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Seriously babe, this is not what I want to come home to. ” She said, exhausted and bewildered. She wondered how it was possible for him to not understand everything she had to deal with. Was she crazy? Like her, he worked full-time and went to school full-time. Like her, he barely had time to handle basic tasks. How could not think to at least pick up his clothes before she came home?

Thanks for the dinner babe! It looks great! It’s so nice to see you too! ” He said in his most sarcastic tone. He was beginning to grow tired of her constant need for perfection. He literally spent the entire day doing homework and working. He came home, kicked of his shoes and showered the scent of his day away with just enough time to throw together pasta and a salad. Did she even notice the meal he had prepared for her before she got in his case about his shoes on the ground? Carmen and Aden had been together for almost three years. Their story has one of the most romantic beginnings ever told.

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They knew the moment their eyes met that they had met their match. As they went out to lunches, and met each other’s friends they became even more convinced that they were meant for each other. They began to rely on each other in a way that was completely foreign to both of them. They laughed at each other’s sick jokes and smiled more gene unlikely than they ever had. They found themselves getting rid of their “late night only’ phone numbers and bringing up each others names in conversations with their friends. They started making plans further than a week in the future, and calling just to say goodnight.

They fell in love, and it scared them both beyond comprehension. Carmen, a ;.NET-four year old executive assistant for a small law firm in down town Chicago, was naturally beautiful. Her green eyes, fair skin and enigmatic smile attracted men everywhere she went. Carmen knew that she was beautiful, but also found inner beauty to be equally as important to her outer appearance. She was just as kind as she was demanding and particular. She loved looking the part of an executive and had the wardrobe to prove it. She knew that a smile was always the best accessory and kindness was the quickest way to get what she anted.

Careen’s mother and father were both world class lawyers and worked hard to build the company that provided her with a very luxurious youth. Careen’s brothers and sisters did not hesitate to capitalize on her parent’s success. They had no problem living off of their hard earned money well into their thirties. This disgusted Carmen, she wanted to find success on her own. She was happy to work as an assistant in a small law firm and pay her way through law school. Her family was money driven and as result, very disconnected form one and other.

Carmen always dreamt of the day when he would sit at the dinner table with her own family and laugh and smile and have food fights. Carmen took great pride in her ability to take care of herself. “l don’t need a man to take of me. But I sure do love taking care of them! ” she would say, winking coyly each time. She lived in a small, one bedroom apartment just outside of Chicago. Her apartment’s most impressive quality was that it was hers. Every cent of her rent money was paid by her. Well, her boyfriend had a few cents in there too. Aden was a charmer from day one.

His friends would joke that he came out of his mothers womb with swagger. Aden grew up in a small town in Louisiana. His mother and father raised his brother and him lovingly, but out of wedlock. Aden knew the ugly reality of divorce and knew that he would never make his children chose between him and their mother. He was raised by his father until he was twelve years old. He moved to Chicago to live with his mother and his younger brother when she fell ill. His father had always raised him to put women and children first. It was not a surprise that he would be so willing to offer his mother his love, comfort and support.

Leaving his father took a toll on Aden. A small piece of is youth was chipped away when he moved to Chicago. His mother was a loving, warm, spirited woman. She did not force Aden to care for her by any means. Aden, raised to be a man, felt the need to take of her on his own. In doing so, he grew up more quickly than his peers. He felt the stress of his future approaching before he had even reached high school, and worried about his ability to take care of his wife and children before he ever had his first kiss. Aden took pride in being able to take care of himself.

He dreamt of the day he would take care of a woman and raise a family. Aden was picky about who he gave his heart to. He had only done it twice in his life. The first was time was to a girl who would be his first great love. Carmen would be the second and last. He loved how frantic and wild she was. He even secretly loved it when she would playfully call him “lazy and stupid. ” He loved her so much he would die for her. He told her so every day. Finally Carmen would respond with, “How about you just move in instead? It would be less messy and I was kind hoping to keep you for a while. Carmen and Aden could not have had a more ideal move in. Carmen moved her things around and placed her girlish trinkets in storage. She created plenty Of closet space for Aden and gave him shelves in her small bathroom for his toiletries. She even placed photos of his family members on the photo mantel in the living room. Carmen wanted so badly for Aden to feel at home. She knew what it was like to move into someone else’s space and she didn’t want that tension between her and Aden. Aden had absolutely no trouble making himself at home. He filled her closet with his clothes and placed his belongings in the bathroom.

