“What are you doing with Betsy?” Gran asked when I grabbed the gun from behind the water heater.
“Bill’s outside and I’m going to make sure he understands I don’t want him here,” I replied.
Gran didn’t look too happy with that. She was a better Christian than I was, after all.
“Do you really need a gun for that?”
“I’m done messin’ around with him, Gran. I already put up with him for much longer than I should have,” I said.
“That’s not his fault, honey,” she said gently. “Be angry at your daddy all you want, but Bill didn’t make you stay. You chose to. That’s not his fault.”
“Would you knock it off with the logic?” I glared at her.
Gran chuckled as Eric walked into the room. Shirtless. I put the gun back behind the water heater.
“I’ll use my words first,” I relented. “If not, I’ve got Muscles here ready to go.”
Gran turned her head to see Eric standing there, shirtless and covered in tattoos. I’d never seen her eyelashes bat so fast in my life. Hussy.
“Do you think you should leave muscles in the house until you need him?” Gran suggested with a flirty smile.
“Adele Hale, he is young enough to be your grandson,” I scolded, temporarily too amused by her to be mad at the dickwad marching toward the house.
“This old biddy hasn’t lost all her tricks.” Gran winked at Eric, making him snort.
“I told you to watch out for her, didn’t I? You better keep your tushie toward the wall around her,” I told him.
“Will do,” he chuckled. “I’ll keep Mrs., Stackhouse in line until I hear screaming,” he said and then leaned over to kiss my forehead.
“Thanks.” I walked out of the house and crossed through the screened in mud porch. Bill was approaching the back steps when I came out the screen door. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see your grandmother,” he said.
“You’re not welcome. You need to turn around and go back where you came from,” I said. “I don’t want you around me or my family. Our relationship is over. If you want to continue to be friends with my family members, you can do it when I’m not around. This isn’t up for debate.” He was already formulating an argument in his mind because that was just his nature.
“I only want to wish her a nice holiday,” he argued.
“Try the telephone. Her number hasn’t changed.”
“She’s a grown woman, Sookie.”
“Yes, she is. That’s not the point. I’m telling you to leave and I have her blessing to do it. Please leave,” I requested again. His inability to listen to me was yet another thing that had pushed me past my breaking point. Bill never really gave a shit what I wanted.
“Who’s van is that in front of the house?” he asked.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”
He narrowed his eyes at me.
“I was concerned she was being assaulted,” he tried,
“So that’s why you just strolled over here, huh? You thought you’d browbeat an attacker into leaving? Please. Just go, Bill.”
I wasn’t yelling, but I was getting agitated. The screen door opened and bounced shut behind me. Bill’s eyes went wide and then narrowed to slits.
“Who is this?” he hissed. It would have been comical if it wasn’t pathetic.
“Your replacement,” I answered without hesitating.
Eric offered his hand to Bill and said, “Inmate 68721, pleased to meet you.”
Bill looked like a carp sucking water with the way his mouth was having trouble deciding if it wanted to be open or shut.
“Inmate?!” Bill’s eyes shifted to me, completely shocked. “You’re dating an ex-con?”
“And he’s an upgrade,” I grinned.
“I’m sorry, I forget my manners,” Eric grinned. “Being on the outside is still so fresh. Eric Northman.” As Eric held his hand out again he wrapped his other hand around my shoulder with his hand cupping my tit.
Bill looked positively disgusted.
“You… he’s… how…” His head was fixing to explode.
“And he’s got a huge dick,” I whispered.
That did it.
Bill turned on his heel and stomped off toward the woods again.
“Bill seems nice,” Eric smiled.
“And stuck in the nineteenth century. I honestly don’t know what I ever saw in him.” It didn’t escape my notice that Eric’s hand had yet to leave my breast.
“We all go through phases.” He started to tug my nipple.
I had to smack his hand away.
“Watch it, mister. Gran’s inside. She’ll whack you with a wooden spoon before you know it’s coming. I swear, she’s part ninja.”
“I don’t know, with the way she was flirting and carrying on, she may ask me to grab her tit,” he chuckled.
