Alexa Chapter 30: What Are You Doing Here?

Alexa Chapter 30: What Are You Doing Here?

Thanksgiving weekend marked the end of the fun and the start of getting ready for finals. While I only had the one final and, thanks to some hard work, only one paper to write Jenny was going to be overloaded. Jenny had two finals and three papers to write. I offered to help, but she would have none of that. The only bright part of all this work was the Jenny would be done with Finals on the 13th and we would have plenty of time to get crazy when she was done. The other bright spot in a lot this was that I got to spend more time with Katie. Katie was pretty much down to labs and clinicals for her nursing degree and other than one final she did not have a lot to do either, so we wound up going to lunch and shopping a bit more. Reconnecting with my sister was great. There were times that the freedom Katie and I had irritated my better half, who was not afraid of upsetting me at this time of year because it was finals.

Jenny and I both managed to get through finals without having a major blow up, though I did come close to really setting her off. About a week before her last final she came back from the library exhausted. She plopped down on the couch and reached for her bag and pulled out her iPad and kept reading. I had been feeling a bit lonely and decided that damn the tests, I wanted my fiancée! So, I cuddled up into her, which she had no problem with as she just put an arm around me and continued to read. It was when I began kissing her on the neck she got a little wound up. “Damn it Lex, I am trying to read here! Can you just please either stop it or go to the other end of the couch.” I felt hurt and disappointed at that point. Rather than go to the end of the couch I decided to speak up. “Fine! Sorry for bothering you” I told Jenny and I stormed off to the bedroom, slamming the door. It wasn’t more than a minute before Jenny was knocking on the door. ‘Lex, come on. Don’t be so bitchy.” She said through the door. That kind of set me off. “So, I am a bitch now is that it? I was just trying to help you relax a bit and get your mind off school for a brief time. But now I am a bitch? Whatever. Go back to reading Jung or whatever.” I heard nothing from the other side of the door as I pulled the blankets up tighter around me. I began to cry a bit. I wanted someone to talk to about this, and I knew the perfect person but there were two problems. One it was 4 AM where she was and two, all my electronic equipment was out in the living room. I curled up and began to doze off, whimpering the whole time.

I don’t know how long I had been asleep, but I was awoken to the sound of sobbing and an arm slung over me. I knew there was only one person it could be. I rolled over and looked my crying fiancée in the eye. I said nothing, mostly because she may have been right. Maybe I was being a bitch, but I had missed my soulmate and I needed her to come to a bit of reality that while school was important, so was I. Jenny looked at me and began trying to apologize. “I am sorry babe. I know I have been busy and you have kind of taken a back seat. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” That was all I wanted her to say and was now struck with the conundrum of whether I should just let it go or make a point. Seeing Jenny crying away made me realize that there was no reason for this little tiff. I began to weep to. Through the tears I began to apologize to her. “I am sorry too. I guess I was being a bitch. I just...” I paused because I started sobbing even more and had a hard time catching my breath. Finally, I did “I just missed you. I don’t mean to be this way, but I do want to cuddle up with you and you have just been kind of, distracted. Sorry for being so needy.” She tried to tell me I wasn’t being needy and that she had been wrong for ignoring me. We just held each other for the rest of the night. The following day and every day after that, we made sure we spent some time together, holding each other and listening about the others day. I still felt guilty about starting the whole thing, but I wasn’t complaining because I got some needed Jenny time.

But soon finals were finally over and like the year before, a night on the town was needed. Katie thought that one more person should be allowed to join us, but I was a bit skeptical. After a long discussion, we decided that Katie would be allowed to bring Danny with. Katie’s argument was that if Jenny and I were going to be hanging on each other all night, she wanted someone to hang on. Jenny and I couldn’t argue with that logic, so we decided to allow my boneheaded brother to join us for our night on the town. Danny had shown up a little after three on Friday, so he could be there when Katie came back from her last clinical of the day. He came right from work and Jenny laid into him right away. “I sure hope you are going to change before we head out.” Jenny said to Danny who shot her a look that seemed to say he knew better than to go out in a flannel and a pair of jeans. Jenny began pushing him to go get cleaned up, so he would look all nice for his girlfriend when she came home. Danny of course fought Jenny’s prodding but also was smart enough to know she was right. He grabbed a beer and headed for the bathroom to get cleaned up. We decided it was time to get the weekend started right and pulled out the first bottle of wine. After sharing a kiss and a toast we downed the first glass before reaching for the bottle again. We hadn’t done much drinking since we had been in London, so the wine went to our heads quickly. We had become giggly and a little more affectionate that normal to each other. Rather than kick back on the couch, we decided the big chair would be better suited for Quinn-Thompson discussion number one. It was Quinn-Thompson discussion number two that was going to be fun.

