I’m probably more nervous than Sookie. The last time I brought a girl home to meet Mom is was Callie and Mom hated her. I know she’s not going to hate Sookie, but still.
“Remember, she’s like an old Thalia,” I remind Sookie once we pull up in front of the house. “And she might ignore us once she gets her hands on Brie.”
“I’ll be fine,” Sookie smiles and gets out of the car to get Brie from her car seat.
I get out too and grab the diaper bag. Once she has Brie I lock up the car and we make our way to the front door. I don’t worry about knocking.
“Mom, we’re here,” I call out as we walk in. It smells delicious in here.
“Kitchen!” Mom shouts back.
I lead Sookie through the living room, setting the diaper bag down, to the kitchen. Mom is standing over the stove making what looks like mashed potatoes with cauliflower mixed in.
“Hey, Mom, this is Sookie,” I say as I walk up to kiss her cheek.
Mom hugs me back and then pretty much shoves me aside to hug Sookie.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Northman,” Sookie says.
“Call me Nina. And who is this little beauty?”
“This is Brie,” Sookie replies. Brie is giving Mom the same look she gave me when we first met.
“Sookie calls her my other girlfriend,” I chuckle.
“She’s a bit young for you, son,” Mom winks.
“She adores me, what can I say? It seems these Stackhouse girls can’t get enough of me,” I smile and put my arm around Sookie’s shoulder.
“I’m sure his ego is as big as his di–”
“Not in front of the baby,” I cut her off. It’s just an excuse for her to embarrass me less.
“She’s not wrong,” Sookie shrugs.
Brie starts squirming, signaling that she wants to get down and explore the house on her own. Mom’s got tons of toys around here for Drew so Brie will be fine.
“There’s a playpen in the living room she can play in if you want to put her down,” Mom offers.
“Thanks. I’ll be surprised if she’s not crawling by Christmas,” Sookie says.
Brie is still staring at Mom trying to figure her out.
“She will be. She wants to move,” I chime in and go to the stove to taste the potatoes.
Sookie takes Brie into the living room leaving me alone with Mom. She’ll only be gone a minute so Mom can’t get too nosey, but then she doesn’t mind saying whatever she wants in mixed company.
“Does she meet your looks standards, Mom?” I only ask because every woman she sets me up with has supermodel potential.
“She meets your standards and that’s all that matters,” she replies.
“She does,” I smile, “She’s a beautiful girl, inside and out.”
“I like her so far.”
Mom is a good judge of character. I don’t see that opinion changing.
“Good,” I smile and Sookie comes back. Brie is quiet so I’m taking that as a good sign.
“Sookie, can I get you something to drink?” Mom offers. “I’ve got water, milk, diet Pepsi, lemonade, iced tea or wine.”
“Oh, um, water is fine, thank you. Do you need help with anything?”
“No, you’re a guest. Take a load off,” Mom says and gets a glass down for Sookie’s water. “I hope you’re not vegetarian or vegan.”
“Nope, I’m a carnivore,” Sookie chuckles.
I hold back my comment about having a meat stick for her.
“I would’ve told you tofu meatloaf if she was, Mom,” I say.
“Tofu meatloaf? Are you high?” Mom looks at me like I cut a wet fart.
“It was a joke. Everybody knows tofu isn’t fit for consumption,” I chuckle.
Mom gives Sookie her water and slaps my hand with a wooden spoon when I try to get another taste of the potatoes.
“Mom,” I whine. I love the damn potatoes.
“I didn’t raise you to put your big mitts in the food like that,” Mom says.
“He does it to me too,” Sookie rats me out and I get a second whack with the spoon.
I just glare at her. “I might as go hang out with Brie. She doesn’t tattle on me,” I say.
“She will,” Sookie smirks.
“Nope. She’s gonna be a daddy’s girl,” I counter.
“Like Nora was?” Mom snorts.
“You already had me,” I shrug.
“He used to cry until he threw up when I’d leave him,” Mom tells Sookie.
I shrug again. I love my mom.
“Poor little you,” Sookie pouts.
“I eventually stopped,” I tell her.
“Eventually,” Mom snickers.
