Sookie’s new job is really exciting for a lot of reasons and I’m happy for her. I know how much it’ll mean to her to have more time with Joey and to be able to go and visit her daughter during the day if she wants to. From what Mom’s told me about the job, it sounds like it’s pretty much Sookie’s dream place. It’s super relaxed and it seems like they’re really geared toward taking good care of their employees. It’s great seeing Sookie so excited. I kind of think maybe she’s afraid she’s dreaming and any minute she’s going to find out this was all some elaborate prank or something.
I told Trey I would come over and help him out with the car on Friday night for a little while so I invite Sookie to come with if she wants to. Amelia will probably be there so she’ll have someone to talk to if she gets bored watching us work on the car.
“I should warn you Amelia’s one of the most annoying people I’ve ever met. She talks too much and she uses this baby voice to get her way with Trey,” I tell her.
“Then why would you invite me to hang out with her?” Sookie snickers. “I have patience, but talking in baby voice to other adults is too much.”
“It’s actually kind of funny to see Trey fold like a cheap suit when she busts it out though,” I chuckle. “He’s so fucking whipped it’s disturbing.”
“Maybe he gives in just to shut her up?”
I snort and say, “I would. Actually, no, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t date her. She tried that baby talking shit with me once and I told her my two-year-old speaks more like an adult than she does and he doesn’t get his way.”
“Oh wow, I can’t wait,” she says sarcastically.
“You don’t have to come if you don’t want to. I just thought I’d invite you along,” I shrug. “We just listen to rock music, fix cars, drink beer and grill steaks. You know, man stuff.” I grunt like Tim Taylor just for effect.
“Baby, you’re adorable. I’ll come with you. If she’s too much I’ll let you know,” she promises.
“If she’s too much you can stop me from punting her down the driveway.”
“Good call, we’ll help each other out.”
“Deal.” I lean over and give her a kiss. I have a class in about an hour and then I have to put in a few hours at the office. “Do you want me to pick you up later on?”
“Sure. Just give me a heads up so I can be ready.”
“You got it. I should be here around seven. Does that work for you?”
“Seven is perfect. I’m going to go by the shop and put in my notice.”
“Awesome,” I grin and give her another kiss. “I’ll see you later then.”
“Yep. Have fun,” she smiles and kisses me one last time.
Sookie walks me to the door and closes it behind me when I walk out. I hop in the Jeep and drive home to shower quickly and throw on some clean clothes. I have just enough time to stop for coffee and a bagel to take with me to class. It’s a lecture day so it’s a lot of taking notes and listening. I leave with the assignment for a new paper that will count for a quarter of my grade, so I’m going to have to adjust my schedule to accommodate for it, but I knew it was coming. School’s almost over so will be the last big paper I have to write for the semester.
After class is over I head to the company I’ve been interning for. It’s weird that I don’t think I’m much of a salesman but I excel at things like brand management. I haven’t gotten an official offer yet, but it’s been implied that there’s a space for me once I graduate next spring. Because of Jake and my class schedule I’m only here three days a week but I’ve learned a lot just by being here. My boss, Godric, has become my mentor. He’s taught me quite a bit about the business and he’s let me help with some of his bigger projects so I can see how it’s done.
He’s an easy guy to work for as long as you’re doing your job. He doesn’t tolerate dicking around very well, but I figure I’m not really at work to hang out and chit chat with people. I really can’t afford to blow this opportunity I’m being given here, so while I’m friendly with people, I’m not like Ginger, the receptionist, who makes her rounds to collect office gossip every few hours.
I stay at the office until six and then I rush home to change into something a little more befitting of working on a car since I have to be dressed a little nicer for the office. I put on a pair of old jeans that are stained already and have a few rips in them. I change into a black t-shirt and swap out my dressier shoes for my faithful high top chucks. After a quick stop at the market to pick up the beer, I give Sookie a call to let her know I’m on my way to get her.
Ten minutes later I pull into her driveway. We’ll probably be a little late getting to Trey’s but whatever. It’s no big deal. I am hungry though. The only thing I’ve eaten today is that bagel so right now I feel like I could eat the whole damn cow. Sookie comes out of the house before I can turn the Jeep off, which is just fine with me. With the jeans she has on her ass looks phenomenal and I’d just try to get them off of her if I went inside.
