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Frostbitten Love Affair

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Author's note: I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. This my favorite short story...  Show full author's note »
Author's note: I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. This my favorite short story that I have written so far, and I've put a lot of time into it.  « Hide author's note
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Frostbitten Love Affiar

The night’s frosty air nipped at the tip of my nose. Crystal icicles dangled from the frozen limbs of pine trees. A foggy cloud of misty breath escaped my lips as they slightly parted. The falling snowflakes that clung to my stiffened jacket begged for body heat. Occasionally, my shoes would slide out from beneath the rest of my body along the ice rinked sidewalk. Struggling to regain my balance I’d angrily mutter under my breath “Why did I wear these stupid heels?” before continuing on my way a little more cautiously.
Despite the record low temperatures, the natural scent of Christmas and the sound of angelic music warmed me from the inside out. It bubbled in my stomach like steaming hot chocolate and worked its way through my entire body, frostbitten fingertips to wind whipped cheeks.
People with plastered merry smiles would whizz past me faking their holiday cheer all the while trying to stay warm with holiday spiced lattes. Boxes of yipping puppies were held by rosy faced girls swallowed by bubble coats. Surely someone would adopt one of the precious pups on a glorious night such as this? On every New York lamp post hung jolly, glowing nosed reindeer, glittering flakes of snow, or fire engine red stockings matched with yeti furred trims.
A variety of bakeries boasted freshly baked cookies filled with warm and gooey chocolate chips served with ice cold milk for dunking. The perfect holiday treat! Toy stores teased children’s prying eyes with chatting dolls, whirling airplanes, and games galore. This season’s hottest numbers lured women into overpriced clothing stores which surely would do no favors for their husband’s credit card bills.
Oh, the joys of Christmas Eve, forever my most cherished holiday. Christmas day is treasured by my heart as well, but it’s the crisp night before that has always filled me with an intense pleasurable joy. Every detail about it screams happiness, care, and love, and love is most definitely on my mind tonight.
I’m walking along a crowded city street towards the most flavorable, not to mention expensive, restaurant in town. Despite my sweetheart’s societal position he had to call seven months ahead to make reservations for just the two of us. It took a huge chunk of his not so shabby paycheck to afford the place, but he swore up and down he would take me to Boulderri’s on Christmas Eve. Just the thought of his radiant smile made my heart swell with the unmistakable emotion of love.
I still remember the day he asked me out in my first year of college. I was casually walking back to my dorm from my usual evening coffee run. With the loads of endless homework my professors insisted on assigning me, there wasn’t a way in the world I would be able to complete it all without a caffeine buzz to keep me awake into the wee hours of the night. I had a lot of work ahead of me if I was to keep up with my 4.0 gpa.
Trenton was slouching against the side of a rather fancy little jewelry shop, Diamonds of the World, which I’ve enviously walked past at least a thousand times. Every time I would, something would drop into my stomach as a reminder of how poor I was. On that evening a particularly colorful piece had captured my eye.
It was a gorgeous heart pendent strung with a platinum chain. A thousand colored flecks of diamond were precisely set in the heart. The beauty matched that of a breathtaking sunset. Pink cotton candy was swirled into an orange blossom middle backdrop. Deep, bright red and vibrant violet blended illuminating the upper half of the heart. A lemon drop of yellow had nestled itself into the pointy crook at the bottom. All of the shades melted in perfect harmony to create the most wondrous sight I had ever seen. It was even set in a thick layer of diamond! There was such an innocent uniqueness about the necklace. Yet, it created an agonizing desire that ached within the crevices of my stomach. I had never known a piece of jewelry could stir such an emotion inside of me.
It felt so real, I was sure if I ever actually traveled to the island of Hawaii myself, there would be a heart shaped chunk of the sunset missing because it was busy occupying the space in that pendent. The brilliant designer must have snatched it right out of the sky and molded it into the most magnificent thing I have ever had the honor of gazing at.
And then I tore my eyes away long enough to trail down to the price tag.
$526,545.89 Oh my lord. My breath literally caught in my throat. I did a double take. Is this some twisted optical illusion?
That was more than my entire college education would cost me! I hadn’t realized it, but my jaw had dropped and my eyes had popped. Sucking in a deep breath of chilly air I dragged my iced fingertips along the window leaving behind a smudged trail. I turned my back to leave when the lazy boy had called to me, “Hey wait!”
He gracefully navigated his way across the frozen solid concrete sidewalk so that he was just barely close enough to touch.
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” I was a little caught off guard by his sudden interest. I cocked my head to the side when I caught sight of how adorable he was. His rich hazel eyes reminded me of the caramel mocha I had just downed a few moments before. The swishy black hair that topped his handsomely carved face showed little signs of imperfection. Don’t even get me started on his soft flushed lips. It was as though they had tiny magnets under the surface that were begging mine to come closer and have a taste. They moved in perfect unison as he spoke. I imagined he was an even better kisser than he appeared. The thought of pressing into this stranger’s kiss brought a hot blush to the surface of my cheeks.
