Married State - M
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Married State - M
He stopped by Miss Murphy's office. She was still on trial, but the officer there would call him when she got in. In the minutes between when he got the call and when he got there, Murphy had begun a conference with somebody else, but he waited.
"Remember the Candy Wharton rape at Circle which you decided wouldn't get a true bill?" he asked when she had her office cleared. He shut the door behind him.
"Yeah. Is there more?"
"Well, since that's not going to public trial, information that came from it is a legal confidence."
"Normally, confidential information in the office is only confidential in terms of not going out of the office. It would be unforgivable if the coworkers of a complaining witness's husband heard details that had never been presented in court."
"Do you have something you want to say? Or are you just here because nobody else will listen to your platitudes? I have serious crimes to prosecute." Reminding him that she didn't consider the traffic offenses he prosecuted as serious.
"Well, it's like this. I'm going to marry Candy. And it would embarrass me if the details she told you got around the office. I'm sure that you'd find it more important that it would embarrass her -- a victim who came forward to be a complaining witness."
"And why didn't I hear about this earlier?"
"Well, I met her maybe 2 days before you did. The proposal, much less the acceptance, wasn't until long after you had decided to nol pros. Anyway, can you keep it in your section?"
"Sure. I'll get the files and put them in my private drawer. Congratulations, I think."
By the time he got back to his office and into his outer clothes, it was past 5:00. When he got downstairs, Candy was waiting. She was watching the other elevators, and he walked up behind her before speaking.
"Candy." He took her hand; when she turned, he took her other hand. He wanted to kiss her, but she didn't look receptive. "You in the mood for walking? The car is half-way to Carson's and parking down there is a pain in the ass."
He led her through the underground maze. In this weather, there were probably more people down there than on the sidewalks above. The tunnels didn't go as far south as Carson's, though, and they finally had to go back up to street level.
"I didn't know those were down there," she said. Of course.
"There are Chicagoans, and then there are Loop dwellers." Every neighborhood has its secrets, even the neighborhood everybody else visits. "I don't think anybody designed that system. The individual buildings each do what they find convenient."
They, and those around them, hurried through the slush. He stopped her when they were a little inside Carson's -- far enough in to get warm and out of the way of entering and leaving crowds.
"Look, there is a general decision before we get to the specific decision. When we move to a new, larger place, are you going to want to redo the bedroom? Or are you content with what I have now?" That was going to be her home, and -- really -- decor was more of a woman's thing. Especially if she was going to be a stay-at-home homemaker, she was going to want to be in charge of how the place looked. That would be fine, but he didn't want to buy loads more furniture and then have her redo everything. "More, of course, as well as a larger bed, but starting from what I have now." He didn't get a reply. He didn't seem to have made himself clear. "The reason I'm asking is that we either get something which will go with what I've got or you start your decorating now. You buy a bed which will be the first piece of the new decor." He fumbled out the pictures he'd taken. "In case you don't remember, I brought some Polaroids to show you what the room looks like now." He was leading the witness.
"That's fine. Let's get something to go along with these." Which might mean that she liked the look now. It didn't mean that she wouldn't have new ideas later. That was fine. He was springing it on her too fast. Mom had taken 2 years for the planning the last time she had redecorated.
She kept the pictures, though, and consulted them when they were looking at beds. She picked something which would fit.
"Look, can you sleep on a firm mattress?" He'd had sex on an extra-soft one, and it had taken something away from the experience.
They ordered the bed and the mattress set. Those would be delivered in a week. Well, he could arrange for somebody to be there if Candy couldn't, but he'd ask later. He had a Carson's charge. They left and walked together to his car.
Should they eat in the Loop? Candy looked gorgeous, as she always did. She was not dressed, however, for a fancy Loop restaurant, and she had already raised that issue. Well, she had enjoyed the Pho place, and it wasn't much out of their way. The Argyle exit from the Outer Drive was only a couple north of the Belmont exit. When they were waiting at the light to get on the Drive, he decided to suggest it.
"I thought we'd go back to the Pho place." A long silence -- assent, dissent, unclarity? "The Vietnamese soup place."
"That sounds fine. Have you really run out of restaurants?" That was better.
"Well, not in Evanston, and we really haven't done the Loop yet. There are two Loop eating experiences, lunch and dinner, though both kinds of places are mostly open for both meals." Should he have suggested a Loop McDonald's? She was a college student, probably used to eating supper at McDonald's. "In the rest of Chicago, I only know a few, and most of those aren't on our way. Chinatown, for instance. But this place makes for a reasonably short detour from the direct way to your home. Besides, I thought you liked it. You finished your bowl of soup." He could never figure out whether she didn't eat much because she didn't like his selection, because she was trying to lose weight, because she was trying to act ladylike, or why. If she didn't like his selection, she should say so. Well, they would be married soon, and he could ask her where she wanted to eat.
"I did like it. It was fine." Now, she sounded as if she wanted it.
"The other thing, is that they are going to deliver the bed in a week. Do you think you could be there? Don't lift anything, but see if they'll set the bed up. If they won't, I will." She was pregnant, damn it! Pregnant women shouldn't strain themselves.
"Sure." She didn't sound sure.
"Okay. Stupidly, I didn't have keys made." There were so many things to remember. "I'll give them to you Wednesday. By the way, do you have a driver's license?" Hell! She might have her own car. No, she had come to church, to Carolyn's too, by bus. It was nothing like a direct route.
"Sure." This time her usual unemphatic affirmative made sense. Of course a 19-year-old girl would have a license. "How is that 'by the way'?" Well, it was only two things he should do that he was putting together. The family house and the family car were two very different parts of her life.
"I'll have another set of car keys made at the same time. Your moving into my apartment is the only practical way we can do this, but I'm bound to treat it as if I'm the only one there." He was a creature of habit, and so many of his habits were going to be inappropriate. "That's not selfishness; it's stupidity. Tell me when I'm doing that, okay?"
"Sure." Well, he'd asked.
Again, she finished her bowl of pho. He wondered if there were any Vietnamese restaurants in Evanston. Well, if there weren't, this wasn't all that far to drive.
Parking in her neighborhood, never good, looked impossible that night. He stopped the car in the street in front of her door. They had a kiss, but he stayed in the car while she got out.
When he got home that night, he called his family.
"You got my letter?"
"Yeah," Mom answered. "When are you going to send a photo? We don't know what your fiancee looks like."
"Well, she's beautiful. You'll see soon enough. The wedding is February 2nd. That's a Saturday. Do you think you and Dad can come?"
"You couldn't keep us away."
"Honestly, Eric, you should ask her yourself."
"But you'd have car room for her and Stan?"
"Sure. We always have car room for Stan. I'm not sure he'd enjoy the trip, though. It's one hell of a long ride for a 12-year-old."
"And weddings don't mean much at that age."
"Too true. Well, do you think you're going to provide us with another grandkid to spoil?" So much for keeping Candy's secret. Well, if Mom got a bay to cuddle, she would forgive the lie.
"What will be, will be. You aren't going to get another grandkid in Moline, though, not from me."
"Well, Rachel isn't telling us about any prospects, but you didn't tell us anything either."
"Sorry about that."
"Aren't you moving a little fast?"
"Well, that's a change. You used to complain that I was moving too slowly. I'll admit that it's a short engagement, but I never saw the use of engagements, really. Either you're going to get married or you're not."
"Yeah, but you don't have to plan the wedding."
"It's going to be very simple."
"And your bride is happy with that?"
Rachel was happy for him.
"Well, Little Brother, it's about time."
"I took my time, but I got a winner. You should see her."
"Oh, I plan to. But don't grind it in." Rachel hadn't taken her time. She'd married while still in college. And Tom had been a loser.
"I didn't mean anything like that. I was comparing it to the girls I'd dated previously. You knew some of them. Anyway, you and Stan are invited."
"Yeah. I'll make it. Stan, I don't know. It's a long drive, and I'm not sure I want to explain why Uncle Eric doesn't have enough time for him."
"There is that."
Wednesday had the worst weather of the month. He was doubtful about making it from Candy's house to Evanston in 45 minutes. (On a good day, it wouldn't take more than 20.) He called her to see if they could start earlier.
"Look, can I pick you up earlier? I want to be sure about getting to the church before 6:45."