“Heya, Toots,” I say when she climbs up into the Jeep.
“Hey, how was your day?” she ask and leans over to give me a quick kiss.
“Busy,” I tell her. “How did it go at the shop with your resignation?”
“A little sad and teary, but they understand. They knew I wanted out.” She buckles up and reaches over to grab my hand.
“Well I’m glad it went okay,” I kiss the back of her hand and start to back out of her driveway. “Do you know when you’ll be starting at the new place?”
“Just over two weeks. I start on a Friday. They have orientation and lunch Friday, and then all the fun begins on the following Monday.”
“Sounds good. Are you going to put Jo in the daycare?” I ask. I assume she is, but she hasn’t officially said so.
“Yeah, when I called today they explained how it all works. I will have to pay for it, but it’s fraction of what I would have to pay if she were going to a private daycare. They’ll take it straight out of my check pre-tax. I discussed her food allergies and they explained peanuts aren’t even allowed in the building. Apparently the head of the daycare is allergic as well.” She has a smile that lights up her face.
“Christmas morning,” I whisper to myself.
“What’s that?” she asks curiously.
“Nothing,” I smile at her. “So Joey will get to make a bunch of new friends, huh?”
“Yes! That’s the best part. She needs to socialize more, and I just don’t have time to take her out to play all the time. I was going to put her in preschool next year, but this will jump start her. Oh, and the daycare has a preschool I can enroll her in if I want. Annnnd, the biggest thing, maybe not the biggest, but an awesome thing, when she starts school they have a shuttle that goes to and from the elementary school I was already looking at enrolling her in.” Sookie is basically vibrating in the seat she’s so excited right now.
“That’s great, Sook. I’m happy this is going to work out for you. You’re happy with who your boss is going to be and all that?” It sucks working for someone you can’t stand.
“So far, so good. I only met Dawn at the interview, but she seemed nice enough. She seems like someone my brother would date,” she giggles. “My brother reminds me of Alan from The Hangover sometimes.”
I laugh at that and say, “Then I’m sure meeting him will be interesting.”
I also guess that would make Trey the Ed Helms of the wolf pack.
“One day,” she winks. “He’s going to love you, by the way. He already calls you Anti-Sam, which bodes well for you.”
“So Sam’s made friends with everyone that cares about you, huh?” I snort.
“Yep,” she giggles. “They used to love him, but as he got older he became more and more of a dick. Some days I think he’s on drugs. He’s changed that much.”
“Wow.” I don’t know what else to say but I would have to assume the same thing since Sookie doesn’t strike me as the kind of girl that would let herself get hooked up, then knocked up with some asshole’s kid.
“Mmhmm, it’s the only thing that can describe it unless he has a mental illness. I just don’t care enough about him anymore to ask him what the fuck is wrong with him,” she explains.
“I don’t blame you. If he was better with Joey it’d be another story.” I squeeze her hand and make a left turn when the light changes. We’re only four blocks away from Trey’s place.
“Enough about Sam, how’s Jake? I miss that little guy already.”
“I haven’t talked to him today. Should we call him?” I ask her.
The fact that she likes my son is a big deal and it definitely makes me like her more.
“Of course, call him,” she exclaims. “I’ve talked to Jo twice today. She says hi.”
“Of course she does,” I chuckle.
When we get to the next stop light I reach out and dial Aude’s number. While the phone rings I turn the radio down and put my window up. Sookie does the same and Aude picks up on the fourth ring.
“Hey, it’s me. Is Jake still up?” I ask her. It’s not quite his bedtime yet but with that kid, who knows?
“I don’t know,” she says. “I’m out with Andre right now so he’s at home with my parents.”
“Oh. Okay.” I don’t really know what else to say.
“I was actually going to call you tomorrow to see if you could take Jake for the night,” she says. “Andre got tickets to go see Vampire Weekend and I’d like to go but my parents have plans already.”
I look over at Sookie and she just nods enthusiastically.
