Chelsea pulled up to the restaurant just as the time flashed 7:00 on her dash. She pulled down the mirror. Her hair was pinned up for the night, an elegant necklace draped around her neck and a gold and diamond bracelet on her wrist. They were gifts from Matthew, along with the dress. She was in love with it. It was short, pearl colored pink and looked soft and delicate against her skin. The shoes were a gift too, a matching pair of pearl pink heels. Matthew had planned every single detail. On her bed there had been a note: Get dressed, look amazing (as always) meet me at La Blue.
She reapplied a layer of lipstick, smacked her lips together then took a deep breath. There was no way she could be totally sure, but she had that nervous feeling she sometimes got in her gut. She and Matthew had been dating for six months now. What had started as an office rivalry had quickly turned into a passionate romance. Sangi swore this was the night he was going to propose. Excitement tore through her, quickly followed by the nervous knot in her stomach. She forced herself to step out of the car and onto the pavement.
Her tall heels clicked against the concrete loudly. She gripped her small, white clutch a little harder and took her time walking into the restaurant. La Blue was one of Chelsea’s favorites. It was a small french restaurant with excellent cuisine and a relaxed atmosphere. It was a Saturday night however and the place was packed. She walked up to the small brown podium and spoke to a man wearing a white shirt under a dark blue vest.
“Rawlins, Matthew?” She asked as if she’d suddenly forgotten who he was.
“Ah yes, follow me.”
Chelsea made her way through a group of standing people waiting on a table and through the restaurant. Matthew was sitting at a small table in the middle of the restaurant. His black suit and red tie all the more appealing as he stood when she approached. She knew what was under that suit. A hard body, all muscle and tanned skin she loved to lay against. She smiled wider at the thought.
He pulled out her chair and she sat down. There was a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket. Three little candles floated in a wide, glass bowl giving the table a little more illumination. The dark blue tablecloth brushed against her legs. Matthew looked stunning, his deep blue eyes captivating hers. He flashed a smile at her and she felt her knees go weak. Thank God she was already sitting.
“You look beautiful, babe,” he said with his eyes still glued on her.
Chelsea couldn’t help but to feel heat rising up through her body. “Thank you. You look really good too.”
When the food arrived, Chelsea barely tasted it. She knew the food was good, but she was too nervous to enjoy it. The nervous energy must have been coming off of her in waves, because halfway through dinner Matthew gripped her hand and didn’t let go. Just as they were finishing dinner, she began to think she’d been wrong. He wasn’t going to propose. That made her both disappointed and slightly relieved. There was some small part of her that was so nervous about the possibility of getting married. That’s when it happened.
Matthew stood up and she thought he was leaving the restaurant. When she stood up however, he dropped down to one knee. It was swift, effortless. His hand reached into his pocket and came back out with a baby blue box. He popped the lid open and Chelsea covered her mouth in shock.
“I knew you’d been waiting for it all night. So, I kind of had to make you wait a little longer. I wanted it to be a surprise,” he said with a grin.
Chelsea felt tears forming in her eyes, her vision was getting a little blurry. “You jerk.”
“Chelsea Ayers, I have fallen in love with you in a way I didn’t even think was possible. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”
Her voice wouldn’t work. The words caught in her throat as tears ran down her face. She nodded, hard. He stood up quickly. Holding her hand he slipped the ring onto her finger. The restaurant burst out into applause and sounds of congratulations as he hugged and then kissed her.
“So, was that a yes?”
“Yes, definitely yes.”
Six months later.
Chelsea rolled over in the sheets and groaned. Her fingers reached out for Matthew, but came up short. She raised herself up on one elbow and peered around the room through narrowed eyes. He was gone. She sighed and buried herself back into the sheets. She procrastinated for another five minutes before she slipped out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Sunlight streamed through the curtains, the floor was warm against her feet. She turned on the shower watching the clouds of hot steam rise. Turning slightly, she saw a note halfway tucked beneath the yellow soap dish. She pulled it out gently.
