I love plants. Flowers, trees, bushes. All of them. I really enjoy working on them. Smelling them. Feeling their different textures. Taking care of them. I’m a gardener and it’s the job of my dreams. It doesn’t pay very well, but I enjoy it. I enjoy working outside. I enjoy the manual labor. I enjoy my life. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it?
But I also have a problem. One that most men probably envy me for. Because they don’t know how it is. I’m a hunk. I’m 6’7” and built like the proverbial masonry restroom. No fat, all muscles. Due to my job I’m always nicely tanned. I have a handsome face and a nice smile. In short - women are attracted to me like catnip. Now why am I complaining?
Because if I was a lawyer, a doctor or an architect, I’d have the perfect life. Women would want to win me over for keeps. I would be considered a good catch. I would find the one woman that’s right for me and she would cherish and respect me. But I’m only a low-paid gardener. I have no status in society. I’m a nobody. Women regard me as some kind of male bimbo. Good for sex, but no keeper. But I’m a one-woman man. I’d like to fall in love. Take care of one woman. Cook for her. Pamper her. Protect her. Raise our kids together.
All I have is the opportunity to fuck twenty women per day. And none of them would want to introduce me to their friends or family. At least none of those that are capable of keeping an interesting conversation. Despite my job I’m not dumb and I’m not interested in a dumb woman either. But the self-confident and intelligent women seem to regard me as some kind of disposable sex toy.
Today, my co-worker Juan is at home. His wife is expecting their first child. I’m happy for him and I have no problems to substitute for him. So today I’m working in the garden of this enormous mansion. I’ve never been here before. But the modern and stylish house is not what fascinates me. What strikes me are the roses, they’re old and just magnificent. But they need some care, Juan has neglected them a little, as it seems. He probably had his baby on his mind. Lucky bastard. It’s a hot day and I’m working with a bare upper body. I enjoy to feel the slight breeze and the warmth of the sun on my back.
While I’m totally lost in pruning the roses near the terrace, I hear a female voice behind me. A self-confident, assertive voice.
“ ... I don’t give a fuck. I will give him four mill for it. He can take it or leave it. I also have Clarkson’s offer ... No way ... Just tell him, okay? ... Okay, bye.”
I continue with the roses. I haven’t even looked at her. She sounds a little bitchy, but that’s not my problem. Some unlucky guy can put up with her. I have the gut feeling that this time it might be better to avoid any customer contact.
Okay, now I have to look at her. It would be rude to ignore her.
“Good morning,” I reply. She’s quite pretty. Not stunningly beautiful. But certainly very pretty. Very stylish, of course. That was to be expected in such a house.
“I haven’t seen you before.”
“Yes, I’m a substitute for Juan. His wife is expecting a baby.”
“How touching.” It’s meant in a sarcastic way, but she smiles while she says it. “I definitely prefer you. You’re eye candy. What’s your name?”
“I’m Mark. And you’re...”
She seems to be surprised about my boldness. But hey, I’m not her slave or something. If she wants my first name, why shouldn’t I get hers?
“I’m Laura.” She smiles now. Wow, she looks fascinating when she smiles. And, to my surprise, she even offers me her hand. Although mine are a little dirty. I take it and have to smile, too. Her hand feels tiny and fragile in mine. “You’d like to have a drink?” She alternates between staring at my face and my body all the time. I wish I had decided against dropping my shirt earlier. I feel like a brainless sex object again. I suppose this is how busty women feel when guys constantly stare at their tits. But maybe I’m getting over-sensitive in that matter. I should try to be more relaxed about it. It’s just a compliment, isn’t it? She has done nothing disrespecting so far.
“Yeah, sure. It’s a hot day. Maybe a diet Coke?”
“Sure.” She smiles and looks just marvelous. She looks towards the house, obviously unsure if she should call someone to serve the beverages or go herself. She decides to bring them personally and earns some points in my internal ranking this way.
Just as she hands me a nice and cold Coke with ice, a man storms onto the terrace, coming from inside the house. His face is distorted into a mask of hatred. Shit. I don’t want to be involved in some domestic struggle.