"Expect me about 5:45, but I'm not guaranteeing that, either. Dress for sloshing through snow, but don't get your coat and stuff on until I get there." Court closed late, though. Rather than go back to the office, he went directly to his car. Driving was slow, but he got to her door in plenty of time. He stopped in the street in front of her door and ran up to ring her bell. She answered it, dressed -- as he had suggested -- for inside.
"I'm going back to the car. If anyone comes along, I'll drive around the block. If I'm not there, don't come out until you see me."
And when he got back, she was coming out of her door. The guy behind him was patient while she got in, but he started before she got her seat belt fastened. At the speeds they were going, not even a front-end collision would be dangerous.
He got to the church nearly on time. Rev. Lawrence must have seen them from some window in better heat, because he opened the door a minute after they arrived. He sent Candy in and went to park the car. He was wearing rubbers over his shoes, and the snow was deep enough on some of the unshoveled sidewalk to get to his socks.
When he got there, Rev. Lawrence opened the door for him and led him back to his office. It seemed up to him to get the discussion going.
"Well, the two of us want to get married."
"I thought that might be it. Candy was sporting an engagement ring. Let me get some objective data first."
Candy had been born September 15, 1960. Neither of them had been married before, etc. etc. etc. How much of this was necessary, as opposed to how much was to get them used to answering the questions, Eric didn't know. He'd started interviews like that, too.
"Well, how long have you known each other?"
"Since early November," Candy said. Good, she was going to carry her share of the conversation.
"That was a Wednesday, too," he pointed out. "It must be precisely ten weeks."
"Don't you think you're being a bit precipitous?" Well, yes, but they had their reasons. It was Candy's choice, though, whether they'd tell their reasons. "And how did you meet?" Ouch! That was getting too close.
"We were both guests of Carolyn," he said. He'd been Carolyn's guest, or Carolyn and Bill's guest, loads of times. Candy was Carolyn's student, and he had no idea how many students she had entertained. He doubted whether the preacher had any idea, either.
Candy, instead of letting him carry the ball, started asking about confidentiality. There, they were on absolutely safe grounds. The state and the county had a fairly Catholic government making the rules and a good many Catholic judges administering them. 'Sanctity of the confessional' was ingrained in those guys.
Lawrence reassured her, and said that if there were anything that he wouldn't know was secret that they should warn him. Well, their secret wasn't anything he'd have doubts about.
"Okay. This is what happened," Candy said. "I was raped. I went to Prof. Pierce. She said I should report it. Finally, she said that she knew a prosecutor I could report it to. I and that prosecutor, Eric, met in her house. After the twins were asleep and Mr. Pierce had gone to a meeting, I told him the story. He got me to tell it to a woman who heads rape prosecutions at his office. They decided that they couldn't prosecute. Meanwhile, I discovered that I was pregnant. It had to be from the rape. I told Eric."
"I had a nice, year-long plan for courting her," he said. "When I heard that she was pregnant, I saw that this year-long courtship wasn't what she needed. I proposed immediately. She took a while, but she accepted.
"By the way, in terms of confidences you might not know are confidences," he continued, "that we've only known each other for 10 weeks is one. This is going to be my child. That it was conceived before we got married will be plain to everybody. That it was conceived before we even met is something I want known to as few people as possible."
"Certainly. Might I ask, are you planning to have this wedding simply to give the baby your name and then end it?" Hell no! He wanted the marriage. The name was only something he could offer her.
"No. The timing is because of the baby. The marriage will be until death do us part."
"Until death do us part," Candy said when Rev. Lawrence turned towards her. That was great to hear.
That seemed to be the last real question Rev. Lawrence had that might be a roadblock. The rest of the questions were more pre-marital counseling. They needed that, Eric supposed. At least, these were questions they hadn't asked each other. They didn't have to share the answers with Lawrence later, though. They just had to deal with each other on that.
He had always expected to hold the reception in the parlors, and Candy agreed to that. If it was her support group, they should be there. He was strongly in favor of it because these were people who saw Candy almost exclusively in relation to him. He told Lawrence that he would cover anything that Candy's parents didn't. It was quite unlikely that they would balk, but they hadn't seemed all that happy.
"One last thing, and I'll let you go," Lawrence said. Well, there was something he'd like to raise, too. "We've changed the wording, changed it long ago. It's not 'Til death us do part.' It's now 'As long as we both shall live.' Don't worry about it. The words are my responsibility, and you both are clear what they mean, which is the important thing."
He might as well raise this now. "Another question entirely. As long as we have you here and you know the background, Candy hasn't been taking communion."
"Yes, I've noticed that. We have an open communion. I try to say that. You don't have to belong here. You don't have to belong anywhere. As long as you have been baptized and believe in Christ, you are welcome at our table, really at His table."
"I just feel so dirty," Candy said.
"Because of the rape?"
"Well that isn't a theologically valid reason. My usual line is that communion is a medicine for sin; it isn't a feast for the sinless. That doesn't really apply to your case, because what makes you hesitate isn't your own sin. It's more what Jesus said, 'It isn't what goes into a man,' (or, I might add, a woman) 'but what comes out of a man which makes him unclean.' Anyway, you are welcome whenever we have communion. You are not required."
"And, now," he asked when they were out of the church and driving away, "where do we eat? Have any old favorites? any new suggestions?" He was still bothered by the idea that she was eating lightly because she didn't like his choices of restaurant.
"Well, why don't we get take-out and eat at your place again. We have things to settle." That sounded good except...
"I didn't clean up."
"Considering that I'll be cleaning up after you in less than a month, I don't think that will be too much of a shock." She was right. He wasn't that bad a slob.
"Thai again? Pizza?"
"Pizza sounds good." So maybe his selections hadn't been to her taste. They got a pizza -- he was careful to ask her choice of toppings -- and took it back to the apartment. They had a kiss as soon as they were out of their coats, and then he began to set up.
"Where do we begin?" he asked.
"I begin before you do," she answered. "Do you have that directory? I need to call Joan and Claire." He got her the directory. She went into the living room to call, and he stayed in the kitchen to get their meal ready.
"Claire? This is Candy. You know Eric and I are getting married." A pause.
"Thanks. Would you be willing to be a bridesmaid? The wedding is at your church on Saturday February 2nd. I'm not planning to wear anything special, and the bridesmaids would wear their own clothes, too." ...
"I'm the one who's honored. You were there when I needed you, needed someone desperately." She said goodbye, hung up, and then dialed again. This call didn't sound successful, and she left her home phone for the reply.
"Now," he said when she returned, "let's eat."
"Well, we promised the pastor to talk about several things," Candy began. "Before we get to household chores, you should know one thing. I got my grades. I got a C in Economics and another in Phys Ed. I got a D in English and in Geology. I failed American History." That was one more thing the S O B had taken from her. "I'm not going back." She sounded so defeated.
"Candy! That's awful, but that was because of how you felt after the rape. You can do it."
"I don't think I could do it next semester, fighting morning sickness. Anyway, I know that a modern marriage has equal sharing of household chores. Right now, though, I'm not going to be doing anything else. I should be able to keep house, even in a larger apartment."
"I take out the garbage." That was a trip down the slippery back stairs. He had almost fallen once or twice himself, and falls were much more dangerous in her condition. "You're saying you do all the rest?"
"Well, things might change when there's a baby." Caring for an infant was damned demanding, even when it was bottle fed.
"Well I hope the baby, at least, is changed." Some times the Candy who probably had laughed before the rape shone through. This was one of those times. Well that took care of housework until reality squeezed her -- it certainly took care of any planning that they could do right then. If housework was where she should take the lead, budget was where he should. He, after all, had experience with the income which would be their income before long.
"Budget. I've been putting away $200 a month out of my take-home. We'll need some of that to pay for feeding you. We can save money on my parking downtown. I can get back and forth on the El. It stops very close to traffic court. The way I live, driving doesn't cost much; it's parking that eats you alive."
"You really eat most of your meals out?" Well, yes, if mostly plainer and cheaper fare than he had been feeding her.
"Not breakfasts. More than half of those I eat here."
"Well, you're going to have to learn to stomach my cooking. That will increase our grocery bills, but less than you're spending in restaurants."
"I'm sure that anything you cook will taste delicious." He couldn't wait. Besides, that would mean that he could be sure that she liked what was on her plate.