“I’m sorry?” I whispered embarrassed as I asked him to repeat his question.
“I asked you your name.” he chuckled.
“Celia. Celia Mays.” I brushed a red curl behind my ears still mesmerized by his silky voice. My green eyes were surely lit up with his unnatural beauty.
“Trenton Marshalls.” He gently grabbed my winter white gloved hand and placed a gentle kiss on the top. He led me over to a bench out of the steady oncoming drizzle of sleet. Using his tailored trench coat, he made a place for me to sit on the drenched seat. “So what brings you to this part of town?”
“Oh, you know, just window shopping.” I replied nervously. I couldn’t even remember the real reason I ended up here. All I knew was that the saying “stomach full of butterflies” was highly incorrect. It felt more like elephants were carelessly trampling around in there. They paid no mind to my internal organs.
“Were you hoping to purchase something?” He asked with curiosity. I could see it playing on those luscious lips of his. I felt like he could smell the scent of broke all over me. It radiated out of my pores. I can’t even afford a fraction of my college education. The only way I had the opportunity of going to NYU was with the scholarship I was able to earn through years of hard work and dedication to my writing.
“No.” I mumbled. The lie oozed out my mouth. How I longed to buy that necklace.
“Oh. I could’ve sworn I saw you eyeing up that Heart of the Sunset necklace.” He replied rubbing the back of his neck.
“How’d you know?”
“It catches every girl’s eye that passes my father’s store. It’s my mother’s signature piece. All the richy rich girls were dying to get their greedy little paws on it before it even came out in her store.” His eyebrows scrunched up at the last sentence. My heart dropped when he mentioned his dad owned the store. There’s not a way in the world a gorgeous rich fellow like himself would ever go for a chick as broke as me.
“I’m sure richy rich girls are perfect for a richy rich boy like yourself.” I said a tint disappointed envy hidden in my voice.
“Now, what makes you think I’m a richy rich boy?” He asked sounding slight annoyed with my snappy judgment.
“I…I’m sorry, I just assumed…” I stuttered in a flustered fashion. This was mortifying.
“I’m just messing with you.” A smile twitched on those magnetic lips. “Unfortunately, you’ve assumed right.”
“Gee, thanks for making me squirm.” I muttered under my breath. I was afraid to look him directly in the eye for fear of his ability to decode my true thoughts.
“Anytime.” He smirked sweetly. We sat on the metal bench for a few wordless moments take in the pitter patter of slushy drops hitting the pavement that fell in step with the drumming of my heart that was sure to beat right out of my chest through broken fragments of rib cage bone.
My anxious body eased as our conversation wondered onward into hopes and future dreams. Our conversation naturally flowed like a crystal waterfall in spring. There couldn’t have been a topic under the sun we hadn’t covered. It simmered into a comfortable silence as we snuggled close to stay warm.
“You know,” he broke the silence. “You don’t come across like most girls do. Usually after I mention my father is a multimillionaire businessman, they jump all over me, but you’re much more… modest, endearing, charming.”
“Multimillionaire?” I exclaimed. “Well that changes everything. Please, I beg you, marry me now and allow me to have your children!” I joked lightly. The live wire nerves that jolted my entire body were slowly boiling down to a few volts of electricity whenever his knee would brush against mine. Talking to him was much easier than I had anticipated.
After the sudden shock wore off he shook his head and laughed. “If that is your true wish madam, I shall whisk you off into the sunset on my white horse and we will live on forever in love!” He pulled me to my feet and kneeled down on one knee. “Marry me, marry me!”
“Oh!” I raised my palm to my mouth and lifted the back of my other hand to my forehead as though I might faint. “Why, sir, you most certainly have captured my heart. You may have my hand if you wish.”
“I may, may I? You have made me the luckiest man alive, Celia. I couldn’t have asked for a fairer maiden in all the land.” He rose to his feet forcing back the laughter that was bubbling inside both of us. “I shall give your father two of my fattest pigs for your hand. How I love thee, Miss Mays!”
“Oh, Trenton! I’m so happy I could just faint!” I giggled falling back into his arms. His body was so warm against my own.
“Oh, darling, I shall give you the world if it should please thee.” He mumbled in my ear softly. It sent shivers crawling up my spine. I was so caught up in the moment, for a second I forgot it was all a pretend fantasy world. We both must have.
I twisted around in his arms so I could lean my forearms onto his chest and brace myself. He used one hand to tilt my chin upward to meet his amber gaze. He trailed the side of his finger down the length of my cheek and just barely brushed my lips. Beads of water sat on his eyelashes from where the slushy rain had fallen a few moments before. The clouds ahead had stopped showering us only moments before.
