After quickly hanging up everything Amelia had packed for me in the enormous closet I took a minute to plop down on the bed to catch my breath. The reality of my situation was sinking in quicker than the Titanic after pulling out my mother’s plain gold wedding band and slipping it onto my left ring finger. The red heart that dotted the ‘i’ in Eric’s name peeked out over the top of the band like a ruby solitaire; a redneck ruby solitaire. I was starting to feel overwhelmed all over again because before now, everything had seemed almost unreal like it was a dream, albeit not a good dream for most of the day, but now it was definitely real.
I had really married Eric Northman.
I was Mrs. Eric Northman.
Would I have to change my name?
The getting-smaller-by-the-minute old fashioned part of me said that I should take my husband’s last name, but even thinking about it made me want to hyperventilate. I didn’t even know if Eric would be okay with me doing that, but I knew for sure Gran would have something to say if I didn’t. Decision made.
I would have to remember not to dot my ‘i’s’ with a heart.
And now I would have to live here for the next year and hope that we didn’t kill each other because it seemed to be a likely outcome. That man’s ability to make me want to spit nails one moment and jump him the next was frustratingly confusing; especially the times when I was spitting nails and jumping him at the same time. From what I’d seen in the few short hours we’d spent together I had deduced he was an asshole; a man whore; a teenager encased in a man’s body; but he was also sweet; protective; mistreated by his father; and sexy.
Oh yes, he was definitely sexy.
He never did answer my question as to why he’d agreed to visit Gran with me for Thanksgiving. I was grateful he did because I know it would have been difficult to explain his absence to her without her raising too many questions, but I still didn’t know why he had changed his mind about wanting me to leave. I guessed his career really meant a lot to him to agree to keep living the lie surrounding our marriage, but I couldn’t really fault him there since I would do anything to spare Gran the embarrassment it would cause her for the truth to come out.
I looked around the room and was pretty impressed at the size of it. It was bigger than any room I’d ever had as my own and wondered what Eric’s room looked like. Surly the master bedroom was bigger than this one and it brought back my earlier musings; everything about him was big.
That thought brought back the autographed poster I’d seen that set off our latest bout, reminding me I wasn’t the only one who thought that about him.
Fucking Coochie Monster.
‘C’ is for Chlamydia.
I envisioned an adult version of Sesame Street with her twat lined with a double row of shark teeth chomping on unsuspecting penises who only thought they were going in for a quick dip; if only I didn’t teach kindergarteners I could work it into my lesson plans instead of the importance of washing your hands.
Now that I had calmed down it dawned on me that I’d been irrationally jealous when I’d seen the poster and that was what set off our umpteenth fight for the day. I knew perfectly well Eric’s reputation as a player, but being confronted with the Sharpie laden evidence made me lash out. Being around him seemed to turn back time with my maturity level falling to that of a thirteen year old; ruled by hormones and mood swings.
Gran knew what she was talking about.
I was jealous. Irrational but true and I would deny it to my dying day if asked. I knew I had no right to be and even though we were legally wed I still didn’t feel like I should have been mad because we weren’t really married. Technically yes; in our hearts, no. And after seeing her written praise of his man parts I hoped like hell he hadn’t been lying about normally always using a condom and getting tested regularly. If I got an STD from him I would definitely kill him. My new job came with health benefits, which I had been lacking before, so I would be sure to get myself tested as soon as I could find the time just in case.
Even though it wasn’t really my house I still felt like I was shirking my hostess responsibilities by remaining in the bedroom while there were guests in the house so I set aside all of my confusing thoughts and set out for the kitchen where I’d last left everyone. I found it empty and wandered around the other rooms until I had no choice but to go back into his Larry Flynt Lair of a den, but it too was empty.
And I mean empty. The poster I’d flipped out over was missing from the wall and I could tell by the gaping holes between pictures, there were at least a few more missing as well.
That could only mean that Eric not only knew what the cause of my anger was earlier, but that there had been even more cum trophies hanging up that I’d missed. I didn’t know whether or not to be thankful he had removed them or pissed at him for having more than one. He came running back into the room looking around frantically before spotting me standing there and then tried to lean against the back of the sofa looking casual.
“Everything alright?” I asked wondering what was wrong. I could see a light sheen of sweat glistening on his arms and had to force myself to maintain eye contact.
He brushed some loose strands of hair out of his eyes and, somewhat out of breath, said, “Yeah. Did you find everything okay?”
His eyes were still darting around the room while he kept his head still and it made me look around as well before answering, “Yes. Umm…what are you looking for?” I wasn’t about to mention the missing horde of whores wondering if he would bring it up himself.
“Nothing,” he answered too quickly. “Just making sure I didn’t leave any…shoes or anything lying around.” His acting skills were definitely lacking when he didn’t have a script to follow.
I was about to press the issue when he lifted up the front of his t-shirt, using it to wipe the sweat from his brow and was stunned silent by the sight of his abs.
His muscles literally rippled as he wiped his face reminding me of the men I often read about in my trashy romance novels. I’d been too distracted by his other naked parts that morning to appreciate the cut muscles of his midsection. Quinn was muscular, but more like a bulky body builder. It was actually something I didn’t particularly care for, but I overlooked it seeing the person underneath it all. Or at least I thought I saw who he really was. Maybe my vision wasn’t 20/20 after all.