"And then," he continued, "there's your clothing bill."
"That's not all that great. You'd be surprised." He might be surprised, but so might she. In the first place, she might find that jeans made her feel out of place. In the second place, she would need maternity clothes reasonably soon.
"Have you thought of maternity clothes?" She didn't look like she had. But they really weren't prepared to deal with this now. "Look, I know this isn't quite what he said. Let's put it into 3 compartments. There's house -- rent, utilities, phone. We can put car insurance in there, too." Fixed expenses that she hadn't the faintest idea about. "Then there's my expenses. Then there's your expenses. Why don't we come together Sunday after church. I'll bring my pay-stub, the housing costs, and my costs. You bring your costs. We'll work out a tentative budget then. And, of course, the baby will blow that to smithereens. Carolyn used to claim that the twins could outgrow their clothes on the way home from buying them."
"Then, there's child-raising rules." By going on, she seemed to accept his suggestion.
"You agree that I have equal voice?" It was, after all, in her interest that he be seen as the parent.
"And equal responsibility?" she responded.
"Certainly." Then he thought of exceptions. What if she, so strongly influenced by Carolyn who was an advocate, decided to breast-feed? "Obvious constraints excepted."
"I think, though," she continued after a moment, "that Rev. Lawrence was expecting us to decide more than that we'd get an equal vote -- like what the rules were. I keep picturing a very small baby, but I know that we'll be parents for decades." Yeah. While he pictured her with a swollen belly, his picture of an actual kid was always a third twin.
"Yeah," he said. "I, on the other hand, keep picturing the twins when I think of kids."
"What do they want you to do that's not appropriate in church?" That question was out of left field, but they weren't really making a hell of a lot of decisions tonight.
"Spin them around." That sounded inaccurate. "Really, spin one of them around, and then the other. Unlike their father, I hold them tight when I'm doing it. It's really an outdoor game, but they're too used to Bill's roughhousing to respect furniture."
"You plan on treating your own that way?" Well that depended on what he wanted. It depended, too, on what Candy wanted. He'd asked for an equal vote; he didn't plan to ignore her.
"Well, our own, we can tell that they can't do that inside." She had, after all, said that she was picturing a small infant. "And, of course, I didn't start with the boys when they were babies, and they won't have Bill's influence, either." But was that going to be true? Anyway, Candy could control Bill. "Well, I suppose that I said that we should let Bill have some access. Really, he's good with kids. As to limits, I think -- whatever I said about my having equal authority -- you should be the one telling Bill the limits. I've never seen him argue with a mother, except, of course, with Carolyn."
"Anyway, you don't expect to be too rough with it. You're right, 'it' sounds wrong. Too rough with him or her." Well, he wasn't ever going to be too rough with him. They just had to agree what was too rough, and with her thinking of an infant in her arms, she would push for limits that were inappropriate for a 5-year-old hellion.
"We'll agree, beforehand, what's too rough at any particular age. You know, not even Bill held the twins upside down when they were newborn. And, of course, it's not 'too rough with him or her.' Either it's 'too rough with him' or it's 'too rough with her.' And those might well be different questions. Anyway, The first issue is what the kid wants. Some of what he wants is wrong, outdoor games in the house, for instance. But you don't spin around or hold upside down a kid who doesn't want you to.
"Now, to get more practical, what is your position on physical punishment, spanking?" That was an active debate around the church, since nobody wanted to discuss it in the presence of kids, it was discussed remarkably often in the choir.
"I keep thinking of a baby." Well, you don't spank a baby.
"That's obvious. You don't spank an infant. Think of a 3-year-old."
"I still remember being the one who was spanked." Which means somebody who always sees spanking as brutality. At least he always had.
"Yeah. Me too. It's a live issue in the church. Hell! It's a live issue in the marriage of Carolyn and Bill. That's why I asked. They didn't. Until the twins came along, their main arguments were over tax rates."
"I don't know. I'd rather not spank her, but I don't know what else to do." And there you had the problem. Positive reinforcement was all very well, but you could feed a rat or a pigeon only when it did what you wanted. You had to feed your kid regardless of how it behaved. Well, let's see. They really had agreement on this. Neither wanted to spank, and each suspected that he or she would. Well, the decision should be more conscious than that. Besides, the 'never' crowd at the church would be willing to give her suggestions.
"Well, in the beginning, you can discipline a kid by holding it away from what it wants to do. I don't know what else to do when they get to be Paul's age. of course, those are kids who were spanked regularly. Once you start, I don't think other punishments work. Okay, let's go with this. We don't plan to spank. When either of us feels that other punishments aren't working, we have a discussion where the kid can't hear."
"That's very sensible." Which he would take for agreement. They were really up in the air in this discussion -- talking about 2 different imaginary kids. But they'd had the discussion; it would get concrete later.
"I hear a lot about reading to the kid." That would have to start, if the doctrine he heard were to be obeyed, within the year.
"Well, don't you do that with the twins?" Well, sure, they were going to read to him. The doctrine was rather stronger than that.
"Yeah. But there is an opinion in the church that you should read to the kid for a half hour every day from the time he can sit up to the time that he can read by himself. You read holding the book so you both can see it. Bedtime stories are additional."
"You say I should." Hell, no! He'd said he wouldn't shirk anything that he was physically capable of doing. The last thing he would want to shirk was reading. On the other hand, she should do some of the reading.
"I say someone should. As you said, I enjoy reading."
"And, when I said there's an opinion in the church, the women have these circles. They're part of UMW. They get together mostly by the age of their children. As you could guess, they swap a great deal of advice. I only hear the edges, from Carolyn or in choir. Anyway, you'll have other sources, books, your doctor, your own mother, maybe some other acquaintances. As I said, I expect to have an equal vote, but there will be many issues where you'll get advice and I won't have heard of." He was afraid of her shutting him out, but he was equally afraid of her passivity.
"And when I do, I'll talk it over with you." That was what he wanted to hear. She'd take the lead, but she would talk with him.
"You are a dream."
"Is that child care?" She asked.
"Not really," he conceded. "I think, though, that it's all the decisions on child care either of us has enough information or opinion to make."
"That leaves sex." Yeah! That was something they could talk about; maybe it was something they could do something about.
"Do you still think I'll frighten you?" After all, they weren't married yet. He didn't have the right to have sex with her. But the first question was whether she could have sex without its frightening her. Their last sex had suggested that she could, but they could legitimately work some more on that problem. And the last time they had worked on it had been the most erotic experience of his life. And, after all, if she was willing to have sex now, she merely had to say that she needed more reassurance.
"Not as long as you move slowly." Well, she clearly wasn't in the mood to work on it some more. The other was a problem, though, when had he moved too fast?
"That's good to know -- both.... I mean it's good to know -- very good to hear -- that I don't frighten you, and it's good to be warned to move slowly." And he would move slowly when he could. As his arousal went on, however, he lost control. "But, right at the end, I might find it difficult."
"Right at the end doesn't bother me."
"Still, I'll try to keep it in mind."
"You know, I don't think we ever told him that I had been scared." Candy was changing the subject, and changing it drastically.
"Well, we told him that you had been raped. It doesn't take a genius. I knew that you were afraid of men the first time I met you, and I'm not all that sensitive. For that matter, the man is an experienced counselor, trained too. They probably tell him that rape victims react badly to men in seminary." Did they really handle rape counseling in seminary? Marriage counseling, sure.
"Still, I got the impression that he wants every couple to settle the questions about sex before they get married." She might well be right. Well, what were the other problems about sex? He could see some coming up, when her belly got in the way, but -- at that time -- she would have comfort questions that her experience would address. Finally, he gave up.
"The floor is open... I mean what issues about sex do you want to bring up."
"Eric, I want you to take care to excite me in every sex act." Hadn't he? He had tried. For that matter, he would have sworn that she had two orgasms before he'd asked her to say 'yes.'
"I'll try. Did I fail that time?"
"Oh, no. You were wonderful." Well, that was good hear. "But, I wasn't considering that the standard." In a way, it wasn't. He'd taken her to an orgasm by hand without expecting it to go further. What she'd asked for was to be excited before he went into her.
"Well, I want you to kiss me all the time." That must be in exaggeration, but it was a pleasant one to hear.
