Menopause to Matrimony (Fortytude Series Book 2) (4 page)

BOOK: Menopause to Matrimony (Fortytude Series Book 2)
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“Oh no.” Carly shakes her head. “The poor thing is klutzy as hell!”

“Toddlers are supposed to be klutzy, aren’t they?” Seth leans forward on the counter. “Then dance would help with her coordination.” I find it kind of endearing that he has jumped into this problem-solving session with us. “Let’s try something.”

Seth walks to the family room where everyone else is chatting, and Carly and I eye each other, puzzled. However, I’m struck with the familiar bathroom urgency, due to my monthly hell.

“I’ll be back,” I tell Carly and head upstairs to the restroom. Once in the powder room, I again discover the need to change my underwear. “Gahhhh! Really?”
That’s it, uterine lining. You gots ta go!

After cleaning myself up, I come back downstairs and can hardly believe my eyes. A satellite music station is turned way up on the television, and Seth is trying to get Geena to dance with him to the Bee Gees. When she declines, he’s not deterred from showing off his dance moves, which, quite frankly, are pretty hilarious. Everyone, Ahsan included, is hugely entertained as he laces his fingers and rolls his hands in a wavelike motion while gyrating his hips. If it was his plan to distract Claire from her iPad, it’s working. She’s mesmerized, staring at him as if he’s from another planet.

Since he’s unable to convince Geena to be his partner, he holds out his hand to Carly, who surprisingly, accepts his invitation. Considering that Carly has never disco danced a day in her life, Seth’s doing a pretty good job of leading. Now that I think about it, he is five years older than Kiran, so I suppose he may have picked up this talent in high school.

Kiran is leaning against the media cabinet with his arms crossed, a ginormous smile on his face.

Carly lets go of Seth and moves toward Claire, where she lifts her from the floor and dances with her in her arms. The music has now gone from the Bee Gees to The Commodores’ “Brick House,” and Claire has the slightest of smiles on her face, having completely forgotten about whatever she was doing. She’s too enthralled with Seth at the moment, who puts one hand on the back of his head and swings his hips in a circular motion.

“Anna?” He now holds out his other hand to me.

“Go on, Anna!” Kiran calls. “I know you danced with your dad as a girl.”

I cover a smile with my hand. Considering it for a moment, I bow my head, before abruptly breaking into my hitchhike move, leaning back and forth into my extended thumbs. For added sexiness, I include the white man’s overbite. Seth, in return, does the classic egg beater, rolling one arm over the other as he approaches me.

At this point, Hayden’s had a few, so he joins in, waving his arm in the air like he’s swinging a lasso. Before long we’re all dancing, resembling some kind of sad circus. Despite the fact that this is clearly a funk fest, Richard grabs Luke and leads him across the floor, tango style. Ever the sophisticate!

Claire has since wriggled herself out of Carly’s arms and stands in the center of our homemade version of
Soul Train
. Though technically not participating, there’s the tiniest bounce to her knees as she watches with fascination.

 

EIGHT

 

Later that same night, I’m standing in front of the mirror, removing the peach fuzz from my face with my Panasonic Pivotal Trimmer. I never expected at the age of forty-eight, I’d be turning into an adolescent boy, but so is my life.

Kiran comes through the open bathroom door and stops short. “What are you doing?” It’s the first time he’s witnessed this particular beauty ritual.

I pause and look at him. “I hate to break it to you, but what you see here”—I pass a flat palm in front of my face—“requires substantial effort.”

“What is that?” He takes the trimmer from my hand and examines it. Then he smiles. “Are you
shaving
?” There’s a hint of alarm in his eyes.

Snatching it back from his hand, I laugh defensively. “No, I’m not shaving!
Exactly
.” I face the mirror. “Don’t worry. I’ve been doing this since before we met. It’s not going to give me stubble.”

He shakes his head and wraps his arms around my waist from behind. “How are you feeling? Any better?”

