Adam was in love. It was a storybook romance, or just about as near to one as you were likely to find in the real world. He and Brook had met in Intro to Economics, been instantly charmed by each other, and bonded further over coffee, then bowling, then a fancy dinner, and then ridiculously incredible sex back at her dorm room. Three years after that, he had popped the question on a cloudless night, and she had eagerly said yes. Their friends attributed an almost supernatural power to Adam and Brook: they never fought and never seemed to suffer from the boredom, jealousy, and minor irritations of any normal relationship. They had had a hard time winning over Brook's orthodox Jewish parents to the decidedly gentile Adam, but in the end their obvious love for one another prevailed. It was enough to make a more cynical person sick. The wedding was a week away, and from there an endless road of wedded bliss stretched out to the horizon.
But then came the trip to City Hall.
Adam blinked, not sure of what he was hearing. "Excuse me, can you say that again?"
The heavyset lady behind the counter looked up at them. She was obviously preparing a rant about stupid customers in her head. "Exactly what I said the first time, Mister Lutz. I can't give you a marriage certificate because you already have a marriage on the books. You'll have to get a legal divorce before you marry Miss Silver here."
Brook looked at Adam, puzzled. Adam leaned forward and put his hands on the counter. "I'm sorry, there has to be some sort of mistake in your registry. I've never been married before."
"That's not what the computer says," said the clerk without looking up.
"Well, the computer is wrong."
"It could be," she said. "But you'll have to take that up with someone else. I'm not about to become a party to bigamy."
"This is ridiculous," said Adam. "Who am I allegedly married to?"
The clerk turned her computer screen around so that Adam and Brook could see it. It showed a legally-registered marriage between one Adam Lutz and a Shelley Devitt, married for just over three years. "I don't know this person," said Adam. "Is it possibly you've got me confused with another Adam Lutz?'
"Another one with your social security number?" said the clerk. "Look, check with Kathy down in the filing department. If there isn't a physical marriage certificate, then maybe this is just a computer error."
That sent Adam and Brook off through the halls and back passageways of City Hall, all clogged with queues and bureaucrats rushing from one department to another. Adam walked quickly, and Brook struggled to keep pace with him. "You never told me you were married," she said with a fake pout.
"I'm not," he said. "Like I said earlier, it has to be some sort of mistake. You trust me, right?"
Brook giggled. "Of course I do. I was just teasing you, sweetheart."
But at the filing department things grew even more confused. Kathy, a sarcastic young girl who seemed put out by the idea of doing something for people, quickly found a paper marriage certificate. Adam's signature sat on the page, looking almost identical to the one he put on everything from restaurant cheques to the lease for their new apartment. Next to it was an unfamiliar squiggle that was clearly identified as that of Shelley Devitt, whoever she was.
"This is ridiculous," said Adam. He realized he had been saying that a lot, and was probably going to keep saying it for the conceivable future. "This is my handwriting, but ... I've never seen this piece of paper before. I sure haven't seen this Shelley Devitt before. This has to be some kind of forgery."
"Uh huh," said sarcastic Kathy. "You want me to do anything else?"
Brook looked at Adam, her lips pursed. "The wedding is in a week."
"It'll be fine." Adam turned to the clerk. "Can you give me the information of this Devitt? Or Mrs. Lutz, as you keep insisting. I need to contact her ... maybe we can get a quick annulment. However this happened, the marriage certainly hasn't been consummated."
"I'm sorry," Kathy said. "I can't give out other people's personal information."
"Not even my alleged wife?"
"Sorry sir. That's the policy."
Adam was just about ready to tear his hair out in frustration. But it was only going to get worse from here.
The next several hours were taken up by a whirlwind of phone calls and in-person visits to various bureaucratic institutions and the occasional law office. Through it all Adam felt like he was falling down the proverbial rabbit hole, only instead of leading to Wonderland it only lead to an underground network of further rabbit holes that all connected to each other in labyrinthine ways. One thing eventually became clear: in every conceivable legal way, he had been married to Shelley Devitt for the past three years.
