Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Having Megan show up the night before wasn’t at all what I would call convenient. In fact, it was down right terrifying. She was great; friendly and totally open to hinting at what we maybe should be doing. I didn’t have much experience with social workers but I was glad she was ours, and that she wasn’t some hard ass who was out to get us for having a dusty coffee table or something!
The past month had been a hectic ride, one shock after another, one obstacle after another, but I was coping as best I could. I still didn’t understand it. I couldn’t- and maybe I never would understand why my best friend and his sweet wife, two people who loved each other so fucking much that it was almost nauseating to be around them, could just be wiped off the earth in a matter of minutes. I didn’t get it, and I was angry as hell at whatever God, or deity, had decided it was okay to take them away from everyone they loved.
But taking responsibility was one thing I was good at. I might huff and puff about it for a while but in the end, I’d always step up and do the right thing. It was something Alcide always use to say about me, that I could be a cold hearted bastard when I wanted to be, but he knew me better than that, and the act wasn’t fooling him. He knew I was a good guy.
Of course I laughed at him, called him a fruity motherfucker and drank my beer, but he had been kind of right. And maybe that was part of the reason he left my name to take care of his kid, because he knew I wouldn’t back out on her, even if I wanted to.
I loaded the baby into the car complete with the soggy cookie she was chewing on, her sucky thing and a new bottle in my man bag full of her things while we waited for Sookie.
I knew she’d wake up with a hangover. Wine was a bitch the morning after, as many of my customers had told me in the past. Drunk Sookie was an experience. It also made me realise she was very good at keeping things bottled up inside her and, with a little social lubricant, they just came pouring out.
She rushed out the back door, giant purse in hand. She was dressed in her uniform of denim shorts and a long fitted tank top, her hair she’d stuck in a messy bun and her giant shades covering her eyes. She got to the end of the driveway before one of the neighbours popped up out of nowhere. I think her name was Maxine. She had a boy around Jessica’s age. It seemed they made small talk for a few minutes before Sookie smiled and waved, while hopping into the car.
“Sorry, I couldn’t find my phone. And that was Maxine.”
Ah, I was right.
“She was just saying hi, and that she meant to tell us she use to sit for Hadley and Alcide when they had to work late. She said Jessica and Hoyt got on well so if we ever needed her, just ask. It was sweet of her.”
“Yeah, that is nice of her. She was a little touchy feely when I met her.”
“Oh, is she the neighbour that grabbed your ass?” She sniggered. It wasn’t funny, it was weird! She was married! I just ignored her question.
“You good to go now?”
Everything was silent besides Jessica talking gibberish to herself and her teddy in the backseat.
“I’m sorry about last night, and this morning.” Sookie spoke finally.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“No, don’t just let me off okay? I screwed up and if it hadn’t have been for you, I could have really cost us points with that social worker showing up drunk. How could I even-”
“Sookie, look, you didn’t know she was coming. Neither of us did. And like I said, we have lives. She can’t expect those to stop. We’re doing our best and she seems okay with that.”
She nodded. She really did guilt herself a lot, it seemed.
“So were you telling the truth?” I asked taking a turn on the road.
“What you thought of me, and how I’m doing with the kid?”
She grinned, turning to face her window. “Sure.”
“Yeah, I mean it was true. She loves you, and it’s pretty clear you’re smitten with her, too.” She glanced into the backseat. She wasn’t wrong. Jessica was a pretty cute kid, terrifying at times, but lovable all the same.
“What about me? She likes me just fine, I guess.” She shrugged and looked out her window, avoiding me.
“You didn’t seem to think that last night. That was kind of weird, I have to admit.”
She looked sharply in my direction then, “Meaning what?”
“Nothing. It’s just you seemed to think the kid hates you. She doesn’t hate you – hell she’s one, she doesn’t know what hate IS.”
“Tell that to her vegetables.”
“What? Okay, fine, so she doesn’t hate me, but I mean I don’t get it. I’m a good person, and sometimes it’s like she freaks out on me… I don’t know what it is or how to fix it. You have it down. I don’t get that either. You’ve never even been around kids before and it’s like you have the golden touch!”
I didn’t say anything. Clearly, this was a sore spot for her and I didn’t want to add the aggravation of saying something stupidly sarcastic and pissing us both off.
We got to the Whole Foods and Sookie grabbed Jess, and her now crumb covered self and set her into one of the shopping carts. I liked this place. The food was good and the staff and customers where super friendly.
Well, when I say ‘friendly,’ I mean it was mostly single mothers, hot aunts and a few sisters that, for some reason, found Jessica and I …interesting. Who was I to say no to a little innocent flirtation? It was mainly the reason why I kept coming back here. I mean, I had no idea what a ‘household’ needed in terms of shopping. When I did my own shopping it was mostly condoms, a few micro wave meals for when I didn’t eat at the bar, or order take out, and water.
Apparently, Sookie had other ideas.
“Garlic, tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, lemons.” she listed off as we walk around the fresh produce isle.
Oh, so actual ingredients then? That made sense.
“I think we should get some steaks and freeze them for later in the week maybe? Some cuts of meat anyway. I like making big dinners. When it was just Gran and I, she’d still make a Sunday roast with all the trimmings even if it was just she and I there.” She smiled.
“It was. I wish Gran could have met Jessica.” she frowned, but then smiled “And you, I think, she would have liked you.”
“Yeah, Gran was funny. She was old but she wasn’t like all those other old ladies at all! She told me once she was a twenty-something trapped in a old woman’s body, not that she even looked that old. But her ideas on things weren’t as old fashioned as they could have been. That, and she was horribly honest about things.”
“Sounds like a cool woman.”
“She was, she was always worrying that I would spend so much time taking care of her that I’d forget to go get myself taken care of.”
I laughed then, “Was that your Grandmother’s way of saying you needed to get laid?”
“I have no idea. Maybe It was.” She giggled as she placed a whole chicken in the cart next to a big bag of stuffing and carrots.
As we walked around the store, more and more of the women recognised me. They waved, they smiled, they spoke to Jessica.
Sookie slipped her sun glasses on top of her head, looking at me expectantly.
“Oh, my GOD.”
“What?” I looked ahead. Even though it was clear where she was going with this.
“This is what you do isn’t it? You flirt in the grocery store!”
“No I … What?” Yeah, I was a shitty liar.
“Eric, these women, they all know you…” she looked confused as each aisle we passed, someone usually- well, always- a woman, would wave or smile and say hi.
“No, they don’t.” Just as my luck would have it, one of them was feeling chatty.
“Hi Eric. Heeeeey Jessica.” She smiled this big, huge smile. She had long brown hair and hazel eyes. Shit what was her name again?”
“Oh hey.” I added cheerfully as the mystery woman said hello to Sookie, though her tone was slightly icier than it had been when she addressed Jessica and I.
“Oh Sookie, this is…”
“Maryann, of course, forgive me. I’m horrible with names.”
“Sookie, this is Maryann.” Right. Third isle biscuits, that’s where I met her the other day.
“Back so soon? It’s amazing what kids go through isn’t it?” she chatted. Sookie nodded and smiled and was ever so polite.
“I met Eric here last week. He was just so confused.”
“Right, shopping for food, it’s just so darn hard.” Sookie sassed, but with a smile so it sounded not as sarcastically douche-y as I knew she meant it. Mary just smiled.
“Well, it was nice seeing you again, Eric.” she patted my shoulder as she walked by, causing Sookie to scoff.
“Sweet Jesus, you’re totally using Jessica as a pickup line!”
“I am not! Look, it’s not my fault women just LIKE HELPING a guy out, okay?”
“No, it’s true. First few times I was just minding my own business trying to figure out what size diapers Jess needed… After that…”
“It became the game plan?”
I smirked. Yeah, it totally had.
I shrugged. It might have worked. I might have a few more phone numbers in my phone I didn’t have before.
“Show me.” She grabbed a big bag of peanuts, throwing them into the cart. “Come on, show me.” She smiled. She was teasing me. “Show me the Northman charm that has these women fawning over you.”
“No.” I tried to bite back a smile.
“Chicken.” She rolled her eyes and walked ahead of me to the meat aisle. I let her walk on for a few seconds as she browsed through the shelves. I grabbed a packet of meat from the freezer and walked silently up beside her.
“Hey, how do you pronounce this?”
It was Carne Asada and I knew how to say it right, but that wasn’t the fun part. I leaned into her while she looked at it.
She shrugged “Car-nay-as-ah-dah-” she sounded out for me and I just leaned on in, violating her personal space like whoa.
“Oh, that’s interesting. I thought it was something else. That was really helpful, thanks.” I put my hand on her shoulder.
“Oh, no, I mean some of those products are kind of hard to say. There are a few that -” She realised I was still touching her and she was still letting me, and she was talking.
“Oh, oh, I get it. Very smooth. This is what you do?” She grinned “Just… playing dumb.”
“Little bit, but we both know better.” I winked.
“And this works for you?”
“Yeah! It’s that, or they see Jessica and like … their biological clock explodes, or something, I don’t know.”
She laughed and nudged me away from her, wiping Jessica’s face with a tissue as we made our way down to the next aisle.
“How’s the head now?” I asked, wondering if she’d gotten over her hangover any more.
“Little better. Ooh brownie mix. I think I’ll make some later. Do you like brownies?”
“Jessica do you like brownies? Do you want Brown-niees?” I heard her sound out. WE probably sounded like idiots, and judging by Jess’s reaction, we did. She just screwed up her face and went back to spitting bubbles and talking to herself, something about “fah las fa” – neither Sookie or I had any idea since she had yet to say an actual word anyone other than herself understood.
We rounded to the baked goods section and I was busy salivating over some doughnuts when I heard it.
Oh good, Sam was here.
“Sam! Hey! What a nice surprise.” There was that smile of hers again.
“Eric.” Sam nodded in my direction but went right back to looking at Sookie.
I didn’t acknowledge him. I told Sookie I’d take Jessica along to finish the shopping. Honestly, that was the last thing I wanted to stand in witness to.