“Four million? You bitch. I’ll kill you.” And - to my surprise - he doesn’t seem to mean that in a metaphorical sense. He’s actually wielding a knife. Everything happens very quickly now. He strikes out to stab her into the belly while I jump between them and catch his arm with my left hand. While doing it, he cuts my left arm slightly and obviously unintentionally. But, of course, I don’t feel the pain now. I merely realize that it’s happening. I immediately hit him in the face with my right arm. This catches him by surprise. I use my advantage by kneeing him into the nuts. He goes down immediately. I pin him onto the ground and call Laura. She’s nowhere to be seen. Shit.
Well, it turns out that the guy’s name is Andrew Martin and that he’s got some damn good lawyers. He’s running around as a free man while I’m rotting in my small prison cell, being charged with assault. He claims that I have attacked him with a knife. This Laura woman has disappeared without a trace and nobody can find her. Or at least nobody wants to tell me where she is. So I have to sit in this cell, being worried about my future. It could have been a nice day, smelling roses and enjoying life. But no - being idiotic - I had to mess with rich customers. Who immediately dropped their pawn after using him.
After three endless and miserable days my boss makes his contribution to the situation by telling me that I’m fired. Just great. Just fucking great. My lawyer tells me that I might get three to five years. It keeps getting better. At least I won’t have to worry about my job any more in this case.
After six days my lawyer tells me that she has re-appeared and has testified in my favor. I’m being almost immediately released. It seems she has gone to Paris for some shopping. Just lovely. I hope the selfish bitch has enjoyed her time in Paris. I should have kept away from the female customers, like I usually do. These rich brats are no good for me.
Just as I’m leaving the prison door, a man in an expensive suit follows me.
“I’m Todd Browning, Ms. Stern’s attorney.”
“Ms. Stern wants to apologize. She has not taken into account that you might have been prosecuted for what has happened. She wants to thank you sincerely. And she wants to express her gratitude with this.”
He tries to hand me a cheque. I don’t take it or even look at the sum.
“So how much is her life worth? She wants to further insult me? Let me sum this up. Even though I didn’t know her, I’ve saved her life by endangering mine. She disappears without a thought about me and lets me rot in jail for six days, being terrified about my future. I lose my job because of this. And now she doesn’t even have the decency to thank me personally? She sends her attorney to hand me some money? Sorry, I can’t stand that much style.”
I turn around and leave the stunned guy standing there.
Half an hour later, my boss calls.
“Mark, this firing thing was a misunderstanding. I hope you’re not mad. You saved this lady’s life, were wrongly accused and to top it off, I fire you. Sorry, man. You’ll get a big raise, of course. And take a paid week off. You deserve it.”
“Okay.” I’m too weak to make some witty comment or resign. And I like my job anyway.
Two days later, I find an envelope on my doorstep. I’m invited to the Stern’s residence for a formal dinner. Fuck you. Why should I bother to show up there in a suit? To play to her rules on her turf? Why should I dress up for her apology? No, I’m not that interested in meeting her.
On the next day my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number.
“This is Mark.”
“Hi, Laura here.”
“Laura? Ah, yes. The lady that let me rot in hell for saving her life. I remember.”
“Mark, I’m terribly sorry for that.”
“Yeah, you’re so sorry that you even let your attorney contact me with some money. Sorry, I can’t compete with that much class.”
“Mark, I know that I’ve been a selfish asshole. Please accept my invitation, though. I’d be really glad.”
“So you think I’m interested in a formal dinner at your mansion? That doesn’t sound like fun.”
“She wrote formal dinner? Ah, my assistant got that wrong, I think.”
“You have too many people around you messing things up, it seems.”
“Maybe, yes. Hey, Mark. Just come over and have a nice time here. Come as you are. There will be no one else around. It will be a relaxed time for the two of us. I’ll explain some things and apologize.”
“Okay, but you don’t dress up either, okay?”
“Okay, deal.” She chuckles a little.
Well, maybe she’s not THAT bad. We’ll see...
