Chapitre Quarante Trois.
Par Jolie Adam
Jen stirred uncomfortably in the heat of Larry’s toned body enveloping hers. His temperature had risen a few degrees and added to the large comforter covering them both, she was burning up. She also hadn’t been able to really enter a deep sleeping trance, feeling…bothered. By all of the unsatisfied sexual tension. Larry was hard to convince and just as stubborn as her so trying to lure him into her pants or more accurately trying to get in his was proving to be a challenge. Since she’d been back, he had been treating like a broken vase that was on the verge of breaking once more and she loved how careful he was being but something had to be done. Her physical needs were overwhelming her, she longed to be in his embrace and now that she was close enough to feel his body heat emanating, she wanted to feel all of him. She briefly wondered how he was holding up if she was this anxious.
Jen slowly lifted his arm off her so that she could get up from bed. She quietly slipped her feet into her fluffy indoor shoes that Larry had gotten to cheer her up and make her more comfortable after her stay at the hospital. They were baby pink and so fluffy that her soles were walking on clouds each time she took a step. The light in the washroom was on so she stood at the door waiting for whomever was using it to finish. Hope no one does their mid-night bathroom runs naked, she thought as she had a habit of sleeping naked at her place so anytime she had to get up and pee in the middle of the night, she would stride in completely nude. The light went off and Genevieve stepped out in her bathrobe. Jen wondered what she was doing on this floor if she had a private bathroom in the room she shared with Mr Bourgeois. The entire house was very dim and although Jen couldn’t see her red eyes, her sniffling nose indicated she’d just been crying.
“Hey Genevieve, are you alright?” Jen approached her with a concerned look on her face. They hadn’t exchanged many words since she’d been back. Larry insisted on keeping her in bed and fetching anything she needed or craved. The only place she was still allowed to go freely was the washroom.
“Yes, I’m okay. How are you Jennifer? How are you feeling?” Genevieve asked as she approached Jen and gently placed her palm to her cheek in a motherly caress. Her hand was warm and soft.
“I’m okay. Think I drank too much tea before bedtime.” She tried to make light of the situation.
“We were all so worried for you. I’m so happy you are okay. Larry was …how you say it? …” She paused to find the word in English, “..sad, very very sad. I never see him like this. I never ever see him cry. And he cried so much for you. I cried too because I was very bad with you Jennifer. I said things I should not say and I feel so bad because if I did not say those bad things then…” Genevieve began tearing up again which in return made Jen emotional. She wanted to wipe that memory from her head but it was one of those things you never forgot. Like your first kiss, or your first time. The only thing she had the power to do was to be positive and look at the bright side. She made it. She made it out alive. No, you didn’t, her conscience scorned, what about your baby?
“I’m so sorry, Jennifer. I want to tell you this but always…with Larry. I pray that you know that I am sorry.”
Jen couldn’t speak so she nodded, letting the heavy tears fall as her head bobbed up and down to show Genevieve that she understood what she was saying and that she forgave her. Genevieve held her in a hug for a few minutes before letting go and kissing her on the cheeks.
Jen walked to the washroom. Looking in the mirror, she saw no physical evidence of the incident. She lifted up Larry’s t-shirt and reflecting in the mirror were the bluish colors of the bruises on her stomach that had yet to fade. She sighed loudly as she lowered her shirt down. Turning on the cold water, she plunged her face under the faucet and let the coolness run on her face, freezing her skin and removing any traces of tears spilled. When she turned off the water and stood up, her cheeks were slightly pink and she felt a lot better. Nothing like submerging yourself in some water therapy, she concluded. She hurriedly used the washroom and went back to the warm bed awaiting her.
No sooner had she eased into bed did her hands start slowly lurking around on Larry’s body. It was even leaner than before, having lost some stress weight, if that was even possible. He laid idle, remaining sound asleep, his body still a little distorted from Jen’s absence in his embrace. She took her time, feeling the smoothness of his skin beneath her palms as her hands roamed, like the first time all over again, relishing in the curve of every muscle, fingers dancing as they covered every inch of his upper chest and back. Her fingernails scratched slowly into his neck as she slid her body right next to his. His eyes lifted quickly, alert and curious, matching his searching brain for the soft scratches like one of a docile cat when they landed on Jen’s burning gaze. She looked at him innocently as if unaware of the contradicting movements of her hands which were now skimming the band of his boxers. He placed his hands behind her back to keep her so close to him that she couldn’t move her hands. But his move provoked her to slip her hands beneath the cotton fabric and molest him. He wanted to stop her but it’d been a while and all common sense went out the window once her hands began stroking methodically. He buried his nose in her neck and she faced him, continuing to feel him harden between her hands.
“Jen, don’t do this.”
“I want to. And it looks like you want do too.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Shh..” She lifted her head faintly to kiss him, “you won’t hurt me, Larry. You could never hurt me. I know that now.”
He sighed at her compulsive, hushed tone. Every fibre in his body wanted to yet his hands stayed firmly on her back. He didn’t want to encourage her into prematurely getting physical. But he didn’t discourage her either, when she lowered his shorts and placed her right leg over his thigh. She kissed him once more, swimming in his oral fluids as his engorged member thumped against her opening. She slid him in slowly and once he remembered how she felt, he could no longer play coy. His left hand was secure on her behind as his right hand held the back of her neck, pushing her plump mouth against his, locked in a torrid kiss. She moaned in his mouth as he slowly inserted himself over and over again and it felt like ages ago since she’d been lost in his primal need. Her skin enflamed in the carnal release, she felt the sheets’ weight on her multiply. Yet she continued to move with him, as he lost himself in her and she found herself in him. He wasn’t making love to her like a victim. There was no trauma in this moment. Just lust and relief. Looking up at his face, she felt the waves of her orgasm rise to high tide, like a monsoon about to demolish everything in its path. She wanted to scream as she detonated and her muscles clinched around him but reminded herself of whose house she was in, she bit into his flesh to allow her forceful release to wash over in reasonable silence. As if he’d been holding on for her to do so, he finished shortly after, settling for heavy, loud breaths instead of biting her or groaning. She lowered her leg but he held her in place, and she lifted her upper body to tickle his face with a shower of soft kisses. She would never tire of kissing him, loving him, being one with him. Her heart and body felt at ease, even though her rib was aching a bit from her recent activity. She chose to ignore the discomfort to prevent Larry from freaking out.
“I love you, Larry Bourgeois.” She exclaimed before planting the softest of kisses right on his temple.
“I love you more.” He kissed the inner part of her forearm.
“Love me enough to still want to marry me? Or was that just coma pillow talk?” Jen smiled. Larry was surprised that she heard him.
“Jen, I meant that. I still mean that. We can get married tomorrow if you want. For me, it’s just about you.” He looked her in the eyes, gaze fixed on her response.
“How about right now?” She asked.
“Right now what?” He looked at her confused, “It’s two in the morning.”
“If it’s just about me then I want to marry you right now. Forget everyone and everything else. Let’s do it now, just me, you and God as our witness and minister.”
Larry laughed, brushing off her suggestion until he saw that there was no trace of humour in her desire.
