disclaimer in part 1
Choices of the Heart
by Gemini0123@aol.com

_ _ _

The next day (Saturday)

Rory and I were sprawled across the couch watching television and
eating cookies, when she suddenly picked up the remote and turned it
off. She stood up. "I'm bored."

I gasped. "Um, excuse me? Don't you want to see what happens when he
tries to catch the crocodile? "

"Mom, come on. Let's go out and do something. We should not spend a
beautiful Saturday watching the "Crocodile Hunter" marathon. Let's go
outside. Ooh! Let's go jogging."

I stared at Rory with wide eyes. "Oh my God. Have you ever seen me do
anything involving physical exertion ever in my life?"

"No."

"Case closed. No jogging." I stuffed another cookie in my mouth.

"Well, how about a brisk walk?"

"How about we sit here and eat cookies?"

"Come on. Please. You want to look nice in your wedding dress, don't
you? Don't you want to get in shape for the wedding?"

"Nope."

"Well, how about the wedding night?"

I gasped. "Rory!"

She laughed. "Sorry. Come on. A slow walk?"

I sighed. "Fine. A slow walk."

"Great! Let's go."

I sluggishly stood up and started to follow her out the door. Then I
turned around and grabbed the package of cookies. "You can come too."

Thirty minutes later, Rory and I were sitting in the park under a
tree. We were watching people in the park, making up names and
occupations for them. I reached into the bag and pulled out the last
cookie. I offered it to Rory. "Last one. Want it?" She accepted it,
took a bite, and handed it back. "Thank you."

I finished it up, and stood up to go throw the bag away in the nearby
trash can. "How about we wash those cookies down with some coffee?"

"Good plan." Rory stood up, and we started walking towards Luke's.

"You know what? Let's say that suddenly, Taylor was promoted to the
Decorating King of Stars Hollow, and he had some sort of nervous
breakdown and he suddenly decided that the inside of everyone's house
in Stars Hollow must be only one color. You can use several different
shades of that color, but it still only has to be one color. What
would you pick?"

Rory thought for a minute, then said, "Blue."

I gasped. "That's what I was gonna pick!"

She smiled. "Really?"

"Yeah, there are so many pretty shades of blue, like baby blue, navy
blue, cobalt blue, and. . . . you know, some other blues."

Rory nodded. "Yeah. I agree. Lots of pretty blues."

We reached Luke's Diner, and I started to pull open the door to walk
in, but then I stopped. I turned around to face Rory. "I'm gonna go
to the counter and talk to Luke, okay? Tell him about the engagement
and everything. Would you mind sitting at the table alone for a few
minutes?"

"No, I don't mind."

"Great." I pulled open the door. Rory sat down at a table as I headed
to the counter and sat on a stool. A few seconds later, Luke came
out of the kitchen with some plates and delivered them to some
customers at the other end of the counter. Then he walked over to
me. "Hey. What's up? You fighting with Rory?"

"No, why?"

He glanced towards Rory and said, "Well, you're not sitting with her"

"Oh yeah. No, um, well, you and me haven't really talked in awhile,
and I just wanted to talk a bit before I go sit with her. Can you
just send her a coffee first?"

He gave me a curious look and said, "Yeah sure." He poured two cups
and placed one in front of me, and walked the other one over to
Rory. Then he walked back over and said, "So, what's up?"

"Um, well, I just…I don't know if you've heard or not, but Max and I
are engaged." I smiled.

He nodded and smiled slightly. "Yeah, actually, I did hear that.
Congratulations."

"Thank you. How long have you known?"

"Oh, a week or two. Patty told me."

"Oh, well, you didn't say anything, so I thought maybe you didn't
know."

"Yeah, sorry, I kept meaning to say something to you, but it kept
slipping my mind. Sorry about that. But, really, I'm very happy for
you." He looked down at my hand. "Is that the engagement ring?"

I held my hand out to him. "Yes."

He reached out and held my hand as he looked at it. "Very nice. He
has good taste." He smiled, and stared into my eyes for a few seconds
before letting go of my hand. I stared back into his eyes. They
seemed somewhat distant, like they were trying to talk to me. "Luke?
What are you thinking about?"

