Vanessa was grateful that I had brought her home. Grateful enough that though I had invited her with no strings attached, she kissed me anyway.
I swear, I had no intention of doing anything more than offering her my bed while I slept on the couch, but she said, “What the hell!” and laid one on me right there in my foyer. What was a guy supposed to do? Her lips were all over mine, and her hand slid down my back to the pockets of my jeans.
I’m no dummy. If she wanted to reward me for giving her a place to stay, then I was going to let her. It was quite the reward, too.
Of course the next morning I had hell to pay. Vanessa and I had come down for something to eat because we had both worked up a bit of an appetite. However, once we got to the kitchen, I found that I really wanted nothing more than to taste her lips again. I was busy gorging when Lakesha came down to get a bottle for Jeri and Hannah.
“Mickey! What are you doing?”
Vanessa and I pulled apart like school kids caught doing something they shouldn’t. I pulled her behind me to shield her from Kesha’s view, but it didn’t do much good when I was in my boxer briefs and she could see that I was very aroused. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life.
“Um…I think I’ll go upstairs and put some pants on,” I said before escaping the kitchen.
Unfortunately, that left Vanessa to face my sister in law alone. “And who are you?”
“Vanessa White. I’m a friend of Mick’s.”
“I can see that.” Kesha’s voice was positively frigid. I felt badly for abandoning Vanessa. I should have dragged her with me. “There are young children in this house,” Kesha said. “Perhaps you should go dress, too.”
“I’m sorry. I knew that. We sort of got…carried away.”
Vanessa made her escape as soon as she could.
Later, Danny insisted that I workout with him, which I knew was going to be my punishment for bringing Vanessa home and then having Kesha catch us practically doing it in the kitchen.
“So Brother,” he began as he worked up a good sweat on the treadmill. “How long is this girl going to be staying with us?”
I grunted as I pressed up a set of weights on the bench. “I don’t know. She’s homeless, so until she gets her feet under her and finds a place to stay.”
“And what is it that she does?”
I didn’t know. “Maybe she can stay here and be a nanny for the kids?” I offered.
“If we hire her for that, Mickey, then you’ll have to stop sleeping with her.”
“I can do that,” I said and Danny said, “Yeah right.”
“Seriously. I offered to let her stay her, no strings. At least let me ask her.”
When I asked Vanessa, she agreed. I was sort of surprised considering Danny’s insistence that we’d have to sleep separately if she worked for us.
“I don’t mind sleeping on your couch,” Vanessa said. I didn’t like how easily she could give up what had been pretty damn amazing sex.
“I’ll sleep on the damned couch,” I said irritably, but she insisted. “I’ll be your employee. That means I get the couch.”
It turned out that Vanessa wasn’t so bad at domestic duties. I didn’t think a girl who claimed to come from money would be so good at household chores. When I asked about it she said, “Are you kidding? My parents had a maid but they made sure that I had chores of my own, too. Everyone worked at my house. That’s why they hated what I wanted to do for a living.”
“What is it that you wanted to do?” I remembered that I hadn’t known when Danny asked.
“I wanted to be a concert bassist. My parents made me take all these lessons, but when I said I wanted to join the symphony, they just laughed and called it a hobby.”
I was surprised that Vanessa was a musician, too. I told her what I did for a living and showed her our practice area in the garage. She was excited.
“You can practice here whenever you want.”
“That’s so generous of you. I’ve missed playing since I left Sunset Valley.”
“I can see about getting a job for you at the theatre,” I offered.
“Maybe,” she hesitated. “But let me just settle in first. I’ll be your nanny and then maybe I’ll consider going down to the theatre myself and getting a job.” I didn’t push the issue.
That night, though, I wanted to push the issue of Vanessa sleeping on the couch, but I knew that Danny would be furious if I did.
Although Danny had nothing to complain about Vanessa, he was pretty suspicious of her. It seemed like he was always expecting her to come out wearing her skimpy little teddy again. I wouldn’t have minded seeing it, but Vanessa took her position seriously, and kept her outfits appropriate.
Kesha was suspicious of Vanessa, too. She grilled her about her family back in Sunset Valley. I was surprised Vanessa put up with all of their insinuations.
I figured both of them should have been grateful for Vanessa. Not only was she a good help with Jeri, she also helped care for their new baby, Lance, and also for Hannah, who’d gotten old enough to start school.
It wasn’t until my mom died that I decided I’d had enough with the arrangement I had with Vanessa.
We held the funeral at our house. Dad was pretty distraught. Not only had he lost mom, but also Uncle Paul passed away. They had been twins and they died on the same day.
To cheer Dad up, we all decided to play for him. It was really awesome playing with the old band again. I forget how much I miss playing with my brothers and sisters until we’re all together. The only thing I was missing was mom. And I realized that I was the only one of my siblings who had not found someone to be with. Each of their significant others was watching us perform. Fred McGowan, Ringo Ho, and Kristopher King were all with us. I was the only one who was alone except Dad.
But unlike him, I’d never had anyone special in my life.
I’ll admit to shamelessly using my daughter to get Vanessa to fall for me. I became the model father. I hoped that it would impress Vanessa.
