13. Before the housewarming
Note:- This post is an update of my first ever attempt at writing a novel named ‘Choices and Consequences’. Find the link to my previous updates right below :-
At Crossroads: Rachel (Part 2)
13. Before the Housewarming
Ross and Rachel
June. It was a month that was detested by majority of the Parisians. For it had a notorious habit of being a harbinger of temperatures exceeding 70 degree Fahrenheit. Which wasn’t necessarily stuffy, but it made you sweat all the same.
Not everyone disliked the month though. In fact there were a few who were really looking forward to it. Although their reasons for doing so were entirely unrelated to the weather. Like in the case of this particular couple, it was due to the cessation of a certain excavation taking place near a small town named Charente.
Ross Geller was a happy man now. For the excavation had concluded a fortnight before his grant period expired. Which also meant that he would get to spend the rest of the time with his daughter Emma and her mother Rachel, both of whom couldn’t have been more excited about it. For two weeks was an amount greater than even the sum of the days they had been together since Ross first came to France back in January.
Plus, it also meant that it was about time he visited Rachel’s new house, which was exactly what they were doing right now.
“I finally see why you are so excited about this place. It’s really beautiful.” Ross said, his eyes taking in the expanse of the living room, which was certainly more spacious than what it seemed from the outside.
“See? I had told you so!” Rachel replied, delighted to hear him say that.
“Yeah! I mean, it’s not just the house. There’s a school nearby, a park, quite a few supermarkets and it’s what like just half an hour from your workplace?” he asked, sounding impressed.
“Twenty five minutes in regular traffic.” Rachel replied, nodding assertively.
“Oh! And the Louvre’s not too far either. It will take you three quarters of an hour, max.” she continued, looking at him as though searching his expressions.
“That’s great!” Ross replied, although the excitement did not quite reach his eyes. And Rachel had been quick enough to notice it.
Few moments passed by as they found themselves lost in their own thoughts, neither knowing quite what to say.
“But do you know what’s the best part?” Rachel asked, turning to face him again.
Nonplussed, Ross simply looked on, waiting for her to continue.
“In just a week, this place is going to be ours, Ross! Ours! Can you believe it?” she asked, her voice revealing the joy underneath.
It took Ross quite a while to respond this time.
“Actually, it’s going to be yours, Rach.” he said, in a put out note.
Shocked, Rachel looked at him as though she couldn’t believe what she had just heard.
“I.. I mean, like, finance wise. It’s all yours.” Ross said, trying to cover for the blunt message his words had unintentionally conveyed.
“Yeah… about that.” Rachel said, shooting a skeptic look at him.
“Can’t you like… I don’t know… extend your grant or something?” she asked, with a hint of desperation in her voice.
“I’m really sorry, Rach. I can’t. Grants don’t work like that. My research there is done. I’ll be going back with Mon and the rest next Sunday. I still have a job there which I can’t just quit.” Ross explained.
“But? What then, Ross? I mean you’ll have to quit your job sometime in the future, right?” Rachel asked, her voice getting more tensed with every word she said.
“How… how long will that take? A couple months? An entire semester? And we… we’ll work out the finance, you don’t have to worry about that. It’ll be a joint ownership. I read it somewhere, it can be done. I…” she trailed, her whole body beginning to tremble with unease.
“Hey… hey… look at me, Rach. Look at me.” Ross said, taking her in his arms.
Rachel, who had turned as white as a sheet, looked up at Ross with tears in her eyes.
“We’ll figure something out, okay? It’s us. We’ve always figured it out.” he said, whilst patting her back to comfort her.
As she loosened herself in his embrace though, she couldn’t help but feel that Ross had already figured something out after all.
* * *
“Oh, squish inside! Will ya?” a heavily pregnant woman exclaimed to her friends who were already well ‘squished’ on the backseat.
“Pheebs. I’m sorry but there’s really no place here! Why don’t you go ahead? We have reserved the shotgun seat just for you!” her friend offered.