Danny came out wearing a nice V-Neck Sweater and his best pair of jeans. It was typical Danny. For some reason the wine had gotten to Miss Thompson and she became a bit boisterous. ‘No, no, no. Not going to cut it Danny. If you are going to be out with a sexy babe like Katie, you have to look better than that” she told her future brother-in-law. I just giggled as Danny looked down at what he was wearing. ‘What’s wrong with this? These are some of my best clothes.” Jenny agreed with him that they probably were, but also told him it was time for a change. “You need to step it up a bit Danny. The days of looking like a shitkicker are over, at least on party nights. You should complement that gorgeous girlfriend you have. But you have come to the right place, the Quinn-Thompson Make Over Service is open for business.” Jenny said with a smile before telling me to go get our purses and that we were going to take my brother shopping. He tried to protest but Jenny just held up her hand. “Not listening Danny. We are going to make you look good. Come on” she told him. We went down to Jenny’s car, but before we got in she tossed my brother the keys informing him that he had to drive as we had already been drinking. I got into the back seat and watched as Jenny began giving my brother directions to downtown.

We pulled into the ally between Nicollet and Marquette behind a group of doors. Danny and I were both a bit bewildered by Jenny, but she knew exactly where she was going. She strode up to a door stamped with the words “Kramer’s” on it. I had heard of this place before and was sure that Danny had never been in a store like this. We both had been to Leland’s in Faribault, your typical small-town men’s clothing store, but this was different. This was Kramer’s Haberdashery, a very exclusive shop in Downtown Minneapolis that had been around for almost a hundred years. I knew that this was where Marty bought his suits and I was anxious to see what my brother would think of this place. Jenny guided us in where we were met by Ed, the latest in the long line of proprietors. He greeted Jenny warmly. “Hello Jennifer. What brings you in today? Christmas gift for your father?” he asked. Jenny returned the greeting but told him why we are here. “This is my future brother-in-law, Danny. He needs something sharp for tonight. Something better than what he is wearing now.” Jenny said while she exchanged evil glances with my brother. It was quite funny, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I watched Jenny go into her “Barbie playing” mode, a mode I knew all too well. She began going through the racks looking for something. Mr. Kramer took my brother to a side fitting room where he began measuring him, so we would know his sizes. I joined my fiancée in going through the racks of clothes. Jenny came upon a suit that she thought would look perfect and handed it to me to take to my brother. This went on for some time as the sizing was debated on. I thanked the lord that no one was in the store, because the two future in-laws did not allow things like a curtain to interfere with their typical good-natured battle. I took a little sympathy on my brother. I even joked with him that he was now Jenny’s ‘Ken doll’. He didn’t understand what I was saying, and I explained it to him before returning to see what Jenny had up her sleeve this time. As I walked up to Jenny I could hear Danny scream out. “And I am no damn Ken doll Jenny!” Jenny and I had to stop and hold each other up we were laughing so hard.

In about an hour’s time frame, Jenny had found a completely new look for my brother, right down to his shoes. “You can’t be wearing those boots with this suit.” She told my agitated brother and then disappeared to find a pair of shoes for him. She came back and soon Danny looked good, for a change. Jenny paid Mr. Kramer for all his time and effort, and we were back out the door on our way to show my brother’s girlfriend the fruits of our afternoon’s labor. As we approached the door, we could hear music playing so we knew Katie was home. I turned and looked at my brother. “You wait out here and we will introduce you OK? You do look very nice Danny and I will bet you Katie will love it.” Danny rolled his eyes while Jenny stood there like a proud teacher about to let her star pupil out on the world. Jenny and I went in to the apartment where we found Katie milling about with a glass of wine her hand. “Hey guys”, she said, ‘You seen Danny? He has been here but now he’s gone.” Jenny and I shared a smile before we began in “Miss Fahey, we have a special surprise for you tonight.” I said in my best game-show announcer voice. Jenny adopted a similar voice. “Yes, we do Alexa. We would like to introduce you to the new and approved Daniel Timothy Quinn!” And we both stood sideways and waved arms to the door in our best “Price is Right” show model manner. But Danny did not enter. I had to yell at him “Hey bozo, that’s your cue.” The door opened and in walked my brother. We could hear a gasp come from Katie.

