Page 35

I close the cabinet door and turn toward the fridge. We stopped for some groceries on the walk home, and I grab two beers now. I don’t care what time it is, it’s five o’clock somewhere.

“Jeff might take a little longer to calm down, but the great thing about family is they have to forgive me.” I hand Calvin a beer. “I think we both need this.”

We crack them open and head back to the task in the living room. Calvin takes a seat at my side on the couch, stretching his legs out on the table in front of him.

He’s not wearing any shoes, and has these screaming purple argyle socks that I immediately adore. Purple socks, happy trail, electrocution hair. I have this dream man in my apartment, and he is distracting as hell.

I can’t wait to see how tonight’s sex dream plays out.

I reach for my laptop and wake it up with a swipe of my finger across the trackpad. It’s been ages since I’ve looked at this thing, let alone turned it on. The expensive novel-writing software sits in the toolbar with a little book icon reminding me how much I suck.

Ignoring it as usual, I open my email instead. “Jeff’s note said there are forms for each of us. Did you get a link?”

Calvin takes a sip of his beer and sits back to click through to his account. “Form I-485. Check.”

“I’m I-130,” I say. “He has a note that we can file these two concurrently, and fill out the rest of the package for him to send off once we get the initial approval. There’s also another list of things we need to make copies of, and a to-do list.”

Calvin looks over at me and I try to ignore the way the lamp behind him makes the tips of his eyelashes glow. I like seeing him on my couch. I like knowing what color his socks are, and what his sleepy face looks like before he’s had his tea.

He scratches his chin. “A to-do list?”

“You’ll need a medical exam. And until you’re officially on the books, I need to provide pay stubs to show I can support us both.” I let out a hearty guffaw. “Which means Brian will need to give me a raise. If you think he was great today you should hang around for that conversation. It’s going to be a doozy.” I tap my pencil to my lips, reading. “And we’ll need documents that prove our marriage is bona fide. His suggestions are a shared lease—easy enough—joint club memberships . . .” I look over at him. “Do you go to the gym?”

An amused curve shapes his lips and he folds his arms across his chest in that way all guys do when they want to emphasize the guns. “I do. I can add you to my membership, unless you have one of your own and want to add me?”

“Just go ahead and add me to yours,” I say quickly, as if I don’t routinely have a king-size Snickers for lunch and view treadmills as a mindless way to run and never actually get anywhere. “He suggests we have emails and texts between us, so I guess we should do that?”

“Texts like ‘Can you pick up a gallon of milk?’—or like . . . personal?”

I absolutely can’t look at him right now. I fix my gaze on the far wall. “We want to be convincing . . . so a mix of both?”

He pulls out his ChapStick, drawing my attention back to his mouth. He’s only about two feet away from me. I’ve never had the chance to look at his hands close up before. His nails are trimmed—thank God—his fingers long, but not delicate. He’s wearing my ring.

“To be clear,” he says slowly, recapping the lip balm, “so they don’t arrive and scare the hell out of you, we’re talking about I can’t wait to get your kit off kind of personal?”

My heart stands up, waves the white flag.

“Uhhh . . . yeah, I think so.” I immediately return to the safety of my bullet-point list while he picks up his phone, typing something. “What else . . . ? Letters or cards congratulating us on our marriage, bills in both our names like utilities, credit cards, that sort of thing.”

My phone buzzes with a text from Calvin. Are you coming home before work?

I type in casually, I’ll be home in about 30.

He replies, Good. I want to taste you again before you leave.

I choke, sliding my phone back down on the coffee table. “That’s—good job. I . . . approve.”

Honestly . . . how often has he done this?

He laughs, his face a little pink. “I feel sort of bad making you go to all this trouble.”

I wave off his concern. “It won’t be bad. Some sexting, a couple more copies, a couple yes-or-no questionnaires. Honestly, how hard can it be?”

Shoot me in the face.

Have you ever tried to do your own tax returns? Immigration paperwork is a lot like that, but with less math and far more opportunities for perjury.

My form was easy enough to fill out—names, addresses, and former employers. But Calvin’s are so in-depth that even when we split them it takes over an hour to get through the first two.

I look up at him from the other side of the coffee table. I’m on my second beer of the afternoon and my pencil is lost somewhere in my hair. “Can you list past and present memberships or affiliations with every organization, fund, foundation, party, club, society, or group you’ve been a part of since the age of sixteen, along with the location, nature, and dates of said affiliation?”

He stares blankly, exhausted. “I don’t even know the name of the band I was in last year, let alone from when I was sixteen.”

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