“We have reserved the shotgun seat just for you!” the woman retorted, making a crude imitation of her as she headed to the front and opened the door.
“What’s up with her?” Rachel asked, hurt by the rude response from Phoebe.
“She got the middle seat in the plane even when she specifically asked for one beside the aisle.” Joey explained.
Then, lowering his voice to a whisper, he added
“So she has been pissed about it the whole time.”
“She’s damn right! If I were that pregnant and didn’t get what I had asked for, I would be pissed too.” Rachel replied, righteousness coursing through her veins.
“What are you two girls whispering about?” Phoebe exclaimed from the front seat.
“We were just discussing that how you were wronged, Pheebs. You should have got the seat beside the aisle.” Rachel said.
To her surprise though, Phoebe’s face brightened on hearing that.
“Joey didn’t tell you the whole story, did he? I did get the seat beside the aisle.” she said, sounding smug.
“How?” Rachel asked, confused.
Smirking, Chandler launched into an explanation.
“Well… apparently the guy with a ticket right next to her had received a tip that the plane would crash halfway through it’s journey because it did not have enough… Errm… What was that again?” he trailed, looking towards Phoebe.
“Phalange.” she replied, hardly able to contain herself.
“Phalange? What’s a Phalange?” Rachel asked, confused.
“There’s no such thing! It’s something that I just made up!” Phoebe replied, cracking up.
“What?!” Rachel exclaimed, laughing herself. God, Pheebs still hadn’t changed one bit, had she?
“Phoebe?! Why didn’t you simply request your co passenger instead? I’m positive that any decent person would have obliged!” Ross asked, disapproving.
Phoebe frowned as she considered Ross’s question for a while before dismissing it, saying,
“Ehh… That would have been so much messier.”
On hearing her response, everyone exchanged varying looks of amusement, all smiling at their friend’s logic which, as usual, made no sense to anyone except her.
“I’ve missed you Pheebs.” Rachel finally replied, looking fondly towards her.
“Aww… I’ve missed you too, honey.” Phoebe replied, touched by Rachel’s words.
The weekend had finally arrived. The two days which they had all struggled to plan since the past few months. What with Joey coming all the way from LA and Phoebe dangerously close to her 3rd trimester, chances had been looking pretty slim. Not to mention the fact that Monica and Chandler had to find someone to look after their kids as well.
Thankfully though, things had somehow fallen in place. Today would be the day to settle in and have a look at a few of the highlights of the fashion capital of the world, ending up with a home-cooked meal at Rachel’s new house. And tomorrow would be the official housewarming party. The day when Rachel would legally gain the ownership of the place.
“So where are we going now?” Phoebe asked, turning herself around so as to face the rest.
“I am going to work. And Ross..” Rachel began, but before she could continue any further, all hell broke lose.
“You are going to work?! Today?!” Monica exclaimed, outraged.
“Don’t we matter to you anymore?” asked Joey, sounding very hurt.
“What is wrong with you?!” Phoebe exclaimed, back to her grumpy self.
“Lord, please take us back home.” said Chandler, joining hands in prayer.
To their surprise though, it was Ross who came to her rescue.
“Guys. Please. It’s not like that.” he said, trying to make them understand.
“Oh yeah? Then what is it? What is so important that she can’t take just ONE day off to meet her friends who have literally traveled across an ocean for that very purpose?!” Monica fumed, receiving assertive nods and cheers from others.
“Well… it’s like this. Rach has this meeting with a guy who has also crossed an ocean for a contract. It’s a multi million dollar deal and Rachel has to be there to ensure that the designs are exactly the ones she had sketched. Otherwise it could mean a complete fiasco for her company.” Ross said, while Rachel looked at him gratefully.
“You make a million dollars now?” Joey asked, in awe.
“No Joe, my company does.” Rachel said, smiling at his misconception.
“How much do you make then?” asked Monica, out of sheer curiosity.
Rachel shifted uncomfortably at the sudden attention to her paycheck.
