Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Charity Dinner: Part Two

Scott reached into his pocket and pulled out a $50 bill.

"How many tickets are you buying?" I asked him as I stirred my whiskey sour.

He smiled before turning toward the woman with the roll of tickets. "How many tickets will $50 get me?"

Her eyes widened as she did the math. From what I had noticed, nobody had bought more than $10 in raffle tickets.

Once Scott had a ridiculous hand full of tickets, he stretched his arm out in my direction. I looked at him, confused, before he clarified. "I know you like to win. Hopefully this many tickets does that."

I gave him the cheesiest smile I could manage. "You know me so well," I said as I planted a kiss on his cheek.

He told me he was going to the bathroom, so I took the time to walk around the raffle baskets and strategically place my tickets into the ones I wanted.

I got to the end of the table, where there was a bottle of red wine wrapped and an envelope attached to it. Red wines not really my thing, but I leaned down to read the envelope anyway.

"Don't even think about it, kid," I heard the voice behind me. I turned to face Pete and he was smiling, holding a glass of what looked like scotch.

"What?" I asked with a raised eyebrow. "Do you want this prize?"

"Of course," he replied with a laugh. "It's the only thing worth winning here."

I turned back around and examined the envelope. It was a two night stay at a really nice hotel on the water, with a breakfast and dinner included.

"Well, I hate to break it to you, but I'm winning it," I responded as I dropped four or five tickets in.

Pete shrugged. "If you want to waste your tickets, that's fine with me. I'll have you know I'm very lucky."

"We'll see," I playfully replied to Pete as I continued picking baskets. Shelby found me a few minute later and I was surprised to see how drunk she had become.

"Caroline," she slurred. "This is so much fun!"

I suppressed my urge to laugh. "Yeah, I'm having a good time," I replied with a smile. I had hung out with Shelby a few times outside of the office, but had never seen her get drunk like this. I didn't want to seem judgmental and tell her what to do, but I also hoped she wasn't going to get too drunk and regret it. I asked her if she wanted to hunt down a cocktail waitress with some food.

As I was stuffing a mozzarella stick into my mouth with Shelby, Scott found me. We decided to make our way to the table since they were taking dinner orders.

I sat and drank with Scott and a few other people from my department. It was nice to see everybody out of the office and get to know them a little more. It was even nicer to have Scott there.

When they started calling out raffle prizes, I really put my game face on. "I put in for a lot of stuff," I whispered to Scott. "If I don't win anything, I'm going to be furious."

Scott laughed and put his arm around me. "It's cute how competitive you are, even over something you can't control winning or not. And it's for charity."

I giggled. He was totally right.

Every time the DJ called out a number, I quickly ran my finger over my tickets. Around the fifth or sixth basket, I was beginning to feel discouraged.

I didn't win anything. Anything. I turned to Scott right before the last prize and while I wanted to scream, because yes, I am that competitive, I simply pouted.

"I know my boss really wants this one," I said as the DJ talked up the hotel prize. "But it'd be great if we won it. We could stay at the hotel when you come to visit next month"

Scott nodded and kissed my forehead. As they called out the numbers, I had a brief moment where I thought I won it, but I unfortunately did not.

For the third time that night, I heard that familiar voice before I even saw his face. Pete was standing up, a string of five tickets in his hand. He began high fiving the other people at his table and I almost rolled my eyes at how much he resembled his frat boy roots in that moment.

As he walked up to the front of the room, I turned to Scott and shrugged. "I'm glad it went to someone I know."

Scott laughed and rubbed my knee. "You're the cutest."

"I'm so glad to see so many familiar faces at the benefit here, tonight," I heard Pete begin to say. Nobody was giving a speech when winning a raffle. Was this normal or was Pete being a big weirdo? He continued rambling on about the company and all the wonderful employees.

"It's because of the amazing employees that I supervise that I enjoy coming to work so much. And I'd actually like to give this to one of our newest, but most ambitious, employees." Then, he said my name and I instantly felt my stomach drop. My face began to grow redder as more people turned to look at me.

