Review: Holy Frigging Matrimony (#1.5, Tangled) by Emma Chase

My Thoughts

Super funny and enjoyable from beginning to end!
I couldn’t stop smiling! Loved this short story!

5stars

Synopsis

Holy-Frigging-Matrimony-Emma-ChaseWhat does Drew Evans have to say next? Find out in this forty page short story, filled with his sexy charm, unique advice and hilarious one-liners.

Marriage: the final frontier. Steven went first. He was kind of our test subject. Like those monkeys that NASA sent off into space in the fifties, all the while knowing they’d never make it back.

And now another poor rocket is ready to launch.

But this isn’t just any posh New York wedding. You’ve seen my friends, you’ve met our families, you know you’re in for a treat. Everyone wants their wedding to be memorable. This one’s going to be un-frigging-forgettable.

Holy Frigging Matrimony takes place about a year after Tangled’s end and is from Drew’s POV.

My Review

“MARRIAGE. The final frontier.”

Our bad boy charmer Drew Evans is back and read to stir up trouble. This time? It’s a high-class wedding at a posh hotel. It was such a treat to jump back in with these characters. Drew’s unapologetically sexual, so-very-male, hilarious wisecracks drive this short story forward as we immediately realize Drew lives and breathes to break the rules. So when staying away from Kate is what’s expected before the reception…well… you can guess what happens.

“You smell like sweat and sex… and me. It’s hot. Eau de Cum kicks Chanel Number Five’s ass.”

A mighty confrontation ensues when Kate’s ex, Billy enters the scene, devouring Kate with his eyes. It’s a modern day pissing contest with epic consequences.

“Warren.”
“Evans.”
“Our eyes clash – like a lion staring down a hyena – and Kate is the fresh kill we’re both looking at.”

As you might expect the moments are incredibly funny, Drew throwing in as many zingers as he can with every uttered word.

“My brow furrows in mock confusion. “I’m sorry – I don’t speak vagina. Just what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

All in all, it was short, but jam-packed with the good stuff that makes us love these character so much. If you are a fan of Tangled, absolutely pick this up! Can’t wait until next year when we get to see more with Twisted and Tamed!

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Review + Excerpt + Kate POV: Tangled by Emma Chase

My Thoughts

Hilarious, fresh and fun!
It’s the perfect laugh-out-loud book to gab to your friends about. It had me laughing, swooning and grinning throughout! Loved it!

5stars

Synopsis

TangledDrew Evans is a winner. Handsome and arrogant, he makes multimillion dollar business deals and seduces New York’s most beautiful women with just a smile. He has loyal friends and an indulgent family. So why has he been shuttered in his apartment for seven days, miserable and depressed?

He’ll tell you he has the flu.

But we all know that’s not really true.

Katherine Brooks is brilliant, beautiful and ambitious. She refuses to let anything – or anyone – derail her path to success. When Kate is hired as the new associate at Drew’s father’s investment banking firm, every aspect of the dashing playboy’s life is thrown into a tailspin. The professional competition she brings is unnerving, his attraction to her is distracting, his failure to entice her into his bed is exasperating.

Then, just when Drew is on the cusp of having everything he wants, his overblown confidence threatens to ruin it all. Will he be able untangle his feelings of lust and tenderness, frustration and fulfillment? Will he rise to the most important challenge of his life?

Can Drew Evans win at love?

Tangled is not your mother’s romance novel. It is an outrageous, passionate, witty narrative about a man who knows a lot about women…just not as much as he thinks he knows. As he tells his story, Drew learns the one thing he never wanted in life, is the only thing he can’t live without.

My Review

“See that guy – black suit, devilishly handsome? Yea, the guy getting the blow job from the luscious redhead in the bathroom stall? That’s me. The real me.
MBF: Me Before Flu.”

Meet Drew.

Here are a few things you need to know about Drew:

  1. “I’m not a bad guy. I don’t lie; I don’t sandbag women with flowery words about a future together and love at first sight. I’m a straight shooter. I’m looking for a good time – for one night – and I tell them so.”
  2. “Once I’m done, I’m done. I’m not the kind of guy who rides the same rollercoaster twice. Once is enough, and then the thrill is gone and so is the interest.”
  3. “One ride per customer – no rewinds, no repeats.”
  4. “I have rules – standards, you might say. One of them is no screwing around at the office. I don’t shit where I eat, I don’t fuck where I work.”

“I told you I’m poetic, right? The truth is, I wasn’t always. Not until this moment. She’s magnificent – angelic – gorgeous. Pick a word, any fucking word. The bottom line is, for a moment, I forget how to breathe… Her hair is long and dark and shines even in the dim light of the club…Her mouth is full and lush, with lips begging to be ravished.”

Are you smiling like I am? Yup, this book is absolutely hilarious! It’s smartly written and completely entertaining! I thought it was really fresh penned entirely in Drew’s POV. His unfiltered, totally male thoughts and comments had me giggling and laughing the entire time! So before we get to know the real Drew… we meet Drew with the flu.