“Are you serious?” He questioned as if what she implied was too surreal.
“Don’t I look serious?” She regarded him earnestly, “I’ll give you a few minutes to think of your vows.”
Finally dawning on him that his girlfriend was persisting with her idea, Larry replied,
“I don’t need a few minutes. I’m ready.”
Jen grinned widely and pushed back the loose strands of hair framing her face. She straightened up under the covers, trying to look as decent as possible in a men’s shirt and no other embellishment. She snapped her fingers as she was struck with a brilliant and romantic idea.
“Do you have any candles?”
“Um, downstairs. Don’t even think about getting up. I’ll get them.” He got up, a little groggy from his climax and made his way downstairs to look for candles. Jen was giddier and excited, clapping her hands together like a kid on a sugar-high, feeling the happiest she’d had since the incident happened. Moments like these proved that despite the circumstances, may they be crazy exes, manipulative future-mother-in-laws, and jealous twin brothers, love prevailed all. She could fall as many times as she had to, or was destined to but with love, she would rise stronger, better, happier. As sordid as feeling bile rise up your throat and viciously getting it kicked back down was, the entire experience made her infinitely more grateful for Larry and what they had. When he touched her, it was no longer lust but rather a longing for his fingers to never depart from her. When they kissed, her heart no longer skipped, it leaped into her chest reminding her that she was alive and gratitude surmounted her. Even the sight of him alone was a blessing, an all-consuming appreciation of his presence in her life. She could dwell on the past, on the hurts and especially on the losses or she could strive forward, triumphant and resilient.
Larry closed the door, holding three small candles in his hands with a lighter.
“Lucky number 3.”
He placed them strategically around the room, putting the first on the bedside table, the second on the dresser and the last on a shelf. The dimly-lit room was accessorized by the navy late night sky visible from the window. They sat facing each other and smiling. Jen grabbed his hand in hers and initiated the ritual;
“My dear Larry. I love you. I guess I want to start by telling you that because it is the only feeling that consumes me day and night, and every second of my being. I wake up with thoughts of you and when I close my eyes to sleep, you are still on my mind. The moment I saw you, I felt drawn to you, like a magnet being called forth, unable to stop its collision into its match. I love you for you…and I can say that since I’ve experienced your good and bad side first-hand.” Larry chuckled shyly, “I never want to go a day without being with you or around you. I know this sounds cheesy but you complete me and your love…your love feeds me, calms me, soothes me, lifts me up and satiates me. I promise to love you in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in sad times and happy moments and forever and always. I take you as my devoted husband today and for the rest of my life, before you and I and before God.” She smiled tearfully when she was done; surprised at her own speech and the course of its own it’d taken. She simply opened her mouth and words flowed freely. She didn’t have to think or pause or force anything. Yet she was satisfied with her improvised vow. Guess all those chick flicks paid off, her conscience cheered while looking over her Chanel cat-eye shades, drinking Moet Champagne.
“Wow.” Larry started and they both burst out into a fit of laughter. Admittedly, Jen knew the speech was intense but so were her feelings for him. Getting himself together, Larry began again, “Jen. You are the most beautiful girl to me. I don’t know what it is about you that I can’t resist and it’s not fair but from the first moment I saw you, I couldn’t admit that you were something I wanted. And ever since, I have never wanted anyone or anything more than I want you. Remember that day we were at the beach and you were watching me? When I went home, I remember wishing that you would look at me that way everyday and now that I have you, that I have my wish, I never want to lose it. I know I haven’t been the best boyfriend to you and there were lots of time I didn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. That is why I want to make it up to you by treating you like a queen for the rest of our lives. Being with you doesn’t just make me happy; it makes me who I am. Without you, I am no one and nothing because you are my everything. I love you so much that it scares me.” He pauses and looks down shyly, “As your husband, I promise to love you unconditionally everyday for the rest of our lives, no matter what’s going on. Because as long as you have me and I have you, the world is perfect. So marry me and make me the happiest man in the world.” He turns around to open the top drawer of his bedside drawer and grabs the Cartier box. “Before God, may this ring remind you everyday that I love you and no one but you forever and always.” Larry slipped the ring onto her ring finger as Jen’s hand trembled in awe. Despite the feeble lighting, the diamonds twinkled brightly like an effervescent show of bursting colors and crystals.
Jen gasped incredulously, “You…you got me a ring??”
He was smiling at her reaction to the ring. “I was going to propose at the anniversary party.”
“Wait..but that was before..” She repositioned her line of questioning, “You mean you were going to propose that night?”
“Yeah, that’s why I was tipsy. I was too nervous so I started drinking.”
“Oh my god,” She clasped her hand over her mouth, “And I thought you didn’t care…about that stuff Lau said that night. I thought maybe he was right.” She began to cry.
“Do you like it?” Jen nodded. “Is that why you’re crying?” She nodded once more.
“It just means so much more because you were actually going to ask me.” She was bawling now but stopped abruptly when the pressure led to uncomfortable pain from her ribcage. She winced in agony.
“Are you okay?”
She looked at the ring on her hand as smiled as if it was her drug,
“Oh yes, I’m fine. Look at this bad boy. Can’t believe I could’ve had this three weeks’ ago.” She eyed him in a playfully menacing way. He laughed with her.
“You have it now.”
“Thank you Larry. You’ve made me the happiest, luckiest girl on earth.” She laid her head on the pillow and he lowered his to kiss her as he’d done many times. Yet this time, her entire heart wrapped around the kiss, holding on to its’ warmth and purity.
“Are you sure?” Laurent asked quizzically.
“Positive. I checked twice at home then I got another confirmation by a doctor.”
He left the last waffle untouched, feigning loss of appetite. “B-But how? We always used protection. I ALWAYS use protection.”
“I don’t know.” She was beginning to worry based on the look on his face which said he was less than ecstatic about the news.
“Ayara…I’m not trying to be rude but…are you sure it’s mine?” The last thing Lau wanted to do was upset her but it had to be asked. She had been known to be promiscuous, from her raunchy on-stage performances to her runway-long list of famous exes. He recalled how sexually assertive she was the first few times they’d slept together.
Ayara’s distraught expression preceded her reply.
“Of course it’s yours. I haven’t been with anyone else! How could you ask me that? Is that really what you think of me? Do you think that little of me?? ANSWER ME!”
Lau repented, “Ayara, calm down. I’m just asking. I don’t think badly of you. I really like you!”
She frowned, “But?”
He exhaled, “But we barely just started getting to know each other. This is a baby. This is a big deal. It’s not like an album or a concert where you work hard and when it’s done, it’s done. Being a parent is the biggest job in the world.” Lau was taken back at the reasons he was giving. For the brief moment when he’d known that Jen had been pregnant, none of these excuses had even crossed his mind. He felt ashamed dishing out his fears as reasons for Ayara not to keep the child.
“Look Lau, it’s one thing that I tell you that I love you and you pretend it’s just a joke. But I’m keeping this baby, with or without your help.” She stated, getting up from the bed and walking into the bathroom, slamming the door loudly.