“Shouldn’t you be re-interrogating Sookie?” I ask, trying to get her off of baby Eric stories. It’s not embarrassing; I’d just rather not relive my clingy years.
“Whiner,” Mom rolls her eyes, but she looks at Sookie and says, “Describe yourself in four words.”
Sookie’s eyes go wide but she says, “Goonies never say die.”
Mom laughs and nudges my ribs. “I’m shocked you haven’t put a ring on it with an answer like that.”
“We’re working up to it,” I tell her and wink at Sookie. She’s still got a long way to go before she loves herself again enough to love me like that.
“Brie was Chunk for Halloween,” Sookie says and pulls her phone out to show Mom pictures.
“I’ll teach her the truffle shuffle when she can walk,” I tell them. I mastered it when I was eight even though I was more bones than fat at the time.
“She’s just the most precious little thing,” Mom gushes. “Do you mind me asking about her dad?” That’s uncharacterically polite for Mom.
“You mean in general? I’m afraid I don’t know much about him,” Sookie admits.
“He’s not in the picture, I assume?”
“No, he’s not. He doesn’t even know I got pregnant.”
Mom gives Sookie her phone back and Brie screeches in the other room, probably wanting someone’s attention.
“Excuse me,” Sookie says and gets up to go check on Brie.
As soon as she’s gone I tell Mom, “She’s scared Brie is going to have questions she doesn’t have the answers to. It’s been rough for her.”
“That’s not an unreasonable concern,” Mom says. “But she’s a long way from having to worry about that, especially if someone steps in to take the role of being Brie’s father.”
“I told her if I had my way Brie won’t have to worry about her biological father missing,” I admit. I mean it too.
“It’s to everyone’s advantage that Brie is still so little,” Mom says and turns to take the meatloaf out to let it rest.
My god. It’s wrapped in bacon.
“That’s the way I look at it,” I agree as I start to drool.
“Go wash up. Dinner is just about ready,” she says and hands me a little piece of bacon.
“Thanks, Mama.” I kiss her head and go to find Sookie and Brie. “We need to wash up,” I tell her. She’s changing the baby.
“Okay. I’ll be there in a minute. Does your mom have a highchair?”
“Yep. She has one on the chair on the backside of the table,” I tell her and head down the hall to wash my hands. By the time I’m done Sookie is looking for me with a used diaper in her hands. “Here.” I take the diaper and show her to the bathroom.
“Thanks. Your mom has the baby,” she tells me.
I smile and close the bathroom door. I press her up against the back and kiss her hard.
“Thanks, I needed that,” I whisper when I pull away.
“You’re welcome,” she smiles and pinches my ass.
I open the door and leave Sookie in the bathroom. When I find Mom she’s dancing around the kitchen singing to Brie. The baby has an unsure smile on her face as she studies Mom.
“She’s warming up pretty quick,” I say and Brie’s head whips to look over at me.
“Of course she is,” Mom says as she tickles Brie, making her squirm.
“Want me to take her?” I offer. I doubt she’ll give her up, but it’s worth a shot.
“Not a chance,” Mom says and pulls out the chair with the booster on it.
I go to the stove and I start moving stuff over to the table for the meal. When Sookie comes in she offers to help again, but I direct her to the chair she can sit in.
Once we’re all seated I start devouring my meatloaf. I love this stuff.
“Mom, why won’t you give me the recipe for this?” I ask. I remembered to swallow before talking.
“To torture you,” Mom says casually as she takes her seat at the table.
“I can probably figure out the recipe,” Sookie says. “My dad is a chef and I have a pretty good palate.”
“Or you can just ask her. She’ll give it to you,” I sigh. Evil woman.
“Nope, I’m taking this to the grave. Maybe I’ll put it in my will,” Mom says.
Brie slaps her hands against the table and tries to stick her fingers in Sookie’s mashed potatoes.
“Oh no you don’t,” Sookie moves her hand away and gets one of Brie’s warning looks. “Don’t give me that face.”
“It’s your face,” I chuckle.
“Is not,” she says and promptly makes the same face.
“Right.” I shake my head and take another bite.
“This meatloaf is fantastic, Nina,” Sookie compliments.