“Do you see that unshowered, unshaven heap on the couch? The guy in the dirty gray t-shirt and ripped sweatpants? That’s me, Drew Evans… What you’re seeing right now isn’t the real me. I have the flu.”

But does he really have the flu? Um, no.

“It finally happened.”
“What happened?”
“What you’ve been wishing on me all these years,” I whisper. “I fell in love.”

Drew is used to getting what he wants. A successful investment banker and a well-known player, he’s never done long term… heck, he’s never done more than one night!

“I’ve never seduced a woman before.
Shocking, I know.
Let me clarify. I’ve never had to seduce a woman before, not in the typical sense. Usually it just takes a look, a wink, a smile. A friendly greeting, maybe a drink or two. After that, the only verbal exchange involves short, one-word phrases like harder, more, lower… You get the point.”

So it’s a huge surprise when he encounters this beautiful girl at the club that seems to completely captivate him. She’s smart, engaged… and, well… turns him down. Imagine his shock when she’s the new associate in his office (recall rule #4 above). This funny and playful story takes us back in time to how they met, fell in love and why he now has the “flu.” He tells the story how it is and he talks directly to us, the readers!

Drew is suddenly in unfamiliar territory… in love with a woman who is engaged to another man.

“In times like this, I always ask myself, What would William Wallace do?”

I loved this book! It really had me either grinning, giggling or laughing out loud! I loved Kate. She’s not a shrinking violet by any means… she’s strong, intelligent, confident and ready to take Drew on. Attraction and allure turns into an all-out war at the office and soon, Drew goes from wanting to be with Kate to wanting to destroy Kate. I just LOVE hate-to-love stories like this one! I loved their banter and seeing them connect a little more each day… even though they didn’t always know it!

I can’t recommend this book enough! It’s funny, fresh and romantic and a quick read you are sure to devour just like I did! Pick it up for you and gift it to a friend… part of the fun will be laughing about this book while having some cocktails! 

tangled4

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Excerpt

Shot Girl brings our drinks. I crack my knuckles. I’m up. Time to get…intimate.
“First blow job?”

I tried. I held out for as long as I could. I couldn’t resist any longer.

The smile drops from Kate’s face. “You have serious issues. You know that, right?”

Borrowing some peer pressure from the Breakfast Club, I goad, “Come on, Claire—just answer the simple question.”

Kate picks up her drink and knocks it back impressively.

I am both shocked and appalled. “You’ve never given a blow job?”

Please, God, don’t let Kate be one of those women. You know the ones I mean—cold, unadventurous, the ones who just don’t do that. The ones who insist on making love which  means fucking in the missionary position only. They’re the reason men like Elliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton risk the destruction of their political careers, ’cause they’re just that desperate for a happy ending.

She flinches as the vodka burns down her throat. “Billy doesn’t like…oral sex. He doesn’t like to give it, I mean.”

She’s got to be drunk. There’s no way in holy hell that Kate would be telling me this were she not completely and utterly shitfaced. She hides it well, don’t you think? But she still hasn’t answered my question.

As for her fiancé—he’s a pussy. No pun intended. My mother always told me, “Anyone worth doing, is worth doing well.” Okay, she didn’t actually say those exact words, but you get the picture. If I’m not eager to go down on a chick, then I’m not screwing her. Sorry if that’s crude, but that’s just how it is.

And this is Kate we’re talking about here. I’d eat her for breakfast every day of the week and twice on Sunday. And I can’t think of a single man I know who would disagree with me.

postdivider

Working Late (Kate’s POV)

“That is the stupidest fucking idea I have ever heard!”

He throws his hands in the air, and his blue eyes blaze with annoyance. Eyes like the sea after a storm…

It’s a line from The Princess Bride, one of my favorite movies. It’s also the first thought I had the night I met Drew Evans.

And then I started working with him. And then I started competing against him for the Anderson account. And now, I know the truth. Drew is no Westley. He’s all Humperdinck. The handsome, spoiled prince who wants what he wants, when he wants it, just because he can.

Humperdinck, Humperdinck, Humperdinck.

Despite the urge to yell or scream—or throw a paperweight at Drew’s stupid head—I respond with logic. A well-thought-out explanation. Because I am a businesswoman, a professional, damn it. So, I’m going to be civil. Composed.

Even if it kills me.

“I’ve researched Anderson. He’s the old-fashioned type. He’s not going to want to go blind staring at your laptop all night. He’s going to want something concrete, tangible. Something he can take home. That’s what I’ll give him!”

“This is a multibillion dollar business meeting—not a fifth grade science fair. I’m not walking in there with frigging poster board!”

It may actually kill me.

I’d heard of Drew Evans when I was still at Wharton. Believe it or not, the corporate world is like a sorority house—news travels fast, gossip travels faster. Yet even though Drew works at his father’s firm, he’s not one of those typical trust-fund babies content to ride the coattails of their parents’ success. Or last name.

