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After a shopping spree preparing Brittney for a proper married life Laurel came home to get ready for her date with Josh. She’d decided to be honest with him and tell him she wasn’t feeling the same attraction he was. She was just finishing her makeup when she heard the knock at the door. When she came down the stairs she was shocked to see not Josh, but Urs standing in the entry.
“Urs…has something happened to Josh?” Laurel was worried.
“He was called to London on urgent business and had to leave just minutes ago. He had tickets to the theatre tonight and asked me to escort you instead of letting them go to waste.”
“Ah, well you needn’t trouble yourself for my sake Mr. Buhler. I wouldn’t mind a night in.”
Urs paused, “I would…like it if you would come with me, Laurel.”
Laurel looked back up the stairs and thought about Brittney who was currently deciding which of her new purchases to show Sebastien first. She didn’t want to impose on their evening plans for marital pleasure.
“Fine. Let me grab my coat.”
They went to the theatre and saw a Yazmina Reza play in the original French. Thankfully Laurel had seen the English adaption so she could keep up with what was happening. Sitting next to Urs was highly unsettling. The anger she felt towards him was burning inside her yet it was also mixed with the intense attraction she still felt for him. The way his hair curled just behind his ears, the tight hug of his custom suit across his broad chest, and the incredibly sharp jaw bones that would probably cut her if she tried to slap him.
The play was over too quickly and Laurel didn’t want to return home too quickly and overhear anything at the house so when Urs offered to take her out for dessert she accepted. She tried to say as few words as possible. Urs offered little conversation as well, remaining silent after vaguely asking about her mother and sisters.
“Will Josh be back soon?” She asked.
“I’m afraid not. His business will probably have him in England through the rest of your stay in France.”
“I’m sorry to hear it.”
“Are you extremely fond of him?”
Laurel looked into Urs’ eyes for the first time that night. She knew from her encounters with him that he was a man who could read her when she was lying so she decided to not try.
“I wish I felt more for him than I do,” she admitted. “He’s a wonderful man, I wish things were different.”
“Yes, that is unfortunate,” Urs replied looking at his plate and not at Laurel.
They finished their dessert silently and made for home. When they pulled up to the beautiful brick house Urs walked Laurel to the door against her protestations.
“Thank you for joining me tonight, Laurel.”
“You’re welcome.” Laurel looked at her feet.
“Would you like to accompany me tomorrow night to a gala at the Lourve? They’re opening a new exhibit.”
Laurel was surprised that he would want to spend any more time with her than necessary. She wanted to reply with an outright no but she remembered her friend who was bonding with her husband and the temptation of a private and certainly lavish gala at the most famous museum in the world was overwhelming.
“All right,” she finally said.
“I will pick you up at eight,” Urs said and turned and walked away without even saying good night.
Laurel watched him go and went to bed still shocked.
Laurel was excited to buy another fancy dress for the gala at the Lourve. She and Brittney found the perfect dress at a fashion house downtown. Laurel hated how much she paid, but she looked like a million bucks in the dress and couldn’t pass it up. The dress was dusty pink bias cut that hugged her hips but flowed down to a short train at the back. The neck scooped down in front and the straps met in the back forming a T down the center. Laurel curled her hair and left it down around her shoulders. She went without a necklace but put in silver dangling earrings. She wrapped her white cashmere scarf around her shoulders because it was just the end of March and the winds sometimes picked up at night.
When she came around the corner and to the top of the stairs she saw that Urs was already waiting for her. He was decked out in tails for the occasion. His fair was gelled perfectly. Laurel squashed down the feelings of desire that still leapt up with she saw him. She hated him more than she could ever think him handsome.
“Laurel, you look beautiful tonight,” Urs said offering her his arm.
“Thank you, Urs.” She took his arm lightly, making sure to not seem too eager about the evening. Laurel saw Urs had rented a black Bentley for the evening and was driving it himself. Laurel had never been in such an expensive and fancy car and she mentally added it to the list of new exciting things she had done in France. It was the second to last night of her stay.
