Chapter 4: Chapter 4
After her little outburst on Pam, there seemed to be a silent solidarity that dawned on Sookie and I. We’d both been getting crap from all sides about our choice—not that it was much of a choice—but for making it, we got nothing but crap from the people who thought they knew better. It seemed that she and I did share something in common after all, we were both stubborn as dirt.
We had no clue what Jessica’s sleeping schedule was like, but since I offered to pop by the bar with Pam a little after seven, I knew I’d only be gone an hour or so. She insisted that she had everything under control, and I trusted her completely. But I wanted to have a final look over the schedule of the next few weeks, since I had a feeling things weren’t going to run like clockwork like they had before. Sookie had waved it off like it was nothing, that she would use the time to unpack and play with the baby and maybe get a feel for the house. Seemed like a solid enough plan.
Walking into the bar just as it was starting to get busy, I was greeted by my staff. I was good to my staff, if they were good to me, which the majority of them were so it worked out well. I didn’t coddle them and they didn’t bullshit me, we both did our jobs and what resulted was Northman’s Tavern—one of the most frequented bars in Louisiana. We’d even been given the green light to expand, and in this economic climate, that was not easily done. I realized now that an expansion on the business might have to be put on hold, at least for the time being. I didn’t know where I was even living never mind what to do about my business…No, I’d decide on that later.
Pam gave me a quick update on the drink orders, the party bookings, takings and how the new waitresses were fairing. All in all, things seemed to be going fine. Taking a deep breath sitting back in my leather chair, I realized my biggest worry yesterday had just become the least of my worries today. It’s funny how fast your priorities shifted, and that realization terrified me. A day. I’d been with them a day and already I was thinking of pushing my life aside so I could make sure they were okay! Didn’t I JUST pep talk myself OUT of doing that?
Ugh, God… sometimes I was an idiot. I needed to flirt with something to gain back my manliness.
I made my way out to the bar, receiving a “What the hell are you still doing here ?” look from Pam who was talking to the bar guy Steve about something. I shrugged and ordered a whiskey neat from Tiffany one of the new waitresses.
Tiffany. Hmm, she’d do.
She was nice and tall for a chick—five ten in heels, tan, long brown hair, and brown eyes—the exact opposite of what I’d been around all day… Usually my tastes laid in the smaller formed ladies, but Tiffany was required to ease my boredom. I flirted with her and not very hard either. It should have disgusted me that she was willing to do, and I quote, “anything” to make sure that I was “taken care of.” And really, who was I to deny her such a thing?
“It’s okay, Jessica it’s okay! Aunt Sook is here and she hopefully knows how to make you stop crying! It’s okaaay.” I’d began to singsong my words as I swayed her back and forth. But still she cried. The poor thing just wanted her Mamma I was guessing, and I, clearly wasn’t her Mamma. It wasn’t so much “mamma” that she cried for, more so “mim”. But to me her mim was her mom and I still wasn’t it.
It was just after eight thirty and at this point, Eric had been gone hours longer than he said he would. It was pissing me off. Pissing me off more than it should have. I shouldn’t have cared that he was gone, or at work or just in general, not here. Hadn’t I just hours before told him that I was perfectly fine doing all of this on my own full time? Yeah, what a mistake that had been. He’d been here all day and all evening and he somehow seemed to know what to do when she cried. That or she was so in awe of the big giant man that she was stunned into silence. I didn’t know his trick, but he seemed to have one since she was silent all evening … till an hour after he left.
One minute she was sitting happily, throwing tiny multicoloured building blocks all over the living room floor, the next she was screaming bloody murder and hadn’t really stopped since.
I’d tried everything. I’d tried feeding her, rocking her, burping her, and changing her – which was a shock.
He’d duct taped the diaper ? Oh yeah, we’d be needing to have a talk.
“Okay Jessica, baby please I am beggin’ you, please just tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you, please?”
More red faced tears.
God, I was a failure. I’d had her a day, and I was failing already.
I had one last trick up my sleeve.
I packed her up with a fresh bottle, her pacifier, a plush teddy and her pink blanket and strapped her into her car seat.
We were going for a little drive.
With the help of Lady Gaga, we had radio silence in a record breaking ten minutes. She’d then reached for her bottle all on her own and started sucking away at it. I lowered the radio and switched it to a classical station—I needed to mellow out and I needed no words. Twenty more minutes of driving around town had her out and sleeping soundly. I pulled back up to the house just after nine to find Eric’s car in the driveway. Instantly, my calmed relieved mood was replaced with my bitchface and many thoughts of hitting him with something heavy. Not that I would and not that I really knew why, but I’d put in a really stressful scary evening with that kid, and he flaked. I needed to know that if he said he’d be back at a certain time, that well, he’d be back!
I scooped her up as gently as I could tiptoeing quietly to the back door. I saw him standing in the kitchen with a beer in hand. He looked like he was about to say something but I held a hand up to silence him, without saying a word. I crept up the stairs and managed to get her into her crib in the dark before I switched on her little night light by the door. I set the baby walkie talkie by her head knowing the other one was somehow stashed in the fruit bowl in the kitchen. Cracking the door so it wasn’t fully closed, I made my way back down stairs.
Eric still stood in his spot by the fridge. I gave him the silent treatment which he instantly picked up on.
“Jesus, what now?”
“Bullshit. What did I do?”
“Sookie, I’m tired can we not play this game tonight? Why the fuck do you look so pissed? Is Jessica
“She’s fine, she’s sleeping like you saw, now. But…”
“Eric… I… you said you’d be here an hour after you left and you weren’t here. You weren’t here for hours. And …”
“Was she hard to handle or something while I was gone, is that it?” He looked annoyed, and if I saw what I think I saw, he almost looked concerned. That’s when I saw it. There were lipstick marks on his shirt collar.
Son of a bitch. I knew this was a shitty idea. He’d gone back on his word to get laid? Are you fucking kidding me right now? That tipped my mood over the edge. I think everything got on top of me at that moment. All of it. Deaths, babies, crying, moving, him, my own failures. All of it was just too fucking much right now. And to top it off, the reason he wasn’t here on the first night of having that kid, was for sex?
Yeah it pissed me off.
I picked up the monitor before I turned to face him again.
“No, she wasn’t, in fact she was perfect, we had no issues whatsoever.”
“Oh, well, that’s great… so, why the mood?”
“You know… I get it, you are who you are and that’s … great. It’s your life and what you do on your free time isn’t any of my business. I get that. But you said you’d be an hour, Eric and I was depending on you to come back and help me out here—strange house, first night, new baby, bit freaked out? Ring any bells?”
He looked to the floor for a second before looking at me again.
“I’m sorry, work just got really… busy and well, I just couldn’t get away.”
I rolled my eyes at him. He was a lot of things which included being a man-whore and apparently a shitty liar.
“Weird, because you might wanna tell the lipstick marks on your shirt collar and your undone fly that ‘work got busy’.”
With that I turned on my heel and marched to my bedroom, baby monitor in hand. Apparently, I couldn’t rely on him like I thought I could.
I woke up at six a.m. Well, woke up wasn’t the right term. To wake up one must sleep, and I didn’t sleep.
Jessica slept soundly. I’d kept my bedroom door open just in case she cried or needed something in the night. Sookie on the other hand, I could hear her tossing and turning two walls away. We both knew the funeral was in the morning, we both knew there’d be a wake and yet somehow both of us were, once again, at each other’s throats.
Yes, I skipped out on her for sex. Well, not really sex, more of … Tiffany and her epic oral skills at work. But that wasn’t the point, and I’m sure Sookie wouldn’t think it any less sex just because I didn’t even have to work for it. She was tired and emotional, her eyes were rimmed in red and she was pale. Her harsh words to me in the kitchen felt like a slap in the face. I’d told her I’d take my responsibilities with the kid seriously and first night, I skip out? Yeah, she had the right to be bitchy. I blamed both our highly charged states and serious lack of sleep for both our moods. I could only hope that eventually she’d get over it and maybe not hate me so much.
Then again, I hadn’t been giving her much of a reason not to hate me… Both of us had started off hard on each other, and it had just stayed that way. It’s not like I bitched out every woman I met, and I was sure Sookie was more than pleasant to be around, as long as you weren’t me. But there was just something about the two of us that when we got together, we antagonized the shit out of both of us to reach our boiling point. It was exhausting and we were only at day one of forever.
The service was beautiful. Friends, neighbours, Alcide’s old ass Aunt showed up with her friend from Texas. Sookie gave a eulogy for Hadley and I gave my best for Alcide. Sookie and I hadn’t spoken a word to each other all morning, or all afternoon for that matter. The house was packed with people; Lafayette and his crew had taken over the kitchen. He shook my hand, told me I looked like hell and proceeded to wreck the kitchen with all his stuff. He made a mean cup of coffee and omelette though. Breakfast was ate with him as he unwrapped pre-prepared foods brought from the restaurant. A endless supply of sandwiches, rolls, buns, cakes, chocolate covered things all lay before me, but he insisted on making me an omelette to start my day.
Sookie’s day started in silence as she came down stairs already dressed to kill at seven thirty. She’d had Jessica in her arms still in her all-in-one jammies and bed hair—with what little hair she had. She hugged her friend, thanked him and prepared a bottle for Jessica. Pure silence.
