An Angry Voice
I groaned, “Whatever I did, I’m sorry.” It was 5 o’fucking’clock.
“In theory, you’ve had 8 hours… and I’m not waking you up to run.”
I rolled over and sure enough, she had a cup of coffee for me. “Are you buttering me up for something?”
“Nope. Wanna go with me for weights?” Fuck yeah! Out of bed and digging through drawers…
She was giggling at me quietly and still holding my coffee while I yanked my shorts and wifebeater on… “Wait… This isn’t a carefully worded tease, is it?”
She shook her head. “No. I’m going to the school to get my workout in since I won’t be with the kids today.”
“You didn’t offer Eric?”
She snickered, “No. He’s too lazy to run, he’s too lazy to lift.”
I walked around the bed and took my coffee… and grabbed her hand to tow her ass down the hall while I chugged… She started laughing as soon as we were out of the room and all the way out the front door.
I missed weights, like she’d miss her iPod after a week.
It didn’t take me long to notice (or relentlessly make fun of) the hickies on her neck. They looked like paintballing bruises more than ‘love bites’. She tried playing it off and promised to cover them with makeup so the boys wouldn’t notice them… Hell, I figured as much… I was still going to have fun ribbing her over being mauled even if they were some kind of payback that I didn’t want the details on.
The first door on the way to the weight room had lettering on the window… SJ Stackhouse Athletic Director. No computer. No files. A desk and stacks of boxes and case drinks.
“Doesn’t the football coach usually get the athletic director gig?”
“When he isn’t already the principal and a complete dullard, yeah. The parents got together and petitioned the board 4 years ago to have me take over when he botched a scholarship for a kid. It’s better for me to do it anyway since I actually know these guys.”
“You might as well be the principal.”
She grunted hauling back the handle of a hand truck and started for the door. “I’d rather unofficially have my hands on everything and still be able to teach.”
I followed her down the long hallway. “Would they not let you or would you just not have time?”
“The time. There aren’t enough hours even in my day. Being official would have everything land at my feet… As it is, Quinn is the filter. I only see the stuff that’s on the way to being unfuckable.”
“And you feel too sorry for him to bump him out of a job.”
She giggled and backed through the swinging doors to the gym. “I’m not admitting to that.”
I’d assumed (based on what the weight room at my high school looked like) that we’d be looking at a few bikes, a couple of treadmills, old school free weights…
It looked like the Gold’s I used to belong to…
State of the art machines for upper and lower body work… computerized treadmills, bikes, stair and rowing machines… racks and ankle locks for sit ups and pull ups…
There were 8 students already sweating and grunting through their workout who all greeted us by first name.
Sookie was giggling when I realized she was snapping her fingers in my face.
“Y’all don’t get funding for sex-ed, but you get the dough for this?”
Once she had my attention, she went to the vending machine to restock it. “Pshh. Are you kidding? No. One of my boys hurt himself working out alone. No spotter. Notice the distinct lack of free weights? This was all fundraising. Athletes and faculty use it for free and we sell booster memberships. It usually works out that there’s at least one adult in here in case something happens.”
“You’re the adult right now though, right?”
She laughed, “Yeah. Don’t wait for me. Go play.”
It was nearly half an hour later that she actually started her workout, but I wasn’t going to complain since it gave me time to do extra sets.
A couple of her students came and went and all of them noticed the hickies and made fun of her… She laughed and reminded them of ones they’d gotten or given without seeming the least bit embarrassed… And they joked and carried on like she was one of them… unlike any teacher I ever had… There wasn’t a single one that wasn’t a buzz kill even out of school.
I was on the treadmill when Sophie came in to talk to Sookie about working the squad after school… After she asked if Sookie was starting a ‘cop collection’ she offered to stand in so that Sookie didn’t have to push her limits (meaning her wrist, I’m sure)… I might have managed to laugh when Sookie told her that the scouts would only notice how sloppy Sophie’s round-offs were and she’d fuck up her girls’ chances at scholarships. Meow. Funny, but still catty as hell.
I was almost high from finally getting in a good fucking workout by the time we walked out just after 6:30 and she was dialing her phone on our way out to the car… In a matter of minutes, she managed to get herself access to Barksdale to pick up the Northmans without having to go through Pass & ID just in case painting went later than we expected it to.
Back at the house, Sookie went straight to the trunk… It was loaded with groceries. Since she didn’t have room for everything at the house, she’d used Tara’s car to go to the grocery store yesterday and stash everything in the cafeteria fridges… In addition to never playing poker with her… chess got added to the damn list. Hyperactive and able to think so many steps ahead… I was starting to think that she really could be an evil mastermind if she wanted to be.
It took a while, but I helped peel potatoes before I went back to grab a quick shower and when I got back, she was covering 3 cookie sheets that were stacked with sandwiches and there were 2 crock pots on the counter… the gumbo and Etoufee for dinner had already been started.
“Martha Stewart called. She said to take a nap because you’re making her look bad.”
She laughed. “I’m not that bad. I was up at three so I made use of the time.”
“Bullshit. You could be one of those efficiency experts. How can I pitch in?”
“Uhhhhh… You wanna try your hand at pancakes while I go get my shower?”
“No.” Not unattended. No. Negative.
She giggled at me. “Then just start a fresh pot of mud for us. That’s all there is left for a while.”
“I can do that.”
Once I started the coffee maker, I got curious. I was being nosey about the huge pot on the back of the stove when I felt how warm the oven was… There was a covered casserole dish in there already…
The fridge in the kitchen didn’t seem to have anything special going on… but the one on the back porch had a humongous bowl of fruit salad and another bowl that looked like some kind of spinach dip…
She was too ‘that bad’…
She was back in no time, but wrapped in a towel. “Thought of something…”
“You need me to find who stole your clothes?”
She laughed, “Dick… I’ll get the boys up and moving, but you could probably use card tables and step ladders at the house later. They’re in the shed.”
I hadn’t even thought of that. “On it.”
I’d grabbed the broom on the way out since everything had been covered in cobwebs when we’d been grabbing the chairs… I wasn’t so worried about the 3 step stools as much as the tables…
They needed to be swept and hosed off.
When I got back into the house, my prick partner was sitting at the kitchen table, trying to hide his ‘asshole smile’…
And the boys were passing the strawberry jam across the table… for their pancakes… First mustard… now syrup…
“Woah! What are you doing?”
