“Come on now, 24 is pretty low,” I told the prospective buyer who was trying to steal my son’s truck. I listed it high on purpose so there was wiggle room. “I’m thinking 32.”
“I can’t do 32. It’s a good truck, I’ll admit that. Y’all done good,” my buyer said. Derek had money to burn and I knew it. He’d bought from me before. “I can do 26.”
I knew the dance too well. We’d volley back and forth until we’re finally settled. I’d drop to 31. He’d come up a grand. Eventually we’d settle on 28 or 29 thousand dollars.
“Let’s cut to the chase. I can’t let this go for less than 29. That’s my bottom dollar,” I told him.
“Nope. My son’s tryin’ to put money away for college. I can’t cheat him.”
Derek sighed and ran his hand over his mostly bald head. He hemmed and hawed for a minute.
“Okay, let’s do it. I can do 29,” he said, extending his hand.
I shook it and said, “Congratulations, Derek, you just bought yourself a truck.”
I knew Josh was going to be happy.
Derek followed me inside to my office so we could do the paperwork and I could count the cash. We were a strictly cash business. To be safe I had Remy run it through the counterfeit finder. Derek never cheated me before, but there was a first time for everything. When all was said and done, I walked Derek out to the truck.
“Here you go. She’s all yours.” I turned over the keys to him.
“Sweet. Thanks, Sookie.”
“You’re welcome. We’ll see you again.” I waved as he got behind the wheel of the truck.
I was glad that was all settled.
It would take a little worry off my son’s mind. He could afford a decent down payment on a new car, but still put money away for after the baby was born. I was standing in the lot when I took note of Madi coming toward me. I hadn’t seen her since the doctor’s appointment.
She definitely had a bump showing. I could only imagine what that was like for her at school.
“Hi, Ms. Stackhouse,” she said as she approached. “Do you have a little time to talk?”
“Of course. How are you?” I motioned for her to follow me inside where there was air conditioning.
“Tired,” she answered. “I want to sleep all the time. Is that normal?”
“Perfectly normal. Your body’s working overtime right now. Most days I spent my lunch break napping when I was pregnant,” I told her.
“I don’t have anywhere comfortable to nap at school. I think I’m going to home school next year,” she sighed. “I can work with my Nana if I do it.”
“That might be a good idea. Once you see that little baby’s face you probably won’t want to leave it alone all day,” I warned.
“I hope so. It’s a little terrorist right now,” she chuckled. “I’m hungry, but nothing sounds good. If I eat anyway and it’s not happy I end up throwing up. I can’t stand the smell of Josh’s cologne that I used to love. I hate that my body and my senses aren’t my own right now.”
“I’d like to say it gets better, but it might not. Can I get you something to drink? When I was pregnant with Josh I drank Strawberry milk like it was going out of style.” I didn’t even like it, but he loved it.
“No thank you. I came to talk about your guest house,” she told me. “Daddy said he talked to you about it?”
“Briefly. He said he was willing to let you move in there. Have you seen it from the inside?”
“Yeah. Josh showed it to me last week. It’s really nice,” she smiled.
“It would be enough space for the three of you, and you wouldn’t have parents up your butts telling you what to do all the time.”
“You obviously don’t know my dad very well,” she joked. “I expect to see him there at least four times a week.”
“But he won’t be there constantly, watching your every move, always telling you what to do or when to do it.”
“True. It’ll be weird, but I want to be with Josh. I was thinking I could move in when I’m out of school?”
“That’s fine with me. You two are welcome to repaint the place and make it your own,” I told her. “Of course you’re also welcome to come into the big house anytime. The kitchen is bigger and the laundry room is there. Trust me when I say dual washing machines will come in handy.”
“I appreciate it. You and Daddy… You’re going to be able to get along when he comes over?” She looked nervous.
“It’s a work in progress. What I can promise you is that I won’t let whatever I feel about him interfere with how I treat you or the baby.” I hadn’t seen Eric since the bar a few nights back. Him complimenting me still felt weird.
“I don’t understand why you guys don’t get along. You have so much in common,” she said. “You’re both super nice, too.”
“There are reasons, but we’re working on it. Mostly. I think he’s annoyed with me for opening a business so similar to his. I think he thinks I stole customers from him. I didn’t even know who he was when I got started.”
“I don’t think he thinks that at all. He doesn’t talk about you much in front of us, but I’ve overheard him talking to Stan and Papa.”
