Okay, it’s time to start going to the gym again. I shouldn’t be having trouble zipping up this dress, but I am. I knew eating that turtle cheesecake last week was a mistake but I couldn’t help myself. When Lafayette bakes I have to take advantage of it. It’s one of the best perks of having a gay roommate. Truthfully, it’s a double edged sword. He’s a kickass pastry chef but he’s also an epic twat of a personal trainer/fashion critic.
“Sookie!” I hear Maria calling from the living room.
“Bedroom!” I holler back.
Maria and I have been besties for as long as I can remember. In three months she’s marrying Alcide Herveaux, the guy who built our building. Alcide happens to be best friends with my ex-boyfriend Eric, so when the building was finished a few years ago Eric and I put in a bid on the place. Eric and I have since broken up and gotten back together a few times, but we’re off at the moment. We’re still friends though. We’ve been through too much not to be friends.
“You got a minute?” she calls as I hear her pad down the hallway.
“Yeah, but that’s about all I have,” I answer as I go back into the closet for a pair of black open toe pumps. I need to hurry the hell up. I’m going to be late as it is, I know it.
“I wanted to make sure you didn’t make any other plans tonight. We have the dress fitting at seven,” she reminds me.
“I didn’t, and I will do my absolute best to try and be there on time.” Russell Edgington, my boss, likes to find ways to keep me late when he thinks I have plans. The sad thing is that he’s usually right, although I have no idea how he knows. I get the pumps on and move to the dresser to spritz on perfume and throw my phone in my Prada bag I bought last week.
“Sookie, you’re going to be late to your own funeral,” she laughs. “Please, please try to be on time. I don’t want to turn into Bridezilla on you.”
“Turn into?” I tease. She totally flipped tits because the florist put together a sample bouquet with gold gerbera daisies instead of butter yellow. This country wedding thing is cute but trendy as fuck.
“I’m relatively mild compared,” she shrugs. “Imagine when you meet a man and get married. You’re going to be a million times worse than I ever will be.”
“Ha! I’m just going to Vegas or something to get it over with.” I don’t have time to spend two years planning a party.
I get a coat from my closet and lead Maria out of my room. I’ve gotta get moving.
“I’ll let you go. Be. There,” she says firmly, following me toward the front door.
“I’ll do the best I can.” I lock the front door. She gives me a dirty look but I can’t promise her anything else.
It’s a nice spring day but I need my jacket. I’m sliding my arms through the sleeves when my cell phone starts to ring. Of course. I dig into my purse for my phone and see Eric’s face on the display. It’s really early for him to be calling me. He owns a popular bar on Michigan Avenue called Fossils, and last call is at two in the morning.
“What’s the story, morning glory?” I answer in a cheerful tone as I hustle toward the Starbucks on the corner. I need something with a double shot stat.
“I need a favor,” he responds.
“Okay.” I run across the street to avoid being hit by some mentally challenged cab driver with a case of lead foot.
“What are you doing after work?” he asks. “I need you to hang out at my place to wait for the cable guy. My cable has been shitty and they’re coming to check the lines.”
“I have a dress fitting tonight so if you can talk Maria into letting me out of it, I’ll happily wait for the cable guy,” I tell him. I walk into Starbucks and there’s no one in line, which is practically a gift from the coffee gods. “Hang on, I have to order coffee,” I say before firing off my order for a venti cinnamon dolce with an extra shot.
“You didn’t order me one?” he asks seriously. “What time is the dress thing?”
“I’m not going across town the wrong way to bring your lazy ass coffee, and the fitting is at seven. She stopped by to remind me in person like she hasn’t been emailing me for the last two weeks about it. My memory’s not that bad,” I say and Eric laughs. Okay, so I forgot it was my own birthday once but I was really busy.
“Perfect. He’s supposed to be there between five and seven. She expects you to be at least thirty minutes late. We’re doing the quarterly deep cleaning at the bar so I’m here from now until I’m off at three,” he sighs.
“Eric, I have a job. On a good day I don’t leave the office until 6:30.” I swipe my Starbucks card. “I can’t go hang out at your place. Get Whora to do it.” His current girlfriend. I don’t like her. She’s smug and British and… smug.
