“Stay in here until I get back, okay?” Manny led Aloise into his trophy room and handed her the television remote control, not thinking to ask if she even liked watching television, it just seemed like the thing to do. “You’re welcome to poke around and explore. Shove all the clothes to one side of my closet to make room for yours. Make a list of things you think you’ll need, and we’ll stop at the Walmart later. You know, bathroom stuff or food or anything. I want you to feel comfortable here.”
“What if one of your parents comes down here looking for you?” She bit her lower lip. Manny approached her and ran his hands down her arms then took her hands in his.
“One, they never come down to my wing of the house, citing that I’m old enough to need privacy. Two, my dad’s at work and I’m going down to the other side of the house to find my mom right now. And three, they’re going to find out you’re living here eventually and we’re going to have to figure out how to tell them… soon. Preferably not today. I really don’t want anyone else to try to talk us out of this.”
“Me neither,” she said with a sigh. “Hey, can I ask you a kind of serious question?” Aloise glanced toward the open door to Manny’s suite and he walked over to close and lock the door. He took her hands and guided her over to the couch to sit together.
They turned toward one another so their knees were touching, and they were facing each other as best they could while sitting side-by-side on the couch. Manny waited for Aloise to gather the courage to ask him whatever she was curious about, but he suspected he already knew.
“Have you ever… you know…” Although she maintained eye contact, she noticeably squirmed in her seat.
“Had sex?” He raised his eyebrows and shook his head. “No. You?”
“Are you kidding? I’ve never even been allowed to have a boyfriend, remember?”
“We don’t have to… do… anything,” Manny said. “Until we’re ready. I’m not going to put any pressure on you. That’s not why I’m marrying you.”
“Why are you marrying me?”
“Because it feels like the right thing to do.” Manny shrugged. “I don’t know how else to describe the way I’m feeling.”
“Me too.” Her face lit up like she was relieved he understood how she felt. “I feel so drawn to you, like we were…”
“Meant to be together,” they said at the same time.
“Yeah.” She nodded.
“Okay, can I ask you a serious question?”
“If we’re going to be married in a few hours, we should probably feel comfortable asking each other anything we want, right?”
“How do you feel about… children?” Manny was uncomfortable asking this, but the topic was kind of important. “Should we, you know, get some sort of protection when we go to Walmart?”
“We probably should.” She nodded. “Not that I don’t want to have kids someday, but we are really young. And we’re going to get a lot of flak for getting married without telling anyone.”
“True,” Manny said. “Okay, so that will be the number one thing on the top of our grocery list.”
Aloise giggled. “Have you ever bought any of them before?”
“Is that going to be weird?”
“Probably.” Manny laughed. “Maybe we should buy one of each kind and try them all out to see which kind we like best.”
“We can only buy twelve different kinds because we are totally going through the self-checkout lane.”
“Agreed!” Manny offered Aloise a high-five and then pushed himself off the couch. “Let me go find my birth certificate or we won’t have any need to shop at all."
“Go,” she said. “I’m going to paw through your underwear drawer and try on some of your T-shirts.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Manny said.
“Why? Do you have holes in your underwear?” She reached for his waistband, as if she was going to look down his pants.
“No, you can look through my underwear drawer all you want.” He pulled her into his arms and nuzzled her neck. “But if I see you in just my T-shirt, we’re not going to make it to the county clerk’s office before closing.”
“You know what I just realized?” She cocked her head to the side and Manny waited for her to answer her own rhetorical question. “We’ve never made out. We’ve kissed, like a couple of times but that’s it.”
“We made out by my Jeep last night,” Manny reminded her.
“For a couple of minutes.” She shrugged.
“I’m going to refer back to my comment about you not trying on my T-shirts,” he said. “Let’s wait until we have a marriage license in our hands and then we can make out all night if you want.”
“Okay, go talk to your mom.” She gently shoved him away and he smiled at her as he exited the room and closed the door behind him.
A stand alone novella in the All's Fair in Love and Sports Series by Julie L. Spencer.