I felt a hand on my chest and jumped to… only to see Sookie kneeling next to me. Somehow I was sprawled out on the floor. Whether I fell or gave up being curled up in the fetal position, who knows?
She giggled at me. “Seriously?”
“You’re taking up half of the living room floor in nothing but your boxers. Is this payback for Pam’s thong?”
I started rubbing my eyes. “I forgot to grab a blanket before I evacuated.”
“The couch in the music room is longer.” …And the house smells like a bakery.
“I didn’t think about it… are you already cooking? The damn sun isn’t even up.”
“I’ve been up for a while. Had shit to do. I’m on my way out for a run. You should get somewhere comfy. Eric likes to spoon.”
I laughed. “Fuck that. Want company?”
“No. You’ve only gotten 3 hours of sleep.”
I started getting up. “Ahhh, but if you’ve been up for ‘a while’ then you didn’t sleep at all. Give me 2 minutes?”
She rolled her eyes at me. “Fine. I’ll start the coffee pot and wait in the yard.”
Sookie was bent in half, stretching once I got to the porch.
“How far do you run?”
“About 10. You gonna talk me to death?”
I snorted at her and pointed down the driveway. “Lead the way, sunshine.”
…Not only did she run 10 miles, but she ran fast enough that I was having a hard time keeping up. I’d clearly gotten too dependent on my weight bench…
When we got back to her yard an hour and 47 minutes later, the sun was just starting to come up and I tossed myself into the damp grass to cool off. Sookie stood over me laughing.
I flipped her off. “Weights. Not cardio.”
“You always this cranky in the morning?”
She took a turn flipping me off. “I’m not cranky. You’re vag is just sensitive because you got bested by a cheerleader.”
“You win… Where the fuck do you get so much energy?”
“I’m just hyper.”
“Even hyper people sleep.”
She shrugged. “Caffeine is my co-pilot. C’mon, coffee’s calling.”
When we walked in, the boys were sitting up on their air mattress, rubbing their eyes.
Sookie waved at them. “Morning, guys.”
They both grumbled sleepy g’mornins at her.
“Do either of you know how to make French toast?” Of course they didn’t.
They both shook their heads.
“Then how about I teach you when I get out of the shower?”
They looked at each other for a minute before they nodded and they followed me into the kitchen after Sookie told me to take a coffee break while she got her shower.
“I heard y’all liked Taryn and Devin.”
Carm lit up. “Yeah! She’s tool! Tan she be our regular babysitter when we move here?” Carm hadn’t EVER liked a sitter before, so ‘shocked’ didn’t quite cover it.
“I don’t see why not. For a while at least. She’s going off to college next year.”
Jack made himself at home, digging into the fridge for the cartons of chocolate milk Sookie bought for them. “She says she has a friend named Hannah who’d like sitting with us too, but her curlew is earlier. What’s that?”
“It’s cur- Few, kiddo. It’s when her parents want her to be home.”
“Oh. Ok. Taryn said that everybody in Bon Temps is a Dallas fan. Not Saints. That’s cool, huh.”
I had to laugh. “Yeah. Now I won’t have to hide it.”
Carm laughed. “Dat’s what I said. She made fun of you dough… She said dat if you’re a real fan you wouldn’t hide it.”
“She obviously hasn’t seen what Saints fans are like. Did you tell her the helmet sticker got scraped off the back of my truck?”
Jack giggled into his milk. “She said you can come out of the closet now.”
“Nice… What about Devin?”
Jack shrugged. “He’s cool too, but Taryn’s neat. She doesn’t treat us like babies. She played with us and stuff and her boyfriend called while she was over and she fussed and told him that she’d call him back when we’re asleep. Our other sitters stayed on the phone the whole time.”
“I’m sold.” Damn. Now a 17 year old was making their mother look like shit…
I was hoping Bon Temps was going to make Ame wake up and get her shit together, but the longer I was here, the less I wanted to even give her the chance.
Sookie walked in and pulled a chair up to the sink. “Tag. You’re it, Alc… gentleman, get those hands washed.”
The boys looked at me, confused. “You heard her. She’s little, but she keeps Eric in line.”
She jerked her thumb over her shoulder. “Go on. Get your shower before you stink up my kitchen.”
