There Has To Be A Morning After
Something tickled my lip and before my throbbing brain could force my eyes open I tried to move my hand, figuring I’d slap away whatever my ‘sworn enemy’ was using to fuck with me in my sleep.
Stiff? Hung over? Heavy? I finally opened my eyes trying to figure out why the fuck I could barely move and was immediately comforted to see that it wasn’t my partner annoying me. Sookie’s hair had brushed my lip. She had snuggled up on top of me.
I whispered. “Sookie.”
She didn’t answer.
Holy. Fucking. Panic. “Sookie.” I rubbed my hands over her back. “Honey. Get up.”
She groaned a little and nuzzled her face into my chest before going still again.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. SHIT! “Sookie.” Maybe she’d hear the sound of my heart attack.
“Sookie. I need you to wake up.”
“Hmmmm. Why? What’s wrong?” She kissed my shoulder then turned her head and kissed my neck. God help me. Even when I was freaking the fuck out, she was turning me on.
“Sookie, I’m going to sit up.”
“Mmm… K.” I sat up, taking her with me.
She moved her hands from my shoulders to hug my ribs. I put my hands to her face and gently pulled her away from me. “Hon, you gotta wake up. We need to talk.”
Her eyelids slowly made way. “What’s up, sweetie?”
I just stared at her. My heart was hammering in my chest and I couldn’t catch my breath. If I had to put a finger on it, that was the closest I’d ever been to a panic attack. I waited, hoping she’d catch on…
I saw her look at the clock. “It’s 4? Are you just now coming to bed?”
“No. I’ve been in bed for a long time. Do you remember anything?”
The look of total confusion I got from her was like a punch in the gut. “The last thing I remember was taking two shots and snuggling up with you on the floor.”
“You don’t remember Jason coming in to check on you?”
“Oh… yeah… I thought it was just a dream though.”
“Sookie… do you remember having sex?”
She smiled lazily. “I thought that was just a dream too.” She hugged herself to me and laid her head down on my shoulder.
I was still shaky and getting frustrated. Oh hell. “Sookie did you dream that we used a rubber?”
That did it. She was awake now. She sat back and her eyes were wide. “Fuck.”
That was the answer I was afraid of. I took a minute to try and calm my breathing and Sookie’s sped up. His and hers panic attacks; the engagement gift that keeps on giving.
She adjusted herself to sit on the bed instead of my lap. She sat Indian style, elbows to knees, head in hands. She was breathing hard enough that she sounded like she’d run a mile.
“Yeah?” Her voice had a defined edge to it.
“What are you thinking?”
“Oh, I’m thinking about my Christmas shopping!… What the fuck do you think I’m thinking?”
Oh shit! Infuriated sarcasm. I guess I should watch out for that. I probably would have laughed if I wasn’t terrified. “I thought it was a dream too.”
“That’s good to know.” No edge. This time, she sounded pouty.
“What for? This is the same as a broken condom. It’s a collective ‘oh shit moment’. THIS is why they make the morning after pill. And I have a dozen of them in the bathroom. I could go in there and take one right now if my brilliant ass hadn’t gone and gotten depo on Friday.”
FUCK. “So…” Yep. That was it.
“So…” Now I didn’t feel so bad. She was just as lost as I was.
“You should calm down.”
“I don’t know, but getting worked up isn’t good for the baby.” Bad time for joking, but I hadn’t thought of anything productive to say. I didn’t see it coming until the pillow was inches from my face.
“Not funny, Eric!”
“Then why are you trying so hard not to laugh?” She hit me with a pillow again. I grabbed her hand and scooted over to her. “If the morning after pill isn’t an option, then all we can do is wait and hope that the depo is already working. Right?”
“So say it out loud. Say what you’re freaking out about.” I laid back and pulled her down with me. We laid on our backs and she used my shoulder as a pillow and vented to the ceiling fan.
“I will look like a complete hypocrite to be the birth control Gestapo who gets knocked up by a guy I’ve known for going on 5 days.” I waited for more…
She whipped her head around to look at me. “That’s not enough?”
“I don’t mean to sound dismissive, but I was expecting the ‘ready for this’ outburst.”
“That’s not at the top of my list.”
“Well, then I’d say don’t worry. Everyone thinks we’ve been together for a year. We get married in two months and we don’t even have to fudge dates. We really did set a date beforehand. We’ll have started making arrangements by the time we know for sure. It will appear to be a happy accident rather than the result of drunken sleep fucking.”
She blew out a deep breath. “That actually does make me feel better… You’re turn.”
“Oddly, I’m fine.”
“I was freaking out at first because, well… I was worried you’d freak out about the timing. Since you’re worried about what your students will think and not how we’d manage, I’m good. I want kids.. eventually. If this just a scare, then we just wait until whenever the timing is right, but unplanned doesn’t mean unwelcome. We’re smart. We could figure it out.”
“You really are a perfect mother fucker aren’t you!”
“Not really. I forgot to tell you that you’re brother knows.” YES! I am aware that I just changed the subject! Sue me.
“That we haven’t been together for a whole week.”
“How?” The edge was back.
“He said he wouldn’t tell… First of all, my defense is that the fucking Falcons suck balls.” She started laughing.
“How many shots?”
“12, I think… plus the 3 beers I had before dinner, the one during and the one after the game. Jason was right there with me. Drink for drink. He’s in good bar shape for a little guy.”
“He’s social fucking butterfly too. Did he flirt with you?”
I laughed. “Don’t remind me… Anyway, he dragged me into the kitchen to tell me that he thinks we should push Alc together with Hadley. He implied Ame is a bitch. I asked him what made him assume… he told me ‘same way I know you ain’t been together longer than a week’. I was too wasted to do anything but look like a muppet.”
She started laughing again. “He would know, the asshole. He’s ‘the one’ I was worried about catching us.”
“Oh… and the only sober person in the house split the couch in two.”
“Huh! How the fuck?”
“Alcide and Hunter were fighting over the cake and Hadley went to break it up. She slugged them both and Hunter came barreling back into the room and bounced over the back. When he landed, Jason and I catapulted into each other and landed on top of Tiny Tim.”
“I wish I hadn’t passed out. It sounds like you had a lot of fun.”
“I had more fun than I can remember. I really do understand why you don’t want to leave. Your family is unreal. How the hell do you guys do Holidays?
“Well, you saw Halloween, normally Daddy and Jas are the most fun part of it… Thanksgiving is a little crazy. We do it at Dirges.”
“That many people?”
She shook her head. “Big screen TVs: one for every game, all the booze we can imagine, pool, darts, plenty of seating and… plenty of room for our own football game.”
