I poured myself a drink and meandered out to the patio in my backyard. It was a nice evening. Warm but not too hot. It was nights like these that reminded me life was good. I could hear the many insects that lived in the expanse of grass and trees on my property coming out to play for the evening, mingling with the sounds of the neighbors’ kids in the backyard pool. There were tall, green shrubs and trees along the inside of my privacy fence which blocked prying eyes, but it didn’t do much for the sound.
I didn’t mind. It broke the quiet. I carried my scotch and walked to the edge of my own pool, getting lost in the gentle waves rippling across the surface. I thought about going for a swim, but I was too lazy to go through the whole process of getting my swim trunks on. My bedroom was on the second floor of my big-ass house. That was the downside to living in a sprawling home.
I stared at the water and considered stripping. No one could see me. It had been a brutal week and I wanted to sink into oblivion and just not think anymore. My brain hurt. I was two seconds from stripping when I heard heavy footsteps crossing the tile floors in the house. I wasn’t worried I was about to get jumped. There was exactly one person that would show up at my house and let himself in without bothering to knock or ring the bell.
“Don’t jump,” Trevor Young, my best and only friend, joked.
“I was thinking about it,” I said.
“I’m getting a beer,” he said. “Want one?”
I held up my glass. “I’ve got a drink.”
“You’re low on beer!” he shouted from the kitchen.
“If you resupplied it, I would have beer,” I called back.
I heard his laughter. He came to stand beside me, sipping the cold beer. “What are we doing?”
“Debating jumping in,” I replied.
“You’ll get your fancy suit wet,” he said.
I slowly nodded. “I would. Unless I took it off.”
“I don’t want to see your junk.”
“Then don’t look,” I said, shrugging.
He laughed again and walked to one of the deck chairs. His heavy construction boots were the very opposite of my Louboutin oxford shoes. We couldn’t be more different. He was blue collar and I was white collar. I came from money and he had made every penny he had by busting his ass doing some of the hardest labor I could imagine. He’d been brought up in some pretty rough neighborhoods and I basically grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth. Shit, my family owned a fucking castle in northern England.
I sat in the chair next to his and stretched out my long legs. That was one thing we did have in common—we were both tall. I was about an inch taller than him at six three. “Did you just get off work?” I asked him.
He took another drink. “Yep. I’m on a job about a mile away. New construction. Some rich assholes are building a little mansion. The woman is hot, but damn she’s obnoxious.”
“We usually are,” I said, laughing.
“I swear, if you ever hook up with one of those, do not expect me to come around,” he warned. “I can’t stand anyone that thinks their shit doesn’t stink. That just because they have a big bank account, they are somehow elevated above the rest of us poor humans.”
“You could work for me,” I told him. It wasn’t the first time I had offered him a job in one of our companies. He was a damn hard worker. I would love to have him as the lead in one of our factories. He held himself to a high standard and no one would ever convince him to lower those standards to meet a deadline or to make anyone happy.
“I would rather sit on crushed glass,” he said. “I would rather put my balls in a vise. I would—”
“I get it,” I said. “I could pay you ten times what you make right now.”
“Nope.” He shook his head. “I’m not putting on one of those monkey suits and choking myself with a tie. I like working with my hands and making something worthwhile. I would wither and die if I had to work in an office under fluorescent lights. I was not made to be one of you wimpy dudes.”
“I look good,” I said without taking offense. “You wished you looked this good.”
He snorted and shook his head. “No, I don’t,” he said. “I don’t do pretty. You look like you get manicures.”
It was the same silly argument we had at least once a week. “What are your plans for the weekend?” I asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Are you jetting off somewhere on your fancy plane?”
“Nope. Knock on wood, but I don’t have to be anywhere. I get to stay home for the weekend.”
“You know that never lasts,” he said with a laugh. “I predict you’ll get a phone call by the end of the night. Some factory in Australia or Nevada or Singapore is going to have a crisis that only you can solve. You’ll hop in your pretty little jet and off you go.”
“Don’t jinx me,” I said. “I need a day off. I’ve been around the world three times this month. I’m ready to do nothing.”
“Good, then let’s go out tomorrow night,” he said. “It’s been too long.”
“That’s cool,” I said. “I’m up for it.”
As soon as I agreed, my phone rang. Trevor burst into laughter. “What did I tell you?” he said.
I groaned and pulled my phone from my pocket. It wasn’t work-related. “It’s my dad,” I said.
“Shit, now you know you’re in trouble when he calls you.”
“Hello,” I answered, realizing it had to be late in England.
“Hello, Dylan,” he said.
“It’s late,” I said. “Is everything okay?
“Yes, fine,” he replied. “Your mother wanted me to call and let you know we’ll be visiting next month. It’s time we met your wife.”
I sat up. “What?”
“You’re obviously never going to take the time to bring your wife to us so that we may have a proper meeting,” he said in a haughty tone. “We’ll be making the trip to New York. You will make yourself and your bride available.”
