I was close to bringing a puppy home myself when Eric and I went to the shelter. My heart wasn’t made for puppy searching. I may have even cried when we had to leave one little guy behind. There was a pit bull puppy that wanted me as his mama. My one bedroom apartment wasn’t even close to big enough for a dog that size. I wasn’t even sure it was big enough for a human, let alone an animal. Eric liked him well enough, but it was obvious he would’ve been stuck to me and that wasn’t going to work unless we lived together. We were nowhere close to being ready for that move. I like Eric more than I had ever liked any man, and our compatibility was off the charts, but that was a leap we weren’t ready for. I knew he felt the same way.
He found a beagle mix that had long dirty blonde hair. He was one of the last dogs we got to see and it was obvious the moment they met eyes that they were meant for each other. He sniffed Eric’s ankle; walked around his legs a few times, and that was it. He took a seat on his foot and wasn’t budging. Eric was his human; there was no changing his mind.
His name was already Sawyer, and it seemed to fit him, so Eric was keeping it. He looked like a little old man to me, already too wise for his months. If he was at a rescue, that may have been true. It didn’t matter anymore though, he bad his forever home. I knew Eric was going to take good care of him. We already had a bed and bowls at the house ready for him. We just needed the right dog to take… Eric, not we. We were a we, but it wasn’t our stuff. That was weird… Not a wrong weird, but a happy, content weird.
“I just thought of us as a ‘we’ for the first time,” I said out loud. We were in his backyard, allowing Sawyer to sniff out the lay of the land.
Eric smiled. “I called you my girlfriend earlier,” he admitted.
“Really?” I smiled back. “That makes me happy.” I scooted over to wrap my arms around his middle. “I was thinking about going to visit my parents and Gran to tell them about you.”
“That’s a pretty big deal.”
“You’re a pretty big deal,” I replied. “To me anyway.” I decided to keep the fact that I didn’t remember having the type of feelings I had for him, for anyone else. It wasn’t love, but I knew I was going to fall hard for him. It was a little scary.
“I am a pretty big deal,” he agreed in a rare moment of cockiness.
“Too much Anchorman,” I muttered. I looked up at him to take the offered kiss.
“No such thing,” he replied.
“You’re lucky you’re cute, you know that?” I teased.
“I think I have more to offer than cute.”
He did have a lot more to offer. He was kind, funny, goofy, smart, loyal from what I knew about him. He had a serious side, and knew when to use it. Those were just a few things.
“So far I’ve enjoyed everything you’ve offered me,” I told him. “Your cuteness isn’t what’s keeping me.”
“Good.” He leaned down to kiss me again.
“Keep up all that kissin’ and Sawyer is going to spend his first few hours alone,” I warned. I would have never turn down Eric kisses.
“I don’t know, he might be a better kisser than you,” Eric teased me.
Damnit. I knew my snuggles comment would come back to bite me in the ass.
“If you’d rather have dog tongue on you over mine… that’s a little sick, but whatever floats your boat,” I shrugged. “I’ll just keep my kisses to myself.”
“Liar,” he challenged. “You know you can’t resist me.”
“Oh, I think that’s the other way around, Mister.” He was absolutely irresistible to me.
“Oh we’ll see about that.” He let go of me and went to go check on Sawyer, who was sniffing around the back end of the yard.
I knew how to get Eric, and the fact that I had ingredients in his fridge to make him homemade lasagna would have probably done it.
“I’m going to go in and start dinner,” I called out as he got closer to Sawyer. I was still a little bummed about my pit bull. I wanted to call him Sparky. He looked like a Sparky.
“Okay. Sawyer and I will stay here out of your way.”
“Good call,” I chuckled.
I turned to go into the house. Once I got into the kitchen I pulled my cardigan off to hang over the back of the chair before I started to pull ingredients out. I usually made enough for two pans of lasagna, I didn’t know how to scale it down to an 8×8, but I didn’t think Eric would mind. I had the bell peppers and onions diced fine and simmering on the stove, just about ready for sauce, and the ground hot Italian sausage browning on the stove when my phone rang. From the song, Imagine, I could tell it was either my Aunt Linda, or Hadley calling from her place, which was more likely.
“Hello?” I answered, immediately putting my phone on speaker and on the counter so I could work.
“Holler.” It was Hadley.
“Hey,” I smiled even though she couldn’t see it. “Long time, no talk.” I wasn’t even sure if she knew about my job unless Aunt Linda told her. I’d talked to her right after I got it.
“What’s up? Where are you? I went by your place and you’re not there.”
“I’m at my boyfriend’s house.” Ooooh, that felt good to say. “I’m making dinner right now.”
“Say what? Who? When? How?”
I laughed and said, “His name is Eric. We met at work, and it’s been a few weeks. He’s adorable, and sweet, and gives me someone to cook for.” She knew I cooked for an Army regardless. It was nice having someone around to eat most of it. I wiped my hands off and picked up my phone to start looking for a picture to send to her.
“Oooh I want pics!”
