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Hi, guys! Here we are again! Just a quick but very big thanks to everyone that’s visited here, commented on the chapters and subscribed. It’s sweet and I hope you like the blog, and the sneak preview before Fanfiction dot fail. 😉 Another chapter up! This is the one with the fake boyfriend dilemma, oh, and the shopping spree.

SPOV:

The dinner with Alcide went horribly, if I was being honest. Initially there was nothing wrong with him, his manners, his speech pattern, nothing. He wasn’t annoying or pompous, and he wasn’t a pervert either, only interested in my breasts – though he did look a time or two. He was good, he was normal.

The problem was, he was also incredibly boring, and he silently detested what I did, even if he didn’t know it yet.

“I mean they’re just dresses, and skirts, you can get them anywhere, you know? I just don’t see the point in being so over the top about everything and everyone that calls them a designer. This isn’t art, you know.”

I violently disagreed, and the ‘gentle’ argument meant I consumed a lot more wine than I normally would – two bottles each by the time the cheque arrived, if I recall. We disagreed on everything, passionately, and when we weren’t disagreeing, I was completely bored. Why did he work for a fashion house if he hated fashion? I just didn’t get it. He was a good looking guy, fresh out of a bad relationship, more than willing to put up a front for twenty five grand plus the perks. But I wasn’t. Not after all the wine, not after the three shots either, and not after he tried to kiss me in the car and I all but threw him out, on the bridge. It was a disaster, and I hated that Eric was right about this. It may have been his accidental idea, but my execution of it was far from perfect. I was drunk, extremely drunk, a lot more drunk than I’d been since college. The stress of work, and attempting a pre-arranged personal life, teamed with a lot of booze finally hit me, as I hit Brooklyn. I didn’t know anyone else that lived there, only Eric, and it was him I’d gone to see. Or more to the point, to yell at.

Don’t ask me why, it had made perfect sense to me at the time. It was all his stupid idea, and now it was backfiring on me, and I was mad. That’s as far as I got, when I got to his front door at just before three am.

“You!” I said, pointing at him, as I took off my shoes. “This is all your fault!” I said, yelling.

He looked shocked, and half naked, but mostly shocked, his newly shortened hair was sticking up all over the place too.

“What the hell are you doing-”

“Here? I’m here to tell you that you suck. This was all your idea and now? Now it sucks!”

He folded his arms at me, a pissed look on his face, as I stood there in the hallway barefoot.

“Is that right? So you can’t verbally abuse me enough during working hours, now you’ve decided to come to my home and do it too.”

“Yes. That’s it exactly. Just a horrible idea. HORRIBLE.”

“Yeah, so you said, and if you’d recall, it wasn’t REALLY my idea. It was a throw away comment that you took and ran with.”

“Psh, no I didn’t…”

“Yes. You did.”

“Well, it’s still your fault. Seriously what even! I can’t fake date someone because they’re all losers or creepers, I mean, seriously or really, really BORING. Eric, this is all your fault!!”

He lifted my shoes and put them inside his door, and stood aside and invited me in.

“If you’re going to yell at me, I’d rather the rest of the neighbours not know about it.”

I wobbled through the door, his walls were my friends to keep me upright. I looked around his softly lit apartment, and sure enough he did sleep on the couch because there were pillows and some blankets. Even in my drunken state I felt kind of bad for him.

“Alcide was a dud more than a stud, I take it?” he whispered.

“YES. Idiotic, and he was just so judgemental!”

He smirked, “Sounds right up your alley if Mr Compton and his ‘one must’ is anything to go by.”

I just rolled my eyes.

“Eric this is just not funny. If I don’t sell this to my Gran, I’m done!”

He took my hand and dragged me into the kitchen.

“What he hell?!”

“I’m going to need you to keep your damn voice down.”

“Why?!”

“There is a kid asleep in there, and I swear to you if you wake her up, I’ll throw you out. My boss or not.”

That shocked me, but I shut up.

“Jesus, fine. Touchy…”

We didn’t talk for a minute or so, I just sort of leaned against his wall, as he waited for the water in the kettle to boil.

