Ambrosia - Aphrodite's Gift

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The Gift

Elizabeth was busy meticulously packing her suitcase making sure that every item on her list was checked off. She had been looking forward to this trip to Cyprus for a while now. Work had always been her number one priority, but it had been at least five years since her last trip and it was time to get away. It was also a bonus that she had won this holiday in a competition that her mother had entered her name into. Three months of free accommodation at a five-star resort in Ayia Napa, was just the push she needed to get away from the publishing company she was running. It still took her six months to arrange for her leave from work however. She had to make sure the place would not fall apart while she was gone. Even then she was still highly apprehensive so she made sure all the relevant people could stay in touch with her at any time despite her mother’s disapproval and desperate pleas to get away from it all and just relax.

She was certain that her mother had ulterior motives since she would constantly ask her whether she was seeing someone special. Elizabeth was never seeing someone special. Although attraction happened quite frequently, falling in love with the women she was seeing was a feeling that Elizabeth had never experienced even though she had dated constantly in her twenties. Now in her early thirties she had become increasingly focused on her career with few dates in between, which were mostly set ups from friends who always insisted, “I have found the perfect person for you”. She always kept her mind and heart open; however, that feeling, that urgent need that she had seen so many times in others, the need to see that person again and to be around them, had never consumed her. She had heard other women talk about experiencing the infamous butterflies in their stomachs, the excitement and anticipation they felt when seeing their love again and again; but even these bodily experiences had always eluded her. No. She definitely was not seeing someone special.

This fact was of no consequence to Elizabeth since she was in relatively perfect shape, her career was soaring to new heights and she had great friends that she could hang out with. When she needed some intimacy, she dated because it was easy for her to get a woman into bed. But nothing really ever came of these one-time sexual encounters. Besides these rather fleeting experiences though, she preferred her own company and having her own space any way. Her life was pretty full and despite her mother’s concern and angst, she never felt that something was missing. How do you know something is missing when you have never felt it after all?

In fact, what her mother did not realize was that she was going to take full advantage of this holiday to make some great connections for M Publishing House. She smiled broadly while she packed her last item, a brand-new portfolio outlining the expansion; Elizabeth was excited in anticipation of new business partners and new prospects for the future.

As Elizabeth picked out her Armani dress, Lela strolled in, full of pep and energy.

“Hi Elizabeth. Are you re…” Lela paused in shock and then glared at Elizabeth who stood there stunned, as if she had been caught red-handed.

“Oh God, you are not taking that!” Lela growled as she rushed in, snatched the dress and flung it on the bed before Elizabeth could react.

“Hey stop that!” Elizabeth protested, “I’m taking it Lela. I have already arranged a very important meeting and I can’t very well show up in a bathing suit can I?”

Lela scoffed angrily, then sighed defeated, “No. I guess not…. Here take your stupid, gorgeous dress back,” she muttered as she sat on the bed with a thud.

“What’s this meeting about then?” Lela inquired.

Elizabeth beamed as this is just what she wanted to hear.

“It’s a reaaally big deal… A merger with E- Print MAY be imminent…” she responded excitedly.

Lela’s eyes widened, “Wooow…that’s exciting!”

“Yes it is …BUT everything is still up in the air. I’m actually not sure if it’s going to happen or not. So I gotta take a couple of conservative dresses, just in case…” Elizabeth explained as she hurriedly placed her dresses in a black garment bag so they would not wrinkle.

Lela nodded but her smile began to fade as she seemed to be pondering something. She eventually blurted out without hesitation, “Elizabeth why do you get me excited about going on holiday, then tell me you may be working….” She bawled, looking up at Elizabeth as if she had dashed all of her dreams, “Only you could go to a beautiful place like Cyprus, with sun, beach and gorgeous, tanned women, all ripe for fu…. Loving… and work!” she exclaimed disheartened.

Elizabeth could not help but giggle at this dramatic display. She loved Lela because she was the complete opposite of her. They had always had one of those rare friendships where their stark differences in character actually served to strengthen the relationship. She smiled tenderly at her, assessing Lela’s springy dark hair that always attracted attention from the women folk, taking on a personality all on its own; her peanut butter skin that always looked perpetually tanned and full bodied lips that became accentuated when she pouted, as she was doing now. Sometimes Elizabeth had the sneaking feeling that her life would have a lot less depth and clarity without Lela in it. She looked so cute with her puppy dog eyes that Elizabeth sighed and relented. She sat down next to her friend and placed her hand on hers.