We were so close I could feel the heat of his steamy breath on my neck. I grazed my tongue over my frozen candy glossed lips.
Kiss me already. The statement flashed through my mind in neon lights over and over.
“I’ll grant your every wish, my darling.” He mumbled. Those tiny magnets pulled him closer and closer to me. He leaned forward and passionately kissed my lips. I completely melted into the kiss. His molten tongue brought warmth to my entire being. His lips were like silky chocolate against mine. They tasted of smooth butterscotch.
His hands worked their way down my spine like a massage. They eventually found their destination wresting on my waist and tugging my hips closer to his own. Was I truly walking on air, as I felt I was?
I wrapped my arms around his necks in innocent bliss. “Please, don’t let this moment ever end.” I had thought. As we continued to relax more and more into each other’s embrace my mind had slipped into a coma. This was some wondrous fantasy world I refused to leave.
But it only took a flash thought to make me break away from the most intensely wonderful feeling I had ever felt in my nineteen years of living. I am making out with a stranger.
I pushed gently against his muscular body so he would receive the signal that I was a bit uncomfortable. “Whoa.” I mumbled dumbly in a daze.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.” He sighed wearily weaving his fingers though his velvet soft hair.
“I never said I didn’t like it.”
He nodded slowly refusing to take his gaze from the ground. “You know,” he locked eyes with me. “You’re a pretty great kisser.” A sinister sweet smile swept across his lips.
I giggled like a childish school girl. “You’re not so bad yourself, mister.”
After a pause he said, “Let me make this up to you, please?”
“And how do you plan to do that?” my curious little inner kitten purred with excitement.
“Let me show you. Stay right here.”
“Ok.” The nervous tingling that kept my nervous system on edge had returned again. Trenton slickly grabbed his jacket off the bench and disappeared inside of the glittering jewelry store. What on earth was this lovely guy up to?
After a few minutes of anxious jitters, he emerged from the shop. His eyes grazed the area and lit up like a thousand watt light bulb when they found their target. He strolled over leaving little distance between us. He remained utterly silent.
“Well?” I asked giddy with excitement.
“Oh, were you expecting some surprise?” He taunted jokingly.
“Yeah, kind of.” I pursed my bottom lip lower into a puppy dog pout. The desire was agonizing. What tricks did this mystery man have up his sleeve?
“I see you only enjoy me for my surprises.”
I laughed. “That’s about right.”
“Ok, ok. I’m done teasing you.” He chuckled. “But seriously. I’m sorry for not asking permission to kiss you.” He paused as though contemplating what to say next. Instead of speaking another word, he pulled from his pocket, a velvety purple box with an adorable rainbow ribbon to top it off. He handed me it with great care.
“What’s this?” I asked confused.
“Open it.” He grinned.
As though the box were made of paper thin glass, I opened it with caution. Lifting the lid, I was able to reveal the shocking contents. “Trenton…” I mumbled in disbelief. It was the gorgeous necklace that not ten minutes before I would’ve been willing to murder to wear.
It took a moment for things to sink in and finally click. Everything between us was happening at lightning speed. I felt as though I had known him for a million centuries and at the same time, it was like I had never even met him. It was thrilling and nerve wracking and confusing all mashed up into one emotion. My head was spinning and I had no idea where this was going.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” I shook my head desperately trying to clear the fog that was clouding my judgment. This entire situation was mentally overwhelming. I had just kissed a guy I’d barely know for a few minutes, and he just offered me over $500,000 compacted in the most exquisite piece of jewelry I had ever seen.. “I can’t take this.” I handed him back the box. I could feel my cheeks turning lava hot with a deep flush in total mortification.
“Please. Take it.” He insisted shoving it back into my grasp.
“I really can’t. Let me just think this through for a second.” I needed just a moment of clarity to sort things through. That’s all I wanted. Slowly, I was able to process all I had just experienced. “This is the weirdest thing I have ever been through.” I told him.
“I know what you mean. I don’t what’s come over me, Celia. All I know is that I don’t want it to end.” He looked as though he earnestly meant every word he spoke. He took both of my hands in his and caressed them with his thumbs.
“How about we meet up sometime in the future. When we’ve both had time to clear our heads and think things through.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea.” We both looked into each other’s eyes and burst out into laughter. I don’t even know why, it’s one of those things that just sort of happen.
Eventually Trenton’s relaxed laughter fizzed out into a serious expression. “Celia?”
“Yeah?”
“Before we part ways, first of all I need your number. Second of all, I need to ask you a serious question.”
“Of course.” I swiftly pulled out a candy cane pen from the inside of my jacket pocket. I scribbled the digits onto the back of his hand and smiled at him. “Now what’s your question?”
“Do you believe in love at first sight?”
“I… I don’t know.” Before this moment I hadn’t. Now, I wasn’t so sure.
