Part One: Holding out for...
Perry swallowed the alcohol quickly and sputtered. “What?”
“Hypothetically,” Gwen sighed.
“Uh... sure. Why do you ask?”
She shrugged. “I want to have kids while I’m young.”
They were sprawled across her living room floor backs against the lounge, a pitcher of mixed up alcohol on the coffee table and music blaring through the television. It was too early for the neighbours to complain just yet though there was no doubt they would be pissed.
“I don’t want to be thirty-five or forty and be like, fuck I should’ve done it earlier.” Continuing Gwen let the words out. It was easier when tipsy. “I want to be a mum.”
“You would be great.”
She rolled her head over the edge of the lounge and looked at him.
“You make awesome chocolate chip cookies.”
“The one thing all children need for a balanced diet.”
He stared up at the ceiling. What a strange conversation, they’d talked about everything else in their lives but never had they brought up kids. Maybe they were maturing. “Why me?”
“Because out of all of our friends you are the only one who has most of the characteristics I want passed onto my children.”
“What do you mean? You’ve been thinking about this?”
She took a long sip. “Hmm, Nora and I compared lists and you came out on top for both of us.”
He snapped upright. Crap. His head swam. “How long ago did this happen?”
“A couple of years. Maybe at the end of university. I’m not sure.”
“I’m flattered. Who was I competing against?”
“I’m not going to continue boosting your ego.”
“Fine. But tell me what are these important things that I have and the rest lack.”
“First thing, I think we need shots before this starts.” Clambering to her feet, Gwen dashed out of the room.
Perry breathed a sigh of relief. The idea wasn’t repulsive in fact it could be fun having a kid or two with his best friend. But Gwen was his friend. His best friend. That meant he had to think of her in a sexual way. She was attractive, yes. And maybe when they first met and a couple of other times he had the sexual thought but those went away.
Gwen swayed back in, a bottle of tequila in one hand and two shot glasses squeezed between her fingers. Setting the whole thing up on the table she dropped to her knees and faced him. “Come on. You have to catch up.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea Miss Alcoholic.” He crawled over and took his shot glass anyway.
“One, two, three,” hot liquid seared his throat. It stung like a bitch but he didn’t flinch.
She smiled shyly.
“Well... You are tall, attractive, charismatic, intelligent, good medical history and nice teeth, good eye sight. Your grandpa is still going at ninety-three and not in an old people’s home. Very good genetics.”
“But you do have a tendency to be a dick sometimes.”
“And a know it all.”
She shrugged and poured another shot. However, she didn’t get to drink it. He covered the glass with his palm and shook his head. “Stick with the punch.”
“See, your being a dick right now. Give me my drink.”
“You’ve had enough.” Another shot and she would be rolling on the floor. Alright in her home but he’d seen her out in public like this and she was more likely to get her shoes and drag him to the pub.
To prove she was the boss she tipped the bottle into the punch, poured more into her glass and settled back. He sighed, defeated again.
She took a tentative sip. Horribly strong, she would swallow it and hope it got better the more drunk she became.
“I need to get married.”
She hesitated. That was a sobering comment. She took a gulp and another one before opening up question time. “Why haven’t you already?”
“Haven’t met a girl who made me want to ask. It’s a big deal.”
“Then why the hurry now?”
“Just something mum said today.”
This is awkward, say something, make a joke, take another sip. “So who will be the lucky lady?”
“Not a fucking clue.” He picked up the shot glass and downed it. Things were easier to explain when intoxicated.
“Mail order bride?”
“I want someone who can speak English.”
“They can say, me love you long time.”
He glared as she chuckled.
“Fine. Well you’ve exhausted the best sources for a bride; a girlfriend you love and a foreigner looking for Australian citizenship.” Taking another sip she found it empty so held it out for a refill.
Sighing, he obeyed.
“What are you looking for in a girl?”
“The same things you’re looking for in a father for your child.”
“So you want a female version of yourself?”
“No. I want someone I can hang out with, who’s attractive and interesting. Add in good cook and great blow job and she will be perfect.”
“Sounds like a friends with benefits advert. Pig.” She kicked at his ass.
He grinned. “Maybe that’s all I’m looking for.” Staring at her intently he went back to the idea. Not a bad idea at all.
“What are you looking at?”
“You. Why haven’t you settled down yet?”
“Because I’m repulsive to men.”
“No you’re not.”
“Then you explain why I don’t have a relationship and all other girls my age from school do.”
“Not touching that one,” he rolled his shoulder and buried his head in his glass.
“Chicken shit.” She smiled, but the self pity was creeping in once again. It hurt.
Liquid courage. “Do you believe in love?”
Gwen placed her glass down and ran her finger along the rim, tracing the circle slowly. “Love, yes. One true love, no. Love at first sight, mistake.”
