Chapter 16: Chapter 16
The night of Sookie’s birthday was one of little sleep for me. I’d laid awake just running that kiss over and over in my head, wondering what every little response from her meant, wondering why she was so against the idea of us. Of course my pigheadedness and bruised ego had taken over right after her not so subtle suggestion that the kiss meant nothing—I kissed her friend?
What the hell was I thinking?
I mean, I’m pretty sure Pam was telling me the truth that Amelia was in fact playing for the other team, and it was the reason I’d picked her. I couldn’t kiss Sookie again, not in front of her friends, not when there was so much tension and unsaid woes between us. Kissing Tara would have made it awkward, and Lafayette just wasn’t my type. Of course, she and I avoided each other like the plague the next day. She collected Jessica—insisting even with her massive hangover she was fine. She went to the park with Sam and Jessica, and I felt more left out than I’d ever felt before. It was to become an on-going theme when Sam was around, and it made me hate him even more than before. True to her word, Sookie never brought him around the house for their dates. But, he’d pick her up, drop her off, and send flowers and candy and a whole mass of cheesy shit that was so 1990. I focused on work; I focused on Jessica; I tried not to focus on Sookie, as hard as it was.
I know to the outside world she seemed to be a bit of a bitch, but she really wasn’t. I mean, she could be when she wanted to be—let’s face it, we all could be—but she had this innate vulnerability behind her eyes that would quickly be followed up by a steel strength and determination. It reminded me a lot of myself at times. I’d told her I was dating again. Of course, she tried to act casual for a response, but like me, her eyes gave her away. I saw a smidgen of disappointment in them before she wished me luck and hoped I’d find someone that would, “make you happy”. It’s what she said, and I totally believed her, though when I’d asked her if Sam made her happy her eyes told me the truth while her mouth lied. I’d lied to her too. I hadn’t intended to, mainly because I suck at lying (it’s the damn eyes again) but I had intended to date. In fact, I had intended to fuck every woman that would have me in the hopes of fucking my feelings for Sookie, out of my system.
It didn’t work.
The week after her birthday I’d decided that I’d call up an old flame. Lindsay and I had hooked up the previous summer—it had been a weirdly wonderful so-called ‘relationship’. She ran the City library and had that whole sexy-naughty-but-nice librarian thing going on, complete with the glasses and the fuck me heels.
The previous summer had been one of little talking—she was big on that. I guess it was a leftover quirk of working in silence all day? I didn’t know, all I knew was that she went down on me between the business section and the autobiography section of the library after hours and it had been one of the top three blowjobs of my life. So when I called her and she agreed to meet me I’d put my game face on and was up for it.
We met, and had a few drinks. She told me the library was expanding, business was improving, and she’d been thinking about fucking me on the stacks of books by her desk for months after we agreed to break-up. It was an interesting kink of hers—that and a little light bondage.
We’d met up at the hotel and everything about it felt seedy, but I went anyway because I had a bruised ego and serious case of blue balls. It wasn’t until we’d gotten into things I realized how much of a pussy I’d become. I wanted to fuck her; I needed to fuck her; to use her—as crass as it sounds—to rid myself of whatever glitch of emotions being stuck in that house with Sookie had provided me.
Except I couldn’t.
She’d even commented that my ‘head wasn’t in the game,’ even as she used that amazing mouth on me, nothing happened.
I hadn’t got laid in months, and nothing was happening. I was broken in more ways than one.
So after that, I understandably felt a little useless.
Then it happened, the one thing that brought me out of my funk, that amazing little girl I got to call my own.
It had been an ordinary Tuesday. Sookie had gone to work, leaving Jessica washed and dressed and chillin’ in her crib. Of course now she was standing up and walking around it holding on, but she was happily spouting gibberish to herself before I entered her room. She was going to be tall. Her limbs had stretched out and her little blonde hair had grown just past her ears; it was even starting to curl a little on the ends. She recognized me as I walked into the room. She was busy making ‘broom broom’ noises when I picked her up and she latched her little hands around my face said it. One word and it had my whole insides turning to mush.
I was her dada.
A chill ran through me when she said it, and just for the record, I made her say it like six times before I blinked away the stupid tears that had formed in my eyes. As beautiful as her little address was, all I could think about was Alcide, and how this should have been directed at him.
Sookie and I had successfully avoided each other for weeks. We’d practiced it almost like a dance. She’d leave for work before I’d be out of the shower, Jessica would always be reading and waiting happily. We’d hang out—do her baby things like eat and cover herself in her food, watch some kids programs and sing-a-long—though if anyone asked, I just watched and let her bop along by herself. What? They say in the baby books that interaction is very important. If that meant singing along to ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ then so be it. By the time Sookie had come home, I’d be getting ready for work. I’d kiss Jessica goodbye—she was getting big on her cuddles too—and leave without having dinner. I’d refused to eat with her for almost a month, it was just too awkward. What would we make chit chat about? Her life with Sam? Work? Fake conversations didn’t interest me, so I didn’t have them. I wasn’t about to start with Sookie.
By the middle of September, I had busied myself so much with work I was noticing less and less that Sookie was spending more nights with Sam than she was at “home.” She wasn’t neglectful of Jessica, not in the slightest. In fact, there were many nights I’d return from work to find them asleep on the couch together all snug and cuddling, and despite Sookie’s obvious fear that Jessica was preferring me over her—since she refused to name her and all—it was clear to just about anyone the little girl adored her. But she, like everyone else, could probably sense Sookie’s fear.
We’d switched schedule times for September because Sophie-Ann was holidaying in the south of France for a month, basically leaving Sookie in the shit. So, she did the days and I did the nights. It was all very amicable.
Jessica and I stopped by the office one day both Sookie and I were off. Tara had come over and they were going to rearrange her bedroom or some other excuse to gossip, I wasn’t sure. I made myself scarce. Only, I wished I had called the office first because what I witnessed wasn’t something I was ever expecting to see.
“ERIC! Oh my GOD!” Amelia covered herself up, she was, for the lack of a better phrase ‘spread eagle’ on my fucking desk, with Pam between her legs.
“You have GOT to be fucking kidding me, Pam!” I put my free hand over Jessica’s eyes. She was far to young to have seen that. In fact, I was far too young to have seen that.
“What? You’re the only one who gets to sex the wait staff?” She smirked, rearranging herself slowly, not caring that Ames was sitting red-faced, attempting to do the same.
“Okay, that’s it! Both of you, out of here, now! And Pam, order me a new desk before the end of the day.”
“Grouchy. Just because you aren’t getting laid, sweetie, don’t throw stones at me. Hi, Jessica.”
“Don’t touch the baby. I don’t know where those hands have been today…”
Amelia just cringed and chanted, “Oh, my God,” into her hands.
I picked up my paperwork to take home. There was no way I could work at my desk now. Not when Pam was having an all-you-can-eat buffet on it for God knows how long.
“Da, Pam’s byes now?” came Jessica’s little comment. I had no idea but I guess since she saw her leave that was her version of “byes.”