Good morning, babe. I had to leave early to work on the Donovan case. You take care of yourself and have fun planning the wedding. I love you.
It was signed with a little smiley face and Matt scribbled hurriedly on the bottom. Chelsea grinned. As much as she loved the fact that she was getting married, she also couldn’t be more stressed out. The cake, caterers, wedding hall, dresses, everything was on her now. On top of that there was still the fact that she still hadn’t met Matthew’s mother. The woman was on a safari in Africa and wouldn’t be back until the next month or two. It was concerning, but also a relief for Chelsea that she didn’t have to meet the woman just yet.
She shed the white button up she was wearing, reached out a hand to test the water and slipped inside. The water hit her smooth, brown skin making her moan slightly. It was going to be a long day. Just for that moment, she wanted to enjoy the feel of the water sliding against her skin. She took her time washing her body, thinking about the wedding, relaxing. When the water decided it’d had more than enough and turned chilly, she stepped out and wrapped herself in a thick, green towel.
It was hard to believe just the year before, Chelsea had hated Matthew. He’d come in with his blond hair, blue eyes, gray suit and list of demands. She couldn’t stand him. The surprising part was he couldn’t stand her either. They’d fought every time they were in the same room together, until the night they were working late into the evening on the same case. The tension had hit a bursting point. Before Chelsea knew what was happening, he was bending her over the conference room table and they were taking their frustrations out on each other. The thought brought a little grin to her face. She still couldn’t sit at that conference table without shooting Matthew a little knowing grin and him doing the same.
Water dripped off of her body as she walked into the kitchen. The lingering smell of burnt toast and a burnt pan were the only evidence that Matthew had attempted to cook breakfast for himself. She laughed softly, lifted the pan then let it slide back into the murky water. Matthew was a horrible cook. He was a great boyfriend, now fiance, great attorney, wonderful person, but he was awful in the kitchen.
She left the mess for the maid, Maritza, to deal with. There was no time for her to be cleaning this morning. Chelsea picked up the big, black binder that had become her best friend. Ever since Matthew had proposed six months ago, it had been her constant companion. She flipped through the pages, attached a pink sticky note then shut the book again. Glancing over at the microwave the red numbers flashed at her. 8:30. She sighed.
Stepping into her room she reached into the closet and pulled out her outfit for the day. She and Matthew worked at the same firm. He was mostly interested in attaining property for his father’s company, while she just wanted to make partner. She was so close, she could feel it, but she wasn’t there yet. She slipped into a black pencil skirt, a white blouse that buttoned up the front and black stockings. As she slipped into her heels her phone lit up and buzzed three times before it went dark again.
Chelsea swiped her finger across the screen and saw a text from her boss. Short, sweet to the point. I need you here, now. Of course he did, she was his best attorney. Her fingers ran through wavy black hair before she stood up and grabbed her briefcase. Her heels tapped along the wood floor as she entered the kitchen and slipped the binder into the briefcase.
The weather was just turning warm, she was happy for that. She walked up to her little black jeep and tossed her bag in before she slid in after it. Her routine of the day was about to start. That might have bothered some people, falling into routine, but Chelsea loved it. It was always simple, straight forward; Get up, get coffee and maybe breakfast, go to the office, punch out at 5 or 6, go home.
When she arrived at the office, the familiar sounds made her smile. Jeff was off flirting with one of the women in the office, she could hear his chuckle. The sound of fingers hitting keys on keyboards. Phones being answered in polite voices. It was like music to Chelsea’s ears. She made her way to her office. As her fingers gripped the metal handle a voice came up behind her.
“Good to see you’ve joined us Ms. Ayers. There’s a meeting in the conference room in five,” the voice said.
Chelsea turned around and was face to face with Mr. Whitehill. Her boss was on the better side of fifty, graying hair at his temples and streaks of gray in his hair. He was pudgy from years of good eating and long hours in the office. As she watched he ran a thick hand over his blue suit to smooth it.
