The door slams behind me as I walk toward my car instead of storming back into the house. My hands are shaking but I don’t know if it’s because I’m so pissed or so hurt, or both.
I’m in uncharted territory, so instead of going back in the house, I start the car and head over to my place. I hold my phone in my hand, somehow wishing Eva calls me and tells me she’s overreacted. To tell me she trusts me. To tell me anything, but every single step I walk closer to my place, the phone gets heavier and heavier in my hand.
I step into the elevator and then it takes seconds before I’m walking back into my place. The house feels stale, even though my cleaning lady still comes once a week. I toss my keys on the table in the entranceway before walking to the fridge, hoping that there is at least a beer in there. The fridge is literally empty with just a couple of condiments left in it and I’m in luck as the last bottle is waiting for me. “Yes,” I hiss, grabbing it and twisting the bottle cap open before tossing it into the trash can, then taking a big pull before walking over to the couch and sitting on it.
I put my head back and refuse to close my eyes, because every single time I do it, I see her standing there with Cici. Her face looking ravenous and I knew the minute I looked at her and she avoided looking at me that something was wrong. I just never imagined what happened to happen. “She thought I was fucking Marianna?” I repeat to the empty room as I take another pull from my beer. I look around the room that I never really noticed before sucks. I laugh at the thought. There is nothing in this room that shows I live here, that I have lived here. That I had a life before this.
Meanwhile at Eva’s, there are our wedding pictures all over the place. My sweater is thrown on one of the couches, pretty sure a pair of shorts are even downstairs. I look over at the square on the coffee table that holds a book and remotes, which is so different from at Eva’s which holds a couple of pacifiers and one or two books that Cici loves to have read to her. It’s home and it shows. I put the beer down on the table, this is not home. It also comes crashing to me that I hated it. How empty my life was before this. How mundane it was. How the fuck did I think this was the good life?
I grab my beer again that is sitting right next to the phone, my hand itching to call the one person I know who would know what to say. Except she’s the one person I can’t call. I don’t know how long I sit here. All I know is that the beer is hot when I leave and I pour the rest of it in the sink. I grab my keys off the table and walk out of the door, knowing tomorrow I’m making at least one phone call.
I make my way back home. The house is pitch black by the time I walk up the stairs and open the door. The minute I walk into the house, I suddenly feel better. The warmth hits me right away as I walk up the stairs, heading straight for Cici’s room. I walk past our bedroom, seeing the lights off and wondering if she is sleeping.
I walk in to see Cici on her side in the middle of the bed, with her pacifier hanging halfway out of her mouth as she sleeps. I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone the way I love this little girl. She owns half of my heart while her aunt owns the other. I rub my hand over her cheek. “Love you, little girl,” I say for the first time out loud. And it makes me feel as if the world is pulled off my shoulders. I smile because I can’t wait for her to say it back to me. In about two years, but the wait will be worth it.
I walk out of the room with my head down and stop when I see Eva stepping out of the bedroom. “Hi,” I say, looking at her with her hair piled on top of her head. Her face looks as ravaged as it was before and all I want to do is hold her face in my hands and kiss her lips, but we need to have a talk first. The talk that can make us or the talk that can break us.
“Hey,” she says softly. “I’m sorry.” She looks down at her hands and I can see her wringing her fingers. “I shouldn’t have—”
“You were—” I take a step toward her but she stops me when she speaks.
“I was jealous,” she admits, “which was dumb.” She tries to brush it off and there is a tightness in my chest that makes me want to cough, it’s so hard to breathe.
“Why is it dumb?” I ask, standing in my spot. My hands itch to touch her, my heart aching to tell her I’m in love with her.
“Because with us.” She lifts her hands and shakes her head. “It’s—”
“What is it?” I ask, waiting, holding my breath, hoping she feels what I feel for her. Hoping I haven’t been just playing this thing up in my head. I hope that she felt it every time I’ve silently told her I love her. After all our cards are on the table, she’s going to know she’s the only one for me. We may have gotten here under strange circumstances, but we are here and I’m going to fucking fight to stay here.
She looks down, not willing to look up at me. “I don’t know.” I can hear the fear in her words, but I know I’ll catch her if she falls. I’ll catch her always.
“Well, I do,” I reassure her and she looks up at me and I can see the tears in her eyes. “I’m in love with you.” She opens her mouth, but I just continue, “I don’t know when it happened. For the past month, I’ve been trying to show you, hoping you would see it in my eyes every time I looked at you. Hoping you would feel it in my touch every single time I held your hand. Hoping you would see it in my eyes when all I have to do is look at you and smile.” She smiles as one of her tears escapes and I walk up to her and hold her face. “I’m head over heels in love with you.” She laughs now. “I wish I could say I knew the moment.” She puts her hands on my hips like she always does. “Maybe I’ve been in love with you this whole time. I was just afraid.”
“Levi,” she says my name softly, and before this goes on, she has to know that I’ve been hers.
“I’ve not been with anyone but you since you asked me to marry you.” She gasps. “Maybe I was a little traditional that way.”
“Today when I saw Marianna, I wanted to throat punch her,” she explains. “I pictured throwing my shake in her face and ruining all that perfect hair and makeup.” I roll my lips. “And when she spoke about your cock.” Her hands grip my hips harder. “Well, it wasn’t good.” I just nod at her. “It was not good, and then I was.” She shakes her head. “I didn’t know what to say. How was I supposed to tell you not to see her when we didn’t even talk about what we were?” I know her tone means she’s got to get this all out there, so I just look at her while she does it. “Did I have a right to tell you not to see her? I don’t know. Did you want to see her? Again, I didn’t know, I had hoped, obviously,” she rambles. “But was I in the position to tell you that if you touched her, I would cut off your dick and bury it in the yard?” She shrugs. “I just, it was all too much. It was like, boom, in my face I was in love with you and then I was like, does he love me? How do I tell him I don’t want him to see other people? How do I tell him I don’t want to see other people?”
“Well, I should hope not, you’re married,” I point out, “and so am I.”
“This last month, the last couple of months have gone from one of the worst times in my life to the best times of my life, thanks to you and Cici.” I can’t keep from kissing her, so I do softly.
“Thank you for asking me to marry you,” I say, smiling.
“Thank you for saying yes,” she replies as I walk her backward into the bedroom.
“Thank you for driving me insane.” I pull her top up over her head before I attack her mouth with mine.
Her hands pull out the bottom of my shirt. “Thank you for finger-fucking me that first time.” She nips at my bottom lip.
“Thank you for jerking me off.” I suck her neck.
“Hmm,” she hums, stopping in the middle. “Does this mean we’re, like, official, just the two of us?”
I just stare at her. “Like this isn’t just a friends-with-benefits sort of thing, right?” I don’t know why but I growl. “Okay, okay, just asking, you know, keeping communication open.”
“How’s this for communication?” I rasp. “Get on the bed and spread your legs, it’s time for me to eat.”
“Fine,” she huffs, almost running to the bed, “but only because I like your tongue.”
I tilt my head to the side. “Just my tongue?”
“Your fingers are good also,” she adds, lying on the bed and spreading her legs. “Also your cock.” I chuckle. “It’s a solid nine out of ten.”
“Nine?” I ask, standing looking down at her.
“Well, I can’t give you ten right off the bat,” she goads. “You have to work your way up.”
“Is that so?” I ask, my mouth watering. “It would be my honor.”