“I haven’t known Nora long enough to let her spend alone time in my apartment. Tell Russell you have to leave early to help me. He’ll let you go,” he pleads. “I’ll give you a free night of drinking at the bar.”
“This might come as a surprise to you, but your cable woes aren’t a priority to me. A free night of drinking? Why not just skip to the hookup in your office?”
“Fine. I need you to record Ink Master for me tonight. I’ll call and have the appointment rescheduled,” he sighs. “And I’m not hooking up with you in the office. I’m seeing someone, Sookie.”
“Can Whora swallow your co–” I’m cut off by a look from the soccer mom staring at me. Thankfully my drink is ready.
“It’s Nora and it’s none of your business what she can swallow. What you and I do is great, but it’s on hiatus until I kick Nora to the curb,” he chuckles.
It’ll be sooner than later.
“I’ll set the DVR from my phone. Seriously, you need to switch from satellite TV in the fucking Windy City,” I say as I walk out of the Starbucks. I’ll be hopping on a Blue Line train to get to the office. Hopefully the trains are on time.
“You’re a gem. And why would I change when I can watch my favorite shows at your place? Satellite gets channels regular cable doesn’t.”
“Which is useless if you can’t watch it, Einstein,” I point out. “I’ll let you know if something changes and I can be at your place.”
“Thanks, Sweetcheeks. If not I’ll keep the TV down when I come over after work to watch the show.”
I roll my eyes.
“Someday you’ll admit that you have a man crush on Dave Navarro…” I sigh.
“I like the tattoos, Sookie,” he corrects me. “I’ve been itching for more lately.”
“When aren’t you?” I laugh. It’s because of him that I have the silly tramp stamp on my lower back. It’s a Claddagh symbol, but still.
“I know, I know,” he sighs. “I should go. The crew is starting to show up.”
“Okay. I’ll be in touch,” I promise and then hang up.
I’m able to get on the train and go into the Loop. I get off at the Daley Center and walk across street to where my office is. The elevator up to the forty-seventh floor starts out crowded but thins out by the time I arrive at my final destination. Already the office is buzzing. Even though it’s barely after seven, people have been here for more than an hour already. The stock market is already open after all.
I get a head rush as I step off the elevator but I shake it off as I walk back to my office. My assistants are already in their cubicles with their computers fired up. If only they knew how much I wanted to stay in bed today…
“Morning,” I say as I pass by.
Dawn gets up and follows me into my office. Once upon a time we worked together, but I was promoted when Betty Jo retired two years ago. All of my long hours and innovative ideas to get us out of the nineteenth century paid off.
“Is Russell here yet?” I ask her. Dawn’s the one I leave in charge when I’m not in the office, although I sometimes wonder if that’s a good idea. She doesn’t want the responsibility of my job but she wants the perks of it.
“Not yet. I expect to see him strolling in just before eight,” she tells me.
I breathe a sigh of relief and take off my coat so I can hang it on the back of my door. I take my purse and coffee to the desk, and start my computer. Another dizzy spell hits me and it knocks me off my feet. Thankfully I land in my chair and not flat on my ass.
“I better eat something,” I mutter.
“I have a cereal bar at my desk if you want it. Are you okay? You’re not looking so hot.”
“I have oatmeal packets in my desk. I think all of my seventy hour weeks are getting to me. Plus I’m pretty sure there was a sick kid on my flight back from Seattle last week,” I tell her. The login screen pops up on my computer so I type in my info.
“Oh, eww,” she says, scrunching her nose. “I can bring you some TheraFlu if you want. I have that at my desk too. Arlene has been throwing up lately. She either has the flu or she’s pregnant again. I’m not taking any chances.”
“I might take you up on it if I still feel crappy after I eat. It might just be low blood sugar.” I open my email and remember to set the DVR for Eric’s show, so I get my phone out. The sad thing is this isn’t the first time I’ve had to DVR something for him.
“Okay. Let me know.”
“Will do.” I get the recording set and put the phone on the charger plugged into the computer. “I’m going to try to get out of here on time for a change. I have a dress fitting tonight and Eric wants me to let the cable guy in at his place.”
Getting out “on time” is technically 4:00, but that practically never happens.
“I would spread that man on a cracker,” she says, licking her lips. “I’ll do everything I can to make today run smoothly so you’re not stuck here.”
