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Marriage Material

By:Alexa Riley

Chapter 1

Robin


“Jim, you can’t be serious!” I yell. I knew this was going to happen. I just freaking knew it. I take a deep breath, trying to calm down. If this wasn’t the fifth time this happened it might actually be funny, but it’s getting old.

“I’m sorry, Robin, but things have changed. I’m not looking to rent out the studio anymore.”

I stare at him, knowing he’s full of shit. He’s been trying to rent the upstairs of his antique store for a few months now. It isn’t my ideal place to rent, but I’m pretty much out of options at this point. My brothers sabotage every place I try to rent, so at this point I’ll take anywhere I can get my hands on.

“It was Kent, wasn't it?” I put my hands on my hips and give him my best angry face.

At five foot four I could never be intimidating, so no matter what I do I know it’s not going to work. Even though it won’t make a difference, I’m pissed and want it to show. I’d thought I was sneaky enough this time, but I guess not. When you live in a small town nothing is ever secret. I should’ve known.

“The sheriff might have stopped by and mentioned he didn't think it was a good idea for his sister to move out.” He shrugs like this isn’t a big deal. “The sheriff knows what he’s talking about. He’s a good man and I don’t want to step on anyone's toes.”

“But we have a signed lease,” I remind him.

I’ve been trying to move out from under my brothers for three months now, but I’m having no luck. They don’t want me moving out of my parents’ house where they watch me like a hawk. This is what happens when you have five older brothers and you’re the baby of the family. Not only am I the baby, but I was a late in life surprise for my parents. I’m ten years younger than my youngest brother.

“You can talk to my lawyer if you like.” Jim folds his arms over his chest, knowing he’s won.

“Ahh!”

I turn away and stomp out of there because we both know that my other brother is his lawyer. At this rate I’m never going to move out and I’ll likely die a virgin if my brothers have anything to say about it.

I walk into Millie's diner and plop down in one of the seats at the counter.

“You look like you could use extra cherries in your Coke today,” Millie says, walking over towards me with a smile on her face. Milly and my mother are best friends and she’s pretty much like an aunt to me.

“Yes please,” I sigh. “And fries.” I need some comfort food right now, even if my hips don’t.

“Will do,” she says as she puts in my order and brings me my Coke. “So they found out?”

“Yeah,” I mumble. “If I didn't love this town so much I’d move out of here.”

“Liar. You’d never move away from your family. Those brothers drive you nuts, but you love them.”

She’s right. I love my family. It’s why I couldn't even move away to go to college. I did everything online instead. Though I’m not sure how my going to college would have gone over. I have a feeling one of my brothers would have followed me, because they’re all crazy.

“I know, but it doesn't mean I don’t want to punch them right in the junk.” Millie laughs, and the bell dings, telling her my order is up. “Thanks,” I say as she goes back to serving other customers.

I pull out my phone and double-check to make sure the tracking is off. Somehow they get their hands on my phone and turn it on no matter how many times I’ve changed the password. When I see it’s on I grumble and switch it off. Two seconds later my phone rings and it’s my oldest brother Kent. He’s the sheriff of Deercreek, and everyone loves him. I answer it only because I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.

“Don’t think I’m not going to tell Julie what you did,” I snap before he can get a word out. I know the only way I can get back at him is to hit him where it hurts.

“Ah, come on, Robin, don’t be like that. This is for your own good.”

Julie might not be able to get him to stop ruining every place I try to rent, but she would make his life a little harder. She’ll give him the silent treatment, which drives him crazy. They were high school sweethearts and I’m pretty sure Kent thinks she hung the moon. So anytime she’s upset with him, you would think the world is coming to an end.

“I’m almost twenty. I think it’s time for me to move out,” I tell him for the hundredth time.

They think something bad might happen, which is ridiculous. Our town is the safest place on the planet. I’m not even sure what my brother does as sheriff in this town all day besides stalk his little sister.

“Why can’t you wait until you’re married, like when you’re in your thirties?”

I hang up on him and hit the silence button on my phone. I don’t want to hear the same thing over again. I’m going to have to find a way to outsmart them.

“How’s the job search going?” Milly asks as she comes back over and leans on the counter.

“It’s okay. I’ve been picking up random babysitting jobs to hold me over. No one is in the market for a nanny right now.” I shrug.

I’m not worried about it. It’s easy for me to find families in need of part-time help, but a full-time nanny job is what I want. It would be the easiest way to get out from under my brothers, but also I would be doing something I love. I like getting close to families, and I worked with the Jenkins family for two years. But the dad, Sam, got a job offer and they moved a few weeks ago. I miss the kids, but it comes with the territory. People move or kids grow up. I’ve just got to find the right fit. At least that’s what I keep reminding myself. I try not to get attached, but it’s hard when you love the kids as much as I do. But it’s also why I do this for living. God knows I’m not going to be having a family of my own anytime soon with the way my brothers keep me locked up.

Milly leans over and whispers to me. “Are you still on with Franky?”

I nod. Milly and my mother are the only ones who know about him. Franky is the new UPS guy who started working the route after Leo retired a month ago. He doesn't know how crazy my brothers are, so he asked me out. The first time, I said no because I wasn't really that interested. But he was persistent, and I finally caved and agreed to a date. I just kept thinking, what’s the worst that could happen?

My dating life has been nonexistent up to this point for two reasons. First, because everyone knows everyone around here, so the dating pool is pretty small. Who wants to sleep with a man that every other woman in this town has been with? Not me. Second, my brothers have every guy here scared of dating me. Some won’t even look at me and cross the street to get away. Maybe this will give me a chance to dip my toe into the dating pool. Maybe I could join a dating app or something. I could try going a town or four over to be extra safe. That would be my only option at this point because I’m sure once my brothers hear about the date with Franky they’ll put an end to it.

Which is actually fine with me. If my brothers can scare you off, then you’re not really that into me. I’d rather have someone who stood their ground because that’s the only way they’ll make it in my family. I just wish my brothers could see that they’re standing in the way of me having a life. I know they think they’re doing the right thing, and it can even be sweet at times. But I have a longing for my own life and a lot of that is because of my family. Everyone is so close and I want that, too. I just don’t want to have to wait another two decades to have the freedom to go after it.

I pull my wallet out of my purse and put some cash down on the counter. I wave goodbye to Milly before I leave and decide it’s time to come up with a new plan. Something has got to change or I might end up really punching all my brothers.





Chapter 2





Anderson





The phone on my desk rings and I ignore it. My secretary Olivia is going over a long list of items I have to either approve or reject for the next quarter billing, and my assistant secretary Georgina has my calendar for the next month mapped out in front of her. Georgina hits a button on her headset to answer the call and then she walks out of the office. It’s ridiculous that it takes two people to manage my day and it doesn’t even include me.

My chest tightens and I think about my last trip to the doctor, where she told me to slow down. I’ve got stress-related anxiety that’s giving me the feeling of having a heart attack, but I don’t know how to stop. I’ve got a company I’ve built from the ground up and people chomping at my heels to buy it out from under me. Selling would be the easiest option. I could kick back and live off the money for a few lifetimes over. But I’m too invested and I don’t know that I want to.

What else do I have besides this company? I’ve spent every waking moment since I was in high school trying to build Davis International. I was just some chubby geeky kid with an old computer and I began coding before I even knew what I was doing. I spent years in my room, and then I went to college and spent all my time in my dorms. I’ve missed out on parties and friends because all I wanted to do was be successful. I don’t even let my mind wander to the fact that I’m thirty years old and have never touched a woman.

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