If love were by design, p.29

If Love Were By Design, page 29

 

If Love Were By Design
 



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  “Yes, and not a little.” She said.

  “Yeah, I’m pretty drunk. I’ll be sleeping in until noon.” He added, “But at least we were not drunk enough to elope, right? Which is good—you’ll still be talking to me in the morning.” He laughed. He watched her come over to the table and take a cheese stick. He pulled her onto his lap. “I love you so much. I’ve never felt like this for anyone. I’m in love with you—truly.” He tucked her hair behind her ear. It was an unmistakable sign that told her he loved her. He looked intensely into her eyes. She smiled.

  “I love you, too.” She said.

  “Okay, so, I won the bet which means I pick the date. So, tell me the earliest and latest time you’re willing to marry me.” William said.

  “While drunk? I can’t think clearly. Um,” she paused to think about it. “Probably Valentine’s Day next year or Christmas five years from now.”

  “Seriously! Two months?” William asked, smiling.

  “No! Next year. There’s another one coming around.” Veronica said and laughed.

  “A year and two months?” William asked clarifying. “That’s the earliest?”

  “Yeah, that sounds good to me. I mean we are going to start living together. I have a ring so I’m off the market. I’ll want to enjoy being engaged awhile. Everything else we’ve done fast, so yeah . . .” She ate more cheese.

  “So this summer is pushing it. You wouldn’t get married in August?” He asked.

  “That’s like what, seven months away?” She asked.

  “The first weekend in August.” He looked in his cell phone. “August sixth.”

  “Wow, you’re serious.” She said.

  “Of course I am. I’m drunk, but I’m serious.” He paused and smiled, “If I asked you sober you’d probably not even think about it, so . . . I might as well get it in writing now while you’re tipsy.”

  “That’s soon,” she mumbled. “Even drunk, it feels soon.” She laughed.

  “That’s because we’ve been dating only a little while. By August, you might feel differently. We could set this date privately between us, and not send out invitations until the last second. I’m sure we could find a wedding planner who would be willing to set everything up for August sixth, and if you change your mind by then, we could push it out to February the next year.” William suggested. “And honestly, I won’t be hurt if you do.”

  “Yes, you would.” She recanted, and looked at him with a raised brow. “It would break your heart. I don’t want to break it. So, let’s not.”

  “Alright, you obviously don’t like that idea.” He dismissed the plan with the wave of his hand. “We don’t have to do it. It was a suggestion.”

  “Don’t be hurt. I’m trying to look at the big picture. I know you want kids, and I’ll have to put my life on hold for that. I know you’re older than me, and have had more time to wait, seven years actually, but this is all new to me. I’ve never dated before. Not really. You’ve been with three other women besides me. I have to catch up. I want to make sure I’m ready. That is all.” She said gently.

  “I get it, Veronica. That’s a definite no until next year.” William murmured.

  “See, I told you it would break your heart.” She said and flung her arms around him. “Don’t be hurt, Honey!”

  “Well, you didn’t have to bring up my past relationships as proof you need time, or tell me I’m older than you, unless those things actually bother you about me.” He said.

  “William, I’m drunk. What I’m thinking isn’t coming out right. Of course it doesn’t bother me. I love you, all of you. I don’t care about other women. I’m surprised you would want to get married in August.” She added, “Let me think about it, okay? Ask me again in a month or two and I might think differently. I might be in a hurry to marry you by then. I always loved the idea of a long engagement, and that is my thought on it right now. I like saying you’re my fiancé. Let me bask in it a bit. Besides you said you haven’t officially asked me, anyway. We only agreed to be engaged until you officially ask, ‘Will you marry me?’”

  “And it doesn’t bother you that I’m seven years older than you?” He asked.

  “No. I meant you had more time to get ready. I wouldn’t care if you were ten years older. I think we’re perfect together. My point was that I’m new at this and two months into my first real relationship. I want to enjoy each step.” She added, “But I admit I love how badly you want me.”