“Well then by all means, test your luck and see what happens,” I snickered. My money was on her whacking him with the spoon.
“No thanks. Sookie tits are the only tits I wanna grab,” he assured me.
“Good answer.” I turned my head and tilted my face up to kiss him. Eric finally released my chest and we walked into the house together. Gran was at the sink peeling potatoes. “Do you want some help, Gran?”
“Oh, no I don’t need any help. You two have had a long day,” she answered.
“Mrs. Stackhouse, I’m a line cook, I can prep a whole Thanksgiving meal in an hour and a half,” Eric told her.
“You’re a guest in my house. Guests don’t cook, or prep. And please, call me Gran.”
“Is there anything you need us to do? Vacuum, wash windows, bring in the table leaf…”
‘Maybe bring in the leaf,” she agreed. “The vacuuming was done this morning and I had your brother over to clean the windows yesterday.”
“Then we’ll bring in the leaf. Is it up in the attic or out in the shed?”
“Out in the shed. I had your dad take it back after Easter last year.”
“Okay. Come on, Muscles, wow me with your strength.” I winked at Eric.
“Seeing as I can bench press you, I don’t imagine we’ll have a problem,” Eric chuckled.
“I’m too heavy,” I said, waving him off as I headed for the screen door again.
Eric followed behind me, reaching out to hold the door open for me. I led him down to the shed that was off to the side of the house. The combination lock was clamped in place. The dial didn’t really want to move at first, but I managed to get the damn thing open… after three tries.
“I don’t know why she put the leaf out here. It would be better off in the attic. Dad probably didn’t want to carry it up there,” I said as I stepped inside. Getting around the lawn mower was easier said than done. I didn’t miss that old push mower one bit. I grabbed the leaf but the angle I was going to have to lift it at was awkward as hell, and I wasn’t doing a very good job of getting it free.
“Babe, let me grab it.” Eric rested his hands on my hips, trying to pull me away.
I stepped out of the way, trading places with Eric so he could easily maneuver the heavy wooden leaf from its resting place.
“Show off,” I sulked.
“I have longer limbs,” he said in his defense. “You’re very capable of doing a million things I can’t do.” He set the leaf at his feet and reached out to pull me against his chest.
“Oh yeah? I’d love to hear that list,” I chuckled.
“You make my heart all fluttery,” he smiled, rubbing his hands up and down my sides.
“There’s a ton more, but we don’t want Gran thinking we’re out here sinnin’,” he smiled. Eric’s big hands rubbed around to squeeze my ass.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get some alone time in later. We can go for a town tour,” I suggested. So what if we ended up parked on a back road for an hour or three?
“I’d like that. I find I want to know things about you I’ve never wanted to know about anyone else.”
“Like what?” I’d tell him whatever he wanted to know.
“All kinds of things. I want to know what makes you, you,” he answered. “I don’t know if it’s things I can learn in a conversation. It’s seeing where you grew up and getting to know the people in your life. I want to know little things like where you got that scar under you right elbow.”
“I got that when I was seven and scraped my arm on a rock at Redmond Pond,” I told him. “It hurt like a son of a bitch and my brother, being the asshole he is, told me that if it scabbed I was going to have to have my arm amputated so it wouldn’t turn black and fall off. Every time it started to scab I’d cry and pick at it.”
He smiled and said, “That makes me want to go back in time and kick your brother’s butt before I assured you your arm would be just fine.”
“I survived. He was a jerkface. He was also the first one to punch Reese Clifton in the face when he called me a fat ass when I was twelve and still a little chubby,” I admitted.
“Sounds like a pretty good brother on occasion,” he chuckled.
“He was more demon than angel.”
“I’m sure I’ll get to meet him. Am I to be a vulgar jerk in front of him?”
“Jason’s buttons are easy to push. He’s got a little bit of a little man complex.”
“Good to know,” he nodded. “Should we go in before Gran comes after us with a hose?”
“That’s probably a good idea,” I smiled.