“Hypothetically... Would you object to being my wife?”
“Married? Us?” Whoa that threw her. Truly her head spun but that may be the tequila and left over midori and vodka in the punch.
“Hypothetically.” This wasn’t going well. Maybe I should just make this into a joke and forget it. His stomach bottomed out.
“I guess... hmm... if I was ever going to get married I would want it to be with my best friend.”
Not a complete rejection. Still not a serious yes. “I flattered.”
“Don’t get cocky, you asked for my hand.”
“Yeah, yeah. But... then we’d have to have sex.”
He tried not to smirk.
She rolled her eyes. “Just because I said the word sex doesn’t mean you get to giggle like a school boy. Creep.”
“Okay. You and I, sex. We can do that, like adults.”
“That means we will be each other’s only sexual partners for the rest of our lives.”
“Really?” That thought hadn’t occurred to him.
She kicked him again.
“Marriage means fidelity you jerk.”
“I was joking.” Sure you were. Now that he had to think about it, it sounded more and more like a jail sentence. What if he finally did meet the girl of his dreams and he could never touch her? Maybe he should wait for her.
“Well, if we did this, we have to take it seriously.”
“What about love? Marriage should be about that too.”
“I don’t know. There is scientific evidence saying that if you have a regular sexual relationship with a partner a chemical is released into the brain and you will fall in love that way.”
“What if one of us falls in love and not the other?”
She scrubbed her hands over her face and growled. “Then why get married? Wait like the rest of us. You’ll find someone to love one day.”
“I don’t think... that will happen.” Shit, he needed shut up before he grew a vagina and shared everything.
“Are you that afraid of being alone?”
“Then we should do it.”
Shaking her head Gwen moved from the floor to the lounge. “We’re not even near thirty. This is stupid. We don’t have to panic.”
“Yeah we do. Look around us, everyone we know has paired up. Sure we’re young but do you want to be that single girl of our group for another ten years? It’s the same thing with you wanting a kid right now instead of waiting for the one.”
“I don’t even know what I was holding out for...” the hero wasn’t coming. What all of her friends had found early, she’d never know because no guy had wanted her like that. She wasn’t girlfriend material. “Yes.”
Realising he was being a dick he apologised. “I didn’t mean to depress you.”
“I just said yes to marrying you. Smile.”
“Oh. Alright. That’s cool.”
“So... what now?”
Gwen woke up in her bed with a dry mouth, a headache and restless legs. She kicked off the sheets and continued to kick around then rolled to her left before going back to her right. “Ugh!” Giving up on a sleep in, she rolled out of bed.
Bathroom, first destination. Then kitchen.
She shuffled through the house, groaning.
“Morning,” a male yawn drew her eyes down to her lounge.
Perry looked at the zombie Gwen and rolled his eyes. “You look like shit.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I was here drinking last night.”
“Shouldn’t you have gone home?”
“You’re a terrible hostess.” He rolled into a sitting position, legs over the edge and looked down at the floor. There it was, his hangover was there to. “Uh, where are the pain killers?”
“Karma’s a bitch,” Gwen grinned as she continued her shuffle to the kitchen.
Kettle on, two cups out, one glass of water and the painkillers found in the back of the cupboard were placed on the table. Perry slumped into a chair. “Thanks.”
She watched him pop the pills and gulp down the water. Was he serious last night? She had been. “Tea or coffee?”
“Right. Tea then Miss I don’t ever stock coffee for visitors.”
She made the cups and slid into her seat opposite him. Rolling the steam through her fingers as they hovered above her cup, she ignored the boy at her table. The topless boy. When did he get down to his underwear? Hadn’t he ever heard of table manners? “This is awkward.”
She looked up.
“I was serious last night.”
“I was too. I guess we’re engaged.”
The corners of his lips tugged upward. “I guess so. How should we announce it? Traditionally through the newspaper? Or straight up on facebook?”
“What was it that your mum said that made you want to get married?”
Shit. “Um,” he ran his hand through his hair and made it even worse. “She told me to either hurry up because all of the good girls my age will be gone in the next couple of years or else I should marry my best friend.”
“That sort of sounded like a compliment. But not really.”
“She got me thinking. I want to spend my life with someone, but I haven’t found the one true love. And anyway, I’ve spent most of my twenties with you I reckon we could last another fifty or so years.”
“So it wasn’t something cool like a condition to an inheritance.”
“I’m not rich.”
“Then I’m stupid to marry you. Damn it, all other gold digging women who have married for money will be thinking I’m the dumb blonde from now on.”
He laughed but grabbed the sides of his head. “That hurts.”
“I guess we have to call up the court house and book a time.”
“What do you mean?”
“How else are we going to get married?”
“Inside a church, in front of friends and family. Like normal people.”
Gwen stared. “Say what again?”