“I do.” He paused and took a moment to sharply breathe in the frozen air. The sleet had slightly solidified into twinkling crystals of snow. “I think…” he started unsurely. His teeth tugged at the bottom of his lip. “I just fell in love with you.”
Wow, on top of everything that had just happened, I wasn’t ready for that at all. Little did I know that was what it was for us. It was crazy. It was weird. It was unexplainable. But it was love at first sight.
He made me feel emotions I had never known a person could feel before. It was like he turned on all of those parts of my brain scientists say go unused throughout your entire life. Everyone I talked to about what sensations he was making me understand, looked at me as though I had just escaped from a mental institute. Were the things I was experiencing with him really that bizarre? It hadn’t mattered to me. I was going to pursue that boy and blindly follow my strange intuition that influenced me to take him up on that adventurous Christmas Eve, 2012, first date.
After reassuring me of his pure intentions he refused the numerous invitations I gave him to sleep with me only to cave the night of our first anniversary. It was a magical experience. We both got what we wanted that night. He was able to get me to receive the gorgeous necklace, and I was finally able to give him my virtue.
Now, on our second anniversary, I feel as though I couldn’t ask for a better boyfriend in the world. This may sound like a cliché, but he’s treated me like a princess since the day we’ve met.
People refused to believe we fell for one another. His parents despised my very existence, especially his mother. She had vile intentions to make me feel worthless and unworthy to be in her wealthy son’s presence. How dare I take her precious baby boy away from her! She knew she was no longer the number one woman in his life, and it was destroying her inside, kidney to heart. To her I’m just another trashy gold digger.
His father was softer to me. In private, after his viscous wife had left the premises, he told me he secretly enjoyed my company, and that he was proud his son had been able to snatch up a special gal like myself. However, he also mentioned I was not in the proper social position his son would normally, and should, be taking interest in.
His snotty stuck up friends, especially the prim and proper ladies, were in denial over our relationship. Every now and then one would casually bring up a past fling, passionate kiss, or flirtatious memories. He would brush them off, kiss me for seven seconds, and let them know that the past was the past.
My family and friends, on the other hand, adored him, or what they wished he’d do for them. They were just hoping we’d marry so I could purchase them fancy birthday gifts and Christmas presents. Their wallets adored him more than they did. Of course, my father isn’t too thrilled with the idea that we’ve been dating ever since my lovely sister let slip that we’d been intimate. He’s had a keen eye on the two of us whenever we’d come to visit for the holidays.
Now, in lovely 2012, at long last I had reached the door of the lovely restaurant I couldn’t wait to dine at. However, instead of entering, I slid into the store next door and headed to the bathroom to straighten up. I faced myself in the mirror and was slightly disappointed at my appearance. I quickly worked on the wind tussled mess that was my hair with a wire brush.
Eventually the curls hung perfectly framing my snow white skin. I riffled around in my purse and struck gold when I my make-up bag. I swept a slick coat of coral gloss across my lips and touched up my mascara. Lucky for me, the sudden onslaught of heat from the stuffy store brought a natural flush to my cheeks.
I bounced my red curls, batted my green eyes and laughed at how silly I appeared in the mirror. I tugged down on my midnight purple evening dress matched with twinkling diamonds and hung my first date gift around my neck. As I do every time I put it on, I admired it for almost a full minute unable to tear my eyes away.
Eventually, I made my way out of the germ infested bathroom and back onto the streets. I couldn’t get him off of my mind. I’d have bet anything that he was downing his second glass of champagne. He told me he always arrives thirty minutes before I do in preparation for my appearance.
He jokes with the waiters and waits until they express their condolences for his being stood up. And just when he’s about to “give up” I walk in and he swears every person’s eyes are laid solely on me. Although, it’s usually only the waiter’s who’ve made bets on my existence that care.
I smile as I think this to myself and remember a time when we made a huge scene in a downtown pizzeria. It was all just for crazy show, although it felt realistic. We pretended to hate each, earnest, raw hatred. We spit nasty and vile words at our opponent’s throat and in the middle of our heated argument we fell into each other’s arms and kissed as passionately as we had the night we met. He made me come out of the dead, zombie shelled life I had once lived. When I was with him, I was alive.
I place my bare hand on the icy cold door handle and swung it open just far enough to fit my body through the building’s door. I hopped on the elevator and continually yanked down my dress. A mother and small boy both smiled politely at me before exiting on the twelfth floor. Only forty more to go. With each floor, my head grew dizzier and dizzier. I hated heights, but the power they held over my mental being will most likely ensure many pleasant, adrenaline pumping future adventures in the future. I’m sure of it.
