#59 Ditching the bitches
This is the last chapter before the epilogues start… Yeah, really! Can’t believe it either. There will be two epilogues. The first one will be their wedding day, and the second one… that will be quite an intense one. A wicked curveball for sure. It’s pretty much the prelude to Marcus’ story.
With a huge grin on my face, I park my car in front of Ayaan and Holly’s apartment, grabbing the dresses I made for them from the back. They ordered them only a few days ago, but I have so much restless energy from being so fucking happy that I made them in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep.
The past two weeks have been perfect and insane at the same time. Khiêm and I are still wrapped into our perfect little bubble of love, secretly glad that Marcus moved back into his own apartment after New Year’s Eve, because that means we can make love wherever and whenever we want. Which we do, loudly and frequently.
A week ago, we got the call that Phuong went into labor. I haven’t seen the baby yet since Phuong and her husband both have big families and they didn’t want to get overwhelmed, so only the direct family has been over to the hospital. There were some complications with the birth, but Phuong and baby Quang are both going home tomorrow, so I’ll get to visit them then and meet Khiêm’s little nephew soon enough.
My ring is now fitted to perfection, and I am never taking it off ever again. Khiêm has showing me wedding band we’ll add to it in a year, and it’s as beautiful as I imagined it would be. Another slim gold band, with an opening in the middle with small round diamonds attached to it. I tried it on to see how it would look, and it sucked to have to take it off again.
Whistling happily, I bound up the steps to the apartment and ring the bell. Ayaan opens up, looking like shit. She’s probably hungover. Again. God, those days… I’m not sorry I left that behind me for the bliss of engaged live with the man of my dreams, let me tell you that. If I hadn’t decided to stop being a stupid drunk slut and if Khiêm hadn’t helped me out of my slump, I would be in the same position Ayaan is right now. Only she seems perfectly okay with it, whereas I always secretly hating the way I was living before.
How can anyone be happy living an empty life like that? Sure, sex is nice, and I like to party, but when life consists of nothing but those two things… It gets old. Really fucking fast.
“Hey slut,” Ayaan says with a yawn, letting me into the living room.
“Hi bitch,” I reply, giving her a hug and wincing at the waft of sweat and alcohol coming off her.
Holly waves at me from the couch, where she’s just about to take two painkillers, gulping down water as she winces and rubs her forehead. Definitely don’t miss the splitting headaches. Not even a little bit.
I show them the dresses and hang them over a chair, waiting for Ayaan to pay me. She rummages around the apartment, shivering from the cold.
“There’s a sweatshirt on that chair,” Holly says, noticing Ayaan rubbing her arms.
She grabs the black sweatshirt and pulls it over her head, going back to looking for her phone so she can make the payment online. I notice the shirt has the Blue Balls logo on it, with a coffee stain on the sleeve. It looks strangely familiar…
“Wait, is that…” Oh God no, tell me it’s not true. “Is that Marcus’ shirt?”
“Yeah,” Ayaan says, yawning again.
“How did Marcus’ shirt end up in your apartment?” I ask, my stomach in knots.
“He left it here when we hooked up at New Year’s,” she replies like it’s no big deal.
“Ayaan!” I exclaim angrily. “I asked you not to!”
She rolls her eyes at me. “He’s an adult, you know. So I am. I was horny, and Holly didn’t want to share Manny anymore, so I figured I might as well see if Marcus was a good as I thought he’d be.”
“He so wasn’t,” Holly chimes in from the couch. “Not from what I heard from my bedroom.”
Ayaan laughs. “True story. He actually cried after we had sex, and he only lasted for about three minutes anyway. Still, it was good to finally fuck him out of my system.”
I’m seeing red at this point. If Marcus cried after and didn’t tell anyone about sleeping with her, that further fuels my conviction that he was in no state to make good decisions that night. He must have gotten drunk after midnight and with the break-up with Bee still so fresh and Gracie taking a date to the party… This was exactly why I wanted Ayaan and Holly to stay the fuck away from him. The way they’re talking about him now, like he’s just another guy she fucked…
“I’m done with the two of you,” I decide. “Keep the dresses, forget about paying me. Consider it my parting gift. And give me that shirt.”
“Done with us?” Holly repeats, frowning at me from the couch. “What do you mean?”
“I think if we’re honest, we haven’t truly been friends for months now,” I say, knowing it’s true. “You’ve never been anything but rude to Khiêm, you didn’t even congratulate me when I got engaged, you never talk about anything but sex and partying… I’m done. I told you not to go there with Marcus, and you did it anyway. I’m so fucking done.”
Ayaan laughs like she can’t believe that I’m serious. “Okay, Nia, sure. You used to be just like us, remember? What crawled up your ass? You’ve sure changed into a stuck-up bitch since you moved in with that fat nerd.”
I want to slap her in her stupid face, but I don’t. She’s not worth it. “Give me my brother’s shirt,” I hiss, holding out my hand. “Now.” The thought of her walking around in Marcus’ shirt is just so wrong.