“Yeah, some. What about you?” I turn around and hold his drawn face in my hands. “You look exhausted lately.” Even now, his eyelids are heavy.

He rests his chin on top of my head. “I am. It’s the heart meds kicking in, I’m sure. And I ache all the time now.”

I pull back from him. “Is that normal? I don’t remember the doctor saying anything about achiness.”

Kiran sits on the edge of the bathtub, his shoulders sagging. “He didn’t. I didn’t read any of the side effects at first, because I figured I’d start having them by power of suggestion. But when I started hurting all the time, I had a look. It’s the cholesterol medication.”

“Great!” I lean on the bathroom counter. “Medication you don’t even need because your cholesterol’s fine. What happens if it gets too low?”

He shrugs it off.

I worry about him because he’s also lost some weight since the heart attack. How much, I don’t know. And the damn blood pressure medication is probably making his pressure too low as well, making him even more tired.

“Come into the bedroom and I’ll rub your achy bod.”

“No, it’s all right. You haven’t been feeling well today.”

“Shut up. C’mon.”

He takes my offered hand and I lead him to the bed. After he strips down to his boxers and lies on his stomach, I grab a bottle of lotion and straddle his hips. Warming the lotion between my hands a few seconds, I then smooth it onto his back and shoulders and press into his muscles. He groans. I work in silence for a little while before broaching the subject of Claire.

“So what did you make of that scene of Claire’s tonight?”

“What do you mean?” he mumbles.

“You didn’t find it a little… disturbing?”

He hesitates a few seconds. “Actually, I did. I can’t really say why. She
is
at the tantrum age, and I haven’t been around little children very much to know what’s normal.”

“What about it did you find disturbing?” I want to know if we’re having the same concerns.

He tries to roll over to answer my question.

“Hey, stay put! I’m not done with you yet.” He’s so bloody solid I have to dig my knuckles into his flesh for him to feel anything.

“I don’t know,” he continues. “She didn’t just seem mad, like you would expect. It was more like she was terrified. Like her very lifeline was being yanked away.”

I stop rubbing his back for a moment and sit up straight. “I know. That’s what I saw, too. Like she
had
to finish whatever she was doing on that iPad. Do you think she could be OCD or something? Can kids that little have OCD?”

“Not sure. What does Carly say?”

“She and Jason think she might be autistic.” I turn myself around and start working on the backs of his thighs.

“Oh God,” he moans. “You’re killing me.”

“Is this too much? Am I hurting you?”

“No. It’s a good kind of hurt.”

“So do you think it could be autism?” I ask. “Geez, I hope she doesn’t have something serious like that!”

“We shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

“I know. That’s what I told Carly.” I squirt some more lotion into my hands and start massaging his calves. “But God, things will be so difficult for the kids if that’s what it is. I never noticed these things until Carly pointed them out, but if you pay attention, rarely does Claire look you in the eye. And if given a choice, she always goes with doing something by herself rather than interacting with others. Those are both signs.”

This time Kiran rolls over and sits up.

“You got up before I finished.”

“You’re worried,” he says and caresses my leg. “And after tonight, I am, too. But let’s wait until we know there’s something to worry about, okay?”

Tight-lipped, I smile. “You’re right.”

“Thanks for the rub down.” He gives me a slow kiss on the lips then takes me by the wrists and pulls me down next to him.

“I wish I could do something for your pain. That sucks.”

“My body just needs to adjust,” he says casually, then he rolls onto his side and props himself up on an elbow. “So what do you think of Seth?”

My eyes grow large. “He’s definitely the life of the party!”

Kiran laughs and lies flat on his back. “That he is. He wants me and you to go clubbing with him this weekend.”

“Clubbing? As in, more than one? Aren’t we a little old for that?”

“That’s what I said, but… I’d like for us to go. It would be fun. We could book a room again since we didn’t get to enjoy ours last time, and we wouldn’t have to drive home.”

“I’ll go, if that’s what you want,” I say, touching his chest. “But are you sure you’re up for it? You’re still recovering, and I don’t want you to overdo it.”

