NICK: Bee Buzzed
It had been a few days since we’d come back from London, and Bee and I hadn’t spoken. I was pissed she got home so late, wasted at that, and she was pissed because…who the hell knew why she was pissed? I did not understand women, and I had no desire to understand them.
“Why the hell do you keep hanging out at our house when you have your own?”
“I need your help.”
“Laney, you are starting to bug…”
My cousin whined, “Donovan won’t make it here till right before the wedding, Doug is taking his last final, and everyone else has wife, kids, or a fiancée to tend to. You’re my only helper.”
“What d’ya need?” I asked with resignation.
“Could you help me take all these clothes over to Bee’s? They all need some sort of adjustment.”
“Damn. Must you women make such a big deal out of what should be a simple day of professing your love to one another?”
“Nicholas!” The way she kept calling me by my full name bugged too. “It’s our wedding day. The day we girls have dreamed about since we could walk in heels and wear a tiara.”
“I don’t think Jane ever walked in heels or wore a tiara, Laney.”
“Well maybe so, but Jane is going to be just as neurotic about her wedding as I am right now about mine. Are you going to take me over to Bee’s or not?” She was starting to get more than annoying. She seemed to think I was her slave.
“Give me your phone.” Surprisingly she did as I asked, and I dialed Donovan’s number.
“What are you doing?”
“Calling your fiancé.”
“You can’t do that!” she complained. “It’s late over there. Don’t bother him. He’s tired.”
“Hello Princess! Is this a phone sex call?”
“Sick!” I spit out. “I didn’t need to hear that.”
Laney took the phone from me. “Sorry, Donovan. That was Nick. How are you, Honey?”
Damn. I didn’t need to be listening in on their conversation. Laney was giggling away and smiling bright. I had to admit, she lit up when she spoke to her fiancé. It was a sweet look.
“Let’s go!” I pretended to complain.
“Oh! OK!” she answered me but continued speaking to Donovan. “I have to go to Bee’s to get your suit altered. I’ll talk to you tomorrow? Are you busy?”
Damn cousin of mine yapped the entire drive to Bee’s. “Why couldn’t you have done this on your own?” I asked but got no response. She didn’t give a shit what I’d asked.
“I can’t do that!” she suddenly answered with fake horror. “Nick is in the car!”
“Shit. Will you get off the damn phone? I don’t need to hear your sex talk.” I pulled the phone from her ear and told Donovan, “Hey. I don’t need to hear sordid details. Will you guys cut it out?”
Donovan let out his usual arrogant laugh. “Do as I did and give in. She’ll make you insanely happy. Your belly will feel full without eating, every thirst will be quenched without a sip of water, and your whole damn body will be warmed without fire. That’s what a good woman will do for you!”
“You working for Hallmark, now? You sound like a poet—a bad poet.” I had to give in and laugh with him.
“Let me give you the same advice your brother gave me when I was fighting my attraction to that gorgeous woman sitting next to you. Don’t make her cry! It’ll come back to bite you in the ass and haunt you till you make it right.”
“With advice like that, I can see why it took so long and so much effort to win over your fiancée.”
“But in the end, I did.” Now Donovan got all Mr. Serious Lawyer on me. “Bee is very special to me. Because Grandpa had her late in life, she never had siblings. Though we treated her like a sibling, there was an unspoken distance after Grandpa died and Bee’s mom withdrew from the Taylor family. She’s strong, she’s outspoken, and she’s gifted. Don’t crush her spirit, Nick. If you don’t want a relationship with her, walk away, and do your best not to hurt my aunt too badly. Got it?”
“Yes, Sir!” I answered Donovan in mock-salute. I had to admit, what he said bothered me—a lot.
“Hi Auntie!” Laney hugged and kissed Bee in a most over-the-top manner when we arrived at her loft.
Bee rolled her eyes. “Whenever you’re extra sweet, that can only mean you need my help.” Many minutes later, when she chose to notice me, Bee grunted a greeting.
“Just a few alterations for the wedding. I thought I’d bring it over to you rather than having you trek all the way to my house. Speaking of house, I need to go buy more stuff for our house. Are you free to go to The Design Center with me? I can’t shop there unless I have my interior designer with me.” Bee and I both knew what was coming. “I’ll buy you dinner at your favorite restaurant on the Westside.” She spoke in her sweetest Cinderella voice.
“I guess you don’t need me anymore?” The front door was steps away from me but she grabbed my arm and pulled me back into our “huddle.”
“Nick.” She whined like a ten-year-old, again. “Who will take me home after dinner? I can’t ask Bee to drive me all the way home after a full day of shopping, eating, and drinking.” My nice-guy split-second hesitation spelled my doom. “OK, then! I’ll take that as a yes! Can you two excuse me for a second? I’m going to go upstairs and talk to my man about a few things. It’ll only take a few minutes, or ten.” She ran off and left us to converse.
Bee waited briefly. When she didn’t get whatever it was that she was waiting for, she went straight to her sewing machine to finish what she’d started. She left me in the middle of the room to feel like an idiot.
“You seriously going to make me stand here and twiddle my thumbs?”
The way Bee glared at me, that wasn’t the right thing to say. “Well, since the bedroom is being used by your cousin, who’s probably having phone sex with my nephew, there’s nothing else I can do for you. Isn’t that the only reason you come here?”
Dammit! This is why I don’t want a woman! “Why are you busting my ass? You’ve been like this since the morning we left London. What the hell did I do wrong?”
This comical woman went back to sewing and sewing hard. She revved up the monster-sized sewing machine as if she was driving a souped-up muscle car. If that’s how she wanted to play it, so Bee it! I wouldn’t fall prey to her mind games.
It was a long, silent ride to The Design Center and an even longer afternoon shopping for curtain fabrics and wood samples for kitchen cabinets. I thought I might slice a finger or two on one of the heavy kitchen appliances in order to escape the inevitable trip to the marble section at this place. Why the fuck did I need to sift through different white Carrara marble samples?
“It pissed me off that you could care less that I went off with Beau. It was as if you wanted to get rid of me. It was petty of me not to speak with you since then. I was acting like a foolish woman, mad at a man who doesn’t consider me anything more than a quickie.”
Finally she spoke! But what she said hit me hard. When had I become such an asshole to this woman…any woman? I had always thought of myself as a nice guy, never stepping on anyone’s toes. Was I taking my desire for freedom too far? Regardless of what I thought about marriage, I liked this woman.
“Would it make you feel any better to know that I waited up for you till you came home, drunk, from your date with Beau?” She held her lips tight doing her damnedest not to show any emotion. “And that I paced our bedroom for a good half-hour wondering if I should force you back to our bed, or if I should just join you in yours?” Those tight lips cracked into the tiniest of smiles. “And as much as I want to strangle that Cinderella cousin of mine with her never-ending happiness, I was never gladder to be her driver and slave today so I could see you.” That did it. Her smile gave me enough of a drunken buzz to lean in and kiss her. I could see Laney’s splitting grin from my peripheral vision but I didn’t give a damn. I’d brave the “I told you so” lecture for this sweet time with Bee.