So I’m standing at the front door of this huge house, feeling like a boy on his first date. I’ve even brought flowers. Although I feel a little silly about that. Hey, she’s the one to apologize.
I expect the door to be opened by some kind of housemaid or butler. But it’s Laura, dressed in a casual sweater. Boy, can she wear such stuff. Very nice.
“Laura, you look really hot in that sweater.”
“Seriously? I haven’t worn something like that for ages. Hi Mark, by the way. Please come in. My life saver. Wow, thanks for the flowers.”
“Hi Laura.” To my surprise, she hugs me and kisses me on the cheek. I have to bend down to allow for it. Afterward she leads me into an enormous living room with an equally enormous fireplace.
I try to choose a suitable seat. It’s not that there are not enough available. There are just too many. This is absurd. Who needs six large sofas and three armchairs in a room the size of a small railway station?
I choose a sofa near the fireplace and she drops directly besides me, placing her delicate hand on my leg. I’m a little surprised. And I’m beginning to suspect that this is not just a simple thank-you invitation. Maybe it’s a would-you-like-to-have-sex one. Well, let’s see. Maybe that wouldn’t be too bad. She’s certainly very pretty, but I’m drawn towards her more than her looks alone could justify. I’ve beet hit on by many attractive women for all my adult life and usually I’m not that interested any more. But this one has a certain appeal and it’s not about her money. I don’t care about that.
“Mark, I really have to apologize. I was in panic. I was so afraid that he’d try again to kill me. He was so mad, totally out of control. Suddenly my death was a possible outcome of this whole situation. And in Paris I felt safe. I spent some nice days there and was able to recover and calm down. While I let you rot in hell. I’m so ashamed of it. How can I ever make that up to you?” She sounds genuinely contrite, I have to give her that.
“Who is this guy and where is he now? Nobody wants to tell me. But this concerns my safety as much as yours.”
“He’s a former business partner. He’s bankrupt now.”
“Have you done this?”
“No. But he asked me to purchase the remainders of his business. And he had totally unrealistic ideas about the price. I think I did him a favor but he didn’t really appreciate it.”
“Okay. Where is he now?”
“In jail. I think he won’t be a problem in the future.”
“Mark. You saved my life. I know that I will always be in your debt because of it. And I kinda like this idea.” She smiles wickedly now.
“So do I.” And on a sudden impulse I just grab her and kiss her deeply on the mouth. Our tongues fight and we both know where this is heading.
“Yes!” she exclaims happily after we break the kiss. “I’ve hoped for it but I thought that I don’t have a chance.”
“To get you.”
I have to laugh. “Oh, you do. Come on, let’s make sure you fully get your chance.”
She laughs happily while she leads me to a bedroom. One of many, it seems. I need to ask her for a map in case I need to find a place to pee. Of course, it turns out that her bedroom has a separate bathroom. Which seems to be bigger than my whole apartment.
We lie in the enormous bed after an extended and very satisfying session of sex and I contemplate why everything in here has to be so big. Even for my body size it seems preposterous. What certainly isn’t big is Laura. Her whole body looks very delicate, but absolutely appealing. And it doesn’t stop her from being a very energetic and skillful lover. We have enjoyed each other’s bodies a lot and we seem to be a perfect match in bed. Changing from tender love-making and kissing to vigorous sex again and again. I think we’re both very satisfied. I decide that I could get used to this woman.
Suddenly a guy storms into the bedroom. He’s looking like some nondescript banker/accountant type. I stay relaxed in bed. I’ve been in this kind of situation before. This is not my fight. This time, Laura will have to bear responsibility for the way she treats the men surrounding her. I won’t step in for her again.
“Who the fuck is this?” he yells.
“I’m Mark,” I answer, smiling friendly.
“He’s the gardener.” Now, that hurt. My relaxed mood vanishes immediately. Not “my lover”. Not “Mark”. Just “the gardener”. As if my job explains everything that anyone might need to know about me.
“You fuck the gardener? You’ve got to be kidding. That’s low, even for you.”
“Low? Why is it lower to fuck a gardener than a brain surgeon?” I ask, but they apparently choose to ignore my exceedingly witty comment.