Lau sat on the bed staring at his last waffle sided with whipped cream that he’d been enjoying just a few minutes ago. Before his life was about to change. He regretted the way he’d digested the news. The situation wasn’t ideal but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t live up to it. Ayara had been nothing but sweet to him ever since he and his brother signed up to be a part of her tour. Spending time with her in the South of France turned out to be one of the highlights of his summer, besides falling in love with Jen. And he’d told Larry that things were going well between them. They were, weren’t they? So it wasn’t exactly how he pictured becoming a parent but it wasn’t the worst either. There were plenty of his exes that could’ve easily been in this boat that he’d have dreaded to even publically claim much less share parenting duties with. He remained sitting, shoulders slumped thinking about the future. What it’d be like to raise kids with Ayara based on what he knew about her so far. Lau briefly featured her best attributes. She was kind, generous, sweet and caring, with a soft vulnerability that reminded him of her ripe age. Once more, Lau felt embarrassed at his reaction when taking into consideration her age. If she was only 22 and wasn’t freaking out about having a kid at the height of her career, he had no excuse to act the way he was. It was self-centered weak.
In an attempt to seek redemption, he got up and knocked on the bathroom door. He heard her sniffling on the other side. He pushed the door open and his eyes landed on a vision of her sitting on the toilet, crying. Pulling her up into his arms, he consoled and hushed her.
“Ayara! Ayara, stop crying. I’m sorry.” His fingers stretched on her scalp as he gave her a head massage and placed a kiss on her forehead. “Hey, look at me.” She did as he asked, “I’m sorry, okay? You’re going to be fine. I’m not going anywhere.” She hugged him back and they stood there for a few minutes holding each other, both unaware that the other was weaker.
Early sunrays shone through the curtains’ slit in Larry’s room. It was a beautiful day, unpredicted due to the windy weather of the days preceding. The weather forecast was expected to reach high 20’s, promising a sunny summer day. Jen turned and rolled in the empty sheets, smiling like a Cheshire cat until she realized that Larry wasn’t in bed. Before she could even complete her occupied thought, Larry walked in, stepping carefully not to drop the heavy tray he was carrying. Jen rose to sit up as she eyed the tray and her fiancé with a huge grin.
“Well hello there, Mr. Jennifer Allan!” She giggled as Larry approached the bed to deliver the full tray.
“Good morning, Mrs. Bourgeois!” Larry corrected.
“You’re right, that does sound so much better,” Jen relented with a never-ending grin, “I see you come bearing breakfast. If I’d known this is what married life would be like, I’d have asked YOU to marry me.” She laughed at her own comment. Looking at the platter, there was a healthy portion of various breakfast delicacies. An assortment of miniature raisin and chocolate croissants, two sorts of yogurts, tea, freshly-squeezed orange juice, tiny baguettes, a small platter of cheese, and two bowls carrying fruit salads. The delicious aroma of the fresh bread wafted through the room, tickling Jen’s nose so she grabbed that first. Larry swatted her hand lightly,
“No morning kiss?”
With unfurled arms, she embraced him into a loose hug, inhaling heady amounts of his natural scent before coming back to his face to deliver a sweet, marital morning kiss. Pouted lips met hers as she smiled, kissing him regardless. Acquiescing to his heart’s desires, Larry’s hand ascended to her face, holding her cheek as he returned her kiss, wholeheartedly and passionately. Jen pulled away, feeling his temperature among with something else rising.
“Your lust knows no timing. Let me eat or else I’ll have you for breakfast.” She flirted.
“I’m very nutritious.” He approached her once more, for a repeat performance which Jen halted,
“Just last night or this morning, I had to practically beg you to sleep with me and now you’re no longer being prudent? Besides, you bring me all this food and then…you won’t even let me eat!” She feigned frustration which did nothing to slow Larry down. He picked up the heavy tray very carefully and laid it on the floor. Seeing that her disruption technique failed to work, Jen returned to her line of questioning,
“What about the tea? It’ll get cold! We should eat first.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll warm it up. Right now, I want to make love to my wife.” He replied with an intentional smirk that spoke volumes.
“You’re lucky this ring is on my finger or else I’d rebuke your claim.” Larry climbed into the bed and eased his way beneath the sheets on top of Jennifer. Not before long, they were tangled in a steamy make-out session better suited for night time, underneath a gibbous moon. Items of clothing were being slipped off, hands wavering into sensual zones, foreplay slipping into the territory of main action. Jen bit Larry’s lower lip and he returned the favour by nibbling on her earlobe. Feeling his erection proudly poking her, she moaned in anticipation, grinding herself into him, stopping for a brief second to utter a precaution. “Maybe we should protection.” As if being doused with freezing waters, Larry stopped fondling her to confirm that he’d heard right.
“Nothing. Just maybe we should be a bit more careful.”
“Where is this coming from? We’ve never used protection.” Larry retorted, struck by her suggestion.
“I know, I know. You’re right. But maybe not protection. Just don’t finish inside.” Larry repulsed by what he was hearing, got off Jen and laid vertically by her side.
“Jen, what’s wrong? What are you suddenly so scared of?”
“Getting pregnant.” Jen replied instantaneously, not wasting a second after his question. Unwillingly, her tear ducts began sprouting misty eyes. She turned away to lay on her other side, not facing him. Larry softened his tone, beginning to understand why the subject had been brought up. He closed the distance between them by hugging her from the back, wrapping his arms around her stomach.
“Why don’t you want to talk about it?” He kissed her shoulders.
“Talk about what?”
“You know what. Whenever I bring it up, you brush it aside or act like it’s not important. I want to know how you feel.”
“I feel lucky to be alive…” She paused, “And I felt grateful. I mean, you heard the doctor right. We can always make another baby.”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t take away the pain of losing this one. It’s okay to feel.”
“No, it’s not.” A soft cry filled the room with melancholy.
“Yes, it is. It’s okay to feel. If you don’t, you’ll never grieve. It hurts me so much knowing that I couldn’t help you or our baby. But I’m glad you’re here with me because we can always have kids. But it doesn’t mean that we’ll forget about the one we never had.
“I just don’t want to go through that again.”
“You don’t have to go through that again. When you’re ready to have kids again, I’ll be there for you every step of the way. Think about it. You were ready to have this baby without even knowing how I felt about you. If anything, next time it’ll be easier and better. That’s the way I see it. I love you and if you want me to wear protection, then I’ll do it. But I just want you to know that you’re not alone anymore. I’m here for you.”
Jen’s tears soaked the pillow as she cried silently, holding on to Larry’s words for solace. Deep down, the words resonated and rang true. She’d been ready to keep that child, ready to accept that Larry would bail any second once he found out. Yet he stayed, and more so, he made an honest woman out of her. If she could get through the incident in one piece, she could get through anything. Joined together in matrimony, Jen didn’t want their wedding morning to be a sorrowful memory so she pushed past her hurt to stop crying. She needed to let go of that loss, of the past and the pain. She sought closure and peace.
“I want to see her.”
Larry practically jumped up when she uttered her name,“That’s not an option. See her for what?”
“Just to tell her what she did. To ask her why?” Jen was anxious to tell Lola that her attempt to terminate one life actually destroyed two.