“Yeah, I can take him. What time should I get him?” I ask her.
“I can drop him off. How’s five?”
“Five’s fine. I’ll make sure I’m home.”
“Awesome. Thank you,” she says with relief.
I haven’t told her I’m seeing Sookie yet but it looks like she might find out tomorrow.
“Okay, then I’ll see you tomorrow,” I tell her.
“Yep. Thanks again,” she says and hangs up.
“Unbelievable,” I shake my head.
“Welcome to my world. Are you alright?” she asks, squeezing my hand.
“Yeah, I just don’t want Jake to end up feeling like he’s a burden to her or something. I know we were both young when he was born but we’ve each had to make sacrifices. Raising a kid is definitely a full-time job but that’s all she’s had to worry about the last two years. She doesn’t pay bills, she doesn’t have a job and she gets plenty of time to herself since I have Jake from Sunday night until Wednesday morning. I pay child support, go to school, work, and I live on my own. Shit, I should just go to court and petition to have him full-time. I’ve thought about it,” I confess.
“I would, she doesn’t seem like she’s being very responsible. I guess it’s different when you have someone to take care of you and your kid like she does… I’m sorry,” she finishes.
I sigh heavily and say, “If I took her to court it wouldn’t be until after I graduate. Unfortunately the courts probably wouldn’t switch custody around too much unless I could prove that she’s abusing him in some way, and despite how much she pisses me off, Aude’s a very good mother.”
I learned quickly that the courts favor the mother. Purely for Jake’s wellbeing we had a custody agreement mediated after we broke up to protect all three of us, but I learned from my lawyer that courts don’t like taking kids away from their mothers unless there’s a solid reason for it. Being a lazy pain in the ass to the father isn’t reason enough.
“That sucks for the good fathers out there, you included. In my case it worked out, but it’s still really crappy. Have you talked to her about it?”
“Not yet. This Andre thing is new so I figured I would wait and see if it goes anywhere. Maybe it’ll burn itself out. I don’t want to go disrupting Jake’s routine every couple of weeks because Aude has bad taste in men,” I tell her.
“Well, I’m here for you whichever way you go with it.”
“Thanks, Toots,” I say as I pull into Trey’s driveway. Even with the windows up I can hear The Stooges playing in the garage.
I turn the car off and grab my phone from the holder on the dashboard. Sookie jumps down from the passenger’s side and I grab the beer from the back. Together we walk toward the open garage. The back door leading out to the yard is open as well, so we go through it to find Trey standing over the grill. I sent him a text earlier to let him know that Sookie was coming with me.
“Hey!” I call out to get his attention.
He just waves over his head without saying anything.
“He’s a man of few words unless he’s giving me shit,” I explain to Sookie as we walk closer to him. “Dickweed, this is Sookie. Sookie, this is Dickweed.”
“Hello, Mr. Weed,” Sookie grins.
Trey turns around and winks at her before holding out his hand. “I’m Trey; it’s good to meet you finally. Eric hasn’t said much about you, but I see his face when you call him.”
“Oh yeah?” she smiles, looking over at me. “I won’t repeat what he’s said about you.”
“Eh, he already knows,” I shrug.
“I’m sure it’s been nothing but sweet and kind things.” Tray turns back to the grill and tells us, “Beer over there,” as he points to the fridge.
“Yeah, I know the drill,” I snicker. I look to Sookie and ask, “You want one?”
“Sure,” she says.
“I’ll be right back.” I kiss her cheek and then go to the garage to put the beer in the fridge. I grab three bottles to bring back with me and turn the music down just a little. I consider cranking it back up again when I hear Amelia’s squealing.
I step out of the garage to see Sookie looking all kinds of awkward while Amelia’s hugging her like they’re long lost friends or something. I warned her.
“Oh you’re even prettier than Eric described!” Amelia tells her. “And your hair. Ugh, I’m so jealous. My won’t seem to grow any longer than it is right now. That color looks perfect on you. Such pretty eyes you have. Trey, you didn’t tell me she’s so pretty.”
