Alexa Chapter 26: London, Baby! Part 1
Marty started to get impatient with us as we sat in the Delta Sky Club waiting for our flight to be announced. For the six weeks since our birthday dinner, we have talked about nothing but this trip. The moment we got home we knew that we needed to start making plans. The first thing that needed to be taken care of we had done, I had applied for my passport immediately after my name change so we were set there. Clothing would be worked out, though I am sure that we will have more bags than Marty would be happy with. No, all the major planning that Jenny and I would have to do was going to be what we would do and who would see when we were in London.
We were smart enough to wait until morning to try and contact Nikki and Sarah. The whole night was tough, we were so excited to call them. I think we were both up about 6:30 and began wondering if the two were up yet. We made some coffee and got cleaned up before we decided to call. I texted Nikki one word ‘Skype’ at about 7;30. It was not a unique code word for us and like in the past we didn’t have to wait too long for our favorite married couple to call us. Nikki and Sarah were both on their couch, just as we were. They looked like they were still in the recovery stage from the night before. “Hey girlies! What’s up?” Nikki said into the camera as her wife Sarah sat at her side. Jenny and I had talked about how to handle this and had decided to use the approach of asking for help. “Hey girlies, we need your help. Can you get us tickets to the Out of Heaven show on October 27th?” There was silence for just a second and we could see the confused look on the couples’ faces and then it hit them like a lightning bolt.
“Oh My God! You guys are coming over?” Nikki shrieked. At that point, all four participants of the call became instantly excited. Jenny and I went on to explain what was happening and that we were going to be in town for a week and that we wanted them to go to the game with us. They readily agreed and the next half-hour was spent getting ideas from them. “It bites that I have class, and someone has their community service or we could have a crazy week!” Sarah said with a bit of a downcast look. “But we’ll make up for it” The evil grin on both of our friends faces caused us to giggle. We said our good byes to our friends telling them we would be in contact as we finalized more of our plans. And we kept that promise. The texts, PMs, emails and phone calls seemed to be occurring constantly as more ideas for our trip came up. One afternoon, after I had just gotten off the phone with Sarah, I noticed Katie sitting there with a sad expression on her face. “You OK?” I asked. Katie tried to shrug it off for a bit, but I kept pestering her. Finally, with a long sigh she let it out.
“It’s just, oh I don’t know. It just seems like you two are making new friends and forgetting about me? Sorry I know it seems silly, especially out of me, but I um you know?” Katie babbled. I realized at that moment that Jenny and I may have become a bit obsessed with our upcoming trip and that we were forgetting about our sister. “Why don’t you come with? I am sure it wouldn’t be a problem if you came, can you take the time off?” I asked. She shook her head. “No, I have clinicals. But thanks for the offer. It’s just, UGH! I kind of feel like I am losing you two.” I slid over to her and wrapped her in the biggest hug possible. “Katie, you are never going to lose us. Ever. Jenny might be my soulmate, but you will always, ALWAYS. Be my best friend and big sister. I can only think of person in the world I care for more than you Katie.” And the two of us shared a hug like the old days. Later that night, when Jenny and I were lying in bed I hatched a plan on my fiancée. A plan that was met with a large amount of enthusiasm.
The next couple of weeks were still spent planning and being excited. Through our many conversations with Nikki and Sarah a full itinerary came together. The Tuesday we were there, Out of Heaven was playing in Southampton, Kayla’s home town on her birthday! That was an opportunity we could not pass up. We tried talking Sarah and Nikki into coming with but Sarah had school and besides work, Nikki still had her community service to take care of after her run-in with that blonde bitch. Jenny had not become a fan of hers and when she heard the girls name was Dannii, it doubled her anger. I tried to convince Jen that it was just a coincidence. “I don’t care, that name is bad news. Anyone who has that name is bad news” I tried to remind her about her future brother-in-law, but she just giggled and said, “proves my point.”
There were only two other major things that were planned for the trip. Friday night we were going to the concert at Wembley arena and then the game on Sunday. As word spread amongst their friends, Nikki and Sarah kept asking if we could get more tickets. Marty was kind enough to help us out. And rather than sitting in some fancy box with all the big wigs, Marty arranged for 30 tickets for our group at a discounted price. And even though he was a bit saddened that we were not going to be sitting with him, he understood wanting to be with our friends and their friends. We promised Marty we would make it up to him and go to a few games this year at U.S. Bank. While this wasn’t exactly a hardship for me, it did take some sweet talking and kissing up to get Jenny to agree. I think when I began nuzzling her neck as she was still fighting the prospect is when I got her. “MMM. God! Will I ever be able to say no to you” she asked. I didn’t say anything as I knew that my plan had been adopted. “Fine. We will go to a game with daddy.” A little while later, after ‘thanking’ my fiancée properly we called Marty who began making the arrangements.