Ame was still a chalk outline like she had been when I grabbed my sneakers and sweats. Not that I was surprised… just… yeah…
I snuck around the room, grabbing my clothes for the day and the boys’ bags so that we wouldn’t risk waking the dragon when they got their showers.
…And by the time I’d cleaned up and gotten back to the kitchen, Sookie had set the boys up as little chefs.
Carm was standing over an electric skillet with a spatula and Jack was at the stove tending to a skillet of sausage and a skillet of bacon while Sookie was moving around the kitchen like the Tazmanian Devil.
Sookie smiled at me while the boys yelled about how much fun they were having.
Jack used the fork in his hand to point over to the other counter. “Sookie made some lunch for them because Eric doesn’t keep food around and she made snacks for us for the road.”
“What kind of snacks?” She’d already filled the pantry with everything from fruit roll ups to baggies of chips.
“Cookies… dutch coco, peanut butter and strawberry thumbprints… right Sookie?”
She nodded while I checked the little brown lunch bags… She’d put a Yoo-hoo and a juice box in there with baggies of cookies and some other snacks.
Carm jumped out of the chair he was standing in and went over to the pantry and came back with big Zip-Lock bags full of cookies.
“Dare really dood. She let us try.”
I chuckled, digging into the bag of peanut butter cookies. “You’re like a one woman bake sale.”
“I told you… I had stuff to do.”
“No rest for the wicked?” I took a bite of cookie and quietly apologized to my mom… They were better than hers… I hadn’t had a decent peanut butter cookie in 6 years.
She laughed while she started cracking eggs into a bowl. “I had to get my guitar cases out of the trunk to make room for you guys’ stuff, I did some laundry and found my missing Tabasco, you can explain that and the grass stains later, I made the goodies for the boys and packed a lunch. Now we’re making breakfast.”
“And ran my ass into the ground. Don’t forget that.”
She laughed. “I wasn’t going to forget it, but I wasn’t going to rub salt in there either.”
Jack looked up at Sookie. “You out ran Daddy!?”
“No. He kept up, but I wore him out. He’s carrying around a lot more muscle than I am.”
“Muscle is bad?”
“No, but muscle weighs a lot. We both ran 10 miles this morning… but since your daddy is twice my size he actually got a much better workout than I did.”
He still looked confused…. I watched Sookie go to the fridge and pull out a gallon of milk and a liter of water…
She took it over to him and had him hold them out at his sides… he started laughing when the milk started drifting down really fast.
“See what I mean. You can lift both, but the heavier one gets tired sooner. I bet me and your daddy can run about the same mile, but because he’s carrying more he’ll get tired over longer distances.”
“So do you need more muscle or does daddy need to lose muscle?” I watched Carm start carefully flipping the toast. He looked like he was handling uranium. It was really cute.
She giggled at him and took the milk and water back to put it away. “Neither. We’re both just right for what we need. I can keep up with my cheerleaders and your daddy can keep up with dirt bags.”
When Ame came to the doorway and said ‘good morning’ Carm practically ignored her to tell Sookie that the toast was done.
Sookie grabbed a plate and took it to Carm and kept moving to grab the water and a bottle of Motrin. “Good morning, Mrs. Smirnoff. How are you feeling?”
Ame cringed, but she at least thanked Sookie for the hangover kit. “Not too bad. What going on?”
Carm started sliding the French toast onto the plate. “We’re helping Sookie took. It’s real easy.”
Ame rolled her eyes and crashed into a seat at the table to watch Carm… he took each piece of bread and practically gave it an egg sponge bath before putting it on the skillet like he was tucking in a newborn.
I watched the boys put breakfast together while Sookie sliced a couple of cantaloupes and put a cup of coffee in front of Ame…
It took me a few minutes, but when I finally realized that Amelia’s appearance put the brakes on the happy chatter from the boys… It made me want to put my fist through something.
When the last batch of French toast was done, Sookie took the skillet to wash it… “Alright Mr. Carmichael, why don’t you run to the living room and slide that piano bench in here so we have room for everybody.”
Jack looked back at her while she dealt out plates and forks. “Do you play piano or is it just old?”
“Both. My Gran taught all of her kids to play on that piano. Do you like piano music?” Awww, shit.
“I used to take lessons, but my teacher said that I was hopeless.”
He nodded, not even looking at her.