He’s very good at what he does. I respect him for that. The problem is, he knows how good he is. And that’s just annoying.

“I don’t give a shit if you agree or not. I’m right about this. I’m bringing the poster board.”

He sighs and rubs his eyes. “Fine. Just—shrink it down.”

I’ve always been a planner. Organized. A Type A-plus personality. And the last few weeks have confirmed what I’d only suspected after my very first meeting with Drew.

He’s a ruiner of plans. A walking, breathing distraction. A wrecking ball.

Have you ever seen the demolition of a building? It’s quite a sight. The wrecking ball is the center attraction, powerful and hypnotic. It demands your attention. It’s impossible to look at anything else as it swings and sways and smashes into the side of its target. Permanently altering what the building was or ever could have been.

Drew is my own personal wrecking ball. The devil on my shoulder. The chocolate cake to my diet. Whispering in my head and caressing me with his words, even when I’m not actually in the same room as him.

‘And I think you should know, I want you, Kate.’

For years, Dee’s been telling me there’s something wrong with my and Billy’s relationship. She thinks it’s too calm, too easy. Quiet and resigned. Like a morgue. Delores is a big believer in drama. She feels love is supposed to be loud and passionate, all jealous eyes and desperate hands.

But that’s not me. I’m not the kind of woman who likes sailing in rough seas. I prefer a tranquil ocean—because then you can focus on so many other things along the way.

I’m not a cheater. I’ve never even thought about it, never been tempted. I don’t see other men except Billy.

At least, I didn’t see.

Until the night Drew Evans bought me a drink. I couldn’t not see him.

A chiseled jaw, long-lashed blue eyes that dance with boyish mischief, black hair that falls over his brow in a devil-may-care kind of way. A tall, strong body—not too bulky like the steroid-juicing meatheads that litter the gym but sleek, powerful. The kind of build that makes a woman’s mouth water whether it’s encased in jeans and a T-shirt, a power suit…or nothing at all.

Drew is like a piece of art in one of the famous galleries downtown. The kind that you could stare at for hours on end but still find something new—something alluring—that makes you want to keep looking at it.

He’s quite simply…beautiful.

“I’m doing the talking,” he commands.

Until he opens his fucking mouth.

“No, no way!”

“Kate—”

I jump to my feet. “These are my ideas, and I’m presenting them!”

Although this is my first “real” paying job in investment banking, I’m far from a rookie. It’s a kill-or-be-killed kind of field.

“Saul Anderson,” he says, “is an old-fashioned businessman—you just said it yourself. He’s going to want to talk to another business man, not someone he sees as a glorified secretary.”

It’s not easy being a woman in the business world, even in this day and age. There’s a fine line to walk. Come on too strong and you’re too “bitchy” to work with. Too soft and you’re a doormat.

To be honest, I’m a little surprised by Drew’s attitude. Although I guess I shouldn’t be—considering he’s a manwhore and all.

“That is the most sexist comment I’ve ever heard. You’re disgusting!”

He takes a step towards me, all outrage and insult.

“I didn’t say I thought that way—I said he thinks that way! Fucking Christ Almighty!”

He pushes a hand through his hair. And then his tone becomes calmer, more persuasive.  “Look, this is the way it is. Trying to pretend certain biases don’t exist won’t make them go away. We have a better shot at signing Anderson if I do the talking.”

But I don’t want to be calmed. I want to fight. I want to yell and curse, and I want to hate Drew Evans with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

No. That’s not really true. What I actually want is to feel nothing for him.

Because every time we’re near like this, my heart beats faster. My breaths come quicker. And I feel…alive. Invigorated.

So I don’t want to look for his face in the crowded conference room. I don’t want to listen for his voice, his laugh, in the office hallway. I don’t want his smile or a few of his words in my direction to suddenly make the day seem better

Because all those things make me feel like…a betrayer. Of Billy.

And he’s supposed to be my Westley.

“I said no! I don’t care what you think. Absolutely not.”

“God, you’re so fucking stubborn. You’re like a menopausal pissed-off mule!”

“I’m stubborn! I’m stubborn? Well, maybe I wouldn’t have to be if you weren’t King of the Control Freaks!”

He’s right about the stubborn thing. But what can I say? I like things done the right way—my way. I won’t apologize for that. Especially not to Mr. Silver-Spoon-Up-My-Ass.

“At least I know when to back off—unlike you. You walk around like an uptight overachiever on crystal meth!”

By this time, we’re less than a foot apart facing each other. Without my heels, Drew has a major height advantage, but I’m not intimidated. Poodles may be small, but their bite is still damaging if it’s in the right spot.

I poke him in the chest as I say, “You don’t even know me. I am not uptight.”

“Oh, please. I’ve never seen someone who needs to get laid as badly as you do. I don’t know what the hell your fiancé is doing with you. But whatever it is? He’s not doing it right.”

Oh. Hell. No.

