My daughter in law

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Ch. 72: Ribbon

I swear I'd never been more embarrassed in my whole life. They knew. We stayed at a hotel for a couple of hours for one reason only; to have sex. And everybody knew! But the worst part was that I would do it all over again. I would try to be less angry of course, but I couldn't really help it. Aaron sure brought out a part of me that I didn't even know of before I met him. Still, his sudden and unreflective idea was exactly what we needed.

I kept asking about the surprise all the time we were driving back home, but no matter how much I pleaded or threatened, he didn't budge. His lips were sealed. And when he took a detour to pick up some food, I seriously considered to turture him by making him hard and desperate, which probably would have worked if it wasn't for the fact that we both were pretty drained on that field. At least for now.

"Is it something for the baby? No, wait. It's a scarf! Those are flat if you unfold them, and they can be pretty fluffy too."

"It's not a scarf," Aaron sighed exasperatedly, and unlocked the door to the apartment. He tried to appear laid back about it, but I could see he got more and more on edge, until he suddenly dumped the bags of takeaway food in my arms. Bags he'd insisted on carrying from the car. Then he told me to wait in the kitchen while he checked on something in the living room. Whatever that was.

"Argh, I hope our new house has more open space. Then I would see what that sneak is doing," I muttered to myself while I placed the bags on the kitchen counter. I had no idea what to expect since Aaron was the true definition of unpredictable, but at least I knew he wasn't planning a proposal. With a past like his, I knew his faith in marriage was non-existent. Especially after what happened in the courtroom earlier today.

"Aaron?" I called out.

"Just a minute!" he replied, and I heard he was busy doing things that made me lose my mind from curiosity.

"Do you wanna eat here or in the living room?"

"In here! No, wait..."

He mumbled something I couldn't hear, and was about to ask when he finally told me to come. And when I saw him, he was standing in the middle of the room scratching his neck. Then he clasped his hands together and gave me a weird, toothy grin.

"So I... Uhm..." he stuttered. Then he cleared his throat before he suddenly turned away and shushed at something.

"I was planning on doing something else first, but I don't think he'll shut up long enough not to ruin the surprise, so..."

"Shut up? Who?" I asked, confused. But instead of answering, he took a step aside and revealed a big box with a giant ribbon on it standing on the floor.

"It's... Uhm. I've been feeling really guilty about you staying at home alone without anything to do."

"Oh, I forgot to tell you! I'm taking online classes now. Just to freshen up to continue my degree," I interrupted proudly. It wasn't much, though. I didn't even have books. Only e-lessons and quizzes online. But it was enough for now.

"You are? That's great!" he smiled, but was still clearly tense.
"So... I know we haven't really... Shh!"

Again he got distracted by whatever it was inside the box, and it was first now I discovered that it had holes in it. And I was so sure I heard a little whimper. Wait a minute...

"We haven't discussed... Shh!" he said again. Then he suddenly gave up.
"Argh, just open the damn box."

So I did.

Two adorable brown eyes and a black snout met me when I opened the lid. Then two paws when he tried to jump up, and a tail that wagged so fast that his whole body was shaking.

"Oh, my gosh! A puppy!" I exclaimed.

"I can't believe it! You bought us a dog? He's so cute! Do you see how cute he is, Aaron? It's a he, isn't it? He has a... Yep, definitely a boy," I giggled when I looked between his legs.

"What kind of dog is it? Does he have a name yet? Oh, my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! So incredibly cute!"

I kept ranting in sheer joy while I picked up the little bundle of energy, who immediately attacked me with kisses. Aaron chuckled and patted our new family member on the head.

"Yes, it's a boy, and his name is Sailor."

"Sailor? That fits him perfectly."

Then I kissed his head and giggled when he returned it tenfold. Then I did like everybody else does when they see any kind of baby animal. I started cooing like a crazy person.

"Yes, it does. You're a brave little pirate sailing on stranger tides, aren't you? Yes, you are."

Aaron just smiled and put his arm around my shoulders, while he looked at the both of us with such love that it brought me close to tears.

"He's a spaniel, a cavalier to be exact, and he's twelve weeks old," he informed.

"Awe. You're just a baby," I squealed and hugged him.
"Gosh, his fur is so soft."

Then I frowned and looked at Aaron.

"I thought you said the surprise was flat and fluffy?"

"Oh, that... Well, perhaps not fluffy, but at least he's furry. And the flat part comes next."

I looked around to see if I could spot anything, but since I didn't know what to look for, I didn't get any wiser.

"See, I was wondering if you were okay with living here for a while?"

"Uhm, yes? I just moved here from New York. What do you mean?" I asked, a bit bewildered.

"No, I mean in this apartment. I know it's not very practical living on the third floor with a elevator that only works when people have sex in it."

We looked at each other and laughed awkwardly.