With a massive eye-roll, she removes the shirt and tosses it at me. “Here. Happy now?”
“Not even a little bit,” I bite out. “You’re shallow bitches, both of you. I’m out of here.”
They don’t call after me when I storm out, which tells me all I need to know. They’re not sorry about any of the things they did. Why was I ever friends with these two? Shaking with anger, I drive over to Marcus’ apartment, grabbing his shirt before making my way to his front door.
“Hey,” he says when he opens up, surprised to see me. “I’m just about to get started on dinner. Dad is dropping Aliyah off in half an hour, she’s staying for the weekend. You wanna stay for dinner too?”
“Sure,” I say, following him into his living room. I hold up his sweatshirt. “I think you lost something two weeks ago after the New Year’s Eve party.”
“Ah fuck,” he grunts, sinking down onto the couch. “Ayaan told you. I’m sorry. I never should have gone there. I was just so drunk and sad and… I don’t even know, Nia. I’m sorry.”
“You have absolutely nothing to be sorry for,” I assure him, throwing the shirt over the armrest as I sit down next to him, putting a hand on his knee. “I’ve been there. Trust me. And I fucked up way worse than you did. Are you okay, Marcus?”
He shakes his head, looking down at the floor. “No, I’m not. Bee calls me at least ten times a day, and it’s taking all I’ve got not to pick up. On top of that, Gracie saw me leave with Ayaan, and from what Rose and Jagger have told me – although they won’t say much – she doesn’t ever want to see me again. Even though she took fucking Robert to the party, so I’m not sure she has a reason to be upset at all, but I still feel bad about hurting her.” He rakes his hands through his hear, his voice breaking. “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, Nia.”
“You don’t need to,” I whisper, pulling him into my arms. “Just take it one day at a time. You’re staying strong about Bee, and that’s good. Erase her from this place, throw out all the shit she ever got you, burn whatever stuff she left her if that helps, and take some time for yourself. Spend time with friends, your family, find out what you want and who you are without her. Forget about Gracie for a moment. If anything is ever going to happen, it’s not going to be now, when you’re still grieving the loss of a relationship that lasted for almost twelve years.”
He pulls me closer, crying against my shoulder. “I’m a mess,” he sniffles, sounding broken.
“Yeah, but that’s okay.” I rub his back in soothing circles. “You know you’re welcome at our place anytime if you’re sad or lonely or just want a home-cooked meal or to play videogames, right?”
He smiles when he pulls back. “I know. Is it bad that I’m finding it weird as fuck that my little sister is now the one with the awesome life, while I’m the fuck-up? You’re all grown-up, with a fiancé and everything, and I’m single as fuck without any clue about who I am without a girl to focus all my attention on.”
“Welcome to my life a year ago,” I tell him, sticking out my tongue in an attempt to lighten the mood. “Life can change quicker than you expect. Just focus on yourself right now. Get a dog or something, maybe.”
He laughs loudly now. “I’m not that lonely, Nia. And I know it’s not all bad. Work is still good. I’m pretty sure I’ll get a promotion soon, and a campaign for a soda company that I did just took off, so my bosses are quite happy with me. I think I’ll just focus on that and get a gym membership or something.”
“You? Working out?” I give him a pointed look. “I think that money would be better spent on a dog. At least then you’ll be forced to go out for a walk every now and then. I don’t think you’re going to go to the gym more than once.”
He grins. “Fair enough. Okay, I should pull myself together before Aliyah gets here. Are you still staying for dinner?” When I nod, he gives me a pleading look. “Any chance you’ll help me cook?”
I roll my eyes. “Fine, but I’m helping, not taking over, you hear me? You and Aliyah always scamper off to watch TV and leave me to do all the work.”
“You’re just so good at it.” He follows me into the kitchen and we start making dinner together. When Aliyah shows up ten minutes later, they disappear into the living room like I knew they would, and I can hear them laughing over something. It’s always the same with those two. I text Khiêm to let him know that if he wants a home-cooked mail tonight, he’d better get his ass over here, and he arrives ten minutes later, where I tell him to sit his cute ass down and stay far away from the kitchen. Him and Aliyah get on like a house on fire, which is further proof that I chose the right man to marry.
I always thought it was bullshit that seeing a man with a baby would make your ovaries have a mini orgasm that makes you want to have kids. Aimee has sworn for years that it’s a thing, and even Rose told me recently that watching Jagger with her youngest siblings makes her imagine him as a father to their own children, even though the thought of having kids scares the shit out of her.
I didn’t think I was anywhere near ready to be kids, and I’m definitely not ready right this second, but watching Khiêm with his nephew… that does something to my insides that I’ve never felt before. He’s so patient and caring with the tiny little baby, and I can’t keep my eyes off him.
