#52 She changed her mind
She’s trying so hard not to get her hopes up, and it endears her to me even more. It’s obvious she wants to live here, but she’s afraid to pressure me into buying it without truly wanting to. Little does she know that earlier this morning, when I was supposedly taking Pumpkin for his walk while she made us breakfast, I walked all the way over here and already saw the house. I wanted to make sure that I could get a proper first impression without her looking at me with those wide green eyes that will make me agree to anything.
The realtor catches my eye and winks. He knows what I know. And that is that I already but in a bid this morning. The guy likes me, mostly because I built the website for his firm – sometimes it’s really fucking nice to be a tech wiz – and even though he wasn’t supposed to, he left his tablet for a few minutes this morning, pretending to take a leak, so I could see what the other buyers offered the owner. I made sure to top the highest bid. The seller wants to seal the deal as soon as possible, and he wants to leave most of his animals behind since he is moving into a nursing home and none of his kids want the horses, the chickens, or the rabbits. The realtor promised me to tell the old man that Tracy is a vet tech, and I’m hoping that will help us get this house.
“So?” Tracy asks when we peak into the last bedroom on the second floor. “What do you think?”
“I think this would be a great nursery,” I reply, looking around and already envisioning the room painted in greens and yellows. I don’t believe in pink for girls and blue for boys, and I know Tracy is more of a gender-neutral gal herself, so I doubt our kids will ever run around in stereotypical princess dresses or shirts with stupid words like tough guy on them.
“A nursery?” she repeats, looking up at me with a surprised look on her pretty face. “I meant… I meant that… What do you think of the house in general?”
“I love it,” I assure her, putting my arm around her shoulders. “I can totally see us living here.”
“Really?” She squeals, and then immediately tries to tone down her excitement. “Are you sure? We just redid our apartment when you moved in two months ago, and it’ll be a long time before we ever have kids, so we don’t really need a house this big.”
“How long is long time?” I ask, a little anxious to hear her answer.
“What do you mean?” she asks, frowning. Then she gasps and squeezes my arm. “You mean… wait… what do you mean?”
I laugh and kiss her gently. “I mean that I’ll be 30 in a few weeks, and we’re buying a house, so… I think a long time doesn’t have to be that long, right?”
“As in… next year?” she asks softly, sounding a little unsure.
“As in whenever you’re ready.”
“Oh Thom…” She tears up and takes a few deep breaths. “You know I want kids with you. And my ovaries are doing the conga right now, but I would like to buy this house first, move in, and feel settled here. But when we’re all set up here, then… I think I’d be good to go then.”
“Good thing I already but in a bid then.”
She gasps. “On this place? Really? When? How?”
Before I can reply, the realtor walks in, wiggling his phone at us. “He said yes. I get that you will want an inspector to check the place for mold and all that, but once that is done… Mr. Rogers wants you to have the place, if you promise to take good care of all the animals and allow him to come visit.”
“W-what?” Tracy asks, on the verge of tears.
I pull her into my arms and kiss her softly. “You’re getting your dreamhouse, babe.”
She starts sobbing, and I see the realtor backing away from us slowly. Poor guy – he doesn’t seem all that comfortable with crying women. I didn’t use to be good with them either, but I’m great at handling anything that comes with being Tracy’s boyfriend, so holding her while she cries doesn’t faze me. Not at all. In fact, I love that she can cry easily now.
Of course, she is still Tracy Packard, so she pulls herself back together in less than two minutes. She shows me around the grounds, the stables, everything. I love it. I can see us living here already. The place is a little dated, so it will need a bit of work, but I think I can do most of it myself. Maybe with some help from Charlie and Aston, but it shouldn’t cost too much. We can swing the mortgage and will still have some savings left since I’ve been living in a small, cheap apartment for years now, even though business has been booming for and Dylan ever since we started our company, so even though this place will set us back moneywise for a while, we’re still set.
“I think I’ve changed my mind,” Tracy says, sinking down onto her knees to pet a stray cat that comes scuttling out of the stables.
