I stayed in my office most of the day on Friday. It was obvious to everyone that I was in a bad mood and something wasn’t right. To make matters worse, I couldn’t even talk to my best friend because he was in bitch mode and wasn’t interested in helping me figure things out. I was on my own.
That was nothing new.
I always seemed to end up that way no matter what I did.
Stan’s opinion that I belonged on my back didn’t sound like him, but I had no reason to think Eric was lying. Something had to have set him off. Stan insinuating that I was his whore would have done it. I never thought of myself that way but then Stan had always hinted around that I had a little too much ego for someone on “my level” in life. I probably should have read between the lines but it went right over my head. No wonder he wouldn’t commit to me.
To him I was a toy.
On the way home I stopped for several bottles of pinot noir. I was going to get stupid drunk and feel sorry for myself. Too many years of bottling up my feelings had really fucked me up.
When I pulled up to my house I saw Ripley stand up on her hind legs in the front window. She had curled up in bed with me the night before and had refused to leave my side. She was a good girl. I took the wine inside and went straight to the kitchen for a corkscrew. While the wine breathed I went back to my room to change clothes.
Ripley was right on my heels and I paused to give her a good scratching before I undressed. I put on a pair of comfy shorts and a thin tank top. Ripley followed me to the kitchen and I picked up the wine and a glass to take them outside. I let Ripley out first so she could sniff around and potty. I sat down on one of the wicker chairs and poured myself a glass of wine.
The tartness of it washed over my tongue as I drank. The sky was just starting to change colors. Next door I could hear music playing. Eric’s truck wasn’t in the driveway so I assumed Tara was home alone. She came out the front door and lit a cigarette. She wasn’t a regular smoker, from what I could tell. I only saw her out there every few days.
“Hi,” I said, even though there was a good chance Eric had told her about my fuckery.
“Hello,” Tara replied after blowing out the smoke.
“How are you?” I took another drink of my wine.
“Good. How are you?” The sympathetic look on her face told me she knew.
“I bet. You wanna talk about it?” Tara started walking toward me.
“Oh… Uh, isn’t that kind of awkward for you?” I didn’t want her to feel like she was stuck in the middle of anything.
“Nah, things with Eric’s girls stopped being weird years ago,” she chuckled. “You also look like you could use a friend.”
“I probably look like I could use a script for lithium,” I snickered and drank some more.
“Can’t help you there.”
“I’m hoping consuming mass quantities of good pinot will suffice,” I told her. “Want some?”
“Sure, I’ll have a glass.” Tara came up onto my porch and leaned against the railing.
I went inside to get her a glass and when I came out, Ripley was trying to get a tummy rub from Tara.
“She’s a big cuddle bug,” I told Tara as I poured her a glass of wine.
“She’s a pretty dog,” she smiled.
“She is. She’s part greyhound, part shepherd and all love.” I handed Tara her glass.
“Thanks. So, you want to talk about it or just have an evening of wine drinking and girl time? I’m game either way.”
“I made an ass of myself for an asshole. That’s the abridged version.” I sat down on the chair I had been in before. “I never intended for Eric to get hurt by anything. I didn’t think there were feelings to hurt.”
“He’s pretty pissed,” she confirmed. “But I don’t think anyone would like being used, whether there were feelings or not. He was planning to be a good sport about it and then quit talking to you until your ex said that comment about you not knowing your place. As you know, that sent him over the edge. He likes you; he misses you, but doesn’t know how to tell you as much.”
“He never did,” I sighed. “It’s probably better he doesn’t. I didn’t think Stan was right but maybe he was. It would explain a lot. I keep getting involved with these guys who aren’t available and don’t really give a shit about me. I’m what they all have in common, so I’m the problem, right? That makes the most sense.”
“What they all have in common is that they’re men, Sookie. It’s not you; it’s the nature of the beast. Ninety percent of them are selfish assholes,” Tara told me. “I don’t know about that Stan character, but I know Eric. I know he gave a shit, but he was in a dark, dark place when you left.”
“Believe me, I remember.” I remembered Eric yelling at me to quit nagging him and acting like I was his mom. I remembered him telling me to fuck off more than once. He wasn’t nice to me.
“I imagine you do,” she nodded. “I don’t know if he’s said it yet, but he’s sorry about the way he treated you.”
