I hated shopping and Madi knew it. It didn’t matter what I was shopping for, it sucked. There was nothing about it at all that I enjoyed. Madi looking through every single paint color and scrutinizing it wasn’t very fun either. I could tell Josh felt the same way.
“What theme are you going with?” I asked Josh as Madi compared two shades of yellow that looked identical to me.
“I don’t know yet. I can’t decide,” she answered. “Sunflower or Goldenrod, Josh?”
“They’re the same,” he answered.
The scowl on my daughter’s face informed him that was the wrong answer.
“Why did you even come? You should have just stayed home and played stupid video games,” she said.
I shook my head and said, “Princess, the Goldenrod will dry too dark.”
Madi looked closer at the sample and said, “You’re probably right. Thank you, Daddy. At least one man in my life gives a shit.”
I didn’t know if sticking up for Josh would put me on her shit list so I ignored that comment.
“I’ve been at this paint thing a while,” I reminded her. I used to paint the cars when it was Stan and I doing all the work.
“How much paint do you think we need? That bedroom isn’t very big.” It really was ideal for a nursery.
“Honestly, two gallons would be more than enough. I would feel better going with three to account for possible spills in case Josh and I get sloppy.”
“It’s your call,” Madi said. “What about an accent wall in gray? I could do an elephant theme.”
I looked at Josh to see what he thought. If his input was good and I agreed with him maybe Madi would like him again.
I would have elbowed him but Madi would have noticed.
“I think a light gray would be nice. Maybe on the wall with the window,” I suggested.
“Yeah,” she agreed. It was obvious she was upset by Josh’s lack of interest or input.
“Are you thinking of dark furniture or light?” Distressed white would look good with the light yellow and gray… fuck, I needed to slow down on the HGTV.
Madi arched an eyebrow.
“You need to find a friend without ovaries, Dad,” she told me.
“I have Stan,” I shrugged.
“What ever happened to the date you went on? Are you seeing her again?”
“Probably not. She looked like a stripper and was not interested in kids.” And I left so I could go fuck the woman that may be your mother-in-law one day…
“Well that blows.” Madi moved over to the gray paint samples to consider her options.
“Josh, if you want to stay off of her shit list you may want to act like you care,” I told him quietly.
“But I don’t. The baby won’t either,” he replied.
“Madi cares. That should be enough to get you involved. Do you plan on letting her do all the work with the baby too?”
“Decorating the nursery has nothing to do with taking care of the baby.”
“Right,” I sighed. He wasn’t coming furniture shopping with us. I wasn’t sure if Sookie would care about his attitude about the decorations. I didn’t much give a shit either but I cared about Madi so I was going to get involved. “Being involved in this, is being involved with the baby.”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Physically. If you didn’t want to be here you shouldn’t have come.”
“Fine. Then I’ll leave.” He went over to Madi. “Your dad said I should go if I don’t want to be here. I’m not good at this stuff and we’re just going to fight if I don’t pick what you think I should, so I’m going to go home.”
“How are you getting home?” I asked him. I drove them.
“I’ll figure it out. It beats having both of you treating me like I’m a deadbeat dad already.”
“You’re not, Josh,” Madi told him.
“Tell your dad that. Apparently not picking paint means I don’t want to help you with the baby ever,” he said.
“That’s not what I said,” I replied, shaking my head. Of course he was going to make me out to be the asshole. “I also didn’t call you a deadbeat. I asked you a simple question.”
“Great, now you’re fighting? Grow up, both of you,” the pregnant teenager told me.
Madi put the paint samples back in their spots.
“Forget it. Let’s just go,” she sighed.
I glared at Josh. Little shit. I usually liked the kid but he was being a little asshole just then.
“Madi, we can continue to shop. We’re not fighting,” I sighed too. I didn’t want to have to come back out for paint.
“I don’t want to anymore. Josh doesn’t want to be here, you’re pissed off, my back hurts, and I think I need a nap.” Madi reached back, but Josh seemed to know the exact spot that was bothering her because as soon as he started rubbing Madi’s back for her, she relaxed.
“Fine, maybe next time you and I can come out.” I wasn’t going to argue with her. If Josh didn’t want to be here this time he wasn’t going to want to go next time.
“Okay,” she agreed.
“We’ll bring Gracie,” I suggested. We hadn’t had any family time in a while.
“That’s a better plan.”
The kids followed me out of the store. I wasn’t trying to argue with Josh, just trying to give him some advice. If he didn’t want to be a part of decorating the nursery and Madi was fine with it that was on them. In my experience men that didn’t give a fuck about the nursery or anything else about nesting while the mom was pregnant, weren’t too hands on with the baby. I hoped like hell Josh wasn’t going to turn out like his dad. I had high expectations for him. I trusted he wasn’t going to let me down.