“Don’t worry Miss Drama Queen, I will have plenty of time to frolic and be your wing man and watch you get those beautifully tanned women who are ripe for...loving…” Elizabeth affirmed reassuringly.

Lela’s eyes lit up again and they both chuckled excitedly. Lela’s chocolate coloured lips curled into a grin but her dark eyes were full of concern.

“Seriously Elizabeth…You are so goddam gorgeous, intelligent… AND you have very few issues. Full package. Any woman would be down… Or go down…”

“Mmm, yes I went with the full Brazilian wax to be absolutely ready for that exact scenario…” Elizabeth interrupted with a cheeky grin.

Lela glanced at Elizabeth for a second and doubled over, giggling like a school girl, clapping her hands exuberantly.

“What is so funny Lela?” Elizabeth protested, a little offended.

Lela joked in jest, “Dude you know you won’t be getting any…You’re all uptight and what not,” and continued to snicker as Elizabeth nodded in concurrence. Well this was true. Elizabeth was easily bored by the women she met. She did not think she was uptight though, just selective.

Once the tittering subsided though, Lela looked at Elizabeth with pleading eyes, imploring, “Please… Just promise me you will have some fun and be open to the possibility that although you haven’t found her yet…” Lela could not say the rest as she hated too much mushiness, but she ascertained from the look on Elizabeth’s face that she had gotten the point. Satisfied, she confessed, “Besides, I promised your mother I would get you to relax, see people and keep you away from that phone,” she grumbled pointing vehemently at the culprit in Elizabeth’s hand.

Elizabeth scoffed as she was rather fed up with this pervasive anxiety that her mother had, about her private life. Even though she had constantly reassured her mother that her love life or lack thereof had nothing to do with her parents’ married life or their subsequent divorce for that matter, her mother still believed that she herself was guilty of inadvertently destroying her daughter’s relationship prospects, giving Elizabeth commitment issues. Elizabeth thus, mockingly declared, “Yes the dreaded phone calls and constant texts…Which I always initiate by the way….”

“I know…But a holiday will force you to un-initiate.” Lela retorted with an expression that was not convinced.

“Look… I use this phone because I’m driven, ambitious and I’m running a prestigious company….” Elizabeth explained defensively. But she eventually groaned and gave in again when she noticed Lela looking like a wounded puppy. She had to say something comforting to put her mind to rest, “Look I know you and mom have my happiness at heart but really don’t worry… I am happy you know… I never felt like something was missing in my life … Because I have you,” she revealed sincerely, knowing that Lela would not know how to respond to such a sentiment.

Lela scoffed and opened her mouth to say something, but Elizabeth stopped her by putting her arm around Lela’s neck, pulling her head to her and squeezing her tightly. Too tightly, knowing and waiting for Lela’s patented reaction.

Lela struggled against her and shouted, “Ah…. I can’t breathe, Elizabeth I can’t breathe get off me you asshole!”

Elizabeth giggled, let her go and watched her feigned struggle to get her breath back.

“Nice talk Lela. Let’s do this again some time…” Elizabeth quipped playfully smacking Lela’s bottom as she stood up. Lela was not amused, so Elizabeth roared, “Let’s go get ’em tiger. Are you ready to have the time of your life? So much fun that you WON’T remember it?” as she needed to inject some enthusiasm back into this adventure.

This did the trick as Lela roared back gleefully, “GRRRRRRRRRRRR. Hell Yaaaasss I am,” rambunctiously, but then teased, “Did you finally pack everything but the kitchen sink you anal retentive MBA?”

Elizabeth laughed boisterously and responded in kind, “Yes I did and you will thank me when you realize you have practically nothing in that cesspit trash bag you call a suitcase, you wishy washy bohemian douchebag artist.”

“Hah!” Lela hooted, enjoying the game of insults they often played, “Touché dumbass,” Lela countered in a mocking American accent and grinned from ear to ear. With that, Elizabeth put her arm around Lela, kissed her on the side of her forehead and led her out of the door carrying her baggage with her.

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