Kaitlynn’s christening was adorable there was no doubt about that. Christine and Matt did a great job with everything – including the adorable baby making. But of course it raised the question; one I knew was coming but one I still had very little answers to. When Erik and I were going to have a baby? It was on everyone’s lips when we got back to their house for sickeningly cute cupcakes and champagne. It didn’t matter that we were still newlyweds, or that he’d been back all of five minutes and we were trying to sort our lives out so that things made a spec of sense. No, all that mattered was I had a ring and no baby, in my friendship circles that was just down right criminal. I sighed when we finally got home and I slipped out of my heels and yanked my hair into a ponytail, Erik was smiling when we got home and it forced the question.
“Did someone spike your drink? You’re really happy.”
“Am I not meant to be happy?”
“Well, no of course you… what? You’re just smiling like a goof… why?” I questioned as we let Sam out to pee.
“No I was just thinking you know, they made a cute baby, and sometimes soon, that you and I could do that too. I think our babies will be very cute.”
That surprised me. He was the broody one, not me. I had thought it would be the other way around.
“I guess that is true. You got baby brain then?” I smiled.
“She was so tiny… and she smelled really good.”
That she did, it was weird but clean babies were like one of the top ten best smells. I hope that didn’t make me creepy to think that. And I could admit, even to myself that the sight of Erik with a tiny baby did things to me that I just wasn’t expecting. It was both hot and adorable and sweet and terrifying all at once. Then again, I may just be a crazy person.
“She really did. But I got the question a lot… you?”
He was off with Matt and the guys getting introduced to that side of things, there was a lot of ‘let me show you the cars in the garage, which, please, we all knew meant ‘hey let’s tailgate in the garage away from the women’. They were all a lot more buzzed than we were that’s for sure.
“They mostly wanted to know how we met and how I managed to get you to marry me. Apparently you were a bit of a mystery to them.” He quirked his brows with a grin, taking a bite out of one of the many cupcakes we came home with. “Secretive woman, who no man got to touch, had to say it was a good feeling.”
“Feeling all Alpha proud huh?”
“Tiny bit.” He said with a mouthful of pink cupcake, looking anything but alpha. I just laughed. I checked my phone, and I had three missed calls from Pam.
“Pam?” He asked and I nodded.
“Me too, I wasn’t sure to answer… I think she needs to talk to you about this whole mess of a thing.”
“Ugh I just don’t want to deal with them. I figure she knows now what went down with Tara… I just … God I don’t know what her deal is. Tara she’s so messed up! She sits in judgement of everyone else and then when we dare question her ideas she goes off on one and gets all defensive. It’s always been this way and I’m just so tired of it. I’m tired of apologising for who I am without her and for her not liking who she is in general. It’s not my fault… it’s not my fault.” I realised then that it wasn’t up to me to make Tara feel better about her life or her choices; it wasn’t up to me to take her by the hand and make sure her life turned out okay. That was all on her. Suddenly it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. “Shit this is some Oprah a-ha moments right here.” I said swiping some of the cream off the cupcake on the table. “Seriously… it’s not my job as her friend to do any of that. I just… have to be her friend.”
Erik looked confused. Not that I blamed him even a little bit.
“Right give me a minute…” I said before grabbing my cell and dialling Pam’s number. I told her that she wasn’t the one that should have been calling me to talk about the fuck ups of her girlfriend, and she agreed however she also divulged that Tara was ‘taking it badly’ and ‘feels like shit’. I found I didn’t really care. I told her to sort her shit out and then we’d see, until then I was still mad – rightly so according to Pam who was also still furious, she then apologised repeatedly for the breach in our confidentiality and I assured her that it wasn’t her fault – because it wasn’t. It was her nosy ass girlfriend’s fault, the one that was too up her own ass to see her issues. I was out, until she got a little self-awareness. Until then, I told her, until then. I sat on our bed then, phone in hand and I took several deep breaths. It felt good, like a weight off my shoulders, I didn’t feel as angry anymore, things weren’t resolved but the ball wasn’t in my court anymore. I took another deep breath before my phone beeped.