“Lola’s sick. That’s why! Jen, you don’t need to understand everything and everyone. People do things sometimes without good reason. What Lola did….she’s going to pay for a long time. So don’t even think for a second that I’m going to let you anywhere near her.”
The exchange of words had been anything but positive and it was evident the mood was soiled. Larry picked up the tray and placed it carefully on the bed. They ate breakfast facing each other, letting the silence spread eerily in the room.
As the day wore on, the house got quieter, leaving behind the odd and infrequent sounds of nature. Genevieve was in the kitchen baking pastries due to lack of preoccupation. There were proverbs about calm before the storm but no one ever mentioned the calm afterwards. Perhaps Jen’s incident put emphasis on life’s little moments but the matronly woman began to appreciate her life a lot more. She noticed how quickly her children were growing and the velocity with which things evolved in this day and age. Just yesterday, the house would be packed with her little ones hibernating to play video games despite the welcoming outdoor weather. Yet today, she found herself in an empty home with nothing but her hobbies to occupy her time and attention. Heavy stair steps caught her off guard as she hadn’t been expecting anyone. Larry walked into the kitchen with an empty tray and simply wished her a good morning although it was a little after one in the afternoon. He emptied the crumbs into the garbage and began loading the dishwasher. Genevieve sat in one the kitchen chairs and observed in silence, taking in how tall and big he’d gotten. He’d always been so lanky while Lau was the one who walked with easy grace despite his height. Larry played around with a few buttons, familiarizing himself with the machine. Genevieve smiled to herself. He had a habit of doing that, relearning how things around the house functioned every time he was away for a period of time. She was also to blame, spoiling her kids by doing most of their mundane tasks for them. Larry finally pressed the right button and the machine began to hum quietly warming up to clean the new load. He turned around to see his mother sitting there and smiling nostalgically at him. Before he could even ask if she was alright, the door opened and Larry sensed it was his twin.
“Lau?” He called out, inviting his brother to the kitchen. Lau closed the door and made his way to the dining area without responding. The house was warm and smelled delicious enough to give you a sugar high.
“Hmm, tu fais des petits gateaux?” (hmm, smells good. Are you making pastries?) Lau salivated and basked in the warmth radiating from the oven.
“Oui, tes favoris.” (Yes, your favourite.) She smiled at his enthusiasm. Despite how big her boys got, they still beamed with excitement for homemade pastries. Guess some things just didn’t change.
“Bon, j’ai des nouvelles.” (Okay, so I have news!) Lau declared. He figured the news of Ayara’s pregnancy were bound to surface sooner or later. Especially with the paparazzi at her tail, it’d be all over the newspapers and tabloids the minute she wore a tight outfit. And since Jen and Larry’s secrecy regarding her pregnancy was an epic fail, he wanted to announce it as soon as possible.
“Moi aussi!” (Me too) Larry said, trying to steal the limelight. It reminded their mother of when they used to fight for attention as little kids. One would have an idea and the other would try to surpass to get all of the praise. Thinking on it, one might agree that the only time they did share the spotlight was on stage.
“Ok. Vas y!” (Alright, go ahead!) Lau rolled his eyes dramatically, feigning annoy as he decided to be the bigger person. Before Larry could even deliver his announcement, Jen came into the kitchen to grab a water bottle. Grabbing everyone’s eyes was a sparkler on her ring finger, shining brightly in the natural sunlight present in the well-lit room. The cut was classic, the shape elegant and the stone flawless, all the elements composing a beautiful ring that was resting on Jen’s hand.
“Is that what I think it is??” Lau asked, a few decibels too high. Jen laughed at his reaction,
“Yup. We’re married.” She flipped her hand a few times to show it off. Lau grabbed her into a tight congratulatory hug as she was standing closest to him as Genevieve kissed Larry to give her blessing. When it was Larry’s turn, Lau playfully jumped into his arms, resting his head on his brother’s chest and their mother simply kissed Jen on the cheeks with a huge smile expressing her joy. Three weeks ago, she would’ve vehemently disapproved their union let alone their engagement.
“Quand est ce que vous vous etes marrier? Vous etiez a la maison toute la semaine?” (When did you get married? You were home all week.) Genevieve suddenly remembered bumping into Jen late last night and she was not sporting that sparkler or else she’d have noticed.
“This morning at 2 a.m. Miss-impatient here couldn’t wait.” The puzzled looks on his mother and brother’s face prompted him to elaborate. “We got married in my room so no, it’s not official. We’ll probably get it done officially this week and I’ll need a witness.” He said the last part looking at Lau.
“Obviously!” Lau rolled his eyes once more as if Larry was stating the obvious.
“Ta mere est contente?” (Is your mom okay with that?) Genevieve asked. Jen blushed, remembering that she had yet to tell her mother.
“Elle le sera bientot.” (She will be, shortly.) Larry steered himself back to Jen’s side to kiss her on the cheek.
“Okay. Your turn.”
Lau took a deep breath and said as animatedly as possible, almost trying to hype himself up to say it, “Ayara is pregnant.”
Everyone’s face fell. Even Genevieve couldn’t muster a smile, she was so taken back. Jen’s breathing grew hallow as she digested what was meant to be good news. Forcing herself to say something, she approached Lau and hugged him,
“You are going to be a great father.” She smiled faintly, giving his arm a firm squeeze before exiting the kitchen.
Once she was out of eyesight, Larry followed suit,
“Felicitations papa! I can’t wait to see my nephew or niece.” The twins hugged amicably, “You understand why she’s –” Lau put his hand up to stop him, nodding in agreement. Genevieve approached him lastly to offer her congratulations.
“Jen, you okay?” Larry closed his bedroom door quietly behind him.
“It’s not fair.”
“Shh, don’t say that.” Larry held her.
“They barely even know each other. And they’re having a kid??” She looked up at him, blinking away tears of anger and envy.
“Jen, we barely knew each other when you found out you were pregnant. And we managed just fine. Look at us now.”
Jen let his comment marinate as she took into account how far they had come together. Looking around at the room that was once so foreign to her, remembering the time she actually stood on the other side of the door, hoping that Larry would welcome her in and just talk to her. Carrying on her lust for him, despite being with Laurent who was nothing but sweet and doting to her. Yet she always found her thoughts returning to Larry. And now, finally without any barriers, their love and lust were bound inextricably. In the stark moments of veracity, her heart had always belonged to Larry. From the moment she felt his presence and vowed to seek answers behind his mysterious shell to the second he disrobed her with his eyes first and then his hungry fingers in her apartment. Before then, she hadn’t known sex could be so visceral, corroborating her growing and perplexed curiosity about him into something so much more ethereal.
“You’re always right. I love and hate that about you.” She sniffed away her tears, no longer feeling sorry for herself, “We need something new. Something different.”
“We need to move out.”
“We need a honeymoon!” She affirmed.
“Well, we have to get the doctor’s permission before you go out of this house much less, go on vacation.” Larry warned. Now that she was back on her feet, he felt a bit more confident leaving her to run a few errands he’d postponed for the past three weeks. If it wasn’t for Laurent explaining the recent turn of events, their manager would’ve been certain Larry was ignoring his calls and texts. They had to postpone Japan twice and if Larry didn’t drop in to confirm and sign the contract, they were about to lose out on a promising opportunity.
