SWEETEST TABOO CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL RECIPE
In chapter 30 of Entangled, Riley makes a custom cocktail for Gabriel--each ingredient symbolizing a piece of his life and personality. I hope you enjoy it! And leave a pic on social media and be the envy of all!
Keep scrolling for the alternate Entangled ending!
Bonus Content! Entangled Alternate Ending!
Bonus content for January 2022 features an alternate ending for Entangled. I ultimately chose to go in a different direction, but as you'll see, Riley and Gabriel's entanglement could have had an even sweeter consequence.
One Month Later: Riley and Gabriel
Riley had returned to D.C. and was staying temporarily at the Mandarin Oriental. The Élite was still her favorite, but the wounds were still too fresh from her and Jonathan’s break-up so she opted on an equally as nice hotel nearby—also with easy access to her beloved cherry blossom trees. Their blossoms were noticeably thinner, barely there really, but they were still magnificent.
She had agreed to meet her parents for lunch—which she was excited about but also kind of dreaded. Watching the two of them together after so many years apart was still shocking for her. She was happy for them, but she and her mother still had some work to do to repair their relationship.
Riley also had a doctor’s appointment later in the afternoon. Her cycle was off and she had felt some unusual cramping in New York. Could be any number of things, but she just wanted to be proactive. And she was still concerned about her slip up with Gabriel that night in Bora Bora beneath the stars. He had been so apologetic, but she didn’t regret it. She knew it could all be related to stress, or something far more dramatic. But better safe than sorry.
With a hotel blanket tucked on her arm, she strolled over to the tidal basin to relax beneath the scattering of the light pink blossoms barely hanging on. But they were enough for her.
She laid her blanket out under a tree whose trunk curved far right with limbs that hung over nearly grazing the ground. Through the branches, the sun slipped through and warmed her, while small clusters of people passed by walking or riding bikes. She’s bought a book with her to read, something she hadn’t had the time for in ages. She just wanted to enjoy her favorite place in the peace and quiet.
Just as she settled in, someone called her name.
“Madamoiselle St. James.”
She turned slowly towards the sound of the voice, desperate to believe it was really him, but prepared to be pranked by someone else. It was exactly the sort of thing Donovan would do.
But it wasn’t Donovan.
In dark blue jeans, a black t-shirt and thin black bomber jacket, a smiling Gabriel Laurent was in D.C. and walking in her direction—steps measured and unsure. She quickly stood to her feet returning his smile and hoping he could see just how happy she was to see him again. All the angst and confusion and awkwardness from weeks ago melted away and, in its place, was genuine pleasure.
Gabriel picked up his pace and she put one impatient hand on her hip. When he was right in front of her, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply. Their lips touched and all her nerves stood on edge. When his tongue found hers, she was desperate to taste every part of him. When they finally pulled back, they both laughed.
“What are you doing here? And how did you find me?”
In unison they both said, “Donovan,” and hugged again, both needing the embrace to serve as physical proof that they were together.
“So, things worked out with you and Donovan. That’s fantastic news! My two favorite guys working together.”
When she smiled up at him, she let her eyes stay focused on his—desperate not to break the connection. There were so many things she wanted to say to him, but she didn’t want the words to spill out incoherent and jagged.
“Yes, it’s great news. I’ll be running our international offices from Paris, and before you say anything, it’s not a barrier to any relationship you and I could have—if you want me. I’ll do anything for us to be together. Together, we’ll figure it out.”
“So, Paris? You have an apartment there, right?”
He raised an eyebrow, obviously expecting some resistance from her. When she didn’t elaborate, he simply said, “I do. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I have news, too. I’ve accepted a new job with an international network and I’ll be based in Paris. And I think I have you to thank for that.”
“I didn’t do much,” Gabriel said, not wanting to accept credit for her success. He just confirmed he knew her and passed along the information. It was all her—her talent, her personality, her experience and professionalism, her intellect, her poise and commitment to telling stories through a lens of truth and not an angle for ratings.
“You gave him just enough information and they made me offer and accepted the terms of my counter-offer. I leave for Europe next month.”
“So, just so that I’m clear—we’ll both be in Paris?”
“That’s right,” she said, averting her eyes towards the Tidal Basin. The water flowed slowly, the ripple reflecting the sun, and she wondered if she should tell him about her appointment. The cramping was unusual and deep down she knew that if the past couple months had proven anything, it was that her life attracted the dramatic.