Jack laughed, “Eric let us taste his! It’s really good!”
Eric, in all of his infinite fucking adulthood, stuck his tongue out at me.
“You’re a bad influence.” Not that it mattered… I was just happy to see the boys enjoying what they were eating.
I was settling in to give them a hard time, especially since Eric had snuck flipping me the bird… when the morning fell to shit…
The boys had gotten loud, but it was all in good fun. They were goofing around and teasing me when Medusa flew off the handle…
“COULD ONE OF YOU ASSHOLES DO SOMETHING TO SHUT THOSE FUCKING BRATS UP!?”
The boys’ faces fell so fast that I was in danger of hitting my partner’s sister… I’d seen the look before… And Ame was usually the cause.
Before I could calm myself down… Before I could think of a way to ask Eric to do something with her… Sookie was gone…
Sookie was gone and Eric nearly bowled me over going after her…
I managed to catch up to Eric. We both got to the top of the stairs at about the same time, but… Sookie slammed the bedroom door behind herself…
And I wasn’t sure because Eric and I sounded like a herd of elephants going up, but I thought for a second that I heard a punch land.
The blood spilling out of Marnie’s mouth confirmed it…
There was nothing for a minute. Sookie stood over Marnie just as cool as a fucking cucumber…
It was almost like a tornado had just touched down. After it moved on, but before the sirens and clean-up…
Sookie was the first one of them to say anything… “The chivalrous streaks in Eric and Alc are too strong to put you in your place, I’m taking over the project.” I almost laughed at how much she made it sound like a bad thing that we weren’t big on knocking women around.
“You split my lip!”
“My students would call that a bitch slap. Fitting, dontcha think?”
“Do you always resort to violence?” Yeah.
“Sometimes. Since telling you that being a cunt is unacceptable… pointing out the different ways that you tend to be a cunt… and explaining ways for you to avoid being a cunt doesn’t seem to be effective in preventing your flare-ups, it seems like the only thing that no one has tried is using your ass as a punching bag.”
Marnie practically hissed, “You’re the one that let those kids scream while a guest was sleeping.”
Sookie started to laugh and it was just fucking creepy… “YOU’RE going to say something to me about manners?… Besides, you’re confused. You aren’t a guest. At this point, YOU are a rat in a humane trap… Nothing more than an unwelcome intruder that we have to stomach until Animal Control comes to take you away… This is those children’s home. It doesn’t matter that it is temporary. ‘HOME’ is where you can feel safe and loved. You will not fuck with that. You will not talk to or about them like that again. You could have been treated like a guest… I’m pretty fucking hospitable, but you chose to start shitting on the welcome mat almost as soon as you darkened our doorstep.”
“HUMANE? What’s so humane about being attacked? I’m pressing charges. I bet everyone would love to know their kids are being taught by a psychopath!”
“AGAIN! You really need some vocabulary reference materials. A PSYCHOPATH has a distinct LACK of empathy by definition. I have a hero/mother complex with a passion for problem solving. I’m driven to take care of people and cure their troubles. If you hadn’t decided to be so absolutely socially repellant, I probably would have wrung my hands over how to ‘fix’ you. Or at least figure you out so that your family would at least know why you treat them all like shit. At this point, I could give a flying fuck.”
When I saw Sookie pull her phone out and start dialing it, I had to bite my fucking lip to keep from laughing. She was calling herself in…
“Bon Temps 9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”
“Hey Sook. Something wrong?”
“I backhanded Eric’s sister. Split her lip. She wants to press charges.”
“Why’d you hit her?”
“She called Alc’s boys ‘fucking brats’.”
Kevin laughed. “Right… You didn’t hurt your hand, did you Sook?” I couldn’t help it that time, but even Eric laughed…
“Nope. I’ll still be playing tomorrow. Rachel letting you off your leash?”
“Naw, but she’s taking me out for a walk… Woof.”
“I’ll talk to you later, sweetie.”
Sookie slid her phone back into her pocket and made it most of the way to the door before she turned around. “You can play your bitchy little game all you want, but don’t forget who has home field advantage.”
OH MY GOD! I didn’t know whether to high five her or pretend ‘hitting is bad, m’kay’…
I followed her back down, expecting Eric to be right behind.
No Eric behind us, just shocked faces waiting for us in the kitchen.
Sookie stopped so suddenly that I almost ran into her.
“There’s no excuse for that, guys. I’m sorry.”
Jack practically whispered, “You hit her?”
“Even if you weren’t around, I shouldn’t have. It didn’t solve anything.”
Carm repeated it. “You hit her?”
Sookie hung her head and I heard a sniffle… “Yeah, I lost control. There’s no excuse for that. I’m sorry.”
The boys stared at her as she went to her purse and pulled some cash out… and she set a $100 bill on the table in front of Carm before she went to the counter and started working on potato salad to cover that she was mind fucking herself.
“That’s too much. I only counted 10.” Figures Carm would be counting.
“11… the rest is for setting such a horrible example.”
The boys went back to eating, albeit slowly since they were both staring at Sookie’s back and a few minutes later, Marnie screamed that Eric’s an asshole… She had no fucking clue what an asshole was, or how good at it he could fake being, but I was starting to understand how he could be so fucking calm all the damn time. Growing up in the house with Marnie was probably all the training he ever needed to be able to get through some of the shit I’d see him do straight-faced…
Sookie only turned around long enough to tell them to cover their ears and hum a song to themselves. If she hadn’t been crying, she’d been close.
Technically, she was right about setting a bad example, but damn if she should be beating herself up about jumping to their defense… Damn if she should feel guilty for knocking Marnie down a peg…
I’m sure the only thing Eric was waiting for was talking to his parents before putting her in a cab, but pissing in her suitcase would be fun before she left.
When Eric was done yelling that he hated Marnie, he stomped back downstairs.
As soon as the yelling had stopped, I grabbed the boys’ plates and told them to hurry up and make their lunches because it was time to go…
Instead of sandwiches, the boys grabbed left over fried chicken for their lunches. It was the first thing they grabbed and Carm even told me not to eat the rest of it before they got home from school.
And I didn’t know how to act when I saw Carm sneak Sookie’s tax back into her purse… So I was close to pinching myself when he turned down the chance to charge Eric too…
The car wasn’t even moving yet when Jack started in… “Hitting is wrong.”
“That’s why Sookie was upset with herself.”