I liked the sound of that. “It sounds better than Christmas.”
The sound of Alcide’s alarm interrupted us. She blew out a deep breath and rolled over, resting her chin on my chest. “I’d better go make sure that Kojak is up.”
“That might be hard. We all turned in at about midnight.”
“Well, I need to feed him and he’ll probably need a pep talk…“ I watched her get up and go to our dresser. She pulled out a pair of baggy black flannel PJ pants and a gray tank top and put them on. She came over and bent to kiss me. “Get some rest. Once I send everyone off, I’ll be back… for you.”
I pulled her down to me, making her giggle. “Are you going to wake me up first?”
She drew in a sharp breath and slapped my shoulder. “That was mutual! If I remember the ‘dream’ right…” She reached down and cupped her hand between my legs. Ungh. “Something inspired me to roll over.”
I wasn’t going to let her go. “You’ve recovered from your shock quickly.”
She gave me a sweet smile. “You’re not a bad handler. Be back soon.”
I gave her another kiss and ended up letting her go. She told me to ‘rest up’ as she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
I laid there. Trying to numb myself to the steady stream of alarming stimulus. I may very well have managed handling her, but had done nothing for myself. Our talk had helped some, but the crumbs were trying to come back at me.
Originally, my biggest concern, that she’d think I hadn’t given her a choice, was crossed off the list. After finding out that I was the only person who could touch her in her sleep for years without waking her, knowing that she trusts me that much, the last thing I wanted was for her to think I was one of those perverts who like molesting sleeping women.
The question of IF I could handle being a father wasn’t one at all. I’d never been ‘that guy’ that needed a woman to ‘convert’ me. I’ve always liked kids, known I wanted some… someday. And over the past few days the subject had come up enough that I might just be slightly numbed to the topic enough that I didn’t need a straight jacket… yet.
The most pressing issue left, the concentration of my worry, laid on us as a couple. Getting married after knowing each other for only a couple of months is dicey, sure. Callous as it may seem, annulments are easy. If we find ourselves looking across the table by summer with ‘what was I thinking?’ dancing through our thoughts, it would be easy to undo our mistake. Having a baby together, not knowing… FUCKING BRAINLESS.
The more I know about her, the more I’m with her, the more I’m sure I’d never be bored of her. The worry I have is that she might get bored with me. She did get bored with Quinn and grew out of her Frannie ‘phase’. I knew nothing of the 4th piece of the puzzle, but I do know that she isn’t fickle. She put up with a lot for a long time in some cases, namely her mother and Bill. Someone who bores easily probably wouldn’t be still driving their first car, living in the same town surrounded by people she’s known her whole life. She has ritual ingrained in her life. Saturday nights out, Sunday brunches, Monday night football menus. Her hobbies and interests are long standing. I guess it wasn’t a rational worry, just an insecure one.
I coaxed my brain out of the premature abyss of worry. Contrary to everything I should expect from her, Sookie was the epitome of surprise. She didn’t even react to our accident like I expected her to. I smiled at the ceiling fan as I thought about how much I would learn from her if she never got bored with me. That wave of cognizant anticipation is what carried me back to sleep…
Consciousness crept back to me as the room air started inching down my back. Throwing out my mental net and gathering my thoughts, I realized that the sheets were being painstakingly drawn to the foot of the bed. My eyes opened just enough to see the blue glow of predawn in the window and then I felt a waft of warm moist air on the back of my ankle just before a gentle chew took me by surprise. She moved her mouth up gradually, centimeters at a time, surprising me each time without a warning of kiss, nibble, tickle or lick. Every one added weight to the throbbing under me like a building drumbeat… Un-fucking-believable.
Shivers shot up my spine and my skin was consumed with goose bumps when her hot tongue flashed up my ass cheek and became a bite. She raked her teeth slowly and lifted her mouth fooling me that she was moving on before surprising me with a second. Too much. Not enough… Whimpering to groaning…. Swaying back and forth like a tire swing…. Fuck.
As her mouth moved up to my back, still biting and tickling, blowing hot and then whispering cool air she straddled my leg. Her hair brushed against my back leaving warmth and chills with every sweep. I was on the verge of giving up the greed that was keeping my on my stomach when her hand went between my legs. Her soft fingers teased my balls with a tickle as she shifted to use the other side of my back as her playground. GREED. I wanted to lay there all day and let her do whatever she wanted. Her nimble fingers went from tickle to massage and found her way to my taint. It started with a test. An intentional grazing moving on to light pressure, but when she put her thumb on it just behind my balls, she rubbed it like cars going over a speed bump. SHIT! I growled her name into the pillow and she sped up, her mouth still teasing my back, forcing the muscles to cinch and relax.
When I couldn’t take anymore, I twisted enough to grab Sookie and pull her down. She crashed to the bed with a wicked smile. I pulled her body under mine. Mmmm. I was out of breath and wanted to fuck her so bad I could feel it in my teeth. I started pushing her pants down, tossing them…
moving to between her legs….
pushing my knees out, taking her legs with them…
The rest was a blur of fucking. Sweat and Come… Howling and growling… Until we both needed CPR.
“Can you wake me up like that every morning?” Still panting.
“Gladly. As soon as our roommates move on.”
“At least we had this chance. We’ll have to gag you for the next two weeks.”
I looked over at her, laughing and she wiggled her eyebrows. “God Damn! You’re bound and determined to kill me, aren’t you?”
She giggled at me and patted my chest before she rolled off the bed. She went to the closet and started rooting for clothes. “I could have sworn it was the other way around.”
I rolled out and went to the bathroom and started the water for her while I brushed my teeth. “Sookie, what time to you normally leave?”
I looked at my watch. After nine. “Uh… Are you skipping homeroom for sex?”
She kissed me as she walked into the bathroom. “No. Today is a teacher workday. The first Tuesday of the month. I’ll have next Tuesday off too… for elections.”
“We get to spend the day together?”
“Except for when you go play with Kevin and when I go to the store to stock up. Yeah.”
She stepped into the shower. “Why would I be ‘playing’ with Kevin?”
“He called just before I came back to bed to tell you that he has a present for you from Shreveport. A courier dropped it off early.”
Flash Gordon came through. That was a pleasant surprise. “He called my cell?” I didn’t remember giving him the number.
“No, the house phone. He knows I’m up early.”
I stuck my head in and gave her the high eyebrow. “And how does he know that?”
She smiled from under the stream of water. “Because… we’ve been friends since we were paired up to build a model of Jamestown in fourth grade. And watch out, when his girlfriend lets him off his leash, he can drink A LOT more than Jason and he’s a fucking riot.” LOVE this town. More and More. I stepped in with her and quickly realized that it was a bad idea. Mmmm. The view was very tempting.