“Thank you,” Mom smiles.
Brie tries again to get her hand in Sookie’s potatoes.
“I said no,” Sookie says firmly and Brie’s lower lip starts quivering.
“Babe, you don’t think she’s old enough to have some?” I ask. The last thing I want is a screaming baby.
“That’s not the point. I told her no. Aren’t you the one giving me judgey eyes for picking her up when she cries?” Sookie points out.
Annnd already parenting differences. Again, I’m not the actual parent so I say, “Okay, but… maybe it’s time to let her try things. Not now since you said no, but maybe later when she forgets about this?”
“Eric, I know how to feed my kid,” she says.
I stay quiet so I don’t start an argument. I already consider Brie as my own, even though I’ll probably never get a say in how to raise her.
“Mom, did you make dessert?” I ask just to fill the silence.
“Banana pudding,” she answers.
“You’re going to spoil us,” I smile. “Mom makes delicious banana pudding,” I tell Sookie.
“I’m sure she does,” Sookie smiles. She pulls out a little container from out of nowhere and puts some Cheerios on the table for Brie.
We get through dinner mostly in silence. Brie is being the chatterbox in the party, but that’s fine. Once everyone is done eating I shoo Sookie and Mom into the living room so I can clean the kitchen. Sookie is a guest, but I’m not.
When I’m done I find Sookie and Mom sitting on the floor laughing about something with Brie playing on one of Drew’s toys.
“Thank you, Golden Boy,” Mom smiles at me.
Brie holds out her hand to offer me a chew on her toy.
“No thanks, pretty girl,” I tell her and bend down to pick her up. Mom has high ceilings so I take the toy from her and make her squeal when I toss her up in the air.
I throw her a few times until she’s laughing so hard she looks like she’s going to throw up. I give her raspberries on her neck making her little legs flail and she holds onto my face. I adore this little girl.
“She might’ve peed,” I laugh.
“She just hoovered down six ounces of milk so she might still hurl,” Sookie warns me.
“Alright, done with the aerial acts,” I say and set Brie down so I can sit down behind Sookie.
“So what do you do for a living, Sookie?” Mom asks, finally getting to the interview portion of the evening.
“I’m a workman’s comp insurance adjuster,” Sookie replies. “I get to work from home most of the time, which is a challenge sometimes, but I get to spend a lot of time with Brie. I’m glad I don’t have to put her in daycare.”
“Nora’s got Drew in daycare and she has mixed feelings about it,” Mom says. “But having your children home with you is always a better option, I think.”
“After her birthday I want to look into a Mommy and Me class or something so she gets used to being around other kids her age,” Sookie says.
“Do you think you’d want to set up some play dates with Drew until then?” I ask from behind her. I have my arms around her and I’m sufficiently snuggled into her back.
“Depends on if you want me and your sister ganging up on you.”
“I don’t care; I’m used to Mom and Nora ganging up on me.”
“He only cries a little now,” Mom smirks.
“I’ll have you know I haven’t cried in front of Sookie once,” I joke.
“You will,” Mom says with certainty.
Brie rolls her way over to Mom and pulls herself into a sitting position. Mom picks her up and sets her on her lap. She pushes a little ball toward me and Brie giggles when it hits my leg.
I reach up and push it back so it lands right in front of her. Sometimes I feel like I’m here for stupid human tricks to entertain the little one. Brie laughs more and lunges forward to push the ball back to me.
“Is this all I am, pretty girl? Fun and games?” I coo and push it to her again.
She squeals and picks up the ball with both hands. Mom helps her throw it at me and Brie squeals with laughter that makes her cheeks turn red.
“I think you got your answer,” Mom chuckles.
“I get snuggles when she’s mad at Sookie too.”
“I guess we know who the bad cop is.”
“That’ll change when she gets her first boyfriend,” Sookie snorts.
“You keep saying this, but I’m sure my size will be enough to intimidate any little shits that think about putting their hands on my girl. I won’t have to say a word.”
By the time we get home, Brie is asleep in her car seat. I carry her inside and take her upstairs to change her diaper and put her to bed. I find Eric putting leftover banana pudding in the fridge.