“You want a coffee? Seems like you could use one, or three,” he commented, looking over at me.

“Please.”

He nodded, and soon I had a cup of hot loveliness in hand.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can’t lose my job, I just can’t. I don’t know who I am without it … and without it, I’ll have far too much time on my hands to worry about the fact that I’m thirty, unemployed and fucking single to boot!”

“Voice. Down,” he warned again. I was drunk and drunk equalled loud. Louder than usual.

“Fine! Jesus, what’s the big deal!?”

He rolled his eyes then, “The world doesn’t revolve around you that’s what.”

“Excuse me?”

“Look, it took me ages to get her to sleep tonight, alright? So I don’t want her waking up again.”

Oh.

“What’s wrong with her?”

He shook his head, sipping his own coffee.

“What?” I asked again. Apparently drunk me was a lot more impatient than usual me, which is saying something.

“It’s nothing, okay? Look, you can just sleep on the couch or whatever, or I can call you a car if they come out this late … or early …”

“Eric, what’s wrong with her?”

“She was just a little … weepy, that’s all. It’s our parent’s anniversary and I guess it hit her hard again. I don’t know, she wouldn’t really talk about it, but she just … misses them, and there’s not a whole lot I can really do about that, you know?”

I nodded.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t what? I mean it.”

“ I know you do, that makes it worse. I don’t really want to talk about this, I’m tired, so if you’re staying, stay, and if you’re going, go.”

So he wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries, I understood that.

“I don’t want to go home,” I admitted.

He just shrugged, “Fine, come on then.”

The next thing I knew I was laying on his couch and he was in the arm chair. It felt really unfair.

“You could sleep here too, I’m not that huge. You’d fit in here somewhere…”

“It’s fine,” he grumbled, pulling a blanket around him and closing his eyes. The room, dimly lit in the soft orange glow of the street lamps shining through the window, allowed me to see his face.

“But…” I said.

“Sookie just go to sleep.”

“I feel bad. I stole your couch bed. Please come and sleep here. I’ll take the chair even.”

“Can’t do that. Just sleep.”

“Eric… Eric…Eriiiic….Errrrrriiic…” I whispered.

“Ugh, Jesus, shut up!”

“Come sleep here then! You’re too big for that chair.”

He mumbled something that I couldn’t hear, and the next thing I knew he was standing by the couch.

“Fine, scoot over then.”

“Are you going to be the big spoon?” I laughed.

“Shut up and move.”

“Someone’s grouchy…” I giggled.

“Yes, because my crazy ass drunk boss woke me up at ridiculous a.m., and I’m tired.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Shush, okay, just go to sleep.”

He somehow managed to get himself behind my back, and get the blankets over both of us. But he clearly didn’t know what to do with his hands, so I moved them around my waist.

“In case I fall out,” I said and he just grumbled.

“Eric…?”

No answer for a second or two.

“What?” he snapped.

“I’m sorry about your parents. It sucks, I know, but … I’m just sorry, okay?”

He was silent again for a little bit, until he pulled me closer, as close as we were gonna get without it being awkward, and held on tight.

“Yeah, me too,” he said quietly.

The next thing I remember is being woken up by the sounds of clattering pots, traffic outside, and the strong evil rays of the sun.

And a hangover from hell.

***

I stumbled into their small kitchen to find Eric at the stove, and Emily at the table.

“Hey Sookie! You’re here! Eric said I had to be quiet ‘cause you weren’t feeling well. Are you sick? You look sick!”

“Thanks … Yeah I feel … a little sick,” I said, looking to Eric, who just smiled, smug.

Every bone in my body felt like it was broken. How the fuck did he sleep on that couch?

“I don’t have school today. I get to go to Amelia’s house and watch cartoons with Taylor for a while, and then we’re meant to be going shopping for Halloween costumes but we don’t know yet … and then-”

“Emily, eat. Give Sookie a second to wake up, okay?”

She looked chastised, but she stayed quiet.

“Coffee?” he asked, and I nodded enthusiastically. “Food?” he added, showing me some scrambled eggs.

