Exhausted, I crashed on my couch. I looked over my shoulder and saw I didn't close the front door all the way. Cursing to myself I got up and shut and locked the door. I knew this was coming, with all the time I had taken off that I'd be working a lot. Three days in a row of fourteen hour shifts was a little extreme though, but if that's what it took to catch up on rent money, that's what I needed to do. I knew I needed to get to sleep considering the next day I'd be going to lunch with Max and his parents. I couldn't bring myself up off the couch though, my cast felt like it weighed eighty pounds, and I felt like I weighed at least five hundred alone. I couldn't move. I glanced at the clock on the DVD player, 2:33 AM. I hadn't seen Max since we got back from Phillie and I was missing him. I didn't think that was possible, to miss someone. I grabbed my phone, just taking the chance, are you still awake? I set the phone down on my stomach and I laid down on the couch. Yeah, I was hoping you'd text me. Can I come over? A smile came over my face, how did he know?
A knock on the door brought me out of my light sleep. I jumped up from the couch and hobbled to the door. The minute I swung the door open I collapsed in his arms. "Will you sleep here tonight? I've missed you," I whispered in to his ear. "Of course, come on, you look exhausted." He picked me up, shutting and locking the door behind him and took me in to my bedroom. "Well yeah, I've worked 42 hours the past three days. I work tomorrow night too, luckily just 10 to 2." "Lil, you're really tired, come on let's get you changed and go to bed." I was getting emotional, probably from the lack of sleep. I didn't want to move from the bed when he approached me with shorts and a tank top. "Lil, why are you crying?" He sat down next to me and pulled me in to his arms. "I don't know, I'm just tired, and I've missed you, and I'm scared for tomorrow." I felt him kiss my temple and he helped me out of clothes, changing me in to my pajamas. "You have nothing to be scared about tomorrow, now come on, let's go to bed." He held me in his arms and I quickly fell asleep.
The numbers slapped me across the face, how in the world did I wake up so early? 8:30 AM was unheard of in this apartment. I rolled over to see I was alone. A note was left on the pillow next to me and I picked it up. 'Hey baby, there was something I needed to take care of this morning. I will be back around 11:00 to pick you up to get my parents. Just relax okay? Everything will be okay. Love you, Max.' I smiled and got out of bed, I knew I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep. Taking a shower had become a chore, sitting on the edge of the tub and wrapping my cast in plastic wasn't fun. I took my time to get ready though, I needed to make a good first impression. I wasn't worried about meeting his family until I got back from Phillie, then I realized that yeah, this is a big deal. I really want them to like me, just as much as my family likes Max. I did my hair, minimal makeup and once again pulled on my tights. It was the only thing I could wear that was comfortable. As I looked through my closet for a top there was a knock on the door. I glanced at the clock, he was right on time. I opened the door for him and he did a one over on me. "You shouldn't answer the door like that, especially right before we're suppose to leave to get my parents." I couldn't help but laugh. I headed back in to my closet and pulled down a heather grey turtle neck sweater dress. I wrapped a thick black belt around my waist, took a deep breath and I was ready to go.
"Where were you this morning?" I asked as we drove away from my building, I really didn't care, I was just curious. "I . . . um, I wanted to make sure the hotel was ready for my folks." I knew he was lying. Just the way he hesitated, and the tone of his voice, he was lying. Why would Max be lying to me? I just let it go, I'm sure whatever the real reason was, it wasn't that big of a deal. I nodded my head and just kept my eyes on the road in front of us. We pulled into the airport and I watched as Max turned a corner and a big smile climbed on to his face. "There they are," he smiled as he pulled up to the curb. Now I know where he gets the smile, a petite woman, smiling ear to ear was waving frantically to us as Max parked the car. Max pulled his parents into quick hugs before helping me out of the car. "Lillianah these are my parents Serge and Lucie. Mom, Dad, this is my Lillianah." His grip around my waist tightened and he kissed my cheek. I held my hand out to shake theirs but his mother quickly pushed my hand aside and pulled me in to a hug. "It's so nice to finally meet you." Her accent was thicker than Max's and it sounded like she was struggling with her English, but she played it off very well. "It's nice to meet you too," I smiled after she pulled away and his father pulled me in to a hug as well. "Eccentric, remember?" Max whispered laughing in to my ear. Max loaded their luggage in the back and we were on our way to grab some lunch.
