Blog Tour: Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid
“What are you doing?”
“What do you think I’m doing?” He unbuttoned his pants and unzipped them.
Perhaps it didn’t make any sense, but I didn’t want Greg to see me naked. Not when I was still furious with him. Not when he was angry with me. Even though we’d been together for eighteen years, married for fourteen, and made two children together, when we were arguing I didn’t like the vulnerability of bare skin.
“Oh, no. No, no, no.” I sat forward in the tub, hiding my nakedness. “We haven’t talked through everything yet. I’m angry with you, and I know you’re still upset with me.”
He shrugged. “Then we’ll have angry intercourse.”
“We’re not having intercourse.”
“Then I’ll give you angry cunnilingus.”
Damn him, but that made me laugh.
Greg’s eyebrows bounced once on his forehead and he grinned, his pants falling to the ground.
“I don’t want any of your angry oral sex, thank you very much.” I crossed my arms over my chest, endeavoring to keep my expression stern . . . and failing.
“Of course you do. Angry oral sex is the best kind of oral sex. And we are so rarely angry with each other. We should take advantage of this opportunity.” His thumbs hooked into his boxers with the intent of pulling them down.
“Do not take off your boxers.”
Greg didn’t remove his boxers, but he didn’t withdraw the threat of his thumbs either. “You know, I’ve heard it’s a good idea to fight while naked. I think I read that in a very important medical text book written by Albert Einstein’s cousin, Dr. Olga Einstein.”
I sensed Greg stiffen further and straighten. He turned from me to face our neighbor. “Who the hell are you?”
Matty’s eyes were wide, clearly confused, and more than a little concerned when they met mine briefly, then flickered back to my husband’s. “Uh, I’m Matt.”
“Mat? As in, a small rectangular piece of carpet made for the express purpose of cleaning dirt from one’s shoes?”
Greg’s impolite words and clipped tone pulled me from my stupor and I smacked his shoulder. “Greg!” I pulled my towel tighter and walked around my rude husband to stand in between the two men.
“Oh, you’re Greg,” Matty said, sounding less confused, but more wary.
“Yeah. I’m Greg,” he growled, making no attempt to disguise his hostility; but then, he never did.
“Greg, this is Matthew Simmons. He is our next door neighbor.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes,” I ground out, “that is so.”
Matty, holding a kitchen towel, gave his palms another wipe before reaching out his hand to Greg. “Nice to meet you . . . ?”
Greg made no movement to accept the handshake, instead opting to narrow his eyes threateningly. “Why don’t you have a shirt on, Matt?”
Matty’s eyes widened and he dropped his hand as he glanced at his bare chest. “I, uh-I was just—”
“He was replacing the garbage disposal,” I supplied, irritated with Greg’s bad-mannered behavior. Furthermore, I was irritated that I was irritated, because my husband was home. He was home! He was here and I’d missed him and, instead of taking advantage of his presence, I was standing in my towel in the living room being irritated.
“My garbage disposal?” Greg’s frown was severe as his gaze moved to me, ripe with accusation. “You let him replace my garbage disposal?”
“Your garbage disposal? What are you talking about?”
“I just installed that disposal.”
“No, you didn’t. It’s been three years. And Grace ruined it in January.”
“How did she do that?”
“She put Jack’s rock collection in the sink and turned it on as revenge for him hiding her Barbie dolls.”
Greg blinked and he appeared to be digesting this information with some difficulty. At last he said, “Grace has Barbie dolls? When did she get Barbie dolls?”
Sigh . . .
I glanced at the ceiling and shook my head, then turned to poor Professor Matthew Simmons. “Thank you for your help, Matt. I really appreciate it.”
Matty’s eyes moved between us, then finally settled on me. “No problem. I’ll just get my tools and . . . other stuff.” He tossed his thumb over his shoulder, lingered awkwardly in the doorway for two seconds, then disappeared back into the kitchen.
I slid my eyes to Greg and found my husband still staring at the spot where Matty had been standing, an angry frown creasing his tired features.
“What is wrong with you?” I asked in a tight whisper, gripping the towel at my chest.
“What is wrong with me?”
“Yes. What was that?” I motioned to the kitchen, to Matt, keeping my voice low.
My husband’s eyes flashed and he spoke through gritted teeth, “A man, who happens to live next door to my family, takes off his clothes in my home while my beautiful wife is walking around in nothing but a towel . . .” Greg’s typically dry delivery was intoned with an extra helping of scathing sarcasm as he added, “Yeah. Seems legit.”