He holds my hand to his body. “We need to get out and have some fun. I feel old.”

I laugh at his statement and kiss his shoulder. “Awww! Okay then. But how about we do
one
club, I’ll be the designated driver so you and Seth can drink as much as you want, and then I’ll take our butts home. My hormonal self can’t risk the massive headache from overindulging.”

 

NINE

 

I don’t know how the hell I made it up late enough for dinner with Seth and his companion.

It had to be the nap. Would not have made it without it. And I made Kiran take one with me. Is that terrible? Someone should stop me from babying him too much. I’m his girlfriend, not his mother. But since his heart attack, I fear I’m becoming a little too smothering; it’s something I’m going to have to work on.

We dine at Red Square in the Mandalay Bay which is just across the way from an upscale nightclub on the same property, where Seth has reserved a VIP booth for us later on. My stomach is in knots. I don’t do upscale. My idea of nightlife is taking in a movie at the Santa Fe Station Casino, grabbing a bite in the food court, and hitting the sheets by ten. However, I sip on my Lemon Drop martini and try to relax. Wasn’t I just saying to Kiran a few weeks ago that we should do touristy things more often? I need to enjoy this rare occasion.

“You know,” Kiran tells Seth. “Right around the corner is where Anna and I had our first date. At the Shark Reef.” He smiles and sips his vodka and Coke.

“How long have you two been together, anyway?” Seth’s date, Marie, is seated across from me. I wonder how old she is, because she’s definitely not our age. My guess would be mid-thirties. Very attractive, and appears to be of some mid-Eastern descent.

“A little over three years,” I say.

“Anna and Kiran are recently engaged,” Seth informs her.

Marie’s face lights up. “That’s wonderful! Congratulations!”

“So how long have
you
two known each other?” Kiran asks.

Seth and Marie give each other knowing little smiles, and she playfully bumps into him. With his elbows propped on the table, he peers down at his drink.

“We go back a while.” Marie nods and grins. “About ten years, wouldn’t you say?” She furrows her brow, looking to him for confirmation.

I’m a terrible, terrible person, because all I start doing is the math at this point. Okay, maybe she just looks young for her age. But, say she’s thirty-five, that would have made her twenty-five when they met. Which would have made him forty-three. The age difference doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, but I cannot for the life of me picture myself dating a twenty-five-year-old when I was forty-three. Then again, I don’t get the feeling they’re exactly
dating
.

“What do you do for a living?” I ask Marie.

“Oh, I work here. I don’t mean in this restaurant.” She laughs. “I basically cater to all our high rollers. You know, make their dinner reservations, get them show tickets, get them into the nightclubs. All that good stuff.”

“We can thank Marie for the booth we’ll have at the club tonight,” Seth says.

Kiran and I both nod with appreciation.

“So what do you do?” Marie asks in return.

“I’m a physical therapist.”

“Anna has her own practice,” Kiran says proudly as he places his arm behind me.

Marie finishes the last sip of her Cosmo and sets her glass down. “Really? That’s impressive.”

I shrug and smile. “It’s not all that impressive, but thank you.”

“How long have you been doing that, Anna?” Seth asks, cutting into his steak.

“Basically since I finished school. I like it. I’d have to say the most annoying part is dealing with insurance. These poor people sign up with these fly-by-night health insurance companies, and then when it’s time to make a claim, the company won’t cover it. I’ve had to stop accepting a few plans, and I hate having to do that.”

“Yeah, health care is so fucked up in this country, isn’t it?” Seth says.

Oh God. What have I done? I did not mean to steer this conversation into anything political.

“Yeah. Well… It is what it is, I guess.” Looking to change the subject at breakneck speed, I continue. “What about you, Seth? You enjoy real estate?”
Ah crap!
This may not go well, either. Given how the real estate market has been affected by the economy the past several years.

Somehow I get the feeling my concern shows in my face, because Seth just grins at me while he chews his food. “It’s all good, Anna.”