“Oh, um, thank you, but not right now.”

He just smiled again. He was clearly enjoying my hang-over pain.

“Getting too old for that kind of thing now, aren’t you?”

I just glared. He knew I couldn’t retaliate with the kid here.

“I really should go … get a shower, change …” Die, I thought, after I’d finished the glory that was the mug of coffee.

“Really? Aw please stay, we could play today!” Emily said with such hope in little her eyes. I had no idea why that kid liked me, but she did.

“Not today, Emily. Sookie’s busy.”

“Sookie was busy last time,” she reasoned.

“Emily, I said no.” Parent Eric was firm, and if I was honest, a little scary. He made a good dad.

“I’m … actually not today, and neither are you,” I said to Eric.

“Huh?”

“Well, you do have to go in, but it’s Jason’s day today, and Sophie is his assistant.”

He looked confused. “Really? Is that why she hates me?”

“Little bit … but also mostly because she’s a bi-” I caught myself, “she’s just not a nice person…”

“So you’re taking the day off?”

“It’s not like I had much of a say in it,” I shrugged.

He nodded, eating his eggs as I texted Hoyt.

“Anyway, I have zero plans for today, so if you want I could take her shopping?”

She started jumping in her seat, still silently, but jumping none the less.

“I don’t know … Really? You’d wanna do that?”

“Want to shop? Did you just ask that question?”

“No, I mean deal with a five year old all day. It’s not easy.”

“I mean, I need to go home to shower and stuff, and I have a few emails to write, but I could come pick her up around one? We could go for some food, and go shopping, or go shopping and then get some food? I don’t mind, like I said, I have no plans for today – and I want to thank you.”

“Sookie you don’t have to do-”

“And you didn’t have to let me stay last night, it was decent of you, even if I was a pain. So, let me do this?”

He looked at me, then to Emily.

“I don’t know, Sookie…”

“Oh, please? Please? Please Eric? You don’t pick girlie things. I need girlie things.”

“I do so!”

“Nah-ah. Please?”

“I guess, I mean if you want-”

“She wants, she said so, please?” Emily butted in, and I had to admire her enthusiasm.

“Fine, but just for a few hours, and I’m giving Sookie the money.”

I nodded, I would take it, I just wouldn’t spend it, and he might just find it in his account again by the end of the day, no biggie, I thought.

“Cool. Emily I can pick you up at one?”

“Yes please! I have to go get dressed now!”

It was eight thirty.

I just smiled at Eric. “Okay then.”

My text came through that the car was waiting for me. We said our very awkward goodbyes, and I left. Wanting nothing more than a hot shower to bring my muscles back to life, after a night on the couch – as unplanned as it was with him there with me. I didn’t know why I’d insisted on him sleeping next to me, but I knew that it had been a long time since I’d felt that safe, wrapped in the arms of someone else. Drunk, sure, but safe. It scared me how much I liked it, even on the world’s most uncomfortable couch. And more to the point, had I just offered to babysit a five year old? What was scarier than that?

What the hell was happening to me?

EPOV:

I had no idea what to expect from her brother, I had never met the guy after all. But when I did meet him, I realized that my worries were unwarranted. Jason Stackhouse was Sookie’s opposite in every way. And I mean, every way. Nothing got done, no calls got made, and no meetings started on time. The staff was loving it, of course. But, as a number cruncher, I was giving myself an anxiety attack realizing how much money he was losing the company every second he spent talking up the staff instead of actually working, and I knew if Sookie knew, she’d lose her shit. But, I said nothing since I was relegated to second assistant for the day, and Sophie lorded that little detail over me, repeatedly.

“Hey man, so I never really got the chance to talk to you this mornin’. Sophie was just so darn glad to have me back I guess…”

Yeah, I’ll bet she was.

“No, that’s fine, Sir. Anything you need?”

“Nah man, that’s the thing … we’ve got everything covered here for today, you can take off if you want. I mean, you work for my sister, so chances are you’re probably exhausted, right? So seriously, just take the rest of the day off, and we won’t tell Sook.”

