"Good morning, Gorgeous. How are you today?"
I looked up to see Eric's familiar face craned around the open door to my office. His hazel eyes sparkled as he grinned at me and set an insulated cup on my desk. His dark hair was still slightly mussed by the breezy day and his tie was flipped over his shoulder. Tiny laugh lines radiated from his eyes and around his mouth from his ever-present smile. My heart lurched at the sight of him, but I resolutely suppressed those feelings and returned Eric's grin.
"I'm just fine. Thanks for the latte. How are you this lovely Friday morning?"
The smug and satisfied smile he shot me as he turned away was all the answer I got. I was used to that. Eric had a habit of smiling at me that way and then disappearing. Not for the first time, I cursed my luck at finding the perfect man for me, only to find out that he belonged to another. I met Eric ten months ago when I started this job. Better pay, better benefits, the possibility of one day becoming a partner; I never once considered turning down the offer. If I had known I would fall in love with a married man, I might have reconsidered.
Eric was my mentor: another lawyer assigned to look out for me, show me the ropes, and help me get settled in my new position. He was intelligent, down-to-earth, and witty in a way that appealed to my own sense of humor. It didn't hurt that he was the sexiest man I had ever laid eyes on. For me, the attraction had been immediate and irresistible. And it came crashing down around me that same afternoon when I met his wife, Kasia.
She was everything I wasn't: a stunning redhead with the greenest eyes I had ever seen, set into a heart-shaped face with high cheekbones. It would have been easy to hate her, if she hadn't been so darned nice. She was as intelligent and charming as her husband and I felt the pull of attraction for the second time that day. It never failed that when I found someone I was attracted to, especially a woman, they were invariably unavailable. I sighed in regret and shook her hand as Eric introduced her.
Now, I counted Kasia and Eric as my closest friends. It had started with a dinner invitation. I was alone in a new city and they befriended me. Kasia asked me to go shopping with her. Eric kept me entertained over lunch every day with tales of their friends and family. Kasia always had some activity planned for us over the weekend, whether it be more shopping, a movie, or the occasional camping trip. Eric was a few years older than me but Kasia and I were the same age. We all got along like peas in a pod. No conversation was too risqué, no topic taboo. We talked about everything and anything. They both knew I was bisexual and had accepted it without batting an eye.
The more I got to know them, the more attached I became. They were kind and generous and devoted to each other. I envied them their love. It was by turns quiet, and warm, and silly, and all the things I had always hoped to find for myself. Now I had, but it was too late. Telling them how I felt would only create problems for them and cost me my best friends. Especially now that they were trying to get pregnant. So I kept my feelings to myself and enjoyed the time we spent together. I tried not to think about how much I loved them both.
With a sigh, I opened the most urgent case file and went to work. I didn't see Eric again until almost lunchtime and there he was, sticking his head in my door again.
"Hey Nina, Kasia's going to be joining us today, okay?"
"Great, just let me freshen up and I'll be ready to go."
He nodded and I headed to the ladies' room quick. I studied my face as I touched up my makeup. Pixieish would be the best word: short blond hair, dark brown eyes, an upturned nose, with a dimple in one cheek. I'd always wanted to be beautiful and elegant, but I was nothing more than perpetually cute. No use worrying about something I couldn't change. Eric was waiting for me when I came out and together we headed off to meet Kasia for lunch. She was waiting outside our favorite Chinese restaurant.
Kasia greeted me with our customary hug and a kiss on the cheek. Eric got a lot more than a kiss on the cheek. I could see her tongue dart out to tease his and had to bite my lip to keep from moaning at the sight. Down girl, don't even think about it.
I looked away while they continued kissing and waited until I heard Eric clear his throat. He bent and whispered something in Kasia's ear. If the breeze hadn't been blowing just right, I probably wouldn't have heard him ask her, "Is it all set?" She nodded and pulled the door open so we could go in.
Is what all set?, I wondered. I didn't have long to worry about it. After we were seated and our order taken, Kasia and Eric both grinned at me.