"Caroline, you deserve this." Everyone began clapping and I awkwardly smiled at everyone. I thought Pete wanted this prize. He began walking toward the table and handed me the wine with the envelope. Then, in a very theatric way, he grabbed the wine out of my hand. People began laughing as Pete continued back to his seat.

"Wow," Scott replied. "Your boss must really like you."

I shrugged and tried to evaluate Scott's expression. I couldn't see if he was being genuine or not.

While I was still slightly embarrassed, it was a nice end to the night.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Charity Dinner: Part One

I flipped my hair forward as I bent over and quickly flipped it back when I stood up straight. I was worried it would get frizzy with the California heat, but it was a risk I was willing to take.

That night, I was going to a charity dinner that Web Matcher was throwing. Scott was flying in for it and staying for a few days. I couldn't wait to see him.

While buying tickets were voluntary, I knew that it was in my best interest to go. Peggy and Shelby were both going also, and while I still didn't feel like our relationships had reached the point of more than "work" friends, I knew it would be nice to have them there. It was a bonus to know that Scott wouldn't think I had become a complete hermit since I came out here.

Scott was taking an Uber from the airport and while I really wanted to greet him at the terminal, I needed all the time I had to get ready. I didn't get out of work until 6:30 and we were supposed to leave for the benefit at 7:30.

I heard a knock on the door around 7 and while I got butterflies in my stomach, I also felt a tiny ping of annoyance. I didn't give him his own key for my health.

I pulled the door open with one swift motion. I couldn't wait to see him any longer. I expected to see him in his traveling clothes; basketball shorts, his old gym sneakers, and one of his college t-shirts.

Instead, he was standing in front of me in a perfectly fit, gray suit. To make it better, he was holding a white rose. If I didn't spend so much time on my hair, I would've easily showed up an hour late to this thing just to have sex with my boyfriend right then until he was all tired out.

"I fucking love you," I said as he walked toward me. He dropped his duffle bag before throwing his arm around my waist and burying his face in my neck. Even though we were getting the routine down, I still couldn't get use to this feeling of complete euphoria every time I saw him, mixed with a desire to break down with emotions knowing that he was going to leave again days later.

I couldn't let a five hour plane ride go unrewarded before dinner, so I closed the door and gave my hot boyfriend a welcome to California blow job in the very place we just embraced for the first time in almost two weeks. He deserves way more for putting up with me.

We walked into the hall about fifteen minutes late. I almost immediately spotted Peggy's blonde hair in a high bun. She was lingering around a group of IT guys with a glass of white wine in her hand. "I see one of my friends," I whispered to Scott and he took my hand as we walked toward her.

"Hey!" I loudly called to Peggy when we were a few steps away. "Peggy, I'd like you to meet my boyfriend, Scott."

Peggy and Scott shook hands before Peggy sneaked a wink my way. "I hope this thing isn't lame," she quickly said as she looked around the hall. There were a ton of people all standing in their own little groups. I recognized a lot of the people from the office and could quickly match particular employees with their significant others. I was surprised not to see Pete anywhere. Regardless, the place looked extremely elegant and everybody already seemed to be having a good time. I didn't know why Peggy was already raising her eyebrows at the night.

"Well, we're going to grab drinks," I responded as Scott put his hand on my waist.

Once we were out of earshot, Scott whispered to me that Peggy seemed like a real "gem."

"She's nice," I giggled. "But yeah, definitely likes to sit on her cloud of judgment."

As we waited in line for drinks, I asked Scott what he wanted to do that weekend. "I don't care," he said with a shrug. "I'm always just glad to be spending time with you." Then, he laughed and looked down.

"What?" I asked, suddenly feeling self conscious.

"Well," he hesitantly replied. 'I'd like to spend some more time doing what we did before coming here." He raised his eyebrows up and down at me.

I playfully laughed. "Done," I replied with a kiss. "There's lot more of that planned for this weekend."

"Fun plans for the weekend?" I suddenly heard the question from over my shoulder and immediately knew who was asking.

I casually turned around to face Pete. There he stood, towering over both Scott and I. At his side, was a really beautiful woman, who's hair had the curls without the frizz that I had tried so hard to achieve.