"Max says your a DJ?" Lucie asked as we sat in a cafe for lunch. "Yes, at a night club, it's a fun job," I smiled. I knew it wasn't a respectable job, or one someone would keep for the rest of their lives so I was a little worried about what they would think. "Hey as long as you're having fun that's all that matters. Max wouldn't be playing hockey if he wasn't having fun." She had a point. She went on to ask about my family and where I grew up, just the usual stuff. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Now I know how Max felt meeting my parents. It's a very stressful process. "Oh mom, Flower is asking Vero to marry him on Valentine's day." Oh crap, Valentine's day, that's coming up. What do girlfriends do on Valentine's day? I've never had to worry about it before. I snapped myself out of my mini-freak out and brought my attention back to the conversation. "Oh, that's wonderful, and it's about time. I will have to tell him good luck at the game tomorrow." Max's hand found mine underneath the table and he gave me a gentle squeeze before looking at me and smiling. "You okay?" He whispered and I nodded my head with a smile. "So are we all going to dinner tonight?" Serge asked after a few moments of silence. "We can yeah, Lil was going to head back to her place and take a nap before she goes to work at 10. Oh yeah, I meant to ask you, when do you see the doctor for your ankle again?" "Monday. Hopefully they will take it off," I smiled and he gave me a quick kiss before we left the cafe.
We dropped his parents off at the hotel and headed back toward my place. "They like you. A lot." "You think so?" "Oh yeah, especially my mom, I'm surprised she didn't try and kid nap you or something to go shopping or go get your hair and nails done. You know, what's it called, a spa day." I started laughing and grabbed his free hand, tangling my fingers in his. "Can I take my nap at your place?" I asked as we started getting closer to my apartment. "Why my place?" He asked with a smirk on his face. "To be truthfully honest, my sheets don't smell like you. Call me corny, I don't care, but I just sleep better in your bed." He squeezed my hand. "That's the best thing I've heard all day. Of course you can. Do you need to grab anything at your place?" "Yeah, just work clothes." He parked the car and we both headed up to my apartment. I watched as Max took out two of my duffel bags and stuffed as much clothes as he could in to the bags. I watched in amusement and grabbed all of my things out of my bathroom. "Just getting a head start on you moving in," he smiled before we headed out.
I sat on his bed and watched as he placed all of my clothes into an empty drawer in his dresser. "So, Valentine's day, um . . ." I didn't know how to ask if we were doing something. "I actually have a game that night, but if you want to do something, I can definitely plan something. I actually have a few ideas in mind, that is if you don't mind." I couldn't help but smile, he was just as confused and worried about it as I was. "I'd like that." I pulled my dress and bra off and climbed underneath the covers of his bed. Inhaling his scent on the pillow case, I knew I'd get a few good hours of sleep before work. I felt him lay down next to me and I opened my eyes to see him smiling at me. "Have a good nap, will you come here after work?" "Yeah, if you want me too." "Of course, I will leave you a key on the kitchen counter." I leaned forward and kissed him on the lips. "Have a good dinner with your parents okay? Tell them sorry I couldn't join them, but just explain to them I've been working a lot lately." "They'll understand. Get some sleep. I love you." "Love you too." So it was happening. I have my own drawer, I have my own key, according to him his parents like me. For once I wasn't freaking out, Max truly was a life saviour for me. Reconnecting me with my family, showing me what true love feels like, showing me what I've been denying myself for so long. One thing was certain, I'm happy he's the one. He's the one. I hugged on to his spare pillow and drifted off to sleep.
I knew she was pushing herself at work, but I also knew that she needed to make up for the hours she missed. I stayed up every night hoping she'd ask me to come over and when she finally did I was relieved. I just wanted to hold her in my arms, maybe massage out her overworked muscles. I couldn't believe it when I heard she had been scheduled for three 14-hour shifts. She was doing everything from planning theme nights, to cleaning, to setting up and then DJing at the end of the night. I knew she would be overworked, and it couldn't help that my parents would be in town in less than 24 hours. She collapsed in my arms the minute she opened the door and my heart broke, she was exhausted. I took her into her bedroom and found her pajamas, when I turned back around she was crying. The strongest woman I had ever met in my life, that's been through hell and back was breaking down on her bed. "Lil, why are you crying?" I sat down next to her and pulled her in to my arms. "I don't know, I'm just tired, and I've missed you, and I'm scared for tomorrow." I kissed her temple and helped her change. She was just tired and needed a good nights sleep. "You have nothing to be scared about tomorrow, now come on, let's go to bed." I pulled down the covers and we crawled in and she quickly fell asleep with her head resting against my chest. I ran my fingers through her hair a few times, and could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. Falling asleep with her in my arms. I kissed her one last time on the forehead and fell asleep myself.
