“Mujer!” I grumble. “Where is it?”
January sits on the sofa, petting our dog, Brownie, wearing the tiniest pair of short-shorts she owns. She innocently glances up at me like she has no idea what I’m talking about. She has every idea what I’m talking about, but she’s mastered the doe eye look and used it as a weapon.
“I’m right here,” she says. “You don’t have to shout.”
I’m not shouting, but I guess my ‘indoor voice’ could be adjusted for this small house. In an effort to break free from her old life, January sold her mansion and now we’re living in my “bungalow” as she endearingly calls my house. Our new house in Malibu is still being built, and as a result, the kitchen, where I’m standing over thirty tile samples, is only ten feet away from where she’s lounging in the living room. Even so, I think I’ll yell a little louder to get a rise out of her. I love it when she acts annoyed.
She’s not amused.
“What did you do with my sun and moon tile?”
“January,” I say, “where did you hide it?”
More silence. She blinks innocently.
“September… I’m warning you.”
Her upper lip quirks up. This woman is asking for it.
“Do I need to bend you over my knee?” I warn.
She gasps, “You wouldn’t.”
I take three large strides into the living room. I’m hovering over her now, which makes her wiggle. Ever since she moved in, January takes every opportunity to roll all over my couch. She’s like a dog–leaving her scent everywhere. Hence the short-shorts today–which is considerably more clothing than yesterday when she sat on my throw pillows. She does it to see me squirm.
“Listen, Mr. Progresso. I’m sorry, but… you have deplorable taste.”
I lean down, running my hands up her smooth thighs, until my fingertips trail the hem of her shorts.
“I have excellent taste, Mrs. Progresso. Especially in women.”
She snorts and swats my hands away. “Psht. Right. You got lucky.”
She gently lowers Brownie onto the floor and hops off the couch, swaying her way into the kitchen. My eyes sweep over her. I did get lucky.
She glances back over her shoulder–totally aware I’m checking out her perfect backside.
“Where’s my tile, woman?”
Brownie barks at me.
I snarl back at the dog. “Traitor.”
January smirks triumphantly. “Ricky, I need you to trust me. This tile matches the quartz countertop and the distressed wood cabinets.”
She arranges a white tile pattern on the floor next to an accent tile she’d taken weeks to pick out.
“We’re going for copper hardware for the kitchen and brushed gold for the master bath. I like the warm tones in the marble for the shower.”
She has two large sections planned out on the floor now. One for the kitchen and the other for the master bath. To be honest, picking out tile and cabinets and faucets is giving me a headache. But January seems to love it. I’d gladly blink and have it all done for me-–January will get what she wants anyway and I’m more than happy to give it to her. But messing with her is too fun–and what started as a joke has now turned into an interior design war. I don’t give two figs about the frickin’ tile. But there were hand-painted tile samples with a half sun face, and half moon face. It’s hideous, I guess. So I brought home fifty pieces to see what her reaction would be. She did not disappoint. Now her reaction is just too cute to let it go.
“I feel like you’re not even giving the poor son moon tile a chance,” I say, feigning a frown.
“Fine!” she huffs. “Let’s just take a look at the artistic masterpiece that is half bright yellow sun face, and half moon face, shall we?”
She disappears for a moment and comes back with a jumbo-sized box of menstrual pads. With wings, apparently. She plops it on the floor and removes the newspaper, exposing my tile samples. So that’s where she hides things.
She sets one tile on the floor next to the other samples. “There.”
I examine it for a while, tilting my head to the side.
“Ya know,” I say. “The more I look at it, the more I love it. Yep. This is what I want.”
Her eye twitches. “Are you serious?”
The horrified look on her face comes from that small part of her which wants to make me happy, even though it’s killing her. She’s always saying how this is our project–a house we’re building together. And she’s been asking for my opinions every step of the way. The fact is, I love her ideas, and other than the garage–which is all mine–I don’t care if we have polka dot backsplash or faux whatever kind of stone or plain walls. I only care about spending a lifetime with her.
Brownie comes around now, sniffing the tiles on the floor, wagging her tail.
“What do you think, puppy? Do you like Mommy’s beautiful tile? Or the scary Two-Face Moon tile?”
