Well what do you know? It’s a Southern Belles update! I know, I’m gasping with you! But I hope my explaining was enough to get a handle on how I operate, and yet something happened and here we have a chapter! Thank you ALL for subscribing, adding, commenting and coming to say hi. It means a lot and it’s sweet! So thannnnk yoou.
I’d spent a good chunk of my year working, working and working some more. I all but shut myself off from the world when I wasn’t working because I just didn’t want to deal with the emotional trauma again. I hated that I fell so easily, and that it took so much work to pick myself back up. I’d convinced myself that she was nothing to me, that I’d made her awesomeness up in my head, I mean, I barely knew the chick! I didn’t love her, I couldn’t have. It was just a classic case of wanting what I knew I couldn’t have. Right?
Eh, well, not really.
When she showed up in my office, shocked wouldn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I felt as if someone had kicked me in the gut, the balls and the head all at once. Was this some sort of sick cosmic joke? I’d ran away as far from her as possible, only to have her show up? Not even slightly funny.
Caught off guard, my walls went right back up, almost too thick as I began to take my hurt out on her, as I turned into the most passive aggressive asshole on the planet.
Her first day I’d pretty much run her ragged, she was a intern I told myself, so I treated her as such. I’d sent her on collection jobs three or four times across town, down to the marina, dealing with the prickliest of our clients, too. I’d had her doing the majority of the grunt work, and then I’d just left her to work over lunch, and then two hours after while I took an extended break.
See, total asshole.
But the truth was, I just had no idea how to deal with her being there. I didn’t see Alcide, she didn’t mention him, and I didn’t see a wedding ring, in its place was a giant cocktail ring instead. It raised a lot of questions, questions I wasn’t man enough to ask. I’d managed to keep her out of the office most of the day, and when I was in there, I was with a few other people, it kept the ‘personal conversation’ to an almost non existent minimum. By the end of the day though, it was just she and I, packing up the day’s equipment.
She cleared her throat, and I saw her fidgeting with her rings out of the corner of my eye, clearly nervous. My chest tightened at that thought. I didn’t want her to hate me – she had no reason to hate me, but I had a lot of reasons to hate her – and I didn’t.
“Eric?” She said, calmly.
“I…” whatever she was going to say, she didn’t say it.
I looked at her, and whatever resolve she’d had caved, and she just shook her head.
“I’ll um, see you on Monday,” she said almost sadly before she grabbed her bags and walked out the door clearly in a rush to get away from me. Not that I’d given her even one reason to stay.
I went home that night, and found my roommate Alexei, standing on his head in the middle of the living room. Alexei was Russia, extremely gay and in love with his boyfriend Andre, and he was also a yoga instructor.
“Hey Lex.” I said, throwing my keys on the counter and then proceeding to throw myself on the couch, dramatically even for me.
“I sense some bad chi, Eric, what’s wrong?”
Him and his chi, and is auras and his ‘feelings’.
“I sense lies.”
“Stop sensing me!”
With that he came to a up right position and looked at me.
“Mr Cranky Pants.”
“I told you to stop callin’ me that or I was finding a new housemate.”
He just rolled his eyes.
“Darling, you look tense. I’m telling you, a little Satyananda would do you a world of good.”
I just ignored him.
“You remember the girl I told you about?” Drunkenly, three days after he moved in and insisted on a house warming party. It was mostly drag queens, gay guys and girls who loved gay guys. I felt like the odd man out to be honest, but I’d gotten drunk and chatty with him at five in the morning.
“Yes, the Snookie girl, dramatic cheating but not cheating, best friend’s girl, all very Dawson’s Creek.”
“Sookie and yes… No! Not Dawson’s Creek, man!”
“Well, it certainly wasn’t 90210; you were in butt fuck Louisiana for goodness sakes.” His accent ever so present as his hands flailed about.
“How is that the point?” I asked.
“It’s not, what of the girl?”
“NO!” His eyes went wide. “Oh did she come all this way, to tell you she loves you? Wants you back, made a horrible mistake, needs you more than air!?”
Did I mention he was dramatic? Seriously?
“Dude, life is not a novella, and no. She’s here on a job.”
“Is she a hooker? You didn’t tell me that part of zee story.”
I glared, making him laugh.
“I’m kidding!” Though it sounded more like ‘Keeedeeen’ to me.
“She’s here as my intern.”
“Oh, now that is just cruel. She’s working under you but not ‘under you’ like I’m sure you want. Sad.”
I just sighed.
“Is the redneck husband with her?”
“He’s not a redneck.”
“In my head he is, is he with her?”
“No… I don’t think so. She wasn’t wearing her wedding ring.”