“I know. Check your cell phone.” I took mine off speaker so Eric couldn’t hear her. She could be… he didn’t need to hear her opinion of him.
“Schwiiiinnnng,” she said loudly. “Holy hotcakes, he’s sexy, Sook.”
“I know. He’s also funny, and outside playing with the puppy he just rescued.” He was pretty much the full package. I grabbed the spoon to stir the sauce. The strainer was already in the sink, ready the drain the meat.
“How have your ovaries not exploded?”
“It’s a daily struggle to keep them in check,” I laughed. I picked up the pan and managed to pour the meat into the strainer without needing a second hand.
“So is he a mechanic or something? Because mechanics are sexy.”
“He’s the service writer, but he knows what he’s doing under the hood,” I told her. She was going to turn it into something dirty.
“That’s what she said,” she snickered.
“Oh, he knows what he’s doing under that hood too,” I chuckled. I shook the strainer one last time and then moved to pour it into the sauce. “I’m going to put my phone on speaker, so be good in case he walks into the room.”
“You know I can’t make any promises.”
“I know.” He was going to have to get used to her if we stayed together anyway. I put the phone on speaker. It was time to drain the noodles, and that was definitely a two handed job. “What have you been up to?” I asked.
“Oh, you know… the usual… working at the insurance company, fighting with Remy… living the dream,” she snickered.
“Sounds pretty exciting,” I joked. “Are you guys fighting about anything big, or just the usual fights?” I knew Remy wanted babies, but Hadley wasn’t ready yet.
“Same shit different day,” she sighed. “I love him and all but damn. I’m not popping out a kid because he doesn’t want ‘em when he’s over thirty.”
“Thank fuck Eric and I are on the same page where kids are concerned,” I chuckled. I had the pan ready to start layering as soon as the noodles were cool enough for me to handle.
“Oh Remy came in the other night with studies about how pregnancy makes your hair thicker and your nails stronger,” she told me. “Like that’s going to make me forget my tits’ll be leakin’ like a damn faucet and I could end up with hemorrhoids.”
“Men are shallow, Had,” I reminded her. “They don’t think about that shit.”
“Plus I’d have to quit smokin’ and I like my cigarettes.”
“You don’t need cigarettes. They’re horrible for you,” I told her. I hated that she smoked, especially knowing cancer ran in our family, not that smoking caused it.
“Yeah, yeah, Mom, I got the memo,” she said. I could hear her rolling her eyes.
“Just sayin’.” She could probably see my shrug too. “My biggest vice will be caffeine when I decide to have them.”
“Ha! Sookie without coffee…”
“Stranger things have happened.” I pulled my cheese mixture from the fridge. I was surprised Eric wasn’t in the house trying to see what I was making.
“Like you didn’t find a stalker boyfriend for a change?”
“Shut up,” I laughed. “I can’t help it if I’m irresistible.”
“Or a bad judge of character,” she snickered.
“Assface,” I chuckled. “I’ve judged well this time.” I looked out the window to see Eric playing tug of war with Sawyer. He’d bought him some ropes and chew toys. He was going to be an amazing father when the time came. The thought of having kids with him made me take pause. It didn’t feel wrong.
“Sounds like it. Fuck, the egg terrorist is calling,” she sighed.
“Alright. I’ll talk to you later. Love you.”
Hadley responded in kind before she hung up to answer Remy’s call. I pushed my phone aside and got the pan out so I could start layering the lasagna. I also wanted to make garlic bread so one when the lasagna was in the oven I would put that together.
It didn’t take too long to get everything ready to go. As soon as I put the lasagna in the oven I went out back.
“Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes if you want to wash up,” I called out to Eric.
“Awesome. What’s for dinner?” Eric threw one of the toys he’d gotten for Sawyer, who took off to fetch it.
“Lasagna and garlic bread. I even have a Cesar salad mix if you’re up for it,” I told him.
“Only if you want it,” he shrugged.
I was quickly learning Eric wasn’t a huge veggie fan. That was fine by me, as long as he made our kids– I had to stop that thought right there.
“I’m going to go back in to make the garlic bread. You two are cute out here, by the way,” I winked.
“Thanks. I’ll be in to wash up in a minute.”
I went back into the house to get started on the bread. I already had the butter softened, and the garlic mixed in with it. I spread it on, sprinkled some cheese on, and slid it into the oven on the top rack near the broiler. While everything was cooking I started to clean up my mess. I was just finishing up the pasta pot when Eric came in drying his hands. The lasagna was ready to come out of the oven.
“Can you get down some plates?” I asked him as I grabbed the oven mitts to pull the bread and pasta out of the oven. It was meaty and cheesy. I had a feeling Eric would like it.
“Of course.” Of course he grabbed me around my waist to give me one of those kisses that made my knees weak. “You were right. You’re better.” He let me go and got out the plates.
I had to shake off the feelings he gave me when he kissed me like that. I moved to the oven and pulled the food out. I set it on the counter to cool and could tell immediately that Eric was plotting how to devour as much as possible with minimal burn. The cheese was bubbly and the aroma was damn near intoxicating. Being in the kitchen the whole time, the smell didn’t really hit until right in the end.