Maxine was a sweet woman. Sure she kind of over-stepped the neighbourly bounds when she started asking questions, but she meant well. She was a stay-at-home mother, and I was guessing she didn’t have a whole lot of adult conversations during the day. Her little boy Hoyt was a sweetie, and I had hoped to mix Jessica with him a little bit more. She needed to be around kids her own age. So when Maxine stopped to chat as I was on my way to the car and offered to baby sit if we needed it, it was a welcome gesture, that’s for sure. Sophie was a handful, as was Jessica, and between the two of them and Eric and dealing with it all at once, having someone willing to give us a break was nice. I thanked her and told her I’d call her as I got in the car. Thankfully the splitting headache that had popped up after I’d showered was slowly starting to subside.
Kind of freaking out on Eric in the car didn’t help my mood much. I knew he meant well, and I knew he was just making conversation, but it wasn’t something he could understand. Failing with Jessica made me feel like I was failing as a woman every time she rejected me. It was one of the worst feelings because weren’t we meant to just know instinctively what they needed? I seemed to have missed out on that gene.
When Eric asked me if I was, in fact, telling the truth with what I told Megan, I cringed a little. I really hadn’t meant to say all I said, and so quickly and randomly.
Evil wine. Never again.
But I told him I did, since it was the truth. He was great with Jess. How, I had no idea, but he was and I was extremely thankful he wasn’t the asshole I thought he’d be and leave everything up to me. No, he really had stepped up and accepted that this was his deal now, too.
It was extremely admirable.
What wasn’t, however, was the fact that he was using Jessica as a flirting tool. It was really, well, an Eric-like thing to do.
I should have been mad, but really, I realised he wasn’t doing her any harm and it was that something I knew he’d never do. He’d never put her in any danger. So if he wanted to hit on the women in the market, that was up to him. I didn’t care one way or another, and his ‘date’ was just another way of proving to myself that I didn’t care about his love life.
I mean, sure, he and I had spent the good part of a month alone but in that time we’d concentrated on work, on Jessica and trying to establish some kind of normalcy. And we did. We worked, we ate, we spent time with the baby, we watched old movies if neither of us could sleep… But then Sam asked me out, and Eric’s mood toward me changed a little. It wasn’t that he was unkind, but the ease we’d developed over the previous weeks had been replaced with an air of something else. I wanted to say it felt like jealousy, but that idea was ridiculous to me. Eric wouldn’t be jealous of Sam, because Eric and I were never going to happen. We got along because we had to, that was it.
When Eric came on to me- or what I remember from him getting all intense with me in the kitchen the night before- it did make me question if he was jealous of Sam because he felt something for me, but then did I want him to feel something for me? You know, besides his usual sarcasm and sexist comments, the other end of the Eric spectrum was rather scary. I knew, despite how I would deny it to my grave, that I was attracted to Eric. I always had been. Being attracted to him physically, that was never ever the issue. It was always the fact that he was a douche who treated women like we were disposable to him. His attitude toward me on our ‘date’ and well, just his general being, used to annoy me so much.
But in the few weeks I had spent with him, I realised that Eric was someone who only came out when he felt… I don’t know, threatened or out of his comfort zone. Actual Eric was sweet – always sweet with the baby, even when she screamed her head off, or wouldn’t eat, or wouldn’t sleep. He was calm and patient, where as I was frazzled and freaking. Jessica adored him, that much was obvious. I was woman enough to admit her affection for him made me a little jealous, since it tapped at my insecurities again, and made me feel like I was failing somehow. I was sure Eric noticed it but he would never bring it up intentionally, thankfully.
When we were flirting at the grocery store, just messing around with him allowing me to see his ‘skills,’ it was light and breezy. Even Jessica was quiet and observing. That Eric I liked. He was funny and adorable and just a smidge goofy. I didn’t get to see him often.
And he didn’t last long when we ran into Sam. I swear it was almost as if I could hear him freezing up and putting his badass mask on. Which he did when he blatantly ignored Sam in favour of walking on ahead of me with Jessica to finish the shopping, leaving me talking with Sam.
“I was going to call you. I just got a little side tracked.”
“I wouldn’t have blamed you if you didn’t.” he blushed “It was a horrible date, I failed you miserably.”
“No you…Well yes, you did. But points for effort though. I’m sorry I drank. I hadn’t had a decent drink in a while and it hit me a little harder than I thought it would.”
He smiled “It’s fine, you were very… honest on the car ride to your place.”
“Don’t worry you didn’t say anything bad, just that you questioned my shoe wear.”
Oh, good God.
“It’s not that there is anything wrong with them…”
“You said they were very ‘doctor-y,’ which you found hilarious.” He teased.
“Oh, God, seriously, you can ignore me if you like. I can pretend I never saw you and it’ll let you off the hook.”
He laughed, “Now Sookie why’d I want to do that? I was starving, but it was still… Eventful.”
I blushed, I knew I did. I could feel it in my cheeks.
“Look, can I make it up to you? I promise no possible food poisoning, no giant glasses of wine and hopefully no social workers making surprise calls.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Dinner, my place, Sunday night?”
His smile faltered slightly.
“I mean I want to, but that’s Eric’s night off and I have the baby alone.”
“So? Bring her, too. We could do dinner after she goes to sleep…”
“How about we compromise.”
He raised his brows.
“How about you come over and I cook for you? That way Jessica gets to sleep in her crib and we still get to spend some time together.”
He smiled. “Can I at least bring desert?”
“Another store pie?” I laughed.
“Sam, don’t sweat it. Just bring you and an appetite and that’s all we need.”
He nodded, agreeing, and promising he’d be in kissed me on the cheek before he left, and I walked to find Eric with a goofy smile on my face.
I found him in the candy aisle with an open pack of jelly worms, giving Jessica one before she fisted it to her mouth.
“Hey.” I smiled.
He just looked on at the baby “Hey.”
“You get everything you needed?” I asked, trying to keep my good mood without bitching him out for being rude again. It was his choice.
“Pop tarts? Really? Eric, those aren’t very healthy.”
“Well, I like them, so I got them. Is that okay? No one’s asking you to eat ’em.”
“Fine. Let me just grab a few more things and we’ll go.”
Wipes, tampons, toilet paper, a few cleaning supplies, tub of ice-cream and the ingredients for an apple pie and I was on my way to the checkout. Eric still didn’t look at me and his icy mood was getting colder by the second. When all the items we’d gotten were scanned and packed, I pulled out my card to pay.
“What are you doing?”
“Uh, what does it look like?” I went to put the card in the machine, while the checkout girl waited for one of us to make up our mind. She also was batting her lashes at Eric.
“No, you’re not. I’ll get this.”
“Uh, no, most of the stuff in here I picked, so I’ll get it.”
“Sookie, can you just stop? Let me get this.”
“Just, because!” he all but huffed at me.
“Why, because you’re the guy and it’s another one of those guy things? Sorry, Eric, but I can pay my own way. I don’t want your money.”
“Jesus, why do you have to make everything so damn difficult!”
ME! He was the one causing a scene.
I just gave him the eyebrow as I brushed him aside and yanked my card through the little machine. It beeped, I entered my pin and we were good to go. He, however, just rolled his eyes and took Jessica from the cart to the car without me, leaving me with the cart full of shit.
What the fuck?
By the time I got to the car I was livid. I got in and slammed the door of the jeep.
“What the fuck is your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem.”
He finally looked at me.
“It was one thing. Just paying for the damn food and you couldn’t even let someone … no not someone, me! You couldn’t even let me do that could you?”
“Because it was MY SHIT MOSTLY. I’m not going to let you pay for my stuff, Eric, it’s not fair.”
He rolled his eyes. “We both know the stuff you bought, we’ll both end up cooking. So why not let me pay for it? Because you’re a stubborn ass woman, that’s why.”
Oh I’m stubborn?
“And you’re …I can’t believe you’re making such a big deal out of this! Jesus, you acted like I cut your balls off.”
He just glanced at me.
Had I? Had I, metaphorically at least, lopped off his balls?
Fucking men! Why were they so complicated?
He just took off at warp speed and didn’t slow down at all.
“Eric slow down.”
He ignored me.
“ERIC, SLOW FUCKING DOWN.”
He ignored me again.
“ERIC!” I yelled, startling Jessica and making her cry. He finally slowed down. “Stop the fucking car.”
“Stop. The. Car.”
He pulled into the side of the road, as the other cars sped past us. I undid my seat belt and got out of the car, leaving him with the screaming baby. I walked along the side of the road, marching really, before I heard the squeals of the car reversing.
“Sookie, get in the fucking car.”
“Fuck you.” I said walking on faster.
“Sookie, Jesus, you can’t walk home for Christ’s sake. Just get IN the car!”
“Why? So you can prove that you’re a man by driving like a mentalist? Did you forget that my cousin and your BEST FRIEND fucking DIED on this highway? Did you?”
He frowned, stopping the car finally and getting out.
“Sookie…” He attempted to reach for my arm. I shoved it away, then I pushed him, and pushed him, the more I pushed him the more my anger built.
“HOW COULD YOU BE SO FUCKING STUPID?”
I pushed his chest. I pushed and pushed and he just stood there and let me. It wasn’t making him move at all.
“You could have hit another car, or a car could have hit us, or something could have ran into the road and what were you doing? PROVING to me what a man you are just because – because …” I sobbed unintentionally.
I heard Jessica wailing in the backseat and I instantly felt guilty for leaving her there.
He tried to reach for my arm again, and this time I let him.
I tired to stop my tears from falling but I couldn’t, and the more I tried, the harder I sobbed. He pulled me to his chest, wrapping his arms around me.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered into my ear as he rubbed my back, comforting me.
“It was stupid!” I said into his chest, the sound of my voice muffled.
“I know, and I’m sorry I don’t know what I was thinking. I was just mad. And I fucked up.”
“Damn right you did.” I looked up at him then, still not stepping out of his embrace. I had to side with Jessica- his chest was kind of cosy.
He looked pale and sombre, and if I wasn’t wrong, I almost saw tears in his eyes.
“I fucked up. I’m tryin’ to handle this, Sookie, but you seem to think I have this plan and that I’m doing so great when the truth is, I have no fucking idea how things are meant to be.”
I felt the same. Still he hugged me and I let him, trying not to let myself get lost in how good it felt to have his arms wrapped around me, or just how good he smelled.
We broke apart when the wails from the car got louder. I dabbed my eyes and fixed my hair, noticing that I’d left mascara all over his white t-shirt.
