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Marriage Material(4)

By:Alexa Riley

“I have a family dinner tonight. My brother has some news he wants to share.” I dodge his question for some reason because I don’t want to tell him about the date and I don’t want to lie. I do have a family dinner, I just also have a date afterwards.

“That will work.” He reaches into his back pocket, pulls out a card and hands it to me. “My cell is on there. Just ignore the other business stuff on that, I don’t work there anymore.”

After I take the card he reaches up and brushes his thumb across my cheek. My breath catches at the touch and I lean into it.

He takes his hand away and he looks down at his feet. “You had something there,” he tells me, and I see the trace of flour on his thumb.

“Oh, yeah, thanks,” I say nervously. “I’ll be by tomorrow,” I rush to say. I’ve got to get out of here before I make a complete idiot of myself. He’s making me feel hot on every inch of my body.

“You don’t know where I live,” he tells me as I turn around to go check out.

“You said you bought the Jenkins’ place. I know where it is,” I say over my shoulder.

I stop at the end of the aisle to get myself together. What the hell was that?

My phone vibrates, breaking me from my fog. I look at it and see a text from my mother asking where I am. Crap. I rush to check out and hurry to the parking lot. This is all so crazy. I can’t believe he hired me right on the spot and asked me to move in. Maybe he’ll change his mind once he realizes that he invited a total stranger to help care for his baby. But he seemed desperate and maybe it was just luck that I was in the right place at the right time.

When I pull up at home I see everyone is already there. I hop out of my car and push open the front door. My youngest brother walks over and takes the bags from me.

“Did you get me some Reese's Cups?” he asks.

“You know I did,” I tell him, following him into the kitchen.

“What happened to my imported beer?” I hear the sound of broken glass clinking as Kent pokes around a box I recognize as the one I dropped earlier. I have to fight a laugh because I don’t feel the least bit guilty about breaking his package. Sucker had it coming.

His wife Julie comes up behind him. “It’s fine. You can order more.” He turns around and kisses her, and it’s a little more heated than normal.

“Get a room,” my dad mumbles as he walks into the kitchen. Everyone is here and my mother looks ready to burst.

“So,” Ma says, clapping her hands together. “What do you want to tell us?”

Kent and Julie both smile. He wraps his arm around her, pulling her snug to him. “Julie’s pregnant,” he says proudly.

“I knew it!” Ma screams, rushing over to them. We all cheer and give them hugs.

My eyes water a little because I’m so happy for them. The longing I’ve been having lately hits me all over again. An image of Anderson floats into my mind, and I try to push that thought away. It doesn’t work, though, because all through dinner as everyone talks about the first grandchild coming into the family, my mind is on him. It’s like he has some spell over me that I can’t break. Maybe I should call him and ask him about tomorrow? I’m clearly just making up excuses to talk to him, but is that a bad thing?

“Robin, are you going to take this food I made over to Betty?” My ma asks, jerking me from my thoughts. She holds up a few Tupperware containers with a look on her face like she’s asked me to do this already. I have no idea what she’s talking about, but I stand up and nod.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good, she hasn't been feeling well and I want to make sure she’s eating.” I follow my mother back into the kitchen. She grabs a bag to put the Tupperware in, then hands it to me. When I hold the bag out in front of me, it feels like there’s nothing inside.

“They’re empty,” I tell her in confusion.

“Well, duh. I told you I’d sneak you out of here,” she reminds me.

I completely forgot about my date with Franky. Suddenly I really don’t want to go, but Ma looks super smug that she pulled one over on the men.

“Yeah, of course.” I take the bag from her and she hands me my purse.

“Slip out the back so you don’t get twenty questions.”

I do as she says, and when I leave the house I check my phone to see a text from Franky. He sent me the address of the restaurant, so I make a left and drive straight there. When I pull into the restaurant parking lot I have a pep talk with myself before I go in. I don’t know why, but suddenly this feels like a chore. After a second of hesitation I make myself get out of the car and I spot Franky waiting for me near the entrance.

