I’ve done it! I’ve found a cheap red wine I actually like!
I’ve done it! I’ve found a cheap red wine I actually like!
𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐟𝐦 + 𝚛𝚊𝚒𝚗𝚋𝚘𝚠 𝚔𝚒𝚝𝚝𝚎𝚗 𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚙𝚛𝚒𝚜𝚎
featuring @jxckv, @rxdley, @rangerjack, @singingofwoesfm, @mxhlon, @outcastfm
Things Tory did while drunk last night:
tied Johnny’s socks into a chain of socks and then stole all of the left ones
texted her boyfriend and asked if he was single, got super offended when he said he had a hot girlfriend until she realized SHE is the hot girlfriend
told Hawk she would “give him the good corn” because birds like corn but then she thought she offended him because he’s “a vegan bird” and vegan birds don’t eat corn???
cried because $5 footlongs are no longer $5
WHEN: Late Afternoon-ish Before Her Interview WHERE: Twelve
It's too much for anyone to deal with, the weight of the world. And yet every year, mentors feel nothing but that. It isn't their world necessarily, but the world of the tributes, the weight of an entire District's grief and despair should things not work out in their favor. And it usually doesn't. Not for families on the Seam.
This year is different. This year comes with the additional pressure of reaped loved ones and missing stylists -- it comes with rolling death. How many have lost their lives already? The Games haven't even started yet.
Trick question. The Games never stop.
Regardless, she understands Griffin better now. The weight of the world is no joke. She's been tempted to drink too.
He is sitting at the table by himself when she approaches him, only this time there's nothing in front of him. No spaghetti, no chocolate eclair, no glass of whiskey. There's nothingness and it speaks volumes. She doesn't sit across from him. No, she drags a chair directly beside him and sits on the very edge. Her eyes implore him to start the conversation, but he doesn't. She can't blame him for that. What is there to say?
"You're not fighting this battle alone, kid." Her hand finds his forearm with ease, with a comfort that has grown with their relationship. Fava is more affectionate than she realized. "How's Sage?" She's wanted to check herself, but hasn't been able to with Wren in the state that she's in.
07﹕ sender wraps their arms around a hysterical receiver to calm them. @bythieves. accepting.
𝙰 𝚂𝙿𝙸𝚁𝙸𝚃 𝚆𝙸𝚃𝙷𝙾𝚄𝚃 𝙼𝙸𝚇𝙴𝚁 𝙸𝚂 𝙹𝚄𝚂𝚃 𝙿𝙰𝙸𝙽 𝙸𝙽 𝙰 𝙶𝙻𝙰𝚂𝚂. an old adage, once spoken by a friend held so dear, curdles in her mind ––– and maria has put the proverb much to the test. vodka glistens on her lower lip, burning the taut column of her throat. she’s drunk, because she has to be, because she urges for something more. that insidious desire for something stronger, it calls out from the back of her mind, pulsating in her veins, singing its sweet-sour song of glorious temptation. and how tauntingly easy it would be to give in. no need to source anything, no need to even search for that euphoria when it’s always but a hair’s breadth away.
and yet. her feet have taken her elsewhere, to salvation in another form. as she studies him, even in her intoxication, maria can’t will herself ignorant to why her heart as led her to vic in particular. because isn’t he so very close to what she longs for, now? an unwilling synonym to the vices her heart screams for; but something so much more profound, too. this is not the first time, so very far from it, in fact, that maria has noted the parallel between vic and he who she mourns ––– benny’s laughter, she hears it sometimes in vic’s. benny’s teasing, she feels it sometimes when vic nudges her playfully in the ribs. her heart wrenches, wrenches for the both of them. for benny, who she couldn’t protect, taken too soon by plans beyond her control. and for vic, so very loved, and so very nearly lost.
crying is a close companion of hers ––– an unfortunate byproduct of a life so fundamentally sad. and yet, the magnitude of her tears always manages to surprise her. they surprise her now, when they start to cut hot, ceaseless paths down her cheeks ––– a strangled sob, not burned away by the vodka she’d been counting on doing the job, arising from her throat, her lips. she tries to rein herself in, put a stopper on this awful hysteria. but the more she tries to manage it, the more behemoth her agony becomes. she clutches her heart, palm flat over her chest, perhaps trying to will it together, perhaps trying to yank it straight out.
“ vic, ” she starts, between gasps, in the graceless lull between sobs. she feels his arms wrap around her, and the sheer affection of the gesture nearly undoes her entirely. she almost wants him to squeeze her so tight, that the force of the action overwhelms the heartbreak rapturing inside. but it’s the gentleness of the action that holds the true power ––– a safety so singular, a salvation so rare, that it encourages her tears all the more. “ i need, i need––– ” stuttered and stumbled over, the answer to her words evades even her. something, something she can’t quite wrap her fingers around. he’s always been one to comprehend her abstractions, though, so she settles on a quite simple, entirely understandable, always to him: “ help. i need help. ”
@tencfswords (Phil and Cadebra)
Phil didn’t know where he was, but he was certainly more than a little drunk, and was not of the most human mind. Half-feral, the slobbering man lumbered and staggered around in a hunched form, soft grunts and gurgles escaping his hung-open maw. A hand halfheartedly scratched at his face as tired eyes rolled to analyze the landscape, sickly drool dribbling down past his lips. Though his expression displayed more of a dazed and stupid confusion, he was afraid.
He groaned pleadingly as his gaze met with someone in the distance.
tw: alcoholism. tw: addiction.
hey Garrett Anon, it's me, O. and uh you sent this to my best friend after she made it perfectly fucking clear in her last answer to your last ask that this is not a subject she can talk about.
you're saying you're not trying to come off shaming them or him but it's really sounding like that when you say things like, 'thankfully none of his mistakes led to permanently injuring/disfiguring somebody,' and 'this has been practically unreported.'
it wasn't under reported. it was two years ago. congrats on you groundbreaking journalism, somebody get the Pulitzer Prize for our nonny over here.
respectfully, you seem like you need to work a lot of shit out for yourself. stop putting other people on pedestals or trying to get other people to form your opinions for you. stop putting paragraphs of unhinged, triggering shit into other peoples' inboxes. go to therapy and stay the fuck away from my friends.
Pairing: Nile Dok x F!Reader (Modern AU) Word Count: 9.4K Warnings: swearing, reference to a drunken hookup, alcohol, discussion of divorce, implied drunk sex, mention of vomiting, fake relationship, smoking, slight dry humping, fingering, cum play/finger sucking, commanding Nile, spanking, rough sex, use of “good girl,” seven-year age gap A/N: Thank you so much to @stigandr-the-cat, @whats-her-quirk, @titan-fodder, and @lady-lauren for reading this. ❤️ IF YOU ARE A MINOR, DO NOT INTERACT!
You’ve had the worst luck so far on this trip. Not only was your flight delayed, causing you to miss your connection in Denver. But the airline lost your checked bag, leaving you standing in the Las Vegas airport with nothing but your purse and your carry-on.
And as if things couldn’t be worse…
“Can we go to the hotel now?”
You turn and scowl at your companion, who happens to look cool as a cucumber. Of course he does. He’s not missing three-quarters of his wardrobe.
Out of all the people in your office to be sent to this conference with you, it had to be the most obnoxious of them all — Nile fucking Dok.
