CH. 45: RACHEL
The Pacific North West sun is hidden behind a mass of clouds, but at least it stopped raining.
She inhales the brisk air, wondering if this could be a sign. She looks around the cul-de-sac, each house’s Christmas decorations outdoing the last. Will she, too, partake in this lame competition?
Andrew turns the key, looking back at her before pushing the white door open.
She walks inside, skeptical. This is the fourth house this week that he’d brought her to look at. But where was the Realtor?
There’s a carpeted staircase to her immediate left, and a large living room to her right. “White is going to be difficult to clean,” she complains.
“If it proves to be that difficult for you, we can have them pulled up,” he says, annoyance evident in his tone.
Or we just won’t take it, she thinks, rolling her eyes.
Rachel walks forward, leaving Andrew to stand by the door with his arms crossed. “I like the floors in here,” she says, glancing back. “Wood.” She taps her foot.
She walks toward the kitchen island, running the tips of her fingers over the marble top.
She looks around, taking in the two basin stainless steel sinks, dishwasher, and oven with overheard exhaust. She paces around the island to the other side, scanning the gleaming counter tops, opening the Mahogany wood overhead cabinets. “Fridge is nice,” she says, sniffing. “I’ve always wanted a double-door fridge, but the stainless steal is going to attract a lot of fingerprints.”
Andrew’s hands are in his pockets as he silently observes her.
She makes her way back toward him, but he motions for her to continue.
“What room would this be?” she asks, walking toward the closed door to the left of the kitchen.
“It would probably make a decent playroom. It doesn’t make much sense to do anything else with it.”
Rachel nods. “I can see that.” She walks in, examining the room. She slides the closet open. “Is this supposed to be a bedroom?”
“It’s an odd placement for a bedroom, that’s why I figured a playroom makes the most sense. You can keep an eye on the kids while you cook and clean at least.”
She shoots him a look. “Very funny.”
He doesn’t smile.
She walks back into the kitchen, toward the large sliding glass doors. looking out, she comments, “Lot’s of space. Maybe you could get a grill out there,” she suggests.
“That’s the plan.”
Rachel brushes past him, running her hands along the hallway wall before turning up the stairway.
“We can put a desk here in this open space,” he says, motioning toward a large area to the side.
She turns, glancing at him. She presses her lips together. “Almost seems out of place.”
“Another bathroom?” She walks through the master bedroom. “In a bedroom?”
“Convenient, huh?” he asks, smiling.
“I hope you don’t plan on blowing it up in the mornings. I don’t want to smell that.”
“I had the same concerns about you,” he shoots back.
“This place is huge,” she says. “It just seems like too much for our small family. I mean, how am I going to clean all of this?”
“I’m sure you can manage.”
She bites her lip. “I don’t know. You’re not planning on moving other people in here, are you?”
“The thought never even crossed my mind...”
“It looks so expensive, and you’ve only just started working at your own practice this year. Are you sure we can afford it?”
“I can afford it just fine,” he mutters. “My father knows the previous owner and as a wedding gift already made the down payment.”
Her eyebrows shoot up. “Are you serious?” she asks. “So we’re just stuck with this now because your rich dad decided we should live here?” She rubs her face.
“He didn’t decide… I did. He just made it easier for us to get a head start. Why are you complaining? Any other woman would be over the moon to live in a house like this—Look, we even have a two-car garage. What more do you want?”
She sighs. “I’m afraid I won’t fit in here.”
“I’m not asking you to socialize with the neighbors. Just keep the place clean, cook, and raise my kids.”
“What about my job?”
“What about it?”
“I finally got my BSN, and you want me to forget about all of it and just stay home and do nothing?” She huffs. “If you wanted to be with a loser, you should have picked Heather, or that trailer park bitch.”
His lips purse together. “First of all, watch how you speak to me. And second, you won’t be doing nothing, you’ll be raising my kids.”
“They’re my kids, too, jackass.”
His jaw clenches. “Are you really going to sit here bitching and moaning about a $700,000 house. Are we actually having this conversation right now?”
Her jaw drops. “$700,000?!”
“$679,950 if you want to get exact.
“Why’d it have to be East Hill? I never said I wanted something like this. This is so… This is fucking pretentious! And you know I can’t just move right in here. We still have to have our wedding ceremony in Idaho, and I need to wrap everything up.”
Andrew pauses. “So you’re still going to marry me, then?”
She bites her lip, looking around. Thinking about Jennifer, wondering if she’d ever forgive her. Realizing it won’t matter. She doubts Andrew will ever let her forget her attempt to flee with her. “I need time to think.”
“You have exactly one day to think,” he reminds her. “We should have been married already.”
“Yeah!” she says. “but where have you been?”
“You know I’ve had things I needed to take care of. The justice of the peace is ready to do our vows today. You just have to say yes.”
She glances around again. Is it worth it? She walks out of the front door and stares at his car and then back at the house. “Is your daddy going to finance everything we do in life, or are you going to step up and be your own man?” she asks sourly.
“I think you’re a bit tired. Maybe you should take a nap and think about the way you’re talking to me.”
She closes her eyes and inhales deeply. She looks at the gray and white sky, feels the damp, cold air on her skin. Do I really want to come back to Washington? The weather makes me so depressed and nobody takes me seriously. She glances at the neighboring houses. Do I really want to have decoration wars with the neighbors?
Back at the hotel, Andrew takes her in his arms and kisses the top of her head. “You know I love you,” he murmurs. “Despite all your bitching, you know I do.”
She nods gently. “I know,” she says, muffled. She pulls herself away from his chest and looks into his eyes. “This entire situation has me so stressed out,” she admits. “I feel so lost and confused.”
“You don’t have to,” he says, rubbing her arms. “I’m here to simplify it all for you. Just rely on me, put it all on my shoulders. Let me be your Jesus.”
She tilts her head up, pressing her lips to his. He kisses her back, thrusting his tongue into her mouth.
She pulls back, turning away.
“Don’t do this, Rachel. Don’t turn your back on me like this, not after everything I’ve done for our family.”
She swallows, giving herself a little shake.
“Let me make love to you.” He takes her mouth in his once more and runs his hand over her shrinking breasts. “You’re getting so small,” he says, between kisses.
She unbuttons his jeans and he pulls her shirt off over her head, pushing her toward the bed.
“I know I haven’t been there for you physically like you’ve needed me to be,” he says, tugging his own shirt off. “But I’m here now.”