Unmarry me, p.1

Unmarry Me, page 1

 

Unmarry Me
 


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Unmarry Me


  Praise for Unzipped and Nicki Reed

  ‘Hilarious, intelligent, snappy and sassy: Unzipped is a knockout.’

  TONI JORDAN, AUTHOR OF ADDITION, FALL GIRL AND NINE DAYS

  ‘Unzipped is like every great girl-meets-boy story, but better. Oh and it’s girl-meets-girl.’ JESS RUDD,

  AUTHOR OF CAMPAIGN RUBY AND RUBY BLUES

  ‘Reed is a very good writer. Intelligent, sure of herself and emotive without going overboard…It’s not lesbian erotica, it’s a love story, minus a man.’ SUNDAY STAR TIMES

  ‘A well-paced read with likeable characters.’ NZ HERALD

  ‘The writing is reminiscent of a Bridget Jones style…

  A light, fun, easy read with genuine erotic passages that should delight most women readers.’ READINGS MONTHLY

  ‘Unzipped offers sass, sex and plenty of lesbian-inspired, soap opera drama. Its witty, dialogue-heavy pace will make it amusing for some—the subject matter educational for others.’ MX

  ‘This is chick lit—perhaps that should be les lit—with a bit of class. Nicki Reed writes with an assured voice and Unzipped has a singular charm all on its own.’ AGE

  ‘An entertaining and intelligent read.’ NEXT (NZ)

  ‘Unzipped shows the messy, painful and ecstatic reality of love and what can happen when you let go of a plan…Verdict: real, funny and a little curious’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

  ‘Reed’s dialogue is sharp, humour is plentiful and the tone is wry. The slapstick sex…is such a strength of Reed’s writing that she should give masterclasses to other authors.’ AUSTRALIAN

  ‘Smart, with an endearing heroine and steamy sex scenes. The joy of this narrative is how change can come, and how it should be embraced.’ SUNDAY AGE

  Nicki Reed lives in Melbourne with her husband and three sons. Her first novel was Unzipped (2012). Nicki says writing Unzipped and Unmarry Me is the best fun she’s ever had.

  The Text Publishing Company

  Swann House

  22 William Street

  Melbourne Victoria 3000

  Australia

  textpublishing.com.au

  Copyright © 2015 Nicki Reed

  The moral rights of the author have been asserted.

  All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously.

  First published by The Text Publishing Company, 2015

  Cover and page design by Text

  Typeset by J&M Typesetting

  National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:

  Creator: Reed, Nicole, M., author.

  Title: Unmarry me / by Nicki Reed

  ISBN: 9781925240047 (paperback)

  ISBN: 9781925095869 (ebook)

  Dewey Number: A823.4

  Subjects: Man-woman relationships

  For my sister, the beautiful and brilliant Erin Ryman.

  Seven years younger and a million years smarter.

  I love you, Erin. Thanks for being mine.

  CONTENTS

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  1.

  New Year’s Eve is both a great and not-great day for your wedding anniversary. You can do something special because there are special things happening all over town, but you’ve got to ramp it up to make it special for you.

  The restaurant is full, loud, and I swear the building is swaying from the top down, like a stack of dishes or a top-heavy, ten-tier cake. There’s a private party upstairs, people coming and going all night. Where they got all those Viking headdresses I’ll never know.

  Mark leans back in his chair. ‘Why did I order dessert? I’m not going to fit it in.’ He undoes the top button of his jeans. ‘That’s better.’

  He has a smudge in the corner of his mouth and I’d like to bite his delicious bottom lip. Two years married and there’s no way I’m sick of this guy. I’d lick the gravy off his face, right here, right now, if it wouldn’t get me arrested. Although it looks like you can do anything here, as long as you’re dressed as a Viking.

  ‘Dinner is nothing without dessert,’ I say.

  ‘I love how you start your order with dessert, Rube.’