“Of course, Mr. Whitehill. What’s the meeting about?” She asked.
“Some lake front property just became available and that fiance of yours wants to snatch it up. It shouldn’t take too long.”
Chelsea nodded, watched her boss walk away before she slipped into her office. Sighing, she sat her briefcase down on her desk It was going to be a long day. Add on top of that the planning of the wedding and it would quickly grow longer. She readjusted the files before she stood up, smoothed her skirt and walked to the conference room.
Seated around the dark table there was Mr. Whitehill, a few faces that she knew, but couldn’t put names to right away and her fiance, Matthew. He stood in front of the wide, black screen on the wall, his gray suit fitting him in all of the right places. His hair was golden blond, short and lay against his forehead slightly. He would declare it was time to get a haircut soon. Shame. Baby blue eyes locked in on hers and the briefest of smiles touched his thin lips. Chelsea felt her heart flip in her chest. Was it any wonder she’d fallen for him?
She quickly regained control of herself before settling into a seat next to Mr. Whitehill. As Matthew clicked through his file she was both intrigued and distracted. The property was beautiful, a large almost mini-mansion. The land itself would be valuable. Still, in the back of her mind all she could think about was the wedding. It was only six months away and she still hadn’t even met his family.
As Matthew wrapped up his presentation, the room quickly cleared out. Matthew gave her a warm smile before he walked over to her. He planted his hands on the table. Seeing him anywhere near the table sent ripples down her spine, but she kept her composure.
“So, I have some news,” he said.
“Oh yeah? And what news has you smiling so hard?”
“My mother’s back in town. Dad will be getting back soon too. I told them about the engagement and they want to meet you. This weekend.”
Chelsea kept her smile on her face, but inside she was nervous. What if they didn’t like her? What if they didn’t want her to be a part of their family? Matthew’s smile dissolved.
“Okay, what’s wrong?” He asked.
“Nothing, I’m fine really. Don’t give me that look. I have to go over a few of these cases, that’s all. Lunch?”
He nodded. “Lunch sounds great.”
Chelsea left the conference room quickly and headed back for her office. When she closed the door she gave a deep sigh. She wasn’t ready. There was no way she was ready to meet his family. From what little she knew of them, they were pretty well off. Matthew’s father ran a construction company that was only getting more popular as the years went by. His mother was a retired attorney herself. Chelsea had come from humble roots. Her father was in the military and her mother was a nurse at the local hospital. She didn’t know how she’d fit in with them.
She sat behind her desk. Instead of pulling out one of her work files, she delved back into her wedding planning bible. Picking up her cellphone, she called around to see if they could find a decent caterer. Matthew had told her to plan big and to spend whatever she wanted. That made her briefly wonder just how much money his family had, but she didn’t pry. That was something to figure out later.
Before she knew it the time on her phone blinked one. She gathered up her briefcase, tossed the binder back inside and headed out of her office. She rode the elevator down, trying to dodge the many questions her co-worker’s had about the wedding, almost wishing she’d taken the stairs. Not in the heels she was wearing.
She stepped off of the elevator and waved to the group of lunch goers. Matthew was waiting, his jacket over his arm. He raised an eyebrow as she rolled her eyes. It always felt like people were watching them as they walked through the building now, the eyes following them to see if they’d kiss, if they’d fight. Once they hit the outside, the sun made Chelsea wince. The cons of life in an office, lit by constant fluorescents and in front of laptop screens.
“Let me guess. They were talking your ear off?” Matthew asked with a grin.
“Ugh, you have no idea! It’s like a million questions and you know most of them don’t really care. They just want something to gossip about. I wish I could tell them to fuck off,” she said with a sigh.
“Please, don’t do that. I like working with my future wife.”
“Not for too long. Eventually daddy Warbucks will want you to take the throne and I’ll be by myself again fighting with these jackals.”