***

An hour later, we’re at the club, and the place is wall to wall people. I’m on my third drink in as many hours, but it’s safe to say the boys and Marie are slightly toasted. I love dancing, but feel self-conscious in this crowd. For the most part, it’s made up of beautiful, hip, meticulously dressed twenty- and thirty-somethings, and I need a few more cocktails under my belt before feeling comfortable enough to get on the floor. But I can’t drink any more. I offered to be the designated driver. Marie is already out there as I sit wedged between Kiran and Seth in the booth. Not a word can be heard over this music, so they have to shout across me.

“Are you going to dance?” Kiran asks in my ear.

From the floor, Marie is motioning for me to join her.

“Uhhh, technically I require more of a buzz than this, but I guess so.”

Kiran stands to let me out of the booth, and then smacks me on the butt as I squeeze out. I turn and give him a bewildered smile, seeing a side of him lately that I’ve not seen.

Marie takes me by the hand and leads me further onto the floor, but still in view of Kiran and Seth, and within seconds, the music draws me in and I’m no longer nervous. I’m too engrossed in the crowd, the flashing lights, and the Cirque du Soleil performers who dangle from the ceiling above us. Before long, Marie’s behind me, dancing up against me quite seductively. Finding it amusing, I seek Kiran’s attention to see if he’s witnessing this and give him a
check this out
expression. He just smiles and shakes his head. Seth is laughing and saying something to him. 

What the hell? It’s totally harmless, so I play along, lifting my hair provocatively and rolling my shoulders up against her as she dances behind me. And I know for a fact the guys get off on this kind of thing.

When I glance at Kiran again, he’s slowly sipping his drink, taking in every move. Something about the way he’s looking at me makes my heart beat faster. And because I don’t want him to stop looking at me like that, I turn around to face Marie and move in even closer, never taking my eyes off him.

She and I continue dancing naughty to a Trey Songz tune, and that’s when things get awkward. Although it’s all for show, when Marie’s hands begin to roam my body, I quickly realize I’ve gotten in too deep. And when she starts to lift my dress, brushing her fingertips along my thighs, a couple of guys next to us are paying very close attention. Just about the time I seriously begin to panic, Kiran comes to my rescue.

He is out of his seat and on the floor within seconds, but somehow manages to gracefully claim me as his partner. Marie is unaffected because Seth joins her on the floor soon after.

Kiran and I exchange no words as he pulls me by the waist and holds me against him. Though a hip hop song beats wildly, we simply sway, eyes glued to each other. I can feel his heart beating as he bends to kiss me, his tongue exploring my mouth, and I am massively turned on. Damn! Why didn’t we book that room?

He looks down at me and grins. “Got yourself into a little trouble there, didn’t you?”

“Psh! I totally had this thing.” Then I shake my head to indicate I’m full of it.

“You’re gonna be in some trouble tonight when we get home,” he says and kisses me again.

“Promise?”

Kiran laughs. “Well, that is, if I stop drinking. If I keep at it, I’ll be passed out on the floor soon.”

We dance through a couple more songs, and now I’m glad we decided to come. Kiran was right. I think we’ve both been feeling a little over the hill lately. Admittedly, Seth is a bit impetuous, but tonight has forced us out of our comfort zone, which is healthy on occasion.

After a while, I leave to use the restroom. Seth and Kiran head back to our seats, and Marie continues dancing. When I return and come around the backside of our booth, a quieter music selection accompanying the acrobats’ performance allows me to overhear part of the guys’ conversation.

“Don’t get me wrong, Kiri. Anna is a doll…”

Though I shouldn’t, the second Seth says my name, I stop to listen to what he’s going to say.

“But are you really sure you want to tie yourself down? I mean, look at you now! Consider the tail that awaits.”

Hey, what a douchey thing to say!

“Seth, your green-eyed monster is showing itself,” Kiran says, not at all offended by his remark. “Besides, the only tail I want is Anna’s.”

Awww! Good answer, my love.

“I think you’re just jealous because you haven’t found the one yet,” he adds.