“Ok, but I know that.”
“Marnie didn’t say anything else. Y’all call each other a-holes all the time, but she called us effing-brats… That’s why Sookie hit her.”
“Sookie punched someone for calling us a mean name.” Ohhhhh fuck.
“Are her and Eric gonna fight about it? About Sookie hitting his sister?” I sure as hell hoped not… not as much as Marnie had that whack coming to her.
“I don’t think so. Sookie and Eric don’t spend a lot of time arguing.”
“I think it’s because they’re freaking perfect…” They both started laughing. “…They get along really well. They’re a lot alike, so they know how to handle each other.” Except for when they both need handling at the same time then it’s a hilarious little shut-down-cluster-fuck for anyone who’s lucky enough to have a ticket to the show.
Carm piped up from the back seat, “You need your own Sookie.”
Before I could think of anything to say, Jack started to smirk at me… “Huh. I wonder if there’s another one.”
Carm giggled, “She could be a little older…”
Jack laughed too, “A little taller too…”
“ALRIGHT! That’s enough…”
The little shits were still laughing when I dropped them off at school.
Speaking of the devil…
When I pulled up to the house, the Bronco was parked next to the garage and was blasting Three Dog Night. No noise ordinance in Bon Temps?
And when I knocked on the window, I scared the shit out of her enough to make her drop her PDA.
Hadley giggled a long chain of ‘insults’ while she rolled down the window including, but not limited to, ‘sneaky ninja mother fucker’ so I laughed at her. “You’d have heard me pull up if you weren’t scaring off my deer with Feeling Alright.”
She snorted. “Smart ass… I think I peed a little.”
“Sorry… What’s got you out here so early?”
“I figured Sookie would be in the kitchen and Eric would be up her ass, so I thought I’d help tape things off. You don’t want the kids to do it.”
“You’re starting to worry me.”
“Don’t worry. They’re all old enough to stay inside the lines…”
“…But a ‘grownup’ should draw said lines?”
I grabbed the handle and opened the door, waiting to see how she got out of the monster of a truck and when she slid out, I saw nothing but leg under the door until she stepped out from behind it.
They were the shortest/tightest fucking jean shorts I’d seen in a long time… she might as well have been wearing underwear for all the leg they covered, but they fit in with what Tara and Sookie had worn for Halloween.
“What?” Her ‘confusion’ was bullshit. She looked straight down to her legs.
“You know ‘what’. Those are just wrong.”
“I look fine!”
“You look more than fine… but, tell me. Did your father die before you got rebelling out of your system?”
Angry Stackhouse alert! She gasped and hauled back to slap my arm and it pissed her off when it didn’t hurt.
“Calm down. You know what I mean. Hunter’s going to shit kittens.”
“That little boy…”
“That’s right… your little boy… the one you don’t want to be growing up so fast… the one that hears too often about what a MILF his mom is.”
“He needs to get over it.”
“Yeah… but are you going to punish him for being uncomfortable with it until he does?”
“I’m not punishing him.”
“Of course you aren’t. You’re just inviting his horny teenaged friends to talk about how your legs go all the way up… How snug is your tank top?”
She looked down at her hoodie and then back to me with a scowl on her face. “It’s comfortable.”
“Mmmm hum. Do the kid a favor. Guys are going to notice you no matter what you wear… That outfit is a fist fight waiting to happen.”
“Is it that big of a deal?”
I nodded. “Call it a guy-thing if you want to. You should be proud of him for keeping his temper on a leash, but it won’t last forever. Eventually someone’s going to take that MILF thing too far.”
She growled at me. “Fine, I’ll change into sweats, but the tank top stays.”
“Did you bother with a bra?”
She looked down again and then cringed. “Yeahhhh.”
“Black bra, white top?”
Still cringing, “White over red.”
I started laughing. “Ohhh, suuuuure! You’re not punishing him at all!”
“He was a shit yesterday!”
“Yeah, he was. But let me ask you something. If I take a picture of those stems and send it to Hunter… How oedipal do you think that reaction will be?”
She rolled her eyes. “Oedipal, huh?”
I shrugged. “I spend way too much time with Eric.”
“What if I don’t?”
“If you don’t what? Change?”
“Yeah.” Stubborn shit.
“I’ll have absolutely no sympathy for you when Hunter’s head explodes… And that’s if you get past Corbett in those things.”
“You’re gonna laugh your ass off and say told-you-so aren’t you?”
I laughed, “Oh, hell yeah.” For days.
She glared at me. She fucking knew I was right too. I could see that as much as I could see that she still wanted to fuck with Hunter. “Do you win every goddamn argument?”
“No. I spend all of my time with a giant, emo know-it-all and his clever little girlfriend. I might send out a victory text.”
“Ooooh, speaking of which… How long have you been out of the house? You think their clothes are off yet?”
I started laughing again. “Y’all are horrible. You know, Jason walked in on them yesterday morning… And didn’t leave.”
“That’s what they get for hiding from the family.”
“Y’all are gonna fuck with them just for staying quiet?”
She raised her eyebrow at me and squeezed her phone out of her back pocket. “Something like that.” That didn’t sit right… the way she answered… but since she was dialing, I had to wait.
“Don’t call. They’re dressed.” Eric’s either over-apologizing for being related for Marnie, watching for the cab he called to take her away or hiding knives from Sookie.
“How can you be sure?”
I smiled at her and walked away to start unloading my truck.
“Damn it Alc! I’m not above punting you in your dick! You know something. Spill!”
Still laughing. She’d been after me since we started pulling everything out… setting up the tables on the deck, then back to begging… stashing food in the fridge, then resorting to threats… presetting the paint and supplies in the right rooms, then blocking my way out of the bathroom and doing one hell of a job ‘crying’. Quivering chin and all- it almost broke me even though I knew it was an act… she’d even managed to get splotchy.
Now that the masking tape was going on… she was back to threats.
“I’ll offer you a deal.”
“Shit! If I had you pegged for a bargainer, I’d have tried that already.”
“I’ll tell you how I know you wouldn’t be interrupting any naked time, but you have to tell me what that shit was… ‘something like that’.”
“Damn, you’re easy. Deal. Spill, but if I find out you’re just being a cock-block blocker, I’ll punk you hard enough to go into the Stackhouse record books.”
She growled at me. “I’m impatient and armed.”
