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Emotions run high as Olivia meets the relatives.
This is a continuation of Saturday Night at the Ritz. If you have not read that story, or Friday Night in the ER yet, you’ll be missing out on how these characters met, and how their relationship has progressed. This is the final piece of the Adriana and Olivia trilogy. It picks up several months after their big date. And like the Friday Night tale, this is another long, slow romance with no sex. Drama, emotions, snuggling, yes. Just no sex. You have been warned.
Enjoy the story,
The events and characters in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Sunday Afternoon with the Family
I am a little unsure of what to expect from this afternoon, as I check my makeup one last time in the mirror of Adriana’s car. The parking lot is nearly full, leading me to believe that we’ll be walking into a crowd — a crowd of people, only a handful of whom I actually know.
Adriana opens the car door for me, and I swing my legs out. “Thanks, baby,” I say. She flashes me a smile and takes my hand, and together we walk toward the ornate building in the distance. The click of my high heels on the pavement serves to remind me that this is indeed a formal occasion, as if the sight of my girlfriend in a dress wasn’t already enough.
Adriana stops. She’s fidgeting, tugging at her hemline, adjusting her stockings.
“You look gorgeous,” I tell her. And she really is amazingly beautiful in her dress, but I can tell she’s uncomfortable. Though this is not the first time my girlfriend has put on a dress, and I wonder if that’s not the only source of her discomfort.
“I hope I survive,” she says.
“You’ll be fine.” I take her hand again.
“You haven’t met my whole family yet, Olivia. You may change your mind.”
I smile at her, and squeeze her hand in reassurance. We walk through the doors together.
“Addie,” I hear. “So you decided to put in an appearance after all?” My girlfriend is suddenly standing toe to toe with her older sister Sophia. “I didn’t see you at mass, so I wasn’t sure if you were planning to show up.”
Adriana just stares at her sister, lowering her head, and raising one eyebrow. The two lock gazes for a moment, and I find myself wondering what kind of family drama I just stepped into. I’ve known Sophia for a while, and she’s never struck me as hot-headed — actually, quite the opposite — but wow!
They continue staring each other down, as I begin thinking of excuses that will allow me to to make a quick exit. Fake a phone call? Headache? Stomach cramps? While I silently debate which sounds more plausible, they both break out into huge grins and fall into each other’s arms.
“She’s my favorite niece, Sophia. I wouldn’t miss it.”
“She’s your only niece, dear.” A smile this time. “And, Olivia! So nice to see you. It’s been too long.” Sophia takes my face in her hands and kisses me twice, once on each cheek. “I’m so happy you decided to brave our family and come along.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” I say, echoing Adriana’s sentiments. Then, under my breath, “You guys are weird.”
“It’s a sister thing,” Adriana says. “Been doing it since we were kids.”
Things may have started off a little crazy, but I’m actually becoming cautiously optimistic about the whole affair. I mean it’s big and slightly overwhelming, but Sophia is a wonderful person, as is Adriana. And I can’t imagine that any family that could produce such an amazing pair of daughters could be all that scary.
We make our way deeper into the hall, and I am blown away by the extravagance of the whole affair. “This must have cost a fortune,” I think as I look around at the sheer number of guests in attendance.
Adriana leads me over to a table and introduces me to some of her cousins. There are quite a few of them and I do my best to remember their names, so that I won’t embarrass her later. Not that I think there’s going to be a quiz, I just think it’s nice to be able to refer to someone by their name.
We move on to the next table as the introductions continue.
“Have you ever been to a quinceañera before?” Adriana asks.
I shake my head.
“It’s a coming of age thing,” she says. “A little like a bat mitzvah.”
“Sweet sixteen party?”
“Ah, OK.” Finally, she’s speaking my language.
Adriana begins filling me in on what I missed in my sheltered, suburban youth. “Back in the day,” she says, “fifteen years-old was the age at which a girl became a woman. The age when she was ready to entertain suitors, hopefully marrying and starting her own family.”
“Wow,” I say. “All that at fifteen?” I mean, here I am, twenty-three and I barely have my act together just juggling work and school. I can’t imagine being married, keeping track of a household — having babies! — oh, the horror.
Adriana apparently senses my revulsion, tuzla escort because she places her hand in mine and gives me a little squeeze. “It’s a tradition from a different time,” she says. “And they had to get started early. Life was hard then and people died a lot younger.”