“I appreciate that. I’ll tell him I’ll take the free night of drinks he offered me and pass them over to you if you can make that happen,” I say. She’s met Eric several times before and they’ve flirted with each other.
“Consider it done,” she says confidently.
“Good deal.” I pick up my phone and text Eric.
Me: I’ll be at your place before 5. You’re going to owe Dawn those drinks.
Eric: You’re a doll. I can give you and Dawn drinks if you want. I have a little pull with the boss and you have great tits.
Me: Yeah I know what you pull, perv. And my tits are off limits as long as Whora’s in the picture.
Eric: I can still look. And it’s NORA. I don’t know why you hate her so much.
Me: I have my reasons. Anyway, I’ll be there before 5.
I grab an oatmeal packet from my desk drawer and my coffee mug that Maria brought back for me when she went to Myrtle Beach last summer so I can go make myself something to eat. When I stand up I get another head rush. I reach out to steady myself on the desk. After a few deep breaths I head for the break room.
As my oatmeal is spinning in the microwave it dawns on me that it’s been six weeks since the last time Eric and I hooked up. It was Valentine’s Day and I drank entirely too much pinot. Wine goes right to my head and the next morning I woke up in his bed. I thought we used a condom but maybe not. I lapsed on my last Depo shot… Shit.
I need to take a pregnancy test.
“Felicia, what the fuck are you doing?” I ask. Everyone knows on deep clean day we don’t have time to sit. She’s been here less than an hour and she’s sitting out back with a cigarette in one hand and her feet kicked up while she’s leaning back in one of the smoking chairs. “We need to be ready to open by four and I haven’t seen you do shit.”
“I stocked longnecks in the cooler.” She blows a stream of silvery-blue smoke up into the air. She’s full of shit since Chow did that.
“Why did you even show up if you don’t plan on doing anything?” I ask. The shitty part is, she’s one of my best bartenders but she’s lazy as fuck when it comes to cleaning and stocking. I’m too tired to deal with her bullshit. I’m running on fumes. With Nora showing up at last call I didn’t get out of here until close to five and then I had to be back at seven. I basically power napped and took a shower.
“Who shit in your Fruity Pebbles?” Felicia retorts. She offers me her pack of smokes.
“No thanks.” I haven’t smoked in a decade. “I’m tired, Felicia, I’m not dealing with anyone’s shit today. Either get back in and do work, or go home, but you’re taking the rest of the week off if you go. If you don’t want to be here I have plenty of people that could use the hours.”
“Fine. Grouch.” She snubs out her cigarette and goes back inside.
I shake my head. She makes me want to fire her sometimes. I’m just turning to head back inside too when my phone rings. I can tell by the ringtone that it’s Nora. She should be asleep, not up calling me at ten in the morning.
“Hello,” I answer with a sigh. I need to balance the books before we open too thanks to Nora showing up. My office is well used. This is where I spend most of my time so naturally this is where I fuck the most.
“Hi. I’m ringing to see if you’d like to meet for lunch,” she says.
“I can’t.” I told her this when I walked her to her car this morning.
“It won’t take long and I bet you could use the break–”
“Nora, I’m busy. I’m fuckin’ exhausted and if I take any breaks it’s going to be to take a nap. I have to lead by example here. I can’t expect my employees to work if I’m walking out to meet you for lunch,” I tell her as gently as possible.
“Fine.” Her voice is icy.
This attitude is why she’s not allowed in my house alone. Sookie has a damn key and she’s not even my girlfriend right now. We’ve tried it, it just never works. She got too focused on work and not on our relationship. When we broke up I threw my focus into the bar. It’s weird, we can find time for each other as friends, but I think being any more than we are doesn’t work because we don’t want to disappoint one another. We work as friends through. She’s my best friend, if I’m being honest.
“Tomorrow, Nora. Today just isn’t good, okay?”
“I’m busy tomorrow,” she says.
“Then the next day, or the day after that. We talked about this earlier.”
“Right. Well then I won’t keep you. Ta,” she says and hangs up.
She can be so fuckin’ annoying. She’s not always so bad. She’s a little clingy and we fight like siblings, but she’s a firecracker in bed. I met her here at the bar just over a month ago. I don’t normally hook up with patrons, but her sexy British accent got to me. I rarely work the bar and I was slinging drinks that night. She took me up on my offer to join me in the office and then let me do things I’m not sure should be mentioned in mixed company. She’s fun and hot as hell.