So now here I sit in the Delta Sky Club with the love of my life and my future father-in-law. The planning, the phone calls, the shopping is all about to come to fruition. We were going to be getting on a plane to go to England to see two of our friends, see our favorite group and my favorite football team. The excitement that Jenny and I felt had us practically bouncing off the wall. At one point, Marty I think felt the need for us to find something to do rather than go over every little plan we had. “Why don’t you two go get us some drinks. I’ll have a bourbon.” Marty’s suggestion bought him a few minutes of peace, but as soon as we were back we were right at it. “So, when are we going to Harrods?’ I asked Jenny as she started scanning through the plan that we had laid out for the week. “Um it’s probably going to have to be Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. And all of that is going to depend on Snikki. Nikki is trying to line up lunch with…” The laughter coming from Marty broke Jenny’s train of thought. “What’s so funny daddy?” Jenny asked.
Marty composed himself. “I just figured that you would go to Harrods right away. Going later in the week might put a cramp in things.” Marty said rather cryptically. Jenny and I just stared at him for a moment before he went on. “Well I told you two I was going to cover your expenses on this little trip. I got you the rental car, and you will have the room. And I got you these.” With that comment, he reached into his suit coat pocket and produced an envelope. He opened the envelope and handed each of us a card. “That is a prepaid Visa card. Each had £250 on it. This is what you two have to live on for the week.” I thanked Marty, as I had been surprised by this, Jenny how ever had a very different view off Marty’s presentation. “Daddy! You know we need more that this! We are going to spend this much on food alone, plus we have to pay for a room in Southampton and cabs.” Marty looked on with an impassive look. “Jenny, I can just let you two run around with my credit card. No, I thought that this would be the best.” For the first time in some time, I saw the spoiled brat Jenny come back. She stood up and continued to rant away. I looked over and saw a little smirk on Marty’s face that he was trying desperately to hide. I figured out what he was doing and thought, why not? I haven’t been in trouble with Jenny for a while. So, I stood up and went over to my ranting girlfriend.
“Hey babe, it will be OK. We will just find a way to make it work. Maybe we kind stay at a hostel in Southampton. Maybe sleep in the car. And if we don’t crazy with Nikki and Sarah we will be fine. We will be back again, probably. We will work it out” I told my fiancée, who became a bit miffed.
“No! This is a special trip for us Lex! And daddy knows this but he is just being mean! We are not going to stay at some gross hostel. We are getting a room. And if we want to do something special with Snikki we will!” Jenny said as she took her seat and slumped in it. I tried to keep it going again. “Jen, I know. We can use my card if we need to OK? We will just have to be careful with it. I am still pretty maxed out.” Jenny gave me a quick “Fine” and I tried to change the subject. I tried to get Jenny to talk about Southampton and how much fun our little road trip was going to be Marty tried to jump in but was met with Jenny giving him a death glare. Marty and I were struggling to keep a straight face. That’s when it hit her.
“You two are mean!” Jenny said looking at Marty and me. We exchange a look and tried to feign innocence as Jenny continued. “You two were picking on me. And it’s all your fault daddy. You know Alexa has a credit card and that we could use that! But you thought it would be funnier to mess with me like grandma does.” Jenny says to her father before turning to me. “And you Missy! You know what the plans are and that it might get a bit crazy. But you just went along with what he said.” And soon the anger turned into a pout. I tried to get all sweet on her and cuddle up to her. “No” she said, sounding like the toddler she can be. She looked over at her father and just stated “Meany” and then said the same to me. I started kissing her and soon the giggles came to the surface. I could feel her defenses breaking down. With a slight groan, she declared “Fine you are forgiven.” Marty laughed at first but as the kisses between me and his daughter started to approach the intimate he told us to calm down.
I sat back in my chair but watched Jenny and her father go at it. It was very cute and it was great to see that behind all of it there was a love shared between father and daughter. A love I don’t think I saw when I first met him at Thanksgiving. We started to talk a little more with Marty about the things we needed to attend to and continued to receive his teasing about our spending habits, only for us to shoot back at him saying that we needed to do these things. Just as we were finishing our drinks, our flight was being called. “Thank god” Marty exclaimed as we rose from our seats, but I noticed a curious smile on his face, like he knew something. We made our way out of the club and took the short walk over to Gate G4. They had just begun the boarding of first class so we knew we were fine. We handed the gate agent our boarding passes and hand-in-hand, Jenny and strolled down the jetway. We knew we had seats 2 A, B & C and we would make it work that Jenny and I were able to be together and cuddle up. We entered the cabin that dream was shot. While it had been a little difficult in first class when we went to Florida, this time it may be downright impossible. For Trans-Atlantic flights, Delta had installed little private cabins for each traveler. While they looked comfortable, there was no way that Jenny and I were going to cuddle up. We both turned and looked at Marty. The grin had grown a little broader across his face. “That will slow you two down” he told us. We sighed and took the two seats that were joined together in the center of the plane while Marty took a ‘pod’ slightly ahead of ours next to a window. While we both found that they were comfortable, we still were not happy.
