As soon as I walked in I let Dimples out back while I went up to my room to shower. I smelled like the cafe, which I hated when I left. As I showered I thought about what happened earlier. Sookie actually agreed to work with me. I knew from talking to Dawson how shitty her job search had been. The first two times I offered her a job was because she was Amelia’s friend and I didn’t want them to have to support her if her parents yanked all her money, which I found out they did. When I offered her the expeditor job, it was because she would be perfect for the job. The cafe wasn’t technically big enough to have an expeditor, but it would provide me with some goddamn peace and quiet. I hated any type of yelling in the kitchen. I knew my customers could overhear them if it was slow. Having Sookie in the mix would nix all that shit. Especially since Mel had a really, really unprofessional vocabulary. I didn’t mind cursing in front of Josie, but I wouldn’t allow him to be around her. Most adults knew to clean up their mouths when a child was present, not Mel. I liked him though, a lot. Between Mel, Charles, Big John, and myself we had a pretty good thing going.
Once I was out of the shower I pulled on some cargo shorts and a black wife beater. I put my hat on my head and jogged down the stairs to let Dimples back in. Dimples was exactly a masculine name but that’s what my princess wanted. That’s what she got. Or Dimples got. Poor guy.
I went into the kitchen to start getting dinner together when the doorbell rang. I popped an apple chunk in my mouth as I walked out to answer the door. I had Dimples at my feet so I bent over to pick him up. It felt awkward having such a tiny little guy at my size.
“Hi,” I smiled when I opened the door for Sookie. She had on different clothes. She looked a lot more comfortable in a pretty, lacy pink tank top. “Come on in.”
“Thanks. Nice place you have here,” she said. Her heels clicked on the hardwood floor as she walked into the house. Dimples squirmed in my arms to try to get to the visitor.
“Thanks. I like being close to the water,” I said. I was right on the water with a boat parked in the little boat slip off the back deck. “Are you an animal person? Dimples wants to kiss your face.” I kinda did too…
“Mmm… I’m not really interested in puppy slobber on my face but I don’t mind dogs as long as they’re not Dobermans, pits or Rottweilers. Those fuckers are scary as shit. I don’t care what people say.”
“Ah, they’re harmless.” I held Dimples out so Sookie could pet him. “Josie was eyeing a Rottweiler until Dimples came running out for his potty break at the shelter.”
Sookie held out her hand for Dimples to sniff.
“This little baby looks like he’d have a hard time taking apart a biscuit, never mind an intruder.” She giggled when the puppy licked her wrist.
“Get ‘em at the ankles,” I snorted. “Take out the achilles tendon and you’re down for the count. You thirsty? Or hungry? I’m making pork chops and garlic smashed potatoes.”
“Thirsty, yes. Hungry? I don’t know. That Cuban was pretty big.”
“I’ll make enough for you just in case,” I winked. “I’m doing beer, is that good or are you swearing off alcohol after you stripped?”
“Uh, beer should be okay. No tequila. Stripping in front of the boss is probably frowned upon,” she said.
“A little,” I laughed. “The cafe is closed on Mondays. We had a team builder and Dawn and this girl Holly ended up drinking way too much and got caught half naked behind the bar making out. I can honestly say I never want to see that much of Dawn again. Ever.” Her skirt was pulled up and she wasn’t wearing panties. She offered to let me join them which I politely declined. “Once you get to know her, I’m sure you’ll like Dawn. She can be a little harsh in the beginning.”
“Is she as possessive as Aude?” Sookie asked. She set her purse down on the steps that led to the first floor. “Whoa, nice kitchen.”
“It’s what sold the house for me. I didn’t need to see anything else. This is better than my kitchen at work,” I chuckled. “No, Dawn is not possessive at all. This shit with Aude is fairly new. I’ve been informed that she has a crush on me. If she doesn’t change her attitude she may not be around much longer.”
“That’s too bad. I mean I don’t know her but it’s never easy to have feelings for someone who doesn’t return your affection,” she said as she followed me into the kitchen.
“No, I guess it’s not. I’ve never given her any indication that I returned her feelings. I don’t date employees anyway,” I said. I would’ve broken that rule for Sookie.
“That’s a good policy.”
I nodded as I put Dimples on the floor. I washed my hands before I reached into the cupboard to pull a pan down. The pork chops were already on the counter. I had a handful of red potatoes next to the pork chops, ready to chop and boil.
“Can you cut potatoes into chunks?” I asked. “You’re sober now so I don’t imagine you’ll chop your fingers off.”
“As long as you don’t expect them to be uniform.”
“I’ll be mashing them.” I turned on the oven to preheat for the pork chops. I pulled out a bulb of garlic, sliced the top off and wrapped it in some foil before I poured some olive oil on it. “So, part of the job is finalizing presentation. We do things pretty rustic, but I don’t like the plates to look sloppy. I get that you may not feel comfortable doing that right away but I’m sure you’ll be good at it.”
“I’m sure I’ll catch on.” Sookie went to the sink to wash her hands.
“You will,” I agreed. “We didn’t really discuss the actual job. You’ll be making sure all of the orders are prepped in a timely manner. I have a training copy of the menu to give you that includes pictures so you know what dishes should look like, as well as what each ingredient is. I hope you’re good at directing people.” I was sure she would be great at the job.
“I guess we’ll find out. My mom, she… never mind. I’ll get better at it,” she told me.
“Better at what?”
“Being more assertive. I’ve been bitchy lately but I’m not usually a very assertive person. I’m at a weird spot in my life.” She was kind of all over the place with her explanation, too.