"Not during working hours, unfortunately. But, I'm off duty now." And, when he got up, she got up, too. She came into his arms, and they had a long kiss. She cooperated enthusiastically in the kiss, and turned at his pressure on her shoulder when they broke. He could hold her marvelous breasts while kissing the side of her neck. When he pulled her back against his erection, she cooperated. She even rubbed her seat against it. He remembered, though, that she had said they didn't have an excuse for actual sex. After a while, he let her go. It was time to take her home.
Well, this would be her home in a few weeks. He wouldn't need to stop where he had. And he could kiss her more often -- and more comfortably than in the car, too.
"Maybe, in this weather, we shouldn't kiss all the time. Instead, we should find time to be inside where kissing is more pleasant." Like in their home. But that was something he'd almost forgotten -- to make it her home. "Oh, by the way." He went to the living room to get her keys. "This one is the outside door. This is the apartment door. This is the trunk and this is the car door and ignition." She took the key ring and dropped it in her purse.
But, driving her home, he remembered that he had more to discuss. Start with the question to which he knew the answer. "I'll see you Sunday, right?"
"Sure. 10:30?" Good question.
"It's messy driving. Want to make it a little earlier? 10:20?"
"Sure." Well, she was agreeing.
"Do we have to wait 'til Sunday? You kept saying that we couldn't have a date between Sundays because you needed to think things through."
"Well, I did." Sure she did.
"You did, and you thought them through. Do you still need more thinking time?"
"I don't believe so?" If she hadn't agreed, it was because he hadn't asked it right.
"Pick you up Friday at 6:00?"
"Or I could meet you downtown."
"Don't do that. You shouldn't spend time on the CTA when I can pick you up."
"Are we going to compare budgets?" Well, he could probably do what he needed to do on Thursday night. On the other hand, if they compared budgets in his apartment, they might do other things, too.
"Let's just eat. Let's leave budgets 'til Sunday." She was silent, which he figured out was her agreement. When he parked the car, they had a kiss. Between their coats and the steering wheel, it was a little strain. When he walked her to the door, they had a kiss and a hug before she went in.
Later that night, he dreamed of stripping Candy of her elaborate wedding gown on their wedding night. She was naked underneath, and his clothes disappeared, too. He took her on the carpet, and their orgasms were mutual and explosive. Whatever was imaginary of that scenario, his orgasm, at least, had been real. The sheets were still sticky when he awoke.
Thursday night, he wrote Millie a long letter. She had been cleaning his apartment on Friday mornings for a couple of years, although they hardly ever met in person. If Candy was going to take on the household chores, she wouldn't need Millie. He told her that Feb. 1st was her last day. He described Candy and said that she had a key and might drop in. He enclosed a check for 7 weeks, including 4 of severance.
When he picked Candy up for their date, she was dressed to the nines. Well, he would take her to a restaurant worth of that dress, if not quite worthy of the beauty of the woman gracing that dress. Manfredo's required reservations. He would take her to the top restaurant of a hotel. Their own guests never made reservations, so restaurants in hotels never required them.
She glowed in the formal ambience, and the meal went well, too. They had a glass of wine each. That much wine wouldn't put him near the DUI limit. She was animated when he drove her home.
She stopped him when he reached for her outside her door. What happened to the woman who wanted to be kissed all the time? "Come in, instead." Okay, she had decided to be kissed in comfort. Her parents were there, and he greeted them while she took care of her coat upstairs.
"What's this about holding the reception in the church?" her mother asked. "Will they serve food or do we need to find a caterer?"
"We usually get take-out food. Church meals are potlucks, and that doesn't go with a wedding reception."
"I can't figure it out."
"Do you want me to take care of it, then?" When he asked Bill to be his best man, he would ask him to pick up the food, too.
"Are you willing?"
"Sure." That was an echo of Candy. "I know the places around Evanston."
Candy came downstairs and led him into the kitchen. She told him to put his coats on a chair, and they had a long, sweet kiss. He was listening for footsteps in the hall while he held her marvelous breasts again. Even though her parents stayed where they were, it wasn't as nice as complete privacy was. That didn't limit his arousal, though, and he was glad that he had his coat to cover his groin before he returned to the living room.
Saturday, he called Bill to ask him to be best man.
"Sure. 3:00 you say?"
"Yeah. That's when the service starts. It might save my nerves if you were a little early. Candy isn't trying for a fancy wedding gown, so I figured that you and I would do well in suits."
"I'm sure. I was the only one who wore a monkey suit at my wedding. Dan not only wore a suit, but a professor's suit."
"Look, I told Candy's family that I'd provide the food at the reception. If I order it and pay for it, can you pick it up after the service?"
"Sure. Cake, too?"
"Damn I forgot that."
"The bride is the one that's supposed to get nervous."
"Yeah. I don't know what's wrong with me."
"Early onset Alzheimer's."
"Well, assume that I'll order a cake and will tell you where to get it. Do you have a recommendation?"
"Not from personal experience. Carolyn's family didn't want it to be dry. We went downtown."
"Yeah. I should have remembered." And that was the recurring theme of that time; he should have remembered. He did remember to pick up Candy on Sunday, though. Despite all the things that were slipping his mind, he never forgot her. Indeed, when he forgot other things, it was because he was thinking about her.
She looked gorgeous when she opened the door to him on Sunday morning, and he told her so. When he got into the car beside her, they kissed.
"Look, 2 things," he said when he had the car moving. "Today is coffee hour again. Second, have you thought about inviting the church?"
"They won't expect something fancy?" No, they knew him, and nobody who knew him associated him with something fancy.
"Not really. I've been to receptions in the church parlors. They bring in food from local restaurants."
"But the wedding service?"
"It will be out of the standard book that Methodist preachers use. They've seen long white trains and flower girls. They've seen ordinary clothes." She was responding to the 'fancy church wedding' model, and that was his fault, not hers. He had never expressed his, Aldersgate's really, model. "You want to be part of the church, don't you?"
"Well when Aldersgate members get married to each other, everybody looks on." He was putting that too strongly.
"Well, it won't be everybody." He needed to correct his statement. "The kids don't usually come, and others give it a pass, but it's one thing to be invited and give it a pass, and it's another thing to not be invited."
"I said 'okay.'" Yeah. She had.
"The reason I ask today is that I'd like to issue the invitation at coffee hour."
"And this time, maybe, it would be better if we don't split up."
"Yeah. I can see that. You were right the first time, though."
After the service they went into coffee hour and sat with Carolyn, Bill, and the boys. When the rattle of plates died down, he spoke to Candy.
"Get up with me." She did, and he took her left hand. "You've all seen this," he said loudly. He showed her hand with the ring. "Candy and I are getting married. The wedding is in nearly 2 weeks. Saturday, February 2nd. It's at 3 p.m., and it's in the sanctuary. You're all invited."
There was a scattering of applause. Before they sat down he took Candy around the room and everybody said nice things. Well, every adult but Claire. She got up and gave Candy a silent hug. They sat down and finished their coffee and cookies.
When people started to leave, he led Candy down the hall to the church library. They had a nice kiss with his foot blocking the door. He needn't have bothered, as nobody tried to get in.
They went to Maria's Pantry for the meal afterwards, and Candy finished her ravioli. It wasn't a huge serving, but it was the only solid food that he'd seen her actually finish. She declined dessert, however, citing the cookies she'd had at the coffee hour. While they were there, he gave her the figures on income, his expenses, and what would be family expenses -- rent, car, that sort of thing. She gave him her list of her expenses.
She was going to wait in his apartment for the deliveryman Monday, and he gave her the money for the tip when they were back in the car. He didn't like to wave money around in a public place.
"They'll probably set up the bed when they deliver it. If not, leave it. I don't want you doing heavy lifting. Anyway, if they do give them the 20. If they don't, give them the single. Don't offer them the 20 if they'll put up the bed. Anyway..." But there wasn't anything further to say. He started the car and drove her home. They had a sweet kiss outside her door, but she didn't invite him in.
Monday, when he got home, the place smelled better than it ever had. Food smells wafted from the kitchen. Candy came towards him.
"Well!" He reached for her.
"Take your coat off first." That was sensible. She felt much better against him when he wasn't wearing a coat. He hung both the parka and the suit coat in the closet. She was warm and soft and arousing against him as he explored her mouth with his tongue and her seat with his hands.
