Meeting Willa came as a shock. All those thoughts about Maria being around her came back. She was a beautiful little girl, with a lot of sass. I obviously didn’t know Alcide but from what I gathered she got a lot of it from him. Sookie had her sass, but she was a lot more… I didn’t have the right word for it. Sassy wasn’t it, at least not from what I knew about her. Which wasn’t a whole hell of a lot.
When I got home from Sookie’s I was pretty awake so I took Molly for a jog. Since losing Maria I hadn’t done a lot of exercise and I knew Molly missed our runs. She was a good sized dog and needed to be active for a few hours a day at least. I got back to the house, showered and went down to the room I put all of Maria’s things into. I needed to figure something out. I didn’t want to throw it all away, but I didn’t want it in my house anymore. I was going to redecorate a lot of shit too. I loved her, but I was too mad at her to have a house full of her shit.
Since Ginger and I never actually got around to going through Maria’s things I picked up my phone to give her a call. We barely talked at the funeral, other than that we haven’t reached out to each other since.
“Hey handsome,” she greeted like she always did.
“Hey, do you have plans today?” I asked as I started to pull stuff from the fridge to make a smoothie.
“No, not really. What’s up?”
“I wanted to go through Maria’s shit today. I moved all of her stuff out of our room and I wanted to see if you’re still up to helping me.”
“Oh. Yeah, absolutely,” Ginger agreed.
“Thanks. I’m going to get started here shortly. Come on by whenever. I’ll leave the door unlocked for you.” I started peeling a banana to toss into the blender.
“Okay. I’m just finishing up at the grocery store so I’ll come by after I get everything home.”
“Cool. Thanks, Ginger.” I hung up the phone and started to make my smoothie. As I put ingredients into the blender I took note of some of the stuff I needed to pick up at the store.
Once my smoothie was blended I took a moment to wash the few dishes I used. I had my music set up to pipe through speakers all over the house so I put on Pandora on a classic rock station.
I unlocked the door, had my phone in hand and went into the spare room to start making piles. At the moment everything was just thrown in the room. I started with her clothes, separating her scrubs from her everyday clothes. I froze when I found the bikini she was wearing in the picture of my wife with her lover. I was going to burn that one. It also gave me another thought. I pulled my phone from my pocket and shot Sookie a text message.
Me: How’s your ass after your little spanking last night?
Thinking about and talking to a sexy girl would lessen the chance of me just torching the whole fuckin’ house.
Sookie: Uneven. The right side’s jealous 😉
Me: I’ll have to do something about that.
I got to her shirts and seriously thought about throwing everything in a fucking burn pile.
Sookie: What do you have in mind?
I took a seat on the bed, leaning against the headboard.
Me: Hmm, I wouldn’t mind bending you over the arm of the couch. I could hold your hands a the small of your back and even out that sexy little behind. My hand is tingling just thinking about it.
Sookie: Dirty boy.
Me: I could say the same about you. I’m willing to bet your pussy is getting wet just thinking about it.
Maria wasn’t into the spanking thing. She would go along with it for me, but it was pretty obvious she did it just to make me happy. I appreciated that about her.
Sookie: Nope. Not really…
I didn’t know if I believed her, knowing how hard it made her cum the night before.
Me: Too bad I can’t check to see if you’re lying.
Sookie: Yes it is :p
Molly jumped up from her spot on the floor and bolted out of the room. I assumed Ginger had arrived. I stood up and slipped my phone in my pocket to go down to meet her.
“Hey,” I smiled when I found her scratching Molly’s head. She looked nice. It was a little weird to think about her naked. I knew how hard she liked to get fucked, and it which holes. I knew what her sex noises sounded like. I knew I shouldn’t have known those things. I felt a little bad for taking advantage of her.
“Hi,” Ginger smiled up at me. “How’s it going?”
“Not bad. I realized doing this alone I’m just making a big burn pile,” I chuckled. “How have you been?”