“First of all, I need her address because I’m going to go kick her ass.”
He almost smiled. “She said that dyslexia makes me a lost cause.”
She looked like she wanted to hit something more than I did….“BULLSHIT!” She slapped her hand over her mouth. “Sorry… That’s crap!…” She picked him up from his chair and carried him out of the room asking Ame to keep an eye on the bacon.
Just a second later, I heard Moonlight Sonata playing. I got up and went to see what was going on….
Sookie was sitting down and she still looked pissed as all hell as she played…
She stopped and gave him a high eyebrow.
“See, I’ll never…”
“Not if you’re going to have the same pessimistic attitude as that nasty teacher of yours.”
“But what? Your teacher was just being lazy, sweetie. I can teach you to play. In fact, not only will I teach you to play, but we’ll make a video and send it to that nasty b… nasty bird.”
“I’m dyslexic though…”
“So. That just makes it harder to learn things, not impossible.”
“Little man, if Beethoven can play deaf then you can play with dyslexia. It’s not a road block, just a pothole.”
“Uh… Do you know who Steve Jobs is?”
“He’s the man that started the company who made your iPod and Pixar studios… Henry Ford, my car is a Ford… Presidents Kennedy, Wilson and Washington… Thomas Edison… Leonardo da Vinici… Walt Disney… and since you like music so much; Jewel and John Lennon… All of them learned how to work with it.”
“Do you really think I can learn music?”
“I can guarantee it. You’re pretty short right now right?”
“Shorter than even you.”
She giggled at him and called him a ‘butt’. “So how’d you reach the stove to make breakfast?”
“I used a chair.”
“What if we didn’t have chairs?”
“The piano bench?”
“See. You’ve already figured out a way around not being able to reach some stuff.”
“You’re going to teach me to play piano?”
“As soon as you move up. I promise. I can teach you guitar, bass, violin, drums…”
She smiled at him. “Drums are easy as long as you have a little rhythm. I have a whole room upstairs just for music. If you want to learn how to play, then I’ll make sure it happens.”
He didn’t say another word, he turned and darted past me and thundered up the stairs. He was confirming her story. Nice.
“Sookie, you shouldn’t have promised. He was crushed when…”
“Seriously Alc. I want her address. She has no fucking business calling herself a teacher.”
“A real teacher figures out what her student needs. They never EVER tell a kid that their goals are impossible…” She carried the piano bench past me mumbling about pissing on that cunt’s shallow grave.
I guess we’re done.
When breakfast was laid out, Sookie started making plates and asked me to go wake up Eric…
“Why me? You do it.”
She cleared her throat. “We have a schedule to keep and it won’t take you nearly as long to get him out of bed as it would take me.”
“Thanks for at least making that G-rated.” Not that it was innuendo free, but at least she spared me the mental pictures of backseat blow jobs…
Fuck! Now I’m doing it to myself…
When I knocked, Eric groaned. “Who is it?”
“The guy you kept up all night.” My trusty iPod had actually blocked out whatever noises they were making, but it was still fun to fuck with him.
“What do you want?”
“Betty Crocker sent me to get you. Breakfast is ready.”
Oh, thank god. The last thing I wanted was to have to flip the princess’s mattress on him…
I was already done praising the boys for how good breakfast was when Eric came in… and I thanked God again because they thought to dial back the make out session since the kids were in the room.
The perky douche bag sat down wearing a circus clown smile. “Good Morning. What did I miss?”
Ame faked a smile, but the boys were both in good moods. Carm jumped on the chance to start a conversation. “Sookie and daddy went running. Sookie made daddy feel old.”
“He is old.”
They thought he was hilarious. “Then we helped Sookie make breakfast, but Mommy says dares too much cimmi-nom.” Ame snarled at me like it was my fault a 4 year old was more useful in the kitchen than she was.
“I like extra cinnamon. You did a great job.”
Jack jumped in… “Then Sookie said she’d teach me how to play music.”
Eric shot a concerned look over to me. He knew. He’d seen what Jack was like after his lessons… I shrugged. It wasn’t something I was going to talk about in front of the kids. “Oh, yeah? Did you hear that she was singing last night?”
Jack nodded. “Taryn got a video message. One of her friends sent Sookie and her brother singing Broken. I love that song.”
