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 A/N: Hello new followers from FF.Net! Thanks for stopping by! 😀 You know the drill!

SPOV:

The shower with Eric was one of the most relaxing and most hilariously awkward things I’d ever taken part in, and that’s including loss of virginity. You see Eric was a tall man, a very tall, large man, and I wasn’t a very tall woman, the logistics of what ideally seemed like hot shower sex, were in reality very uncomfortable and difficult to maintain in what was a slippery bathtub with a shower head. There was a lot of kissing, and touching, and what essentially came down to mutual hand jobs, but there was no sex, at least not in the shower. By the time we got back to his room though, all bets were off, so off in fact that it led to him being a half hour late for Sam. I stuck around until two so I could get Emily and she would take a trip into the city with me and we’d get food; this was decided after round two of our little afternoon delight… and believe me when I say I had to stop him from humming that song, and then quoting lines from Anchorman. I shook my head laughing at him as he stumbled around his room looking for things to wear, he was going to settle on some workout clothes, but then looked at me and sighed.

“You’d disapprove wouldn’t you?”

It made me laugh, because ordinarily I would have.

“Work me would, work me would fire you for showing up in sweat pants dude.”

“But you, you?”

“Me -me just had three orgasms in forty five minutes, me-me doesn’t care if you walk out there in a tutu… well okay, maybe I still would care. But it’s your friend… and you’re late.”

His eyes widened and he panicked again, “Right, late. You’re still okay to –“

“YES. GO.”

With that he yanked on a grey sweatshirt, stuffed his feet into his running shoes kissed me on the forehead and literally ran for the door, I heard it slam, and then two seconds later I heard it reopen. He’d forgotten the files, of course.

I just sighed, looking around his now messed up room, there were wet towels and rumpled sheets, I was currently wrapped in one on his bed. I knew I had to get up but it was so hard to do. I’d enjoyed my day off so far that was for sure. It had been a long time since I’d just let go, and enjoyed myself and another person in such an intimate and fulfilling way. I was also glad we’d made no grand gestures though, I was still working things out long term in my head, like I always did before I committed even slightly to something. It was a thing that being in the business had taught me, never sign onto anything before you read the fine print. And with Eric and me, I just wasn’t sure what the fine print even was just yet.

When I went to Emily’s school a few blocks from the apartment, I had to explain to the teacher who I was, and what I was doing there, and sign a document to take her with me, showing ID and everything. I was happy such a small school still had such great ways of attempting to protect the kids, but thankfully for me, Amelia was also there, and vouched for me too, making it easier. Emily was thrilled to see me, and even happier when I said we got to spend the afternoon in the city if she’d come with me. There might have been promises of a treat after her dinner if she was a good girl, and with a smile she tugged for my hand, and off we went. We took a cab to my apartment, I wasn’t brave enough for the subway these days, and not in the heels I was wearing either. When we pulled up at my place, Emily who had been happily telling me of the stories they’d been covering in class that day, jumped out before me and smiled when I let her give the driver the money and tip, she thanked him, and called him ‘Sir’. She was kind of an awesome kid. I had no illusions that she was this perfect angel though; odds were she knew how to throw a tantrum or two in her time, but with me, thus far, she’d been a really mellowed little girl. She was Eric’s sister after all. I opened all the windows in the apartment, noting that Maxine had been and gone judging by the fresh smell we were greeted with, and Tina’s fresh bowl of milk and food. Tina greeted us with an un-amused ‘meow’, and I instantly felt bad that I’d been neglecting her pretty much for a month now. I made a mental note to be around more for my pampered pet. I had texted Pam from Brooklyn asking if she’d meet me for an early dinner, or a very late lunch, and by three thirty I got my reply. We agreed to meet at one of my favourite restaurants Jean-Georges on Central Park West. We’d be too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but it really was amazing what my name did for those little… inconveniences.

I grabbed what I’d come across town to get, and after Emily finished her snack of juice and some fruit, we were out the door again.

The look of shock on Pam’s face when she saw not only me, but little Emily stroll into that building, well, it was priceless.

