Chapter 30: How We Got HERE and THERE
I check my appearance in the mirror again, deciding I cannot primp and fuss anymore.
This is as good as it's gonna get.
And I have to say, 'this' pretty good, or at least I think she'll think so.
I am wearing a red halter-dress, the neckline plunging ridiculously low and showing off my breastbone and a fair amount of cleavage. I am wearing strappy black high-heels, and my hair is tied half up, loosely framing my face. As usual, I've adorned myself with my wedding jewelry, just having it polished a few days ago for the occasion.
As I mist myself with just a trace of Pink Sugar, I catch her standing in the doorway, and my breath hitches as I turn to face her.
I feel my cheeks blush to likely the color of the dress I have selected.
"You too," I assure her through a sincere nod.
And I mean it.
She is wearing white tuxedo pants with a thin black stripe down both sides of the tightly fitting legs. She has on a tight white vest, two buttons holding the center together, her perfect breast peaking over the top, which are lined subtly with a lacy black bra. Her hair is down in her famously beautiful loose curls, and her wedding jewelry is sparking against her tan skin…with the appearance of a recent shining as well.
And she has a thin black tie around her neck.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love it when she wears a tie?
Not only does she look amazingly sexy, but I love being able to grab her by it and pull her roughly to me.
And that's just what I do.
And she smiles seductively at me as I toss the tie over my shoulder and grab her firmly by the waist.
"You are so sexy, baby," I inform her, and I see a slight trace of red form on her cheeks.
"You're a goddess," she replies before taking my lips in her own.
And it takes all the self-control we both have not to shed the outfits we've worked so hard to put together for this night.
Pulling back, I hear her moan in protest, and giggle as I smile at her pout.
"We're gonna be late," I remind her as I reach for a black shawl and my black clutch...and a white gift bag with aluminum foil in place of tissue paper.
I'll explain later.
"Hey, I've got a lifetime," she protests, and I sigh at the sentiment. "Hey, watcha got there?" she inquires coyly, noticing that I am not only carrying a purse tonight.
I laugh at her impatience and shake my head. "It's a surprise," I inform her and note she clutches her black purse at that moment.
Pushing my own curiosity to the back of my excited mind, I lean in and rest my forehead softly against hers.
"And speaking of lifetimes, when we get back here tonight, I'm gonna give you the best sex you've had in this one."
And the next thing I know, I am being drug out the door so hard I think my arm is going to come out of its socket.
Hand-in-hand, we exit the hotel and are greeted by the slightly cool night air. Not cold, mind you, but there's a slight nip in the air and she must take notice as she reaches over and secures my shawl tightly around my shoulders.
"Thank you, honey," I tell her warmly as she wraps her arm around my waist.
She crinkles her nose at me and turns me down the sidewalk.
And our eyes grow wide in disbelief as the lights of Paris twinkle all around us.
Walking a few blocks, her arm still firmly holding me to her side, we arrive at a little café Ashley has made dinner reservations at. She opens the door for me and keeps her arm on the small of my back as she follows me inside.
"Mademoiselles, Bienvenue!" the host greets us warmly. Switching effortlessly to English, he continues. "Do you have rezervations?"
"Yes, under Davies," she informs him and he checks his book.
"Ah yes, we have ze special table zet for you. Please, follow me Mademoiselles."
And he leads us through the quaint restaurant to a dimly lit table, set for two, in the far, far back.
He pulls my chair out for me first and helps me scoot it closer to the table before doing the same for Ashley. He then places our napkins delicately in our laps while a bus boy rushes to the table to fill our water glasses, followed closely behind by who I assume is our server for the night.
"Welcome, beautiful ladies, to Chez Andre. I am Claude, and I will be your server for ze night." He bows slightly before clasping his hands together. "And Mademoiselles, will zere be any wine?"
Ashley has already picked up the wine list and points a red before butchering the name.
I stifle a giggle and note Claude doing the same thing.
"Ah yes, ze 2001 Les Beaux de Provence. Exzellent choice, Mademoiselle," he encourages her politely before disappearing across the restaurant.
"Lay Bo Du Pro-Vance," she repeats in a haughty voice, causing me to laugh loudly and take her hand.
"Tres Bien," I applaud her as I squeeze her hand gently.
"Mercy Buckets." She flashes her teeth proudly and I laugh more loudly. "Hap-pie anniver-zary, bay-bie," she grins, raising her voice at the end in continued failure to master a French accent.
"Happy anniversary, love," I return, my laughter stilling as I stare deeply in her chocolate eyes. "TEN years," I remind her and she nods knowingly.
"Ten of the greatest years ever," she whispers and I lean across the table to steal a quick kiss before Claude returns with the wine.
Pouring a sample for Ashley, she sniffs it slowly, closing her eyes as she pretends to let the aroma fill her nostrils. Opening one eye to steal an amused look at me…and finding me beaming back at her, loving the fact that she can be such a goofball in such a fancy restaurant in the middle of Paris…she takes a sip of the wine and I watch her gargle with it before swallowing it down.