After enduring what seemed like hours of deafening elevator music, a cheerful ding longingly met me. Slowly, I walked down the red carpeted floor and to the restaurant’s door. I snuck a peak in the restaurant window and saw Trenton nervously tapping his shoes, alcohol in hand. I walked into the beautifully decorated dining area and noted that the romantic candle dimmed room was illuminated. The dishware was far fancier than I use on a daily basis. The lovely tables in chairs were sculpted beautifully and touched up with exquisite details carved into the wood that were visible from even my view.
A pianist was performing a classical piece in an elevated corner of the restaurant. I couldn’t distinguish it from outside, but I’m almost positive it was a symphony by Beethoven. Although I prefer other genres of music, I’ve recently discovered that classical music relaxes me when I’m stressed to the point of breaking down into tears.
I entered with the caution of a pedestrian crossing the street.
“Hello, miss. Do you have reservations?”
“Yes. Trenton Marshalls table for two.”
“Ah, yes. I thought you may never show.” The older gentlemen smirked. His hair swirled on the top of his head like grey cotton candy. His expression was tired, but inviting. “A window seat, what a lovely view Miss,” he paused and read something on his paper.” Celia Mays. May I take your jacket?”
“Yes, why thank you.” I replied handing him the dark grey cashmere coat I had been given as a gift from my lovely boyfriend’s mother. On my last birthday she handed me the boxed gift and exclaimed with a plastic smile, “Now you have something tasteful to wear when in the public eye, parading around with my son.”
The man handed it off to a young boy who whisked it off into the coat room. “Right this way, Miss Mays.” He led me to a gorgeous table glowing with the luminescence of a full moon.
As we leisurely strolled over to my seat, I felt my heart flutter as my love’s eyes locked with mine. His face lit up like a bright, flaming candle that showered the whole room with a subtle light. He squirmed in his seat and stood six feet tall ready to pull out my chair like a true gentlemen.
“Thank you.” I turned to the older man and smiled politely. He, in reply, nodded his head and smiled as well. Noticing another costumer on the doorstep he whisked back to the front of the house with the grace of a majestic horse.
I spun my head back toward Trenton and couldn’t help but giggle slightly. “Hey there beautiful.” He greeted me with a peck on the cheek and then encouraged me to take my seat. Careful not to improperly let my legs open even slightly, I rested myself onto the comfortable chair.
Trenton, in his glorious grey suit took his own seat across from mine. “Celia you look absolutely amazing.” He expressed with an earnest tone in awe.
“You look great too.” I could feel my cheeks shyly blushing.
“Is that dress new?” he asked making light conversation.
“Yeah, it was an early Christmas gift from my mother. She wanted me to ‘look the best that I could for my charming, handsome, and most important, wealthy boyfriend.’”
“You’re mother really is a fantastic woman.” He chuckled with a gleam in his eye.
I laughed. “And your mother thinks I’m the gold digger.”
“As much as I love her, my mother’s a prude.”
“She only wants what’s best for you.”
“No, she wants what’s best for her.” He reached his hand across the table and grabbed mine. His palm was as warm as a soft baby’s blanket. He grazed his thumb over the top of my hand sending shivers down my spine. That usual wondrous ache in the crevices of my stomach started again, just as it always does when he touches me. He lowered his voice to a whisper; a sure fire way I can tell he’s serious. “But I don’t care what she thinks. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You know that, right?”
I paused for a moment and nodded slightly. I bit my lip and gazed into his stare. “I love you.” And just as Trenton was about to reply our waiter greeted us. She was a pretty young thing in her mid twenties at least. Her blond hair hung in bouncing curls that framed her blue-eyed beautiful face. She looked overheated from bustling around the dining area, but when she caught sight of my guy, her leisurely posture changed into an erect stance.
“Hello.” She exclaimed cheerily talking solely to Trenton. “My name is Blair, and I will be your server tonight. May I start you off with a drink?”
“Yes, I would like a glass of your finest red wine, please.” Trenton told her keeping his gaze strictly on the menu. He told me he hates ordering for his dates because he’s afraid of messing their order up.
“Ok.” She scribbled down his order on her notepad. “And for you?” Her tone turned cold and bitter that matched the forming sneer on her lips.
I mustered up all the strength I could to keep from smacking the expression right off of her pretty little face.
I cleared my throat and sucked in a breath of air. “I would like a diet coke, please.”
She paused before writing. “No wine for the lady?” she cocked her head to the side smirking.
Trenton seemed even more frustrated than I was with her rude attitude. “She’s not old enough to drink.” He stated flatly.
“Oh. Ok then.” She scrawled my order down and asked us if we’d like appetizers.
“We’ll have two shrimp cocktails, thank you.” Trenton told her.
“And for your main course…?” Her hand flew across the page.
“I would like the pan seared Atlantic salmon.”
I waited for her to get down his order before I told her mine. “The portabella mushroom risotto for me, please.” I smiled cheerily handing her the menu.
