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Ariel drummed her fingers on the table and waited for Erik to say something. Anything. Her legs bounced under the dining room table. Always an odd sensation for someone who spent the first sixteen years of her life without lower appendages.
Erik looked up and her heart constricted. "I don't think it's a good idea," he said.
Ariel blinked. "Why not?"
Erik took a bite of his tofu burger and grimaced. Jerk. She hadn't allowed meat in the house since they got married, and she swore part of him hated her for it.
"Honey," he said,"an electric car isn't practical. They're aren't enough places to charge it downtown. And it's a lot of money."
A lot of money? He was the one that wanted to move into this huge house, instead of the small bungalow she had wanted to buy. Erik was the one that kept wanting to take vacations, though they hadn't been to the coast to see her family since last Christmas. Erik's suits costs hundreds each. Ariel looked down at her long skirt. Something she had picked up at Goodwill, because it was better to buy used and not exploit resources.
But Erik wanted to complain about money. Right.
"We can afford it," she told him. "And if you charge it at night, you don't have to worry about charging it while you're at work."
Erik took another bite of his burger and washed it down with three long gulps of water. "Here." He reached over to the stack of mail perched beside him and picked up a brochure. "I've been looking at these diesel engine sedans. I think they make more sense."
Ariel's stomach tightened, and despite the fact that she'd been half starved when she came home from work, she now had no appetite at all. None. Not even the organic kelp salad enticed her. Diesel?
"This car gets good gas mileage, babe." Erik tossed the brochure across the table to her. "Forty-two miles per gallon, and it's American made. Good for the economy and the environment."
She wanted to take the brochure and beat him with it. "Diesel?" she asked him. Images of oil spills and seagulls coated in black goo filled her mind.
"It's not as bad as you think, hon."
She clenched her jaw and stormed into the kitchen. Footsteps sounded behind her, but she didn't turn around. Instead she slammed her plate on top of the tower of dishes in the sink. No dishwasher, because it wasted too much water. The counter was filthy, too. Didn't Erik said he would clean up last night?
Her eyes landed on the coffeemaker cord, still plugged into the outlet. She yanked it out and turned to Erik. "You're supposed to unplug it when you're done!"
"I'm sorry. Geez." Erik loosened the knot in his tie and ran a finger through his hair, sending the black strands askew. He put his hands on his hips and scowled at her.
Something dark and heavy pressed on her heart. Who was this man? Where was the man with shining eyes and enough courage and valor to fill an ocean? Where was the man who used to do anything for her?
Panic slammed into her and she turned toward the sink. They were so different. She ate quinoa and spinach, and Erik still salivated every time they drove by a Red Lobster. He spent his day dressed in business suits, having conference calls and sales updates. She was a hippy who ran her own health store.
She was a woman who yelled at the man she loved over a toaster cord. How did he even put up with her? A wave of horrible fear slammed through her and she covered her face with her hands so Erik wouldn't see.
Strong arms came up behind her, wrapping around her stomach and drawing her back to him. "Hey," he said. "I didn't mean to make you upset."
She shook her head, hating the tears that rolled down her face.
Erik nuzzled her ear. "I need to tell you something." He paused, and when she didn't comment, continued. "We can't spend a lot of money on a new car, because I spent a lot of what we had in savings on something."
Ariel spun and faced him. "What?" The nasty tone was back in her voice, but she didn't care.
Erik tucked a stray piece of red hair behind her ear. "You know that little house near the beach? The one close to your dad's that you've always loved?"
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Yes."
Erik smiled. "How would you feel about owning it?"
The thought wouldn't process.
Erik bent his forehead to touch hers. "I put down a down payment yesterday."
Ariel sagged in his arms. Let him have his diesel car. Let him open up his own shrimp boat business for all she cared. She'd give up anything for this man.