I was in my kitchen cutting up a grilled chicken breast for the salad I was putting together for Amelia and myself. The front door opened and she called out for me.
“Kitchen!” I called back. “I’m making us salad. Eric made the marinade for the chicken and he sent one of his garlic bread loaves– whoa, what’s wrong?” Amelia looked a little more pale than usual. Tired, too.
“Nothing,” she said. “I’m uh… I’m just going to have a baby, that’s all. The chicken smells good.”
I dropped the knife in my hand and grinned.
“Really? A little, chubby, drooling shit machine?” I moved over to hug her. I was excited for her. She’d mentioned having kids at some point but she hadn’t told me they were trying.
“Really,” she replied with a small smile. “It’s crazy, we weren’t really trying, but we weren’t trying to prevent it either, ya know? I’m happy, but it’s… I’m still in a little bit of shock. Tray is a mess,” she finished with a giggle.
“Awwww I’m so happy for you, Meels,” I said. “I’m sure Tray will be elated after the surprise wears off. You know he’ll be planning how to fit a car seat in the back of his Cutlass in no time.”
“All that shit he talks to Eric about how whipped he is by Josie is going to come back to bite him in the ass,” she laughed. “I don’t know if he’s told Eric yet. You can tell him if he hasn’t.”
“No, I’ll let Tray do it. Speaking of Eric…” I stepped back from her. “I’d offer you a glass of wine but that’s not on the menu anymore.”
Amelia without booze was a strange concept.
“Speaking of Eric, what?” she asked skeptically.
“We kinda had a sleepover on Halloween,” I confessed.
“Like you and Josie stayed up late braiding each other’s hair, or you’re the reason Eric wasn’t at the café the next day because you two were too tired from boning all night?”
“More like he wasn’t at the cafe because we were boning all day,” I told her and then dodged the towel she threw at me.
“Sookie Stackhouse, you little hooker,” Amelia squealed. “I can’t believe you did it! That’s almost better than baby news. Are you going to get all bunny boiler on him now? Is the dick really that good?”
I laughed and said, “It is but I don’t think I’m going to make Dimples stew anytime soon.”
“Is it bad that I want to know every detail?”
“From you I would expect nothing less,” I replied.
She was a nosy broad but I loved her anyway.
“How did it happen? Did he make a move? Does Josie know? I bet she’s pumped,” she fired off. “And is it going to happen again?”
“It happened because I got my head out of my ass and made a move. Yes, Josie knows and she’s excited. She asked if I was going to be her stepmom,” I told her. “And yes, it’s going to happen again.”
“Oh this is so exciting. We’re with best friends,” she grinned. “Now you just need to get knocked up real quick and we can have babies together.”
“Whoa, whoa, hold your horses there,” I laughed. Eric would probably shit another dachshund if I got knocked up.
“I’m just sayin’,” she shrugged. “Are you going to meet the ex-missus? She can be a real twat, but she might like your tits,” Amelia said.
“I meet her on Wednesday. Josie spilled the beans to her when Felicia picked her up from school the day after Halloween.”
“So do you think this one is going to work out? I know it just started but when you know, you know. Kinda like with me and Tray,” she said. “I know you’re not all in love or anything, but do you feel what was missing with Bill?”
“I think this is a much better fit. It’s true that Eric and I come from somewhat similar backgrounds but the more important thing is that I think we seem similar end games. I didn’t have that with Bill.”
“That’s good. I’m happy for you,” she smiled. “I’m glad you finally sucked it up and took him up on a job offer. He’s a good guy. And if you marry him your mother-in-law is an ex-Bond girl. That might be the coolest part of the gig.”
I laughed at that. I hadn’t even considered it.
“Yeah, my parents might actually speak to me again,” I snorted.
“Have you tried calling them recently?”
“Not since I closed on my house,” I told her. “Neither of them picked up and they didn’t return my call, so I don’t see the point. I still talk to Gran once a week. She doesn’t know about Eric yet, though.”
“What do you think she’s going to say about being involved with a divorced father?” she asked.
“You know, the older Gran gets, the more liberal she’s become? She’ll probably say that everyone deserves a second chance and maybe Eric got divorced so he could find the right fit. I know it sounds kind of hokey, but I really think that maybe that’s why I didn’t marry Bill. Somewhere in my gut I knew there was a better fit out there for me.”
For an old Southern woman my Gran was really the only person I knew who attempted to live as Christ-like as possible. She wasn’t just one of those talk the talk kind of people. Sure she quoted scripture randomly in conversation and she could be judgmental at times, but she was big on forgiveness and second chances. Maybe I was trying too hard to connect the dots and maybe it wouldn’t last with Eric, but at the moment it all felt like it was falling into place like I was finally getting to where I was supposed to be all along.
I never would have imagined myself with someone like him either, if I was being honest. It was evident by the way we had reacted to each other in the beginning. He probably didn’t expect to be attracted to such a prissy bitch either, but he was. For whatever reason, we fit.
“That’s a good way to look at it. It’s a hell of a lot better than moping and playing the pity card.”
“I think so.” I added half of the chicken to each bowl. “Dressing?”
“Do you have mayonnaise?” Amelia didn’t eat mayo.
“Uh, I think so. Real mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?” I opened the fridge. I wasn’t a fan of either but I had it for cooking purposes and Josie liked it on sandwiches sometimes.
Yeah, okay, so maybe that step mom thing made more sense when I thought about it…
“Real mayo,” she answered. “This baby is going to make me fat.”