“Alright, I’ll be back with your appetizers as soon as possible, and if there is anything at all I can get you, don’t hesitate to ask.” She lowered her voice huskily flirting with my boyfriend. She barely took a second look at me.
“I think my girlfriend and I will be just fine.” Trenton attempted one last time to get the point across that he wasn’t interested.
The waitress nodded and walked away to put our order in. “Well, she’s begging for a petite tip.” He chuckled with me. We chit-chatted about our upcoming holiday getaway to the Bahamas with his aunt and uncle before discussing our plans for tomorrow. We were once again interrupted with failed attempts on Blair’s behalf to persuade my loved one into falling for her. From the looks of it, she wasn’t used to guys, even taken ones, turning her down so bluntly. Eventually, she left us to enjoy our shrimp in blissful peace.
“My parents want you to come spend Christmas day with us.” I told him taking a bit of the delicious shrimp I had drenched in cocktail sauce. A sip of my diet coke our floozy waitress brought me followed him down. It was fizzy and refreshing tingling the back of my throat.
“I’d love to. I’m probably going to have to sneak out like a ninja to escape my mother’s family Christmas party, though. I’ll meet at your house around what time?”
“I was thinking oneish or a little later. It doesn’t really matter. My mother just wants us all to exchange gifts.”
“Ok, but I was thinking of giving you your gift a little early.” He said mysteriously winking at me.
“What is it?” I asked. Curiosity perked me up. I adore surprises.
“You’ll just have to wait a little longer, sweetheart.” He inhaled four pieces of shrimp and downed his wine in less than a minute. He picked on me playfully refusing to give me the present. He seemed to enjoy the torment I was experiencing.
“Come on, don’t tease me.” I pouted finishing up my appetizer.
“Sorry, you can’t have it yet.”
“Fine.” I pushed away my plate. “But at least give me a hint.”
“Ok.” He scratched his chin in deep thought before coming up with the perfect clue. “It involves both of us.”
My mind scrambled to come up with a thousand brilliant possibilities. “Is it another vacation?” I asked excitedly getting into the treasure hunt. Guessing games are a favorite of mine.
“Nope.”
“Is it that weekend alone I’ve been begging you for?” I asked recalling the numerous times I’ve whined at him to take me away from both of our parents’ watchful eyes for a night or two.
“Uh-uh.” He shook his head.
We continued our flirty little game until our entrees were served. It was the tastiest dish I had ever eaten. I’m a sucker for mushrooms. It was cooked to perfections with such boldly yummy flavors; my mouth was sailing towards paradise with each bite.
“Please, give me another hint.” I asked desperately swallowing up my chewed bite.
“It’s a physical object.” He told me bright eyed happily enjoying his own tasty food.
“Oh jeez, a physical object that involves both of us. I don’t want to get dirty hear, but…” I winked at him.
He let out a deep laugh and quickly waved his hands signaling no. He must have inhaled a bit of his halibut because he coughed into a napkin and drunk at least half of his second glass of wine in one gigantic gulp. “No, no your father would murder me!”
“What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” I shrugged my shoulders grinning from ear to ear.
“Just finish your dinner you gutter minded girl.” He instructed me.
While doing as he told me, I threw out at least twelve more well-thought out guesses. Each one was denied.
The waitress came to take away our emptied plates. “Would either of you like any desert?” she asked with candy coated enthusiasm.
“I’m fine, but tell the chef to whip up my lovely lady’s special chocolate soufflé would you please?” Trenton asked her politely.
“Sure thing.”
“But I’m not hungry.” I protested.
“Believe me; once you’ve tasted this soufflé your stomach will happily make room, darling.”
“If you say so.”
“Blair, if you would please.”
“I’ll be out soon with your dessert sir.” Of course, she couldn’t just take the order and go; she had to sway her perfectly sculpted hips with each bouncy step. Even a twenty year-old model would be envious of her body shape.
“While that’s cooking, how about you give me one last clue?”
“This object was customized.”
“Ok, that’s it. I give up. I guess I’ll just have to be patient, won’t I?”
“That’s the plan, my love.” We childishly began a game of footsy under the table. We wrestled each other, each thinking we had the upper hand. I pretended he hurt me long enough to use both of my feet to wrap around his ankle and stop all motion on his part. We soon grew tired of the match and resorted to a popular word game. Neither of us could use the letter “s” in our sentences. We gave up on that ten sentences in.
“Here’s your soufflé.” Blair said sweetly placing the plate in front of me. Her personality seemed to have been given a complete make-over. “Enjoy.”
“This smells so good.” I told Trenton sucking in the sweet aroma waiting patiently for our waitress to depart.
“Taste it.” He had tensed up completely changing his mood. He glared at Blair until she had left the premises.