“Probably from having all those babies.” I grin.
Adriana chuckles. “Now it’s just an excuse for teenage girls to have a big party,” she says, and leads me further into the crowd.
We settle in with yet another group of Adriana’s cousins, and I’m beginning to wonder just how many there are. Everyone at the table is doing their best to make me feel like I fit in, like I’m just another part of the family. I field polite questions like, what are you studying, and how did you two meet. I explain that I met Adriana after taking one of her self-defense classes.
I don’t bother to share the fact that I had taken the class based on Sophia’s recommendation, and how it was that I came to meet Sophia on that fateful Friday night. This is supposed to be a nice party, all about Sophia’s daughter, not my past trauma.
In fact, that part of my past is something that I’m actually managing not to dwell upon very much anymore. Yes, I would prefer that it had never happened to me, that I wouldn’t have spent more than a year constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering if he was still out there somewhere, waiting for me in the shadows.
But that chapter of my life is closed. The DNA evidence provided by me, and several other women on campus, was enough to put him away for a very long time. We didn’t even have to testify, there was so much stacked up against him. I don’t think the prosecutor even entertained a plea bargain.
Now-a-days I’m attending my weekly therapy appointments, and working on forgive and forget. I guess I’m getting on pretty well with the forget part, but I still have trouble with the forgive. Not only did this guy make my life miserable for a long time, he also affected my ability to be intimate with my girlfriend, and I think that’s the biggest grudge I still hold.
Adriana’s been wonderful throughout, and we are now finally able to express our love for each other in a physical way, without me breaking down in tears every time. But I still worry. I worry that she might see me as irreparably broken. And that one day she’ll get tired of playing the nice patient girlfriend, and just walk.
I suppose it’s just my own irrational fear that I’m projecting on the situation. I mean, she’s never given me any reason to think that way. Not to say that our relationship is perfect, because we’ve had our fair share of disagreements. But we always come back around to find each other in the end.
Maybe that’s part of my problem. Maybe I’m scared that it’s just too good, and it can’t possibly be real. “Maybe,” I think. “Maybe I should release the death-grip I have on my girlfriend’s hand right now,” realizing how tightly I’ve been clutching her this whole time.
Adriana doesn’t seem to be fazed, though. “Just another advantage of dating a kick-boxing instructor,” I think, “tough as nails.”
“Here she comes,” Adriana says, snapping me out of my period of introspection.
“She’s beautiful,” I say, and all eyes turn to Adriana’s niece, Sofia’s daughter, as she is introduced to the crowd. She really is a picture of poise and grace. Again, I wonder if I could have pulled that off at her age. I turn to Adriana. “I’d love to have a tiara like that someday,” I say. “You know, if you’re ever stuck for a Christmas gift.”
Adriana sticks her tongue out at me, and then grins.
There is a tap of a spoon on a goblet, and the room goes silent. Sofia and her husband offer a toast to their daughter, and after a brief tinkling of glasses, the room erupts in applause. I look around, and I am reminded of the similarities to a wedding reception. I wrap my arm up with Adriana’s, and give her a squeeze, settling my head on her shoulder.
The rest of the afternoon is a flurry of activity. There’s more food than I think I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, interspersed with more toasts, and dancing. There’s definitely a lot of dancing. And even though I’ve never waltzed, Adriana is a good lead and I manage to stumble through without stepping on anybody.
There are also some more modern selections, probably chosen by Sofia’s daughter. These are easier for me to dance to, and I find myself enjoying the time I get to spend pressed together with Adriana. We are surrounded by a sea of people, but for a short time it feels to me like we are the only two here.
The tempo of the music changes, and as much as I’d like to spend the whole afternoon avoiding the crowd and blissfully swaying with my girlfriend, it’s just not feasible and we finally exit the dance-floor.
Since we are up and about, I also get introduced to more of the family. I’m really beginning to push my limit for remembering names, and Adriana tries to help me out as much as she can.
“Olivia, this is my abuela. Abuela, this is my girlfriend, tuzla yabancı escort Olivia.”
“Catholic girls don’t have girlfriends. They have friends, that’s all.”
“I still pray for you Addie. Everyday I pray that someday you’ll meet a nice man and settle down and bring me lots of little nietos. Just like your sister Sophia.”
