T W O
I wake up hours later in an entirely different position. Eric is on his back and I am sprawled half-on him and half-off him.
I blink at the clock on the bedside table. It's seven after six.
I might be a late sleeper but I've never been able to sleep late. Even if I fall into bed at four a.m., after studying for tests, I wake up before seven.
This causes me, over the years, to perfect the art of the mid-day Disco nap. Today is going to be a Disco Nap Day. I can feel it.
There is no way I can get back to sleep and no way am I going to remain sprawled all over Eric.
I move to get up and the arm he has wrapped around my lower back tightens and his finger digs into my hip through the fabric of my shirt.
"Jesus, what is it with you?" He grumbles.
He opens an eye and glances at the clock.
"I'm going to make coffee."
This is apparently an acceptable reason to move as his arm falls away.
"Do you think there is extra toothbrush?"
That was a stupid question. I mean, whoever must have decorated this place and bought stuff for the house must have been smart enough to buy two separate toothbrush right? It's not like married couple share the same one.
I jump out of bed, tying my hair into a bun. I locate a toothbrush that's still in its packaging and go down on my teeth.
I take care of my teeth. I made a promise to myself that I'd die with my original set and that's what I intend to do.
I open the door to the bedroom. "Do you know where the floss is?" I call.
"For Christ's sake, Alison!"
Obviously, Eric doesn't care that much about his teeth. That's okay though, Eric seems to be doing a very good job taking care of other parts of his body.
I pad into the kitchen trying to be quiet for Eric. The living room, dining room, and kitchen are open plan in an L shape. The penthouse is on a corner, the entirety of it has a balcony wrapped around. French doors from the dining room which is across from the kitchen, French doors from the living room which is an extension of the dining room and French doors in the bedrooms. Big money for this kind of of location, the huge, airy rooms and the view afforded.
The kitchen is a state-of-the-art and mostly hidden from the living room.
Still, I have to be quiet.
Normally, I'd have the coffee ready to roll the night before so I could just open my door after I'd stumbled out of bed and get my coffee.
Normally, my neighbour Jack and his boyfriend, Sean take turns in making me my coffee. They are both coffee experts. Such a sweet couple. They offered to take me out every now and then even though I had to decline their offer. I knew they were inviting me only out of politeness.
Normally, I didn't function properly until cup number two. Caffeine is my drug of choice.
It takes me a while to find all the coffee paraphernalia. I luck out because there is a high quality bag of java. I make it strong. It's pretty clear from his Mr. Grouch impersonation that Eric isn't getting up anytime soon so I can be greedy and selfish with the coffee.
I'm concentrating on the stream of life-affirming joe filling the cup so I'm a little surprised when hands settle on the counter on either side of me and I feel the warmth of a body against my back.
I look over my shoulder. Eric has fenced me in.
His dark hair is wild in a very sexy way and his eyes are as soft as his features. His chest is bare. I know this because I can see his shoulders. I don't dare look down.
I have seen him bare chested so many times but that was when we were puny little kids. Eric is so much bigger now. Not to mention hotter. It's kind of hard to ignore his proximity.
"What are you doing?" I ask. He glances over my shoulder.
"You making coffee for both, or just you?"
There are certain times when honesty is the best policy. In my life, those times don't come very often. If there's ever the possibility that you might get the first cup of coffee and brutal honesty would get it for you, be brutally honest. That's my motto.
I get back to the coffee, deciding I don't want an answer to my unasked question. What he is doing? Something is going on and I'm three quarts low on caffeine, not to mention sleep. I can hardly think past the next second, much less figure out what game Eric is playing.
I go back to ignoring him as the coffee cup fills up. I expertly switch out the cup for the pot, intent on my first sip, all the while wondering why Eric still hasn't moved.
Then he does. A hand disappears and a second later I feel the hair that has escaped from my bun being swept off my left shoulder, around my neck and over my right. I jump at this intimate gesture and so does other parts of my anatomy. I don't even try to ignore it. Any effort will be futile.
Eric's chin goes to where my hair used to be just as his hand slides across my abdomen and pulls me closer to him. My entire body goes still. I can feel the prickly texture of his stubble on my exposed shoulder and it does strange things to my nether region.
"We need to talk," he says into my ear.
I stand there, frozen, coffee cup held aloft, nowhere near awake enough to process his extraordinary actions and in total shock about the way my body reacts to him.