“I have a bottle of red wine if you’re interested,” I told him.
“Sure. You know I didn’t even realize you had the stuff to make this in my house.” That just went to show how little time he spent in his fridge unless he was getting a beer.
“How did you survive before you met me?” I asked seriously.
“Takeout,” he answered just as seriously.
“That’s all going to change,” I warned. It was also cheaper to cook at home, not that Eric was hurting for money.
“Is that right?” He cut into his lasagna to take a bite.
“As long as you keep me around, yep,” I nodded. I was still up so I sliced off a few pieces of garlic bread for him and took them to him at the table.
“Uh oh. You’re not going to start monitoring what I eat, are you?”
“No, you’re an adult, but if I’m here I feel better about home cooked over takeout,” I told him. “If you don’t want it, that’s fine. I can cook for myself, but you seem to like it so far.”
“Honey, you’re a great cook,” he said with his mouth full.
“Thanks,” I chuckled. I got my own plate ready, which had quite a bit less than his. I took a seat at the table next to him and poured him a glass of wine, along with my own. “I like cooking. It makes me feel closer to Gran.” The lasagna recipe was mine, though.
“Jim Beam makes me feel closer to my dad but not in a good way,” Eric said.
I frowned and reached over to rest my hand on his arm. “Sorry,” I said quietly.
“Don’t apologize. I wasn’t saying that to make you feel bad.”
I nodded and took my hand back to start eating. I felt bad anyway, but I kept it to myself.
“How’s Sawyer seem to like it here so far?” I asked to change the subject. I only paid a little bit of attention while I was cooking.
“So far so good. There’s enough room for him to run around in the yard. If we take him out to the lake with us the cabin’s on more than an acre of land so he’ll have room to run out there, too,” Eric told me. “Are you sure you’re okay leaving that Pit bull behind?”
“I don’t have the room for him,” I pouted. I wasn’t okay with it, but I didn’t have much choice. He was so sweet and the way he looked at me with his little sad puppy eyes and his slow wagging tail… ugh. I wanted to run back to get him and beg Eric to let me keep him out at his place.
“That’s too bad,” Eric said.
“I know, but maybe he’ll find someone else he loves more than me,” I replied.
“Could be,” he nodded. Eric took a drink of his wine. “You know there’s another option…”
“He could stay here and be Sawyer’s buddy,” he suggested.
“Are you serious?” I asked. “I’m not here very often, and you’d have to feed him, and pick up his poop.” I was sure Eric knew I’d give him the money for dog food if I did agree.
“I think it would be good for Sawyer to have a friend to keep him occupied,” he said. “But if you think he’d be better off somewhere else–”
“He would best with me,” I said, stopping him mid-sentence. “You know that means I’ll be out here more, right?”
“For the dog, of course,” he smirked.
“Of course,” I replied. “I kinda like you a lot too.”
“Yeah, but you’ll be here for puppy snuggles. I’ll just be the pooper scooper you used to like,” he sighed dramatically.
“You’d be the amazing man that made it possible to get those puppy snuggles,” I pointed out. “You’d have some serious benefits.”
“Oh yeah? Such as?”
“Well, I’d cook for starters. I’d run around with my new baby so you’d get to see my tits bounce. You seem to like blowjobs… the list goes on.”
“Plus I’d get to see that pretty smile of yours.”
I couldn’t help but to give him that smile. I leaned over the table to offer him a kiss. How was it possible for one man to be so sweet?
“I’d give you all the smiles you wanted,” I said as I pulled back from the kiss.
“I know you would.” Eric shoveled another bite of lasagna into his mouth.
It was too late to go back to get the puppy that night, but I planned on getting up and going to get it first thing in the morning. I hated that I had to go to work afterwards.
“Do you think Des would mind if I took the puppy to work with me?”
“I don’t think the shop is a good place for a dog, do you?”
“No, but maybe just one day. I hate to pick him up and then leave him all alone,” I said. “Or, I can call the shelter and ask them to keep it for me so I can get it after work.”
“That’s a better idea. It’s not safe for a dog to be out in the shop. It’s too easy for someone to drop a car on him,” he pointed out.
“Not if I kept him in the office with me,” I shrugged. I took a bite of my lasagna.
“It’s not a place for dogs, Sook.”
“I know. Now that I know I can have him I want him,” I pouted. I knew it wasn’t attractive. I didn’t even want to think about what I’d do if Eric and I broke up.
“I get it. honey, but you can’t endanger the poor thing. That’s what you’re trying to save him from.”
“I know.” I took a sip of my wine and sat back in my chair.
I was beyond happy that I had a boyfriend willing to do something so amazing for me. I think he secretly liked my puppy pick too. Not that Sawyer wasn’t a great dog. He was. He was really sweet too, and had a calm demeanor. I had a feeling my little Pit would be a good fit for him. Eric was right too, it would be good for them to have each other while he was at work.
Eric had won serious brownie points with me. After dinner he was going to get the blowjob of a lifetime from me.