"It's only for a year or so."

"Yes, yes!" I exclaimed to make him get to the point. And he finally did.

"Good. Are you ready?" he asked, and I nodded impatiently.

"Okay, here goes nothing," I heard him say to himself. Then he swallowed and guided me to the couch, still with little Sailor in my arms. And while I sat down, he went over to the bookshelf and grabbed a roll of paper.

"Before you say anything, I just want you to know that I'm fine with whichever you choose. And we can make adjustments if there's something you miss, and remove oth..."

"Aaron! I'm dying here! Just let me see what it is."

He rubbed his neck and took a deep breath. This was obviously a big deal for him, and his hands were actually trembling when he rolled out four sheets that left me stunned.

"Our future home," he said proudly. Then he corrected himself.
"One of them. I mean, if you like them. Or one of them. But like I said, we can add or remove whatever you... Huh?"

He got confused when I suddenly got up and walked to the window. Nope. It was still there; his precious Mustang we arrived in.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Just checking."

"Checking what?"

"If your car suddenly had turned into a Volvo."

He looked mortified for a moment.

"A Volvo?" he burst out, which made me laugh.

"A house, a dog and a baby on the way. The only thing missing is a Volvo."

"You want a Volvo?"

"Absolutely not. They're probably great cars, but that's not what I said. It's just... Can I take a look at those again?" I asked, and sat down next to him to study the four incredibly detailed sketches a little closer. They almost looked like pictures of real houses.

"Why aren't you saying anything? Don't you like them?" he asked, clearly worried. He had no reason to be, though. I'd been close to tears because of the puppy, but now? Big, salty tears were streaming down my face, and poor Sailor sensed that something was wrong, and immediately tried to make it better by licking my cheeks.

"No."

"Oh."

The disappointment was clear, but I just stared at him until he realized how I really felt.

"I love them, Aaron."

I blinked away a few tears that made my vision blurry and threw myself around his neck. Then I kissed him until he protested.

"Careful with our two treasures," he chuckled, and I started bawling.

"Oh, my God. I love you so much."

"I love you too, Bambi, but please don't cry."

"No, you don't understand. You're the most incredible man on this planet. You drew us a house. No, four houses!"

He gave me a half-smile, and it was one of those rare moments where he seemed shy.

"That's what I do for a living, so..."

"Yes, but still. Do you have any idea what that means to me? You even included the wooden mahogany door from the restaurant."

I struggled to find the words. I kept looking at the four quite different houses and tried to envision our future in one of them.

"Yeah, it was actually what made me decide to go for it. I don't want us to spend a lot of money on a house that never will turn out the way we really want. If we're going to buy a house, it might as well be a new one that is built to fit us."

I probably looked like I was in shock, and in a way I was. I sniffled and wiped my cheeks, while Aaron told me about each of them in turn.

The first house was very modern looking and quite minimalistic, and it gave an illusion that the walls were made entirely out of windows. It looked like several boxes put together in a quite fascinating way and it had a clean appearance. Almost sterile.

The beautiful backyard he'd included softened it, though. It contained neatly groomed bushes and small trees planted in groups together with what appeared like miniature oceans of colorful flowers. There was also an area surrounded by a low fence, and he told me that we could grow vegetables there without kids and dogs ruining them. I definitely wanted a garden like that.

Unfortunately I didn't love the house. I mean, it was both majestic and an eye-catcher, but I just couldn't see us living there. It was also the only one that didn't have the mahogany door, simply because it didn't fit in.

The second house was quite similar to my childhood home; a cottage inspired house with old-fashioned window shades and a garage that almost looked like a tiny barn. Very charming, but still not it. But the two next ones were both hot candidates.

One of them was a light grey villa where everything was on ground level, which would be practical in case of fire. I loved the symmetry of the building and the tall, narrow windows, although some people might think it looked like an old school. It kind of did anyway.

The garden was clearly Japanese inspired and complimented the total impression of the building. Nevertheless, I still favoured the first garden better.

Since everything was on ground level, there was a solid fence that surrounded the entire property. And not just a flimsy wooden fence. No, it was a solid brick wall that was painted white, and iron gates that Aaron told were quite high-tech. It didn't need a lock or a remote. It actually remembered the car by scanning the number plate, and opened and closed by itself.

The last one was an Italian oasis. The color was golden yellow, almost orange, and had windows with an arch on the top. Parts of the building were on ground level, whilst others had two stores. And everything was beautifully connected with a patio where the roof also functioned as a veranda. There were also a couple of small balconies, and a garage that was integrated with the house as an extension of the building.

It looked huge, but according to the floor plan it wasn't any bigger than the others. But it had an advantage, though. A pool. One that had a sitting area right next to it, with three walls and the same rustic roof as the house. The arches from the windows were repeated in the transmission between the walls and the roof, which completed the total impression of the property.

