Sorry it's taken so long to get this one up; writer's block sucks -_- Happy Easter, though!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything accept for original characters.
Monday, April 28
9:30 PM, Endo-Prince House
Flora's Point of View
I'm twenty-three, almost twenty-four years old, and I've been a professional photographer since I was fifteen. I moved up to professional photographer when I was invited to be a guest photographer at a high-end winter fundraising gala. It was there that local photography legend Rafferty Shaw discovered my talent and hired me on the spot. I've been working at his company, Suspended In Time Photography, ever since.
I now have a sparkling reputation and also the best partner in the business, and together, mine and Melissa's skills are in high demand so much that our most common clientel are extremley wealthy socialites who want engagement, wedding, pregnancy, or newborn photo shoots. I swear our names gets passed around, but we love every minute of it.
Over the years, I've gone through many traumatizing things that nobody should have to, some of which include surviving a horrible tsunami and then losing the father of my child to cancer a few years later, when I was only two months away from giving birth. I also survived 9/11, a fifteen year separation from my mother, learning to deal with raising a disabled child and being a widow. If not for the unconditional love my son has given me every day since he was born and my hope of being reunited with my mother, I would've given up a long time ago. I wouldn't have even gotten as far in my life as I have now if not for my photography job in the first place, so I'm quite to say that photography saved my life.
On a more positive note, a few months after I was reunited with my mother, I met Elijah Prince almost two years ago and we are living a fairytale. We hit it off quickly and as a bonus, he and my son adore each other. Elijah also gets along very well with my mother and stepfather, Jenny and Kevin Ryan. I couldn't ask for anything more, and I haven't been this happy in a very long time.
Elijah and I have done everything committed couples do, except an engagement, wedding and having another baby. We've talked about these things plenty of times before, but we have all the time in the world.
I love my life and everyone in it, and I really love my job, but one thing that I don't like is that every time I have a huge photo shoot coming up, my body rebels against me by making me as sick as a dog for the whole twenty-four hours proceeding the project.
That's what's happening right now, but I've learned to just wait it out because it's as bad as morning sickness.
Thank the Lord I'm getting better now.
"Well, Francis is finally asleep." Elijah reported as he got under the covers with me and leaned against the headboard. "How are you feeling now, Flora? Do you still have a temperature?"
"No temperature anymore, but I still feel like garbage. It's not as bad as this morning because I can actually sit up without wanting to barf." Just to prove my point, I sat up so we were on the same eye level. "How was Francis when you took him out to Chelsea Pier?"
"He was practically in orbit the whole time, especially when I won him a stuffed dog at the arcade. I also had a hard time getting him to get off the carousel because he was having the time of his life."
I smiled and focused hard on not letting his sexy Ukrainian accent lull me to sleep. "That's my little thrill seeker. Just wait until the summer hits and the carnival comes to town—you know, the one that brings its own rollercoaster?"
"Oh, I know that one." Elijah laughed. "Mama and Papa took Holly and I to that one every year starting when we were kids, all the way up until the year that papa died."
"Speaking of your mother, when are Francis and I going to meet Nicolette? You and I have been together for a year and nine months now… I've met your sister, her husband and your nephew and nieces, but not Nicolette."
"She called me today to inform me that her contract with the Westminster Dog Show was extended at the last minute."
"When is she coming back to New York?"
"On July twenty-eighth, and she'll be flying into JFK airport from London."
"That's exactly two months from today, and three days after Nana Megan's birthday. She really wants to meet you, but insisted that it be at a family gathering, so it can be formal. Papa Desmond and the rest of the O'Malley-Ryan clan also want to meet you."
"I already met your Aunt Orla and your Uncle Riordan and your cousins Desmond and Siobhan, so that's what? Four down, two million to go?"
"Something like that." I laughed.
"Then it's settled: we'll collect my mother from the airport and have lunch with her at her house in will also get a present for Nana Megan and go to her birthday party. Are all of your cousins going to be there?"
"Don't you know it… damn, I need to lie down…"
My stomach had started churning again, and as Elijah helped be get comfortable, he brought up something I've sort of been dreading.
"Why is there an open box of pregnancy tests on the bathroom counter? A-are you pregnant?"