Brownie tilts her head and yips excitedly, clearly thinking she’s getting a treat.
“Go ahead, girl. Pick your favorite.”
Brownie sniffs the tiles, tapping her little paws all over the samples.
“That’s right,” squeaks January. “You like this one? Come on, girl.”
“You’re coaxing her, I say. That’s not fair.”
I tap the floor next to the sun moon tile, whistling. “Hey, baby. This one. That’s right.”
January scowls at me. “You can’t whistle. That’s cheating.”
Pretty soon we’re both whistling and calling Brownie with high-pitched squeaky voices. We’re officially those kinds of dog parents.
Brownie’s spinning and hopping from me to January like it’s a game. She loves any kind of attention.
We go on like this for a full minute, and then Brownie stops on the sun moon tile, tapping it gleefully with her paw. I cheer like I just won the Super Bowl.
“Yes! Yes! The dog has chosen. Take that, February.”
I do a victory dance and January rolls her eyes.
“We’re not really letting the dog choose the tile, Kinky.”
“You’re just saying that because she likes mine better. If she’d chosen your favorite, you’d be rubbing it in my face.”
“Ummm…” She points to the floor and laughs.
I look down. Brownie is in squatting position, doing her business right on the sun moon tile.
“Ugh!” I cry. “Perra cochina. I just took you on a walk.”
“Now we know exactly what she thinks of your ugly tile.” January laughs while I grab a few paper towels and clean up the mess. This dog.
“It’s all fun and games until she pees on your tile. You don’t think she’s such a great interior designer anymore, do you?”
I toss the towels in the trash, tear off some more, and reach for the cleaning spray-–all with the soundtrack of January’s sweet laughter.
I spray. “Naughty dog.”
Spray. Spray. Wipe.
Brownie shuffles off to the other room.
“Awww. You scared her,” January says.
“Scared her? Ay que la! She owns this house. Probably off looking for something else to claim. Like my slippers.”
“She does love your Lightning McQueen slippers,” says January, brightly. I glare at her.
Mess cleaned up, I scrub my hands with enough soap to clean all of West Los Angeles.
“You’re having too much fun with this, woman.”
January bites her bottom lip, suppressing a laugh. She’s not fooling me with that wholesome expression.
“Oh, you keep laughing and I’ll wipe that wicked grin right off your face.”
I prowl towards her like a big cat. Like a panther. Her eyes go wide. She shuffles back, her feet grazing the edges of the tiles, sending them to ricochet across the floor with a clank.
“What are you going to do to me?”
I click my tongue on the roof of my mouth. “Eh, eh, eh. No spoilers.”
Her hands fly back–searching for anything within reach. She swipes a cardboard paint sample off the table and brandishes it at me like a weapon.
“Don’t you dare take another step.”
I lick my lips and draw even closer.
“Or what? You’ll give me a paper cut?”
“Maybe. Paper cuts can really sting.”
I growl and she sucks in a shaky inhale, backing up until her butt hits the edge of the kitchen table. More tile clinks under the weight of her.
“You know what I’m going to do? Wife?”
I’m inches from her now, but only the heat of my breath is touching her. Her eyes darken to a royal blue, and her breast rises and falls with shallow pants.
“Wha- wha- what?” She swallows hard.
I lean in and graze her ear with my lips, caging her against the table with my arms. My voice deepens.
“I’m going to go online. And I’m going to order three hundred boxes of sun moon face tiles. And then—after I have my way with you to the point where you can’t walk—I’m going to lay that tile over every damn surface of the new house.”
I press myself flush against her body. She’s a mass of goo under me.
“On the counters.”
She breathes in shakily.
“On the walls.”
January grunts and squirms, pushing on my chest. But I’m stronger and I barely budge an inch.
“You are a horrible human being,” she says, finding her voice.
“Only horrible?” I tease, capturing her body in my arms and tossing her over one shoulder with ease. That dog better not be in the bedroom. I plan to serve my wife good and well without interruption. January’s hands are just positioned in the right place to punch repeatedly against my jean pockets.
“I was a monster last night,” I say. “How did I get downgraded to horrible human?”
“I hate you, Kinky,” she cries, half laughing.
“Good girl,” I say with a swift spank of my hand over her short shorts. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”