I say the only thing I can think of. "I need milk."
Without moving his body or head, his hand leaves my middle. I hear the fridge open and the glug of milk against plastic and then fridge closes again. Eric sets the milk in front of me and his hand goes back to the counter, keeping me where I was.
Real slick. My stomach flutters.
"Thank you," I say politely, blinking a lot and wondering if I'm still asleep and dreaming.
I pour some milk in my joe concentrating on not letting my body tremble. I'm trying to be cool but I'm confused. What the hell is he up to?
I take a sip of coffee and try to get my mind clear.
"Do you want to explain to me why you have me pressed against the counter?" I ask, using what I hope is a questioning-yet-diplomatic tone.
This is hard for me. I need to be alert and aware in any situation involving Eric. It is very easy for him to take advantage of me. He has done it before. He is so cunning that he can outsmart me and make me give in. And I need to be prepared to defend myself. I will not hesitate to physically hurt him if it comes to that. I don't care if we are married or not.
Married. God, it still hasn't really sunk down yet. I take another sip, going for gusto and burn my tongue. "Yeow!"
While I'm recovering, Eric turns me around and moves further into me. He does this well, considering there isn't a lot of space to move and even less space to move into. Not to mention the coffee cup between us. He settles his hands on the counter on either side of me again, leaning into me.
"You're kind of domineering," I say pushing his face from me with my free hand. He licks my palm. Yuck. I wipe his saliva on his own cheek, getting a feel of his unshaven jaw.
"You know, if you wanted to touch me all you had to do was ask."
Right. Here's the thing about Eric. You probably already figured out, but let me tell you anyway; he is a flirt. A very big one. He says the corniest things that will make any girl go weak in the knees one minute, and then acts like a total douche after he gets what he wants from her. He's been doing this for as long as I can remember.
You know how in kindergarten boys usually think playing with girls lower their standards? You know how when you'are young, there is this huge wall separating boys and girls? Yeah, with Eric, that wall was never up. If I remember correctly, he mostly hung out with the girls, building sand castles with us in kindergarten rather than playing ball with the other boys.
Other boys thought girls were a disease. Germs. Eric was always in our group, commenting on the dresses of our Barbie dolls. Oh no, I'm not trying to say Eric is feminine. He is far from that. He just liked girls a little too much. If any other guy was playing with the girls, they'd have been laughed at, but not Eric. If Eric did it, it was cool. Or at least it was meant to be cool. If Eric was playing with the girls, then the girls were cool. The girls were cool as long as Eric was with them. After Eric got bored of the girls and moved on, the girls became lame once again.
He's like an alpha leading the pack. People adjust to accommodate his most ridiculous wishes. It's his cocky confidence. It clings to him like a nimbus, making people want to please him even if he is not worth the effort. People put up with his crap and he expects them to put up with it. Not me. I'll never put up with Eric's crap.
I don't hate him. I don't particularly like him either. I think he is a Satan, born just to ruin my life. There was a time when even I had a little crush on him as a little girl. Well, who wouldn't? He was such an adorable little boy but that ship sank almost before it started sailing, when he purposely pulled my skirt down and laughed at my underwear in our kindergarten playground. No matter how many times I complained to the teacher or cried about it to my mother, nobody would believe me. All because he had a parade of people behind him, having his back, lying for him.
Kindergarten politics: Support the guy who brought a new pack of 64 shades of crayons everyday with a shiny sharpener and had the most brilliant blue eyes. Why? Because he is so cool. Maybe, just maybe, he will turn out to be the President of the United States in the future.
Others are intimated by him and treat him like he's some mob boss, but not me. I have seen him cry when we were ten. I broke his new remote control car on accident and he looked ugly doing that. I stopped falling for his charms long ago.
"Eric, I swear to God if you so much as touch me, I'll pour this down your pants," I threaten when his hands move to my face, his thumb lightly grazing my lower lip. He is so close to me and I can smell toothpaste from his breath. He can probably smell coffee on mine.
I should have made some rule about touching before signing the contract. How did that even slip my mind?
I prepare myself to follow through my threat when he grabs the cup out of my hands and sets it down on he counter. "Drop your defences, Ally. I'm only preparing you."
"Preparing for what?"
"What?!" I shriek. Did I hear him right?