  “Got it.” He said. He kissed her, hugged her and then ate a chicken wing as she ate a cheese stick.

  “I hope your sister and Colin are going to be okay.” She paused and then asked, “Do they fight often?”

  “Sometimes. It’s not unheard of.” William said and shrugged. “If you ask me it’s their sexual tension. They should sleep together and finally get it out of the way. Then maybe they can think reasonably and see they’re in love with each other.”

  “But do they have big fights like that? Do they argue that intensely? I mean, they’re really yelling.” She conveyed.

  “Yeah, as I said they have a weird relationship. If they had sex their arguments would be talking like we do.” He supposed.

  “So, they’ll be okay?” She asked, but the question was more of a statement. They were going to be okay, and she knew it.

  “Oh, yeah, I’m sure by the morning they’re back to cordial conversation and friendliness as if it never happened.” William said. Veronica nodded. They ate the rest of the food without conversation. Then instead of going to bed, they soaked in the oversized tub for a bubble bath as they connected as one.

  CHAPTER THIRTY–THREE

  William was right about his sister and Colin. They sat next to each other at the table and pretended as if the shouting match the night before hadn’t happened. However, they kept eyeing Veronica. They were wondering if she had told William. William was clearly in the dark. It wasn’t long before they realized she kept her word. Veronica did her best not to notice their stares, or act as if she knew a deep secret about them that they’ve successfully kept private for years.

  Travis and Kimmy didn’t come down for breakfast. They were determined to spend the rest of the weekend together with no one else. Nora, Colin, William and Veronica made plans to catch a show and enjoy the rest of the time together.

  When William left to pay the bill, Nora looked at Veronica and asked, “You didn’t tell him, did you?” Nora sounded exceedingly thankful.

  “Of course not.” Veronica responded.

  “Thank you, Veronica.” Colin said quietly.

  “It’s not my secret.” Veronica stressed.

  “No, I’ll always be grateful to you for not saying anything. If anyone tells him it should be me. I never wanted to. It’s a terrible burden.” Nora said. Colin put his arm around her shoulder because she was beginning to tear up. He squeezed her into his side, and he spoke softly to comfort her. Veronica gave a small smile. Something had changed last night and Veronica could see it in their affection.

  Colin noticed Veronica’s approval and said, “We’re going to see if the girls like having me around.”

  “They already like him, but we want to see how they are when he’s around a lot more.” Nora said.

  “I’d rather move to New York, but she thinks I should commute for a while.” Colin paused, “She wants to go slow.”

  “William.” Veronica warned them he was approaching. A moment later, he sat at the table and looked to everyone in turn.

  “Were you all talking about me?” He asked, grinning.

  “Yeah, I was talking about how cute you are.” Colin jested. “So, should we walk around?”

  “Why don’t you and Veronica go, I want to talk to William.” Nora suggested.

  “Nora, please don’t do it alone. I want to be with you.” Colin protested.

  “What?” William asked. Nora looked at Colin for a moment. He gave her another hug, and then kept his arm around her. Nora instantly started crying silent tears.
You are finally dating! About time!” William beamed at Colin.

  “No,” Nora said quickly. “I mean yes we are, but that’s not what I need to tell you.” Nora glanced at Colin before saying, “I have something I need to tell you. Something I should have told you a long time ago. It’s not good news.”

  “Do you want me to leave?” Veronica asked quickly.

  Colin and Nora looked at her. “It’s not like you don’t already know.” Colin declared.

  “What does she know that I don’t?” William asked.

  “Last night Veronica overheard us when we went into the elevator and we didn’t know she was there.” Colin explained. “And she heard . . .” He stopped and looked to Nora so she could say it in her own words, how she wanted to tell him.

  “That Colin and I dated secretly. I was twenty. We dated for nearly three years actually. But I was twenty when . . .” Nora said slowly and wiped her tears. “It was during the summer, we’d been away at college and missed each other. We were in love . . .”

  “We are in love!” Colin corrected her.