Standing in the doorway was my brother. A very fashionable grey suit that fit him perfectly across his broad shoulders, the light purple (he refused to call it lilac) dress shirt opened a few buttons and the matching slacks in a skinny cut. The black plain toe derby shoes set off the whole look. He looked nothing like my brother. He looked stylish, he looked good. And I wasn’t the only one who thought that. Katie was in shock as she took in her boyfriend and then looked over at me and Jenny as we stood there with huge smiles. “Did we do good?” Jenny asked our roommate. Katie said nothing and ran towards Danny and practically jumped into his arms. As we stood there I teased Jenny a bit “That’s how you were at Harrods” Jenny tried to act all indignant. “I was not.” She tried to tell me, “I was much calmer.” I just laughed. “If Nikki and Sarah hadn’t had been there I think you would have attacked me right there.” Jenny giggled and nodded in acknowledgement that I was right. We decided to head back to our room and get ready for the night. I gave Jenny a quick kiss on the cheek and told she did a good job with my brother.

It took about a half hour for Jenny and me to complete the change from cute college co-eds to ravishing young women out on the town. As Jenny and I came out into the living room, we watched Danny shake his head. “I wish you two weren’t so, um, so ...” Danny babbled as we stood in front of him. “You wish we weren’t so what?” Jenny asked as she stood in front of her future brother-in-law in, hands on her hips. The dress she was wearing left little to the imagination, though it was playing with that imagination. It was a midnight blue crotched sheath over a flesh colored lining. It almost looked as if she was wearing a doily. I stood next to my fiancée complete in my own daring dress, a fit and flare dress featuring an almost metallic fabric of navy and maroon. That plunging neckline gave a mini glimpse of my burgeoning femininity. We were both perched on five-inch strappy heals and to say we looked hot would be an understatement. My bewildered brother tried to regain his composure. “I just wish you two wouldn’t try and tempt every guy in the place.” He said “I always get stuck defending you. And Jesus, Jenny, do you have anything on under that afghan you are wearing?” We laughed but I watched as Jenny’s expression changed to a questioning look.

“You are concerned how I am dressed?” Jenny asked Danny and I could see tears start to form in her eyes. Danny stood up and in a move that left me in tears, stood before Jenny. “Well yeah, Jen. I mean you are my sister basically, or will be soon. I don’t want any creep leering at you.” Jenny wrapped my brother in a huge hug while I tried to regain my composure. Funny thing was that Danny’s hug was just as strong and the smile on his face was huge. Jenny slowly backed up and leaned into me where I took over for my brother. I mouthed a silent thank you to him. Danny looked at me like I was crazy. “Thank you for what? For not wanting to get into fight because some slob is hitting on you two?” Jenny and I began to giggle as my brother sat back down. He was back on his feet again as our roommate entered the room. Katie was dressed just as alluring as the two of us in a deep purple cocktail dress that was sleeveless and stopped at mid-thigh. However, my brother couldn’t stop starring at the deep V-neck front of the dress. Jenny and I simultaneously walked behind my brother and gave him a slap. “Hey. there are ladies present don’t be such a pig.” I told him. But it was all done in love and fun. Danny’s look wasn’t just one of lust but a look of love.

After sharing a drink while we waited for our Uber ride, we made our way to AJ’s for dinner. It was funny watching all the employees of AJ’s stare at Katie as she strutted into the place holding on to Danny’s arm. We took a seat at the bar and ordered another round of drinks. Rob was bartending again. Over the last year he had finally come to the realization that Jenny and I were together, but still he would stare at the two of us when we came on. Tonight, he added Katie to his watchlist. After serving us our drinks he slid down the bar to a position where he could perv out on us. Danny picked up on this. He waved the bartender over. Leaning across the bar, he spoke in hushed tones to the barkeeper. “You even think about my girlfriend, my sister and her fiancée you will regret it.” Rob straightened up with a panicked look on his face and retreated to the far end of the bar. Thankfully we were seated and we could get away from the perv behind the bar. When Jenny and I tried to thank Danny, he brushed us off, saying that was his job. We enjoyed a great meal that would serve as the base for our consumption for the night.

Like the previous year, Jenny had used her family’s influence to get us into the VIP section at Lacus. Us three girls enjoyed the free champagne, but Danny would have nothing to do with it. He tried to get a beer, but this was a trendy place and a Grain Belt Premium was not available. Everything was some microbrew. Danny ordered himself a bourbon and was once again hit with the questioning of what kind and all the new flavors. While me, Jenny and Katie enjoyed ourselves on the dance floor, we could see that Danny was bored. While he might have looked the part of the Urban partiers here, his personality didn’t exactly fit in. As the three of us were leaving the dance floor, I noticed Danny sitting there looking around and shaking his head. I grabbed my roommates by the arm. “I know we are enjoying the dancing and the music, but look at poor Danny over there. He is bored out of his mind. Let’s get out of here!” Both agreed, though Jenny tried to talk me into having us stay. I told her that we were out as group tonight and that was how it was going to be. Jenny smiled and gave me a quick kiss. We returned to the VIP section and Katie and surprisingly Jenny grabbed my brother by the hands. “Come on bae, we are going to a different place” Katie told her boyfriend. Danny tried to protest, but before I could tell him that we wanted this to be fun for all of us, Jenny spoke up.