“I guess I’ll just go shopping later,” you grumble, hauling your bags over your shoulder while Nile follows, his single carry-on bag gliding behind him.
“I never check a bag for this reason.”
“Is that right?” Your voice is mocking in its astonishment. “Maybe you should start a travel blog with all that useful knowledge.”
Nile huffs, and you smile bitterly as the two of you step outside into the dry desert heat. He’s quick to flag down a taxi, and you spend the short ride to your hotel in total silence, seeming to unnerve your conversational driver.
It’s only for a week, you remind yourself. It’s practically your new mantra — the only comfort you can find in the face of spending day after day with your nemesis.
Maybe that’s overly-dramatic. But since your first day on the job, you and Nile have butted heads. He’s stern, sarcastic, and uptight, whereas you’re friendly, earnest, and flexible.
Well, you’re friendly with most people. You pretty much threw that option out the window for him the day he called one of your reports “sloppy.” It was color-coded. With tabs. And an index, for fuck’s sake.
From that moment on, it’s been a war of attrition between you both, a year and a half of snippy remarks and tongue-in-cheek retorts.
When your boss had told you Nile would be accompanying you to a leadership conference in Vegas, one you had felt honored to be chosen to attend, you wondered if it was some kind of test. Or maybe everyone was just betting on who would come back alive.
You’re eager to part ways once you’ve checked in at the Venetian, trying to allow its gilded fountain and extravagant frescoes to soothe your irritation.
But once again you’re reminded: Luck is not on your side.
“I can’t believe my room is right next to yours.” You punch the numbered elevator button with excessive force, refusing to look at Nile. But you can see his borderline-smug smile in the wall-to-wall mirrors, and you feel your blood pressure rise in response.
“It’s not that surprising. They were booked at the same time.”
Incapable of letting things stand, he idly remarks, “Hopefully your snoring doesn’t keep me awake.”
You gape at him. “My snoring? You’re a sleep study waiting to happen.”
Nile’s gaze sharpens. “Or should I be worried about your TV volume? Think twice before renting anything inappropriate. It all goes onto the company bill.”
You’re fairly certain steam is going to start leaking from your ears at any moment. “Just say porn, Nile. Or does that massive stick up your ass have a parental lock on it?”
Mercifully, the elevator doors slide open, and you march out into the hall, jamming your keycard into the reader a little too forcefully once you’ve found your room. You think you hear Nile chuckle just before the door slams behind you.
You drop your bags and step into the bathroom, reluctantly meeting your own gaze in the mirror. On the other side of the wall, you can hear Nile moving around. It’s both strange and reassuring, to have something separating you.
Because the last time you and Nile were in a hotel together, you drunkenly hooked up after the company Christmas party.
And the awful truth is… you enjoyed every minute of it.
The next few days pass torturously slow, your mornings and afternoons filled with presentations and networking breaks, while your evenings are spent decompressing from the monotony.
You manage to avoid Nile the first night, grabbing something to go from a café near the hotel casino and making a beeline for your room. But the next day, he suggests dining together.
“It’ll make the expense report less of a hassle, having just one bill.”
Of course that’s all it is. And why should it be anything else? You bristle around him like a feral cat, and he’s so cold towards you, you wonder if you’ll end up with frostbite.
Conversation is stilted as you eat your respective sushi rolls. Nile’s sipping a whiskey on the rocks, while you’ve ordered what has to be the most ostentatious drink on the menu — a neon blue concoction with pineapple slices and a paper umbrella slipped in for good measure.
To his credit, Nile says nothing, though his lips quirk up a little every time you struggle to balance the large glass in your hands.
The next evening, however, he’s more talkative. Over a shared pizza and some overpriced beers, the two of you colorfully roast that day’s opening speaker, whose motivational quotes stuck with you for all the wrong reasons.
“And the guy who spoke right after — shit, he was just as bad.”
You nod eagerly, thanking your server as she drops off a fresh pint. “Yes. And didn’t you think his voice sounded like that guy from the eye drop commercials?”
Your voice drops an octave as you imitate the speaker’s monotonous tone, and Nile snorts, narrowly avoiding spitting beer all over the table. “Oh god, you’re right... How did I miss that?”
As your shared laughter dies down, you lift a slice of pizza to your mouth and give him an appraising look. “I like this version of you.”
“Oh yeah?” Nile raises an eyebrow. In the dim light of the restaurant, his face looks even sharper. Anger has occasionally spurred you to liken him to a weasel. But it was more of a defensive distraction, something to keep you from having to admit how handsome he really is.
High cheekbones, a perpetual five o’clock shadow that accentuates his jaw, and dark eyes you usually find yourself avoiding, if only because you might stare for too long and give yourself away.
“You seem more relaxed — well, right now, at least.” You take a too-big gulp of your beer before continuing, bolstering your courage. “And I feel like you’re easier to talk to. You haven’t insulted me in at least twenty-four hours.”
Nile seems to consider this, resting his chin on his hands. “Maybe it’s because you finally dropped the Little Miss Perfect façade and started having fun.”
You scoff. “What does that even mean?”
“You’re too nice.”
“Too nice? How is that a bad thing?”
“It’s annoying.” He picks up a slice of his own and takes a bite. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who sees the real you.”
You’re struck by his comment, your pizza halfway to your mouth as you struggle to process. That can’t be true. It’s not like you fake it with everyone else at work.
But at the same time, you’re not exactly an open book. It’s much easier to say, “No problem!” in the wake of a coworker’s mistake than to confront them about it, or be honest about how much additional work it just piled onto your plate.
And sure, you have a professional self and a private self. But doesn’t everyone? Maybe not… Now that you think about it, there don’t seem to be many differences between this Nile and the one you’ve verbally sparred with for over a year. It just feels different, now that you’re out of the office.
“Ah… Gotcha.” He smirks, and you resist the temptation to throw your crust at him.
“Don’t look so smug. It’s not like I’m an asshole or anything.”
“I never said that.” His voice grows more serious, his lips twisting into a frown. “But nobody expects you to be perfect or happy all the time. So why pretend?”
His words play on repeat in your head for the rest of the night, even after you’ve showered, brushed your teeth, and turned on the Weather Channel for soft background noise while you fall asleep.
Turning onto your side, you huff, tugging the covers up to your chin. You hate when Nile’s right, even just a little bit. While you think he could stand to improve his own social skills, you know you have a tendency for people-pleasing, even when you should stand up for yourself.
You wouldn’t exactly call each other friends. It feels like he should barely know you. And yet, spending day after day in the same office, coordinating tasks and collaborating on presentations… It’s brought you closer than you expected.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. You suppose there’s some truth to that. But is Nile really an enemy? Or has he simply been challenging you to shed your compliant exterior and be more truthful to who you are?
On your last night in Vegas, you and Nile decide to celebrate. This time, while you put your meals on the company tab, you splurge on your own and buy several rounds of shots, followed by mixed drinks at a little tiki bar that sits like an island in the midst of the casino’s sea of slot machines.
For the first time, Nile talks to you about his ex-wife, Marie. Of course you’ve heard office gossip — college sweethearts who barely made it through two years of marriage — but it’s different hearing it from him.
“We were young and thought we knew what we wanted.” He shakes his head, sucking on a slice of lime after his latest tequila shot. His words are beginning to slur, and he’s leaning close enough that you can smell his cologne.
“But we were dumb kids. It wasn’t working, so we just…” He throws up his hands. “Called it quits.”