He got into the driver seat and I got into the back with the now very pissed off Jessica. Her face was red and streaked with tears. Poor thing probably thought we’d just left her. I took her out of her baby seat as I noticed Eric sitting up front, exhaling loudly and inhaling slowly. I cradled her in my lap and did my best to rock her back and forth, attempting any and all calming methods I knew of to chill her out. None of those worked of course, until Eric switched on the radio. Rock music made her cry louder, which made Eric scowl.
“We really need to get this kid some musical taste.” he mumbled, switching through the different stations till he found something that met Madam’s standards.
“Taylor Swift? Really Jessica?” I asked as she stopped crying and listened to the music. Her tears were still falling from her very red little eyes, but the wailing had stopped.
“Whiny little girls and their guitars. Awesome.” Eric mumbled again in the front seat.
“How is that any different that whiny middle aged men and their guitars? It’s just a different beat.”
He raised a brow at me in the mirror. I just smiled and started to hum along with the lyrics, noticing that Jessica’s breathing was coming back to normal and she wasn’t fighting me as I held her.
“You’ve got a smile that could light up this whole town.” I sang gently into her ear as I hummed the rest, while Eric started the car to take us home, ” I’m the one who understands you, been here all along… you belong with me.”
Eric looked at us in his rear view mirror again, and this time was sure there were tears in his eyes. He was quick to look away and it wasn’t something I’d bring up, but I guess I’d been rather selfish in my thinking. I’d been so concerned about how losing Alcide and Hadley had effected me, I never once stopped to realise that Eric had lost his best friend too.
Way to go Sookie.
I realise what an asshole move I’d made when I tore out of the parking lot like a madman. But I was angry, more at myself than anyone else. Why couldn’t I just deal with the fact that Sookie wasn’t going to let me step up and take care of things, stupid things like groceries, or bills? No, she was stubborn and independent. Two things that weren’t necessarily bad personality traits, but at that moment they pissed me off. And, she was right. I took my anger out on the car, and when she asked me to slow down, I did ignore her. I ignored her to the point where I really scared her, and I felt like such a shit for doing that. It wasn’t what I’d intended. I was allowing my passive-aggressive nature to take over so she’d know I was pissed at her without actually saying so. Forgetting, even momentarily, that fooling around on a highway could cost us our lives, and mores the point, could have cost us Jessica.
My heart sank when I saw just how freaked out and upset she was. So when she stormed away from the car in the emergency lane I panicked. I needed her to know I wasn’t doing it to scare her. Shit, that was the last thing I wanted. I knew she wasn’t dealing with their deaths very well, and truth be told, neither was I. When she started to sob I swear my heart broke, or something inside me broke. It was no secret that crying women were like my kryptonite. So when I tried to hug her, and she actually let me, I was shocked, but I welcomed it nonetheless. Holding her, even as she sobbed at my expense, it felt right somehow. I tried not to dwell on just how good it felt to comfort her, or how good her shampoo smelled, or how warm she felt next to me, or how I wanted to kiss those tears off her beautiful – if slightly red – face.
I led her back to the car, where we’d been very shitty parents in leaving the one-year-old to sob her little heart out. Sookie tried her best to hush her. We tried the radio trick and since Jessica was a contemporary pop country girl, my rock station wasn’t going to cut it. As Sookie sat, rocking the baby girl that looked just like her in her arms, singing to her how she belonged to her, it made me want to cry like a bitch.
Damn you, Taylor Swift. Whiney little bitch with your guitar.
It got me thinking about how Alcide wouldn’t get to see his kid grow up, or see her take her first steps, or fall in love, or get married, but somehow because he thought something of me, I got that privilege.
It was fucking scary, I’ll tell you that.
When we got home, Jessica was asleep in Sookie’s arms. It was her naptime, after all, and since both Sookie and I were as exhausted as she was, we both decided to chill on the couch. We’d fallen into silence as we pretended to watch bad daytime TV. I realised she’d fallen asleep at some point before the sun had set, as had I. I woke up with a dead leg from sitting on it for too long.
Sookie was still out when I went to check on Jessica, who, surprisingly was just chillin’ in her crib looking at the new ‘mobile’ I’d bought her. This one was creepy, with evil floating heads, instead had butterflies – they had bodies and everything- and it didn’t confuse the kid. Butterflies flew, heads did not.
“Hey kid.” she put her arms up for me to lift her, and I did. “Hey, you hungry?”
I knew by her weight she needed a diaper change, and as tempted as I was to wake Sookie so she could change her, I knew I’d have to man up and get used to it.
“Oh my God, kid, seriously we need to check your digestive system. This actual shit is NOT normal. Ugh.”
She just giggled at me.
“It’s not funny, it’s gross! Can you say gross?” I took a breath through my mouth and held it till I had her old diaper wrapped and packed in the diaper bin.
She was wiped and powdered and fresh when I re-snapped her little dress back to rights.
“Okay, kid, let’s go.
I left Sookie a note that I was gone to my apartment to make sure the movers had everything they needed. I’d be subletting it so all my old furniture was staying, except for a few things, like my flat screen and personal stuff. Those things would be boxed and brought over on Monday. I was pleased to find everything was boxed when we got there with a note from Pam confirming she’d checked it all over, and they’d be dropping it off on Monday. I’d be glad to have my gym equipment back. If nothing else, working out all the tension I was experiencing would be helpful. It seemed a simple jog wasn’t clearing my head as it use to.
I picked out some shirts and jeans, a few jackets and dress pants and shoes. I was now second guessing my ‘date.’ I didn’t really like the idea of bringing those women ‘home.’ It was different when I lived here, alone, and had my own rules I never followed. But then I looked at Jessica as she rolled and crawled on the bubble wrap, and exposing her to those women wasn’t exactly something I wanted. I had needs ,sure, but then again, so did she. She needed parents, not random strangers. As much as I hated to admit it, Meg was right. Casual sex wouldn’t have been so easy now.
I stopped by the bar as dinners where being cooked up and got Jessica fed. She lapped up her creamed potatoes and chicken bits like a pro. Of course, my kitchen staff looked at me like I had two heads. I guess seeing the boss with a kid would be kind of weird. They didn’t say anything, even if their eyes were about to pop out of their heads.
I wiped Jessica off after she’d successfully charmed all the staff, each one of them wanting to coo at her or hold her. I’d left her to get acquainted with Claudine, my head chief, before I went to check things over in the office.
“Pam.” I greeted. She had her feet up on my desk as she spoke on the phone. I gave her the eyebrow, and she took them down.
“Okay, that’s fine. So we need the sixteen of those in white. Yep, great.” She hung up. “I didn’t expect to see you today. Where’s Jessica?”
“She’s charming the staff in the kitchen.”
She smiled. “Wanna see what I got her?”
“Pam, we talked about that. You don’t have to get her anything. She has everything a kid needs.”
“Not these, she doesn’t.” She was practically bouncing with glee. Not a good sign.
She produced a tiny box and inside there was shoes. Of course, with Pam it was always all about the shoes.
Dior baby shoes? Seriously?
“You’re ridiculous. She can’t even walk yet!”
“Well, when she does, she’ll be the most fashion forward baby in the barn, or wherever it is kids play.”
I shook my head at her.
“Fine you want to waste your money on her on silly things like this, go nuts.” She smiled and took off to find Jess and shove her little feet into designer baby shoes. Well, at least there was one happy woman in my life.
The office door opened not a minute later, with Tiffany on the other side.
“Hey.” she grinned.
Oh, God, I did not have the time or the energy for this.
“Hey. Something wrong?” I asked.
“No, just haven’t seen you around much lately.”
“Been busy.” I checked the invoices as she made her way to my side of the desk.
“I’ve missed you.”
See? Not good.
“Tiffany. Come on.” I tried to ignore when she reached for the buttons on my shirt.
“What? We have fun don’t we?”
“We did, once, but … you knew it wasn’t more than a one time thing. I told you that. And I told you that I’m just not… I’m not the right guy for you.”
She pouted but accepted what I was saying, thankfully.
“So who’s is she?”
I looked at her.
“The kid, is she yours?”
Was she mine? Legally she was mine now. But biologically she’d always be Alcide’s.
“Yeah, she’s mine.”
That surprised her.
“What happened? Did some pissed off baby momma leave her with you, or something?”
“No. Not exactly. Look, I don’t want to talk about this.” With you… “So, if there’s something else?”
She looked hurt. “So that’s it? That’s it? Just, screw around and then, nothing? Not even a civil conversation? Really?”
“You knew what you were doing, Tiffany, and you knew that I had a reputation. I don’t date my staff. Hell, I don’t do anything with my staff, usually… But you were …” A mistake, a distraction. “A once off.” I decided was a better turn of phrase.
“And it can’t happen again?” She asked, more hopeful that I’d have liked.
“No, it can’t. Are you okay with that?” I asked finally looking her in the eye.
She nodded. “Fine.”
She stalled at the door like she wanted to say something else but she didn’t, and for that, I was thankful.
Pam came in with Jessica in her arms. It was an odd sight.
“Look at those shoes! They’re perfect! And look how cute she looks with her little dress and now completely amazing shoes.”
“Fine Pam you win; they are … nice.”
“Psh, nice. NICE? They are Dior and Dior is more than ‘nice’.” she rolled her eyes at me.
“Jessica you’ll understand the importance of a good shoe one day, and when you do you’ll have me to thank and not Eric, because he has no taste. In shoes, or in women. Take Tiffany for example.” She looked smiling from the baby to glare at me. “You done screwing around with her?”
“I didn’t screw around with her. We didn’t even have sex.”
“Well you must have done something.” I looked away.
“Oh Eric, really? Oral from the wait staff?”
“Drop it Pam.”
“Fine, fine, but one of these days your whoring is going to bite you in the ass, and not the fun love bites either. But, whatever it’s your life. Speaking of, how is Sookie?”
“What’s that mean?”
“You know, the fake-baby-mamma to your fake-baby-daddy thing that you’ve both got going on. How is she today?”
“She’s fine, I guess. She’s dating someone.”
“Who? The douche that showed up at the funeral?”
“No, Jessica’s doctor of all things. I don’t like the guy.”
“Because he’s dating Sookie.” she stated, and it wasn’t a question either.
“No, I don’t care who she dates. I just … he rubs me the wrong way.”
“Because he’s going to be fucking Sookie.” she stated again.