Lafayette whistled like he knew something before he blurted out, “What did you do?”, to me.
Oh sure, of course, it’s my fault.
“What makes you think I—”
“I pissed her off.”
“Well that much is obvious. What did you do?”
“It’s something if Sook is giving you the silent treatment, particularly on a day like today.”
“Meaning, I was there when her Gran passed, and that girl she’s all strong and bull strength on the outside, but on the inside she’s just…Well, she’s just not as sturdy as she appears, and she’s alone. Her asshole of a brother is lying drunk somewhere in Bon Temps, her ex-boyfriend is this asshole who treated her like shit, and then there’s you. Pissing her off on the day she buries one of two remaining family members.”
Nice, he could really lay the guilt on thick couldn’t he? Jesus.
So I tried to make nice. I took the baby while she shook everyone’s hands and told them of the wake, I stood by her side in the church, and at the burial site. But still she didn’t look at or talk to me.
I felt like shit.
Burying my friends tugged at something in me—watching their coffins go into that hole—it’s almost like it snapped something inside me.
We were all going to die, maybe not now or not tomorrow, but we would. And what would I have to show for my life? A bar, that I loved but it was just a bar; a handful of one-night stands from the time I was twenty three. That was almost ten years of fucking around without consequence—without settling down, without giving a woman a second chance. I looked at Sookie as she stood by the gave. She gave the appearance of a strong woman but her dark glasses hid the tears that I knew were flowing. I ached to hold her hand in that moment, to tell her, to reassure her that I wasn’t the complete fuck up she though I was.
That’s when he arrived.
Everyone shook our hands again and offered even more apologies for our loss, cooed over Jessica of course, and returned to the house. I drifted back towards the cars with Pam, leaving Sookie by the graveside to talk with the man that had appeared out of nowhere.
He shook my hand and introduced himself as William Compton, and from the look on Sookie’s face she hadn’t expected to see this ‘Bill’.
I wanted to stay. I wanted to see who he was and what the hell he wanted with her on today of all days. But she insisted that I take the baby out of the heat and back to the house; that it was rude to the guests. Fuck the guests. They were just there for the free food. My nosiness almost got the better of me when Pam ushered me into her Escalade.
“She’s a big girl. I’m sure she’ll be fine.” She said, adjusting her Chanel glasses to the top of her head.
“I know that. I just don’t like him.”
“You said two words to the guy. How is it that you don’t like him already?”
“A vibe? Okay, if it’s possible you’re getting weirder. I need some coffee, so let’s hit the road.”
Packed house, many people picking up and admiring Jessica like she was a plant in a window. The kid had had enough about ten minutes in and let one of her signature wails out. I made excuses to slip away to the kitchen where I hid out with Lafayette, who despite his love for purple glitter wasn’t all that bad company.
Sookie came to the kitchen a little while later, instantly going for Jessica.
“Hey baby girl, hey did you miss me? Huh, did you miss your Aunt Sookie? Can you say Sookie? Sook-key?” She shrugged at both me and Jessica as she picked her up “Eh, it was worth a try. Has she eaten?”
First words all day, and they were actually accompanied by a pleasant tone.
Color me shocked.
“Uh, yeah she’s had little bits of everything here. Ham, bread, tiny sausages, juice. She’s having fun.”
“Mmmhmm, let’s see how fun it is on the other end.”
“So uh, who was the guy?” I figured if she was up for talking to me now, I may as well ask.
She licked her lips nervously and looked at what Laf was fixing.
“No one… I mean, it’s obviously not no one, but he’s just…Bill.”
“Bill came?” Lafayette seemed shocked.
“Yes. Can we not talk about him?”
“But I thought you dumped his ass.”
“I did. Or… well we were over, but then…”
“Oh, Sookie no! Tell me no. You told me a week ago you was gonna do it. Did you do it?”
She looked at me and shifted Jessica in her arms. She was clearly not comfortable talking about this with me in the room.
Well, screw her I wanted to know. I was nosy.
“He and I … Well, yes, the night of the accident I was finishing it. Finishing it AS I got the phone call actually.”
“Hallelujah.” He said. “So what the fuck did he want? To find a way of making someone else’s funeral somehow about him?”
“Laf, I don’t want to talk about it okay?”
“Wut? No! Look, Eric has to know what this asshole is like okay, so just …”
“NOT NOW OKAY?”
She yelled. She really yelled. She yelled so loud it startled the baby and she started to cry.
Just as she was about to walk out the door with a crying Jessica in her arms, I stopped her.
“Give her to me. You, you’re in no state to be looking after her right now.”
“You’re mad—at who I don’t know and really I don’t care—but you’re not storming off to have a bitch fit
with that kid in your arms. Now hand her to me.”
She looked stunned and embarrassed as I saw the blush flood her cheeks.
She handed me the baby and excused herself out the back door.
Lafayette shook his head before telling Amelia, who was freaking out over lack of trays, to “put the damn trays down and go see to Sook.”
She did and went after her friend leaving me to deal with the sobbing infant.
I tripped on some stones or something on the way out the back, almost landing on my face. It would have been a fitting end to a hellish day. And really cement how I felt. I can’t believe I’d yelled at Lafayette, in front of the baby, scaring her and pissing Eric off to boot. I was losing it. I let the tears I’d been holding in finally fall as I plonked myself on one of the sun chairs out by the pool.
The funeral had gone off without any problems and for that I was thankful. The service was beautiful, and Hadley got her wish as the flowers where long stemmed white roses, and everyone at the funeral had one to toss on the coffins for them. It was a sweet gesture.
I hadn’t slept the night before, and I couldn’t really even blame the baby. She’d slept like a log. It was me. I was worrying about everything and anything that entered my mind. I was thinking about my parents and how I’d lost them at a young age, how had it not been for my Gran stepping in and raising Jason and I, Lord knows where we would have ended up.
I knew my decision, while hard, was right. And I knew Eric felt the same way, even if he and I would never be on the same page about anything. I knew he wanted to do right by Alcide’s request. I was still pissed at him, him and his cavalier playboy vagina hopping asshole-ness. I just didn’t get it. When I saw him with Jessica, he could be the sweetest guy when he thought no one was watching. Or like when he took my hand and was sweet to me in the hospital, he didn’t think so, but I noticed. And his epic amounts of being an asshole just made those tiny moments seem fake. And I hoped they weren’t.
The last thing I expected was for Bill to tap me on the shoulder at the funeral. I had called him shortly after I’d arrived at the hospital, and told him of the accident and just how bad it was. In true Bill style he wasn’t very concerned for my feelings. Just his, and how “work wouldn’t allow” for him “to be involved.” Which was fine with me. I had more on my plate than I needed, and he was just another distraction. One that I should have gotten rid of ages ago. But he showed up, he hugged me and told me that he was sorry—sorry for being an asshole and sorry for making me do this alone—and that he was there now should I need anything.
It was a speech I’d heard a few times over the course of our dating history, but in that moment I wanted to believe him. I took the cuddle he offered me because honestly no one else had offered one, and it’s what I really needed.
We sat on the bench at the graveyard for a while, not talking, just being. He held me and rocked me, and for all his issues and problems, right at that second I was thankful for him.
“Let’s go home.” He offered.
“No, I can’t. Bill, I have people at the house, I have Jessica…I need to get back.”
“Let the others handle it. You’ve done your part now, it’s over. We can go.”
Had he not heard me?
“I have Jessica now, Bill. I can’t just leave without her. And I can’t just leave the house either, it’s her home.”
“You’re minding the baby, that’s fine… Get someone—”
“No, not minding. I’m her guardian now Bill. Eric and I—”
“He’s a friend of Alcide’s. He and I have been tasked with her guardianship from now on.”
“So, you’re saying you’re her mother now?”
“No, Hadley is… was her mother. I’m just… a substitute of sorts. But, I’m still her blood.”
“And this Eric?”
“He’s on board.”
“I see. So let me get this straight, you were breaking up with me, and now you’re shacking up with some
stranger and a kid that isn’t even yours?”
“No, it’s fine, Sookie. I know that it’s bothered you, the fact that you can’t…”
“Bill now is NOT the time.”
“Look, I know that it’s a sore point for you, but Sookie you can’t just take this child on as a substitute for the fact that you can’t have—”
“Bill can’t you see that I’m upset? Do you really want to bring up my problems right now?”
“Well, are they not why you agreed to this? I know you want children, and this gives it to you. All the pleasures of motherhoo, none of the stretchmarks.”
I slapped him hard and square in the face.
“You are a selfish asshole, you know that? Why did you come Bill? Was it just to piss me off some more or just to rub salt in the wounds?”
“No, you know what… I’ve reached my quota on bullshit this week. I’m done. We’re done. Don’t call me.”
With that I walked on my too high heels across the grass and got into my car. I wouldn’t cry.
I didn’t. Instead, I’d bottled it up until I snapped at a friend and scared the freakin’ baby. Some mother figure I was turning out to be. Amelia came out not long after I did, her hug was most welcome even though I felt like I didn’t deserve it.
“You want me to tell people to leave? Cause I can do that.” She offered.
