Marriage by Law

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34

I waited, and waited, or it seemed like I waited but it was really just a few seconds before, once again, he surprised me.

He smiled, took a bite off his ice cream and turned around walking.

It took a moment before my heart calmed down and it registered that he smiled, a full smile that reached his eyes.

“Come on, Aluminium. If you get sick again, Marge will kill me,” he said, looking over his shoulder. I looked at the ice cream that was running down my fingers and, dare I say it, some on his coat from my fingers and I wiped it off quickly.

“Wait,” I said, confused, as I caught up with him and realised how much of a normal man he looked like. Eating ice-cream and carrying bags.

“This is actually good. Want to try it?” he offered.

“No.”

“But it’s refreshing. I got it so your taste buds don’t explode with those extremely sweet and overpowering flavors,” he said, confused.

“No. I mean, you’re not angry, or annoyed, or something. I don’t know.” I was feeling frustrated.

“Why would I be? I didn’t own you. Well, I do now but that was before I knew you and who you dated is up to you. And did you really think I didn’t know?”

“You knew?” I asked in surprise.

“Your face. You’re not subtle, are you?”

“What?”

“The way you said it was so hilarious. You can’t expect me to not laugh,” he said, and then paused, and then chuckled like he was remembering it. He found this funny, he found this bloody funny. Well, it wasn’t funny to me.

I was so afraid of what he was going to say. I was expecting him to lash out. I don’t know, be angry with me. I would rather he’s angry with me now then bring it up in the future that I didn’t tell him. Well, I freaking told him and this was what he did, laugh?

“What?” he asked as he licked his ice cream, staring at me.

“You’re not going to say anything?”

So he knew. He knew who James was and he still wanted him to be his business partner. Was he doing it on purpose? Making your wife’s ex your business partner, it was like shoving it in her face, saying I don’t care about you.

“I am,” he said, taking the plastic bags.

I waited. Well, what was he going to say?

“I’m going to think twice before letting you borrow my jacket,” he said, nodding at the pocket where I was sure half the scoop melted onto. With that, he turned around and headed back the long lane to the taxi stop.

Well I was bloody confused as I stared at his back before I remembered how to walk and rushed after him.

“So nothing,” I muttered as I followed him, stopping also when he stopped to say goodbye to some of the stall sellers.

“Nothing,” I snapped, narrowing my eyes. I worried for bloody nothing. Nearly got myself a heart attack.

So what, was he testing me?

Left me in the same room with him, what did he expect? For me to cheat so he can break the damn contract and move on? Is there even a plausible way to break the contract?

I nearly bumped into him as he stopped for the taxi but caught myself the last moment, steadying my feet and getting in after him. I scooted to the window, shoving the buckle into the hold and looking out the window to try to get my thoughts together.

I didn’t get him.

Did that mean he was still going to take James as a business partner? He doesn’t need to. After one year of ‘marital bliss,’ our companies forged as one. That means he doesn’t need a partnership again.

Unless he was going to use this against me and get a divorce, very plausible. That thought really unsettled me. It brought me dread. Do I want him to get a divorce? Do I want a divorce?

No.

And that answer scared me. Maybe once I had thought there was no way we were going to survive the rest of our lives together. I mean, he was in another bloody country, for god’s sake.

And when he came back from his training, I hated him. I hated him a lot. And then I got to know him, or whatever little I found out about him, and somewhere along the way I think I started to like him, a lot. It wasn’t some stupid high school crush either.

“Are your hands sticky?”

“What?” I asked, looking at him. He waved his long fingers in the air, frowning at them.

“The ice cream. I think it made my fingers sticky.”

I didn’t know what to say. Maybe because more important matters were freaking pressing in my head. I slowly turned my head away, wanting something to break in frustration.

I just wasn’t expecting him to take it so easy. Or light.

Sure it wasn’t a big deal. But why do I feel like it was?

The rest of the journey was quiet, even as I followed him into the elevator and to our room.

“You go on ahead. I’m going to give these to Adrian and see if he got back.”

Whatever he said barely registered in my head as I walked into our room, going right for my pyjamas and going into the bathroom.

I felt like a robot as a million thoughts went through my head. He laughed. How was I supposed to respond to that.

Do I just get over it tomorrow and go back to how things were? He knew and the whole time he didn’t even say anything.

For god’s sake, my ex-boyfriend and my husband knew each other before I knew they knew each other and acted like best friends. Am I missing out on something here?

“Hey, you’re wearing pyjamas for once.”

I looked at him as I placed the jacket on the chair and then placed my hands on my hips, confused. I felt like a frozen doll.

“What?” he said after I continued to stare at him.

“I’m expecting you to be saying something and you’re just okay with it?” I asked, still confused. “I mean, fine, we don’t even know each other well, but I just told you that your future business partner is my freaking ex boyfriend and you’re not even interested in the details. Did you leave us together to check if we still had feelings or something? I don’t get you. One minute you act like you hate me, and the next minute you give me a bloody peacock I wanted. You knew and you never asked me about it? How on earth did you know anyway? Not to mention that –”

“That’s the longest phrase you have said yet.” He looked so amused and I stopped talking, throwing my hands in the air in frustration.

“Did you even get anything out of what I just said?” I snapped, storming to the bed. I just wanted an answer, or something, maybe a damn explanation. He knew, and he didn’t say anything.

“Is this our first fight?” he said, smiling.

“I give up.”

I pulled the blanket and climbed into bed and shoved my face in the pillow. Why do I even bother trying?

If he wants a divorce, I’ll give him a bloody divorce. He can have the company as well. I was never even interested.

It was a solid half an hour, or it felt like that, before I felt him climb into the bed and heard him switch off the light. I stayed as still as I can, pretending to be sleeping, when all I wanted to do was probably smother him with a pillow.

I felt him move and drape a heavy arm over my stomach and I stilled when I felt his breath near my neck.

“So, I take it you like the peacock?”

“Shut up,” I said, lightly nudging his rib with my elbows to try to get him away from me. The peacock wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.

He didn’t get away. I could still feel half his heavy body on me and I opened my eyes, only to end up staring into his.

“What?” I said, narrowing my eyes at him and feeling like a child who was pissed off for not getting her trip to the circus. Which happened, I never got to go.

“Want to know why I didn’t say anything?”

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