I don't know why I reacted the way I did with the real estate agent. I'd never been a jealous person, but I'd never been with a man like Aaron, either. He was a really handsome man. No, scratch that. He was freaking hot. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one who thought so, and I somehow felt a bit threatened by the women who were more around his age. It made me doubt myself, and I didn't like it.
He looked thoughtful when we parked outside Arisan, and his lip was twitching just like it always did when he was lost in his own mind. He still helped me by taking my hand and holding the door, though. He was always a gentleman around me, and I thought that was how he was. That's why I was surprised when Dom said that he'd never seen him do that before. That made me feel special. He really made an effort, and quite a significant one too.
"What are you thinking, baby?" I asked eventually.
The restaurant wasn't especially big, but the parking lot was pretty full anyway. But we managed to sneak our way between the cars.
"What? Is it audible?" he asked, and I had to giggle.
"No, silly. But your lip is twitching."
His eyes flickered a bit, and he didn't really meet my gaze. He used to be pretty easy to read, most of all because he was too honest in everything he did. He always spoke whatever was on his mind, and he'd been practicing the I-don't-give-a-fuck for so long that he'd probably forgotten how to act innocent. And when he did, he hardly ever succeeded. I loved that about him. But now? He just made me confused.
"That you look smoking hot in that leather jacket."
He tried to smirk the usual mischievous way like he always did when he had dirty ideas, but I somehow got the feeling that he wasn't telling the truth. And the fact that he suddenly brought up the jacket I got from Rocco for Christmas was just too random to make any sense.
We walked up to the restaurant and a massive, old-fashioned door opened automatically when we were about to enter, causing Aaron to hum in acknowledgement.
"High tech and rustic. I like that."
I just smiled.
"Don't you?" he asked when I didn't reply.
"Absolutely. I love how solid the doors look, too. A bit unexpected for a restaurant perhaps, but that's probably why they added the automatic opener."
Aaron nodded to himself, and once again I could see his lip twitch. He probably got an idea for one of his projects at work. I mean, the guy was an architect, and a really good one too.
"A bit country style," he said, and I smiled again.
"Is that what you prefer? Something similar to your parent's cottage inspired house?"
"Not really. I like a more modern touch, although I don't mind the rustic, shabby chic style. Maybe a mix of that. But it's no big deal. We'll see what kind of house we find."
I finally felt like I'd figured him out. He was thinking about our future home. I knew we'd decided to avoid too much renovating, but maybe he'd changed his mind? But I didn't get to ask, because in the next second we saw Dom wave to get our attention.
"Over here!" he yelled as loud as he dared, without disturbing the other guests too much.
"Late again, I see," his boss commented with an unamused face, and I expected Aaron to apologize even though it was only a matter of ten minutes or so.
"I was busy screwing your wife again," he shot back, and both Shiloh and I gasped in shock. Then we stared at them when they started to laugh.
"So... Was that some kind of..." I started, and Shiloh continued.
Quentin gave her the most loving smile and placed his hand on her thigh, assuring her that everything was fine. And Aaron gave me a quick kiss on my cheek when he helped me get seated, and whispered into my ear.
"Wouldn't trade you for anything."
An instant blush crept up my neck and settled on my cheeks, and I couldn't hide my smile. How was he able to do that? With a few words or a simple look, and I was like putty in his hands.
"We just ordered some baguette slices with warm brie cheese and oregano, as an appetizer. I hope you'll like it," Olivia said, and handed me a menu. And together with Aaron, we scanned every dish on the list.
"Sounds great. I love brie," I said, and Aaron gave me a disgusted look that made us both crack up. Olivia obviously caught on and giggled.
"Let's not mention her tonight, okay? Or ever," Aaron muttered under his breath.
"I bet the food will taste amazing no matter what it's called, so let's just call it that. Food."
Then he pointed at one of the dishes on the menu.
"Look! Confetti canary. They're serving canary birds with confetti on the side."
I facepalmed before I started laughing.
"It's 'Confit de canard', silly. And it's not a canary. It's duck."
Aaron got a devilish glimpse in his eyes.
"Say that again," he murmured.
"What? Confit the canard?" I giggled, and he made the low growling sound he knew caused a little chain reaction in me.
"I never really liked French, but I just changed my mind. You need to read me a story before we go to bed tonight. A French one. The dirty kind, added with French kisses and openings..."
Olivia cleared her throat.
"Let me remind you that you're in public, Aaron," she said strictly, but I could see the humor in her eyes. Her fiancé who was sitting next to her looked completely lost. I don't think he got this kind of humor, and neither of us wanted to explain it.