“Cravings already?” I pulled the mayo container from the door of the stainless steel fridge.
“Yep. Mayo and sausage so far. Sometimes together,” she cringed.
“Well, you go right ahead and doctor up your salad and I’ll try not to narf all over it,” I told her.
“Believe me, this isn’t because I want it,” Amelia chuckled as she started to put mayo on her salad.
That was just too gross for words, and not just because I wasn’t a mayo fan either. I cringed just watching her spoon it out of the jar. I said a short prayer in hopes that I never experienced a craving like that, should I ever find myself pregnant. It would be terrible to spend my time gagging while trying to eat. Ugh. Poor Amelia.
“Hands, mister,” I said the next morning when Eric grabbed my ass in his office. No one else was at the cafe yet. We had driven in together since we were staying late together too. I was nervous about meeting Felicia, thanks to a few horror stories Amelia had told me the night before.
“What about them?” he smirked. “They fit perfectly on your ass.”
“And we agreed to behave ourselves at work,” I reminded him.
“This is behaving. No one is here to see us,” he said.
“I think you might be playing it a little fast and loose there, bud,” I snickered. I half-heartedly tried to slap his hands away from my rear end.
I swear I didn’t intentionally wear a pencil skirt just to drive him nuts all day…
Eric wrapped his arms around me from behind. “I’ll be a good boy,” he promised, kissing my temple.
“Good. I’d hate to go all dominatrixy on your cute butt,” I chuckled. I wasn’t sure I’d make a very good one anyway but it was fun to threaten.
“Hmm, all that would make me do is lock you in the office with me so I can bend you over the desk,” he purred.
“You do know what a dominatrix is, right?”
“Yep,” he chuckled. “I wouldn’t be able to stand it.”
“Awww so I don’t get to bend you over the desk and give you a spanking?” I laughed. I honestly couldn’t imagine myself doing it. “Or make you get on your knees and lick my boots?”
“Mmm, nope. If I ever get on my knees for you it’s not to lick your boots.”
“I bet there’d be licking involved though.”
“Definitely. I’d rather not talk about what I’d be licking. It’ll just turn me on,” he chuckled.
“Then I’ll just sit here,” I said, pulling away from him to take a seat beside his desk. “And be a quiet girl while you work.”
“You’re no fun,” he winked. “I do need to get shit done though. You sure you don’t want to learn to do the books?”
“You really hate doing them, don’t you?” I laughed. Nine times out of ten I heard extra cussing and things being thrown around in his office when he had to do the books. I supposed he didn’t get into the restaurant business to do office work though.
“With a passion. I need to hire someone to do it,” he sighed.
“I suppose I could let you teach me how to do it, if that’s what you want. Or you could have Charles do it since he’s your right hand,” I suggested.
“Charles can’t count to ten,” Eric chuckled. “If you want to learn and you decide you hate it I’ll hire someone.”
“That’s fair,” I nodded. I wasn’t sure how working together and being a couple was going to work out for us. It had been okay so far but things were changing and the business was like another child to him. He might like me but he loved his business, as he should.
“We can set a time to go over it later. Maybe at home tonight, if you don’t have other plans,” he suggested.
“Nope, I don’t think so, unless Josie decides I do,” I laughed. I knew who the real boss was.
“We can do it after she’s in bed, unless you get too tired.”
“We’ll see,” I shrugged. I was usually in bed before ten on work nights. I suspected that was going to change with Eric around.
“It’s not the end of the world if we don’t get to it. Are you staying the night or going home tonight?”
“I don’t know yet. I’ll decide later. It’s not like it’s a far commute for me if I decide to bail out and sleep in my own bed.” Just like it wouldn’t be a big deal to drive home in the morning to shower and get dressed for work.
“Alright. You’re welcome to stay whenever,” he informed me.
“Good to know,” I smiled. “Think your ex will be okay with that?”
“I honestly don’t care. She’s meeting you as a courtesy. You’re good with my daughter. You’re not just nice to her to stay in my good graces,” he said. “If she doesn’t want you around Josie it’s because she’s jealous. That shit doesn’t fly with me. Jennifer and I don’t get along but she lives in the same house as Jo.”
“That’s awkward,” I frowned. I wanted everyone to get along. It would make life easier for everybody. “Why doesn’t Jennifer like you?”
“Probably because I’m a man,” he shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. I think it bugs her that I had Felicia first and that I’m a part of Josie’s life. It’s probably a jealousy thing.”
“That’s… stupid.” I hated to judge but it sounded positively ridiculous to me if that was the case.
“It is. She doesn’t cause any shit or talk bad about me in front of Jo, so I deal with it. She may be better with you in the picture. She won’t think I’m trying to steal her lady,” he chuckled.
“Oh geez,” I rolled my eyes. Was that really a concern?
“You’d have to ask her what her deal is. I don’t think Felicia is bringing her, by the way. She’s probably at work.”
“That’s probably for the best. Passing one inspection today is enough for me.”
“You’re going to be fine. She’s been nice lately, that’s a plus.”
“Let’s hope the streak continues,” I said nervously.
Eric got to work on the books and I paid attention while he did it. I learned a little bit about how things needed to be done but I wasn’t proficient at it. Honestly, I was a bit too distracted by the meeting to retain too much knowledge. I was serious about wanting everyone to get along as well as possible. I knew I wasn’t going to take Felicia’s place in her daughter’s life and I figured as long as she knew that, there shouldn’t be a problem between us. I hoped that would be good enough.