"I gather," he said when he came up for air, "that you didn't want to go out for dinner."
"You said to make myself at home." Well, yes, but he hadn't meant for her to cook for him. On the other hand, this was a delightful foreshadowing of their marriage.
"I meant for your convenience, but that smells delicious. Did the bed come all right?"
"Yeah, but the sheets didn't." Damn! The sheets hadn't come because he hadn't bought any, and, of course, twin sheets -- top sheets, too, but especially fitted bottom sheets -- didn't work on a double bed.
"Damn! I should have thought of that."
"So should I." That didn't follow. She was always blaming herself.
"Why? You didn't know what I had." Now, she might have been at fault for being so distracting that he couldn't get his act together, but she wasn't at fault for not knowing what sheets he had in his linen supply.
"Is there a place to buy them before it closes?" Now, that was the right question. And, yes, they could get to Sears. Sears would have sheets. Or should he go alone?
"Yeah. Can you leave the dinner?"
"Easily. Let's go." She was starting to take charge, and that was fortunate. At Sears she selected several sets of sheets and a blanket. They would need another pillow, too, and they bought that. She got another couple of pillow cases, although his old ones would still work.
After a short time kissing, she broke to return to the kitchen. He made the bed with the new sheets and blanket. He put old -- but washed -- pillow cases on both pillows. Then he went to the kitchen for another kiss.
"Where is your calendar?" Candy wasn't in the mood for kisses. She was too busy being a chef. He pointed to the calendar hanging on the wall. She giggled. "No, silly, a colander, to drain the spaghetti." He heard the difference in pronunciation the second time, but he didn't know what she was talking about otherwise.
When she figured out that he really didn't know what she meant, she had him pour the water out of the pot in which she had boiled the spaghetti. She held the lid on so that only the water got out. Then she used tongs to remove the spaghetti. When the only noodles left were swimming around, they did it again.
The meal was delicious, and he told her so. When it was over, they cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher together. Although she didn't have to cook for him, he appreciated the togetherness. It felt like they were a married couple.
After that, though, they were a pair of teenagers. They went from kissing standing to kissing with her in his lap. His hands went everywhere, and she didn't make even a pro forma protest.
Then, he had to take her home. Well, in 2 more weeks, he wouldn't. When they were here, she would be home. They still, however, had to get through those 2 weeks.
"Look," he asked her on the way to her family's house, "dates Wednesday and Friday nights?"
"Sure." Right then, Candy's usual unenthusiastic acceptance felt right. Of course they were going to go out together.
"Let's skip this 6:00 bit. I'll come right after work. I'll aim for 5:30, but don't put on your coat 'til I ring the bell."
And those nights he took her to movies after the restaurants. They sat with his arm around her. He didn't reach for her breast, partially because they had more nearly private -- although not totally private -- time when he picked her up and after he walked her to the door. When they were in the kitchen, her parents stayed away.
Sunday, he picked her up as usual. They sat close, but not touching, in church. Claire was in the same pew, and said that there was something wrong with her car. He offered her a ride home. The weather being fair and not too cold, Candy and Claire decided to walk with him to the car instead of his coming back to pick them up. They were among the last to shake Rev. Lawrence's hand leaving the church.
"Rehearsal Friday night?" Rev. Lawrence asked Candy. Well, he'd heard vaguely about wedding rehearsals. He hadn't thought about it in relation to them.
"Um, sure. Claire? Can you make it?" Claire had shaken Rev. Lawrence's hand just before Candy did.
"Yeah. Do you want me to tell Joan?"
"Could you? I quite forgot about the rehearsal." So he wasn't the only one.
"That's all right. It's your first wedding. It's not my first, not even my hundredth." Now, Rev. Lawrence turned to him. "And you host the rehearsal dinner. Is 7:00 a good time?" He looked at Candy, who didn't seem to have any objections.
"Okay. We'll call you if there is a problem." They all went down the stairs, and he pointed Claire towards the car. "If Mom, Dad, and Rachel can't come, it will be Friday night, not 7 p.m., which is the problem."
They drove Claire to the residence for woman grad students. When he started towards the restaurant, he turned his attention to their immediate future.
"Well, we won't have a date Friday night."
"Or we'll have a different kind of date." Well, it wasn't what he thought of as a date.
"Are Monday and Wednesday all right?" He didn't want to seem to be taking her for granted. Still, he thought that the week before the wedding an assumption of a standing date wasn't out of line.
"Sure." They ate at a different Chinese restaurant. Again, they kissed at her door but she didn't invite him in. She evidently thought that Sundays were different from dates.
Back home, he made 3 phone calls. Bill wasn't surprised by Friday night. He suggested the Milano's back room for the rehearsal dinner.
"They don't take large crowds, but a dozen can eat there without feeling lost."
"Thanks." He got the answering machine at Mom and Dad's. He tried Rachel.
"Hello." Stan sounded excited.
"Stan? It's Uncle Eric."
"Hi." He was much less excited, now. This wasn't the phone call he wanted.
"Is your mother there?"
"Sure. Mom, it's Uncle Eric." The last sentence was shouted, but Stan had taken the phone away from his mouth so it came over the phone at less volume than the first. The rap of the phone being set down, and then a wait.
"Rachel. There's been a slight change in plans."
"She's thrown you over."
"No. Slighter than that. There is a rehearsal the night before. It's at 7:00, and I'd like you to be there. I called Mom and Dad, but I got the answering machine. Anyway, I'd like you to be there, but I could understand if you couldn't. I don't know what you'd have to rehearse, anyway. But, that might be my ignorance. I don't know what I'd have to rehearse, either."
"Well, they'll tell you. Has anyone told you to buy your bride a bouquet?"
"No. Well, not 'til now. Thanks."
"You're welcome. I hope she's a good manager; you need someone to manage you, and I'm too far away." That was a dig, but it was too close to the truth for him to try to dig back.
"I left a message on Dad's machine. I'll call tonight. Talk to them, okay?"
"I'm not the one who doesn't talk to them. Long distance isn't that expensive, you know."
"I mean about this."
"Well, you didn't talk to them about this, either. No, 'I've met a nice girl.' Boom, the first news is that you're getting married, and that's in a letter. And I had to learn from them." Well, there was no reason writing duplicate letters to Rachel and Mom. Anything he wrote one would be told the other.
"So, I'm a bad son."
"And a bad brother."
"And, apparently, a bad uncle. Stan used to like to talk to me."
"That, for once, isn't your fault." From Rachel, this was a great concession. "He's going through another phase. I asked about his going, and he's not interested. He's not interested in much, right now, and what he is interested in he's not telling me." That sounded familiar. Some interests you don't share with your parents, especially not your mother.
"Maybe my birthday gift should be a subscription to Playboy."
"Don't you dare.... You think that's it?"
"Well, he's a little young." He hadn't seen Stan for a couple of years, but it wasn't that long. Stan was still 12, not a teenager yet.
He looked a florist up in the Yellow Pages. They were open Saturdays, not surprising since he'd reached them on Sunday, and he could stop in Friday to select a bouquet which he could pick up Saturday. That was one thing he didn't have to ask Bill about. Well, Rachel and Bill told him privately; the pastor blurted it out in front of an audience. He now understood polygamy. If you went through this a couple of times, you'd know what you were doing.
If Candy's figures were accurate, she would add to his costs less than he would save on parking and cleaning services. Of course, she wasn't counting buying maternity clothes -- let alone the costs of a baby.
Monday, he was paired with Bob. The judge, Goldberg, had been a prosecutor -- before Eric's time -- and was a dream to appear before. The lunch break was generous, and he got to Carson's again and bought a fancy set of towels. They could probably live with the ones he had, but his only matched sets were a little worn. Again, he left when court let out, and he got to Candy's house shortly before 5:15. Her mother returned to the kitchen, and he and Candy kissed until her father got home. They went to a movie and then to the Pho place again.
He could depend on others to remind him of what was needed for the wedding. After that, though, he was going to be starting a marriage, and Candy didn't have any more experience there than he did. Well, she would need cash. Then, too, he was going to leave her the car. Well, the cash he could provide. While he was getting the cash at Northern Trust on his lunch hour, Tuesday, he got the forms for putting her on the account. She would need to be on other accounts, too. He paid most of his bills with credit cards. Well, he'd send for those which weren't local. That night he typed up and signed a paper saying that Candace/Candy Wharton/Stewart had his permission to drive the car. In the morning, he put it in the glove compartment next to the registration.