“Me too. Maybe next time we can record…”
“Taryn showed us… She played us four videos. There’s a lot more on YouTube, but she wasn’t sure about language and stuff… Sookie has a twin.” Awww, fuck. Seriously? I had a schizo moment… the two halves of my brain argued: have to see the video vs. can’t see the video…
Sookie laughed at him. “What were we wearing?”
“Sparkly red dresses.”
“Ah, we really did look alike that night. We even wore our hair the same… but it was just because we were dressed alike. We aren’t twins. Just cousins.”
“She’s taller than you.”
She snorted at him. “Everyone is taller than me. You’ll be taller than me by the time you’re 12.”
Ame gave me a dirty look and snarled, “Is she single?”
Sookie rolled her eyes. “My cousin is a lesbian…” Ahhhhh… what a fucking relief that was. All better. “…She’s been with her girlfriend Neave for 3, no, 4 years now.”
“Oh… How many cousins do you have?” She was trying to cover how shitty she’d been for the last question, but I don’t think anyone was buying it.
“Just the three… Aunt Linda only had the one and Unc (Uncle Dermot) actually did have twins. I barely ever see them though.”
“Then there’s you and Jason and Tara. What happened to her parents?”
“Tara’s mom is crazy selfish and her dad walked out on her.” SMACK! It felt like I was watching a wrestling grudge match. Ame hadn’t even seen it coming, but Sookie took the tie in!
“So your dad ended up raising Tara because her mom was selfish?”
“Nope. My dad took Tara from her mother because she was selfish enough to let her new husband abuse her children as long as her rent was paid.” ROUNDHOUSE KICK, UPPERCUT! And she’s down!
1… 2… Shit! She lifted her shoulder from the mat! “Your dad took her kid from her though…”
“Doctors and teachers make great witnesses. There’s some stuff that just can’t get ignored.” KICK TO THE GROIN, JAB TO THE THROAT… Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t look like she’s getting up from this one! 1… 2… 3…
We have a new champion!
Sookie smiled, saving her victory lap for later… But damn! It was fucking perfect… Eric and the boys had no idea what the fuck just happened. Ame and I were the only ones to get Sookie’s actual meaning. Did I say perfect?
I didn’t even care that Ame kicked me under the table for smiling.
Sookie broke up the staring match between me and Ame by clearing her throat. “So, Ame… Behr has a website. You can go online when you get home and you can make the furniture the color you want as a reference and then pick the colors for the walls… It’ll give you a color name and number so Alcide doesn’t get the wrong colors. He can send you room measurements and if you plug them into the program, it’ll tell you how much you need and everything.”
“Yeah, or you can always just grab some paint chips too… I’m pretty sure most chips have color numbers on them. The hardware store in town has that color matching computer, but for the Behr paints, Alc would have to go into Shreveport or Monroe… And there’s a Sherwin-Williams in Clarice.”
“Huh… I don’t know about some of the rooms yet. And some of the tiles in the master bath are cracked.” Two. She’s making an issue out of two fucking tiles, and she’ll buy new towels instead of washing the ones she left on the floor to mildew! God, help me…
“They’re not a problem. They’re high up and superficial.” I got snarled at.
When the boys left to get their showers, we sat in a weird silence for a few minutes.
Sookie finally gave in and pushed my leg with her foot. “You’re bringing me down, butt munch. You pouting about the noise we made last night?”
I snorted at her. She knew damn good and well… “No. I did call Jack Hannah though. He’ll be mounting cameras in your habitat this week.” Eric made his first noise in a while by chuckling.
“I’m sorry anyway. If that’s not the prob, what is?”
Ame snapped, “Nothing’s wrong.”
I almost laughed and decided to play along. “Amelia has decided that I must be fucking you.”
I got kicked under the table again and Sookie snorted coffee. “Why?”
Because she’s nuttier than a squirrel turd… “She says I’m in too good a mood.”
Sookie laughed and then gave Ame her ‘icy tone’. “I guess it’s a good thing you got here when you did. Blue balls are a great remedy for a good mood.”
Ame looked like an angry bobble-head. “Excuse me?!”
“I guess you have ‘club ear’. He doesn’t have to be fucking anyone to not be pissy.” Sookie’d gotten louder and over-annunciated.
“What am I supposed to think? Y’all have been playing house for a couple of days and now he’s in a good mood.”