“Good. Same shit different day,” she shrugged.
“Are you thirsty or anything? Can I get you something before we get started?”
“No, I’m good, thanks.”
I nodded and motioned for her to follow me. When we got to the room we just stood there looking at everything.
“You’re welcome to keep anything you want. Sandy came by and took what she wanted a while ago. Anything you don’t keep I’m probably going to donate,” I told her.
“Okay,” she nodded as she looked around.
I pointed to the bikini on the floor and said, “That’s the burn pile. Things I know for sure Alcide touched.”
I moved forward and started to sift through some of the papers left behind by the cops. It wasn’t anything important so I made a new pile for paperwork I wanted to throw away. There were a few cards and notes I’d left for her and it started to piss me off. Since she was involved with the other guy all I could think about was the lies Maria told me. It was irritating to know I would never have answers.
“If you find anything boyfriend related I don’t want to know,” I told Ginger when I tossed the cards into the burn pile.
We went on for a good hour in silence. We had most of the room cleaned out when Molly took off like a rocket again right before I heard the doorbell ring. I wasn’t expecting anyone so I looked at Ginger like she may have known who it was. Of course she wouldn’t know. I shook my head and left the room to to answer the door. I peaked through the peephole and smiled when I saw Sookie’s blonde head there. I definitely wasn’t expecting her.
“Hi,” I smiled when I opened the door. “What are you doing here?” I took a step back to let her in.
“I don’t know,” she said with a little smile. “I got in the car to go for a drive and I ended up here.”
“It’s a nice surprise,” I told her. “Maria’s best friend is here, helping me clean out her shit. We’re just finishing up.” I didn’t want her to be surprised when she saw Ginger.
“Oh. I can come back–“
“No, it’s fine,” I assured her. “I’m glad you’re here, really.”
“This is kind of awkward. I should have called first,” Sookie said after a minute.
“It’s no more awkward than having a toddler jump up and stare at you with judgey looks,” I chuckled. “Ginger knows about the affair. She’s not going to be upset that you’re here. She’s going to be going soon anyway. We’re just finishing up.”
“Okay. Sorry about Willa, again. She passed out on the couch with me right after you left.”
“That’s fine. I took Molly out for a run. I just hope I didn’t traumatize her.” Ginger came walking down the stairs. I assumed she heard the voices.
“No, she’s still got goldfish brain when it comes to a lot of things,” she said.
“I think I’ve got what I want,” Ginger told me.
“Okay. Thanks for coming over to help me. This is Sookie,” I said, introducing her. “Sookie, this is Ginger. She’s been a great help since I lost Maria.”
“Nice to meet you,” they said simultaneously and shook hands.
“Whoa, nice rock.” Ginger grabbed Sookie’s hand to look closer at her ring. “Four carats?”
“Three and a half,” Sookie replied.
“Damn,” Ginger muttered.
I didn’t want to think about her wedding ring. I didn’t wear one. I never had one, well I did, but I lost it skiing one year and never replaced it.
“Ginger are you taking off?” I asked. Looking at Sookie made me want to touch her and I didn’t want to do it in front of Ginger unless they were in the mood for a threeway. I wasn’t asking for that… It would be fun though.
“Yeah, I’m gonna clear out. Thanks for…” She held up the duffle bag she was holding.
“No problem. I’ll be in touch.” I leaned over to kiss her cheek.
“Sounds good. Nice meeting you, Sookie. Keep a tight leash on that man,” she winked.
“Oh, uh, yeah,” Sookie replied awkwardly.
I would tell Ginger later that Sookie’s man was the one Maria had been fucking for two years. Ginger walked out, leaving Sookie and me alone. I walked over to lock the door behind her.
“Are you thirsty or hungry?” I asked Sookie as soon as we were alone. My eyes roamed up and down her body, imagining it naked. I was sure she could read my mind.
“No, I’m okay.”