Take off was smooth and it wasn’t long before the flight attendants were making their way into the cabin to begin the in-flight service. We started off with a glass white wine and a cold cheese plate, followed shortly by a choice of salad or soup. I was in shock. This was all very elegant and I couldn’t believe the service we were getting. And shortly it was followed by dinner. I think the airline fed you so you would sleep on the flight over. All the time, we had the inflight entertainment on and we were watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I was getting a bit tired and I could tell that Jenny was too and following our shared desert of Cheesecake with strawberries, we reclined our seats and settled in for a bit of sleep.
I woke up at somewhere over the Atlantic and realized Jenny and I were holding hands across the arm rest. I broke the loving grip and made my way forward to the lavatory. As I was coming back, I noticed that Marty was awake. I stopped to see what he was doing up. “Oh, couldn’t sleep. I’m not the best flier. Just going over a few things.” I nodded and started making my way back to my seat when I felt Marty grab my hand. “You two are something, holding hands even when you are sleeping in those beds. You two may be the most caring couple I know.” The words from my future father-in-law caused me to blush a bit. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek “Thanks Marty. Try and get some sleep.” I smiled and slipped back into our little pod. I noticed that Jenny had rolled to one side and there was a little gap. I stepped over to Jenny’s side and slid in behind her. My efforts were met with a sound of approval and soon the two of us were cuddling up in a single person bed. The sleeping arrangement may not have been the most enjoyable, but holding Jenny as we jetted across the Atlantic was the best way I had ever flown.
I don’t know how long I had been asleep when I felt a gentle push on my shoulder. I woke up to find Marty standing over us. “Hey you two. Time to wake up before we put all these fliers into a tizzy.” He told us before heading back to his own seat. Jenny rolled over and I was greeted with the loving smile of the most beautiful person in the world. We shared a kiss. In a hushed voice Jenny told me ‘hi’ and kissed me again. “How did you wind up in my seat?” she asked as she grinned and pulled me in for a deep hug and a kiss. I explained to her what I had seen and how I took the advantage of the situation. She giggled softly and told me I could do that any time I wanted. We broke the kiss and both arose from Jenny’s seat. Other than Marty and a few other travelers who were reading, almost the whole first class was asleep. We decide to use this opportunity to get cleaned up, especially since we noticed that it was almost 8 AM London time. As we each grabbed our makeup cases and walked to the lavatories at the front of the plane, we were stopped by Marty. “You two better not go in there together. You are already the talk of the plane.” So, I allowed Jenny to go and hung back. It also gave me a chance to thank Marty once again for taking the two of us on this trip with him. He just smiled at me as he looked up.
“Alexa, you are more than welcome. You are part of this family now and this is a family trip. I just have to keep an eye on the two of you so you two don’t get too crazy.” I laughed at the teasing by Marty. “And that is your job this week Alexa. You must keep an eye on Jennifer. Don’t let her put me into the poor house.” I laughed at Marty’s concern over our shopping exploits. “Don’t worry Marty I can control her. She thinks she can sweet talk me into anything but I am tough.” I say all proudly which gets Marty to begin laughing at me. “Yeah like you talked her out of the car.” I try and put on the pouting act like Jenny would do “But that was for safety reasons we thought we, I mean you even thought Jenny should get that car.” Marty just continued to laugh at me. “No, I said the two of you should get tanks.” I stuck my tongue out at Marty and made a comment that tanks weren’t cute enough and he just rolled his eyes. Jenny returned from the lav and after sharing a kiss with her I replaced her. The cramped quarters of the lav made it difficult but I was able to wash my face and re-apply some make up so I didn’t look completely hideous. Then following a breakfast of a Cheese omelette and some fresh fruit we relaxed in our seats and anxiously waited to land. It seemed like it took forever but soon we were on the ground and clearing customs. I will admit I held my breath a bit as we went through customs. Not so much that I was smuggling anything, but the simple fact that my passport states I am a woman but I have a few extra things that would dispute that claim.
Marty led us from the customs area where a young man in a black suit was waiting, holding a sign that said ‘Thompson’. Marty introduced us to the young man who took the cart Jenny and I had picked up to haul all our luggage. “How can the two of you need so much stuff?” Marty asked only for us to respond to him with a look of exasperation. He held up his hands in a mock defense and laughed at the two of us. As we exited the terminal we found a Rolls Royce waiting for us to take us to the Hotel. We whisked through the traffic at Heathrow Airport and made our way into London. Our first stop was to be the European headquarters of the Thompson Companies and then on to the hotel Marty had booked. For some reason, he didn’t tell us anything about the hotel. He teased us every time we asked, saying things like “we are staying at The Bates Motel” or “Got us a great room at Motel 6. All three of us.”
The car pulled up to a typical modern looking office building, but it was surrounded by buildings that had to be 200 years old. The driver once again held the door open for us and helped both Jenny and I out of the car. Jenny and I just looked around at everything and were amazed by the mixture of old and modern in London. Marty shooed us into the office building, holding the door for us. The receptionist at the front desk looked somewhat annoyed that two 22-year-old girls would come walking in hand in hand, but that looked changed as she saw Marty walk in. “Mr. Thompson. How good to have you back. I will get Mr. Christian for you. Jenny and I looked around at some of the various propaganda of the Thompson Companies that filled the lobby. Jenny stopped in front of a picture of a distinguished looking gentleman and she just stared at it. I slid up next to her and wrapped an arm around her waist. I could see she was getting a bit sentimental over the portrait of her grandfather. She turned and looked at me. “You know I think he would have loved you. You are so much like grandma. Either that or you would have driven him crazy like she did.” Jenny said as we started giggling together. Our little moment was broken by Marty.