“You’ve got it twisted, honey. He isn’t in a good mood because he’s been playing house with me. That’s Eric excuse. Alc is in a good mood because he’s finally making headway on a case, become a charter member of the Shreveport PTF and he has to answer his phone in order to get treated like shit.”
“Who do you think you are? You don’t know him.”
Sookie leaned over and put her elbows on the table. She was bowing up on my psycho wife… “I know him well enough to know he loves his kids and I know the only woman he’s touched in Bon Temps is in the morgue. How long do you think he’ll let you emotionally try and convict him of cheating before he realizes that double jeopardy is attached? He’s completely fuckable. He’s ripped like a Bowflex commercial, he’s got sexy green bedroom eyes with those long eyelashes, he’s funny as all hell and he’s smart. You need to start treating him like a human before he starts thinking like the dog you paint him as; some woman WILL come along and do it for you. I already have a short list of candidates for when he comes to his senses. It’s ‘shit or get off the pot’ time.” That soooooo wasn’t going to make it better… Sookie made me sound like prime fucking real estate!
“You need to watch it.”
Sookie got up and started doing dishes. “If I didn’t love Eric, I wouldn’t have to try hard to take Alcide from you. Here’s a random thought: The next time he’s late coming home from work, why not worry about his safety. You really are shaping up to be the stereotypical insecure wife; paranoid that a long shift is an affair instead of trying to catch a killer or rapist. Just fucking hug him and be happy he made it home at all. He’s never admitted to anything. You’ve never been approached by ‘another woman’. Anyone who’s taken psych 101 would swear that you’re projecting your own guilt onto him. Basically, you’re fucking up an eight year marriage based on your daddy issues. Stupid twat.”
Ame was on the verge of tears when she stomped out of the room and before I had the chance to bitch at Sookie for throwing gasoline on the fire… She hugged my shoulders.
“I know you wanted to say something, but you did good.” I did good? Staying quiet?… Fuck… Sookie was handling her… But handling her to do what?
“Thanks… But did you have to call her a stupid twat?” Ame’s totally going to think I’ve been bitching behind… well, I kind of had been talking about her behind her back. Fuck. I’m going to be ‘that guy’ that gets murdered with my own gun.
“No. That was just for fun.”
Eric went back to put his shoes on and grab their guns while Sookie pulled a thermos out of one of the cabinets. She was filling it with coffee when I finally broke. “Sookie, what the fuck? Seriously. I’m going to be trapped in the car with her for 5 hours.”
“She won’t say much. She’s feeling guilty.”
She nodded and held the thermos out to me. “Try this… Yeah. Guilty. Keeping what a bitch she is quiet is why she’s so nasty. She’s been getting away with it. Now that she knows that other people can see her, really see her… she’s going to back off. At least for a while.”
I sipped and handed the coffee back to her. “Coffee’s perfect… Are you sure she’ll cease fire?”
“No. I might have just shot the hostage, but since you’re coming back to Bon Temps with us tonight, you’re better off either way.”
“Unless she kills me.”
“C-note says she agrees to therapy.”
I shook her hand and she handed the kids’ snack sacks and the closed thermos to me for the car. “Fine. How do you figure?”
“Because she got here figuring she was breaking up our little love nest. What she got was seeing that she’s a square peg. She’s isolated herself so that she doesn’t feel it. That’s why she’s only got one friend. She saw you getting along with a dozen people last night so you can’t be but so bad. I’ve been nice to her in spite of my urge to drown her in a used toilet on burrito night. Your boys seem to like me and Taryn. And she saw it, and agreed with me, when I gave the puttin’ to Pam.”
“You were setting her up with that?”
“Yes sir, I was.”
“I almost feel sorry for Pam now. I chewed her a new asshole yesterday morning. You got her at lunch… Then your Dad…”
I started laughing. “Pam was giving him a hard time about scaring Bill… He told her to shut her mouth unless there was a dick in it.”
She started howling! She laughed so loud it hurt my damn ears. “That’s Daddy! He’s alpha anyway, but you won’t know what hit you if you challenge him.”
“The worst part; they took their bathroom honeymoon after he shut her down.”