“You don’t want to live here?” My heart sinks. I know it’s her dreamhouse, but the moment I saw the pictures on her phone, it became my dream too. She’s my dream. “Or… do you not want to live with me anymore?”
She laughs and looks up at me with an amused expression. “Did I finally break the cocky Thomas Riley? Shouldn’t your response be something like… You decided you do want me to strap you into a harness, dangle you from the ceiling and call over twenty old men for a huge gangbang?” Then her eyes go to a spot behind me, and I turn around to see the realtor looking at us with wide eyes.
“Just joking, of course,” Tracy says as she gets up and brushes the dirt off her knees. “We’re very normal people, I promise.”
The man laughs, but he still sounds a little startled. “I was just coming to tell you that Mr. Rogers’ daughter called again, and she’s coming over here with her father right now, to meet you. She thinks he’ll feel better leaving his animals after seeing you interact with them. Are you up for that?”
“Sure,” I reply right away, still wondering what Tracy was talking about earlier when she said she changed her mind. “I’ll make sure my lovely girlfriend won’t make any gangbang jokes while we meet with the owner.”
“Please do,” the realtor says, smiling slightly, shaking his head.
Since we’ve got some time to kill before the owner and his daughter get here, we wander the place for a while, talking about what we want to change, what colors we want to paint the walls, and which room will become our master bedroom. I make some calls to arrange for an inspector to come check the place out later this week, and I call the bank again to set up a meeting so Tracy and I can combine our finances and make sure we’ve got everything figured out moneywise. We’ll need a joined account and all that shit.
“What did you change your mind about?” I ask Tracy, who is taking pictures of the kitchen and sending them to Delilah and Peter. It’s so weird to think that a year ago, she never would have treated them like her family, but now she doesn’t hesitate at all and invites them over all the time for celebrations and just regular old dinners. I’ve come to know both of them quite well. They’re not as out there and crazy as my friends, but they’re lovely people all the same, and I get why Tracy loves them. They’ve been the only stable factors in her life for years now, and it’s obvious they both care about her deeply.
“Remember our plan to one day have an unromantic conversation at the kitchen table about getting married?” she says, catching me completely off guard. “And how I said we should just go down to the courthouse and sign the paperwork, wearing jeans and an old T-shirt?”
“Yeah…” Where is she going with this?
“Let’s go to Vegas,” she says, her eyes sparkling as she pulls me against her. “Just you and me, getting drunk and gambling, and then we’ll go to one of those chapels with an Elvis impersonator, and we’ll seal the deal.”
“Sure, we can do that.” I kiss her, and we both smile into the kiss. I love the idea. It’s so us. “I don’t want it to be just us, though. I think we should invite our families and a few friends.”
“Our families?” Tracy repeats, looking at me with sad eyes.
“Yeah, Peter and Delilah,” I say, hating that I made her sad by bringing up her lack of a real family without thinking.
“Yeah, obviously,” she replies, rolling her eyes. “I meant… you’re not even talking to your parents. I haven’t even met them yet. Do they even know you’re living with me?”
“I called my dad this morning,” I confess. “I wanted to let him know that were going to buy a house. He wants to meet you. And… and I think I want to talk to my mother too, even though she’s a cunt.”
“Could you do it soon?” she asks, pulling her fingers through my hair. “I was thinking to fly out to Vegas in three months, this New Year’s, so we can start the next year off as a married couple.”
“Tracy Packard, are you asking me to marry you?” I seriously thought we were just talking hypothetical, in the far-away future. I didn’t grasp that she meant now.
“I guess I am.” Her smile is so beautiful. “What do you say?”
“I say hell yes!” I grab her and spin her around, kissing her hard. “I’d love to marry you!”
She wraps her legs around my waist, and we deepen the kiss, only to be interrupted by someone clearing their throat behind us. Tracy slides down my body and breaks away from me, her small hand slipping into mine as we both look at the realtor. There are two other people with him. One is an old, frail man with a shock of white hair, leaning on a cane while he looks at us with a furrowed brow. The other is…
“Debby?” I ask, completely shell-shocked.