He isn’t allowed to talk about Billy. Billy’s spent his entire life being judged by the people around him—Drew fucking Evans doesn’t get to be one of them.

Of its own volition, my hand comes up to slap the smug expression off his face. But he catches my wrist before I can make contact and holds my arm down at my side.

I have a feeling Drew’s had a lot of practice avoiding the slaps of infuriated women.

He smirks and says, “Gee, Kate, for a woman who claims she doesn’t want to screw me, you’re certainly eager to make this physical.”

Red-hot rage overwhelms me. And I’m no longer thinking rationally. I don’t think I’m thinking at all. I’m just…reacting.

My other hand comes up—nails first—trying again to get in a well-deserved slap.

But he blocks me and now holds both hands at my hips. “Gotta do better than that, baby, if you want a piece of me.”

I screech in frustration, “I hate you!”

“I hate you more!” he shouts back.

“Good!”

It’s the last word I get out.

Before his mouth descends on mine.

And our lips crash together.

 

Bonus Scenes

The Bitch Strikes Back (Kate POV)

Men love Star Wars. Not in the same way women love Titanic or The Notebook—I cry every time I watch them. But Star Wars is different for men. It’s not just entertainment.

They believe in it.

It’s their handbook, their Bible. Apparently, all the secrets of life can be found in George Lucas’s films. At least in the first three. According to Drew, the last three “suck ass.”

We’re watching The Empire Strikes Back now.

Drew and I have been living together for just over a month. But it feels like it’s been longer. You know when you get your hair highlighted? And after just a day or two you can’t remember what you looked like before? Can’t imagine a time when your hair wasn’t this vibrant, multifaceted shade? It’s a lot like that.

There we are—on the floor, snuggled under a pile of pillows and blankets, eating popcorn—while Han Solo is about to be frozen in carbonite. Oh, and Mackenzie is here too. Alexandra and Steven asked us to watch her for the afternoon.

“I don’t get it.”

Drew’s eyes don’t stray from the plasma. “What don’t you get?”

I sit up as I explain. “The man is most likely about to die, and the woman he’s wanted all this time finally tells him she loves him—and what does he say? I know? What kind of line is that?”

Drew looks genuinely shocked. “Uh…the greatest in cinematic history?”

“Why didn’t he just say he loves her too?”

He sits up, giving me his full attention. Prepare to be tutored in the finer points of male logic.

“Because he’s Han freaking Solo. He’s the coolest guy in the galaxy. He doesn‘t have to say he loves her—look at everything he’s done for her. She should already know.”

Typical. I shake my head and look down at Mackenzie, who sits between us. “When you fall in love? Go for a guy like Luke.”

Drew is highly offended. “No. No way…”

“He’s sweet. Brave but sensitive.”

“Luke is a whiny little bitch until Return of the Jedi.”

Mackenzie reaches for her calculator and adds ten to the tab. Did you miss the Bad Word Jar that’s sitting on the coffee table? Yeah—it’s almost full. I say Drew should just buy her a Ferrari now. By the time she’s old enough to drive it, they should be about even.

“If you decide you want to get married, Mackenzie—someday—it should be to a guy like Han.”

Mackenzie turns her head from Drew to me, like she’s watching a match at Wimbledon.

“He’s selfish and egotistical. Always running off in his space cruiser—”

“That’s the Millennium Falcon to you,” Drew interrupts.

I ignore his correction. “And he’s obviously a playboy! A womanizer. Why would you want Mackenzie with someone like that?”

“Correction: he was a womanizer. Until he met Leia. She changed him. And Mackenzie—like Leia—is going to be smart, strong, and powerful. She’ll eat a weakling like Luke for breakfast. Han, on the other hand, will keep up with her. Keep her satisfied.”

He smirks—in that way that makes my stomach tighten—as he adds, “Like us.”

I smile teasingly. “But I’m never satisfied. I always want more.”

Drew’s voice drops suggestively. “I guess I’ll have to work harder, then.”

And just like that, we’re in Lust Land. Get used to it—it happens often. Our gazes lock, and our mouths gravitate towards each other. Don’t worry about Mackenzie; it’s nothing she hasn’t seen before.

Drew is big on the PDAs. Because when it comes to affection—and everything, for that matter—he’s impatient and spoiled. So if he wants to touch me, kiss me? He does. And he really doesn’t give a damn who’s around at the time.

It can be a real turn-on—or incredibly frustrating, depending on the circumstances.

Before our lips touch, the phone rings. And Mackenzie’s blond head pops up between us.

“I’ll get it!”

Alexandra said she’s really into answering the phone lately.

“Evans-Brooks res-dance?”

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

She listens to the receiver, then turns to Drew. “Uncle Drew, it the doorman. He say there a package for you.”

“Tell him to sign for it, and I’ll pick it up later.”

She does. Then she listens again and says, “He say it per-ish-able.”

Drew’s brow furrows, wondering what it could be. “Okay. Tell him to send it up.”

Drew pauses the movie. Before he stands, he picks up my hand and kisses it softly. And his eyes promise more to come.