He blinked and looked away. "I'm just thinking what a lucky guy Max
is because I know you will make him very happy."

I smiled. "Thank you Luke." I leaned over the counter and gave Luke a
kiss on the cheek. He smiled. "You're welcome." I picked up my coffee
and walked over to Rory's table. I sat across from her as she
asked, "Did everything go all right?"

"Yeah. Everything's great." I looked over at Luke, who was now taking
an order from a man at the counter. He glanced my way and smiled. I
smiled back. Then I turned to Rory. "Hey, what time is it?" Rory
looked at her watch, and replied, "Almost five."

"Oh, we'd better go if we want to make the movie on time." I gestured
to my sweatpants. "I have to go home and change out of this outfit."
I took out some money and left it on the table, then Rory and I
headed home.

One week later (Saturday)

"Rory! Have you seen my black belt?" I yelled down the steps.

"No! You're wearing a dress, what do you need a belt for?" she yelled
back.

"I don't need it, but I just can't find it, and I might need it
eventually in the future."

"We'll find it later. Come on, we're late!"

"Coming!" I walked down the stairs. Rory was waiting on the couch. I
spun around. "How do I look?"

"You look beautiful Mom. Really beautiful."

I smiled. "Thanks. So do you. I love that dress."

"Thanks. It's yours."

I laughed. "Let's go."

Thirty minutes later we pulled up to Max's apartment. We walked to
the door and knocked. Max answered it right away. "Hey. Come on in."
I gestured to Rory to go inside, and I walked in behind her. I
greeted Max with a kiss but noticed that he wasn't his normal self. I
stepped back. "What's wrong?"

He glanced towards Rory, who had wandered over towards the couch. Max
had a serious look on his face. "Lorelai, I need to talk to you about
something, but not right now."

I raised my eyebrows. "Whoa, what is it Max? You can't leave me
hanging all night. Why don't you tell me now."

Max lowered his voice. "Please, not here, not in front of Rory."

"Okay, well, let's go talk on the porch. Rory can hang out for a few
minutes. Give her a book, she'll be fine." I glanced over to her,
then said to Max, "Wait here."

I walked over to Rory. "So, this is Max's apartment."

She looked over at Max, standing by the font door. "It's really nice."

"Thank you Rory," he replied, smiling. "Make yourself at home."

I walked Rory over to the bookcase and said, "Rory, Max and I need to
talk outside for a few minutes. Can you just pick a book or something
and hang out in here for a bit?"

She whispered. "Yeah, sure. Is everything all right?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I'll be right back." I walked over to Max,
and he opened the front door, and we walked onto the porch. I sat
down on the bench, and patted the seat next to me, but he didn't sit.
I stared up at him. He looked upset, so I reached over and grabbed
his hand. "So what's wrong?"

"Lorelai, I know that you said that you didn't date Luke, but I have
to know, is that the truth?"

"What?" I stood up. "Where is this coming from?"

"I was at the Hartford Mall today, and I saw Luke there and he…"

I interrupted with a laugh. "Max, Luke doesn't go to malls. He hates
them. He won't go near them."

"Well, he must have changed his mind about them. But listen. I was at
the Hartford Mall, and I ran into Luke, and I said hello to him. He
shook my hand and said congratulations and everything, really nice
and all. But then he started talking about how lucky I was to find
someone like you, and how I better treat you and Rory right, and all
this stuff that made me wonder if. . ."

I interrupted again. "Max, Luke is one of my best friends. He's just
being protective. Kind of like a big brother." I smiled at the
thought of Luke trying to protect us.

"But I don't think that's how he sees it. I think. . . .I think he's
in love with you, Lorelai."

I laughed. "Max! Luke is not in love with me. We're just friends." I
leaned in and gave Max a kiss. He pulled away and said, "Lorelai, do
you love him?"

"Max!" I said, surprised by the question.

"Do you?" he pressed for an answer.

I rolled my eyes. "Max, I'm not even going to answer you because
you're being crazy. I love you. I'm in love with you, and only you.
Stop worrying about Luke."