He smiled, “so maybe she is here to sweep you off your feet! I mean, she’ll need the use of crane or something to do it, but it could be done. Have you talked to her about why she’s there?”
“I sort of avoided her all day.”
He tutted at me.
“Because it was a total shock her just showing up there like that, I mean what was I meant to say?”
“How about ‘girl with the strange name, I’ve spent over a year pining after you because I love you and your strange name, and possibly the breasts – straighties love the breasts – so please can we run off into the sunset together? Or… at least get a drunk and bang?”
I glared at him.
“Fine, fine, don’t take my advice, see where avoiding her gets you. I can’t sit here and mope with you tonight though darling I’m going out with Andre and his friends from Portugal that are visiting. You should come! It might cheer you up!”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“It’s Friday night, lovely, you need a drink. I insist.”
I thought that maybe he was right, so I dragged my ass to shower, and begrudenly got ready. We’d hit two clubs, before I’d realized I was on my way to very drunk when I ran into Pam at the bar. And where Pam was, I knew Sookie was soon to follow.
Not so good.
“That asshole!” Pam ranted, as I just sat there, numb to it all.
“I get it though, I do. After what I did to him…”
“So? You rejected him, you thought you were making the best choice for YOU, and I’m sorry but if he doesn’t get that he’s an idiot as well as an asshole. I can’t believe he just froze you out like that. I didn’t see him as that kind of passive aggressive jackass.”
“Me either, but I guess he has the right.”
“Pam, come on, I didn’t make the best choices, sure I thought at the time I was doing the right thing, I just…it hurt him, I know it did, and I regret that.
“I like Eric, I do, but the way you said he behaved, Sook, that’s not okay. He was never a jackass before.”
“I guess, but I think you should talk to him, tell him the whole story.”
“How? He kept freezing me out, and the way he looked at me… Pam, no. He hates me, and honestly I don’t blame him. I’m the stupid girl that fucked with his feelings, why should he give me a shot? I wouldn’t.”
She just glared at me.
“How you felt about him –“
“How did I feel about him? It was a long time ago, Pam. I’ve been through a lot since then, I’ve changed too, maybe he has the right idea, maybe we were just this thing and nothing more.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think we idealized each other, a lot. He was this amazing free spirited, fantastic guy, free to do and go where he wanted, I wasn’t. So I put him up on some pedestal, and that’s not fair. I think I loved him, if it wasn’t love it was something really damn close. But what did I love? Did I love him, or the idea of him?”
“You’ve thought about this a lot, huh?”
“You could say that. Look, I never thought I’d see him again, as much as I wanted to. I want to clear the air, but I understand if he doesn’t. I don’t want to fuck anything else up, and that means whatever I am to Eric, or was, I know I don’t need to fix it – it can’t be fixed, it’s done.”
“So you’re just giving up?”
“It can’t be fixed, but if he’d let me I’d like us to start again. Hell, start at ALL would be good. We never got that shot. I’m not saying he should give it to me, but I hope for it, even if we’re meant to be just friends, I’d learn to accept that. If it meant having him in my life in some … any aspect.”
“And you’d be okay with that? Just being friends with him? Sookie, be serious you couldn’t even be ‘friends’ with him when you were involved with another man.”
“Low blow, Pam. Low fucking blow.”
“Look, I’m sorry, but it’s true. You two don’t have friendship chemistry, you have ‘I need you more than air’ chemistry. It’s intense, it’s hard to explain, but it’s there.”
“Pam I want us to just go out tonight, just go out, have a few drinks at that beach party thing, and just relax. It’s the weekend, and I don’t want to think about my horrific life decisions for one night.”
She smiled, “I already have the tequila on ice, Sweet pea, let’s do this!”
Four hours and oh, countless drinks later, we’d been dancing with a bunch of very hot, and thus very gay men on the beach, just letting loose and not worrying about what anyone thought of us – the freedom of knowing no one and no one knowing you? It was exhilarating, to say the least. Fun was had, cocktails were drank, many jokes were made by the guys about how I should have gay husband – only for me to inform that that I already did – didn’t work out so well last time. I was glad I was in a place were I could joke about it, even if it did still sting.
When it happened I wanted to bolt, but I knew I couldn’t because he’d spotted me. He’d been talking to one of the guys we’d been partying with as well as Pam; he had a drink in hand and a smile on his face. Then he saw me, and the smile faded.
Awesome, just, awesome.
Both Pam and Russian guy whose name I’d forgotten both looked at me, and I honestly wanted to just dig a hole in the sand, and die. I decided to stop being a pussy, and go talk to him, even though with every step I wondered if I could just take my chances with the ocean and deal.