“In a bit. It’s not polite to kick them out after an hour.”
“They got their free food you think they give a shit?”
“You are holding up so good, Sook.”
“Tell me about it. I’m losing my mind Ames. I’m trying to hard to be and do the right thing, but I don’t know what the right thing is anymore.” I sobbed into her nice white blouse. See, I’d even ruined that.
“You aren’t losing your mind darlin’. It’s just a super stressful time and you’re allowed to be a little out of sorts.”
“This out of sorts? I yelled at Laf, scared the baby—who hates me by the way. She cries all the time when we’re alone and she loves Eric. Eric hates me and maybe it would be just better if I just left.”
“Hey, hey! Now listen to me, Sookie Stackhouse… you are a strong woman, stronger than this bullshit that’s been thrown at you. You love that baby and you have a kind heart in you. I see that and once she gets used to you being around, she will too. She’s a baby. She’s mixed up and probably confused just like you, only she can’t say it out loud like we can yet.” She dabbed my tears with a tissue from her wrist. Amelia would make an awesome grandmother some day.
“As for Eric, I don’t think he hates you, he just… doesn’t really know you. And the you he knows is the stressed, starving, sleepless you who can be a bitch. I won’t lie.” She smiled. “But be yourself and he’ll soon come around…. Unless of course, he’s still a ass and you want me to sneeze in his coffee?” She giggled.
“No, no, don’t do that. You’re right. He doesn’t know me. Hell, I don’t know him either. I know… parts of him, his man-whoring parts that I just don’t agree with.”
“Is he a slut?”
“Damn. That sucks for the living situation huh. Awkward.”
“I’m just…so tired Ames.”
“I know honey, but here’s what we’re gonna do. You sit here, take off those shoes. And wait.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’mma be a nice southern belle and be polite and kind when I tell your guests—ninety percent of whom you do not know, by the way—that they can go the hell home. Wake is over….” She patted me on the knee as she walked inside.
I laid back on the sun chair, as far back as my tight shift dress would let me. I looked up, and glanced at the bathroom window, only to see Eric looking down at me.
Had he heard me totally lose my shit? Oh, great, more ammo for him to use against me.
Dealing with diaper duty wasn’t fun. What was fun however was laughing at just how happy that kid seemed when she was naked. Honestly, I knew where she was coming from. Air and freedom, it was awesome. But she was a baby and apparently babies had to wear silly outfits they hated and looked uncomfortable in sometimes. Just like life. I felt her pain. She kicked and squee’d as I wiped and powdered her necessary areas, all the while assuring her that she’d need to time it better next time so Sookie got stuck with this and not me. I felt like she was picking on me.
“Like I don’t have enough women’s shit to deal with.” I nodded at her as I attempted to stick the diaper together, this time sans duct tape.
It worked, we have progress!
That’s when I noticed Sookie’s voice get higher outside. I went to the window to find her head buried in Ameila’s shoulder. She was sobbing her heart out.
My stomach clenched. Like I said, I couldn’t stand when a woman cried. And something in me hated seeing Sookie cry even more. That urge—the one I had in the hospital, the one at the graveside, the one where I just wanted to reach out and comfort her—that came again. Instead, I listened as she sobbed and told her friend how she though I hated her. It wasn’t a totally off center assumption to make based on my behavior toward her, but I didn’t hate her. How could I hate her? I didn’t know her.
I listened as Ameila dispatched sage advice like a pro. She and Pam would get on like a house on fire, I thought. Then I watched as Amelia went inside and Sookie sat back.
She saw me watching her. I instantly moved away from the window, not that it mattered she’d seen me and she’d known I’d heard. Great, another reason for her to bitch at me. Now she’d think I was some kind of weird peeping Tom as well as a man whore.
“Sometimes you just can’t win, Jessica.” I sighed as she pulled my hair. That was a habit I’d have to nip in the bud. She had a hell of a grip on her for such a tiny thing!
I walked down the stairs with the baby to be greeted by a suddenly empty house.
“What the hell?”
“Change of plans big man.” Tara came around the corner.
“Where is everyone?”
“They gone. It’s family time now.”
She smiled and took Jessica from me. “You own swimming trunks?”
“Go get them and meet us by the pool.”
I was so confused, but marched back upstairs anyway. I’d been hooking through one of my cases that Pam had dropped off for a few minutes, when I heard footsteps to Sookie’s room.
“Put it on.”
“No, it’s too…there isn’t much of a bathing suit in that Amelia.”
“So? You need a tan, now put!”
I heard her sigh. Amelia was kinda bossy to her boss.
I put my long Nike shorts on and a blue t-shirt. Relieved to finally be out of that damn suit.
“Sookie, put it on and meet me downstairs. Jessica is with Tara and she’s fine. Shut up! Your ass doesn’t look big.” Was all I heard, not being able to hear Sookie since she didn’t yell when she talked.
I made my way downstairs and outside where I found Lafayette, Tommy, and Tara who was now in shorts and a t-shirt too, smothering sunscreen on Jessica and putting her in a tiny baby bathing suit and hat.
“What’s goin’ on guys?”
“Celebrating what?” I asked Tara.
“Their life. With copious amounts of Margaritas—Hadley’s favourite—and Heineken for Alcide. We toast, we talk, we soak. You down with that date man?” Tara asked me, handing me a bottle of beer.
“Should we be drinkin’ with a kid here?” Tommy spoke up, and he raised a valid point.
“No, but one or two ain’t gonna alert the police, and besides I am the designated driver today, so that means I get to bond with my new little white friend here.” She jiggled Jessica to and fro dancing. Jess was of course, loving it.
Amelia came out the double doors and dropped her robe, sporting a modest one-piece. She smiled at the baby before laying down to tan.
Next came Sookie, and I had to look twice. Gone was the tight, black dress that did frame her ass magnificently might I add, but was built for funerals, not fun. This Sookie looked, well… fun. She tiptoed out, her hair now up in a messy bun on top of her head, shades on, and the tiniest red bikini I’ve ever seen on her body. From her neck to her breasts, hips, tummy, thighs…. Why was she allowed to wear clothes?
Margaritas and memories might be fun after all.
A/N Thank you guys SO much for all the reviews and pms and adds and alerts, it’s all amazing! Really glad you’re enjoying these two idiots so far! x Big thank you to my beta vikinglover elle for all her work on these chapters! And to Makesmyheadspin for being an awesome cheerleader!
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
When Amelia threw the bathing suit at me, I wanted to recoil in horror. It was tiny! I was definitely not feeling confident enough to wear something so small. I’d been waxed a couple of weeks before so I was good on that front, but still, I was just feeling like crap run over and she wanted me to wear this? I could have strangled her with it.
She told me that she’d get to mixing me a good stiff drink—that might help my feelings on the bikini. I scowled at myself in the mirror, grabbed my towel and thought to hell with it. I was among friends… and well, I guess, Eric. Either way maybe I shouldn’t care what they thought. I needed to relax and spend time with my people.
Walking out to the deck and down to the pool, I saw that everyone was already in a lot less clothes and chilling on the sun seats with drinks being passed around. Tara had Jessica in a swimming costume and sun hat and I could see from where I stood she’s slapped the factor 4000 on her skin before tip toeing into the pool with her, sticking her in her little ring to float.
I saw Eric look at me from his seat beside Lafayette who was next to me. True to form his eyes seemed glued to my breasts, moving up and down of course, but always coming back to the girls. I could have giggled. Men, they really were simple creatures.
“Mmmhmmm, nice.” Lafayette whistled and I slapped him with my towel.
“Hush to what mamma look at you! Ass for days, fabbalush breast-icles.”
“You don’t even play for my team!” I pointed out.
“So? That mean I can’t appreciate…” he turned to Eric, “… on both sides of the fence?” He looked him up and down and turned back to me. “Someone is wearing too many clothes.”
“It’s a t-shirt not a sweater.” Eric pointed out. Not looking up, he chose to drink his beer instead.
“Don’t tease him Laf, he’s probably just shy about his body.” Where that comment came from, I didn’t know.
With that, Eric chuckled and stood up. I looked over my sunglasses as he reached for the hemline of his t-shirt and yanked it over his head, firing it at me.
“I’m not shy about nothing, Sookie.”
Tara and Amelia wolf whistled and I rolled my eyes. Of course he’s not shy; he’s built like a god under those baggy t-shirts. Defined abs ran up his torso—his long, long torso—to his rather, Amelia was right, lick-able neck.
Of course, I acted like it was no big deal. He was just a guy—a good looking, toned, hot guy. Not a big deal at all.
We sat, talked—well, Eric mostly listened and nodded along—and drank. I had one cocktail that I was only half fussed about. We talked about the service and how pretty it was, how many people came to pay their respects, how nosy they were around the house and how many times I’d been asked if I was going to raise the baby alone, like it was a horror! Old southern ladies liked to judge, that much we established. They also loved free tea and cake.
“Jessica okay?” I asked out loud laying down and adjusting my sunglasses to gain some sun in the 80 plus heat.
“She’s fine, aren’t you puddin’? She likes the water. This ring thing is amazing, fits right in all secure.”
“Use her water wings just in case!” I called.
“Sookie, chill okay?”