“Vicky,” she says, frowning. Then the laughs, and shakes her head. “Just kidding, I’m Debby. Vicky is with the horses, she wanted to say a quick hello to Tinkerbell.”
“Tinkerbell?” I feel like I’m in a bad romcom or something.
“Yeah, that’s her childhood horse, old grumpy thing.” Debby’s eyes move from me to Tracy. “Oh, you’re still together? Stacey, right?”
“Tracy,” my girlfriend replies. No – my fiancée. Holy fuck, it’s weird to call her that, even just in my own mind. Good weird, though.
“You know each other?” the realtor asks, looking from Debby to me.
“Yeah, Thomas designed the website for the party planning company me and my sister own,” Debby explains, and I’m so happy that she’s choosing to say that and not something like… Yeah, we fucked, and I revealed that I’m hot for my twin sister, so then I fired him. Later, I tried to hook up with him at a wedding, but he chose that tiny little blonde whose hand he’s holding, so there’s that. That would be a little awkward. “Dad, this is Thomas Riley, he owns a tech company, and that’s his girlfriend Tracy.”
“His fiancée, actually,” Tracy says, holding out her hand to shake Mr. Rogers’ outstretched one. “I’m a veterinarian technician and I just love this house and all the animals you’ve got here. Thom and I have a dog and five cats, all crammed into a two-bedroom apartment, so we could use the space.”
“Five cats?” Mr. Rogers asks, laughing softly. “That’s a lot. I’ve got about ten strays wandering around here, and I’ve been feeding them for a long time, but they don’t live in the house.”
“Could you tell me all your animals’ names?” Tracy asks, already taking the old man’s arm and leading him into the yard, where they head straight for the stables. “Ours are called Pumpkin, Snoopy, Oyster, General Fluffington, Froggy and Princess.”
I hear Mr. Rogers laugh, and I just know Tracy is going to charm the pants off him. By the end of this informal meeting, he’ll be begging us to buy his house.
“So…” Debby says when it’s just the two of us in the living room. “This is awkward.”
I grin. “Yeah, it really is.”
“I’m happy it’s you buying the house, though,” she says, and she sounds genuine. “You’re a good guy. I’m sorry I’ve been such a weirdo around you. I swear I can be pretty normal when I want to be.”
“Please, normal is overrated.” I smile at her, and I’m glad to see her smiling back at me. The girl has some serious issues, but that’s not all on her. You don’t choose the hand you’re dealt in life. You can only choose how to deal with it. And since having the hots for your sister is a pretty shitty deck of cards to get thrown in your lap, I think she’s been doing alright.
“Tracy seems nice.” Debby walks to the window and looks out of the yard, where we see Vicky walking toward us with a cat in her arms. “Congrats on the engagement. That’s new, right?”
“She asked me to marry her about ten seconds before you guys came in.” I grin at the surprise on Debby’s face. “We’re not a traditional couple, I guess.”
Vicky comes in then, and we all chat for a while. The twins talk about their business, which is booming, and they’ve got a whole new set of clients since they’re now planning weddings on a weekly basis.
“The website could use some updating,” Vicky says, nudging me. “You up for it, nerd?”
I look at Debby, who gives me a small nod. “Yeah, of course. Give Dylan a call when you can, he’ll go over the contracts with you. I’m a little busy buying a house right now.”
“And planning a wedding,” Debby adds. “Oh, by the way, if you need help with that, let us know. We’ll give you an amazing discount.”
“Thanks, but I think all we’re gonna need are some plane tickets, a set of wedding rings, and a shitload of alcohol.” I laugh at their surprised expression. Like I just told them, Tracy and I aren’t traditional, and nothing about our relationship has gone by the book so far. I love that about us, though. I’m more than ready to make her my wife.
First, I have to take care of something else, though. Something I don’t want to do at all, even though I know I have to, for all of our sakes.
I have to make things right with my parents.