“Brian, we’ve never been exclusive. And you’ve fucked that slut in Houston. So what are you complaining about?”
“So, I’m the male counterpart for some Houston slut? Just a toy? A distraction from Brian? I’m just the gardener? As if that explains everything that I am.” I’m a little peeved. I get up and start to dress. Brian chooses to attack me right at the moment I’m getting into my trousers. But he’s weak. Even as immobile as I currently am, I easily send him to the floor with a light punch.
“You guys are weirdos, sorry. You, Laura, let me rot in jail for saving you. And you, Brian, attack me for no apparent reason. And you both seem to have a questionable opinion about gardeners.” Even Laura laughs at that last comment.
Weird, these rich guys...
Ten minutes later, my phone rings.
“This is Mark.”
“Mark, Laura here. Mark, please come back. I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t mean to belittle you. I was just surprised by Brian storming in. I had forgotten that he still had a key. It was just the first thing that came into my mind. I don’t want to lose you.”
“Mark, I think I love you. Please come back.” Oh my.
She awaits me at the front door and leads me into the house.
“Mark, sorry again. I didn’t mean to insult you. A gardener is a wonderful profession. My comment was thoughtless. You’re mainly my lover, not my gardener.”
“I’m your lover?”
“Well, if you’d like to have the position, it would be a no-brainer for me. You’re by far the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. And I already know that I love you. Not only because of your looks or because you saved my life. I’m fascinated. I can’t turn my eyes away. I’m not sure if I can live without you.”
“Wow. What a compliment. I’m equally fascinated by you. But Laura, I have to tell you something about me ... I’m a gardener.”
I manage to keep a serious expression and Laura starts laugh.
“No, seriously. I know that I’m attractive for some women. But most women also hold me in contempt for my job, my social status or my education. So I’m being seen as some kind of sex toy by many. The dumb, handsome guy to have fun with.”
“Not with me. You’ll be my equal partner if you want to. Or my lover. Whatever you want.”
“Wow. That’s quite ... well ... quick, isn’t it?”
“Yes. Take your time to make up your mind. I already have, that’s how I am. I’ll be exclusive for you. You can spend as much time here as you want. Here is a key. Just stay whenever you want. No commitment from your side.”
“Uh, wow. Thanks. Ready for a second round?”
“Yeees!” She smiles widely. Sweet. Do I love her? I don’t know. Time will tell. And I’m going to take my time for sure. I sure like her a lot, but we’re socially absolutely not compatible. And I’ve learned the consequences of that in the past. The hard way.
For a few weeks we lead a loose relationship. I enjoy the luxury of her house. She has a cook/housekeeper named Juanita. She cooks for me whatever I want, whenever I want. I appreciate it and I’m quite cordial with her. I enjoy the pool, the whirl, the gym. And most of all - I enjoy Laura. Her limitless enthusiasm when it comes to me. She’s genuinely thankful for every minute I spend with her. For every look. For every word. It’s sweet. She almost seems to worship me somehow.
Over the weeks our relationship changes. My feelings for her deepen while she manages to tone down her awestruck behavior a little. She still adores my body, but by and by our relationship gets on a more even keel. It feels good. And I really start to fall in love with her. She’s charming, witty, intelligent and so very pretty. I enjoy spending time with her. And I tell her that I’m exclusive for her, too. We decide to have ourselves tested for STD and to have bareback sex afterward. It’s great and a new experience for me. I’ve never had sex without condoms before.
I’m rarely spending time in my apartment by now. Only when Laura is out of town on some business trip and I don’t want to stay in her huge, empty house. Laura has been in my apartment only once. And as she’s had a laughing fit when she saw it, I never took her there again. That hurt a little and she apologized profusely afterward.
“Laura, how do you see us? Are we a couple?”
“Well, of course. At least I hope so. Why?”
“Then why do I know none of your friends? And why don’t you accompany me to mine? Are you ashamed of me?”
“N ... no, Mark.” She seems uncertain, which unsettles me a little.
