't want to hurt your feelings but I don't think it's appropriate to propose at my wedding."

He looked so crestfallen that I almost considered changing my mind.  "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned it.  It was a stupid idea anyway."

"No it's not. After all you've been through, I am overjoyed for you but I don't want to share my day.  I think Eleanore would appreciate a proposal that's heartfelt and memorable because you put thought into what she wants and likes.  Sometimes private and romantic."

He shrugged, "I'm not as skilled as Lukas when it comes to romantic surprises."

I laughed, "I'm sure Eleanore will love whatever you plan."


***** My Wonderful Readers - I apologize for disappearing without posting an update.  I'm fine as is my baby.  I appreciate the kind words and concern.  No excuses....I've just been lazy!  Apologies and thanks for being so awesome and understanding:) ******

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Let the Good Times Roll

While all of our guests stood we walked towards the center of the dance floor.  Finding the perfect wedding song was a bit of a struggle.  At first we wanted to go with "Thinking out Loud" because the lyrics were so perfect and sweet but realized that it was over played.  We wanted to be unique and find a song that suited us perfectly.  We struggled over two songs - Back at One and Here and Now - before ultimately choosing Here and Now by Luther Vandross.

Lukas and I didn't take dance lessons....I wasn't into the over rehearsed, stiff, emotionless first dances at weddings.  I wanted to get lost in the moment and not worry about screwing up a step in our perfectly choreographed routine.  Halfway through the song, Lukas and I sang the words to each other.  Even though we were surrounded by 400 of our closest friends and relatives, in that moment it felt as though Lukas and I were the only two people in the room.  He twirled me around before dipping and kissing me.  Once the song was over, it was time for our wedding party to join us on the dance floor.

They paired off accordingly and started swaying to "That's What Friends are For" totally oblivious to what was to come.  Thirty seconds into the song, our deejay switched songs.  As "I Gotta Feeling" blasted through the room he shouted, "Tonight is a celebration of Elisabeth and Lukas' love and commitment for each other.  Let's party and have a good time.  Dance floor is now open."

Our wedding party fluttered throughout the room grabbing our guests and bringing them onto the dance floor.  I don't think there were any wallflowers by the end of the song.  We danced for the next fifteen minutes before taking our seats.  While the staff served our first course, pear salad with arugula, walnuts and goat cheese, we took everything in.  Our guests all seemed happy and appeared to be having a good time.  The flowers and lighting were perfect.  I hoped that our wedding cake tasted half as good as it looked.

After we were all done with the first course it was time for speeches.  Up first was my dad who began by graciously thanking everyone for taking time out of their busy schedules to come to our wedding.

"Elisabeth is my only daughter. Being here today and seeing my daughter looking so happy and radiant is truly an overwhelming and amazing experience.  First I would like to welcome Lukas to our family.  Not only has Lukas complemented Elisabeth's life in every way, he has become an integral part of our lives as well.  He is everything that we have envisioned for Elisabeth and am pleased to welcome him into our family."

My dad paused for a moment before continuing, "Seeing the happiness and radiance in my daughter's eyes today has filled me with overwhelming emotions.  Today I am overjoyed but my happiness is tinged with slight sadness.  I can't fathom where all the years have gone and seeing my daughter as a bride brings back memories of Elisabeth as a little girl, running around the garden, picking flowers, looking up at me with those big hazel eyes and sweetly asking me to get her something.  She knew from a young age that she already had me wrapped around her little finger."

As laughter filled the room, my dad pushed on, "As Elisabeth and Lukas embark on this new journey together, we wish you happiness, love and understanding.  Lukas you're strong, hardworking, kind, patient and have a good head on your shoulders.  You treat Elisabeth like a princess and she positively lights up whenever you're around.  Our family is blessed to have you.  Marriage isn't easy....nothing that's worth ever is.  Always be honest, committed and love each other.  And as a happily married man of 37 years, I have a piece of advice for Lukas.  I'm sure your dad will attest that this is correct as well.......the old adage, happy wife happy life is 100% accurate."

