After moving to Montreal in search of more employment opportunities and living there for four years, Elise decided to move back to Paris. Living in Montreal made her nostalgic for the little cafes she used to haunt in the Latin Quarter. She missed her family and friends. Most of all, she missed Jules.
She found out from his mother that he was living in Marais. When she looked at the address, she saw that it was within walking distance from her parent’s home. His mother was happy to see her and they had a nice, long chat. Elise asked her not to let Jules know that she was back. She wanted to surprise him. After promising to visit again, she left.
She went home and took a quick shower. As she got dressed, she wondered how Jules would react when he saw her. The night before she left for Canada, they had dinner at a restaurant which offered a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. They talked about her move to Canada and after dinner, they went for a walk along the Seine River. It was a beautiful night. “Where will you stay?” he asked.
“I have an aunt who lives in Montreal. I will stay with her until I find a job.”
He looked at her. “I will miss you,” he said quietly.
She looked up at him. “I will miss you too.”
“You will keep in touch, won’t you?”
“Of course, I will.”
They stood there for a moment, facing each other. For a brief and maddening moment, she wanted him to kiss her. “I’d better take you home,” he said. “You have an early flight in the morning.”
Disappointed, she turned and fell into step beside him as they walked to his car. They didn’t say much on the ride over to her house. He walked her to the door and when they were standing out there, he reached down and hugged her. She closed her eyes and hugged him back. When he drew back, he stared down into her face for a long moment during which her heart was pounding fast and hard. Then, he leaned over and kissed her.
It began as a tentative caress and then turned into a passionate kiss. She reached up and gripped the sides of his jacket as she kissed him back. This lasted for several minutes and then he pulled back and muttered, “Goodbye, Elise.” Before she could say anything, he turned and quickly walked away from her.
She watched him go, her heart breaking. Her parents were still up but she went straight up to her room and didn’t leave it until it was time to have breakfast before heading to the airport.
The next time she saw him it was in the summer of the following year. She had no idea that he was in Montreal until he called her one afternoon from his hotel room. Excited, she dropped everything and took a taxi over to the hotel. She knocked on the door and it was opened immediately. He smiled at her as she stood there in her tan colored jacket over a white dress, arms folded and grinning broadly. Then she was throwing her arms around him, almost knocking him over. “It’s so good to see you,” she exclaimed as they hugged.
“It’s good to see you too,” he said when they drew apart. He pulled her into the room and closed the door. Before she had a chance to look around the suite, his arms were around her waist and he was pulling her roughly against him. “I’ve missed you so much,” he muttered thickly before he lowered his head and kissed her. Elise’s arms traveled over his arms and found their way around his neck as she responded to his fiery kisses.
They ended up spending the rest of the afternoon in his suite and he ordered room service. He spent three weeks which went by very quickly. After that they saw each in the summer and over the Christmas holidays.
The knock on her bedroom door interrupted her daydreaming and she went and opened the door. It was her mother. “Your Aunt Lourdes invited us for dinner tonight,” she said. “Would you like to join us?”
“Sorry, Maman, but I have other plans. I’m going to see Jules.”
“So it is serious between Jules and you?”
Elise nodded. “Yes, it is.”
“Well, I’m happy for you. Jules is a very nice young man. His mother did a very good job raising him. I’ll see you later then.” She turned to leave and then paused. She looked over her shoulder. “It is good to have you home again.”
“It’s good to be home, Maman,” she said. When she was alone again, she quickly fixed her hair and checked herself in the mirror before hurrying out of the bedroom. Five minutes later she was walking to Jules’ apartment building.
It was the last day in April so the weather was beginning to warm up somewhat. The cashmere sweater she wore with the skinny jeans kept her warm and they looked great with her ballerina apartments. As she hurried down the sidewalk, she hoped Jules was home. He was. When she rang the doorbell, she heard his footsteps and then the sound of the latch being pulled back.
He opened the door and started when he saw her. His eyes grew wide.
“Surprise,” she said, laughing.
He stood there staring at her. “What are you doing here?” he asked. Then collecting himself, he took her arm and pulled her inside the apartment. After closing and locking the door, he turned to look at her. “Why didn’t you call or email me to tell me that you were going to be in Paris.”
“I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, you succeeded. How long are you here for?”
“I’m here for good. I’m not going back to Montreal. I moved back to Paris.”
“When did you move back?”
“This morning. I’m staying at my parents’ house for now.” He looked so cute in his white polo tee shirt and blue jeans. “How many of these things do you have?” she asked, tugging at the sleeve.
“Too many,” he replied dryly. He reached for her and pulled her against him, his eyes dropping to her lips, his parting in anticipation. “Kiss me.”
“I thought you’d never ask,” she murmured huskily before she reached up and pulled his head down to hers.
Several hours later, they were relaxing on the sofa. She was wearing his robe. She turned to look at him, reaching over and running her fingers through his hair which was still a bit damp from the shower. He rested his hand on her thigh. “Why did you really move to Montreal?” he asked.
“I was trying to prove something to myself. Growing up, I always felt so unsure of myself. I was the gawky kid who didn’t think she was particularly good at anything. In high school, I wanted to be daring like some of the girls but I didn’t have the guts to do it. It changed when I was in college. I was more confident because my academic excellence. In a sense, I’m happy that I went to Montreal. Being there made me realize that my identity is more than my accomplishments or my failures. It’s who I am as a person. I don’t see myself as awkward any more, just unique.”
“And I see you as the incredible woman I love and want to spend the rest of my life with,” he said reaching into the pocket of his robe and pulling out a small box.
Elise gaped as he opened it and revealed an exquisitely beautiful diamond ring. “When did you…?”
“I bought it in January and was planning to give it to you when I saw you in June. But, now that you’re here, I see no reason why I shouldn’t give it to you now.” He slid off the sofa and got on one knee. “Elise, will you marry me?”
She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. The tears in her eyes made him a big blur. She felt rather than saw him slip the ring on her finger. She brushed the tears away. He got up from the floor and sat beside her again. He pulled her onto his lap and his mouth found hers. She put her arms around his neck, closing her eyes as she kissed him back. She couldn’t wait to see her mother’s face when she showed her the ring.