>From: "Julia Webster"

Title: Dinner Parties and Proposals

Author - shock.. gasps.... horror.. tis ME!

Date - 22/2/00

Disclaimer - they still aint claimed her so she's MINE!, they are quite and totally welcome to Jonathon though.

Authors Note - okay after alot of bugging and pestering I find myself writting another chapter in my little series. This does NOT mean I've gone back to my usual writting, this is just a little something to keep my mind occupied. This is also to keep a few nameless buggers happy, you lot know who you are :)

Summery - A dinner party and a proposal changes Rachels' life forever. Number 4 in the Rachel Friedman series. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rachel looked at her reflection in the mirror once more, her keen eyes taking in every blemish, every mark on her young face. The bruise from the hostage situation had vanished weeks ago, the physical scars having faded from existance, leaving only the mental scars, the thoughts of resentment, of fear and of failure. Jonathon was totally unsupportive after the incident, blaming her for getting involved, and for the death of her mentor, even though in Rachel's mind she knew it was unforseen. Yet still he was inviting her to this dinner party that one of his legal friends was throwing in honour of Jonathon winning an important case. It seems as though he was always in control, always winning, and she was a bumbling failure.

Checking her reflection once more Rachel sighed and headed out to where Jonathon was picking her up. He insisted on escorting her to the party in his Mercedes, claiming that her arriving in a cab, or worse yet her own car, just would not do. Seeing the black sports car in the street she hurried down the stairs, careful not to slip in the heels she was unaccustomed to wearing. Jonathon stepped out of the car and eyed her carefully, checking to see if her appearance was acceptable before opening the passenger door to help her in. Rachel sat in awe in the car, eyes bouncing from the leather seats to the wood paneling and all the perks the Merc had to offer. Never before had she been in such an expansive car, never before had she been anywhere NEAR such an expensive car. Her mind returned to the present as Jonathon started telling her the guest list, expecting her to remember all of his friends and collegues so as to not offend any of them by forgetting their names. Many names later they pulled into the expensive mansion that was to hold the party.

Jonathon quickly told her the protocols of attending the party whilst waiting for the limosene in front of them to move, how to act, how to talk, and most importantly, how to treat him, her partner in front of others. Rachel nodded at this, hoping that her mind would remember all these rediculous things such as waiting for him to eat and/or drink first, always following slightly behind him, never infront, and that he was to appear more imposing than herself at all times. As they pulled up to the entranceway she waited for Jonathon to exit first, then was helped out of the car by the porter in attendance. Her mind rebelled at the thought of letting Jonathon take presendence over herself, but she was sternly reminded that she had him to thank for just about everything good in her life, mainly her job, and forced a smile to her face.

Holding herself like a lady she allowed Jonathon to escort to into the ballroom where the party was in full swing. Rachel smiled sweetly as she was introduced to the hundreds of Jonathons friends, standing there smiling while he chatted away about something totally over her head. Looking around the room she saw all the other women doing the same, idley allowing the thoroughly bored look to cross their painted faces every once in a while when their husbands' weren't looking. Suddenly she felt sorry for them, it must be shocking trying being such a token wife, just an object to say ' and this is my WIFE'. The realisation hit her like a tonne of bricks, she had worked out just WHAT Jonathon was up too, and why she was there.

Before she could react to her discovery, Jonathon moved her towards a podium resting on the stage at the front of the room. As they rose above the sea of people the noise hushed down to a whisper. Rachel felt the eyes upon her as her mind reeled at what he was going to do, she couldn't back down, not infront of all these people. Jonathons smooth voice echoed around the large room, announcing that not only was the party to celebrate his victory in the Manning case, but to celebrate another occasion as well. He pulled on her arm, pulling her forward into the spotlight, she tried to smile as Jonathon started speaking again.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and collegues. This is the woman I have chosen to be my wife" He turned back to her, speaking loudly enough for the mircophone to pick up his words, his planned calculated words." My dear, I know this is unexpected, but seeing you tonight as lovely as you look, I could not think of not sharing my feelings in the light of this party." His eyes bore into hers as the room that was so recently filled with applause, fell silent, anticipating her reaction. Rachel felt eyes upon her again, sympathetic glances from the wives present, military style glares from the lawyers, as if ordering her to accept his offer. Jonathon took her hand, forcing her eyes back from the staring audience. Reaching inside his jacket he revealed a heavy diamond ring, the gold and crystal catching and reflecting the lights upon them. Slipping the ring on her finger he glared at her again, almost daring her to defy him in such an audience. Her mind reeled, what could she do, reject his offer in front of the most high flying legal council the nation had to offer? Rachel glanced down at the heavy ring on her finger, her wedding finger, and glanced again at Jonathon. He was starting to get impatient with her, she could tell by his eyes. Her mind found no other option bar one. Acceptance. Acceptance into a life of boring dinner parties and cooking dinners. She forced a smile to her face and wrapped her arms around him, trying not to grimace as he kissed her. Her mind rebelled as it was so frequently starting to do, she was starting to see right through him, starting to see him for the weak bastard he was, yet she had just agreed to marry him. Life was never fair.

The next day, still wearing the ring, Rachel stared at the phone. She knew she had to ring her parents and tell them, she knew she had to tell her relatives, yet she dreaded the experience, dreaded having to sound cheerful and excited about something she really felt she had no option in. Sighing she dailed the number, thankfully her father answered the phone. Felix Friedman noticed the hesitation in his daughters words.

"Rachel, what is it?" he asked, carefully prodding her for information, her silence worrying him even more. "Dad, I'm engaged, to Jonathen Goldstein" "The man you have been working for?"

"Yeah, he proposed last night at a party"

"And you accepted"

"Yeah, yeah I did"

A week later the arrangements were final. The date was set for three months, three months to be prepared for a total change of lifestyle, a total change of life. Felix eagerly patterned a number of gowns for his Rachel, trying to win Jonathons' favour so his dream of making his daughter's wedding gown would be fullfilled. Rachel seemed withdrawn when Felix presented her and Jonathon with the patterns, each more intricate and delicate than its predesessor. Rachel agreed like the good little wife-to-be when Jonathon picked out the most expensive looking gown out of them all, although secretly she wanted a small family wedding if she had to marry this man, not a large public do as Jonathon was planning. She was suprised that he even allowed her father to even draught the dresses, let alone pick one for him to make. Rachel had thought the top designer in Sydney would have been hired for such an occasion. Something twiged in her mind as Felix and Jonathon started debating materials. Maybe there was hope to Jonathon, maybe she could reason with him and lead a relatively normal life with him, maybe he could be a strong, family centered man, and a loving husband. Part of her mind agreed with this, the hopeful part, the challenged part, the part determined to make the best of each situation. If she was forced into such a marraige, she was going to be damned if she let it beat her. Rachel Friedman was not one to pass up a challenge, and she knew her future life with Jonathon Goldstein was going to be a challenge indeed.

FINESTED! more coming in part 5.. maybe...