“Sookie…” we air kissed and she looked confused at the kid. “What… is that?”

I rolled my eyes.

“Pam, this is Emily, Emily this is my friend Pam, and we work together.” I nudged Emily and she put out her hand to shake Pam’s hand. It took all my strength not to giggle.

“Pleased to meet you.”

Manners were a big deal with Eric; I saw that in Emily a lot.

Pam looked to me, then to Emily, and then to me before she put out her hand, cautiously to shake the little girl’s hand, as if she were ready to bite or something.

“She’s not going to snap, Pam.”

With that Emily took her seat with a giggle.

“I know that. They’re just usually so… sticky.”

With that we settled down and waited for our orders. I was determined to get Emily a properly balanced dinner, I didn’t want to the kid going back to Eric’s saying I’d starved her simply because Pam was attempting another fad diet that she really didn’t need, being almost six foot tall and a size two, but there was no talking to her in her search for ‘glowing skin’ and yadda yah. I treated myself to their strip loin and all the trimmings, the look on Pam’s face there was also priceless.

“The reason I wanted to meet with you outside of work, I wanted to show you these.”

I said as we wrapped up dinner, having conversed on every subject besides myself and Eric, Pam and I were only fully aware that little ears were listening in. By the end of it though, Pam had warmed to Emily at least a little. I was glad, and I wasn’t really surprised, Emily was a really engaging kid, and advanced for her age, and according to this ‘almost six’ year old, she was great at math, just like Eric.

Pam took a look at the two large portfolios that I put in front of her and she smiled.

“So this is what you hide in these folders, I always wondered. Sook, they’re stunning. I particularly love the luxury capsule wardrobe here, it’s just… all the pieces compliment so well, and if these are the fabric swatches… ugh you could die thinking how that would flow, cut properly.” She continued to gush. I loved Pam’s eye, and she was blunt and to the point, I needed that with what I was going to say next.

“I’m thinking of approaching some houses, with an idea to maybe collaborate… on my own.”

Her eyes widened, “I love that idea. Oh, my God do I love that idea.”

“It would mean more work, but it’s something I’ve always thought about, and a few designers asked me, in passing more than once if I would and I always said no. But this could be a great way of… I don’t know, starting my own line.”

Pam got excited, and she rarely got so animated, but she definitely got animated too. She was so supportive, and I loved that, I needed that since I was scared shitless of doing what I was thinking of doing.

“Pam, you’ve worked with me for how long now? Almost six years?”

“Yeah, in March, why?”

“No reason, I just… was thinking. I remember when I first started; I was beyond scared and green.” I smiled, “and then you came along and became like my right hand, and we failed a lot, we did a lot of crappy covers and pieces and failed products… but we learned together you and I, didn’t we?”

Sookie are you dying? Is that what this is?”

Emily looked concerned.

“She’s joking Em’.”

“Oh, okay…” she said tucking back into her two-scoop ice-cream with strawberries, she was practically inhaling it.

“No, Pam. I’m just thinking out loud is all.”

“You’ve gotten so sentimental lately, I have to admit it’s a little scary.”

“I’ve always been sentimental; I just hide it better sometimes than others.” I laughed.

“Either way, tone it down.” She said looking freaked, before she smiled. “Not that I’m complaining but why are you kissing my a…being so nice?” She looked to Emily rolled her eyes and looked to me.

I shrugged, I wasn’t sure of the reason exactly, but something in me needed her to know how much I appreciated her.

“There’s no reason, I just figured it would be nice for you to know. I couldn’t have done a lot of what we’ve done if it wasn’t for you pushing the bar and me along at times.”

She blushed, it was sweet. Pam never blushed.

“Well… thanks. You know I love what we do, what I do, getting to be one of the few that does this? I mean, come on. It’s a fantastic life.”

It was in a lot of ways a fantastic life, but, Pam had everything else figured out. She had the love of her life by her side, she had the job she adored, and she only spoke to her family when she absolutely had to, but it didn’t bother her like it bothered me. She’d left home by choice when she was seventeen, her motto was she was too good for the backwoods, and was meant for more. She became more all on her own. She was pretty bad ass. The once fantastic life, had somewhere along the road, become tiresome for me. A feeling I never thought I’d experience.