"Hi, Pete," I said with a warm, professional smile. "I'd like you to meet my boyfriend, Scott."

They shook hands and I couldn't believe this moment had come. My hunky boss could now see that maybe I wasn't that awkward around hot men, because clearly I was able to get one to date me.

He introduced me to the woman he was with as his date before quickly moving on. "So, what's there going to be plenty of this weekend?" Pete asked.

I looked at his puzzled for a second before my stomach dropped. He had overheard our sexual wordplay and had no idea what he was actually asking. Scott luckily picked up on this before me.

"I told Caroline that we need to go to the beach," he replied before looking at me and winking.

I think Pete realized his error because as I looked back at him, his face was red. At last, for once, Pete was the embarrassed one! This night was off to a great start.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Peggy Tells All

Shelby, Peggy, and I sat down at the counter for lunch at a sushi place close by.

"This place looks awesome," I said to Shelby and Peggy as I looked around at the calming decor and then down at the menu. "Shelby, how dare you hide this place from us," I teased.

"I'm glad we could finally coordinate this," Shelby replied back as she opened her menu and gazed with a loving look at their speciality rolls section.

I did feel kind of bad. If it weren't for the fact that I wanted the dirt on Pete from Peggy, I would've been eating the turkey sandwich that was still sitting in the staff fridge. But it's not like I didn't want to get to know Peggy better. She was a few years younger than me, and close to a decade younger than Shelby who is going to be 30 in February, but she seemed nice from what what little I knew about her. I really could use all the friends in California I could get at this point, since my visits with Scott felt like they were dragging out more and more. I thought I was going to get used to that?

"What are you guys going to get?" Peggy asked as she rapidly tapped her finger on the counter as she perused the menu.

"I think I'm going to get," I began before pressing my lips together and coming to a final decision. "A California roll and a Spicy Tuna roll. You?"

"Ugh, that's so boring!" Peggy replied with a smile. "I'm getting a Voodoo roll and a Picasso roll."

I laughed. She was right. My sushi order was pretty boring. "Okay, I'll get a Checkerboard roll instead of the California."

Peggy was happy with my shift in order and as we waited to order drinks, I decided now was a good time to dive into some gossip. After all, we didn't have all day to stay out for lunch.

"So," I began as I leaned in on my elbows and peered at Peggy and Shelby, with my real focus on Peggy. "I didn't know Pete had a daughter? And a beautiful baby mama?"

Peggy rolled her eyes at the mention the mother. "Oh, yeah. He does not act like he would have a six-year-old daughter."

"That's what I was thinking!" Shelby practically shouted. When she realized how loud her response was, I could see her cheeks becoming red.

"Well, I mean, it's not like he has a white picket fence or coaches little league, obviously," she responded as I caught her admiring her gel manicure. "I've never directly asked him, but from what I've gathered, him and that woman were dating on and off in college. She was a sophomore and he was a senior when she got pregnant. I think they tried to make it work, but from what I heard she's a psychotic bitch."

I mentally rolled my eyes at Peggy's dismissive nature toward the mother. I hate how guys can just call girls crazy and everybody automatically believes it. I can imagine Pete being a sweet talker in his day. I'm sure he wasn't the easiest guy to date on campus.

"So, she got pregnant at what, like 20? And they just decided to have the kid and figure out some sort of a system?"

Peggy shrugged but I could tell she was loving the attention. She was leaning back and had this proud smirk on her face. You could tell she loved having the information that Shelby and I both wanted. She was allowing us to have small pieces at a time, as if we were her pets and she was training us by giving us little treats for every properly worded question.

"Well, he moved to California when he was about 23 or 24 to work for Web Matcher. From what I heard, she was out here trying to model." Peggy rolled her eyes at this, which almost made me laugh because Peggy always talks about these small acting gigs she has. She moved out here to act, so I don't know why she would throw shade at a girl who literally looks like Tom Brady's super model wife for trying to be a model. "When it didn't work out, she decided to move back to Colorado. I wasn't working at Web Matcher yet, but from what people have told me, Pete was furious."

The waitress brought over a bowl of edamame and I started eating it like popcorn as I listened to Peggy continue with her insight.