“Girls, come on over. I want to introduce you to the Director of our European office, Archibald Christian. Archie, I’d like you to meet my daughter Jennifer and her fiancée, Alexa Quinn.” Mr. Christian reached for our offered hands and gently kissed them. This was a first for me and gave me a funny feeling. It confused me a bit more but I just smiled. “Please ladies, call me Archie.” He told us as he turned and waved for a young woman who wasn’t much older than us. “This is my assistant Felicity Price.” Archie explained. “If there is anything you need while you are visiting, please do not hesitate to contact Miss Price.” We thanked him, but before we could explain we would be fine Marty broke in. “These two have been planning this for weeks, plus they have friends who live here that they are dying to see.” Jenny spoke up, “One of them is a student at the London College of Fashion, which we think is near here, is that true? We were thinking we may be able to meet up with her yet today. “I could see Felicity begin to open her mouth, but Archie beat her to it. “You are in luck. The college is less than half a kilometer from your hotel.” Our excitement could barely be contained. I could see a grin on both Brits, but heard a groan from Marty. He just shook his head. “Go you two. Make sure I have a key for the room. I’ll see you on Sunday” Jenny told her father to be quiet, which I am sure that Mr. Christian and Felicity thought was funny. How often do you get to see your boss told to be quiet? We said our goodbyes and let Marty get settled into his meeting and made our way out to the car.
We were a little surprised as we were led up to our room to discover it was a suite with a sitting room that connected the two bedrooms. We unpacked our suitcases and cleaned ourselves up a bit to go meet with Sarah. I had texted her on our way over to the hotel and got a response to meet her at a place called Café Nero. It was right across the street from the college and that she would be there at 4. We figured out where it was and mapped out our walk. Both Jenny and I were giddy as we walked out of the front door of the hotel to meet someone we didn’t even know a year ago but now considered a close friend. We encountered our first issue as we went to cross a street. Do to our American upbringing we stopped and looked left and tried to step out in the street. That was when we almost were taken out by a black taxi cab flying along. “We have to watch that. Remember they drive on the other side of the road over here” Jenny reminded me. That was the first, but not the last adventure of our little walk. Somehow, we took a right rather than a left. We didn’t get very far as we looked at the name of the street ahead of us. We doubled back and got ourselves going in the right direction. When we finally got to the coffee house, we found Sarah sitting at a table outside sketching on a tablet. When Sarah saw us, I think we scared a few other patrons as the squeals reached a near deafening decibel.
“It’s so great to see you two” Sarah exclaimed as we both shared hugs with our friend. We took a seat at the table and began talking like old friends who had just seen each other just a few weeks before, not ones who had only been together for one fun weekend six months ago. “We are both so excited that you two are here! Nikki wishes she could be here but, you know.” We both nodded as we knew why Sarah’s wife was missing from our little get together. “That is a bummer, damn Dannii’s, but we will just have to make up for it Friday! Did Nikki get us good seats?” Jenny asked. “You got that right! And yes, she got us terrific seats. She may not work for Out of Heaven anymore she still has some contacts” Sarah said with a devious smile. We hung out and chatted over everything in our lives. Jenny was all anxious to hear about married life. “It’s funny. We were living together before and we confident that we were never going to leave the other, but now. Now it’s different. We know we are never going to be apart. The worries over all the little things have disappeared. It’s just us sharing our love as one.’ Jenny and I both swooned over the answer and we started to get a bit excited over our own future. “But enough about me and Nikki, what about your wedding. Have you guys started to do any planning? Mostly have you started looking at dresses?” The anxious smile flashed by Sarah let the two of us know she had some ideas for the two of us. This time I handled it.
“Not really. We know where the wedding will be and we know that it will be the second or third Saturday in June. But that’s about it.” I said in our pre-planned answer. Jenny and I had practiced for the last few weeks to try and figure out how we could tease our friend. “What about your dresses?” Sarah asked again. On cue, Jenny answered nonchalantly. “Oh, we bought those already. Just some simple dresses we found at Macy’s.” The look on Sarah’s face was priceless. Her mouth just hung there, open in shock. “You did what?!” Sarah practically screamed. “You two went out and just bought dresses from some department store! Right off a rack! Hey! Over here! Designer for free.” We couldn’t hold back and the laughter came roaring out of us. Sarah looked at us for a minute before breaking out in laughter. “You two are evil” she said as we continued laughing. We did talk about ideas for dresses, and Sarah was sitting constantly sketching ideas we threw out. We asked her if she wanted to get some dinner. “I wish I could, but I have a meeting in about 45 minutes of the LGBT Society and I am one of the officers. I wish we could. How about Wednesday night?” She asks. This time it is the two of us that must decline. “I wish we could.” Jenny explained. ‘Wednesday night is some big event the Company is throwing, and daddy is making us go to it. That and the big Viking reception on Saturday night.” I look at Jenny and decide I must tease her a bit. “Yeah, the one fun part of this whole Thompson thing, getting all dressed up and attending these obligations.” I say, emphasizing the ‘obligations’ with air quotes. Sarah giggles at us while Jenny kicks me under the table. “Thursday night then. You two are coming to the flat for dinner.” We agree and share hugs with Sarah who leaves to get ready for her meeting. We tell her to give Nikki a hug for us and promise we will text later as we get things more organized.