This is our first clothed weekend. And although I adore Mackenzie, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to some non-G-rated activity later on. Yes—my name is Kate, and I am a newly indoctrinated sex addict.

But come on, look at the man. Can you blame me?

Drew opens the door, and a uniformed man hands him a clipboard before sliding a large cardboard box—with holes on top—through the doorway. Drew signs, looks down at the box, and kicks it with his foot. “What’s in—”

Before he can finish, a chorus of sounds emerges from the box.

Meows.

Mackenzie’s jaw drops as she runs forward. “It sounds like kittens!” She takes the lid off the box. “It is! Is a whole box full of kittens!”

Is it ever. I stand up and peer inside. Eight kittens, to be exact.

Drew looks accusingly at the deliveryman. “What the fuck is this?”

“These are your foster kittens.”

“My what?!”

Kitten Man checks the clipboard. “Drew Evans, right?”

He nods.

“You signed up to be an animal foster parent. These are your wards for the next four to six weeks.”

Drew is already shaking his head. “I didn’t sign up for shit. I hate cats—they’re Satan’s pets.”

Kitten Man hands Drew the clipboard. “That’s not what it says here.”

By this time, Mackenzie is cooing and petting the box of meowing fur. And I cover my mouth to keep from laughing.

Have you figured it out yet?

“I’m going to kill her. I swear to God! I’m gonna be an only child by the time this day is over!”

That’s when I start laughing. Loudly. As I ask him, “What did you expect? You had a farm animal delivered to her condo on Christmas morning.”

“That was a gift! This is just mean.”

Drew hands the clipboard back to Kitten Man. “Take them back. There’s been a mix up. They can’t stay.”

Kitten Man looks disappointed. “That’s too bad. Without you, these little guys will be euthanized by the end of the day.”

Big round blue eyes stare up at Drew.

“What eufanized mean, Uncle Drew?”

Drew looks at her sad little face for about five seconds. Then he lowers his head in defeat. “Goddamn it.”

I smile at Mackenzie. “It means the kittens are staying, sweetie.”

“Yippee!” She starts taking them out of the box one by one.

Kitten Man turns to go. “Happy Holidays. God bless you.”

Drew scowls. “Yeah, yeah. Happy fucking New Year.”

Then he kicks the door closed.

“I’m gonna name you Nala, and you Simba, and you Fluffy, and you Muffy…and I’m gonna call you Drew Junior! He look like Uncle Drew, don’t he, Aunt Kate?”

Oh yeah—I’m already Aunt Kate. How great is that?

“He does. He’s very handsome and seems smart too. Don’t you think, Drew?”

He’s still pouting. “Yeah. Fantastic. Hey, here’s an idea—let’s take Drew Junior and his buddies down to the Hudson River and see if they can swim?”

I saunter towards my boyfriend. “You don’t want to do that.”With Mackenzie’s focus still on the kittens, I slide my hand under Drew’s T-shirt and scrape my nails over his abs.

That gets his attention.

“I don’t?”

I keep my voice low. “Nope. Because rescuing poor defenseless animals gets me really …hot.”

Drew raises his brows. “How hot?”

I lick my lips. He watches.

“Very. I’ll probably need you to cool me down with…ice cubes…or whipped cream…”

He puts his hands on my hips and pulls me forward. “Mmmm. Maybe…kittens have their good points after all.”

I smile and nod. And then our mouths are joined. I wrap my arms around his neck, and my feet leave the floor as Drew lifts me up.

Just as his tongue comes out to play, Mackenzie calls out, “Uncle Drew! Simba went pee-pee on the rug!”

He sighs. And presses his forehead against mine.

“I’m sending The Bitch the bill when I get these carpets cleaned. No…better…I’ll have them replaced. That’ll bite her in the ass.”

I don’t want him too focused on a war with his sister. Not when there are so many other—more enjoyable—things he could be focusing on.

“Let it go, Drew. And after Mackenzie leaves, you can bite my ass instead.”

He laughs. And nips at my earlobe.

“You’re right. That’ll be a lot more fun.”

postdivider

The Honeymoon’s Over (Drew POV)

Endorphins: chemicals in the brain that instill feelings of well-being or euphoria.

They’re the reason we keep going back to the gym for those punishing workouts. They’re the reason even the most uptight man on earth can fall asleep after a good lay. They are also responsible for a little phenomenon commonly referred to as The Honeymoon Period.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the beginning of a relationship—when everything is all sweetness and light. Everyone’s on their best behavior.

Guys don’t pass gas; women don’t eat.

Or, if they just can’t help themselves, even the worst habits seem like the most adorable thing since Punky frigging Brewster. His cute little snore, her delightful nail biting.

Humans are not the only ones who go through a Honeymoon Period. It’s an interspecies experience. In fact, without it, sharks would cease to exist. See, sharks are natural predators. They’ll eat anything—including their own offspring.