“So we’ll have workers painting and moving furniture here today?”
“Yeah. And Jason before he ‘watermelon crawls’ his hung over ass home. He called in. I guess it’s good to be boss. He was halfing it today anyway.”
“Is he awake?”
“He probably is now… MR. LOUD.”
“Excuse me! I’m loud?”
“Yes. And you’re welcome.”
I couldn’t help but laugh and bow to her. She caught me staring… leering… stalking her and gave me a smirk. Stomach to stomach, she slid by me to step out and nipped my nipple on her way by. I grabbed her hips and pulled her close, going after soft, perfect lips. She hummed into my mouth. “Eric, we…” She ran her hands over my ass and grunted. “…have a lot going on today.”
I let her go, putting my hands in the air as surrender. She matched my smile and patted my chest… and then ran her hand all the way down to my dick. Fuck. She cut her eyes up to me and bit her bottom lip as she stepped out. Something tells me that the two of us were going to be going through a ‘late to work’ phase for a while.
I had just stepped under the water when I heard her quietly leave the room.
I was shaved and dressed and she hadn’t come back. Walking through the house I noticed our bed was made and the living room was stripped bare except for the piano and armoire sitting in the middle of the floor… I found her in the kitchen, standing over the stove. Pink wife beater, baggy khaki cargo pants that ride low and pink vans. She smiled up at me. “You look funny.”
I looked down at myself. I was wearing a normal ‘home’ outfit for me. Wife beater, camo pants and black vans. I raised my eyebrows at her. “Funny?” We looked like we dressed each other.
She giggled and turned to me and hugged my sides. “The only thing I’ve seen you in is blue jeans, boots and black Ts. It’s like… you’re out of uniform.” Brat.
“Eh, wait ‘til you see me in a suit. That’ll really get your attention. I look like a pallbearer.”
She gave me a sexy leer. “It’s moot. I picture you naked most of the time anyway.”
I grabbed my phone and started looking through my messages. I had missed a call from Burnham at 3am. That’s a dedicated bastard. Thank God. Then I missed one from Russell that I wished I had caught, but he gratefully left me a detailed message. My Id was laughing maniacally like a cartoon super villain.
I had also missed a call from Dad… I took a cleansing breath. I wasn’t so sure I could do this visit anymore. This is the third call in as many days and I was losing my resolve. I dialed the phone and set it on the table to free my hands to start a pot of coffee.
“Sorry, I was in the shower when you called. What’s up?”
“Am I on speaker? Who’s there?”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s just me and Sookie, Dad. We’re multitasking. Breakfast.”
“Oh… Good. I wanted to ask… How cold is it getting there? Should I bring a heavy coat for smoking?”
Sookie smiled at the eggs she was frying, slightly shaking her head. “Only if you like smoking outside. Otherwise, Alcide will enjoy the company on the smoke deck. We let him smoke in the kitchen.”
He started laughing. “Wow, a smoking lounge? Do you offer concierge service too?”
“Absolutely… Just ask Eric.”
I could feel myself blushing. I knew she didn’t mean it in a dirty way, but the ‘hospitality’ was unequalled at the Sookie B&B. Housekeeping, fine dining, entertainment… turndown service… wake up calls. She had been trying to keep her amusement to herself, but she reached up and put her hand to my flushed face and faked a burn… and started laughing.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, sir. Eric’s mind is just in the gutter.”
My jaw dropped open. I couldn’t believe that she just told my father that! But he started rolling! “I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?”
She smiled at me. “Not at all. He really was in the shower. Last night was a little crazy, so I let him sleep in.”
More laughing. I couldn’t remember a Christmas visit when I’d heard him this entertained. “So… you cook for him, invite folks over for Monday night games, let him drink too much, let him sleep in the next day and now you’re making his breakfast?”
“Ever hear of feminism?” He was still amused.
“Affirmative. That’s why he’s making his own coffee, sir.”
I started laughing and gave her a long kiss while my father chuckled his way through looking for something to come back with.
“We could have used some of you in the Navy.”
“No place in the military for women.” My jaw dropped again and her face actually gave away that she hadn’t meant to say it.
“Come again.” I think he might have stuttered.
She started with a deep breath and an ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ look. “Eric says you were at Dahlgren, so you’re an FC. Right?” I nodded before my father could answer through his shock and she went on. “So, hypothetically, there’s a fire in the work space, let’s say CSMC. I’m sure it’s pretty common for there to be just 2 or 3 enlisted in there. So there you are, accidentally unconscious and there is only one other person in the vicinity that could possibly come to your aide. Now, you and Eric are about the same size and I am more than physically capable of passing the PRT standards… I KNOW that I could NOT get Eric over the knee knockers and up the steep ladders to get him out of harm’s way. So, if hypothetical ‘lil ole me’ is taking the billet for another man who could, indeed, get you to safety it isn’t safe to have women in the service, unless the PRT is universal. Run as fast, lift as much or stay out of the way. Featherweights don’t box heavyweights. Pop Warner doesn’t rush an NFL line. And girls don’t need to put sailors and soldiers in danger to prove a fucking point.”
Ummm. Shit… That argument might actually talk a woman out of enlisting. My father was blank. Nothing on the other end at all. I was starting to think that the call had been dropped. She gave me an apologetic look and mouthed ‘I’m sorry’.
I smiled at her and shook my head. “Dad… you there?”
“Uh… yeah… Uh…” I started laughing quietly. “You know Smom’s gonna love her to tears, right?” Again, with the deflecting.
“Yes sir. Everybody does.”
“Marnie doesn’t like anyone.”
“Well when you grow up a distant second to your only sibling… pick a complex.”
Sookie raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean ‘distant second’?”
“Eric is perfect, always has been…” Oddly there didn’t seem to be any nastiness in his tone. “Never had to try for straight A’s, he was a natural at every sport he played, every time we moved he’d had friends the first day and I think I only grounded him a couple of times… And it helps that he’s a great looking guy… Like his old man.” I stood there speechless while the man who never seemed happy with anything I did sang my praises. “Then poor Marnie, fought for every C she got, never found a hobby or activity that she was any good at and in most cases was lucky to have one friend at a time. She wasn’t ever attractive. I still wonder what Deb saw in her father, but if she can put up with me, I guess it isn’t too hard to figure out. Anyway, Marnie has never held a candle to Eric and she knows it. It drove me up a wall when they were growing up to downplay how proud of Eric I was so that it wouldn’t make her worse.”
