I don’t know what to do, what to think. I played it cool when Sookie was at the house, but inside I was freaking the fuck out. It’s been two days since she came by and I’ve had a little time to think about it. Well, I’m still tripping over it since Stan is snapping in my face.
“Huh?” I say, looking up at him.
“Where the hell are you?” he asks me.
“Right here,” I reply.
“Uh huh,” he smirks. “You’ve been the walking dead since Tuesday.”
I sigh and sit back in my chair. “Apparently I got a girl pregnant,” I tell him.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask.
“Man, chill. It was just a joke,” he chuckles. “I didn’t know you were seeing someone.”
“I’m not,” I admit. “It was a one nighter.”
“Right, it was the stripper I used to go see,” I tell him. Not too many people know about my minor obsession with her. I never intended to get her pregnant though.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa… you fucked the stripper?”
“Mmhmm,” I nod. “A couple months ago.”
“Shit, son,” he shakes his head. “And you knocked her up?”
“Yeah. I fainted,” I laugh. “I still have no clue what I’m doing. She hasn’t decided what she’s doing yet.”
“Wow… well… nice shootin’, Tex,” he smirks.
“Right. She said she was on the pill. I just… I’m still at a loss. I told her even if she gets rid of it I’d like to remain friends,” I say.
“Friends, huh? Has it occurred to you that this could all be a scam?” he asks.
“What?” I say, sitting back like he’s crazy. “No, she wouldn’t do that.” I’ve gotten to know Sookie fairly well… no, I guess I got to know Montana. “Noooo, no, she wouldn’t do that.”
“You sure about that? I mean think about it, man. She’s young, taking her clothes off for money and you would make a pretty good payday in child support,” he says.
“Dude, it took me over six months to get her to come home with me. She’s in school, she didn’t even know how much money I have,” I explain. That’s just not her M.O. “We’ve spent hours talking. No, I trust it.”
“You spent hours talking to a woman whose job it is to hustle dudes for money. How many thousands of dollars have you dropped on her already?” he points out. “You were going there specifically to see her for how long? She’s not stupid. Those chicks can smell the money.”
I sigh and drop my head back. “The first thing out of her mouth was she didn’t want anything from me. She just thought I had a right to know.”
“Did you just fall off the turnip truck?” he looks at me with disbelief. “Of course she said she didn’t want anything from you.”
I think about it a moment. He could be right, but I just don’t get the gold digger vibe from her.
“I don’t know, I just don’t get that feeling from her,” I shrug. “I’m good at reading people.”
“Yeah well, just be careful,” he advises.
“I will,” I promise. “Thanks for the heads up.”
He shakes his head.
I go back to work. I’m trying to negotiate a deal on a brand new multimillion dollar home a few blocks away from mine.
It’s the next Friday night when I see Sookie again. She shows up at my house just after seven. I’ve only been home around ten minutes when I hear her dainty knock.
I walk out to answer the door. When I open it she smiles.
“Hi, come on in,” I smile.
“Thanks,” she says as she steps inside.
I lean down to kiss her cheek before leading her into the living room.
“Have a seat,” I offer, motioning to the couch.
“Thanks,” she says again and sits down on the sofa. “How are you doing?”
“Good, how are you?”
“Not too bad. I threw up a little this afternoon, but otherwise I’ve been alright.”
“I’m sorry,” I frown. “So… what brings you by? Not that you aren’t welcome to come over whenever.”
She takes a deep breath and says, “I made a decision.”
“Oh yeah?” My heart starts racing a million miles a minute. I’ve never wanted children, but I won’t allow her to raise this kid without me if she’s keeping it.
“I’ve decided I’m keeping the baby,” she says. “I meant what I said before. I really don’t expect you to do anything.”
“I know,” I nod. My heart drops out of my ass at her decision. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. “I won’t make you do this alone. I couldn’t live with myself knowing I had a child I denied.”
“Okay,” she says. “Well… I um… my next appointment is in three weeks and I’ll be having my first ultrasound then if you want to come.”
“Of course I want to be there.” I’m probably going to faint again.
“Okay. Well I’ll text you all the information so you have it,” she promises.
“Okay. Uh, are you just here for that or do you want to stay a while? I haven’t had dinner yet,” I say.
“I wish I could but I have to get to work. You know how busy Friday nights are,” she says as she stands up. “And pretty soon it won’t just be my boobs getting bigger.”
I don’t know how I feel about her stripping with my baby in her belly. As a matter of fact it makes me very uncomfortable, but I can’t really tell her no. It’s her body and it’s her only source of income. Offering to suddenly be her sugar daddy probably wouldn’t fly.