“Shut up meathead” Jenny told him with the smile that always melts me. “You might be the only guy I have ever known who can have three gorgeous women try and drag him out of a bar and he protests.” Danny adopted his goofy grin as he stood up. “Yeah, I got three women trying to drag me around, but only one of you can do that. You two are just my sisters and a pain in the ass.” Jenny and I laughed as Danny took Katie by the arm and escorted her to get our coats. I leaned over to Jenny and kissed her on the cheek, just to thank her for being, well Jenny. She pulled me in close and told me that she did it for me. “I’d rather stay here, but once again you are trying to include everyone. Just another reason you are the best person on the face of the planet.” I blushed all the way through the crowded night club. After some discussion, we decided that we would take Danny down to Brady’s. While we might be overdressed a bit for a more typical bar, it would be a place that all of us could enjoy. “And yes Danny, they have Premium” I teased my brother as we made our way out.

It wasn’t that bad a night out, in the twenties, so rather than get a cab we decided to walk. We passed a bar called The Bunker that had a live band playing. It was a cover band that was always fun, and we agreed we would head in and check it out. After paying the nominal cover charge we went in to check out the band. We were surprised to find a table that wasn’t too far back and instantly grabbed it. The look of relief on Danny’s face was priceless when he was able to order a Premium. Katie opted for one too while Jenny and I each order a Stoly on the rocks. The beat of the music took over and soon the three of us wanted to dance. Danny tried to beg off. I knew Danny didn’t like to dance, but told him there was no way he was getting out of it. It was fun watching him to get into the music slowly. By the time the third song had started, Danny was really into it. We could see a few envious looks being shot at Danny as he danced with three gorgeous women. A few of the other guys tried to break in and get Jenny and I to dance with them as it was obvious that Danny and Katie were with each other. We politely declined and continued enjoying the small ‘family’ dance that was going on.

The band decided to slow it down a bit. Jenny and I made our way back to the table while Danny took Katie into his arms and the two began swaying in unison to a cover of “Wonderful Tonight”. Through this wonderful adventure I have been on, the one thing that I have missed is being able to take Jenny in my arms on a dance floor. As we sat there watching Katie and Danny stare at each other, I noticed Jenny become a bit sad. “I wish we could go out there” Jenny said. Once again, she read my mind but this time it was time to do something to about it. I took a long swig of my drink and stood up in front of my fiancée. I put my hand out to her and asked, “Would you like to dance?” At first Jenny seemed a bit nervous but then the heart melting smile took over. Jenny took my hand and I led her out to the dance floor. At that moment, the song ended but the band began in on “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison. While the singer’s voice was nowhere as good as ‘Van the Man’, it was the perfect song for the two of us. Jenny and I held each other close and stared into each other’s eyes. The love we had flowed. I turned away once and saw both Danny and Katie looking over at us with huge smiles across their faces before turning back and look into each other just as intently as me and Jenny. As I have said many times, I could have died right there a happy girl. I was with the most beautiful person in the world holding me tightly. We shared a kiss as the song ended and whispered ‘I Love You’ to each other.

We made our way back to our table to rest a bit, our hands never separating. It was as we were walking back to the table, a voice came in “You two were fucking hot out there” the guy said to me. Jenny and I tried to ignore him and move past his table, the guy reached out and grabbed my hand. “Why don’t you two join us. My name is Eric.” I tried to pull my hand away, but Eric’s grip just tightened. “Let go of me Erik.” I said. That drew the looks of a few people but this guy didn’t seem to care. Just I was saying this, another guy appeared at the table. I looked to see one of my past detractors sit down, Tim Hurley, the moron who got kicked out of my Early American Literature class over his comments about me. “Fuck Eric, didn’t know you were into trannies. What are you doing here freak?” Tim said as he took his seat. Eric instantly let go of my arm. A look of disgust crossed his face as the revelation about me was made by his drinking partner. Eric yelled out “Get the fuck away from freak.” I just stared him down. “Well this freak is someone who you thought was hot a second ago. What does that make you?” As I said this I heard a laugh come from behind me and that same voice asked if there was a problem. Without even turning, I answered my brother. “No problem. I was just thanking Eric here for the nice comments he made about me and my fiancée here.” Eric and Tim were in shock as I took Jenny and led her back to the table, laughing all the way. Once back at the table, we shared a long, exaggerated kiss. When we broke it, we turned back to our detractor and both waved. Danny saw all this and made a comment.