“I’m plenty chilled.”
“Mhhmm, just like Hadley.” Tara mused in a sing song voice.
“You women always worried about everything. You and Hadley more than most!”
“She did worry a lot, huh?”
“Do you remember her engagement party?”
“Remember it? There was a reason Alcide convinced her to elope, remember? God, that party was high stress!” I laughed.
“The ice sculptures! In July! What was she thinking?” Amelia screeched handing me a cocktail.
“Eric, you missed it man, it was … a disaster!” Lafayette leaned into Eric’s side of the chair. “She was running around for weeks trying to have the ‘perfect’ party, and oh God…”
I picked up the story. “The day before, she was in such a rush picking her outfit up and getting her hair done, that she came running up the steps of my Gran’s place and falls, smack on her face!”
“Oh my God!” He laughed.
“No! The best part… she broke her damn nose, but insisted on going ahead with the party! I have to find those photos! She thought her bangs would cover it, and Lafayette said—”
“Honey child, unless we turn you into Cousin It, ain’t nothing’ gonna cover that nose!” Lafayette and Eric laughed.
“Oh, my God it was hilarious. Alcide’s face when he saw her, poor guy, he was trying so hard to stay on her good side.”
“But the girl looked like road kill.” Tara said without thinking, instantly calling a halt to the laughing. She rolled her eyes at herself before she apologised. I told her not to worry about it and that everyone had better get those sour pusses straightened out. Hadley would have killed us if we’d looked like shit at her funeral.
It made Amelia laugh as she started in on another anecdote about our friends, this one about the road trip we took senior year of high school. Lord, I just hoped she left out the part about us flashing the truckers….
Eric raised his eyebrows at me; that smirk permanently attached to his face.
Lafayette just laughed as I rolled my eyes.
“On that note, I am going to put Miss Jessica down for her nap otherwise there will be hell to pay.”
“Flashing truckers?” Eric whispered to me, surprised.
“There are things this Ice Queen has done, Eric that would surprise and shock even you, I’m sure.” I leaned down to whisper back. Whether or not I gave him an eyeful of cleavage in the process was … I’m sure, totally accidental.
“Come on, honey.” I said as I took her from Tara as she started to rub her little eyes. Yep, definitely nap time.
I took her up to my bedroom and sat her on my bed as I changed into a pair of denim shorts, slipped off my flip flops and got under the covers. Jessica crawled under them with me too. She was sucking away on her pacifier while her big blue eyes searched my face. She’d put her hand to my lips every now and again, before entangling her little fingers in my hair. She liked to twirl my hair it seemed.
It also seemed that the hair twirling had a calming effect on her; she stared at me for a long while before her little eyelids started close ever so slowly. She fought it though, trying her best to stay awake but eventually sleep dragged her under. It must have worked it’s magic on me too because that’s the last thing I remember before being woken up by her crawling on my legs more than two hours later.
I watched Sookie walk away with the baby in her arms all wrapped up in a big towel. I told myself that I was just looking out for Jessica, and not at all wondering what the view of Sookie’s ass in those bikini bottoms looked like. I also told myself that she was just a girl having a shit time, just like I was having a shit time. We were both in this together and maybe I could try harder on the whole ‘being nice’ thing. I knew it was bad when Pam told me to go easy on her. But Pam, she knew me. She knew that I wasn’t a talker; I didn’t converse easily with strangers; I had to wait until someone wanted to know me… and if they tried hard enough, they did. Most people didn’t though. Most people saw me, and thought one of two things. One, I was hot or two, I was an asshole.
Now the women who thought I was hot on first glance would flirt, and if they flirted and I found them hot, we’d have sex. Lots of sex. Sometimes weekends filled with sex… However, afterwards they usually thought option number two. Probably because I was the asshole that had fucked and run, leaving them high and… well, not so dry.
Conversing with women who didn’t want to sleep with me was… well… difficult. I knew what to say to get in their pants, just not what to say to get into their heads and that almost always worked. Well, except that one time the chick turned out to be a lesbian… who then in turn became my best friend, outside of Alcide. The other time it hadn’t worked, I got stuck with an eight hundred dollar bill for champagne.
From the age of eighteen, the game had worked. I kept myself limited to a number of people who got to know me and I was fine with that. Now I guess I had to add two more. Being stuck with Sookie and a kid, wasn’t exactly how I’d planned my life to go in my early thirties… But then again, I guess Alcide hadn’t planned on being scraped off a highway either. The dice was tossed; I just had to take my turn.
“You want another beer?” I offered Lafayette as he gathered up all his cooking supplies while the rest of us tidied up as best we could. Grieving people were messy as fuck.
Tara helped Lafayette finish up in the kitchen while Amelia and I sorted out the dining room and the living room. Tommy had to leave since he was on chore duty with his parents. He seemed like a good kid; for a busboy he was smart as whip and not even a senior in high school.
Amelia was sweet, she was kind and she was also kinda dumb. Normally she’d be exactly the kind of girl I’d be flirting with, but there was also something else to her, something that told me if I even tried that she’d shut me down flat. I guess to them I was still the Asshole date guy. Though, I had hopes that our time talking might have changed that opinion, ever so slightly. Why I cared what these people thought of me? I had no idea. But I figured if Sookie and I were going to do this thing, then they might be around a lot. So, it might be best to not be a total dick to all of them, all at once.
“You know, you’re good with her.” She said.
“Little Jessica. She’s a cute kid an all, but damn she has lungs like …”
“Yeah she’s a screamer alright. But …thanks?”
“You’re welcome. And you know, no matter what everybody thinks… I know Sookie and she’s really an amazing person. I mean, sometimes yeah, she’s a bitch but she makes up for it like the other ninety-percent of the time because she’s awesome.”
“Is that right?”
“Totally. She and I have been friends forever, and she was always the smart one, you know? But she always stuck around ’cause that’s who she is, she’s loyal. Sometimes too loyal, to dickhead’s who don’t deserve her loyalty…”
Like who, I wondered.
“But if you earn it, you get it and once you get it? It’s pretty hard to lose.”
Huh, maybe she wasn’t so dumb after all.
“I hear you.”
“Do you? ‘Cause like it or not you guys are in this together now and maybe you both can try and stop butting heads for a change?”
“Believe me I want to. I’d like some peace, but it’s just that … God, I don’t know what it is but when we’re together it’s like explosions of sarcasm just go off in my head and it all comes out and pisses her off… Then, she’s mad at me and it’s a circle of that, and it’s only been A DAY and half. It’s excruciating.”
“Then I wish you luck, Eric.” She patted me on the shoulder, taking her bag of trash that she’d collected into the kitchen.
Yeah, good luck. I’d be needing it.
I woke up and the first thing I saw was Jessica’s bottom. She was upside down on my legs, her little butt in the air trying to crawl off the bed.
“Nuh uh little Missy, you get your butt back here.”
She laughed as I lifted her back to the head of the bed.
The sun was starting to set. I’d spent the better part of the afternoon napping. I guess I really needed it and from the looks of the wide awake baby next to me, she did too.
“You must be starving, and I shudder to think what awaits me in your diaper.”
She decided that a game of peek-a-boo with my quilt was in order before we got up.
I fixed my bed-head as best I could. The messy bun wasn’t working so I quickly braided it into two large pigtails as Jessica watched me in the mirror.
“One day when your hair grows all long and shiny I’ll teach you how to do that. Would you like that?”
Yeah she’s good at the staring and spitting bubbles thing, I’ll give her that.
I walked into the kitchen to find everyone gone, and everything spotless. So not what I’d left when I went upstairs. Eric was nowhere to be seen, but that wasn’t surprising to me. It was almost dark. He probably had to meet his pussy quota for the day and was most likely out to find his next victim.
There was more than enough food in containers to last us a week. There were stews, roasts, chicken wings, potato salads, and three different kinds of coleslaw—who needed three different kinds of coleslaw?
I popped Jess into her high chair and knocked on the TV for her to gaze at as I worked on fixing us something to eat that maybe resembled a dinner.
I’d forgotten my cell was charging in the den just as I was re-heating the meats.
“I’ll be right back baby, don’t cry!”
I sprinted down the hall and to the right, grabbing my cell off the table where I’d left it charging. On turning around that’s when I saw him. Lying curled up on the couch, gripping one of the pillows to his chest—Eric, sound asleep.
He was lying there in his basketball shorts, and not a whole lot else. I took a moment, just a moment to appreciate just how… pretty he was. You know, when he wasn’t running his smart mouth or being a prick, he was really very pretty.
Pretty isn’t the word I’m guessing he’d like me to use when describing him, but hey, it’s a step up from asshole, right?
I left his pretty self lying there, but not before I felt sorry for him and draped the long woollen blanket over him to keep him warm.
Ass or no, he didn’t deserve to wake up freezing.
I’d managed to whip up a pretty epic southern feast if I do say so myself. I was starving, and little Miss was just as bad. After a diaper change, I let her sit happily in her vest and little baby underwear over the diaper as I got together her dinner. Roast potatoes, mashed for her, roast chicken, gravy, veggies and biscuits. I made Eric a plate and left it in the oven; I wasn’t going to let him starve. I was a lot of things, but a rude host was not one of them. It’s just not how I was raised!