“Of course,” I said with a lump in my throat. “Sure. I’ll let her know.”
“Good,” he said as if he had just won a battle. “We’d like to have dinner at least one night. Your mother wants to do some shopping and I have some business to handle. Please, make sure your schedule is clear.”
“Okay,” I said. “We’ll make some plans. Just let me know what day you’ll be in town.”
I hung up and finished the rest of my drink.
“Your dad is coming to visit?” Trevor asked.
“Why don’t you look happy about that?” he questioned. “I thought you guys were on good terms.”
“We are,” I said. “I need a refill.”
I got up and walked to the bar in the corner of the outdoor kitchen. It was probably a little excessive to have three fully stocked bars in the house, but I liked having options close to where I was at any given time. My house was huge. I didn’t want to go into the den and get a drink. I didn’t want to go to my dining room. I wanted it now.
I opened the bottle of Macallan scotch and poured three fingers into the glass.
“Woah, hitting it hard,” Trevor said with a laugh. “What the hell?”
“My parents are coming for a visit,” I said and took a drink. The smooth liquid trailed down my throat.
“And?” he asked. “What’d you do? Are you in trouble?”
I took a deep breath. “Considering they are coming to meet my wife, yes, I might be in a little bit of trouble.”
Trevor looked confused. “Your wife? You’re married?”
I gave him a dry look. “No, I’m not married.”
“But your parents are coming to meet your wife?”
“Yes,” I said and took another drink. “I’m fucked.”
“I’m so confused,” he groaned.
“My dad was withholding the last of my inheritance,” I explained. “He didn’t want to release my trust fund until I was married. There was a stipulation I could get it once I was married, but come on, I’m thirty-two. I think I can handle my own finances. I bust my ass for the company. I’m the guy that handles every little fire that comes up. They rely on me to keep things running. I’m ensuring he stays rich and yet he doesn’t think I’m mature enough to handle my trust fund.”
“Why do you need your trust fund?” he asked and made a gesture at my house.
“Because I wanted to buy this house,” I said. “I was a little short. The trust fund made sure I could secure the property.”
“Oh, you mean you might have been forced to live in a hovel,” he said with a nod. “Instead of twelve bathrooms, you might have been stuck living in a dump with only eight bathrooms.”
“It’s not the bathrooms,” I muttered. “It’s the land. It’s the view. It’s the privacy. This was the property I wanted. I had been looking for the right home for a few years. I found it.”
“Fine,” he said. “Tell me about your wife. Do you have her stashed in one of the rooms?”
“Your parents are coming to meet your wife,” he spoke slowly. “Who is your wife?”
“I don’t have a fucking wife,” I growled.
“But you told your parents you do, and they are coming to meet her,” he stated.
“Thank you for keeping up. I rescind my offer of employment. You’re an idiot.”
“So you lied to them. What are you going to do?” he asked.
“I need to find a wife before next month,” I said, shrugging.
He laughed. “I can’t believe you told them you were married. How in the world did you pull that out of your ass?”
I had to chuckle at that. “I might have had a few drinks. We were arguing and it just came out. I told them I eloped. When I said it, I kind of meant it as a joke. I was just being dumb. My mom jumped on it, and shit just kind of spiraled. I told them we met and fell in love in a matter of weeks and we eloped.”
“Damn,” he said. “That’s fucked up.”
“No shit,” I said. “I have managed to avoid discussing it or seeing them since it happened.”
“When did this marriage happen?” he asked.
“Six months ago,” I said, sighing.
“You’ve managed to hold them off that long?” he asked with surprise. “They haven’t wanted to see a picture or do a video call?”
“Oh, they have definitely wanted to see her or talk to her, but either I’m traveling or she is,” I said, shrugging. “She’s out with her friends or working.”
He shook his head. “Damn, you really stepped in it. What the hell? What was your exit strategy for this? You had to know you were going to get found out.”
“Honestly, I don’t know,” I said. “I never really thought about it. I just kind of expected shit to work out.”
“And now they are coming to meet her?”
“Yes,” I said.
“What are you planning on doing?” he asked.
“Find a wife,” I said.
He laughed. “I’ll check around. There are a couple of ladies that hang out at the corner by my building. I’m sure they would be happy to be your wife.”
“Thanks, but I’ll pass.”
He tossed his empty bottle in the recycling bin. “I’m going home. I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t cancel on me. We need to go out.”
“I’ll be there,” I said.
After he left, I stared at the pool once again. “Fuck it,” I muttered.
I unbuttoned my shirt just enough to pull it over my head. I kicked off my thousand-dollar shoes and stepped out of my slacks. Then, I walked to the pool in my briefs and jumped in without hesitation. I couldn’t literally escape the trouble of my own making, but I could escape for the moment.
I sank to the bottom and stayed for several seconds. I had no one to blame but myself. I brought it on myself. All so I could have a nice house. I supposed I should have thought about the consequences of my choices before I actually made them.