Authors: Dahlia Rose
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #United States, #African American, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Military, #Multicultural, #Multicultural & Interracial
The Marriage Clause
The Marriage Clause
Copyright © May 2014, Dahlia Rose
Cover art by For The Muse Designs © May 2014
Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting
This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Sugar and Spice Press
North Carolina, USA
Men are such… Ughhhh!” India Newton said in disgust and drank the tequila shot in front of her.
“Hey, women aren’t all sugar and spice like the nursery rhyme says. Celeste was definitely not nice.”
She looked over at her best friend, who, like her, was wallowing in relationship misery. Major Mikael Nolan was as handsome as they came, with dark hair and a rugged jawline. His lips were turned up in a rueful smile and his green-hazel eyes held a few emotions including amusement, sadness, and a hint of inebriation.
“Aren’t we a pair?” India laughed. “I come home to find that asshole in my bed with his intern who can’t be more than nineteen. And you find Celeste going through your paperwork to see how much you’re worth if you get deployed again and killed.”
“I was going to give her Brownie’s engagement ring at some point. Shit. I should’ve known better, I could tell she was no damn good.” Mikael called to the bartender. “Another two boilermakers and two tequila shots.”
They were at their favorite hangout spot in New York City, a little micro-brewery in downtown Brooklyn called Hansel’s. Mikael lived on base at Fort Hamilton, while she rented a two-bedroom apartment on Court Street. The rent was good for the area she lived in, considering some people were spending fifteen hundred or more for a one bedroom. She had the luxury of paying only nine hundred and fifty dollars for rent a month. It helped that her grandmother owned the building. Even so, her Gran wanted her to live there rent-free and she refused. This was New York, and her grandmother’s fixed income didn’t go as far as one would expect. So they came upon that agreed price, even though she knew the building would be hers someday. She was raised to never expect gifts or an easy way, so why would she take money from the only woman who ever loved her?
“Drink up.” Mikael slid her shot and drink in front of her. “Let’s get shit-faced tonight.”
“I’ve got a nursery to start tomorrow, so let’s only be mildly shit-faced,” India said. “I can’t draw a Disney theme wearing my sunglasses and wincing at the light. Why did you think about giving slutty Celeste a ring, anyway?”
He shook his head. “I had a moment of insanity, thinking about giving great grands to Brownie.”
India grinned. He was speaking about his grandmother Bronwyn Nolan who happened to be her grandmother’s best friend as well. That was how India and Mikael knew each other. They had practically grown up in each other’s yards and ate from one house to the next. His grandmother lived two doors down in a two-story family brownstone. So while Mikael was two years older than her, they were fast friends from the time they were in school. He was in second grade when she started kindergarten. He protected her from bullies, and she did his homework when he had dates in high school. They were like the two musketeers, and when he joined the military she was so proud of him. When he was first deployed she cried every day, and his e-mails and their Skype calls kept his morale high. She loved Mikael, even had a crush on him, but they were best friends and nothing more, which was proven by the fact that when either of their relationships went south it was only a matter of who could dial the other’s number quicker.
“Brownie wants you to have babies from the right woman,” India interjected. “Our parents sucked respective ass and left their parents to raise us. They don’t want to see us follow that same path and marry idiots.”
“True, but I’m thirty-four India. I’m tired of the single life,” Mikael answered. “The New York nightlife gets old really quickly.”
“You’re preaching to the choir buddy,” India said. “Jackson Montague the third, asshole cheating douche who chooses to sleep with Bitsy the intern in my bed. Why? Because it was an adventure and he likes to live dangerously.”
Mikael threw back his head and laughed. “How did the douche take to being caught?”
“After I threatened to cut off his dick and subsequently made Bitsy cry because I told her she had thirty seconds to get out of my bed before I burned it with the two of them in it, he calmly let me know I was too low rent for him and he was doing me a favor by dating me,” India explained.
“How did you respond?” he asked.
“I opened the window that faced the street and threw both his and Bitsy’s clothes out onto the sidewalk and poured a bottle of bleach out after them. Then I brandished a baseball bat and ran them out in the streets, him in his boxers, loafers, and a white shirt, she in her mini-skirt and bra with one shoe on.” India took a sip of her drink. “If I’m going to be called low rent, I’ll act like it.”
Mikael was laughing so hard he had to wipe tears from his eyes. “I would have paid for a video of that.”
India shrugged. “I think I saw someone with a camera phone while it was going on. You may get your wish, watch Youtube later.”
“I guess it’s a good thing the Grans are on that cruise to the Bahamas,” he said. “God knows Etta would have called Brownie and they’d of caused chaos.”
India chortled in glee. “That would have been awesome, but I hope they are enjoying their vacation.”
“Cabana boys on every island have been left shivering in trauma after those two descend,” Mikael answered.
India moaned and leaned her head against the bar. “How do I pick such idiots?”
Mikael patted her back in sympathy. “It’s not just you, Babycakes. We should take a vow of celibacy.”
India lifted her head and looked at him. “My girlie bits just screamed no.”
“Want me to beat him up for you?”
“I’d say yes, but he’d see you coming and he can move pretty quickly.”
Mikael raised his hand for the bartender to come over. “Well then, we have to go the hard core way. Shots until we’re both too cross-eyed drunk to care. In the morning you can make me breakfast.”