“Yeah, baby, Pam goes bye now.”
“Ok.” she sighed, sounding as if she had the weight of the world on her teeny tiny shoulders. I just laughed.
“Okay, let’s go home. You want a cookie when we get home?”
“Yep, a nice big one full of sugar to rile you up for Sookie.” I smiled. “I think Uncle Dou-, Sam is coming over.”
I stopped at the bakery on my way home. I picked up a dozen donuts and some cupcakes, one of which Jessica obliterated in the backseat of the car on the way back. She was covered in pink frosting that had even somehow managed to get up her nose. I still didn’t know how that kid managed it sometimes. I hated that even cupcakes were tainted by Sookie and her evil.
Okay, so she wasn’t evil, but there were times when I did question it. Even though I knew better and I knew I was just being a sulking little bitch for no reason. She rejected me, so what, right? I should just be a man and move the fuck on, right?
Well, yes. But it was one of those things that was much easier said than done, as my failed attempts had proven to me.
The kitchen and downstairs was empty, telling me that Tara and Sookie were, in fact, going to rearrange her room and probably gossip while doing so. What I didn’t expect was to be proven right by having the evidence broadcasted into the kitchen via the forgotten baby monitor. It was on in Sookie’s room because that’s where Jessica had decided nap time should be that day. The other was on the kitchen counter next to the fridge.
I hadn’t meant to listen in. It was wrong and intrusive and creepy, right? But yet, when one hears ones name mentioned, what is one to do?
“So… how are things between you and Eric now?” I heard Tara ask.
“Horrible. I mean, I’m pretty sure we’re right back were we started. He hates me, Tara.”
“That’s not true.”
“It is. I can’t remember the last civilized conversation I had with him that didn’t involve Jessica. He doesn’t look at me—not directly; we don’t talk; I barely see him, and when I do it’s for minutes at a time and it’s all so fucking awkward.”
Well, I was glad we were both on the same page.
“All because of one kiss?”
Oh, so she knew about that? Not so surprising.
“One pretty epic kiss… But yeah, I mean it shouldn’t have happened.” She sighed.
“So then why did you do it?”
“Can’t I just blame the cocktails?”
“Okay, fine. Because I let it happen; because I wanted it to.”
“Uh-huh, and after? You just brush the poor guy off and jump into bed with Sam. That’s cold.”
“Thanks? And besides it wasn’t like that at all!”
“You know it was. And so out of character for you too… what gives?”
“I was seeing Sam. I am seeing Sam,” she corrected herself. “He’s my boyfriend, not Eric!”
“And how’s that going?”
I heard her sigh and throw what sounded like fabric—probably her sheets.
“Honestly? It’s fine. It’s nice.”
“That’s so hot.”
“Shut up!” She laughed. “He’s great…”
“I’m sensing a but?”
“But… Sex… isn’t everything, right?”
My ears perked up at that little turn in conversation as I carried Jessica into the den for cartoon time.
“Oh, oh. What is it?”
“It… well.. It kind of … it’s not you know…”
“Out with it, Sookie.”
“I haven’t been able to have an orgasm with him.”
I swear I damn near dropped the baby. Doctor Douche was bad in bed. I did what I always assumed was my Chandler Bing happy dance, with Jessica in one hand and the monitor in the other. She was one. She chewed her fists, she wouldn’t judge me.
“Shit, for real?” Came Tara’s reply.
“I mean the sex is nice… it’s …”
“Bitch, please, NICE? Sookie, a manicure is nice, a day at the spa is nice, being fucked by your boyfriend isn’t meant to be nice.”
“Believe me, I’ve tried okay? It’s just …”
AHA! I so knew all that ‘size doesn’t matter’ shit was lies. It so matters.
Of course, it was never an issue I had to worry about. Well, except that one time when the girl was a virgin and was so tight that… well anyway…
“What? No, he’s perfectly … fine in that department. It’s just… well, to be totally honest, I’ve been faking it…All the time.”
“I know! I mean, I know I should say something, but Tara, he’s a good guy and he’s sweet, okay? And I really do like him.”
“But you don’t love him.”
“It’s too soon for love.” She dismissed
“Well, that’s bullshit.”
“What happened to the Sookie I used to know? The Sookie who took charge and tattooed her pussy just to piss her boyfriend off? The Sookie that flashed a trucker in high school just because we dared that she was too much of a prude to do it? The Sookie that kicked Quinn’s cheating ass all around the Wal-Mart parking lot? Huh? The one that swore she’d never let a man bring her down? The one that believed in love at first sight and passion above all else?”
“That girl grew up.”
“That girl got squashed,” Tara countered.
“That girl… met Bill Compton.” She sighed.
“True that. But Sookie, come on. You can’t go on like this. He thinks he’s epic in bed and here you are still not getting off. How is that fair?”
“It’s not. And Tara, I swear to God I’ve never missed being fucked, like fucked, so much in my LIFE. Not to be a whore, but sometimes you just…”
“Want to be fucked through the floor boards?”
“God forgive me, but yes.”
They both started to laugh at each other before I heard a shuffling.
“Hey, want some iced tea? I think we’re about done here.
Shit, they were coming downstairs. I switched off the monitor and threw it in Jessica’s play pen.
“Hey, Eric!” Tara said cheerfully “Where’s Jess?”
“She’s watching Elmo.”
Sookie didn’t speak she just went for the iced tea in the fridge.
“You want some?” She aimed at me.
“No. I’m good.”
She sighed again. Maybe it was southern thing, but she seemed to hate when I refused food or drink from her.
I saw Tara roll her eyes as she made her way into the den.
“So Eric, is this how it’s going to go? Forever? Are we going to just not speak for the rest of our lives? Is that how’s it going to go?”
“GOD! Will you stop with the one word answers! It’s driving me nuts!”
“Look, this has gone on long enough don’t you think?
“And what’s that?”
“You know what! This! Us, acting like we’re total strangers in the same damn house. Eric, it’s killing me.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“What do you want from me, Sookie?” I snapped, my calm voice gone. “You don’t want me? That’s fine, I can deal with that shit, but you can’t have me here as your crutch before running off to Sam for a relationship. You can’t have it both ways. So you don’t like how I’m acting? Well, tough.”
“So that’s it? Because you think I rejected you we can’t even be friends?”
I scoffed. “We were never friends, don’t kid yourself any more than you’re already doing.”
And yeah, like the typical guy I was, I walked out on her. I hated when my anger got the best of me. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, I had a tendency to get very loud.
I’d tried everything, and I mean everything. Sex … with Sam just wasn’t what I was expecting. I mean, his pre-show was all about getting me there, and it worked. He had moves. But his main show just wasn’t good enough, I was sad to say. Telling Tara had been like a weight off my chest. I had tried to nudge him in the right direction of what I wanted, but he just didn’t get it.
