Lookie here! A DWD chapter! I encourage you to review, as the lovely Tesco people say ‘Every little helps’ 😉 I’m off to see Sherlock H 2 tonight, and bask in the joy that is RDJ being flawless. Hopefully I’ll get more done for the next chapter when I get back!! Review my pretties, you know you want to! lol!
“I think there are maybe too many pillows…” I said, moving a few to the closet by the door, and reassessing the couch, or maybe a better word would be obsessing.
Having told Maxine – my nosy yet completely amazing housekeeper that I’d be having guests over she and I then spent the Saturday making sure the apartment was perfect for them and for my Grandmother too. I’d gone grocery shopping with her, a first for us just to make sure I’d have everything in stock that a five year old and a grown ass man could possibly need. I wasn’t used to having guests over, not in my apartment and not for more than a few hours; I had parties, and dinners, but never over night guests. Remy had reminded me of that, I had a nervous tick about him spending the night with me. I had no problem with him invading my body, but invading my space before I’d had my hot shower and my hotter coffee, well that was just not acceptable. And now here I was not only voluntarily inviting a guy to stay, but a little girl there too.
“She likes fruit…” I said piling bananas, oranges, apples and strawberries into the cart and wheeling it onward. “And Eric said she liked something else too… my mind has gone blank.”
“Well Dear, she’s five, most five year olds just like to live on junk food if they could get away with it.”
“She’s different, it’s weird, she actually likes fruit and stuff, and actually told Eric off a time or two about how she ‘needs’ healthier food. It was sort of adorable.” I said, nodding and going to the dairy aisle and picking up some cheeses and some yogurts, and eggs too.
“You seem smitten, if I may say so that is.” The jolly round woman that I’d known for four years commented. She’d been my housekeeper since I moved in, she sort of ‘came with’ the apartment as it were, and she did a good job and we didn’t clash on a lot of things. I just looked back at her confused, she’d never commented on my personal life before; it wasn’t our thing to over-share with one and other.
“I’m not; she’s just a nice kid…”
“And this Eric? He seems just as nice as she does, I wonder if they weren’t sent into your life for a reason, Sookie?”
Yeah, the reason of my needing an assistant that knew his ass from his elbow.
“I don’t believe in all that, Maxine.”
“In all what?”
“You know, ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ and all that jazz. I mean I find it hard to believe that someone somewhere is like the great big librarian in the sky who is keeping track of our every move so that some ‘destiny’ can take place…”
She sighed, “Well, I think it’s a romantic notion, and a comforting one at that.”
I didn’t disbelieve in a God, or Gods. I knew what she meant with the comfort, we wanted someone up there, watching out for us. Who wouldn’t take comfort in that?
We rounded by the butcher section, meat, right… would I be cooking? I hadn’t figured that out, but I guessed it would be a good idea to have things in just in case anyone wanted a meat filled sandwich or whatever. Two hours and fourteen bags of food later, we returned.
“All the towels are laundered and in the closet in the bathroom, the room is made up for the little girl, and I just have to finish off your Grandmother’s bedding now.” Maxine said, hurrying around as if her life depended on it, Tina following her around like she did with most people when they came in, nosy little thing she was. I resigned myself to finish off the last of the week’s paper work, then tidied up my office a little, and then decided that Tina and I could chill out with a movie. I needed something to Zen me out, I needed something where I could just sit down and forget about my troubles, forget about my lies and how I was going to tell them.
Emily sat on the side of sink in front of me, slapping on my shaving cream with the tiny brush, meticulously making sure my beard was covered.
“All done?” I asked, and she just nodded happily, dipping the bush into the water then grabbing the can of foam and squirting some in her hands to slap it on her own face.
“Ho, ho, ho…” she said, smiling through her now white beard. I just let her play and grabbed my razor to shave.
“And can I bring my Dora doll?”
Part of the conversation we’d momentarily stopped, all about our sleepover plans at Sookie’s.
“Sure, but not too many toys okay? You can bring four toys.”
“Just four?!” she wined.
“Because five is too many, and I know you can pick four of your very favourite things to bring.”