“Or,” he said grabbing her hand as they walked, “you make partner and then you get to boss the jackals around.”
The thought made her smile. His hand slipped into hers even more so. She glanced down at his hand, his skin pale against her brown. It wasn’t the first time she’d dated a man of another race, but she definitely hoped it was the last time. Matthew was everything she’d dreamed of in a man; ambitious, trustworthy, funny, intelligent and sexy just to name a few. Sure, he could have a bit of a temper, but he was working on it. No longer letting the stress of the job get to him was one of the things that helped.
They walked into an Italian restaurant that was more high end than where their collages would visit for lunch. Matthew pulled out her chair and Chelsea thanked him. The tinkling of classical music filled the small building. The table cloths were white, heavy linen, not the plastic ones she’d become accustomed to when she was younger. She knew the silverware was all real, the plates and tea cups fine china, the wine vintage and the people rich. She gazed around the restaurant easily picking them out. There was a man with diamond cufflinks, who could afford that anymore? A woman with blond curls was wearing a black Versace dress, her impeccable red nails drumming against the tablecloth. Everywhere Chelsea looked, she could see signs of wealth. She wondered vaguely if Matthew’s parents would be the same, oozing wealth and status.
Matthew must have seen the look of concern on her face. He reached over, laid his hand on top of hers and gave it a firm squeeze. That at least made the frown fall from her features. A woman walked up to the table, white button down shirt, black bow tie and black slacks. Her breasts looked like they were about to burst out of her top. Chelsea looked over at Matthew who was looking anywhere, but at the waitress.
They ordered quickly. When the woman was gone Chelsea kept grinning at Matthew, but he made himself busy laying his napkin in his lap. He must have adjusted it ten times before he finally looked up meeting her gaze.
“I didn’t look,” he said.
“I didn’t say you did.”
He paused for a minute. “They were like out to here,” he said indicating how big her breasts were with his hands.
Several of the other patrons shook their heads or turned up their noses. He didn’t care. Matthew had no censor sometimes and it was mostly hilarious, sometimes embarrassing. She laughed behind her hand and swatted at him.
“Stop that! Stop it!”
Matthew grinned as he drank some water and shot daggers at the people around them. She loved that out of the both of them, he was the one who could lighten up. He cared deeply about his job, loved the thought of going into his father’s business, but he didn’t seem to care for the people. He’d told Chelsea more than once that rich people were like toddlers only with diamonds and cash instead of toys to fight over.
“How’s the wedding planning going? Ready to call it quits and hire someone yet?” He asked once their food arrived.
She pointed her fork at him. “No! I told you, I can do this myself. It’s been my dream to plan my wedding since I was a girl.”
“Yes and now you’re a busy woman trying to make partner. I don’t want our wedding stomping all over your dreams,” he said.
Chelsea smiled. His consideration of her both in their relationship and at her job was what made her love him so much. “It’s not. It’s just, I really want to do this myself. Besides, Sangi’s helping.”
“Oh Sangi’s helping, well now I’m relieved.”
“Stop it,” Chelsea gave him a look. “What’s wrong with Sangi?”
“Well, let’s see. She told you to put laxatives in my coffee when we first met. On several occasions she’s asked me if I was gay, oh and tried to set me up with her cousin. Then there’s the time we asked her to watch the apartment. She let all the plants die, ate all of the food and didn’t even realize we got robbed.”
“Okay, lower your voice. I know. She can be a bit…odd, but she’s also my best friend. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her,” Chelsea said.
Matthew sighed, but seemed to let the conversation dissipate for the moment. Chelsea knew Sangi could be a flake sometimes, but she had been there for her through every stage of her life. Both of their moms even worked at the same hospital, although Sangi’s mom was an ER doctor. She could trust Sangi, sometimes. It was just keeping her on task that was the hard part.
Matthew wiped his mouth with his napkin. “So, my parents house this weekend…” he began.