“Well then, I guess it’s a good thing she didn’t come home last night after you bitched at her… with you all laid out like a Christmas present…”
“Ohhhhh… Fuck you! Stop…”
“What? She seems to like men who…”
I practically threw my armful of stuff on the counter to cover my ears while she stood there laughing. “nanananananana… ERIC! Maaaaaake her stop!”
He came into the room with a confused look on his face and their guns in his hand. “What?”
“She figured out a way around our deal.”
“She’s using Pam against me!”
He went stone faced. “Sookie?”
“Below the belt. Besides, if you want to play the ‘Pam’s thong’ card… Well, he has met your mother.”
She gasped. Then she pouted and finally grumbled, “Yes, sir.”
She handed me a trash bag for the garbage in the van on our way out with the boys and their stuff.
They both climbed into their seats and Eric buckled Jack in while I started filling the garbage bag with all of Ame’s trash… fast food wrappers, soda cans, tissues… you name it.
The boys were paying very special attention to a small zippered case. “What’s that?”
“Sookie’s PSP games. She said we could borrow them since we’d be back in a couple of weeks.”
“Guys, I don’t know about that. How many are there?”
“Almost 30. She said it’s ok though. She bought them from a student who needed the money.” Big shocker… Sounds like some shit Eric would do since that’s how he got that uncomfortable as hell couch of his…
Eric went back inside to ‘get something’ when I suggested they get blood tests to make sure they aren’t related before they get married… And gave me the finger from the porch.
“Y’all be really careful with them, got it? No leaving them on the back of the toilet. They stay in your PSP or the case. Capice?”
They both nodded and put their earbuds in right away… I handed their snacks to them and made sure that Carm’s straps were straight…
And I got tapped on the shoulder.
When I turned around, Sookie was smiling and holding out a bag of cookies and two packs of smokes. “Oooh, for me?”
She laughed. “No. In case the boys run out… Yeah, for you. You barely slept last night. You’ll need a way to fidget.”
She climbed into the front seat and started using Windex wipes on the windshield… “What about you?”
“Eric got 5 hours. He’ll drive the first leg. I’ll grab a nap.”
“If your interrogation doesn’t last the whole trip.”
“It won’t. There isn’t much to tell… Should we send an extraction team in?”
“You mean for Ame? Can’t I just leave her?”
She laughed. “Negative, Ghostrider. That pattern is full.”
“Awwww, come on!”
“Nope… Do you really want to leave her here? Bill is only a thousand feet away. They could join forces and take over the world.”
“Summon all of the forces of darkness…”
“Once it goes that far, there’s no exorcism that’ll help.”
Growling and bracing myself. “Say a prayer for me?”
She crossed herself as I walked away and started reciting an Our Father. Nice…
I passed Eric on my way in; he was carrying his gym bag… and Sookie’s purse… I couldn’t help it.
“It doesn’t match your shoes.”
The bitch swung it at me. “It brings out my eyes.”
“You spend too much time with Laf.”
“If that were true, it would match my shoes… and my eyeshadow. The boys settled in?”
“Earbuds in, snacks at the ready… perfectly content.”
“Now all you need is Ame.” Need?
It was like pulling teeth.
Actually, since I didn’t exactly want to spend the next 5 hours in the car with her, it was like paying extra for a shit sandwich…
But eventually, after ignoring the first three knocks, she came out of the bathroom and avoided eye contact with everyone on her way to plop into her seat without a word to anyone.
On our way down the driveway, I noticed that she hadn’t put on her seatbelt so I reminded her about it…
I used the rearview to confirm that the boys still had their earbuds in… “If you’re not wearing it and we get into an accident, with my luck, you won’t die and I’ll end up spoon feeding your nasty ass tapioca for the rest of your life.”
She shook her head. “I hate tapioca.”
I smiled at her. “I know.”
“You’re just being mean.”
“It’s no fun is it?”
“I’ll try couples counseling.”
“I don’t think it’ll work unless you go to therapy too. I’m not budging on that.”
“I don’t need it.”
“How do you figure, Ame? It’s not just me. I had to apologize to Taryn’s dad last night because you were shitty and even though she’s head and shoulders up Eric’s ass, Sookie noticed that you’re not right.”
“Why haven’t you just left me?”
“Because of the boys.”
“You could have just taken them?”
“And then you’d fight me and with my hours it’s doubtful that I’d keep custody of them.”
“You aren’t staying because you still love me?”