Eric went ahead with the table leaf while I locked up the shed. I could imagine Bill on the phone with my dad, telling him I had brought home an ex-con for Thanksgiving. It would be a lot funnier if it wasn’t so annoying.
“So this is where I went to high school,” I told Eric when his van pulled into the high school parking lot. “I was a cheerleader senior year, you know.”
“I didn’t know. Did you get caught under the bleachers making out with your boyfriend?” he teased.
“No, but we did get caught in a microfiche room up in the library,” I admitted.
“Naughty girl,” he chuckled, reaching over to rub my thigh.
“I was seventeen and in love. It seemed like a good idea at the time. JB was the first serious boyfriend. That was the breakup that wrecked me for a while.”
“I know the feeling. I was caught doing some pretty dumb shit when I was that age too. Hell, I started selling weed when I was fifteen.”
“How did you get into it?”
“It was more cost effective to deal it. I started talking to my dealer, trying to see where he got it from. He was dumb enough to spill the beans and the next thing I know I was selling, making more money than Felipe ever did. The guy he bought it from had a thing for young boys so all I had to do was flash a smile and he was giving me a better deal than he gave Felipe. And before you ask, he never tried to touch me.”
“That’s crazy. Your parents weren’t suspicious of how their fifteen-year-old had such a large surplus of cash?” I know my parents would have been.
“I hid it very well. I never went out and bought anything that I couldn’t buy with allowance. I was a good enough kid they never once suspected.”
“So your arrest was a big kick in the throat for them, I’m guessing.”
“Oh yes,” he chuckled. “I was out of the house by the time I was arrested so they had no idea. They blamed it on my then fiancé for a long time. They thought she set me up.”
“Did you ever tell them the truth?” I could understand wanting to let them blame someone else, but the adult thing to do was to be honest.
“Yeah, I did. I made the mistake of selling a lot of pot to an undercover cop. When I told them the truth I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack. It took them almost a year to come visit me. Karin sent me letters when I first went in, letting me know everything that was going on in the world without me. I appreciated her for that.”
“Where do your parents live?” He’d mentioned Baton Rouge in the past but I wasn’t sure if they were there or if they’d gone elsewhere.
“They’re still in Baton Rouge. Right now they’re in Sweden visiting family until the holidays are over.”
“That’s a long trip. I wouldn’t mind a month in Sweden,” I smiled. “Although, I imagine I’d have to eat a lot more fish than I’m comfortable with. I hate fish.”
“There’s plenty to eat that isn’t fish,” he assured me. “If we’re still together next summer we can go for a couple weeks if you’re interested.”
“Doesn’t the sun like never set in the summer there?”
“In parts, yes,” he chuckled.
“It would be weird to try and sleep at midnight with the sun out like it was the middle of the day. I’d probably go nuts. I have blackout curtains in my room. I like it pitch black when I sleep.”
“You’d be fine. The sun sets where my parents grew up.”
“That’s good. Do you speak Swedish?”
“I understand it better than I speak it. My parents mostly spoke English in the house when I was growing up. I had a weird accent when I was a kid, picking up on theirs coupled with a little Cajun,” he laughed. “I figured out no one could understand me and worked on it.”
“Awww I’m sure you were adorable.” I took off my seatbelt. “Wanna make out with a cheerleader under the bleachers?”
“Hell. Yes,” he answered, taking off his own seatbelt. “Should I grab a condom to be safe?”
Eric climbed into the back of the van so he could grab a condom from the table. He exited the van from the sliding door before he opened my door so I could get out. We walked over to the bleachers together. No one was around. I pulled Eric into the darkness and I ended up pressed against a cinderblock wall.
“It’s a good thing I put on a dress,” I said as his hands moved under the skirt. It was a simple jersey sundress that I’d put a cardigan on over.
“You’re a smart girl.” His finger slipped under my panties so he could knead my ass, pulling me close against his body. “You should have left the panties at home, though.”
“I’m sure you can figure out how to work around them.” I pulled his head down to kiss him. It was a slow kiss. Not too hungry or demanding, or full of fire and lust. It lingered and slowly got deeper. My hands stayed around Eric’s jaw and neck, while his moved up under the loose dress I was wearing to palm my tits. I’d left my bra at home.