“Thank you,” I say and open the dishwasher to put away the clean stuff since I ran it before we left.
“For bringing that stuff in for me.”
“Oh, you’re welcome,” he smiles.
“Are you staying over?” I put the plates up in their cabinet.
“If you want me to. I just have to wake up a little early to run home to shower.”
“No, it’s okay. I just wasn’t sure,” I smile at him.
“Do you want me to?” he asks. “I like being here, Sook.”
I consider it for a moment and then say, “I think it’s a sleep alone night, if that’s okay.”
“Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll get going,” he says and walks over to give me a kiss.
I kiss him back for a few seconds before he pulls back.
“I’ll call you tomorrow,” I promise.
“Okay. Have a good night.” He pulls his keys out. “Tell my pretty girl goodnight if she wakes up.”
“I will,” I smile at him and walk Eric to the door.
“Date night Saturday if I don’t see you before?” he asks once he’s on the porch.
“I’m sure you will, but yes, I’ll definitely see you Saturday. I might even dig out one of my old dresses,” I smirk.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he grins.
“Alright, I’ll talk to tomorrow.” I kiss him one more time and then go back inside to finish cleaning up.
I’m in the middle of doing some paperwork when my phone rings. It’s Thal. She’s in Hawaii right now.
“Bitch, if you butt dialed me while you’re getting laid…” I say when I pick up.
“Are you sitting down?” she asks seriously.
“Yeah. Why?” Thal with serious voice is never good.
“I got a number for you.”
“Let me guess… the number of orgasms you’ve had since Saturday,” I chuckle.
“Rasul just hit on me while Mustafa was in the bathroom,” she tells me and then goes silent so I can let it sink in.
Oh. Ummmm… I’m not sure how I feel about this. She met him in Costa Rica so I wonder if he remembers her.
“Did he know who you were?” I ask her.
“Nope. I took his number and said I’d call him if I could get away from my husband. He’s a piece of shit, Sookie.”
“Seems like it,” I mutter.
“I’ll text you the number, but I had to call and tell you… I’ll let you do whatever you want with it,” she tells me. “I’m sorry, honey.”
“No, it’s okay. I’m guessing you didn’t tell him about the baby, right?”
“I didn’t even act like I knew who he was. It’s your call to tell him about Brie.”
“I’ll definitely think about it. I suppose he has the right to know, at least. Whether or not he wants to be part of her life is up to him.” I’m not worried about what Rasul is going to say. I’m worried about how Eric is going to react to this.
“Can you do me a favor and don’t shut Eric down if he flips his shit. I know you’re a pro at shutting people out…” Thal has been pro Eric since the first time we dated.
“I won’t do that but I might send him off to chill out.”
“I don’t blame him. He loves Brie like his own. It’s going to terrify him,” she reminds me.
“Yeah, I know,” I sigh heavily. “Trust me, I know.”
It’s a little frustrating to me that she’s more worried about Eric.
“Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay,” I say angrily. “This is a big deal for me and you’re more worried about Eric’s feelings.”
“I am not. I was just saying, because I know he’s going to be your rock through this… I know… ugh. No, I’m not more worried about him!”
“He’s my rock as long as I don’t fuck it up,” I reply. She pulled something similar to this when Eric and I broke up. Given the circumstances, that really hurt.
“Fuck it. I’ll send you the number,” she grumbles and hangs up. A few seconds later I get a text with an 808 number.
I take a deep breath so I don’t throw my phone across the damn room. My concentration is shot so I shut down my computer and go check on my daughter. Brie’s sound asleep in her crib. She looks sweet and peaceful lying there. Tomorrow I’ll call Rasul and give him the news.
Then I just have to tell Eric.
The next afternoon when Brie goes down for her nap I call the number Thal gave me. I hold my breath and I’m not sure if I’m hoping he’ll pick up or if I want it to be a wrong number.
“Hello?” a deep voice answers.
“Hi, I’m looking for Rasul?” I reply after a few seconds.
His voice is barely familiar to me.
“Uh, hi. I’m not sure if you remember me. My name is Sookie. We met down in Costa Rica back in July of last year,” I remind him.
