Ronnie decide it was best to ignore Sophie's suggestion for as long as he could, so he moved toward the cat and scratched her behind the ear muttering to her, “How ya doing there, Buddy-boy?”
“She's a girl...Calendula,” Sophie said.
“Gesundheit,” Ronnie said, smirking up at her.
Sophie laughed. “I suppose I should feed her,” she said.
“Why? She's happy now,” he said, stroking her chin in just the right spot—you could tell because she started a very loud purring—the cat, that is, not Sophie. Although Sophie did feel a bit jealous just the same because the stupid cat was getting more attention from him than she was.
“Okay, then...what should we do now?” she said, sitting beside him.
“Until they finish with the tree...or run off to Vegas... um...” Ronnie looked around and grabbed the remote for the TV and started the Frozen movie where they had left off before his Grandmother dragged his brothers and sister away.
“We're seriously gonna watch a kids movie?” she said.
“How else ya gonna learn all the Disney Princesses?” he asked and he proceeded in telling her about the princess sisters Elsa and Anna and the names of the sundry other characters.
Although she could not possibly have cared a rat's flying tail, she listened raptly to the sound of his voice and could easily imagine him talking like this--soft and low-- to her after a night of splendid, mind-blowing sex...intimately sharing secrets. Oh, the things she would do with him!
“What?” he said suddenly.
“Huh?” she said, shaken out of her fantasy.
“You looked....funny...for a minute,” he said. “You all right? Am I boring you?”
“Um...okay...I mean, No! Not at all,” she said. “Can I ask you something?”
He braced himself and begged God for no more virgin talk. A guy could only take so much of that in one day without cracking. He cleared his throat and turned back to the movie. “Only if it's about Hans cuz he's next. He's my favorite...not cuz he's nice or anything. He is at first, but he's interesting...turns out he's as duplicitous as they come and...”
“There you go again with your fifty dollar words. You keep that up and you're gonna prove too smart for me, plus you're gonna run out of money,” she said, giggling. “Ronnie, can you tell me about your friends?”
“My...friends? What about them?” he said.
“The ones from the band last night. Can you tell me something about them?” she said smiling sweetly at him.
“Uh...like what?” he said. “I already introduced you to them. Didn't you remember their names?”
“Oh, sure but...like...do they have girlfriends? You know...like...jealous ones?”
He made a weird face at her. “Aren't all girlfriends jealous by nature?”
She giggled again and grabbed his hand, intertwining her fingers with his. “Most maybe. I mean, would one of them like me...do ya think?”
“They all liked you. They told you so,” he said, suddenly feeling nervous and not at all liking where this conversation might be going. “What are you thinking, Sophie?”
She shrugged and turned to the movie. “Is that Hans?” she asked pointing to the TV. “The goofy looking guy talking to the moose?”
“Caribou, reindeer actually, and no, that's Kristoff,” he said, watching her suspiciously. “I hope you're not thinking what I think you're thinking.”
“That if we don't leave soon to go shopping that we won't have enough time to get back and get dressed for the Christmas concert?” she said.
“What? We need to get dressed up for the concert?” he said.
“Well, not you since you already look nice but I'm not going in the same thing I wear to go shopping,” she said.
“No, suppose not,” he said looking at her tight jeans and scoop-necked t-shirt which showed the tiniest bit of lace barely covering enticing flesh underneath.
She caught him looking at her chest and smiled. “Like what you see?”
“What? No, I mean...stop that!” he said.
She laughed and raised his hand so that the back of it touched her soft skin. “It's okay. I'm offering these and much more so...”
He yanked his hand back as if it got burned. “Dammit, Sophie, stop that!” he said angrily.
“Oh, lighten up,” she said, carelessly. “It's just a joke. Thought you had a sense of humor. Some brother you're gonna be...all serious and stuff. I expect that from Simon, not from you.”
“You better expect it from both of us,” Ronnie snapped. “I'm serious, Sophie. This is a bad idea you got going around your head.”
She sighed and turned to another tactic. “What were you doing upstairs?”
“Huh? You mean in your room when we were talking?”
“No, after I came down here. I heard... thumping,” she said, looking at the sudden panicked expression on his face. He was a horrible liar.
“Uh...I just...” he said as he searched his brain for something close to the truth, but not quite. “ I bumped into the wall and knocked down a picture frame. It didn't break though! I just put it back up.”
“Which one?” she said.
“You and your brother and father back from a fishing trip. Don't know what kinda fish they were but there were two of them at your feet, big ones too,” he said.
She stared at him in surprise. Had he not been lying? "Rainbow trout. That was taken at Somerset Hill. We used to love it there,” she said sadly. “Picnics and horseback riding and fishing...kite flying too and star gazing.”
Ronnie frowned, remembering something his father told him. “My dad bought that place. It's right across from Profess...I mean... Grampa's house.”
“Somerset Hill. My dad told me Morris Kramer sold it to him with the stipulation that he gets to stay there until he dies, but I guess that would mean until my gramma dies since it'll be hers, too. God, I hate to think of them dying some day.”
“You're crazy. Nobody owns Somerset Hill,” she said, unaccountably angry.