They didn’t say anything on the way to topkapı escort the Lourve and didn’t have much of a chance once there either. They were ushered to the new exhibit: The Springtime of the Renaissance — Sculpture and the Arts in Florence, 1400-1460. The pieces were beautiful and immaculately curated. The guests had about an hour of milling around the exhibit and socializing. Laurel recognized some prominent French officials and even some celebrities, but she kept to herself only really speaking when Urs introduced her to someone.
At around nine o’clock every found their tables for the dinner and the opening ceremony. Laurel thought the food tasted wonderful even if she couldn’t pronounce a word of it. The ceremony was in French and she tried to keep up but was often confused. One thing she did understand was that the number one contributor to the exhibit was the Buhler Family. Urs was announced and stood and waved slightly to the applause of the room.
After the ceremony, the socializing began again. Urs introduced Laurel to an older couple who only spoke French. Laurel apologized as best she could for not being able to understand them then stood next to Urs while he talked. She could tell they were talking about her, but not what they were saying.
“Urs, Ta copine est tres belle,” said the striking women with white hair.
“Merci Madame, elle est belle,” said Urs and as he did, she felt his arm come around her waist. His hand stayed on the small of her back. His index finger touching the bare skin above the cut of the dress she was wearing. She felt herself tense up and swallowed hard. But Urs kept his hand there, still talking to the couple with him.
After what seemed like ages the couple said Au revoir and walked away. Laurel stepped away from Urs and with a scathing look said “Excuse me, I need some fresh air.” She escaped out the door and walked through the cool air wishing she’d stopped for her cashmere at the coat-check. She walked into the shadow of the giant glass pyramid that stood in the courtyard of the Lourve. No matter what the French thought, Laurel liked the pyramid, it was a modern work of art among the ancient treasures inside the museum.
She shivered as she looked up at the lights around the monument.
“Laurel!” she heard Urs running toward her. He came up and placed his tux jacket around her shoulders. It was warm from having been on him and she was thankful for it.
“Are you alright?” He asked.
“I’m fine,” she lied, “Just needed air.”
She felt his arm snake around her waist again.
“Urs, what are you doing?”
“Warming you,” he responded taking another step closer to her. Their bodies were practically touching.
“Laurel,” he whispered, tightening his grip on her waist. He placed a finger under her chin and tipped her face to look into his eyes. Even in her heels he had four inches on her.
“Yes?” she whispered back.
He placed his mouth over hers and kissed her. Laurel was lost in the kiss for a moment, wrapped in his warm arms, but then reality set in and she shoved him away.
“What are you doing?” she yelled.
“Kissing you…” he looked confused.
“Well I can tell that! I mean, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Laurel…I love you.”
“What?” Laurel was breathless.
“I know it is a terrible idea and not the kind of match I’m expected to make but I love you…and I was under the impression you felt the same.”
“Love you? Me? Love you? I don’t even like you! I hate you!”
“What reason have you to hate me?” Urs’ voice was rising now as well.
“You know why I hate you!”
“No, Laurel, enlighten me.”
“You’ve probably forever ruined the happiness of my favorite sister.”
“Jennifer and David? The match was never smart. And it was obvious that the relationship was one of advantages for your family and none for him. I ended the foreseen humiliation.”
“Humiliation? You think my sister would have been a humiliation?”
“Not Jennifer, but the rest of your sisters and even your mother. A marriage between and David and Jennifer would have been the laughing stock of our community. I did what any good friend would do.”
“And what about Carlos?”
Urs laughed darkly, “Yes, poor Carlos Marin, the disinherited adoptive son of my late father. His misfortunes have been great, haven’t they?”
“You laugh about what you did to him,” Laurel was disgusted.
Urs yelled back, “You know nothing of my family’s affairs to judge my dealings with him.”
Laurel stared at him, surprised that he had lost his temper in such a way.
“I apologize for yelling.”
Laurel slipped his jacket from her shoulders.
“I’m going to leave,” she murmured.
“So that’s it?” He asked. “I tell you I love you and you leave?”
“I have nothing else to say to you. I hope you don’t suffer long, but I’m sure the knowledge that I would be such a terrible and awful match tuzla escort for you will help you to forget me.”
