“Listen, I think there’s something I better tell you before this guy shows up.”
The words, coupled with the tone of his voice, put her internal radar on alert. “What’s that?”
“He … ah … ” He bit down on the inside of his lower lip and appeared to wince.
He came up slightly onto the balls of his feet, then set his heels down. “He thinks we’re married.”
“What?” Dim light suffused the doorway, and she gazed up at him through a web of shadows. “How did he get such a weird idea?”
“When I phoned him, he asked if only I was interested in the apartment, or if I planned to move in with a wife. Before I had a chance to think, I said I didn’t have a wife. Then I remembered you.”
“Yeah, we’d be checking it out together. After I screwed up the ‘no wife’ bit, I wasn’t sure how to explain you.”
“Was an explanation necessary?”
“I thought you might think so.”
“In that case, you could have told him I was your sister.”
He cocked his head, pressed his lips together, and frowned.
“Okay, he wouldn’t believe we were related.”
“Not even for a second.” His featured relaxed, and he shrugged and smiled.
“Why didn’t you say you were bringing a friend?”
“Listen, I didn’t have a lot of time to come up with anything creative. I thought it was important to protect you.”
“I didn’t want to give him the impression you were a … a shack up.”
“A shack up?”
“Look. Landlords aren’t stupid. They want to know how many people will occupy their units. Once he saw us, he’d assume we were both moving in. I thought you’d be more comfortable showing up with a man you’d only just met — me — if the guy thought we were married instead of … you know … living together. You having worked in social services and running a clinic, I wasn’t sure about your views on, eh, shacking up. So I said we’d just gotten back from the honeymoon, it was all so new I forgot for a second we were married.” Innocence flickered behind his eyes. His bottom lip curved down as if in apology.
Molly leaned against the slots cut into the metal plate that protected the mailboxes. He was right about the shacking up part being a bad fit. Three boyfriends back, she’d almost been pressured into it. When she’d said no, the boyfriend took a hike.
“Maybe I made a mistake. If the owner mentions anything, I’ll say he must have misunderstood.”
“Great, and then I’m left with being your shack up and getting leered at by some oily slumlord.”
“Look, I’m sorry I goofed. But the guy wants to rent this apartment. He’ll know better than to leer. Why would you assume he’s a slumlord?”
“Well, just look at this place.”
Nick rubbed the back of his neck. “Would you rather wait in the car?”
“Don’t you trust me?”
She let him glean the answer from her expression.
“Okay. Lack of trust noted.” He checked his watch. “It’s your call. You better make it quick. Either we took a trip to the altar or we’ve slept together without the benefit of marriage.” Molly felt her eyes roll up in her head. Any farther and there was a chance she could have examined her own brain.
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