Home > Marriage is Murder

Marriage is Murder
Author: Aimee Nicole Walker


“Then shall you know the wounds invisible that love’s keen arrows make.”

—William Shakespeare, As You Like It



“I hate to interrupt a master at work…” Sawyer said hesitantly.

Royce responded with a grunt. “Almost there. Just trying to fit it in the hole. It requires finesse, not brute strength, you know.” Another grunt echoed from behind the dryer and a savage curse quickly followed.

Sawyer bit back a chuckle as he stared down at the superb, jean-clad ass sticking up in the air. Royce had somehow managed to wedge himself under the laundry room sink to reach the back of the dryer. “You don’t say,” Sawyer remarked casually.

He glanced over at Bones, who sat on top of the washing machine looking mighty pissed Royce had moved his litter box from its usual spot to reattach the dryer hose to the exterior vent. The metal ring securing it had broken at some point, which Royce had discovered when he’d attempted to clean the vent with the new shop vac he’d purchased that morning on his weekly hardware store run. They had a Saturday morning routine that started with rambunctious sex, followed by a hearty breakfast, and ended with Royce finding some excuse to visit Sal’s while Sawyer worked on newspaper puzzles and listened to audiobooks.

Royce’s most recent mission was to assemble a tool kit for when Dru and the boys moved into their new place the following weekend. He’d come home from Sal’s flushed with excitement because he’d put together a kickass toolbox and found a high-powered shop vac to rival all others. Royce enthusiastically extolled all the vacuum’s features and boasted it had the strongest suction power on the market. He’d unboxed the shop vac like a little kid on Christmas morning. Sawyer had found it quite endearing until Royce had gazed at the chrome and red machine like it was the most beautiful thing in the world. He’d felt a momentary pang of jealousy until he recalled where he’d been in his audiobook before Royce had come bounding through the door with his new toy.

Royce had kissed him passionately before wheeling the assembled beast into the garage to test it out. Moments later, the loud whirring sound of the machine came through the door. Bones had darted for safety while Sawyer pushed Play to resume his book and returned his attention to his crossword puzzle.

Sawyer smiled when he’d read the next clue. The absence of matter. “Six letters. Gee, I wonder what it could be.” He filled in the boxes with vacuum and moved on to the next clue.

“When was the last time you cleaned out the dryer vent?” Royce had asked Sawyer after he’d cleaned both vehicles.

Sawyer rolled his eyes toward the ceiling as if he were thinking hard about the answer.

Royce had laughed, seeing through Sawyer’s antics, and said, “Doesn’t matter. I’ll take care of it now.”

“We’re supposed to meet my mom for lunch at the Hummingbird Café in an hour,” Sawyer had reminded him.

“No problem.”

Famous last words.

Noting the time constraint, Sawyer decided to assist Royce with the project, even though he could think of more exciting ways to burn off excess energy. Royce’s mission started smoothly enough. He’d removed the exterior vent cover, the wire mesh guard, and stuck his vacuum hose inside the hole.

“Lint build-up is a huge fire hazard,” Royce had said. But to his dismay, Sawyer’s negligence hadn’t resulted in their near death. His efforts didn’t garner nearly enough lint to satisfy him, so they’d moved the project into the laundry room where Royce had discovered the vent hose had come loose. Dryer lint coated the wall behind the machine. “Whew, that was a close call,” Royce said. “There’s no telling how long it’s been like this.”

Forty minutes later, after much grunting and swearing, Royce was no closer to being ready for lunch.

“Aha! Nailed it.”

“I’ll call a press conference,” Sawyer said dryly.

Warm laughter filled the small room. “Someone sounds a little jealous of my new toy.”

Sawyer snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Your mouth will always be my favorite thing that sucks,” Royce said, then reached behind him. “Hand me the zip tie, please.”

Sawyer gave him the plastic strip and continued staring at Royce’s ass while he worked.

“There,” Royce said a few seconds later. “That will hold until I can buy a new ring.” When he stood up, the front of his shirt was covered in dust and dryer lint. “Pretty sure I’ve found the only place in this entire house you haven’t cleaned within an inch of its life.”

Sawyer hooked his finger in Royce’s belt loop and pulled him close. “I’ll correct the oversight going forward. Thanks for saving my life.”

“I’ll collect my reward when we get back,” Royce said, pecking a quick kiss on Sawyer’s lips.

Sawyer didn’t go anywhere near the bedroom while Royce got ready so they wouldn’t end up late. No one kept Evangeline O’Neal waiting.

“Is the Hummingbird Café that new restaurant that opened around Valentine’s Day?” Royce asked once they were in the SUV and backing down the driveway.

“That was the weekend of the soft launch for friends, family, and investors to sample the menu and celebrate before the public grand opening,” Sawyer said. “My mom and dad fall into the latter category and can’t stop singing the café’s praises.”

They arrived at the restaurant with a few minutes to spare, but Sawyer spotted his mom’s car in the lot already. The exterior of the building was red brick and glass with a classic black sign above the doorway. The big picture windows overlooking the sidewalk had a colorful garden etched in the glass. Flowers, butterflies, and hummingbirds adorned the bottom of the frame, trellises with blooming vines took up the sides, and a canopy of blossoms cascaded over the top.

Once inside, Sawyer scanned the crowded café but didn’t see Evangeline. Perhaps they had additional seating elsewhere. A Black woman with short, curly hair, amber eyes, and an engaging smile stepped up to the hostess station. She wore a pink polo shirt with the café’s logo and the name Rita embroidered on the front, dark jeans, and floral Chucks.

“Welcome to the Hummingbird Café,” she said cheerfully. “Will it just be the two of you?”

“No, we’re meeting my mother,” Sawyer said, “but I don’t see her.”

“Evangeline?” Rita asked.

Sawyer smiled. “The one and only.”

“We set her up in the garden out back. Follow me.”

Sawyer admired the farmhouse-chic décor as they walked through the café. The aromas emanating from the kitchen made his stomach growl. He glanced over at Royce and caught him sniffing the air appreciatively.

“Is this your first visit with us?” Rita asked.

“It is,” Royce replied, “but it won’t be the last if the food tastes half as good as it smells.”

Rita looked over her shoulder and said, “I promise the food tastes even better.” She pushed open the door to the garden area before Royce could respond to her bold claim, and all their attention diverted to the splendor around them.

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