“Want to have a seat?” I offered. “The couch is comfy. So is my lap.” I moved a little closer to her, reaching up to rub her arm.
“I think I’ll try the couch,” she smiled.
I smiled back before I took her hand to lead her into the living room. I took a seat first, allowing Sookie to pick how close she wanted to sit next to me.
She opted not to get too close.
“Her grandpa’s house. He came by to get the rest of his stuff and she wanted to go with him. Papa is her favorite person,” Sookie explained.
“Ah,” I nodded. “Are you sure you don’t want anything drink?” I was still a little surprised that she showed up.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” She seemed… nervous.
“Are you okay?” I asked, reaching over to rest a reassuring hand on her thigh.
“Jackson, Alcide’s dad, has been staying with me since Al died. He was good for Willa and she was good for him and he helped me get things in order after Al died,” she explained. Sookie took a deep breath and cleared her throat. “I’m still so angry with Alcide for the affair but I still love him, too. It’s a weird place to be in. Jackson heard you the other night when I called home and he was upset that I spent the night here. Somewhere in his mind he knows I’m going to move on at some point but it got me thinking about a lot of things. I went for a drive to clear my head and I ended up here. I didn’t even realize it until I parked in the driveway. I sound nuts. I should go.” Sookie started to get up.
I stopped her, by tugging her hand.
“You don’t sound nuts at all. I’m madly in love with Maria still,” I admitted. “I’m angry and hurt and I want to be able to shake her and ask her what the fuck she was thinking, but I don’t get the chance, just like you don’t. It’s not crazy, Sookie. Our hearts are going to take time to heal,” I told her.
She sighed and shook her head.
“This sucks,” she muttered.
“It does,” I agreed. I pulled her closer, wrapping my arm around her shoulder. “You’re the only person that knows what this feels like. I’m happy you came by. I was stuck in a room going through Maria’s things with someone that has no clue what it feels like to hurt this bad. I stayed quiet for over an hour sifting through clothes and papers. It’s frustrating as hell and I’m glad I have you here to hug.”
“We need tequila and some matches,” she sniffled. “Maybe a gallon of rocky road ice cream.”
“I have vodka, a lighter, and butter pecan,” I said softly. “And a firepit and a burn pile in the bedroom.”
“That’ll do, pig.” She patted my leg.
“Hey, why am I a pig?” I chuckled.
Sookie laughed and said, “It’s a quote from Babe. You obviously don’t have kids.”
“Nope. Molly was our answer to kids,” I told her.
“Not interested in them huh?”
“Maria couldn’t have them.”
Sookie frowned. “Sorry. That… well under the circumstances…”
“Yeah, I was resigned to never have them. Now I get the option,” I said with a small smile.
“That’s true. The woman you have kids with has my sympathy. Al was a big guy and Willa was a big baby who didn’t want to come out.”
“That sucks,” I frowned. “We talked about adopting for a while, but then her mom brought Molly to us. Since I work from home she’s pretty much my baby. It’s really weird to think I’m going to want kids with another woman.”
“Someday you’ll get there.”
“For now I’ll just enjoy practicing,” I chuckled. “Want to go get the firepit started and the bottle of Grey Goose?”
“Sounds like a great plan to me.”
I got up from the couch, Sookie followed behind me. She walked next to me as I made my way into the kitchen to get the vodka from the freezer. I kept my lighters in the junk drawer so I grabbed one of those as well.
“Do you think we’re going to need glasses and mixers or are we good sharing the bottle? I don’t know if you have cooties,” I joked. If she had anything I had it too.
“I’ve never had straight vodka before,” she told me.
“Try it.” I handed her the giant bottle. “If you don’t like it I have orange juice or diet coke.”
Sookie got the cap off and took a tentative sip. The face she made was answer enough. “Orange juice, please,” she said.
I chuckled as I turned to get her a glass. I grabbed the OJ from the fridge and filled it halfway with the juice. I took the bottle and topped it off with the vodka.