“Mmm, someone had big plans,” he purred, plucking my nipples. His lips skimmed along my chin and down to my neck. He sucked and licked lightly as he played with Betty and Veronica.
“I just don’t like wearing a bra if I don’t have to,” I said. “Fuckers aren’t that comfortable.”
“I’ve never worn one.” He took his hands out of my dress so he could pull the top of my dress down. He bent over so he could wrap his lips around my right nipple, pulling it with his lips and then rubbing his tongue around the stiff peak.
“Mmm… you don’t need one. You don’t jiggle there,” I said, running my fingers through his hair.
“I love the way you jiggle in all the right places.” He moved over to my left nipple to give it the same attention. One of his hands slipped down and into my panties, searching out my clit.
“Finally, the extra junk in my trunk pays off,” I giggled and moaned when he found what he was looking for.
“It’s been waiting for just the right man to come along and appreciate it.” He found my lips again, giving me a slow, deep kiss while he rubbed his fingertips around my clit.
It occurred to me that maybe he was the right man, but beyond being able to appreciate the extra jiggle in my wiggle. There was still that familiarity with him that I couldn’t explain. His checkered past didn’t scare me. I wasn’t worried about any of it coming back to haunt us. Us… I could see an us beyond the weekend. It was obvious Eric did too. I wasn’t going to have to hide parts of myself like I did with Bill, because the idea of a strong and independent woman threatened him. Eric didn’t need me to be weak so he could be strong. It was a nice change, and exactly what I needed.
The kiss broke when I unzipped his jeans. Eric tugged my panties down and I turned to face the wall. He pulled my hips back and I heard the condom rip open.
Eric took a moment to roll it into place before I felt his fingers probe my core to make sure I was ready. He ran the tip of his cock up and down through my folds before he slowly sank into me.
“Mmm,” he hummed. I felt his lips skim over the side of my neck as his hips slowly rocked.
“Damn, that feels good,” I breathed. He was moving slow, letting me feel every inch of him as he moved in and out of me. I turned my head and his lips found mine. My hands moved his up to hold onto my tits as he pushed into me over and over. It made my knees shake.
He wrapped one arm around my waist to hold me up while he used his other hand to stroke my clit, moving his fingers nice and slow, matching his deep thrusts.
“I’m not going to last very long,” he murmured into the kiss. I could feel his cock swelling inside of me.
“That makes two of us.” There was something different, at least for me, about that time under the bleachers. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. There was more of a connection, perhaps. My walls started to pulse and Eric’s fingers moved faster. “Ohhhhh…” I moaned and my walls gripped his length. My eyes closed and my back arched with the release he coaxed from me.
“Oh my god,” he whispered. I felt his body tense against my back as my orgasm pulled his from him. His arms tightened around me, holding me as tight as possible. Eric’s lips grazed my neck before he nipped lightly.
“Is it just me, or was that extra amazing?” I asked while I was still having my aftershocks.
“It’s not just you,” he agreed. “There was… more in it than usual.”
“I thought so too.” It was probably the feelings we were trying to navigate. In time we’d figure out what it all meant. He reluctantly pulled out of me and dealt with the condom. “We should have brought tissues too,” I giggled. “Then again, you could take a seat in the back of the van and let me clean up the mess.”
“I would be more than okay with that,” he smiled as he rubbed my ass.
“We may end up sleeping in the van at this rate.”
“Nah, I have to be back in time to make my girl peanut butter and jelly French toast.”
“Did you clear that with Gran?” I fixed my panties and skirt.
“No, but I did find out what time she plans on getting up in the morning so I can beat her to the kitchen. If she gets mad I’ll just let her pinch my tushie.”
“You’re asking for trouble there,” I laughed. I looped my arm around his and we emerged from under the bleachers. He deposited the tied off condom in a trashcan as we walked back to the van. “So what else do you want to know about me?”
“What do you hate more than anything in the world?”