I head back into the bar, going straight back to my office to start entering the inventory. Chow has been bringing me the numbers after he counts each shelf. I’m sure there’s a better way but this is what works.
I have my head dropped back and my eyes closed when Sookie’s ringtone goes off. I pick up the phone and put it to my ear without opening my eyes.
“If you can’t meet the cable dude I may actually cry.” I don’t mind watching my shows at Sookie’s but I don’t want her trying to jump me ’cause I watch TV in my underwear.
“How about if I tell you I think I’m pregnant and you’re the father?”
My eyes snap open and I stare at the closed door across from me. She’s shitting with me.
“I’d say you’re insane. We used a condom last time we fucked,” I tell her. We nearly didn’t… shit… Did we?
“Well I’m late and I was sick when I was supposed to go for my last Depo shot. I forgot to reschedule it. My dress is tight, my tits hurt and I’ve been dizzy all morning,” she tells me.
“You have those symptoms when you drink too much too,” I remind her. Her tits usually hurt from me having my way with them. “Did you drink last night?”
“No. I got home from work, took a hot bath, ate some leftovers and passed out watching Project Runway reruns.”
“Sookie, no,” I say. “There’s no way you’re pregnant. Have you taken a test?” I’m not accepting this until I see proof.
“Not yet. I’ll get one at lunch. I’m just giving you a head’s up,” she says.
“Bring it here,” I request. “I need to see this.” I need a fuckin’ nap. Unless I am sleeping and this is some fucked up dream. I’m not cut out to be a dad.
“Eric, I don’t have time for that. I’ll take the test later tonight when I get home–”
“You can’t drop this news on me and expect me to sit on it for hours and hours. I’m going to pick up a test and bring it to you if I have to.” Plus I want to be there when she takes the test. Sookie is the only woman I trust other than my mom, so I don’t believe she’s lying. I still need to see it.
“No, you’re not. I have meetings and phone conferences to call into today so you’re going to have to deal with the waiting the same as I am.”
“Fuck,” I grumble. “I’ll pick you up after work.”
“Then why am I going to your place if you can get off early? I’d rather go home and take a fucking nap.”
“I’m sorry, potential baby trumps work, Sookie. I shouldn’t leave here, but I want to know as soon as possible.”
“And you will but I don’t want to show up at the fitting all puffy if the test is positive. I don’t need Maria freaking out about how a baby might ruin her wedding,” she says.
“Fine,” I sigh. I never give in to Sookie this easily, I usually fight or sweet talk her into getting my own way, but I’m too sleepy to argue.
“I’ll call you later. I have a meeting to get to.”
“Alright, later.” I hang up and drop my head back again.
This is huge. Huge. I don’t want children; I certainly never thought I’d have one with Sookie. Just because I don’t want them doesn’t mean I’m not going to take responsibility for this child if she is pregnant. I was raised to take responsibility for my actions unlike my deadbeat father. I haven’t seen him since I was eight. I don’t know where he is or if he’s even alive anymore. I have that going for me in the way of better parenting; I’m not strung out on drugs.
If Sookie is right we’re going to have to figure out what to do. As far as I knew Sookie didn’t want children either. She can’t even settle down into a stable relationship, how is she going to deal with motherhood? All I know for sure is that I’m going to support her decision. It’s her body, not mine. If she chooses to abort it, which I don’t imagine she will, I’ll take a few days off to wait on her hand and foot until she recovers. If she decides on adoption I’ll be around to help her pick adoptive parents. The scariest option, the one she’s most likely going to take, is she’s going to keep it and we’re going to be co-parents. I don’t believe in being with someone for the sake of a child, so I wouldn’t dump Nora and beg Sookie to be my girl. We’ve tried that four times. It ends in disaster each time. We’re neighbors; it’s not going to be much different than if we lived together. It’s going to mean huge life changes. I’m sure the changes will be worth it though. According to my mother I won’t get it until I have children of my own. She still won’t tell me what ‘it’ is, but I’ll see, I guess.
If I don’t put this out of my mind for now I’ll never get anything done. I have a lot of shit to do today.