We finish our coffee and begin going over our options, we call Marty to see if he has plans for the evening, which he says he does have a dinner meeting. This leaves us to our own devices. With nothing else to do, we decide to begin the walk back to the hotel. We passed a few restaurants but nothing seemed to excite us. It was then I came up with an idea. “We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow and a big night tomorrow night. Why don’t we just go up to the room and cuddle up and order room service?” The smile on Jenny grows wider. “I knew there was a reason I loved you.” We shared a long passionate kiss before we practically run to the room. We change into our hockey jerseys and order up some food to be brought up and cuddle up on the couch. This is the position Marty found us in when he arrived in the room from his dinner meeting. “You two are something else. Young and in an exciting city and you two are curled up on the couch in your Gopher jerseys. You could have done this at home.” But I think Marty was happy that we were there and not getting crazy. After a brief discussion over the car and our little adventure tomorrow, he wished us a good night and went to his room. We decided to do the same We cuddled up to each other and talked about the next day’s trip
Two things woke me up the next morning. The London traffic seemed unusually loud, but then again it is much bigger city than Minneapolis, plus the narrow streets would make a completely different situation. The other thing that woke me up was Jenny nuzzling into my neck. The moan I let out let her know I was awake and enjoying her attention. I rolled over to face my attacker. There she lay, the smile of an angel starring back at me with love in her eyes. It was a sight I hope I never got used to. “Good morning” she whispered to me and I returned the sentiment before she said the three words I still can’t believe to this day, despite the ring on my finger “I love you.” For some reason, I broke down in tears. I don’t know why but I did. Jenny said nothing but pulled me in to a loving embrace. The fact that I am in one of the great capitals of the world being held by the most beautiful woman in the world hit me for some reason and I lost it. There were days I had to pinch myself that I wasn’t dreaming. I began kissing Jenny’s neck, trying to show her how much that love meant. I had no idea what time it was and didn’t really care. All I cared about at this moment was showing the incredible person how much those words meant.
Forty-five minutes later we stumbled into the lounge area of the suite. Not surprisingly Marty had already left for the day, though he did leave us a note telling us to have a fun time and to be good. We had decided to order up some coffee but found that that it was almost impossible to get a pot of coffee. The had espressos and cappuccinos but not a pot of good old black coffee. We ordered some croissants and a couple of Americanos to be sent up and lounged around a bit waiting. The food didn’t take long and we leisurely nibbled on it while we formalized our plans. I walked over to the bar to grab a bottle of water and found something. “Hey Jen, did you know there was a Tassimo here?” I said with a laugh. Jenny asked me all wound up. “You mean I didn’t have to go through all the with the kitchen? We could have just brewed up a cup?” I just nodded at her and tossed one of the T-Discs at her. “Watch it young lady!” Jenny said trying to act all tough, which got us both to giggling.
An hour later we are walking out the door of hotel, roller bags behind us and on our way to the Thompson Companies office where the car that Marty had rented for us was waiting. We walked hand-in-hand, taking our time and window shopping. Of course, we found a shoe store along the way that we had to stop in and make a couple of purchases. We entered the lobby to get the keys from Felicity and had the receptionist page her. As we were standing there we heard voice from behind us. “Oh, good god. You know you two do not have to stop in every shoe store that you pass.” We turned to see Marty standing there with a smirk on his face. ‘Oh, be quiet daddy!” Jenny told her father and I figured it was my turn. “Jenny didn’t have any trainers with her and we needed them! Plus, these are shoes we couldn’t get back home.” We didn’t need the shoes but it was fun to tease Marty. “Yeah right” he said as he came over to us and gave us each a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Don’t do anything stupid you two and drive safely. Are you all set with the car? Do you have directions? Do you have the hotel all set?” Jenny and I laughed at the concern Marty was showing the two of us and assured him we were all set. I kept the smile on my face, but inside I wanted to cry. Not sadness, but tears of joy. Marty had shown me more love and concern in the last few minutes than my own father ever had, and this was a daily thing with him now. He gave us each one more kiss on the forehead and moved off to another meeting.
Felicity arrived with the keys and told us where the car was. We thanked her and headed out. As we got in the car and began driving off, Jenny made a comment that hit me good. “You remember my dad back when we first started dating, back at Thanksgiving? He was very distant. But since you came around he has completely changes. He actually is the father I had hoped for. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but I am blaming you for making him a better person.” Jenny told me with a smile. I sat there dumbfounded, but I too had noticed a change in the man. And that Jenny was willing to comment on it made it seem like I had made a difference. To help Jenny and Marty become closer was more than I could ever have hope for. I knew now deep in my heart I was part of the family and that Marty would be there when I needed him.