I probably shouldn’t have laughed with my back to her. “You’re going to love it too.”
She started laughing, “You know what… No more shmear. How ‘bout dem apples?”
“Hey now! Don’t be mean.”
“Well… I’m pretty sure they’re still dressed because they were both in full mind-fuck-mode when I left to drop the boys at school.”
“Shiiiiiit… What happened?”
“Sookie jumped line.”
“Line?… You mean… She got to hit… That bitch!”
“Yeah… I’m pissed about it too. With the boys there, I couldn’t high 5 her or anything.”
She giggled. “I bet! So what brought it on? She start her rag again after we left last night?”
“Nope. We all turned in when y’all took off… Marnie woke up breathing napalm.”
“Oh God. Poor Eric. What’d she do, call him an asshole for having a bitch that can cook?”
I cleared my throat, trying to decide if I was going to block the door… “Actually… she called the boys ‘fucking brats’ for laughing loud enough to wake her up.”
I should’ve asked for her keys.
She moved like Sookie… light and quick… and it wasn’t until I heard the front door bounce off of the wall in the foyer that I knew she was gone.
Hadley was halfway between the porch and the driveway when I caught up to her and managed to grab the back of her hoodie to stop her. “Give me your keys.”
She didn’t turn around. “I can hotwire it.”
“I can shoot out those tires before you’re out of the driveway.”
“She’s got no right to talk about them like that. She needs more than a slap.”
“It wasn’t just a slap. Sookie split her lip.”
She was still staring at her truck. “Not enough.”
“Let Sookie and Eric deal with Marnie.”
She spun around quick enough that I lost my grip on her sweatshirt and she was scowling at me with her hands on her hips. “How the hell are you so fucking okay with that?”
“Well, as Eric put it… If she was a man, I’d have kicked her teeth down her throat. Outside of that, between Eric and Sookie everything that needed to be said was. I’m not making it harder on Eric by beating a dead horse. Punching her like I wanted to would’ve put me in jail and embarrassed Eric… Marnie would still be a cunt.”
“She called those angels ‘brats’ and you’re just going to let that slide?”
“Trust me. She’s not getting away with jack-shit… besides…”
“Besides what? You already said that if a man called them ‘fucking brats’ you’d have hit him.”
“That’s not what I was getting at. Damn… Sookie got to her to put her in her place before I could’ve. It’s been taken care of… It’s been taken care of by a female…”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“They’ve seen me do it plenty, but their mother wouldn’t have bothered herself with standing up for them… Give me shit about it if you want to, but Marnie pulling that shit and acting like a twat just gave Sookie another way to prove that not all women are like that.”
“But a WOMAN is who started it in the first place…”
“…And for the first time they can remember, a woman is looking out for them.”
She started at me for a minute and I watched the ‘angry’ ease up. She still had her fists balled up, but she was chilling out… “That’s not the first time they heard something like that, is it?” The sad part was that it was ‘more alright’ for Marnie to say it than their own mother.
“No, it’s not. Now get your ass back inside before I get my cuffs.”
“You don’t have cuffs with you or you would’ve mentioned that before threatening to shoot out my tires.” Shit. Busted.
She cracked a smile. “Admit it.”
I pointed towards the house. “March.”
She folded her arms and raised her eyebrows… stubborn shit.
“Fine. They’re at the house.”
She giggled as she walked back. “I don’t know how to hotwire a car anyway.”
She went back to masking off the trim like she hadn’t just played me with no fucking effort.
“My turn to what?”
“That half answer you gave me about cock-blocking Ken and Barbie for keeping their thing quiet.”
“What have you been told about their reasons?”
“The first line Eric gave me was that it would avoid small town gossip. Then I heard about some freebie wedding dress because of the last time it got around that Sookie was dating.”
“It was a great dress.”
“You’re going to make me work for this, aren’t you?”
“Payback’s a bitch, pal… You said it was a ‘line’.”
“I’m not buying it.”
“I spend more time with Eric than I do my kids. He’s hiding something… And I’m not sharing unless there’s something in it for me.”
“She’s been really busy. Have they mentioned any specifics?”
“Nope. And when I asked about how they met, she gave me bullshit.”
“She gave me no details or anything. He interrupted a phone call and gave her a pick-up line and then she implied that they jumped into the sack without saying it… But Sookie has a habit of oversharing… Smokescreen. Your turn.”
“Even if they started off as a casual fuck-tag game when she hits NOLA for business, she’d have told us that she had a hump stashed down there. It’s not oversharing as much as we talk about everything.”
“When I joke around with her, he gets shitty like he doesn’t know how far her sense of humor will go.”
“She lost track of getting her shot…”
“WHOA! Do what?”
“I saw the bruise on her hip on Monday… She’s due for hers when I’m due for mine… the way she is about birth control with her students… No way…”
“Fuck the way she is with her students… She… She plans so far ahead for everything…”
“That’s what I’m saying.”
“Alright. What else do you have?”
“Spring break… Eric didn’t go and she shared a room with Bear.”
“The reason for the free wedding dress.”
I stopped working to turn around and find her already staring in my direction like she was working a puzzle, so I waved her out the back door for a cigarette break. “They’ve supposedly been seeing each other for a year… And she stayed with her ex in March?”
“Sookie prone to being casual?” I already figured that for a ‘no’, but I still had to ask…
“No. Nothing happened, but she wouldn’t have bunked with any guy because she wouldn’t have wanted it to get back to Eric and leave him wondering.”
“So… ‘The year’ is bullshit. Confirmed… How long are you thinking they’ve been together?”
“A couple of weeks?”
“No! Seriously? What’s got you thinking it’s that short?”
“How was Eric’s mood the week before Halloween?”
“Shit, but this case we’re working has had us both on the rag.”
“Sookie had her bags packed… Until Daddy, Jas and Hunter caught the flu…”
“To go to NOLA?”
“No. Dallas… Knowing that school was going to be out for a week, she could’ve shacked up with Eric… but she was going to go visit Bear.”
“You sure that visiting him wasn’t just a cover for dipping out to see Eric?”
“Yeah. I talk to him all the time. He was looking forward to the visit. She’d have dropped another name anyway. Why are you thinking longer?”
“Eric gave Jack the book Sookie wrote for his birthday.”