Right after giving birth, however, the mother shark’s brain is flooded with endorphins, putting her into a kind of ecstatic coma. This gives the baby shark about ten minutes to swim away.

Because if he’s still around when Momma wakes up? He’s lunch.

Which brings us to the other universal characteristic of The Honeymoon Period:

Eventually, it ends.

***

“Hey, Kate?”

It’s Saturday afternoon. Matthew and Steven are over. We’re in the living room, watching the game.

“Kate!”

And we need beer.

Sure, she’s in the office working, but the Yankees are on. And I’m a New York boy—born and raised. Which means there are only two teams I like: the Yankees and whoever’s playing the Boston Red Sox.

“KAAATE!”

She appears at the entrance to the room, arms folded, hip cocked. She’s wearing a sundress—short with a sexy floral pattern and buttons down the front for easy removal. I worship the creator of the sundress.

Her voice is annoyed. “What is it, Drew?”

I toss her a smile. “Hey, babe…could you grab us a few beers from the fridge?”

Animals are non-verbal. A girl dog can’t tell a boy dog, Screw me now; I want to have your puppies. So instead she sticks her ass in the air. Now, if the boy dog happens to read her signals wrong? If he jumps on her ass before it’s raised?

He might just get his balls bitten off.

Women are a lot like female canines—or bitches, if you want the correct terminology—and God help the man who misreads them.

We’ll get back to that later.

As for now, when Kate raises one eyebrow at me, I know she’s looking for an explanation. I gesture towards the television. “Jeter’s about to beat the all-time hitting record.”

She sighs. Pacified. “Okay.” Then she heads off to the kitchen.

A few minutes later, she comes back with her arms full of beer bottles. She hands one to Matthew.

“Thanks, Kate.”

And one to Steven. “Thank you.”

And one to me. I take a sip. And flinch. “Ah, this is piss warm.” I hand it back to her.

“I just took it out of the refrigerator.”

With my eyes still on the game, I flick my wrist, shooing her back to the kitchen. “You have to take them from the back of the fridge. That’s where the cold ones are…Come on, A-rod! Get your head out of your ass and in the game!”

And we should pause here a moment.

Remember those dogs I was talking about? The cues? While I was watching TV, I missed a few. Take a look:

Steven is smiling, almost laughing. After all the punishment he’s received from my sister over the years, he’s developed quite the sadistic streak when it comes to other people getting their asses handed to them.

Then there’s Matthew. God only knows what kind of sick and depraved penalties Delores has inflicted on that poor bastard, because he just looks scared.

Kate, on the other hand, is staring at my hand like it’s a cockroach. That she wants to squash. And then she gets an idea—a wonderful, awful idea. If you look hard enough, you can see the light bulb go on above her head. She smiles and leaves the room.

I missed all this the first time.

A few minutes later, Kate breezes back in carrying an ice bucket filled with beer. Nope, not beer bottles. Just beer. She stands next to the couch, and I—eyes still on the game—hold out my hand for my drink. And she proceeds to take her bucket and dump it over my fucking head.

Splash.

I jump up, dripping and choking. “Jesus Christ!”

She asks me sweetly, “Is that cold enough for you, honey?”

I wipe my face with my hand and glare at her. “Are you crazy!”

She glares right back. “No—and I’m not a waitress either! Though I would hope you’d show a little more courtesy to them.”

Matthew stands up. “I’m going to head down to McCarthy’s Bar and watch the game from there.”

Steven gets his jacket. “I’ll come with you.”

I wring out the bottom of my shirt. “Hold the cab for me, guys. I’ll be right down.”

Matthew laughs. And pats me on the back. “Sure you will, buddy. Bye, Kate.”

“Later, Kate.”

She doesn’t answer them. She’s too busy trying to kill me with her eyes.

And with that, Matthew and Steven make their escape.

While Kate and I glower at each other.

Ding-ding.

Yep—that’s the bell. Round one just got started.

***

I begin calmly. When verbally sparring with an adversary, it’s always better to stay levelheaded. Choose your words carefully. Be smart.

And lethal.

“What is this about?”

Apparently, Kate does not share my philosophy.

“You tell me, Drew! Tell me why the hell Matthew and Steven can say please and thank you and all I get from you is a…” She flicks her hand dismissively, mimicking my earlier action.

And once again, I stay composed. Still dripping—but composed.

“So you’re telling me you wasted good beer and ruined my Saturday afternoon because I forgot my manners?”

“Why couldn’t you just say it?”

“Why couldn’t you just say, ‘Hey, Drew, a thank you would be nice’? Was it necessary to be such a god damn drama queen about it?”

She folds her arms and scoffs, “I am not a drama queen.”

I hold up my fingers. “Two words, Kate: Chanel suit.”

You remember, don’t you? The one I bought her from Saks, after our first screw-fest?

Her eyes narrow. “What about it?”

My eyebrows rise. “What about it? You set it on fire.”

Yep—she and Delores made like homeless people and incinerated the freaking thing in the dumpster outside Kate’s old building.