“Ok, I’ll go to the hospital tomorrow.”
“Good. Are you going to be okay for a while? I need to go out for a few things.”
“Oh yeah, I’ll just be here…working out.” She admired her ring finger.
“Working out? You’re not fooling me into thinking you’ve recovered enough to work out. And when have you ever worked out in your life?”Larry joked although he was serious about not letting her do as much as lift a full water bottle.
Jen giggled, “My hand is working out because carrying this ring on my finger should be an Olympic sport.”
“JENNIFER!!! WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? I’VE BEEN TRYING TO REACH YOU FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS.”
“Hi Mom!!” Jen used her sweetest tone.
“Don’t Hi MOM me. Answer my damn question. Where have you been? Why didn’t you tell me you changed numbers?”
Knowing just the right technique to avoid the mother inquisition, Jen launched right into it, “I’m sorry Mom, I’ve been busy!”
“BUSY DOING WHAT? YOU BETTER STOP WITH THIS VAGUE ANSWERS BUSINESS BEFORE I FLY MYSELF TO PAR—”
“Busy getting married.”
“Excuse me?!?” Her mom was falling for it, hook, line and sinker.
Married when? To whom?”, She gasped, “Is it to the child’s father?”
“Yes Mom,” She was smiling at how easy it was to get back into her mother’s good graces.
“Oh by the mighty heavens and sweet baby Jesus, I should’ve sent you to France years ago.”
“I’m only 22, Mom. Calm down.”
“Can I speak to him?”
“He’s not here right now but I’ll get him to call you as soon as he gets home.”
“Hmm, I need to make sure you’re not making this guy up.” Her mom insinuated.
Usually one to get into defensive mode, Jen was too happy to bother, “I couldn’t make him up if I tried. He’s perfect, Mom. I love him,” she swooned heartily over the phone like a teenage girl gushing about her school crush.
“Aw, I’m glad to hear that. I was so worried when I couldn’t reach you. If you hadn’t called by the end of the week, I was going to book a ticket and come find you myself. How is the baby doing? Are you showing yet?”
Jen suddenly felt grateful to Larry for not rushing into calling her mother once she was admitted to the hospital. If her mom had any idea what she’d been through, it would completely devastate her and she’d spent the rest of her years greying prematurely at the thought of her only daughter living in France. She preferred to have her mother think of Paris as this idyllic place where her daughter ran off to and got a life, a baby and a husband. At least that way, she would sleep tight at night knowing that Jen was safe and eliminate one of the many stresses in the distance between them.
“No Mom. I had a few…umm, complications. I’m okay though. Doctors say it’s pretty common for first pregnancies to not complete the first term.” She chose her words cautiously.
“What are you saying, Jen?” Her voice was strained and tensed, awaiting clarification, “Are you telling me that you had a miscarriage?”
Jen sighed. She hated lying to her mother but for once, it really was for the best. “Yeah, we lost the baby. But don’t worry; Larry’s anxious to try again right away.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry. Are you sure you’re okay? I know you say you are and even though it was just a fetus, I understand if you’re disappointed.”
“I was a mess for a bit which is why I couldn’t call but I’m okay now. Besides, I’m getting married. I have lots to be happy about.”
“I thought you were already married!?”
“Well yes, but not officially. We’re probably just going to the courthouse for a small wedding. Just a couple of witnesses and his parents.”
“Uh, sometimes next week.”
“Okay, you figure that out. I’ll book my ticket for next week like I planned. I’m not missing this for the world.”
“Mom, you really don’t have to. It’s going to be a really small ceremony.”
“How long have I wanted to marry you off?”
“Probably since I was born.”
“No. But close enough. You’re my only daughter and you’re getting married. I don’t care if there’s no one else but me and the priest in that room but I’m coming. I’ll try to bring your father with me. He misses you too.”
“That would be great Mom. Do you remember what day the flight was for?”
“Sunday. So I’d be getting there early Monday morning.”
“Okay, here. Take down Larry’s number. I’ll call you back tonight to see what flight you booked but in case I don’t, just give me a call. That reminds me, I need to get a new phone.” She stated the last part to herself as a reminder.
“What happened to your other phone?”
Jen took a long breath and exhaled in peace, “It died.”
“Vous etes sure de vouloir aller tout noire?” (Are you sure you want to go all black?) Reunited with Sandrine, the wondrous hair stylist, Jen was ready for another change. So she headed to Ma Belle Salon where she got highlights a month ago. So much had happened in that time span, she could have easily believed that a year had passed since. She sat back in the chair and nodded as Sandrine set on to accomplish the task of pleasing her client. She lathered each strand with hair lacquer before painting the roots up to the ends with a coal-like thick gel. With the last hairstyle, she was welcoming a new job opportunity, a baby and a boyfriend. She hoped with this new change to welcome her future, which currently had none of those things. Instead of a job opportunity, she gained invaluable life-and-death experience which accompanied a deep rooted sense of gratitude. A baby was replaced by the chance to live and to have a fresh start. And her boyfriend, well, he evolved into a loving, supportive, caring and sensual husband. Yes, she was sure. Sure of the path she was heading on.
Earlier that morning, Larry had taken her to the hospital where she’d gotten a reluctant but active clean bill of health from the doctor. She was free to travel but still had to sustain from any physical activity for at least a month. Larry had snorted when the doctor said that, shaking his head at the thought of what they’d done that morning and the morning before. Jen smiled at his retort as the doctor eyed them both suspiciously before adding,
“Sexual relations are fine, provided that you don’t exhaust yourself or do anything too wild.” They both blushed as it was the doctor’s turn to be cheeky and have the last laugh.
Afterwards, they stopped by a shopping centre to pick up a new cell phone. They walked hand-in-hand, swinging their arms like big kids. It was moments like those that she relished. Not to say she didn’t enjoy the steamier moments. She grabbed the first phone that caught her eye and settled her balance, after deliberating very publically with Larry who wouldn’t let her pay. She convinced him that he could take care of her hair care bill if he didn’t make a scandal out of her paying for her new phone. On her way to the salon, she made a quick phone call to her mother to give her the new number and gather her flight information. Larry escorted her to the salon, making some excuse about picking up a marriage licence form but she knew it was just a chance for him to bail on sitting there for three hours doing absolutely nothing.