“Marriage is hard work,” you sagely reply, ignoring the fact that the room is starting to tilt. “Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.”
“It is!” Nile rests his cheek in his palm. There’s still a trace of salt on the back of his hand, and you’re struck by the sudden desire to lick it off... Must be the tequila. You take a few desperate sips of water.
“And if it’s not the right person, it’s just shit, y’know?”
You nod emphatically and regret it, laughing as you lose your balance and tip forward on your barstool. Nile catches you against his chest, his arm warm and firm around your waist.
“But Marie wasn’t shit.” His voice is quieter now, just loud enough to be heard over the pulsating music. “She deserved better than me.”
“Don’t say that.” You try to grab his arm as his motions to the bartender for two more shots.
“Why not?” Nile looks down at you, his face unnervingly close. “You might not be an asshole. But I am. Right?”
Although you join him for another shot, the familiar burn of alcohol penetrating your drunken haze, you can’t remember if you answered his question.
And after that… You remember nothing at all.
You wake up the next morning feeling like you’ve swallowed the whole desert. Coughing drily, you peel open your eyes, blinking against the onslaught of morning light.
Momentarily panicked, you check the time on the nearby alarm clock. Luckily, it’s still early, leaving you with plenty of time to sober up before your flight home.
Your head is pounding. You need water. And aspirin. And possibly a heart-to-heart with the toilet before either of those can happen. But as you attempt to roll yourself out of bed, your limbs feeling heavy, you realize three things in slow, hungover succession.
One: Instead of the business attire you wore last night — a sensible blouse and gray slacks — you’re now swimming in an oversized t-shirt… and nothing else.
Two: This is not your hotel room. While the wallpaper remains the same, the artwork hanging to the left of the TV is completely different.
And three: A man’s arms are wrapped around you, a large hand slipped beneath your shirt and lazily holding one of your breasts.
“What the fuck?” Your words are hoarse but loud enough to rouse your companion. You turn around, lying flat on your back, and find Nile beside you, looking just as dazed and confused as you feel.
He’s shirtless, which makes an unbidden heat spread down your neck, and his dark hair is messy, made even more so when he runs a hand through it.
“This feels like déjà vu,” he mutters, blinking down at you. But then he stops, his hand frozen midway through his shaggy undercut.
You watch as he slowly removes it, holding it close to his bleary eyes, and then he exhales shakily. “Shit.”
“What? What’s wrong?” You’re still a little dizzy, shielding your sensitive eyes from the harsh light filtering through the curtains.
But when Nile grabs your hand and holds it aloft, turning it this way and that, you notice a glint, something shining in the glare of daylight…
Your eyes dart back and forth between the gold band on your finger and the matching one Nile wears on his.
After emptying the contents of your stomach, you stumble back into the room to find Nile examining a piece of paper. He offers it to you, sounding stunned as he simply explains, “Marriage certificate.”
You stare at it, and there your name is, followed by his. It’s official. There was even a witness, someone whose name doesn’t ring a bell. Probably a complete stranger. That’s how these things go, right?
Retrieving your phone from your purse, you navigate to your camera roll — and then you groan, catching Nile’s attention. Seeing his questioning look, you weakly tell him, “There’s photos.”
He stands beside you, arms tightly crossed against his chest as you scroll through the snapshots. At some point, you wore a glittery sash and a white veil hastily clipped into your hair. There’s you and Nile standing in front of an officiant —
“Jesus Christ, it’s Elvis,” Nile moans. “Not even a convincing Elvis.”
— you and Nile holding hands while exchanging vows, you and Nile kissing —
“Oh god, you can see our tongues.”
— and you and Nile drinking from tall glasses of champagne.
“Well, that explains the splitting headache,” you mutter.
Nile sits down beside you on the bed, scrubbing at his face with both palms. “What a shitshow.”
“I guess talking about marriage and doing way too many tequila shots are a bad combination.” You’re not even sure if you’re trying to make a joke. You have no idea how to handle this situation. To be honest, you’re probably still in shock.
“Can’t we just… get an annulment?” You worry your bottom lip between your teeth. “That should be easy enough, right?”
Nile lifts his head and stares so intently at the wall, you wouldn’t be surprised if it spontaneously crumbled under the pressure. But then he turns to you, looking more thoughtful than panicked.
“Actually… Hear me out. I have a proposal.”
It’s only later that the irony of those words — I have a proposal — hit you. But they’re the reason you find yourself standing in the office break room the following Monday, stumbling through a borderline interrogation about the ring still firmly on your finger.
“I think we should stay married — at least for now.”
Your mouth dropped open. “Are you — What? Why?”
“We work for a bunch of misogynistic assholes, and I’m trying to get a promotion.”
“And you think being married will increase your chances?” You didn’t know whether to laugh or reach out and shake him.
Nile’s frown deepened. “They’re all about family values. You seriously haven’t noticed the way they treat the married people on staff? It’s traditionalist bullshit, but if it helps me climb the corporate ladder high enough to jump into a better position someplace else…”
“Well, aren’t you slick?” Your words dripped with sarcasm, and Nile sighed.
“Maybe. But to be honest, it’ll probably help you, too. It’s not like you want to stay there forever, right?”
Sure, you knew your company had some conservative board members, and a president whose yearly addresses always emphasized family — to an almost obsessive degree. And Nile was right. You weren’t planning on staying there long-term. Not by a longshot.
“I guess I’m just skeptical, that’s all.” You twisted the ring, still unused to its presence. “You’d have to, what, pretend to be in love with me? When really, that’s the complete opposite of how you feel.”
Nile opened his mouth, looking momentarily indignant. But he hesitated, his expression shuttering before he quietly replied, “Yeah, well… I guess I’ll just take a page from your book, huh?”
You should have said no right then and there, your heart and ego both feeling like a bruised peach. But now here you are, trying to pull off the biggest, most consequential lie you’ve ever told.
“I just don’t get it. You two have always been at each other’s throats!” Petra looks mystified, staring down at your ring as if it might vanish — a clever trick or a waking dream of some kind.
“If anything, that’s what brought us together,” you insist, and it’s not completely untrue. During your trip, the two of you did bond over your little skirmishes, poking fun at your respective preening.
“They do say opposites attract,” Nanaba muses, tapping a finger against her lips. “It’s just so sudden.”
Hitch smirks. “I’m not surprised. I figured it was only a matter of time after the Christmas party.”
Your cheeks heat as the other two women whirl on her. “What? Did they —”
“You’re not wrong.”
Nile’s voice startles you, and you turn to find him leaning in the doorway, a faint smile tugging at his lips.
“Sweetheart,” you drawl, your tone saccharine sweet even as your eyes launch daggers at him. “Don’t go sharing all our secrets.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, darling.”
You’re surprised yet again when he lifts his hand and swipes his thumb across the corner of your mouth. “Coffee,” he explains, and you can hear the fervent tittering behind you at the small yet intimate gesture.
As the day continues, you both continue to play pretend. When he walks over to your cubicle to ask a question, Nile’s hands rest on your shoulders, his lips close enough to your ear to give you goosebumps. While he waits for copies at the printer, you walk up and rub his back, asking if he’s already submitted your notes from the conference.
In a way, it’s as if the cold war has thawed, evolving into an entirely different type of warfare. Now it seems that each of you is trying to one-up the other, every touch, every loving look, and every fond, fabricated memory told to rapt coworkers an opportunity to gain the advantage.