But sex wasn’t everything, right? It used to be, but when I met Bill the sex was boring- at best- and I’d put up with it, hadn’t I? Though I hated myself for putting up with the rest of Bill’s bullshit. He was emotionally abusive and it had taken me months to even realize what he was doing. By then my self-confidence was so low I didn’t dare break up with him. He’d told me time and time again I was ‘broken’ and he was the only one who would want me.
And I’d believed him, like an idiot.
The reason why I couldn’t have kids—or why I’d been told it would be ‘near impossible to conceive,’ is the phrase they used—was because of an accident I’d had while pregnant when I was seventeen. I’d been headed to New Orleans when one of the tires blew out on our truck and we’d flipped over at the end of the highway. They’d told me it wasn’t advisable, nor did they think it was possible, for me to get pregnant. So, from then on in, I’d just resigned myself to the fact that children were off the menu of life for me. It’s why I avoided Hadley when she was pregnant. It’s why I’d spent very little time with Jessica prior to the accident. I felt like shit for doing it now because maybe if I hadn’t, maybe she and I would have been able to bond a little better? I’d never know.
All I knew was that I was sick of Eric’s shit, and if he wanted to act like a child about our situation then that was his deal. Jessica and I went shopping with Tara to try, at the very least, to curb my shit-tastic mood.
I’d gone through four baby departments before Tara dragged me away. I’d gotten Jessica enough shit to last her until she turned two—hats, boots, baby flip-flops, even though she doesn’t walk yet. She insisted I go lingerie shopping but honestly, what was the point? I’d wanted to put my sexual failures out of my mind for as long as possible.
“Fine, let’s go to McDonald’s then,” I suggested when she said she was hungry. Truth was, I was starving too, and I was sure Jessica wouldn’t say no to a little junk food.
“But I want coffee, Sookie, and not the McD’s coffee. It sucks.”
“Fine, there’s a Starbucks across from the restaurant. Just come on.”
We’d walked past the Starbucks, Tara promising once she set her order inside she’d pop across and get her fix.
By the time Jess and I were seated, she’d come back with her venti cup firmly attached to her hand.
“Let’s sit outside, it’s hot.”
“Hot, and you went and got a coffee? Sensible.”
She just rolled her eyes as we got the baby seated.
That’s when I saw him. Eric and the damn social worker chatting it up, sitting together at the Starbucks window. She was laughing at something he was saying and he was obviously hamming it up for her benefit. The jealousy that ran through me shocked me a little. I mean, I knew, I had no right to feel this way. No right at all.
And yet I did.
I fed Jessica her fries, the way she preferred—a fry, then a piece of fruit that came with the meal—fruit and fries… Babies were weird.
But then again, there I was dipping my fries into my shake. So maybe she just knew what she liked?
I watched what was going on across the street, not saying anything to Tara until she caught me not listening to her.
“Is that Eric? Who’s the bitch?”
“She’s not a bitch…” I said, though maybe now I’d change my tune. That bitch. “She’s our social worker.”
“Ew, is he dating her? It looks kinda like they know each other.”
Oh, God. Was he dating her? Random faceless whores I could deal with. But our social worker? Was that even LEGAL?
“No, I mean… she has class and a brain. Clearly not his usual type.”
“Oh, God.” I panicked. “What if he’s meeting with her about me? Tara, what if he hates me so much that he’s going to try and get sole custody of Jessica!”
“Sookie, calm down.”
“No! Oh my GOD, TARA! What if he tries to take her away from me…?”
“He wouldn’t do that!”
“How do you know? You don’t know him!”
“Well, you don’t seem to either, okay? Look, Ames works for the guy and she’s been telling me that he sings nothing but praises over you and the kid. You two might not like each other very much—that’s fucked up, too, by the way—but he sees how much you love her. So please calm your titties!”
“But nothing. Look, Eric’s a charming guy and if he’s dating her then, so what?”
“It’s unethical that’s what! She’s meant to be impartial! And if she’s fucking him she’s obviously going to be on his side!”
“And if she’s not? Sookie, we should go. Really, there are kids here and your pitch is so high it’s attracting dogs. Let’s just go.”
By the time Tara dropped us off I was a lot more calm. It was silly of me to freak out. So what if she was seeing him? I’d done nothing wrong. I was being a good mom to Jessica, the best I knew how to be. She couldn’t take her from me without a valid reason.
So calm I stayed, until it started to rain, forcing Jessica and I from the pool in favor of cuddling time in front of ‘Finding Nemo.’
A knock came to the door sometime after five, and it wasn’t anyone I was ever expecting.
“Bill? What are you doing here?”
He stood in what I knew was his ‘Sunday best,’ his hair flat and parted. He looked like a douche, which was fitting since that’s what he was. How it had taken me so long to see it, I’ll never know.
“I came to see you. I missed you.”
“Bill, it’s been months.”
He handed me a pretty bunch of roses. Douche or not, the flowers were nice. It wasn’t their fault the person who bought them was a twat.
“I know, and for that I am so sorry, sweetheart. I meant to come sooner, but I just had to wrap my head around this whole child thing. But I’ve accepted this is part of your life now, and I’m willing to take you back.”
Woah woah woah, excuse me?
“Take ME back? Bill, I broke up with you—twice. Why would you think—”
“Sookie, raising children isn’t easy, and I know when we started dating I told you I didn’t want children. The fact is, that was a lie. I knew you were defective in that area so I didn’t want to rub salt into the wounds.”
But he was fine doing it now?
“No. Listen, I love you and I know that doing this alone can’t be easy on you at all and I’m here to help. I know of wonderful boarding schools and nannies that would be willing to move in. Really, the load is not that heavy.”
“Boarding schools? Wow, you know what, you need to stop talking.”
“But, Sookie… The child needs a father figure!”
“The child has a father!”
“The guy you’re living with? Please, a child needs parents who love each other and that’s what you and I had. Are you and this Eric… are you in love with him?”
“I… look, Jessica has a family that loves her. She has a mother and a father who love her. Sure we’re not conventional, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that she’s taken care of, and she IS!”
“Sookie. I know how much you wanted children and I know how this, this baby just falling into your lap must have been a dream come true for you. But darling, you’re kidding yourself if you think raising it with some random stranger is healthy.”
“Bill, you aren’t getting it are you? I don’t want you. You or your passive-aggressive, abusive personality around my baby!”
“She’s not your baby, you fool. You see, this is just the behavior I was talking about—kidding yourself into believing you’re her mother. Really, Sookie…”
He took a step towards me, knocking me off my balance and sending me into the couch.
“Now Sookie, I’ve had about enough of your nonsensical rambling on this topic. So like I’ve said, the child needs a father and you need me. So let’s stop fussing around and just agree, hmm?”
“Sookie, you know I don’t like to get upset, and you’re making me upset. And you know how I get when I’m upset.”
One of the first times I broke up with him, his handprint remained on my face for three hours after it happened.
“Bill…” I said as calmly as I could despite my fear and the fact that my heart was thundering out of my chest. “I want you to leave. I don’t need, nor do I want you. Jessica has a daddy who loves and adores her and I can assure you, you are not him.”