“If we’re drinking shots, breakfast is going to be black coffee and Advil,” India answered.
“Let the chaos begin.” Mikael lifted his shot glass.
“To crappy relationships.”
India clinked her glass with his and downed the shot. It burned its way down her throat and settled warmly in her stomach. Soon the warmth spread to her sex, and she gave a disappointed sigh. Why did people think just because she designed nurseries for a living she was this naïve, sweet-as-apple-pie girl? The idea bothered her as they drank a second round and a third. The only person who ever seemed to understand her was Mikael, if she could meet a guy like him it would be much easier. About four shots and three Disaronnos later she uttered those words.
“Why can’t the guys I meet be like you?” India asked. The alcohol loosened her lips. “I mean, you get me, Mikael, you get me!”
Mikael nodded. “I feel the same way. You are awesome, and I’m meeting all these bitchy, money grubbing women. So what if I’m a soldier and I’m wealthy to boot? Love me for me, not for my wallet.”
India slapped her hand on his shoulder. “I love you for you, you’ve been my best friend forever.”
“We should date each other,” Mikael announced.
India laughed. “I’ve seen you in Superman underwear when you were nine.”
“I’ve seen you in Scooby-Doo nighties wearing fairy wings when you were seven, so what?” he said.
“We’ve never even kissed,” India pointed out.
“So we should try,” he said diplomatically.
“Ewww… we were raised together. We’re like….”
Mikael held up his hand. “Don’t say siblings, you’ll ruin the moment.”
“There’s a moment going on?” she asked.
“I’m trying for a moment,” Mikael answered. He pulled out a hundred dollar bill and put it on the bar and told the bartender, “Keep the change.” He held out his hand. “Let me walk you home.”
India winked. “You live at the same place, so it’s technically me walking you home.”
“Apples and oranges.”
He held the door as she stepped out of the bar, and the cool night breeze hit her face. It was springtime, and while the days were warmer, the nights still had a chill. It wasn’t cold, definitely nice, and the night air carried the smells of the city. She’d tried moving away to find herself and ultimately came back to New York. There was no place like the Big Apple. Where else could you go into the city at three in the morning and find a cupcake the size of your head or find a sushi restaurant open for sake and sashimi? The wind stole a bit of the buzz she had going on, but she was still happier than when she started. She was with her best friend and that’s what counted.
Low rent my ass
, she thought angrily. But the words stung, and she vowed to stop looking for love and wait until it found her.
“We should try an experiment,” Mikael announced.
“Like Mentos in a bottle of cola?”
“No, nutjob.” He stopped and turned her to face him. “Like I want to kiss you and see if there’s something there.”
“We’re drunk, and you weren’t serious, were you?” India looked up at him and felt her mouth go dry. It wasn’t the first time she saw him and had a surge of attraction. But if they got into something and it didn’t work out it would forever change their relationship. “This may not be a good idea.”
Mikael pulled her close, not in a friendly embrace, but their hips and pelvises were touching intimately.
“Or it may be the best idea we ever had.” Mikael’s voice was a low, sexy murmur.
“Will survive,” he added. “Maybe we don’t need to learn about someone, maybe best friends is the way we need to start. Let me kiss you, India, and if it’s completely uncomfortable we can chalk it up to the shots.”
She nodded, unable to speak or find another reason to refuse him. India looked down at her feet, suddenly shy. He was taller than her by far, and Mikael used his finger to lift her chin up so he could kiss her. From the time his lips touched hers warning bells screamed in her head.
Danger Will Robinson, Danger!!
Her subconscious said the words and closed the door on that nag.
His lips felt entirely wonderful on hers and when he moaned and pulled her closer, she didn’t refuse. His tongue tasted her lazily and she reciprocated. This was the boy she saw grow into a man, who decided to serve his country even though his Grandmother was independently wealthy. But he had such honor and a sense of duty that he signed up, and she was the first one he told. This was Mikael, and now she was experiencing him in a whole new light. Lord, she was in trouble.
He pulled away and said, “That felt way too good to be nothing.”
“I can’t deny it,” Indi said softly.
“Let’s go home and see what other things we have in common,” Mikael said.
“We know what we have in common, we practically…. Oh, you mean naked and in bed.” India flushed, arousal shooting to her core.
He took her hand. “You can say no and we can just walk home. Mikael and India as BFFs once more.”
As many doubts as she had, India knew she wouldn’t refuse. Somewhere in the back of her mind she’d pushed away any attraction to him, and now it was right here and hers for the taking.
She shook her head. “We’ll deal with tomorrow when it gets here. Let’s go back to my place and take this to a whole new level.”
At her apartment he followed her stairs to the door that led to her living room. From the time she opened it, Mikael lifted her off her feet. Her lips met his in a frenzied kiss and India wrapped her legs around his waist. Mikael carried her down the hallway to her bedroom. It barely registered that he put her on her bed, all she could feel was his lips against hers and his tongue invading her mouth. He tasted so damn good, she could still pick up the subtle hints of the last summer ale he had at the bar. His lips ravished her senses, and she gave as good as she got. If she knew kissing Mikael felt like this she’d of kissed him years ago. India wanted more, God she wanted more from him.