“She did a book signing down there the last week of August…”
“Fuck!… Jason mentioned that they probably met while she was meeting with her publishers… I figured that I owed Eric a cock punch for dropping a hint… But now that I think about it, he didn’t know that Sookie’s dyslexic any fucking more than I did.”
“How are you so sure?”
“Because he’d have said something. He saw what that bitch piano teacher did to Jack… the look on his face… Eric wouldn’t have let Jack think music was hopeless for him if he knew Sookie has the same fucking thing…”
“Even if it would’ve busted their little secret?”
“He would’ve for that… He wouldn’t have let Jack hurt like that… He’d have called Sookie and asked her… told me to just find another teacher… said that he ‘knew a guy’… something.”
“Those lying mother fuckers… When did that twat cancel his lessons?”
“Beginning of October… They haven’t been together for a whole month…” Mr. Never-Tell-Them-Your-Address proposed in under a month… Unfuckingbelievable.
“The first confirmed sighting: Halloween… Was there any way he could’ve met her on Columbus Day weekend?” Son of a fucking bitch…
“You’re positive? She drove down Friday after the game and came back Monday night.”
“Absolutely fucking positive… We were locked in a van, waiting to grab a guy… The only time we left, we grabbed a quick shower at his place and went straight back… I accidently dislocated the prick’s shoulder because he didn’t show up until Tuesday… he fucked me out of a three day weekend with the boys.”
“Damn… of all the luck.” No shit.
“Had… They… I think they met on fucking Halloween.”
She shook her head… “That’s fucking insane… Sookie… it’s out of character to say the least, but I can’t think of a way they hooked up before… Unless it was August…”
“Out of character for her? Eric’s a slut.”
“What do you mean?”
“One booty call at a time, but they’re still just booty calls. They’re either too dumb to tie their own shoes or complete slobs. He doesn’t hunt…”
“Catch and release.”
“Yeah… They weren’t on the DL… They just fucking met… I met her a few hours after him.” I was close to laughing hysterically.
She looked like she was going to be sick. “What’s so funny?”
“How fast his ass got pussy whipped!”
She giggled, but her face was still worried. “They don’t know each other though… This could be cataclysmic!”
I shrugged. “Doubt that… I’ve been staying there the whole time. No arguments. No bullshit. No weirdness. All the drama has been from outside… They’re two peas in a fucking pod. Eventually those two are going to have synchronized aneurisms, but it’ll be about something foreign, not in-house.”
“No. I can’t see the future, but they’ve yet to give me any reason to think they’re struggling, just clues that they aren’t on the level about something… I should’ve known something was up though. As far up each other’s asses as they are, there’s no way they could’ve stayed quiet for a whole year… That prick mopes until school’s out as it is.”
She cringed. “Does he really?”
“Oh yeah, it’s so fucking romantical…”
“Fine. You be the girl… I’ll just have my guy moment and hope he thinks the pussy is worth the petting.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at her. “Skeptical much?”
“Fuck… Jumping in bed for a roll is one thing, but those two are jumping into getting married… They’re both wound really tight.”
“Don’t worry about it until you see something to worry about. Right now, they’re fine.”
“Of course they are. They’re retarded for each other.”
“Would it make you feel any better to know that Eric’s never spent a week with a girl without having a list of complaints?”
“The only thing close to a complaint is that he knows she’s going to handle the shit out of him while his family’s here.”
“As opposed to…?”
“Whining about missing most of a movie to explain big words… bitching that his gun/job is an issue or too much of a turn on… that their house looks like a bomb went off… anything. Everything. He’s a nit-picking bastard.”
She huffed and finally dropped her hands from her hips. “Sookie too… She’s walked out of a hundred first dates over completely forgivable quirky shit.”
“She left one guy at restaurant for having a manicure. She never sat down. She left as soon as she saw his clearcoat.”
“A manicure? You’re shittin’ me.”
“Serious as a heart attack… Said there was no way in hell he’d make it a day with the family with perfect nails… When we get together, we’re eating, drinking, working on our cars/ bikes, watching/playing football…”
“Had. Stop worrying.”
“Eric did the same fucking thing… That asshole dumped a girl for getting weekly manicures… He said that high maintenance wasn’t on his list… Wanted a girl who wouldn’t cry over a broken nail.”
She started shaking her head before she buried her face in her hands… and I couldn’t tell if she was laughing or crying until she threw her head back and yelled at nothing… “FUUUUUCK! Alc, there’s two of them!”
“God help us.”
“Ok… so as it stands, we need to figure out a way to fuck with them some about their little secret, but still work damage control…”
“Because if they split up, there’s going to be a body count.”
“No shit. We wouldn’t be able set them loose on the public… we’d have to put them down.”
We spent the next two hours masking off the trim… we took a few smoke breaks between rooms and once when she got a phone call from ‘Bravo’… I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it if she hadn’t squealed when she looked at her caller ID… and ended up talking about Eric and me for most of the call.
I was about to ask who the hell Bravo was when we heard a ‘hello’ echo through the house.
“In the back!”
“Is everybody decent?” The ‘hello’ didn’t give me enough, so I chuckled and gave Had a look when I realized it was Corbett.
“Most of us.” The look on her face was priceless. I was having too much fun… especially considering that she pinched under my arm.
Corbett came to the back door and Pam was right behind him. The smile faded from his face as he looked Hadley over. His jaw clenched as he spun around, leaving Pam where she was…
The front door closed…
Then the engine in his truck started…
And I lost it.
All I could do is nod. Still laughing.
She slapped my leg. “He’s on his way to my house!”
“To get you some damn clothes.”
She growled. “MEN!”
I was still laughing. “Don’t do that… I already told you that I have no complaints. But… Uh…”
“Don’t do it!”
“I told you…”
She reached up and grabbed the back of my head to pull me down and put her other hand over my mouth… and she did it FAST. “I told you not to do it.”
I stared at her for a minute before I put my hands up so she’d let me go. When she did, I started walking into the house. “Toldyaso.” I slid the back door closed too fast for her to get to me… and then I did the adult thing. I blew a raspberry at her…
She bit her lip to keep from laughing and stared back at me for long enough that wall of glass and her frustrated look was starting to feel like visiting day at Rikers Island.
When Hadley darted off of the porch I ignored Pam to run to the front door and bolt it…
“Not now. She’s a Stackhouse. They’re sneaky as shit.” And she’s carrying a utility knife…
I waved her off, remembering that the garage door wasn’t closed and heading in that direction…
As I passed through the kitchen, I was attacked.
