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At 11:59 all over the country, people were tuned in or live in Times Square waiting for the ball to drop to welcome 2023.  60, 59, 58, 57, 56, 55, the thoughts raced through Fred’s mind 54, 53, 52, 51, 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45 Fred’s nerves were unsettled 44,43, 42, 41, 40, 39, paparazzi snapped photographs from a distance, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31 Fred patted his own pocket to make sure he could feel the box with key to the next chapter in his life, while he held Sydney’s hand ( yet she was clueless) 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23 Fred looked around to confirm with himself that he was in the prime location where he would receive the attention he craved 22, 21,20 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 Fred turned to Sydney and smiled while carefully reaching for her other hand 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, Fred let go of Sydney's left hand and he reached into his pocket 5, 4, 3, 2, Times Square is engulfed in a wave of darkness and sudden silence.  The chaos quickly followed reflected with the screams and distant gunshots.

 Fred’s reaction immediately brought Sydney back to 2013 when she first met Fred at Starbucks right outside of Bloomingdales. Sydney had accidently spilled her coffee on his Hermes tie and Fred obnoxiously shouted, “I am already late for a work meeting, what the F***?”  Yet, Fred then caught a glimpse of Sydney’s face perfectly adorned with make-up enhancing her twinkling blue eyes. Before growing more enraged, Fred got a handle on himself and simultaneously Sydney politely offered her phone number to Fred, “ Please accept my apology for spilling and I do want to give you my phone number for any expense on your end regarding this incident”.  Fred graciously accepted her apology and did take her phone number before departing to make his way to work. After a 8-minute walk through midtown, Fred was greeted by his brother, Theodore, at their family garment design and distribution office. Immediately, Theodore questions Fred, “ What happened to your tie?”

Fred responded, “ At Starbucks, a woman spilled her coffee on me.”

Puzzled, Theodore further questioned his brother, “ Why are you smiling and so cheerful when you typically fly off of the rails and would remove the tie?”

Fred enthusiastically grinned and claimed, “ I am smiling because the most beautiful woman spilled her coffee on me and on top of that I got her phone number.”

“What’s this cute coffee spiller’s name?”,  poked Theodore.

            “ …. I did not get that far exactly, but give me a few and I will find out her name when I call her shortly”, exclaimed Fred”  And by the way, cancel my 9 o’ clock as I have got an important call to make.” Fred grinned as he arrogantly sauntered back to his office.

Fred, sitting in his luxurious desk chair overlooking the magnificent view of the New York skyline, meticulously dials the coffee spiller’s phone number and after three rings he hears, “Hello, Sydney Tucker speaking.’

The two have an engaging conversation and Fred tells Sydney that instead of paying for his tie, he would like to treat her to dinner. Jokingly, he inserts that she can pay for drinks.  The following day at 5 pm promptly, Fred, driving his brand new royal blue BMW M5, goes to pick up Sydney from her rented room located in a residential townhouse. At first, there is a sense of discomfort as the two are practically strangers. After a few awkward moments, Fred initiates the conversation by informing her that he made a 5:45 reservation at The Capital Grille. Her response was, “ I have never been there. This seems like an extravagant dinner, much more than a tie.”

Fred replied, “I eat here all the time, it is just a coin in the pond. It’s like my kitchen away from home.”

“Well, if you insist, I am a girl who cannot say no.”, Sydney blurted out blushing.  She really did not know how to respond. Who would have thought that spilling coffee yesterday, would put her in the car going to a fancy dinner this evening with Fred?

Fred cautiously pulls his car up to the restaurant as to not scratch it and is welcomed by the valet parkers who know him by his first name.

The two enjoy a dinner full of laughs, sharing stories of their pasts, and eventually much flirtation. While Fred makes it known that he is wealthy and had a privileged upbringing, Sydney’s story is quite opposite.  Sydney Tucker was raised in a middle class family in a New York suburb. Her deceased mom was a first grade teacher and her dad is a retired police officer. Sydney attended The Academy of Cosmetology and Esthetics NYC.

Following dinner Fred takes Sydney to 10Below Ice Cream and while there he asks her to be his girlfriend.

As reality sets in for Sydney,  she feels herself being dragged along by Fred only guided by his phone flashlight. Bodies rubbing against hers, elbows digging into her, and a sense of panic and helplessness overcoming her Sydney feels a slight sense of safety as she feels the touch of Fred’s hand on hers. Fred confident in his spontaneous plan assured frightened Sydney that she was secure with him, and he knew where he was headed. After what felt like an eternity navigating through the crowds, Fred reaches into his pocket feeling the box once again. He freezes for a second and then proceeds to pull out his keys. Quickly unlocking the front door to his Park Avenue office,  Fred leads Sydney inside the foyer. She catches a glimpse of Fred’s face as the moon light flickers through the window and highlights his expression of frustration and disappointment. Fred’s mumbling to himself is heard by Sydney. The words, “This was supposed to be perfect, like a fairytale. This was my day and so perfectly planned. My face was going to be everywhere.”, slipped from his mouth into the tense, but quite air. Sydney heard each syllable and looked confused, but down inside understood. Fred clumsily falls to the ground when he misses the chair for which he reached. Sydney, gingerly approaches Fred and gracefully sits down closely right next to him. A few minutes lapsed and  Fred looked up from his spot on the ground. In the dim moonlit room, Fred gazed into Sydney’s sparkling blue eyes, and just like the very first time his eyes caught hers, he felt calm and reassured. Pensively, Fred reflects on the day and concludes that what he wants is a life with Sydney; his frivolous and fancy lifestyle, he realizes, are not important. Sharing a life with a loved one trumps anything that money can buy. Quietly Fred asks Sydney to stand up, and when she does, Fred pushes himself up onto one knee and once again, reaches into his left pocket to gently retrieve the box. Pulling it out, Sydney’s eyes filled with tears and little whimpers escaped her heavy breathing.

Finally, after ten years, Fred is able to say the words that he has been holding onto until the right time, “ Sydney Tucker, thank you for opening up my eyes. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

The lights illuminate the office building and the surrounding area enhancing the New York glow, as Fred, with elation in his voice, asks Sydney,

“Will you marry me?”

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