He filled their fridge with his favorite foods and the cabinets with what seemed like a life time supply of pretzels. Aden didn’t come with much furniture. He had been renting a room for the last ID years, so most of his belongings could fit in a very small space. Given the size of Careen’s apartment, this was a very convenient thing. Carmen and Aden both worked very long hours. Carmen worked early mornings while Aden worked late nights. They were both so supportive of each other’s ambitious nature that the difference in their schedules never seemed to be a problem. They spend the first few months living together in sweet, domestic bliss.

They would wait for each other to come just to share a kiss before they parted says again. They would spend the weekends making up for lost time and planning their individual lives together. They talked about everything and had no secrets. The newness of the love they shared had blossomed into a deeper and more intimate affection. As the months passed, and their support for one and others dreams turned into celebration of achievements, they changed. They changed as individuals. They were busier and more tired than they had ever been. Carmen no longer waited for Aden to return home before falling asleep.

Aden no longer waited to give Carmen a kiss before leaving for work. They loved each other, deeply, intimately, but they didn’t say it as much. As the once bare walls of their love nest became filled with fine art and sconces, the tone of their relationship seemed to be going through a similar transformation. “l love you! ” and you’re all I need. ” used to echo through the apartment with laughter and light. Now “Can you please pick that up? ” and “l really just don’t have the time! ” became the most common phrases spoken and heard. Where there was once love, support and excitement, there was now understanding, responsibility and acceptance.

Passion was replaced with necessity. Carmen and Aden had spent so much time pushing each other to grow, that they began to grow in different directions without realizing it. Carmen, feeling overwhelmed with all of her responsibilities, decided to go away for the weekend. She had received an acceptance letter to a prestigious law school in Arizona. She hadn’t told Aden she had even applied. She knew that he would ultimately support her decision to move, but secretly wanted to be with the kind of man who would fight for her to stay. They had been together for four years now and living together for one.

He hadn’t proposed or even alluded to the possibly of such gesture, and she wasn’t going to be trapped on the road to nowhere. She loved Aden, but her heart was heavy with the monotony of their lackadaisical relationship. “I’m going to stay at my parents for the weekend. They are having a promotional event and need the extra help. ” She lied. “I’ll be back Sunday night. Don’t wait up. ” “Okay, well, do they need any help? You know I’m great with marketing and advertising. Plus, maybe I can actually convince your parents to like me! ” Aden joked. “Aden, it’s kind of a family thing.

Besides, you would be bored. You can take the weekend to go out with the joys and party. ” She was treading lightly. She didn’t want to let on that she was really just trying to get away from him. She spent the weekend meeting with her friends and talking with her parents. She knew she loved Aden, but she wasn’t sure she had a lifetime of love for him in her. It had only been four years and she was already bored. Aden was a good man, but he was quiet, complacent and didn’t seem like he would ever really fight for her. She needed romance and wanted so badly what she had with him in the beginning.

He was her best friend, but she missed her lover. She spent her sat night at her parents watching them laugh hysterically at the dinner table. They were making fun of each other and cracking jokes. They had been together for thirty-two years and always seemed so distant. She had never seen them like this. “What was going on? ” she wondered. “Where did this awesome, fun couple come from? ” “We finally got you guys out Of the house. ” Her mother joked. “Seriously, the weight of raising you and your brothers and sisters was enough to drive us mad! ” “Thanks Mom. You’re a real sweet heart. ” Carmen replied. Oh don’t be so sensitive! You’re always so serious! It’s okay. So am l! ” Her mother responded. “Honey,” her father chimed in, “You grow up trying like hell not to be like your parents. Then, you find someone who appreciates that tortured, post-adolescent Cynicism and it’s awesome, so you marry them. And then you wake up one day and realize that you have all these mouths to feed, and this spouse you promised to love and cherish, and you’re too tired to care! ” “Hey! ” her mother slapped her husband and laughed. “There you are,” her father continued, “in bed, knowing you should make love, but you’re both too tired.

It’s maddening, until it becomes normal, and kind of ann.. You will eventually turn into us. I’m very sorry dear. ” Carmen wasn’t sure she was getting the deep message her father was trying to express. “What your word-smith father is tying to say is that you’ll be okay. ” Her mother clarified. “And if Aden is the one, then you and Aden will be okay. If you want to be together then you need to remove the clutter, or remove each other and move on. Your father and I almost divorced over silly stress. It wasn’t until you all moved on that we remembered how much fun we could have. No offense! ” Carmen was dumb founded.