“I haven’t thought about it, to be honest. Well, we’ll change that immediately. Tomorrow I’ll be at Pete’s party. Come with me and you’ll see all of my boring accountant friends. But don’t be mad at me if you fall asleep. I’ve warned you.”
“Fair enough.” I laugh and I feel happy. Although I’m not looking forward to this party, I know that we need to do such stuff to become a real couple. We need to share every aspect of our lives. Hell, I don’t even know her family. Or what she exactly earns her money with. But that will have to wait. First, the party...
She was right, the party is a little boring. I’m feeling quite uncomfortable in my sports jacket. But the women can’t keep their eyes off me, so I assume that I don’t look as ridiculous as I feel.
Her male friends are a weird bunch. Most of the time they are stiff like broomsticks. And from time to time they behave completely crazy and childish. They act like immature boys in some British boarding school. Most of them never seem to be relaxed of truly happy. They seem to be awfully constrained by conventions most of the time. I don’t envy them.
I and some decent guy named Toby watch someone setting up an immature prank on one of his buddies. It includes a bucket of water and seems to be completely out of place on such an occasion. But he trips while he sets it up and it backfires on him. We both laugh.
“Wow, talk about instant Karma,” I say.
“You believe in that?”
“Karma, Destiny. Whatever.”
“No, not really. I don’t believe in determinism. Neither the scientific version nor the religious.”
“Well, the scientific one is officially obsolete anyway, is it?”
“You could say that Heisenberg saw to that. But is anything really officially obsolete in physics these days?”
“Right. So, you’re an atheist, Mark?”
“No, I’m a flaming agnostic. Unfortunately.”
“Yes, I envy people that strongly believe in something. It makes things so much easier. It removes the doubt. The fear. The need to think on your own.”
“Yeah, the strong believers are the happy people. The atheists are the really unhappy ones, I think.”
Wow, I’m having this kind of talk with a complete stranger? But somehow we immediately get along quite well.
“Right. Those are the really hapless fellows. I assume you’re one of them?”
“Yes, unfortunately.” We both laugh.
Laura is clinging to me during the conversation, being obviously proud of my looks. And maybe a little surprised about my thoughts. Several other women are surrounding us, circling me like vultures. I’m used to it, but I can’t really enjoy it. It usually leads to trouble. A slightly drunk guy approaches us, obviously wanting to be helpful in confirming this apprehension.
“Becky, you’re drooling over this guy for the whole evening now. I’m sick of it.” He’s not really discreet about his accusations. I don’t even know who this Becky might be.
“Andy, please don’t make a scene. We’re just talking.” Ah, it’s her. Talking? I haven’t exchanged a single word with her. But she has been watching me all the time, so he’s not completely off the mark with his accusation.
“Yeah, sure. You’re staring at him like he’s god’s gift to women, you slut.” Wow, these guys sure can be rude. “Hey, boy toy! What kind of sex toy are you? A stripper? A call boy?” he shouts.
“You’re drunk. Learn to control you drinking. We can talk about whatever topic strikes your fancy when you’re sober.”
“You asshole.” He approaches me further and looks at me, threatening. Alcohol obviously makes him bold. And stupid - he’s maybe 5’10”. I could sweep the floor with him. And the ceiling, if necessary.
“I suggest you calm down and stop insulting people.”
“You can suggest whatever you want. Seriously boy, what’s your profession?”
I can see no reason to be ashamed of it and I certainly don’t want to be seen as a male prostitute. “I’m a gardener.”
“Laura has brought her gardener along! How pathetic.” Several people, mostly men, immediately start to laugh. Toby doesn’t. And I realize that Laura leaves my side. She’s obviously embarrassed. That hurts. I don’t care about the jealous boys, but about Laura not standing by me in public.
“You’re a good guy, Mark. Don’t let these assholes bring you down. I can’t believe how shallow my friends are.”
“Right, Toby. But somehow the party mood is spoiled for me.”
“Sure. But let’s stay in touch, okay? I prefer your company to this bunch for sure.”
“Sure thing, man.” We exchange phone numbers.