“Screwdriver,” I smiled.
“Much better,” Sookie nodded and took a drink. “See, now that’s class.” To prove it, she belched.
“Damn, you are a sexy, sexy girl,” I teased.
She smiled and turned to walk out of the kitchen quietly singing, “My big burps bring all the boys to the yard…”
I liked her.
I followed her, taking her hand to lead her outside. Molly was excited we’d be outside with her. Sookie and I walked to the firepit so I could light it. I had the bottle of vodka in my hand and lifted it to my mouth to take a swig.
“I found the bikini she was wearing in that picture with your husband. It’s the number one thing to go on the burn pile,” I told Sookie.
“Good. I hope you’re burning those fuckin’ cards.”
“Yep. Stay. I’m going to go grab them and then we can have ice cream,” I smiled.
“I’ll be here.” She took another swig from her glass and then crouched down to pet Molly.
I turned to go into the house. I took another drink of the vodka before setting it on the kitchen counter. It took a moment to get to the room. I grabbed the bikini, cards, and a small stack of cards I gave to Maria over the years. With a heavy sigh I had everything in a pile and headed back downstairs, to the backyard. Sookie was standing when I got back. I couldn’t stop myself from kissing her temple when I approached.
“You want to help?” I offered.
I handed her a small stack of cards.
“This goes first.” I held the bikini out over the fire. I dropped the top followed by the bottoms. It was… freeing to watch it go up in flames.
Sookie picked up one of the cards and tapped it against her other hand while she watched the flames.
“I never met you, Maria, but fuck you. Fuck you for being so selfish and for not having the moral fortitude to tell the married man to buzz off. I can’t even imagine what good you could see in a man you knew was going home to his wife and child, but you stuck around for two years. You killed yourself to be with him. That’s insane. I know from experience that he’s not worth it. But thank you for being batshit enough to write all these fucked up letters that leave me with no doubt that Eric here is better off without you. Enjoy your level nineteen clinger, Alcide,” she said and then threw the envelope in the fire.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I tossed a couple more cards on the fire, quickly followed by the rest of them. I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that started gnawing at me. I hadn’t really cried or grieved since losing her. I could feel the corners of my eyes stinging and my breath getting shorter.
Before I knew it I was sobbing. I was so angry and so… broken.
“Sorry,” I sniffled, trying to wipe my tears. They didn’t stop coming though.
Without a word, Sookie turned and hugged me. Her arms wrapped around my ribs and she pressed her face to my chest. I hugged her back, squeezing her hard. Having Sookie there with me meant more than I could express. I rested my cheek on the top of her head. Molly was sitting at our feet, whining. She hated it when I was upset.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” I whispered as we swayed from side to side.
“Me too,” she whispered back.
We stood there holding each other for what felt like hours, but not long enough. I didn’t want to let her go. My tears eventually subsided, but my arms stayed just as tight around her shoulders. I would eventually forgive Maria, but it was going to take a lot of time and healing.
“We’re out of vodka,” I pouted. I had no idea how many drinks I had but I wasn’t feeling any pain.
“We have beer, and some cheap whiskey,” Eric told me. His large hand was on my back, slowly rubbing up and down.
I looked up at his face. Boy, he was cute.
“What would you recommend?”
“Have you ever had beer with apple juice?” he smiled.
“Can’t say I have.” I was only slurring a little bit.
“It’s delicious. Kinda like you,” he winked.
“Am I delicious?” No one had ever called me delicious before.
“You are,” he smiled.
“Well I’ll try the beer.”
“Stay.” Eric leaned down to give me a quick peck on the lips. He stood up straight and turned to saunter into the house to get my drink.
“Mmm mmmm… Can I get some fries with that shake?” Yup. Drunk.
Eric chuckled as he walked through the door.
“I’m serious!” I called out and followed him inside. “You have a spectacular hiney.”