"But I. ." He started to protest, but I leaned in and pressed my lips
against his. He was resistant at first, but he soon relaxed. He
wrapped his arms around me and eagerly kissed me back. As we actively
explored each other's mouths, I felt his hands sliding down my lower
back. Before they could get any lower, I pulled back and said, "Come
on. Rory's waiting. Everything all right now?" He smiled and nodded.
I gave him another kiss, grabbed his hand and led him in the house.

Rory was on the couch reading a book. She looked up when we walked in
and smiled. "Hey. Great book collection Max."

"Thanks Rory." Max walked over to the oven and pulled out a casserole
dish. I walked over towards Rory and said, "So, let me show you
around." I pointed towards the bathroom, and said, "Well, that's the
bathroom." I laughed. "I guess that's all you need to know." Rory
stood up and looked around. She pointed towards the other door and
said, "What's that?"

"Bedroom." Max and I said at the same time. I looked at him and we
smiled flirtingly at each other.

I looked back towards Rory, who gave me a "please don't say anymore"
look. I shrugged and said, "Sorry." I walked towards Max and
said, "So, need any help?"

"Yes, could you get the salad out of the fridge? It looks like
everything's just about done." He carried the casserole dish to the
table.

I opened the fridge and took out the salad bowl and brought it to the
table. I walked back to the kitchen to find the salad tongs. I found
them hanging on the wall and started to walk towards the table. I
stopped when I heard Max and Rory talking about some book. Instead, I
just watched them interact with each other. 'They seem to get along
so well.' I said to myself. 'We're gonna make a great family.' I
felt a joyful tear slide down my cheek, which I quickly wiped away,
then walked over to the table.

-*-

Two days later (Monday)

It was a Monday evening, just past 7. Rory had gone over to Lane's
house to hang out, and I had decided to go see Luke. I avoided the
diner yesterday because I wasn't sure what to say to him about the
whole Max-at-the-mall thing. I still wasn't sure what to say, but
decided to just play it by ear.

I walked into the diner, and sat at a table. Despite it being dinner
time, there were only two other people in there. I picked up the menu
and stared at it, even though I wasn't hungry. A few minutes later,
someone surprised me by clearing their throat. I jumped and looked
over. Luke was standing right next to me, smiling. "Sorry. I didn't
mean to scare you." I put the menu down and looked up at him.

"Oh. That's okay. I didn't see you there."

He nodded. "Yeah, I noticed. So what can I get you?"

"Um, I'll just have coffee."

He raised his eyebrows. "You don't want any food? Why were you
staring intently at the menu for the past 10 minutes?"

I shrugged. "I was just perusing to see what I should get next time."

Luke smiled. "Like you'd ever order anything besides a burger. I'll
be right back."

I watched him walk to the coffeepot, fill up a mug, and bring it back
to my table. I looked around and said, "Can you sit with me for a few
minutes?"

"Well, I have some things to do at the counter. Why don't you come
over there?"

"Okay." I stood up and followed him behind the counter. He walked
into the kitchen. I put my coffee down, and I boosted myself up so
that I was sitting on the counter, facing the kitchen with my legs
dangling over the side. He walked back out of the kitchen carrying a
package of napkins. He saw me on the counter, and narrowed his
eyes. "I provide stools for the customers to sit on, you know."

I smiled. "Yeah, but I felt like being up high."

Luke started filling up the napkin dispensers. "So, did you want to
talk or something?"

"Uh yeah." I heard some movement behind me, so I turned around. The
two other customers were leaving. I waited for them to walk out
before I said, "Luke, I just wanted to ask you something. Did you
happen to run into Max at the mall recently?"

I watched him to see how he reacted. Luke briefly stopped what he was
doing, but he didn't look at me. He picked up another napkin
dispenser and started to fill it. "Why? What did you hear?" he asked
nervously.

"Luke, it's okay. I'm not mad. Max was, but I wasn't it. I'm
flattered that you were so concerned about us."

He looked up at me. "Yeah?"

I smiled and nodded. "Yeah."

He worked on the napkins a few more seconds before he said, "So Max
was mad?"

I laughed. "Yeah. He's just jealous. Get this! He thinks that you and
I dated and that you're in love with me."