You guess Pat Benatar was right. Love is a battlefield.
Although most everyone, from your managers to your respective coworkers, seems to have bought the lie, one person immediately sees straight through it.
“Look out,” Nile warns, ducking in close to grab a paper cup while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew. “Erwin knows.”
You roll your eyes. “You told him? I thought we agreed —”
“He didn’t have to tell me.”
Reluctantly, you turn to find Erwin Smith watching you with a bemused smile. He’s one of your company’s top salesmen, and he spends a good deal of his time at trade shows and other corporate events. Not only is he charismatic and persuasive, but he’s also classically handsome. The combination makes him incredibly effective at closing even the toughest deals.
He also happens to be Nile’s best friend, a fact you haven’t been able to wrap your head around since you first learned it. Apparently, Erwin provided a glowing recommendation when Nile first applied, talking up his various talents. But what you’ve heard through the grapevine is that he felt your division was in desperate need of someone unafraid to mince words or play devil’s advocate.
“You’re both doing a wonderful job,” Erwin insists. You grab your coffee and lean against the counter, elbow brushing against Nile’s as he crosses his arms and scowls.
“But…?” you venture.
Erwin chuckles. “I seem to recall Nile swearing off of marriage. In fact, I’m fairly certain he hates weddings in general, even when he’s only a guest.”
Nile huffs, but he doesn’t disagree, and Erwin’s grin widens. “Don’t worry. I’ll keep your secret — for a price.”
Your mouth drops open. “Are you blackmailing us?”
“Of course not. Would I do something as awful as that?” Erwin steps closer, lowering his voice. “But I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if you took my place on the annual company camping trip.”
Nile groans. “Are you kidding me?” He gives Erwin a halfhearted shove and stalks over to the Keurig. “Drop the dramatic act and just ask us like a normal fucking person.”
At that, Erwin laughs. The mischief clears from his face, leaving only an apologetic smile. “Sorry, sorry… I was just having some fun. Seriously, though, I hate getting dragged to that every year.”
“Then maybe you should rethink being the poster boy of the sales division.”
Erwin ignores Nile’s snide remark. “And if you’re trying to get onto management’s nice list, it’s the perfect opportunity.”
“If we’re going, so are you.” Both men look surprised by your proposition, but you simply smile. “Misery loves company, after all. And I’m sure Nile doesn’t want to spend another whole week stuck with just me to keep him company.”
Nile’s expression is unreadable, and Erwin seems on the verge of saying something. But when another coworker wanders in, looking for paper towels, it disrupts the moment, and each of you scatter in separate directions, returning to work.
Later that night, Nile texts you. He’s right about the camping trip. Is that ok with you?
Sitting cross-legged on your couch, you tip your head back, staring up at the ceiling in silent contemplation.
Two months. You have two months between now and then. Two months of making your accidental marriage as convincingly-intentional as you possibly can. Then, after the camping trip, annual reviews will be just around the corner. And if you both hear some good news, maybe you can dump the whole charade and finally get a divorce.
You’re surprised when you notice that, the whole time you’ve been thinking, your fingers have been twisting your wedding band back and forth. But you ignore it and text back a short Yep, wondering what the next eight weeks might bring.
One thing you don’t expect is for Nile to drag you into a supply closet a few days later.
“What are you doing?” you hiss, hearing voices round the corner outside. In the dark, you can just barely make out his agitated frown.
“I need to talk to you.”
“Right next to the Lysol? What a cozy spot.”
It’s a tight squeeze for you both, your shoulder wedged up against a shelf and Nile’s body mere inches from yours. You can smell the spearmint on his breath, along with the faint hint of cigarette smoke.
“We have a problem,” he grits out, his body tensing as another group passes in the hall. “Marlowe in HR just asked if one of us needs to update our home address.”
Nile sighs, apparently frustrated by your slowness. “Because we’re married. And married couples usually live together.”
You keep quiet while silently berating yourself. Yet another oversight. Damn. At this rate, the two of you will be found out in no time.
“Okay, so… What do we do? I mean, the lease is almost up on my apartment, but I…” You trail off, noticing Nile’s thoughtful stare. “No. Absolutely not.”
“It’s not like we’d sleep in the same bed! I have a spare room.”
“And how long am I supposed to live with you?” You close your eyes, willing yourself to calm down before quietly adding, “This was all a stupid idea...”
“Maybe. But we’re in it now, like it or not.”
You’re surprised when Nile’s hand settles on your shoulder — enough to open your eyes and look at him. The comforting gesture has your heart pounding harder in your chest, but you try to push away that realization as he outlines his proposition.
“Move in with me. Think of it like having a roommate. I own the house outright, so it’s not like you need to pay rent or anything. You can save some money for your next place.”
It’s not the worst plan. But if the two of you are prone to bickering during work hours, what’s going to happen when you’re in close proximity non-stop, all day long? Regardless, he’s right. You’ve both made this mess, and now you need to see it through.
Luckily, a friend is able to take over your lease. And moving day is less stressful than you anticipate, partly due to the helpers Nile managed to recruit.
His options were limited, considering the situation. It’s no surprise that Erwin is one of them, showing up bright and early in a t-shirt and old jeans. And soon after, you’re introduced to Miche, the third member of their friends-since-childhood trio, and Levi, who’s deceptively strong despite his slighter build.
That evening, the five of you eat takeout in Nile’s living room, sprawled over any available surface as a soccer game plays in the background. You’re glad Nile is occupied trading halfhearted insults with Levi, or else he might notice your too-frequent glances.
You have to admit, it’s becoming a problem. You could chalk it up to the fact that you’ve gotten to know him better as of late, giving you an opportunity to see sides of him you never expected. His sharpness remains, as does his sarcastic sense of humor. But he seems to have softened towards you — genuinely, not just as a performance for nosy coworkers.
And, most unnerving at all, you’ve been reminded how attractive he is. You had fleeting thoughts in Vegas (at least while sober), and of course your drunken hookup came out of an initial physical attraction. But he’s been especially distracting as of late. Watching him lift heavy boxes in a fitted t-shirt did nothing to help that, your eyes almost helplessly drawn to the hard lines of his biceps and forearms —
Blinking, you look up to find Nile peering at you with concern, a piece of broccoli speared on his fork.
“Yeah! Fine. Totally fine.” You busy yourself with your lo mein, hoping you don’t look as flustered as you feel. “Probably just tired.”
“In that case, we should head out and let you lovebirds get some rest.” Erwin grins as he stands and stretches, and you give into the urge to raise your middle finger in his direction. He merely chuckles.
After all three men have left, there’s a silence that seems to stretch on for far too long, before Nile finally clears his throat.
“So, uh… If you need anything, just tell me. But I think you know where everything is by now?”
You nod. “Yep. I promise I won’t go poking around your basement murder room or whatever.”
He sighs. “I told you, it’s just storage.”
“Yeah, well, it’s spooky as shit. Maybe I’ll add sprucing it up to your honey-do list.” You waggle your fingers at him as you walk away. “G’night, hubby.”
Nile makes a retching noise, and you laugh more loudly than you intend, a traitorous warmth spreading down your neck.
Living with Nile takes some getting used to. It’s been years since you lived with a roommate, and it’s an adjustment, to say the least.