"He was really bummed out when she first moved. He had to fly out there just to see his daughter for a day or two and whenever he proposed that she flew out here for a few days, on his dime, she would make it into a huge ordeal."

"Wow, good for him," I replied. I've heard of a lot of guys in similar situations who don't fight as much for visitation with their children. It's nice to see a guy who actively tries to get more time with his child.

Peggy continued talking about what she knows of the relationship between Pete and Cassandra, his ex-girlfriend. It was kind of cute but also kind of annoying how mean she was when talking about Cassandra. I'm just not a huge fan of girl on girl hate, especially when you don't know all the details. You feel?

"There have been a couple times where I've been asked to get Pete for something and I walk in on him fighting with her on the phone. I never hear him yell as loud on the phone as he does when talking to her."

The lightbulb went off in my head. I wondered if he was talking to Cassandra the day I heard him yelling on the phone. It would make sense.

So, I knew the story of Pete and his daughter. I still couldn't really believe it, though.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


After working at Web Matcher for a while at this point, I had a pretty good feel for the type of person Pete was. He would come in hungover on a Thursday because his college buddies wanted to go out drinking on Wednesday. I'd walk into his office while he was watching one of those YouTube videos of people pretending to lip read NFL players. He never wore any jewelry, especially not a wedding ring. He didn't have any family pictures, even of his parents, on his desk. He'd complain if it was going to rain on Saturday because he wanted to surf or play golf. There was never any mention of a wife and definitely no mention of him being a father. I feel like that should've came up at least once in our cordial chit chat.

Like, "Hey, Pete! What're your plans for tonight?"

"Oh, just going home. The wife's cooking her homemade lasagna."


"Hitting the town, tonight! My daughter has her first dance recital."

But nothing.

I tried to peek at the situation unraveling while maintaining discretion. Pete was smiling wider than I think I've ever seen him smile as he embraced the child and rubbed her back.

"How's my little rugrat doing?" He asked as he pulled away. She started rambling on about something and he put on his most attentive face. He's always been sexy, but seeing him in this setting was making him even more attractive.

Soon, the girl's chaperone with model looks was back by her side. As soon as she greeted Pete with a polite, but distant hello, I gathered that they were not actually a couple. Pete was in his later twenties, but with my calculations his daughter would've been born when he was still in college. That seemed pretty young, but of course, he might not have planned this particular pregnancy.

I wheeled my chair back a little in fear of getting caught. I looked at Shelby who seemed just as stunned as I was. "What the fuck?" I mouthed to her.

Her eyes widened. "He's a fucking dad?" She quietly asked. I shook my head in disbelief and laughed. "Why wouldn't that have come up?"

I shrugged and then a lightbulb went off. "Let's ask Peggy."

Shelby bit her lip and leaned over to see if Peggy was sitting at the receptionist desk. Ever since the first day, it's been clear that Peggy has the hots for Pete and since she worked at the company longer, she might have the scoop.

We didn't want to run over right away, so Shelby and I both went back to working. We decided to ask Peggy to come with us for lunch. I had sat with Peggy in the cafeteria and we always discussed coordinating a lunch outing, but it was one of those things that never really seemed to work out. I hoped that pushing for lunch today and then grilling her about Pete's life wouldn't come off as selfish.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back to Reality

I closed my eyes and took a deep breathe as I tried to control my emotions. I have pictures of my ex-boyfriends. I was never one who saw the point in getting rid of old pictures. My friends would often burn the pictures in some sort of metaphoric ritual. I never confessed to them that I still had an old shoe box at my parent's house filled with pictures and notes. If any part of a past relationship was good, why not try to remember it with fondness? Of course, I don't always feel that way right after the break up, but I would rather keep the memories locked away somewhere just in case. Plus, you never know where life is going to take you down the road. I'm beyond happy and in love with Scott, but I can't predict the future. What if fate takes me back to an ex?

Anyway, I didn't mind seeing the picture. Sure, it made my stomach ache and I almost threw up on the spot. But, again, I don't care about the picture. It was the placement of said picture. Scott uses this drawer. He leaves pens, chargers, and medicine in there. Why was the picture right on top?

