How Many Licks Does It Take

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Chapter 5 The Best Laid Plans

“Hey Gail! I’m leaving early!”

“Where are you off to looking so sneaky?”

Alex grabbed her bag from behind the counter and turned around to face Gail. She had to grin. Gail was her boss but also kind of a mother figure to those who worked under her at the University library. When she had first started Gail had taken her under wing and helped her through adjusting not only to college but to suddenly being an adult. She did that for a lot of the students. She was also an amazingly open minded person so Alex had no problem telling her exactly what she was up to.

“I’m picking up a few surprises for Elise! We’ve been doing so well I thought she deserved a reward. I had a special pendant made for her and I was thinking of picking up something from her favorite lingerie store. You can never have too much lingerie.” Gail started laughing as Alex winked at her.

“The pendant sounds like a beautiful idea but somehow I think the lingerie is more for you.”

“Of course. I deserve a reward too don’t you think? Thanks again for showing me that communications book. As you can see it’s really helped.”

“Say no more. It’s part of my job. Now get out of here before I think twice about letting you out early.”

Still grinning Alex skipped out the door. She was actually skipping with a ridiculous urge to whistle. Elise was going to love this! Jewelry and lingerie were two of her favorite things. Imagining Elise’s face when she gave them to her had Alex giggling. People were giving her weird looks but she was too excited. Tonight was going to be awesome.

She did manage to get control of herself by the time she reached her car though barely. Heading to the mall she avoided driving by Elise’s workplace. It was getting close to Elise’s lunch hour and she always got something at the mall’s food court. If she could pick everything out quickly enough then she could surprise Elise on her break.

As a bonus Elise would be able to ditch Jenny. That curly headed bimbo always had such a negative attitude and Elise was always edgy after a shift with her. Stopping at the light before the mall parking garage she considered but decided against texting Elise. She didn’t want Jenny to spoil things. If Elise said she was meeting up with Alex then Jenny would tag along just to mess with them. All she had to do was get in and out before Elise’s lunch and the surprise wouldn’t be spoiled and she could get back to campus in time for her next class.

She didn’t bother with looking for a parking space on the ground floor but raced up to the top of the parking structure where there were always spaces. Passing the elevator she half ran down the stairs to the bridge linking the parking garage to the mall. There weren’t too many people there at that time but she knew with lunch coming up it was going to fill up fast so she dodged between other shoppers until she reached Elise’s favorite lingerie store.

“Hello! Can I help you find anything?”

Blinking at the bright eyed sales clerk she debated. She wanted to pick this out herself but her idea of the perfect lingerie was whipped cream. Cheap and a hell of a lot of fun to take off. This was about Elise though and she was probably going to need help. Okay, just had to be quick about this and not get side tracked with whatever else the sales clerk was trying to sell to add to her commission.

“Yeah, I’m looking for something lacy that ties on the sides in red. A two piece would be good in medium.”

“Are you sure? You’re tall but slender, a small would fit you better. How do you like these over here?”

“It’s not for me. It’s for my girlfriend. She’s short but curvy.”

“OH! Um. Okay. What does she like?”

“Red lace that ties on the sides.” Ignoring the girls blush she followed her over to another rack and started flipping through things and shaking her head at each of the suggestions. There had to be something there that Elise would love that she didn’t already have. Maybe she should look at a different color.

“How about this one? It’s not a two piece but the straps tie around like this so you could adjust it to whatever height your, um, girlfriend is.”

The piece the girl was holding was a lace thong with a latticework of ribbons that connected to more lace that criss crossed across the chest. She imagined Elise’s curves wrapped in the ribbons. The lace covering her but still leaving nothing to the imagination. Oh yeah. That would definitely do.

“She’ll love it. Thank you!”

The girl was blushing again as she rang her up but that was probably from the lewd smile she was now wearing. Those ribbon straps had given her a great idea. Her schedule was already tight but the extra stop was going to be so worth it. She just hoped the fabric shop had ribbon the same color as the lingerie.

A short stop at the fabric shop had her laughing as she left. There were going to be a lot of blushing girls in her wake and not because of any flirting. At the fabric shop the girl there had only smiled when she pulled out the lingerie saying she needed more ribbon that exact shade of red. Once they found it though she needed to know how much ribbon she wanted so she had the girl hold out her arms while she wrapped the ribbon around her upper arms to her wrists.

“Yeah, that should do. Can you get out of it? No? Then this much is perfect.”

