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HOME >> Product 0125 >> STELLA THEN AND NOW>>

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Vanessa Telaro

STELLA'S boyfriend Danny invites her to an upscale restaurant in the West Village.  During dinner, she realizes how happy she is to be his girlfriend. One of the main reasons she feels content is because she knows he likes her company and loves her for who she is. But as the evening unfolds, Danny begins acting strange which makes her wonder if he's thinking about breaking up with her. He then hails a taxi and tells the driver to let them off at a specific part of Central Park, where he proposes to her. Taken by surprise, she's not sure how to react. But looking down at the glistening ring, she blurts out, "yes."


The following morning, she wakes up feeling confused. Has she made the wrong decision? Why couldn't she have told him she needed time to think about her decision? Either way, it was too late. Her best friend and roommate, Leila, a professional violinist and music teacher at a Brooklyn school, notices the engagement ring on Stella's finger. Despite being a professional wedding planner, Stella begins to panic. Now that she's engaged, she begins to analyze love and relationships more than ever before. She wonders how happy her past and current clients truly are, and whether they regretted getting married. Desperate for advice, she asks a married co-worker for advice about marriage. Leila's affair with a married man makes Stella even more wary about marriage. She dreads the thought of making Danny an unhappy husband, which could lead to his marital infidelity.

Danny, oblivious to Stella's doubts, confronts her about their wedding plans. Time is moving fast and they have to book a reception hall and a church, not to mention plan the other details. They agree to announce their engagement at Stella's parents' house the following Sunday.

Stella realizes that she has exactly six months left until the wedding. Though she could divorce Danny in the case of a miserable marriage, her Catholic guilt doesn't make divorce seem like an option. Her free-spirited friend Edie sympathizes with her dilemma and gives her advice that only slightly helps. Stella realizes that only she could make a decision she won't regret.  She finally concludes that the only way she could marry Danny, who she does love, is if she has one more fling. Three lifetime partners including Danny doesn't feel enough in a city like New York.  Her plan is to sleep with another man, though not just any man, so as to feel like she won't be "missing out." Although she is consumed with guilt, she decides to join an online dating site.  Because online dating is new to her, she quickly becomes addicted.

To her delight, she comes across Mike, a musician from California who moved to New York. After exchanging a few messages and chatting secretly with him, he becomes her prospect. She uses a false name, Liz, to protect her identity. As the weeks go by, Stella gets to know him better and agrees to meet for a drink. Stella realizes how afraid she is about meeting Mike, whose band scored a record deal. Even if he's not ready for a serious relationship, he ends up falling for Stella. She hates herself for being a lying contradiction with a double-life. Whenever Danny calls and shows affection, she feels torn in two.

Because her wedding is fast approaching, she forces herself to make a decision. Once she ends up in Mike's apartment and the opportunity arises for them to sleep together, she realizes that this is not what she wants and heads back home. Although she has been wanting more sexual experience, sleeping with him would fail to resolve anything. She's always loved Danny from the start and her obsession with giving up her freedom was holding her back.  Stella gradually starts feeling better, as if she's on the brink of finding her solution. But because she lied to Mike, she figures he deserves a final apology. They agree to meet for one last drink. Before long, she begins telling Mike the truth about what happened. First things first, she confesses why she lied about her real name. As the evening unfolds, Stella sees Danny walk into the pub but he storms out after getting a glimpse of her with Mike. Paralyzed with dread, she feels too numb to call out after him. 

Stella dashes back to her apartment, where Leila is lying drunk on the sofa. Because she's drunk and depressed over her break-up with Liam, she doesn't make much sense. However, Leila does tell her that Danny had stopped by the apartment to surprise Stella and that she'd told him exactly where he could find her. Fuelled with rage, Stella snaps at her best friend for being so reckless and inconsiderate.

Danny ignores Stella's calls and messages. Thinking that she's lost Danny forever, she feels like a total failure. She hates how ironic her situation has become. At one point, Stella calls his mother to ask where he is. His mother seems oblivious about the restaurant incident, which suggests Danny hasn't told her. It turns out that Danny went to Boston to spend time with his dying uncle.

One what feels like a random day, Danny shows up at her doorstep. He looks sullen but also more at peace. He tells her that he had a lot of thinking to do and that they should have a serious discussion over coffee. Although she still loves him very much, Stella fears he might break up with her officially. So she tells him that she'll only agree to join him if he doesn't plan on breaking off their relationship.