I shut the drawer closed after dropping the picture in. I decided to gargle some mouthwash and change before Scott got back. I started cleaning up his room. When I'm even just slightly anxious, I tend to clean or keep busy in some way.

I heard Scott and his parents arrive home. Moments later, he walked through the door.

"This is why I love you," he said before I even turned to look at him. His arms were around my waist and a smile formed on my face.

I was bothered by seeing the picture. It also reminded me about the flirtatious situation I felt like I walked in on at his office. Two things in one weekend home. Long distance relationships are hard enough. Was it worth the extra worry?

But as soon as he put his arms around my waist and I heard his voice in my ear, all my worries went away. This was the guy who said that he planned on marrying me. This was the guy who was willing to fly across the country once a month just to see me. He put up with me through all my mood swings and all my weirdness. I didn't want to ruin our last night together by harboring resentment over something I knew nothing about.

I turned around and looked at him. "How did I end up with such a slob?" I playfully asked.

He smiled and nuzzled his head on my neck. "It's because you're so clean and opposites attract."

I began giggling as his nose tickled me. "I'm sorry I didn't make it out for dinner with your parents."

"It's okay," he replied without lifting his head. "They know you have a lot to do when you're home for the weekend."

"I think we have a lot to do right now," I replied as I ran my hands up and down his back.

With that, Scott picked me up and carried me over to the bed. We had a very productive few hours after that.

I fell asleep in Scott's arms. The next morning, I got up early to get breakfast with my parents. It was really nice to have one on one time with them. I felt kind of bad that I spent so much time with Scott when I came home, but I had dedicated all day Monday to parental bonding. After a delicious breakfast, we went to the beach. I looked out onto the Atlantic ocean. It was different than the Pacific. Not better, not worse, just different.

While they drove me to the airport, I contemplated not getting on the plane. Of course, I knew that wasn't what I really wanted, but after an amazing weekend at home, how else could I feel?

The next day, I was back at work. I had so much to catch up on and basically didn't look away from my computer at all. I needed another dose of caffeine by eleven, even though I had stopped for a large coffee on my way to work.

On my way back from the cafeteria, I ran into Pete.

"How's our east coast native doing back on the right side of the country?" He asked me with a big smile.

I smiled. "Technically, this is the left side when facing a map."

Pete laughed. "Yeah, you know what I'm getting at. How was your trip?"

"It was good," I said with a sigh. "Exhausting, but good. Thanks again for working it out so I could have a longer weekend."

"Anytime for my number one employee," he said with a wink. I was beginning to get used to his winks and I can't tell if that's a good thing or not. "Well, I'll let you get back to work. I'll catch you later for the meeting, though!"

I smiled and told him of course before feverishly getting back to my computer to scan my emails for whatever meeting he was talking about.

I was going to work through lunch, but Shelby came by my cubicle around one with a sandwich. "The deli messed mine up, so they gave me the mistake anyway. Do you like mayo?"

I laughed. "I could like it," I replied. "Thanks so much!"

"No problem," she said back before asking me about my trip.

I began getting into it when my words, and thoughts for that matter, were interrupted by a little girl's voice.

"Daddy!" I heard the voice seconds before I saw a girl with long blond hair run passed my cubicle.

I cautiously rolled my chair over to the edge so I could see more. A woman who looked like Giselle followed her.

I was more shocked to see who she was running to. It was Pete. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Brunch Hangover

As I get older, I realize that waking up with a hangover is one of the worst feelings the average young adult will continuously put himself or herself through.

That feeling is made even worse when you wake up at 7pm with that feeling. When I was awoken by a phone alarm, it took me a moment to remember where I was. I looked around and quickly realized I was in Scott's bedroom. Oh, yeah. I forgot he had picked me up from the restaurant with my friends.

I looked to my left and expected to see Scott, but he wasn't lying next to me. I pouted before pulling his comforter over my head. I was still tired, but I didn't want to screw up my sleep schedule any more than it already was from traveling between New York and California.