“Thanks. Yours isn’t too bad either. I want to rub, bite, spank… and fuck your ass.” Eric reached into the fridge to pull out two beers and a jug of apple juice. He then reached into the freezer to pull out a bag of frozen fries.
“Rubbing, biting and spanking, okay. Fucking? Eh.” It wasn’t really my thing.
“I’ll live without it,” he shrugged. “I went eight years without it. It’s not like I need it.”
“I’m sure you can find plenty of girls willing to let you do that,” I said as he fixed up our drinks. I didn’t own him or his appendages, as nice as they were.
“Most girls freak out if I ask because of my size,” he said as he cracked open a beer.
“That’s understandable. I’ve seen smaller elephant trunks.”
“I’ve never gotten any complaints,” he shrugged, handing me my beer. Eric bent over to pull a cookie sheet out before he moved to turn on the oven.
I was going to blame it on the vodka but it was suddenly like his ass had magnets in it or something because my hands shot out to grab it.
“You can bite it if you want,” he chuckled.
“Not right now.” I did smack it, though. Hard.
“Hey, how would you like it if I smacked your ass?” he asked with a playful pout.
“You did. Repeatedly,” I reminded him. “Don’t give me that look. It doesn’t work when Willa does it either.”
Eric narrowed his eyes as he pushed me against the opposite counter.
“Maybe I should spank you when I have you tied up too,” he purred, dropping his head to kiss my jaw.
“I’m not that into spanking,” I snorted.
“Drink your beer.” He gave me a light slap on the side of my ass before he turned around to get the fries laid out on the cookie sheet.
“So why cut beer with apple juice? I feel like this might make me hurl a fruit salad later.”
“I don’t know. One of my friends told me about it in college. I tried it out and it’s delicious.”
I took a drink of it. I must not have been drunk enough to like it because I immediately spit it into the sink.
“That’s disgusting,” I told him.
“You’re broken, woman,” he said seriously. He pulled another beer from the fridge to hand to me as he swiped the apple beer to take a drink.
“Or you have bad taste in beer. That’s easy to do since beer generally tastes bad.”
“The apple juice makes it less bitter. Do you want the whiskey?”
“I should probably stop drinking altogether,” I told him. “As it is I’ll be calling a cab to get home tonight. Oh! I’ll call my brother to come get me. Maybe he’ll let me play with the siren in his squad car.”
“Or you can stay the night and go home in the morning,” he suggested. “I have a spare room if you don’t want to snuggle with me.”
“I don’t want to throw up on you.”
“I have a trash can and I can leave a light on so you can find the bathroom,” Eric reminded me.
“I can’t stay with you every night, Eric.” Two nights back to back. I couldn’t let it become a habit. I wasn’t prepared for it yet.
“I know. One more night isn’t going to hurt.”
“It won’t hurt me to go home either.”
“I’m just saying, if it’s an inconvenience, or it’s going to cost for a cab you might as well stay. Plus, you’d be right back tomorrow to get your car,” he reasoned.
“So? People take cabs home from bars all the time and leave their cars. They don’t sleep on a bench to save themselves cab fare.”
“I have a spare room, Sookie. We don’t have to sleep in the same bed.”
“You don’t listen when someone says no, do you?” It was annoying.
“I was just telling you having you here isn’t a problem. If you want to go I’m not holding you hostage. Do you still want fries?”
“I never said I wanted them.” That was his random ass idea.
“Yes you did, on the way in the house,” he reminded me.
“No I didn’t,” I argued. He needed to lay off the booze.
“I know what I heard, Sookie.” He flipped off the oven and put the bag of fries back in the freezer.
“You must have hallucinated one of those grey geese talking because I did not say I wanted fries.”
“Uh huh.” He poured out one of the apple beers and rinsed the glass before filling it with water and handing it to me.
He was nuts but whatever.
“I think I’m going to call my brother to come get me,” I told him, ignoring the water.