“But why just four? What about five favourite things?”
“Emily…” I sighed, and gave her the look, she just sighed then too.
“Four is okay…” she had her ‘poor me’ face on, but I wasn’t falling for it at first, instead I finished saving, and grabbed the warm cloth to wipe off the rest of the shaving foam from my face. Looking at her through the mirror as she messed with her white beard, and one of her Barbie bubble baths, I felt bad for her. I always did when she gave in to things easily, I was pretty sure I was a walk over where she was concerned.
“Come ‘ere,” I said taking the cloth and wiping her beard off, “Five toys, and two books…how about that?”
She smiled wrapping her arms around my neck and clinging onto me kissing me on the cheek loudly.
“Okay, okay, but you have to do what I say when we get there, and be a good girl and not run around making a mess, okay? Sookie is my friend now, but she’s still my boss, and we don’t want to make a bad impression now do we?” I said, carrying her to her room before I swung her up in the air and landed her on the bed with a swish and a loud laugh from her.
“No, I promise I’ll be good. Good like how I am when I stay with Taylor’s Granma. She likes me you know; she said I’m a nice young lady. A lady, like they had in them olden day movies!” I laughed at her then, sad that my little sister thought that a nice young lady was only a fictional thing in a movie.
“Okay, I need you to pack your things, you can take your backpack for the books, put the toys in my over night bag, I have your clothes packed.”
“I don’t know…some jeans and underwear, some sweaters…why?”
“Are they my pretty clothes that Sookie boughted me?”
“I…think a couple of them are, why?”
She shrugged, “I like ‘em that’s all.”
I studied her for a second, “do you want to look pretty… for Sookie?”
She smiled, “she’s really pretty, and she told me before that I was pretty.”
That made me pout, “I tell you you’re pretty all the time, Squirt.”
She sighed, as if I was the world’s biggest idiot.
“Well, yeah, but you’re a BOY.”
“Boys don’t know pretty.”
“I don’t know… me,” I stood stunned that this little girl thought so much of her appearance already, and suddenly she’s sixteen and dating and wearing makeup and kissing boys…oh Jesus Christ.
I pull her up on the bed so she was standing, still shorter than me, but it made for better eye contact.
“Listen, I’m your big brother, okay? I’m not just some dumb boy. And I’m telling you, you’re a beautiful little girl, okay? In the new clothes, or the boring old clothes you’ve had for months and months, do you know why?”
She shook her head, so I continued, “Because you are beautiful, it doesn’t matter what you wear or how much it cost…” in that moment I was anxious about what Sookie’s involvement in her life might be doing to her. Sookie wasn’t a shallow person, but her profession was. It was all about cashing in on people’s insecurities; look better, richer, and more expensive than the other women. It was all a competition.
“And besides you’re too young to be worrying about things like this anyway.”
It was moments like these that I dreaded, wishing harder than anything that Mom was here to fix things, to give her the cuddle and the pep talk that only she could give to her daughter. She was right, on some level I was just a boy, and I was just her big brother doing my best to be her substitute father and mother, and brother all in one. It was hard, and most days I did feel like I was failing. Failing her, failing myself and most of all failing my parents. She was my responsibility, and I was trying really hard not to break her. It made me second guess everything in that moment, what I was doing working where I was, and most of all second guessing my deal with Sookie. I knew she didn’t want Emily affected by what we were doing, and we’d been careful about the planning of things because of that, but I still felt uneasy now. I felt uneasy because I knew there was something there. A Feeling, chemistry, something that I couldn’t shake off. And it was unexplored and new and scary all at once, but now I wondered if it was worth it? Was doing this only going to expose Emily to more doubts about herself and her looks? At such a young age? Did other kids go through this so young? Was it just her? Was I the only one that didn’t know how the fuck to deal with this? I questioned myself to death by the time Hoyt arrived to pick us up; he came up and came in to the apartment waiting for us to gather our stuff for the few days at Sookie’s place. He looked around, stuffing his hands in his pocket, an unreadable expression on his face.