“Ah, okay. Are you going to quit when you start showing?” I ask.
“I’ve started applying for other jobs. I can always wait tables if I have to. It won’t be as lucrative but my friend Sam owns a bar across town and I’ve worked for him before.”
“You know if it gets to be too much… never mind.” This is exactly what Stan was talking about. I barely know her and I’m getting ready to offer to pay her rent.
Sookie looks at me curiously but whatever she’s thinking she doesn’t say out loud.
“I’ll text you tomorrow with the office address for my doctor,” she tells me.
“Alright. Do you want… what are you doing after work?” She’s probably going home to sleep.
“I don’t get off until closing so I’m going straight home and passing out. I took two naps today already.”
“Oh, wow.” Fuck. I hate not knowing what to say.
“My little sidekick is tiring me out,” she says with a little smile. “Okay, I should get going before I decide to try squatting in one of the bazillion bedrooms here in the Overlook Hotel.”
“You should,” I blurt out. “Don’t go.” Ugh. I’m a moron. She’s going to think I’m crazy, but I really don’t want her dancing.
“That’s sweet, but Mama’s got bills to pay,” Sookie smiles a little bigger. “I’ll talk to you soon.” She turns and heads for the front door.
“Sookie, stay.” What the hell is wrong with me? “Look at it as my first child support payment. I can give you whatever I would’ve spent there anyway… not that… Jesus, this sounds bad. I just… I don’t want you to go.”
“Eric, I don’t want a dime from you,” Sookie says. “I didn’t come here for that. I have to go.”
“I know you didn’t come here for money,” I sigh. “Yeah, you’re carrying it, but it’s my kid too. I’m sorry I’m about to sound like a major dick, but if you’re carrying my child I don’t want you dancing.” I might as well be honest; I’ve got nothing to lose
She turns and looks at me before she says, “Frankly, that’s not your decision. Goodnight, Eric.” Sookie opens the door and walks out, slamming the door behind her.
I didn’t mean to offend her. I don’t even know her. This promises to be a very awkward and angry lifetime if I keep doing shit like that.
I go to the kitchen to see what I have. A whole lot of nothing. Well, fuck me. I feel like a complete ass for what I said. It’s true, I’d rather not have her dance, but I know I barely know the girl. I should’ve held off if I had to say it at all.
I close the refrigerator and go up to my room to take a quick shower. It’s probably going to take her a little time to get ready. I make a call to The Love Shack and reserve my normal room with Sookie — Montana. Once I’m ready I hop in my Audi and make the small trek to the club. When I get in the take me to the room. Sookie is on the stage right now, so I pause to watch her a moment. She’s absolutely stunning. I’ve thought that since the first time I saw her though.
When I get to the room I have to wait about forty minutes for her to come in. I don’t greet her right away like I normally and she looks pissed… maybe hurt?
“What are you doing here?” she demands.
“I’m here to apologize,” I say calmly. “What I said was offensive and I’m sorry.”
“Apology accepted. You can go now.”
“No thanks, I’d like to spend some time with you,” I tell her. “I would offer to dance for you, but I have no rhythm.”
Sookie comes closer to me and whisper-yells, “I told you the club and relationships don’t mix and I meant it. I don’t want everyone here knowing my personal business. I’m asking you nicely to please leave.”
I stand up and tell her, “I don’t want your personal business out there either, that’s why I got the room, like normal, to apologize. This is the last time I’ll come here, I promise. I also know you’re tired. Take a seat and we can talk,” I suggest.
“Are your ears so full of money that you can’t hear me? I said no!” Sookie yells and within seconds a large bald guy is at the door to check on us.
“Is there a problem here, Montana?” he asks, staring at me.
I glare at Sookie and tell Gigantor, “No, I was just leaving.” I want to tell Sookie to call me so we can talk about this later, but I promised I wouldn’t bring our relationship to the club.
“I’ll see you out,” Baldie says.
I look away from Sookie and walk past the Silverback. I can feel him walking behind me as I head out the front door. I stop just outside and turn to look at him.
“I feel better about this with you here,” I say, earning a confused look from him.
“Yeah, okay… Have a good night, buddy,” he says.
Right. This makes zero sense to him. I shake my head and go to my car. I’m sure Sookie’s going to make it so I can’t go back to the club even if I wanted to. I wouldn’t though. This was just to apologize.
I wait almost a week to reach out to Sookie again. I’ve talked to Stan about it again and no matter how much I defend her he still thinks she’s after my money. Whatever.
It’s late afternoon on Wednesday and I give her a call.
“Hello,” she answers breathlessly.
“Hi, it’s Eric,” I say.
“I know. What’s up?”