She shrugs. “So? You were nothing to me, and I wanted to make sure everything you’d ever given me was nothing too.”

And that, boys and girls, is called proving my point. I smirk. “I really don’t need to say anything else.”

She rolls her eyes. “Whatever. I didn’t throw beer on you just because you forgot to say thank you. I’m not some hysterical nagging psycho-bitch.”

Right. And if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…it’s a horse.

She goes on. “There are a lot of things that have been bothering me lately.”

“Like what?”

I’m actually curious. As far as I know, Kate and I have the perfect relationship. And I—of course—am the perfect boyfriend.

“Like how you never help me clean up in the kitchen. Every time we cook, you disappear while I’m stuck washing and drying and putting away!”

My voice becomes a little louder. Defensive. “You do most of the cooking. I figure you want to organize the kitchen! I don’t want to mess up your system.”

And this is partly true. But if I’m being totally honest, I’ve never seen my old man wash a dish in his life. Not even a frigging spoon. And Steven—the one time he tried to help The Bitch out with the laundry? She pissed and moaned for a week about how he ruined her gentle delicates, whatever the hell those are.

“And you never complained about it before. If you wanted my help, why didn’t you just ask me?”

Her volume reaches maximum decibels. “Why should I have to ask you? You’re a grown man! You should just know!”

And there it is, kiddies. The Famous Female Mind Fuck.

That’s short for: If you can’t read their minds? You’re fucked.

And as for that composure I was so proud of? Yeah—he took a hike. “Well, I didn’t! For Christ’s sake, don’t give me enough rope to hang myself and then cut my balls off when I actually do! You should’ve just told me!”

Kate pushes my shoulders, and my shirt makes a wet squishing sound.

“Fine. You wanna know? I’ll tell you now.”

Despite what I just said, no, I don’t want to know. No guy likes being criticized. No one wants to be told they’re screwing up. So, like any man under attack, I go on the offensive.

“You’re not exactly a joy to live with all the time either.”

That stops Kate’s tirade in its tracks. Her brow furrows slightly. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Honestly? I have no idea. I have two reactions to anything Kate does: she makes me smile or she makes me hard. Smile, hard, smile, hard, smile…hard. Usually both at the same time. You know that song “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”? It’s a lot like that. Nothing she does turns me off. But I’m not about to let her know that. This is our first argument.

Winning is crucial. I have to set a precedent.

So, genius that I am, I spew the first thing that pops into my head. “You chew on your pens.”

“What?”

Too late now—might as well go with it. “When we’re working in the office. You chew on your pen. It’s distracting. It sounds like some crazed woodchuck is trying to eat its way through the drywall. Chck, chck, chck, chck.”

She thinks about it a moment. And shrugs. “Fine. I won’t chew my pen anymore. But we’re not talking about me right now. We’re talking about you…and…and how you disrespect me.”

Hold on. Back the hell up. I am an extremely respectful person. Always. Even to my do-me-once-and-don’t-ever-talk-to-me-agains—I was a goddamn gentleman.

“What are you talking about? How do I disrespect you?”

Her tone is clipped. Accusing. “You’ve never once changed the toilet paper roll.”

She’s kidding, right? Seriously. Tell me she’s fucking with me.

“And how exactly does me not changing the toilet paper roll disrespect you?”

Her face goes blank, like she’s shocked that I don’t immediately understand the insanity that is her.

“Well, who do you think is going to change it?”

“Uhh…I don’t?”

She spreads her arms out, like I just said the magic words.

“Exactly.”

I pinch my nose. Maybe if I stem the flow of blood to my brain, I’ll pass out.

She goes on, “You don’t think about it at all! You just assume, ‘Oh Kate will do it. She’s got nothing better to do’…”

I put my hand up, cutting her off. “No, no—I don’t think that! If I need toilet paper and it’s there, I use it. If it’s not, I improvise.”

Her face wrinkles. “Well, that’s just disgusting.”

So this is what it feels like to be stuck in quicksand. You kick and struggle…but you just keep on sinking.

“You know what? Okay, fine. You’re right. I’ll change the toilet paper roll from now on. Problem solved.”

But apparently it’s not.

She folds her arms. “I don’t want to be right, Drew. I don’t want you to change the toilet paper roll because I’m yelling at you. I want you to want to change the toilet paper roll.”

Okay—now I start laughing. I just can’t help it.

“Why the fuck would anyone want to change the toilet paper roll!”

She looks offended. Highly. “For me. For me, Drew! You know, I happen to like doing things for you because I love you. But only if you appreciate it. When it just becomes…expected…then I feel degraded. And it makes me not want to do things for you!”

Her lips are moving. I know she’s trying to tell me something.

What it is? No clue.

“I don’t even know what that means!”

She points her finger at me. And hops up and down. “Yes, you do! You’re just purposely not seeing my point to drive me crazy.”

No, I’m really not. Because judging from this conversation? She’s already there.