  Nora nodded, and then wiped more tears before saying, “Something happened we didn’t expect that summer. I . . . got . . . pregnant.” She could barely get the words out. She was sobbing harder now, and had to put her head onto the table. She was embarrassed. The shame forced her to be silent. William looked at Colin. They were both white as sheets. Colin rubbed Nora’s back and told her he loved her before asking if she wanted him to say the rest. She nodded.

  “We lost it. About five months in, we lost it—him. Austen.” Colin began. “After that, she thought she ruined everything between us because it was hard on both of us at first. We were young and didn’t know how to deal with it. She didn’t believe me that all I wanted was to marry her and try again—until now.”

  “Okay.” William said slowly. He was having a hard time not crying, seeing his sister so emotional. He reached forward to touch her shoulder, and the moment he did he wiped tears from his face, no longer able to bear it. “I’m sorry, Nora. I’m so sorry for the both of you.” He paused. “Twenty! That was thirteen years ago!” He fell silent a moment before uttering, “Wow!”

  “It’s been a big secret. But it’s good that Veronica overheard, because it made us realize we should tell you. We are done holding onto it as if it’s a dirty little secret.” Colin said.

  “Nora, don’t cry.” William begged. William wiped away tears from his face. “I think we should go back to our rooms and calm down a bit. We shouldn’t have done this here. I need to leave.”

  “She didn’t want you to get mad.” Colin shrugged as if he didn’t share her anxiety about this concern.

  “Mad? Nora, look at me.” Nora sat up looking pink and miserable. It only made it harder for William to speak. “I’m heartbroken for you two, but not mad. I’m not upset you didn’t tell me. But seriously, I can’t talk about this here; this is too hard to talk about in a restaurant. I’m going up to the room. I’ll . . .” he looked at Veronica with watering eyes, “Veronica, come on.” As he stood he added, “Give me a minute, okay. I’ll call your room in an hour.”

  “That’s a good idea. I don’t want to be here, either.” Nora admitted. She tugged the arm of Colin’s shirt to get him to come with her. They left, took the elevator and didn’t say a word on the way up. Nora was the only one who made any sounds, which was the sniffling back of tears. William closed his hotel room door, took a deep breath, and crawled into bed.

  “Hey.” Veronica cooed and got into bed with him. “Hey, Honey!” He took a deep breath. “Talk to me!”

  “I can’t believe she lost a baby. A baby!” He embraced her tightly, “It obviously paralyzed them—she couldn’t even tell me.” He added, “It explains everything!”

  “If it makes you feel any better, Colin is going to start being around the girls to see how the four of them get along together.” Veronica said.

  “They told you?” He asked. He then smiled, “Wow, they told you a lot. What else did they say?”

  “Nothing and that was this morning when you went to go pay the bill. They thanked me for not saying anything.” Veronica said.

  “Next time I want you to tell me, anyway. That sucked the way they told me. Poor Nora, I can’t believe she didn’t say anything for thirteen years! Thirteen years! That’s a long, long time.” William said. “You have to tell me next time, okay? You’re my fiancée. You’re marring me. I can play dumb!”

  “Okay. Next time I won’t promise.” Veronica assured him.

  “Yes, say, ‘I can’t promise that.’ And they will have to respect that, no matter who it is. And if they don’t, you still have to tell me, Babe. A promise to me is more important than a promise to anyone else.” He took a deep breath, and then added, “My poor sister.”

  “Yes, and poor Colin! After all that, she married another man to try to forget about it. Instead she ended up with a world–class jerk. She told me not to tell, but Devin hit her. Well, she denied it, but then said not to say anything. She was drunk and loose–lipped. Clearly he had! Kimmy saw it too, so it can’t all be in my head. She all but admitted it.”

  “What?” William asked. Veronica said nothing. He let go of her and moved so that he could look at her. “No!” His lip quivered, but he didn’t cry. Instead, he called Devin several choice words and shook his head. “No!” He pinched his eyes closed so he wouldn’t cry.