Her parents seemed like actual, loving parents for the first time in her life. They were happy and kind. There was a freedom about them that she wanted so badly with Aden. He was the one. She had known it from the moment she saw him. That night as she packed her bags to return home, she tossed her acceptance letter in the “New Kids on the Block’ tin trash bin that sat in the corner of her old bedroom. She couldn’t wait to tell Aden what she had learned. With Carmen gone for the weekend, Aden thought of all the possibilities. He could go out with his friends and party like he used to with no one to check up on him.

He wouldn’t need to come home by 2:AMA and wouldn’t have to feel bad about being hung over. He could lounge on the couch in his underwear, eating chips and watching sports center. He could drink an ice cold beer and put it on the table, without a coaster underneath. He could take a shower without having to worry about sharing hot water, leave his shoes wherever he kicked them off at and fart as loud as wanted without leaving the room. ‘This will be great! ” he thought to himself. As he sat on the couch watching TV with the sliding glass door that lead to the patio wide open, he spotted the cutest little beagle he had ever seen.

He sat up in observance of the sweet little pup. He watched the wayward beagle sniff around the apartment’s grassy common area. As he watched, he noticed that no one seemed to be lingering around the dog. No one came to clean up his mess, or call him in for dinner. “Could this adorable dog be a stream he wondered. It didn’t seem possible. “Oh man! Carmen would lose it if she saw how this beagle waddled around! ” he thought. He found himself missing her. He missed her spirit. He hadn’t seen her genuinely smile in so long. He hated that he couldn’t make her smile anymore. He decided to go outside and approach the beagle pup.

As he approached with caution, the pup spotted him. With his tail wagging and his long, pink tongue flapping wildly in the wind, the beagle ran excitedly into Addend’s arms. He rolled around in his lap and pounced onto his chest, licking Addend’s face without caution. It was almost as if it was Aden he had been separated from. With no collar or micro- chip to be found, Aden took in the little pup. As Aden walked the isles of the local pet store, with his new puppy trotting beside him, he thought of how Carmen would laugh about the drawstring leash Aden had made from an old air Of sweats.

He couldn’t wait to introduce Carmen to their new pup. As he browsed the isles for puppy necessities, he found himself missing what he once had with Carmen. She was always so serious now, and so was he. He knew that this little beagle would be just what they needed. He knew that Carmen would love him again when he saw those long ears and pathetic droopy eyes. He couldn’t wait to see her reaction. Sitting on the couch, with “Harvey’ in his lap, he heard the raucous sounds of Careen’s house key searching for the key hole. Harpers ears pulled back in anticipation of what loud come through the door.

Carmen, excited to tell Aden of her revelations, couldn’t even open the door properly. She was flushed with the excited of her and Addend’s future, stress free life. “What the hell is that? Is that ours? ” Carmen demanded upon entering the apartment. “What? Mean yeah. Thought you’d be excited! I thought you loved dogs! ” Aden rebutted. “Loving dogs and waiting to take care Of one are two completely different things Aden. When are we supposed to find the time to take care of him? Him she said feverishly. “Yes him. And are you serious? I can’t believe this! I spent the hole weekend getting him ready to see you!

Can you ever just walk through the door without jumping down my throat? Do you even like me? Do you just spend your entire drive home thinking of all the chit do wrong and just wait to unload it at the front door? ‘ Exhausted, and bewildered, Aden grabbed his keys and walked out the door. “Well what the hell am I supposed to do with this dog?! ” she yelled after him as the door slammed. Carmen stood silently, looking at the dog. The beast of new responsibility just sat there, looking up at her, innocently wagging his tail across the carpet. Carmen was in shock.

As she set down her purse and hung her keys on the hook by the door, she looked back at the beagle pup. “Okay. Alright. ” She thought. “I’m not a monster. ” She squatted down and opened her arms to the pup. He walked towards her slowly, with his head low and his droopy eyes on her. Carmen was still angry, but as she watched the pups ears drag on the floor as he approached her with caution, her heart warmed. He sat in her lap and let her pet him. His coat was thick and course, but somehow the fur on his ears felt as if it made of cashmere. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes as she scratched under his chin.

Just as she leaned down to place her cheek upon his cashmere head, he snuck a kiss. She jolted back and smiled wiping the slobber from her face. She felt each piece of sharp ice chip away from her heart with the silly little kiss. His puppy breath was an odor unlike any other, and she fell in love with him, just as Aden hoped she would. She reached under his chin and peeked at his brand new, shiny collar. It read, “Harvey” on the front. The inscription on the back was enough to bring her to tears, an inside joke that was only for her and Aden. “Lazy and Stupid” was all it said.