It was Facebook.
“Erik Nordmon has uploaded one hundred and fifteen photographs.”
“Jesus Holy Christ…Erik?!”
I prayed he used some censorship when uploading to the internet. Last thing I wanted was his mother or worse, his grandmother – who now was also ‘on the face book net’ seeing all the random and questionable shit I knew Erik could snap with his camera or his phone.
I found him at the computer, frowning.
“Sometimes I question the saneness of my friends…” he said with a sigh. “A guy I know, Greg? He’s climbed a mountain to bungee off…. Naked.”
“Of course it’s naked what fun would it be with clothes on.” I said eyeing what he was looking at. A very naked upside down friend.
“ ‘Dem Swedish boys aren’t shy that’s for sure.” I said in a funny voice making him laugh and nod before he turned to me, still a happy buzz in his manner of moving. He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me closer. “You look pretty today. I like your hair like that.”
I suppressed my smile because I didn’t want to be too cheesy, but I loved that he had moments like this. Just out of the blue sweetness, not looking for anything in return – at least that was obvious to me. “I think you out prettied all the other wives which was nice, that Cindy person is way into her makeup huh?”
Yeah, Cindy worked a makeup counter, as such she seemingly felt the need to wear all her brands products at once, it was … interesting to say the least.
“I don’t know that Tara is a good friend to you, can I say? I think you … are a good friend and person to everyone or try to be very hard… she … I have seen in such a short time her let you down a lot … judge you, ignore you. That is not a good friendship to have, Sookie.”
He was right, and it made me sad just how right he was.
“And I know you want to benefit her doubt or whatever, but sometimes you just have to stop with the benefitting if it’s not proving goodness you know?”
He got very mixed when he was buzzed, more so than usual, I hated that I still found it adorable.
We nosed to nose for a few seconds as I took a breath, trying to make sense of him and my life all at once. I knew Tara and my friendship was shitty, and yeah, maybe I was holding on too tight to it out of some nostalgic obligation or whatever, but it was a hard habit to break all of a sudden. And, on top of that I knew if I did phase her out, she’d blame Erik, she’d blame me marrying him, and him ‘changing me’ on the fact that I cut her out of my life. Then of course there was the question if I could even do that, I’d never done that in my life to anyone. They had done it to me sure, but the shoe was never on the other foot. I didn’t like this shoe; this shoe was fugly and ill-fitting. I wanted it off as quickly as possible.
Finishing up the Steven’s job was a relief in more ways than one, firstly it was almost May, so Louisiana was heating up far too fast for my Swedish self to adjust to, and as such working outside became difficult. Particularly when fitting the final pieces to the built in seating, with the prying eyes of two teenage girls looking at me from just about everywhere I looked… and working in such heats with my shirts on was not comfortable. I was happy to be finished, to be paid and to get out of there. I had a plans for a meal with Sookie in one of the posh restaurants in town that night, and as it turns out finishing my job there wasn’t all I had to celebrate.
“Erik this is really wonderful and beyond anything I’ve seen in stores… so intricate and details really.” Mrs Steven’s son, Jack said as he walked me to his car. “Look I know you’re new to the States, newly married too so things can’t be easy… but I’ve heard a lot of good things about you. From my mother, my daughter and just about everyone here that’s met you…” he smiled warm and genuine and I thank god that his daughter had not been too… over the top in her chat of me.
And that’s when it happened. He offered me a job. A part time job, granted, but still, a job. The school needed a new wood shop teacher, since the old guy currently in the job was retiring. He asked that I think about it, maybe drop by to see the school and everything and if I would agree to a sit down chat with the board, I could start in September.
Well I’ll be damned.
