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Alex's inbox lit up with messages confirming the reservations she had just made. There was a pile of things to be done on her desk, but she wanted to check once more to make sure every detail was right. She could have waited until after work, but the work could be done after work. Alex had a feeling that with the surprise, Patrice wouldn't mind if she stayed a bit too late once or twice that week. Finally, when she was satisfied that everything was in order, she picked up her phone. *Paris on the 22nd,* she texted to Patrice.

Patrice reached aimlessly for her phone across the desk, still reading the last sentence of the case she had looked up. She tapped it, bringing up the message. A look of confusion crossed her face as she read. *What about it?* She answered back.

With phone still in hand, Alex reached for her cup of coffee. She took a sip, making a face at just how cold it had gotten while she was buying tickets, and just as she managed to swallow, Patrice's reply showed up. A wisp of a smile crossed Alex's face. *It's a good place for Christmas,* she replied, knowing she could have been much more direct but enjoying imagining Patrice's response.

When she received the reply, Patrice finally stopped reading and focused on her phone. She still didn't understand quite what Alex was getting at. She laughed a bit as she wrote back playfully, *I'm sure it is, maybe we should go some time .*

Alex chuckled at the reply and got up as she texted back. She put a hand on her hip and paced the length of her small conference table as she typed. *Precisely. Tickets for the 22nd. I'm not packing for you, though.*

Patrice had been taking a sip of her latte when Alex's next reply came through, and it was only by the grace of God that she didn't spit it out all over her desk. She choked instead, coughing a few times before reading the text again. She shook her head and replied, *Wait....what? You're joking right?* She was sure Alex was kidding, but hoped she wasn't. She'd go just about anywhere with the blond, but this was just too good.

At the reply, Alex laughed outright. She finally just switched screens to her speed dial and called, crossing her arms and leaning against the table as the phone rang.

And Patrice wasn't too surprised when Alex called, not having yet put the phone down. Patrice smiled and brought the phone to her ear, "Hi Alex, calling to explain it to me?"

Alex was smirking before she could even begin. "Well, the flight leaves JFK at 3 PM on the 22nd, and it touches down in Paris on the 23rd. There is that whole passport and security thing to deal with, but I think that's a small price to pay for seven days in France with your incredibly thoughtful girlfriend."

So Alex wasn't joking. Patrice didn't know what the correct response to someone offering to take you on a surprise trip to Europe was, if there was one, they hadn't bothered to teach it to her in law school. She went for her best try anyway, "Are you serious? I.....you better be now because it sounds amazing."

The blonde blinked, realizing that Patrice really couldn't tell that she wasn't joking. "I'm taking you to Paris for Christmas, Patrice. it's not a joke." He smirk turned into a smile as she went back to her desk. "I just...I don't know if you've ever seen it at Christmas, but it's beautiful." She was thinking of her father now, and she knew that if he were still alive, they would be meeting there and that he would approve of her travel companion.

Patrice hadn't seen it at Christmas or any other time for that matter. In truth, most of her Christmas seasons had been spent amongst gaudily-lit palm trees, and faux-Spanish townhouses decorated with blinking lights and plastic snow. She sat back in her desk chair, needing a moment to compose herself before speaking, "Alex... that sounds wonderful, I, I've never been." She smiled and then continued, "I can't wait, really." Things were still sinking in, and two things came to mind—firstly, if her passport was still valid and secondly, if she would need to pack her heavy coat.

At that, Alex's smile brightened considerably. It had never occurred to her that Patrice had never been, and knowing made her all the more excited about it. "It's a perfect Christmas present then," she said softly. "I can't wait to show it to you."

Patrice was grinning stupidly at nothing in particular when her assistant came in. He stopped and gave her a curious glance from the door, and she struggled to put back on a professional expression. She nodded to him to leave the documents he was carrying on the desk. When he left Patrice focused again, "That sounds just perfect Alex, really." She looked over the paper Jacob had left and mentally cringed, now very glad to have such a good reason to take a real break. "Can I see you tonight? Drinks after work? I can't wait to thank you in person."

"I..." Alex made that face that was something between a cringe and the expression when gets from stubbing a toe. "I don't know that I'm going to get out of here before midnight," she admitted, sorely wishing she could put off the work for Patrice's half spoken promise.

Patrice knew that tone of voice well, having used it countless times before. However, nothing was going to dampen her mood at the moment. "Sorry to hear it, but if you catch a break my offer still stands." She smiled a little, "And I believe you might know where to find me when midnight rolls around."

Alex grinned at the invitation--one that she had silently been hoping for. It was amazing how quickly she had gotten used to simply crawling in bed with someone after a long day. "Yes, I think I can manage that. I'll email you the details of the trip," she said as she did just that. "Have a good day, Patrice."

She grinned, already anticipating being woken up by Alex later that night. "You too Alex, and I can't wait." She realized as she hung up that her statement hadn't been qualified, but it definitely didn't need to be.