My rage is blinding.

I place a hand over my bare chest and breathe deep, willing myself to calm down before I do something I might regret…like wring her little neck until her head pops off.

I've never wanted to physically hurt Casey before. She's annoying as shit and her superiority complex is on another level entirely, but this…this is taking things too far. This means war.

My room.

My sanctuary.

The only place I can get away from little miss perfect and drown out the sounds of her soft humming and the smell of her strawberry scent shampoo.

And now…now her bedspread is draped over my own blankets, covering them in that intoxicating smell that I've always ran from.

Not to mention, her stupid ass posters are now covering the boobs on my wall.

I'm going to kill her. She's so fucking dead.

I've banged on the bathroom door twice now, screaming her name. Back in high school, I use to do the same thing whenever she'd lock the door and I couldn't barge right in while she was taking a shower. I only did it to get under her skin. It's not like I was actually trying to see anything. I'm a pig, but even I know where to draw the line…most of the time.

I can finally hear the water shut off, and I wait patiently for her to answer, which isn't easy considering I'm two seconds away from kicking the fucking door in.

I take a loud breath through my nose and breathe out dramatically. I know I'm being ridiculous, but she did the one thing that could break me, and we haven't even been married a full twenty-four hours yet.

Just then, the door slowly opens, and I can't keep the fire from my eyes. She's standing before me, soak and wet, clutching the towel wrapped around her body tightly. If I wasn't so angry, I would have appreciated the sight on water droplets cascading down her smooth skin much more than I currently am.

"What are ya doin'?" I ask, doing my best to keep my voice even.

I want to shout at her. I want to hurl insult after insult at her, but I know that is exactly what she wants me to do. She took over my bedroom so that I'd scream at her and put an end to our marriage. When our parent's first got together, she wasn't this conniving and manipulative.

I did this.

This was all my fucking fault. I taught her to play with fire to keep from getting burned herself. I gave her no choice but to fight back against my constant assaults.

She learned quickly how to survive life with me, and now, I'm paying the ultimate price.

Instead of the angry annoyance that I've grown accustomed to over the years, I'm momentarily taken aback by the sweet smile that slowly lifts the corner of her mouth.

"Taking a shower before I was rudely interrupted. What are you doing?"

I open my mouth to respond, but quickly shut it once more. I laugh softly, groaning in the process. I place my hands on my hips, turning around to try once again at composing myself before facing her a second time.

"I mean," I begin, cursing the sudden high pitch in my voice. "What is your shit doing in my room."

"Ohhhhhh. That." Casey responds, nodding lighting, and then says no more. Still, a lovely smile continues to rest on her face, and I want to reach out and bitch slap it off. No…no I would never actually do that. But you can't blame me for having those thoughts in this particular moment. If you could see the smug look she was giving me right now, you wouldn't blame me one bit.

"Yes…THAT!"

She shrugs lightly before picking at the wooden door with her fingernail. "I was only giving you what you wanted."

What did she just say? My eyes go wide and I shake my head in bewilderment. "What I wanted?!"

"Yes…Der," she responds in a condescending tone. "You said that we should spend more time together, so that's exactly what I'm giving you. Time…with me."

"No, no, no…" I say, raking a hand over my stubbled jaw before forcing out a bewildered smile of my own. I'm speaking slower now so that she'll comprehend what in the hell I'm saying to her. "When I suggested we spend time together, I meant between the hours of 9am to 9pm."

"I didn't realize married life had office hours," she chimes in quickly, her smile swiftly vanishing.

"That's all damn day!" I burst out, biting down on my tongue to keep from yelling once more.

Be nice clause. Be nice clause.

"Mmmmmm," I ground out, bending my neck side to side until I hear it crack several times. With one final breath, I talk so softly that it's barely above a whisper. "What I mean…is that I would love to spend time with you while I am awake. But there is no reason we should sleep in the same bed together. I can't give you my full attention while I'm sleeping. Do you understand what…I…am…saying? It's pointless."

