This is the second part of the story, and the last. I'm sorry to say that for pacing purposes you won't actually see the boys buying the ring, but there will be Jonathan/Rick interaction. This story is going to remain at T, which actually, I think is a little high, but I wanted to be cautious.
I also wanted to use this opportunity to respond to Nakhti's review. I wouldn't normally respond in the author's note, but since I couldn't use respond any other way, I'll have to do it here.
Nakhti, I appreciate the constructive criticism, because it helps me improve. I will defend my portrayal of Evy with this: She had just been fired, she's not sure if she'll be able to get another job in the field she loves. Remember, she'd been rejected by the Benbridge scholars…again earlier in the movie. The curator also told her to her face that the only reason he allowed her to stay on was because of her parents, and now that he's dead, her safety net is gone. Now also factor in that this was the 1920's and it was a very sexist era. It seemed natural to write her as being glum, even the feisty have their moments of despair. (She was feeling very low when she told Jonathan about the rejection of her application earlier in the movie.) Still, I do appreciate your POV. As for Rick and Jonathan, that's definitely something to think about. I was going for the humor in the situation, and was going from the movie for inspiration, but maybe you're right that I need to draw deeper. I truly am grateful for you taking the time, and I hope that I can improve.
Okay, time for the story. Keep the reviews coming!
Placing Our Bets-Part 2
"Jonathan, please don't start up with the crying again." Rick flipped the lid of the box open to look at the ring one last time, then to the sniffling Englishman. "You sure this was the right choice?"
"My baby sister is going to be married, thank you very much! Forgive me if I need a good cry." Jonathan didn't even glance at the ring, blowing his nose instead.
"Save it for the wedding, I haven't asked her yet." He snapped his fingers under Jonathan's nose. "So. The ring. You sure?"
"I told you five bloody times-" Jonathan started to bellyache.
"It just looks a little...plain. I thought women liked big stuff." The gold band had three tiny rubies in the center, but that was it.
"They do at that, but Evy's not most women. She doesn't like a fuss, likes to keep it simple." Jonathan wiped his face, letting out a shuddering breath. "Oh, I never thought this day would come. You'll take good care of her, won't you?"
"I'm gonna love her and do my best to make her glad she married me, if that's what you mean." Rick wanted her to know that, he had to make sure she knew she was making a good bet. He wasn't going to let her down, not while he had air in his lungs.
"Listen, Rick, Evy's all I got in this world, my only family. Well, except Aunt Martha, but that crone's not even human. I'm not even sure she's got a heart, to tell you the-"
"Getting off topic, Jonathan," Rick reminded him.
"Right." Jonathan started pacing, but at least he'd stopped crying. "I know you love her. God only knows why a bloke would tie the noose around his own neck willingly if he wasn't daft with love."
Rick rubbed at his neck, remembering his literal experience with a noose. "Gee, thanks."
"Rick?" Jonathan's voice had turned tentative, and Rick's instincts told him whatever the guy had to say next was going to take a lot of guts.
"I know that at the end of the day, I'm an awful lot of trouble, dashing from one close shave to another, and that's not likely to change, is it?" He offered up a sheepish grin, his hands in his pockets.
"I'm guessing not," Rick agreed, settling himself on the sofa.
Jonathan waved an impatient hand, clearly on a roll. "That aside, I love Evy, have ever since she was born. Well, you know, once I got over the shock of not having a little brother. She's been more than I deserve, I'll have you know. It'd be hard to see her marry just any bloke, but Evy's picked the right man."
"I'm not so sure I deserve her either," Rick admitted, common ground stretching out before them. "That doesn't mean I plan on giving her up, she's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Marrying her's the smartest thing I could ever do."
"Here, here." Jonathan toasted him with a watery shot of bourbon, tossing it back with a big finish. "Well, I always wanted a brother, Rick. Poor chap, it looks like you've gotten the job."