Meeting Sookie for dinner that evening was a mix of emotion, she had been unusually quiet for a few days, and I wasn’t sure why, when I pressed she assured me she was ‘fine’. I left it more often than not, not really wanting to start an aggravated argument. I just assumed she was going through some lady business times and that wasn’t any of my business.
When I saw her sitting at the table in what was fast becoming ‘our’ restaurant in town, looking beautiful with her hair in that up and down curled style she did sometimes, wearing a new dress that I hadn’t seen before. I instantly panicked.
It wasn’t her birthday yet… I knew that much. Perhaps it was just a new dress for the sake of being new.
We greeted each other with a kiss and a smile as we took our seats.
“Sorry I’m late, traffic and there were small sheep in the road, they didn’t care I had a date.” I confessed making her smile.
“It’s fine, I’ve only been here a little while. How was your day?”
“It was great actually, finished things right feels good and they were very happy with the job. And I was very happy with the pay cheque.” I smiled too. “There was even a little extra… we could take a trip if you’d like?”
She nodded with an apprehensive smile. It made me take her hand in mine.
“Are you alright Sook? You’ve been strange this past few days… not your normal endearing wonderful strange either. Strange like things are wrong? Are things wrong?”
She blew air from her mouth with a sigh.
“I thought… there has been something going on with me, and it’s not something I’ve been handling very well actually.”
Okay… that worried me.
“And these things are?”
She looked to the side of the table before brushing hair behind her ear with her free hand.
“I was late.”
“For what? Work?”
She laughed nervously then but looked me in the eye and raised her brows. Then I got it.
“Oh!” I whispered then, “oh… that late. I see.” I thought about what that meant for a second, and while it was sooner than we were planning… we of all people knew life shouldn’t go as planned because sometimes plans are stupid.
I smiled then.
“I think it’s –“
“I’m not… before you say anything else. I’m… no longer late. As of … like twenty minutes ago.”
My smile left me and she noticed. I nodded.
“Okay then. You were … very late then? Enough to worry as you were doing?”
“Eight days. I’ve been silently freaking for like four of them… I just… I don’t know if we’re ready for that yet.”
I think she knew by my reaction that I was ready for anything where she was concerned, but, I had the easier time of things if her lateness had turned into something life changing.
“I understand that.”
“But you’re disappointed I can tell.” She pursed her lips together then, before biting her lip as she did sometimes when she was nervous.
“No… Not really. It was never a thing to have disappointment over. But the idea of it is not something that causes me worry as it does you.”
She nodded then.
“Good, I mean that’s good to know, most woman say it’s the other way around.” She smiled before taking a long gulp of her wine. “I just… things with us are still so new, you know? And I don’t want us to rush into that.”
“Why not? Rushing into things have worked out amazing for us so far.” I countered.
“I know, but do we really want to tempt fate? Besides, we’re not even married a year yet, we’ve plenty of time for all of that.” She dismissed and it worried me.
“This is truth, but is it also truthful in saying that maybe this is something you are not sure you…want?”
Her eyes widened then slightly.
She lowered her tone then, remembering we were in a restaurant full of people.
At that, the waitress came to take our orders. We ordered what we usually had so there was no need to look at the menu on the table. After she left I raised my brow at Sookie then to continue.
“I just think it wouldn’t be smart of us to rush into parenthood just yet. You’re barely back, we’re not really settled and besides, we’re still… you know… getting to know each other.”
“So to say that if we get to know each other more you would not ever want children with me?”
She sighed again, before taking a gulp of her wine once more.
“Sookie? You’re being very confusing here. I don’t understand. If you were pregnant would it not be a happy thing?”
She broke eye contact with me then.
“It would, of course it would just not right now.”
“Well neither of us are really trying to not have the pregnant happen are we?” Our sex was restriction free, as far as I was aware.
“I’m on the pill you know that…. So it’s not really been totally a free for all where the swimmers are concerned.”