You learn he’s not a morning person, incapable of even light conversation until he’s had a cup of coffee. He’s a decent cook, which you had already guessed based on the meal-prepped containers he reheats at lunch.
Although he settles into the routine of you both sharing the kitchen, the first time you notice him rearranging the bowls you loaded into the dishwasher, you tease him, which of course leads him to bring up your growing pile of laundry.
“I’ll get to it,” you snap, ignoring him as he huffs out a laugh.
Truth be told, the reason you’ve insisted on doing your laundry separately is because the first week you were there, Nile threw everything into one basket — and had to handle your underwear once everything was dry.
When you saw the neatly-folded lacy panties atop a pile of t-shirts and sweatpants, you grew unbearably hot with embarrassment and resolved to not mention it.
He’s almost obsessive about keeping the house tidy, with the exception of books. He leaves them lying in random places — the kitchen counter, the couch, the yoga mat in his workout room, the small table next to the front door. For whatever reason, he’s incapable of reading only one at a time, and he uses stray receipts and business cards as bookmarks.
One of his more annoying habits is taking very long showers. You know it’s unfair to complain. You enjoy relaxing, leisurely baths. Is there really that much difference? But without fail, he always occupies the bathroom when you want to use it, almost as if he’s trying to be a nuisance.
The two of you nearly collide one evening — you, intent on having a little at-home spa night, and him, eager for a shower after his virtual cycling class.
You’re very conscious that you’re wearing a bathrobe and nothing else, and Nile… He’s dressed in athletic shorts that cling to his damp thighs, and you’ve caught him midway through lifting the hem of his faded college soccer t-shirt to wipe away the sweat on his face.
Your eyes are almost magnetically drawn to the glimpse of muscle, dark hair dipping below the elastic waistband of his shorts —
“Do you mind?”
Your head snaps up, thinking he’s referring to your wandering gaze. But he nods toward the bathroom. “If I shower first, I mean.”
“That depends.” You cross your arms, mostly in an effort to ground yourself and remain focused on his face. Definitely not his broad shoulders, toned arms — Stop it. “You gonna use all the hot water?”
Nile rolls his eyes. “No. Cold sounds better right now anyway.”
A less perceptive person might have missed the way his own eyes lower, seeming to fixate on the peek of cleavage visible as your arms tug the plush fleece down a little further.
There’s a joke poised on your tongue, ready to ask if the temperature choice is for an entirely different reason than his workout. But you find yourself hesitating — actually enjoying the way he swallows hard before turning away.
It’s not the first time he’s looked at you like that. You’re sure that by now, several weeks into your new living arrangement, he’s caught you doing the same. And yet, neither of you has said anything. No mocking comments or sharp jabs. In a way, it feels like you’re both waiting for the other to crack.
It doesn’t help at all that your workdays are spent in happy couple mode. For the most part, you maintain your usual levels of professionalism. But there’s the occasional arm around the waist, brief brush of lips against your cheek, your hands reaching up to lovingly straighten his tie. Every calculated display of affection feels different now, your chest tightening with each tender touch.
Am I falling for my own act?
Things seem to come to a head when your coworkers throw a surprise party for you both, to belatedly celebrate your marriage. There’s a sheet cake decorated with pink flowers, a card signed by everyone, and plastic glasses of sparkling cider, since you’re still on company property.
You’re startled when a loud, familiar voice speaks over everyone, saying, “Let’s hear it for the newlyweds!”
As people whoop and clap, you meet Erwin’s devious gaze, and he smiles widely. “Kiss!” he calls out, and soon the chant is taken up by everyone around him, expectant looks turned your way.
Nile’s arm tightens around your waist, and you almost expect to see a frown when you look up at him. But much like you, he’s outwardly maintained his composure, only his eyes giving him away. Neither of you says anything, communicating silently — Are we doing this? Yes? — before he lowers his head and presses his lips to yours.
The cheers around you grow louder, but you barely notice, too focused on the heat of Nile’s mouth, the way his fingers tighten at your hip, how his other hand gently cradles your face. You don’t remember kissing him after the Christmas party, and you still can’t recall anything about your wedding night. But now, you wish you could. And when he pulls away, looking dazed and a little flushed, you wish he would kiss you again.
When you’re finally able to escape for a few minutes, hiding in a bathroom stall, thinking about his soft lips, the feel of his stubble against your face, that heated look in his eyes… you realize you haven’t fallen for your own act. Because it was never really an act to begin with.
Time slips by faster than you expect, your weeks spent balancing new projects at work and a sudden influx of social outings. Now that you’re no longer single, it seems like you’ve been inducted into a club you never knew existed.
You and Nile are invited to a couples golf outing, and while you would much rather swing a club than sit in the golf cart with the other wives, gossiping about people you don’t even know, you smile and laugh and watch, out of the corner of your eye, as Nile endures his own form of torture, taking stance pointers from the regional manager.
The next week, you attend a dinner party at the sprawling house of one of the higher-ups, some financial officer or lawyer. You lose track as the evening wears on, too many faces and names to keep everything straight. When it’s not-so-subtlely hinted that the two of you should host a dinner of your own, you both draw up a plan of action during lunch the next day, bickering over the shopping list.
And apparently, your hosting skills are deemed acceptable, because then it’s dinner at the country club, more golf, poker night for Nile, tea and sandwiches for you... “It’s all so Stepford Village,” you grumble one night, massaging your feet after they’ve spent the day shoved into one of your only pairs of heels, and Nile nods in weary agreement.
You’re thankful to have him to lean on most of the time, the two of you sharing quick glances every now and then that reveal your true feelings, the shared boredom and annoyance a balm against hours spent making good impressions. And of course, you both unload once you return home, commiserating over glasses of wine on the patio while Nile stress-smokes.
“I think it’s working, though,” he says one night, leaning back in his chair and staring up at the cloudy night sky. “Zachary keeps mentioning how good a fit I’d be for a management position opening up soon.”
“That’s great.” You try — and fail — to tear your eyes away from his profile, illuminated by the gentle glow of the outdoor string lights. The mental image of you trailing your fingers along his jaw, your lips following close behind, startles you before you push it away.
“Pixis told me he’s impressed with my work. He might offer me a team lead role in marketing.”
“Oh yeah?” Nile turns, offering you a genuine smile, softer than you’re used to. “Look at us, playing the game.”
“I’m a little pissed that it’s working.”
Nile snorts. “Why? Because it proves what I said in Vegas right, or because you like being married to me?”
His tone is teasing, but his expression doesn’t seem to match, brow furrowed as he stares down at his cigarette. You’re not sure how to answer. Of course you’re indignant that it took becoming a “married woman” for some of your male coworkers to take you more seriously.
But deep down, you’ve come to enjoy spending time with Nile, the newfound closeness something you’re certain you would miss if it were to suddenly vanish, leaving you back where you started.
Before you can answer, Nile’s phone vibrates in his pocket, and he sighs as he pulls it out and opens a text. “We’ve been invited to have drinks tomorrow night — some fancy bar downtown, I think.”
Grateful for the distraction, you quip, “We better watch ourselves. Gotta leave bright and early Saturday for the camping trip.”
Nile groans. “Don’t remind me. At least Erwin’s driving us down there.” He stands and stretches, a sliver of skin visible beneath the hem of his t-shirt as he lifts his arms above his head. “We can sleep off our hangovers.”