“He apologized. I’m not sure he understands what he did to me, but he said he was sorry for it.” I finished my wine and refilled the glass. “Stan left me for a twenty-year-old. She probably knows her place.”
“She’s not old enough to know any better,” she shrugged. “I suspect as soon as she starts to see what kind of asshole he is, he’ll move on to the next twenty-year-old. Guys like that prey on young girls and toss them aside when they’ve served their purpose.”
“So I’m disposable,” I muttered. I put down the second glass of wine in less than fifteen seconds. “I can see why Eric preferred drinking to reality.”
“I didn’t mean it like that, Sookie. Your ex is the kind of guy that needs to be castrated with all the rapists and child molesters. He’s a career creeper. As for Eric, he wasn’t drinking to get away from you; he was drinking to try to drown in Nik’s memory. You can’t blame yourself for their choices. You’re better than that, and a hell of a lot stronger.”
“It doesn’t feel like that. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing, you know? I had this plan for my life but it’s not really going the way I wanted it to. The therapist in me says that I’m a control freak because of my chaotic childhood. I hold on too tight to anyone that comes my way because I’m terrified if I don’t, they’ll drift away. But by doing those things I don’t really let anyone get too close. Then if they do go away, it won’t hurt so much. How’s that for a sticky mental spider web to live with?” I filled my glass again. I was going to need to open another bottle soon.
“Do you want to spend your life alone or with someone?” she asked, holding out her empty glass for me to fill it up.
I got up to go inside to open another bottle and Tara followed me.
“I used to think I wanted to be with someone but now… Maybe I just don’t want to be alone. I don’t think I’m very good at relationships,” I told her as I opened the bottle. Even before Eric started drinking a lot he never really told me how he felt. I just assumed he didn’t know how to say it. Maybe he didn’t or maybe he didn’t give a shit.
“Look at me, I’m still single, and that’s not from lack of trying,” she said. “I want the whole thing, kids, a house, a husband and all the dogs he can handle. I just haven’t found the right guy, and I’m not going to stop trying. I’ve been burned more times than I can count. I think everyone has a someone. I say keep looking for that someone.”
“I think I’m done looking for a while.” I got the bottle open and refilled Tara’s glass.
“There’s nothing wrong with that either. You know what they say, as soon as you stop looking prince charming comes waltzing into your life or something like that,” she laughed.
“I think that’s crap, by the way,” I told her.
“I swear to God, I’m at that point where I wish I was a lesbian.”
“Oh Lord, never say that in front of Eric,” she laughed. “He’ll try to watch, and probably join.”
I laughed at that.
“Yeah, I remember he has an affinity for girl/girl/guy porn,” I said. She probably didn’t need to know that.
“TMI,” she cringed.
“Sorry,” I apologized.
At least I hadn’t told her the first porn I ever watched was with Eric. She didn’t need to know that either.
“It’s fine. I know way too much about him anyway,” she shrugged.
“If it makes you feel any better my best friend dragged me out of bed three weeks ago because his precious teacup Chihuahua needed ‘fat pants’ because she was feeling bloated.” I was serious.
“Is your best friend broken?” She was serious too.
“Mel is going through an epic good dick drought. I think if he got laid he’d relax a little bit,” I told her.
“Story of my life,” she sighed.
“If he wasn’t as gay as the locker room at the ice capades, I’d set you two up,” I chuckled.
“I kinda want to meet him,” she snorted before she took a big gulp of her wine.
“I can make that happen. Not right now because he’s being a bitch, but when he gets over it,” I laughed some more. More wine was good so I added more to my glass and then Tara’s.
She took a drink and said, “That sounds like my step-cousin Lafayette. Why can’t they just be normal people? Why is everything so dramatic and extra sassy?”
“I think it’s in the genes,” I replied. “I also think he’s still holding out hope that someday my brother is going to switch teams and start catching instead of pitching.”
“Jason? Oh no, he’d never go for boys,” Tara said. “He’s way too into pussy.”
I arched an eyebrow at that. Oh ew. She didn’t hookup with my brother, did she? It wouldn’t have been shocking if she did but still… ew.
“Uh, new topic.” I didn’t want to talk about my brother and the amount of vajayjay to cross his path, even though I knew it was coming on record numbers.