“That’s hard. Hate is a very strong word that gets tossed around pretty liberally. I’d have to say sexual abusers. I was a victim as a kid. It messed me up for a long time. Thankfully, my parents got me in to see a great counselor who helped me work through the damage,” I told him.
“I met murderers and rapists when I was in prison. I’d rather spend my day with a mass murderer over a sexual abuser any day of the week,” he told me. “I’m glad your parents got you the help you needed and I’m sorry that happened to you. No one deserves to be sexually abused, especially not a child. I hate black liquorice, by the way.”
“Me too. I also hate mustard. The smell makes me gag.” I climbed up into the van when Eric opened my door for me.
“In the condiment department I can do without mayo. The idea of oil and eggs just doesn’t do it for me.”
“I’m not a fan either. My brother used to eat it with a spoon.”
“Your brother is gross.” He closed my door before walking around to the driver’s side so he could get in.
“What was your first concert?” I asked once he started the van. He’d switched out the Queen tape for Foreigner.
“I went to a Rage Against the Machine concert when I was fourteen. That was my one and only concert,” he admitted.
“I have no idea who Rage Against the Machine is.”
He looked over at me like I was insane.
He popped the Foreigner tape out and reached into the glove box for a different tape. He popped it into the player and made sure it wasn’t too loud.
“This is Rage Against the Machine.”
Right off the bat there was lots of loud guitar. The drums would probably make the windows shake if he turned the volume up.
“It’s… interesting,” I smiled. It wasn’t quite my taste but that was okay.
“You don’t like it,” he guessed. “That’s okay. It’s my favorite band, but it would be boring if we loved all the same things.”
“It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s not what I would usually listen to.”
“What’s your favorite band?”
“Zac Brown Band.”
“I have no idea who that is,” he chuckled.
Eric drove away from the high school. There wasn’t a whole lot to see in Bon Temps, but I did my best to be a good tour guide. Our last stop on the tour was Merlotte’s.
“Are you hungry? The Lafayette burger will probably change your life,” I told him.
“This place is filled with things that’ll change my life,” he said with a small smile as he gave my hand and squeeze. “I can eat.”
“Mostly I want you to crack the sauce recipe so I can make my own,” I admitted.
“I will do my best,” he promised.
We got out of the van and walked into the bar. It was a little busier than it would usually be on a Wednesday, but most folks had the next day off for the holiday. Garth Brooks was playing on the jukebox. My brother was at the pool table and stopped what he was doing when he saw me. I waved and pulled Eric to the right.
“Hey, Jase.” I hugged my brother. He was looking suspiciously at Eric.
“Hey. Who’s this?” He broke the hug so he could hold his hand out to Eric.
Eric didn’t hesitate to give Jason a firm handshake. “Eric Northman,” he introduced himself.
“Eric and I are seeing each other,” I explained. “Eric, this is my big brother, Jason.”
“Nice to meet you, I’ve heard a lot about you,” Eric told him as their hands broke. Eric’s palm settled on my lower back. It was more of a place to rest than a way of showing possessiveness.
“I haven’t heard a thing about you,” Jason replied. He looked over at me. “How new is this?”
“New. I thought I’d bring Eric so Dad knows Bill is history,” I told Jason. “He’s having a hard time letting go.”
“Then maybe Dad should date him,” my brother said plainly.
“Riiiiiiiiight?” Was my brother being supportive for a change? “Wait, how many beers have you had? You’re only nice to me when you’re drunk or you want something.”
“I’m working on my second,” he answered. “I never did like Bill. I only pretended to because you seemed to like him.”
“Yeah, well, that’s over. Gran had to talk me into leaving Betsy inside when Bill showed up unannounced.”
“Probably for the best,” he laughed. “Eric, you want a beer? I have a pitcher.”
“No thank you, I’m not a big drinker,” Eric declined politely.
“Is Lafayette working tonight? Eric here needs a Lafayette burger. I don’t think he believes in their magic.”
“Yeah, he’s working,” Jason answered.
“Good. So where’s your flavor of the week?”