Later that night I’m still pacing my office waiting for a call from Sookie. She should be at my place now waiting on the cable guy. I’m on lap number forty when my phone chimes. I’ve been a jumpy son of a bitch since Sookie’s call earlier.
I pick up my phone and freeze when I see it’s a text from Sookie. I somehow make my thumbs work to press the screen to view the message. It’s a picture. Of a positive pregnancy test.
I feel light on my feet for a moment before I compose myself. Instead of texting back I hit the button to call her.
“You’re conscious,” she answers.
“This isn’t a joke is it?” She’s joked with me about kids in the past, but I know she wasn’t serious.
“Look I know it’s April Fool’s Day, but no, this isn’t a joke,” Sookie says.
I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. “This is… fuck,” I grumble. “How do we feel about this?” I don’t know how I feel about anything, so I might as well feel however she feels, right?
“I… I don’t know how I feel. I made an appointment with my lady doctor for tomorrow morning, so I guess I’ll go from there.”
“You know I’m here for you… fuck.” I don’t know what to say. “Do you want me to come with you? Should I come home now?” Lord fuckin’ knows I’m going to be useless here.
“I have to go to the fitting, Eric. I’ll be fine, really.” Sookie sounds… calm.
“I’m not going to be fine,” I mutter. “I’m going to come over when you’re done at the fitting. I’m never going to be able to work. My mind is racing, Sook. This is huge fuckin’ news. This is scary news. Shit…” Oh double shit. Nora. She’s going to flip her shit when I tell her.
“Well take some deep breaths and get it together… Daddy.”
“Sookie,” I sigh. “This is not a time for sex talk,” I joke. That’s all I can do.
“I’m joking, you know that,” I say. Yeah, not a good time for joking. “Sorry, I’m freaked out and pacing my office isn’t helping.”
“Go have a drink, genius,” she suggests. I hear my doorbell ring on her end. “Must be the cable guy. Or maybe it’s a horny pizza delivery guy…”
“It is not a horny pizza guy.” I don’t like to admit it, but it bothers me to think about her with any other men.
“Could be. I ordered a deep dish, extra cheese and sausage.”
“No fucking the pizza guy at my house,” I grumble. “And no missing the cable guy if it is a horny pizza guy, so you’re fucked, just not the way you want to be.”
“I can do him in the hallway,” she says. The door opens and the cable guy announces himself.
“Flash him your boobs and get me the porn channels for free,” I tell her. With the new pregnancy situation, I’m only partially serious.
“What’s in it for me?”
“Hmm, what do you want?”
“A no morning sickness guarantee.”
“My mom didn’t get morning sickness with me; let’s hope this baby is as easy as I was. That’s the best I can offer,” I tell her.
“That’s not a guarantee. No free porn for you,” she says. “Hey, that’s Maria on my call waiting. I’ll call you later.”
“Alright. I’ll see you tonight.” It’s not unheard of for me to crawl into bed with her after I’ve had a rough night.
Sookie hangs up on me and I finally take a seat. I know she’s not flipping out so that helps keep me calm. All I can think is that I’m going to be a father. I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it but I’ll be present which is a whole hell of a lot more than I can say for my own father. For what it’s worth, I’m glad I’m having my first child with Sookie. I know her. I know what to expect when I fight with her and when we make up. I know she likes her oatmeal with a little cinnamon in it and that she’s going to be a bear without coffee for the next nine months. I can handle that though. I’m also going to be stuck with her for at least eighteen more years, not that I was planning on going anywhere. We know what to expect with each other. That’s a definite plus in this situation.
Now I just need to figure out how to tell Nora I’m having a baby with another woman. That’s not going to be easy. That’s actually going to be a huge fight that I’m not looking forward to. Maybe that’s why Sookie doesn’t like Nora? Maybe it’s her attitude? Either way, as long as Nora is around Sookie is going to have to tolerate her. I’m not ready for that phone call today though. I want to go home and go to bed. That’s not an option, unfortunately. I need to get out to the bar area to check on customers. For the rest of the night I’m going to focus on work and I’ll worry about the baby tomorrow. It’s safe for now, wrapped up in Sookie’s belly… wow… Sookie is pregnant with my baby. That’s a fuckin’ trip that I’m not ready to be on.