"Eh, after getting stuck with Benny, you're a walk in the park, Jonathan." He'd spent the day with Jonathan, and he'd been good company. He wouldn't mind having him around, which was a good thing, since Evy would probably miss her brother like crazy if he wasn't around. He walked over to get his drink, slapping the Brit on the back. "But don't count your chickens before they hatch. She could always say no."
Jonathan howled with laughter over that one, bending over at the waist. Rick waited him out; nursing his drink, thinking that room service would bring the food in any time now. He'd decided to move dinner in here as opposed to the hotel restaurant, figuring this would be more romantic. Besides, it'd be easier to pop the question without an audience.
Jonathan got over the giggles in time to speak, just about breathless. "Are you that thick that you'd think she'd say no? She might just topple you over in her hurry to say yes. You two will probably be whispering sweet nothings and be kissing until tomorrow." He made a face, obviously still working on building up immunity to that kind of thing where his sister was concerned.
"And speaking of which, Jonathan, you better scram," Rick told him, checking his watch. "The food's on its way, Evy will be right behind that, and her brother tagging along just ain't what I had in mind."
"Fair enough, Rick, fair enough. This isn't anything I fancy seeing at any rate." He saluted Rick, and headed towards the door.
This stuff didn't come easy to him, but Rick was willing to try it out. "Jonathan?"
"Yes, old boy?" Jonathan turned around, obviously expecting Rick to start in on the ring again, fidgeting in place.
"Thanks." Jonathan's eyes widened and he swallowed hard.
"It was my pleasure, Rick. It was my pleasure." He left after that, the quiet stretching out over the room.
It didn't last long. Less than two minutes later, dinner was wheeled in, all of Evy's favorites on the menu. He tipped the guy, looking it over. He kept waiting to panic, but so far, so good.
He'd just changed when he heard the tap on his door. "Evy?" he yelled out his bedroom door, tucking in his shirt.
"Yes, it's me," she called back.
"Come on in." A look in the mirror told him he was presentable...ish. He grabbed the flowers he'd bought for her, hiding them behind his back.
When she walked in, he felt like the wind had been knocked out of him, she was a knock-out. Her hair was swept up, leaving her neck looking bare and tempting, and he could tell she'd bothered putting on make-up. She was wearing a pale pink dress that floated down to her ankles, and she was enough to make a guy's mouth water.
"Wow," was all he could say.
"I could say the same for you." Even her voice sounded too good to be true. He was the guy she was ending up with? "7:00 seemed so far away."
"I know the feeling." He noticed she looked nervous, and he couldn't figure out why. As far as she knew, they were just having dinner. "Come over here, I don't bite. Well, unless you want me to."
"What an odd thing to say." He'd have to remember she hadn't been around much, he reminded himself. She walked over, looking at him with those big brown eyes. A fella could drown in those. "I got your message that you wanted to have dinner in here."
"I kind of felt like having you all to myself tonight," he admitted, giving her a quick kiss. "Is that okay?"
"Of course." She gave him a quick, fleeting smile, glancing down. "Oooh, oysters! How did you know?"
Evy's eyes twinkled. "I always thought he was too busy stuffing his face to give any thought to give what I ate. Is...is everything all right with you two?"
"Yeah. Everything's coming up roses. Speaking of which..." He whipped around the yellow roses, handing them to her. She gasped and sniffed them.
"They're beautiful," she breathed.
"You want 'em in water?" He'd come prepared, there was already a crystal vase on the coffee table, full of water, she just hadn't noticed. After he was done kind of sort of arranging them, he figured since he was on a roll, he might as well pull out a chair for her. "Sit down, take a load off."
She gaped, not completely over the roses, looking at the chair and then back to him. "Uh...er...thank you, I will. You certainly went through a lot of trouble." He sat down his own self.
"Not too much. I figured my girl deserved a good dinner." For some reason, that seemed to make her emotional.
He had to lean in to hear her. "Your girl? I like the sound of that."