Before I could answer, his phone rang and he answered in rapid Ukrainian, meaning that he was talking to his sister. Not understanding much, I tuned him out and was almost asleep when Elijah shook my shoulder gently.
"Yes?" I groaned.
"That was Holly on the phone. She and Jean-François are going to Rome—"
"For their wedding anniversary because they had this planned out months ago." Elijah finished. "Beginning on the second of May, they'll be away for eight days, but they need someone to watch Orlando, Honolulu and China. The nanny would normally do it, but she's taken leave on account of a family matter."
I yawned sleepily. "How old are Orlando, Honolulu and China now?"
"Nine, six and two."
"Call your sister back and tell her we'd be happy to do it."
"Even though you've been so ill today?"
"I'll be as right as rain in the morning, you'll see."
"As long as you're sure." He sighed. "You still haven't answered me about being pregnant."
"Family takes care of family, Elijah, so quit being so squirrelly. Call Holly to make arrangements, and I'll answer your question."
He did as he was told and was free again fifteen minutes later.
"So… are you pregnant?"
"No." I shook my head. "Mom brought those over when she came by to check on me earlier. She thought I was pregnant, and so did I for about five minutes, but all of the tests were negative, so we both let it go."
"Are you disappointed?"
I shrugged. "We haven't quite sat down and decided when we'll start trying, have we?"
"No," he kissed my forehead. "But it would be nice to start trying sometime this year."
"That sounds good, but I need to put something serious on the table first."
"What is it?"
"Ideally, I'd like to at least be engaged if we end up making a baby before we start trying for real."
"You're a total mind reader." He gave me a smile that relieved some of my anxiety. "Flora, I've wanted to marry you for a very long time, but not until you're absolutely ready."
My heart rose into my throat because just as he always has, he was taking into consideration me being a widow and how my heart still aches every now and then.
"This isn't a proposal, but I'm telling you now that I'd like nothing more than to make this official by standing in front of our family and friends, exchanging wedding vows. If we find out that you're pregnant before we even get as far as an engagement, then I want you to know that I'd be asking you to be my wife because yes, you'd be carrying my child, but also because I've been in love with you since the day we met."
Elijah touched a hand to my stomach, but I held it there as he repeated his words from earlier.
"I won't ask you until you're completely ready."
"I'm almost ready, but not yet."
Exhausted by staying upright for so long, I laid back down and pulled my blankets over myself to ward off the chill.
"Are you sure you aren't pregnant?"
"I'm totally sure and I wish you'd stop asking. What's happening now is just temporary and you've even seen it before."
"The photo shoot for Alderman Sanchez's daughter and the on-location anniversary photo shoot for Mister Shaw and his wife Jordan triggered it the last two times." He recalled.
"I want to be Missus Elijah Prince more than anything, and I want Francis to have a sibling, but I don't have time for a baby or even wedding planning because it's Baby Season, anyway."
Elijah raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me, dearest? What is 'baby season' photography-speak for?"
"When families want photographs to show off their newborn babies, or expectant mamas want to show off their baby bumps."
"How long does Baby Season usually last?"
"From now to the first week of September, and I have a long way to go."
"But you can do it." Elijah kissed my cheek. "What do you say to not worrying about baby stuff or wedding plans until September comes?"
"Good idea." I snuggled closer to him and yawned. "Elijah, I'm so tired, and I have a big day ahead of me."
He turned out his bedside lamp and pulled me close so that we were spooning.
"Then close your eyes and sleep, Flora. Tomorrow will be a new day that you don't have to worry about right now."
"Then what do I need to worry about?"
"Getting enough sleep for whoever's photo shoot it is that you and Melissa will be starting tomorrow."
Elijah lifted my sleeping shirt up to my shoulder blades with the intention of giving me a backrub, but I surprised him shimmying out of it, leaving me naked from the waist up. This threw Elijah for a momentary loop, but he went with the flow and started planting tender kisses from the nape of my neck down to my shoulders. I shivered in delight, especially when I felt his tongue come into with my skin every few moments. With his free hand, he started rubbing soothing circles up and down the middle of my back until I couldn't keep my eyes open any more as Elijah whispered in my ear.
"Sleep, Flora. I'll be here when you wake up."