"Perfecto!" She announces before kissing clawed fingertips and thrusting her hand in the air.
Claude looks at her like she's crazy.
And I erupt again as I shake my head and nod to Claude to fill my glass. "Baby, we're in Paris, not Italy," I scold her playfully as she holds her glass up to Claude.
"Filler up, Claude," she commands and I see a smile find its way across his stoic face.
I THINK he just might get her.
Ashley takes the liberty of ordering for us, much to Claude's and my dismay.
He has to lean over her and watch her point out the courses she is attempting to pronounce.
"And for dezzert, shoc-o-lat soufflé," she concludes as she snaps the menu shut and hands it to Claude before raising one eyebrow to me, challenging me to laugh again.
Claude just shakes his head and gives me a sympathetic look as he turns to put our order in.
"So…what's that thing I saw in your hand earlier?"
I giggle, inwardly acknowledging that she's still a child after ten years of marriage.
"What thing?" I tease as I widen my eyes, attempting to appear as if I have no idea what she is referring to.
"Speeennnceee…" she whines loudly, and I have to reach under the table and grab the gift in a desperate attempt to avert the faces that have turned to our table back to their own dinners.
"Baby…" I scold her amusedly as I place the bag on the table in front of her. Her eyes grow impossibly wide and I watch the light of the candles bounce off of them as she begins to finger the sack.
And I watch her eyes shift from excited to confused as her fingers find the aluminum foil covering the present that is inside.
"What tha…" She raises those confused brown orbs to me and I chuckle, anticipating I would have to explain this one to her.
"Well, tin and aluminum are the traditional gift for a tenth anniversary," I begin to explain as I watch the understanding take over her face. "So, instead of buying you a tin beer stein, I decided to use aluminum foil in place of tissue," I conclude as she laughs and shakes her head.
"Damn, I had my eye on this particular stein…"
"Open it!" I interrupt the silliness once and for all and push the bag closer to her. "And yes, there's a card," I assure her and she groans.
Pulling the white envelope from beneath a piece of foil, she opens it and pulls the card out. She lovingly eyes the front cover before lovingly eyeing me.
It's another 'friendship card", two women sitting laughing in grass with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Yep, it's ten years later, gay marriage has been legalized in a few places, and still no "It's My Lesbian Life-Partner and My Anniversary" section at the gift shop at the mall.
She opens the card slowly, and I see her eyes begin to brim.
"Out loud?" I request and she lifts glassy eyes to me for a moment before clearing her throat.
How is it that I am sitting across from you in a café in Paris, celebrating ten years of marriage to you? Where have the years gone?"
She looks up for a moment and shakes her head, acknowledging she doesn't know either.
"I sometimes think there will never be enough years in this life to spend with you, but I have been truly blessed to spend the last ten with you as my wife, and the last twenty with you by my side."
She clears her throat again and swallows as a single tear falls down her cheek.
"And I promise you, baby, so long as I can help it, there will never be another day that goes by that I will not spend with you, not so long as I can help it. I love you more than I ever thought was possible. You are my lover, the mother of my three perfect children, and my best friend. Ash, you are my EVERYTHING.
Je t'aime (I love you), Spencer.
"I love you too, sweetheart," she whispers as she closes the card and takes both of my hands on her own.
"How is it that you pout so much about cards, and then every time I give you one, you forget completely about the present?" I tease her as she strokes my hands with her soft fingertips.
"Because you rip my heart out with every word you write to me," she informs me sweetly and I melt a bit. "Okay, okay…" she chuckles as I nod my head towards the gift.
Pulling the rest of the foil from the bag, she reaches in and pulls out a 5 x 7 frame, and her face crumbles as she holds it, tenderly tracing the glass.
"You fixed it," she whispers as she turns it towards me before clutching it to her chest.
It's the engagement picture I broke against the wall the night before we separated over a year ago. In a new frame, solid sterling silver, polished brightly and the glass sparkling from all the Windex I had used on it.
"There's something else in there," I urge her as I nod back at the bag again.
"I don't need anything else," she assures me.
"You might change your mind," I tell her smugly as she fishes back inside and pulls out a neatly folded square of bubble wrap.
"What on earth?" she inquires, confusion taking back over.
"Well…" I begin hesitantly, knowing this next explanation will either perfectly complete the gift or ruin the moment… "I figured you could keep it in the dresser drawer under it so the next time I get slightly violent, you can wrap it up real quickly."
I suck in my breath and watch her stare back at me, her face expressionless for a few seconds before she erupts into hysterical laughter.
And I join her, secretly relieved that she appreciates the humor in my explanation.