“Yay,” Chelsea chimed in.
“Look, I know you’re nervous. Hell, my mother still has the ability to make me feel like a little kid-”
“Yeah, not comforting.”
“However, I also know she’ll like you. I mean, you two are pretty alike,” he said before returning to his plate.
“Does she know you’re dating…you know, a black woman?”
Matthew almost choked on his chicken parmesan. He held up a finger to her as he drank down his glass of water. She stared back at him knowing the answer even before he came up for air. No, he hadn’t told her, not a thing.
“It’s no big deal. My parents aren’t racists, babe. Besides, race isn’t important anymore,” he said straightening his tie.
“Then why are you nervous? You only do that when you’re nervous. And it may not be important to us, but it is to some people. I mean, how do I know I’m not just setting myself up for an evening of failure?” Chelsea asked.
“First of all, they’re going to love you. Trust me. Second, I didn’t say evening. I said weekend. They invited us for the whole weekend so you could meet the family and a few close family friends.”
Chelsea dropped her fork onto her plate with a clink. She rested both of her elbows on the table and pressed her fingers against the bridge of her nose. As much as she loved Matthew, he sure had a habit of leaving out important details. It irritated her. When she opened her eyes, his hand was across the table, palm up, waiting for her hand. She looked at it before she turned away.
“Okay, I should have told you earlier, babe. I’m so sorry. I promise you, we will have a great weekend, my parents will love you and if things don’t go well, we’ll leave. Agreed?” He said.
She looked into his eyes. Those baby blues always seemed to win her over in the end. She sighed heavily. The nervous twisting in her stomach hadn’t left, but she couldn’t resist that sad look on his face for long. Chelsea rolled her eyes.
“Fine, but you will tell them before we go! And the first minute I don’t feel comfortable you will wrangle up some bullshit excuse and get me the hell out of there.”
Chelsea slipped her hand into his as he nodded. His fingers curled around her hand. The smile was back on his face making the nervousness in the pit of her stomach lift slightly. She still couldn’t shake the slight feeling however that things weren’t going to go well.
They finished their lunch and headed back to the office together arm in arm. They’d do that until they were in sight of the building and disconnect as if they were merely friends. They didn’t want people in their business, but in the office it was almost impossible to have a secret. Chelsea knew Jeff was a hopeless womanizer, Amy was getting a divorce and Roger had recently attended a sex addicts anonymous group. She wasn’t sure how anonymous it was if the whole office now knew.
Matthew opted for the stairs. She followed him into the narrow, dusty white corridor. Looking around to make sure no one was around,, Matthew laid a hand on her cheek. She felt heat sweep her body at his touch. Leaning in, he kissed her softly. It was sweet and innocent but quickly became something more. His tongue slipped into her mouth, wet and warm against her own. She felt wetness collect between her thighs. Her hands gripped his jacket. She wanted to push him up against the wall, slip a hand into his pants, grip his cock and stroke him into a frenzy. Even though they tried to keep a low profile, there was something hot about rubbing up against each other where they worked. They heard footsteps approaching and quickly broke apart.
“I’ll see you upstairs,” he whispered, a noticeable bulge in the front of his slacks.
Chelsea giggled as if she were back in high school as the stairwell door opened. She slipped past the man going up and headed for the elevators. If they didn’t have such an important case coming up, she would have invited him back to her office for a little play time, but she knew better. Mr. Whitehill had already warned her about slacking on her work. Not that she had, he just wanted a reason to lecture. Or maybe a reason to stare at her stocking legs. It was hard to tell.
She disappeared into her office ignoring the stares, whispers and giggles. Let them talk. She was marrying the man of her dreams and so close to making partner she could taste it. After she closed the door behind her, she could feel her cellphone buzzing away. Reaching a manicured hand down into her bag, she pulled out her phone. Sangi’s picture popped up. Just in time.
“Tell me you got the flowers squared away.”
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