“Somethin’ smells good…” came the husky voice from the doorway. Source of said voice was a very sleepy, bed-headed Eric.
“Hey. Thanks, its dinner. You want?”
He nodded. Right, he wasn’t so chatty when he woke up. I’d reheated his plate while he took a seat at the island, yawning and wiping his eyes; his hair was sticking up all over the place. It was adorable.
“Have you already eaten?” He asked, actually looking at me and not my boobs for a change. Not that I could really complain, I was still standing there in my bikini top and shorts. He’d just have to deal. I was a southern girl who loved the sun; this was practically my uniform. He poured himself a glass of milk as I got his plate.
“God, this looks awesome.”
“Yeah, there is seriously so much food here. I don’t know how we’ll get through it all.”
“Challenge accepted.” He smiled. Typical guy.
“Knock yourself out.”
He started to chow down, and I suddenly felt very awkward standing there.
“I uhh… I should go and leave you to eat in peace…”
“Hey no, you… I mean it… if you don’t have anything to do … the company would be … be okay.”
I nodded and sat across from him, “So, you sleep okay?”
Awkward. So totally awkward.
“Yeah.” He smiled. “I hadn’t meant to but I guess this last couple of days finally caught up with me.”
“Yeah, same here. I’d only meant to lie down till Jess went to sleep but I got pulled under too.”
He nodded, still chowing down. Man he could eat.
“Where is she?”
“She is in the den; there are building blocks, toys, teddies, and not a whole lot of sharp edges. Plus, she’s been crawling back and forth to me for about an hour now.”
I still had the baby monitor on my hip though. I heard her giggling at the TV and I glanced around the corner to see that, yep she was on her stomach watching Barney and clapping.
It killed me to know that she had no idea what these last few days had meant or what they would mean for her for the rest of her life. I turned back to the kitchen, lifting the pans from the dishwasher.
“You have a nice ass.”
I saw him through the window reflection. He face palmed, he actually face palmed.
“Excuse me?” I spun around.
“I… Uhh. I’m just sayin’ you have a nice ass.” He shrugged.
“Do you think I have a nice ass?”
Yes. No… Yes.
“Oh my God, why are we having this conversation?”
He shrugged again taking another bite of his chicken. “I don’t know, I thought you have a nice ass and thought you should know. If someone thought I had a nice ass, I’d like them to tell me.”
I glared; I didn’t know what else to do.
“Well Eric, I can’t say I’ve been paying all that much attention to your ass since you’ve been a little too busy BEING an ass for me to look elsewhere.”
“Well, feel free to look… I know I will.”
Why was he so weird?
“You realize these are words coming out of your mouth right?”
“Sorry for paying you a compliment!”
“Compli-… oh my God, Eric when you tell a woman she has a ‘nice ass’ it’s the same as you telling her she has ‘nice tits’. It’s not a compliment, it’s…”
“Well, would you rather I said you had an ugly ass?”
“N-No, but that’s not the point!”
“It’s entirely the point. You don’t want me thinking badly of your ass, but when I think good of it you don’t want that either! Women, I swear!”
“That’s not … Not…”
Again with the frustrating sexism.
“It’s degrading. I’m not just an ass. Or tits!”
“No, I know that. But again, I’m just saying, they’re… you know… nice.”
“Yes. I get your point. You think I’m hot.”
“Ohh hooo-no, I never said that.” He sounded off. There was that damn smirk again.
“I never said you were hot.”
“Nooo, I said you had a nice ass. That’s so not the same as being hot.”
I blushed, I was embarrassed. Way to assume, Stackhouse.
“So, you’re saying that I’m not hot?” I stood, hands on hips in protest, and I may have straightened out the girls in the process.
He just laughed; the bastard was laughing at me. He stood up to put his empty plate in the dishwasher, brushing past me in the process. He was standing a breath away from me; I say a breath because I could feel his on my skin when he spoke next.
“Do you want me to think you’re hot, Sookie?”
I ignored the tingles that ran up my insides as he spoke in that lower sleepy octave.
“I don’t really give a damn.”
“You give a damn.”
I looked him square in the eye, tingles or no tingles I wasn’t going to let him get this one over on me.
“Really? So if I said that I didn’t think you were hot, you wouldn’t be upset?” He toyed.
“Upset?” I scoffed “Hardly. In fact it’s probably a good thing. It means I haven’t descended into ho-ville quite yet, since I’m guessing the women you’re used to finding attractive are usually of… questionable moral content. So you can think I’m the wicked witch for all I care, Eric.” I sassed him, raising my brow as he licked his lips, staring me down.
He didn’t say anything, just quirked his eyebrow at me before reaching behind me, brushing my arm in the process to grab an apple from the fruit bowl.
“Good to know, Stackhouse.” He smiled and bounced off in Jessica’s direction, while I tried my best to make the goose bumps that had appeared on my arms go away.
What the hell, self?
A/N: Ohhh these two! *Shakes head* 😀 So glad you’re lovin’ these two so far! The reviews, adds, and pms have all helped my urge to write, so big thank you again!
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
I had a crick in my neck from folding myself onto the couch, but something smelled amazing and the aroma wafting by brought me into consciousness. I hadn’t meant to sleep, but somehow I got pulled down by my exhaustion—the previous day’s stresses finally catching up to me. I followed my nose to the kitchen. I was half awake and thanks to the view I encountered in the kitchen, I was also half hard.
Bent over the dishwasher in the shortest pair of denim cut-offs I’d seen since Daisy Duke, was Sookie, loading the dishes. And did I mention she was wearing a bikini top? She was definitely on the VIP list for the party in my pants.
I tried to shake myself out of it however, knowing if she realized I was leering at her, she’d more than likely just get pissed off again. I wanted to see if we could go ten minutes without biting each other’s heads off.
She offered me dinner and I was shocked—not that I thought she cooked and left me anything—that she was being civil. I’d woken up with a blanket draped around me, and I was pretty sure Jessica wasn’t the one to put it there. Sookie was a polite southern girl underneath her sass. Her breakdown in the backyard, despite not wanting to kick people out, showed me that. So I knew hospitality was in her bones.
The food was amazing. Whoever these people were that felt the need to give us food, I thanked them. I was chomping on my amazing soul food dinner when I did something stupid, and not for the first time where she was concerned. You see, it seemed when Sookie walked into a room, my brain filter just shut itself right off and took a break, like a Kit-Kat. Because while I was thinking ‘Man, what a nice ass,’ I didn’t mean to say it out loud.
Honestly, what the hell, Northman?
She looked offended at first, then pissed, then… a little disappointed. I noticed the subtle change in her stance when I told her that I hadn’t in fact called her hot, just a piece of her. I wasn’t blind. The woman was beautiful, sexual and had these breasts that just … But that wasn’t the point. My point was that she cared—she cared what I thought of her, and not just bitchy Sookie—but she wanted me to like what I saw.
Interesting, no? For a woman who I thought was repulsed by the sight of me, suddenly getting stomp happy because I didn’t say I found her attractive. She cared; she so totally cared. And it gave me a tiny bit of leverage.
As I sauntered off to find the other female in the house—the one that didn’t care one way or the other what I thought of her as long as I had shit for her to chew on or bounce on—I found her crawling under a coffee table, somehow finding a fallen penny.
“Ah-ah, no… dirty!” I threw it away before I spun her up in my arms above my head. She seemed to like that.
“No, Eric don’t!” came the screeching from the doorway, right before I heard the burp and felt it.
Throw up. All over my neck and t-shirt. Gross. God, that shit smelled foul.
“I tried to warn you. She’s just ate.”
I tried to wipe it off but it was just too much. Sookie took Jessica from me before she handed me a pack of wet wipes.
“You need to shower buddy. Because that…” she laughed “… is disgusting.”
Jessica just hiccupped and looked at me like, “Hey, what did you expect, idiot? I’m a kid and you bounced me up like seven feet.”
I’d have to keep that in mind.
Hitting the shower was more welcome than I expected. Other than thoughts of Sookie in and out of that bikini all day, and the need to calm down, it actually gave me time to reflect. As unbelievable as that sounds. We’d survived the funeral, we’d survived the wake, and our first evening together in the house really. I’d noticed my thought process had changed quicker than I’d have liked it too. Instead of ‘me’ and ‘I’ it was ‘us’ and ‘we’. I’d be the first to admit that I’d been a fairly selfish bastard most of my life. Not where my friends were concerned, or my employees or things like that, but with the women in my life—the lovers in my life. I’d given very little in terms of myself to any of them.
By the time I’d gotten out of the shower and managed to find some underwear, I heard voices downstairs—Sookie’s voice in a light, airy, almost flirtatious tone and a guy.
How long was I in the damn shower?
I quickly pulled on my jeans and a black tank before heading downstairs.
What I saw when I got down to the bottom of the stairs and looked into the living room was Sookie, some guy, and Jessica. Jess was crawling all over the place like someone had slipped her some batteries, while Sookie looked deep in conversation, and in flirtation mode with this squinty-eyed motherf–, I mean guy, sitting in the living room.
“So is there anything else I should know now or can it wait until tomorrow?” She asked, her hands clasped together on her knee, her legs folded, leaning towards squinty.