But when the following night arrives, the two of you find yourselves surprisingly sober, instead watching as most of your managers drain glass after glass of expensive liquor.
“Jesus,” Nile mutters when Zachary lets out a bellowing laugh, nearly knocking over his chair as he stands and motions to the server for another round. “He might be comatose tomorrow. I’m 35 and would probably be passed out by now. He’s got what, 30 years on me?”
You shrug, sipping at your water. “Maybe he bought a new liver on the black market.” When Nile gives you an incredulous look, you explain, “He’s filthy rich, and from what I heard, he’s lived a wild life. Stranger things have happened...”
He laughs and seems on the verge of a witty retort when his gaze snags on something behind you, his expression quickly shifting into one of surprise.
You turn around and find yourself face to face with a beautiful woman. Her auburn hair falls around her shoulders, and the plum wrap dress she’s wearing hugs her ample curves. She offers you both a kind, apologetic smile. “Sorry to interrupt.”
“No, no, it’s fine.” Nile steps closer, standing between the two of you. He introduces you, and when you accept Marie’s offered hand, her eyes flick down to the one still hovering at your side, fixating on your ring.
Noticing the direction of her gaze, Nile clears his throat lightly. “She’s my wife.”
He’s said as much many, many times by now, to clients and coworkers. But the delivery of it now, to his ex-wife, hits you harder for some reason. And part of that is due to the quiet way he says it — not shameful, but almost… earnest.
“I can see that, Nile,” she replies teasingly. “But I’ll admit, I was wondering.” Marie looks slightly embarrassed as she confesses, “I’ve been watching you from the bar. Not for long, just a few minutes.”
She reaches out, gently placing her hand on Nile’s arm. “The way you look at each other… I’m glad you’ve found someone who makes you so happy.”
Nile looks momentarily stunned but quickly recovers. “Thank you. We should catch up sometime.”
Marie nods. “A double date might be fun. It’s been what, five years? Lots to talk about. And I’d love to hear how you both met.”
She says her goodbyes and returns to her small group at the bar, leaving you and Nile standing at your hightop in awkward silence.
“I think…” He trails off, distractedly running a hand through his hair. “I think I’m ready to call it a night. How about you?”
You’re glad the drive back to the house is short, because the tension between you feels so thick, it’s nearly suffocating. At several points, you feel compelled to say something, anything. But the words don’t come.
It’s not until the two of you have stepped inside, kicking off your shoes while Nile tugs his tie loose, that you ask, “Are you okay? That was a lot… Maybe?” It’s hard to gauge him right now, or tell how the brief conversation may have affected him. “If you want to talk about it, we can.”
Nile’s hair is a mess as he cards his fingers through it yet again before turning to look at you. When he steps in close, it feels like your whole body is humming, his presence like a gravitational pull.
“I don’t feel like talking.” His voice is low, his gaze heavy as it rakes over you, sliding from the neckline of your dress down to your bare legs, then back up again.
It’s only when you nod, murmuring a quiet, “Okay,” that he closes the space between you, fingers tangling in your hair as he crushes his mouth to yours. It’s a fervent, desperate kiss, and he groans when your lips part, walking you back against the nearest wall.
Slowly, half-staggering since you’re reluctant to separate, the two of you stumble towards the bedroom. His hands fumble with the zipper of your dress, while your fingers make quick work of his belt and begin on his shirt buttons.
By the time you fall back onto his bed, you’ve been stripped down to your bra and panties, and you hungrily watch as Nile sheds the rest of his clothes. As he steps out of his pants, you slide your hand down your stomach, fingers dipping town to tease at the already-damp lace between your thighs.
“Fuck…” Nile’s voice is tense, and he joins you on the bed, still clad in his boxer briefs. Pushing your legs apart, he leans over you, arms braced on either side of your head. With a roll of his hips, you can feel his cock press against you, the friction making you softly whine.
He kisses you again, and it proves distracting enough that you don’t notice one of his hands moving until his fingers slip under the waistband of your panties. He hums against your lips, and you gasp into his mouth when he slowly slips two fingers inside you.
“Is this okay?” he asks, breathless, and you nod, hands clinging to his shoulders as he pushes in deeper, curling his fingers just right. It’s like he knows exactly what to do, playing you like an instrument he’s avidly studied — and in a way, he has studied you. You’ve had sex twice, after all, and he’s always been a quick learner.
As his thumb plays with your clit, fingers keeping a steady pace as you squirm and sigh beneath him, you feel so thankful that you’ll remember this time clearly, because god, the sight of him above you might just make you cum even faster.
You can feel the coil inside you tightening, and Nile mutters close to your ear, “That’s it, baby… Cum on my fingers. You’re so fucking close…”
Dazedly, your hand reaches for his cock, palming it through the cotton of his briefs, and you’re rewarded with a pleasurable hiss. “Wanna cum on this,” you tell him, head angled to the side so that your lips brush against his cheek.
“God, shit…” His fingers begin to pump in and out of you at a quicker pace, his thumb insistently rubbing your clit as you tremble. “You want my cock so bad, huh? Want me to fuck you stupid?”
You whimper, then throw your head back against the pillows as you arch up into him, crying out as you tip over the edge. Nile swallows your sounds, his lips just as dizzying as the rest of him, and slowly, he withdraws his fingers, bringing them to your mouth as he leans over you.
“Open,” he demands, and you oblige, taking his fingers between your lips, your tongue swirling around them. Nile watches you raptly, spellbound by the sight of you sucking him clean. When you’re finished, he sits back on his heels and strips off your panties before standing and removing his briefs.
“Turn over. Hands and knees.”
It’s amazing, how obedient you are when he talks to you like this. In the office, whenever he’s demanding or rude, you’re quick to raise an eyebrow and call him out, your professional language doing little to conceal your irritation.
But here, in his bed, it’s different. As you kneel, feeling the mattress dip behind you with his weight, you can’t deny how pleasurable it is, to give into his control. And something tells you he might feel similarly if the roles were reversed.
You’re startled out of your thoughts by a firm smack against your ass, Nile’s large hand lingering, smoothing over the tender skin. “You’re so fucking beautiful.” Looking over your shoulder, you catch that reverent look on his face again, and it fills you to the brim with desire.
He softly grunts, stroking his cock before he reaches over and retrieves a condom from his nightstand drawer. You hear the foil wrapper tear, and moments later, he guides himself between your legs. His head teases at your clit before he begins to enter you. You can tell it’s taking a good deal of effort for him to move slowly, his hands clenching your hips as he pushes in, inch by inch.
But you’re impatient, rocking your hips as you plead, “Don’t hold back. I can take it.”
He hesitates for only a moment before sheathing himself fully, and you gasp when he reaches forward and forces your head down onto the bed. His hips find a quick, relentless rhythm, skin slapping against skin as he fucks you hard and rough.
“Is this what you wanted?” His free hand connects with your ass once, twice, and you whimper, arms braced beneath you until his hand slides under your throat, guiding you up until your back is pressed against his chest.
“You’re so goddamn tight,” he groans, face pressed into your neck as he fucks up into you, pulling you down onto his cock again and again. “So good for me, baby — my good girl. ‘M not gonna last if you keep clenching on me like that.”
Your head lolls back onto his shoulder as your body tenses, another orgasm quickly building. When Nile finds your clit again, his deft fingers teasing against the swollen bud, your eyes shut tight. “Nile… Fuck — P-please, want you to…”
“I know, baby.” The sudden shift in tone, tender desire bleeding through as his words crack, does you in, and you go limp against him. Moments later, his grip on you tightens, and he brokenly chants your name as he stills inside you, gasping to catch his breath.