My ears were ringing. I kind of felt like I had tunnel vision. My eyes were having a hard time focusing on anything until I looked at Sookie. My security blanket. She smiled up at me with eyebrows drawn together and gave my hand a squeeze.
“But I hear you’re going to be a grandfather… Having a grandbaby to spoil will be fun. Maybe that will be her anchor.”
“Don’t bet on that. She’s probably doing it for attention, if she’s pregnant at all. She got our hopes up once but had an abortion when she decided to leave the guy.”
Sookie looked confused and held up 2 fingers. I sadly shook my head and held up 4. Marnie was still baffled by birth control, it seems.
“Wow, I’m sorry… I’m making the executive decision to change the subject then. There’s no sense in wallowing. Yes?… Have you and Smom been to Louisiana before? Do you have anything in mind, like day trips or anything?”
He laughed a little. “Sookie, I like you already… We drove through it once but we didn’t stop. And we’re both so excited to visit that we’re happy to just sit around and catch up with Eric and get to know you. Deb did mention trying Cajun food, though.”
I smiled as I watched Sookie carefully put fried eggs on top of ramekins with flakey crusts and setting them on the table with the coffee I poured while I was reeling at the chat my Dad was having with her.
She spoke with a thick Cajun affect, flawlessly. “Well, den… You ahh coming to da right house! Friday night we have ah Cajun feast dat’ll make ya wanna sell ya house an buy’n da bayou.”
“We don’t want to be any trouble.”
She giggled. “Eric, school your old man.” She pecked my cheek and left to go upstairs to wake Jason.
I smiled at her. “Dad, Sookie’s idea of a picnic lunch includes homemade bread and roasting a chicken for chicken salad. She’s amazing in the kitchen. Alcide and I keep joking about how fat she’s gonna make us, but the last time we worked out was Thursday morning and we haven’t noticed a problem.”
I heard Jason clear his throat in the archway. I looked at him and he was rubbing his eyes roughly, still dressed and vey wrinkled. “That’s because she cooks everything from scratch so there’s no chemicals. Lots of protein. It wakes up your metabolism and the body turns the fat into fuel for your muscles. You’ll gain some weight, but you won’t notice ‘cause it’s lean. She’s been feeding Daddy and I like this for years. Now why are you babbling to yourself?”
I laughed at him. “My dad is on the phone… Dad, that was Sookie’s brother Jason. He stayed over last night.”
“You ended up getting pretty messed up, eh?”
Jason poured himself a cup of coffee and then kissed my cheek when he slid behind me to sit down chuckling. I blew his goofy ass a kiss. “Yeah. Alc gooned out sitting up at the table and Jason called in.”
“Will there be another party this Monday?”
Jason smiled at my phone. “Oh yeah… If there’s a game, the Stackhouses are eating and drinking somewhere.”
“I can hardly wait. Well, I’ll let you all get to breakfast. Eric, I’ll call if I think of anything else.”
“Alright Dad. Love you.”
“Love you too, kid.”
Jason started digging into his dish and I leaned forward out of curiosity. “What’s in there?”
“County style potatoes, sausage, milk gravy and cheese. Don’t be scared. It’s a fucking party for your mouth.”
I didn’t even blink… The crust was some kind of buttery flakey biscuit and the eggs on top were oozing yolk into the casserole and I was full halfway into it. I kept eating anyway. Fucking delicious. I couldn’t wait for dinner on Friday either. Tonight for that matter… Shit… I was turning into Alcide.
Sookie came back with an armful of bedding and walked through grumbling at Jason. “You’re not allowed to pass out drunk up there again until after his folks leave. It’s too hard to air out that room. The stink of booze might still be there on Friday.”
He started laughing. “Fine. If the mood strikes me again, I’ll just spoon up with Alc… You want me to get his sheets for you?”
She huffed as she sat down. “I got those as soon as he was out the door this morning.” She started digging into her breakfast. “You think you’re pretty smart, huh asshole?”
He gave me a dirty look and slapped my arm. “You fucker! I wanted to play with that.”
I gave him a shrug and she laughed at him. “Really? You think the boozing you did last night would bond y’all enough for him risk losing any ‘sexy time’? Are you planning on extortion or blackmail?” She’d said ‘sexy time’ like Borat and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Awww… You know better than that.”
“Did we fuck up?”
“You mean your story? No. You’re just SUDDENLY different. Not like you’ve been seeing each other for a while. The way I look at it, you’re good unless Alcide sees a change in him.”
I laughed. “He knows I’m whipped. Other than that, he’s got too much going on. I think we’re fine.”
“So y’all aren’t telling anybody?”
She smiled at him. “Nope. It’s too much fun to spoil it.” She winked at me and we were interupted by a knock on the front door.
Sookie got up to answer it and I got up and started on the dishes, hoping that moving would help ease the bloated feeling in my gut. I saw through the window that our ‘company’ was workers. There were two pickups and a large box truck in the driveway with ‘COMPTON INTERIORS’ printed on the side. Curiosity got the best of me and I went to join Sookie. I quietly observed as one of the workers explained that the steam machines they would use to get the aged wallpaper down would be loud but wouldn’t take long and that they should be done and out of the house by 1 or 2 o’clock as long as the painting didn’t take too long.
She sent them to work excitedly and dragged me out to the truck. She bounced up into the back after throwing the door up and I followed so that she could show me the couches and the new ‘chair’. It was a wide club chair. Wide enough for two people to cuddle on. It had a matching ottoman and it was all modern with clean lines and squared edges in the same dark cobalt blue suede. It couldn’t have been more different from what was already in the living room and I stood there for a moment fixated on the fact that I probably would have picked it out myself. She had just started to point out the area rug and the boxed items further into the truck when we were interrupted.
“You see, I’m not stalking her. She’s still flirting with me. Why else would she have ordered furniture from my store?” I spun around to see Sookie’s ex-husband leering at us from the ground.
Sookie clenched her jaw out of frustration so I took the occasion to have a little fun. I walked to the edge of the truck and stepped off, landing face to face… well face to chin with Bill. “I call it redecorating. Why are you here?”
“I saw that Sookie had graced me with a purchase and thought I’d come by to thank her for her business.” I almost laughed realizing that he didn’t know that his father had given her everything and risked a glance at her getting a smile and a wink.
“You thought you’d use this as an excuse to trespass… That was pretty funny the way you reported Rotten stolen.” I saw Jason appear on the front porch and in a blink, he was standing next to me. His arms were folded across his chest.
“You liked that, did you?”
I nodded at him. “I’m going to have fun nailing your ass to a wall for falsifying a police report.”
