“I have gotten us the contract with Amrod Pharmaceuticals, and I even argued the points three and twenty eight, as we had discussed at the meeting last week…” Your voice sounds very strange. He puts the book down and takes off his reading glasses.
“That is more that we expected. How did you manage to convince August Anderson?” Why do you feel it was a loaded question? Maybe because you bloody know that there’s a loaded answer… You open your mouth, but stop, halted by John’s dark, knowing smirk. His voice is low and even. “I have met the bloke. In Japan. Remember I went there?”
Of course you bloody remember his trip to Japan. It was right after your first weekend in Sheraton; he didn’t call you for four days; and you thought you would die from humiliation and hurt. And then he came back and said he loved you for the first time. Even this memory is tarnished on the edge. Why is it so fucking hard?
He doesn’t sit up, continuing to bloody repose in this relaxed pose, and you’re increasingly uncomfortable. You didn’t take off your shoes, and your fingers are clasped around the strap of your messenger bag, knuckles white. Why do you feel like a guest who barged in uninvited?
“He mentioned you met… At the lunch…” You might as well be open about it.
You had lunch, no biggie. John’s face is completely calm, there is just this polite interest on it. And suddenly you are livid. Why are you feeling guilty? You have nothing to hide. You jerk off your handbag and go back to the hall to take off your shoes.
He comes and stands leaning onto a door frame. He’s silent, and you lift your eyes at him. There’s a small sad smile on his lips. And then something clicks. You dash ahead and throw your arms around his neck. A second before your body hits his, he opens his embrace and bends slightly to accommodate you. You hide your face into his neck; he straightens up; you’re hanging along his body, your feet not touching the floor; and then another shoe drops. Literally. Apparently, you only took one off. He chuckles and picks you up bridal style.
He carries you to the bedroom and lies you on the bed. He’s looming over you, and his eyes are vulnerable.
“Do you want to make love or talk?” he asks. You cup his face and smile. You have made up your mind already.
“We should talk first. I will be sleepy afterwards, and I need to say something important.” He nods and stretches on the bed near you. He leans on one bent arm, and another hand picks up yours. His fingers intertwine with yours, and he watches them.
You breathe out. Everything is suddenly so bloody clear.
“John, I don’t want to marry you.” Only a slight change in his breathing indicates that he’s heard you. But you know him better than anybody. He has expected this. “But I will.” His eyes fly to yours. That he didn’t expect. You rub your thumb on his knuckles, imitating his usual caress. “Because it is important for you. Because it will let you feel secure.” He is all chilled already, panic stepping back from his eyes, and he frowns.
“Let me finish, please.” You are not looking at him. It makes it easier to think. “I am saying it wrong… I want to be your wife, I just don’t want to marry you.” You finally glance at him. One of his black brows twitches. “The wedding, the guests, the engagement ad, all that… I hate it.” You’re probably hurting him, but you are sure you are on the right path. “I love you. I am certain, in ‘us…’ In what I feel. But it is very complicated, and it always will be, and you won’t mend it with the wedding. Which is exactly what you are trying to do, right?” You slightly turn to him and cup his face. “Do you know what you said to me when you were so arsed up after your stag night that they had to carry you to the bedroom?” He clenches his jaw and shakes his head. “You said that I would probably leg it and leave you at the altar. When I came home today did you think I would tell you I was running away with Auggie Anderson?” His eyes smile a bit.
“Perhaps, not actually run away, but I had my doubts.”
Wist, what? And here you were taking the piss.
You widen your eyes in an exaggerated shock. “He’s not even my type! I like skinny blondes with zero body hair!” John chuckles cautiously. “And no glasses!” Then gains you a warm snortle. You lean and kiss him gently.
“John, I will marry you because you want it. But don’t ask me to enjoy it.” He’s contemplating it.
He has a choice between cancelling the wedding, which for him is probably a ‘no way in hell’ move, and marrying you, tying you to him but knowing you hate every second of it. The first option will make him even more insecure, the second one is selfish and he will always feel like he twisted your arm into marrying him. The cogs in his noggin are swirling. You are looking at his hands. You have one last missile to release.
“And I will wear your ring.” Let’s face it you know how much he hates that you don’t. He jerks but then narrows his eyes. He knows this phrase has a continuation. “But you have to start groveling. As in ‘to act in an obsequious manner in order to obtain someone’s favour.'” He’s giving you a suspicious side glance. You wouldn’t trust you either. “For starters, you have to pull your head out of your arse and give me a shelf in your closet.” His face is unreadable, but the eyes are sparkly.
“No.” Well, that felt bloody final.
“No ring then.” He jerks the eyebrow again. Damn, he’s fit. He is visibly relaxing, the shoulders lose the rigidness, and your thoughts plummet into the gutter.
“I have bought you the ring a week before we actually decided to get married. You will wear it.”
Firstly, you haven’t decided anything – he sort of proposed because he thought you were up the duff. Secondly, what?! That long ago?! You start frantically recollect what was happening then. You two were going to restaurants and shagging a lot, and you felt bloody uncomfortable every second in these relationships. Except during the aforementioned shagging. Does it mean he already wanted to shackle you so you wouldn’t bolt, or you should swoon like any other bird in your place, and squeal from the fact that he loves you so much?
“No shelf, no ring, John.”
“Wrennie…” His voice is sincere and slightly teasing – you fucking love this voice of his. “I am not giving you a shelf in my closet, because I don’t want to live with you in this flat. I spent years in it, and I don’t particularly enjoy looking back at them. We need a place of our own, which we will approve together, and you will choose the furniture and the colours.”
“What?!” What the hell? “I am not choosing any furniture. Firstly, I don’t have your taste and will embarrass myself, and secondly, what’s with misogyny?”
“Wren, you have excellent taste, I saw all your choices in the wedding arrangements. And I want you to make it be the way you want. If you want orange sofas, I’m fine with it.”
“See?” You squeal. “I don’t even know what’s wrong about an orange sofa! How am I to make all these choices?!”
And then again, you understand you are a bloody idiot. He wants you to have a home, and he wants you to share it with him. He asks you to make it comfortable for you, and disregard his desires. And you are complaining like a whiny bitch! You press into him, and he immediately wraps his free arm around you.
“I am sorry. And thank you. It makes perfect sense, and we should start now so that we can move in right after the wedding.”
He hides his face into your hair and doesn’t say anything. You quickly summarize what just happened in your head and realize that he’s right. There isn’t much to talk about left. You cup the back of his head and kiss him properly. He rolls you underneath him. He spends an appropriate amount of time on your neck and clavicles, so that you are panting and your knickers are already drenched, when he lifts his torso and looks into your eyes.
“Did August Anderson ask you out?”
Really, John, now?!