  “Honey!” Veronica consoled him, and lay on him. He hugged her. Her touch was what he needed, and he told her that. He held her for nearly an hour, and as he did, he talked out everything, and didn’t let go of her until he was past the pain (but not the anger with Devin—that would take time).

  CHAPTER THIRTY–FOUR

  Veronica had a lot on her plate. She was trying to juggle William moving into her apartment, Hope’s vet trips to get her spayed and the groomers, and work. The workload at N. Y. Soles was picking up—she needed to create next season’s line; she was redesigning shoes for the entire store, except for their best sellers. She spent most of her time making sketches and prototypes. Andrea wanted four more designs for the special orders. She started it all three weeks ago, but it was amazing how quickly time flew; she was starting to feel pressured. On top of it all William asked her to keep her calendar clear the week of Valentine’s Day. She worked a few extra hours each week to get everything done before the holiday.

  It was six thirty when Veronica got home. Her phone was ringing when she walked in the door and she ran and picked it up. “Hello?” She dropped her things on the counter and dug into her bag for her sketchbook. She had an idea in the car she wanted to draw quickly before she forgot.

  “Hi, Veronica.” Nora’s said.

  “Hi, Nora. When do you get home? I haven’t seen you in three weeks, since Vegas.” Veronica found her sketchpad, flipped to a blank page and began to draw.

  “I got back today, actually. I’m here with the girls. I’m home.” Nora said.

  “Oh, good. I’ll tell William.” Veronica said.

  “Yeah, thanks. But I have a note on my counter saying he’ll be over at your place if I need him. Most of his stuff is gone.” Nora said.

  “Oh, yeah, he moved over here. He didn’t tell you?” Veronica asked.

  “No. Was he getting sick of us? Be honest!” Nora asserted. “I know my girls are a bit much sometimes.”

  “No.” Veronica assured her. “We’re engaged now.”

  “Would you two be here if I wasn’t?” Nora asked.

  “No. I recently bought my place, and I’m not going to move unless I have to, like after we get married and grow out of it. I’m stubborn that way. He likes it here, because it’s closer to work. But not everything fits, so he left some stuff. You can probably shove everything into his office and forget about it, if you want.” Veronica added, “Trust me. He doesn’t want you to move out, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

  “Oh, it might have crossed my mind. Are you sure he’s not sick of us?
Nora asked again. She quickly told the girls to be quiet because they were screaming in the background. Veronica took the spare moment to finish a quick outline of a man’s boot and then closed the sketchbook as Nora asked Colin to take the girls into another room because she couldn’t hear herself think.

  “I’m positive William isn’t sick of you. You can ask him yourself when he gets home.” Veronica paused. “Besides, he’s been here three weeks now, and that entire time you’ve been gone. I think we were there two days while you’ve been in Texas. The rest of the time we’ve been here. So, don’t sweat it! It has nothing to do with you or the girls. Maybe you should come over here for a little while tonight. You’ll feel better if you see he is at home here.”

  “I’m sure the girls would love to see him.” Nora said. “Colin is here, too. He flew up with us.”

  “Come over, all of you.” Veronica suggested. “Although, we’re going to have Chinese take–out for this many people. I haven’t even started to cook.”

  “We’ll pick some up. The girls are picky eaters, if they eat at all.” Nora said. “Are you sure it’s okay? It’s late.”

  “It’s the weekend.” Veronica reminded her. “How long is Colin up here?”

  “Not sure.” Nora said.

  The moment she hung up, Hope was staring up at her demanding attention. Veronica quickly swooped down, kissed the top of Hope’s head and rubbed her tummy. Hope always loved it, and started to purr loudly. When Veronica stopped, Hope meowed. “All right, you persistent, needy little thing,” Veronica said with a smile. Veronica carried Hope over to the futon so she could sit down and kick off her shoes. If she had time she would loved to have taken a nap. She was exhausted and it had been a long week. However, she didn’t even have time to think about it before William came home.

  “Hi.” William said walking into the living room looking glad to see her. He loosened his tie, and then pulled it off. “Want to help me change?” He asked with a smile.

 
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