“You two are both mean.” Danny said with a grin as he took his seat. Jenny and I told him the flat-out truth. “These people need to watch out. I am done with being ridiculed. This is who I am. Deal with it” I said. Jenny nodded, “and that is why I love her.” And then gave me a long deep kiss. Katie began laughing as Danny became uncomfortable with me and Jenny. “Knock it off you two. Enough PDA.” Jenny and I could stop laughing. I decided it was time to tease my brother. “Just because you are allergic to it, doesn’t mean we are.” Danny looked at me with a slightly mad look on his face. Then he did something that astonished all three of us at the table. He took Katie in his arms and planted a long, deep kiss on her. The laughter stopped. Jenny and I did begin to swoon a bit, “Aww” we proclaimed as we watched. As they broke the kiss I had never seen Katie with such a big smile.

We never left The Bunker for Brady’s. The band was a lot of fun and so was the crowd. Eric and Tim left us alone for the short time they were there. I think the repeated growls form my brother made them a bit nervous. The most nervous person in the whole bar became Danny as me, Jenny and Katie decided we need to do some shots. We waved the waitress down and ordered a round of Jägermeister for the table. “I don’t think you guys should be doing shots after you’ve been drinking this much.” I called my brother a wuss, which got him growling at me. Jenny tried to diffuse the situation by telling Danny that “we were just trying to get him drunk so Katie could take advantage of him” Katie sat there trying to play all innocent but we both knew she wouldn’t have minded. It became quite funny as we kept ordering different shots for the group and by 1 AM we were all stumbling fools. Somehow on the ride back to our apartment, I was wedged into the back seat between Jenny and my brother. “You are a pretty good kid, you know that Alexa” he told me in his full drunken stupor. “Quit laughing at me. You are a good kid. Lot better than old what’s his name” The laughter from us three roommates was nonstop as my brother continued his ramblings about me and how happy he was for me. I tried not to let it get to me, but after the three of us helped him to Katie’s bed and Jenny and I made it to our room. I lost it. Jenny just held me and smiled.

The next morning came way too early, even at 9 AM. I awoke as I hoped I would, holding on to my better half. But I also awoke with my mouth tasting like a bar room floor and my head feeling like John Bonham was doing a drum solo on it. As I tried to slither away from my fiancée and do something about both horrible feelings, Jenny stirred and the toddler she is when she is hungover came shining through. “Lex don’t leave me” she pleaded. I tried to explain I was going to go get some Advil and brush my teeth, but she was still reaching for me. I tried to ignore her as other needs became more pressing and as I made to the bathroom I realized that I was still in my little dress from the night before. That made me nervous of what I may look like when I looked in the mirror. I found the Advil and made a snap decision at that point and jumped in the shower to clean up rather than wallow in my hangover. This proved to put me in a much better frame of mind than I had been. I slipped on my robe and went and started the coffee. Pouring Jenny and I each a cup and grapping a bottle of water I returned to the bedroom and found Jenny lying on the bed, still in her dress and whimpering away. I placed the beverages on the night table and slid in next to my fiancée. She rolled over and cuddled into me, asking me where I had been. She then commented I smelled good. I just held her and tried to recover from our latest adventure out on the town.

We must have nodded off because it was nearly 10 AM when I heard a knock on the door. Checking to make sure we were covered up I told whoever it was to come in. The door opened and there stood Katie. She looked like she had been run over by a truck. “Do you guys have any Advil in here?” she asked. I began giggling and took two out for Jenny and tossed her the bottle. “How’s Danny?” I asked, and Katie looked at me, no expression other than that of pure pain. “I think he’s dead” Katie responded and then giggled a bit before she stopped and grabbed the side of her head. She thanked me and moved off. Jenny had stirred as she heard the conversation and pulled me down next to her. “We are never going out with them again.” Jenny told me as we shared a kiss. The kissing got a little more passionate and a few minutes later we lay back exhausted from our favourite good morning ritual. The giggly Jenny that was her normal mode had returned a bit. She grabbed me by the hand and we went into the shower where we cleaned each other and took more advantage of our alone time. After drying each other off, we went and enjoyed some coffee and tried to decide what to do with the rest of our day when a moment of panic overtook my better half. “Crap, we have to go to Southdale! I have to go pick up Julie’s dress and ship it down to her!” I asked Jenny why Bridget couldn’t do it. “They are all down there already and since we are going to the game tomorrow we have to do it today! Come on, we can do some Christmas shopping!”