“You can’t do anything. You can’t prove it.”
I chuckled at him. “Oh cupcake, I can prove it. The layers of security on Bon Temps’ server are a joke, but you reported it to the state police. Since 9-11, homeland security has upgraded and my friend has traced the hacking job back to an ISP for a Borders in Shreveport 2 blocks from VDB TeleCom where you work…” I bowed up on him. “I got the call this morning. You used your debit card to get a muffin and a latte 12 minutes before the State Police’s firewall was breeched. The warrant has been issued for your arrest and your accounts have been frozen.”
I basked in the glory of seeing sweat bead his flat forehead. He even let me see him twitch. I only wished Alc were here.
I smiled at him. “Really?”
“There’s no way you could know any of that.”
“It seems you go there often. The barista knows you well. Half caff vanilla latte and a bran muffin… Bran huh?”
His face went sour just before he turned and started walking away. The three of us watched him and as soon as he felt like the trees were going to hide him, he took off like a shot, losing whatever cool he thought he’d been faking.
I took out my phone and called Russell back to tell him that Bill was about to hack into the State Police system again to look for the warrant.
When I got off the phone, Jason jumped up and kissed my cheek with his legs wrapped around me.
“Don’t get too excited. I was lying.” I set him down.
“The hack was traced and he did use his Debit card, but it’s circumstantial. When he goes to check on what I told him is when he’ll get busted because he’ll do it from home. Even then the most that’ll happen to him is that he’ll get out on bail, pay a fortune on legal fees and then end up paying a fine.”
“Then what’s the point?”
Sookie had been listening without comment from the back of the truck. I reached up and took her by the waist to set her down on the ground with us. “I’m letting him establish his own history of harassing her so that one day, I can shoot him in his fucking face and walk away.” Dry. Serious. Simple. I wasn’t joking.
I watched Sookie closely for her reaction. Her eyes were locked on mine, boring into me. I waited for a furious outburst… I’d emailed Russell about the ‘stolen car’ on Sunday while Sookie and I chatted over our 5 star picnic and had only hoped that he’d be able to track anything down. That was before I heard about the promise that she made her family keep about letting him live… So I waited. As did Jason.
Finally… “Not until Tom is gone. He shouldn’t have to bury his son in his condition.” She stretched up on her toes and kissed me on her way inside.
Shocked… Stunned… Frozen… And that was just me. Jason was on a different page. “5 FUCKING DAYS! You’ve been together for 5 fucking days and she… you…”
I started walking inside, chuckling at him. “You sound smarter when you’re drunk, Jas.” He laughed as he followed me into the house.
The workers weren’t exaggerating when they said that the steamers were loud. Far too loud for me to even attempt making the series of uncomfortable phone calls on my to-do list, even behind a closed door.
After Jason announced that he was going to get a shower, I found Sookie on the porch folding sheets and snuggled up behind her. “Are you being quiet for a reason or are you just busy?”
She leaned back against me and put her hands over mine. “I’m just doing house work. What are you up to?”
I smiled into her hair, relieved that she wasn’t keeping a screaming fit directed at me on a leash. “I think that I’m going to go ahead and run up to see Kevin while it’s too noisy to work. Do you need me to run any errands?”
She hummed and swayed her hips back and forth while she thought about it. “Nope. I was thinking I’d go ahead and go do the shopping while all this is going on.”
I hugged her tighter and started chewing on her neck while she rubbed her ass against me. She cleared her throat, trying to get me to focus, but I barely noticed. She called me ridiculous when I reached into her pants, but she reached up and grabbed the back of my head when I found her clit and started teasing her, sucking air past her teeth. Her knees tried to buckle when I started pushing her, repeating my name between quiet moans.
She bent over and braced herself against the dryer with both arms, panting and grunting, not once did she try to get away or stop me. It was too much fucking fun…
She jerked against me and pushed back, making it harder for me to keep this as just a game. Her sway stopped and her breathing hitched. She stopped cold for just a second before a moan started to build in her throat. I held her tight and put my hand over her mouth in time to catch her as she came hard enough to lift her feet from the floor, letting me hold her up…
She put her feet down and turned to me, giving me a VERY grateful kiss. “What got into you?”
Reeling in my urge to carry her back to the bedroom and fuck her until neither of us could move proved to be harder than I thought. “Just felt like making an exit. I’ll be back in a bit.” I gave her quick kiss and used every bit of strength I had to keep my body moving in the direction of my car.
I had made it as far as the foyer when Jason called after me. “Hey Eric! You have a tie I can borrow? I can’t find my backup.”
I turned around to see Jason standing in the hall, buttoning his cuffs. He was modeling a well tailored black suit with a pink and white striped shirt. Now he looked like a Wharton Grad. Hell, now he looked like he was on his way to pose for GQ for that matter. Son of a bitch looked just as comfortable in his jeans and t-shirts as he does in an expensive suit. I started chuckling. Fucking surprises around every corner with this family.
“Top drawer, right side. Why so dressed up?”
“Fucking mayor is running unopposed and still needs my ass to come in and deal with the treasury shit for the Town Counsel.” He shrugged and walked away. Well, at least a Wharton man moonlighting as town treasurer isn’t as big of a shock as a surgeon moonlighting as a stripper. Right?
The ride to the police station was a quiet one, leaving me alone with my thoughts…
The tornado of SHIT from this morning was just insane. Sookie and I waking up to metaphorically stare down the barrel of a loaded gun, not knowing what pieces of my best friend might be left when he gets back tonight, hearing my father say that he was proud of me, having braced myself to be cast off for my comment about killing Bill and being flashed a green light instead… FUCK!
Of all of that… out of the whole ‘Oops/Partner/Father/Murder Pie’ that was my morning… MY FATHER… the oldest and ugliest festering slice of my life is what I couldn’t stop thinking about. You’d think I was used to it.
He’d BEAM, proud as a fucking peacock at the ball field. ‘THAT’S MY BOY!’ Over and over. But the second we were in the car, the show was over. He’d critique the team, the coach, the ump or refs. It didn’t matter. He’d bluster and rant until it was time to sit down for dinner and then it was all over. Smom had a rule at the dinner table about ‘shop talk’. It included bitching about work and rambling on about sports, mine and professional. And it was all a lie. A show for my inadequate and insecure step sister. I grew up thinking that my father resented the fact that existed because she was too derisory to be rational about anyone else’s achievement. It made me want to hug him and hide her body.
The only thing that gave me ANY piece of mind on the matter was that even though I’d been wrong about so many people in my life, I’d never been wrong when it came to a suspect. I was safe knowing that I wasn’t a fraud when it came to work. Otherwise, I would look into donning a dull brown uniform and answering phones with Kevin and Kenya.