I broke the top and scooped out a little of the molten chocolate center. The second it hit my tongue, I knew I was in for a real treat. It was smooth and silky not mention the best tasting thing I had ever put into my mouth. It melted into a blissfully moist chocolate lava as I swallowed it.
“This is delicious! Please, have a bite.” I offered Trenton a mouthful.
“Nope. It’s all yours. He murmured. His posture had changed as well. He was on the edge of his seat with sweat glistening on his forehead. I could hear his foot gently taping the floor. He had turned as pale as a ghost. I was sure he was going to be sick.
“Are you ok?” I asked dropping the spoon onto my plate. “You don’t look so hot.”
Oh, yeah I’m fine.” He tried to brush off my worries. “Just finish your desert.”
“Are you going to be sick? Do you have food poisoning?” I could hear the tension in my voice. I would personally kill the cook myself if he got my man sick.
“I’m fine. Just a little hot is all.”
“Ok.” I backed off unsurely. “This is the best thing I have ever eaten.” I said putting another spoonful into my mouth. As I bit down, something hard just about shattered my teeth.
“Ow! What in the world…” I exclaimed pulling the dangerous object from my soufflé filled mouth. I swear up and down I’ll sue the restaurant for the fright. “There’s something in the soufflé.” I told Trenton annoyed. I examined the metal object slowly and was shocked at what I had discovered.
“Oh my god.” I backed out of my chair stunned. The restaurant spun around me. I felt like I was floating in a dream. I was suddenly faint and sure I would in a moment’s time. I couldn’t process the chocolate coated object I held in the palm of my hand. Is this some mistake?
Trenton swiftly maneuvered his way out of the chair, getting up to support me. He held me close to his firm, steady body. I grabbed his muscular arms to keep myself from falling for a moment. I looked up into his eyes like frightened puppy. “You ok?” he mumbled into my ear. Once he was sure I wouldn’t pass out, he knelt to the ground and took my hand. This was really happening. The heart shaped, engagement ring adorned with many diamonds that caught the candlelight wasn’t just a figment of my imagination after all.
The entire restaurant’s eyes were actually on me. Well-dressed Women cooed and men whistled. Everyone was waiting for our next move. My entire body shook with nervous energy as he spoke. Breathing became increasingly difficult.
“Celia, I love you more than I ever thought I could love another person before. You are the one true love of my life and I want to do everything I can to make you the happiest woman on earth. If you will let me, I want to spend the rest of my life proving my love to you. Celia Mays, will you marry me?” He looked lovingly and deeply into my undeserving eyes.
I could feel tears forming at the corner of my eyes. They spilled over the lids of my eyes and streamed down my cheek. “Trenton, I…” My pulse was quickened as I landed head first back into the real world. I scanned the restaurant buying time to think. My mind was clouded with a thick fog blocking the rational part of my brain. What was happening? “I…I…,” I repeatedly stuttered. This was so unexpected, so out of the blue. My stomach churned and twisted. I couldn’t help but let out a choked sob. “Don’t make me do this.” I begged him in a sorrow filled whisper. His eyes were filled to the brim with misery as if salt were being poured into an open wound.
One look at Trenton’s harshly pained face and guilt immediately gnawed at my internal organs. I have to get out of here. I tried to head for the door but my wobbly legs had other plans. They caused me to collapse into Trenton’s shaking arms and hit my head hard off of the table. I felt like my brain had its own heart beat it was throbbing so hard. I lay into his chest crying almost hysterically. The tears staining my cheeks were being soaked up by his expensive clothing.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” I mumbled burying my face into him until tiny black dots covered my vision and I blacked out into oblivion.

“I’m going to vomit.” was the first thought that crossed my mind as I woke. A dizzy, nauseous feeling had swept over me like the first frost of the year. The second thought was “Where am I?” I was too terrified to open my eyes
Once I did, I immediately regretted. My stomach sank lower than I ever thought possible with confusion and worry.
White washed walls enclosed me in a tiny room that reeked of sterilizer and medication. A tiny TV hung from the ceiling playing an unappealing movie. A plastic blue curtain divided then teeny into two separate areas. A lone window was covered by a dull blind that just barely let light slip through its cracks.
An immediate panic attack overwhelmed me. I tossed off the thin, sky blue sheets that barely kept my body warm flinging the heart monitor on my finger. I ripped the taped IV tube out from under my gray tinted skin. A few drops of blood slid down my arm, but I was unaware of any pain it may have caused me. I tried to stand, but immediately fell to the floor. My raging headache pounded so hard I could barely think.
A distressed, dark skinned nurse rushed into my room, blood drained from her face. She looked relieved to see I was just another stubborn patient.
“Ma’am, you have to get back into bed.” She told me calmly helping me back onto the mattress.
“What’s going on?” my voice shook uncontrollably. I didn’t have the energy to argue with her.