All four houses had their interior designed to match the exterior, and I must admit that I fell head over heels in love with the Italian kitchen and the elegant staircase in a matter of seconds.

"I'm absolutely flabbergasted," I said and Aaron was eager to hear which one I liked the most. So I pointed at the minimalistic house and bit my lip. I didn't know which one he preferred, but he did say that he was okay no matter what I chose. I just hoped I didn't hurt his feelings.

"This one... I'm not sure if this is the one for us."

I was surprised when he drew a sigh of relief.

"All the windows will make me feel like we're at display for the entire neighborhood, like we were some kind of public artwork."

He gave me a mischievous smirk.

"We would give them entertainment for sure," he murmured and wiggled his eyebrows.
"...when I bang you up against every wall and piece of furniture in the entire house. I mean good porn is artwork too."

"Pervert," I mumbled and rolled my eyes, and he chuckled.

"This one looks a little too much like my parent's house," I proceeded and pointed at the cottage house. Then I was quiet for a while, and I noticed that Aaron gradually became more nervous again. Until I pointed at the Italian dream.

"This one. I want this to be our home. And please don't change anything."

I paused for a moment and my gaze went back to the first one.

"Except... Can we have that backyard?"

Aaron smiled and looked happily surprised.

"Of course we can. And depending on the plot of land you pick, we might have room for an entire garden surrounding the house, and not just a backyard."

"We have more than one plot to choose from?"

He had a self-satisfied grin.

"Three. You can pick."

"But how can we afford all of this?" I asked, suddenly worried. I sure didn't have that much money.

"Don't worry about it. I already know I'll get a nice price when I sell this apartment, plus I have some life savings. Then the bank will pay the rest."

I shook my head and interjected.

"No, it doesn't. I have some money, too. From Rocco and I's old apartment. And I insist on paying my share, if not I don't wanna go through with it."

"You don't?"

"No. It has to be fifty-fifty. You know, since we're not..."

I bit my tongue. I didn't want to make him feel bad about his decision about marriage. I'd accepted that and was honestly fine with it.

"I just want economical safety for the future and equality in our relationship, that's all," I finished, and it seemed like Aaron fell into deep thoughts.

"Are you okay with that?" I asked eventually, and he nodded.

"Of course I am. I just hadn't thought about it that way, because..."

He searched me with his eyes and I struggled to understand what was going on in his mind. Did he really think that I was going to live off of him?

"Because I haven't thought of a future without you. I can't."

Oh, no. Here comes the tears again. And what he said next didn't make it any better.

"Do you see these flowers?"

He pointed at the ones in the garden I wanted.

"I'm actually really glad you liked this one, because those flowers are there because of you. They're like miniature meadows of wildflowers."

I raised my eyebrows when he paused with a tiny smile.

"That's you. You smell like a meadow of flowers."

"I do?" I giggled, surprised. He just kept smiling and studied me while I admired the drawings yet again. Yes. I could totally see us living in the Italian home, with a garden that... Well, one that smelled like me.

Aaron wrapped his arm around me again and kissed my temple, and I leaned into his chest. Sailor had fallen asleep in my arms and both of us looked at him, then at each other and back at him again. We didn't have to say anything more, because both of us knew that we'd be happy no matter where we ended up. Our new decision was only a bonus.

"So... I got a text from Rocco earlier," Aaron said after a while in comfortable silence.

"Yeah?"

"He's staying over at Hunter's tonight."

When he didn't say anything more, I tore my gaze away from our sleeping puppy, and was met by a smart grin and eyes that sparkled devilishly.

"Okay? That's good for him."

"Just good? You know what that means, right?" he asked, like there was only one obvious answer. And when I didn't catch on, he cocked his head and gestured with his hand.

"We can have sex all night!"

"No way!" I exclaimed, and made him look at the little fur ball in my arms.
"Sailor can't sleep alone on his first night here."

He probably sensed that we were talking about him, because he opened his eyes and yawned in a way that ended with a little cry.

"See? That poor pup misses his mom."

"But..."

"It's just the first week or so. Maybe two."

"Another two weeks without sex?" he exclaimed, frustrated.
"Because of a dog?"

"He's not just a dog, Aaron. He's a baby."

"Yes, but he's not a human baby," he whined.

"Of course he isn't. But a puppy is a lot of work the first few months until he adapts to his new environment. He has to learn not to pee on the floor or chew on things that aren't his toys. Haven't you had a dog before?"

"No."

His facial expression showed that he clearly didn't think things through until now. And when realization hit him, he reached for the remote and turned on the TV, while he pouted like a child. I had to bite my lip not to laugh. He was just too adorable. Then he mumbled something to himself that I heard anyway.

"Great. You didn't just give your girlfriend a dog so she wouldn't be bored. You gave yourself a friggin' cockblocker. Idiot."


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