His mouth tilts into a cunning smile. That kind of smile which doesn't reach his eyes but makes him look devious. Damn, Eric can smile. "We are married. Don't you think we should maybe consummate?"
Oh, that asshole. I should have seen this coming.
"No. No way. Get your filthy hands off of me. Right now."
He bends down and rubs his nose to the skin below my ear, placing small kisses along my neck. My toes curl and my hands go around his head, keeping him in place.
"Geez, you're so hot when you get all worked up," he rasps in my ear. I can feel his warm breath on my cheek and damn, do I like it. He is trying to seduce me and I'm falling for it like I always have, like every other girl always does. And the fact that he is shirtless doesn't help my case because the feel of his strong chest under my hands is amazing. "Do you know how hot you've gotten over the years? I saw you strut your ass around in McDonalds almost every day for nearly two weeks. It got me off in the night just thinking about your tight ass."
This summer, I started working full time at McDs while mom got really sick and couldn't work anymore. One of us had to take it for the team because bills were piling up and somebody had to pay them. I don't know why he's telling me this. This piece of information doesn't flatter me. In fact, I think of him as a creep.
"You've been stalking me?"
He shakes his head. "Bride hunting. For three weeks."
"You have been stalking me," I confirm, shoving his shoulder hard, hoping he will budge but he stays unharmed, his mouth still trailing kisses all over my neck. What was tingling just moments ago now feels prickly.
"Get away from me, you creep," I grit out.
No sooner had I got out the word "creep", he moves. And he moves fast, faster than I think I've ever seen anyone move, especially at this hour in the morning.
He has his hands on my ass and I'm going up. My behind settles on the counter and Eric moves in. Both his arms goes around my back, I have no choice but to spread my legs or I'll gouge his abs with my knees. His arms pull me to him, my nether region presses to his crotch and he bends his head and kisses me.
Not the first time Eric has kissed me but holy hell, it feels like it's the first kiss ever, even though I have kissed white a number of other boys. The first time he ever kissed me was during one of our Doyle-Minsky Christmas dinner and we were both drunk and pissed at our parents. It was also my very first kiss. It doesn't count because I don't even remember anything of that experience, or about the night. And the second time was almost twenty four hours ago, at our wedding. That doesn't count either. It was more a peck than an actual kiss.
Holy, holy, crap, crap, crap.
He is a fine kisser.
When he lifts his head, I say (or kind of shout), "What the hell was that?"
I'm covering and recovering. My mouth is the only thing that works, every other part of me has been reduced to a Jell-O. He looks down, likely to further assess my reaction.
"This is a nice shirt," his hand comes from around my back and lifts to touch my night shirt, very close to my breast. I slap it away, and thank the Lord above for lightly padded bras.
"Look, we need to set ground rules."
"Yes. No touching, no sharing bed, no kissing."
"Yes. No talk about foreplay, no sex. Especially no sex. In fact, no anything. Don't even talk to me. Just ignore me and I'll ignore you. After the other rooms are done I'll move into one of them and—"
"No way. Not happening."
"We are going to share a bedroom, a bathroom, a bed and you're going to sleep right next to me in those sexy night shorts and shirts. That's what you're going to do. For the next six months, you're stuck with me, babe."
I wrinkle my nose. That sounds like nightmare. This is not what I signed up for. I signed a contract that said I had to marry Eric Minsky and pretend to be in love with him for six months. There was no mention about sharing anything. As a matter of fact, I cannot share anything. I'm selfish and I hate the word "share". If you were made to live in a tiny apartment with broken roof, in a single room with your sick mother and house rats, after living the life of a royalty for the first fifteen years of your life, you wouldn't be willing to share anything either.
"I'm not sharing anything with you. Touch me again and I'll be filing a law suit against you."
He tilts his head and laughs loudly. He finds it so amusing.
"Why do you think I married you? I can touch you whenever I want and do whatever I want to you. That's what you signed the contract for. I bought you, Alison Doyle. Or perhaps, I should call you Alison Minsky now."
I'm so annoyed right now. I don't find his attitude cute or funny. It's getting on my nerves. He bought me? That makes me feel so cheap. If I had a conscience, I'd actually feel pretty crap about it. Luckily, I don't. And I'm not going to put up with his crap. So I do the thing that my hands have been itching to do. I clench my hand into a fist and punch him between his nose and his jaw like I was taught in my self defence classes.