Luke didn't say anything. He turned his head away and walked into the
kitchen. He walked back out with a container of salt and started
collecting the salt shakers from around the counter. "Luke did you
hear what I said? He thinks you're in love with me." I laughed.

"Yeah I heard." He started pouring the salt into the containers. I
stared at him closely. There was no emotion in his face. He appeared
uncomfortable and nervous.

Confused, I said "Luke?" He didn't answer. I reached out and put my
hand on his hand. He stopped what he was doing, but stared down at
the counter. "Luke? Say something."

He was silent for a moment. Then he sighed. "He's right."

My eyes widened and I put a hand over my mouth. "What?"

He still didn't look up. "He's right. I am in love with you. I'm
sorry."

I was silent for a moment. "Luke, but . . .?"

"But what Lorelai? I can't help it. I'm sorry. I know that you're
getting married, and that my admitting this to you will only cause
discomfort between us, but I can't help it. You are an incredible
person, and I have loved you for a very long time. I'm sorry. I'm
sorry that I love you." He still hadn't looked at me. His hands were
rested against the counter and he was staring down. After a few
seconds of silence, he started to walk away, but I reached out and
grabbed his hand.

"Aw Luke. Come here. Don't be sorry." I pulled him towards me so that
he was standing right in front of me. I gave him a hug. He leaned his
head against my chest and wrapped his arms around my waist. As he
started to break away, I gave him a kiss on his forehead.

"Lorelai, I just. . ." He stopped talking and stared into my eyes. I
stared back into his. He started leaning towards me. I put my hands
on either side of his face and helped lead his lips towards mine. We
kissed, a slow passionate kiss. Luke pulled away. "Lorelai, you're
engaged. We can't. ." He stopped talking as I pulled him back to my
lips. He eagerly kissed me back, and as our mouths opened and our
tongues met each other, I wrapped my legs around his waist,
forcefully pulling him towards me. The intense tingling sensation of
our bodies being so close made a soft moan escape my throat. As we
broke apart from each other, both of us panting to catch our breaths,
we smiled at each other. Luke looked past me towards the door, and
his smile faded. His eyes widened. Still catching my breath, I slowly
turned around and saw Max staring through the window.

"Oh my God! Excuse me Luke." Luke stepped back and I jumped off the
counter. Max had started walking towards his car. I ran out the door
towards him. "Max! Please wait!" Max was standing next to his car,
but he didn't turn around. "Max, I'm sorry. I don't know what
happened."

He stared at his car. "I know what happened Lorelai. You were just
making out with Luke."

I stopped a few feet away from him. "Max, I don't know what to say.
I'm sorry. It was an accident."

Max turned around. "Lorelai, how could you possibly explain that as
an accident? He accidentally fell towards you and you accidentally
wrapped your legs around his waist? Come on. You lied to me Lorelai.
You do love him."

Tears welded up in my eyes. "Max, I didn't lie. I just didn't realize
that I had feelings for him. They were hidden under my feelings for
you. And, you were right. He does love me. He told me. And I guess
him telling me that made my feelings for him come out, and we just,
sort of, got lost in the moment."

Max shook his head in disbelief. "Lorelai, what does all this mean?
Do you still love me? And what kind of relationship can we possibly
have if I can't trust you?"

I could barely see Max through my tears. "Max, you can trust me.
Please. I love you. I still want to marry you. Please believe me."

Max stared at me for a few seconds. "Lorelai, I love you. And I still
want you to be my wife. But if we stay engaged and get married. . ."
He stopped talking.

I stared at him. "What? If we get married, what?"

He walked towards me. "If we stay together, I don't want you hanging
around Luke anymore. Or that diner."

I gasped. My eyes widened. "What?"

"That's right. I don't want you hanging around Luke anymore."

"That's how much you believe me and trust me? You forbid me to see a
friend? You can't control me like that Max."

Max walked over to me and put his hands on the side of my
shoulders. "Lorelai," he said calmly. "Please, for one second, look
at it from my perspective. Here, let me explain it to you. You are my
fiancee, we are getting married in a year. I drive to your home to
visit you one evening, but you're not home. So I drive to the diner
that you usually hang out in, and I find you making out with one of
your friends, quite explicitly, I might add, on the counter. And
also, might I add, not just any friend. A friend whom I've asked you
several times if you had feelings for, which you denied each time.
And you expect me to just trust you again instantaneously?"

