February 11th, Present Day, Los Angeles
“What if he doesn’t want to see me after all this time? What if he can’t ever forgive me for hurting him thirteen years ago?” Julia Santos continued to pace the floor of her art gallery as she wrung her hands together to keep from running them through her hair one more time. The new asymmetrical bob showed off her raven colored hair beautifully, but Julia had a hell of a time getting used to not having her locks piled on top of her head or cascading down her back. The new cut gave her a more professional and confident look for one of the biggest meetings of her career, but now her nerves were shot to hell and her confidence seemed to be fading fast. I can’t do this now. I should’ve never let Carmen send that letter to him.
“Well, at least you tried. If you end up doing the artwork for the club at the MGM Grand, you may run into him from time to time. His brother is Stephen Eischer’s right hand man. You’re going to have to work fairly close with him too.”
Julia stopped her pacing to stare at her lover and partner of over twenty-five years. “Carmen, I don’t think I can do this. I completely forgot about Eric having a say in this job. I mean, he could easily tell Mr. Eischer not to hire me and I could lose a chance to showcase my work in Vegas. The MGM Group is only one part of that city. Eischer doesn’t call Vegas his town just to be cute. He really does own most of it and has stakes in all the rest.” Her breath caught in her throat as she tried not to cry. “My past could very well come back to haunt me again.”
Carmen crossed the room swiftly and took her into her arms, holding her tightly.
Julia buried her face and hands in the other woman’s long blonde hair and let the tears flow.
“Honey, you’ve come a long way since then. You’ve faced some pretty horrible stuff from your childhood and made it through. You can do this. It’s not about whether or not they’ll accept that you’ve changed.”
“I know. It’s about me accepting that I’ve changed and accepting myself.”
Carmen brushed the tears from Julia’s face and kissed her softly. “So, when are you going to accept and forgive yourself for your past mistakes?”
Julia sighed deeply as she rested her cheek against Carmen’s shoulder. “As soon as I can figure out how to face Jacob one more time and explain myself…maybe then I’ll be able to move on.”
“Well, let’s get your bags packed while you work on that piece of the puzzle. The longer you keep worrying and pacing, the less time you have to figure out what you’ll need to take with you to Vegas. I for one don’t wish to be up half the night. You have a flight to catch early tomorrow morning and you know what a bear I am without enough sleep.”
“What did I ever do to deserve someone like you in my life?”
Carmen smiled and Julia’s heart raced. It was the very same smile that hooked her from the first instant she laid eyes on her. “You stole my heart the moment you walked into that play party our friends planned to introduce you and some others into the lifestyle. I couldn’t take my eyes off you that night. I knew right from that moment you’d be the best damn sub I would ever have, or want to have. Kitten, don’t you know how much I love you?
“Yes, I do.” Julia kept her arm around Carmen as she led her down the hallway to their private quarters. “Every single day of my life for the last thirteen years I’ve thanked Lady Fate for showing me my heart always belonged to you. I denied my feelings for you for so long and yet, you still stood by me even at my worst. I would’ve died if She hadn’t intervened.”
Carmen hugged her tighter. “The Goddess answered my prayers that too. You were living on the edge back then. I didn’t know what else to do but let you go. You needed to find out what and who you really wanted in your life. All I could do was hope you’d choose me.”
“I did choose you, Carm and continue to choose you every single day since. You’re right, though. I need to see Jacob and get that part of my past behind me once and for all, so I can finally give you the wedding you deserve.”
“I don’t need a ceremony to prove how much we love each other. I have you by my side now and that’s all that matters to me.”
“So you’ve said many times through the years, but I know you. I’ve seen your eyes light up when our friends talk of their wedding days. I want you to have those stories too. You’re my heart, my soul, as well as my Mistress. Let me do this for you, please.” Julia wanted so badly to give her lover the one thing she desired most, but would never admit it out loud.
“How about we get you through this trip to Vegas before we start making plans for a wedding?” Carmen brushed Julia’s bangs across her forehead and then trailed her cool fingertips down her flushed cheek. “I wish I could be there with you for the whole trip, but I will join you as soon as I finish up the last of the hospital board meetings. You can count on it.”
“I’m going to hold you to that. Vegas is the marriage capital of the world, you know.”
Carmen chuckled softly. “You’ve got your heart set on this, don’t you?”
“Yes, Mistress. I would do anything to show the world just how much I love you.” Julia knelt before Carmen with her hands behind her back awaiting further instructions.”
“Like I said, the best damn sub I could ever wish to have.”
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