“No Pam, I don’t give a shit who she’s …she’s…” Okay fine, I gave a shit, that much was obvious since I couldn’t even say it.
“Uh huh.” she smiled. “You like her don’t you? I knew it. You’ve been hung up on her since like two years ago when you both fucked up that date.”
“I’m not hung up on her, and I don’t like her. Not like that.”
“Really? So you’re perfectly fine with some guy coming along and sweeping her off her feet and fucking her through her mattress?”
Bad. Visuals were bad.
“I’m not talking about this with you. Jessica and I are going.”
I stormed out of the office leaving her with that annoying satisfied smirk on her face. Sometimes I wondered why I kept her around at all.
Back at home, we found Sookie in the kitchen tackling some dishes and looking freshly showered.
“Hey. Hey baby girl.” She took Jessica from me for a cuddle.
“Uh, Eric, did you buy her Dior shoes?” She looked very surprised.
“Oh, that makes more sense. They are gorgeous though.” she smiled “Who has pretty shoes, for a pretty girl? You do! That’s right, you do!”
“Feeling better?” I asked her, hoping she wouldn’t bite my head off.
She smiled. “I am, thanks. Sorry for having a total fit on you before.” She blushed tucking her hair behind her ear.
“Eh I’m getting used to it.” I teased grinning at her.
I walked to her side, taking the cloth and started to dry the small amount of dishes that she’d washed.
“I know women that would kill to have a guy volunteer to help with the dishes.”
I just shrugged.
“So what are your plans for your date?” She asked, still smiling. It made me want to tell her I’d been having second thoughts on the whole ‘dating’ around the house thing. Maybe I needed a longer break from women, and she, Jessica and Pam where more than enough for me right now.
“I mean, it’s good that you’re getting out there again. I’m sure all those text messages I see you ignoring are from girls who are wondering just what in the hell you’ve been doing. Or, in your case, not doing. It’s good.”
“Yeah. I mean this is who you are, and that’s cool. As long as you’re happy.”
“Actually, Sookie, I think you know maybe I -”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you! Sam’s coming over for dinner tomorrow night. That way we don’t have to move Jessica around while Sam and I try to rectify the date from hell. Minus the giant amounts of wine. So it’s good you have the night off, right? I mean we’ll hang out in the den, or wherever when you come back. I don’t want to interrupt anything.”
“So what do you have planned?”
“A few drinks and dinner mostly. Nothing exciting, really.”
“Sounds nice though.” She was being nice. “Just no Andre’s.”
“I’m not that dumb.”
“He’s not dumb. He just doesn’t have time to eat out to know these things.”
“Doesn’t his practice only open till 6?”
“He’s a busy guy.”
“We’re all busy.”
“Eric, I get it you don’t like him. Let’s move on. What’s your date like?”
“Ginger. She’s, well, she’s…”
I’d slept with her twice and I didn’t know all that much about her.
“She’s not actually Ginger, she’s blonde.”
Sookie full on laughed. “It’s a name, not a description. Someone called Jade isn’t going to be green either. Well, if I get to meet her, I hope to find out something more about her other than her hair colour.” She shrugged.
“Yeah, I guess we’ll have to see won’t we?”
I had a bad feeling about this.
Hi guys! So what did we think? I know most of you were expect the ‘date’ this chapter, but the muses weren’t buying it so soon, but next chapter looks promising! Thank you so much for the reviews and love it’s all so amazing so keep it up! 😀 Big up to Makesmyheadspin for beta’ing this baby for me tonight! 😀
Here are Jessica’s shoes (which I have to admit are just too awesome aren’t they?)
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Hey guys, sorry for the wait on this one! I had a serious case of writers block that just make me want to chuck it all in! But, fear not! I more than made up for it when the mood struck again! So here we are, and for a few reviewers that need Sookie to ‘get some’ … well 😀 Enjoy. X
Sunday had been an all around relaxing day compared to the havoc that was the Saturday, so the lazy day was more than welcome. Eric had hightailed it out of the house to go and mind his bar around eight the previous night. The remains of our breakdowns were still hanging in the air. While he and I did make some progress on just what the other was thinking, we soon fell back into the silence we’d come to know over the previous month.
I was chatty. In fact, I could and would chat to just about anyone, but with Eric there was always blockage in the way. Sure we talked, but not about the important things. I still knew very little about his personal life, other than he had a thing for easy women, strawberry ice-cream and he liked running. Mostly, he was still a mystery to me.
Jessica and I decided a day by the pool was just what we needed, and it seemed Eric agreed. “Did she sleep okay for you last night?” Eric was stretched out on the recliner beside the pool as Jessica – complete with water wings and SPF 9000- splashed around in the pool.
“She did, shockingly. Although we did crawl around on the floor for like an hour before bed, so I guess that’s the key- make her super tired and she’ll just knock herself out.” I couldn’t see his eyes behind his shades, but his smile was obvious.
“That’s good. I’m glad she didn’t fuss for you.”
“Me too.” I sighed in relief. Nights with Jessica were hit or miss.
I’d brought my I pod and dock out on to the deck, much to Jessica’s excitement. Of course Eric rolled his eyes and sighed at my choice of music but he’d just have to suck it up since it kept madam happy and clapping in her little floating ring. She clapped, bounced and made various attempts at words. Her latest favourite wasn’t ‘min’ any more but ‘fah’.
“Eric we have to be more careful what we say in front of Jessica.”
“I think she’s trying to say a curse word!” I was mortified at the idea of her first word being a rude one.
“She’s saying ‘fah’ I think she’s saying … well, f.u.c.k.” I spelled out instead of saying it- again.
Eric just laughed a big, hearty laugh.
“It’s not FUNNY! Eric, if her first word is … that, what’s the social worker going to think?”
“We’ll introduce her to Pam and she’ll understand.”
“No, we just, we have to watch our language.”
“Yes of course.” he scoffed.
I just rolled my eyes at him. He’d be sorry if she was running around in a few months saying only swear words!
Jessica was definitely a water baby. She loved being in the pool and it was much to her chagrin when I had to take her out. She started to wail.
“But it’s time for food. You like food too, Jessica.”
She had her chicken strips, corn and tots all spread across her high chair tray, all down her front, up her nose and in her hair. And I was the one feeding her! How in the hell?
“Seriously, feeding this kid is like an art form when she’s done!” I said as Eric made his way inside. His tan was coming along nicely, not that I was looking or anything.
“Yeah the other day we attempted yogurt, and Jesus, it was everywhere! And she only ate like four spoonfuls! I don’t get it either.”
My cell rang. It was Tara freaking out that Sophie-Ann was deciding she wanted to change the menu. Of course, the customers, the staff and the cooks were freaking because everyone was well used to their regular meals.
“Tara, what can we do? As she’s so fond of reminding us, she’s the boss, not us. We’re merely her servants.” I chuckled. Still, she begged me to reason with Sophie in the hopes of not confusing the already confused, and very new might I add, wait staff. New because she insisted on firing all the old staff for next to no reason. As much as I tried to reason with her, I got nowhere. My frustrations with her were growing by the day, as was the loss in our patrons.
“The boss being a nightmare?” Eric asked, sipping his water as he leaned his very topless self against the sink. I wasn’t at all distracted by how low slung his basketball shorts were, not at all.
“Yes, she’s basically undoing all my hard work for the last few years. I honestly don’t know what her issue is, but she has one, and with me. Even though she pretends she doesn’t. Her father flat out told me in front of her a year or more ago he’d rather the restaurant and bar be in my hands and if ever I wanted to buy Sophie’s share, he’d be more than willing to sell it to me.”
“Yeah, I mean it’s always been something I wanted to do, you know? Own my own business, run it all the way I wanted.” Why was I telling him this, seriously?
“And why haven’t you?”
Ah, therein lies the rub. Why hadn’t I? I had some savings. Gran had left me a little nest egg. I had her house as collateral… Why hadn’t I stepped up and tried?
Fear of failure was an awful thing.
“I have my reasons but mostly, right now, it would be too hectic what with Jessica and everything.” I avoided. He probably knew I was bullshitting him, but I just wasn’t up for discussing my fears.
He seemed to accept that and we moved on. I told him I was cooking Sam dinner, to which he of course rolled his eyes, telling me that it was a second date- technically a first date- and Sam should be the one doing the work, not the girl.
I ignored him.
“I like to cook.”
“Yeah, and you’re very good at it. I’m just saying, second date and you’re cooking at your house no less? That’s sends a guy a message.”
“And what kind of message would that be?”
“SEX.” He said loud and obnoxious, even though he was standing on the other side of the kitchen island. “It’s when two people who like each other get naked and make noises.” He grinned.
“I’m serious. It’s just dinner. It’s … it doesn’t mean anything! And it certainly doesn’t mean that!”
“Sex?” He tried to look innocent.
“Stop saying that, or it’ll be her first word.”
“It might be ‘asshole’ the amount of times I get called it. She’s going to think it’s my name.”
“Oh, isn’t it?” I sassed.
By the time eight thirty arrived I had successfully showered, dressed and done my hair. The roast chicken dinner I’d been cooking was well on it’s way to being complete. Jessica was fed, washed and in her pyjamas, playing happily on living room floor when Eric came down the stairs. He’d disappeared for nearly an hour. What he was doing, I had no idea, but when he came down he was in a freshly pressed white shirt and black dress pants. His stubble was gone and if I was honest, he smelled damn good.
“You look nice.” he offered. “No sex dress then?” Winking at me on his way to the kitchen, I picked Jessica up and followed him.
“There will be no sex. It’s only our second date and It’s not like I’m … you.”
“Oh, ha.” he deadpanned.
“Please, like you aren’t going out to just bang this Ginger girl and come home.”
“Excuse me, but I have a date planned.”
“Oh, really? Doing what?”
“Things that are none of your business. Do you see me asking what you and Doc Brown have planned? Nope.”
“That’s because you hate him.”
“I didn’t say I hated him.”
“Right. No, you didn’t but everything in your being tells me you do every time I mention, talk to, or see him. Forgive the assumption.” I checked on my chicken. It was browning nicely.
“So I don’t like him, so what?”
“No what, I just… well will I get to meet Ginger?”
Did I really want to meet her though?
“I don’t know Eric, maybe because we’ve been living here for over a month now and really I know very little about you.”