“'Course they do. It belonged to the Kramer family for centuries or something and now he sold it to my dad, cuz he said he would never sell it to a builder or anything like that. My dad wants to build a house there, just one for him,” Ronnie said, oblivious to her negative reaction to this bit of news. “A bunch of us used to go up there to party in the summertime. Great place to build a campfire and just...”
“Does my mother know about this?” Sophie asked, her tone harsh.
Ronnie stared at her. “Uh...dunno. Probably. My dad tells her everything since all his plans include her,” he said. “Why?”
Seething inside, Sophie stared into space, her mind whirling. “He wouldn't sell to my dad, but he did to yours?” she muttered, more to herself. “The son of a bitch!”
“Hey, what's wrong?” Ronnie asked.
She clamped her lips shut. Just another reason to dislike Victor Romanoff, that's all, and she wasn't too keen on Morris Kramer now, either.
Richard placed a ghostly hand on her shoulder and whispered, “Don't blame them, Darlin'. I didn't have the money and if I had I probably would have sold it all for millions to an evil developer and that would have ruined it for your mother, for all of us. It's a good thing I didn't get it. I couldn't be trusted.”
She shook her head.
“No use denying it,” Richard said. “Your friend's father actually saved Somerset Hill for all time...and one day...it will be all yours so it works out...in the end. Don't fight this, Sweetheart. Let it happen, okay?”
Ronnie watched her with growing concern. “Sophie, what's wrong?” he asked softly.
She turned to him and tried to focus, but somehow couldn't. “What?”
“Why are you crying?”
She blinked and sure enough a few tears rolled down her cheek. “Am I?”
“Ah, Sophie...It's your dad, isn't it?” Ronnie said, reaching out to brush a thumb at her wet cheek.
“You're thinking about him and you still miss him. Can't blame you. I'd be the same if..." Ronnie frowned suddenly. "Sophie, what do you think your dad would say if he knew what you were planning on doing?”
“What we talked about before...up in your room? Sex with some random stranger,” he said in a near whisper, because he knew Simon could burst in on them at any moment.
“Not a random stranger, Ronnie. I asked you to do me this small favor, but what about it?” she said wiping at her face and sniffing.
“Small favor?" he said shaking his head at the absurdity. "Do you think your dad would be okay with you acting like a...like a trollop?”
“A what? Trollop did you say?” she said, stunned.
“It's what Gramma calls girls who want sex all the time and get themselves in trouble because of it,” he said, with an apologetic look on his face.
“That would be a nymphomaniac and I don't think I qualify as one since I have not had any yet!”
“Yeah, but it's what you think will protect you from getting attacked again, but it won't,” Ronnie said urgently. “Sophie, please think for a minute. Would your father be happy if he knew you were gonna go get just any guy to have sex with, some dude who doesn't give a crap about you?”
“No, he wouldn't, but he's not here, is he? He's dead and can't voice an opinion anymore!”
“Dead, yeah, but he still cares what happens to you and he wouldn't want you to ruin yourself for just... Sophie, wait until you fall in love. It'll be so much better for you.”
She stared at him. “How do you know? Have you been in love?”
“Uh...” he said, again looking for a way not to lie but still not tell the absolute truth. “Once... yeah, but she...uh... didn't know I existed.”
“Impossible,” she said.
He stared at her in surprise. “Why you say that?”
She shrugged and counted on her fingers just as he had done earlier. “Number one you're gorgeous, number two, you're sexy as hell, number three, you're really nice, funny, sweet and amazing. I guess that's more than three, huh?”
He gaped at her.
“So, you had sex with girls you weren't in love with?” Sophie said, after seeing he wasn't able or willing to reply.
He gulped and looked down then nodded.
“And you think what's good for the goose isn't good enough for me?”
“What's a goose got to do with this?” Ronnie said, baffled. “Oh...goose, gander...now I get it. It's just...”
“Who were you in love with?” she asked before she could stop herself.
He bit his tongue, only way to keep himself from blurting it out. “Nobody you know,” he mumbled, looking away from her hypnotizing blue eyes. “I just know it would have been so much better with her...given the chance.”
“So...sex wasn't good with those other girls? Is that what you're trying to make me believe?”
“I won't lie to you. It was good, but not great. I didn't even like them, which just made me hate them afterward and then I hated myself for using them like that.”
“I'm sure they're not beating themselves up about it. You didn't force yourself on them. I'm sure they were quite willing and remember it fondly with no regrets. If they had half a brain they probably loved you if only for the moment...the time you spent with them anyway,” she said, equally jealous and angry at herself for feeling that way.
“That just makes it worse,” he muttered, pushing his hair out of his eyes.
“How many girls have you had?” she asked, and she really should have kicked herself for asking something which would only case her grief.
“None of your business,” he said, abruptly standing up.
“Ronnie,” she said, standing up too.
“What now?” he snapped.
She moved closer, close enough to place her hand over his heart and feel the heat coming off his body. She stared into his face and whispered, “We could be so good together...given the chance.”
He felt invisible strings pulling him in, but he resisted using all his strength and he stepped back. “Yeah, I know. That's the problem.”
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