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Chapter 23

Cassie

“I don’t understand. How are we both in the wedding?” I asked still in awe as we made our way through the bridal boutique.

“Tammy added you to her bridesmaids last night. She said it was for her sister in law, and Alex never even questioned it, so that tells me, they have been talking about the two of us.” Joe said.

“So you’re one of the groomsmen?”

“Kind of, I’m the best man.” He said.

“Joe, I didn’t even know you knew the groom. Why am I finding out all these things, after everyone else? Is there anything else I should know?” I asked a little short.

“Well, one big thing. Alex is Alexandra Yzerman, the captain of the Canadian women’s hockey team. They have been together for years.” Joe said and I was confused.

If Tammy was with Alexandra, then, that means, she never had any interest in Joe. She let me believe that her and Joe were a couple, and everyone else in the office must have known that was the farthest from the truth. That sneaky little witch. I smiled. I would get my revenge for that.

“Why are you smiling?” Joe asked me.

“Tammy is a snot. She let me believe something that the rest of the world knew was impossible, but my mind was so focused, I never would have known the difference.” I explained.

“Like father like daughter.” Joe said pushing me to try on the bridesmaid dress.

It was a beautiful blue chiffon dress that was very elegant and respectful. It was tied at the waste with a black sash, and that was it. Classy and stylish all in one. I was very pleased with her choice of bridesmaid dress. I even took a picture of it and sent it to Cindy and said this is what she should have for her wedding party.

Cindy and I talked the night I met with Joe at the stadium. Her and Mark were both very happy for me, and when I explained that I wouldn’t be back, I don’t think either one was real surprised. They knew I would do whatever it took to get Joe back, and I did.

My bosses at the bank however were not as happy, and even threatened a lawsuit over my departure. Joe was with me when I called and then he got on the phone, and after a few moments with him in business mode, not only did they apologize to me, but they wished us both well, in our futures.

I wanted to tell Mamma Jade what was going on, but Joe said to wait, and we would tell them together the next time he had to fly to Syracuse. I wasn’t about to argue with that.

We were all focused on the playoffs that we had qualified for. We had the game tonight, and win or lose, we were still going to be a two seed. Joe and Thomas came up with an award to hand out at the last game, kind of like Joe did in Syracuse, for an exceptional employee. They were calling it the Hat Trick Award.

The recipient of the award would get three surprises from the management, and Joe was bursting at the seams to be the first presenter. No one was supposed to know, but it was to be Tammy, kind of a goodbye tribute before her wedding and her leave of absence from the organization. Her and Alex were going to spend the entire off season in Lake Tahoe.

I had all I could do to not tell her. We were getting closer every day, and it felt wrong to keep this from her, but she deserved it after the game she played with me, at least that is what I told myself. I wanted her to squirm a little bit. I smiled at the thought.

We left the shop and Joe and I went our separate ways. He had to get back to the office to meet with Charles about some stadium renovations after the season was over and I was meeting Tammy for lunch. I was in charge of keeping her busy, so she didn’t figure out what was going on tonight.

I got the restaurant at two thirty and Tammy was already waiting. We talked about the dress and how lovely it was and she was just excited to have me in her wedding party. I was so happy to be here with her, it made me miss Cindy, but it still felt right being with Tammy.

Then she cleared her throat. “So about the Hat Trick Award tonight. What do you know?”

OK my heart dropped. I knew I began squirming in my seat. I couldn’t tell her and ruin the surprise. How was I going to get around this? “Uh, it sounds like a nice award.”

She just stared at me and then she began laughing. She laughed and laughed and I thought she was having one of her episodes that Joe warned me about. She dabbed her eyes to dry the tears and then she looked at me smiling.

“I can tell you don’t want to say anything to me, so that tells me what I need to know.” Tammy said smiling even more.

“Shit, you can’t tell anyone you found out.” I said urgently.

“Why would I do that. Me and my father are the only two who know who’s getting the award anyway.” She said smiling even more.

“You mean it’s not you?” I asked.

“Of course not, where would the fun in that be. Cassie, we own the team. We can’t give ourselves stuff, it would seem wrong, not just to us, but to the fans. Oh no, this will be so much better.” She said.

Then it hit me. “Joe,” I whispered.

“Exactly, he’s had this coming for years. Now me and Dad get to make him squirm and there is nothing he can do about it. It’s going to be so much fun.” She said laughing again.

“The contract, that’s why I wasn’t allowed to say anything about the contract. Your father is up to something, and it’s something big?” I said.

“Yup, and you thought you were coming here to keep me occupied, but in reality, I am going to be keeping you company. This way you can’t spill the beans to Joe, and we can go over one last thing.” Tammy said still smiling.

I was just amazed, not that I should be. I knew they loved Joe, and I knew the contract was a lifetime contract, so they could pretty much assign him to any position they wanted. It said right in the contract that Joe answered to no one but the owners of the Team. SO what were they going to do?