Eric shrugged, but didn’t respond.
I went to the living room where my purse was and pulled my phone out. I had no idea where my brother was or if he was even working. He was on a rotation so I wasn’t sure which shift he was working at that point. I dialed his number and hoped he would answer. With my luck he’d be too busy boning some chick to answer the phone.
When his voicemail picked up I said, “Thanks for answering your phone, bro. I’ll call you tomorrow if I don’t fall off a cliff walking home. Love you.”
I hung up with a huff and stuffed my phone back in my bag. I was definitely too drunk to drive myself home but I could walk. I knew the way. It wasn’t too cold outside.
“Did you just say you were walking home?” Eric asked from behind me.
“Yep.” I slung my bag over my shoulder. “Jason’s not picking up and a cab will take forever out here.”
“Why are you in such a rush to leave?”
“Because I want to sleep in my own bed and because I don’t want to be your girlfriend,” I blurted out. Drunk brain was bad for filtering commentary.
“I never asked you to be my girlfriend,” he told me. “If you want to hang out another thirty minutes I’ll be sober enough to take you home.”
“It’s fine, I can walk.” I glazed over that girlfriend thing. My brain could only focus on one thing at a time. Getting home was the priority right then.
“I don’t feel safe with you walking home alone at this hour. If you’re that insistent, Molly and I will walk with you.”
“And then you’ll be stuck at my house. I’ll be fine, Eric. I’m a big girl,” I assured him.
“I won’t be stuck at your house. I’ll turn around and walk home.”
“Don’t. It’s a waste of time,” I told him. “I’m fine, really. I could use the walk. Hell, maybe if I had walked more often my husband wouldn’t have cheated on me for two years.” Good thing I wasn’t bitter.
“Sookie,” he sighed. “If your husband had an issue with the way you look he didn’t deserve you, for one. Just hang out here a little longer. I’ll drive you. It’s really not safe for you out there. You’re drunk. If you get stopped by the police you’ll be thrown in the drunk tank for public drunkenness. Or worse, a serial killer could decide to start a killing spree starting with you.” He was ridiculous.
“I won’t get thrown in the drunk tank for walking home. Remember what I said about not listening when someone says no? Prime example right here,” I argued.
“Must be why our spouses cheated on us. You’re stubborn and I don’t listen,” he sighed.
“Probably. I’ll get my car in the morning. Jackson can bring me by to get it when he drops off the kid.”
Eric shook his head, leaving it at that. I didn’t really care what he thought of me going. I was a big girl. I could handle walking home by myself. I’d lived in the area for the last seventeen years. I knew the place like the back of my hand. I was going to be just fine on my own.
“Thanks for the vodka,” I told him before I turned for the front door.
“Just so you know, pouting when you don’t get your way is really unattractive,” I told him as I walked toward the door. Grown men who pouted annoyed the shit out of me.
“I’m not pouting, Sookie. I don’t want to argue with you. I don’t know what the fuck happened, or why you’re suddenly so adamant to leave right now. Ten minutes ago we were talking and laughing.”
“I just want to go home. I don’t see why that’s a problem.” He was getting all upset over nothing.
“Going home isn’t a problem. It’s the fact that you’re drunk and not fully in your right mind that’s a problem when you’re trying to walk twenty fuckin’ miles,” he told me.
“It’s not that far, drama queen,” I rolled my eyes. It was four, tops.
“Your stubbornness is really fuckin’ annoying,” he said.
“Then I’ll go and you won’t be annoyed anymore. Problem solved.”
“You’re not thinking, Sookie,” he said, shaking his head. “Go. Call me when you get home so I know you made it safe.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I muttered and walked out.
I wasn’t going to call him when I got home. I didn’t need to check in with him. I was a fucking adult. Contrary to whatever he thought of me, I could handle myself just fine. The walk was going to do me some good. Maybe help me sober up a little bit. I took a deep breath of fresh air and then I started the long walk home.