Wednesday, he didn't leave the office until 5:30. Figuring that anybody in the office might have seen Candy there, he decided that he wouldn't invite any of them to the wedding. When he picked up Candy, she wasn't dressed for anything fancy. He took her to the first Chinese place in Evanston again. While there, he handed her an envelope with the cash and told her they would talk later.
"You still have your car keys?" He asked while they were walking to the car.
"Feel confident about driving tonight?"
"Yeah." She didn't sound confident, but Candy never did. She got in the driver's side, though, and he got in the passenger side.
"Drive me to the apartment. Do you know the way?" He gave her some directions, but she sort of knew Evanston by now.
"Look, why don't you take the car now? I have papers in the glove compartment saying that you have my permission to drive the car in case you are stopped. The envelope I gave you is some cash. You spent a little for groceries already. This is money for what you think the household needs. Some of it is in singles, 'cause you don't want to go in and buy a head of lettuce with a 20. The tank is nearly full, but you might need gas, too. I'll ride the EL to work the next two days, and Bill or Dad will get me to the rehearsal -- to the wedding, too."
She only acquiesced. Thursday night, though, he saw evidence that she had been there. Pete, the sexton, usually came in Thursday nights after rehearsals. After his dinner, he got in the church while the choir was coming out. He caught Pete there and told him about the wedding, the reception, and the rehearsal.
"Yeah, Pastor told me."
"Well, I'm sorry to make extra work for you, but this might help." He handed him two 20s.
"Why thank you."
"You're quite welcome." He went out and back to the apartment.
Friday, he left directly from court. Since he was on the EL, he got home well before 5:00. He showered, shaved again, and dressed in clean clothes except for his shoes. There was a call from Mom on his answering machine. They had started early, Dad and Rachel having taken the day off. He called their motel and told Dad how to find his apartment. They came by at 6:30, and Dad gave him he wheel. He parked close to the church. Rev. Lawrence was there and let them in. Joan was already there, and Candy and her family came minutes later. Bill let Claire in, and they were all assembled.
Just what had to be rehearsed, he couldn't tell. Of course, fancier weddings had more to be rehearsed. They went to Milano's for the rehearsal dinner, and there were few enough people that Candy got to know his family. She drove him home, and they had a nice kiss in the car. The next time, they would be in their own home.
Saturday morning, he made the bed with all new bedclothes. He had cereal for breakfast. Dad picked him up, and he went to their motel for some family time.
"Really, Eric," said Rachel. "She is a beauty. What does she see in you?"
"Somehow, that's not a question I've asked her. And I'd appreciate your not asking the question either."
"Isn't she rather young?" Mom asked.
"19. That is, much as it may surprise you, over the age of consent."
"Well, yes. But what does she do?"
"What you did at 19, and what Rachel and I did. She goes to school." Actually, Candy had told him that she wasn't going back this semester. The semester had already begun. But Mom didn't have to know that.
"Really, dear." Everyone was telling him 'really.'
"Well, you know, yes, she's younger than I am. But, since I'm older than she is, I'm established enough that I can support a family on my earnings alone."
"Well," Dad said, "she's a lovely girl. I'm surprised that she's not pressing for a huge, fancy wedding."
"Dad," Rachel said. She'd gone all out for her wedding. Dad had been happy enough at the time. If he could change one aspect of that wedding, it would be her choice of groom.
"I didn't say anything about you."
"Look," Eric said, "she's a different person. We're all, each of us, particular individuals. Some things are important to one person, and some things are important to other persons. I just hope I can provide her with what is important to her." That was truer than he was willing to explain. Yes, Candy needed him to be father of her child. In a year, however, she would need this much less. He had to become what she would need then, and he was determined to find out what that was.
They went out for lunch, and his family asked fewer personal questions in public. He got a rundown on Stan. He stopped at the florists for the bouquet, and got to the church about 45 minutes before everything was to begin. He got his family seated on the left of the front pew and gave Rev. Lawrence the wedding license. When Candy's family came in, he gave her mother the bouquet and went into the fellowship room so Candy had freedom to come and go.
Bill got him, and they went around so that they came in the back. They stood to one side for a few minutes, and then Dennis played the wedding march and her father walked Candy down the aisle. She had always looked pretty, but she looked especially beautiful right then. The church, never full on a Sunday, was remarkably less full then.
The service went without a hitch. A the end, he kissed his bride. Bill ducked out, grabbing Dan Hagopian. Marge Hagopian and a couple of other women from UMW went through the reception line first. They proceeded to mix the punch. The line was done before Bill and Dan got back from the Thai place. They brought the wedding cake, too.
Marge shooed Candy and him to the long table at the back of the parlors. They sat there while Claire and Joan brought them their food. Everybody else got their own. After the meal they cut the cake, and people lined up for it. There was a table with some wedding presents on it. According to Mom and Mrs. Wharton, they weren't supposed to open them then. They separated and went around giving thanks and getting congratulations.
When he thought that the time was ripe, he walked over to Candy and looked a question at her.
"You want to go?" Candy asked.
"If you want to."
"Let me thank Claire and Joan and get my purse." They started to leave.
"Carolyn and I will take care of the presents," Bill said. Oops! something else he'd forgotten.
Then Candy led the way to where she'd parked the car. He drove them to their home. When they were upstairs and out of their coats, he kissed her and began to remove the next layer. She stopped him.
"Tonight," she said, "let's do it this way. I'll get undressed and into bed, and then you will." Okay. If that's what she wanted.
When she came out of the bathroom in her sexy robe, he saw that she'd been right. They were a married couple, but -- more than that -- she was a bride. The wedding night was special. And, since it was special, he should shower again. He'd been so nervous that he'd sweated like a pig. He should wear pajamas, too, rather than his usual boxers for sleeping. He got the pair that Mom had given him for Christmas, and he took them in when he went to shower. He shaved again, too, and was lavish with the aftershave.
She looked beautiful lying there. "Oh, Candy," he said. When he got in bed, she moved over, not avoiding him but giving him room. He kissed her and stroked her face. 'Take your time,' he reminded himself. He'd promised to take his time and not move too fast. As her mouth opened for his tongue to enter, he slowly stroked down to her breast. He folded the sheet back to see her, not only the breasts but the dark delta barely visible through the sheer cloth.
"That's a lovely nightgown," he said. "Would it be hypocritical to say that and ask to take it off?" When she raised her midsection off the mattress, he pulled the nightgown up. She sat up and helped him remove it entirely. When she lay back down he could clearly see the dark brown delta both shielding and emphasizing the center of her sexuality.
"The pajamas, too," she said. "Sauce for the goose." Well, at some time he would have to remove them. He didn't know how she would react to seeing a naked man, though, and he would prefer her more aroused before she saw him naked. It was her sensibilities, he worried about, though, and he followed her choice.
"Actually, I look better in them." He moved out of bed to strip.
When he got back in, he kissed her lovely breasts. When her nipples responded to his suction, he stroked her thighs. She opened her legs, and he caressed the folds of her sex. When he felt between them, she was damp. He was so erect that it was almost painful, but she had her own erections. He kissed one firm nipple and then the other while he stroked her moisture up her folds to the nubbin between them.
He had promised to excite her, and he was succeeding. Her hips were rising into his hand, and her whole body seemed to stiffen. He sucked on the nipple of her far breast before kissing a line down that breast and up the near one. When he reached that nipple, he licked all around it before sucking it. All the while he lightly rubbed the nubbin and dipped his finger deeper into her folds to bring up more moisture.
"Oh," she said. She stiffened more. He had promised to excite her, and she was excited. This was the time!
"Oh, darling," he said. He started to move into position. He stopped just outside the gates. "Say yes."
"I think I said that this afternoon." She was giggling when she said that.
"Say it again." He, unlike the mother-fucking perp, would always wait for her permission.
"Yes." Her mouth said it, and then, as he sank into her warmth, her body said it. He was bare, and she was soft and smooth and liquid around him. Every touch as he slid into her made his head spin. She clasped the head, and then the shaft.