"There better not be a NEXT TIME," she announces, attempting to sound stern but her laughter ruining her credibility. Wiping her eyes she leaves her fingers in front of her eyes for a few more seconds, peering at me through the gaps between them while shaking her head. Pulling them down, she fishes into her purse and pulls out her own white envelope and a small square box, wrapped in blue paper and adorned with a shiny silver bow. "I actually didn't know about the aluminum or tin thingy," she confesses as I finger the very aluminum foolish looking bow.
I laugh softly at her. "It's okay, honey. Now hand it over," I command, my bossiness only half serious.
"Yikes!" she cries as she slides it in front of me and yanks her hands back as if they were about to be bitten off. "Card first…"
"I know, I know…" I finger the envelope and admire my name in her perfect penmanship before pulling the card from inside.
"I KNOW!" I shake my head at her and she just smiles proudly back at me.
"To My Baby…"
I sigh at how three simple words can touch me so deeply.
"Who would have ever thought ten years ago that we'd be sitting across from each other, celebrating our tenth anniversary, with three little knuckle-heads that look just like us, waiting patiently in California for their Mother's to return home from across the globe."
I feel my own tears begin to form, partially because although this trip has been amazing, I do miss my babies.
"I could travel this globe even further than the miles we have come to be sitting her in Paris together, and still never find another person who completes my life in the way you do. And I wouldn't even think to try, because Spence, like I already told you…"
And I feel her reach out and take one hand in her own.
"I have everything I'll ever need, right here, at the tips of my fingers.
Je t'aime (I love you), Ashley.
I shake my head in amazement at our identical salutations before lifting my teary blue eyes to hers.
"You never cease to completely amaze me, babe," I gush as she brings my hand to her lips, kissing my fingertips softly before releasing me so that I can open her gift.
"SO…" she begins nervously eyeing the box sitting in front of me… "I didn't know about the whole tin foil thing, but I did find out what the traditional tenth anniversary jewelry is."
I feel my eyes grow impossibly wide before I whip the bow over my shoulder and tear into the blue paper. Inside sits a little black velvet box, and as I open it slowly, I feel my eyes practically bug out of their sockets.
It's a silver heart locket, with a capital S in soft cursive…in tiny sparkling diamonds….across the front.
"Yeah, apparently you already get diamonds after only ten years," she teases and I chuckle.
"So what was your excuse after a day?" I tease back, reminding her of her wedding gift.
"You're my excuse," she replies lovingly. "Now open the locket," she reminds me and I force myself form her gaze before fumbling with the tiny heart.
Opening it, all control over my emotions is gone.
Inside the left side of the locket is a tiny picture of three tiny little children.
And on the other side, a tiny picture of my wife, looking down at something that apparently could not fit in the small space afforded by the locket.
"Paula took that picture of me the day Ben was born," she informs me as I bring the locket to my lips and kiss the faces inside. "I was looking down at you."
And as I avert my eyes from my family placed so delicately and perfectly in the heart that has my initial scripted on the front, I find an identical look transfixed on me as the one on the right side of the locket.
"How do you do it?"
"What?" She questions me, the loving gaze replaced by confusion yet again.
"Continue to test the limits of the universe?"
She shakes her head and urges me to explain.
"I love you, my beautiful wife."
And she smiles and leans across the table to seal my amazement of how the universe works with a perfect Ashley kiss.
And that is how we got HERE, thousands of miles from California, lying in each other's arms, basking in the afterglow of the best sex…no…lovemaking of my lifetime…of anyone's lifetime.
I am lying on my side, my body pressed slightly over hers, with one arm under her neck and the other resting on her chest, my fingers stroking her cheeks and hair.
She has one arm wrapped tightly around my back and the other also rubbing my cheek and stroking my hair.
And our eyes are locked on one another's in a comfortable silence that only we can feel when we are together like this, only closing momentarily to sigh into gentle kisses to cheeks and necks and foreheads and lips.
I finger the locket around her neck before glancing quickly at the picture on the nightstand she has given me for the second time.
Smiling lovingly at the picture before shifting the loving look back down on to her, I lean in and bring my hand up to cup her perfect face fully.
Tracing one finger down her cheek, across her chin, down her neck, across her collar bone, down the bone between her breasts, I rub my hand across her trembling stomach.
I love you.
I trace that same finger back up the length of her body to bring my hand to her face again.
She mirrors my actions before landing on my quivering stomach.
And while I know the magic of Paris will be behind us in a few short days, we will return to the family we've made and the life we've built together in Southern California.
And although we are HERE, and it's perfect and amazing, once we get home, we'll never lose what we've got THERE ever again.
A/N: Thank you all for reading this little story. I felt it had run its course and there are so many great stories on this site to get into. I am considering a prequel to Finger Tip Love Notes next. Not ready for the gals to grow any older just yet. SO thanks again, and to those of you gracing our imaginations with the wonderful stories you share, keep writing. I think these fics are more satisfying than the original story that started this madness!