“Agh! There’s no such thing.”

I make my way to the front of the booth and sit beside Kiran. Neither of them appears to have any concern that I may have heard them. Kiran turns to me and rubs my thigh. “I think I’m clubbed out. How about you?”

“I’m ready to go if you are.” Though I try hiding my discomfort, it must show in my face when Seth and I make eye contact, because he briefly glances back at where I had been standing. I dart my eyes elsewhere before smiling at Kiran.

“What do you say, cousin?” Kiran asks.

Seth spots Marie on the dance floor. “I think we’ll just take a cab. She doesn’t look like she’s ready to call it a night yet.”

Kiran and I stand. “All right then. If you’re sure. Please thank Marie for us.”

“I will. And I promise not to stay out too late,” he jokes. Then he looks at me again. “Goodnight, Anna.”

“Goodnight.” I make sure to add plenty of lilt to my voice.

***

“I’m sorry.” Kiran breaks free from our make-out session and rolls onto his back. “Too much to drink tonight. I don’t think this is going to happen.”

I lay my palm on his stomach. “No worries. I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open.”

He sighs heavily then sits up and takes my face in his hand. “I wish I could have taken you right there on the dance floor. Believe me, I was about to bust out of my pants.”

I laugh at his confession. “That would have caused quite a stir.” We kiss tenderly a few moments. “I love you, old man.”

“I love you, too.”

An hour later, I swear I wake to voices in the next room. Not sure if I was dreaming, I sit up in bed and open my eyes wide. Why is it when we hear something in the middle of the night, we make our eyes big, as if that will improve our hearing?

Is it…? Did I hear a female voice?

I remain still and listen intently, but there’s nothing. Then I pick up my iPod on the table and check the time. It’s 3:30 a.m.

Now there’s a brief shuffling noise.

After crawling out of bed, I fumble in the dark to our bedroom door and step into the hallway. The door to our office, which is right next to our bedroom, is closed. It’s never closed. Without thinking things through because I’m still in a sleepy fog, I open the door to see Seth’s bare ass, his hips thrusting vigorously as he holds Marie up on the desk. At least, I hope it’s Marie. All I can see are a pair of legs in the air.

Wait, why do I even care if it’s Marie?

I quickly and quietly pull the door shut and turn to see Ahsan approaching from the other end of the hallway.
Shit!

“Anna, I was just going downstairs for some water… Is everything okay?” He knows something is up.

Trying to relax because I know shock is still etched on my face, I answer with a quick nod and smile. Oh God. I should have said something. Now I look like a deer caught in headlights.

Ahsan takes a step closer. There are more noises of movement from inside the office. He puts his ear against the door and there’s a muffled moan.

Could this be any more awkward? I think not.

Ahsan frowns and lets out a sigh of disgust. “This is why I said it was all right to say no to Seth staying here!”

And with that, he turns and says nothing more.

Putting my hand over my mouth, I slowly walk back to our bedroom.

Should I wake Kiran? Oh, I absolutely should!

I crawl back onto the bed and sit on my knees. “Kiran.” I gently nudge him. “Kiran!”

“Hmmm?”

“Wake up for a minute.” I turn on the lamp on my side of the bed.

“Is everything all right?”

“You are not gonna believe what just happened.”

Just then, we hear a door open and murmuring in the hallway. Kiran is tired and confused. He looks in the direction of the sounds. “Who is that? What’s going on?”

A second later, we hear a door close. They must have moved to the guest room where Seth is staying.

“So, I woke up a little bit ago,” I whisper. “Because I thought I heard voices. And I opened the office door, and Seth was screwing Marie on the desk!”

“What?” Kiran exclaims. “Oh my God!”

“Shhh… shhh.” I start giggling. “You’re gonna wake everyone up. Or should I say, your mother.”

Alarm registers on his face as he realizes what I’m saying. “No! My father knows?”

BOOK: Menopause to Matrimony (Fortytude Series Book 2)
5.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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