"Oh darling. So soft, so smooth, so warm." Finally, she clasped all of his cock warmly, wetly, lovingly. It had never been like this. As he withdrew, each inch of his shaft experienced the smooth slide of her tunnel, then the special hug of her entrance, then felt strangely lonely outside. He stopped just as the head was feeling the extra tightness just before her folds. Then he returned to her warmth, again feeling the unique welcome of her clasp.
His arousal spiraled, and -- despite his efforts to keep it slow -- he felt himself moving faster and faster. He had all of her, but he wanted more of her. He thrust in hard, trying to go deeper than he could. Then he exploded. It was the most sensual feeling of his life.
He collapsed onto her softness. He knew he should move, delightful as this embrace was, but he didn't have the energy. Even breathing was an effort. Candy held his back. Finally, he caught his breath and gathered enough energy. He moved over to his side.
"Sorry," he said. She didn't say anything, but she moved next to him a little later. He fell asleep hugging her.
That morning, Candy rushed to the bathroom. He heard her throwing up. Of course. He had known she was pregnant, and he had heard about morning sickness. She came back to the bedroom a little later, and grabbed her robe.
"Do you want to use the bathroom before I shower?" she asked.
"That's a good idea." He pissed and then shaved. He came out, still naked, to let her in. When she was done, he took his own shower. They would have to set the alarm earlier to accommodate both of them on work-day mornings. He needn't have bothered shaving early; she avoided his kiss. He kissed her forehead, which she accepted. She cooked eggs for breakfast, but ate only toast herself.
At church, they sat behind Claire. Joan wasn't there. Candy went up for communion with him, which made him happy. After church, they were still in wedding-congratulation mode. Carolyn came in after changing out of her choir robe, and her family trailed after her.
"Who's that?" Bill asked before he could greet the boys.
"Uncle Eric," Paul and Johnny said.
"And who is the woman standing with Uncle Eric?"
"Miss Wharton." Johnny said. Paul wasn't saying anything. Probably he smelled a rat.
"She sure looks like Miss Wharton, doesn't she? But really, she's Mrs. Stewart."
"Bill," Carolyn said, "don't obfuscate." She was a wonderful woman with a beautiful alto voice, but occasionally she said something which reminded you that she was a professor.
"Treading on your monopoly, dear?" Bill asked. "Very well." He turned to the boys. "Yesterday, she married your Uncle Eric. Since he's 'Mr. Stewart,' that makes her 'Mrs. Stewart.' Is that clear?"
"Well," Candy asked, "if he's 'Uncle Eric,' can I be 'Aunt Candy'?"
"You want that?" asked Carolyn.
"Yes, I do."
"Well, today they got more information, and more confusion, than is fit for kindergarteners. This week is for you guys. Why don't you come visit us a week from Wednesday? We can get the boys using your new name then."
"Prof. Pierce, you are more than kind."
"Well, if the guys can call you by a new name, can you call me by my name? I'm not your professor any more. Can you call me Carolyn?"
"Certainly, Carolyn. What time Wednesday?" Usually, he went straight from work when he was visiting Carolyn, Bill, and the boys, but Candy and he were a couple now. That answer wouldn't really work.
The two women set the time. The group went out the front, shaking the pastor's hand. Rev. Lawrence's was always careful to shake the hand of the kids as well as the adults. He and Bill went for the cars while the others waited.
"Mexican food okay?" he asked Candy when she was in the car.
"Fine but I'm cooking supper." And she cooked a delicious supper. They cleared the table and filled the dishwasher together. Somehow, doing that made him feel more married.
Cuddling while they watched television wasn't so much being married as being in love. He wore the same pajamas, and she wore the sexy nightgown to bed. He'd said that he would kiss her always, and he hadn't made a good job of it since making the promise. She hadn't complained, and apparently she found the cuddling on the sofa a satisfactory substitute. Once in bed, though, he kissed her thoroughly.
They hugged while they continued the kiss. He felt her lovely breasts press against him. He remembered the lovely feelings he had when he was within her, but it was too soon for his body to respond. He knew she was lying beside him as he drifted off to sleep.
Mornings weren't the problem he had expected. She had morning sickness, but she didn't shower until he was gone for the day. Morning sickness or not, she cooked breakfast every morning as well as dinner every night. She ate a little more of the dinners she had cooked, but much less than he did.
Her avoidance of kisses in the morning was fine. Actually, he didn't want to kiss her right after she had thrown up, either. He tried to remember to keep the kisses coming other times, and, he enjoyed those kisses. Hugging could be even better, and she seemed to like it, too.
He used his lunch times to collect forms from stores where he had charge cards. She needed to go on all of them. He used office time and an office typewriter to send letters to his other charge accounts. Maybe she would want accounts of her own, but he didn't know what. He realized he didn't really know what women bought, except clothes and groceries.
Their grocery bills were certain to be much higher than his had been. If she kept up this pace, he would eat more dinners in the apartment in February '80 than he had in the previous 3 years. The higher grocery bills, however, weren't going to affect their total outgo. His savings on restaurant meals for the week would be more than what he'd given her in cash, and she hadn't yet asked for more.
Wednesday, he suddenly remembered that he hadn't put her on his health insurance. He went to the personnel department after court and did that directly. They put her on immediately but required a form to get her a card. The personnel guy had him file a new W4, too. By Friday, he thought he had everything together. The credit cards with out-of-town companies weren't here yet, but they might take weeks.
That night during their kiss, he wanted to hug her as he had the night before. He had an erection, though, and he thought it might either offend or annoy her. He moved away from her to sleep.
Saturday morning, when she looked ready to face the day, he gathered all the forms together. All she had to do was register her new signature.
"These are to get your signature on the account and the cards. Probably you should practice a few times," he told her. Then he had a new thought. "You are going to take the name 'Stewart,' aren't you? I should have asked." Candy got one of her old school notebooks and practiced her signature. When she thought she had it stabilized, she started signing the forms. When she got to the bank form, he had a new thought. Northern Trust was in the Loop, and convenient for him. Maybe she wanted something in Evanston. Maybe it would solidify her relationship with her new home town. He should give her the opportunity.
"Look, it'll be a while until the new checks come. Your signature will be good Monday afternoon or so, but the new checks will take a couple of weeks. Until then, businesses might not be happy taking them. I can make sure you have enough cash until then. Another possibility is opening an account up here. Northern Trust is convenient for me downtown, but not for you."
"Cash will be fine." Then he should remember to get her more cash.
"I just don't know what groceries cost," he said. "I'm used to doing my budgeting post hoc. I open my credit-card bills and see if I went under or over budget the previous month."
"Well," she said, "we're both learning. I'm saving receipts, and I'll add them up to see what the groceries cost. I'm not any more used to being married than you are." That would be fine, and she sounded real understanding of his forgetfulness. Well, between now and when the checks came, he would make sure to give her as much each week as she said the groceries cost. Before she got those figures together, he should get her another $100 on Monday.
"That's right. Well, we have a little padding." He hadn't put any more money into his mutual fund since he'd first proposed, and he'd taken enough out to pay for the ring. Money was sitting in his checking account right now that would cover all but the most dire emergencies. "Anyway, one more form gets you on my health-insurance plan." After she had finished that, she went into the kitchen.
After dinner, they settled in front of the television again. This was fine for him; he spent 40 hours a week plus travel time away from home. Candy would soon need a break too keep her from going stir crazy. Luckily, the apartment was new to her, and this shouldn't be a problem right now. Anyway, this was as good as it could get for him, and he paid little attention to the show. She snuggled into his arm, and he stroked her breasts and then her thigh.
He had an understanding that at some point in her pregnancy, Candy would develop a distaste for sex. He had no idea when that was, but thought it would be sometime after her stomach got large. Between now and then, he would get as much as she would give him. It had been a week; certainly she wouldn't refuse him this night. She certainly wasn't expressing any distaste. His desire rose to the point that he left her to go to bed. She took the hint and came in not that long afterwards. Again, she was wearing the arousing robe. She took it off to show her even more arousing nightgown.
"Do you really need that nightgown?" he asked. She didn't answer, but she took off the nightgown. He could see the soft breasts he had stroked earlier, the glistening thighs, and the delta where the hair hinted at the delights between those thighs.