“Uh, hi?” I butted in.
“Oh, Eric! This is Sam, Sam this is Eric.” Squinty stood up, or at least I assumed he stood—he was so short it was hard to tell—and attempted to shake my hand.
I indulged him.
“Sam Merlotte. Nice to meet ‘ya,” went the twang.
“Sam is actually Jessica’s pediatrician. He came over tonight to offer his condolences because he was out of town for the weekend. Look, he brought pie!”
“Oh, I see. Well, hi.” I offered.
“I was talking to him about Jessica, you know, anything we should know right away, and I made an appointment for tomorrow to go and discuss her medical history. I mean, there’s just so much we don’t know!” Sookie smiled at Doctor Squints and then looked up at me. “Right?”
“Right, yes, of course.”
“I really am sorry for your loss. They were a great couple, so happy together, and they really loved that little one.” He gazed at Jessica.
“Yeah, they were.”
“So, Sookie tells me you two are taking over her guardianship. I think that’s just amazing. It’s such a commitment but here you both are. As a couple, that can’t have been an easy decision.”
“Oh no.” Sookie giggled, like she GIGGLED at this fool. “No, no. Eric and I…” she motioned between us, “we’re not a couple. We’re just two single people… you know, trying to do the right thing.”
“Oh.” He smiled at Sookie. I knew that smile, I used that smile. That bastard. “Well, that’s interesting.”
Interesting? Yeah, I bet it was. Know what else might be interesting… me punching the squints out of his squinty little eyes.
Sookie was still smiling—full on smiling. I’d not seen that smile.
I hated him instantly.
“So, what do you want, Sam?”
“Eric! Don’t be so rude! Goodness! I’m sorry about him he’s just grumpy because Jessica thre–”
“Sookie, do we need to give him my life story?” I asked giving her the stink eye. I didn’t need Patch Adams here knowing that I couldn’t handle the kid.
“Well like I said, Eric I’m here to offer y’all my condolences and to … I guess welcome you both to the area. Sookie says she’s originally from Bon Temps, where are you from?”
The land of not wanting to have a conversation with you.
“Originally Sweden, but we moved here when I was twelve.”
“Oh, that’s a tough age. It must have been hard on you.”
Thank you, Doctor Phil.
I saw Sookie looking at us, her big doe eyes just waiting for me to agree it was hard and sympathize.
“No, it was awesome actually.”
“Yep. Whole levels of awesome.” I snapped. I scooped Jessica off the floor.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get Jessica ready for bed.” With that I walked back upstairs just in time to hear Sookie apologize for my “rudeness.” What the hell? Just because I didn’t want to talk to Doc Brown about shit he didn’t know shit about? No thanks, Sookie.
Plus, I think if I had to listen to her flirt with him anymore, I might have thrown up.
“Okay, little girl. What exactly do I do to get you to sleep?”
She latched onto my mouth again with her hands.
“Okay, let’s check the basics—diaper? You need changed?”
I turned her around sniffing her butt—it was dry and still smelling of baby powder, which meant Sookie had changed her recently.
Baby pajamas. I think that’s what Sookie put her in the night before. I rooted through her little wardrobe and found a thing that looked like it would be cozy for bed. It was an all in one soft suit that zipped up in the front. I figured that would keep her secure and warm.
“Okay so here’s the deal, it’s the caregiver thing again. I’m going to undress you now but then we’re going to get you all snugly for bed, so don’t freak out or anything okay?”
She just raised her little blonde eyebrows at me like, ‘get on with it fool.’
I sat down on the overstuffed chair in her nursery trying to get her into the sleepwear, when I heard Sookie’s hard footfalls marching up the stairs.
“Uh oh, we’re for it now.” I whispered to the baby.
And sure enough she rounded the corner with a scowl that could freeze the sun.
“What the hell is your problem?” She demanded in a harsh whisper.
“I don’t have a problem.”
“Oh, really? So what the hell was that downstairs? He was a nice guy, just being NICE and you were so rude to him!”
“Right. Look, just because I didn’t feel like having some fake conversation with some random stranger that I don’t know or care about, that’s rude?”
“It is rude because he came here to talk to us.”
“Well, it seemed like you were doing a good enough job for both of us all on your own.”
“Oh don’t play dumb, Sookie. It doesn’t suit you.”
Her eyes bulged.
“I was just being polite, and just because you’re a whore doesn’t mean you have to assume everyone else is!”
“Oh! I’m a whore, huh?”
“Well, what would you call it? Sexually non-discriminate?”
“Hey, I don’t care what you do, or who you flirt with or what you do with Doctor Spock down there.”
“He’s gone. I was so embarrassed after you were SO rude to him I didn’t think he’d be comfortable staying.”
“Oh, I’m sure if you tried hard enough you’d make him plenty comfortable.”
Her mouth was agape.
“You’re a bastard, you know that?”
“I thought I was a whore?”
She stamped her foot and walked out, leaving Jessica staring up at me.
“Don’t look at me kid, you women are all nuts.” She blew a spit bubble with her lips. I took that as an agreement.
I’d just heard the shower come to life upstairs when the doorbell rang.
“Let’s see who that is Jess, huh? Will we see who that is?”
I opened the door to find a guy standing on the other side.
“Hi. Can I help you?”
“Hi, are you Sookie?”
“I am, and you are?”
He smiled and offered me the huge apple pie he held in his hands.
“It’s nothing fancy. In fact, I bought it in the store but I figured it’s the thought that counts right?”
“It definitely counts. I’m sorry, who are–”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Sam, Sam Merlotte. I’m Jessica’s pediatrician.” He offered me his hand.
“Oh! Yes! I’ve been looking through Hadley’s planner and saw your name. I’d been meaning to call you. Please, come in.”
I showed him into the living room, like the good hostess I was.
“Would you like some tea?”
“No, I have office hours starting early tomorrow, so I better not.”
“Sookie, I’m so sorry about your cousin. She and Alcide… well they were just … it’s so tragic.”
It really was.
“Thank you. Right now things are so up in the air it’s ridiculous. I’m on leave from work for a week to see if can get my head around this whole thing; it’s a lot to take in.”
“I’m sure it is. You’ll be moving here full-time, I assume?”
“Looks that way. This is only day two, but I think it would be best for Jess if we moved in here.”
“Ah, yes. You and Eric, right?”
I raised my brow at him and he smiled.
“The neighbors like to talk. Sorry.”
Of course they did. Nosy bitches.
“No… Sam. Please.”
“Sam, is there anything I should know right away about Jessica? I mean, is she allergic to anything or does she have a history of anything I should be worried about?”
He smiled again and I noticed he did that a lot. He was a kind looking man, a little older than Eric I’d say, maybe late thirties? He had dirty blonde hair that was showing signs of grey around his hairline; he had a pleasant face which was tan and a little rough around the edges; he wasn’t as tall as Eric or Bill even, but he was sweet.
“No. Unless the doctors from the hospital—”
“No. They said she managed to escape the crash, without a scratch, if you can believe it.”
“That’s amazing. How is she holding up emotionally?” He shook her little hand as she slid off my lap to go explore on the floor.
“She seems fine at times, but I think it’s too soon to tell really. I mean, she misses them, that much is obvious. But I hope we’ll be enough for her.”
“So do you live in the area, Sam?”
“I do. I live a few blocks from here on the other side of the development. Truth be told, I think it’s why Hadley chose me as their doctor. She was a bit of a worrier.”
I laughed, leaning forward a little. “Yes, she really was. Every little thing was a huge deal. I’m gonna try and not drive you crazy with questions.” I smiled again, he just had that effect on me. “So is there anything else I should know now or can it wait until tomorrow?”
I heard his footsteps on the stairs before I saw him and he interrupted ever so… Eric like.
I tried to make conversation with both of them, but something crawled up Eric’s ass and he’d changed from playful one minute to downright rude to Sam for no reason that I could see.
How dare he? After all, Sam was a basic stranger who’d never done anything to him! What gives! When he scooped Jessica off the floor I was secretly hoping she’d throw up on him again, just to teach him a lesson.
But no, instead he and his tight tank top wearing self walked up the stairs with her humming some song I didn’t know, while Sam looked at me awkwardly.
“He’s … Well he’s…”
A fucking jerk who is about to get a piece of my pissed off mind, that’s what he is.
“It’s fine, Sookie. I’m clearly interrupting. I should have come during the day like a normal person. It’s just with the conference, and then working all week I wasn’t sure when I’d get the chance to say hello.”
“Thank you Sam, it was very sweet of you, and thank you for the pie. I’ll call the office to set up a proper time tomorrow, if that’s okay?”
“Of course. It was lovely to meet you, Sookie.”
I marched, hard-heeled up the stairs to find him in the nursery getting Jess dressed for bed. It annoyed me that she wasn’t jiggling around and squirming and crying for him like she was for me the night before.
I yelled at him, but without really yelling. I’d learned the day before that screaming only led to more screaming and that was no fun for anyone.
He bitched me out, I bitched him out. God, he made my blood boil, I swear. I called him a bastard and marched myself back downstairs again. I started the load in the dish washer and began tidying around the kitchen. Cleaning, it was something I did in times of high stress. It was a boring monotonous task that kept my mind busy on the subject at hand, and my hands busy so I didn’t lash out or do something stupid.