It took me a few seconds to recover from his insinuation, but when I did I forgot to lower my voice. “I used to babysit him, Greg! I changed his diapers.”
“Babysit him? What?” He looked truly perplexed, like I’d revealed Matt was responsible for all the Star Wars prequels, but then his eyes narrowed again as though he’d just realized something important. “Wait, so you’ve seen his penis?”
I gasped, then inadvertently laughed my frustration. “Really? That’s the take-home message? That I’ve seen his penis? If it makes you feel any better, it was about this long.” I held my thumb and forefinger apart to indicate an inch.
At the same moment Matt reappeared in the living room—shirt on—and unwisely said, “Hey! I was only two years old. It’s at least fifteen times larger now.”
“Fifteen times? Prone to exaggeration, aren’t you?” Greg drawled, giving Matt a look of plain disbelief.
“Not longer, larger.” Matt shrugged innocently, like he was clarifying the size of his sofa and not his man parts. “I was referring to volume, not necessarily length—though it is—”
I tucked my fingers under her chin and lifted her face to mine, stealing a kiss; true distress clawed at my chest, traveled like a spike down my spine. I didn’t want to guess, or entertain any possibilities. Inevitably, my mind always jumped to the worst possible conclusion whenever I saw her inexplicably sad (i.e. brain tumor).
Even so, I attempted to keep my tone level and calm. “What could be too important for the greeting card aisle? It’s the perfect place to tell me anything and everything. There’s likely a card we can buy afterward for the occasion.”
She huffed a laugh, laughed a bit more, and then began crying again.
Her laughter was a good sign, so I went with it.
“Let’s see . . .” I shuffled us both to the rack and plucked a greeting card from it. “You tell me if this one describes your situation.” I cleared my throat and began to read, “Dear Brother, Many blessings on your fortieth birthday. May your girlfriend bring home that hot girl she works with and suggest a three-way.”
Fiona began laughing in earnest, burying her face against my chest.
I returned the original card, walked us a few steps farther down the aisle, and selected another card at random. “Here’s another. Dear Friend, Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I am so lucky to have you in my life, especially after that time I hit you with my car and salted the earth around your house.
I cracked a smile as I grabbed another card. She was laughing so hard she could barely breathe.
“Dear Co-worker, Get well soon. Sorry about the scorpions in your bed. And the leprosy. And the chlamydia.”
“Stop! I can’t- I can’t breathe.” Fiona gripped the front of my shirt as though she needed my solid frame to remain upright.
I took one more step and picked a new card. “Dear Dad, Happy Father’s Day. I know I’m not your favorite child, but I hope you will . . . you will . . .” I stopped reading because Fiona had stopped laughing.
In fact, she’d grown eerily still, though her fists remained anchored in my shirt. I don’t think she was even breathing.
She released an audible exhale—as though bracing herself—and titled her head back. New tears shone in her eyes and she looked . . . emotional.
Not sad. Not worried or scared. Just emotional.
And I knew.
“I’m going to be a dad,” I said.
She nodded, her mouth wanting to smile but her eyes betraying the disordered chaos of her thoughts.
I had no idea what she was thinking.
I had no idea what I was thinking.
But I felt like I’d just been punched, slapped across the face. And it felt scary. And good.
I felt like I was the king of the universe, the luckiest man alive.
I felt panic, because I didn’t know how to be a dad, at least not the kind I wanted to be.
I felt a bizarre surge of pride, of accomplishment.
I felt a heady wave of possessiveness, for this woman I loved, for the child we’d made. I felt responsible.
But I did not feel burdened.
And I knew nothing would ever be the same.
About the Author
SEX! It all started with sex, between my parents. Personally I don’t like thinking about it, but whatever works for you is a-ok with me. No judgment. The sex happened in California and much of my life also occurred in that state until I moved from the land of nuts (almonds), wine, silicon… boobs, and heavy traffic to the southeast US. Like most writers I like to write, but let’s get back to sex. Eventually I married and gave birth to 2 small people-children (boy-6, girl-4 as of this writing).By day I’m a biomedical researcher with focus on rare diseases. By night I’m a knitter, sewer, lino block carver, fabric printer, soap maker, and general crafter. By the wee hours of the morning or when I’m intoxicated I love to listen to the voices in my head and let them tell me stories. I hope you enjoy their stories.