“I wanted to know if you’d like to have dinner before you go to work.” I have a lot more apologizing to do.
“I’m off tonight. I already started dinner.”
“Oh…” Well, there goes that plan.
“You can come by if you want,” she offers. “You know, make sure I’m not putting a stripper pole in the nursery.”
“Sookie, that comment had nothing to do with you stripping and everything to do with the strain you put on your body. What happens if you get sick in the middle of dancing, or you fall or something? I apologized because I know how shitty it sounded. I didn’t mean to offend you by it, so I apologize again.”
“Okay,” she says.
“May I still come over?” I ask.
“As long as you keep your lectures to yourself.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know how to navigate this, just as I’m sure you don’t. What’s your address?”
She gives it to me and then we hang up. I’m still at work so I make a couple more quick calls and then hop in my car. On the way to her apartment I stop at a florist and get a bouquet of daisies. It takes a few more minutes to get to her place. As I walk up I take note that it looks safe. I don’t care what Sookie thinks, she’s carrying my child. I’m going to worry about her health and safety.
When I get to her apartment I knock on the door and wait.
The door opens to reveal Sookie wearing nothing but a bikini. Her hair is piled up on top of her head and music is playing inside. I can see right into her kitchen and living room from the front door.
“Hi. Come in.” Sookie steps back to let me in.
“Hi,” I smile and hand her the flowers.
“Thank you.” She closes the door and I can see the dining area to the left, along with a door that’s only cracked open. There’s a hallway to the left as well.
“You’re welcome. What are you cooking?” I ask as I follow her through the apartment.
“Pork chops are slow cooking in cream of mushroom soup,” she says as she reaches into an upper cabinet near the double ovens for a vase.
“Smells delicious. You need help?” I ask when it looks like she’s struggling a little.
“No, I got it.” Sookie goes around the corner and grabs a little pink step stool she can stand on. It’s cute.
“So… anything new?” I still want to get to know her better, but I feel like I’m getting the cold shoulder from her.
“Not really. I have finals next week and I went on a date last night,” she says casually as she gets her vase down.
“Huh, I didn’t realize dating other people was an option,” I reply. That bugs me too.
“Why wouldn’t it be? You just said you wanted to hang out and fuck me if I got horny,” she points out.
“Sookie, I like you for more than sex. I guess I wasn’t clear. When I said I wanted to get to know you better it meant in more of a datey manner. I didn’t realize you were still putting yourself on the market to date other guys.”
“Well to me hanging out isn’t dating. You never asked me out once. You asked me to fuck you, but that’s not a date either.”
“Will you go on a date with me?” I blurt.
“I’ll think about it,” she replies.
I sigh and ask, “Are you still upset with me?”
“A little. You broke a promise.”
“I did, but the rules changed a little when you told me you were pregnant. I wasn’t there for a dance, but I booked the room to keep the conversation quiet so your coworkers wouldn’t overhear us talking. I’m sorry, Sookie. I’ll probably do a million more things completely wrong, but just know I don’t have bad intentions when I do them. I just don’t know what else to do. You’re carrying my baby, but you barely talk to me. I’m sure that’s my fault, and I want to fix that.”
Sookie puts the flowers on a sideboard on the living room side of the peninsula.
“Eric, every single VIP room at the club is bugged and under surveillance to make sure we’re not making any deals for prostitution. If we get caught making solicitation deals on site, we get fired. Plus it’s for our own protection in case a customer crosses a line we’re not comfortable with. So going to one of those rooms to talk wasn’t going to work,” she tells me and moves over to the TV to turn the music down. “And I haven’t talked to you much because I’m busy. I work, I go to school, I have homework, a house to clean and friends to see. There are lots of reasons outside of the club why I don’t have a boyfriend, that just happens to be the biggest.”
I want to call her out on making time for a date, but I hold my tongue.
“When are your finals over?” I ask instead.
“My last one is next Friday morning.”
“Will you allow me to pick you up after that for lunch? I understand you’re busy, but with a baby on the way I should be factored in somewhere too.”
“I can meet you somewhere. I have a dentist appointment that afternoon.”
“Okay,” I agree. “I’d like to have a time when we aren’t on a schedule, please.” I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
“After finals I’ll look at my schedule and see,” she says.
“Thank you.” That’s all I can really ask. It’s frustrating, but it’ll have to work for now.
“I’m going to go put some clothes on. I’ll be right back.”
“Alright.” I go toward her slider and step out onto her balcony while she heads to her room. I just need some fresh air. I don’t know what the fuck is happening here, but it all seems to be going wrong and every time I open my mouth I sound like an asshole, at the same time getting anything from her is like pulling teeth.