She looked in the mirror and saw the dark dye sitting on her locks, giving her a good idea of what the outcome would be like. There was something about darker locks that indicate stability and strength. Two things she was in dire need of. A vacation was also another thing she badly needed and what better occasion to get away than for your honeymoon. Spontaneously deciding to surprise Larry for once, she downloaded an app on her phone for her bank. She’d saved some money from working all summer and if she had enough for a flight somewhere, anywhere – that would make her day. Entering the login info, she waited patiently as the data loaded to display her account balance. A rather disappointing sum. Besides paying her rent and the basic necessities, she could only recount splurging on food and it’d been worth every penny. She checked her account back home, hoping for savings she’d perhaps forgotten about. There wasn’t much there either. Everything had been invested in her big move to Paris and paying off any debt she had before her departure. She slumped back in her chair. There were some collector points, sufficient enough to book a few nights in a swanky hotel but what good was that if they couldn’t go anywhere. And she refused to spend that time in Paris. Perhaps she’d just have to settle for a neighbouring country. Spain, maybe Italy or even Vienna. She didn’t want to just surprise Larry, she wanted to wow him. Just like he did with the ring. Underneath the dryer, she sat up swiftly hitting her head to the top of the hooded machine. Her old job had her registered in a 401K and she recalled taking advantage of it just for the company’s matching contribution. Googling like a madman, she looked up the insurance carrier with whom her company held their 401K and searched for their contact number. It was uncomfortable to do with the dryer blowing directly into the phone so she eased out of the chair and signalled to Sandrine that she’d be back in a moment. When the line began ringing, she almost shouted in relief. After punching in a few numbers to select the options for a conversation with a live representative, she waited on the line. A few people glanced at her briefly because of the cap and towel on her head and shoulders so she began walking back towards the salon. Finally, an agent came on the line and greeted her,
“Thank you for calling Bank of America, Derek speaking, how may I help you today?”
Jen got into a lengthy explanation that could have been summed up muck quicker. She managed to explain the reason she was calling without any sort of information or couldn’t remember any of the passwords on the account. Derek put her through a thorough verification process that included disclosing her name, address, birthday, mother’s maiden name, her old employer and the vesting date. Luckily, she was good with dates and numbers and managed to answer most of his questions without hesitation.
“Okay, so how may I be of assistance today, Ms Allan?”
“I just wanted to withdraw my balance. And see if it possible for the money to get wired to me where I currently am.”
“That’s very unlikely. For security reasons, we can only deposit the money to the account number we have on file or by cheque to your address listed. And did you want to withdraw the total amount?”
“Oh…so you can’t do a wire transfer?”
“No. We’d have no way to validate doing so if we got audited. Although you’ve answered the security questions, there’s no proof that I’m really speaking to Ms. Allan and the withdrawal just won’t clear through our fraud department. Especially for anything over $5,000.”
The amount caught her off-track. She hadn’t been sure how much to expect. Two and a half years of contributing 5% of her pay check along with the employer’s matching contributions. She was about to discover exactly how much she had to her name.
“How much do I have available to withdraw?”
“$14,800.56, minus 10% penalty tax for early withdrawal.” Jen couldn’t believe her ears and praised the benefit of knowing about personal finance. If it wasn’t for compound interest and annual returns, she wouldn’t have stumbled into this little fortune. She beamed happily as all the options became more of a reality and daydreams of her being on a deserted, exotic beach with Larry interrupted her conversation. Snapping back into the present, she continued,
“Yeah, deposit the full total to my bank account.”
“Okay, the transfer will take 24 to 48 hours. A detailed statement of your withdrawal will be sent to you next week. Is there anything else I can help you with, Ms Allan?”
Jen thanked Derek for his help and dialled her mother right after. The call was forwarded to voicemail so she left a brief message,
“Hi Mom, it’s me. I need you to bring me my debit card when you come. It’s really important. It’s in the first drawer of my dresser with a bunch of other things. If you can’t find it, give me a call back. Either way, call me before you leave tomorrow night. Love you, bye.”
She hung up and practically skipped back to the salon with elation. Even if she couldn’t book the vacation right now, she could at least start browsing good honeymoon ideas until she was able to splurge. Luckily, HSBC offered universal service so you could withdraw money at any of their ATMs around the world without penalty. Sandrine ushered her straight to the washing chair, pointing to the time. Fifteen minutes had flown by but seemed like seconds due to her anticipation and newfound excitement.
“I like it.” Larry declared looking Jen over to admire her new haircut. It was a long angled bob, darker than the night and its shadows combined.
“Even if you didn’t like it, you’d still have to pay.” She giggled.
Wasting no time in the salon, Larry cleared the tab and grabbed his wife’s hand to exit the salon. He enjoyed running their errands together, picking her up from the beauty parlour. There was a small sense of pride in it for him, even just admitting that he liked being someone’s husband. It gave him a worth that not even the adoration from his sweetest and most devoted fans could ever provide.
A room at Hotel Le Bristol was reserved in Larry’s name. They walked through the spacious lobby casually and went straight up to their room. Lit candles offered romantic ambience as the red and white rose petals led a trail to the bed. The wicks flickered as they sashayed left and right along with the air, adding more spark to the architecture of the room design. Chocolate covered strawberries waited on the bed, with matching bathrobes that held a tamed fragrance of lavender. A large window gave way to the Eiffel tower in the near distance, lights ablaze, dancing frantically on the monumental attraction for a few minutes of the night as the last song faded into a slow ballad from Etta James. At last, my love has come along…Her voice haunted the otherwise peaceful silence of the moment, bringing forth the last elements of romance possible.
“You did all this when I was at the salon?” Jen gasped, admiring everything.
“No, the hotel did everything. This is the honeymoon suite. I just brought the CD.”
His confession didn’t lessen the beauty of the atmosphere,“Thank you. This is amazing.” She kissed him happily. He held on to her and began moving into a slow dance, leading her steps as they swayed to the heartfelt ballad. Not long after, Al Green took over, preaching deeply that there was ‘no sunshine when she’s gone, it’s not warm when she’s away’. She held on to his waist and they balanced their steps, slowly, softly following the beat and lyrics.
Jen began to undress Larry by the chorus of Never Let me go by Florence and the machines. She was hungry for his touch and feverish with lust as she fumbled to remove his shirt, drunk with expectation. Her mouth ravaged his, hands in his twists as he picked her up, wrapping her legs around his waist. His fingers messed up her new hairdo, grabbing handfuls of the recently straightened hair, backing her against the wall. The bulge strained his movement so he lowered one hand to unbuckle his jeans as she used her feet to aid getting them off. Grounded on his heels, he used his toes to staple the pants as he stretched out of them. Jen held on to his neck to avoid slipping as he carried her over to the King size bed. Stretching her right hand over the silk sheets while Larry bit the flesh on her neck, playing an invisible game of connect-the-dots with his lips along her collarbone, she grabbed a chocolate covered strawberry and took a small bite. She yanked his hair lightly to lift his head and offered him a bite,
“I’d rather eat you.”