I’d heard the baby monitor creak, and I’d forgotten I’d left it on her dresser on one of my many trips to her room that evening. The twin of it was in the kitchen with me. It crackled on the other end and I heard shuffling.
“Okay, Jess you need to sleep okay? Just close your eyes and sleep for me.”
Yeah, because it’s just that easy.
I heard her fussing as I began to put together her bottle.
I heard him sigh, when she started to cry. “Okay you win.”
I’d just finished sterilizing the bottle and heating the milk when I heard him start to hum.
And it wasn’t a lullaby.
Was he humming Aerosmith?
In that moment it struck me as incredibly sweet. He couldn’t hum a lullaby because he was Eric; why would Eric know any lullabies? So, by the second verse of what sounded like Crazy, I tiptoed up the stairs to find him lying in the chair with his feet up on the footstool. Jessica was laying on his chest, her eyes slowly closing and opening.
He put his finger to his mouth to shush me, and I nodded as he kept on humming.
Asleep in fifteen minutes. Well, that sure beat my three and a half hours of sobbing the night before. I left her bottle on the dresser, hoping he’d know to put it in the crib with her, just in case. I decided that then was as good a time as any to shower. I needed to wash the day away more than anything.
I was confused by Eric’s rudeness, not that him being a total jackass was a surprise, but it was confusing. Usually to total strangers he was polite, reserved and intimidating. The wake showed me that. But with Sam he was just downright hostile, and it made no sense. I assumed he had never met Sam before, so what was the big deal? It annoyed me if this was a taste of his behavior whenever someone new called to the house. Well, I’d be damned if I’d let him carry on like that, it just wasn’t right! My Gran would turn in her grave if she knew I’d let anyone be rude to any guest like that.
Maybe that’s how things rolled in Sweden, but certainly not here.
Sweden; it was nice to place his accent—not that he had much of one left. It was very much Americanized, but I had noticed that there was a slight lilt when he was tired or when he just woke up. A Swedish lilt it turns out.
It reminded me that there was so much I didn’t know about Eric; so much that I hadn’t even thought of asking him or caring to get to know. Had he any siblings or was he an only child? I hadn’t even thought of his parents. Forgive me, but I assumed someone that douche-tastic just landed here from planet Jerk. He knew plenty about me, or I thought so anyway. I was sure my friends had let slip more than a few secrets about me when I put Jess down for her nap, but perhaps not.
Either way, the shower had cleared my head and it made me decide that if this living together thing was going to work long-term, I had to watch my temper around him, and he had to make his effort too.
But, of course, neither of us got anywhere because all we did was piss each other off. For whatever reason. I still wasn’t totally sure. I wrapped my towel around my head and around my chest, pulling the longer towel up slightly so I didn’t trip and made my way out of the bathroom. Walking past Eric’s room, I noticed his door was slightly ajar. I tiptoed into my room and threw on my night tank and pink bed shorts. I quickly brushed out my hair and checked the mirror, then I walked to his room, door still ajar.
“Yeah?” came the voice inside. I stuck my head around the door, not expecting to find him sitting very topless, on his very big bed.
God help me.
The light from his two lamps provided ample illumination of his extremely sculpted abs. They really were quiet distracting.
“Oh, uh. Hi. Listen can I …come in?”
He looked me up and down and I tried my best not to shiver.
What the hell was that about, Stackhouse?
“Look, I just… I wanted to apologize.”
His raised brow was enough, but he asked anyway. “For what?”
Take the first step, Sookie. Be the better person here.
“Bitching you out before. Yes, you were rude, and yes I didn’t see a reason for it, but you’re not my boyfriend, or my husband, or my anything like that. You’re my …housemate? I guess?” I laughed awkwardly messing with my curling wet hair. “But this whole thing is going to be hard enough as it is on both of us without me jumping down your throat because you weren’t brainwashed with the same degree of good ole southern manners like I was.”
He bit his lower lip, and I might have zoned out.
“I’m sorry too.” He rolled his eyes, more at himself I gathered, as he continued. “I just, Jesus this is hard you know? And then there’s this guy and he’s all kinds of weirdly friendly and has that whole creepy doctor vibe that doctors have. Those bastards can get you to tell them anything!”
He didn’t like doctors then.
“And it’s just… What are we doing?”
“What are we doing? We’ve been coasting for a few days now, but I mean what about next week, next month, next year? I mean, do we keep our places? Sell them, what? And our jobs, how do we work our jobs around Jessica? Our lives? It’s just…”
“Overwhelming,” we both said in unison, then laughed at how ridiculous it sounded.
I tentatively walked closer to him and sat at the bottom of his bed.
“I don’t know. I mean, I get a few more days off for personal reasons and then I have to go back to work. My schedule changes sometimes from week to week, but I mostly do days and one or two evenings. You said you do nights?”
“Yeah, it’s when we’re busiest so I kind of have to be around.”
“So, how about you cover the day shift and I cover the night shift?” I cringed inwardly; Jessica and I already had a rocky history at night.
“Sounds good. And I’m the boss so I can take as much time off as needed really. Pam is a great manager, but that sounds good for now.”
“About the whole … dating thing,” he began, “Are you … I mean, that Bill guy, are you two?”
“What? Oh, no, no. We’re done. We should have been done the second we started, but … Well, no he’s not an issue.”
I caught him staring at my boobs. Not hot my ass, Northman. The fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra was totally accidental.
“What about you? How many dozen women have you on hold?” I smiled and he just rolled his eyes at me.
“No really, I haven’t been “dating” in awhile, I’ve just been—”
“Casually fucking anything with a pussy?”
“Ms. Stackhouse, how crude.”
I stuck my tongue out at him.
“If you must know, yes. To be honest, I have been seeing people … Casually. I didn’t think I was ready for a commitment.”
“And yet you got stuck with it anyway.”
“Yeah, thanks Alcide.” He chuckled.
“But right now, I think I need to just get my head straight, and maybe just chill.”
“Look I don’t care about the dating thing, this isn’t a prison. But just … we should respect that this is each other’s place, too.”
“So, no wild monkey sex on the kitchen counters then?” He wriggled his eyebrows at me.
“Not during waking hours, and not if you don’t bleach it afterward.”
Not the answer he was expecting by the slight blush in his cheeks. What the heck?
“And everything else…” I added.
“Well, I like to work out,” No, really Eric? Your twelve pack and distracting arms didn’t tell me that. “I go running for an hour or so like … well, everyday if I can. I have my own gym in my place. I figured I can just bring the stuff here and use the garage or … the den?”
“Yeah, sure. I go to the gym when I can or when I get the time really. It’s mostly been twice a week I fit it in, but I do like to run too. It helps me think.”
He smirked and I was waiting for the sarcastic comment.
“Weird, seems like we have something in common after all. Has hell frozen over?”
“Maybe it has. My feet are a little cold, but maybe that’s just my inner Ice Queen coming to the surface again.”
“Mmmm, well it has been a whole hour since you last bitched me out. She’s due a reappearance.” He smirked as I made my way out the room.
“Good night, Eric.”
I was woken up by the screaming. I didn’t take a second to adjust. I made my way to her room, and so did Eric it seems. Both of us ran smack into each other outside the door of her room.
I walked into his chest, almost knocking myself on my ass only to be caught by his arms.
Groggily I muttered, “You have a hard chest…”
“Well, you have a hard head.”
Glancing at the little clock in her room, it told me it was just after six.
“I’ll see to her, you should go back to bed.” I offered.
“Nah, it’s fine. I wasn’t really sleeping anyway. You can go back if you want? Looks like you’re still asleep.”
I was sure my bed hair gave that away. Eric picked her up and started to hush her.
I yawned. “No, it’s fine.”
“Sookie, go back to bed. For real, it’s too early to argue with me, so just go. Jess and I will sort out her little mood and see if she’ll go back to sleep. Honestly, go.”
He attempted to give her the bottle, and shockingly she took it. Quieting her down ever so slightly, her little tears kept coming from her reddened eyes. Poor thing was so confused.
“If you’re sure?”
“I am, I’ve got this.” He went to sit in the rocking chair beside her crib as I wandered off to bed.
It seemed like I was asleep maybe a minute when my cell phone started to shrill. I looked at my alarm clock. It was in fact three hours later and almost nine thirty.
Damn, I did need to sleep.
“Sook, its Ames. Listen, I have a crisis. Sophie has just called and she’s coming to see the place today and wants you to give her a—and I quote—”thorough update” on all things that she needs to know.”
“Shit! What is she doing back? She’s supposed to be in Europe for another three weeks!”
“I know. She didn’t say, but Sook, she didn’t sound too happy. Lover-boy must have finally saw sense and dumped her ass.”
“Shit. Just what I needed today. Fine, give me twenty minutes, I’ll be there. Do me a favor? Pull the files for the last three months, and the money books. They’re in the safe. I’ll need to have them ready for her.”
“No problem, see you soon.”
I’d hauled my ass out of bed, and showered in five minutes, leaving my hair dry. I slapped on some makeup—a little eyeliner never killed anyone—squeezed into my black pencil skirt, tucked in my sleeveless blouse and made my way downstairs holding my shoes.