She grabbed the clipboard of off the foot of my bed. She carefully studied whatever was on it. “Miss Mays,” she began placing the clipboard back on its hook. “It appears you’re suffering from a grade 3 concussion.”
“That’s ridiculous. I can’t be.”
“You won’t be able to recall anything from the accident for quite some time, if ever at all.” She began disinfecting my forearm with a swab of cotton. Her dark eyes showed little emotion although her voice was laced with a sincere concern for my safety. “You hit your head off of a table at a restaurant. Please stay still.” I felt a slight pinch as she reinserted the tube. My arm was alive with the cold fluid.
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“I know this all probably very confusing, but it’s real. You’ve been out for two days, the doctor’s were worried you’d slipped into a coma.”
“Two days? I missed Christmas?” It kept getting worse and worse.
“I’m sorry, Miss, but it appears so.” She busily fluffed my pillows and tidied up around me.
“But I don’t remember…” A flashback showed me a piece of the memory I had stored away. Trenton was laughing at some corny joke I had made and stuffing a forkful of food into his mouth. “Where’s Trenton?”
She just smiled as she gave the IV bag one last check. “The cafeteria. You’re a very luck lady.” I didn’t think twice about her response. Of course I was, but how would she know that?”
“I want to see him.”
“Don’t worry, he’ll be back up.” She reassured me. “You know, he hasn’t left your side but to eat and use the restroom. It’s quite endearing, actually. The hospital’s staff has fallen in love him.”
“Please, I don’t want to wait.” I begged her. “I need to see him.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” She told me softly, placing a paper cup of water on my tray before leaving the room.
As I swallowed, it felt like shards of broken glass were forcing their way down my throat. I picked up the cup of water and gulped down every last drop, it didn’t seem to be enough. I groaned as a wave of nausea swept over me. I had to hold me throbbing head between my knees for it to go away. I hadn’t even realized there was a bandage swaddled around my forehead.
The click of an opening door sent my head snapping upward, desperate to set on eyes on my lovely man. “Trenton!” I involuntarily exclaimed as he waltzed into my room.
“Hey, sleepy head. Glad you’re awake.” He half-heartedly smiled taking a seat on the cushioned chair next to my bedside.
“What happened? I’m so… lost, dazed, confused.” I hung my head and rubbed my left temple.
“Just take it easy. Rest for a bit.” He told me. His tone was uneasy and pained.
“I’m fine.” I assured him. “You don’t look so hot. Are you ok?” I asked pushing my hand to his forehead. His temperature was no higher than usual. He grabbed my hand and held it for a moment before he dropped it back to my side, also unusual.
“Uh huh.” His expression turned queasy.
I could feel the happiness fall from my face. Something was very wrong. “Trenton,” I began as seriously as possible. “What happened?”
He couldn’t focus his gorgeous eyes on mine. He swiftly stood from the chair avoiding any and all physical contact I was trying to impose on him. Slowly, he paced the room weaving his finger methodically through his hair. “Please, don’t make me relive that.” His voice was extremely stressed as he placed the palm of his hands into his forehead.
“Relive what?”
He silently rubbed the back of his neck.
“Trenton, tell me!” I exclaimed.
“You turned me down, Celia.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Christmas Eve. We went out to dinner, I hid a ring in your soufflé.” His voice shook. “You became unhinged when you discovered it.” He was finally able to look me in the eye. My heart ached with worry. What had I done? “You looked kind of dizzy so I stood up to help you keep your balance. I thought you were just in shock.” He shook his head as though he couldn’t believe the mistake he had made. He sat beside m on the space I had made for him on my bed.
I crawled over to his side and wrapped my arm around his. “I knelt to the ground and recited the speech I had wanted to give to you, and you looked me in the eye and begged me,” he swallowed back whatever emotions were threatening to overcome him. “to stop. You fell and hit your head on the table, and you were out.”
Another anxiety attack threatened to consume me. What had I done to him? To our relationship? It became harder and harder to breath. The beeps on the monitor were faster and louder.
“Whoa, calm down.” Trenton smoothed the hair on the left side of my head. “We’ll get through this, I promise.”
“How could I be so selfish?” I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.
“It’s not your fault, I asked too early. I took a risk and it backfired and…” as he spoke a light bulb flashed on in my head. I had to fix this, I couldn’t let this great person hurt because of me. I couldn’t let him slip out of my fingers.
“Marry me.” I held his hand tight and crawled into his lap like a child.
“What?” he mumbled after the shock wore off. I gazed deeply into his eyes and held his face so close to mine that our noses touched.
“Marry me.”
“I don’t want you to feel guilty about this. I don’t want you to marry me out of pity.” To shut him up I pulled him into a long kiss.
“I do.” I whispered pulling back not giving him much of a choice in the matter. The tightness in his facial features relaxed.
“I do too.” And he kissed me almost as sweetly as the day we had first met.
Chapters:  


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