"What? You two are up to something... I've seen that look before."
"You tell her."
"No, you tell her."
"Would one of you quit arguing and tell me whatever it is you want to tell me, please?" They had a silent argument with lots of finger pointing before they decided that Eric would tell me.
"We found a house."
I looked from Eric to Kasia and we squealed in unison. I got up and hugged them both, hard. They had been looking at houses for almost three months now and hadn't been able to find anything they liked at all. This was major news. I started asking all sorts of questions.
"So where is it? How many bedrooms? What's the neighborhood like?"
They just grinned at me and refused to answer my questions. Then Kasia relented some.
"Actually, we'd like you to come look at it with us tonight. We're going through it again before we put an offer in. We already told out agent that we were bringing someone along. Please say you'll come. We can have dinner together after to celebrate... " She looked at me pleadingly and Eric was wearing the puppy dog eyes he always used to get his own way. It wasn't like I needed to be convinced.
"Sure, I'd love to come look at it." We made plans to meet at their apartment after work and go from there to see the house of their dreams.
The house was beautiful. And huge. It was a contemporary, open floor plan: six bedrooms, four full baths, two half baths, huge family room, full finished basement that could easily be converted to more living space. I couldn't understand why two people needed so much room. The neighborhood was wonderful, quiet and out of the way with large, three acre lots for each house. It was easy to see why Eric and Kasia were in love with the house, but damn it was big. I looked at the asking price on the spec sheet and wondered if they could afford it. Eric made good money at the firm and Kasia ran a very successful business as an interior designer, but still... I winced as I looked at the estimated monthly payment.
"So, what do you think? Do you like it?" Eric was standing just behind me, reading the spec sheet over my shoulder.
"I love it. I think it's a beautiful house. Pretty big, though."
He nodded, "Yeah and that's deliberate on our part. We're hoping to have a big family. We don't want to buy a house and then have to sell it and buy a bigger one later. This is for keeps."
Kasia and the real estate agent joined us. After shaking our hands, the agent excused herself for another appointment and the three of us headed to dinner. None of us could decide where to eat. Kasia and I kept suggesting places and Eric would agree. Finally, Kasia had enough and made a unilateral decision.
"Let's just get a couple of pizzas. We'll take them back to our place and eat sprawled out in the living room."
Eric laughed. "Don't you just love a woman with a plan?"
Oh god, yes. More than you know. I muttered a non-committal agreement and hoped my thoughts didn't show on my face. An hour and a half later, as predicted, we were sprawled in their living room, stuffed with pizza and nursing our after-dinner coffee as we talked about the new house. All that pizza sitting in my stomach, combined with the long day, had my eyelids drooping. I had to go home now, while I still could. I got up and put on my shoes.
"Nina, wait." Kasia and Eric exchanged a meaningful look before Kasia continued, "Eric and I have something we want to talk to you about. Can you stay a little longer, please?"
Something in her tone was different. They were different. Gone was the relaxed atmosphere of dinner and dreams. They were both vibrating with an inner tension that my own gut picked up and amplified. I sat back down on the sofa and waited for them to continue. They sat down on the coffee table in front of me and had another silent conversation that consisted of raised eyebrows and shaking heads. Apparently, Eric was elected because he's the one who reached out for my hand and held it gently in both of his.
"Nina, Kasia and I have had something we've wanted to talk to you about for a while but frankly, we just didn't know how you would take it. Now, with this house situation, we can't put it off any longer."
Panic and irrational fear welled up inside me. "What is it? Have I done something wrong?"
"No, of course not!" Kasia reached out and took my other hand as she spoke. "We want to ask you something."
"Ask me what?"
"We'd like you to move in with us." Eric could not have surprised me more if he had grown a third eye in the middle of his nose. "We've talked about this a lot, Nina. Kasia and I both have feelings for you. To be honest about it, we're both in love with you. I know this is probably a shock and we want to give you some time to think it over, but we want you to share that house with us and join our family."
.... There is more of this story ...