I was still below him on the couch, giving him the advantage over me. He stood over me and I could see the calculating rage behind his eyes. I’d forgotten what it was like to be that afraid.
“You’re a broken little whore, you know that?”
“BILL, LEAVE.” I stood up to him by actually standing up to him this time.
And that’s when I felt it, right across my face, throwing me back into the couch again. Just above my eye—that shit would bruise like a peach.
I didn’t know what happened but suddenly Eric was there. I heard yelling coming from Bill and then I heard the baby crying. The next thing I knew, Eric had Bill by the scruff of his neck, up against the wall. He was kneeing him in the balls over and over while all I felt was the sting of my eye and the bruise that was forming underneath.
“Bill, right? Right. Bill, let me tell you something, you piece of shit. No man hits a woman, okay? Not this woman and not when I’m around, do you understand? You come into her house and you think it’s okay to even think about shit like this? You’re a pathetic excuse for a man.” There was a punch as Bill attempted to struggle and kick Eric. No such luck on his part. He was a good five inches shorter than Eric, maybe more, since I knew his shoes had lifts in them. Eric slammed him against the wall with another punch to the gut before Bill spat blood on the carpet.
“I’ll be informing my lawyers of this!”
“Oooh, I really hope so Billy boy. I really do, because then I can tell them exactly what I saw today—you walking into this woman’s home after she asked you to leave and abusing her, then assaulting her. Sure, you go ahead and do that.”
He dragged him to the front door while I managed to pick myself up off the couch.
He opened the door and with one shove, Bill was on his ass down the steps, his clothes torn and his face bloody, the rain pelting on him hard and fast.
“You come in here and you upset my daughter, and my Sookie and you think that’s okay? You get the hell out of this neighborhood Bill, before I really let my temper go on you, understand?”
Bill glared at us both, “You can have her. She’s a broken whore and that’s all she’ll ever be.”
I felt the tears well up in my eyes but I refused to cry in front of the bastard. Eric just growled.
“Don’t make me get my gun, Bill.”
With that, he walked to his car and got in, leaving Eric to slam the door behind him.
“Jesus Christ, Sookie. What the fuck was that?”
“That was my ex.”
“And you said I had shitty taste in partners?” he smiled. He then walked me over to the couch and helped me to sit down. I could do it just fine on my own, but his help was appreciated.
“Come here, show me your face.” He came closer and the rough fists that had laid into Bill were now soft and gentle hands as he examined my face.
“Sookie, you’re going to need a stitch in that, it’s bleeding. That bastard.” I could feel his rage, but his eyes softened when they looked at me. That’s when I let the tears fall.
“I’m fine, really.” I said lying to myself and to him as I held back my sobs.
“See to Jessica, okay? She’s crying.”
“She can self-soothe. Right now, you’re more important.” He walked into the kitchen and got a wet washcloth and filled it with ice for me, as well as the tiny first-aid kit I assumed Hadley bought. I found it under the sink weeks before.
“Here. Hold this to your face, it’ll help the swelling.” After a few moments of silence he asked, “May I?” holding out the tiny band-aid and taking the ice back from me.
“I’m sorry, Eric.”
“For what? This isn’t your fault.”
“It is, he came here because of me and I …” The water works started again. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”
“I’m glad I saw it. I’m glad I was there before he had the chance of hurting you even more than he did. Has that happened before?”
I didn’t answer him, but he seemed to not need an answer.
“That asshole. Why did…” he began to ask, but then stopped himself.
“Ask me. Why did I let him get away with it?”
“Well, you heard him, I’m a defective little whore. Who would want me?”
“I…” he began, but then stopped himself again.
His eyes grew sad as he fixed the small white band-aid to my forehead before he leaned in and kissed it.
“All better?” he asked, as if he were asking Jessica about her boo-boo.
“You don’t have to be so sweet. I probably deserve…”
“Hey, no. Listen to me, okay? No woman, no person deserves that, and definitely not you.”
“But don’t you hate me, too?” I said through shaking lips. The shock of it finally hitting me. “I’ve been nothing but a total bitch to you and ever since we kissed it’s just been so hard to know what to do right, Eric.”
“I know. It’s the same for me, you know?”
“Is that why you’ve been radio silent?”
“A little,” he nodded, putting the first-aid kit back together.
“Your hand is bleeding.” I noticed when he handed me the ice pack again.
“It’s fine. Are you okay?” He dismissed his own pain in favor of checking in on mine, again.
” I am … I will be.”
He nodded again, before getting up to check on the baby.
“Thank you.” I attempted to smile, even though it hurt.
“You’re welcome.” He lingered in the doorway for a second before he shook his head to himself and making the trek to the den for Jessica.
I didn’t know it then, but he’d saved my life that day. Really, in more ways than one.
A/N: So, what did we think honeys? The reason why Sookie is clinging to the idea of Sam so much? Yep that would be Bill’s fault *glares*
Anyone else want an Eric? Lol! Hit me up with your opinions, Pms are now enabled again I have no idea why they were turned off!
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
After I’d stormed out of the house, I realized I didn’t really want to go anywhere specific, so I ended up driving around for almost an hour before I needed a coffee fix. I’d been in Starbucks for almost ten minutes when I spotted her by the counter deciding over a mint chocolate or strawberry something or other, as well as a cookie.
“Hi. It’s nice to see you again.”
“I’m busted, huh? I’m in the area for another family’s meeting; they aren’t my easy family like you guys are and I need a caffeine fix before I visit them.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Believe me, you and Sookie are a walk in the park compared to some situations I deal with. And considering she showed up tipsy on our last visit…” She raised her brows at me.
“I think we’re the ones that are busted. Is that bad?”
“You weren’t drinking, right?”
“No, of course not,” I answered her honestly.
“Then it’s fine. I mean not ‘fine’ but not something I’m concerned about. You both seem responsible and since you were the one on babysitting duty, I can let Sookie off this once.”
“She was mortified if that helps…”
“It does. It’s obvious that she cares for Jessica, so I’m not worried.”
“Good, because she does you know. I mean, we both do.”
“How is Jessica?”
“She’s great! She’s growing! She’s a funny little girl, has an addiction to music—shit music—but she loves it. She’s not walking yet, but she stands and moves up and down to dance before she falls on her ass. You should see her looking around like someone pushed her.” I laughed, causing her to laugh, too. I found that whenever anyone asked me about Jessica, I tended to get animated describing her. Months before, I’d have laughed at those types of parents that got so enamoured with their kids and just thought they were the best thing ever. But now? I think I’d become one of them.
“It’s good to know that she’s been adjusting.”
“She is. I mean, it’s not been easy, and there are times when she has tantrums that I just do not know how to deal with—and it’s overwhelming—but I deal. We deal.”
“And how are you dealing with each other?”
“We’ve had our problems. To say the least.”
“Right now, honestly, we’re not actually on speaking terms.”
“Oh. May I ask why?” She sipped her coffee, looking at me thoughtfully. It had been awhile since I’d had a conversation with a woman that wasn’t tinted in either sarcasm or hatred.