When I walked into the police station, Kevin and Kenya both greeted me with a smile. I noticed the file box sitting on the desk Alcide had sat at to talk Amelia off of her paranoid ledge right away, but decided to be friendly instead of businesslike.
Kenya snorted at me. “You look like a surfer today, Federale.”
I smiled at her. “Thank you. When am I going to see you dressed like the sweet lady you’re hiding under that gun belt?”
She tilted her head at me like a puppy hearing a squeaker toy for the first time and Kevin started laughing. “What makes you think she’s sweet?”
“Because, that smile of hers gives it away. She doesn’t like being mean to bad guys as much as she likes making good people feel safe.”
She gave me a dirty look for pulling her out of the closet so I winked at her. She smiled again and elbowed Kevin for laughing.
Kevin waved me back and offered me a seat. The poor bastard was bored OUT OF HIS MIND sitting in the station all day long only answering the phone once in a while and making fresh coffee for Bud. So out of pity, I sat with them for a ‘spell’. The three of us laughed and joked around for a while. They thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Bill’s impending misfortune. Kevin called me a party pooper when I wouldn’t show him what was in the box until I told him that it was crime scene photos of the other 12 Maudettes. It shut him up, probably more rudely than needed, but it got the job done. We talked about hunting some more. He had a laundry list of hunting rifle suggestions for me after I made a joke about taking a handgun.
I sat there with them long enough that I needed to use the bathroom and on my way down the hall, I saw a large aerial view photograph hanging on the wall of an office.
I stopped in the doorway and looked it over when I came back out. “Hey, Cagney and Lacey…”
Kenya, chuckling and shaking her head at me, came down the hall. “You better’ve been calling me Lacey.”
I laughed. “Of course I was. Is that Bon Temps?”
She nodded and invited me in to Detective Beck’s office, explaining that he was never in the station and that he usually worked out of the town’s ‘shithole diner’ like a mob boss.
She helped me get my bearings on the map, pointing out my house, the station, the school, Dirges (even though the landing strip was a dead giveaway).
“Did Kevin tell you that we’re looking for an airstream?”
“No. Why are you looking for an airstream? I thought you found this asshole’s apartment.”
“The apartment is a decoy. It’s empty except for what he wanted us to find. We’re pretty sure that it’s all to frame Madden. DeCastro stole Madden’s identity and registered a Bonneville and there’s an airstream in Holly Cleary’s name.”
She stared at the map and chewed on the insides of her mouth for a minute or two before she took a red grease pencil from the desk.
She drew several circles around different places on the map and then looked up at me and smiled. She pointed to each circle as she explained. “Maudette’s house… the Cleary apartment… the convenience store where Maudette worked… the red herring apartment… all of it on the west side of the town… but on the northeast side of town…”
“Nothing but trees… The perfect place to hide a little trailer.” I shook my head. There must be thousands of acres of heavy brush.
She elbowed my arm. “Hey, don’t look so gloomy. Why don’t we go looking for him in the morning.”
I turned my neck to look down at her so fast my joints popped. “What? Have you seen the trailer?”
“No…” She drew a line across the property and drew three small circles inside of one very large orb. “This thick ass woods is where most folks go hunting. Back during the war it was 3 different homesteads… This one was burned up when I was still in school by drunk kids and flattened out… This one got beaten to shit in a hurricane a few years back. Nothing left but a foundation… But this one… this house stayed occupied until about 5 years ago. This one still has a working well…”
My eyes lit up. But I had to dial back my excitement. “Kenya, can you think of anywhere else he could be hiding?”
“Yeah… There’s rugs a plenty that this cockroach could be hiding under. This county is HUGE and barely has any population. BUT, it’s off an unmarked, unpaved road and it dead ends 6 miles after the turnoff… Only a local guy would know that he’s about to lose all his privacy. When hunting season starts next week, he’s going to get spooked. He’s going to wake up to safety orange all around him Saturday morning.”
I thought about things. It made sense. For him to be in what looked like the most secluded part of all of Louisiana. I wanted to get this guy so bad I could taste it, but locally, Pam, Alcide and I are it. “Kenya, Alcide and me need to take this to Pam… When we move on him, I promise to take you with us, but please promise me that you won’t go out there.”
“You’ll let me go with you?”
“Yes ma’am. I promise. Tell me you’ll stand down until we have an official ‘go’.”
“You’ll keep me posted.”
She stared up at me for a minute and her eyes actually started to water. “I won’t… I won’t go anywhere near him. I’ll wait… I promise.”
I smiled at her and kissed her forehead. “Good girl. Can I get the property records from town hall or do I need to go to Reynard?”
“You can get them here.” Her mouth barely turned up at the corners.
When I turned to leave she took the picture from the wall and followed me.
After the file box and the picture were both loaded into the car, I promised that I would call her by dinner time, news or no news and she watched me pull away.
It took me all of 10 minutes to get the property records for the ‘ole Loudermilk place’. The file had old city assessments, a map of the property drafted in 1835, a drafting of the house and the out buildings from 1912, bills of titleship, a pile of building permits from the last 50-some-odd years and tax roll information.
I was dialing Pam before I my ass hit the seat of my car. As I drove home, I explained everything. It took me half an hour to do it, and ended up sitting in the guaranteed quiet of my car instead of risking the noise that might be going on inside once I got home. Pam declared that the workday would start at my house first thing in the morning. She said that if he was still in town he wouldn’t go anywhere before Alcide’s boys were settled. She also told me to invite Kenya to our ‘little powwow’. I thought I needed to have my hearing checked.
I climbed out of the car and grabbed my box of ugliness, heading for the bedroom. The workers were done with the steaming and didn’t even look up from painting the walls the same rich blue as the furniture when I walked through.
Having the peace and quiet on my side, I sat at the desk and started calling (finally) the families and friends of victims B through L. The phone calls, starting chronologically, got longer and longer as I checked them off my list. Bethany’s mother, having gone so long without news, had all but given up hope that her daughter’s killer would be caught. The same could be said for Carolyn’s husband. Linh’s father had only a fraction more optimism… and it was heart wrenching to talk to them. I couldn’t tell them anything except to keep their fingers crossed because we have ‘new information’. I knew it wouldn’t be enough for me and yet everyone I talked to was eager to send the photos they had… based on faith.
I’d spent more than an two hours on the phone and finally ended the call with Felicia Lombard’s roommate. I sat back and ran my fingers through my hair, noticed that it was going on 1:30 and decided to crawl out of my hole to see if Sookie had gotten back and grab a drink.