  ‘I love how you look in that shirt.’ Navy blue suits him. It’s his eyes. They look bluer, serious, fun. ‘I’m looking forward to getting that shirt off you. Let’s find a quiet spot on the way home, somewhere with a view of the city. We can have fireworks and fireworks. If you know what I mean.’

  ‘I like the way you think, Ms Wheeler.’ He reaches over and takes my hand. ‘Rube,’ he sighs, ‘I’d be nothing without you.’

  ‘Is there a hidden camera someplace?’ I lift the tablecloth, take a peek. ‘You’re not going to cry, are you?’

  He laughs. ‘Maybe. Listen, they’re playing our song.’ Renée Geyer’s ‘Say I love you’. Mark has a hundred songs that are our song. ‘Remember, you wrote “I love you” on the windscreen? I didn’t clean it off for ages,’ he says.

  We hold hands across the table. When I was single I’d complain to anyone who’d listen, usually my sister, Peta, about pathetic, love-struck fools who couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Now I’m one of them.

  ‘Mark, I feel a bit crap sitting here celebrating our marriage when Peta and BJ can’t. It’s been less than a month since their marriage was shot down. We should have done something.’

  ‘You did. Your YouTube?’

  There’s a YouTube of me at the High Court. I was trying to make a colourful little protest but things got nasty with security. You see me running, and then I stand with my hands on my hips and blow out air. There isn’t any sound, but you can see I’m saying, Fuck, fuck, oh, fuck. Then you see me talk to a couple of men. They point, I nod, and then I dive into some bushes. It’s a proper dive, Olympian. You see the branches part and then straighten. Then you see a hand pop out of the bushes and snag the bright red sandal that’s lying on its side at the edge of the garden bed.

  ‘It’s not my YouTube. I didn’t make it. And it didn’t really do anything except prove how weak we all are. Don’t you care?’

  ‘Of course I do. It’s going to happen. Eventually,’ he says, confident, almost defiant.

  ‘Eventually is the most boring word in the world,’ I say. ‘Along with interesting.’

  Still, I guess Mark would have a better idea than most. As a government solicitor, he’s often in Canberra; his head office is just down the road from the High Court. He used to work for a big law firm in Melbourne; he was on the fastest fast track to lawyer stardom—a partnership—but he chucked it all in for an easier life (he says he chucked it in for me but that
s a lot pressure on both of us, so I pretend I don’t believe him).

  ‘Tonight is about us,’ Mark says. ‘Let’s not let Peta ruin our anniversary.’

  ‘She’s my sister, Mark, so she just might. Bloody stupid High Court overturning the same-sex marriage law. Shit. I don’t want it tonight, either.’ I want anniversary food, and anniversary sex. He’s right, enough thinking about Peta.

  The desserts arrive, thank God. Mark has a degustation plate of twelve sweet confections on one platter. They shine and sparkle like an edible party. I ordered the panna cotta but now I want what he’s got.

  I’m digging into my panna cotta and thinking about edible parties, and regular parties, and wedding parties. And how sexy Mark looked at our wedding and how rapt I was, and still am, that Peta didn’t want him anymore. I want to be kissing his lips in a hundred years’ time—if I still have lips when I’m a hundred and thirty-seven—and he wants to be kissing mine.

  Then, before he’s taken a bite of his cucumber sorbet, I’m thinking about Peta and BJ’s wedding, the thrill of it, BJ in her suit, Peta in her long silver dress, smiles and tears all round. And the rubbish feeling of the High Court taking it all away four days later, The Girls packing their bags and heading home as unmarried as they were when they arrived in Canberra.

  And then, sitting opposite Mark’s loving gaze, I suddenly know how to fix it.

  ‘Mark, I’ve just had an idea. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before tonight. A total epiphany moment. Angels sang.’

  ‘Angels, huh?’ He’s left the sorbet and moved on to the rosewater and pistachio semifreddo. ‘Does this moment involve me in a superhero costume?’

  ‘You don’t need a costume,’ I say. ‘You’re already my Superman.’

  ‘Why thank you, Lois.’