I didn’t know what the hell I was thinking when I decided to send Sookie flowers. I knew what we were doing was just sex. Really, really good sex. I still sat down at my computer and did research on flowers and what they might mean. I wanted something that meant I was okay with the way things were going but I wouldn’t be upset with more. I wasn’t sure if I could convey that with flowers.
I was right. There were no flowers that said anything close to that so I ended up building a bouquet of two dozen tulips in assorted reds and pinks. Once I had it picked out online I decided to go to the florist to see it and smell it live action. It also gave me a chance to handwrite a note. I was shit at writing notes.
Pretty flowers for a gorgeous girl. I hope these find you well and that they make you smile. You have a beautiful smile and I hope to see it a lot more often.
Absolutely shitty note… it could have been way worse.
I then had to figure out if I was bold enough to send them to work or if I should have sent them to the house. I figured better safe than sorry and sent them to her home. I didn’t want to end up in the morgue.
I was at the shop still when I got the call from Sookie. I was sure she was calling to rip me a new one for the flowers. I hoped if she was mad she’d only be mad for a while before she realized they were pretty and made her feel better… I hoped.
“Hello,” I answered my phone, walking towards one of the big bay doors. Most of the guys had gone home for the day. Stan was left as well as Chow. Stan hadn’t asked me about my date with Yvetta yet but I was sure that was coming.
“What the hell is this, Eric? You called my son a deadbeat?! You know he’s working two jobs so Madi doesn’t have to? He makes her breakfast every damn morning before he leaves for work and–”
“Stop!” I shouted told stop her before she went too far. “I did not call him a deadbeat. I know he’s not a deadbeat.” Of course she heard Josh’s side of the story. He was being a little turd.
“That’s not what I heard,” she argued. “What else is he supposed to do to meet your damn standards, huh?”
“Sookie, I like Josh. I don’t think he’s going to be a fucking deadbeat dad, okay? He was less than enthusiastic about shopping and I told him being involved with the nursery process was being involved with the baby and he turned it into me calling him a fucking deadbeat.” Contrary to what she believed he wasn’t always a little angel.
“Eric, what teenage boy is interested in decorating any room? What the hell does that have to do with being involved with the baby? He reads to that baby all the time. Don’t tell me he’s not involved!” Sookie was pissed.
“I didn’t fucking say he wasn’t involved at all. Jesus, woman. You both need to stop twisting all my fucking words around. Fuck.”
“Maybe you need to butt the fuck out and let Madi and Josh handle their own business,” she countered.
“She’s my daughter, I’m not butting out of anything.”
“Some things don’t need your damn opinion. Madi gets mad about it being too hot outside or Josh cracking eggs too loud. Sometimes you just have to sit back and let the girl be mad. She’s grown, Eric. She doesn’t need you sheltering her little feelings all the time. You think they don’t fight? Josh gets banished to the big house twice a week. He comes in, he vents, and what do I do? Do I get involved? No, I don’t. Why? Because they have to learn to work things out on their own. Just butt out,” Sookie said. “And speaking of dumbass moves, why in the hell are you sending me flowers?”
“Because I thought of you and wanted to do something nice,” I answered. If I saw my babies getting upset I was going to try to fix it. Apparently I just made shit worse.
“Well don’t, Eric. You don’t need to be sending me flowers or anything else,” she said. “The only contact we need to have from now on is about the kids. That’s it.”
“What the fuck is your deal, Sookie? Why are you so…” I couldn’t think of the word. Sometimes she was cool, other times it was still like before all this shit happened. “What did I do to you to make you hate me so fucking much?” I knew she didn’t hate all men. She apparently just didn’t want anyone getting too close.
“What difference does it make? We’re not friends and all this whatever it was, was a hormonal glitch. You don’t need to send me flowers and cute little notes. Save it for the girls you date.”
“Are you going text me pictures of yourself in a barely there bikini when I’m on my next date?” I discovered while talking to Madi later that Sookie knew I was on a date.
“I’m not a psychic, Eric. I don’t know your damn schedule.”
“Uh huh.” I didn’t believe that shit for a second. “So you’ve had three hormonal glitches?”
“Right, well I hope you enjoy your flowers.” Stan was standing at the door watching since we’d gotten a little loud.
“I gave them to your daughter.”
“They weren’t meant for her.”
“I know you’re not an asshole, Sookie. You can throw the fuckin’ note away but keep them. Please.”
“It’s too late. I can’t take them back.”
“Then we’re done here. Goodbye.” She hung up.
“Stackhouse is on the warpath again,” I sighed when Stan walked up. “Her son accused me of calling him a deadbeat.”