"Anyway!" Aaron exclaimed and continued to go through the menu, but he didn't have any suggestions at all. So I shoulder bumped him to make him look up.
"What do you want to eat?"
"Pussy," he purred into my ear, and my body instantly responded with another flush of anticipation.
"That's for dessert," I whispered, slightly paranoid that Olivia would hear that as well. She didn't, though. Neither did the rest, since they were busy listening to something funny Dom was trying to say. And I say trying, because his attempt was actually funnier than the point of the story.
Aaron gave me a slight pout.
"If you insist... Oh, alright. Then I want your boob."
"My boob?" I whispered. I knew he enjoyed making me flustered and embarrassed, so I braced myself for the worst. Although worst... Crazy would probably be a better word, because damn.
"Yep," he replied nonchalantly, almost a bit solemn.
"Because there's gonna be milk in them soon."
"Aaron! You're disgusting!" I coughed out, but he looked totally unaffected even though Olivia giggled. Yep, she'd heard that one.
"And charming," he snickered and winked.
"Can't argue with that, can you?"
He smirked and I made a face while I discreetly slapped his arm.
"Mmmm. Sassy. I like that," he murmured with a seductive half-smile.
"I honestly have no idea how you put up with him," Olivia said and shook her head. And when Aaron turned to me with a severely exaggerated kissy face, she laughed.
"My point exactly," she stated. But I couldn't help but to give him a little peck and pinch his cheek.
"Lucky for you, you're too adorable to be mad at," I giggled. Then I gave him a squint and leaned in to whisper into his ear.
"But you better behave, big baby. Or else..."
Of course... I should have known that he'd react the opposite way to my threat.
"Yes! Let's go home then. I want the 'else'."
Everybody around the table stared at him in confusion, and I pulled him back down to sit.
"Don't mind him," I said, and the embarrassment was so evident that it felt like fireworks were shooting up through my cheeks. Thank God for dim lighting. So to distract both myself and others, I suggested a random dish from the menu.
"That's what I'm talking about!" Olivia immediately shot in.
"I was telling the guys about it earlier today, because that dish is nothing but a serious gastronomical climax."
Aaron chuckled, but kept his mouth shut for once. Thankfully, because the waiter came with the appetizer and took our drink orders. Wine for everyone except for Shiloh and I. We both ordered Pepsi max and gave each other knowing grins. And with that, the evening was set.
After dinner we went to one of Aaron's favorite pubs. According to Dom it was because they had his favorite whiskey, but Aaron protested and said it was the atmosphere. Then Dom commented something I didn't hear, which caused Aaron to scowl at him and tell him to shut up.
"Do you wanna hear a joke?"
Aaron turned to me with a lazy look and waited for me to answer. He was slightly tipsy, but I found him cute anyway.
"Sure," I said, and waited for him to tell one. But...
"Yeah, me too," he mumbled, and stared into the almost empty glass he was holding in his hand. Then he lit up.
"Oh! I know a good one."
Olivia came back from the restrooms just when he was about to start, and signed that she wanted to sit down between us on the Chesterfield-like couch we were sitting on. The pub was pretty full, but we were lucky to get a table to ourselves, thanks to Aaron who pretended to be so drunk that he was about to vomit over the two ladies who were sitting there. Poor ladies.
I almost didn't feel sorry for him when security came and threatened to kick him out. They obviously bought his fake drunk act, and told the bartender not to give him anything with alcohol in it, which almost caused Aaron to throw a fit. He calmed down when Dom promised to buy him whatever he wanted without their knowledge. It also helped that I told him that he wouldn't be getting any sex until next week if he didn't behave.
"Do you know what kind of fruit Batman loves to eat?" Aaron asked, ignoring his colleague's attempt to interrupt. He didn't even wait for my response, before he continued.
"Banana-nana-nana-nana... Batman," he sang, and snickered smugly.
"I see you've already got your dad jokes ready," Olivia teased, and I giggled. Then she ordered him to move and pulled him up.
"Get lost, Aar. I'm borrowing your girlfriend the rest of the night."
"Mmm," he grinned mischievously and wiggled his eyebrows.
"Only if I can watch."
Olivia just rolled her eyes and pushed him away, and I giggled at their interaction. They seemed to know each other well, and therefore acted more like siblings than actual colleagues. I totally understood why he didn't want to change jobs and move to New York. These guys were unique. And even though I was several years younger than them, I still felt included in the family.