Lukas' dad wholeheartedly agreed.  "With that said, I would like to propose a toast to my daughter and new son - Elisabeth and Lukas - here's to a long, happy, healthy future together filled with laughter and joy."

Next up was Lukas' dad who echoed my dad's sentiments.  "I agree wholeheartedly with everything Joe has said.  Elisabeth when we first met you, I knew there was something special about you.  You brought out a side of Lukas that was missing for a long time and filled him with absolute joy.  I knew from that day, that you were destined to be together.  As we got to know Elisabeth, we found her to be warm, caring and full of energy.  She had a zest for family and a smile that was contagious.  Lukas is a lucky man to have found you."

He looked in our direction and smiled.  "Lukas is our only son and he has been the type of son we are proud of.  When my health started to deteriorate Lukas gave up his career to assist with the family business.  He ensured that both me and my wife were okay always.  He has always been there for his sisters guiding them in the right direction.  I know that he will take that same approach with Elisabeth.  Elisabeth, you've made Lukas complete.  When he's with you, nothing else matters.  Together you two are a force to be reckoned with.  I know that your marriage will stand the test of time."

He raised his glass, "Having been married for the past 40 years, I'd like to share some words of advice.  Marriage is a 50/50 partnership.  Always remember that and put each other first.  Elisabeth, it is our honor to welcome your to our family.  At this time, let's all raise our glasses....to Lukas and Elisabeth.  Here's to a long, fruitful, happy marriage."

Lukas' best man made a quick, uneventful speech and then Maria was up.  She spoke of our childhood and quipped about me thinking I was a princess.  "Elisabeth always thought she was a princess and today she gets her wish.  I hope that one day I can find what you and Lukas have.  Today is the beginning on a entire new chapter in your life.  As you grow together, always remember the good times.  This might sound lame but I hope that each day together is better than the last.  To Elisabeth and Lukas....I love you both."

After giving us a hug, Maria returned to her seat to enjoy the second course.  While we ate Lukas and I couldn't believe that all these people took time to come to our wedding.  I saw childhood friends, high school and college friends and my work colleagues.  Even though I had left my job at SIB three months prior, Nick, John and their respective spouses still came.

Why did I leave SIB? I enjoyed my job but Sam (my former colleague who had left SIB for greener pastures) contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a business venture.  Initially I thought I'd be polite and hear him out because I had no intention of leaving. However, after hearing Sam's pitch I couldn't help feeling excited.  He along with two former colleagues were starting their own hedge fund, they were the principal owners.  Sam saw so much potential in me that he asked me to come aboard and head up my own team. There were moments of doubt....would I be able to bring in the talent and make my team exceed expectations?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I didn't take a chance, I'd always wonder what could have been.

Lukas encouraged me to take a chance and insisted that he would support whatever decision I made. I still deliberated in my mind for a few more days before taking Sam up on his offer.  Resigning from SIB was difficult.  I had become such good friends with Nick and wanted to maintain that friendship.  I wondered if he would resent me for leaving?  I mean he wanted to take the leap as well but couldn't up and leave a job for something uncertain when he had a family to consider.

I was relieved that Nick was happy for me and upon my leaving asked me to keep him in mind for any potential openings.  John, my manager, was disappointed that I wanted to move on but thanked me for all I did during my tenure at SIB.  He also promised that as long as he was with SIB, there would always be a job for me if I decided to return.  I was pleased to leave on good terms and start this new chapter in my career.

As I scanned the room, I almost choked on my pasta when my eyes caught a familiar face.  A face from my past that I never wanted to see again.  Shit....I left Los Angeles because of him and there he was sitting at table 15 talking and laughing with his table mates.  His eyes met mine and I immediately looked away.  What the fuck was Nate doing at our wedding?  Who invited him?  I sure as hell didn't.  Seeing him took me back to that morning when I awoke in his bed.  He was the catalyst that led to the end of my relationship with Jason and me moving back to NY.  Well actually now that I think about it, maybe I should thank him for that.  If not for Nate, I'd still be miserable with Jason and wouldn't have found Lukas.  I still don't know what happened that night between Nate and I and seeing him made me scared.

I glanced towards his table at the same time as he stood up and started walking towards Lukas and I..........