Lord, I could only imagine the things she heard.
“I’m not worried about him. I’m worried about you and the baby. I’m glad you came by, Madi. Josh is crazy about you, and I’d like to find out why,” I said.
“Thanks,” she blushed. “Josh and I worry about you and my dad because we don’t want your issues getting in the way of the baby. We love you guys and we want to be able to do stuff as a family where you two don’t start to bicker. That’s all.”
“Like I said, it’s a work in progress.”
“Good. I’m sure you and I will have plenty of time together to get to know each other.”
“I hope so.” I opened the desk drawer to get a business card. On the back I wrote down my cell phone number for her. “If you need anything or have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or text me, okay?”
“Okay. Thank you.” She took the card.
“So… Are you anxious to find out what’s cooking in there?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she smiled. “Are you going to come to that appointment with us?”
“Not that I wouldn’t like to, but I think it should be a moment just for you and Josh,” I told her. I’d find out after the fact.
“Maybe we can all go to lunch afterwards,” she suggested.
“I’d like that. Are you hoping for a specific gender?”
“I don’t care one way or another. I just want a healthy baby. I’m also hoping there’s not a hidden twin in there,” she snickered. “I was nervous it might be two before I went to my first appointment. I feel like I’m growing so fast.”
“Have your doctor check your hormone levels. If you’ve got two in there they should be able to tell that way if the little bugger is hiding,” I told her. “Then again, your baby might come out all legs.”
“It’s just one. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a long one. My mom was tall too.”
“I’ll take long legs over a big head any day of the week,” I chuckled. “Josh had a big head. It took almost three hours of hard pushing to get him out.”
“That does not make me feel better,” she said nervously. “My dad has a big head too. What if I have a giant baby with a head bigger than mine?”
“I don’t think you will,” I smiled. “I’m sure you’ll have a sweet little nugget you just want to cuddle. The pain won’t matter once you see that little face.”
“Did you have Josh natural? In trying to decide if I want drugs or not. I know I have some time to think about it. I just want to be sure.”
“I had drugs. I thought I was going to do it natural, and then I had more than one contraction.” Josh was just fine, and it was a good thing I got to rest because I had to push for so long.
“That helps my decision,” she chuckled. “This is all so scary,” she sighed. “I wanted kids, but not this soon. I keep reminding myself that there’s a whole world of teen moms. And that people in the olden times had babies when they were like twelve or fourteen, I’m almost a spinster compared to them.”
“Times are definitely different now, that’s for sure. Look, Madi, I won’t lie to you. It’s not going to be easy. Being a young mom is hard, and it requires more sacrifice than it does for someone my age. I don’t know what your plans for your life were before you got pregnant, but I hope you don’t let your dreams die because of it. You can still have more than just your baby,” I told her. She’d understand what I meant in a year.
“I think I want to go into nursing,” she told me. “I’ve been thinking about it since you and Josh had dinner at our house. I don’t have any real passions like you had or Josh, or my dad, but I like helping people.”
“Nursing is a good choice.”
“Dad told me to think about the future and how I think I’ll feel about it. I might hate it, but I might love it still. I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I know I have my dad’s support and Josh thinks it’s a good idea. I just want to contribute something, you know?”
“You will,” I assured her. “At first your best contribution might be doing the mommy thing.”
“I know it’s not going to happen overnight. I’m just glad I have an endgame now. I also know if that’s not for me I’m never too old to find what my real passion is.”
“That’s very true. You’ll figure it out.”
She nodded and said, “I should probably get going now.”
“Okay. Well, like I said, if you just need someone to talk to, or you have any questions, I’m always available,” I said as I stood up. I wanted to walk her out. “Do you want a ride somewhere?” Pregnancy and Texas heat didn’t go together.
“I have a car here,” she told me. “I’m trying to move around as much as possible so I parked it outside the lot.”
“Gotcha. Well then drive safe,” I said as we walked out of the office.
“Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.”
“Of course. Come by anytime.” I held the door open for her. Madi slipped by me, and headed for her car. I was glad she came by. Josh was going to be happy that she had agreed to move in the guest house with him.
I went back to Remy’s office to get the cash Derek had paid for the truck so I could take it home. A teenager with that much cash was a scary thing. Hopefully my son didn’t blow it on foolish things. We’d see if his priorities really did shift when I gave him the money.
“That’s $29,000, Josh,” I said when he opened the bank bag the money was in.