He scoffed, “You know plenty about me!”
“Oh yeah? Okay so I know how you like your eggs. You like to run to chill might have an addiction to ice-cream, and you think I don’t know about all the sugar you keep giving Jessica. But what do I know about you?”
“Well, like what?”
“Like, where did you grow up? Do you have any brothers or sisters? Where are your parents? What do they think of you taking on Jessica? You know, normal things!”
“But those are stupid, boring, unimportant things.”
“Well, maybe they’re important to me.”
“I don’t know, maybe you come from a long line of serial killers or sell babies on the black market, or chain blonde women up in your basement for fun. I don’t know why Eric.”
“I never took you as someone into bondage Sookie.”
That was it. I threw the nearest thing I could at him, which just happened to be Jessica’s empty sippy cup.
Of course he caught it with a smirk. “Sure it is. I mean, I hear it’s painful at first …”
“Sookie, I’d love to stay and chat but I have a date…” he motioned to walk out the kitchen door but turned and came back, kissing Jessica quickly on the head. “Be good for Aunt Sookie, because her chicken is burning.” He said to the baby.
“My chicken is – SHI- SUGAR, MY CHICKEN!”
He smiled and was on his merry way. I, on the other hand, had a baby and a smoking chicken to worry about.
I’d met Ginger at my bar, the usual place we’d meet before we’d do nothing more than hook up for a few hours before… well, before things got awkward. She yelled at me and usually left in a huff, and yet, she still agreed to see me again.
We had a drink and made some ridiculous chit chat. Pam came and went with more than a sarcastic glint in her eyes. I ignored her the best I could.
“So Eric, no one has seen you around lately.”
“Well, me.” she smiled “Where’ve you been?”
“I told you I’ve had things to take care of.”
“A one year old little girl.” I just came out with it, a bit like with Tiffany. I didn’t see the point in lying.
Her eyes bulged. “You have A KID?”
“I do now, yeah.” I sipped my beer.
“Who’s the mother?”
“Hadley Hale. She’s dead.”
Her eyes bulged again.
“Her father was Alcide. He was my best friend. He’s dead too.”
Saying it out loud caused something in my chest to ache.
“Jesus, Eric… Are you doing it alone? Do you need help?”
Tell me she didn’t just bat her lashes at me?
“Her cousin, Hadley’s I mean, she’s… we’re doing it. Raising her I mean. Legally and stuff she’s ours now.”
“Oh.” her smile faltered slightly.
“So that’s why you moved? That’s why you have haven’t called?”
“Yeah, that’s why.”
“And the girl?”
“Sookie Stackhouse, she’s the manager over at The Crown. You know it?”
“Yeah, that place is amazing. The staff are just so nice!”
I nodded. That would be Sookie’s influence. She’d hate for anyone to be impolite to a guest, no matter who they were.
“So you and she are just livin’ together and raisin’ this baby? Gawd Eric, that’s so weird. I, for one, never saw you as a daddy.”
I took another sip, a larger one. “That makes two of us.”
“I’m glad you called though. I thought for sure that night that you kicked me out, that was it.”
It should have been, and the fact that she came back after I’d kicked her out- like the asshole I was spoke volumes of her self-worth. I was using her. I had been using her, and it dawned on me I felt like shit for the first time for doing it.
I blamed it on living with Sookie. Too much damn womanly advice on a daily basis. I was acting and feeling like a total pussy! I’d been celibate and sleep deprived for well over a month. Now there was a hot, easy woman tracing her fingers up my thigh and I…wasn’t interested.
Somewhere along the lines, someone had lopped off my balls- I was sure of it.
Ginger, while her accent was thick and her voice high, was a beautiful woman. But beautiful in that it took bleach, pounds of makeup and heels to make her so. Nothing about her was natural, and I’d seen it all so I knew. Not her hair colour or length, not her nails, her tan, her teeth, or her breasts. It was all fake. She had a natural warmth though, one that men like me took advantage of.
Did I mention I felt like shit?
She had a few more drinks and I got us dinner from the kitchen. All in all, it was a couple of hours listening to her problems. I did try my best to be attentive, but there was just something that made me zone out.
“I’d love to meet her.” She said suddenly.
“Jessica.” I offered.
“You know, it’s late she’s probably already in bed.”
“In bed. Isn’t that where we should be by now?” she winked.
Usually, she’d have been dead right. Right now? I wasn’t so sure.
She took my hand and led me to my car. I guess we were going to my place.
I smoothed down the front of my blouse. It was white and crisp and I hoped it stayed that way. I’d changed after I put Jessica to bed. Somehow she still had something sticky on her hand no matter how much I’d wiped at it and of course, it landed with a splat on my boob. Not a good look.
I smiled. “Sam you look lovely. Come in.”
“Hi, likewise, but that’s always the case with you Sookie.”
I blushed. As silly as it was, compliments still made me shy. “Trust me if you’d seen me as I was attempting to bathe Jessica, it would be a whole other story. I was soaked.” Good one Sookie. Talk about how wet you were within five minutes of the guy arriving. “Uh, I mean… it… come in, don’t mind me.” I attempted to conceal my blush.
“So.” he looked around as we made our way into the kitchen, “Eric not here then?”
“No he’s on a date.”
“Why, hoping to see him?” I teased.
“Yeah, you know, I haven’t reached my quota on insults or rudeness today. I’d like to get it up there.”
“I understand. It’s a numbers thing.” I smirked. It was common knowledge, at this point, that Eric just wasn’t going to warm to Sam, and I had no idea why. He and I managed to have a wonderful dinner. He was funny and insightful, and all-around sweet guy.
“Sookie, that was amazing. You should be a chef.” he said leaning back and patting his belly.
“Oh I don’t know, it was a little seared.”
“Eh, I like it well done.”
“It wasn’t too dry?”
“Not at all! Thoroughly enjoyed it.”
“Good, well why don’t you go take a seat in the den? I’ll be through with dessert.”
Ice cream and apple pie. Was it wrong that dessert was my favourite part of a meal?
I found him on one of the couches flipping through my iPod, but he turned down the volume when I came in and sat next to him.
“So we’ve talked all about me all evening, Sookie. What should we talk about now?” he smiled.
“I ask a lot of questions don’t I?”
“It’s nice though. Most girls are just all ‘me, me, me.’ You’re not like them- in more ways than one.” he tucked the stray piece of hair behind my ear.
“I’ve been thinking about something.” he whispered, even though we were alone.
I think I knew what he was thinking.
“What it would be like to kiss you.”
I fought the blush I felt creeping in my cheeks. Instead of turning away I turned to face him and we kissed. He was sweet, slow and gentle, everything that a first kiss should be. But there was something missing. That spark that I so longed for again wasn’t there. Try as I might, I couldn’t ignite it. It was still good though. It felt good. It felt nice to be desired and wanted again. He was a wonderful guy and I was attracted to him. He was hot and making out with him on the couch was extremely good. But I was … well… distracted.
I had Jessica’s monitor to my left. The iPod was on so that was distracting me. His scruff was kind of annoying me where that sort of thing used to turn me on. All in all, I wasn’t there with him and he knew it.
“Something wrong?” he asked from above me, mid-make out.
“No, no of course not. I’m just listening for the baby. Habit.” I smiled.
“She’s fine. She’s sound asleep.” he kissed my neck again and it lulled me into a sense of comfort so I tried to forget about everything and just enjoy myself. I was just getting into it, and letting Sam have a little under the shirt action, when I heard a car pull into the driveway to the back of the house.
Please don’t let his date be with him, please don’t let his date be with him.
Hypocritical of me? Totally, but I just wasn’t sure I could take an evening of over-hearing Eric’s loud sexing. Or what I assumed would be loud sexing. I’d wager he’d put on a show if he knew it would annoy me, which I’d told him it wouldn’t, but it’s not like I could actually say “Hey I can date, but you can’t because it might upset me, kay?”
No somehow I don’t think he’d go for that.
I pushed Sam away gently, “I don’t want him walking in on us.”
“Doesn’t he know not to?”
“It’s Eric.” I said, and hoped he’d know Eric didn’t like to play by other people’s rules.
“I guess we should go say hello?”
“I don’t know, wouldn’t it be rude?”
“If he’s getting laid, I don’t think he’d want us butting our noses in.”
“Still, it’s only polite.” I got up and fixed my blouse and hair in attempt to maybe look like I didn’t just spend the last half hour making out with my date with some serious heavy petting.
Of course, the second Eric saw me he smirked. He knew exactly what we’d been up to.
“Sookie, how’d Jess do?”
Seriously he was asking about the baby without even introducing me to his date? The date being a leggy, skinny, bleach blonde woman with a questionable fake tan. I put on my best customer service smile and greeted her warmly.
Pulling up the driveway, all lights were out in the living room so I assumed they were in the den- just as she said. Sure I could have pulled up and gone through the front, but where would the fun be in that. Of course, I didn’t expect her to jump him on their second date, but Sam was a guy and when there’s a woman that hot- cooking for you no less- you’ll want to jump her. It was just common knowledge. That, and Sam looked like a horny little fucker. So when I saw her walking out of the den to say hi, her lipstick smeared all over her face and her blouse buttoned wrong, it was a little surprising that she’d gone along with Sam and his smarmy, wanting ways.
Yeah I hated him, so sue me.
“Eric have you forgotten your manners? Hi, I’m Sookie. You must be Ginger!” She said excitedly. What she was so excited about I had no idea.
“Oh, right, sure. Ginger, this is Sookie. Sookie, Ginger.” I waved my hand between the two.
“Hi, it’s just so nice to meet you, Sookie.” Ginger’s accent was thicker than Sookie’s, and it drawled a lot more on most words too. “I’ve heard so much about you tonight. I feel like I know you already.”
Yeah, she was lying. I mentioned her name and that we were rising Jess together, and that she worked at The Crown.
“Oh, well, isn’t that sweet? I’m sure Eric would have told me more about you, but you know how he is.”
Ginger nodded as Sookie’s voice was still doing that weird high-pitched thing. It definitely didn’t sound normal. In fact, it sounded false as hell. Ginger launched into her life story as Sookie poured us a drink. She laughed and smiled and nodded along. Still, there was something off. She was never this pleasant. Even for Sookie this was over kill.