I laid eyes on her the second I came from our room. She was bent over a piece of furniture, futzing with cables and cords.
“Hey beautiful. How long have you been home?”
She turned her head and smiled at me. “About an hour now. How was your visit?”
“Informative… Is there something I can do to help or should I just enjoy the view?”
She giggled and wiggled her ass at me before she stood up. She’d been leaning over a large bow front entertainment center that came up to her waist. It had glass doors and was stained the same color as the floors, light cherry. I watched her take hold of the cluster of wires coming from behind it and then lean into the console to push it against the wall. The workers had finished the walls and were moving in the couches, so Sookie took my hand and led me to the kitchen to get out of the way.
“Want something to eat?”
I smiled at her and went to the fridge then sat down with a bottle of tea. “I’m still full from breakfast. Thank you though. Have you heard from the old man?”
She raised an eyebrow at me. “Mine, yours or ours?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Ours.”
“I texted him when I got home. I sent ‘status?’ and he replied with ‘weird’.”
I shrugged. “I guess it could be worse.”
“You’re right about that, but I don’t think I’d be this anxious if it were me. Change the subject.”
I laughed at her. “We’ll have company for breakfast in the morning.”
She smiled at me. “Really? What are you making?”
“I was thinking about my secret family recipe for cereal… Pam and Kenya are coming over to talk shop. Kenya had a brain fart that will hopefully end up on the front page.”
“Fucking good for Kenya!” She stared at me for a moment. “That’s it? That’s all you’ve got for me?” My subject change fell short.
I laughed again. “Ok… Big wedding, little wedding?”
“Oooh… Now you’re talking. This could go on for hours… Um… I dunno though. I’d like small and simple, but that couldn’t happen here. What do you think?”
“Well, would your family go somewhere else for Christmas?”
Her face lit up. “Like where?”
“Somewhere that does Christmas so we can still have fun with the holiday… then stay for the honeymoon. Yeah?”
She nodded and came over, sitting on my lap sideways. “Ummmm… New York is a gimme, DC… Bethlehem… The North Pole…”
I laughed. “Smart ass. New York sounds good. We could do all the sightseeing with family and then stick around to watch the ball drop.”
“Your folks would do that?”
“I don’t see why not. They’d be traveling for it no matter what. Which Stackhouses will go?”
“Daddy, Jason, Laf, Tara, Sam, Had & Hunter, maybe Frannie. Then Pam, Alcide & the boys, right?”
I nodded. “Have you been? Do you know where you want to stay?”
She cleared her throat. “Uh, I have a place up there.”
“You have an apartment in New York City?”
She exhaled a deep breath. “Part of Tom’s estate. It’s… more of a condo really.”
“Of course you do. Where else do you have houses?”
She rolled her eyes at me. “New Orleans, New York and Charlotte. That’s all.”
That’s not as bad as I thought. “Why Charlotte?”
“The furniture stores… North Carolina is big for furniture. I haven’t used it, but Had did this year for a buying trip. She says it’s really nice.”
Ok… Moving on. “How would we go about planning a long distance wedding?”
She tipped her head back and waited for the ceiling to give her a hint. “Mmmm… We need to pick a place, then book a Justice, pick our clothes and make dinner reservations.”
“Inside or outside?”
“Do I have to decide everything?”
I laughed at her again. “Fine, how about Rockefeller Center… The giant Christmas tree?”
She smiled at me. “Perfect.”
“So if we’re staying in your condo, what will we do with everyone else?”
“It’s big enough that we could stay together. Then you and me can get a hotel for a couple of nights and let them have our apartment. Then it’ll be like a getaway. We can decorate the tree and do our sightseeing and then Christmas morning we can do the Santa Claus thing and eat a huge holiday breakfast and then go get hitched.”
“We could just ship tree trimmings and gifts ahead and take care of all of it when we get there?”
“Do we still get to decorate this house?”
She nodded again. “The day after Thanksgiving. Rain or shine.”
“Then it sounds perfect… Is it Christmas yet?”
I watched her eyes sparkle before she wrapped herself around my neck. “This is so much fun!…”
Time had stopped for us. The subject of our wedding had been nagging at her too it seemed. We talked like children who just found out they were going to Disney. What to do, where to go, the reception, our clothes, taking time off, when we’d leave, when we’d have everyone join us, where we’d stay for our honeymoon, how long everyone’d stay… We even discussed what color ornaments to start collecting for our New York tree. Blue and white. Sookie went as far as calling the doorman to the building and told him to be expecting packages and traffic for the unit often until we arrived and asked him how much he could help with arranging a tree and a few other amenities. He gave her the number a professional assistant that he knew was trustworthy. I wasn’t sure how much help a grown man named ‘Bubba’ could be, but I was excited enough to risk it. As long as the actual wedding went off without a hitch, the trip would be perfect, whether the guy stocks the fridge with the right lunchmeat or not. Sookie joked that Bubba would be a good patsy; someone for Tara, Had and Lafayette to call and nag about details and therefore, lightening our load. Smart, but I wasn’t surprised.
It was nearly 4 when we were interrupted by the workers, who apologized for having taken so long, so that we could look things over before they left. I was taken aback by what I saw as Sookie oohed and ahhed over their work. Her taste… I couldn’t imagine a room I’d feel more comfortable in. The buttery soft couches were pushed together in the corner of the room, forming an L. The club chair and ottoman sat at an angle with the fireplace behind it. A quick adjustment and it would go from my favorite place to watch TV with Sookie, to my favorite place to snuggle fireside with her. The furniture was centered around the new console and HUGE new TV hanging on the wall; it was big enough the space station could watch the game with us. The piano was situated at the other end of the room, under the front window as was her ‘Gran’s’ antique roll top desk on a second shaggy area rug. The plain light covers had been replaced with jade green glass. The floor under the ‘TV zone’ was covered in a soft shaggy jade rug and throw pillows and lamps in the same eye catching color were scattered across the room brightening up an already brilliant space. End tables and a coffee table, stained to match everything else in the room, including the new tongue and groove wainscoting… A large silk painting hung over the fireplace with only hints of jade and cobalt, depicting a blossoming tree not unlike VanGogh’s Almond Blossom painting; what you would see as lazing on your back under it… 9 large jade tiles hand panted with cherry blossom scenes hung 3 by 3 on the wall over one of the couches… Amazing… Fucking PERFECT.