She got into bed, and they had a sweet kiss. Soon, the kiss turned hot. He pressed his lip hard into hers, and her mouth opened for his tongue. Now he felt not only the shape of her breasts but the smoothness of the sides and the firmness of the nipples on top. He had to taste those nipples. When he did, he had to feel her thighs and the sweet folds between them.
She opened her legs when his hand went to their junction. She was already moist in response to him. Slowly, reverently, he stroked that moisture, those folds. and the tiny nubbin between the folds. The nubbin, no less than the nipples, responded to him. Her body stiffened beside him. Her breath roughened.
"Ah," she sighed.
"Oh, Candy," he responded. He got in position. As he was entering her, she pushed up to take more of him. She was so sweet; the flesh around him was so smooth and warm. He told her so before he began moving. The sensations were glorious. Then they got even better. Then they ended with an explosion as he poured himself into her.
"Oh, God, Candy." He sank onto her softness. When he could regain his strength, he moved off.
"Sorry," he said as he was moving. When he had his weight on the sheet rather than on her, he hugged her in the spoon. She was his, if not as dramatically as she had been his a few minutes previously. He hugged her until he slept.
They were no longer celebrities in church, but they had people to talk to after the service. When Dennis came down after playing the postlude, he headed for him.
"Look, you seemed to do your courting in church, and I could understand that keeping you out of the choir. You're a married man, now. Do you think you could sing again? We are really unbalanced, and Maureen is coming back soon." Maureen had a lovely soprano voice, but he could believe that the congregation didn't hear much tenor when she used the volume she could achieve.
"I'll think about it." He would really ask Candy, but if he expressed it that way, Dennis would ask her himself. "I don't want to be up there next week." That was a coffee hour, and -- although choir members participated -- Candy would have to find a table by herself before he came up from the robing room.
"Well, try for Thursday. We rehearse the next three anthems." He knew that, but he saw Dennis's point. He needed three rehearsals to sing well; two would help. If he were to sing an anthem with only one rehearsal, he would be ragged.
"I'll think about it." And he did think, and -- what was more important -- consult his wife, about singing in the choir.
"Chinese place okay?" he asked when they were in the car driving away from church.
"Fine. But I cook supper."
"Do you want to make that the weekly pattern? I mean Sunday dinner at noon out -- Sunday supper at night at home." He thought she should get out more, but he didn't want to look like he was avoiding her cooking.
"Well, it is now the weekly pattern. If you see a reason to change it, tell me. And. speaking of which..."
"I like spending time at home with you, but I get out for 40 or 50 hours a week. Your break from spending time at home with me is spending time at home alone."
"Well, I go out shopping nearly every day." She did? What did she buy? And what did she buy it with? He'd only given her a little more than $100.
"Well, that's good." Was it really good? And she would find going up and down the stairs more of a chore in a few months. "If you want to go out shopping, it's good that you do. But I was thinking of us going out together -- movies or something. Would you like to?"
"Once a week?"
"I have another question." They started their relationship having all of their discussions in a moving car. They now had a home, but it still felt more appropriate to bring up the questions while they were driving. "Dennis, the organist, suggested I go back to the choir. That would mean our not sitting together. Would you mind?"
"No. That's fine."
"I want to be with you the beginning of the next coffee hour, which is next week, so I won't sing then. But rehearsals are Thursdays. I thought I might start rehearsing this Thursday."
"That would mean that the night we go out together couldn't be Thursday." A long silence. "How about Tuesday."
"Okay." By now, they were in the restaurant parking lot.
They saw a movie Tuesday, and went to visit Carolyn, Bill, and the boys Wednesday.
The boys, who had never been certain of the identity of 'Miss Wharton,' were happy to call he 'Aunt Candy.' Carolyn went back to the kitchen, and Bill wasn't home yet.
"Spin me around," said Paul. Carolyn didn't mind that before dinner, but she didn't appreciate it in the living room.
"Why don't you invite Aunt Candy and me up to your room? I might spin you around up there." Carolyn was insistent that their play room was their space and that they controlled admittance -- except for their parents and Mrs. Jackson, the cleaning lady.
"Okay," said Paul. Which wasn't much of an invitation, but it was as good as they were going to get.
"What's the magic word?" he asked Paul when they were in the kids' play room. Both boys were busy clearing debris off the floor. He wasn't going to spin anyone around until the footing was reliable.
"Uncle Eric, please swing me around."
"You'd rather have that than books?"
"Why don't we do it like this? Before supper, I'll swing you around. After supper, Aunt Candy will read some books to you."
"Yeah." And Johnny echoed Paul.
Candy took Johnny's hand and stood beside the TV set. It was easier to avoid collisions if everything that was in danger of collision was in the same area. He picked up Paul and got him in a tight hug. He spun in 3 full circles, the 2nd one real fast. Paul let go, and he set him down. Johnny ran over for his turn, and Paul went and stood by Candy and let her take his hand. He spun in the opposite direction for Johnny. He'd learned that was the best way to reduce dizziness. The boys had been so good that he repeated the process. He and Candy then went downstairs to emphasize that the game was over.
Bill came home while they were on the stairs. The boys ran into him on their way downstairs, but they stopped at his word -- and grip on Paul; they stayed behind him until Candy was off the stairs.
The twins didn't get much upside-down time before Carolyn called everybody to dinner. The kids were used to telling their stories of 'school' at dinner, and he -- and apparently Candy -- listened with interest. After dinner, Candy helped clear. He sent the boys back upstairs to get some books for Aunt Candy to read to them. Soon after they had brought their books downstairs, Candy and Carolyn got to the living room.
He set her up in the middle of the couch with a boy on either side and a couple of books on the other side of each boy. She read to them until Bill called time. Since the alternative was bed, she got a long kiss and hug from each boy, he got the same, and then it was Carolyn's turn. Bill herded them up the stairs. Carolyn sighed as the clatter receded.
"So how is married life treating you?" she asked.
"It's still full of surprises," Candy answered.
"Yeah. Just wait until you get to parenthood. 'I didn't expect that,' is the motto of the mamas. Dr. Spock tries to prepare you, but he doesn't have the imagination that either of those 2 have."
"Eric tells me that you have some circle to help you." Candy would be interested in parenting advice sooner than Carolyn suspected.
"They are more help for the younger ones. Not just younger in age, but having younger kids. I had, unfortunately, been a mama for several years when the Priscilla Circle was formed."
"Rev. Lawrence tried to warn us, but he didn't have questions for everything," he said. "And, too, Candy not only has to get used to being married, but to being married to me."
"And vice versa," Candy said. "Actually, Eric is one of the good things about being married." She didn't sound convincing to him, but Carolyn didn't seem to notice. After the conversation went on for a bit, Bill came downstairs alone. Carolyn immediately headed up for good-night kisses, and Bill dumped the wedding gifts on a chair next to him.
"Thanks. I should have remembered them."
"You guys are the least mercenary couple I've ever seen," Carolyn said from the stairs. "I had all the packages opened the next day." Well, yes, but she had had many more gifts. He could have told his coworkers, and they would have chipped in for a gift or two. Then, however, they would have remembered the date better; besides, he didn't know who had been around to notice Candy asking for the sex-crimes section. It had been better to leave them out of it.
They thanked their hosts for the meal and for all the help during the wedding and before. Carolyn and Bill, in turn, thanked them for the entertainment they had provided the twins.
"Nice people," he said in the car driving back to the apartment.
"Nice people. Nice kids."
"You enjoy being Aunt Candy? Reading to them?"
"Yeah, but I'm never going to spin them around."
"Well, they'll probably never ask you. For that matter, they're getting too heavy. I'm not sure how long I can keep that up.... I think our first visit as a couple was both a pleasure and a success." He was leading the witness again, but Candy didn't express opinions unless he did.
"Yeah." Her tone, at least, sounded satisfied.
And they were, really, a couple. He could introduce her into the society in which he was such an
insignificant participant. He figured that Candy would impress more than he ever had. But they were a
couple; he'd bask in her reflected glory.
The End Married State - M Uther Pendragon [email protected] 2012/09/06 These same events from Candy's perspective, can be read in: Candy's Experience The first adventures of Eric with Candy: "Why Me?_3" Another story about another man getting married "Domesticity" The index to the entire Gjt series is: God Joined Together The index to almost all my stories is: Index to Uther Pendragon's website