By the time Emily and I got back to Eric’s place, he still wasn’t home and I had to get the spare key from Trey who was on the phone so we didn’t stop to chat. Instead Emily and I settled down in front of the TV to waste some time. It seemed like as good a time as any to talk to her about her school issues.

She told me about the boys, and the name calling, and that Eric had gone to talk to her teacher, which just made the boys mad.

“You know, when my parents died?” she looked up at me, paying full attention, “I had to move to a whole new place, me and my older brother Jason. We moved to live with my Gran, and that meant we had to change schools, and I hated it – at first.”

“Did boys pick on you too?”

“No, not the boys, but some girls did. They didn’t like that I was the new girl and kind of strange, and I was ten, so I thought I was a big girl.” We both smiled as she sipped her juice.

“But they picked on me and I didn’t tell anyone for a long time, and it hurt, knowing what I knew and not telling anyone, so you were really brave to tell Eric.”

“But then they got meaner! And called me a tattle tail!”

I hated that phrase, that phrase was what kept the bully cycle alive most of the time. Kids were afraid to speak up.

“You’re never a tattle tail if someone is trying to hurt you, with their words or their hands, okay? You did a good thing.”

“Did you tell anyone?”

I shook my head, no.

“But then one day, my brother saw what was happening at school, when he came to pick me up. He’d just started the older kid’s school so we weren’t together much. But he came and he saw, and he stood up for me, just like Eric stood up for you, Em. And he told them that we might not have had a Mom or a Dad anymore, but that I had a big brother to come look out for me… to take care of me.” For some reason my eyes were welling up and I was willing myself not to cry, I hadn’t thought about how close Jason and I used to be, in a long time.

“He’s a good brother?”

“He was. And they didn’t pick on me again.”

Not until high-school at least, but she didn’t need to know that.

“And your big brother, he might not be able to do what your parents wanted to do for you, but he’s doing his best, and that’s all anyone can ask of anyone else, is they be their best. But just know that you can tell him anything, anytime and he’ll help you, like he always does, okay?”

I was probably confusing the poor kid, I was confusing myself. I was flooded with memory after memory of Jason and I, thick as thieves, when all we had to worry about was being clean for dinner and not messing up our Sunday best.

She nodded, and then the unexpected happened, she hugged me.

“Are you gonna be Eric’s girlfriend now?”

Panic! “What did I say when I didn’t know the answer myself? What had he said? Had he told her I was? Oh, God. What?!

“Um, well, what did Eric say?”

“He said…” she pondered and it was killing me, “he said that you were his good friend…”

“Oh, okay.”

That was okay, that was safe, and hopefully true.

“Um, well, isn’t being a good friend better than just being a silly old girlfriend?” I laughed.

“Can’t you be both?”

I smiled as I heard Eric’s key rattle in the door.

“We’ll talk about this some other time okay?”

With Emily happily distracted with her movie and a teeny tiny bag of candy Eric had brought back with him, he and I made a break for the kitchen.

“Sam’s books were a mess, a total mess, he’s going to fire his guy tonight, there was money missing, investments that went missing, I don’t even know how that happens.” As he made himself a cup of coffee, I had politely declined; I listened to his friend’s tale of woe. I felt sorry for the guy, trying to build his business when people were swiping from underneath him.

“I have to go home tonight.” I said in a break in conversation, his face fell for a second before he hid it behind a nod.

“Oh… okay that’s cool. Was it Em? Was she too much? I knew I was gone too long I –“

“It’s not that, she was great actually, and we had a late lunch with Pam, she was fine don’t worry.”

“Oh, that’s good, great. I’m glad she wasn’t a nightmare, sometimes she’s cranky after school, and it doesn’t always go well.”

I smiled. I had assumed that with her being so young an all, hell, I was almost thirty and I threw my share of tantrums.