  ‘I think we should get a divorce.’

  It is the double take of double takes. His eyes widen and he hits his head on the wall behind.

  ‘But I thought we were having a good time. Why? What did I do? It was a text, a couple of texts. I was trying to get rid of her. Have you been going through my phone? I mean what the hell, Ruby? I’d never do that to you.’ He stands up, drags his wallet out of his pocket and dumps a couple of hundreds on the table.

  ‘Wait,’ I say.

  ‘I need to walk,’ he says. ‘I’ll see you later.’

  ‘But. Wait. Wait. It’s not like that. Who’s her?’

  2.

  There are fireworks glinting in the rear-view mirror and I’m sure they’re beautiful, sparking against the city’s silhouette. When I get home there’s no sign of Mark.

  I lie on the couch and watch our wedding DVD, again, and wonder if the woman could be in the crowd. Who is texting my husband? And how can he think I’d go through his phone? Trust is trust. And where is he? I don’t like him walking the streets by himself on New Year’s Eve. Anything could happen.

  Where the hell is he?

  Has he gone to her?

  It’s probably Danielle, his PA. She’s young, has a Czech accent, and she’s smart and funny. I used to like her, the bloody man-stealing bitch. It might not be Danielle.

  It wouldn’t be Peta, would it? The things you say to yourself. Still, it’s happened before. All right, she was drunk and lonely and jealous, and Mark and I weren’t a thing yet, but it happened. Good, though, because there’d be no Celeste otherwise. She’s two and a half and she lives with Peta and BJ; we have her every second weekend. Celeste has Mark’s blue eyes and dark hair and her mother’s smooth oval face.

  I watch the wedding DVD to see if Peta’s taking any interest in Mark and see the evidence of my crazy thinking: she’s BJ’s forever and ever, married or not. BJ and Peta, whispering and smiling together, the rest of the crowd with their eyes on us. We stood under eucalyptus in the gardens of the Shrine and made our vows and, no, Peta wasn’t thinking about Mark.

  His key in the lock.

  He bumps through the front door, sweaty, glistening. He’s loud and I hope he hasn’t woken up Mr and Mrs P, the old couple who live in the flat across from us.

  I want to explain the divorce thing but he puts up a hand and shakes his head. He crashes down the hallway, slams the bathroom door behind him.

  ‘You okay?’ I knock.

  ‘Awrfff.’

  I open the bathroom door. There’s a gust of vomit: our anniversary meal from back to front, sweet, savoury, plus beer. He must have stopped off at the pub. Or her place. My stomach rolls. I taste bile, swallow it. One more second of watching Mark on his knees clutching the toilet bowl and I’ll have to nudge him over. I shut the door on the stink and spend the minutes wiping kitchen benches that don’t need wiping. Great, I’m turning into Peta.

  ‘We need to talk,’ Mark stands in the kitchen doorway with a towel around his waist. He’s strong, not as skinny as when I first met him, and he looks better with a little weight on. He’s still wet because he uses towels for decoration.

  ‘Yes, we do,’ I say. ‘But let’s wait until morning. Come to bed. Let’s see if a couple of orgasms can help.’

  Love is weird. I’ve asked for a divorce, he’s texting some woman, or not, he’s angry, and I feel guilty for no proper reason, but boy, I want him. He doesn’t want to kiss at first. I press, and he gets involved, our teeth bump. He tastes like toothpaste. We lean against the fridge and the photos and magnets hit the floor.

  ‘Come on, Boydy.’

  He lets me drag him to our room.

  3.

  Mark likes to start the year with a run. He says it’s his custom, but I don’t think it’s going to happen today. I bring him breakfast in bed and he makes a face.

  ‘I’m not sure I can handle it,’ he says, eyeing the bacon. He’s pale and waxy, and his lips are white.

  ‘Boydy, it’s hangover food.’

  ‘If you say so.’ He sits up and plumps a pillow behind his back.