“No. I haven’t loved you in a long time.” Not since I found used condoms in her glovebox.
“But you’d be willing to put up with me just to still live with the kids?”
“Not anymore. I was putting up with you because you were still taking care of them, but now something needs to give.”
“Why aren’t you cheating on me then?”
“Because I’m not pathetic enough to confuse getting laid with being happy. Trust me. I’ve had the chance. I’ve had a lot of chances, but I knew that if anything ever came of it, you’d use it against me.”
“If you fuck Sookie, I’ll kill you both.”
“Wow. You didn’t listen to anything, did you? I just told you that… fuck… Never mind. It’s pointless.”
“You like her a lot and she’s great with the boys.”
“There’s no denying that. She’s a great girl. The boys warmed up to her faster than I thought they would too, but I think it’s probably because they like Eric so much and she’s a lot like him.”
“And she spoils them.”
“The snacks and the toys and the games… She’s trying to make a good impression.”
“Ame, she wants to make sure they’re comfortable. She likes taking care of people from what I can tell. The night I got here, since I didn’t know about her and Eric, I called her a hooker… She still asked me if I had any food issues before she went to the store. She really is that friendly.”
“She wasn’t very friendly to me.” Bullshit!
“She was too. She was friendly to you right up until breakfast this morning. After the way you acted, I’m surprised she bottled it all up for that long.”
“She went off on me!”
“You didn’t mind when she put Pam in her place. You didn’t say anything about her rampage about Jack’s piano teacher. Because you knew she was right about both of them… Just like she was right about you.”
“She was not… What do you like about her so much?”
“She’s friendly and fun and most of all, she only goes off on people who deserve it.”
“And she’s a size two with double Ds.”
“She’s a size one with Ds. That might be on my list if she wasn’t Eric’s.”
“You wouldn’t bother with that lie if you’d seen her naked. She’s perfect.”
“I have. I’ve walked in on her and Eric because they can’t be bothered with doors. When did you see her naked?”
“Last night when we were changing. I wonder how much her boob job cost.”
“How would you know?”
“I’ve seen her at cheer practice and I went jogging with her this morning… falsies bounce more than jiggle.”
“You noticed, huh?”
“I’d have to turn in my man card if I hadn’t.”
“That’s real nice. I used to have a decent body before I had kids.”
“Stretch marks aren’t why I won’t fuck you anymore.”
“Then what is it?”
“Hate is kind of a turn off.”
She spent a while burning a hole into the side of my face before she started ignoring me altogether and eventually she had the decency to just fall asleep.
But by then, I had already gone back to Sookie’s mom… 30 fucking years…
I know damn good and well after last night that Corbett could have knocked Sheila’s teeth out of her hateful head. That mother fucker was strong enough that I didn’t want to cross him.
And scary when he’s riled to boot…
And here I am… I could just as easily knock Ame out just for some goddamn peace and quiet, but I don’t.
Thinking about it actually made me want to ask… dig deeper. Find out if it was a shotgun wedding too… find out if Sheila was ‘normal’ for a while before she went to the dark side too… find out if she treated Corbett like shit until she turned on her kids…
I don’t guess it mattered…
It had been a long 4 years, but I could make it another 6 months…
Therapy and medication for Ame… Hoping to put in less hours at this office… In 6 months, I could send her to visit her mother and then pack her stuff and send it to her in Dallas…
By then I might be able to find a nanny.
If our hours lighten up enough, I might be able to get by with a little after school care for the boys…
I didn’t want to wait… If I had a crystal ball that guaranteed that I’d be home at night, I’d just leave her in New Orleans alone.
I’d keep my boys.
I knew that the groceries she bought would be fine for a while, but not two weeks.
The three of them expected to wake up in our driveway…
When Ame realized that we were in the grocery store parking lot, she grumbled and called me an asshole, refusing to go into the store with us.
The boys seemed to have fun picking out an assortment of frozen dinners, juice boxes… everything we could find that had an expiration date two weeks out or could be put in the freezer.
It nearly broke my fucking heart that Jack didn’t want to get cereal because the milk would only last a week and that Carm refused to get any turkey Lunchables…
While the boys and I unloaded the groceries and put them away, I heard Ame’s computer chime as it booted…
She was already ignoring them. Lovely.