She threw the jacket at him and strode away toward the street. She hailed a cab and went straight home. She didn’t take any care to be quiet as she came into the house and slammed all the doors she went through. She fell asleep still fuming.
The next day, Laurel had calmed down and Brittney helped her to pack for her return to New York. As the sun set Laurel heard someone at the door then the door to her room slowly opened. She looked up to see Urs standing holding her white cashmere scarf and a blue envelope..
She looked at it, but did not take it.
“This is to explain my actions,” he said quietly. “I promise there are no repetitions of the sentiments you found so disgusting last night.”
Laurel took the letter.
Urs started to leave then turned back, “Please don’t open it until you’ve taken off tomorrow.”
Then he was gone.
Laurel waited until her plane was flying over the Atlantic to pull the note from Urs out of her bag. It read:
Please do me the honor of reading this letter in full, thereby allowing me explain the two matters that have soiled your view of me of which you informed last evening. Two situations not equal, but both troubling have clouded your view of me and I seek not to change your mind, nor ease my pain, but to put right issues which should have been addressed immediately.
First, the fact that I essentially broke up the relationship between Jennifer, your sister and my friend David Miller. It was never hidden from me that David felt a great affection for your sister from the moment he met her. This fact was not hidden from anyone in the town. But it was made very clear to me that the entire town also expected a speedy engagement. This was let slip by many of the more talkative women of the town, including your own mother. I started to pay very close attention to their interactions and came to the conclusion that your sister did quite like David, she did not share the same deep love he was feeling for her. Since you know your sister much better than I, I will take the blame if in fact she did love him as you claim. I must say, that was not the only reason for breaking up the relationship, the second reason being the inappropriate behavior of your younger sisters and mother in public and the unfortunate circumstances that your family is in since the death of your father. I do not mean to offend, but it must be considered. After the Christmas Eve party David was ready to make an offer of marriage to Jennifer, but through the discouragement from both David’s sister and I, he changed his mind. We also thought it best to leave the countryside as soon as possible to prevent a change of decision.
You also brought up the point of contradiction that I would object to a match between your sister and my friend yet not between you and I. It must be said that I had the same objections to your family, yet seeing you in Europe I was able to separate you from the rest of your family and succumbed to the attraction I felt for you from the beginning.
I must also admit to my part in the concealment of your sister’s being in New York for the last three months as I did not think it wise to reintroduce the matter to David.
As for the other matter you bring up concerning Mr. Carlos Marin. My father and his were boyhood friends, as were Carlos and I. When Carlos’ father died we took Carlos in and I will admit my father had a deep fatherly love for him. My father died when I was twenty-five and Carlos was twenty-two. My father had wished for Carlos to continue his education and attend the finest medical school in Europe so when Carlos came to me demanding his share of my father’s wealth I gave him the $250,000 my father had left him in his will. It should have been enough money to pay for any medical school and cover years of living during a medical residency. I did not hear from Carlos for a year and when he finally returned to Switzerland it was to demand more money. I asked what had happened to the quarter of a million dollars he’d been given and he would not tell me. Upon investigation I found he had gambled it all away and was thousands of dollars in debt. I made it very clear he would not receive another penny from me.
Carlos disappeared for another year. I was traveling through North America when unknown to me Carlos returned to my estate in Switzerland and began a relationship with my younger sister Elinor. She was madly infatuated with him, as many women are and when he proposed to run away together, she readily accepted. Thankfully I returned the day before they were to leave. My sister and I have always been very close and she revealed to me what her plan was. I was infuriated and immediately found Carlos and banished him from ever returning to our home and made it very clear to him that even if he had married Elinor he would never have received a penny of her money. pendik escort You see her inheritance ranges in the hundred millions, which must have been his chief goal. I avoided a public lawsuit against him to save my sister from embarrassment. At the time she was only nineteen.
I hope this letter clears the disdain you have for me, but if you still doubt my intentions please seek the counsel of Josh Gordan who has been aware of the events I have disclosed and can speak for my character. I also know he is a man whose good opinion you trust.