I’m leaning on the edge, looking out over her apartment complex when she comes out to join me. Sookie sits down at the patio table that comfortably seats four, and props her feet up on a chair to get sun on her legs.
“So how’s work going for you?” she asks.
“Good. I closed on a house this morning,” I say. “I’m meeting with a new client tomorrow, which is always stressful.”
She nods and asks, “Why did you get into real estate?”
“My mom did real estate part-time when I was growing up. She started teaching me about it when I was about fourteen. By the time I was ready to start a career I already knew more than people twice my age, so I figured why not,” I shrug.
“Do you like it, though?”
“Most of the time. It’s an always on job, I make too much money, and I have to deal with complete assholes that think they’re better than everyone else because they have money. Other than that, I love it. I love that I’m not in an office all the time. I love getting to see new homes and negotiating deals. So, the job itself, yes, the people I work with, not so much,” I smile.
Sookie snickers and says, “I can relate. Boy, can I relate.”
“I can’t imagine the shit you have to deal with,” I say, shaking my head. “Are the girls really catty behind the scenes or do you all get along?”
“Some of them are catty. Pam’s girlfriend of the month, Amelia, thinks she’s hot shit. Unfortunately Pam changes girlfriends faster than some change their underwear, so Amelia’s time is limited. While she’s Pam’s favorite, however, she’s come to think of herself as a manager or some shit. I may or may not have put itching powder in her glitter.”
I smile and say, “Sometimes I wish I could do shit like that to people.”
“The bitch needed a lesson about being annoyed,” Sookie shrugs. “My friend Tara made her Blondies with laxative chips.”
“Wow, remind me to never get on Tara’s bad side,” I say.
“In all fairness, Amelia deserved it. She and Tara were booked to dance for a bachelor party and Amelia decided Tara didn’t put in equal work so she pocketed a bigger share of the tips.”
“That’s bullshit, I agree with Tara then,” I say, getting annoyed with this Amelia girl. “Do any of your friends or coworkers know about the baby?”
“Tara does. She’s supporting twins. Her ex ran off with some floozy when Robbie and Sara were three months old. Amelia is dancing to piss off daddy and find new dicks to ride,” she tells me. She’s obviously agitated about this too.
“I don’t know this chick, but she sounds like a bitchy, dirty whore.”
“And her tits are fake. I’m sure you’ve seen her around. She’s the one that always has a hot pink streak in her hair and glows like a fucking disco ball.”
“Mmhmm, she looks like a walking STD. She started walking toward me once and I quickly turned the other way. I didn’t want her anywhere near me,” I shiver.
“She’s a cunt. I don’t like using that word to describe other women, but she is.”
“I’ve told one of my friends about the baby,” I admit, changing the subject from the cunt. “He tried to convince me you were trying to trap me.”
“What do you think?”
“I know you aren’t. You’re a kind, honest girl,” I say sincerely. “I know I was getting to know Montana every week, but I like to think Sookie came through too.”
“She did,” Sookie nods. “I don’t blame your friend though. I’d be suspicious too.”
“If I’d taken any other girl home I would be. If you were after my money you would’ve come home with me months prior. You wouldn’t have asked me not to come back to the club. You’ve told me countless times you don’t want anything from me. I told you I can generally read people pretty well,” I shrug.
“So can I. Why do you think I got into psychology?” Sookie smiles. “You have to be able to read people to be a good salesperson and doing what I do is a form of that.”
“Mmhmm,” I nod. “As for the money thing; I don’t offer it to you because I think you want it, or you can’t take care of yourself. I know you can. I do it because I want to. Right now you’re making my child and I want to make you as comfortable as possible. I can’t do much from this end of things, so I’ll try to do whatever I can.”
“I appreciate it. I’ve been able to put money away so I’m actually fine. I have an interview on Monday, so my days at the club may be more limited than I thought.”
“What are you interviewing for?”
“A counseling position with the county.”
“Good,” I smile. “I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.”
“Thanks. My dad wasn’t thrilled about it, but then I can see why he would prefer I be around strippers instead of inmates.”
“Either way, I’m sure the security is good.”
She laughs and says, “Eric, I’m not going to be working with inmates.”
“Well, I don’t know,” I smile. “Who would you be working with?”
“That’s good.” With the shit on the news, inmates might be safer than teenagers though.
Sookie and I sit out on the balcony talking for another hour before we go in the house for dinner. I feel a lot better after talking to her today, and getting it out there that I want to take her on a real date. In truth I didn’t ask because I assumed she wasn’t interested in dating anyone else, especially while pregnant. Either way, I think we made some progress, or got back to where we were before I let my big mouth get in the way.