“But that is not always –“
“Yes, I know, hence the panic and moods this past few days. I just… I’d like us to discuss it more… to be more secure before we start thinking that making little people is a good idea. It’s not that I don’t want kids with you, I really do… I just have seen so many people make mistakes and live with them and those poor kids grow up feeling unwanted because their parents weren’t really ready for them when it happened.”
“Sookie, we’re married, we have a lovely secure home, we have a pampered pet and nosy neighbours… I think our children would adjust to having us as parents just fine.”
She cracked a smile then but it was quick to disappear.
“I’m sorry okay? I’ve just been so stressed with your visa processing and money stuff… and everything that this was just… not something I was ready for right this second.”
I nodded then, trying my best to reassure her, what I really wanted to do was move to her side of the table and hug her and make her know that things were going to be fine. If we had kids now or in a year or two or even three, things were going to be okay.
I settled for a squeeze of her hands.
“Well maybe I can make one of the worries less of a worry.”
“I’ve been offered a job. A part time teaching position at Mr Ryan’s school.”
She grinned naturally then, her eyes lighting up for the first time since I had sat down.
“Eric! That’s amazing! Woodshop?”
I nodded enthusiastically, happy to be on a topic I knew more about and felt less awkward discussing in public. Our dinner arrived then as Sookie questioned me and how the job was going to work out. I admitted that I never saw myself such a position before, but since I had met her my life had taken many turns that I had not expected.
I liked it this way much better than before.
After getting over my funk, and a week of cramping, I was back to my full senses again and things between Erik and I got less awkward the more we opened up about our respective worries for our future. His was providing the ‘bacon’ for his family, and keeping us both happy, and mine was finding a balance with my growing business, managing the money side of things and having to hire someone new when Jessica ultimately went off to college. We planned something low key and sweet for our anniversary, we took a trip for a week staying in a couple of cheap but cute bed and breakfasts as we hit Memphis and then Nashville for the first time since I was twenty one, where I had gone with friends and proceeded to drink for six days straight and almost die of throwing up at the side of some random road – not something Tara ever let me forget.
Speaking of Tara, things between she and I didn’t improve. Even after Erik and I met with Pam for a catch-up, we all kept the topic of Tara at arm’s length. She didn’t say sorry, and I hadn’t reached out either. I was done being her door mat, being her emotional punching bag. If being with Erik and being happy meant that she couldn’t support me and step outside of her own bitterness, then I wasn’t the one that was going to drag her kicking and screaming in to adulthood. And not for nothing but I knew her behaviour wasn’t sitting well with Pam either. Pam was a strong, sensible woman who didn’t take anyone’s bull. I knew Tara’s martyr act would wear thing after a while. Nothing was ever her fault, and while that was acceptable when we were kids, we were both in our thirties now, and that shit was no longer cute.
Even with all that it was the most fun and care free week I could recall having, it was just like Sweden where were cast aside our everyday issues and just enjoyed around us and seeing new things together. We talked more about babies, and settled on a year before we would actively try to get pregnant, but that didn’t mean our fun had to stop where we were at presently. And it didn’t. Not that I ever imagined it would stop, not with Erik being Erik and my now awakened sex drive in full swing.
When we got back we did a big dinner out in the yard, summer now in full swing. There was the elephant in the room though, when I invited everyone to the dinner, everyone except Tara, and of course everyone else noticed and questioned and eyebrowed me, but, it was what it was now and I was okay with it. Or at least I thought I was. No one was ever really okay with a friendship dying, but sometimes due to two stubborn people being stubborn, that’s just what happened. Two weeks after we got back, we got a surprise of a different kind. The surprise being Erik’s grandparents, and his mother, showing up on our doorstep early one Saturday morning.
Needless to say I was shocked, he was shocked and their idea of a surprise was in fact my worst nightmare.
Not in that they weren’t welcome, they of course were always welcome – but with just a little more warning than none at all.
It was interesting to say the least.