And then a thought occurs to me. “Are you on the rag?”

Her mouth opens wide. And you might want to take a step back, because I think her head might actually explode.

She grabs the nearest thing she can reach—a picture of us on vacation two months ago—and flings it at my head. Frisbee style. Lucky for me, she’s got bad aim. The shelf behind me? Not so lucky.

Smash.

“Why is it that whenever a woman is justifiably upset, the guy always blames it on PMS?”

Please. I’ve been on the receiving end of Alexandra’s premenstrual-induced psychosis often enough to recognize the signs.

“Oh, I don’t know…could it be because it usually is the reason?”

That’s when Kate starts to pummel me.

With both fists.

Like a kindergartener going to the mat over his favorite color crayon.

“You…are…such…a…jerk!”

Somewhere in between the second and the fifth punch, my dick peeks out from where he’s been hiding since the beer bath to reevaluate the situation. To see if there’s any way to turn this sorry state of affairs into something…a little more to his liking.

He thinks there is. And so I grab Kate’s wrists and back her up against the wall, holding her hands over her head.

Restrained—such a nice look for her.

Her chin is high, and her eyes are blazing. “I so don’t like you right now!”

I smirk. “I’m sensing that.”

She twists and pulls but can’t get free. Like some beautiful, exotic fish caught in a net.

“You’re an insensitive prick.”

I lean in, pressing the lower half of our bodies together. “I resent that. My prick happens to be extremely sensitive. Wanna see?”

Kate catches on to what’s coming and opens her mouth to protest. Which works well for me. I swoop in and cover her lips with mine. She tries to turn her head away, but I grab her chin and hold it tight. Which allows her to take one newly freed hand and bury it in my hair.

Before yanking with all of her motherfucking might.

I lift my mouth from hers. “Feisty. I appreciate you trying to make things more interesting, but it’s really not necessary.”

And then I’m at her neck, nipping and sucking, working my way down to her cleavage. Kate slaps at my shoulder, but there’s no real effort behind it. Which means I’m wearing her down.

“I’m still mad at you.”

“I’m sure you are.”

I rest my nose against her skin, inhaling deeply. Then I take one nipple in my mouth—over her dress—and suckle it hard.

See, Kate’s breasts are kind of like start buttons. No matter how tired or moody she may be, a little attention to those bad boys switches things around real quick.

Her head slams back against the wall. And she moans, holding my head in place.

We have ignition.

I grip her knee and hoist it up around my waist, lining us up, and grind against her. And despite my soaked clothes, I can feel how hot she is.

Turned on.

“You’re a bastard.”

I chuckle. “So you’ve said.”

I kiss her again, our tongues tangling in their own sensuous battle. Then I slide my hand between us, down her panties. She’s slick and smooth. Velvet wetness. When I push two fingers inside her, her voice changes. It’s all breathy and moaning—not a trace of pissed-offness to be heard.

“God…Drew…”

And then she’s pulling me against her and kissing me back with all she’s got. Telling me without words what I’ve known all along: horny and angry are a fabulous combination.

I push my shorts down and drag both of her legs up around me. Pressing her into the wall.

But just as I’m about to slide into home, Kate puts her palm against my forehead and pushes it back.

“Wait…no…wait…”

What? Wait? I hate waiting.

“What?”

Even though she’s panting, her eyes are round and dark with…worry.

“We have to talk about this. We can’t just cover all our problems with sex. I have some valid issues here, and if this is going to work, we need to figure this out.”

I press my forehead to hers. Thinking. Or trying to, anyway.

With my cock so close to Mecca, it’s difficult to remember my own name at the moment.

And then it all becomes clear. And I look at Kate’s face. “So, in a nutshell…you want me to stop being a dickhead?”

She mulls it over. And then she nods.

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

I nod too. “Got it. That’s really all you needed to say, baby.”

And then those lips that I love break into a big happy bang-me-up-against-the-wall smile. “Okay, then.” She scrapes my bottom lip between her teeth before moving down my jaw and nibbling my neck.

Then she whispers, “You’re going to miss the game.”

I shred her underwear and get what’s left of her dress out of my way.

“Fuck the game.” That’s why God gave us DVR, right?

She giggles wickedly. And looks me straight in the eyes.

“I’d rather you fuck me.”

Have I mentioned how much I absolutely adore this woman?

I lean back just long enough to rip my sopping shirt over my head. “God, I love you.”

Kate giggles again. And in her best Han Solo impression, tells me, “I know.”

***

Okay, ladies—what have we learned from this example? Keep it simple. Be broad but don’t bog us down with specifics. It’ll only confuse us.

You’re an asshole.

You’re a slob.

Stop being that way.

Any of the above should work just fine.

As for Kate and me? We had our first living-together-in-sin fight. A milestone. Go us. Overall, I think it went pretty well. In fact, if all of our arguments end like this? I won’t complain at all.

No. Wait. I take that back.

If all of our arguments end like this?

I plan on complaining a whole hell of a lot.

**************

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