“Hi.” I said, and he nodded.
“I’m drunk. Sorry.” He said then, as Pam and Russian guy made a silent but obvious exit, leaving us alone, Pam squeezed my ass as she walked by; I guess it was her way of encouraging me.
“That’s okay, I’m not too sober myself right now, kind of helping I have to admit.”
He nodded again, then he looked at me straight in the eye, and just like that I was back to that bar the first night I met him, the first night I met Alcide, and the first night of many nights of bad decision making. I didn’t want to make any more bad decisions.
“Do you want another drink?” He asked, and I declined, happily nursing my cocktail in a pint glass with a sassy pink straw. The silence was deafening, and me being me, I loved me some awkward silences, it just paved the way for a blabber mouth comment.
“You’re a shitty boss, just sayin’.”
“Well do you normally just freeze out the new girls? I mean that’s kind of mean… and really not a great team building experience, on either end.” I could do banter, the question was could he?
“Is that so? I mean I’m normally very nice to the newbies, you just…”
“Brought out your inner Mean Girl?”
“Lafayette said you made the other girl quit, crying. That doesn’t sound nice.”
“She was an idiot.” He stated, trying to hold back a smile.
“Well, we’re not all flawless, some of us just have a lot more idiot in us than others, it has to come out sometimes.”
“Breaking twenty grand’s worth of equipment, that kind of thing has to come out sometime?”
Oh, okay, maybe not that.
“Or you know… breaking someone heart even though it was the last thing you wanted to do.” There I edged it in.
With that he stiffened his stance, and actually honest to God took a step away from me. My heart clenched.
“Not now, okay? Can we not do this now? I’m close to drunk, or … I was, and honestly around you I don’t make the best choices, especially where alcohol is concerned, so I’m just going to go over there… and not make bad choices.”
with that he gave me a somewhat sympathetic look, and walked off. I felt like he’d punched me in the gut. It wasn’t long until Pam found me again, no doubt watching the whole thing from afar.
“Well? That didn’t look pleasant.”
“It wasn’t. It was silently brutal, look, I’m just going to go home.”
“Aw no, come on, we can’t let him spoil the whole night, thought we might need to find new gays.”
“Main gay? Eric’s housemate.”
I sighed, of course he’d be connected to him, of course.
“Very. He adores you though, and you and him were having fun before the melancholy master took you over. Come on, I’m going to get us another couple of cocktails and we’re going to the next party, it’s half a mile down the beach, and it has no exes with kicked puppy expressions. Shall we?”
Reluctantly, I went, and I managed to have somewhat of a good time only thinking about Eric every ten seconds as opposed to every second. It was progress, I thought. What wasn’t progress though was the serious and life threatening hangover the next day. I was getting to old for that shit.
Pam asked me to come to lunch, a very late lunch, but she still classed it as such. When she called – and I still don’t know how she called, she asked nicely – for Pam, and assuring me that it would just be the two of us, and that we should catch up. I should have known it was bullshit, and I should have known that Alexei was somehow involved, when he went out of his way to iron my favorite light blue shirt for the occasion.
“Pam doesn’t swing my way, this is pointless Lex.” I said, as he splashed his extremely over priced cologne on me.
“Well, you never know. And besides even after two showers and manic teeth brushing, with the brewery you drank last night, anything can do nothing but help. Now go, have fun!”
When I got there, there was no sign of Pam, and as a woman who was a stickler for time keeping that should have tipped me off. Who I did spot though, was Sookie, sitting outside the little café, sunglasses on, wearing what looked like a pink dress with a white short cardigan thing. Her hair was down, and full of big curls. God she looked good. I felt like turning around and walking away though, was I ready to have the conversations that we clearly needed to have? Pam was trolling us, that I was sure of from the look on Sookie’s face when I walked up to her table.
“You’re not Pam.” She said.
“You either…” I said, taking a seat, Sookie sighed and slammed down the menu.
“She just texted me telling me she was running late from shopping and that she’d be here…”
I held up my phone, and saw a waiting text, it said the same thing.
“That …woman.” She sighed, “I’m sorry Eric I didn’t know she was doing this –“
“I know. The look on your face… kind of says it all.”
She took her glasses off, and the effects of her hangover were still present, though she had done her best to cover them up. She looked stressed too.
“We don’t have to do this. I know that it’s a thing, and we’ve made it a thing and it’s just awkward as all fuck and we really don’t have –“
“Sookie, calm down, okay? I’m not gonna bite.”
“I’m sorry, I just… I’m nervous.”
“Why not? It’s you, it’s us, it’s all my fucking mistakes just glaring me in the face… it’s not a relaxing time, yaknow?”