Hadley had waited around the corner and bounced onto my back and locked her ankles around my ribs. “I still told you so.”
“You’re a funny, funny man.” A funny man staring at the open window over the sink… shit.
“Yeah. And you already knew I was going to laugh my ass off… In fact…” I backed up to the wall and sandwiched her… It was a struggle to get my phone out once she figured out what I was doing… Composing my ‘victory text’.
She started squirming, reaching for my phone and laughing, “Oh. No. You. Don’t.”
“Oh. Yes. I. Do…” She started trying to tickle me. “Not ticklish.”
She didn’t say anything and when I turned my head to try to look at her, all I saw was ‘oops’. She realized she fucked up.
“How about you?”
She set her lips together so tight that they turned white.
I reached behind my back and as soon as my hands were on her on her sides, she stiffened enough to feel like the wall. “Your ribs?”
She twitched when I moved my hands to the tops of her legs. “Your thighs?”
Hadley actually whimpered when I got to her knees, but when I grabbed her ankle she started to squirm again. “Alc! What are you…”
I pulled her sneaker off and held it up to her. “Hold that.”
“No!” I laughed at her and tossed it on the floor.
She lurched when I ran my finger over the bottom of her foot.
“Don’t do it.”
“Why not? You started this.” Her head bumped the wall behind her when I tickled again, this time was slower.
“Because I’ll get you back.”
“I’ve already told you. I’m not ticklish.”
I waited for her to open her mouth to answer before I started in… Her arms let go of my shoulders and her whole body started trying to snake out from between me and the wall while she laughed until she cried (and tried to threaten to kick my ass).
“You done trying to scare me yet?”
“Liar.” I tickled her again, but only for a second.
She growled, “Set me loose. We’ll see.”
“You sure about that? I’d be able to get to more than your foot. I think I’ll just sit tight until Corbett comes back.”
“I’m going to bite you.” She wasn’t going to get much damage done from where she was…
“I’ve had my shots.”
“I’m not playing.”
“I am. I can wait here all day… I mean, it’s not the worst place I’ve had to wait for backup and…”
“I’ll win. I always win.”
“You’re not exactly wrestling in your weight class, princess.”
“Any guy with a baby dick will tell ya… it’s not size that counts, it’s technique.”
I laughed at her. “You say that like you haven’t already been trying to get away.”
“Last warning. I don’t play fair.”
“Still not scared.”
I should’ve been.
She went still for a minute and I knew she wasn’t doing anything but making me wait… making me wonder just like I’d done to her…
Her arms went around my chest and I felt her legs tighten around me…
“You’re not going to win this with a hug.”
My dumb ass didn’t get nervous until she giggled.
That’s when I started waiting for ‘the bite’… It was the only thing she could do since the rest of her was wrapped around me…
I was expecting a hard ‘temperamental toddler’ type of bite. That would have been easier to deal with…
The bite didn’t exactly say ‘give me back my toy’… no… not that lucky.
She got the back of my shoulder and it was more of a rake than anything else… She dragged her teeth…
Not fair… my fault… she warned me… but still not fair…
The horse assing around was over…
My whole body was hot and cold at the same fucking time and that was before she started to chew…
And tighten her arms and legs around me…
My knees actually tried to buckle under… “Had.”
“Yeah?” Still chewing.
I had to struggle to say anything past the lump in my throat. “Mission accomplished.”
“Not yet. You still haven’t set me loose.”
“Hhhow am I supposed to manage that without dropping you?”
She hummed against my back while she thought about it… and she was still chewing… “You could set me on the counter.”
She moved one of her arms over my shoulder so that she wouldn’t just slide down when I moved away from the wall, but everything else tightened around me a little more.
Hadley didn’t let up once her ass was on the counter either. She just moved up to chew the back of my neck.
I had to clear my throat again. “Had?”
“You’re on the counter now.”
“You could step away too.”
I could… but then she’d stop…
I know I should’ve… I needed to… I didn’t need anything else going on…
Not only did I stay exactly where I was, but I was more than let down when her legs started to slack away from my sides…
I was locked up. The only thought of moving that crossed my mind was making a sign for the front door to cancel the COP project…
Which only led to more things getting added to my mental list of reasons to move away from her.
But I didn’t want to.
I was so wrapped up in what she was doing to the back of my neck that I hadn’t paid any attention to what she’d done with her legs until her mouth started working its way up… around…
She’d gotten on her knees…
My knees tried to give out again when her breath hit my ear and staying still became a battle.
“Had, you’ve gotta stop.”
She whispered, giving me chills, “Alc?”
I choked out, “Yeah?”
“You still haven’t moved away.” When she went back, she started trailing down again to the front of my throat.
“You’re killing me.”
She dragged her teeth over my collar bone before she stopped to look at me. “Then fight back.”
And there it was… The ‘fuck me’ face I was afraid to see as bigger than a thumbnail… Life size… In the flesh… And barely an inch away…
I turned around… I really was planning on telling her ‘bad idea’… maybe even give her a partial list of whys if she stopped with ‘the look’…
But when I did, she grabbed my bottom lip between hers and I was done for.
Her arms went over my shoulders and I grabbed her thighs to pull her against me.
I hadn’t had a kiss fuck with me so hard since I was in high school… and there I was in the kitchen of my soon to be post-divorce-house where I was going to be raising my boys alone (and only by the grace of God) and I was making out with my partner’s cousin-in-law with my boss in…
I’d forgotten Pam was in the house… and probably taking notes.
I tried pulling away, “Had… Pam’s here…”
“Sorry. Not that kind of girl.” She stopped my laugh by picking up the kiss where I dropped it…
And we didn’t…
…Couldn’t stop until we were hit in the side of our faces…
“Is it ‘Feds and kitchens’ or ‘Stackhouses and kitchens’?” Corbett was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, amused as a mother fucker (no more of wondering where Jason got it from)… We’d been hit with Hadley’s new outfit.
She snapped at him. “Daddy! Out!”
He chuckled as he turned around to leave. “Landmines, huh Alc?”
I rolled my eyes… embarrassed as hell that we’d just been ‘busted’…
Hadley sat back, leaving her hands on either side of my neck. “Landmines?”
“The first few days I was here, I couldn’t walk into a room without interrupting soft core porn…” Then it occurred to me. “Hey Corbett?… What did you mean by Feds and kitchens?”