  We eat in silence. No, I’m not putting off the big conversation; I’m eating my eggs. I’ll find out about this woman (at some point, when I’m not as busy with work and everything, I’ll probably have to kill her), yep, I’ll find out about her and then I’ll get that divorce.

  Mark wolfs down his breakfast, then leans forward and places his tray at the end of the bed. ‘First things first, Rube, she’s a client. I tried to be polite, but nuance can be lost with texting. When she sent me lingerie selfies I stopped replying. Look,’ he picks up his phone, ‘that’s her number.’

  She’s listed as Crazy Beautiful.

  I thought I was his crazy beautiful.

  ‘Why can’t you call her “Fuck Off and Leave Me Alone”? Why do you have to have her number at all?’

  ‘As I said,’ Mark is using his patient, I’m-talking-to-a-two-year-old voice, ‘she’s a client. I have to take her calls and I like to mentally prepare myself.’

  ‘You must have done something.’

  ‘What was that bloke’s name on our honeymoon?’ He smiles.

  Seriously, you swim a lap of a big Balinese pool; you hang off the ledge and say hi to some stranger, who then wants to find out more about you. Your new husband sees you talking to some hot Spanish guy and sulks for the rest of the afternoon and half the night.

  He has me cornered but I won’t go quietly. ‘Mark, I was being polite. I didn’t do anything.’

  ‘Well, same here.’ He slugs his cup of tea down. ‘I didn’t do anything to make her think I was available.’

  ‘What’s her real name?’

  ‘So you can Google and make it worse? Not a chance. Anyway, I’m not the only person who calls her that. She’s crazy.’

  ‘And beautiful.’ Why can’t this mystery woman be called Crazy and So-so? Crazy but with a Good Personality?

  ‘Yes, she’s beautiful. But if you disappointed her she’d boil your bunny and come back with a bigger pot for your dog.’

  In my mind, I have it. The dark kitchen, the smell. Hmm, what’s cooking? You walk over. There’s a pair of paws hanging ove
r the side of the pot and, in the boiling, foaming water, you glimpse a dead, open eye. ‘That’s revolting, Mark.’

  ‘I don’t want anything to do with her. End of.’

  ‘Still, how could you think I’d go through your phone?’ He can go through my phone all he wants. The worst he’d find is the occasional glance at pics of Daniel Craig half-naked. Maybe I should clear my history.

  ‘You’d just asked me for a divorce.’

  ‘Okay,’ I say. ‘I can see how that would look.’

  It wouldn’t look like our wedding photo on my bedside table. Mark is laughing at something I said, his head back, and I’m leaning against him as if he’s the thing that keeps me upright.

  ‘This is about Peta, isn’t it?’

  ‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I don’t want to be married while she can’t be.’

  He reaches across me for the tea I’m not drinking. I don’t mind sharing and he sips from my ceramic BEST SISTER EVER mug. ‘How is us divorcing meant to make a difference?’

  ‘Boydy, what if everyone stood up and said to the government, stuff it, we’re not staying married if they can’t be?’ If I wasn’t sitting in bed right now I’d be pacing the floor, excited, energised by the best idea I’ve ever had. ‘What if we all, all of us married types, said, take your unequal laws and shove ’em? What if we had a gigantic citizen’s divorce?’

  I can see it. Out the front of the Births, Deaths and Marriages in Collins Street waiting for the doors to open at 9 a.m. the line goes around the block, almost down to the Yarra River, couple after couple, turning up to divorce for marriage equality.

  Making Mark laugh is my favourite thing. I could always make him laugh, way more than Peta ever did; it made her jealous, and I liked that—it was the one thing I had that she didn’t. Also, my hair is better, shorter, less wild, much easier to manage. He’s still laughing. Normally I want to have it off with him when he’s in stitches. But he’s laughing his head off right now; I can see his fillings and the punch bag thing at the back of this throat, and I’ve never been more serious.

  ‘I’m not being funny, Mark.’ I cross my arms.

  He stops laughing. ‘You want to divorce me so Peta and BJ can marry?’

 
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