“Mm-hmn,” Adriana says, and starts moving toward the next table.
“Nice to meet you,” I call out, as Adriana drags me away. I get a sort of thinly-veiled grimace in return. I find it a bit comical that some people can still be so uptight, even in this day and age. I shrug it off. I mean, why waste my energy being angry with someone who’s obviously not going to change.
Though I can see that grandma’s reaction has rattled Adriana a little more than it has me. This is not a look that I see very often on her face, but I know what it means. And I know where it came from. It can’t be easy not being accepted for who you are, particularly by your own family.
“She seems nice,” I offer, not really knowing what else to say.
“Do you want to get out of here?” is the only response I get.
The reception hall has a beautiful outdoor space as well. Compared to the crowd indoors, the air here is fresh and clean, and it’s so quiet it feels almost as if we have the whole place to ourselves.
I glance around at the precisely manicured hedges, the perfectly groomed paths, the block-stone wall. I find it hard to believe we’re still in an urban area, that just beyond those trees there are cars, and buses, and pedestrians. Even on an overcast day like today, it’s absolutely radiant.
“This is so peaceful,” I say.
“Yeah. I kind of needed to get away. I mean, I like my family and all …” Adriana seems to be busy studying the pea-gravel path at our feet, kicking at a pebble now and then, as she shifts her weight from side to side.
She raises her head and looks at me, not quite meeting my eye. “Can we just talk for a while?”
Adriana takes my hand in hers and we set off down the path. For someone who’s just asked me if I want to talk, I’m a little surprised at the silence that hangs between us, and for how long. By the time we reach the end of the path, we are standing at the edge of a small pond, and not a word has been spoken.
I spy a bench, and lead my girlfriend to it. “Sorry,” I say. “These shoes just aren’t really made for a lot of walking.”
Adriana says nothing as she sits next to me. I settle my head on her shoulder and entertain myself by watching the ducks swimming about. I find their activity to be a useful distraction as I try to determine everything that’s been eating at my girlfriend this afternoon.
I watch a pair of brightly colored drakes, both pursuing the same female as she tries to swim away. In the distance I spy another pair, both females, not really standing out because of their drab feathers. They seem to be very content, ignoring the rest of the flock and just doing their own thing.
I wrap both hands around Adriana’s arm and pull her tightly to me.
“Do you think you can deal with this?” she says, finally speaking.
“My crazy family. Us. Together.”
I straighten up and turn toward Adriana, taking her hand I place it on my lap, while letting my fingers caress her arm. I hear her exhale. “First of all,” I say, “I love us. Especially together.”
“But, my family?”
“Your family is perfect. Yeah, there’s a lot of them, but they’re wonderful. Your sister, your niece, your cousins — and more cousins.” I smile. I see the corners of Adriana’s mouth turn up slightly.
“Different generation, that’s all. It’s just the way she was raised. Hell, you should have heard some of the things coming out of my grandfather’s mouth when he was alive.” This gets me a smile.
“Thanks, sweetie,” she says. “You’re really important to me, and …”
I hug Adriana to me. Even though she doesn’t finish her sentence, she’s conveyed enough meaning that I finally understand her nervousness today. I suddenly feel rather silly. Here I had myself worrying that I might not be good enough for her, and this whole time she was thinking just the opposite.
“Seeing that I’m no expert on quinceañeras,” I say, “What’s the appropriate amount of time to stay?”
“I think we’ve put in enough. Why?”
“You wanna get out of here?”
Adriana stands up and takes my hand in hers. I sense a lightness in her step as we make our way back to the reception hall to say our farewells. The sun is shining now and feels pleasantly warm on my skin. I glance up at the woman walking next to me and smile. I think we’re going to be OK.
Adriana opens the door to her apartment and we both kick off our shoes. I make my way down the hall as she heads for the kitchen.
“I’ve got to warn you,” she says, “I don’t have a lot in my fridge.”
“That’s OK,” ümraniye escort I holler. “I think I’ve had enough food today to last me the week.” I stand in front of Adriana’s closet, pawing through her shirts, trying to make a decision. I pull out a nice white button-down and lay it on the bed.
“How about salad?” I hear from down the hall. “I think I can pull that off.”