“We… There have been misunderstandings between us. Mostly on how we feel, or don’t feel, about each other.”
“Ohh. Right. Well, that much was obviously going to happen.”
“Well, Eric… come on. There is enough sexual tension between you two to power the entire city. I saw it the first time I met you both, and it’s obvious living in the same house, parenting Jessica, that that would intensify things.”
“And you couldn’t have said something?”
She laughed at my ridiculousness.
“I still think having or attempting a casual sex—”
“I wouldn’t do that with her.”
“Really?” She didn’t look so convinced.
“Really. She and I, we’ve been through a lot of changes these last few months. I’ve changed a lot too, I think.”
“Well…” I sighed, “I never thought I wanted a family, or just one woman. I didn’t ‘do’ relationships, mainly because when I tried it just seemed like I was trapped.”
“And now you feel differently?”
“A little. I mean, I was handed a toddler and a co-parent overnight. We had to sink or swim. It wouldn’t have been my first choice for my life—but now that it’s here, I can’t imagine life with her.”
“Her too,” I smiled. And when she realized who I meant, she smiled too.
“Does she know how you feel?”
I sipped my coffee, stalling. That was the question.
“Well, I kissed her and if that doesn’t say ‘Hey, I like you!’ then, I don’t know what does.”
She set down her giant mug with a slight smirk on her face.
“What?” I asked.
“Women… We need reassurance, Eric. Lots of it.”
“Unless you flat out say how you feel, she’s just going to keep thinking that the little signs are all in her head. Reassure her that she’s what you want. If that’s what you want.”
“But that’s just it. I’m not entirely sure HOW I feel.”
She smirked like she knew something I didn’t. It was annoying.
“I am … not.”
“You are so the smitten kitten.”
When I raised a brow at her, she blushed and coughed.
“Sorry, caffeine makes me a tad … excitable.”
I just laughed.
“Hey, something we have in common.”
My talk with Meg really helped me to calm down. It was unexpected and just plain nice to chat about things without fear of a sarcastic quip in return. Sookie and I were never going to get anywhere with any aspect of whatever fucked up relationship we had if neither of us was willing to communicate with the other. So, I decided to be the bigger person—not just literally—and open up a line for talking, at the very least. I gave myself the best ‘man up’ pep talk I could on the way home. I drove to the sounds of Radiohead as I picked up a ton of Chinese food.
Food—everyone liked Chinese, right? Since I wasn’t totally sure what she liked, I pretty much picked one of each thing off half the menu, hoping something stuck. She’d tried the ‘breaking bread’ olive branch so many times over the previous weeks—which I blatantly threw back in her face. It was idiotic and egocentric. I knew that now. So I hoped my gesture wouldn’t go shunned as I had shunned hers. But when I walked into the kitchen through the French doors from the backyard, Sookie wasn’t alone. In fact, Sookie was having a pretty heated argument with whoever was in the living room with her.
I placed the food on the counter, not making my presence known right away.
“But, Sookie… The child needs a father figure!”
“The child has a father!”
That was interesting.
“The guy you’re living with? Please, a child needs parents who love each other and that’s what you and I had. Are you and this Eric… are you in love with him?”
I listened to them argue. Sure I probably shouldn’t, but really, who was going to know? I heard him mention something about Sookie wanting kids—past tense—rather heavily. He brandished about a few below the belt insults to her, but she seemed to deflect them pretty well. When she mentioned that Jessica had a daddy who loved her, I’ll admit my heart ached a little. As scary as it was, I was that guy.
When he said the words “broken little whore,” never in my whole life did I feel the rage that I felt at that moment. How fucking dare he! I rounded the corner of the living room just in time to see him hit her. He struck her hard, the force of the blow throwing her onto the sofa with a ‘thwack.’
I saw red. The next thing I knew, I was throwing him out onto the front steps in the pouring rain. He was pathetic and it was disgusting that he thought he could hit a woman, any woman, but certainly not who I wanted as my woman.
The bastard had really done a number on her face, hitting her right where she’d bruise heavily. I did my best to comfort her. Being that close to her felt good, even if all I was doing was stopping her bleeding and swelling. I’d witnessed enough bar fights in my time to know how to treat a slap or a punch. But looking into her big blue eyes so full of shock and pain as she apologised over and over for something that was so out of her control, it broke me and all I wanted to do was take her in my arms and tell that I was there. And as long as I was, he would never touch her again.
Of course, I couldn’t. She wasn’t mine to protect, even though I wanted to. She belonged to Sam and as much as I didn’t understand it—especially given what I’d found out hours before—she was still making the choice to be with him.
But what alternative had I offered her? Had I really offered her anything at all?
No, the more I thought about it, the more I realized she still saw me as a whore. Even if it wasn’t the total truth, it was still all she assumed—it was all I let her assume. And out of jealously and wounded man pride, I let those ideas escalate for a few months more.
I was an idiot.
When I checked on Jessica, she was standing in her playpen—eyes red and tears streaming down her little cheeks—with an exasperated look of ‘Why’d you leave me?’ on her face.
“Hey baby, it’s okay. I’m here, shhh it’s okay.” I tried to placate her with bouncing and jiggles, but she was having none of it. I found her Minnie Mouse pacifier sitting in her playpen, offered it too her and thankfully she took it. Her big blue eyes still rimmed red, evidence of her tears.
I found Sookie sitting on the couch where I’d left her, the icepack to her face. She too was crying, only silently to herself. Seriously? I couldn’t deal with one crying woman, let alone two.
Jessica seemed to sense that there was something wrong, her eyes never leaving Sookie’s.
“Hey, pumpkin.” Sookie faked a smile when I sat on the couch sitting the baby in between us. “How you doin’ baby girl, huh?” she said, sweetly planting kisses on her, making her giggle.
“Let me see?” I reached over and took the icepack from her. She didn’t look at me, but I looked at her, examining ever inch of her face.
“The ice should keep the swelling down. Hopefully, it won’t bruise too dark. I swear I should have killed him.”
“No. You’d do that and he’d win. And we can’t let that happen, right?”
Jessica crawled over to Sookie and sat in her lap. It was a touching innocent gesture that I knew tugged at Sookie’s heart since I saw another tear fall. Instead of acknowledging it, she simply snuggled Jessica closer to her.
I went to stand up but Sookie’s hand landed on mine, though she still didn’t look at me.
“Thank you, really I—”
“Don’t worry about it.” I nodded. “I brought food—Chinese?”
She looked hesitant. “No. Not just yet, I … I think maybe I need to just go lay down for a little bit.”
I understood completely. She’d been bruised in more ways than one that afternoon.
“Of course. I’ll get Jess fed and happy; you take your time.”
She passed me the baby with a weak smile and I watched as she made her way slowly up the stairs. I wanted to comfort her, to let her know she wasn’t alone and that men like Bill Compton didn’t exist inside every man. Some of us were nothing like him. But honestly, I didn’t know what good it would do.