I speedily checked the house. No sign of him or Jess in either of their rooms or the living room.
“Er–” I found them both passed out on the couch in the den. Apparently, Eric’s chest was Jessica’s favorite place to doze off. Not that I blame her, it looked pretty awesome even from where I was standing.
I tapped his arm.
“Hey…” I whispered gently hoping I’d not wake the little madam.
“Hey.” He squinted at me.
“Can I talk to you for a sec?”
He nodded before he scooped her sleeping self up and put her down on the couch surrounding her with cushions, and following me out to the kitchen.
“Listen, I’m really sorry about this, but I just got called into work. My bitch of a boss has decided that she wants to check things out, this week of all weeks, and the guys just can’t handle her and her … quirks.”
“Quirks? Is that hidden slang for crazy?”
“Lil’ bit. I’m so sorry to do this, but really I hope to not be long; like maybe a couple of hours, if I can get rid of her. I know I said I’d be around, and I will be. We do have that appointment with Sam, Dr. Merlotte, today after three, and I really have to be there for that. I mean if you want I can—”
“Sookie, stop. It’s fine, really. I can handle one little kid for a few hours.”
“You’re sure it’s okay?”
“Sookie, it’s fine. Go. We’ll survive.”
“But, ugh… this is annoying. I’m on leave for crying out loud. But Sophie … she’s just…” I fussed with my hair. “She’s incompetent.”
“Mmm, honestly she has no right owning that place. She has no clue what it takes to run it every day. And then she swans in every few months and demands left right and centre for things to be done and shown a certain way.”
I pulled at my blouse straightening it as I slipped on my heels. Grabbed my cell, keys and purse.
“Okay, thank you thank you thank you.” I rushed. “I won’t be long, call me if you need anything.”
I was out the door in seconds, still fussing with my hair.
For the second time in two days I’d wakened to the sight of Sookie stepping out of one of my fantasies. First, it was her Daisy Duke hotness, and then it was this cross between a sexy secretary or librarian or whatever it was she was going for. Either way, I wasn’t complaining about the tight black skirt that encased her ass; I had to fight all my caveman urges to just take her over a desk somewhere. It seemed unreasonable that her boss was calling her in, particularly a few days after her cousin had just died. It was a shitty move, and one I as a boss, would never have pulled if something happened to Pam’s family.
But as she rushed out the front door, I took the opportunity that was given me to watch that ass sway.
Good morning to me.
Despite being sleep deprived, something that was becoming too common an occurrence over the last few days, I dragged myself to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. I opened a few windows because even at nine a.m., it was already shaping up to be a hot southern day.
How was I going to entertain a one-year old on my own, with no source of back up? Hmm.
As I thought about what I could achieve in a few hours, I checked my phone—six missed calls from Ginger, two from Tiffany, three from Rachel… who was Rachel…? Oh, right. The girl from the bank that I’d gotten friendly with while opening a new account for the bar. She had a nice rack. I might call her back.
One call I couldn’t ignore though, was from the only woman in my life that had lasted more than three days. Jessica was blubbering on the couch. Shit, I didn’t meant to leave her there that long, I should have moved her to her crib. Damn.
“Hey… hey, little girl. Hey, it’s okay.” I scooped her up, and yep there was a diaper that just wasn’t going to wait any longer. Three broken diapers later, I managed to secure one on her without the aid of duct tape. I was rather proud.
Back in the kitchen I decided scrambled eggs were the best bet, since I wasn’t too sure on the rules for kids and actual food.
I stuck my pinkie finger in her mouth, and she did seem to have most of her teeth. Maybe a little sausage would be good? She had tiny bits of some at the wake and it didn’t kill her. Ooh, maybe some toast, too. Man, I was starving so she had to have been ravenous.
“Okay, Jess. Let’s get you fed, huh?” I cut her toast and spooned her eggs onto one of the plastic plates in the cupboard that had weird fish on them. Seriously? People were weird. Like she gave a shit what was on her plate underneath the food.
She gripped the little bits of egg and started to put them in her mouth as I spooned some to her while I fed myself.
“You want juice? Do you drink juice?”
I poured some apple juice into the cup with the two handles and the sippy top. Those things were handy. I might think of introducing them for the more clumsy customers at the bar. It would certainly save on the floor waxing bills.
After breakfast—most of which ended up on the floor rather than in her mouth—I decided that maybe a run would do us both a world of good. It would get the kid some air and I could work off some of my issues on the pavement.
Stroller. Where would you be if you were a stroller?
I searched the house, all the cupboards and the garage and even Hadley’s car too, but no stroller.
Then it dawned on me, the car, in the accident. The stroller was probably in it, and probably totaled.
“Well Jessica, it looks like we have to go shopping. You want to go shopping?”
Something came out that sounded like ‘blooterbloo’ but I couldn’t be totally sure.
I decided to take Hadley’s jeep since it was more accommodating for a kid, although Sookie was gone with the car seat in her car. I figured if just belted the kid in, no foul right? Just to be on the safe side I used all three belts, stretching them as far as I could so that she was really, really belted in.
Then I called Pam.
“Where would I buy a kids stroller?”
“A stro–” she sighed “Have you lost your balls too, want to go find them?”
“Pam, shut up. Now where would I buy one?”
“You’re going shopping?”
“What gave it away?” I pinched the bridge of my nose in frustration as Jessica and I sat in the parked car in the garage waiting for Pam to answer me.
“I’ll meet you at the mall in twenty.”
“No, Pam!” But she’d hung up. Really, any excuse to shop and she’d find it. This was no exception for her.
“Great Jessica, I guess we’re spending the morning with Auntie Pam. God help us all.”
She just sucked her sucky thing while holding the house keys.
We’d gone through six kid shops before we found a stroller that Pam deemed “appropriate.” She also had me buy Jessica six outfits, four pairs of shoes, three hair things—why? I had no idea. The kid barely had hair!
We also had to stop in four more shops since, “We were already there and we may as well,” which put a fine sum on my credit for more shoes. They were for Pam who informed me, “If I loved her I’d give her things,” and since I did love her, I did. She really had me wrapped around her little finger.
It was after eleven when Pam and I stopped for coffee in Starbucks, when I got the text from Sookie.
Going 2 be a couple more hours
Hopefully she’ll be done with her form of sadistic abuse soon.
Jessica sat in the big comfy seat chewing her cookie happily, bouncing her newly shoed feet against the arm of the chair. Neiman Marcus and their staff now had a new customer, apparently.
“She’s a cute kid. Being related to Alcide, there was always a chance she’d get the fugly nose, but thankfully she must have gotten the mother’s instead.”
“She looks like Sookie.” Pam mused.
She did a little. The eyes the nose, but I just assumed it was Hadley and Sookie looking so similar that did it.
“Well, she and Hadley looked kind of alike, so it’s not really surprising.”
“With those blue eyes she could pass for your kid, too. You had to have seen all that attention she got you in those stores.”
“Pam, we got attention because you waved my Amex card around and because… I’m hot.”
Jessica laughed. She actually laughed.
“Oh sure, take her side!” I tickled her.
“You’re really into this whole kid idea then?”
“Pam. I’ve had to adjust.”
“And in three days you’ve taken to the kid like a duck to water. It’s really unsettling. I never saw you as the type to have kids.”
“I parent you, don’t I?”
“Ha.” She deadpanned. “I got you a present.”
“Did I pay for it?”
“No, jackass, I did.” She reached for one of her many, many bags at her feet and handed me a Neiman Marcus bag. Inside that bag there was another bag. A diaper bag?
“Well.” She sighed “I figured since you’re like Mr. Mom now or whatever, you’d need one of those. Plus, it needs to be more manly than that.” She pointed to the multicolored pixel bag that was for all of Jessica’s stuff.
“Aw, well thanks, it’s nice. I like it.” It was brown and suede and very manly. It was actually useful too.
“So, what are you doing about your place? Are you and the Ice Queen gonna make it official and move in together or what?”
“It’s not like we’re ‘moving in together’. We’re not a couple. She has her life, I have mine, and we just … you know, co-parent, I guess.”
“Uh huh… and how’s that working out so far?”
“Yeah, well I mean we argue and shit, but I don’t know. I think things might get better.”
“She sort of told me that she’s totally okay with me being me—whatever that means—and that we could totally do this if we just learned to respect each other’s space.”
“And is that something you think you can do?”
I nodded and looked at Jessica—bits of cookie all over her face, chocolate up her nose and around her chin.
“You know, I never wanted kids? Like, I never thought I was cut out for them, but I don’t know… these last few days… It hasn’t been easy or anything but it’s a challenge. And—”
“Eric Northman doesn’t back down from a challenge.”
“No, he does not.”
She raised her eyebrow at me. “So, is Sookie a challenge you’d be wanting to explore too, Eric?”
I smirked, not saying anything. That was enough for Pam.
“Oh, God help us all.”
A/N : Hi guys! So what did we think of chapter six? Big thank you for all my new readers, and my readers who followed me over from Rise By Sin – for reading and reviewing this baby! It really means so much and makes me grin like a fool!