“So, uh, I take it the date with Doctor Love didn’t go well?” I asked Sookie but before she could answer, Squints came out of the den and into the kitchen.
“Actually the date’s been going great. Thanks for the concern, Eric.” Sam smiled at me with that self-serving, smug look that basically said ‘fuck you I’m still here.’ Asshole.
“Oh, well isn’t this … nice.”
“Would you and Ginger care to join us for a drink? We were just relaxing after dinner. Of course if you’d rather not, I don’t want to keep you from… well from whatever else it is you’d rather be doing.” She blushed, clearly thinking Ginger and I would be up to something else if left alone.
“Uh, no, actually.”
“Oh, come on, Eric, it’s not often I get to meet any of your friends and Sookie seems so sweet. One drink?”
I had both women looking at me expectantly. “Fine, whatever. Ginger, why don’t you go on in with Sam? Sookie and I will get the drinks, right Sookie?”
I was hoping she sensed my tone.
“Sure.” She nodded to Sam and he and Ginger started to chit chat on their way into the other room.
“What the hell?”
“What?” she tried to look innocent. “I asked if you minded. You said you didn’t!”
“I … don’t I just…”
“This isn’t weird for you? It’s weird for me!”
“Why? It’s a drink, not a bomb!”
“I know that. It’s just Ginger and I, well, we don’t talk much… or at all.”
“Eric, that’s silly. Of course you talk.”
“Nope. It’s pretty much flirting, drinks, sex, and leaving.”
“That’s disgusting. How could you be so … so…”
“Sookie, she’s not my girlfriend and she’s not going to be. So this is just unnecessary awkward for no reason!”
“For you.” she pointed out, handing me a fruity looking drink in a weird glass.
“Well, it’s awkward, for you.”
“Yes! Of course awkward for me.” I whispered, “Now can you make something up so I can like, show her the house and leave.”
“Because I think it’s nice that we both have company over and it’s nice to be nice Eric. You’re good at it when you really try. So how about you go in there and you make nice with the girl you’re fucking, and I go continue to have a nice evening with my date?”
I glared at her. It was all I could do since I couldn’t yell, or they’d hear me.
“Bottoms up.” she smiled, handing me a beer and shimmying her way into the other room. Oh payback’s a bitch Sookie.
When we walked into the den, it was all very romantic and instantly made me feel like I was interrupting. The lights where set low. There was music coming from somewhere. There was wine, and of course, Sam.
That killed the mood.
Of course, he was being just his ‘charming’ self with Ginger, asking all about her. Sookie, of course, nodded along and smiled. I honestly felt like I was in the twilight zone. Having this ‘date’ with Ginger was a horrible idea, and one that I regretted. You see, Ginger had expectations of me, or us. She wanted a ‘relationship’ and most of the women that I …and I use the term loosely here, but that I dated- they knew me. They knew a relationship wasn’t in the cards.
Ginger? Well, she just didn’t take the hint. My own stupidity of wanting to one up Sookie led to both of them getting along and talking about how hot summers were in Louisiana, and how difficult it was being blonde in the heat and sun. I mean honestly, what the hell?
“So Eric, how did you and Ginger meet?” Sam asked. I fought the glare I wanted to shoot him. Sookie was sitting next to him ever so closely, too closely if you ask me, while Ginger sat on my left on the other couch.
“Uh, well, we met at a party around Christmastime, I think.”
Ginger nodded. “It was Pam’s Christmas party. Her parties are legendary for being a hoot, and they really are. Eric and I ran into each other… and well.” She smiled. Sam nodded and Sookie took a rather large sip of her wine.
I didn’t tell them she was the ‘entertainment’ for the evening’s festivities. “And we just went from there.” I added in. They didn’t need to know we hooked up twenty minutes later.
“I see.” Sookie said. “And Ginger, what do you do?”
“I’m a dancer.”
“Oh, ballet?” Sam asked.
“Uh, no. Exotic.”
Sookie spat out her wine. I cringed. I’d forgotten to mention that little detail.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. It went down the wrong way.” She coughed to cover it up. “That’s … nice, Ginger.”
“Ginger what’s your last name?” Sam asked.
I saw Sookie bite her cheek to stop from laughing. Just as Sookie was no doubly about to make another awkward attempt at conversation, the baby monitor came to life with a shrill. Both she and I jumped.
“I’ll get her!” We said in unison.
“No, really Eric, let me.” She eyed me.
“No, it’s fine; you sit.”
“Nope, it’s my night.” She took off like a shot with the monitor in hand. I’d almost got my ass on the seat when Sam asked Ginger how she enjoyed her job.
“I’ll be right back. I’m just going to see if Sookie needs any help with … the … yeah.” I nodded, hightailing it out of the den.
I found Sookie cuddling a crying Jessica, who looked startled.
“She was looking around like she didn’t know where she was. I think she might have had a nightmare.”
“Do babies have nightmares?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess they probably do? Shh, baby, it’s okay.”
The second Jessica saw me she hushed up, blinking away her tears and looking back at Sookie.
“Yeah, see, Eric’s here too. You’re okay baby, it’s all okay.” Sookie gave Jessica her bottle, which she took more than willingly. Her little eyes darting from Sookie to me. Of course the second Sookie put her back in her crib she started to wail again.
“Come on, Jessica, Sookie and I are trying to have an awkward night with our … friends.”
“It is awkward.” she nodded “I had no idea Ginger was a stripper, Eric!” she smiled. “Classy.”
“Hey, the world needs strippers.” Granted I hadn’t really thought that sentence through.
“Sure, of course we do. And one day when Jessica comes home and says “Hey guys, I’ve decided, I don’t want to go to college, I want to take my clothes off for a living. That’s okay right?” and I’m sure you’ll be fine and tell her just that. The world needs more strippers.”
“Fine, you have a point.”
“I know I do.” She looked smug.
“I think Ginger and I need to leave.” I took Jessica from her crib and attempted to calm her down.
“Hello, did you not witness the awkward? Asking her out again was a bad idea.” I conceded.
“I don’t know.” I lied. “It was just a bad idea. She has expectations that I have no intention of stepping up to. I need to tell her that.”
Sookie just nodded in agreement, though I noticed she didn’t look at me.
“Well, yes you do. I mean, it’s not fair to her if you’re just going to lead her on in the hopes of having something that she wants, only to drop her like a sack of potatoes.”
“Good. I mean if it’s fun it’s fun, but as long as she knows that’s all it is, and that girl… she had the look of a lot more than screwing around in her eyes.”
“Oh god, really?”
I cringed, walking and hushing the baby as best as I could.
“What about you and Doctor L-”
“Sam. His name is Sam and I know you know that, so please?”
I rolled my eyes.
“Thank you. And yeah, we’re fine. It was a nice dinner, some good conversation, he’s lovely.” She smiled bashfully, tucking stray hair behind her ear.
Nice, fine, lovely. How exciting, I thought, but I did my best to keep it under wraps.
“Hey, Jess, miss me?”
“Eric, don’t. She’ll get all riled up!”
“Sookie, look at her; she’s wide awake.”
She was all bright-eyed and curious.
“What are we going to do?”
“I say we just … bring her with us. I mean, she is a huge part of our lives now, right? If they can’t deal with that… then…”
“You’re right. Of course, you’re right.”
So we did. We brought the baby to our respective dates. Sam, of course, she knew and wasn’t at all fussed about but she knew Ginger was a stranger, and because of that, she dug her little hands into the neck of my shirt, holding on for dear life as if we were about to give her away.
“Oh, hi, Jessica.” Ginger baby voiced. Jess just furrowed her little barely there brows. Needless to say, I was thinking the same thing. What the hell? Right? “Oh, she is just too precious! Hi baby girl, hiiiii.” Ginger sounded out again, while Sookie took Sam into the kitchen to make her a fresh bottle of warm milk. “Oh, Eric she’s too cute. Are you sure she isn’t yours? With those blue eyes and that hair I’d almost have to think twice.”
“She’s not. She takes after Sookie’s side of the family, the blond and the blue eyes.”
She nodded. “Sookie seems nice- very sweet. Bangin’ too.” She also added, while I didn’t answer one way or the other.
“So are you two…?”
I rolled my eyes, seriously why did everyone think that?
“Can I hold her?”
“No, the baby. I love babies.”
Of course she did, of course.
A stripper with a heart of gold. It was like a Julia Roberts flick- or was that a hooker?
I handed Jessica to her reluctantly just in time for Sookie and Sam to walk back into the room. Jessica didn’t like Ginger one bit, as evidence by her big pouting lip,followed by the whack. The whack was the sound of her little hand slapping Ginger across the face. I wanted to laugh so badly, but I figured if I did I was screwed.
“Jessica!” Sookie scolded. “Oh, goodness, Ginger, I’m so sorry! She’s usually not so …”
“Violent.” I offered.
“No, it’s fine. I’m just a stranger to her it’s understandable.”
What wasn’t, however, was the scream Jess gave, looking at both Sookie and I with a “What did I ever do to you” look on her little face. Thankfully Sookie stepped in.
“Sam and I will go put her down. It was nice to meet you, Ginger.”
“Likewise, Sookie, hope to see you again soon.”
“Uh, yeah.” Sookie looked at me on the way out, a ‘good luck’ vibe in her eyes. Yeah, Ginger and her hopes needed to be nipped in the bud. I couldn’t keep leading her into a false sense of what she was going to get from me.
“Ginger ,I think maybe I should take you home.”
“Why? We haven’t even had sex yet.”
I ran my hand through my hair. I wasn’t really used to dumping a girl…before sex.
“I know, and I think maybe we shouldn’t do that again.”
She looked like I had two heads. “Are you dying?”
“No! Look, I just… you and I, honestly, you know I’m not the one for you Ginger. I know you’re not the one for me. We’re fooling around and it always ends with you upset.”
“I thought maybe you’d changed your mind, at least a little. I like you Eric. I think that much is obvious.”
“And I like you too, but you know that this was never… and now I have Jessica to think about, and believe, me as much as I’d love to just say screw it, and have all that bendy stripper sex with you.\,” I smiled and she laughed, thankfully she knew I was kidding. “I can’t. I don’t know why, but… I can’t. I need something more.”