Phuong is exhausted, and she spends most of our visit asleep, leaving it to her husband to entertain us. Not that we need to be entertained. Little Nguyen Hue Quang is the cutest little baby, so cute with his light brown skin, perfect almost eyes and cute tuffs of black here. His parents are both Asian, so it’s logical he looks Asian too, but watching him makes me wonder what the baby Khiêm and I will have one day will look like. The kid will have mixed roots for sure. My parents are a mixture of all kind of roots, both completely different although they’re both black. Khiêm is half Chinese, half Vietnamese. Will our kids look like me, or him, or a mixture of both?
During the car ride home, we’re both quiet, lost in our thoughts. I want kids, and I’ve always liked the idea of being a young mother, and I’m engaged now, but at the same time… I’m still on my first serious job. My web shop is doing great, but my job and the website keep me extremely busy, and I’m planning to expend my brand. Khiêm works a lot as well – how would that even work if we have kids? We don’t exactly have the most stable of all jobs and we make so many hours a week. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but growing up in a big family without much money to go around had it’s drawbacks when I was younger. I want to have more money than my parents did, and less kids. Not that I didn’t love growing up in small house filled with siblings, but I know it was hard on our parents to provide for us with their minimum wage jobs, and it stressed them out. On top of that, I didn’t always get the attention I needed. Not that I blame my parents for the way I used to act out, but it’s something to consider.
Back at our apartment, Khiêm sits me down on the couch and gets me a cup of tea. “Let’s get this conversation out of the way, shall we?” he says with a small smile. “How many kids do you want?”
I love that he knows what’s on my mind and that he’s diving right into it. “Two, I think.”
He nods. “Me too. I love my sisters, but I don’t want four kids myself. No way. I like the idea of our kid having a sibling, but one is enough, I think.”
Okay, that was easier than I thought it would be. “When?” I ask, feeling a little nervous now.
He shrugs. “I don’t know. We could start trying when we get married? In a year?” He searches my expression. “Or is that too soon? My parents fucked up in many, many ways with raising me, but getting me at a young age wasn’t one of those mistakes. I don’t want to be an old dad. I mean, I’m only 26, so I’m perfectly okay waiting more than a year, but I don’t want to wait… say… ten years or so. That’s too long.”
“God no,” I reply right away. “Not ten years. A year… yeah, I think that would be good.”
“Let’s put a pin in it until the wedding,” Khiêm says with a little smile. “If we don’t feel ready then, we’ll just wait another few months, or a year even. We have plenty of time. But it’s nice to know you want to have kids young too.”
“Is it weird we’re only having this conversation now?” I ask, feeling a little self-conscious. “Isn’t this something you should get out of the way before proposing to someone?”
Khiêm pulls me onto his lap and kisses me tenderly. “Lovely, did you really think that we’d ever disagree on the big stuff in life? Ever since we met, we’ve been perfectly in synch. It’s almost creepy. We still have a year before we’re husband and wife. We can all have all the difficult talks before then. More than enough time, I’d say. Although talks like these don’t feel difficult with you.”
He’s right. They don’t. It’s like we’re always thinking the same thing, but it’s not creepy. It’s one of the many reasons I love him.
“What about money?” I ask, no longer nervous, but still wanting to get everything off my chest. “You know I love your jobs, I’m amazed by everything you do. And I know you’re proud of what I’m trying to do, but with both of us in... the creative industry, so to speak, and basically being our own boss, that is a little scary when you add kids to the mix.”
Khiêm doesn’t seem fazed. “I’ve got some money saved, and we’ve both got stuff to fall back on. If your fashion career doesn’t take off – which it will, but just for argument’s sake it doesn’t – you can work as a seamstress for Sonia or at another boutique, right? And I’ve got offers for game design and to help testing games. Been getting them for over a year now. That’s something I’ve always been interested in, so I think I’ll look into that soon. I can vlog about games instead of streaming so my hours will be more flexible, and I always have to turn down offers to narrate audio novels because I’m too busy, so I could always expand that.”
His calm voice makes me believe that he’s right. We can do this. It’s not like all will be lost of one of our dreams doesn’t pan out the way we hope they will.
“I’m good with whatever the future holds, as long as you’re in it,” Khiêm murmurs, kissing my neck.
The same is true for me. With his man in my life, I can do anything, and he’s superman to me, so of course he can do anything he sets his mind to. We’ll be fine. Khiêm, me, and whatever little cute babies we bring into this world.
Well, sort of, there are 2 epilogues to come, but after those two chapters, it’s officially over.
Of course, I will be writing “Guarded Marcus” next. Just a head’s up… It won’t be what you guys are expecting. I know you all think I will start Marcus’ story in the middle of Nia’s story, maybe when he meets Gracie, or when he breaks up with Bee, but that is not what I’m going to do. It will start later on, after Nia and Khiêm get married. You will find out why after the second epilogue.
Don’t worry, Bee and Gracie will both be in the story, and we still keep seeing plenty of Khiêm, Nia, Rose and Jagger. And there will be lots of flashbacks in the story (which I’ve never done before, so that will be interesting).
Hope you won’t be disappointed that I’m doing something different from what you guys might be expecting from Marcus’ story.