He yelled back, “We just left Eric and Sookie’s… We walked in on the ‘after cuddle’… and I ended up burning breakfast this morning.” I could’ve done without the last part.
Had and I were both laughing when we heard a loud slap… followed by Pam reading Corbett the riot act about privacy…
Hadley snickered and pulled me down to put my ear to her mouth… “She’s got the wrong guy if she wants privacy… I already know how she likes it and what she’s no good at.”
I leaned away from her. “You win. I’m scared. Don’t say another word.”
She gave me a shit eating grin. “I win?”
“Sure, but I still told you so.”
When Hadley was done changing into her parentally preferred outfit of baggy sweatpants and a long sleeve black t-shirt that made her pout, she found me on the deck mind fucking myself over how bat-shit fucking crazy it would be for me to start something up… with Hadley… while I’m still dealing with moving… and still married… when I have the boys to think about.
But I fucking like her…
I didn’t bother to make her ask before I offered her a cigarette. “Last chance before the kids start showing up.”
She smiled and took one. “I suppose we’re going to need to talk… unless you’re gonna just press rape charges against me.”
I chuckled at her. “I’m going to have to suffer in silence. Law enforcement here is biased.”
She smiled and started pacing slowly. “So, we’re joking about it because we don’t know what to say?”
“Are you pissed about it?”
“So… You’re thinking about what a cluster fuck things are for you right now and you’re worried about over-complicating things.”
I nodded. “Pretty much.”
She shrugged and kept pacing. “We can pretend it didn’t happen.”
“I’m not sure I want to do that though.”
“It was just a kiss.”
“Maybe on paper.”
“You enjoyed it as much as I did, didn’t you?”
She quietly paced a little more before she huffed. “So I think we have three choices.” At least she had a fucking clue.
“Bookmark it- come back to it later when things settle down for you… Throw it into first- slow things way the fuck down for caution’s sake… OR… Go to covert since we both have kids to think about and you’ve got a divorce that should be as neat as possible.”
“Yeah… That sounds like all there is.”
“You were hoping for a fourth? We’re lucky to have those three.”
“Well… the first one isn’t very sexy and the third one isn’t exactly possible since we were walked in on.”
“I agree with you about the first one… but if I tell Daddy to keep his mouth shut because of the boys, he will. He wouldn’t want to fuck with any of their heads…”
“Pam… She’s a busy body cunt… she’s already thinking of a way to irritate the shit out of me with what she knows.”
“Is she that bad?”
“Sookie didn’t tell you about the stripper going away party, I guess.”
“I know it was Frannie… Is there more?”
“She called the other guys on the PTF and encouraged them to hire a stripper… She knew Sookie would be with us, but Eric and I didn’t even know that Sookie wouldn’t flip out. She did it just to stir shit up…”
“THAT TWAT!” Finally… someone who doesn’t ‘explain’ it away or think it’s funny.
“Yeah… She’s got no concept of lines either… She’s even fucked with me about the kids. Anything from pretending to be surprised I have kids to calling them Jackie and Carmen.”
“Well then, if we choose door #3 I’ll deal with her. Woman to woman.”
I snorted. “You mean fist to lip… You’re a scrappy little bitch.”
She grinned, just a little too proud of that fact. “I could kick her in her box instead.”
I laughed at her. “Seriously.”
“Daddy will handle damage control. He’ll keep her in line, as long as he’s putting up with her at least.”
“Yeah, but how much time will that buy?”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not like y’all are bonding with her… When Daddy stops fucking her, she’s curbed. You and Eric are the only ones who’ll ever see her again.”
“I hadn’t even thought about that… You’re good to have around.”
She grinned again and wiggled her eyebrows. “So that leaves #2 and #3.”
“I like #3… but #2 seams smart…”
She raised her eyebrows, cocking her head to the side. “Version 3.2? We slow things down and actually stay on the DL.”
I nodded. “I like that idea… what about you?”
“It’s do-able… How hard do you think the boys will take the idea of you dating so soon?” Since they were already trying to sell me on her, not bad at all…
“I don’t… I just don’t want to add to everything. There isn’t a single thing about their lives this week that’s still the same from last week. How about Hunter?”
“He’d be fine I think. That little bastard keeps telling me that I need to start dating so that I’ll butt out of his life.” START dating?
She coaxed me into the house… she’d have dragged me if she wasn’t worried about giving Pam something else to bitch about.
Corbett and Pam (mostly Corbett) were already painting in the living room when we walked in.
Had cleared her throat. “Hey Daddy… We need words…”
He kept painting. “What’s up, Angel?” Angel fucking Urbino… like I needed to be reminded…
“You didn’t see that earlier.”
“See what? You two going at it like dogs over the last bone?”
“Mind if I ask why?”
“For the most part we were just fucking around and got carried away… it wouldn’t be a thing except…”
“The little guys… Gotcha.”
She winked at me since he wasn’t looking and I felt better already… Until I noticed that Pam was smiling like the cartoon Grinch. Had gave her the angriest Stackhouse face I’d seen yet… “Pam…”
Corbett cut her off. “Don’t worry about Pam. She won’t say a goddamn thing… Right Pam?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“No… That was me. You’re going to keep that mouth shut about whatever you think might have been going on in that kitchen.”
“If I want…”
Corbett sighed… “This isn’t about wants. This is family business… MY family… My niece just came to me to ask me not to share, which she’s never done and I said you won’t say anything. End of story.”
She rolled her eyes at the back of his head and opened her mouth, probably to mention that she outranks me…
But Corbett cut her off again. “And if you’d like to suggest that your professional relationship gives you license to rib Alc… I’ll just remind you that you’re being a stupid, petulant cunt for forgetting that A- breathing a word about his private life opens you up to a sexual harassment charge and B- you’re already guilty of fraternization.”
She scoffed at him. “How am I guilty of fraternization?”
“Because your underwear are on the floor of your subordinate’s father-in-law’s bathroom… the same guy that you met while staying at said subordinate’s home, as his guest while tending to Bureau dealings… and you subsequently fucked said relation during a family function held at a family owned establishment… In addition… you are now in the home of another subordinate socially and you’d have no knowledge of said alleged leak-able information otherwise… So you’ll shut the fuck up unless you want to answer those charges. Got it, cupcake?” Uhhhh… Damn.