At the coffee shop in her Brooklyn neighbourhood, Danny asks Stella to give him an honest account of her situation with Mike. Thinking that this might be her last chance to make things right, she realizes she has no choice. She confesses her apprehensions about marriage and monogamy, which had nothing to do with Danny. She also tells him that though she'd come close to it, she didn't sleep with Mike. Soon after, Danny reveals that up until a few years ago, he also dreaded marriage for the same reasons, which surprises Stella.  However difficult it is, he forgives her. Once Stella forgives herself and Leila for her mistakes, she realizes that she's finally found inner peace. Armed with a new attitude, she is ready to get married and be the best wife she could be. Marriage isn't a death sentence, but a worthwhile challenge.





73541 Words



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Cover Art:

T.L. Davison


Karen Lewis


Vanessa Telaro

ISBN Number:


Available Formats:

PDF; iPhone PDF; HTML; Microsoft Reader(LIT); MobiPocket (PRC); Palm (PDB); Nook, Iphone, Ipad, Android (EPUB); Older Kindle (MOBI);




I WOULD RATHER SPEND the morning sleeping in, do nothing but think as minimally as possible. I felt lethargic, not up to going to the wedding I'd coordinated. I would certainly be fired if I decided to laze around all day instead of overseeing the details that would make my clients' day memorable.   

Wedding planning is very serious work. You spend weeks planning out a wedding, but only have a day to see the only and final result. There's no point in studying hard for an exam if you're not going to show up. So there's no point being a wedding planner if you're not going to help realize a couple's most memorable day.

This morning, I was bloated with PMS and too out of it to be the professional I was supposed to. I woke up feeling stiff and achy, almost inhuman. Since I'd have to be on the premises in two hours, I jerked myself awake. Still, I couldn't wipe the grogginess from my eyes. My "average" hangover would have to wear off on its own.

Before getting out of my room, I looked in the mirror to see if my body hadn't mutated. After losing much weight, I lived with the constant fear that I would wake up grotesquely fat, not that I'd ever been massive.

Despite my bloating and hangover, I was still thin. My Italian hips would always be on the generous side but I hoped, with daily effort, to preserve this work of art.

My best friend and roommate, Leila, was drinking coffee and nibbling on toast while perusing the New York Times. In the morning light, she looked particularly beautiful, almost like an angel in a mundane situation.

"Good morning Stella," she greeted, looking up from the paper. Though I couldn't see what section she was reading, I bet it was the arts and entertainment section. She was a music teacher at a music academy in Brooklyn. On top of playing the cello and violin, she knew the piano quite well. 

"You're off to work?"

"Like nearly every Saturday," I said. "I start in two hours exactly."

"There's coffee if you like," she said.

"Yeah thanks."

I felt as if I could barely move, let alone oversee a day long wedding. I wish I had the kind of job in which I could call in sick without major consequence. The pressure of my work was just enormous.

I grabbed a mug from the cupboard and filled it to the brim. Then, realizing that coffee would only keep sending me to the bathroom, I poured some out into the sink.

Leila looked over her shoulder. "Are you feeling okay?"

I nearly dropped my cup, which felt heavy. "Yeah I'm fine."

"So, how did last night go?"

Memories from last night came in fragments. Soon after, they converged into one concrete memory. I'd gone to a midtown club without my boyfriend Danny; I'd gone with two of my wildest girlfriends. Dark lights, sheer fabrics, mile-high legs, and an impressive assortment of stilettos popped into mind.

Even though I'd gotten moderately drunk, I'd had the most fun in years. By years I mean just a couple--before I made the commitment to Danny. Ever since we'd hooked up, my life became divided into pre and post-Danny. Though I'd been mostly happy in either divide, I still had major relationship issues that seemed incurable.

I rubbed my eyes and stared out the window. Brooklyn was in full swing. Even sleeping in a little made me feel like I'd skipped half the day. I gazed on thinking that if I'd be dead, my neighbourhood would look exactly like this. Will, the shoe shiner from a few blocks down would still whistle in the spot he'd claimed. 

Leila set down the newspaper, which was already old news.

"What are your plans for today?"

She shrugged. "There's a rehearsal later in the afternoon. I might go grocery shopping after lunch."

"Well good luck with the show."

Leila's pale face creased into a frown. "The show's next week. You're gonna be there, right?"