After another minute or two of resting my eyes, I resurfaced from under the comforter and looked at my phone. I had a text from Scott telling me that he went to grab dinner with his parents and he'd be back soon. The text was sent almost an hour before, so I was sure he'd be back in no time.

I couldn't believe how drunk I got at brunch. For whatever reason, the waitress was very attentive and the mimosas were strong. I missed my friends so much. We sat at a small table outside overlooking a main road on the south shore of Long Island. I questioned my decision to stuff my face with birthday cake pancakes and alcohol whenever a middle aged jogger passed by.

I needed a real catch up with my friends, though. Anna ended up dating the guy she had just met when I first moved out to California. From what I heard, she was spending all her time with him and kind of leaving her friends in the dust. She was going to begin a new teaching job this school year and he was a teacher, as well, so their summer was spent at the beach.

"I don't mean to be that girl who keeps bringing up her boyfriend," she began saying at one point when a Jeep Wrangler parked within our vision. "But, we have sex in his Jeep at the beach so often that I don't know how nobody's spotted us yet."

"Maybe they have," Darlene said before grabbing a piece of bacon from Anna's plate and biting down hard on it. Her tone was stern as she diverted her eyes toward the street. Darlene, having never been in an actual relationship, did not take it well when anybody else spent too much time with a boyfriend. I can't even say if this particular case was justified or not, because I'm not around. It's kind of nice not being involved in the drama, though.

Jessica cleared her throat before she asked Anna if they had any other fun plans for the summer. Jessica had told me she was annoyed at Anna's disappearance act, also, but I appreciated her trying to lessen the awkwardness.

"We're probably going to spend a few nights in Montauk," she replied with a big smile. "I just hope I don't screw this up, too."

"What do you mean?" I dramatically questioned. "He adores you. You guys seem like an amazing match."

"It's just," Anna began before sighing heavily and playing with her eggs Benedict. "Whenever I get comfortable with someone, it ends up falling apart."

I can't say I didn't see Anna's point. She was in a five year relationship during college and it ended in disaster. While she's been single since then, there have been a lot of guys in and out of her life. In the most recent year, she kept everything casual even when a few of them showed interest in making things official with her. However, before that, she did get screwed over a few times.

"You can't keep that pessimistic attitude," I replied. "I know it's tough but it'll be a self-fulfilling prophecy. He's given you no reason to not trust him, so don't let your past get the best of you."

"I know, I know," Anna replied with a wave of her hand. "I know it's early, but I've really never felt this way before."

"I can't wait to be a bridesmaid!" Jessica exclaimed and we all laughed. I was glad to be laughing again so I didn't have to sound like a fortune cookie anymore.

"Um," Jessica began with a devious look on her face. "I've kind of started seeing someone."

"Who?" Anna asked as she practically jumped out of her seat with excitement. I have a feeling she was just excited at the potential for a couple to go on double dates with.

Jessica smiled down at her lap and I immediately recognized that look. It was a really new relationship and it was all sunshine in her life.

"It's actually Ryan," she finally admitted.

"Ryan?" Darlene asked and I sensed some judgement in her voice.

"Wow," Anna said as she nudged an elbow in Jessica's direction. "Your boss, huh? Now that's a fun little scandal!"

"Well," Jessica said toward Anna, clearly trying to avoid the rudeness that was coming from Darlene's direction. "He might not be my boss too much longer. "He's considering taking a position at a different branch."

Jessica continued telling us more about her romance. The brunch was simply a perfect way for me to catch up with them and toward the end, Darlene even let go of her animosity. Scott eventually picked me up and I made them all promise to come visit me in California soon.

I finally got out of Scott's bed to brush my teeth, but upon walking into the bathroom, I couldn't find my toothbrush. I began looking in every drawer to find it.

I eventually reached Scott's nightstand drawer. It wasn't there. However, right on top of everything, there was something else: a picture of him and his ex-girlfriend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Engagement Party: Part Two

The party seemed to fly by. I was concerned that if I ate too much, it would show and have my whole family asking if I was expecting a child, but I was so busy helping my mom out, that I didn't even get to eat much of the food I was passing around. That's what happens when the waitresses your mom hired to do everything don't show up!