Adam and Brook finally returned to their apartment with a bag of Chinese take-out, mentally exhausted. Adam collapsed on the couch with a plate of fried rice. "I have no idea what's going on, babe."
"It has to be some kind of weird mistake," said Brook. "And don't eat that on the couch. You'll wind up with little grains of rice in between the cushions."
She had a point, but Adam couldn't help but feel nagged – a distinctly unfamiliar experience. He made his way over to the dinner table, where Brook was scarfing down some wonton soup. They ate in silence for a couple minutes.
"So, the license was signed February 2010," said Brook. "We had just started dating then."
"Brook," Adam said. "There's nothing to it. You don't think I would have told you after all this time if I had a wife stashed away somewhere?"
"You never know," said Brook. "It could be a Jane Eyre type of situation."
Adam dug into a carton of chicken balls. "Never read that one."
"I told you we should have taken Victorian Lit together."
After a delicious and frankly gluttonous meal, Adam spent an evening with the phone book, calling up every S. Devitt in the tri-county area. Each greeted him with nothing but confusion. After that, he tried the S. Lutzes, and other than a nice chat with his cousin Shirley he didn't get anywhere. A listing for "Lutz, A & S" seemed promising, but it was just an old couple on the East Side who promptly tried to chat his ear off.
Adam had spent the past two hours phoning futilely, and was just about ready to throw his cell against the wall. Brook wandered into the room and massaged his shoulders. "There, there. We'll figure out what's going on. I called Manny, and he's going to meet with us tomorrow morning."
"I should check the Internet," Adam muttered.
"I already did," said Brook. "Plenty of Shelley Devitts – mostly in Ireland – but who can say if any of them are the ones we're looking for?"
Adam sighed. He felt as though he was letting down Brook. Everything about their wedding had been planned perfectly, and it was set to be every bit the magical experience it was supposed to be – and then this. It might still turn out to be a minor obstacle, but even a minor obstacle seemed like a mountain when compared to the smooth road around it.
"So what do we do now?" said Adam.
Brook shrugged in that elegant, subtly sexy way she had. "Well, we seem to be at a dead end. I guess we just have to find ourselves something to take out minds off this."
Adam raised an eyebrow. "You want to check what's on Netflix?"
"Not exactly." Brook closed the distance between them and kissed him hotly on the mouth. He felt a surge of erotic energies come flooding to the surface. This was always how it was with Brook – she had merely to touch him and Adam felt as though he was about to combust.
The two continued their passionate liplock as their hands started desperately groping one another. Brook dragged him to the couch, where they fell into a well-worn grove. Adam licked quickly at her neck and left small bites on her collarbone. Brook moaned and tried to pull him further into her. It was always a rush with them – they just couldn't wait to touch each others' bare flesh.
Brook tugged at the bottom of Adam's shirt, and he began unbuttoning it, although that hardly seemed like the best use for his hands right now. She pulled at it hard, snapping off the remaining buttons and exposing Adam's nicely-honed chest. "I lose more shirts that way..." Adam said, before he began kissing her neck again.
She straddled him and began writhing up and down against his body. Adam suddenly found himself rock hard as Brook pressed his head into her chest. She was falling into a familiar rhythm, although an outside observer might think she had gone berzerk. Adam pulled her T-shirt up to get at her breasts, quickly disposing of the front-clip bra. Brook's tits, which had the size, colour, and softness of peaches, dangled enticingly in front of him, and Adam quickly buried his face in her cleavage while she vigorously dry-humped him.
"Oh, baby..." Brook moaned into his ear. He was basting her breasts with his mouth, leaving hot trails of saliva across her chest. Brook pressed Adam tight to her inflamed skin, and then abruptly pushed him down. Adam laid back and watched as she turned around and started unbuckling his jeans. He loved it when Brook took charge like this.
.... There is more of this story ...