When the workers were congratulated on a job well done (to say the least), Sookie went to the hall closet and grabbed a large platter, again in jade and hand painted with cherry blossoms, while I stood awestruck and floundered for something more than a single syllable to say about the room. She gathered an armful of large candles in assorted shapes and took them to the coffee table to arrange them on the platter. She went back to the closet and came back with a box, setting it on the club chair and glancing over with a smile once in a while as she worked to unpack more jade.
She placed a large carved elephant figurine on the mantle… “My grandfather was stationed in Japan for a while before he married Gran. He sent her a little jade bird right after he got there and she loved it so much, she started collecting it. He sent her a figure every month for a year and a half and then gave her another one every year on the anniversary of the day he came home. She put it all away when we were little and didn’t get around to putting it back before she got sick. We found it all when we were sorting things out.” Candle stick holders, a slender geisha in full dress, cats, birds, my favorite thing… a copper wire tree sculpture with little jade leaves all over it that she set on the piano.
I smiled at her. “Are you sure it’s safe to put it all out now.”
“Jack and Carm will be fine. They’re old enough to respect things.”
I laughed. “I was talking about Hunter and Alcide.”
“They’ll be warned. And we’ll move things a little on Mondays.” She gave me a wink.
“I’m excited to see all of the other stuff you have planned…” I kicked my shoes off and laid down on the couch. “Come here.”
She raised her eyebrow at me and sauntered over to me, sitting on the edge of the couch. “What?”
I reached down and pulled her shoes off and pulled her down to test drive the couch. “What happened to the armoire?”
“It’s in the Herveaux Suite. I figured that the boys would need an iso-booth too.”
I smiled at her. “So what are the plans for next week?”
She snuggled into me and started explaining. Time froze again. It was the first time since we met that we’d talked. Just talked. Talking because we wanted to and not because it was just a stopgap to fill hectic or chaperoned moments until we could rip each other’s clothes off and fuck like we were in heat. It was remarkable. To have both. We were laying on the couch and having a conversation and I realized that we, our chemistry, served us just as well in dialogue as in bed.
I took it all in… The linen closet door was going to become the door for the new room which was meant to be the new music room. I behaved and ignored the impulse to make a joke about where to put the nursery. The hall bathroom is to get a claw foot tub and new tile, black and yellow honeycomb shaped tiles and new fixtures. The upstairs though was getting new life breathed into it. Once the new room was framed downstairs, the roof of it would become the extension of the two rooms already there. The plan was to extend them to make the guest rooms more comfortable and add a ‘jack & jill’ bathroom between them. The room Pam had used would remain more of a showcase for her grandmother’s antiques and the former music room would be more contemporary. The job should only take a couple of weeks. A few days for our bathroom and closet, then a few more to frame in the new addition, the plan included a blitz of workers to finish the remodeling and decorating so that Thanksgiving company would have somewhere to stay…
“What company? Who visits?”
“Well… If things go well with Smom and Dad, I would hope you’d invite them back. Frannie stays with me and Lafayette is usually too lethargic and buzzed to drive back to Shreveport.”
I laughed. “You want me to have my family visit while your ex girlfriend is here?! I don’t think so. I’ll either die of embarrassment or from the lack of blood flow to my brain.”
“Ohhh, come on.”
She was serious. “Do you promise that you won’t intentionally tease me?”
“Unless you ask for it, I promise.”
I eyed her, suspiciously. “What do you mean ‘ask for it’?”
She laughed. “Not like ‘you had it coming’. But if you ask for a double lap dance, who am I to say ‘no’?” Oh fuck. It was happening already.
“Ok then. Since you’re promising not to fuel my already active imagination by being mean, if things go well with this weekend, I’ll invite them back for Thanksgiving.”
“Besides, Frannie will be too far up Jason’s ass to do too much damage.”
“Jason and Frannie?”
“Yeah. Stubborn asses. Both of them. They hook up every time we get together; holidays and vacations. Those two are a sitcom waiting to happen. He won’t be ‘that guy’ who asks her to move to be with him. She won’t be ‘that girl’ who moves without an invitation. Fucking preposterous. They should stop playing around and start having little Stackhouses and live happily ever after but neither one of them are willing to take the baby step it would take to make it all happen. She’s made it a point to move every couple of years so that he wouldn’t think he’s taking her from something and he’s built a fucking house to hint that he’s ready to settle down.”
I laughed remembering that he said he was waiting for ‘true love’ last night. “Ok… explanations… A- how did your brother hook up with your ex girlfriend? And B-you said you’d set her up with Alcide.”
Giggles. “The two of them were fast friends. Everything in common except for work. Frannie and I were slowing down, growing out of our phase, and we were hanging out one night drinking and I set them up to admit that they liked each other over a game of truth or dare and a bottle of vodka. As for Alcide, she’s single and he could use a little fun after what he’s been through. I didn’t suggest we start planning their wedding just that they have some fun together.”
I shook my head. “And you think Jason would be ok with Frannie dating someone?”
“Sure. He does. Daddy and I call their booty calls ‘stand ins’. She dates, he dates. They’re a mess. And they find the DUMBEST reasons to see each other. Jason tagged along with Laf last year to a seminar in New York then ‘got a flat tire’ in Damien. Never mind that he couldn’t think of a reason that he was in Connecticut to begin with. He called her in Stamford and she dropped everything to wait for a tow truck for his rental with him. He came back home a week late. They shacked up together. When we were in girl huddle in your bathroom, all she did was drill me about what Jas had been up to.”
“That’s funny… You’re the handler. Why haven’t you thought of a push for them?”
“I have, but it includes duct tape and tequila.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Have you tried inviting her to stay here with you?”
“Yup… She saw right through it. She has a job waiting for her at the family practice in town, the second they take off their ass hats… We went Christmas shopping in Shreveport last year and she started drooling over a china pattern. He bought two sets. One for her Christmas gift and the other for his house…”
“Fucking ridiculous. You’re right. If truth or dare worked before, why not try it again?”
“Been there, done that. It went downhill fast and they took off and ruined the felt on Daddy’s pool table.”
More laughing. “So she can’t be baited. What about Jason?”
“Dunno. We have a thing… we won’t handle each other. That’s why he had you and Laf puppeteer me into Dirges the other night.”
“But… I’m not part of that arrangement.”
She gave me her wicked smirk. Ungh. “What are you thinking mister?”
“Well, he’s chatty when he drinks. Why not just get them both drunk and let things take care of themselves with a well led conversation.”
Her eyes lit up. “It’s a great idea, but you realize that we’d need to be chess masters. Playing a few steps ahead of them and maybe even line a few things up. It could get ugly.”
“It would be fun though… And it would keep me focused on something other than…”
I slapped her ass. “Exactly.”