We had decided to leave a bit early that day as we wanted to do a little sightseeing along the way. This was to be our day to explore southern England. I started off driving, as Jenny was a bit nervous about driving on the ‘wrong side’ of the road as she called it. It took a little struggle but I was able to work our way out of London and we were moving down the motorway. We had planned a couple of stops along the way, mostly silly things. The first was going to be Windsor Castle. We had looked at the map and noticed that we would pass by Windsor on our drive. We both wanted to check out a few castles and thought that this would be as good as any to start. While we didn’t do the whole tour, it was very interesting to walk through it and see the history and opulence of the place. The one thing I noticed was the Jenny was very taken by it all. To me if was just a little too frivolous. I was still very basic at heart, or as Katie and I joked to Jenny in song ‘just a small-town girl’. For some reason watching the marvel on Jenny’s face got me a bit down. I don’t know what it was but I knew I could never live a lifestyle like that. As we left the castle, after dropping some money on a few gifts for my mom and Katie, Jenny picked up on something. “You OK babe?” she said to me as we walked to the car.
“Yes, No. I don’t know it’s just that when I am at places like this or even at your house. This is you. You are, don’t take this wrong, but you are a princess. Me, I am just a peasant and sometimes I feel like I won’t be able to give you the life you are used to.” Jenny stopped and pulled me to a stop and spun me around so we were face to face. “You know what ALY, all I need is your love. The other things are nice, but it would have been hollow if I didn’t have any one to share it with. And I want to do is share it with you. You deserve it, you deserve it all. I’m not the princess, you are.” We shared another kiss. No matter what my fears she always seemed to calm them. All of them me except one.
“Give me they keys!” Jenny said as we approached the car.
“No way. It’s tough enough getting into a car with you back home, but this is completely different.” Jenny stood there with her hands on her hips as I tried to explain myself. I tried to stare her down a bit but she just held out her hand waiting. Finally, I relented and handed her the keys. “I don’t know what you are so worried about Lex, I am a good driver. You’ll see.” I made a half joking attempt to crawl into the back seat. “Get that cute little ass up here now!” Jenny demanded and I slowly pushed the seat back and strapped myself in the front seat. I played it up a little more just to see if I could get Jenny laughing and finally she did. She put the car in reverse and headed out. Instantly she went to the ‘wrong’ side of the parking lot. I know I was instantly terrified, reaching for the handle above the door. Jenny looked over and flashed me a smile “Just kidding babe” I tried to relax but was still a bit jumpy. I looked at my girlfriend and told her “You know if I didn’t want to see this band really bad I would be walking.” Jenny just stuck out her tongue as he continued our trek to Southampton.
We had one more stop along our way that I wanted to make, Winchester Cathedral. It was one of the largest Cathedrals in Europe and the pictures I had seen online just compelled me to want to go. Jenny wasn’t as excited by the prospect as I was, but then again, I think I was much more religious than her and I barely was, but old churches were something I always thought were neat. We got there just as a service had let out, so we were able to go in without disturbing anything. The Gothic Cathedral was huge, much bigger than I had even imagined. The light pouring in from the stained-glass windows painted an almost angelic hue to this place of worship. Jenny and I walked along looking at the outer edges of the nave. We looked at the tombs of the various Wessex and English kings that had been placed in boxes high above the floor of the old church. We stealthily slipped down to the crypt, known as the “Flooded Crypt” before making our way back upstairs and finding the tomb of Jane Austen. While neither of us had read her books, we were shocked at the number of people before her. Jenny did tease me that I was an English major and had never read any of her work. “I’ve tried to avoid it, but maybe I’ll change my mind. Maybe, I can get you to do it too.” I kidded my fiancée.
We finally found ourselves in front of the large ornate altar of the church. The carvings in the wall were incredible. A feeling came over me at that moment and I took Jenny by the hands and stared into those incredible blue eyes that have warmed my soul for the last year of my life. “Jennifer Ann Thompson, someday we will say our vows that will make all of this legal, and I highly doubt we will ever do it before a person of the cloth, but here, before God, I promise I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you the happiest and most loved person on the face of this earth. You have made my life complete and will love you for the rest of time.” I could see the tears begin to flow from Jenny’s eyes and could feel them trickling down my face. Jenny leaned in and gave me a light kiss before stepping back.
“Alexa Marie Quinn, you are my everything, my best friend, my lover, my soul mate. I promise here before God that I will do everything in my ability to show you the love you deserve not only for the rest of your life but for all of eternity.” And once again we shared a light kiss and then just hugged one another. The crazy part was it didn’t feel like one of our normal hugs. I was tender, but almost seemed like we were both attempting to draw the other one into our bodies. I hate to use the word magical, but that’s what it was. We were joining our lives ever deeper. As we broke Jenny just looked at me smiled. “You know you are starting to get that thinking ability too.” I looked at her like she was telling me the sky was green. “I felt something needed to be said here and you beat me to it. We are starting to think alike.” We turned to leave and held hands as we walked back up the central aisle of the church. Nothing could stop the love we shared, at least while we were in this beautiful cathedral.