That didn’t sound too … wise.

“Really? I thought there were samples from-”

“Nah, don’t worry about those, Sophie can handle it from here, really.”

He was the boss, right? It wasn’t like I could be fired for doing what I was told, right?

“If you’re sure.”

“Positive. Enjoy the weekend, too.”

Okay, so I saw why everyone loved him, I also saw that before he took his ‘extended leave’ that the business was down by forty five percent to where Sookie had it now. That wasn’t a good thing, at all.

There was madness to Sookie, but there was method to it, and that method was successful. Jason’s best bud approach? Not so much.

Looking at the clock, it was just after one, which meant that Sookie was picking up Emily from Amelia’s. She’d called at twelve to ask where she was going, and then I had to call Ames and tell her. Needless to say Amelia decided to sing ‘Sookie and Eric sitting in a tree’ at me over the damn phone, but I did my best to ignore her, I hated that she was enjoying this though. It wasn’t about her, I had to remember, it was about Emily. She needed more women in her life, hell, she needed more people in her life full stop. She was the only kid I knew without parents, or Grandparents. She didn’t get super spoiled on her birthdays and on Christmas like the other kids did, so I did my best to make up for it. But on days, like Christmas, and birthdays and anniversaries, well, it was harder than others. I wanted to cheer her up. The night before, she’d woken up sobbing and she just wanted her mom, unfortunately no matter what I did, I could never give her that. I’d done my best to calm her down, and get her back to sleep – it had taken three hours – and then drunken Sookie arrived at my door. I had no idea why she had, but I had to admit, I was strangely glad. It had taken me out of my funk I’d been slowly sinking into all that day, and all that night. I missed my folks too, and much like Emily, I wanted to sort of sit down and cry about it, and have someone hug me and put it right, but as a grown up that wasn’t really an option. Then, in walked Sookie, and for a time I’d put it to the back of my mind. When she asked me to sleep next to her I was convinced she was out of her mind, but when it came to her and her brand of insanity, I found I enjoyed, even her drunk insanity. Curling up next to her, it felt good, it felt almost too good. She was soft and smelled so good, and honestly it had been an extremely long time since I’d spooned with anyone, so I welcomed her heat, and her sweet smelling shampoo, and I drifted off to the best five hours sleep I’d remembered having. What wasn’t so pleasant of course was waking up to some serious morning wood, and attempting to squeeze my six foot four self off a couch like a ninja so that I didn’t poke her with it, or didn’t wake her up at all. It wasn’t easy, and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle, but I somehow got up without her so much as moving. That woman slept like the dead.

Jerking off to images of Sookie wasn’t really a new thing. She’d never know, no one would, so what did it matter? She provided ample material though, and I refused to feel bad about it, and just enjoy the orgasm, even if I was imagining her hands instead of my own. The truth was, I was attracted to her, and I knew, at least at one point, she was attracted to me too. I wanted to broach the subject, and then I didn’t. It was too awkward, and honestly, she brought out my insecurities too much for me to give it a fair play. It’s such a cliché, right? Less successful man feels threatened by the more successful woman. But, in reality, it was a hard truth to face. I was raised to look after a girl, take care of her, how could I do that if she took care of herself just fine? It was another one of those things, the mixed signals between the both of us. Last time she was here there was kissing, and touching, and all kinds of nice things about to happen – then suddenly nothing. And then in her office, we blamed other substances, but truthfully she wanted to make out with me just as much as I wanted to make out with her … and yet she comes here again, and I sleep with her for crying out loud, and not so much as a peck on the cheek.

Can you see the confusion here? I had somewhat devised a plan though, it was probably one of the worst ideas that I’d ever had, but it was an idea if nothing else.

I had a date to get ready for.