“Fine, but I think you’re ignoring that whatever was going on in that said kitchen was going on between your niece and a married man…” She stopped talking when he put his roller down to walk over and bow up on her.
He started to chuckle, but it was eerie… “Funny you should bring up adultery… ooops… that’s right… You actually fucked a married man… today. What now?”
She stared up at him with her mouth open… she was fucked for a comeback.
“Now, if there weren’t three CHILDREN to consider I’d be on the phone already, but it’s not funny to fuck with or joke about fucking with a man’s family. If you’d like to see how fast you can hit bricks, darlin’, keep talking. You aren’t a good enough ride to make me want to put up with much…” He didn’t know it, but I was sooooooo his bitch. “…Now make yourself useful or…”
“You’re being an asshole…”
“A decent blow job would improve my mood… Know where I can get one?”
She looked at him like she smelled shit. “I won’t say anything.”
“Because there’s nothing to talk about.”
He didn’t start to smile until he turned around and grabbed the roller again. “Damn… I think a dick’s the only thing you can’t make harder than it needs to be.”
It had been a struggle to not laugh my ass off while my boss got reamed and I really wish I could’ve known ‘it’ was going to happen (again) so that I could’ve recorded it to laugh my ass off later. Therapy at my fingertips (and maybe as a ringtone).
But things had started to get excessively tense at the end of Corbett and Pam’s little chat, so I was so happy to hear a knock on the door I could’ve shit my pants.
There was no way I was going to remember all of their names, but the first batch of kids all shook my hand while they introduced themselves and asked where they should get started.
I was starting to worry about timing… I could always leave Hadley and Corbett to look over things so that I could go get Jack and Carm when school got out, but with a shortage of step ladders for cutting in, we could be there a lot longer than planned… And I really wanted to be done so the boys could see it all finished…
But I’d been worried for nothing… As soon as Sookie laid eyes on me, she could tell I was freaking out about something and it took her two seconds to get the kids to start stacking on top of each other… it looked like chicken fighting with paint brushes…
And I had another small panic attack when one of the kids mentioned that pretty much every athlete at the school was going to be showing up… 70 of them.
But Hadley ended up calling Hunter to have him (and Taryn) stop at the hardware store for more supplies…
With two pairs of kids working each wall downstairs, I went ahead and headed to the kitchen…
Hadley was standing on the counter with her shoes off painting the narrow bit of wall over the cabinets… and she was it… There wasn’t much painting to be done in there since most of the walls were taken up by the cabinets, but one other person in the room would’ve been nice… since I kept catching myself staring at her ass…
Sookie calling everyone out for lunch may very well have been my life raft…
By the time we were done eating… and Quinn showed up just long enough to remind everyone why they have no respect for him, the first floor was done except for the laundry room…
Hunter ‘fell on his sword’ to volunteer himself (and Taryn) for the job while everyone else went to work upstairs…
Since I had to drag Hadley upstairs so that she wouldn’t embarrass him, he was going to owe me. Big.
We started in the boys’ bathroom… easy enough with minimal temptations since there were more than a dozen high school kids in each of the rooms on either side…
But when we got to the master bathroom… the safety was off.
The bedroom was empty because it had been painted while we were working on the other bathroom…
When Hadley climbed onto my shoulders from the counter, she gave me a look in the mirror. “If he gets her pregnant while you’re playing wingman, I’ll kick your ass.”
It was hard to not laugh. “I’m not playing wingman.”
“Yes you are… he’s too young for her and I’m too young to be a grandmother.”
“You’d be a GILF.”
She swatted the top of my head. “Not funny.”
“Sure it is. Especially since I know something you don’t know.”
“Oh God! Please tell me it’ll make me feel better!”
“Probably… When you go to practice and you see all those little bimbos puddling at your baby boy’s feet… I’m not seeing the little hos that could get knocked up and trap him.”
“Because I’m seeing the whole picture.”
“What am I missing?”
“The smaller issue is that Taryn is perfect for Hunter. She’s smart and responsible… She has a plan of her own. College, teaching… she wouldn’t risk that… or disappointing Sookie by cooking up a love biscuit with Hunter.”
She blew out a deep breath. “That does make me feel better… a little. What’s the bigger issue?”
“It’s all a show.”
“The horn dog bullshit… Don’t get me wrong, he’s probably rocking himself a frightening set of blue balls and making it worse by making out with her as we speak, but he’s not as bad as he’s making himself out to be.”
“How do you know?”
“He’s trying to seem older so hard that he’s completely ignoring his freshmen flunkies. Yesterday at school, he was happy as hell to be surrounded by trim… and not a bit of it was his age. All of it was junior and senior… He’s using his status as a lady’s man as an excuse to not hang out with guys his age because the guys are more likely to pick up on things because they aren’t starry eyed. If the guys find out, he’ll have to deal with all kinds of shit… If the girls find out, they’re more likely to keep his secret.”
“You noticed it yesterday?”
“When I saw him walk into class with a girl under each arm, I couldn’t help but wonder why Taryn wouldn’t have more respect for herself than to let him hound around… It took me a little while to put it together, but I’m pretty sure that she’s fine with things because it keeps her image up and keeps things light… less pressure.”
She breathed, “Oh. My. God. I used to hate the sight of her.”
“Shhhh. Don’t let them know you changed your mind.”
“Because her battery life depends on how disposable she is. If Hunter thinks you like her, he’ll curb her so you won’t get attached and the next one might not be the perfect fit Taryn is.”
She whimpered. “What about next year?”
“You’ve got a while to worry about that yet… But if his little plan works for him this year, he’ll be looking for the same resume next time around.”
“Are you just handling me?”
“Nope. God’s honest truth.”
She was quiet for a minute. She wasn’t painting, but other than that I couldn’t tell what the fuck was going on until she shifted to slide down my back and wrap her arms around me. “Thank you.”
“You have no idea how shitless I’ve been since he decided to fake his age like Sookie did… It brought so much down on her… Bill and Quinn… If it wasn’t for Bear, God only knows if she’d have gotten out of high school alive…”
“Well, it looks like you lucked out. I think he’s been paying attention.”
She snorted. “Right now, I’m just happy that you were.”
“You say that now… but eventually you’ll get pissed at me for what I pick up on.”
“You’ll have to rub shit like this in my nose to shut me up then.”
I laughed it off, but I was pretty sure that if I ever took her up on that invitation I’d get hit.