“Threesome? We could ask Sookie-”
“As awesome as that sounds…” I took a moment to enjoy that visual for all it was worth. “Ginger…”
“I won’t say I’m not disappointed. I mean, you’re a good guy. You can be a cold bastard when it suits you, but hey, let’s face it, we were sex. And that sex was exceptional.” She quirked a brow at me. “But yeah, right now, maybe you do need more, or less.”
“Seems to me that you have one woman in your life that is going to be demanding all of your attention from now on, and she comes with a momma. That’s going to be a hard pill for some girls to take. Especially one that looks like Sookie.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Oh, come on, Eric, the girl is hot. Are her breasts real?”
“Sorry, right. Well, what do you want? I’ve been dumped by you twice now, only this time you’re being an actual human being about it Northman. Same song, different verse. But you’re right, our duet is over.” She smiled at me sweetly. “I text my friend Mindy when you and Sookie went to check on the baby. I figured one way or another we weren’t going to be together tonight. She’ll be here in twenty.”
“I would have driven you home. I’m not a total asshole.” I argued.
“You’re not an asshole at all; that’s your problem. It’s why when you act like one it just doesn’t suit you.”
I said my goodbye’s to Ginger and saw her off. I was willing to try this single thing for real. I mean I had a kid, a house and a … co-parent that I may or may not have some kind of feelings to deal with. I think that was more than enough. It didn’t seem to be more than enough for Sookie, however, when I walked up the stairs to see if she had any issues with the baby.
Apparently she didn’t, and she had little or no issue with Sam either, or so the noises coming from her room told me. I ignored the jealous pang that ran through me. At this point, I had no right to be jealous of him, or how ever many positions he was in with her right then. She wasn’t mine. I had no claim to her, and I kept telling myself I didn’t want claim on her. I didn’t want her to be mine. Except I kept hearing everyone ‘s voice on how it was inevitable. Did I want her because I’d always wanted her? Or did I want her because it was convenient, expected, easily accessible? I turned on my iPod and did my best to drown out both the thoughts that were plaguing my mind, and the possibility of any and all sounds coming from across the hall.
I’d deal with it all later. Much later.
Mucho thankies to Makesmyheadspin for beta’ing this baby for you all, she’s just awesome sauce! Reviews are love *nudge nudge* Hope you enjoyed it guys! 😀
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Ginger was sweet, kind, and chatty, and any other time I’d have been more than willing to become friends with someone like her. But as it was, all I knew was she and Eric were sexing partners and that just annoyed me. And it annoyed me that it annoyed me, because it shouldn’t have annoyed me! I had no tie to him, nor had I any hold over him, and yet seeing how close she was sitting and how attached to his thigh her fingers were… well, it stung.
I sipped my wine a little quicker than I should have, though I had to be careful. The last thing I wanted was a repeat performance of the other night—and my word vomit—while feeling like I needed to actually vomit.
No, not good.
Thankfully Jessica told us her needs were to be met just in the nick of time. I really wanted to have a nice evening with all of them—I mean, if we were going to be seeing her around more—I’d have liked to have gotten to know Ginger at least. Though, the look in Eric’s eyes told me he had other plans.
Jessica looked scared and I felt so bad for the poor thing all over again. I wasn’t sure if babies had nightmares, but I’d assumed she had. She looked so unsure as she clung to me and I clung back just as strongly.
As much as I complained in the beginning about Eric and his parenting commitment, I’d really been wrong about him. He’d stepped up in a way I never imagined, and she loved him just as much as he loved her—even if he’d never admit it. My twinge of jealously over her preferring him melted as soon as I saw them together; it was just too adorable not to appreciate.
Jessica wasn’t too fond of Sam. I was convinced she was more related to Eric than she was to me sometimes! Poor Ginger though. Jess was a baby of few opinions, but she knew her people. When she slapped Ginger right across the face, I hoped she wouldn’t make a habit of it; it looked slightly painful.
I figured it was time to give her and Eric some much needed privacy though, and I knew Sam was thankful to be away from them.
We put Jessica in her crib. Thankfully, she laid down with her new and warm bottle, chugging it happily. Before I knew it, her little eyes were closing.
“Normally she’s a total nightmare for me at night.”
“Aw, I’m sure once she gets into a routine of having you around at night she’ll settle.”
“It’s been a month now, Sam. I just think she doesn’t like me very much.”
He smiled at me, rubbing my shoulder. “She will.”
“She adores Eric.” I said offhandedly.
“God, why?” he smirked.
I turned around and was met with a kiss.
“What was that for?” I asked when we broke apart.
“I like you Sookie, just in case I’m not making it … you know, embarrassingly obvious. I just figured I’d tell you.”
“We should let her sleep.” I took him by the hand before I grabbed her other monitor—the one that I’d taken from downstairs—and we went into my bedroom.
“I didn’t plan on you being up here… at least not yet.” I admitted.
“So, there was a plan for it to happen at some point? Does that mean you like me, too?” Sam asked, casually looking around my room that I’d thankfully had the forethought to tidy before dinner.
“Maybe…” I sat down on my bed and patted the space next to me for him to come sit down. He did; both of us leaning against the headboard to keep us sitting up properly.
“Yeah, Hadley had a thing for big beds, and I guess married to Alcide she kind of needed to.” I laughed. “So all the rooms are decked out in the most awesomely massive beds.”
He nodded and we fell into a short silence.
“So… Ginger was a hoot.”
“Yeah, Eric sure can pick ’em. She was sweet though. I wasn’t expecting that.”
“What were you expecting?”
“I don’t know… I mean, it’s none of my business who he sleeps with you know? Just like it’s none of his business who I…”
Oh digging myself a hole, here we go.
“I mean, not that I am sleeping with anyone. I mean, I’m not … not.”
“Sookie, relax. I didn’t come over here tonight expecting you and I to end up in bed together.”
I looked at where we were sitting and I burst out laughing.
“You have an awesome laugh, it’s so genuine. You should laugh more, it suits you.”
“Yeah? Well, lately I haven’t had that many funny things to laugh at I’m afraid.”
With that he dug his two fingers into my side causing me to jump. “Sam.. SAM!” I warned out loud, a little too loud. Then I whispered, “Don’t you dare Mister.”
He grinned, an evil grin. Oh shit.
“Mister? What is this 1945?” He tickled me again and I laughed my legs flailing up in the air. “Sam!”
I couldn’t stop giggling. “Oh my god! Seriously, Sam!”
I thought I heard Eric’s bedroom door closing quietly, and I cringed at the thought of he and Ginger in there. God, I hoped they wouldn’t be loud.
Sam soon stopped the tickles once I told him that if I kneed him in the balls I wouldn’t even be the tiniest bit sorry about it. Instead he kissed me. And this time, without all my distractions it was actually hot. So we kissed, and kept on kissing until both of us were a little breathless—and Sam more than a little aroused.
“Sam, not to be a total cockblocker of a date here, but… we need to stop.” I said coming up for air as his lips found my neck.
“Right, of course. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, it was nice…” I smiled kissing him on the lips again. “I’m just not ready to-”
“You don’t have to explain, it’s more than fine.” He shifted so that we could get up.
“No, you stay here…” he whispered to me as I walked to the bedroom door. “Get some rest before Jessica is up with the sun.” He smiled sweetly before he kissed me once again, this time a quick chaste kiss on the lips. “I had fun tonight, Sookie.”
“Me too, all things considered… It wasn’t a total disaster this time, right?”
“Not a total disaster.” He agreed sweetly. “Does that mean I can call you?”
I nodded. ” Of course.”
He agreed to call me the next day and I agreed to pick up. It was all very cute and awkward but it was something that I realized I enjoyed. It had been so long since I’d been flirted with or teased in a cutesy way. Bill was never cutesy and he never flirted. Thinking back on it, I don’t really know how he got me to agree to dating him. I think it was a loneliness thing with him. I just hoped I wasn’t making the same mistake with Sam.
I mean, I knew this time I wasn’t lonely—I had my hands full; I had my life full. And Sam was the type of guy all girls want one day, right? That sweet guy you know will be a caring husband and a doting father. The guy you see thirty years down the line with.
That’s what I wanted, right?
I was up before sun rise the next morning, and I decided I needed a really long, intense run. I needed to get my head together, and I needed to start now. This screwing around with ideas, notions of what my life is meant to be or not to be; who I’m meant to be; who I’m meant to be with. It was all driving me a little nuts.
Running helped that. Sure I could just hop on a treadmill or something for an hour, but nothing beat the sound of your feet pounding the pavement and passing the world by with some good music replacing your mangled thoughts.
I stopped to tie my laces tighter on the lawn, noticing that the houses around the block were starting to come to life. The neighborhood was very much upper class, maybe some middle class, too. Not surprising really. Alcide had grown up dirt poor, and Hadley wasn’t much better. They both wanted more for their kids, which meant a nice place to grow up, good schools, and if they chose, a good college. Alcide had told me this on one of our many drinking binges before he finally ran off to Vegas and married Hadley. He wanted a better life for his wife and his kids. He’d have lots of them if she allowed—he figured it was her call. She was the one carrying them, and I had to agree. These guys who insisted on four kids in four years? No way. It was a woman’s call. Men had the easy job—they got laid.
I remembered how excited he was when they found out Had was pregnant. I, of course congratulated him, and scared myself into double bagging it when I had sex for the next three months after. There was no way I was having a kid. No way. I didn’t want his life. I didn’t want or need a wife, a steady schedule of what to do and when to do it, dinner and conversation every night, bedtime stories… I didn’t want that at all.
But I got it. I got it all—and at his expense—and now that I had it all, I found I liked it. Weird, right? I liked having a ‘home’ that was warm and comfortable, and not just with a sofa, a flat screen and all my toys, but stupid shit like lamps that make the room glow warm and breakfast conversation. And as much as Sookie’s chatter drove me nuts, I found I’d grown used to it.
And then there was Jessica. Four short weeks ago, the idea of looking after a one-year old would have made my teeth itch. I wasn’t a baby person; I avoided them and that worked out just fine.
But then they handed her over and she clung to me with so much innocent trust. Right away she took to me. She looked at me and she took me for what I was—just this man who had to take care of her. She trusted me to do that, because who else did she have? Her parents that loved and adored her where suddenly gone, and she was stuck with Sookie and me. I loved that little girl, and in a very short period of time, I found that if she were suddenly not there any more, the gap in my life would be very much irreplaceable. I knew Sookie felt the same way, even if she was having her doubts about her mothering capabilities. She had it in her whether she believed it or not she and Jessica would click sooner or later. And if they didn’t, she’d have me to help—always.