“Are you serious?” His eyes went wide.
“As a heart attack.”
“Man, with that I can buy a good used car without a payment and have some left over,” he said as he opened up the bag to look at the cash.
“Yes you can,” I agreed. “You’ll have a good little nest egg there.”
“Thanks, Mom.” I could tell he really appreciated it. “Madi said she came to talk to you about moving in. I’m surprised Mr. Northman agreed to it.”
“Frankly, so am I. Are you sure that’s what you want?”
“Yeah. I know it’s soon, but once the baby is here I think it’s better if we’re staying together so there’s no back and forth,” he said. “Plus I really love her.”
“Wait until Grandma finds out you’re not engaged to her,” I snickered.
“Grandma’s nuts, no offense. It’s not the ’50s anymore,” he chuckled. “I at least want to wait until we’re eighteen to even think about getting married.”
“Smart decision.” A baby was enough to get used to. Hell, living together was going to lose its luster in pretty short order.
“I don’t think we’ll end up like you and Ben. I’m not an asshole, and so far she isn’t crazy. I’m pretty sure we’re going to stick it out for the long haul, but better safe than sorry. I’ve already seen what happens when people aren’t ready to get married. We love each other. That’s all the baby will care about.”
“I hope that things work out better for you than they did for me,” I said. Of course I wanted my son to have the best life possible. I didn’t want his baby to be an obstacle he had to overcome.
“I hope so too. I’m sorry Ben was such a terrible husband.” He zipped up the bag. “You deserved better than him. We both did.”
“We did. I don’t think I’m cut out for marriage.”
“Not everyone is,” he shrugged.
The sad thing was, I hadn’t even dated anyone in years. I was too busy for it, to be honest, but it was also because I hadn’t met anyone worth slowing down for.
“Should we order a pizza?”
“Sure. Can we get one of those chicken luau pizzas?”
“Uh, you can have whatever pizza you want. Text me your order and I’ll get it set up for delivery. Invite Madi if you want,” I offered.
“Okay. I’m going to go put this away.” He held up the bag before taking his phone out of his pocket.
I left his bedroom and went down the hall to my room. Opie was lying on the couch in the little sitting area I had. My bedroom had its own fireplace with a TV mounted above it. Nights where I got to lay around and veg out were rare. I closed the door so I could get undressed. I put on a comfy pair of jersey pajama pants and a tank top. My hair went up in a messy bun, and then I went to the bathroom to wash my face.
When I came out a few minutes later with a cleaner face, I went to check my phone to see if Josh had sent his dinner order over. He hadn’t, but Eric had sent a picture of the Charger he’d told me about. So far it was looking pretty good.
Wait… How did he get my cell number?
Me: How did you get this number?
Unknown: Madi gave it to me when I asked for it. I assume she got it from Josh.
I saved his number under the only name I could. Douche. It wasn’t an ideal pet name, but whatever.
Me: The car looks good.
Douche: Thanks. I wanted to see if you want to have any input on this since it’s for both of the kids.
That surprised me.
Me: Nah, I’ll leave it in your moderately qualified hands 😉
Douche: These hands are highly skilled, Miss Stackhouse. 👐
I got a picture of one of his massive paws. He still had some grease on his hand, proving that he was doing the work himself.
Me: Greasy hands mean nothing, Northman.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bust his balls a little bit.
Douche: That doesn’t mean they’re not highly skilled.
Me: Highly skilled at what?
Douche: Many things…
I’ll take vague as fuck for $600, Alex.
Me: Thanks for elaborating 😂
Douche: You name it I can probably do it. Except texting. I’m terrible at this shit because my hands are too big to tap the little letters accurately.
Me: Try talk to text. Problem solved.
Why was I helping him?
Douche: I usually do…
Me: Good luck getting the rest done.
Douche: Thanks. Do you want me to keep you updated?
Me: No, you don’t need to. I like being surprised when it’s done.
Douche: You got it.
Thankfully Josh’s text came in after that with his dinner request. He wasn’t a big guy, but he ate like he was twice his size. That Hawaiian pizza was all his. I couldn’t do pineapple on pizza. Ugh. Gross. My kid was broken. I got on the GrubHub app to place our dinner order. Opie moved his squishy butt over for a snuggle while we waited for dinner. I turned on my TV and put my feet up. It was nice to just kick back for a change. Maybe I’d be really crazy and go to bed early. Boy was my life exciting.