Twenty minutes later, the two of us emerged from the bedroom dressed and ready to take on the multitudes at Southdale. I had decided to go a little crazy and thrown on a cute little pink plaid mini miniskirt, and a simple white blouse covered with a plain crewneck pink sweater. My knee high white socks and clunky black shoes capped off the look. Getting Jenny out of the bedroom was a little difficult when she saw me, but I just slapped her hands and told we had things to do. She kicked me out of the room, so she could find something appropriate and came out a few minutes later in a black skater skirt and hot pink angora sweater, nude hose and a pair of black stilettos. This time I became difficult to deal with and had to be put back in my place, though we did share a long deep kiss and made plans for latter. We made our way down to Jenny’s car and headed for the first indoor mall in the world.

The mall was an absolute zoo, but what do you expect a little over a week before Christmas? Like good Minnesotans, we circled the lot for a while looking for that perfect parking spot, which we found just a few spots from the lower level entrance of Macy’s. We walked in and couldn’t believe how crazy it was. There were shoppers everywhere you looked. The clerks we passed as we made our way through the store and out into the mall proper looked beaten and battered. I am sure all the demanding people were taking a toll on them. This was definitely a job I couldn’t have done. We tried to look around a bit but found that there was nothing that really excited us, though I did find a hand bag that would be a good gift for my mom. Between the shoppers and our hangovers, we decided we need to find something to eat. We went downstairs to the Lakeshore Grille and put our names in. We had an hour to kill so we made our way back out into the main mall and did some window shopping, that was when the first surprise of the day came.

We had stopped to window shop at the Coach store, when Jenny noticed something and dragged me in. I was thinking she was going to go for purse number 50 when she pulled up alongside a dirty blonde-haired woman looking at brief cases. From behind, the woman looked very familiar. Jenny tapped on her shoulder and the two of us watched as the look of first bewilderment and then surprise overtook Bethany. “Oh my God! What are you guys doing here?” Bethany said as she reached out and we each exchanged a hug with my brother’s ex-girlfriend. Before the chatter could begin, we decided to haul our friend over to Caribou Coffee. We ordered up some drinks and then let the true chat session begin.

“So how was London? I haven’t talked to you guys since you got back?” Bethany asked. We told her a bit about our adventures, but we wanted to find out what was going on with her. “You don’t want to hear about us.” Jenny said, and what was becoming more of a norm, I finished Jenny’s sentence, “We want to hear about you. Seeing anybody?” We grinned at the woman who had become a friend, in eager anticipation. Bethany blushed a bit. “I went on a couple of dates. A guy I work with and another guy I met at a party up in Apple Valley at a friend of mine. Both were nice but I don’t know.” The enthusiasm Bethany has showed began to trail off. “Most of the guys in Faribault know how crazy Adam can get. So, it has been kind of lonely.” We sympathized with Bethany’s plight. “Have you talked to him?” I asked in a nervous tone. Bethany nodded her head “Yeah, we’ve talked a few times. He gets a little better each time. Not so wound up. It’s hard, we were together for so long. But I would be scared of another Quinn if I did start seeing him again.” Bethany said teasingly. Jenny giggled while I blushed. Jenny and I told her about the events at Thanksgiving and his run in with Jenny’s father and grandmother. Bethany laughed “I have to meet your grandma. She sounds like a tough old bird.” We agreed, but Jenny had to pipe up, “Most people are scared of her, all but one” Jenny said and then began looking at me. Bethany laughed. “Alexa?” Bethany said in shock as she looked at me. “Wow. Alex feared everybody. But Alexa is such a different person. A much stronger person.” Jenny agreed, “Too strong sometimes” my fiancée teased me which earned her a tongue being stuck out then a quick cuddle in acknowledgement of the truth.

We sat and chatted for a bit until Bethany realized the time. “Crap. I have to go meet my sister-in-law in like five minutes over at JC Penny’s.” Bethany told us as we all stood up. ‘We have to get together soon” Jenny said as she and Bethany exchanged a hug. Bethany agreed, and we said we would call when we got back from Florida. Then Bethany and I shared a hug. It amazed me at that moment the 180 degree turn our relationship had made as I became Alexa. I began to tear up as we broke our embrace. “Be good Alexa. Keep taking care of Jenny, Ok?” I couldn’t say anything as I nodded at Bethany, who waved as she walked away. Jenny pulled me in for another cuddle and a kiss. “We do need to get together with her again” Jenny told me. I couldn’t say anything still. ‘Come on babe, let’s go get something to eat.” I rested my head on Jenny’s shoulder as she led back to Macy’s.