I glanced at her left hand, and she caught me, then she began to fidget with her finger.
“Yeah, no ring.” She held her hand up to show me for sure, I was just silent.
“We…” she sighed, “we got a divorce.”
Was I shocked, was I not shocked? I wasn’t sure, so I just nodded. This was her story to tell, not mine.
“I guess I should just say it, right? It was a nightmare, I realized really quickly that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life – thus far, I’d ran into something for all the wrong reasons, for all the wrong people. I put my faith in the wrong aspect of my life, Eric. I went the road always travelled for me, and it just led me into my own personal hell. I didn’t love him, not like you’re meant to love the man you marry… and he… definitely didn’t love me.”
I furrowed my brows, because that didn’t ring true at all, not the Alcide I spoke to that day.
“I couldn’t exactly give him what he needed, Eric, and truthfully he couldn’t give me what I needed either.”
“What did he need?”
“Someone who loved him? Someone who understood him? Someone with a penis?”
I spat out my water.
She shrugged, “Alcide, he’s gay. Or Bi… but definitely leaning towards dick. He…yeah.”
I was sure my mouth was agape, I didn’t even care what I looked like, and I was just stunned.
“I had decided to leave him, before I found out though. It was all too much, I just couldn’t deal with the marriage… and then I found …things that informed me that my busty breasts and Pilate ass wasn’t exactly what he wanted from a partner.”
Things started to come to mind, conversations, observations, thoughts over the years on my friendship with Alcide. Things made more sense now – the intense homophobia, the macho bravado, the over compensating. Jesus Christ how could I not have guessed.
“Was… he seeing someone?”
She stiffened, I took that as yes.
“Don’t be sorry, I mean it’s not like I didn’t deserve it. I mean not that I deserved it, but I deserved it, you know?”
Sense, it made none.
“You deserved a gay husband? Are you that much of a martyr?”
“No, I just think that karma is only a bitch, if you are. And let’s face it, I was a total bitch. I picked… I did something … it’s just fitting that I marry the guy after cheating on him and maybe not loving him like I should have, and then having him be totally wrong for me. Karma…” She shrugged as if it was nothing, I didn’t know what to say to her.
We got our order, and both of us were on the water, I guess we were both feeling a little rough from the night before.
“Eric I’m sorry okay? I’m really sorry. For what I said, what I did, and what I didn’t do –“
“Sookie come on…”
“No, look I’ve been carrying this guilt, this horrible feeling inside me since it happened, and I hate that it happened. I hate that I met you first, I hate that I liked you first, I hate that I made one shitty decision after another when I knew I liked you first. And then, when we did what we did… and how I reacted to that? Because of the sheer fear I held over disappointing other people? Other people who, might I add had no problem disappoint me! I mean, it’s insane. You’re a good man, you deserved better than that, and I needed to say that, even if you didn’t want to hear it.”
I sat back in my chair, and I looked at her, really looked at her. She meant it, she could lie with her eyes, and they were just dancing with emotion, these unshed tears that she was holding back with all her might, and I realized then, she felt as bad as I did. I’d often thought she dismissed me, and maybe she thought the same thing of me, but it really burned to think that she could just claim to feel for me and then at the drop of hat just feel nothing, but this told me differently.
“We both fucked up.”
“Yes, we did, but I want you to know that it was like ninety /ten on my side. I had a weird view on life, small boxed in view…”
“And now you’re out of your box?” I smiled, and eventually she bit her lip and it formed into a smile too.
“Yeah I’m out of my box, I hate boxes now. No more boxes.”
“I’m sorry too –“
“You’ve nothing to be –“
“Yes I do. Everything that happened and didn’t happen, and for the way I behaved the way I did on your first day at work. It was unprofessional number one, but number two, I just got freaked out and shut down… and it shouldn’t have happened.”
She shook her head as if to dismiss it, but I meant it too. We ate silently for a few minutes, and oddly the air was no longer awkward, it was a little tense, but not as much as it had been.
“What now?” She asked, sipping her water, “I mean we’ve both sort of said or initial piece…that’s as far as I got in my head.”
I smiled, glad I wasn’t the only one having conversations in my head.
“Well…” I sat back, “I think we just take it one day at a time…”
“Like alcoholics?” she asked, confused, her face scrunched up, so adorable.
“Maybe, we’re like bad-decision-aholics. Maybe… if we clean the slate… knowing what we know now? Maybe we see what happens?”
She nodded, smiling slowly.
“The way I hope for it? Not every story has a clear beginning, middle or an end, who’s to say where we are, we choose.”
“I agree.” I said, and I guess we did what we said what we’d do. One day at a time.