chapter 11


Was this what a honeymoon was like? I wondered as my made-to-order Sex God put fresh sheets on my bed, while I pulled on a t-shirt and jeans.

It was Wednesday. With the exception of six hours on Tuesday and eight hours today, during which Ed worked at the spa, we’d been within twenty feet of each other at all times.

Right now we were getting dressed and going out for a “date.” He had kissed me before he left this morning, promising to take me out.

Instead of working, I’d been contemplating turning in my notice. I finally brought up the idea to him last night.

“Do you have a financial plan?” he asked, while rubbing my feet, the TV on but forgotten.

“Um, no, but I have a lot of money saved. I just…I never take vacations or buy anything, so I’ve just, you know, saved a lot.”

“Then why are you still working? Sounds like a no-brainer to me,” he kissed my feet and ankles, biting my toe and wiggling his eyebrows.

“Yeah, but I don’t know what I WILL do if I quit! Shouldn’t I know?”

“Do whatever you want!” he said. “Just take it a day at a time.”

I rolled my eyes. It was so easy for him. He was a free spirit.

“Where were you?” he asked, catching me zoning out again.

“I was thinking about our conversation from yesterday…about work.”

“Hm. Still struggling?”

“Yeah,” I said, sitting on the edge of the made-up bed and putting on a pair of Keens.

He knelt in front of me.

“Hey, Iz?” he said.

Yeah…he nicknamed me. That was new. I liked it a lot.

“I don’t want you to feel pressured by me to make a decision, OK?”

“I don’t.”

“Good. Just know that I will back you, whatever you decide.”

“I know.”

“Are you going to work any more this week?” he asked, leaning in close, his hands around my back, not quite hugging me, but seeming to sense my need for his touch…or maybe it was his need. It was becoming hard to tell.

“Probably not,” I admitted, slumping a little.

“Hm. What are you gonna do?”

Yeah, Swan? More lazy TV watching? More junk food eating? Why don’t you get off your ass, and do something productive!

He pulled me close, his face mere millimeters from mine.

“Hey, don’t listen to that voice. You’ve done nothing wrong,” he said. “I just want you to think about it. Don’t avoid it. Otherwise, you’ll just torture yourself, and get lost to the inertia of indecision. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience.”

He held me for a minute and then broke our embrace. “I’m thinking…we work up an appetite with a game of bowling, and then stuff ourselves with greasypizza!”

I grinned. I’d never had a date like that. They were usually stilted affairs with reservations, boring chitchat, and the occasional pity-fuck.

And I’m referring to my actual relationships, not just first dates.

Yes, all this was new.

“Sounds like a wonderful plan,” I said.


I laced up a pair of warm and sweaty bowling shoes, and tried not to think about the fact that only a thin bit of cotton separated my feet from someone else’s recently deposited sweat.

Edward, shod in his own stinky shoes, was typing in our names.

I looked up at the screen. He had put: “Something English-y” for me, and “Just Ed” for himself. He was grinning at me like an incorrigible little boy who just dropped a frog down a cute girl’s shirt.


“Yeah,” he said. “You’re first, Swan. Go on and show me what you’ve got.”

I discovered something new about Just Ed. He sucks at bowling.

Of course, I discovered that Something English-y sucks at bowling, too.

We were pitiful, each trying to help the other out, but we had no clue what we were doing.

For several frames, he put his hands on my hips, saying that I seemed to be throwing around them, and it might be better if he helped me pull them out ofthe way.

I think he just wanted an excuse to touch my ass.

After bowling, we sat at the bar and ordered beer and pizza.

“This pizza is unbelievably greasy. Do you mind that?” he asked, watching it drip off before placing his mouth under the point to take a bite.

“No…I kind of,” whispered the next part, “I like junk food.”

“Me, too,” he whispered back. “I try to eat healthy, but sometimes I just want a candy bar, or a hamburger or something. You know?”

“Totally,” I said. “Actually,” I felt like now would be a good time to come clean, “I was only trying to impress you at the grocery store. I don’t actually drink soy milk, and I have no idea what bromated flour is.”

“Swan, I am so disappointed in you,” he said, setting his pizza down with a frown. “I thought we were compatible. I thought that we got each other. I can see now that you are a cheat and a liar, and I don’t think I can—”

“—What?” I said. “I thought—”

He was laughing. The fucker was slapping his knees, practically roaring.

“I’m kidding!” he said. “Fuck, you’re easy. I love it!” He reached out to pinch a cheek and got an elbow to the gut, instead.

“Damn, those are sharp!” he said, rubbing his belly.

“OK. Now, I’m warning you,” he said, crouching down and inching closer. “I’m gonna grab you…” he reached out, v-e-r-y slowly and started tickling me.

Then he pulled me, giggling, off my stool and into his arms.

I only had to cry “uncle” three times before he stopped torturing me.

“I don’t care what you eat, Iz,” he said, holding me in his arms, lips brushing my temple. “Besides, I was trying to impress, you, too.”

“Really?” I said.

I felt him nod.

“All you have to do to impress me,” he added, “is just, do what you do naturally.”

“You don’t think I’m a bitch?”

“No, you’re totally a bitch,” he said, covering his mid-section this time to ward off my elbowing, as I moved off his lap and back to my own pizza. “But it kind of turns me on. I like strong women who don’t take shit from anyone…even me. I like that you don’t let me get away with stuff. But just know, Swan, I won’t let you get away with shit, either…I mean, if we’re gonna date.”

He grabbed his pizza and looked at me sideways.

“Date?” I asked. I already felt like this was way more than dating.

“Well, whatever you want to call it. Listen, I can commit. I want to commit…to you. Do you…um…I mean,” he swallowed and then took another bite, chewing slowly. “If this is just casual, that’s OK. I’m not trying to talk you into—”

“—No, I think we’re on the same page,” I said, stuffing my face to avoid finishing my thought.

Finally, I did. “It’s been pretty much me for about a year. I don’t want anything casual. I mean…I thought I did, but I kind of like you, too. You’re, um, very different, Ed.”

“You, too. I mean, until I stopped, you know…fucking everything,” he laughed and wiped some grease from his chin, “I spent a lot of time with a variety of people. You are singular. And it’s not just your body,” he added, giving it a long glance. “I want you to know. Just…you’re so snarky, and smart. I really kind of dig you…” he was gesturing with his hands again, seeming to think the movement would help him come up with some helpful vocab.

“I’m shit at describing things. Can you tell?”

“You’re also long-winded,” I pointed out.

“Well, I did tell you up front.”

“Yeah. I kind of dig you, too,” I said.



We ate in silence for a few minutes. He stared at the television on the wall, and I watched him. I would have thought the world stopped turning around us, but eventually, the other patrons cheered and booed about broadcast game, and I blinked. Edward took a breath and turned his head to look at me.

“So,” I said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable about our mutual silence, “I want to know more about your former life. What did you do before you studied massage?”

“Hm. Well,” he shoved the last bite of pizza in his mouth and took a big swig of beer. He was still chewing as he started telling his story. “I was…hm…I was actually a third grade teacher.

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