Following our lunch, we ventured back into the mall again to check out a few things. We stopped at Francesca’s out of habit and I could see the look in Jenny’s eyes that she had found something she wanted to buy for herself. When I warned her that Christmas was a week away, she got a little pouty. “I suppose I could buy it for you then I could borrow it” she teased me. I was kind of glad that she had, because I was still looking for few gifts for her. I made a mental note to try and sneak away this week. We continued to look around a bit and found a few things for my mom, Jenny’s dad and Jenny’s grandmother. We had done most of our shopping already, but we couldn’t help ourselves.

As we were walking along through the crowds, looking in the windows, I accidently bumped in to the shoulder of a man who was walking along. I apologized, and we continued on our way when the man spoke out. “Alexa?” I recognized the voice but from where? I turned and standing there was Father Brian, the priest from St. Kevin’s. ‘Father? What are you doing here? I didn’t think I would see you out with these crowds.?” I said to him. “First of it isn’t ‘Father’ anymore, so how about just Brian?” he informed us, that was when I noticed a pretty woman standing next to him. Was this why he was no longer a priest? Of course, we needed to know why the change in profession. We found ourselves near the Caribou once again and took a seat. “So Fath..., I mean Brian, how come you left the church?” I asked. The friendly smile he had flashed nearly a year ago was there and once again I felt the warmth and comfort from this man. “Well, two things happened. First is Faith here. Faith Barlow, I would like to introduce you to Alexa Quinn and her girlfriend Jenny. Alexa, Jenny meet Faith, one of the reasons I decided to leave the priesthood.” Faith extended her hand and we each took it. Brian went on to explain a little bit about us, especially my situation. Faith didn’t bat an eye as she heard Brian’s description of my story. “I have heard Brian mention you and I remember the story in the paper. What ever happened?” Faith asked, and we went to explain the eventual outcome of my dispute.

But this was not the main topic of conversation, we were curious to know why Brian had left. He looked at us with a sigh. “I was sick of fighting with everyone. We had a new auxiliary bishop installed who was all concerned about the views of the Vatican hierarchy. He felt that such public support for homosexuals and transgender people went against the teachings of the church. I felt it was wrong to exclude people from hearing the word. It was a tough decision for me to make. I prayed on it but felt that I could not exclude people, so I left. It didn’t hurt that Faith happened to show up again” Brian said as he shared a smile with his companion. We then had to get the dirt on that and Faith proved to be a very nice woman who was willing to share a few stories about Brian that made the former priest blush. Evidently, they had dated when they were in college, but Faith had moved to Philadelphia for a job and they had lost touch. Brian interjected at this point, “Just as I was going through my turmoil, Faith reappears. I will say that I took it as a sign. And do have to admit, I missed her.” Brian said as the couple across from Jenny and I shared a smile that Jenny and I would share. Jenny and I let an ‘aww’ which embarrassed Brian bit and caused Faith to smile. It was then he noticed our hands.

“Those are beautiful rings girls. Has something happened with you two?” Brian asked with that same smile he used when he tried to comfort me on Christmas Eve. We both blushed a bit and then told him about how my accident had made us realize that we didn’t ever want to be without each other. “When I saw Lex lying in that bed in the Emergency Room, I knew right there that my life would not be complete without having her in it forever.” We then shared a smile very similar to the one that Brian and Faith had. Brian got a laugh from the two of us. “I could tell there was a special relationship between the two of you when I watched that TV interview and when I saw you together at Mass that time. You two belong together. Just remember no matter the ups or downs, always love one another. That will get you through everything.” I addressed that point as proudly and as confidently as I could “Father I will always love this woman with all my heart and soul.” For once Jenny got a tear in her eye over something I had said and I instantly tried to comfort her. We could hear the sounds of approval from the two across from us as Brian and Faith stood.

“Well, you two. We do need to get back to our shopping. We are running on a pretty tight schedule, but it was a pleasure to see you two.” We shook hands with the couple as they began to take our leave of us. In a surprising move, Brian moved in and gave me a hug before slipping me something. “That’s my card. If you ever need someone to talk with, don’t hesitate to call. I know you have a counselor, but the offer I made last Christmas still stands, And,” Brian paused and I watched a smile spread across his face “there is no more threat of a confessional. And that offer goes for both you.” And Brian and Faith began to walk away, but he stopped after a few steps. Brian turned around and flashed that silly grin again ‘And you got one thing wrong Alexa. It’s Brian not Father” he said before heading off again. Jenny and I stood their laughing at my error before looking down at the business card Brian had slipped me and noted what was printed on it. I slipped it in my purse before we went off on our own.