I hand Sookie and Trey a beer. Amelia’s got a glass of red wine in her hand. She’s too ‘sophisticated’ to drink beer. What she calls sophisticated, I call pretentious and annoying as fuck.
“Thanks, Eric,” Sookie says when she takes the beer. She has a look that screams ‘help me’, but I warned her. She turns her attention back to Amelia and says, “Thanks, I was born with it, so I’m glad my natural color looks perfect.”
“Oh no,” Amelia laughs. “I meant your shirt, silly. That shade of green looks just right on you. You’re a trip.”
I roll my eyes and wonder how pissed Trey will get if I grill Amelia’s face.
Amelia turns to Trey and hugs his side. “Honeybear, will you make me chicken instead of steak?” she asks in that fucking baby voice.
I look at Sookie with an ‘I told you so’ expression.
“Amelia, are you for real?” Sookie asks without thinking.
“Excuse me?” Amelia asks with that same dopey smile on her face.
“Trey is a grown man, not a two-year-old,” she snorts. “That’s all.”
“My Honeybear doesn’t mind,” Amelia says. “If it doesn’t bother him then it shouldn’t bother you.”
I restrain myself from rolling my eyes and say, “Come on, Toots, I’ll show you the car we’re working on.”
I don’t need her punching Amelia in the neck.
“I’m sorry, Eric, I couldn’t help myself. You warned me, but I don’t think I really got it until I heard it.”
“Don’t worry about it, babe,” I say as we walk toward the garage. “If we’re lucky she’ll go back in the house and leave us alone. I’m guessing this means you’ll be in the garage with us, huh?”
“Definitely. If you want I can just keep running my mouth and get her to go away,” she offers. “I have no patience for people like her.”
“Nah, she’ll get bored when she realizes you’re not interested in her and she’ll go away,” I assure her. I flip on the light in the garage when we get to it and there’s the car. It’s a black ‘69 Mustang. There’s only a little left to do and then it’s all aesthetics that need to be worked on.
“Oh, she’s gorgeous, baby,” Sookie coos like she’s talking to my kid.
I snicker and say, “You realize you just baby talked a car, right?”
“Cars and adults are two different things. I baby talk to animals too,” she says without a hint of shame.
Amelia appears in the doorway and asks, “Sookie, how do you like your steak?”
“Well done, please,” she says politely.
“You got it,” Amelia says and then disappears.
“Well, she didn’t baby talk me,” Sookie laughs. “Maybe I can be a good influence.”
“Don’t get your hopes up,” I snicker.
She shrugs and moves to look inside the car.
“You know, my dad is a mechanic. He would love this,” she says, peering through the window. “Would you mind if I took some pictures to show him?”
“Go ahead. Even better, once it’s done we can bring it over for him to inspect if he’s interested,” I offer. Since she’s met my mom I figure it’s only fair I get to meet her dad. I’m a lot less worried about impressing parents now that I am one.
“He would try to talk you into letting him drive it. He’s a Ford man through and through. He hates that I drive a Honda,” she says, shaking her head.
I chuckle and say, “Well, I’d let him drive it. Those cars are meant to be loved and appreciated, not left in a garage to be looked at once in a while.”
“True story. Once I tell him about this you’ll already be on his favorite person list.”
“Well we’re always rebuilding something. Trey’s got a lime green ‘67 Fastback he’s been trying to sell for a few months now,” I tell her.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing that too. I obviously don’t want to buy it, but I love looking. I love car shows too. Daddy used to take Jason and me every time one was in town,” she says and takes a swig of her beer.
“That’s good to know. I can talk to Trey to see if the car is still on Patrick’s lot or if it sold.” Since I help him with the rebuild I get a cut of the profit when the car sells. Trey’s never stiffed me before so I doubt he has this time. “Our next project is going to be a ‘71 Ford Falcon. The car is in storage right now until we’re ready to get started on it.”
“If you guys need any help I’ll give you my dad’s number and if you need a smaller set of hands, I’m your girl,” she says, holding out one of her hands. “I have no idea what I’m doing, but if you tell me how, I listen well.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I smile at her.