“What would you like to go over?” I asked.

“How are you and Joe doing?” She asked and it was my turn to blush.

I couldn’t tell her that night after the reconciliation I planned on going slow, but we didn’t and we couldn’t. We were all tangled up together before we got in the door of my condo. It was everything I knew it would be and more. He was so attentive and loving, and then sometimes he was hurried and passionate. We were like two kids in an amusement park by ourselves. It was amazing.

“Good,” I said instead and I knew I was blushing.

“Well we need to talk. Where are you and Joe headed? I mean what is your future?” She asked seriously.

“We are already staying together, and we are talking about moving in with each other after the season.” I confessed.

“That’s a terrible idea.” She said.

“What, how can that be a bad idea? We love each other, and we want to spend as much time together as we can.” I said back a little loudly and people from other tables were looking at us. “Sorry,” I said not believing I had just caused a scene.

“Well, I’m one of those old fashioned girls that think you shouldn’t live together until your married. I mean don’t get me wrong, me and Alex have stayed with each other and escaped on romantic trips, but we haven’t lived with each other. We are waiting till after the ceremony.” She explained.

I understood what she was saying, but I didn’t want to wait. I loved Joe, and he loved me. We wanted to be together.

“I don’t know how long it will be before we he is ready to ask me and marry him, and I really don’t want to wait to be together. Tammy, I love him with all my heart, I just want to be with him.” I explained.

“I know, that’s how I felt about Alex. That’s why I didn’t wait. I proposed to her. I was scared and excited and hopeful, and when she said yes, well, I was the happiest person in the world. It was the best decision I ever made.”

I envied her. She was so happy about where her and Alex were headed. I was actually a little jealous. “I wished Joe would propose to me. I can’t wait to feel that way.”

“That’s the thing. We aren’t in the sixties anymore. I think if a woman wants a man, and she believes in her heart that they belong together, then she shouldn’t be afraid to propose to him.” Tammy said looking at me intently.

I don’t know what she was expecting. I mean yeah, I came out here to win him back. And I said I would do anything to spend the rest of my life with him, but I didn’t think I could do that. Could I?

“I’m scared to do that Tammy. What if he says no? We are in the right place now. I don’t want to mess this up.” I tried to explain.

“Cassie, we never know how long we will be on this earth, take it from someone who knows. I didn’t want to lose a single day with Alex, what about you?”

“I just never thought about proposing. I mean, I dreamed of being the one being proposed to. Tammy I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do that.” I said.

“Well here was my thought. It’s your decision though. This new Hat Trick Award, has three parts. I am the first part, and Daddy is the last, we could let you have the second spot, if you wanted?” She said and the enormity of the situation wasn’t lost on me.

Proposing to Joe in front of Twenty thousand people, holy shit. Were we ready for that? I knew I was. I wanted to marry him when I chased him out here, and it’s only gotten stronger. I needed and wanted Joe in my life for the rest of it. Could I do this? Could I not?

I looked at Tammy and smiled. “How do you propose to a man?”

She giggled. “First, we find an engagement ring. This is going to be so much fun.” She said jumping up and grabbing me by the arm and pulling me after her.

Joe

“Are you ready for tonight?” Thomas asked me as he walked in.

“Oh yeah, the deed to the lake Tahoe property is here and I will make sure I present it to her with a flourish. You never said what the other two surprises are for her.” I said showing him the deed and how it was already in her name.

“I know. Let an old man have his fun. I want to do the surprising tonight. You are first. Alex is second, and I am last. That’s all I’m sharing with you.” He said laughing.

Well it was more than I had before. I was sure Alex would have something romantic, but what was Charles doing for the third and big surprise? I knew the jerk wouldn’t tell me. He liked to keep things close to the chest.

“Did you get it?” He asked me waking me up from my daydreams and thoughts.

I nodded. I almost regretted telling him about it, but he was like my father and I needed someone I could talk to. I opened my desk and pulled it out and handed it to him. He opened the box slowly and I heard him take a deep breath. I did a good job.

“Wow, Joe, this is amazing.” He said looking it all over.

I went shopping one afternoon when Cassie was helping Tammy. I ended up at the Diamond Emporium. It didn’t take me long to find exactly what I wanted. It was a heart shaped diamond surrounded by small emeralds and sapphires. It was amazing, just like the girl I was going to propose to with it.

“Joe. This is fantastic. I knew the moment I saw you two together that night in the box. I’m surprised you waited this long.” He said smiling.

“Long, It’s been two weeks. I’m worried about rushing it. I have the girl and the ring, now I just need a romantic place to propose to her at. I was thinking about taking her back to Syracuse and doing it where we met, in front of our old apartment building, what do you think?” I asked. I valued his opinion.