I felt oddly numb, and it wasn’t just the ice on my face either. I didn’t know why I did it, but somehow I’d always known that my tastes in men were questionable. I’d dated Quinn because he was friends with my brother, and was really the first guy to show any interest in me. I’d stayed with him all through high school even though he was an ass the majority of the time—and he’d cheated on me. Then there was the only other two guys I’d dated seriously. The three in between Bill were flings at best, but Bill for some reason, I’d stayed with for a significant amount of time. I’d let him take that carefree girl and smoosh her into this anal-retentive woman terrified of her own judgements. By the time I’d realized who and what he was exactly, this new life was thrust upon me. Perhaps just in the nick of time? I didn’t know if I believed in fate; I liked the idea of it, but was my fate so closely tied with the deaths of two people I loved? For me to get my head out of my ass, did Hadley have to die? That didn’t seem fair. What about her fate? Was it her fate to lose her life and the chance to see her baby girl grow into a woman just so I could make sense of my own life? Again, how was that fair? And Eric, was this all the same for him—meant to be, but at the cost of so much pain? No, I didn’t like to think it was.
Bill showing up was a blatant reminder of exactly why I was with Sam. He is Bill’s opposite in every way. He’s kind and sweet and he has a heart that just wants to help people. He cures babies for goodness sakes; you can’t attempt to do much better than that. But Tara was right, I was bullshitting myself. I didn’t love him though I did see the potential for loving him—it just hadn’t hit me right away. Was it unfair to him? Maybe. But we enjoyed each other’s company, the dates were always fun and pleasant—sure the sex pretty much sucked—but as it stood he didn’t love me yet either. We liked each other and for now, that was enough.
I’d laid on my bed and tried to not over think the day. Of course I failed, but maybe it was necessary. Eric’s sweetness to me, and the fact that he stood up and protected me so intensely didn’t go unnoticed. I knew he didn’t do it to gain favor with me, mainly because hours before he and I weren’t even on speaking terms. But he had. He’d saved me from what no doubt could have escalated into something much worse. The look of rage on Bill’s face was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, even on him. Eric had stepped in and for that I’d always be grateful. His comment before he left the house had stuck with me though, how we’d never actually been friends. And he was right. We were a lot of things, none of them friend-like in substance. We’d hated each other, we’d tolerated each other for the sake of Jessica, then we kissed and everything got shifted on its head. I liked the kiss, and I was pretty sure if he were to kiss me again, I wouldn’t necessarily be upset by it. His kissing skills were plentiful but that was a step he and I just weren’t ready for. We weren’t even friends.
I had to fix that.
It was a little after nine when I finally made my way downstairs again. The house was silent and mostly dark, the only light coming from the den. There I found Eric lying asleep on the couch with Miss Jessica tucked into his right arm, her thumb in her mouth, both of them sleeping soundly. I didn’t want to disturb either of them since it had been an eventful day, and not only for me. Of course, as I tried to slip out of the room, Eric woke up with a groggy “Hey,” thrown in my direction.
“Hey.” I whispered back. “I didn’t want to bother you—”
“You’re not. Let me just put her to bed and then we can talk okay?” he said in a low whisper, as he scooped up Jessica and took her to her room.
While he was getting her settled, I’d discovered that he’d bought enough food to feed an army, and most of it was untouched. I threw a few of the different dishes together on two plates and microwaved them for us both. I was starving.
“You want a second helping?” I asked, when he reappeared in the doorway.
“Sure. I’m pretty much a bottomless pit.”
“I hate that men can eat till the cows come home, but God knows if we women inhale air we gain weight. How is that fair?”
He just smirked.
We both took our seats at the island—this time next to each other—and ate in comfortable silence for a few minutes.
“I’m sorry for the way I reacted when you kissed me.”
“For kissing me back?”
“N-no, not for that part,” I blushed, “the part after. The cold shoulder, freaking out part. It was stupid of me and it was an overreaction.”
He nodded, chewing his soft noodles.
“I’m sorry, too. I didn’t exactly help matters, now did I? I think it’s safe to say we were both pretty childish, huh?”
“Extremely,” I agreed with a smile. One that hurt my ever bruising face.
“Also, Eric, what you said today, about us never being friends…?”
“Yeah, look Sookie, I was angry and stupid and—”
“No, it’s not stupid. In fact, you were right. We were never really friends. But I’d like for us to be.”
He put down his fork and looked at me. He was intense with his eye contact at times.
“I want to be your friend and not just a tolerated co-parent either. I’d like us to get to know each other. Like really get to know each other.”
He smiled slightly, more of a crooked grin as he picked up his fork and started chowing down again.
“Sure, Stackhouse. What do you wanna know?”
A/n : *Crawls out from deathbed* I’m been pretty much dying this last two days and still I wrote, love me? Lol. No really it distracted from my sheer misery of this kicking my ass flu I’ve taken. *wallows* However what did you think of this one? Sound off in the review box and be a love and bring me some water mmmkay? Haha. Sorry about my fail on review replies but since I couldn’t breathe for most of the week they kind of took a backseat but just know that I’ve read and adored them all so thank you thank you thannnk you so much, all of you *smooshes*
Also a big mucho thankies to vikinglover_elle for her beta’ing skills! 😀
Chapter 18: Chapter 18
“Sure, Stackhouse. What do you wanna know?”
“How about we do this the old-fashioned way? Twenty Questions…” She smiled, taking a bite of her chicken spring roll.
“Sure. You start?”
She nodded wiping her hands on her napkin.
“Okay… Favorite holiday?”
“Easy, Christmas. I like giving presents.”
“So you’re a giver, huh?” she snorted. I swear, she actually snorted. “Sorry, nervous humor. That’s good, Christmas is mine too. I mean, Halloween is great but after the age of fourteen, it sucks.”
“Yep, no free candy.” I was serious, Halloween was useless without candy, it’s why my parties at the bar always had free flowing alcohol – but also free flowing candy bowls too . I was a man who liked his sugar. I didn’t gain weight easily, my lanky frame in need of serious help to keep me filled out. Pam hated that about me. She insisted that women had to work three times as hard as men to stay slim and that if she inhaled air she’d gained weight.
With Sookie, and our little game I went next, and figured I’d start out as easy as she did. But not before I took a bottle of wine from the wine rack attached to the kitchen island and poured us both a glass.
“Favorite comfort food?”
“Of all the food in all the world? That’s a toughie!” she smiled as she thought. “It would have to be French fries and a strawberry milkshake. Not very classy I know, but it’s yummy.”
That was good, it was simple.
“Strawberry ice-cream, no matter how cold it is. Has to be Haagen-Dazs though.”
She nodded along.
“How old where you when you lost your virginity?” she asked, poking at her rice.
“Oh, so we’re going that route are we?” I smirked and she just shrugged it off.
“Fine, I was eighteen.”
Her eyes widened.
“Don’t look so stunned!”