“You okay, man?” I asked, counting if I had everything set out in front of me that Emily could possibly need for a few days.
“Yeah sure… fine…”
“But?” I sounded out, “you look like you wanna say something.”
“I just… I mean it’s not by business. I just didn’t know you and Sookie were like ‘that’…is all.” He shrugged.
“Oh… well I mean its –“
“Nah man, it’s cool you know, she’s hot. I mean, she’s mental, but I see the appeal there definitely, I don’t blame you for tapping that,” he whispered, as Emily came stomping out of her room, Dora under her arm, backpack on her back.
“It’s not like that though, Hoyt it’s –“
“Complicated. Yeah, kinda like Jason and Sophie…”
That felt like a punch in the gut, we were nothing like those two in any aspect of our relationship.
“No, dude, seriously it’s nothing like that at all.”
“I’m not judging, Eric, I’d lose my job if I did. I’m just here to drive y’all around on time, and if we chat much more we’ll be late and she’ll be mad, so…” he looked at the few bags on the floor.
“This your lot?”
“Yeah I can manage though –“
“Not at all, you’re her guest and I’m tasked with getting you there, you and all your things…so let me.”
I grabbed two of the bags quickly, leaving him with a tiny one; he huffed but made his way out and down the hall. I hated that his attitude towards me had changed so quickly, but I thought that if he ‘knew’ about Sookie and I, the rest of the guys at work must have too, which just meant that I’d have more weirdness to contend with. Awesome.
I was tense, nervous, and obsessing over the state of my place. What if she got bored, what if Eric and I ran out of things to talk about? Shit, I’d not thought of that before, what if it was awkward as all hell when he got here? When I’d left his place at the end of the week, things had been tense, but a different kind of tense. We’d been flirting, a thing I found that he and I were doing more and more of when we were left to our own devices, and both of us doing very little to put a stop to it. Flirting was nice, I’d missed flirting, I was rusty as all hell at it, and it was innocent – for the most part, and really fun and he was cute… so it was dangerous for me to be doing it. Or even thinking about it! Given the circumstances at work, and with my Gran and the little show we had to put on for her, well, it was a fine line we were walking that’s for sure.
But, Eric was a nice guy, a nice guy who was helping me out, and who also had the tall, blond, and hotness working for him quietly underneath his unassuming demeanour. He was nothing like any of the other men I’d dated, or in this case ‘fake’ dated. He wasn’t flashy, or a show off, and he didn’t need to rub his successes in my face every five minutes, or continuously remind me what a stud he was. I was sure Eric was successful in his area of study, his recommendations spoke so highly of him, and I often wondered why he was working for me when he was basically one of those Beautiful Mind guys when it came to numbers, apparently. But, I respected his choice to change careers, even if I didn’t fully understand why.
They arrived just before noon, I left word with the doorman to make sure he didn’t stall them this time, and I went back to make sure the rooms were clean enough. I left my door open and heard them comment to each other as they arrived.
“Wow this place is so clean!” Emily whispered, loudly.
“Well, it is! Our house is never this white.”
“That’s because you’re a kid, and nothing stays this white for long.”
She ‘tutted’ at him, “can we tell her we’re here?”
“Sure?” He said, leaving something heavy on the floor with a thud.
“Soooooookie? We’re heeeeeeeere!” she said, and it made me laugh as I came down the staircase.
“Hey guys, come on in…Welcome….all that.” I said, smiling at Emily who was grinning so wide I thought it would hurt her cheeks. Eric on the other hand just looked nervous as hell. I can’t say I blame him, this was a game changer, there were lines being crossed that I didn’t even know existed, and I was pretty sure there was no going back after this.
“Hi! Where’s Tina?” Emily asked.
“She’s…I think she’s in my bedroom, you wanna go play with her for a while? She has a few toys in there somewhere too.”
“Sure!” she said, dropping her doll and trudging towards the staircase, her patent shoes clapping on the wooden floor and then on the stairs as she took them as fast as she could.