Before she could wrap her lips again around the sweet fruit, he indulged in hers. The chocolate melted in her mouth as she melted in Larry’s. He painted her with his tongue, starting with soft strokes, almost like a tickling brush and then began drawing, using deep, calculating licks to tease and arouse her. She forgot about the berry as her body’s natural arch opened, making it harder to support her trembling legs. Her eyes shut tightly; she couldn’t see him looking up at her as he devoured his feast. Pulse quickened as her breaths shortened, her throat felt dry and her body responded to Larry’s oral expertise. As she was about to reach the abyss of carnal pleasure, he stopped, lowered his boxers and eased into her. Her walls clung to him as she came, moaning his name and twisting the sheets wildly. That didn’t stop him from establishing a rhythm, separating her legs further away from each other to push deeper. The eroticism of being able to feel all of him was enough to get her close to the brink again and watching him as he grinded back and forth into her did nothing to subdue that. His hips rotated as they slipped and slid, his arms unable to touch her body as they were supporting his weight over her, afraid of lowering down and crushing her in her recuperating stage. She brought her knees up before wrapping her legs around his behind, her fingers twisted in his hair and nails scratching his back. His head dropped to her face and she used her tongue to trace over his lips, moving her mouth to his ear to nibble gently. The added thrill of her teeth grazing his earlobe sent tingles down his entire body. He used the sheets as a rope, pulling himself up as he began to lose control, his breathing ragged and loud. All he kept hearing was moans that sounded like his name; he could listen to his name rolling off her tongue all night. When she tightened up around him, he let go with her, weak with heavy relief and still inside her. Surprisingly, Jen found comfort in the fact that he didn’t wear protection. She didn’t want anything separating them. This is the Larry she knew. This is the Larry she’d always known.
Ayara focused on writing song lyrics as Lau watched her. For the first time, he really sat back and admired her. He was seated in the reclining chair watching the football game on the 42’ inch plasma screen in her hotel room. Soon enough, her agent would find her a nice condo to splurge on since she might be staying here even after the album was completed. The minute Lau was aware of her pregnancy, she’d wasted no time telling her family and friends, her agent, her publicist and practically everyone working on the album with her. The feedback had been partially rough. Her agent thought it was crazy of her to keep it at the peak of her career, especially at “such a young age”. Her mother also thought it was irresponsible. Her friends however, most of whom had met Lau during their time spent on yacht were happy for her. He was a good match for her, a balance to her tumultuous lifestyle and a sweetheart who treated her the way she deserved to be treated and not because of her fame and fortune. Her father couldn’t have cared less. His daughter was rich and as long as he didn’t have to work another day in his life, she could’ve done whatever pleased her.
She paused, stumped on finding a matching word to complete the last line she’d written. When she turned, she noticed Lau watching her and blushed,
“Do you know a word that matches with breathe?”
He shook his head. She got up and walked up to the chair, and curled up on his lap.
“I’m going to the doctor’s tomorrow for my first ultrasound. Do you want to come?”
He smiled, “Sure, what time?”
“Around 1.” He winced,
“Jen’s parents are coming tomorrow and my mom is going to make them lunch.”
“So why do you have to be there?” The question caught him off guard because he didn’t have a suitable answer. Why did he have to be there?
“I’ll come with you.” He replied, forfeiting an attempt to make up an excuse. He’d be more use to Ayara at the doctor’s than he would as the fiancé’s brother at the lunch. She watched his reaction carefully,
“I don’t want to be paranoid or anything…but do you have a thing for Jen?”
Lau scoffed, trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible,
“So why do you seem to care so much about everything she does?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you wish you were Larry?”
Lau shifted uncomfortably, his body language distant, head shaking in disbelief. Ayara stood up and it was her turn to watch him as he tried to dodge the question.
“Don’t make me out to be this crazy, paranoid person. I just want to know if you have a thing for Jen.”
Opting for the truth, Lau pulled her back towards him and she sat back down on his lap,
“Jen and I….we used to date,” The surprise on Ayara’s face was imminent, “She was the first girl I really liked and cared for after a long, long time. We broke up and she started seeing my brother. I was hurt….I’m still hurt. Because every time I see them, it just reminds me of what I could’ve had. And it’s a little weird because Larry…I say this with respect and love, okay?” She nodded reassuringly, prompting him to continue, “My brother is not the type to fall in love and be with just one girl. He had maybe one girlfriend his whole life and that was it. After that, he never wanted to date just one girl or be serious. I want a girlfriend; I want to have someone who likes me for me and like them the same way. I want to feel love and give it too. So when I see them together now, it’s a shock every single time. Because now he’s like me…but only with Jen…and it could’ve been me with her.” He lowered his head as if the admission would cursed his budding relationship with Ayara. On the contrary, she sided with him, understanding the betrayal and the infinitesimal hope despite of it.
“Did you love her?”
“I don’t know. I used to think I did…then I found out about her and Larry and I’m just not sure.”
“Do you still like her?” This was the question she really needed an answer to. She held her breath, trying her hardest to look composed. But if he still had feelings for a woman he could never have, he’d never make space for the one he did have. This would be pivotal to their current situation, with a baby on the way.
“No. But I still care about her. I can’t just turn it off…I care about her a lot. Just in a different way. Because now, she’s going to marry Larry. It’s not my job or my place to love her anymore.”
“I’m sorry she hurt you.” Lau looked up, astounded by her reply. He had yet to see this mature, understanding part of Ayara and it gave him faith that as they learned to discover each other, something more than sexual chemistry could develop.
“I’m sorry I hurt you. I know how you feel about me and I’ve been selfish.”
“Lau, I love you. And I hope one day you’ll feel that way about me too. But I want you to feel that way. I can’t pressure your feelings or force you to say it back. If anything, it’ll mean a lot more if or when you do say it.” She smiled sweetly, glad that there were no longer any hidden skeletons. At least, there was a better understanding about his apprehension to fall in love again.
“I can’t promise anything except that I will be there for you and the baby. You don’t need to worry about me. It’s all about you now.” Her smile widened and she laid her head to rest on his shoulder.
“MOM!!” Jen waved frantically at Mrs. Allan the minute she came out of the sliding terminal doors. She ran to hug her daughter and soon enough, they were sizing each other up and exchanging kisses.
“Where are your bags?” Jen questioned, suddenly realizing that her mom was only holding a large shoulder tote.
“Your father is grabbing them from the luggage dispenser. I couldn’t wait.” She smiled at her daughter once more, before noticing a skinny, gangly guy next to her.
“Oh – sorry. Mom, this is Larry. Larry, this is my lovely, amazing mom.” Mrs. Allan smiled courteously as she looked him up and down. He was obviously not what she’d expected, a tall bag of skin, bones and muscles. She tried to hide her discontent by continuing to smile.
“DADDD!! OVER HERE!!” Mrs. Allan was disrupted by Jen’s loud call. Her husband was carrying two large rolling suitcases and one small carry-on with struggle. Larry rushed to help him. Mr Allan was a lot more appreciative of the company Jen brought, shaking Larry’s hand and introducing himself without his daughter as the narrator. She hugged him tightly,
“Thanks so much for coming. I didn’t think you were going to be able to make it. It’s really good to see you!”
“It’s good to see you too, baby girl.”
“Larry’s mom is an amazing cook, she’s inviting us all over for lunch so we can go to the hotel and let you guys rest for a bit and come back around 12:30?”
“Sounds good to me. But first, where can I get a good coffee?” Mr. Allan asked.
“Don’t worry, Dad. Larry knows just the place.” She winked at her fiancé before leading everyone out of the airport.
On the way to the hotel, her mom kept asking her why she looked so thin. There are no elevators here, you have to walk everywhere and take the stairs. It’s a lot of work, she’d replied. What had she done to her hair? It looked so dark and studious. It’s not too far from my natural color, it just looks a lot darker because I got it done just a few days ago, she’d stated. Along with a million of other questions regarding her job status, her apartment, her ring, her wedding, her plans once she got married. Jen either diverted or answered them head-on. By 8 am, she was out of the hotel with Larry and on their way back to get breakfast for themselves.
