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“She does?” Amy chimed in immediately. “You live in the city of fashion and you’re wearing ripped jeans and T-shirt? I guess.”

“I was being nice, Amy,” my mother said. “I’m sure when we all go out for the proposal later, Gillian won’t be dressed like this. She’ll be dressed like the rest of us. Right, Gillian?”

Brian shook his head and shot me his usual, “I’m sorry, kid” look. My father hugged me and said he was ready to get some rest, and as I started to pull the keycard for the Madison out of my pocket, Claire began her usual line of questioning.

“Did you and Ben make up yet?” She gave me a fake look of sympathy. “Or did he realize that he was the real catch and you were the one who needed him more?”

“Ha!” Amy laughed. “You’re late. Ben has moved on already—I saw a picture of him on Facebook with, shocking! Someone who looks like she’s actually doing something with her life. She’s an author, I think.”

“Oh, how very wonderful,” my mother said. “Now, that’s impressive. Maybe you can call Ben and ask to be introduced to her, Gillian. Since you edit, maybe you can ask to edit her upcoming books? Maybe she can get you in the doors of a publishing house?”

I gritted my teeth, ready to finally tell them “Fuck off” for good, but I suddenly felt Jake slipping his arm around my waist—suddenly heard him whispering, “Don’t.”

“I think you should introduce me.” he whispered a little louder, planting a brief kiss on my forehead.

“Mom, Dad—” I paused. “The rest of you, this is Jake. Jake these are my parents, Amy, Mia, Claire, and Brian.”

Brian and my father immediately extended their arms for a handshake, but all of my sisters—even my mom, were standing still and staring at Jake, looking completely awestruck.

“This is your boyfriend?” Amy asked, blinking a few times as she shook his hand. “This, um, is Jake?”

“Yes.” Jake answered before I could, keeping his other hand firmly attached to my waist. “I was surprising Gillian with a flight today. I didn’t realize it coincided with your proposal—” He looked at Brian. “But we’ll do our best to be back in time.”

My sisters nodded in unison as he flashed his pearly whites. This was the first time I’d ever seen them completely speechless and I immediately committed the image to memory.

“The key, Gillian...” Jake said under his breath. “Give them your key.”

I pulled the keycard out of my back pocket and handed it to my mom. “I’ve moved to The Madison at Park Avenue. I sent you an email just in case you forget what to tell the cab driver. I’ve already told the doorman to expect you and he’ll help you with anything you may need while you’re here.”

“Thank you,” she said, her eyes still on Jake.

“Well, wait,” Brian said. “So, you are going to try and make it back by tonight for the proposal right, Gillian?”

“Absolutely.” I gave him my best fake smile, answered a few more questions from him and my father about the city, and then I told them goodbye.

They walked toward baggage claim and I stared in their direction, catching them throwing glances over their shoulders every now and then until they were out of sight.

“You ready?” Jake said, minutes later.

I nodded and he grabbed my hand, leading me toward the newest and smallest terminal in JFK—the one designated for private and charter planes.

He held up his pass to the only gate agent, and escorted me down the jet bridge and onboard one of the most luxurious aircrafts in the world, a Gulf-Stream 650.

“Dare I ask how you can afford this?” I muttered, more than sure he wasn’t going to give an answer.

“I don’t have to ‘afford’ it,” he said, smiling at me. “It’s a benefit of previously flying for Signature. They still have to honor certain things for anyone who reached senior status. Happy?”

“No. How do you afford your Park Avenue apartment?”

He smiled again, gesturing for me to sit in a leather passenger chair. He bent down and fastened my seatbelt. “That was given to me by someone special. No, not an ex-wife, and not a trust fund.”

“Your mother?”

“Yes.” He pushed stray hairs out of my face. “And before you ask, because I have a feeling you will, it’s the same answer for the watches.”

“So, technically, you yourself are not independently wealthy.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that.” A smirk crossed his lips. “Have we talked enough for six in the morning yet or do we need to discuss something else?”

“No, we have. For now.”

“Thank you.” He tugged at my seatbelt one last time. “I’ll see you when we level out.” He headed into the cockpit and the flight attendant set a tall cup of orange juice in front of me.

She handed me a four-paged breakfast menu, but I set it down and gripped the handles of the chair to prepare for takeoff.

Shutting my eyes, I listened as Jake spoke to the other pilot in the cockpit.

“Flaps—set, transponders—set, De-ice—on, Lights—clear...” his voice began to fade as the plane rolled backwards and away from the gate.

Not having to fake a smile for watching passengers, I kept my eyes closed as the plane rushed against the runway, as it hit the air full speed and leveled out against the sky.