While my girlfriend is busy in the kitchen, I am busy shimmying out of my dress. I pause as I get down to my underwear and stockings, and then decide to keep going. I’m not necessarily planning anything, it just feels nice to be bare after being all dolled up for so long.
I button my borrowed shirt about half-way up and turn toward the mirror. I hate to brag, but I think I look awfully cute.
“Nice,” I hear as I feel fingertips brush my neck. Apparently Adriana agrees with my observation, as she comes in to join me. She takes my face in her hands and plants a very convincing kiss on my lips before turning to the closet. “You don’t mind if I put on sweats, do you?”
I shrug. “You look good in anything.”
“Olivia Myles, you keep that up and I might just think that you like me.”
I give her a quick peck, and wander down the hall while she finishes changing.
We’re sitting on the couch, crunching away at our salads. I’ve got my legs tucked up under me, balancing my bowl on my lap.
“So you survived my family,” Adriana says.
“They’re not that bad.” I stab another forkful or lettuce and bring it to my mouth.
“I was really worried, you know. About what you’d think.”
I dab at the corner of my mouth with my finger, chasing down a little bit of dressing that didn’t quite make it over my lips. It’s not exactly the most ladylike gesture, but I think we’re past the stage of our relationship where I’m going to sweat it too much.
“You wanna know something,” I say, as I finish crunching. “You’re gonna laugh, but I thought you were getting all morose over something that I’d done.” There, I’d finally let it out, the feeling that had been haunting me most of the day.
“Oh, sweetie, no. This was all about me.”
“I know that now, but — ” I pause as I am suddenly, inexplicably overcome by my emotions. “But, I still worry …” I sniffle.
“Come here,” she says, and wraps me up in her arms.
I fall into Adriana’s arms and squeeze my eyes tight as I feel a hot tear rolling down my cheek. I wasn’t going to do this. It was just a stupid misunderstanding. I had been projecting my own insecurities on Adriana’s mood all day, thinking there was something wrong with me, when in fact it had been her own worries about her family not measuring up to my expectations.
I decide to just let it all out. “I’m sorry. It’s just that — well, sometimes I think — I think that you’re just putting up with me.” I sniffle. “That because of what happened to me you’re afraid I’ll shatter if you let me go. Or maybe you think that I’m already broken beyond repair.”
Adrian strokes my hair, but doesn’t interrupt, and I just keep gushing. “I mean, you’re the first woman I’ve ever had a relationship with. Don’t you ever worry that you might be some kind of temporary fix for me? Some kind of experiment? A fling?”
“Am I a fling?”
“No,” I say, still sniffling. I sob for a good minute or two, while my girlfriend holds me to her chest. Neither of us says a word the entire time. Finally, I look up at her. She brushes a piece of hair off my forehead, and wipes under my eyes with her thumb. “I must be a mess.”
“You could probably use a tissue.” She begins to stand up.
“I’ll get it,” I say, and wander down the hall.
When I come back to the couch, Adriana is nowhere to be seen. “Where’d you go, baby?”
“In the kitchen,” I hear. “Want a glass of water?”
When she comes back, I can sense that she’s been up to something. There’s a sort of half-smirk on her face as she hands me the glass. I thank her and place it on the side table. I never get a chance to see her other hand, the one that’s hidden behind her back. I wonder if that isn’t part of what she’s up to.
“Oliva,” she says, as she goes down on one knee. “You’re past the age of fifteen, and I think you’re ready to start entertaining suitors. So …” She pauses, and brings her other hand out from behind her back, revealing a shiny if somewhat crudely constructed tiara. “I remember you said you wanted one.”
As Adriana brings the tiara up to place on my head, I can see it’s made out of long, silvery twist-ties. Some of them have ‘organic red leaf lettuce’ printed along them, others say ‘green leaf’. I break out into a broad smile. “It’s perfect,” I say.
“You’re not broken, Olivia. You’re not a fling. I love you — and someday, if you’ll have me — I’m gonna marry you.”
“Oh god, I think I’m gonna need another tissue.” I hug her quickly, then run off toward the bathroom.
“But you need to finish school first,” she shouts down the hall. That’s my girl, always the pragmatist.
I’m lying in bed with Adriana. I feel like I should call my parents and let them know the good news. Then I think about what I would tell them. “Mom, Dad, I’m so happy! Adriana just gave me a twist-tie tiara and we’re going to get married, and …” On second thought maybe not.
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