SPOV:

I kind of went a little bit nuts, with the shopping that is. I mean here this kid was, in dire need of a shopping spree, and there I happened to be with my cards, all ready for some serious retail therapy. And this meant it could be ninety-nine percent guilt free, too, since yes I was shopping, but the majority of the time, I was shopping for someone else. It was fantastic. She was ecstatic at all the things we’d picked out for her, and I was too. I’d made someone else’s day, and that felt amazing. I’d collected her from the Amelia woman’s house, a woman who was clearly a stay at home mother, in need of not only a break, but a serious deep conditioning treatment, but, I couldn’t say that – I had just met the woman. And as much as I wanted to offer for her and her daughter to come, I didn’t know her, and really the way she was looking me up and down – the judgement face – out in full force? I wasn’t so sure I wanted to. She released Emily to me though, so I guess I passed whatever little test she was having in her head about me. We then stopped off at Eric’s place to get her coat, and her Dora purse. Apparently it was important to have Dora along for the ride. I’d gone nuts for her things in Barney’s and FAO’s, and I’d treated myself a little on Fifth Ave, before we made it back to my place with some much needed take out. We’d talked a lot, she and I, well, at the start it was mostly her – the girl had a lot to say. But soon it settled down, and we had some real conversations, which I know might sound odd considering she was all of five years old, but the kid knew what was up. She told me about her parents, and how she knows Eric misses them too, and she told me that she sometimes wished his ex girlfriend hadn’t left them, but she knew that that was her fault no matter what Eric told her. I tried to convince her otherwise, the whole ‘grown up stuff is complicated,’ but she was pretty set on guilting herself into that one – so I bought her two new dolls. What can I say, when I feel bad, I shop, and I felt bad for her, so I shopped … for her. We moved on though, to other things like her school and her friends, and then my work and my friends, as well as all the different things in the shops that we liked. What she wanted from Santa, and why she wanted to be fairy for Halloween. Try as we might, it was a touch too early for the good costumes to be on sale, but I promised I’d take her when they came in, again not really knowing what the hell I was doing. But if the afternoon proved anything to me, it was a few things. One, kids are nothing like cats, and two, I was more than capable of keeping one alive and happy for a day at least. It was an achievement. So we sat upstairs where the big, big screen was – in all honesty it was a ‘cinema’ screen, but I just called it a big TV. I didn’t want to show off to a five year old. I didn’t need to though, she was pretty in awe of my place.

“It’s just so big! I mean it’s so big!” she said, her eyes as big as circles themselves. She’d latched on to Tina, who wasn’t one bit amused.

“Who else lives here?”

“Um, just me,” I said, biting into my hot dog, and dipping some fries into the ketchup.

“Really? It’s an awfully big place for just one person.”

“I guess so…” I shrugged.

“And you’re still not married?”

I laughed, “No sweetie, I’m not.”

“Do you wanna get married?”

“I … don’t know. Do you?”

“Sure! It’ll be fun! Eric says that I have to graduate college first.”

“Eric’s right.”

She sighed.

“He’s not married, and he finished college a looong time.”

“Well, yeah, I mean it’s not something everyone does, a lot of people don’t ever at all … but if you find the right person, one you can see yourself growing all old-”

“Like Carl and Ellie?”

“Who?”

“You know, in UP they were married ‘til they were old and she died.”

“Oh… um…” morbid? “Sure?”

“I think I’d be sad if my husband died first-”

“Okay, Em’, you know I don’t think Eric would want us talking about this … let’s talk about something else.” I panicked. The last thing I wanted was her telling him we were chewing the fat about death. Not giving what she was trying to forget.

“We’re moving soon, well, I think we’re moving soon anyway, that’s what Eric says.”

“Oh yeah? Not too far I hope?”

“Nope, same building but it’s a bigger apartment, not as big as this or as pretty…” she sighed, “but it’s still much bigger than our house now.”

“Well that’s good isn’t it?”

“I guess. At least Eric will have his own room again.”

For such a young little girl she did seem to have some weight on her tiny shoulders, whether he or she knew it was another story. But I knew the look, in her eyes; it was of a grieving little girl who’d had to grow up too fast. I knew the look because it reminded me of me, when it happened to me. The death of a parent, or in our case two, especially at that young age. It really changed your whole life, before you’d even had a shot at it.

It sucked.