He retreats a few steps. His hand immediately goes to his nose which is now either bleeding or broken. I slide off the counter, walk up to him and pull on his hair really hard. I know it hurts when he groans. "I don't know what you think of yourself but a scum is what you are. Got it, Eric? And I'm having none of it. Touch me one more time without my permission and see what—" I don't get to finish my sentence for Eric twists around and grips my waist and flips me over his shoulder in no time. How did that happen?
"Hey, put me down!" I claw at his bare back. His hands are at the back of my knees and he swings my legs around his hips. Few long strides later, I'm flat on my back in bed, Eric on top of me.
I blink up into his handsome face. I do not appreciate this caveman behaviour of his. I so totally don't!
"Eric—" I start, his name vibrating because I am so... freaking... pissed.
"I think I need to teach you a lesson for the way you've pissed me off but we need to take some time to talk shit out first," he says, not too gently.
I pissed him off? Screw him.
I unwrap my legs from his hips, shove my feet into the bed and buck at the same time I push against his shoulders but Eric doesn't budge. When this doesn't work, I hiss, "Get off me, you pig!"
He has a forearm in the bed beside me and his other hand comes to cup my jaw, his thumb moving out to sweep my lower lip. I fight back the urge to bite him as he speaks. "Just settle, Ally, and be quiet. I got something to say and I need you to listen."
"You do not have anything to say that I want to hear. You listen to me. You're going to quit this barbaric behaviour of yours and we can start fresh. We don't have to fight. I won't hold a grudge against you. Whatever is in the past is in the past. We can try to be friends. Just for six months, but if you're going to refuse then screw this. You do not have control over me, Eric. You just do not!"
"Will you listen to me?"
"You first listen to me!" I poke him in the chest. He just blinks blankly at me.
"You're going to hear it anyway," he replies.
I stop pushing against his shoulders and glare at him. "Of course I am," I state sarcastically. "You want to say something, you say it. You want to do something, you do it. And who gives a shit what I want? Is that the gist of what you are about to say?"
His eyes hold mine. "Not exactly."
"Right, well, carry on, Eric. You're going to anyway."
"I see you're pissed—"
"Mm hmm," I cut him off. "Good call on that, handsome."
"Babe," he murmurs and I swear his mouth moves like he's fighting a smile.
Oh. My. God!
"Do you find something funny?" I snap.
"Well... yeah," he answers.
"Interesting," I reply. "See, I don't find anything funny. Because three days ago I was going back and forth to the hospital, taking care of my sick mother. It was tiring, really. There was only so much I could do. And there was nobody who would help me with anything. Moneywise or just any kind of help. Except the gay couple who lived next door. They made me coffee in the morning. Three days ago I was poor, almost on the streets because I had no money to pay the rent either. And then you come in to my life after three years of not seeing you at all and ask me to marry you. I agreed after questioning your intentions. Three days ago I was poor but I was at least a free woman! And now I'm not poor but I seem to have lost all my rights! It's not okay for you to touch me whenever you want! Just because you married me doesn't me you own me, you chauvinistic pig!"
Eric has his head rested on one of his arms and is just staring at me. "Are we clear?"
"You're so cute when you're pissed."
I throw my hands up in the air. "Oh my God! You did not just use that line on me!"
"I like it when you're squirming underneath me. It's so hot. I think I'd like to have hate sex with you."
I roll my eyes and turn my head to face him. "Three years, Eric. Three years and I thought you'd have grown up. Or at least matured a little bit. But nope, you're still a bastard."
He smiles the smile again.
I honestly thought Eric would show me some empathy if I told him what I had to go through for three years but he's still the annoying prick he is. That's okay, I'm going to suck this bastard dry by the end of six months and he won't even know what hit him.
"Well, that's sad and all, Ally, sweetheart, but I just so happen to not give a shit what went on in your life for three years. Or rather what went down. You're getting a lot of money out of this whole debacle. It's only fair I get something out of it too."
"And that is?"
"Sex. You will have sex with me. Whenever I want it."
I groan. "Why can't you just be a nice guy?"
"Darling, don't be ridiculous. I've never been a nice guy."
True. That's a very good point. I try to ponder my options while his hands run underneath my shirt and I slap it away. "Why me? Why can't you just go have sex with those other girls who actually want to have it with you?"