“I ain’t seeing anyone right now.”
“Are you joining the priesthood?” I was serious. Jason always had at least two girls in rotation.
“No, I’m just bored with my options. Bon Temps is running outta available ladies.”
“You’ve been busy,” I chuckled. “But since when do they have to be available?”
“Since I got ran out of a house at gunpoint with my pants around my knees,” he chuckled.
“Oh Jesus,” I laughed. “At least you finally learned your lesson.”
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
I shook my head.
“Well we’re going to grab a table. You’re welcome to join us,” I said to Jason.
“I might after I finish this game,” he said. “Good to meet you,” he directed at Eric.
“You too,” Eric smiled as his hand shifted from my back to thread his fingers through mine.
“Well that was less painful than I expected,” I said as we walked away. I led Eric to a table across the room. The booths were all occupied, which wasn’t normal for a Wednesday night. We barely sat down before Arlene Fowler came over with a pair of menus and a sideways look on her face. “Hi, Arlene, how are you?”
“Pregnant,” she answered, and she didn’t seem too happy about it. Awkward.
“Oh, well… congratulations,” I said anyway, because what else was there to say? The look she gave me told me she wasn’t happy with my reaction, but it wasn’t my fault she was knocked up.
“Who’s this?” She asked me like Eric wasn’t sitting right there and capable of speaking for himself. Arlene was on fire.
“I’m Eric,” he told her as if that explained anything.
“You look like you’re either in some silly punk rock band or you just got out of the clink.”
I could tell he was holding his tongue when he slapped on a fake smile and said, “Nice to meet you too.”
“Well what can I get you to drink?”
“I’m happy with water,” I said. I wasn’t in the mood to drink and I knew Eric wouldn’t be either.
“Water for me too, thanks.”
Arlene huffed and asked, “Are y’all gonna order anything I can charge for?”
“At the rate you’re snapping it won’t make much difference because you’re tip is getting smaller by the minute,” I replied.
Arlene slammed her tray down on the table and stormed off.
“Well, that was Arlene, Bon Temps Mother of the Year,” I said to Eric.
“She’s a real gem. I’m used to getting that kind of treatment from the older generation, but not someone so close to my own age,” he said, shaking his head. “I would usually ask for a different server if I got that anywhere else.”
“I don’t blame you. Arlene’s filter is usually pretty close to being off but she’s not usually rude about it,” I frowned. “We can leave if you want.”
“No, it’s fine. I need to test out one of these burgers,” he assured me as he reached over to take my hand.
Sam came out from the back with a sheepish look on his face as he approached our table.
“Hey, Sam, how are you?” I stood up to give him a hug. I wasn’t about to get on his ass for Arlene’s nutty behavior.
“I’m good. Happy to see you.” He hugged me back. “Sorry about Arlene. She’s in a bind since René took off. He decided he didn’t want to be a baby daddy.”
“Bummer.” I pulled back. “Well, I’m not going to make a big stink about it, but she was pretty rude to Eric. You know if she mouths off to Maxine or Bud she’ll end up causing a scene.”
“Oh she’s already gotten into it with Maxine,” he said with a humorless laugh. I was pretty sure that didn’t end well. Maxine Fortenberry liked to think she was the chief of the Morality Police. I thought she ought to mind her own biscuits.
“Well good luck with that hot mess,” I said as I took my seat. “Sam, this is Eric Northman. Eric, this is Sam Merlotte, owner of this establishment.”
“Nice to meet you, Sam,” Eric smiled, reaching out to shake Sam’s hand. “Nice place you have here.”
“Thank you. It’s nice to meet you too. Let me get you guys a basket of pickle chips. Do you have plans to order anything else? I can get it in for you. Lafayette’s got a big pot of gumbo back there…”
“I’d like a Lafayette burger medium-well,” I ordered.
“I’ll take the same, thanks. I hear it’ll change my life,” Eric chuckled.
“Oh it will,” Sam smiled. “Letting Lafayette in the kitchen is the best thing I ever did. I’ll be right back with your pickles.”