“You made it out alive.” Jen joked.
“Phew,” Larry exhaled with a smile, “I don’t think your mom likes me.”
She laughed, impressed he noticed her mother’s infamous glares of disdain, “I think she’s French at heart. She doesn’t like anyone. I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes, I even wonder if she likes ME.” She shrugged her shoulders, implying that it was a big mystery.
“Are you kidding? She asked you at least 100 questions in just 30 minutes. She loves you more than I do.” Jen blushed.
“Don’t worry; she’ll warm up to you by the end of the trip. Especially if she knows she has no other choice but to, since you’re technically family now.” He pushed her playfully, grabbing her quickly before she lost balance. “It’s safe to say my dad likes you so if anything, you at least have one parent-in-law on your side.” She continued teasing him throughout breakfast as they exchanged flirtatious glances and laughter.
Mrs Allan and Genevieve hit it off and got along famously over her succulent braised fish. Everyone else at the table became a spectator as the two women shared recipes and childhood stories of their respective child. By the end of the meal, they were making plans to do dinner before Mrs Allan left. Mr. Allan and Mr Bourgeois enjoyed not being included in the conversation and being left alone to eat their meal at peace without having to keep up. Larry and Jen simply cracked jokes with each other and everyone was happily secluded and in their own world. After a well proportioned meal, Genevieve offered cappuccinos with her mini pastries for dessert so they were all full after the last sip. Larry seized the opportunity to get everyone’s attention.
“Merci maman pour le dejeuner. C’etait sublime.” (Thank you Mom for lunch. It was sublime.) “I would like to bring you all somewhere very special to me and Jen.” Jen’s puzzled expression begged Larry to elaborate but he remained coy as everyone got up and got ready to follow him. Mr Bourgeois smiled knowingly at Larry as he got the keys to his car.
On the way there, Larry placed Mrs. Allan between him and Jen purposefully so that she wouldn’t keep questioning him about the destination. That didn’t stop her from trying to get his attention throughout the ride with inquisitive glances. Mrs. Allan was uncharacteristically quiet which meant that the jet lag in combination with the satisfying meal was taking its toll. Within 45 minutes of driving, Mr. Bourgeois got off the N2 and began following directions through a quiet, peaceful and almost dormant suburb. The scenery was straight out of a De Bergerac novel, with nothing but green fields and cerulean skies for miles. The horizon looked like a painting of a perfect sky, unpolluted, unflawed and home to the heavens. Jen gazed out the window in awe, half-engorged in the imagery before her eyes and half-curious when and if she and Larry had ever been there. It wasn’t the kind of place you forgot so easily. Besides, she couldn’t recall ever going out of Paris with Larry, even back in the days when the three of them, including Lau used to hang out and wander around. She wanted to get out of the car and roll down the soft grass adorned by the vibrant fields, just sit and marvel at the beauty of flawless nature. She could picture her and Larry rolling around nearby on one of the vineries or farms, going strawberry picking, buying organic food at the local markets for a picnic and sleeping under the stars. Her mind began to follow the idyllic sight before her and generating fantasies of coming back to visit just the two of them. How come he’s never brought me here? She saw a large, centurial castle in the distance and was certain it was her first time at this wondrous getaway, just an hour away from Paris. An earthly appeal she couldn’t describe if she tried. She only stopped dreaming when they arrived at a two-story house, surrounded by similar homes. It reminded her of suburban America but nicer, quieter, cleaner. She didn’t know there was that kind of space available in France. All she’d known was Paris with its antique and crowded streets, its art and classic, poetic beauty but limited space.
They all looked at Larry for an explanation,
“C’est la maison de qui?” (Whose house is it?) Genevieve finally asked.
“Yeah, Larry I don’t remember ever coming here. And from what I’ve seen on the way, this is not something I could forget.” Jen proclaimed. He stood next to her and asked in return,
“Do you like it?”
“The house or the view?” She looked at him, uncertain of where this was going.
“Of course. I feel so at peace here. Even the air smells different. I feel like I’m in an old romantic, classic British novel. Except this house looks like it has showers. But what are we doing here?” She asked again, looking at the anxious expression on her mom’s face.
“Actually, it has two washrooms. One with a shower and one with a bath.” He replied with a smirk. She looked back at him, her eyes asking how he knew this. “This is our home now.” He declared, fishing the keys out of his pocket. Jen and Genevieve gasped as Mr. Bourgeois patted his son on the shoulders proudly. Even Mrs. Allan looked impressed.
“B..But how? When?” Jen’s furrowed brows expressed concern but her eyes were a pure reflection of glee.
“Just take the keys!” Larry ordered. She raised her hand to grab them, mouth agape, and then held his hand as she walked toward the unfamiliar house. The rest of the family followed for the tour. Jen was blown away by the size, architecture and design of the house. Even after she’d checked it out twice, she still couldn’t believe it was theirs. She kept looking at Larry for reassurance and he would just raise his eyebrows with a smile that quieted her concerns.
“I love it too.” Mrs. Allan approached the couple, “This is a beautiful home and I want to thank you for providing it for my daughter so you can start your own family.” There was pride in her voice as she spoke and acceptance in her gaze. Mr. Allan also congratulated them on their purchase, using more business savvy terms to declare his approval of the investment. A visit that was supposed to be just a few minutes stretched into a good part of an hour before they finally headed back to town.
“I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.” Jen smiled as Larry lips finally met hers, the excitement behind his kiss binding them for longer than the supposed ephemeral formality. Cheers and clapping, with some distinct laughter serenaded them as they stayed locked in a smouldering kiss. All the women in the wedding party were blotting away tears shed during the ceremony as Lau finally stepped in and tapped Larry on the shoulder to separate the two lovebirds. They’d have all the time to kiss each other’s face off on their honeymoon which was in less than three hours. The bags were packed in a limo waiting outside and Lau wanted to make sure they wouldn’t miss their flight to Tahiti simply because they couldn’t stop making out at the altar. They finally turned to face everyone and take their first steps as a married couple. Larry’s younger sibling threw confetti in the air, as per Jen’s secondary request. The first had been for glitter before Larry asked her to reconsider. Her white Betsey Johnson dress was slowly getting adorned with flecks of confetti making her look more festive than bridal. Larry still remained dapper in his all white suit despite the tiny ornaments. Waving to the guests as they passed them, Larry and Jen strutted down the aisle with perfect coordination until they’d reached outside. They were off to Tahiti on a super luxurious honeymoon for a week before returning for a few days and going to Japan for the Twins’ overseas commitment. But for that split moment before they walked to the limo; they looked at each other and laughed. Just the two of them, forever and always.
Copyright of Jolie Adam.
*Disclaimer: I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read this story and following its journey since the beginning. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your comments and feedback over the months and even used some of the recommendations and suggestions. So a large part was of Something New was inspired by you, the readers, the fandom and most importantly your high regards for Larry and Laurent. Thank you.*