His brows arches up in a frown. "Then what am I married to you for?"
"Uh... You needed a bride? One that who will be okay with this six month arrangement? One that will be convincing enough for the council?"
He runs two fingers across his lower lip, leans back, lies flat on the bed and stares at the ceiling. "Well, that's a good point. But you're also hot so I was hoping to get some from you."
I don't know if I should feel flattered that he thinks I'm hot or just... insulted that he has objectified me. Since this is coming from Eric, I think I should be insulted.
I pat him lightly on the arm. "I'm sorry to disappoint you but that's just going to be a no-no."
He suddenly turns to me with a playful smile that almost scares me. What has he planned now? His mind is like a twisted web. And he is so manipulative that he actually gets away with the things he want to get away with.
"Sometime or the other you'll have to do it with me. It's hard to resist the Minsky Charm."
I scoff. "Right. A guy can dream."
"Oh no, Alison. One of these days I'm going to make you beg for more and more—"
"And I'm going to have you screaming my name when you come—"
"And I'll do you till you can't stand anymore—"
"Seriously, stop if you don't want to get kneed in the nuts."
"I see you're the same old uptight bitch," he finally stops verbally harassing me and just decides to insult me.
"Yep. That's who you married, buddy. Sucks if you don't like it. But that's how it is. This is life and we don't always get what we want."
"But I always get what I want."
"Not anymore, you don't."
"Screw you. I'll get what I want. And if I want you, I'll get you too."
"I'm a person! I'm not an object and you're not going to get me if you keep up this attitude."
He suddenly sits up straight. "I have an attitude? You're the one with an attitude!"
"Okay, fine," I say, throwing my hands up in the air. "We both have an attitude!"
He flops back down on the bed next to me. "This sucks. You've crushed all my fantasies. Oh, the things I dreamt of doing to you."
Wow, he is such a guy. "Hmm, that totally sucks," I answer sarcastically.
We lie next to each other for a moment, side by side, and just staring at the ceiling. I can hear his slow breathing next to me. He suddenly turns to me. "So we do have to set some ground rules after all."
I smile at him, not a friendly one, but one that speaks of victory. I win. "Okay. I'll go first: No touching me without permission. No ordering me around."
He comes up with his demand immediately. "I can be with any girl I want. You cannot question it and you have no right to tell me who to be with. I get any girl I want, okay?"
"Got it. As long as it's not me, I'm fine. And don't get caught cheating on me. It will become a big deal if your name comes on the paper once again. The council will question our marriage."
He nods his head. "Good point. I'll try to be careful."
"You will have to treat me as an equal. You have to respect me."
"Geez, can you get anymore demanding?"
"Yes, I can. Want to try?"
"No. I don't. My turn now. You can't bring another guy to our bed. Actually, you can't bring another guy to this house. Any guy with you is off limits to this place."
"Same goes for you, mister."
"Oh no. That same rule doesn't apply to me. I own this place. I can do whatever I want."
I stare at him a beat and then say, "Fine. Whatever." It's not like there is any guy who interests me anyway. As long as he leaves me alone, I'm okay with anything. I don't bother to correct him that we both own it either. I'm just not in the mood.
"We will have to go out a lot on public dates. For publicity. We will have to put on a show at school too. Am I allowed to touch you then?" He asks.
Wow. I haven't thought of that at all. "Okay, I'll allow if for publicity sake. And I get to meet my
Mom every Sunday. You will have to accompany me and act like the gentleman you're not, in her presence."
His reply is instant. "Fine. whatever. Now get out of my bed."
I stare at him, confused. What did he just say? "Excuse me?"
"Was I not clear? I said, get out of my bed."
"If you're not going to be participating in any sexual acts with me then you can get out of my bed. You can take the couch in the living room for sleeping until the other rooms get done. And forget this sharing business too. I've decided that I don't want to share anything with you."
Wow. For a minute I was actually considering becoming friends with him and being nice to him. Guess not.
He gets up from the bed. "I have some business to take care of." He walks up to the bathroom door, turns around and tells me "Oh, and shut the door on your way out, darling."
A/N: Please vote/comment/follow me if you want me to continue this story. I need a lot of motivation. And if you comment and let me know what you think of this story, it will act as my incentive to write more!
So do that, yeah?