I covered my face with my hands. "I'm so sorry." I sobbed. He pulled
me towards him and hugged me. He started rubbing my back trying to
make me feel better, which made the situation seem off. I mean, he
was the one who should be upset. I was the one who hurt him. Why
was I crying? He hugged me for a few more minutes before I finally
stepped back. I wiped my eyes and stared at him. I could sense the
hurt in his eyes, and I felt horrible for what I did to him.

"You okay?" he asked.

I nodded. "Max, I'm. . .I just need a little time to think about
everything, okay?"

I saw Max's eyes quickly glance towards the diner, but then he
nodded. "Okay Lorelai. Let me drive you home." He walked me to the
passenger side and opened the door for me. I got into his mustang and
he shut the door. He walked around to his side, got in and drove to
my house. He opened the car door for me and walked me to the porch.

"Do you want come in?" I asked.

"No, I think you need to be alone right now. Just take some time to
yourself. Think about things."

I nodded. "Okay."

"Bye Lorelai." He leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

"Bye Max."

I was able to watch him walk to his mustang and drive away before the
tears started falling again. I walked into the house and started to
head towards the stairs when I noticed the blinking light on the
answering machine. 'Probably my mother again.' I sighed and pushed
the play button. The sound of Luke's voice made me relive the past
20 minutes all over again.

"Lorelai, it's me. I know you're not home yet because I just watched
you get in the car with Max, but I just wanted to make sure
everything was okay. And I wanted to say I'm sorry for everything I
said, and everything that happened." There was a brief pause. "And I
just. . . never mind, that's it. Bye."

I stared at the answering machine for a minute, as if I expected Luke
to actually be inside of it. I was tempted to pick up the phone and
call him back, but I didn't. Instead I walked upstairs and collapsed
on the bed in a fit of tears and confusion.
-*-
The next morning, Tuesday, I woke up, still in my regular clothes
with my shoes still on. I stared at the ceiling, hoping that
everything was just a dream, and that I was still happily engaged and
there were no complications in my life. I was wrong. I reluctantly
got up to get ready for work. Thirty minutes later, I walked
downstairs and found Rory on the couch, still in her pajamas.

Rory stood up when she saw me and walked over to me. "Mom? Are you
okay? I got home last night around 8 and you were already asleep. In
your clothes. Plus, there was a strange message from Luke on the
machine. . . Is everything okay?" As tears welded up in my eyes, I
put my hands over my face to hide them. Rory hugged me. "Mom, what
happened?" She led me to the couch and I rested my head on her
shoulder.

"I screwed up Rory. I screwed up big time." As I explained to her
what happened, I realized what an incredible daughter I had. She
didn't make any judgmental remarks, she didn't criticize my actions,
and she didn't take sides. What she did say was, "Mom, whatever you
decide to do, I'll support your decision. Just do what you know in
your heart is right." I nodded and sat up to give her a kiss. Then
I stood up and walked into the kitchen, glancing towards the hallway
table, where I paused momentarily as I noticed that, still, Luke had
not picked up Bert.

That Evening (Tuesday)

Lounging on the couch watching TV, Rory and I were waiting for the
pizza we had ordered. When the doorbell rang, I stood up to answer
it, grabbing my purse on the way. I pulled open the door, and was
more than surprised when I saw Luke standing there. "Luke!"

"Hey." he replied.

"Luke, what are you doing here?"

"Um, I just wanted to make sure you were all right. You didn't come
to the diner today. And, uh, you didn't call me back last night. I
just wanted to make sure everything was okay. . . Is it?"

I shrugged and said, "I don't know. Do you want to come in?"

He nodded and stepped inside. He followed me to the living room.
Rory looked up and said, "Oh, hey Luke." Luke replied, "Hi Rory."

"Uh, Rory, could you leave me and Luke alone for a few minutes?" I
asked her. Rory turned off the TV and said "Sure." I smiled and
said, "Thanks." She walked towards her room, and I heard her bedroom
door close. I sat down on the couch, and Luke sat next to me. We
were silent for a few seconds, and I wondered if he felt as
uncomfortable as I did. "So . ." I started.