At one point, I looked over at the gift table where my mom had placed a wooden box with cut up index cards. She had made a sign to tell everyone to leave little notes for my brother and his fiancée with advice for married life. When I saw my mom getting it ready a few days before, I thought it was such a cute idea, but I felt bad when I saw that there were only two cards in the box. My sister was walking by when I noticed this.

"Do you think I should try to get people to do this?" I asked her.

She hesitated for a moment, looking at the box and drinking her red wine. After a moment, she shrugged. "Yeah, I guess so."

"I just feel bad," I justified. "Maybe people didn't see it."

I figured it would be a good way to get to know all the people at the party I didn't know. Besides, I didn't want my mom's cute idea to be a bust. I waited for Scott to come out of the bathroom before asking him to tag along with me from table to table.

Scott held the pens and paper as I cautiously led the way to each table. It was a lot easier to ask the people who I didn't know, because they weren't going to laugh in my face, but the tables with my family members were a bit tougher.

"I don't know what to write," my aunt politely responded.

"You've been happily married for thirty something years," I pointed out. "You must have some advice."

I didn't want to be too annoying so after I made my spiel at each table, Scott and I quickly moved on.

At the last table, my brother's high school friends were all sitting there and heavily drinking.

One of them, Joey, exclaimed as I walked over to the table. "Little Caroline," he said as he threw his arms up in the air. "Where have you been hiding?"

I laughed and shrugged. "Floating around the party," I replied. I threaded my arm through Scott's arm before introducing him to the table of belligerent guys.

"Nice to meet you, man," said my brother's friend, Bobby, as he stood up and reached his hand out. "I hope you know Sam will kill you if you hurt her."

Scott laughed. "Yeah, I'm not worried," he replied.

I nudged him in the ribs but before I had a chance to say anything, Joey interjected. "He's not kidding, dude. One time a kid made a joke about making a move on Caroline at a party and Sam threw him up against the locker."

"What?" I dramatically asked. I had never heard this story, but I have to admit it kind of flattered me. I wonder how many guys wanted to hit on me in high school, but wouldn't because they were scared of my brother. I doubted the number was high, but a little delusion never hurt anybody.

"I don't mean I'm not worried about Sam," Scott replied before turning his attention towards me. "I meant that I don't plan on hurting this gal."

My brother's friends mock awed at Scott's sentiment, but I didn't even let them bother me. I leaned my head on his shoulder and smiled. "Thanks, babe," I quietly replied so that only he heard.

"Hey, Caroline," Bobby called at me. "Did you ever think your brother would get married before you?"

It didn't bother me that my brother was getting married before me. He had been ready to settle down since he met Linda a couple years ago, so it made sense. However, observing my brother's oldest friends reminded me of how he used to act. He was always partying and never in a serious relationship. If I was being completely honest with myself, I would've never believed that Sam would be engaged before me if anyone had asked me five years before.

"Well, thank you for mentioning it," I joked to Bobby. "I guess I never did think that."

Scott, to my surprise, joined in on the conversation. "Well, they're not getting married for two years. You could still beat him."

"Oh, boy," Joey said as he animatedly clapped his hands. "This guy's talking a big talk!"

I felt myself getting red and didn't want the sweet moment ruined by drunken degenerates, so I grabbed Scott's arm before telling them to please fill out the cards.

"Thanks for sticking it out with them," I said to him. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Scott replied as he kissed my forehead. Scott didn't mention his intention to marry me again so I didn't bring it up, but the comment made me a little more secure. Even with all our time apart, our bond felt stronger than ever.

By the time everybody left, I was exhausted but I had some coffee so that I could help my mom clean up. Scott insisted on helping us clean up, too, even though he had done more than enough throughout the whole party. He was really earning himself an out of this world blow job.

As I lugged a heavy garbage bag toward my garage, I heard Linda complaining to my brother from inside.

"Why did your friends have to drink so much?"

"I don't know, babe," Sam replied, sounding exasperated. "They weren't that bad and they're gone now."

I didn't even want to continue eavesdropping. I walked away and continued cleaning. How could someone be so miserable when she should be celebrating something special?