I look around and see Laura standing at the buffet, intently studying the offered food. I approach her, still a little miffed by her reaction on her friend’s joke at my expense.
“Ah, Laura, here you are.”
She continues to examine the salad, choosing not to answer.
“Okay, that’s all I need to know, I think. Sorry for embarrassing you.”
She finally looks at me, but seems to be unable to say something. She nervously looks around at her friends. Most of them are still smirking at me. Everybody seems to be happy that this annoying eye-catching guy has been humiliated.
It’s okay. I don’t belong here, anyway. And she’s way out of my league. Too rich, too educated. Maybe I’ve been aiming way too high. I accept it and leave the party, but I still feel a little sad. Quite sad, actually. I don’t care about these people or about the humiliation. I’m proud to be a gardener. But I’m hurt by Laura’s reaction. That has told me that we can never be a couple.
While I leave, I think about what has happened today. In the beginning, Laura has been proud to show me off. But only because of my looks, not my personality. But that’s okay. Then the women started to drool over me. All the time probably resenting me secretly, because I was there with Laura. And the guys resented me for sure because their spouses were admiring my body. So most of them probably disliked me in some way from the beginning. And Laura probably was afraid that I’d embarrass her somehow. The whole situation has been a ticking time bomb. I’ve done nothing wrong, though. I can’t help that I somehow stand out of the crowd. Then the drunk guy has detonated the bomb. That’s what usually happens. He couldn’t attack me physically, so he used his status. And Laura was too insecure to stand by my side. So I have to assume that she’ll never be able to respect me. She’ll only love my body and tolerate the rest. I assume she will come back to me and apologize. She will want to continue to use me sexually. But we will never have a real relationship.
So, what do I want? She’s certainly pretty. I mean, I can have even more beautiful women. But she somehow fascinates me. And I’m not dating other women anyway right now. So okay, why not? I’ll continue to fuck her until I want to be exclusively with another woman.
Sure enough, my doorbell rings on the next evening. I open the door and Laura stands there, dressed in a very sexy way. It’s only the second time that she’s in my humble apartment.
“Hi Laura, please come in.”
For her, these are certainly unfamiliar surroundings. Hell, I doubt, she’s ever lived in such a small accommodation at all. But although I’ve expected her visit, I didn’t have to clean it for the occasion. It’s always spanking clean, anyway.
I have to laugh. “Yeah, sure. You wouldn’t want to park your car in here normally.”
She smiles. “You think I’m that bad?”
“You’re rich. That spoils people. It’s not your fault. And it doesn’t matter, I’m relaxed about it.”
“Thanks. You’re right. I’m rich, I’m spoiled. And I’m insecure.”
“Mark, I’m sorry. For my friends and for my reaction. I totally left you on your own there. That was horrible.”
“Don’t worry, I can handle it. We’ll avoid these kinds of situations.”
“Yes, come to my bedroom now. You can make it up there.”
She looks warily. “That easy? I haven’t expected that. I’ve disrespected you big time and you just forgive me?”
“Let’s talk about it after I’ve fucked you, okay?”
She smiles widely now. “Oh, yeah, I’d love that.” And she jumps into my arms. I easily carry her to my bed.
The sex is very good, it usually is with her. And with most of the other women I’ve been with. I think the reason is that I put in some effort to make it worthwhile for both me and my respective partner. I eat the women out, I caress and massage them, I cuddle, I kiss them a lot, but I’m also assertive and firm when it comes to the actual fucking. And I take what I want, although in a respectful way. Women usually enjoy sex with me and so does Laura. And I enjoy to bring women to orgasms, it heightens my own pleasure.
So after our long sex session, we’re both exhausted and happy.
“Thank you, Mark. You’re the best.”
“Mark, my cousin Toby has read me the riot act. But it wouldn’t have been necessary. I’m so ashamed of how I’ve treated you.”
“It doesn’t matter, Laura. I’ve been in this situation before. I’m used to it. And usually I break off every connection to the respective woman.” She gasps. “But I’ve decided that I want to keep seeing you. If you want to.”