After pulling out, Nile kisses your back and tells you to wait there, returning moments later with a damp washcloth and a pair of your pajamas. He seems confused when you shake your head after he’s cleaned you up — until you shakily walk over to his closet and pull out a t-shirt. He chuckles as you shrug into it, then pulls back the covers, beckoning for you to join him.
You should shower and brush your teeth and take your makeup off. But your body feels so pleasantly warm and weary, you can’t resist sliding in next to him and curling up against his chest. The last thing you remember before sleep overtakes you is Nile’s arms pulling you closer, solid and comforting.
The next morning, groggy and sore, you feel grateful that Nile had pestered you to pack your suitcase ahead of time. After finding yourself alone in bed and pushing away the disappointment you feel at that discovery, you freshen up and get dressed, walking out to the kitchen to find him sitting at the kitchen counter.
Nile looks up from his book and smiles, though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. He looks pensive. “Hey. There’s coffee, if you want some.”
“When have I ever said no to coffee?” you joke, but it falls into the silence between you, going unanswered.
Only after you’ve added a little creamer to your mug and taken a seat beside him do you quietly ask, “Was last night just… a distraction? Because of what happened at the bar?”
Nile’s eyes widen as he pushes his book aside. “What?”
“I mean, seeing Marie —”
“It was kind of weird, I guess,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck. “But it’s not like I still have feelings for her. We’ve been divorced for… shit, ten years now?”
“Okay, fair.” You bite your lip, unsure how to be tactful with your concerns. “But even so, was it… just sex?”
You have to know. Because even though that’s all it’s been in the past, last night felt different in a profound sort of way. And you’re desperate to find out if Nile’s on the same page, or if it was just some kind of release for him, a one-and-done type of thing.
When you glance up at his face, you’re stunned by the hurt you find there, his brow furrowed as he murmurs, “No. It wasn’t — not for me.” His hand shakes a little as he reaches for his coffee. “But if it was for you, that’s —”
He freezes, and you stare at one another for a moment before you open your mouth to explain further —
But then the doorbell rings.
Nile blinks, as if he’s snapped out of a trance. He pours the dregs from his cup down the drain before striding off towards the front door. “That’ll be Erwin.”
There have been many times over the past two months where you’ve felt exasperated by the tall blond man, but now, you’re struggling with the intense desire to punch him right in his perfect, smiling mouth.
Seeming to sense your frustration, Erwin shoots you a questioning glance while loading the suitcases into the back of his white Range Rover, and you simply climb into the car with a huff.
It’s the most painfully-awkward road trip you’ve been on, the unspoken things between you and Nile weighing heavily in the air. Erwin makes every attempt to bolster conversation. By the time you’re halfway there, with another hour to go, he gives up and turns on the satellite radio, defaulting to a jazz station before Nile switches it to a ‘90s alternative channel.
As if you didn’t already love him.
Love… Oh, shit. It’s the first time you’ve really admitted it to yourself, and you instinctively turn your head away, staring blankly out at the rapidly-passing landscape. When did that happen? You’re not entirely sure. Sometime within the past few weeks. But the seeds had been planted a long time ago, even before that fateful Christmas party.
You can only hope that Nile feels the same. From your brief exchange this morning, you want to believe he does. But hasty assumptions have never seemed to work out for you, and you’re feeling a little too vulnerable right now to handle a heavy disappointment.
We just need some time alone to talk about it. No big deal.
But that proves easier said than done. When you arrive at Sina Lodge, you find that it’s much fancier than you expected — more of a “glamping” situation than actual camping. You shouldn’t be too surprised, considering the luxury most of your company’s upper management seem accustomed to. But it’s still a little jarring when two bellboys take your luggage to your respective private cabins.
You’re escorted inside, where guests have already begun to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Wine and liquor are flowing freely, despite the fact that it’s barely noon, and before you know it, you and Nile are swept into conversation after conversation.
Lunch is served, and then followed by two straight hours of speeches that make you want to slam your head into the table. Every time you glance over at Nile, he seems to share your sentiments, doing a poor job of hiding his apathy.
More socializing, more drinking, more food… As the day stretches on, even Erwin looks weary, his million-watt smile dimming a little with every tedious tête-à-tête. Just as you’re contemplating faking a foodborne illness in an excuse to end the torture, Nile steps up beside you and leans in close.
“You’re looking a little tired, sweetheart. Maybe we should call it a night.”
You had hardly noticed the sun beginning to set, and you could cry with joy at his suggestion. You really are tired, and you’re practically vibrating with anxiety, ready to finally be alone with him and finish your earlier conversation.
Pixis, who was chatting to you about the French winery he visits every summer, gives the two of you a sly look. “Ah, young love…” You stiffen at his words, reminded of your epiphany in the car. “Enjoy your evening, you two.”
You gratefully suck in the cool air the moment you both step outside, and Nile does the same. He looks haggard as you follow the paved path through the trees, searching for the cabin the front desk attendant identified as yours. You peek at him in the growing twilight, trying to read his expression. But it’s hard to know what he’s thinking, his mouth drawn into a thin line.
As it turns out, however, you don’t have to wait long. The door has barely closed behind you, the two of you standing in the cozy living room of your small cabin, when Nile says, “It wasn’t just sex because I’m in love with you.”
You’re momentarily stunned, lips parting in a soft “oh” as he stares at you. To anyone else, his expression could be mistaken for anger. But you see the fear in his eyes, the nervous energy in his sudden pacing, as he continues, “I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while, but I didn’t — it’s not —”
Nile forces his feet to still, and there’s a faint flush in his cheeks as he reluctantly meets your gaze. “I’ve never been good at any of this. I’m… stubborn and abrasive, and even after we… the first time… I didn’t think it meant anything to you. But then Vegas happened, and I swear, I never meant for this —” he raises his hand, indicating his wedding ring “— to happen. But at the same time…”
He takes a deep breath, and you wait. When he finally speaks, his voice is quieter. “You’re smart and witty. You keep me in check, always calling me on my bullshit — and that must make you a fucking saint.”
He takes a step closer. “You’re not too nice. You’re perfect. And you make me want to be better. I know that’s clichéd, I know, but it’s true. You deserve better. And younger, and —”
You hold up your hand, and he falls silent. “Just when I think I’ve seen every side of you… For the record, you only have seven years on me, so stop acting like you’re an old man.”
You reach out and pull him closer, the hopeful look on his face making your heart ache. “Nile Dok, you’re a pain in my ass. But I love our stupid bickering, the way you push my buttons like nobody else…”
You loop your arms around his neck, and you can feel his sharp intake of breath. “The way you look at me when you think I don’t notice,” you murmur. “How much you really, truly care. That you push me because you know I can take it.”
Resting your ear against his chest, you can hear the rapid stutter of his heartbeat as his arms tighten around your waist. “I love you.”
You smile as Nile relaxes into you, sighing deeply as he presses his face into your hair. “Thank god,” he mutters, and you laugh. “You had me worried.”
“Like you said, I keep you on your toes.”
“I suppose I deserved that.” He keeps his arms locked around you as he walks you both towards the bed, falling back onto it and carrying you with him. He grins as you let out a squeak. “Does this mean I can take you on a date?”