I also started paying attention to Vanessa when she was practicing the bass. She still hadn’t taken a job at the theatre. I told her that she was really good, which wasn’t a lie. But I found out that she was pretty shy about performing in front of other people.
“It’s not that hard,” I assured her. “After the first few times you forget that you might be nervous. Ask Danny. He used to nearly puke every time we went on stage.”
Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to say, but she let me listen to her more often anyway.
I finally decided that I should just go for it and ask Vanessa out. We’d never been on a date, I said when she refused. “I think we should get to know each other better.”
“But we’re living together. I mean, you’re my employer.”
“I’d fire you right now if you would go out with me.”
“You don’t mean that!”
“No, but I think we should go out. I like you. More than I’ve liked anyone. I know we sort of started out weird, but maybe if we go out on a date, we can be like normal people.”
I’m not sure why she agreed. I didn’t even have to fire her to get her to agree. We went to the megaplex and had cocktails and dinner outside by the water. Later I took her up on the stage and got her to play her bass for me.
“See, it’s not so hard,” I said. “Your first performance on stage earned you a standing ovation.”
“Yeah, from an audience of one!”
The date ended when I drove us both home. And once we got there, I insisted that Vanessa go up to my bed.
“You sleep on the bed tonight. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
Although I would have liked to join her upstairs, I didn’t push for it. Vanessa finally agreed and slept well, I think, for the first time since she’d moved in.
We continued to date, though we weren’t sleeping together. I slowly coaxed Vanessa into playing for other people. I had a party with my family and had her play for Virginia, who is a lot better judge of bassist talent than I am. Then, I made no secret of how I felt about Vanessa in front of all of them.
I no longer cared if Danny didn’t like it if I was with her. I didn’t want her to be our nanny anymore.
“Go steady with me,” I whispered in her ear.
“No! I work for you.”
“You’re fired. Go steady with me.”
“You can’t fire me.”
“Yes, I can. I did. You no longer work for me. Stay with me. Come upstairs with me.”
I won’t lie, I was a bit surprised when she agreed. We left the party and headed up to my room. I stripped off her dress to reveal her sexy underwear again. Then we made love.
It was a first time for me. I didn’t realize that I had ever been missing out. Even the previous time that I had had Vanessa in my bed hadn’t prepared me for how it felt to make love with her. I felt like a king…a god. And she was a queen…a goddess. I worshiped her.
The next morning when we were once again raiding the refrigerator after a busy night, instead of grabbing her and kissing her and starting the whole thing over again, I found myself proposing to her.
“Vanessa, I know this is sudden, but it feels right. I love you. I want to marry you. Would you marry me?”
I have never been happier than in that moment when she said yes. We didn’t get any food after all. And this time no one caught us in the act together. We made our way back upstairs to celebrate.
The day of our wedding was a good one. We held the ceremony at sunset in the Butterfly Pavilion. It was a small wedding party, but that suited us both just fine.
Afterwards, Danny came up to me. “I’m happy for you, dude.”
“Thanks Bro. I’m pretty happy myself.”
“I can tell. I never thought you would settle down. Kesha and I were worried for you.”
“You guys didn’t like Vanessa.”
“We were wrong. She’s perfect for you.”
Soon after Vanessa and I were married, Jeri started school with Hannah.
Danny also decided that since I had now settled down, he and Kesha should move into their own house.
“It’s about time,” He explained to me. Then he announced, “And Kesha’s pregnant again.”
“Congratulations man!” I slapped Danny on the back. “Who knew you’d be just like Dad trying to populate the whole planet.”
“I am not. Three kids is nothing like Mom and Dad.”
But Danny was right. With another child on the way, we didn’t have room for both of our families in the house. He and Kesha just moved down the street, so it wasn’t like he was going that far away.
With Danny and the others gone, it was like a mini honeymoon for Vanessa and me. I think we made love whenever and wherever we could.
After work, we’d go out together as well. Jeri was old enough to stay by herself, but most of the time she spent the night at Hannah’s. I didn’t worry about her now that she was in school.
I wanted to show Vanessa everything that Bridgeport had to offer. I took her to the Prosper Room’s upper floors. I had to bribe the bouncer to get us inside, but it was worth it.
Seeing Vanessa drunk on bubbles was hilarious. We both got a little looped and were laughing hysterically as we made our bumbling way back to the house.
“I’m so wasted!” I snorted into my hand.
“I know. I feel like I’m floating,” Vanessa said. She was swaying a little as we waited for the elevator.
Another time, when we both had the night off, I took Vanessa to Euji’s. She showed me that she was a pretty good mixologist. “My dad was always asking me to make him high balls,” she explained. “I used to practice at his bar.”
I tried my hand at a solo gig while we were there. I still missed performing with my sisters, but I was coming to accept myself as a soloist. There was a small crowd at the bar, but I was playing only for Vanessa.
Afterwards, we were both a little horny and somewhat drunk. I hit the emergency stop button on the elevator and made love to her right there. It was fast and intense, exactly how I always felt when I was around her.
But after that night, everything in our lives was changed.