“I just have some calls to make, and pay Tina some attention.” I said, slipping off my stool and over to where he stood. He didn’t waste time, or ask permission before he kissed me, and I allowed myself to just fall into it, just lose myself for a few seconds to his touch. His touch that I hated the thought of being without, that night if I went home.

Damn, when did I become that girl?

We broke apart from a deep kiss, but considering who was singing along in the next room, a decidedly PG rated kiss, his eyes still closed. I loved that little detail about him; it was like he was savouring every second, it made it more special somehow.

“Not to sound lame, but I’ll miss you tonight. Human heating system that you are.” He grinned.

“Ah, so it all comes out, just using me for my body heat huh?”

“Yeah, I mean, what else would I be using your body for?” His eyebrows did their little dance and it made me laugh.

“Well, you think of a few things and maybe we can discuss them, tomorrow.”

“Discussing them, where’s the fun in that.” He said as I pulled away. I just rolled my eyes, and grabbed my bags. Said goodbye to a pouting Emily, and smiled as her brother’s reaction was scarily similar, and I made my way home, alone.

When I got back to my place, greeted by the early November chill making it’s way around my apartment due to the long forgotten open windows, and of course Tina. I decided to do what I’d been debating about doing since my talk with Emily.

I called Jason.

“Hey Jase, its Sookie.”

He sounded surprised, as he should, this almost never happened outside of work hours.

“Hey Sook, what’s up? Is everything – Is Gran okay?”

I took a seat on my giant white couch, and sighed. Of course that’s what he would think, why would I be calling just to call? I never did that.

“No, no, everything fine. I was just calling to … see how you are?” Even those words seemed foreign coming from me.

“Oh… well … I’m fine, home and just had dinner, the kids are just being put to bed, and Crystal and I are gonna watch a movie, work was good. I made all the meetin’s today, nothing got put back.”

“Oh, good. That’s good.”

Did we really have nothing better to talk about, other than work? It was always just about work.

“Are you coming for Thanksgiving? I think I’m being demoted.” He chuckled. I hadn’t really thought of Jason’s position in all this.

“If that happens, how… I mean how would that make you feel?”

He sighed and I heard a beer can snap open; he took a sip and sighed again.

“Honestly, I’m not sure. I mean you deserve it, you’ve always been way more into the business than I have… it’s your thing you know? I do it because it’s what Gran wanted after college you know? Like take over the family business, but then you came along and did it so much better. I mean, Crystal would kill me for sayin’ this Sook, but I’d much rather spend time with the kids, you know? Give ‘em what we never had, I don’t need that much money, I mean, it’s cool an all, but with the trust funds we were set for life anyway. You taking the company international, adding the magazine like you did? Hell, I’d happily sign over the job to you and take my cut right now, but it’s not up to me.”

I was shocked. I guess I just thought Jason loved the job, the lifestyle as much as I did, even if he kind of sucked at it. While I went radio silent, Jason clearly picked up on it.

“Is that why you’re callin’ Sook?”

“No… No, I was just remembering some things, like when we were kids… and I wanted to talk to you I guess.”

“Hey remember that time Frank Kale, the kid from down the lake shot me in the ass with his dad’s bb gun? I couldn’t sit down for days.” He chuckled; I did remember that, I couldn’t have been more than ten at the time. Gran had given him what for too.

“I was remembering school mostly, and those kids.”

“Asshole kids, I hope my kids don’t turn into little assholes.”

I hoped that too, the world had enough.

“I’m sure you and Crystal will do a good job, I know you will. You’ll do all the things you wanted Dad to be there to do with you.”

“You miss ‘em?”

“Every day,” I answered without a beat.

“Me too, I feel like I shouldn’t though, like I should be over it, but I guess some things never leave you.”

No, I’d thought the same over the years, which maybe I should feel less of a loss over time, but the truth was, the older I got, the more I missed them.

“So are you coming for Thanksgiving?” He asked again, and this time I was sure.

“Yes, Jason, I’ll be there, with bells on this year.”

“Actual bells?” He chortled, and I laughed.

“We’ll see how it goes. I’ll see you in a week?”

“See you in a week, little sister.”

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