“Nope, not good enough. Not for a girl like Cassie. It has to be special. We can discuss it on the way. I need to run over to see Chet, the company Lawyer and sign a few things. He will love seeing the ring, bring it with you, and the deed. I don’t know if we will be back before tonight.” Thomas said already walking out my office door.

I grabbed the deed and followed him out. Chet was a good guy, but you could tell he was Thomas’s man through and through. I had no idea what papers Thomas needed to sign but I was sure it had something to do with Tammy, and I hoped Chet treated Tammy with the respect she deserved if it came to that.

Cassie

Diamonds International, a name that means chi ching. I had some money saved up, and I could think of no one I would rather spend it on, but I felt a little out of place, well I did, until the owner saw Tammy.

“Ah. Miss Tammy. We have missed you. How is everything progressing with the wedding plans?” He asked her.

“Splendid Donald, but today we are here for my sister Cassie.” She said indicating me.

“Oh my, and what a lovely sister you have. You should have brought her in much sooner and I would have tried to steal her heart.” He said in a way that I knew he was making a joke.

I smiled. But I was nervous.

“Cassie is shopping for a ring she can give a special man for an engagement ring.” Tammy shared with him.

“Oh miss Tammy, I love your ideas. We actually have a collection just for that occasion. Please follow me to the back.” He said leading us into the back of the very large showroom. He got us comfortable in two padded chairs and went in search of his collection.

“Tammy, I don’t know if I can afford this place.” I stuttered.

“Of course you can. Besides, if we find the right ring, it won’t matter. You’ll just know.” She said as Donald walked back with a cloth covered tray. He set it down on the table in front of us and removed the felt covering.

I was breathless. All the rings were bands with diamonds encrusted in them. Some had other stones, but diamonds were the number one stone, and they were all beautiful. I looked at them one at a time, and while beautiful, none of them said Joe to me. I looked at Tammy and smiled.

“They are all beautiful, but they are not right for him. All a little to flashy.” I explained.

“I agree,” she said looking at Donald. “They just aren’t right Donald.”

“I see, well I am sure I have something for the gentleman in question. What size is he, and what are his stone preferences?” He asked and I was lost.

I looked at Tammy guilelessly. She smiled and then she took my hand. “I have a surprise for you.” Donald, I need your assurance of confidentiality.”

“Of course, Miss Tammy, I never discuss a purchase with anyone but the buyer.” He said a little taken aback.

“You didn’t ask her who the ring was for Donald.” She said still smiling.

“You are quite right. Sometimes there is a clue in the name as to what they would like. What is the name may I ask?”

“Joe, Joe Miles,” I said blushing a little.

Donald did a quick look at Tammy and she began laughing. She laughed hard at poor Donald and I had no idea why.

“Could have saved you some time, but you know how I like a show.” Tammy said still laughing.

“I will return in some moments ladies.” He said getting up.

I looked at Tammy but she was laughing again. “This is so much fun,” she said.

Donald returned, not with a tray, but with a ring box. He placed it on the table in front of me. I looked at him and then at Tammy and they both motioned to the box. I took it and opened it slowly. It was a beautiful silver band with small diamonds and sapphires running across the top. The stones weren’t big, almost like flakes. But they shined like there were millions of each.

I took it out and just looked it over. It was the greatest ring I had ever seen. It was Joe. But how? “Tammy,” I enquired with tears forming in my eyes as I dabbed them quickly.

“A long while back when I told Joe my plan for Alex he came with me. He helped me shop, and I made him try on rings to help me see how they looked on fingers. He fell in love with that ring. Before we left I asked Donald to save that ring for me. Since I shop here regularly, he agreed. I hoped someday that this day would come.” She said smiling at me.

“It is amazing,” I said meaning every single word.

“I thought you might think so. So, Cassie Lewis, are you saying yes to the ring?” She asked giggling. OK, she had definitely seen too many bridal TV shows.

But she was right. After seeing this ring I knew no other would ever do. “Yes,” I whispered hoping I had enough money to afford this ring.

“Perfect, Donald take care of everything.” Tammy said standing up.

I looked between the two of them. Tammy seemed confused then she understood. “Sweetheart, when I knew Joe loved that ring, I told Dad about it and he bought it. We just left it here in case something ever happened. Consider it the sign on bonus that Joe didn’t give you.”

“I don’t understand,” and I didn’t.

“We always give new employees a sign on bonus to help with expenses of getting settled or moving. Cheapskate didn’t give you one, and I am sure that yours would have been about the cost of that ring. I think that makes it even. We have another stop to make before tonight. Donald will get it cleaned up and ready for us so we can grab it on the way back through.”

“Where are we going now?” I asked feeling overwhelmed already.

“Where else, to the salon. We need to be beautiful for this evening. Let’s go.” She said grabbing my arm and pulling me along.

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