"I understand you perfectly," she says, opening the door completely and emerging from the bathroom without giving me a solid answer. She immediately turns left, brushing past, her wet body lighting grazing my bare chest. I catch my breath at the contact, but the feeling doesn't last long.

Casey begins storming down the long hallway, leaving me to trail behind her.

"Casey!" I start, realizing that she's headed straight for my room. The girl has completely lost her mind.

Whirling around with one hand still clutching her towel and the other on my door, she turns to me, that familiar fire blazing in her blue eyes that I've come to know, anticipate, and recognize so easily over the years.

"For the next two weeks, I am your wife, whether you like it or not. And since you seem determined to keep this farce going, then I expect you to treat me with the same respect and dignity that George treats my Mom. Are…we…clear?"

"But…"

"And that includes helping me with dinner, doing a load of laundry once in a while, taking me out on dates, and maybe even a back rub or two…"

"But…"

"And for the remainder of this 'marriage,' I will be sleeping in your bed and treating our room like it's mine, just as much as it is yours. Are we clear?"

Before I get a chance to respond, the door slams in my face, and I can't do anything but stare back at it, my mouth hanging open in disbelief.

What in the fuck just happened?


"More coffee…Dear?"

"I'd love some…Honey."

Our little fight happened an hour ago.

I'm not sure what had gotten into me, demanding Derek be the perfect husband. But here we are on a Sunday morning, having breakfast at a local diner, and being completely civil to one another despite the choking sounds we made at calling one another 'dear' and 'honey.'

After Derek got out of the shower, he grabbed his car keys and quietly asked if I wanted to go out for breakfast. I was still seething mad, but there wasn't any sarcastic tone in his question, so I had reluctantly agreed to go.

I watch as Derek pours me another cup of the black liquid before pouring more for himself, in turn. Once he sits the thermal carafe back down, he even surprises me by pushing the small bowl of creamer towards me with two fingers before taking a sip of his own coffee, black.

I open a creamer packet, dumping it into the steaming liquid.

Maybe if I had put my foot down years ago, we could have saved each other from the battle scars burned on our insides.

I cut into my waffle and take another bite, chewing slowly while looking everywhere, but at Derek. Even out of the corner of my eye, I can see him focused on his own plate, clearly feeling just as awkward as I do.

He clears his throat, drawing my attention and I reluctantly turn back to look at him. His eyes are still glued his plate, however. "I was thinking…you want to go see a movie this afternoon?"

A movie? Really?

We've never been to a movie alone before. With Sam and Emily, sure. But never alone.

It was almost like he was asking me out on a –

"Sure," I respond, trying to keep my voice as light as possible. He nods in response before taking another bite.

Just then, his cell phone begins to buzz, vibrating across the table of our booth. He quickly grabs it without missing a beat, flipping it open. I can see the muscles in his jaw working as he reads the text, but he doesn't respond.

Instead, he shuts his phone down completely, putting it into the pocket of his leather jacket.

I furrow my brow a bit and take another bite before chewing slowly. "Who was that?" I ask, surprising myself that I would dare ask. Usually, he would tell me to mind my own business.

Derek's brown eyes finally rise to meet mind from underneath his bangs that are in badly need of a trim. "No one," he responds casually.

"So, no one texted you?" I smile, trying to keep it light-hearted. I'd hate to sound as curious as I feel.

"As of yesterday, they became no one," he says with a wink, his signature smirk lifting the corner of his mouth. And at that, I can tell that the subject has been dropped.

A girl.

I should have known it was a girl. If it had been Sam, or one of the guys on the hockey team, he would probably be texting away right now. I can't help but feel surprised that Derek is actually keeping his word in regard to "no dating while married."

I honestly expected him to go behind my back on that one.

After all, you can't expect a leopard to change their spots overnight.

Grabbing for my coffee cup once more, I hold it between both of my palms, allowing the warmth to wash over me. I take a sip while gazing at the guy in front of me.

Maybe there was more to Derek Venturi than meets the eye, after all.