In good faith,
Laurel read the letter fully three times in a row. She couldn’t decide what she was feeling; so many thoughts and emotions were bombarding her all at one that she felt completely numb. She knew she didn’t need to check the facts with Josh; everything Urs said was the truth. With shaking hands she put the letter back into its envelope and into her bag. Laurel tried to think of other things-anything else, but by the end of her flight she has Urs’ letter memorized.
Jennifer picked Laurel up at JFK airport that night and they went back to Jennifer’s apartment. Laurel was going to spend the week with Jen before helping her move home at the end of her internship. They sat on Jennifer’s bed and chatted just like old times.
“How’s Brittney?” Jennifer asked.
“Brittney’s great!” Laurel said truthfully. She was so happy that her friend had finally settled into her new life and new home. “She and Sebastien are very happy together…have you heard from David?”
“Um, no. He’s been out of the country most of the time I’ve been here and when he’s in town he only sees MaryAnn…and he’s dating Urs’ sister.”
Laurel wasn’t surprised.
“And what about you? Anything exciting happen?” Jennifer asked.
“Me? No. Nothing out of the ordinary,” Laurel lied.
Upon returning home, things were about the same as they had been the spring before. The grief of losing their father still hung around the house and there was an extra layer of loss from the spoiled relationships that had come and gone over the last year. Laurel was glad to see the family business had actually profited over the quarter and was still on the rise, ‘we’ll make it out of this yet,’ she thought.
The first week of May, Cydalia and Katarina came home from college, one in ecstasy and the other in tears.
“It’s not fair!” Katarina yelled to her mother and sisters, “I’m just as smart and talented. I should have been invited to go too!”
“Don’t pout Kat!” Cyd shrieked. “I’ll tell you all about it when I get back!”
Cyd waved a packet of information in Laurel’s face. Laurel grabbed it and opened the binder. The top page read, “Cydalia Bennett has been invited to accompany the Albany University Ambassadors on their yearly trip to Spain on full scholarship.”
“You’ve been chosen for a free scholarship?” Laurel was surprised.
“Rude, Laurel!” Cydalia stared at her.
Kat added, “She was only invited because the student body president thinks she hot!”
“So what if he does? At least I was invited!”
Kat plunged into another set of wailing.
“Well Kat you can stop crying and Cyd you can start, because you’re not going.” Laurel said.
“You can’t tell me I can’t go!” Cyd yelled. “I’m an adult and you don’t even have to pay for it!”
“It’s not the money issue. It’s that it’s a bad idea for you to go to a foreign country without any family and no adults either.”
“I’m an adult, Laurel! I’m 20 years old!”
Margaret interjected, “Laurel, that’s not fair. Cydalia can go to Spain if she wants to.”
Cyd squealed with joy, Kat sobbed, and Laurel sighed.
Two days later a letter came for Laurel. The return address said it was from the International Guild of Family Owned Businesses. Laurel opened it and read the enclosed documents. The top letter read:
Dear Miss Bennett;
We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected at the New York delegate to the International Conference of Family Businesses for 2014 being held in Geneva, Switzerland. As this is your first year as a delegate, the registration fee is waived and the airfare will be reimbursed to your upon submission of your travel forms.
Please fill out the enclosed forms and return them as soon as possible.
We look forward to your contribution to the International Guild of Family Owned Business and to meeting you the first week of June in Geneva.
James D. Barton
President of the International Guild of Family Owned Businesses
“Well this is a surprise!” Laurel said showing the letter to Jennifer.
Jennifer read the letter, “Laurel, that’s great!”
“But how did they get my name?”
“Does it matter?” Jennifer asked. “This is a huge honor. You can’t turn it down.”
“Well of course not,” Laurel laughed. “I just wonder who I should thank for this, that’s all”Laurel filled out the paperwork and returned it quickly. She and Cyd were to fly out to Europe on the same day-the first of June.
While Laurel was packing she realized she was missing her favorite pair of heels. She only had one guess of where it could be.
“Cyd, do you have my purple Vera Wang heels?”
“Um…no,” she answered.
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