“Oh, I’d love to, Mark.” She seems overjoyed.
“So do you want to go to such parties with me in the future? Maybe with business associates?”
“Yeah, neither do I.”
“But how do we do it?”
“I’ll be whatever you want. Your secret fucktoy, probably.”
“Mark...” Her eyes start to water.
“We’ll just do it like this day by day. I’ll be exclusive for you. And I’ll let you know when I’ve found someone I want to spend my life with. I’ll be honest and upfront with it. And I ask you to be the same.”
She’s crying now. “You don’t see a long-term future for us?”
“Do you? You will eventually marry someone with money, with education, with connections, from a wealthy family. Who doesn’t embarrass you in public. You will breed like you’re expected to. And I’ll eventually find a good woman I can start a family with. Who is content to marry Mark the gardener and to live in such a shabby apartment.”
“I won’t give up that easily, Mark. You’re far more important to me than all of those losers combined. We’re going to go to other social events. There will be more confrontations. And I won’t leave your side, then. I will fight for you. And I will fight with you.”
“Okay, let’s see.” I’m pleasantly surprised about this. But not totally convinced that she has it in her.
Okay, here I am. Another party. A sports jacket again, although a different one. Tailored for me, again. The tailor had gasped at my measurements, supervised by a proudly smiling Laura.
And Laura was right, there will be more confrontations. This Andy approaches me again. It was to be expected, his woman Becky has been unable to keep her eyes off me again. Why is that my fault?
“Ah, Laura. You’ve brought your male bimbo again?”
“Andy, you moron, you’re just envious. He’s smart, he’s sensuous, he’s a fantastic lover. And you don’t even get close to him body-wise. You’re like a little boy next to him. He just loves plants and he has the job of his dreams. He thinks we are fools, to shift numbers around all day long, hating what we do. Just to gain some virtual numbers on some accounts. So think twice if you want to ridicule him, maybe he’s the only one here that isn’t an idiot. You surely are one.”
Everyone is silent. Only Toby is clapping. It is surreal. But I’m proud of Laura, she has really nailed it.
The rest of the party is quite relaxed for me. Several people talk to me and apologize. Including Andy, which really surprises me. Maybe he isn’t so bad, after all.
On our way home, I’m still in a good mood. I see some hope for a long-term relationship.
“Laura, I’m very proud of what you did. But do you really want to fight these battles all the time?”
“Yes. I don’t want to keep you as some secret sex toy. You’re my man and I want to convince you that you are. So I have to stand by your side in public. As often as possible, until you believe me. I’m actually looking forward to this.”
“Laura, that’s insane. You’re going to tire of it. Your job reputation will suffer from it. Maybe we should just keep our social lives a little more separated.”
“Sorry, but I’m proud of you and I want to show you off. It makes me happy. And it makes me happy to fight for my man in public. I don’t give a shit about the business, I’m rich anyway. I don’t need it.”
We just look at each other, both smiling. Our future looks promising again.
Juanita has just finished to serve us breakfast and has vanished to take care of the laundry. Shit, I’m really becoming a lazy bum here. But it’s really nice to be pampered all around. Laura takes care of my nightly needs, Juanita of the daily ones. The months I’ve spent in this world of luxury have been quite enjoyable. Like a dream, actually.
Laura watches me closely and with a mischievous smile. She’s up to something. She gets up and walks around the kitchen table towards me. I gasp as she suddenly drops onto her knee in front of me.
She looks into my eyes as she says “Mark, would you honor me by marrying me? Please be my husband.”
I’m stunned. Laura has just proposed me. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Well, yes. I’d really love to marry her.
“Yes. Thank you, Laura.”
She jumps up and hugs me forcefully. “Oh, Mark. Thank you. You won’t regret it.” She even sobs a little. What a weird turn my life has taken since the confrontation on the terrace. But it’s good, very good. I’m happy.
“You’re sure that this is really necessary?”
“Mark, you’re going to be my husband. They are going to be your in-laws. Of course, you have to meet them.”
“They will hate me. All parents want their little daughter to marry a wealthy prince.”