Sookie takes a few pictures to send to her dad and then we leave the garage. Trey’s got the steaks on the grill already. Thank fuck. I’m starving. I take a seat at the little patio table and pull Sookie down to sit on my lap.
“Sookie’s in love with Roxie,” I tell him. He always names the cars.
“Not surprised, she’s gorgeous,” Trey says.
“I was just explaining to Eric that my Daddy is a Ford man.”
“All I’m hearing is your dad is a smart man,” Trey says, smiling at Sookie.
“I’ll drink to that.” I raise my beer and take a drink.
Trey and Sookie both drink with me. We fall into easy conversation with Trey and Sookie getting to know each other. Trey tells a few funny stories and the three of us are laughing when Amelia comes outside with two serving bowls. One has green beans in it and the other has garlic mashed potatoes. Plates are already stacked on the table and Trey grabs one for Amelia’s chicken. I have to give her credit for at least having good taste in steaks since she spends her daddy’s money on quality stuff that gets shipped to the house.
“Thank you, Honeybear,” Amelia coos at him and then helps herself to beans and potatoes.
Sookie leans over and whisper-mocks in a terrible baby voice, “Thank you, Honeybear.”
She’s getting buzzed.
I snicker and kiss her softly. “Be nice, Pookie.”
“Yes, sir,” she says giving a huge grin. “I’m starving.”
Trey hands Sookie a plate with a steak on it and a moment later he hands me one too. Sookie gets off my lap and moves to her own seat so we can eat.
“Thanks, man,” I say as I reach for the potatoes.
Sookie cuts into her steak to check it. “Oh, sorry, Trey, I requested well done,” she says as she tries a different part of the steak to check.
“Oh… Amelia said medium rare,” he says as he glares at Amelia.
“I can just throw it back on, no worries.” Trey takes it from her and tosses it back on the grill before Sookie can get up to do it. “Maybe Amelia can only hear if I squea–”
“I heard you just fine. I figured if you can be rude then so can I,” Amelia says in a catty kind of way.
“Lovely, but I was simply stating a fact. Baby talk to adults is silly. Now your rudeness is affecting other people, not just me. As you see Trey is up cooking my steak again because you decided to lie about it,” Sookie says calmly.
Amelia just shrugs, but that’s no surprise.
“The potatoes are delicious,” Sookie says as she takes a bite.
“Yeah they are,” I agree as I cut my steak.
An awkward silence fills the backyard as we all eat. A few minutes later Trey gets up and grabs Sookie’s steak.
“Thank you,” she says.
“You’re welcome,” he replies and he’s still glaring at Amelia.
She doesn’t apologize, but that’s no big surprise either.
Neither does Sookie.
Eventually she leans over and whispers, “I should go. I can have my mom pick me up or something.”
“What? No.” I don’t want her to go.
“I’m the new guy and my presence is making things weird.”
“It’s not you, it’s the succubus across from you,” I assure her.
I’m not going to try and talk Sookie into being friends with Amelia and if she really wants to go, then we’ll go together. Trey will understand.
“If you really want to go, then we’ll go after dinner,” I tell her.
“I don’t want you to miss out on Trey time. It’s okay, just come to my place when you’re done.”
“Then you can take my Jeep and I’ll get Trey to drop me off at your house,” I tell her.
“Okay, I can come back to get you when you’re ready,” she agrees. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes to me. “I didn’t mean to make things weird for you.”
“It’s not your fault.” I fish my keys out of my pocket and slip them in her jacket.
After we finish eating Amelia starts to take the dirty dishes into the house and while she’s inside Sookie says her goodbyes to Trey. I promise to bring her by again and then walk her through the garage to the Jeep.
“If we go too late I’ll just get Trey to drive me home,” I promise her.
“Okay,” she says and gives me a sweet kiss.
“I’ll see you soon, Toots.” I open the driver’s side door for her and step back so she can climb up.
“See you in a bit,” she says when she hops in.
I give her one more kiss and then close the door for her. I step back while Sookie gets the car started. She has to move the driver’s seat forward and I wave at her as she backs out of the driveway. I stay there until she’s on the road and then I turn to go back into the garage to get to work with Trey.