“That’s amazing,” Gabriel said. He noticed her redirected gaze and was careful to keep his voice measured. “It is amazing, right?”
Riley turned back towards him and took both his hands in hers.
“What if there were three of us in Paris?”
“Three of us? Who’s the third person? Your producer?”
She laughed and rested the palm of her hand flat on her lower abdomen. For weeks she’d fallen asleep with her hand rested in that very spot, but in the light of day, she told herself it wasn’t possible.
“Not my producer.”
His eyes followed her hand and she caught the moment it registered for him. Eyebrows raised and mouth agape, he whispered, “Wait. Are you…?”
“I’m not one hundred percent certain—I have an appointment this afternoon. My mind says no but my heart and body are screaming yes.”
“And it’s ours?”
“It’s ours,” she whispered. Her eyes began to glass over and he pulled her tight in his arms. It was the first time she’d said it out loud. The first time with the sun on her skin that she allowed herself to believe a little life might be growing inside her.
“You can cry, but only if they’re happy tears,” Gabriel said, his embrace stronger. “This is the best news of my life,” he assured her.
They stood that way as the world fell away. When he finally released her, his gaze penetrated her soul and his smile warmed her heart.
“I love you, Riley St. James. And I want to love you forever, if you’ll let me.”
“You don’t have to say that,” she said, wanting it to be true, but still afraid to trust it.
“I do have to say it, because it’s the truth. And you don’t have to say it back. That’s not what love is. Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be here waiting and I promise you. Those three words will be etched on my heart forever.”
As scary as it was, she believed him. And that was an important step. Because she knew she had fallen for him before she left Bora Bora. But she just wasn’t ready to sort through her feelings for him with so much baggage of her own to unpack.
But now, shielded in his embrace and empowered by his honesty and vulnerability, she said the words.
“I love you, too, Gabriel Laurent. I think I knew it the moment I laid eyes on you, but I didn’t want to believe it. That moment. You. It all seemed too good to be true.”
“You mean perfect?”
She laughed. “Yeah, it was kind of perfect.”
“But you like perfect.”
“I LOVE perfect. But my idea of perfection was distorted, so when it appeared right in front of me, I was afraid. It didn’t show up the way I expected it. But now that I recognize it, that I know what real, honest and pure love feels like, I never want to lose it.”
Riley paused and leaned in closer to him. “I never want to lose you,” she whispered into his mouth, letting the words travel through his body and become a part of his very being.
They kissed again, oblivious to people watching and flooded with emotion. When they finally came up for air, he guided her down onto the blanket.
“I need to cancel lunch with my parents.”
“Why? You might as well take me with you. No better time than the present to start getting to know my new extended family,” Gabriel said.
“Okay. But let me at least FaceTime them so that they have a warning.”
Riley pulled out her phone and reached her father. Her mother was sitting right beside him. She still wasn’t used to that.
She shared her news and they had some news of their own. His father handed her mother the phone.
“Hi, Sweetheart! We can’t wait to see you later. And since you’re bringing your new beau, we have something to tell you.”
“Please, mom. Enough with the dramatics. Just spill!”
“Still so impatient. Well, your dad and I are officially reconciling and we’ll divide our time between D.C. and Paris.”
Riley was silent. She looked at Gabriel, who was grinning like a fool. He didn’t know her parents’ history, so for him, it was the more the merrier.
Gabriel sensed her reluctance to celebrate and whispered in her ear. “Love is just love. It’s perfect in all its forms.”
Riley managed a smile that then grew deeper. “I’m happy for you both. And now we’ll be one big happy family in Paris.”
Now her dad snatched the phone back. “What’s this about a big, happy family in Paris.”
“I’ll tell you more when I see you. Bye, Dad. And kiss Mom for me.”
When she hung up, Gabriel smiled at her. “You have some life Riley St. James.”
“No, we have some life Monsieur Laurent.”
He leaned back against the tree trunk and she rested her head on his chest. The last few flower petals floated around them, landing on the fertile soil, leaving behind the promise of what’s to come.
Riley was ready. She had learned to be perfectly patient. And laid in the arms of the man of the dreams she never knew she had, beneath the trees that remained ever present in her life, and secure in knowing that love had conquered all. This was enough…and she was enough.
The (other) End