And I'm kind of hoping you'll like the sound of wife, too, he thought, handing her a plate. He dished some up for himself, although he wasn't sure he'd taste any of it. "It's got a nice ring to it, huh?"
"I've never been anyone's girl before." What the hell was wrong with the men where she came from?
"Well, we're even. I've never had anybody be my girl before."
From the look on her face, she hadn't been expecting that one. "Are you serious? After all the women-"
He could see where this was headed, so he cut her off. "Yeah, there's been women, but they didn't mean a damn thing. Never pretended they did. You know how I feel about you."
She gripped his hand, and she felt so breakable, but he knew she was tougher than she looked. "I still can't believe you love me, that you're real."
"Well, believe it sweetheart, I'm not going anywhere." He gave her hand a squeeze, then grabbed a fork. "Come on, dig in before the grub get's cold."
The mood lightened over dinner, the two of them falling into easy bantering. Both of them were drinking from an old bottle of wine, with Rick keeping an eye on Evy. The last thing he wanted was for her to get drunk tonight. Evy had made a face at him, but didn't complain too loud, being as she remembered that one night at Hamunaptra where she'd had one too many.
"That was delicious," she said, relaxed now.
He watched her sip her second glass of wine, a rosy tint to her cheeks the only sign she'd had any alcohol. "Glad you liked it."
"Rick?" she asked, tensing up again. Uh-oh, he didn't want her tense. "Was there a specific reason you wanted me to come to your room tonight? I know you said-"
If she was gonna play it tactful, this song and dance could go on all night. "Evy, something's cooking in that brain of yours, so you might as well just come out with it."
"Very well." She took a breath, gripping the table cloth in her hand. "Did you have the intention of seducing me tonight?"
It took a few seconds, but he could see how she got that idea. After their little exchange earlier in the day, him changing the dinner locations at the last minute, and going out of his way to make the dinner extra special, it would fit in with getting a woman into bed. On one hand, he wasn't sure if he'd have the willpower to turn her down if she dropped her dress and crooked her finger, on the other, that definitely wasn't what he had in mind.
"No, that's not what this whole thing's about." He gestured around them, trying to read her face. She looked kind of relieved, but kind of not at the same time. "But I did have something else in mind besides dinner. Come on and sit with me on the sofa."
"All right." She was a little embarrassed now, but that shouldn't last too long.
He pulled her onto his lap, nuzzling her throat. "You smell good."
"New perfume," she answered breathlessly. It didn't hurt his ego to know he could do that to her without too much effort. He planted a kiss on the tender skin, the first time he'd kissed her anywhere except from the chin up. He felt her shiver hard, and knew he'd found a sensitive place. He'd have to remember that. "Oh!"
He pulled away a little bit so she'd actually listen to him. "Evy? I want to ask you something."
"I'm listening." She focused her eyes on his, expression open and affectionate. "Go on."
"There's probably a better way of putting this, but you know me. Evelyn Carnahan, will you marry me?"
It took a long minute for that to sink in, and he forced himself to stay quiet and let her go at her own pace. The second she processed what he said, tears welled in those gorgeous eyes, her body freezing. Was that a bad or good sign? Hell if he knew. Don't rush her, he warned himself, although the waiting was starting to kill him.
"You want me for always?" It amazed him she could be surprised, but then again, he'd never been good at this kind of thing. Maybe he'd given her the wrong idea somewhere along the line.
"I'll want you longer, but I'll take whatever I can get." Her tears spilled over, and it seemed natural that he go ahead and kiss them away. "I want everything life's willing to give us. I know we'll probably get on each other's nerves once in a while, but that's what making up's for."
"But don't you want a wife that won't be as much trouble?" Fresh tears rolled down her cheeks. "Someone who doesn't want a career, that just wants to raise your children and keep a good home?"
"Sounds like a sleeping pill." He wasn't joking, the idea sounded like being in jail again. "I don't want anyone who's not you, Evy."
"I wouldn't want anyone else either." Suddenly, he was being showered in enthusiastic kisses. She managed to talk between them. "I'll never want anyone else. Oh, how I love you!"