"Shiloh!" Olivia yelled, and frantically waved her hand to make her come too. Yvette was already sitting next to her, and she made Dom leave so Shiloh could have his seat. The girl mob was officially founded.
"I'm actually so impressed," Olivia started and looked at me.
"I almost don't recognize him."
"Who?" Shiloh asked, when she came close enough to join the conversation. The music wasn't too loud, but the buzzing and laughing from people talking around us made us have to sit really close to hear each other, which should have felt awkward. It didn't.
"Aaron," Yvette explained.
"And I totally agree. Do you have some magical witch spell you'd like to share? I would like to whip Dom's ass once in a while.
I almost laughed out loud. Maybe that's exactly what she should try? A whip?
"No, I don't," I giggled.
"But seriously. He's always been so irresponsible and rowdy, bragging about all the wrong stuff. You know... The women..." Yvette said, trying to put things in a way that wouldn't offend me, but Olivia was a little more outspoken.
"He literally hit on everything looking slightly female. And now look at him. He's like goddamn puppy."
All of us turned our focus in the direction of where Dom and Aaron were standing close to the bar. They'd obviously met someone they knew and had cracked a joke, because they were laughing so loud that everybody could hear. But as if Aaron had noticed I was looking at him, he met my gaze and gave me one of his usual warm and slightly cocky smiles.
"See? That's exactly what I'm talking about!" Olivia exclaimed.
"He really is a different person," Shiloh agreed, and it made me feel strangely proud in a way. I don't know why though, because I hadn't done anything.
"So, you're the Morons now?"
Yvette snickered and rubbed her hands eagerly, as if we were sharing the hottest gossip in years.
"What?" I laughed, and Olivia looked like a question mark for a moment. Then she obviously puzzled the pieces together while she mumbled to herself.
"Morons... Oh! You combine Martina and Aaron. But... That should be maron, though," she objected, but Yvette just rolled her eyes.
"Or Artina," Shiloh suggested and giggled together with the rest of us. But Olivia gestured with her hands to make us listen.
"Wait. He calls you Bambi, right? So maybe Baron? Arti? Barbie?"
"Will you stop?" I choked out. I was laughing so hard my cheeks hurt and I even had to wipe a couple of tears.
"Can't beat ours, though," Yvette said proudly.
"We're the Dominettes."
I laughed even harder. This was too funny.
"Try to come up with something for Quentin and Shiloh, please, because all I can think of is Shitin," Olivia groaned, and Shiloh snorted so loud it sounded like someone was strangling her.
"Oh, my God! You're horrible, Olivia! That's not romantic at all," Yvette wheezed.
"What about yourself? What's your boyfriend's name again?" Shiloh asked, and Olivia immediately corrected her by holding up her hand.
"His name is Sean and he's now my fiancé. Sorry, I forgot to tell you."
"You're engaged?" she squealed and immediately attacked her with a hug.
"When's the wedding?"
"Next summer. But with the pace Marty and Aaron are keeping up, they'll get married, have eighteen kids, a house, a Volvo and three dogs, and ship all those eighteen kids off to college, before I even manage to find my gown."
I slapped her elbow and glared at her, but it ended up making the joke even funnier.
"But to be a little more serious, girls. I was wondering if you could help me with that," Olivia said, and actually managed not to laugh.
"With what? Finding a gown? Are you crazy? Of course!" Shiloh exclaimed, but hesitated when Olivia held up her finger to sign that she wasn't done.
"...and if you would like to be my flower girls?"
My good mood dropped a bit, because I didn't expect to be included in that. I mean, I barely knew her. But I was wrong, because moments later she leaned forward and placed one hand on Shiloh's stomach and one on mine, and smiled.
"These two will probably steal my thunder, but whatever. I don't mind."
I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed. The thought of my little baby girl dressed in the cutest wedding outfit was too much to handle. I tried to keep myself from tearing up, but my bottom lip was trembling so much it gave me away.
"Awe, look at you," Olivia cooed and placed an arm around my shoulders.
"I'm sorry. It's those damn hormones," I mumbled and fanned myself, as if that would work. I thought it would be hard to make new friends when I moved here, but it turned out that it wasn't. Far from it.
"Osean!" Yvette exclaimed and snapped her fingers, and all three stared at her. Then we looked at each other and burst out laughing. She was obviously still stuck at the name blending. And while the conversation moved on with laughter and general gossip, I got a friendly shoulder bump from Olivia.
"You're okay with that, right? Being a flower girl?"
My smile probably told it all, but I said it anyway.
"It will be an honor."