Maybe that’s why we liked each other? Maybe we saw that in each other? Or, maybe, she just liked pretty things and I could give them to her, who knew? All I knew was she was fed, spoiled and happy, and I felt like I’d done a good enough job. As a thank you to Eric, and to give him and his baby sitting woman a break. I made a note to maybe gift basket her, lots of hair products, and maybe a voucher. That frizz, in this day and age, just wasn’t acceptable, stay at home mom or not.

“Okay, Miss Emily I think we need to be getting back, Eric’s going to be worried about you.”

“Nah, he won’t, he likes you, so he knows you’re not some like kidrapper or nothin’”

“Kidnapper,” I corrected, fixing her hair and wiping her face. For such a small kid, she sure could eat.

“Right… Do we get to ride in the fancy car again?”

“Sure. Come on grab Dora, let’s go.” Whether or not I wanted to admit it to myself, I really was sad to take her home. The company, no matter how juvenile, was a welcomed break from the silence.

By the time we got to their place, I was sure Eric should have been home, and he was. It felt a little weird though, letting myself in with the spare key, but we did. I got Emily settled on the couch, turning the TV on too, when he walked out of the bathroom, a towel drying his hair, wearing nothing but some dark wash jeans.

Oh…

I had felt what was under that shirt, but seeing it was a whole new level. For such a lean looking guy, he sure was built in places.

“Eric! Look what I got! All this is mine, isn’t that COOL? And Dora doll got new outfits too, and I got this…” she held up a pink pea coat, “and Sookie got me these!” she held up some shoes, and then a few more toys. There were a lot of bags, a lot more than I remembered. I had the sense to look guilty as he walked up to me.

“What’s all this? I told you the budget was-”

Two hundred dollars, and it might have just found its way back into this account by pay day.

“Uh, yeah, about that…” I began.

“Sookie … This is far too much stuff, and far too … is that Barney’s? Christ … expensive!”

“Well, yes, a little, but come on I never see my niece and nephew, so I guess I had some built up kid spoiling energy left or something, I don’t know. Look, she likes them and she’s happy … isn’t that what matters?”

He looked from me to his smiling sister, and he picked her up. I may have melted a little.

“Were you good for Sookie?”

“So good!”

“Really?”

“Yes! Wasn’t I Sookie?”

“She was very good for me, and she charmed just about every shop assistant we met, that’s not an easy task, believe me.”

“Is that so? Did you eat?”

She nodded, “We had hotdogs and fries, and juice, and before that we had cupcakes and juice.”

Guilty again.

“So you’re full of sugar. Awesome,” he looked at me then. “Em, why don’t you take your things into your room, I’ll come see then in a minute.”

“Okay!” She kissed him on the cheek, then he let her down, and she yanked on my hand pulling me down to her level, until she kissed me on the cheek. It was very sweet.

“Thanks Sookie!” she said, running off.

He looked kinda mad.

“Look, I know I went a little nuts, but-”

“Sookie it’s my job to take care of her, and no offense but I’ve been doing a pretty okay job of it so far.”

“I didn’t say you hadn’t.”

“No, but this? All of that? It’s not right.”

“Why not?”

“Because now, everything she gets will be compared to the things you were able to buy her. I might not shop exclusively in Barney’s or whatever for her, but she’s well taken care of.”

“I never said you weren’t!”

He folded his arms, something was clearly pissing him off and I don’t think it had anything to do with dresses.

“What’s really up here…”

“This isn’t her life, and I just don’t want to disappoint her next time when things don’t add up like they did today.”

“Eric, she’s five. She’s a kid, and she just got pretty things, things that she didn’t even know the price of. She was also more excited about the five dollar hotdogs than the idea of going somewhere fancy for lunch. So, seriously, don’t stress it. I haven’t turned her into a snob in a few hours; I was just trying to be nice.”

I shrugged, and I grabbed my bag and made my way to the door, leaving him with a sheepish look on his face.

“Sookie, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m just going to go.”

