Hey y’all, I think I may have figured out the ending! It’s so dramatic, I frickin’ love it – tee hee – but meantime, here’s a lil’ unedited snippet for you. This one is Nori talking, or thinking and talking, to his best friend Lado, who will be getting his own story down the line. Enjoy the joy, and tell me what you think! – SS
Lado called again to complain that he never saw him anymore.
“You don’t call. You only go to the gym these days at some ungodly hour. I send over papers, they magically appear signed, but you? It’s like you’ve fallen into a big black hole.”
“Or a little brown one,” Nori teased.
Lado laughed. “Filthy bugger. Are you ready to admit you’re in love yet, old boy?”
Nori scoffed. “I don’t need labels with Margot. She’s the only woman I’ve ever met who talks less than I do.”
“Really,” Lado said, impressed.
“She doesn’t nag. We sit side by side most nights and work, and she never tells me that I work too much.”
“Do tell. Are you sure she’s not a man?”
Nori burst out laughing. “Asshole.”
“Well, you’ve got to admit, it is strange. The very idea of a woman who doesn’t like to talk sort of makes me nervous.”
Nori laughed. “I know how you feel. It is unusual. But she’s so focused, Lado. This partnership is set to be the most profitable artist collaboration Ineffable has had to date,” he said proudly. “And I’m not her only commitment. She has several new contracts and gets private commissions all the time.”
“Lucky boy,” Lado praised. “Sounds like you picked a winner in more ways than one.”
Nori hummed his agreement. “Have you ever –?” He paused, for the first time in their friendship hesitating to share something.
They’d always been brutally frank about everything from women to money to sex. But how could he share that some mornings he woke up completely entwined with Margot, so happy and peaceful, for the first time in his life it was a wrench to leave her? Surely a man couldn’t say those things, not even to a best friend.
But he wanted to. He didn’t want to brag about their sex life, and the incredible pleasure he continued to get from Margot’s beautiful body. He couldn’t say that when there was something on his mind, there was nothing he liked better than to pop one of her brown nipples in his mouth and suck while he worked things out. That sometimes – a very few times admittedly – he’d wanted to cuddle more than he wanted to fuck. At least initially. Once he got her scent in his nose, all bets were off. His passion for her was unstoppable.
“Have I ever what?”
“Never mind,” Nori said. “She cooks,” he offered, as a distraction.
“You’re kidding,” Lado breathed. It was a standing joke between them that women who cooked these days were as rare as unicorns.
Nori laughed. “Nope. Most of the time she forgets to eat she’s so busy working, but she can burn in the kitchen, my friend.”
“From scratch? Like, taking actual fresh ingredients, cutting them up and using spices?”
“From scratch. Last night we had homemade chicken burgers with banana peppers and heavy on the onions ‘cause that’s how I like them, topped with gruyere cheese, baked sweet potato fries and chocolate covered cherries rolled in nut dust. And she made the chocolate and ground the nuts. Tonight we had curry fish tacos. Apparently omega 3’s and curry together are extremely healthy. Something about turmeric, I don’t know, but it was fucking delicious.”
“Damn,” Lado breathed. “My eyes are wide. So when do I get to meet her? A dinner invite wouldn’t go amiss. It’s almost criminal for you to keep all that good home cooking to yourself, mate. You’ll get fat if you don’t share.”
He burst out laughing. Nori swore by exercise. The chance of him even gaining weight, let alone getting fat, was as rare as one of them actually finding a unicorn. “Soon,” he promised. “Tell me about you. What have I missed?”
He listened as his friend caught him up on everything that had been happening, and nearly 30 minutes slid by without him noticing. He was laughing when Margot appeared with a glass of the Perrier and lime he favored.
She held up the fabric bags that signaled a trip to the grocery.
“Lado, I’ve got to run. But I’m going to call you next week to arrange something, yes?”
Nori just laughed and hung up. “Whole Foods?”
“You don’t have to come. Work.”
“No,” he said, and kissed her until they were both breathless. They walked hand in hand to the store.
“You know? I think I figured it out. You cultivated this reputation of having a fiery temper to disguise the fact that you’re a homebody,” he said. “I don’t think you have a temper at all.”
“Yeah? Did you forget what happened after dinner with your daddy?”
“That was completely justified. From what I’ve been led to believe, it should have been worse. You didn’t throw anything, break anything, and you didn’t get arrested. You should have tossed drinks at the dinner table and screamed in his face, at the very least. Instead you were remarkably elegant about the whole thing.”
He wondered what the little smile flirting over her full lips meant.
“You know I have a bad temper. I find it amazing how often you seem to want me to lose it.”
Nori just laughed. “It does seem crazy doesn’t it? But I do like watching you in action. It’s so much better than anything else I could come up with to entertain me.”…