When I woke up in the morning I found myself in the same position as when I fell asleep. Lillianah's head was still resting against my chest and her arm was wrapped around my waist. I found a new peace inside of myself that morning. In the center of large city, in this apartment, in this bed, we were the only two people that existed. I chose the right girl to hand my heart to. I glanced over her shoulder and saw that it was just past 7 AM. I kissed her forehead and snuck out underneath her arm. I scribbled down a note and headed out her door. I had a certain agenda for the morning, and I was looking to spend some money, my first stop was Flower's house.
She was a nervous wreck when we headed to the airport, she wouldn't admit it, but I could just tell. Her palms were clammy and she kept clenching her jaw. As we turned the corner at the airport I saw my parents standing at the curb, I was late, I hated that. A smile crept on to my face anyways as I saw my mom waving frantically. After introducing Lillianah to my parents I held back my laughter as she held out her hand to shake hands. I watched as my mom pulled her into a hug, and then my dad. She looked a little overwhelmed, "eccentric remember?" I whispered into her ear laughing. She looked up at me and smiled and we headed to the cafe for lunch. "How was the flight?" "Oh it was good, I just wished they had a one-way flight between Pittsburgh and Montreal, but they don't." "Yeah that is a pain in the ass." We got to the cafe and the 'get to know' questions started flowing out, and the more and more my mother talked the calmer Lillianah became. This alone was a huge thing for me, my parents haven't met a girl since juniors some eight years ago. There never was a girl worthy of meeting of my parents, not until Lillianah. After a good lunch and lots of laughter I finally spoke up, "Oh mom, Flower is asking Vero to marry him on Valentine's day." I looked at Lillianah to see what her reaction would be, to my surprise it was one of complete horror and confusion. Interesting. She probably forgot all about Valentine's day too. I squeezed her hand under the table and asked if she was okay, she only smiled and nodded her head.
After grabbing two bags of her clothes, we found ourselves back in my place and I happily unpacked her clothes into the drawer I had cleared out for her. I actually had cleared out one whole side of the dresser for her. I couldn't wait for her to move in, this was a start. "So, Valentine's day, um . . ." I smiled to myself, she was just as lost and confused about the day as I was. "I actually have a game that night, but if you want to do something, I can definitely plan something. I actually have a few ideas in mind, that is if you don't mind." I actually had nothing in mind, I didn't know if she wanted to celebrate or not. Now I knew I better think of something quick, it was only a week away. I watched her as she undressed and climbed in to bed. I laid down next to her, on top of the covers and kissed her. I knew she needed her sleep, so I headed out in to the living room to hang out before I had to leave to get my parents for dinner. I looked around my apartment as I sat on my couch. What once was a dark, lonely apartment is now all of a sudden filled with life. Life couldn't get any better.
Sitting at dinner with my parents was nice, I got to hear all the nice things about Lillianah from my mother, and I was beaming. "She's been working a lot of hours this week, so she's back at the apartment sleeping before she has to head to work," I explained. "Her apartment?" "No, actually, mine. She's moving in." A smile slowly crept it's way on to my mom's face. "That's wonderful Maxime, I am so happy for you. I haven't seen you this happy in a very long time." I order another bottle of wine as our food came, I knew I would need it. I picked at my pasta and could feel my fork slipping around in my hand, my palms were sweaty. "Max, what's bothering you? Is there something else you need to tell us?" My dad asked looking very concerned. "So this morning, before I came and picked you up, I sort of invested in something." I started playing with my fingers nervously looking back and forth between my mom and my dad. My mom raised her eyebrows at me to continue and I grabbed my wine and took a swig. I pulled the box out of my coat pocket and slid it across the table, placing it between the two. I kept my hand on the box for a few seconds before releasing it. They both looked down at the box and looked at me. My mom finally picked up the box and opened it. "Maxime, this is an-" "It's a," I choked on my words, "3-carat round cut ring set in a 1-carat pave-set band." I described the ring, just like the salesman described it to me some 10 hours before. "I see that," my mom stated with her eyes wide. "So you plan on asking her to marry you?" My dad asked firmly. "I bought it on a whim. I went to Flower's this morning and we talked about it, and he came with me to buy it. I know I want to spend the rest of my life with her, but we're no where near that yet. We're far from that, I still can't believe I went out and bought a ring, but you know what, it just feels right. So no, there won't be an engagement any time soon, but I know she's the one." "Well son, I would say that's a good investment then," my dad smiled and I calmed down a little bit, not a lot though. My mom handed the ring back to me and I looked down at it, but when I looked at it, I could see it on her finger. I quickly closed the box, shoved it back in my coat and finished the nearly full glass of wine in front of me.