That changed however as we walked out the massive wood doors below the gigantic stain glass window on the west end. There we were confronted by an older woman, one older than my mother. Slightly plump wearing a dress that appeared to be about 30 years old that the woman had never gotten rid of as her body expanded. Cat-eye glasses hung from a chain around her neck and a small hat covered the top of her head. “You two are just sick. Being so blasphemous here in a house of God, in front of Christ hanging on the cross. You should be burned at the stake for such heresy!” I looked her in the eye and said. “Well that’s what your type use to do to us. You see we’re Wiccans.” We moved off quickly, mostly because I could feel the laughter coming from Jenny. We practically ran to the parking lot laughing our heads off. Jenny turned to me, her face red from laughing so hard. “You are cruel Miss Quinn! I can’t believe you just said that to her!” I took her in my arms again. “I knew these women and loathe them. The little busy bodies of the church who devote to casting stones at others who do not believe the way they do. Every church has a couple. We had Mrs. O’Brien and Mrs. Walsh. They just drive me nuts. I just got 22 years of frustration out on that poor woman.” We shared another kiss before we got in the car and continued our journey.
We got to the hotel room where we were booked in much earlier than we expected. We took our bags up and then decided to spend a little time walking around the area. We did pass several shops and I attempted to control Jenny, but it was difficult. Granted it didn’t help when I saw things I liked and wanted to go inside and look, but we came away unscathed except for a few trinkets for family members. We grabbed something to eat at one of the pubs along the way before heading back to our room to rest and get ready for the big night that lay ahead of us. Somehow, we both fell asleep and a moment of panic came over us as we woke up. We quickly got cleaned up and began getting dressed for the show. Knowing that the concert was going to be outside we dressed a bit differently than we would if it was in an indoor arena. I donned a brown suede mini skirt with a long sleeve white cropped sweater as well as a pair of black boots and my jean jacket, the one thing of ‘Alex’s’ I had kept. Jenny went a little different route. She chose a black skirt that had large buttons up the front and a grey white stripped cropped sweater and her own jean jeacket. She did not go with boots and I kidded her that she would get cold, but she just blew me off. And with the dressing done we are hailing a cab to take us to St. Mary’s Stadium.
Sarah wasn’t kidding when she had told us Nikki had gotten us good seats. We were just to the right of the stage in the front row. We were so excited that we could hardly contain ourselves. We had gotten there early enough that we didn’t have to wait long, but not late enough that we had to fight for our seats. We didn’t have to wait long before the 4 girls came out. The roar from the crowd was incredible. I had been to concerts and sporting events but this was as loud as any I had ever seen, especially when the hometown girl took center stage. We danced and sang along with the group that we had fallen in love with. The best part though was the end. Stephanie announced to the crowd that they had one more song to do, much to Kayla’s chagrin. Becca counted sown to three and the whole crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Kayla. And what was even better the crowd wasn’t just singing it, they meant it. They wanted the hometown girl to feel special and by her reaction she did. It was one of the coolest things either Jenny or I had ever seen. When the show was over it was almost sad. Both Jenny and I wanted more. And even though there was no more music, we were going to get more of Out of Heaven.
Unbeknownst to us, the tickets that Nikki got us were not only great seats but VIP passes to a meet and greet after the show. As the girls were being led off the stage, a big burly usher came to the front of the stage and began ushering some of the members of the crowd down a roped lined walkway that led into the structure of the stadium. Jenny and I flashed our tickets and were led to an area backstage where about 200 or so fans had gathered for the special event. After waiting around a few minutes, Becca, Adeole, Kayla and Stephanie came out and fans began going up to them getting selfies and autographs with the four members of Out of Heaven. We had selfies taken with Becca, Adeole and Kayla and they seemed very nice but the one I was looking forward to was Stephanie. When we finally got our chance to meet her, she picked up on our accents, “You are Snikki’s friends, aren’t you?” Stephanie asked us and Jenny and I became silly fans and told her yes. We didn’t get long to talk with her, barely 20 seconds, as there were more fans waiting to speak to the beautiful brunette singer. She did thank us for coming all this way. Jenny and I went crazy and thanked Steph again for taking a selfie with us. We left the show and practically floated back to our room. My trip had been made just getting to see Out of Heaven and having a selfie done with Steph and Jenny. I was as happy as I had ever been. As I laid in bed cuddled up to Jenny, I didn’t think it could get much better than today.
We woke up the next morning and began to get excited for our trip back. Rather than go back the same way we decided to drive down the coast a bit and then work our way back towards London. We had to be dressed and ready to go at 7:00 for a reception that the Thompson Companies was having for some of its people. This was one of those obligations that was required of us, not only here but back home as well. While they were monotonous for the most part, there was one upside to these events. We got to dress up! As much as we both complained about having to attend these things, we always looked forward to putting on our best dresses and getting all glamorous. Jenny would tease me that I was like a kid in a candy store when I got to dress up and I would have to agree it was fun, but I would tease Jenny that she liked to get all dressed up as well. She always looked so beautiful when we did this and I was always striving to be almost as beautiful as her. She would tell me I didn’t have to try.