“Hey,” I call out, giving a small wave as I make my way to him.

“Hey yourself.” He leans down like he’s going to kiss me, and I turn my head at the last second. His mouth brushes my cheek and it’s super awkward.

“I’ve never eaten here,” I rush to say, trying to pretend that wasn’t really uncomfortable.

What is wrong with me? I’ve been excited to go on a date and to see what it’s like, but now that I’m here, all I want to do is to go home and start packing.

“It’s good.” He guides me inside and gets us a table.

The whole meal feels wrong and I have to stop myself from fidgeting. When the check comes, relief hits me because it’s over. Thank god. Franky’s nice enough, but something about him is off. He also enjoyed talking about insects a little too much. He has some weird fascination with them and is thinking about going back to school to study them. I don’t hate many things, but bugs are a no-go for me. It also didn't help that he made a rude comment about the kids at the table next to us being loud. I thought they were adorable with their chubby cheeks covered in mashed potatoes, but he seemed to think it was annoying.

When we walk out of the restaurant I know what’s coming. He’s going to try and kiss me again. I keep a distance between us as we walk because I don’t want this to be my first kiss. It doesn't feel right, and the truth is, I keep thinking about another man. I kept comparing Franky to Anderson, and they seem like complete opposites.

“I had a great time. We should do this again,” he says as he stops next to my car.

“The food was wonderful,” I say, trying to go with something that’s not a lie.

“I’ll call you.” He begins to lean down, and I panic.

“Okay,” I say quickly, turning around and opening my car door and getting in before he can get too close. He looks at me like I’m crazy and I wave. “Bye.”

“Later.” He shakes his head before he walks away and gets in his truck.

I drop back in my seat and close my eyes. Could that have been any more awkward? Thank god that’s over and I don’t have to do it again. My mind immediately drifts to Anderson and it makes my heart flutter. I bite my lip wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Chapter 4


The house is so big I could almost get lost in it. It’s so different from my place in the city, but so is the town. My apartment was tiny with only one room because I didn’t need any space because I was never there. This house has so many it makes me wonder why I got it. I had this image in my head of Charlotte growing up here and having brothers and sisters, but I’ve never even kissed a woman. How could I possibly fill this place with anything? An image of Robin comes to mind and suddenly I’m creating a home with her in it.

As if on cue, the doorbell rings. When I open it up she’s standing there with a bag on her shoulder and the biggest smile on her face.

“Here, let me get that for you,” I say and grab her bag. “Come on in.”

The house is old and in need of some work, but for the most part it’s perfect. It’s an old farmhouse exactly like I wanted, and it’s so bright and sunny. Robin walks into the living room and looks around. Suddenly I’m wondering what she thinks of the place and if there’s anything she would change.

“Can I help you get the rest of your stuff?” I ask, looking back out to her car.

“Well, that’s actually all there is,” she says, looking down shyly at the small bag. “I lived at home with my parents, so I didn’t bring much with me.”

“But you’re staying, right? For good?” I don’t know why I’m so anxious about her leaving, but I want to do all I can to make her stay. To make her want to stay.

“Of course.” As if remembering, she looks around again. “Where is Baby Charlotte?”

“She’s napping,” I say, holding up the baby monitor in my hand. “I didn’t want to sleep because I knew you were coming. I read in one of the baby books that you’re supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps, but that seems like a load of crap. There’s always stuff to do, and with just moving in there’s still a lot of unpacking that needs to get done. I’ve got a mountain of boxes in the back that I keep ignoring.”

“I can only imagine. I’ve been here my whole life, so as you can see I can fit all my belongings in a big duffel bag.”

“Do you like that feeling?” I ask. I was able to do the same when I had to go live with my aunt and uncle. I could put everything I owned in a garbage bag and it made me feel sad and alone.