Sam took the menus and walked away.
“With the exception of Arlene everyone seems pretty nice,” Eric commented.
“It takes all kinds of kinds, right?”
“Yep,” he chuckled. “I’m glad I came with you. This trip is a lot better than anything I would have been doing at home.”
“Why didn’t you go to Sweden?” I probably would have gone instead of staying in America.
“Work. This is one of our busiest times of the year and I didn’t want to leave them hanging. I have this week off, but them I’m working through the New Year.”
“So I’ll have to come visit you at work,” I smiled.
“Mmhmm, and when I get home I can find you curled up naked in my bed,” he winked. Eric started to play with my fingers.
“That’s a possibility. Depends on what time you’re getting off of work. You said you work the breakfast shift. Usually I’m at work or school when you get done.”
“If I work a double I end my day closer to ten. I’ll get a break in the middle of the day, though,” he said. “I can also come to you. I know when I get home it’s going to be hard to be away from you. Is that weird?”
“It’s cute. It’s not like I’ll be in Mississippi,” I chuckled.
“I know,” he smiled. “I just don’t remember the last time, if ever, I felt like this about someone. I can’t even put a name to it.”
“Maybe we’re soulmates,” I joked.
“Could be,” he chuckled.
I wasn’t sure if I believed in soulmates. It always seemed like one of those concepts that were thrust upon girls to make them always question everything in their relationships. Like there was this benchmark of perfection we were supposed to meet before settling down. The soulmate, at least in movies, was the guy who made everything alright. Suddenly everything became perfect. I wasn’t sure I was interested in that.
A perfect relationship wasn’t one where everything was “perfect” but where there was room for both people to grow together and still love each other. I’d shied away from really being myself with Bill because me being me was intimidating to him. With JB I didn’t really know who I was, so there was a lot of jealousy and insecurity that got us into silly fights. There was lots of unnecessary drama.
I hoped that with Eric it would be more mature. There was a better understanding of what I would and wouldn’t tolerate in relationships. I knew what I wanted and where I wanted my life to go. Eric wasn’t anything like who I pictured myself ending up with, but curveballs happened all the time.
Arlene was the one who brought out our pickle chips.
“I wanted to apologize for snappin’ at y’all and for being rude. I’ve been super stressed out the last few weeks, but that’s not your problem or your fault,” Arlene said. She was more herself than she had been when she first showed up at the table.
“Apology accepted. I’m sorry to hear René took off. That was a real cowardly thing to do.” I wasn’t going to give her a hard time. Life was already taking care of that.
“I’m used to it. I have yet to find a man who is willing to step up and handle his responsibilities,” she said. Arlene looked at Eric and said, “Contrary to what I said, you look like you have your shit together. Be good to Sook. She deserves it after Bill.”
“I will be,” he assured her.
“Good. Your burgers will be up in a minute.”
“At least she realized she was being a twat,” Eric chuckled once she was out of hearing distance.
“She’s not usually a total nightmare. Arlene calls it like she sees it, which I like, but she’s usually more refined about it.”
Eric and I dug into the pickle chips. They were crispy and not slimy the way they could be if the cook didn’t know what they were doing. Arlene dropped off our waters and came back a minute later with our burgers.
“Can I get y’all anything else?”
“I’m good,” I smiled.
“No thank you,” Eric smiled too. His eyes turned to the burger. He seemed excited.
“Enjoy your meal.” Arlene walked away with a much better attitude than she had before.
“I hope I don’t have such crazy hormone fluxes when I get pregnant,” I muttered. I cut my burger in half and picked up a half to take a bite. Eric, on the other hand, just dove in.
All I heard from his side of the table was a satisfied moan.
“Was I right?”
“Hmm, I can’t hear you over the sound of my foodgasms,” he deadpanned.
I laughed and took another bite of my burger. I was happy to see him enjoying his. I wasn’t sure what was in the secret Lafayette sauce that made it so amazing, but I was hoping my professional cook boyfriend could figure it out. If he could, we could have Lafayette burgers anytime we wanted all the way in New Orleans.