“You are my prince. Don’t worry. They’ll love you.”
I have some serious doubts about that but I keep my mouth closed.
“You’re kidding, Laura? You want to marry your gardener?” Grace practically shouts. Harry stares out of the living room window, seemingly ignoring all of this. Okay, this is really going well, isn’t it?
“Calm down, mom. He’s the love of my life. What does his his job have to do with it?”
“Everything. You will surely find someone you love that amounts to something. Someone with education, style, money, connections.”
“Isn’t my happiness the most important factor for you?”
“Of course, my dear.”
“Because you seem to be a little selfish here. I love this man and you try to convince me to leave him because he’s got the wrong job?”
Good point. This is Laura’s battle and I mostly remain silent.
“No, of course not. But look at him. He’s barely able to utter a few words.”
What? That’s enough.
“Mrs. Stern, I beg to differ. You’re arrogant enough to judge me without knowing me at all. You try to spoil the future of your only child. What do you want? To select her husband yourself maybe? Based on his job skills? Someone more appropriate for you to brag about to your friends? Regardless of your daughter’s happiness? I’ve remained mostly silent because I respect you and Laura enough to retain myself in such a critical situation. But I have my limits. I’m not going to stand being described as some kind of cave-man by somebody that barely knows me.”
She looks shocked. I’ve talked. Complete sentences. I’ve called her arrogant. Laura smiles and even Harry seems positively surprised.
“Mark, I have to apologize on behalf of my wife. You’re right, we know nothing about you. And it has been arrogant to judge you so early. Don’t hold it against us, please. We’re just concerned parents.”
“Apology accepted, Mr. Stern. No offense.”
“None taken. But Mark, you can imagine the situation we’re in. Laura is rich. You’re not. Parents will always assume ulterior motives behind such a constellation. I’m sorry, but we can’t help it. But it’s easy to wipe away such thoughts. You’ll certainly not object to sign a prenup, will you?”
“Oh, getting right to business, are you? I’m not interested in her money. I’ve led a happy life without it.”
“Great. We’re relieved.”
“But why should I sign anything? That’s insulting. She has asked me to marry her. Why do I have to find reasons to convince her? It was her idea. Signing a prenup would be like promising that I’m no gold-digger. The implications are insulting.”
“Well, you’re certainly not talking like a gardener.”
“Mark,” Laura says. “Maybe a prenup wouldn’t be such a bad idea. It would change nothing between us, but it would remove everyone’s doubt about your motives.”
“You have doubts about them?”
“No, no. Not me. But several other people.”
Well, what can I say? There aren’t many reasons to reject a prenup.
“Okay, if it makes you happy.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“Can we go now?”
“What?” Everybody is gasping.
“Well, it’s obvious that your parents dislike me. I’m an uneducated gold-digger and they obviously have convinced you that I am. We don’t have to keep up the facade of sympathy here. They have made clear that they don’t like me. And I’ve just dropped a notch in your opinion too.”
“Sure. Before we came here, a prenup was no issue. Now it is. I don’t care about it, but I do care about the fact that you want one.”
I turn around and leave the house. A shocked Laura follows me closely, muttering nonsense.
A few tentative days later, Laura dares to show me the prenup her father has written.
It’s a joke, obviously. It’s been worded as complicated as possible to disguise the fact that it’s a cut-throat contract. They obviously assume that I’m too simple to understand any of this. I haven’t expected any less from her parents. But that Laura presents me such a thing is disappointing.
The contract will leave me penniless if we split up, for whatever reason. I won’t even get the savings I already have.
“Laura, I don’t really understand this. Do you think this is a fair contract?” Well, let’s see...
“No, it isn’t. I’m sorry. It’s totally one-sided.”
“I agree. Why do you even present me such a thing? You want to marry me. We should be a team. We should trust each other. This contract is one big deception.”
“Yes, sorry. But I won’t ever leave you, anyway.”
“Why do you need a prenup at all, then?”
She just looks ashamed now.
“I will have it changed.”
“Let’s see.” This whole marriage thing doesn’t seem as appealing to me any more.