“Hey…”I said, once he and I were alone. Still he stood there, his jacket on, tense and awkward. He just nodded, “Do…you want to leave the stuff in her room? It’s the second door on the right, next to the bathroom…Or we can leave the stuff until later, or we could get food? Do you want to go out, or order in… I can think of a few –“
“You’re nervous?” he said, breaking my ramble.
“I… I mean…” I ran my hand through my hair, “aren’t you?”
“Completely.” He said, with a smile, and a nervous laugh. It made me smile, glad that I wasn’t the only one internally freaking out.
“Oh…” I exhaled in relief, “good…I mean not ‘good’, but it’s good that you…that I… you know?”
He nodded, finally easing out of his black jacket.
“She arrives tomorrow?” Obviously referring to Gran.
“Yeah, and she’s here until Wednesday, but you guys can go home anytime you want, please don’t let her make you or Emily feel uncomfortable, okay? I don’t want that, not for you, and definitely not for her.” I was firm on that, if anyone of my family that was sure to pop up once they heard Gran was in town were in anyway disrespectful to them, the gloves were off. I knew Eric could handle it, but Emily was an innocent in all this.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine, they’re your family, how bad could it get if they showed up?”
“With Jason and Crystal? Not bad at all, Claudine and Ralph? She’s a bitch, so anything is possible, her husband is a Goddamn asshole too, so if they show up I’m going to need wine, or crack to get through it.” I laughed, and we took to the couch, the TV a welcome distraction in the background. I hated that we were both so stilted in the moment, yes it was awkward as all fuck, but we got on well at work, conversations weren’t this awkward.
“What do you want to do for lunch? Or did you guys already eat? I bought a ton of food…or we could go out.”
He shrugged, “she’s probably hungry, I’m okay right now, but if we’re going to eat I won’t say no.”
“Is that another way of saying ‘yes Sookie I’ll do lunch?’”
I sighed and nodded, making my way to the kitchen, “men, always making things overly complicated.” I muttered loudly, laughing to myself as I went, knowing he’d hear me.
“Oh, that’s rich coming from Miss OCD over there… uh huh…” he said, following me into the kitchen, leaning against the doorframe when he got there. Staring me down in a way that only he could. The kind of stare that looked like a casual interest, and still somehow made a shiver run down my spine.
“I’m not OC-“
“How many times did you clean the apartment? Or fluff those perfectly fluffed pillows over there?” he motioned to the couch.
“Okay, so I just wanted things to be perfect for you guys, I had a lot of nervous energy. I’ve never done any of this before…”
“Ha…ha very funny, asshole.” I said, moving around the kitchen, I had snacks and I was making amazing sandwiches, no matter what he thought, “this is a huge lie, all of it, and I don’t know, call me crazy, but I’m a little nervous about pulling it off.”
He nodded then, all signs of sarcasm gone.
“I know, it must suck having to resort to this for them, I need to understand that… I don’t have a family to disappoint anymore, at least not one that will understand how disappointing I am until she’s a lot older,” he smiled, “and I know that’s what you think, that you’re disappointing her, but Sookie this was her doing, one way or another, and you love your job enough to go to these extremes to keep it… if she doesn’t give you points for creativity and loyalty, then she needs her head examined.”
I sighed, still very unsure of what we were doing.
“I hope you’re right, I really do.”
“I am, and she’ll buy this, we’ll make sure of it…she’ll go home and in a few weeks everything will be secure and you can relax.”
I smiled at him, as he came into the kitchen behind me, his presence making the small area seem even smaller as he looked over my shoulder. The waft of his aftershave waving through my senses, it was a very masculine smell, and yet it wasn’t so strong and overwhelming to be repulsive… I liked it, whatever it was. I stalled cutting the cheddar as his hand grazed my knuckle in passing, stealing a piece that I’d already cut. With a cheeky grin he stepped back, knowing full well what he was doing by the looks of things.
“I’m going to go check on Emily, she’s far too quite, that only means she’s doing something she shouldn’t be.”
“Oh, okay…” I was left standing there, befuddled. This was all a lie, wasn’t it?
Right then, I wasn’t so sure who would be fooling who!
Next chapter – first night at her place! What should happen? 😉