"Why are we here?" he asked when she stopped the car.
"Because I want your opinion."
A car pulled up behind hers. Claire adjusted her rearview mirror, smiling in recognition. She got out of the car, John did the same.
"Hi Misty. This is John."
"Hi John. So, you really do like this place then?"
"I do. A lot. I just wanted John to see it before I make an offer."
"An offer?" he asked.
"On the house."
"I'm sorry," he said, tugging on her arm a little. "You're what?"
"I want to buy this house."
"Why what? I told you I was going to move out of my parents' house."
"Well, yeah, I assumed you meant you were going to get an apartment."
"No, I have enough to put a down payment down. Why would I rent?"
"And I'm here because?"
"If you don't like it I'm not going to buy it."
"Because, silly, I am asking you to live with me."
"You're what now?"
"John. I know you're hearing what I'm saying."
"You want me to live with you?"
"Without being married?"
"For now. I mean, one day I hope we will."
"Me, too," he said, lacing his fingers through hers.
"This house is available now and I fell in love with it the second I saw it."
"So, is that a yes?"
"You really like the place?"
"Yes. It's perfect."
"It's rather large."
"Yes," she said.
"How many bedrooms?"
"Four upstairs plus a guest room on the first floor, but I figured it could be our office."
"Well, sure. It's big enough we could both have desks in there. We could get a computer here for you, modems here and at your office so you could work from here if you needed to."
"I don't have a lot of bring home work, Claire."
"I know that, I do, I was just saying. It's possible."
"What about the other bedrooms?"
"What about them? I mean, I'll do something with them until there are other people to occupy them."
"Well, eventually, right?"
They walked through the house, looking and talking about things. Real hardwood floors or ceramic tile on just about all of the floors with nice, plush carpet on the others. A kitchen that was to die for.
"You really love it?" he asked back in her car.
"You want to buy it?"
"And you're not buying it assuming I'll be there?"
"Well, no, not right away. I mean, whenever you'd want to live there, sure, but you must have a lease and stuff. I wouldn't buy a house that you didn't like or potentially want to live in with me, though."
They talked about things in the house they liked and didn't or that needed work on the way back to his apartment. There were very few things they didn’t like. Some things needed work, but it was to be expected. He was a pretty handy guy, there wasn't much they'd discussed he couldn't do himself.
"What if I wanted to buy it with you?" he asked once they'd settled in his place.
"Really? You'd want to."
"Yes, really. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't feel right mooching off you."
"You wouldn’t be. I mean, I assumed you'd help pay for the mortgage and bills."
"And if something happens?"
"You having doubts about us, Princess?"
"No, but it's a logical question."
"I'd sign away my half to you."
"I don't need a house without you, Claire."
"Okay. Let's think about it overnight. We can talk about it over breakfast."
"What about your parents?"
"They won't be thrilled, but they'll deal. They already know I spend nights here with you, so the damage is already done."
"You're sure? Staying here a night or two, having a toothbrush on my sink is not the same as cohabitating for good."
"Yes, John. I'm a big girl. They'd deal with my decision."
"And you're sure you're okay with living in sin with me?"
"You make it sound so scandalous. We love each other. I have no doubt the rest will come when we're ready for it. I just have to get out of my parents' house and get on with my life, which will lead to our life."
"You put an offer in and it takes how long to close?"
"Could be as fast as thirty days, could take up to ninety days. It could take longer, but I doubt it would in this case. My credit's good and yours has to be, too, with your business."
"So, a month or two? Maybe three? I don't know for sure, I've never done this before."
"So, time for us to have a small wedding?"
Well, we both know I don't have anyone to invite. You have your brother and parents. Grandparents are still in the picture, I assume."
"You just asked me to marry you. At least I think you did, and you're talking about my potential guest list."
"Don't you think you should let me answer first?"
"Well, first you need this," he said, sliding a box out of his pocket.
"You didn't have that on you this whole time?"
"No, it was in my nightstand. I got it when I went to the bathroom."
"So, then, Claire Standish, will you marry me?"
"You don't really expect us to get married in the next sixty days, do you?"
"Answer the question, Claire."
"Yes," she said.
"And, we can do it whenever you want to. I already talked to your parents. I'm not sure how thrilled your dad is about the idea of having me as his son-in-law, but he didn't threaten to shoot me or string me up by the nuts so I guess that's about as good as I'm going to get as far as any sort of blessing from him. I just feel better knowing we're committed to not just the house but each other before we put an offer in."
"So, when were you going to ask?"
"I'm not sure. I bought it back in December. Was thinking Christmas, but that seemed so contrived and Valentine's Day seemed worse. So, I was biding my time for the right moment."
"I guess you found it."
"So about those extra bedrooms," he said, tugging her onto his lap.
"When do we get to start working on filling them with little Bender's?"
"All three of them?"
"No, I think I can handle three, and maybe in another year. A house and a wedding, I think we'll be busy enough in the meantime."
"I suppose you're right."
"Are you in a hurry for some reason?" she asked as he rubbed her hips and ass once she settled on his lap.
"I figure we have five years to make up for."
"Oh, well, maybe we could pretend," she suggested.
"Yes. You know, to make sure we know exactly what we're doing when we decide we want to try."
"Hmm, that sounds like a great idea," he said, sliding her shirt over her head and off.
"It does, doesn't it?"
"Mm hmm," he murmured, capturing her mouth with his.
"I think we should invite Luke," he said, breaking the kiss.
"Why on earth should we do that?"
"Because if you'd found him even remotely sexually appealing we wouldn't be here today."
"He never stood a chance."
"Nope. I knew that day, knew there'd be no one else," she said, sliding his shirt off to join hers on the floor. "It was why I stayed away from Chicago after my freshman year."
"Wanna know a secret, Princess?"
"Sure," she whispered, touching him as she always liked to do.
"I knew it then, too."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com