“Uh…” he goes silent for a few moments. “Yeah… how’d you… hi?”
“You gave your number to my friend Thalia last night,” I explain. “I’m calling because the night we were together in Costa Rica I got pregnant.”
A full minute passes before he starts laughing.
“I don’t know who put you up to this, but it’s not funny.”
“No one put me up to this. I can text you a picture if you want. You have a daughter,” I tell him calmly.
“That’s bullshit. I was drunk, but I know we used a condom,” he tells me.
“I know we did, but it was defective,” I say. “She’s a little over six months old. Her name is Brie. Do you want to see a picture of her?”
“I don’t want anything to do with your kid,” he growls. “I don’t have any fucking kids, you crazy bitch.”
“Yes, you do, but if you don’t want to be part of her life that’s fine. I just thought you should have the choice.” I struggle to keep my composure and not burst into tears.
“No… just… no,” he says after an awkward moment of silence. He’s starting to believe me.
“That’s fine,” I say softly. A tear rolls down my cheek because this is incredibly unfair to Brie. She deserves better than this. “I’m sorry I bothered you. It won’t happen again.”
He lets out a heavy sigh. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?” he asks in a softer tone.
I sniffle and say, “Well, for starters, I have fair skin, straight blond hair and blue eyes. Brie has mocha skin, curly hair and dimples. She was born April 29th and you are the only one I was with in that time. Look, I’m not interested in child support or any of that. I just thought you might want to be part of her life.”
“Uh… can you send me the picture? I’m sorry, but this is a lot to take in…”
“Believe me, I know. I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant. Hang on. I’ll text the picture.” I look through my gallery and pick the one from the first time Brie had applesauce. She made the funniest face at first, but then she couldn’t get enough of it. I send the picture to Rasul, and then find one of me and Brie from Labor Day weekend. It’s obvious she didn’t get her skin tone and hair from me.
“Holy shit,” he mutters a few moments later.
“Yeah. She’s beautiful, isn’t she? She just started sitting up on her own two weeks ago. I think she’ll be crawling soon. Listen, Rasul, I’m in a relationship now and he loves Brie. But if you want to be her dad you have that right,” I tell him. “You don’t have to decide right this second, but I do need to know where you stand on this.”
“I… I’m sorry, I’m stunned right now. She’s obviously mine… can I call you back after this sinks in?”
“Yes, of course. I guess we’ll be in touch unless you have other questions you want to ask?”
“She’s healthy? The man… is he good to her?”
“She’s perfect. She was seven pounds when she was born and twenty-two inches long. She’s in all the right percentiles for growth and weight. She laughs a lot. She has the most beautiful laugh you’ve ever heard. She also adores my boyfriend and the feeling is mutual. He’s prepared to be her dad. He feeds her, bathes her, plays with her. He even gets up in the middle of the night with her,” I tell him.
“Good, that’s real good… I need to go,” he tells me. “This is too much right now.”
“Okay, I guess I’ll–” I stop when the line goes dead.
I don’t know what to think. He’s at least thinking about this. I sit on the edge of my bed for a few minutes and then text Eric.
Me: I found Rasul. He knows about Brie.
He calls back immediately.
“How?” is all he says when I pick up.
“Thal got his number last night wherever she was. He hit on her, apparently. She gave me the number and I called him,” I explain.
“What did he say?”
“He’s understandably shocked but I sent him a picture of Brie and he acknowledged she’s his daughter. He’s going to call me back after he makes up his mind.”
“Alright… how are you feeling about this?” he asks in a concerned tone.
“I don’t know. I guess it depends on what he decides. For me it would be convenient if he just disappears, but I’m not sure if that’s the best thing for Brie.”
He sighs and says, “As much as I hate to admit it he has a right to know her if he wants to.”
“Pretty much,” I sigh. “I don’t know when I’ll hear from him again.”
“Do you want me to come over after work?”
“Sure,” I shrug, not that he can see it.
“Okay. I can’t talk; I have a meeting to run in two minutes.”
“Okay. I’ll see you later then. Have a good afternoon,” I tell him and we hang up.
I sit there for another few minutes before I get up and get back to work.