As the tears ran down her face, she wondered where Aden had gone. She knew she had messed up, but she was stubborn, like him, and was not going to call him home. She wiped her tears and got up. As she walked towards the kitchen she noticed a few additions to their apartment. A plush, beige dog bed was now taking the place of a dead house plant in the corner of the living room. The clear jars she had purchased months ago to house Addend’s pretzels were now filled with puppy snacks, and there was a large bag of puppy food in the kitchen, next to ;o ceramic dog bowls adorned with paw prints and harass like “woof” and “bark”.

With Harvey fed and no sign of Aden, Carmen decided to call it a night. As she sacrificed her perfectly folded comforter to Harvey, she was grateful she didn’t have to sleep alone. She would sleep next to Harvey that night, with the comfort of his warm puppy breath on her neck. When she awoke the next morning there was still no sign of Aden. She made herself coffee, fed Harvey and frantically wondered where he could be. Just as she had decided that he was obviously with another woman and would only come home to gather his things, Aden walked through the door. He looked, ell, she didn’t really know how he looked.

He stood there in the door way, strong and still, and for the first time in years she couldn’t read him. She did not speak. She just stared at him and waited, as Harvey sat at his feet, wagging his tail. “I’m taking him to the dog park. You can come or you can stay. It’s up to you. ” His tone was sharp and pointed. “I’ll grab his leash. ” She replied, confused and compliant. As they drove to the dog park, with Harvey hanging his head out the window playfully, the tension was dense between them. They exited the car and entered the “Fort Knox” gateway to the park thou speaking.

Aden unclasped Harpers leash from his collar and released him to puppy paradise. He sat on a nearby bench and Carmen followed. She was hesitant when she sat down next to him, lowering herself slowly, as if waiting for him to tell her no. She sat there, quietly, facing forward, feeling like she was a stranger to him. She knew he was staring at her, but she couldn’t turn to face him. What would she say? How could she say what she needed to? How could they ever go back? “Do you love me? ” he said. He had never asked her that question. He always knew it without her having to say it.

Of course I do! ” she turned to face him. “How could you even ask? ” “Then why do you treat me as if I’m a burden. I try so hard and you only criticize me. It’s like you hate everything about me that you used to love. ” Carmen Was in disbelief. It broke her heart that he felt that way. She needed him to know that she only wanted to be happy with him. How could she tell him that she had forgotten how to be happy? “I’m tired. Grew tired. I work so hard to be better. I work so hard to keep growing so can make money and make you happy and be the best version of myself possible and I’m tired.

I eel like somewhere along the way I lost you or you lost me or something… But we got lost either way. ” “Yeah get that. I’m tired too. I’ve always tried to support you. Every time you’ve left for a job or for an opportunity I’ve told you to go and live your dreams. I never stopped loving you. I never gave up. You’re my best friend Carmen. ” “Aden, want you to fight for me. Don’t let me go. You are my friend too Aden, but miss my lover. I’m not ready to give up. Please don’t give up on us. ” And with that comment, that was so important for Carmen to say, she felt warm. Not warm in her heart, warm on her feet.

Her feet were starting to feel wet and warm. “Ahahahahahahahahaha! ” Aden laughed raucously as he watched Harvey unleash what seemed like a life time of urine all over Careen’s feet. Carmen was mortified! She could not believe this was happening! She was so embarrassed she wanted to scream. This was the worst possible timing. She bent down towards Harvey, ready to smack him hard on the nose, when she saw it. The same low head and cautious eyes she had seen last night when she fell in love with him. As her tight, angry lips began to curve into a grin, Harvey wagged his tail on the concrete beneath her. She glanced over to

Aden, wearing the same hysterically genuine smile she had seen when she first fell in love with him. There she was, in between the only TVВ»’0 men she’d ever really loved, covered in Pee. “Oh my God! ” she choked out with a smile. “Stop laughing! ” She was laughing too now. She playfully slapped Aden on the arm while he jokingly praised Harvey for his wrong doings. They were both laughing now, just like they used to. Sitting on that park bench, Carmen and Aden were a new version of themselves. They were a loving, happy, silly family. Carmen, Aden and fat little beagle named Harvey lived happily ever after, all lazy stupid.

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