"So, what happened last night? With Max, I mean."

I sighed. "Well, Luke, he wasn't too thrilled with his fiancee
kissing another guy. I've never been engaged before, but I'm pretty
sure that's on the "Don't Do" list."

Luke nodded. "I'm so sorry. I should have never confronted Max in
that mall. It's all my fault."

"Oh Luke. It is not. I'm the one who kissed you." I paused. "Luke,
what were you doing at the mall anyway?" I smiled.

Luke smiled shyly. "I know, I know, I said I hate them. And I do. But
sometimes I need stuff that can only be found at the mall. So sue
me. Anyway, that's not important. "

"Right. Sorry. Anyway, I just. . . well, he didn't call off the
engagement, which is what I thought he was going to do, but he did
sort of give me an ultimatum . . ." I paused, wondering if I should
tell Luke about it.

Luke raised his eyebrows. "Really? What?"

I paused. "Well, he said that . . " I was interrupted by the
doorbell. "Oh hold on Luke." I yelled "Rory! Pizza's here. Can you
get it please?"

I watched as Rory walked out of her room. I turned back to Luke. "He
said that he doesn't want me. . . ."

I heard Rory's voice in the hallway. "Oh. Max, hi." I raised my
eyebrows and said, "Shoot. How can one man have such incredibly bad
timing?" I stood up as Rory entered the living room with Max behind
her. She gave me a sympathetic glance, and then went back towards
her bedroom. I watched Max's expression change from a smile to an
angry glare towards Luke. He started to say something, but I
interrupted.

"Max, Luke just came over to apologize. There's nothing going on. He
was just leaving, right Luke?" I turned around and gave him
and 'please help me out and leave' look.

"Uh, yeah. I was just going. I'll see you tomorrow." He stood up and
started walking to the front door.

Max laughed and said, "No, I don't think so."

"Max, please." I said, hoping he would not pick a fight with Luke.

Luke stopped near Max and said, "Excuse me?"

Max stared at Luke. "I said, I don't think you'll be seeing her
tomorrow. Or ever, for that matter."

"What?" Luke glanced from Max over to me.

I exhaled loudly. "Max, stop please. Luke, I'll talk to you later.
Goodbye."

Luke glared at Max for a second before finally walking past him and
out the front door. As soon as the front door closed, Max
said, "Lorelai, I'm very confused right now, and I need you to
explain something to me in simple terms: what is it that you want to
do? Who do you want?"

I shrugged and sat down on the couch. Max walked over and sat down
next to me. He put an arm around me. "Lorelai, it seems like you're
having a lot of trouble deciding. I think that if it's this hard for
you, then maybe you're just not ready to commit to one person."

I looked at him. "Max, that's not true. It's a big decision. Do you
know what you're asking me to give up? Luke is my friend. I've seen
him almost everyday for the past 7 years. And now, all of a sudden,
you want me to stop hanging out with him. Come on." I paused. "Now,
I know what I did was stupid and I know that I hurt you. And I'm very
sorry for that. But I just don't think asking me to give up a friend
is going to solve this."

"Lorelai, I'm not asking you to give up 'a friend.' I'm asking you to
stay away from the person who's tearing us apart. And if you aren't
willing to do that to save our relationship, then maybe there isn't
one to save."

I sat for a moment in silence. Then I nodded. "You're right. I'm
sorry."

He smiled. "Good then. I'm glad you finally made a decision."

"No, Max. I mean you're right, maybe this relationship isn't worth
saving."

Max's smile faded. "Lorelai, how can you say that?"

"Max, I love you. But you're asking me to give up someone who is a
major part of my life just so you can feel better. And if you can't
trust me enough to feel comfortable about me hanging around with
Luke, I don't think we have a very good relationship to build a
marriage on."

Max paused for a minute, then he sighed. "You're right. I'm sorry.
You don't have to stop hanging around Luke. I was just jealous and
upset. And if you say it won't happen again, then I do trust you."

I smiled. "You do? Really?"

