Professionally speaking, Adrianna was on top of her game. She loved her job and she was appreciated regularly by the higher ups for her outstanding work. Her staff had grown and only a few had gone on to other positions because it was a pleasant and rewarding place to work. The pay was as good as any place doing the same kind of billing and insurance work and having Adriana at the helm made for a very easy work environment. When pressure came down on her from above, she would find a way to motivate her staff to produce whatever was needed without feeling the pressure. Adriana felt the pressure belonged only to her and she didn't have any need to share that with such a dedicated and hard working group of people. She was very contented to get the job done with a staff that just made things happen. Her ambitions were limitless. She could see herself, one day, running this hospital. She didn't see any reason that couldn't happen, so why not let it mill around inside her brain from time to time. It was, after all, much better than what used to run around inside her head.
The future seemed to be nothing but new beginnings for everyone in her life. Angel and Burt were doing well and they spent one Saturday night every month with Adriana, Paul, Marian and Josh. Sometimes they went out for dinner and just sat and talked and sometimes they went bowling or to a show. Every get-together ended at someone's house and a lot of laughter and love. The six of them had become very close and it was a blessing for all. The kids, Marian and Josh's, were included sometimes, but mostly it was an adult night out. Teen-age sons are not really interested in hanging with old people and were responsible enough to be trusted home alone.
Her crafts, her second love, were becoming almost another job. She loved knitting, crocheting and making trinkets. Her craft room was always showcasing something new and half done. The money she made from the shows was always deposited into the trust accounts for her "family" and Carmen. The help she was giving was giving her much more than she ever expected. It was more than just a good and warm feeling. It was more than satisfaction in sharing her good fortune. She knew she had earned her place in the world. She knew it and now she accepted it because sharing her wealth, as it were, made her past somehow less important. Less horrid and once in a while, she could even forget about it all. It almost feels like her life began the day she left the psyche ward. In a real way, it did begin that day. The day she saw sunshine and smiled at a real friend, Angel. The day she began to live alone in her head without a doctor helping her every minute to maintain the clarity. She was healthy physically and mentally now and it must never be taken for granted. Doing what she could for people who needed help was her duty now and her honor.
Paul was gaining so much recognition for his work on the museum that his list of bids was growing weekly. At any given moment he would have 5 jobs or more for which bids needed to be written. He had hired two office girls to take care of the phone and type out the bids after he worked them up. The girls were helping more than he had ever imagined. They totally took care of the paper work and the banking while he was actually out doing the supervising and figuring bids for new jobs. The ambition level of this man was off the charts. He saw his business growing daily and it never once daunted him or gave him pause. This was what he had always hoped for and worked toward and now it was his reality. It was time to tie up the one loose end in his ambitious life's plan. Tonight he would ask the love of his life to spend eternity with him.
Feeling inside his jacket pocket, the ring box was hard and obvious. It was the tangible proof of his feelings and his dreams. He was on his way to her side and with any luck at all, he would not be returning a single man.
Adriana was freshly showered when Paul let himself in the front door. She still had some dampness in her hair. Her face was fresh scrubbed; not a drop of make-up remained. She had never looked more beautiful in her life. Paul entered the kitchen and walked directly to her, reaching out and taking her into his arms. She looked in his eyes and accepted his kiss. The kiss was a deep passionate and loving gesture. He held her with every inch of their bodies touching. The music playing softly in the background couldn't have been scripted any better. They hear, "When a Man Loves a Woman" and both know he does love this woman. Ever so slowly he danced her back to her bedroom and as he gently laid her on the bed he lifted his lips just enough to allow him to speak.
Whispering he said, "I love you with all my being, Adriana. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?" He resumed the kiss and didn't allow her to answer until they were left spent and exhausted side by side wrapped in each others arms. She raised her eyes to his and whispered back to him, "Yes." There was no more to say. They napped for an hour or so in contentment.
As Adriana was placing Paul's plate on the counter he reached for her hands and stood holding them.
"I seem to have forgotten something earlier." He reached into his pocket and removed the ring from the box. He placed it on her third finger left hand and watched her face as she looked down at her new ring. It was perfection. The full caret princess cut with the smaller diamonds circling the band was exquisite. She couldn't take her eyes from her own hand brandishing the token of everlasting love. She had never been happier. She had never felt so loved and so wanted and she had never felt more in love.
"It's perfect, Paul. I couldn't love it any more." She threw her arms around him again and kissed him full on with the passion she carried in her heart and now on her left hand.
The wedding would be small and intimate and she could visualize it right now. It would be everything she had ever imagined. Paul didn't care how they got married, as long as it was soon. He felt he had waited his whole life to find her and all he wanted to be her husband.
These forty somethings were as giddy as teenagers and were more than ready for their new life to get underway. Their ambitions were every bit as strong in their relationship as they were in their professional lives. Successful marriages must begin this way, they each thought. Friends who fall in love and then when the love has grown a wedding seals the deal and happily ever after, or some form of that, begins.
For them, it's yet another new beginning with all the promise of good things and eternal love.