We quickly showered. packed and headed out for our drive, first to Portsmouth and then back to London. We pilled in our little Kia and rather than take the major motorways, we took some back roads. Back home in Minnesota they would be like driving on a State or county road but much narrower. But this is what we had chosen to do. We wanted to see a bit more of England and the country side. We had purchased an old-fashioned road map rather than rely on Google Maps to show us the way. “You ready for our adventure?” I asked my fiancée as we moved down Portsmouth Road after crossing the bridge over the River Itchen. We had bought some bottled water and found a place where we could get some real coffee. I served as navigator for the first leg and it all seemed to go alright. We noticed we were moving along at a pretty good pace and rather than stop in Portsmouth, we continued on to Brighton.
Brighton seemed like an incredible city as we drove through. We had heard that this was home to flourishing LGBT community and wished we had more time to check it out a bit. We made our way down to the beach. The air was cold as it blew in off the English Channel but it was still a pretty neat thing to see. We were both daring enough to slip of our shoes and dip our toes in the cold water and spent time just walking around, holding hands and enjoying the setting. It was something I never wanted to forget and at that moment, Jenny looked up at me and said the very thing to me. I chuckled at her thoughts and told her I was thinking the same thing. She pulled me close and with a tender smile on her face whispered “Great minds think alike.” After a bit, we broke the kiss and returned to the car. We knew we should get going and were a bit sad we had to cut it short. “Sometime when we come over, we are coming down here with Snikki for a weekend.” Jenny stated as I got in behind the wheel and we began to make our way towards London. A trek that would be much longer than we had planned.
The first mistake was as we headed through Brighton. We should have crossed over to York Place but wound up staying on A270. Next thing we knew we were out by American Express Stadium. “This is all wrong!” Jenny exclaimed as she unfolded the map. “Turn around’ she commanded, so I did. Next thing I know she is telling me to turn and so I do. We wind up in a town called Hassocks and Jenny is utterly confused. The map had seemed to take over the passenger side of the car, but I kept cool and just pulled over to the side of the road and let her figure it out. Eventually I heard a great “UGH” from my fiancée and watched her reach for her phone and begin opening Google Maps. “I thought we weren’t going to use that” I asked and was shot a look of anger by my lover. “Shut up, I’m lost.” Rather than be upset I began to laugh at Jenny, which made her a bit more upset. I began to try and apologize to her and after pelting her with several kisses across the neck and face, the bubbly, cheery woman that I knew and loved was back and we began our drive again using a convivence we said we were not going to use. Of course, the whole drive, I chided her about it. We finally made it back to London, a little later than we had originally planned but still with plenty of time to get ready. We parked the car and contacted the rental company to come pick it up. We went upstairs to our room and began to get ready for the big night.
We had donned two dresses we had picked up from Sarah at Nordstrom before we came here. Mine was a sleeveless black and white dress with a flare skirt and princess neckline, while Jenny had gone with a tight-fitting midnight blue halter dress that looked incredible on her. When we entered the lounge area where Marty was waiting he was a bit dumbstruck. “You both look beautiful, but then again I am a bit biased,” He told us while we just sat there smiling. Then the expression on his face changed “With all the clothing you two own, did you have to go buy new dresses for this trip?” This time I handled it, “Well of course Marty. You can’t wear the same dress to some of these events. You never know who you might run into.” I told my future father-in-law with a broad smile across my face. He just shook his head while his daughter pulled me close and giggled, whispering “perfect” into my ear. “Come on you two, we are going to be late if we keep standing around here” Marty told us as he held the door for us and then led us down to the waiting car to take us to the Event
The Thompson Companies had leased out the Sky Garden for the evening. It was a beautiful space that sat above London and the view was magnificent. Marty seemed to practically strut into the party as he escorted each us, one on each arm. The smile on his face was one of a proud, happy man and I felt more part of the Thompsons as I realized I was one the reasons for his smile. The three of us began mingling throughout the crowd and welcoming them to the party. I am sure some people thought that here was some dirty old rich American flaunting two little trophies with him. However, as it was revealed who Jenny and I were, the smiles came. Sure, there were a few that looked at us with derision, but for the most part we were completely accepted. It was very pleasant meeting all these people, and having to act as one of the hosts of the party, but it was tiring. Though, I didn’t get to be as near Jenny as much as I wanted to, I could still watch her from various spots of the room. She floated through it like an angel. At one point of my life I would be jealous or nervous because she was in her element when she was in these situations, but not now. Now I knew that we were together forever. As the evening wound down, I slipped away from the party and found myself in front of the large windows looking out at the London skyline and felt a sense of peace. That peace was enhanced when I felt two arms wrap around me from behind. “How you doing babe?” Jenny asked. I turned and looked at her and only one word came to my mind as I pulled her in for a kiss.
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