My first stop upstairs was the boys’ room to collect their sheets since I didn’t need to ask if they’d been washed recently. The load of my laundry that I started Thursday afternoon was still in the dryer.
When I got to my room so that I could pack my suitcase, I nearly tossed my cookies…
The Chinese food containers were bagged up where I left them next to the bed and the few scraps of food that we didn’t eat had spoiled.
The room smelled like a dumpster in July.
Even after I took the bag out and opened the windows I practically held my breath to pack… shorts, socks, jeans, Ts, suits, dress shirts, ties… as fast as I fucking could so I could get my guns together and get the hell out.
Gym bag full of guns, suitcase and garment bag full of fucking suits in hand, I stopped at the boys room.
Jack was sitting at their little desk with his computer open and Carm was hovering.
“What are you guys up to?”
“I’m looking for Skype.”
“Sookie told us about it. It’s a free download. She said we wouldn’t miss you so bad because we could webcam. Like a video phone.” God bless her. I hadn’t even thought of that.
I set my stuff down to go help him set up an account… While we worked the boys told me that Sookie told them how lucky they were because some kid’s dads have to go out of town to do ‘stupid stuff’ like sell pencils… At least when they miss me they could be proud of me for doing something important.
I owed Sookie a hug… A big one… God only knows what Ame says about me when I’m gone.
With all of my stuff stacked in the foyer, I put the boys’ sheets in the dryer before I left for the office.
They wanted to tag along.
I wasn’t going to argue with them about it. I hated the idea of leaving them behind and wanted to spend as much time with them as I could… The longest I’d been away from home since before Carm was born was 4 days… And I was a miserable fuck.
Two weeks is going to kill me…
Our first stop was the office. And as soon as Dahlia spotted me coming through the doors with the boys she charged me.
“I didn’t think I’d see you guys before you left!” She waved to the boys and they waved back… As friendly as she is, they’ve always been leery of Dahlia.
“Well, you won’t see Eric. Sookie’s at his place helping him pack up.”
“Yeah, Eric’s fiancé. She came back with him.”
“Pam called and told the guys… they’re planning a bon voyage party for you two.”
“We don’t have time for that. We’re hitting the road at 7.”
“They’re planning to go to Eric’s. Pam overheard that you’re meeting him there. They hired a…” She winced, not wanting to say stripper in front of the boys.
“Of course they did.” Sookie’s going to go nuclear.
And when every last one of our ‘team mates’ ignored my calls and texts, all I could do is hope like hell that Sookie doesn’t think I’m in on any of it.
Dahlia had done us the favor of cleaning out our desks. Neither of us kept much by way of personal items at the office, so everything fit into one copy paper box with room to spare…
When the boys spotted the box, they had a little brain fart. We ended up stopping in the supply room to grab all the empties (and almost empties) so that they could start packing up their toys.
At least they seemed excited to be moving.
We stopped for an early dinner on the way home. The boys wanted Chinese again and after the way my room smelled it was the last thing I wanted, so I ended up claiming that I’d eaten too many cookies and wasn’t hungry while the two of them ate like a pair of bears about to hibernate…
I didn’t want to punch just anything this time…
A wall wasn’t going to do it.
My children didn’t trust their own mother to feed them…
And now I have to leave them with her for 2 weeks.
Our last stop was the ATM by our house so that I could leave them some money.
Amelia didn’t look up from the computer when we came in lugging the boys’ packing boxes up to their room. Big surprise…
To be honest, I was still so furious with the affect she’d had on Jack and Carm that I probably would have finally hit her if she made eye contact.
I grabbed the sheets out of the dryer and took them upstairs. The two of them watched me make their beds again…
At 6:15 I called for a cab and they watched the whole time like it was a train wreck…
And then I sat them down…
I gave them each some cash so that they could get school lunches.
I told them to call or text me if they didn’t like Ame’s dinner plans so that I could order something to be delivered…
I told them that if I didn’t answer my phone to call Eric’s or Sookie’s and wrote both numbers down for them…
And when the cab pulled up and honked…
…They both started crying.
I’d been away before, but since the plan was for them to be alone with Ame for 2 weeks instead of just a night or two… This was horrible.
None of us wanted to let go…
There was no way I was going to make it two weeks…
I knew better than to say anything, but I was going to do everything I could to make sure I could get back next weekend…