We had decided that we had had enough of fighting the crowds and decided to make our way to get Julie’s dress before heading back to the apartment. I was still confused as to why we were the ones getting the dress and Jenny explained to me that she had to head down earlier than expected to meet with the caterer, who was heading out on Monday for a Christmas vacation before the wedding. “You should have heard her complaining about that one!” Jenny said. “They do have a final fitting when we get down there lined up, but this is a friend of Bridget’s who owns the shop.” As we walked in both Jenny and my eyes went wide. We had glanced at a few bridal magazines and of course we had each spoken with our designer about our dresses, but this was the first time we had been in a Bridal Shop. The dresses were beautiful and we looked at each other with excitement. “Just look” I warned my fiancée. “As much as I would love to see Sarah, we don’t need her flying here and yelling at us because we are trying on other dresses.” We both giggled at that and made sure it was just looking while we waited to be helped. A middle-aged woman dressed in a perfect lilac suit came from the back and introduced herself. We explained who we were and why we were there. The woman smiled and disappeared in to the back while we continued to look at some of the various dresses, making comments on thigs we liked and things we didn’t. The woman returned from the back with a large box for us. She must have noticed our rings because she asked if we were both engaged. Jenny told the woman that yes we were, to each other. The woman’s attitude became somewhat condescending. ‘I see.” And handed us the box. I could see that Jenny was taken aback by the woman’s attitude. “You may be the first bridal store clerk I have ever met who wouldn’t be all over two engaged women.” Jenny said almost dismissively. The woman attempted to comeback at her that she didn’t approve. I urged Jenny that we should get out of there before ‘old Jenny’ came to the surface.

The woman must have put two and two together and came racing after us as we were leaving. ‘Miss Thompson! Miss Thompson! Please wait! I would love to show you and your fiancée our wonderful collection.” We ignored her pleas as we continued into the mall. The woman was not even worth acknowledging, though Jenny did say she was going to say something to her aunt about the treatment we received. We continued to dodge the multitude of shoppers as we made our way back towards Macy’s and Jenny’s car. As we turned the corner our last surprise contact of the day came. As we passed the entrance to the Ann Taylor store, we bumped into the last person we wanted to see.

“Look who I bump into here, my daughter and her freak. What are you doing here?” Marilyn said with a sneer as she eyed the box. Jenny had all but cut off communication with her mother since our run in with her at lunch that day. “Hello mother.” Jenny said in an almost robotic tone. “How have you been?” An almost evil smile overtook the woman as she stared at her daughter. “I have been just great. I don’t have to put up with your disrespect, I don’t have to deal with your father and his arguments and I don’t have to listen to that old windbag of a grandmother. Life has never been better!” Marilyn said with confidence. I could see the anger building in Jenny and I reached for her hand. Marilyn looked down and watched and her demeanor changed from smugness to questioning and anger. “Why are you wearing that ring Alex?” Marilyn asked. Before Jenny could answer, I spoke and confidently informed my future mother-in-law that Jenny and I were engaged. “And its Alexa” I told her forcefully. Of all the people who disapproved of us getting married, Marilyn showed the most animosity of anyone. “I knew you two were sick, but this is just too far! I do not approve of this and will be doing something about this!” Jenny was not one to be stopped. “Mother you can do nothing, I repeat NOTHING to stop us from getting married. I am an adult and I love Alexa with all my heart and soul. You and your pettiness will not stop that. So, go crawl back to whatever bar you came from and leave us alone!” Marilyn stood there in shock as Jenny stormed off. Marilyn looked me dead in the eye and warned me “This isn’t over freak! You have not heard the last of me!” and then stormed off in the opposite direction.

I caught up with Jenny, who had found a bench and had broken-down crying. I placed an arm around her and she cuddled into me. “Why is she that way? We can’t she accept us?” Jenny asked as I held her. I had no answer to her questions. I wished I did. I knew that while the two were not close that the estrangement had been tough on Jenny. “I don’t know babe. I know we say she will come around, but I keep wondering if she will.” I propped Jenny up and looked into her eyes and asked, “Does it matter?” Jenny looks at me with those deep blue eyes filled with love and answers me “No it does not. All that matters is that we have each other.” We comfort each other for a minute before we make our way back to Jenny’s car and back to the apartment, where we found Katie and Danny curled up on the couch watching a movie. We decided to join them and took their normal spot in the chair and cuddled in to watch the movie. As we snuggled under a blanket, Jenny looked up at me.

“Besides Daddy and Grandma, this is all the family I need. I love you Lex” and planted a light kiss on my cheek before turning back to the movie. I reflected on the day that had passed. I had encountered people who both supported me and despised me for what and who I am. I cuddled in with Jenny and came to the same conclusion she had. Other than the two she had mentioned and my mother, all the family I needed was here with me right now, especially the wonderful woman who I held in my arms. I kissed Jenny on the top of the head and felt myself begin to nod off. A smile on my face knowing that life couldn’t get any better.

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