"It's Sunday right?"

"Friday night," she corrected.

 "I'll be there don't worry."

I poured myself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios that I brought into my room along with my terrible coffee. As much as I would have liked to slip in a discussion about whatever, I was pressed for time. I'd only been late once for a wedding rehearsal and that was when Danny and I had been very hot for each other.

I took a good look at myself in the bathroom mirror thinking that I wouldn't be as sleek today. I'd certainly look acceptable but not my best. I made a slight even part in my hair and tied it up. As for makeup, my hangover left me no choice but to go au natural. I opted for a cream-coloured pants suit and a white shirt that always made my boobs look firmly terrific, which might compensate for my tired-looking face.

After making sure I looked presentable, I grabbed my clipboard and headed out the door. At least it wasn't an overcast day. To my relief, a cab stopped almost immediately. 

I tipped the driver and got out. The marriage ceremony would take place at the United Methodist Church in Brooklyn Heights.

I pushed open the large wooden church doors and got a sweeping glance of the interior. The florists I'd booked were already on the premises, displaying their fabulous end-results. I recognized Walter, the expert Parisian florist, his small frame moving about nimbly. Despite being a little too arrogant, he was a total professional. His pregnant wife, Anne, was lingering discreetly in the background.

When he recognized me, he said, "Ah bonjour Stel-lah!" 

I was very satisfied with his work. In fact, Walter and his crew had not once disappointed me. He'd made elegant arrangements with calla lilies and orchids in a modern, tasteful way.

"C'est class en?" he said to me.

Too bad I couldn't speak French. "Oui, very much.  It's spectacular."

In his heavy accent, he said, "I work all night."

"They're gonna be really happy. There's no doubt in my mind."

He gave a knowing, almost withering look. Walter's touch-of-magic skills kept him scoring jobs. Talking about anything other than floral arrangements, for the most part, was out of the question.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted yet fulfilled. I now had another successful wedding under my belt. Eventually, I would be able to open up my own business and quit working for Valenti.

The photographers had showed up on time as well as the band, cameraman and so forth. The food was either decent or exquisite, depending on the guest. There were no wedding crashers, protesters, or smashed guests staggering about like tormented zombies.

Because I'd gotten drunk last night, I just settled for a glass of Pellegrino with lemon and hung around before leaving the reception hall. After being in the business a few years, you know when it's safe to leave. When you did your job right.

The dance floor bustled when I sloped off without saying goodbye to the newly married couple. After their honeymoon, they would call me to thank me. Quite often, clients send me thank you cards with their wedding pictures tucked inside.

Once inside the cab, I checked my cell phone to see if I'd missed any calls. There were three missed calls from Danny.

At this point in our relationship, I could accurately say he was the ideal boyfriend. I'd met him at a time in my life when I'd considered dating women or swearing off men forever. I'd met him a year after my ex-boyfriend Josh had suddenly taken off to Los Angeles with the woman he was having an affair with. (Apparently I'd never been his girlfriend so he didn't consider it cheating)

Josh had called me from a public phone in the West Coast to break up with me officially. 

"Things weren't working out," he'd said. "Don't take this personally. You're a great person, remember that."

I didn't want to hear the rest of it. When someone dies, it doesn't matter how. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks. I'd felt as if my eyes were furious little fountains, my limbs flimsy bones.

I'd met Danny when Josh was still on my mind. Josh hadn't called or sent me an email to update me on his life in California. The only thing I'd known for sure was that his relationship with that woman wouldn't last.

Though Danny was incredibly good-looking in a Robert Downey Jr. kind of way, I was still heartsick over Josh. It had taken time to fall for Danny--to see all the good qualities that would eventually eradicate Josh at the root.

The day we'd met was still so pleasantly clear: one overcast afternoon at a Citibank. He'd dropped his wallet and I'd picked it up. His seventy-five percent cocoa eyes locked with mine.

"Thanks a lot," he'd said in a slightly husky voice.

We'd clicked from then on. Danny Costello was not only good-looking, but he possessed the character I'd hopelessly hoped for in my next boyfriend.

Oh Danny, I thought in the cab. I would call him as soon as I got home.

I hadn't noticed the taxi driver peering at me from the rear-view mirror. It felt both good and disturbing.





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 dilemma, girlfriend, proposal, love, boyfriend, catholic guilt, clients, engagement,marriage, online dating,

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