But Eric’s build was absolutely my type. His long and lean body was enough to make me drool and I may have groped a muscle or two of his when I was trying to get my phone back.
Sue me. I’m human.
Where was that chastity belt because I needed it ASAP? Now I kind of wished Cum Twat’s poster was still on the wall because looking at it would help douse the fire between my thighs his body was stroking.
I meant stoking.
The sound of Eric’s voice pulled me back into the moment when he asked, “Are you hot?”
You sure are.
“Not especially. Why?” Mr. Sweaty McFuckMeNow.
I was able to tear my eyes from his abs once they were covered again and looked back at his amused leering eyes as he replied, “You’re fanning yourself.”
I looked down and sure enough, my hand was fanning my flushed chest and neck like I was sitting in front of Satan himself. But I wasn’t; I was standing in front of Satan and his evil forbidden abs.
I really wished my brain would get along with the rest of my body instead of letting my mouth and limbs act all on their own.
“It’s a bit warm in here, but it is still summer. Where did everybody else go?” I asked, completely avoiding eye contact and searching around the room with my eyes as though Pam and Alcide had just blended into the background.
“Alcide,” he practically spat out, “left and Pam’s gone too, probably kicking puppies or something.”
I wondered if they had a fight or something when I was putting my things away, but all I could think to say was, “Oh.” And I had a Master’s Degree from UCLA with a minor in English Literature! You can tell from my extensive vocabulary.
We were alone for the first time since that morning which seemed like a lifetime ago. I suddenly felt nervous. Very nervous.
My stomach decided to make its presence known by growling loudly and making me blush yet again.
“Hungry?” Eric asked. From the way he was looking at me something told me he wasn’t talking about just food.
“Yes.” I wasn’t just talking about food either, but since neither one of us had eaten that day and it was almost dinnertime, I turned and practically ran back into the kitchen thinking I could fashion a makeshift chastity belt out of tin foil before getting started on dinner.
I immediately started rooting through his cabinets like they were my own figuring I could keep myself focused on cooking and not Eric’s rippling muscles while keeping an eye out for the tin foil. They were disappointingly bare and the refrigerator held nothing more than condiments and beer along with a couple of suspicious looking science experiments. The freezer was no better filled with nothing but vodka and ice.
I shouldn’t have been surprised considering the whole frat house vibe he had going on, but I was and when I heard Eric walk into the room I looked up and stupidly stated the obvious just in case he wasn’t aware there was no food in the house.
“There’s no food.” I was so glad I got a scholarship so I didn’t feel as bad as I would have if I’d had to pay for my education.
He actually looked embarrassed before saying, “Sorry, I usually eat out.”
“Every meal?” Who does that?
“No,” he said somewhat affronted. “Sometimes I order in.”
Exasperated, I grabbed a notepad and pen from the counter and started making a shopping list.
“You’re making a list?” Eric asked.
I smiled, glad that I wasn’t the only one that stated the obvious. I wrote down a few basic items and looked up at Eric asking, “What kinds of foods do you like to eat?”
He looked confused saying, “I can’t cook.”
His gourmet kitchen, poker table aside, was gorgeous and it was a shame no one had been able to enjoy it for what it was. I planned on rectifying that as soon as there was actual food in the house. I smiled back at him saying, “But I can, so tell me what your favorite foods are.” I hoped it was nothing too exotic, but I could always look up the recipes online.
Eric’s only response was, “You would cook for me?”
Was that so odd? “Well I wouldn’t just cook for myself. I enjoy it actually.”
He didn’t say anything for a while and just when I was about to ask again he said, “I’m sure I’ll like whatever you make. I’m not picky.”
Well that was easy enough. I planned out several meals for the week and planned on making extra so there would be leftovers too. As I finished making the list I saw Eric’s hand come into my view with his finger touching the gold band that I now wore covering most of the tattoo.
“The heart still shows,” he said, again with the obvious.
I shrugged my shoulders saying, “I don’t mind. The whole world already knows it’s there anyway.”
I set the finished list aside and looked back at him seeing an odd expression on his face. I could tell something was bothering him and for whatever reason I wanted to make it better. Eric wasn’t so bad when he wasn’t acting like an ass.
His eyes stayed on my ring so I took the opportunity to take in his features. He really was handsome, enough that he’d even done some modeling for a couple of designers and I would often sigh whenever I saw him up on a billboard along the highway as I drove to school or work.
Now I could look at him whenever I wanted.
I swallowed my sigh and grabbed the list, adding tin foil at the bottom.
When I couldn’t take the silence any longer I wiggled my fingers and he seemed to shake off whatever he’d been thinking before saying, “Since there’s nothing to eat, how about we order something in and we can go shopping tomorrow? Are you in the mood for anything in particular?”
Eric’s hair had fallen in his eyes again when he bent over rummaging in a drawer full of what appeared to be take-out menus and his damn muscles were making an encore, rippling through his tight t-shirt. I could feel every decision I had previously made concerning our relationship flee my brain like rats on a sinking ship. The tension that had been building, coiling in the pit of my stomach all day long suddenly had a name.
“Chinese,” I said and adding a not-so-afterthought, “Can we get extra fortune cookies?”
Confucius don’t fail me now.