I can’t think of a better way to close out this crazy year than to celebrate Christmas with family… and my boyfriend.
The Marcus’s don’t really do Christmas, per se, but they’ve managed to schedule a family dinner on the first day of winter. This works out well for our travel plans – Julian and I are about to hop his plane to my family’s reunion in San Francisco. All of them. He’s going to meet all of them. My mother hasn’t stopped talking him up to my second cousins.
But today, it’s all about the Marcuses in their family home. It’s about what you expect. A cold, albeit tastefully decorated atmosphere. Servants at everyone’s beck and call, and all of them looking like they can’t wait for Mr. and Mrs. Marcus to go on their yearly tropical getaway so they can go home to their own families for Christmas. Serena Marcus is on her second eggnog of the night and texting all the other bitter, old has-been wives of other well-to-do men. Her husband drinks as much as her but manages a cheery disposition as he fawns over his five-month-old granddaughter and insists that she has her grandmother’s eyes.
It’s the Marcus boys who bring any warmth to this sad dinner. Jordan and Ted sit close together, their nanny already on her Christmas break and forcing them to be dads.
Julian, on the other hand, has never looked so comfortable around his family. Granted, it’s the brother and brother-in-law he talks to, but I am confident when I say I’ve never seen Julian so serene in the home he grew up in, let alone around his parents.
We’ve been together for almost a year. A year! Can anyone but Julian believe it? He’s always saying that it’s perfectly natural for us to have been together this long, and that we’re going to be together even longer. Me? I’m still trying to get used to the whirlwind life I’ve been living ever since Mr. Bradley made that stupid bet with my boyfriend. Bless him for it, though.
“By the way, we have an announcement to make,” Julian says before dessert is served. Everyone at the table grows quiet if they weren’t before. I shift in my seat. Jordan’s eyebrows go halfway up his head. Serena braces herself for a marriage announcement. After all, exactly one year ago, Ted announced that he was getting gay married and having his kids via a surrogate. Would she count her blessings that at least I’m a woman?
“Just tell us the date of the wedding so we can clear our schedules now,” Ted says as he accepts his daughter into his arms. Mr. Marcus sits down at the head of the table with a cigar clamped between his teeth. It takes both Serena and Jordan glaring at him for him to not light it around a baby. “Also, I suggest you name Julian Jr. anything but ‘Julian Jr.,’ because that sounds atrocious.”
Julian gives me that I told you so look he always gets when I suggest we present things a certain way to his family. Nope. Not happening. Never goes the way I imagine it in my head.
“It’s not that. For fuck’s sake.”
Ted pretends to cover his baby’s ears. “Language, Jules! Trying to raise a lady here.”
Julian rolls his eyes while I giggle in my seat. When’s he going to make the announcement? I’ve been dying to tell everyone since I got the news, but Julian made me promise to not share with anyone but my mother until he had a chance to tell his family first. Because they would find out through the grapevine, and he didn’t want that.
“Anyway,” Julian proudly wraps his arm around my shoulders. “My genius girlfriend has been accepted to UC Berkeley’s MBA program. You’re looking at a future CEO right here.”
I grin at Jordan, who grins back at me. “Congrats,” he says. “That’s a tough program to get into.”
“Helps to have the right connections,” Serena mutters.
I don’t care if going out with Julian made it easier for me to get into Berkeley. The point is that I made it into Berkeley! It was such a longshot, too! Last list I looked at ranked it as #3 in the country for MBA programs, and #1 on the west coast. I was hesitant to go somewhere in California, but Julian helped me figure out how to balance that kind of life while he stays based out of Portland.
“So how’s that going to work? You’re not commuting, are you?” Ted joins in on the party. “You finally moving to California, brother?”
“No.” Julian puts that to bed as quickly as he put us getting shotgun married to bed. “She’s getting an apartment near campus for a couple of years, and we’re going to split the commute, depending on my schedule.”
“Ah, now that’s love,” Mr. Marcus says.
“Quite. Well, don’t let the stress of it get to you. Think of all those hot Californian men moving in on your woman, Jules.”
“I’d rather not, thank you.”
Now it’s my turn to roll my eyes. You bet your ass I’m going to have a security detail the entire time I’m in Berkeley. Stu’s right-hand-man will make sure that nobody flirts with me both on and off campus. Julian will pay to make it so.
I admit, I’m nervous about living apart like that again. This October I moved into Julian’s penthouse because my lease was up. Now I’m getting my own apartment again? And won’t have the option of seeing, kissing, and sleeping next to him whatever night I want? We’ll meet up on the weekends, and he’ll come down to visit for whole weeks at a time if he can… and there are the breaks, of course… but it’s going to be hard.
Good thing I am confident that we will weather that storm. It’s only for two years. Not like we can’t see each other at all! What? Julian’s a billionaire! He can make anything happen!
Like making me his girlfriend. And possibly his wife. One day. I’ve made it clear that my MBA comes before any serious talks of rings and marriage licenses. Because as soon as I become Mrs. Julian Marcus, the expectations will be wilder than ever before. (You know which expectations I’m talking about. Social functions. Money management. Motherhood.)
Whew. One thing at a time!
We go to bed in one of the guest rooms with further plans on our lips. And the other person’s lips, I suppose. It’s hard for us to go to bed and not make out, honestly.
When your boyfriend smells as good as him, sounds as good as him, and looks as good as him? Good luck getting any sleep, girls!
“You really okay with me moving to Berkeley?” Let alone on his dime? Because I’m not getting financial aid, unless you count my boyfriend’s coffers.
“If it makes you happy, I’m fine with almost anything. Getting into Berkeley is a feat, Lyssa. Even if I somehow helped you by existing. You had to be pretty amazing, too.”
“I must be, if I got an internship at your place of business.”
He kisses me. “It is rather difficult to get that position too, yes. I’d say your grades and that alone got your foot in the door at Berkeley.”
He has no idea how smarmy that sounds, huh?
I don’t care. I love Julian, despite his flaws. (And Lordy does he have a few. Nothing I can’t deal with, though. I’m flawed too!) As long as he loves me, I know we can face anything together, including distance.
Being loved by a billionaire is something else. It may not be for everyone… but it’s definitely for me.
I’m so glad I gave Julian three chances to win me back. Now watch us prove that by making love three times tonight. Three chances to feel closer to the man I love than I have with anyone else before. The best part? Knowing he feels the same way about me.
This is for real. And it’s going to be forever. Watch us.