We had been in this huge house in a rural area of Utah called Lynnley for a whole month, and I was so sick of living with men.
Everett and Baxter were naturally inclined to pick up after themselves, but freaking Phineas was a bad influence. I wanted another woman to find us! And I wanted to sit all their butts down and have a talk.
"You-" I said, waving a dirty sock at the blonde idiot on the couch. "I am done picking up after you. We lived very cleanly before you showed up. Stop treating this house like a garbage dump! If you have to be messy, move out. You can still come over for meals and to hang out, but if you can't be an adult, you need your own place."
I tossed his sock at him and sat in a huff. "And you two better stop taking after him or I'm moving my own damn self out and good luck finding me!"
Everett shifted in his seat, ashamed. He was usually more prickly than me about keeping things tidy! Baxter stood and apologized.
"You're right. We aren't pigs. I'm sorry for what you've had to put up with." He walked over to me and got down on one knee. "Please allow us the pleasure of cleaning this place top to bottom while you relax and have a snack."
I raised my eyebrows. "That sounds pretty good. Alright. Hop to it."
Everett stood and glared at Phineas, waiting. "Well?"
"What?" he asked.
"This is your fault. Are you going to apologize?" he demanded.
"Yeah, to her, not you. I didn't make you skip washing the dishes, that was all on you, bro." He stood and bowed. "My lady, I am sorry. It's true, I'm a mess, but please give me a chance to redeem myself."
I rolled my eyes at his drama and pushed them both away from the couch so I could take a nap.
I didn't get to sleep for long before I woke to Phineas shaking me. "Hot Latina, hot Latina!" he shrieked before running to the front door. It took me a second to realize what he meant, then I jumped off the couch and rushed after him.
She was standing down the front walk way, backing up when Baxter walked toward her. When she saw me, she waved. I told the guys to hang back. Women had to be more wary- Everett, at least, knew this, and had stayed by the front door.
I approached her slowly, both of us keeping our hands in view as I drew closer. I stopped about ten feet away and spoke.
"My name is Genevieve," I said. "Back there is Baxter, Everett, and Phineas. What's your name?"
"Alex," she said. "Are they nice?"
"Sometimes," I said, smiling. "Mostly they're just annoying. Do you want to come in? We can make something to eat and have tea."
"That sounds great," she said, walking toward me. She was very tall, about 5'9" and slender. I was already jealous of her silky black hair and long legs before I even knew where she came from. I led her inside, the men keeping a polite distance so they wouldn't scare her. We chatted at the table while Everett made tea and Baxter threw together some snacks. We learned that she had come across a sign in Texas like Phineas. When she saw our town destroyed, she almost didn't search for the house, but she decided to anyway and learned we were headed to Utah. Once she got to the state, she saw the new address spray painted on the welcome sign and tracked us down.
"I am not going to lie, it's so great to finally have another woman around," I said, Bax and Phin agreeing enthusiastically. "I'm sure these two are going to drive you a little nuts, but please hang in there! Would you like to stay in this house with us? We picked it because of all the extra bedrooms."
"That would be incredible," she laughed. "If it's ok, I have a friend with me. She was scared so I told her I'd make sure it was safe and go get her."
Phineas was almost vibrating in his seat. "That would be awesome, go get her, that would be awesome."
Baxter elbowed him, telling him to cool it while we waited for Alex to return. When her friend came into view, I was surprised.
"That's okay, she's just experienced," Phin said, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"Then I will take Alex," Baxter replied, grinning.
"What if they don't want either of you?" I pointed out.
Her friend looked to be in her mid forties, tall, a little bonier than Alex, and her hair was brown and wavy.
"Hello, my name is Katherine," she said, shaking my hand first, then moving onto the men.
They overreacted spectacularly, inviting them in and fussing over them like helicopter moms. Everett and I excused ourselves after a few minutes and went upstairs, exhausted by Phin and Baxter.
We fully acknowledged how rude we may appear to them, but guilt was always lessened when you shared it. Instead of immersing ourselves in the hullabaloo downstairs, we crawled into our bed and opened a book together. We had found an old copy of the Grimm's fairy tales and were reading them. This time it was his turn, so I curled up against him and closed my eyes, listening to his smooth baritone as it painted pictures in my mind.
He read through three stories before I stopped him with a kiss. "We had a little break," I said gently. "I think we should go back downstairs before they think we're crazy hermits." I started to get up, but he pulled me back.
"I know, but them showing up is such a huge relief," he said, holding my hands. "I don't have to worry about them hitting on you anymore, or trying to steal you away, or running off with you; it's a huge load off my mind."
I blinked at him, surprised. Then I started laughing. "How could you ever think I could be with anyone but you? Listen, do you remember the music video to Qing Hua Ci by Jay Chou?"
He shook his head, so I sang the chorus for him. "Yes, I'd never seen you cry before," he replied.
I scowled. "I was probably on my period- it didn't count. Anyway- while our relationship (or lack thereof) wasn't that tragic, I felt like that was us in a way, meant to be together, but something stopped it from happening. I feel like I've loved you- it doesn't matter, I just wouldn't leave you for anything or anyone," I finished, mumbling and blushing.
"For millennia," he said softly, kissing me. "Was that what you were going to say?"
"Two crotchety old souls who have found each other more than once," I said, embarrassed by how sappy everything was getting.
He pulled me back down to the bed, his hand twisted in my hair as he kissed me. "It's okay to be sentimental sometimes," he murmured, his lips brushing mine.
"Just don't advertise how soft I am inside." I felt him grin before he kissed me again and crushed me up against him. My voice broke when I protested- I reminded him of our new guests in broken sentences, but he just told me they'd manage without us and I lost the will to argue.
When we went back downstairs, we found the house empty. Everett led me out back where we found them showcasing the garden we'd all been working so hard on. We waved at them and they waved back as they waited for us to reach them.
"Sorry to abandon you- have these guys been treating you right?" I asked, raising an eyebrow at Bax and Phin.
"They've been great- we were told to ask you about some fried green tomatoes?" Alex asked, holding out five or six unripe tomatoes in her hand.
"Oh yeah! That's perfect- we can add them to dinner! I have my mother's recipe memorized, so I think they'll turn out great!" I took the fruit from her and carried them into the house in my dress's skirt, pulled out to act as a basket. Everett followed me, snagging an early cucumber off the vine to snack on.