You wiggle out of his grasp, even as he protests. “The fact that you even have to ask, after I just made a very heartfelt confession —” Your words falter when he reels you back against his chest, his hands splayed across your stomach and breasts.
“I’m happy to persuade you, if needed…”
You tip your head back far enough to meet his warm, mischievous gaze and smile. “Husband.”
----- Shhhhh. She fell asleep after her fifth glass of wine.
WHO: @rangerjack ( closed ) WHEN: 8 AM, saturday morning following this thread WHERE: mccreary house
No one could afford the $500 fine, but the fuckhead knew that. Mahlon suspected that was the point: to save the gas money -- and to pass the buck on work he should’ve been doing himself. Given, it was better than taking the drive to county court, disassociating through another scared-straight monologue from someone who looked like they’d piss themselves if Mahlon ever encountered them off the bench.
Mahlon opened the blinds, wincing at the light, mind lagging behind each movement. The pieces of the evening had not quite fallen back into place, but the ache in his head paired perfectly with the cotton of his mouth, tell-tale signs of a hangover taking hold. Maybe, if they ended up in the right spot, Mahlon would find himself literally picking up the pieces of whatever he left behind in the woods last night.
From the window, he watched the truck pull up out front, just five minutes shy of expected. Mahlon turned. He was on from eight to noon -- and Ranger Jack wasn’t getting an extra minute. Instead, he paused at the foot of the couch, battling back a wave of nausea. Virgie was curled there, thin sheen of sweat present where a blanket should have been. She looked like she’d had a worse night than him, and he believed it too. After all, he’d gotten home hours after midnight, and she’d still been out. Lord knows what time she crawled back home.
Mahlon swallowed back bile, pulling a plastic cup from the sink. He rinsed it, filling it halfway from the tap. The intent was to drink it himself, but ingesting anything seemed ill-advised. Instead, he left it on the table next to Virgie -- so she didn’t dry-swallow her pills. No good deed went unpunished, though, for as Mahlon set the cup down, he winced, the amplified sound of Ranger Jack coming through loud enough to wake every tenant in Taylor Cemetery.
When you find yourself in a situation more than once, you have to examine your role in it.
DO NOT REBLOG.
My therapist told me this in 2017.
She spoke it softly after I admitted to her that a I had been raped twice in 2016 & 2017.
It wasn’t “sweet” and it wasn’t “positive”. But it shook me back into reality.
She did also say sometimes it’s like we’re thrust into a situation unknowingly. And we have subconscious habits we picked up from that situation. We carry these habits with us without paying attention and it can que other people to do things.
I didn’t take it as her blaming me for being raped.
I understood that, by no fault of my own, I was thrust into a situation. And in finding myself in that situation again, I could examine it for common denominators in my behavior to eliminate the threat.
Trusting men who always softly crossed boundaries. Would show up when I asked them not to. Would borrow money from me for things they said they would pay for. Would ask for more than I wanted to do or give. Would literally not hear me saying I didn’t want something and continue. And it would play out in diff contexts w the stakes getting higher and higher each time. Usually accompanied by drugs and alcohol before things got out of control.
These are hard things to accept.
But I’m deeply grateful and feel empowered that she shared this with me. It meant there was nothing inherently wrong w me. It meant at least I could absolve myself of not knowing what I was doing or how all of it was working together for my own destruction. How each of them is not inherently bad but when they all link up w me? Disaster.
I will always be scarred by this. But the collateral beauty for me is that I learned I’m worth not compromising anything w men who haven’t earned my full commitment/trust. And my life is much better learning to vocalize and stand on that.
I was able to heal and offer my now fiancé someone who understood their triggers, hang ups and was already working on them. And break that cycle w new beliefs/actions.
That’s what I want for y’all.
That everything doesn’t have to be sugarcoated. But you hear the severity of my tone as that much belief in your potential. We have to be in love w the truth more than each others feelings. There’s a time for niceties and comfort. Then there’s a time where we’ve all talked so much abt this so long, it’s time to face the facts. Bc nothing will get you out of that dark/confused place faster than the truth from someone you know cares.
Forgot the reasons I left.
I forgot them for a while.
Then I remember my mom,
the suicide threats to get money,
Guilting your own daughter.
I forgot my dad giving up on me.
I even forgot the hope in my brothers eyes
that showed he believed in me.
I wonder if he still would if he saw me.
I forgot who I was,
and who I wanted to be.
I forgot my past but somehow
It still chases me.
Thank you for the tag and the words, @drippingmoon! This time I’ll be tackling thunder, crackle, hail and dew :)
What was that guy called who was making the shots? David, Darnell…
“Damien!” she called, catching his attention over the din of partiers. “Hey, c’mere. I need something. I need one that tastes like, like what it feels like when there’s a flash of lightning, but right before the thunder, and like, you just know it’s gonna be so loud when it happens, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
He eyed her, confused. “Make me one that tastes like that,” she clarified.
It was only after they regained control of their shared connection that he realized his hands were shaking in Porter’s and Ken’s. He drew a breath in, all the way to the bottom of his lungs, and concentrated.
The edges of the bomb began to ripple, as if it were in distress. Piece by piece, tiny bits of it sparked and fizzled out, and soon he could see just by looking that it was compromised. As their forcefield bore down on it, it shrunk; the energy inside crackled and hissed.
Don’t get complacent, he thought, or someone thought, don’t let go. The light in the cave began to dim, and Callie’s features got harder to see.
Nobody dared say, it’s working; no one dared to think it. The bomb shrunk and shrunk, until it suddenly disappeared with an almost comical pop of dust and sparks.
hail (Had to take a Sharpie to a bit of this one bc spoilers!)
You’re too late, [REDACTED] said. There was calm in it - finality.
Her heart guttered out. A fissure fizzled open in front of her, one of many, and almost Callie-sized. THE FUCK I AM, she sent back, and pitched herself through it.
The magic in here threatened to tear her apart. It was worse than the wind outside, worse than the sideways hail. It stuck to her and it burned and screamed. [REDACTED] at the core of it, holding it together, pulling her down.
“We can talk about it when I get back,” he said, imagining a version of himself from two weeks stumbling into this very scene and how he’d ever explain it. “When we get back,” he corrected himself.
He and Callie were a unit now.
The improbability of it still hadn’t faded as she craned her body out of his passenger seat, sticking her head out the window like an excited puppy.
You could do that here, without freezing your face off. The dewey air was almost warm. Behind them, the outline of the city; in front, Lyonall School of the Arcane, a dark and spiny shape on the horizon jutting out of the foggy marsh.
New words are gonna be silver, shiver, shard and shrink, and I’m tagging @winterandwords, @diphthongsfordays, @rosiewritesandrambles, @jaxwolffwrites, @authorlaurawinter and absolutely ANYONE else who wants to join in the fun!
Lol anyone I sent drunk asks to last night I’m so sorry
shoutout to the bartenders that take sobriety chips instead of cash in exchange for alcohol. I hope you all rot in hell ✌🥰
🌿 𖧷 🍃
grandpadisco posted a new photo
“Did you have a nice time, Bub?” My brother asked as he woke me up where I passed out last night on his couch so he and his family could go to church 😂 My whole body aches because I danced all night, my throat hurts from singing too loudly and laughing all night, I have very vivid memories of being an absolute mess but having the time of my life