He nodded. "Yes. I'm so sorry." He leaned over and kissed me and then
wrapped his arms around me. He pulled back and stared at
me. "Something wrong?"

I said, "Well, Max, to be honest, I still have a lot of thinking to
do."

He nodded. "Lorelai, I don't want to rush you into anything, so just
take your time. I just came by tonight to see if you were all right
because you were really upset yesterday. And I know that you have
some things to sort out, so, please, just give me a call when you
know what you want."

I nodded. "Thank you." He gave me a kiss goodbye and stood up to
leave. I watched him walk away, and heard the front door shut before
I called, "Rory! You can come out now!"

Rory came out of her room and walked over to me. "Everything all
right Mom? Did you resolve anything?"

"Not yet hon. Soon though. All this will work out soon." A few
seconds later the doorbell rang. I stood up. "Oh my God, that better
be the pizza and not another member of the Lorelai fan club." Rory
laughed. "I swear, I wouldn't be surprised if that's your dad asking
me to marry him again. Let's just see how much more complicated my
life can get."

Rory laughed and we walked to the front door together. Joe, the
regular delivery guy was standing there. He handed us the pizza,
smiled, and walked away. I laughed. "I guess it's free when it's 45
minutes late." I shut the door and we walked to the kitchen.

The next day (Wednesday)

The next day after work, I stopped at the diner to talk to Luke. He
was busy with a lot of customers, but when he saw me come in, he
immediately walked over to me. "Hey, how are you? Is everything all
right?"

"Yeah, everything's great." I smiled as I glanced around. "Busy
tonight."

"Yeah, real busy. But hold on a sec." Luke walked into the kitchen
and came back with a few plates. He delivered them to two different
tables, placed a check down on another table, then walked back into
the kitchen. He came back out with a waiter, then walked over to
me. "I asked Caesar to keep an eye on the place. Let's go talk." He
opened the door, and I followed him out onto the sidewalk. We walked
toward the bench at the bus stop. We both sat down. "So what
happened?" he asked.

I exhaled loudly. "Well, let me start from where I left off. So
remember that ultimatum I mentioned?" He nodded. "Okay, well, Max
said that if I wanted to stay with him, I needed to stop hanging out
with you."

Luke eyes narrowed. "What?"

I nodded. "Yeah, he really said that. Can you believe that? So then,
last night, I told him that I couldn't do that because our friendship
is just too important to me." Luke smiled. "So at first he was
resistant and kept pushing for me to stay away from you, but finally
I convinced him that he needed to trust me if he wanted this marriage
to work."

Luke nodded. "Good point. So he dropped the ultimatum?" I nodded. "So
you guys are still together?" I shrugged. Luke smiled and mimicked me
by shrugging back. "What does that mean?"

I smiled shyly. "Well, Luke, I don't know if you can tell by looking
at me, but I didn't sleep one wink last night..." I paused a second
before I finished. "…because I was up thinking about you."

He smiled. "Me?"

I smiled. "Yeah. And I think that, if it's okay with you, I'd like to
break off my engagement with Max so that we can be together. Me and
you."

Luke laughed. "If it's okay with me?"

I laughed. "Yeah. Well, I mean, I'm going to break it off anyway
because I don't want to be with him anymore. My feelings for you are
greater than my feelings for him. I mean, Luke, when you told me that
you loved me, it just made me realize all of my feelings that I'd
been keeping inside, and. . .I think I love you too."

He smiled. "You think you love me?"

I laughed. "I know I love you."

Luke smiled. He stood up, grabbed my hand and pulled me up off the
bench into a hug. A few seconds later, I pulled back. "Hey Luke,
remember our first kiss?"

"Yeah…?" He looked at me questioningly.

"Well, it was pretty amazing, wasn't it?"

He smiled. "Yeah..."

I smiled. "Do you think we can top it?"

Luke laughed. "Yeah." He leaned forward and pressed his lips gently
against mine. Everything went silent as though time stood still. I
loved everything about that moment, from the feel of his stubble
against my cheek to the feeling of his heart beating against my
chest. But most of all I loved the protective feeling of his arms
wrapped around me, as I finally realized that he was my destiny.

continues