“Sookie…”

I left feeling extremely deflated, I was just trying to do something nice, not just for him, but for Emily too. And somehow, even that made me a snob. I resisted the urge to cry, instead picking myself up, and dusting myself off, and getting ready for the last date of the week. This was a guy that Eric set up, an accountant from Europe was all he’d tell me. That, and he was ‘kinda tall, kinda funny’, either way it had to beat the last three.

I got there, early as usual, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited some more. Then almost thirty minutes later as I was getting up the courage to walk out, Eric walked through the door.

What the hell?

EPOV:

I was really going to do this, I thought, as I walked through the door of the restaurant. Why was I doing it? That was the other question, one I’d been asking myself for hours. I liked my job, I wanted to keep my job – of course. I wanted to earn money so I could move Emily and me into a new place. I wanted to put more money by for her for college, and this job allowed me to do that, and spend time with her – I guess. I’d thought of going back, applying for a few accountancy jobs that I knew I could do a good job, in fact I could do an epic job. But, I still wasn’t feeling the numbers game anymore. Maybe I would one day, but for now I liked the change of scenery, I liked the constant challenge, and I liked my boss. Perhaps I liked my boss more than was considered normal, even for her, since she was a total bitch to me eighty percent of the time. But, I saw through that easily, very easily, and the weirdest thing of all was that she let me see though it. Maybe it was because I was lonely, maybe it was because it had been a really long time since I’d formed a kind of friendship with another woman, maybe, maybe, maybe. There were a lot of points to consider, but the main one was that I hated all her other ‘candidates’, and I knew I’d be having to spend time with them until the jig was up. I also knew I wanted to help her. I wanted to be the one to do it for her.

“What are you doing here? I was just leaving…” she said, looking annoyed.

“Yeah about that-”

“The guy stood me up, can you believe that? So screw it I’m starving and just want to eat, you want to sit?”

I nodded.

“He didn’t stand you up.”

She raised her brow, and sipped her wine, “So you see him anywhere because I don’t? You did tell him that I’d made reservations here, right?”

“He knew. He also came.”

“Did he leave?”

“Sookie … I’m the guy.”

Her eyes went wide.

“Have you done lost your mind? Is this some kind of joke? Eric? I got my hair blown out for this, if you’re just kidding around I’m not in the mood.”

“I’m not kidding around, I um,” I cleared my throat. “I’m putting myself forward, as a fake boyfriend candidate. I’m here to ask you on a fake date,” I smiled; it was far too ridiculous to take seriously saying stuff like this.

“You … what? Why?”

“Well, I know I like you, and I know that despite the prickly exterior you’re a nice woman, and I want to help you. I like you as my boss, and I like my job.”

“Eric…”

“Look, think about it. I know you much better than those other three guys, I’ve spent just about every day with you for almost four months now. I know how you like your coffee, I know you try to not eat meat four out of five days a week, but still fail because you just don’t care enough not to enjoy your food. I know that you have a happy dance that you do at your desk when your favourite designers call-”

“You saw that?”

I nodded, and she blushed.

“I also know you’re not as badass as you want people to believe you are. I know a lot about you, and I know I could do this, for all of us.”

She sat there silently looking at me for a second or two. It felt like the longest time in the world, and then she spoke. “You realise if you do this, it has nothing to do with us,” she motioned, “personally, or anything that might have happened or not happened between us, personally.”

I nodded. She was still a stickler for professionalism, as always.

“And there would be a contract. And a fee, for you for doing this. I’d expect you to take it.”

Truth be told, I could use twenty five grand, who couldn’t? But thankfully I realized the money wasn’t a real factor in my decision.

“I guess.”

“No, I mean it. All above board.” She was serious. “I don’t want this to appear shady or unsavoury. I’m not using you I’m employing you. I need you to know that.”

Personally, I think she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying to convince me, but I still agreed.

“This is nuts, Eric.”

“I agree. Hey, at least we agree on something.”

“It is, but it’s only for a little while and then everything can just go back to normal, right?”

“Right.”

Oh, how wrong we were.

“So, that’s it then? We’re doing this?”

“Yes, Ma’am. I’m your fake!Boyfriend. This should be fun!”

Yeah, wrong again, so very wrong!

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