Now there was a scary notion. I’d tried my best not to think of the future. A year down the line—five; ten; twenty. The prospect scared me a little too much.
A one-year old I could handle. Could I deal with her when she was sixteen and crushing on boys (or girls), thinking of sex, slamming doors and hating me?
Maybe I could? I dealt with Pam didn’t I? She was more than enough practice for a brat.
Would Sookie and I get along in all that time? Would she get married to someone else? To Sam? What would happen if she did? Or if I met someone and felt the weird need to marry them, what then? What happened to Jessica?
By the time I’d made my way back to our block, I’d created more questions for myself than I had answers. It was useless.
That’s when I ran into Dawn, quite literally.
“Oh, Eric. I didn’t know you ran.” She said coming up beside me, spandex clinging to every part of her—bra and running leggings like a second skin atop her very tan, very toned skin.
“I do, sometimes.”
“It’s great isn’t it? Clears your head and keeps the belly bulge gone.”
“So, you settling in okay?”
“Yeah, it’s been fine. The rest of my stuff should be shipped over today, so that’ll help.”
“Oh that’s good. Moving is stressful, isn’t it? We’ve moved so many times now, I’ve lost count.”
“Oh, that must be hard.”
“It is.” She eyed me up and down and back up again. I’d taken off my t-shirt two miles back. The Louisiana heat, even at eight a.m., was just too much.
“Eric, would you like to come in for some iced tea? I just made it fresh.”
As tempting as that was, and … she was very tempting, I declined. Why? Because I’m a pussy, that’s why.
I berated myself all the way up the driveway, all the way to the back door where I kicked off my trainers. I’d hoped if I had to catch the lovers at breakfast, my run would have made me miss it. Thankfully, I was right when I walked in to find Sookie sitting at the island alone, sipping her coffee.
“Morning.” I said grabbing a water from the fridge. I ignored her bed head. It was probably sex hair and I didn’t want to think about that any more than I’d already done last night.
“Good morning. Good run?” She asked.
“Yeah, pretty good. Six miles before the heat started to get to me. I think my Nordic nature hates this weather so much more than I realize at times.”
“I love it. I can’t deal with the cold. I’d worship the sun if I could.”
We fell silent.
“So… where’s Ginger?”
“Sam not here?”
We both said at once.
“Uh, no Ginger’s not here.”
“That’s harsh. The poor girl doesn’t even get breakfast for her troubles?” She sassed with a smile.
“What about Sam?”
Then she looked at her coffee. God, she did fuck him.
“Um, no Sam’s not here. He left last night.”
Cold bastard, fucked her and left. That’s like something I’d have done. In fact, it is something I’d done.
“Yeah, I mean, we talked and stuff…”
Stuff. So that’s what she was calling it.
“But I thought it was for the best that he leave last night. I mean, before… things got out of hand.” She blushed.
Out of hand? Did that mean sex? What did that mean…?
“Oh, so you and he didn’t…? I mean…”
“No! I told you, I don’t just sleep with random people, second date-cooking guys rule or no. I … I’ve never slept with anyone that I didn’t have feelings for.” She admitted, her blush deepening and spreading to her neck.
She shrugged it off, standing up.
“So, is Ginger here? I was going to make breakfast but I wasn’t sure how many to cook for.”
I decided if she could be honest, so could I.
“No, she’s not. She left last night too… Before… you know.”
Her eyes widened. “OH, so I slept all night with my iPod in for nothing.” She mused out loud.
“Same.” I agreed and we both laughed at the ridiculousness of the other.
“Sookie, I do think we need to talk though, about the whole dating thing. It’s too awkward here. I know its our home now, but with you and the baby, it’s all just too weird for me to be bringing chicks here knowing you’re in the other room.”
“Me too. God, I’m so glad you said it. I mean, I totally thought it would be fine, but it freaked me out.”
I nodded. I really agreed.
“So, we’re agreed then?” I asked. “The house is a skank sex free zone?”
She nodded. “If I see Sam it’ll be on dates out or his place. Or we’ll watch movies in the den or something, but no sexing in the house. I mean, it weirded me out too. What if Jessica overheard? It’s way too confusing for a kid.”
I nodded, even if it did sound like she was trying to convince herself. Who was I to argue if she wasn’t going to be fucking Sam within earshot? I was okay with that.
“Jessica still asleep?” I asked.
“Yeah, her little escape downstairs last night must have knocked her out. She only stirred once after that. I’m so sorry she slapped Ginger.”
This time I actually did laugh, just thinking about the look of sheer annoyance on Jessica’s face. She wasn’t putting up with these stranger bitches.
She giggled. “Poor Ginger though. Was she really okay with it?”
“Eh, she was fine. She’s resilient.”
“I see that. She was sweet.”
“Did you expect her to be a raging cow or something? I do have better taste you know! Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be seeing her again.”
“Just because…” Was all I could muster, and she seemed to ignore it.
“Hey, do you want to go out for breakfast? I don’t see anything in here that’s appealing to me right now.” She shut the fridge with a smile. “How about we go to The Crown? Our breakfasts are awesome, and I don’t have to start work till ten.”
“Sounds good, just let me go take a quick shower.” I went to move past her and she moved in my direction. I moved again, and so did she.
“Sorry.” We both said in goofy unison.
Thirty minutes later Eric was showered and ready. Jessica was changed, dressed and as cranky as I’d ever seen her. She seemed tired even though she’d slept longer than usual. I’d given her a tiny yogurt in the car just to tide her over until we got to the restaurant. But she was still cranky and you knew it was bad when even Eric and his magic touch couldn’t bring her around.
“I hope she’s not sick.”
Eric felt her forehead. “Seems normal.”
“Yeah, but maybe it’s something else like a bug or something? God, please baby don’t be sick.”
“Hi, what can I get you?” A small skinny brown hair girl stopped at our table to take our order.
“I’m sorry, who are you?”
“I’m Mindy and I’ll be your waitress this morning.”
Mindy, there was no Mindy.
“Mindy, I don’t know you.”
“No Ma’am. I started this morning.”
“Ah. Mindy, I’m Sookie Stackhouse.”
Her eyes widened.
“Oh, hi Ms. Stackhouse…”
“Hi. Sophie hired you I assume?”
“Do you know who she fired?”
“Uh…” she chomped on her chewing gum.
“Her name was Amelia, I think?”
“Son of a bi-” I bit my tongue. I threw down my napkin. “I’ll be right back. Eric pick something off the menu for me, that’s if it’s still the same goddamn menu!”
I walked into the office and there she was. “Sookie, you’re early.”
“I’m having breakfast with my fa-… I’m having breakfast here.”
“Oh. Well, enjoy.”
“Why did you fire Amelia?”
She rolled her eyes.
“Sophie? She was a damn hard worker! And she knows this place like the back of her hand. I don’t get it!”
“Look, I know she’s your friend or whatever but it just wasn’t working out.”
“I didn’t like her attitude. She ignored my orders and was just a plain pain in my ass, Sookie.”
“Great. So I’m down a seasoned waitress in favor of some high school student who smacks gum when taking orders.” I sighed, the frustrations with my work where weighing on me daily. No wonder I was becoming such an unlikeable bitch. “Sophie, what the hell are you doing?”
“You’re changing everything, and no offense, but it’s all going to shit. We’re down more than a thousand dollars this month. Monday morning breakfast used to be booming, and now? There are three tables occupied; the rest are empty.”
“So? This is my business. I’ll run it how I see fit, and remember Sookie, I’m your boss. Not the other way around.”
“Fine, fine. I’m going to have my breakfast then I’ll be in to work.”
She simply waved me off.
Eggs, bacon, pancakes and coffee. I could have kissed him right there.
“You’re awesome.” I smiled at him as he dug into his bacon, while Jessica munched happily on hers.
We all ate in silence for a few minutes before I heard him—Lafayette—sliding into the empty chair next me.
“Save me.” He said in lieu of a hello.
“That bad?” He looked at me, as if to say ‘fuck yes’.
“Oh honey, last night was a nightmare. Tara and Sophie came to blows; Amelia intervened and got herself fired—she left in tears; Sophie was fuming; and the restaurant emptied in record time. Honestly, see what happens when this bitch returns?
“Don’t say bitch.” I warned.
“Why not, bitch?”
“Stop saying bitch! We’re trying to mind our language in front of the baby.”
Eric just laughed.
“You both realize you’ve both said bitch about a million times just now?”
We looked at Jessica; she was attacking the bacon.
“Hi, baby girl.” Lafayette tickled her chin, and she smiled. First smile of the day. Thank you for small miracles. “Hi.” He said again.
And that’s when it happened. We weren’t looking at her but we all heard it, the little sigh of a “hi” that came from Jessica.
Eric dropped his fork on his plate.
We all looked at each other as Lafayette whispered to me. “Has she done that before?”
“No…” I whispered back. Why? I had no idea. We were treating her like a wild animal that had walked into the room and we were scared we’d spook it.
“Hi.” I said again, and she did it again. Picking up her piece of bacon.
“Oh my God, baby! You can speak!”
Eric was beaming, and Lafayette was laughing.
“Aw white suburbanites, how nice. Enjoy.” He patted me on the back before he walked back to the kitchen.
“Jessica, hi!” Eric smiled at her and she just stuffed some pancake into her mouth. “Hi?” he asked again. I’m pretty sure we both looked like lunatics singing a chorus of “hi’s” to an unimpressed baby with stupid grins on our faces. But that’s exactly what we did.
Best breakfast ever.
A/N: Hey guys! Sooo, do we all still hate Sookie? *raises brow* Girl got a lot of slack last chapter, but it was to be expected (well, some of it…) But as one of my awesome readers put it best ‘Sookie doesn’t know she’s in a story with Eric, and that’s how it’s MEANT to be’. So for now, she deals with how SHE thinks she’s meant to deal. *shakes head at her*
Thank you all so much for the reviews and messages, yep even the bad ones that make me stop in my tracks, they all contribute to this story! Big thank you to Makesmyheadspin and vikinglover elle for their input and beta’ing awesomeness! MUAH.