“It’s no different than knowing you boned Eric a lot,” she shrugged.
“Yes it is.”
“Not to me. We can do a topic change though.”
“The only problem is, I don’t know what to change to. The only things we have in common are Eric and your brother,” she snorted.
“Good point,” I giggled. “Ummm…”
While I was thinking my cell phone made noise in my purse so I moved further down the counter to fish the phone out of my bag. To my surprise there was a message from Eric waiting for me.
Eric: How many bottles of wine have you had?
Me: How do you know I’m drinking wine?
I set the phone down so as not to be rude.
“Do you have any snacks?” Another message came in.
Eric: It was a good guess 😉
“Yeah in the big pantry cabinet next to the fridge,” I told her before I picked up the phone to reply.
Me: I have help. Tara’s here. We’re on bottle 2. I might be buzzed.
Eric: Why am I not surprised? lol. If there’s wine, she’s there.
“So, tell me if you think I’m crazy, but I was thinking about getting a little goat. That way I don’t have to pay a gardener to mow my lawn because Eric won’t do it for me.”
“A goat? Seriously?” I laughed. I wasn’t sure why that was so funny but it was. “You know those things’ll eat your couch, your car, your hair…”
“I’m hoping it’ll just stick to the grass.”
“A vegan goat.” That made me laugh harder.
Me: Tara wants a vegan goat.
Eric: Tara’s special.
Me: Mow her lawn and she won’t need it.
Eric: Are you going to ogle my sweaty abs while I do it?
“I think your bestie is flirting with me,” I told Tara. “He wants me to ogle his sweaty abs.”
“He’s probably horny. Oh, and he likes you.”
Me: I thought my ogling privileges were revoked?
Eric: I don’t recall telling you that.
Me: You didn’t say that in so many words.
Eric: I’m reinstating them.
Me: Are you just horny?
Eric: Nope. I’m always horny, but that’s not why I’m offering my abs up for free ogles.
Me: Why are you?
I had to put the phone down then. I was afraid if I read that response in front of Tara I’d react strangely and no one needed that.
The phone chimed on the counter.
“Are you going to get that or should I reply to him?” Tara asked.
“Uh, no, I’m going to read that one later,” I told her.
“I’m scared to ask,” she chuckled.
“I asked one of those questions about feelings and I shouldn’t have because I don’t know if I want to hear the answer,” I explained. I knew better than to ask questions I didn’t want an answer to.
“I see,” she nodded.
The phone chimed again to remind me I had a message waiting for me. Ugh.
“I’m a chicken, I know.”
“I’ll look,” she shrugged.
“Oh come on! This isn’t seventh grade,” I laughed.
“Exactly. Look at what he said. We’re all adults.”
She was right.
So I took a deep breath and picked up the phone.
Eric: Because I like you. I miss you. I’ve been the bad guy and I know what it feels like to want forgiveness.
That wasn’t so bad.
Me: Can we talk about this when I’m not buzzed and Tara’s not around?
Eric: Dinner tomorrow night?
Me: Sounds good to me.
Eric: My place at 7?
Me: I’ll be there.
Eric: Don’t let Tara get too drunk. She’ll try to feel you up and I’m not there to watch.
Eric: Not that I want to see her doing something like that. Ew.
“Eric is warning me that you’ll try to feel me up,” I told Tara.
“I’ve been told I get handsy when I’m drunk. I don’t remember it though,” she giggled.
“Good to know. We’re having dinner tomorrow night, by the way.”
“Good. Watch out for him. He doesn’t even need alcohol to get touchy.”
Eric: What am I lying about?
Me: Not wanting to see two girls feel up on each other.
Whoa, that was bad wording… The wine had hit.
Eric: I definitely want to see two girls. I don’t want to see Tara.
I shook my head. Two girls was two girls.
Tara and I went through a third bottle of wine before she went home for the night to look for a place to buy a baby goat. Ripley curled up on the couch with me. The room felt like it was spinning but I didn’t notice it once I passed out a short time later. I didn’t know what was going to happen with Eric, but I was actually excited about having dinner with him. I didn’t think I’d ever feel that way again about having plans with him. I pushed what Tara said out of my mind about finding Prince Charming when I stopped looking. Eric was a lot of things, but he wasn’t Prince Charming. Not for me, anyway.