"Can I take that as a yes? Uh, please don't wriggle." He had to move fast to grab her hips before she could do any real damage.
"A thousand times yes!" she cried.
He slid the ring on her finger, still a little nervous about the choice. "It's perfect," she assured him, beaming up at him. He decided the moment definitely needed a kiss at about the same second she did. She tasted salty, her lips eager on his. She didn't seem to have any idea what she did to him, didn't have a clue how just kissing her chipped at the self-control he wasn't really known for.
The little vixen was the one to push her tongue into his mouth, pressing those breasts against his chest. One of them moaned, he was having a hard time keeping track. His blood was starting to rush south, his thoughts start to go fuzzy. He didn't want to stop, didn't want to lose the feeling of her tongue tangling with against his. It would be more than easy to let this thing get out of control.
He pried his mouth away, taking in gulps of air. "Give me a minute," he told her.
"Get back here!" she countered.
"I'm right here, just hang on."
"I want to keep kissing you." Man, this woman could give a mule lessons.
"Later." He reminded himself she was a babe in the woods, she really didn't know what she was doing, no matter what he said. It wasn't until they got to know each other real well she'd finally get it.
"Don't you want me, Rick?" Oh, God, did she have to sound so sexy? How good did one man have to be?
"Am I breathing?" he shot back.
"I want you." He almost lost it, almost scooped her up and took her right to bed.
He must have really loved her, because somehow he kept still. "Do you even know what that means, Evy, or do you just want to keep kissing?"
"I want to be close to you. I...I want to make you happy."
"We're close right now, and you've already made me happy. Hell, I think this actually qualifies as joy." He kissed her brow. Smart and capable or not, there were times he'd have to watch out for her. Tonight, was one of those times. "Evy, when the time comes, when I do take you to bed, you're going to love it, I promise. I just don't think tonight's the right time."
"Women aren't supposed to enjoy it," she argued.
"That's news to me. Says who?" He'd never heard that one before, maybe it was a British thing. Or maybe just a good girl thing.
"My grandmother, before she died. Only whores would take pleasure in such an exercise." She looked so serious and worried, and he was glad they were having this conversation, so he could put her mind at ease.
"Did you and your mom talk about this?" He didn't know much about her mother, but it sounded like a love match between her parents.
He could tell Evy still missed the woman when she talked, but he didn't want to get sidetracked by bringing it up. "Well, although I was old enough when she died, I don't think she felt the need. I was hardly interested in marriage at the time. I suppose grandmother just wanted to set me straight before she died."
"Well, maybe that's what she thought, but lot's of women enjoy it, and not just the kind of women I used to fool around with. Hey, have I ever lied to you?" He looked her straight in the eye, rubbing his thumb along her jaw.
"You wouldn't lie to me," she answered softly. "But what if you're wrong and she's right?"
He knew he couldn't just brush the topic off and have her feel better. "I think it's more a matter of prospective than anything. Some people think women either gotta be the Virgin Mary or they're trash. Some people think women have just as much of a right to have a good time as a man does."
"I do like kissing you," she admitted like she was confessing to a bank job or something. "It makes me feel wonderful, but restless at the same time, as though I want more. You always stop it before I can understand exactly it is that I want."
"That's normal, sweetheart. I want you to love every minute of sex. Trust me, it'll make it better for me."
"Really?" the little minx looked intrigued now. "How so?"
"You'll just have to wait and find out." He gave her another kiss, but a quick one this time.
"I wouldn't mind if it happened tonight." She was offering, but his gut told him that it wasn't for the right reasons.
"Tempting, trust me, but we got our whole lives for that." He cupped her face, feeling his own eyes mist over with tears, not that he'd ever admit it. "I do want you to stay with me, tonight, though. I want you to stay in here, and wake up with you every morning. Will you do that?"
"Gladly." She curled up in his arms, and for now, that's all he needed.