The florist shop was next. She skipped the roses feeling that they were too typical and she had used them last time. She needed something different this time. Something beautiful, aromatic, with a touch of the exotic on a college student’s budget. Maybe that was asking too much. Elise would be floored by the pendant though so the flowers really were just her going for overkill.

“Special occasion?”

The florist listened to Alex and with a chuckle led her to the carnations. She let Alex pick out a few of the brightly colored blooms then added in some baby’s breath and branches with leaves to make the handful of flowers suddenly turn into a bouquet. Wrapping the stems in sheets of red then pink tissue paper she handed them back to her along with a plain white card decorated with two hearts overlaid on each other and a pen.

“I’ll add the card in for free and give you a discount on the flowers. I love it when couples do things just because they’re happy.”

Winking at Alex she shooed her out of the store once Alex was finished with the note. Feeling accomplished Alex headed for the last and most important stop. She had been there two days ago to have a special pendant designed. It wasn’t as fancy or detailed as she liked but they were poor college students. For now though it was hopefully going to be enough.

“Hi, I’m picking up a special order for Alexandra Keats? It’s a pendant.”

While the sales girl went into the back to get her order Alex looked out over the crowd. Oh shit, was that Elise? She ducked quickly behind a pillar in the jewelry store just in time to avoid both Elise and Jenny’s eyes. Willing them both to get to the escalator quickly she wanted to cry as the sales girl came back out carrying a jewelry box and looking for her. Then she wanted to commit murder as Elise was almost mowed down by a tall brunette. Controlling the urge to hunt down the other girl she almost missed the look that crossed Elise’s face as she looked at the rings. She’d never seen her with that expression before, a kind of soft yearning.

Following her gaze she focused on the ring display. Engagement rings? Thinking about how Elise’s eyes filled with that strange mix of emotions it hit her. Elise wanted to get married? Did she want to marry HER or just get married in general? To be honest Alex wasn’t ready to settle down yet. They were still in college. There was a quick surge of panic in her chest at the thought of getting married. They were only just starting to work through their problems! There was no way Elise wanted to get hitched, right?

“Ms. Keats?”

The sales girl’s voice startled Alex out of her thoughts. Focus on the moment! Elise hadn’t so much as mentioned marriage in any of their conversations and as long as that didn’t come up then they were fine. She quickly paid for the pendant and tried to gather her thoughts. Things were complicated enough with knowing Elise was upstairs in the food court without her complicating things with hypothetical situations that may never happen. She had better things to worry about. How the hell was she going to get out of here without being seen? Hiding behind the pillar again she tried to spot Elise upstairs.

“Oh my God! Is that you Alex?!”

“GAH!!”

Jumping she spun around in surprise. What the hell was her cousin Deanna doing here? The perky blond squealed loudly and threw herself into Alex’s arms in a bear hug. She hugged her younger cousin back but tried to maneuver them to the side and hopefully away from where she thought Elise was upstairs.

“Dee! What the hell are you doing here?”

“That’s a fine hello! I moved down here! I got tired of moving in and out of the dorms at my school so I just got an apartment closer to the campus and a job here at the mall. Isn’t it exciting? Now we can hang out all the time! What’s that in the bags?”

“Well, you see. I was trying to plan a surprise for my girlfriend and”

“Oh my God! Let me see! What did you have planned out? Is that supposed to be lingerie? That really isn’t much is it? Why not just give her the ribbon to wear? Or are you wearing the ribbon? The flowers are pretty! Is that jewelry? I wanna see!”

Snatching the jewelry box out of her hand Deanna’s eyes lit up and she started squealing again. Alex had to smile at her cousin’s enthusiasm. When she had come out to her family they had been supportive for the most part but Deanna was the only one who hadn’t wavered or looked at her one bit different. All she had done was get that excited look in her eyes, smiled fit to bursting, and asked if she had a girlfriend, who she had a crush on, to be sure to introduce her to her Princess when she met her.

She felt a bit guilty about never introducing Dee to Elise but to be honest there were still a lot of question marks about their relationship and introducing Elise to her family felt so...final. It brought her mind back to the engagement rings and the look on Elise’s face. Did she really want to be with Elise for the long haul?

“Uh oh, that chick looks pissed off. She also looks like she’s headed this way. Um. Do you know her because I don’t and she’s kind of scaring me.” Brought back to reality Alex looked up to see Dee edging behind her and a supremely pissed off Elise heading straight for them. Oh shit.

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