“No, I … really? I mean, that’s kind of …”
“Late for a guy? Yeah, so I’d heard. I don’t know. I wasn’t very social when I was in high school. I mostly concentrated on sports and my grades.”
“And girls didn’t throw themselves at you?”
I laughed. They definitely did not.
“I didn’t always look like this. I had really weird hair, my nose was too big for my face—it was the 1990’s if that explains the fashion—and I was the awkward lanky kid from Sweden for a long while.”
“Awe. You wittle nerd.” she fake sympathized, patting me on the arm.
“It’s not funny, kids are mean to foreigners!”
She burst out laughing at my high pitched admission before sipping her wine.
“I was fifteen.”
“Tramp,” I said sarcastically, earning a punch in the arm.
“Hey, shut up! I was stupid and I thought I loved him and all that jazz. He was older and I guess my head was turned by the attention? I don’t know. It wasn’t very memorable that’s for sure.”
I cringed. “Mine either. She was older too… way older.”
“How much older?”
“I don’t know, like forty.”
“FORTY? Oh my God, Eric? Who the hell was she—a friend of your mom’s or something?”
I looked guilty.
“Oh my God, she was wasn’t she?”
“Not really a friend, more like a casual acquaintance.”
Her eyes went wide.
“It was at our holiday party that year. I’d just turned eighteen and I was feeling shit about being a legal virgin… and I don’t know, she was nice to me… and you know had that whole cougar thing working for her. But God it was awkward. I was terrified and I came so … It just wasn’t great.”
She was still chuckling to herself by the time it was my turn.
“Favorite childhood memory?”
She smiled. I was glad I brought us back to a more casual topic.
“I don’t really remember my parents, but there is this one time, I was about five and we were baking with my Gran—pies, cookies, bread, the whole nine. I wound up covered in flour and all sticky, but no one cared because I was learning to bake with my Gran and mom and it was fun. Now, anytime I bake, it reminds me of my mom’s laugh. I don’t really remember her voice but I remember her laugh. Is that weird?”
“No, not at all. It’s great that you have that to hold onto, though.”
“Yeah, I guess it is. I mean, I’d like to think that we can start doing that for Jessica. You know, building memories that she’ll hold on to. Good ones.”
I nodded. I hadn’t really thought about it, but she was right.
“This one time my dad and I went fishing, which in Stockholm isn’t that rare, but he was a busy guy so for us it was treat. We drove out into the country and had a picnic—it was Lunchables and a flask of tea, but it worked. Anyway, we fished for hours and he would tell me about how his dad did it with him and how much he loved the water. We didn’t catch anything but on the way home we stopped off at this fish market and bought this huge salmon. We totally lied to my mom but she was so pleased. She probably knew we were lying but she never said. It was a delicious fish, too.”
She smiled wide. “That’s so sweet.”
“What is your tattoo of?”
“I swear you’re obsessed.”
“Show me a straight guy who wouldn’t be…”
“It’s…God, I hate you for this. It’s just a stupid thing that I did to piss off Quinn.”
“Quinn being the virginity stealing douche of a boyfriend?”
“It’s lips, okay? Two little pink lipstick looking lips, like a kiss mark.”
She cringed her face into her hands. “We’d had an argument. He was fine with me going down on him, but he wouldn’t do the same. And I was curious about it an all. So to piss him off, I got it done. My argument was if he wasn’t going to, I’d need someone’s lips there,” she said deadpan and it make me laugh out loud.
“It was. He was so jealous that things improved rapidly after that,” she said smugly.
“Have you ever been in love?” she asked me.
“Do I have to?” I gave her my fakest whine in the hopes she’d let me off.
“Yes,” she said, giving me her last spring roll.
I sighed, suddenly hating this game.
“I was nineteen and in college; her name was Anya. She was an exchange student from Stockholm. She reminded me of home, I guess? We dated for a little over a year and then—” I coughed, I hadn’t thought about Anya in a long while. “I found her in bed with her Ethics professor. How’s that for irony.”
“Pretty much. I was a dork in love and she … was apparently fucking half the faculty.”
“Jesus, I’m sorry, Eric.”
“For a long time I hated her, you know? But that was a long time ago.”
“And no one since her?”
She looked at me, those big blue eyes so full of curiosity and sympathy. I could love her; I could love her a lot, I realized.
Instead of telling her what was floating in my brain I looked away.
“No.” I picked at my food a little more. “My turn.”
She smiled again. God, I loved her smile. “Make it a good one!”
“Okay. What do you think of me, honestly?”
Her eyes went wide.
“That’s a dangerous question, Northman.”
“It is and depending on your answer, it could be explosive.”
Instead of ignoring me, she simple set down her fork and turned to face me.
“Well let’s see. On first impressions you come across as … a douche.”
“But there’s a lot more to you. I mean, we all have our douche-y moments, right? Um… you’re tall.”
“Shut up and let me finish!” She rolled her eyes.
“You’re tall, and … well you’re… you know, hot.” She looked away when she said that. “You have nice eyes and a cute butt.” She coughed a little with a sound of ‘a-hem’ before looking at me again. “And you’re a good dad to Jessica. You have a goofy side that I think you need to let loose more often, and you’re fair. If your employees are anything to go by, you’re an awesome boss.”
“Did Amelia say that?” I smiled.
“Shush. You … you’re patient—with me, with Jess, with Pam too, I’m guessing. That’s a good quality to have. Oh, and you make nice pancakes.” She grinned looking at the floor.
“Wow, that was a lot of compliments, coming from you. Be careful, my head might explode.”
“Okay, shut up. Moving on…”
“Hey, don’t you want to know what I think about you?” I poked her in the side.
She sighed dramatically before taking a sip of her wine. “Do I really? I don’t know. If it’s just going to be ‘stupid bitch’ then I think I’m good not knowing.”
“You’re not stupid, and you’re not a bitch … most of the time.”
She glared at me for awhile. I could see her thinking it over.
“Fine, tell me.”
“On first impressions you can come across as a bit of a closed off champagne stealing nightmare.”
She grinned wide at my reference to our first date.
“You’re short. But I like short girls.” I repeated her way of speaking. “And well… you know, you’re hot. You have nice eyes—real nice eyes—and a seriously hot ass.” She was blushing but she recognized that I was copying her pattern of compliments—they were all true.
“You’re a good mom, but you need to relax and you could be a great mom. You have a goofy side that I think—”
“Okay, I see what you’re doing here. Nice,” she smirked, sipping her wine.
“Well, what do you know, Sook, we have shit in common after all! Has hell frozen over?”
Our game of twenty questions was productive. I learned she’d wanted to be a fairy when she was little because she really wanted to fly. She learned that I wanted to be Batman, for the obvious extremely cool bat cave reasoning. She liked country music because it reminded her of her grandmother, and she hated peas. I held off on asking her what I was curious about, what exactly Bill had meant when he called her those things. Was it purely out of anger and spite, or was there something deeper behind his words? I wanted to know, but I was sure that the timing wasn’t right at all for me to bring that up again. She and I were making progress. I didn’t want to fuck that up by messing with her emotions again. Instead, I took what I could get, and what I got was to know her just a tiny bit better than before.