“Well… right now it’s just below seven figures a year. But it’s only probational. They have promised me the full amount from the next year on.” she said, saying the amount as though it was something you came across everyday.
“And how much is that?” Monica asked, her eyebrows arched as high as they possibly could.
“A hundred thousand euros a month.” Rachel said, wanting to disappear instantly.
It was Phoebe who voiced all of their thoughts this time.
“You bitch.” she said, although in a way which was suggestive of envy rather than frustration.
“So it looks like Paris has made your dreams come true after all.” Chandler said.
To their surprise though, Rachel’s expressions fell almost immediately.
“Yeah… It has.” Rachel replied, looking directly at Ross this time.
Everyone now turned to look at Ross who simply dismissed them with a courteous smile.
Intrigued, Monica was about to say something when the car stopped across a big glass walled structure across the street.
“Oh, that’s me. Gotta go. See you at my new house, everyone!” Rachel said, as she waved her hand in farewell and hurried out of the car.
The rest barely had time to wave back before the driver set off again, owing to the honks of the cars right behind them.
“So. Where do we go now? You guys can either freshen up at the apartment or we can tour the city straightaway seeing that we only have today.” Ross said, completely ignoring the questioning look in everyone’s eyes.
The guests exchanged glances, wondering whether they should push their friend for answers. In the end though, everyone realised that it wouldn’t be smart of them to waste the only day they had together since months. And hence, it was Chandler who broke the silence, saying
“I’ve heard that the Eiffel tower’s quite a sight. Why don’t we go there first?”
* * *
“So how are things back in New York?” Rachel asked, as they drained their champagne, and in the case of Phoebe, a carton of grape juice.
After a quick tour to some of the prime attractions and a much needed nap at the apartment, they had finally headed to the place which had been the reason why they had travelled so far for. The cozy, three bedroom cottage located about an half an hour’s drive from the apartment.
The New Yorkers developed an immediate liking to the place and couldn’t help but envy Rachel for establishing such a perfect life for herself in so short a time. Moments later, the blaring of a horn announced her arrival as she brought along a huge bottle of champagne, and of course, few cartons of grape juice.
After discussing the details of the surroundings as well as the interior of house, their discussion had finally moved on to more general things. Like ‘catching up’ on each other’s lives as they made themselves comfortable on the couches in the living room.
“Couldn’t have been better. Mike and I have decided that it was about time we had a place of our own. In fact he might already be talking with a realtor as we speak right now.” Phoebe said, while making noises exactly as a 5 year old as she sucked her last carton dry.
“Good for you, Pheebs!” Ross replied, pleased to hear it.
“That’s great news! Congratulations!” Rachel said, excited.
“Yeah, I mean with everyone starting to move in to big places, we decided it was about time that we had our own.” Phoebe said.
“At first it was just Monica and Chandler. But then Joey moved away and got his own place in LA. And now with you guys starting a family together… We felt like we were the only ones remaining!” she exclaimed, jovially. Her expressions however changed quickly once she noticed Ross and Rachel, both of whom were not really meeting her eyes.
Well. It was now or never, Rachel realised as the unwelcome spotlight flashed right on to them.
“Yeah… about that. Ross and I… We… we still haven’t…” Rachel began, unsure as to how to express herself.
There was an uncomfortable silence in the room which grew into one full of anticipation as Ross met Rachel’s eyes, which were pleading him to say something.
It was then that Ross knew that he had to do it. Slowly, as though in a trance, he slowly took Rachel’s hands in his and said,
“You know what? Let’s do this, Rach. Let’s start a family together.”
Rachel couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Had he just proposed to her?
Elated, she tightened the grip on his hands and said,
“Yeah. Let’s” and nodded assertively.
“Aww… Look at you guys! You are finally on the same page!” said Phoebe, her eyes brimming with the joy that she felt for her friends. And so did everyone else as they watched the couple unite in the centre of the room.
“A fresh new start …” Ross pronounced, as the rest listened with bated breath.
“Back in New York.”
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