Title: The Marriage List
Author: Jean C. Joachim
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Can happily ever after start with a list?
After ten years of working, saving and investing, Grey Andrews finally achieved a level of wealth that allows him to do what he wants with his life. He needs a woman to share it with, but not any woman, the perfect woman, one who possesses the three essential qualities on his marriage list. After three years of searching, he isn’t any closer to finding her than he was when he started out.
Carrie Tucker, an aspiring mystery writer and divorcée struggling to make it in the world of advertising, turned her focus from men to her career after dating too many creeps and losers. She’s finally earned her big break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the first female creative director in a hot New York ad agency. So what if it means working nights and weekends? It’s not like she has a social life anyway.
Is Grey’s marriage list a failure or will it prove to be the key to his happiness after all?
The next night he went out to dinner with his sister, Jenna. She was two years younger than Grey and engaged to be married. Jenna taught middle school. The objective of her trip to New York City was to buy a wedding dress as well as to break bread with her favorite brother. Grey took Jenna to a nice French restaurant. After a good day in the stock market, he wanted to treat his baby sister to a superb dinner. Grey ordered a martini while Jenna had Chardonnay. She looked around at the chocolate brown walls with cream trim, the cream tablecloths and pink and white dishes and sipped her wine.
“How are you feeling about…uh…getting married?” He asked her.
“Great! Bill is everything I’ve always wanted in a man,” Jenna cooed.
“Is he a good listener?” Grey said, opening the menu.
“A good provider?”
“He makes a good salary as corporate counsel for the bank.” Jenna glanced at the list of specials on a separate sheet.
“And…in the sack…?” Grey asked, turning his gaze from her face back to the menu as he was embarrassing himself.
“Grey! That’s none of your business…what we do in private. Honestly!”
“I know, but are you…ah, compatible?” Grey lifted the menu higher to hide his blush.
“What do you mean?” She put hers down and stared at her brother.
“You know what I mean, Jenna. Stop playing with me,” Grey insisted, dropping the menu.
“If you would stop asking such a personal question…”
“Compatible…like you both want it the same all the time, uh, most of the time.”
“Grey! I can’t believe you asked me that.” Jenna looked to the left and right to see if anyone at a neighboring table overheard him and was staring at her. She was relieved to find the other patrons were absorbed in their own conversations, not paying attention to her discomfort.
“Are you?” He toyed with his napkin, enjoying having his sister on the spot.
“I’m not going to answer. Why are you asking me these personal questions? It’s not like you,” Jenna said, color rising in her cheeks.
“We had a ‘Four Horsemen’ meeting two nights ago.”
“You still keep in touch with those guys?”
“Sure, they’re my best friends.”
The waitress appeared and they ordered dinner. Grey picked a wine to go with the meal and gave the waitress the once over. Jenna shot him a dirty look and he smiled back sheepishly.
“And? Your dinner with the Horsemen?” She prodded, picking up her water glass and taking a drink.
“They were talking about their wives…complaining actually, each about different things and I’ve been thinking. I wouldn’t want to trade places with any of them. I used to think they had it all…great jobs, great women,” he cleared his throat, “now I’m not so sure.”
“You don’t want to fall into the same trap?”
“Each one had a separate complaint, a completely different thing bugging him about his wife. Three big things.” Grey looked down at his hands.
“One of them was s-e-x?” Jenna raised an eyebrow.
“Spence,” He added with a wry smile, “Not getting enough. I wouldn’t want to have to beg my wife to sleep with me.” Grey picked up his water glass, drinking while he watched his sister.
The waitress returned with the wine, popped the cork and filled their glasses. Jenna waited until the waitress was out of earshot before continuing the sensitive conversation.
“That’s why you’re asking me all these personal questions?” Her face lit up with understanding.
“I need to know if it’s standard…after you’re together for a while…begging?”
“Did Bobby and Will complain about that?”
Grey shook his head.
“So then it’s not like that with everyone.” Jenna took a sip of her wine and smiled her approval.
“Translation, you and Bill are sexually compatible. You don’t make him beg?”
“Only if he’s been a bad boy,” she laughed.
“Jenna! Get serious.” He coughed, choking on his water for a second.
“How can I? This is ridiculous. Do you even have someone you’re considering marrying?”