“She’s peeing!” I yelled.
“She’s in water how do you know she’s peeing!” he poked his head around the door.
“Pee face!” I pulled her from the tub to hold her over the toilet.
“Sookie, does it really matter? She’s a baby.”
“But it’s baby pee.”
I scrunched up my face. How did he not get this?
“Yeah, pee being the key word. No, it’s just icky. And do we want her to grow up being one of those people who pee in the shower? No, we don’t.”
He just shook his head at me. Eric and I had been making leaps and bounds with our whole ‘friendship’ thing. We’d been talking a lot more, and he’d even started opening up to me about his family—especially when it came to funny stories about his granddad.
Niall was someone I was looking forward to meeting, even if Eric refused to call him. I still couldn’t get it out of him why he wasn’t on full speaking terms with his family, but then he’d remind me that Jason hadn’t stopped by since we ‘took over’ either, and I couldn’t really argue with him. Jason just didn’t care, and who was I to force the issue?
“Okay here.” I handed him the towel covered baby. I was a soaking mess since Miss Jessica decided that ‘Row your Boat’ meant splashing the living crap out of me as I tried to wash her. “Take her, I’m going to find a dry top.”
“Why? This one is already very fetching.” He looked straight at my boobs and smiled, it wasn’t until I glanced in the mirror that I realized the water had made both my top and my bra see through.
“Pervert,” I called to the next room, but all I got was a boisterous laugh in return.
“Can I use your treadmill?”
“Sure. You know, you don’t have to ask. I mean, it’s here for both of us,” he answered as I made my way to Jess’s room.
“Though, Sookie, I can think of a number of better and much more fun ways of getting your heart rate up and making you sweat.” He wriggled his brows at me.
“Seriously? How have you not been slapped repeatedly by women before, really.”
“Because, woman… most women, love me.”
“This one loves me.” He pointed to the partly powdered baby laying naked as anything flapping her arms and legs at him with her pacifier in her mouth.
“You love me don’t you, Jess? Yes you do.” He grinned. “More than Sookie because at least I have a name.” He eyed me sideways. Sarcastic bastard. I threw a towel at him.
“I’m just kidding. Maybe it’s because your name is so weird she’s like, refusing to use it,” he sassed.
“I have heavier things than a towel nearby.” I shouted as I left the room.
An hour later I was worked out as much as I could. My legs hurt, my stomach hurt, my lungs hated me. But that was a good sign. I never liked my workouts unless they caused a tiny bit of pain. What was the point otherwise?
I’d just rinsed out my hair in the shower when I heard him.
“SOOKIE! QUICK!” I heard his voice through the door.
“What?” I yelled from inside the shower.
“COME HERE, NOW!”
He sounded freaked.
“IS SHE ILL?”
“NO, I THINK SHE’S GOING TO WALK!”
NOW? Really? Damn she could pick her moments.
“Gimme a second!”
“IF SHE DOES IT YOU’RE GONNA MISS IT!”
“Video. Blackberry.” I shouted trying to rinse my hair faster to stop it from dripping as I reached for a big towel.
“I think she’s doing it!”
“Distract her!” Stupid freaking towel wouldn’t wrap right! By the time I almost fell into his room clutching my towel around me, she was crying.
“What did you do?”
“I … distracted her.” He looked guilty.
“By doing what?
“Ipushedherbackdownagain,” he looked like he might be sick.
She was looked so confused, her face red from sobbing.
“She landed on the pillows and it’s not like I wrestled her to the ground! It was a little push!”
“That probably has her traumatized! Aw honey.” I picked her up for a cuddle and she continued to side eye Eric like a pro. She wasn’t calming down for no one, and I was dripping all over Eric’s floor since my hair was towel-less.
“Sugar! Here take her and try and get her back to normal.” But as I handed her to Eric, Jessica decided she was too attached to my towel and yanked it along with her.
Leaving me standing naked in front of them both.
It must have only been for a millisecond before I snatched it off the ground, but the look on Eric’s face combined with Jessica’s sudden giggling fit, I didn’t know where to look first.
Eric’s mouth was suddenly agape, and Jessica’s tears were replaced by a constant stream of giggles.
“Oh my, God.” I blushed. “I … I …”
“Bathroom?” Eric offered, pointing as I made sure the towel was secure around me. I turned and all but ran from the room.
“What?” I answered, red-faced from behind the bathroom door.
I cringed. I wanted to die. I swear that kid had it out for me!
“This one?” He asked. Pointing to one box. It was wrong.
“No, I think she’s a size bigger now.” He threw the giant diaper box into the cart. He looked around for a second seeing what aisle we were in. “I’ll be right back.”
“Eric…? He’s insane, we’ve covered that right?” I said to Jessica who was chewing on her pretzel, half of which was now soggy and falling to pieces.
About ten minutes later Eric reappeared with a box in his hands.
“Oh this? A camera. I figured after our talk the other week that we really should be saving stuff for Jessica. You know, that’s not just on our phones. So I bought this. It does pretty much everything and there’s a tripod.”
“Oh, that’s kind of cool actually.”
“Yeah, and if it doesn’t get used for the baby, I could use it.”
“My extensive sex tape collection,” he said loudly. Of course, it’s as we pass one of the most posh looking old lady’s in the store. She judged us accordingly.
“I’m kidding!” he held his hands up. “No one needs to see themselves have sex. I mean, unless you’re like a socialite or whatever.
I looked at him, ‘What the fuck?’ written all over my face.
“I’m at home during the day. Jessica likes E!”
“Jessica does or you do.”
“No comment. Oh, do we need this?” He held up a giant bottle of vodka.
“Well, Halloween is in like two weeks right? Are you planning anything?”
“You been talking to Amelia?”
“Maybe,” he smiled.
“Yeah, ok so, Halloween used to be our thing. We’d throw a huge party and dress up and … well, it was fun.”
“But not this year?”
“I don’t know Eric. Things are so different this year. What would we do with Jess?”
“Get Maxine to baby sit or something? I mean, we’re doing a Dress Up Weekend at the bar, but Sunday night is free. It could be fun to have a party in the house. We haven’t really had people over.”
“True… I don’t know. Maybe we should think about it?”
“Well, you have maybe a week before we’d need to tell people, right?”
I nodded. Maybe a party was a good idea after all; it could help us all to cut loose. I know that work had me wound tighter than a drum, and Jessica was testing my last nerve lately since she seemed to hate being alone with me… Maybe I did need some grown up time, to relax.
“No, you know what? You’re right. I think that’s just what we need. Some nice, good, clean fun.”
“Good clean fun?”
“You know, with like fake blood and guts and ghosts. Obviously.” She waved a hand in front of herself for effect.
“Riiight, obviously. Good clean, effed up fun.” He abbreviated with a smile for Jessica’s sake.
Oh God, we had no idea how fucked the fun would be. Literally.