“Not exactly. I asked him some questions that would probably think that… I did not call him a deadbeat though. I was being protective of Madi.”
“It’ll blow over,” Stan said.
“I’m sure it will. Josh is apparently a saint in her eyes. I’m just the asshole she calls when she’s having a ‘hormonal glitch’ and wants to get laid.”
Stan laughed and took a seat across from me.
“Oh come on, man. You mean Madi doesn’t get your full support even when she’s wrong? She got pregnant and you blamed it all on Josh. Sookie’s being a good, protective mom. I’d think you would appreciate it.”
“I’d appreciate it more if I wasn’t pissed off at her,” I muttered. I would have done the same thing if she called Madi a whore or some shit.
“Since when do you care if Sookie’s on the warpath anyway? I thought the thing you had was casual?”
“It was casual when it was still happening,” I shrugged. I didn’t ask her to be my woman. I sent her flowers because I felt like it. “I think she’s compares every man to her dickhead ex and expects us to act like him. She doesn’t know how to deal with nice, or be nice apparently.”
“Then forget her. There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
“There are. Yvetta clearly didn’t work out. You should have warned me she was going to try to fuck me so soon.”
“I didn’t think that was a– wait, you didn’t do it?”
“No. I’m not interested in a chick for a quick fuck, especially if they have an issue with me being a dad. Yvetta is a pretty woman. Her tits were a little too plastic for my taste. She just doesn’t do it for me.”
Stan smirked. “So Sookie wasn’t casual.”
“Sookie was… she also sent me a picture of herself in a micro bikini while I was out with Yvetta. I’m pretty sure she did it on purpose.”
“Maybe you just want it to be on purpose.”
“Madi told her I was going on a date. She fucking knew about it,” I told him.
“So what do you care if it was on purpose?” Stan looked confused.
“She can’t call me and tell me what we were doing means nothing when she clearly did her best to ruin my date.” And succeeded.
“Why can’t she?”
“Are you a two-year-old? Why do you keep asking why? She just can’t.” He was giving me the look like he knew I was all fucked up over it. I wasn’t going to tell him I sent her flowers. That was a fucking mistake.
“I don’t keep asking why. I’m trying to understand why you have this constipated look on your face over some broad who you made out to be nothing special, that’s all. I get it now. She’s playing head games with you, and because you can’t just admit you like her, you’re both fucked.”
I sighed and said, “I need a beer. Am I being the asshole here or is it both of us?”
“It’s probably both of you. Consider it foreplay.”
“We’re definitely not fucking again. If she calls or sends me nude pictures I’m going to say no.” The look on his face let me know he knew that was a lie.
“She sent you nudes?”
“The micro bikini shot and then a topless one. Her hand was over her tits; they’re amazing by the way.”
“Let me see.”
I pulled out my phone so I could find the pictures. I wouldn’t have even thought about showing him if she was actually nude.
“You only get to see the bikini one and you’re not touching my phone.” I showed him the picture but made sure to keep my phone in my hand.
He let out a low whistle.
“Who knew that was hiding under all the hellcat,” he said.
“Believe it or not she’s pretty timid in bed,” I chuckled.
“Bossy ones usually are.”
“I think it’s that she’s not very experienced and the experience she has is shitty. I assume her ex is a fuckin’ moron that doesn’t know how to treat a woman in bed.”
“Like I said, just forget it, Eric. You don’t need to be jumping through hoops or navigating her emotional napalm.”
“I know,” I sighed. “So… I shouldn’t have fucked off things with Yvetta?” I was willing to bet if I called her and told her I wanted to fuck she’d give me her address.
“I thought you didn’t want a quick fuck?”
“Maybe it would get my mind off of Sookie,” I shrugged.
“Yeah sure it would.”
“I just need to stop thinking about her. It sucks because I’m stuck with her for at least the next eighteen years if we want to keep our kids happy.”
“Or, you could… Nah, never mind. Let’s go get drunk.” Stan got up and headed for the door.
“I could what?” I asked as I followed him.
“Nothing. So, beer or whiskey?”
“Whiskey is good. It’s something, I want to know.”
“No you don’t.”
“What’s the worst that will happen?”
“Fine. Quit being a pussy and really go for it,” he told me. “You’ve never been afraid of going after the things you want. Why should she be any different?”
I looked at him for a moment, blinking a few times. He was right. I wasn’t a pussy. I didn’t know what the fuck Sookie Stackhouse did to me, but I was going to man up and show her how a real man treats a lady. She may have been a stubborn asshole, but she was still a lady. I liked her because she was sassy and fiery. I was going to do it. Despite what she said, it was what she didn’t say that let me know she wanted me just as bad as I wanted her. It was going to take some time but I was going to get the girl.