“We can come up with a code word if I overhear you being a pushover,” I suggested. “You saw what it can be like. We talk fast and loud… As for where you are in your life… we’ve all gone through major changes, at least I know I have. I get it.” I turned on the pan, adding a little oil so I could sear the pork.
“Thanks but I need to find my own way. I’ve had someone else deciding my limits for me my whole life or someone telling me what I like and what I don’t. Too often I’ve opened my mouth and my mother came out.”
“You’ll figure it out,” I smiled. “You’ve decided you don’t like mango all on your own. It tastes like feet. That’s a start.”
“That’s true.” Sookie dried her hands. “I’ve also decided tattoos aren’t so bad.”
“Tattoos can be sexy,” I agreed. “My mom flipped her shit when I got my first tattoo. She hates them with a passion. She’s gotten used to them though.”
“That’s good. I’m thinking of getting one just to piss off my mom.”
I reached over without thinking to rub her hip, just above her ass. “Right here would be sexy as hell,” I said.
She moved my hand to the front of her hip. “I was thinking here,” she said quietly.
“You’re right, it would be sexier there.” I didn’t move my hand right away. Her body was soft from what I could feel. Our eyes locked and it took everything in me not to lean down to kiss her.
“I can think of somewhere sexier but I don’t think I could let you touch there.”
“Mmm, that’s too bad,” I purred. I gave her a charming smile before I told her. “My back piece extends to my ass.”
“You have tattoos on your butt?” She looked… disappointed.
“Yep. It’s just over the top of my right cheek. I can show you if you want…” I didn’t mind showing it to anyone that wanted to see it. I had a Japanese dragon on my back and the tail ended on my ass.
“We should probably get back to dinner instead of playing Show and Tell,” she said.
I reached over Sookie to the knife block to get her a knife for the potatoes.
“Maybe later,” I winked as I set the knife down in front of her. I pushed two apples toward her to work on after the potatoes. I placed the pork chops in the pan to get them going.
Sookie slowly and carefully went to work on the potatoes. We stayed quiet while we worked on dinner. It was nice having someone in the kitchen that wasn’t screaming or telling me how she’s divorcing Landon because she found out he asked Hailey to marry him too. In getting to know Sookie a little more I could tell she wasn’t a bitch at all. She was still young and had a lot of living to do. She was probably pretty scared too. I was willing to bet that if she didn’t have Amelia she’d be right back in Louisiana marrying someone she didn’t love because her mom made her.
Once I had the pork chops in the oven and the potatoes in the water I tossed the apples in a sauté pan.
“Do you have any questions about the job?” I asked. It was going to be her first job. I was sure day one would be terrifying for her.
“Only a million or two.”
“Anything I can answer right now?”
“What kind of hours are you expecting me to work?” Sookie asked.
“We’re a breakfast café so I’m only open from six in the morning until two in the afternoon. I would like you to be there Tuesday through Saturday; seven to two if that’s okay with you.”
“That should be fine,” Sookie agreed. “I’m surprised you’re not open on Sunday. You’d probably do great business on brunch after church and whatnot.”
“I am. I didn’t think you’d want to work six days,” I told her. “You’re welcome to come in Sundays if you want. We get busy around ten-thirty.”
“We’ll see,” she shrugged.
“Have you figured out if you’re eating with me or not?” I asked as I added a little more butter to the pan. “Any other questions about the job?” It kept me from flirting with her.
“I suppose I could stay for supper,” she agreed. “Can I ask you a not job related question?”
“You can ask me anything you want.”
“Why did you get into food?”
“My nanny,” I replied. “She used to cook for me every night and had me help her. I loved it so when I graduated high school I told my mom I wanted to go to culinary school. She figured it was better than partying all the time. I don’t have to work, but it makes me feel whole. I don’t feel right if I’m not cooking something every day.”
“I need to find something like that,” Sookie said with a hint of sadness. “There’s nothing in my life I feel that passionately about. Even my ex I didn’t… never mind. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that.”
I reached over to rub the back of her neck. “If you want to talk about it, it’s okay. I’m a good listener.” I was a good hugger too.
Sookie considered it for a moment before she continued.
“It’s not like I never loved him. I did. I do, really. My ex is a good guy. He never did anything wrong and the reasons I left… Well, it’s not his fault. I left because I didn’t feel that pull anymore and hadn’t for a really long time. I didn’t want to admit it to myself. Then I put on that dress and with every inch the zipper went up it was like I drifted a little further out to sea, if that makes any kind of sense.”
“Makes perfect sense. From what I gather it almost felt like an arranged marriage,” I said. I didn’t know if that was accurate.
“No, it wasn’t really like that. Bill and I were a couple since high school, believe it or not. We grew up in a small town so the pickings were slim, I can admit that. And yes, my family approved of him because he came from just as good of a family as my own, but I wasn’t forced into the relationship. I really did love him,” she said. Her voice cracked toward the end.
“Sorry, I only had what Amelia said to go off of.” I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate, but it seemed like she needed it so I turned her to face me and wrapped my arms around her. I didn’t know if she was hugged very often. Hugs were important.
“It’s okay. Amelia never liked Bill.” Sookie hugged me back. “She thought he wasn’t good for me. Too stodgy for someone his age,” she sniffled.
“I obviously don’t know him, but if he was stodgy she might have been right. You have too much life to be stuffed away in a little town being ruled by an overbearing mother,” I said quietly as I rubbed her back.
“I was living in New York,” she told me. “We agreed to have the wedding in Louisiana but we were living in New York.”
“I see.” That might have been worse, especially if her ex worked a lot. Being along and feeling invisible in a city like New York had the potential to be bad. At least in San Diego she had Amelia. “Well you’re here now with a fresh start,” I whispered.
“I know.” Sookie pulled back and discreetly wiped her face. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to dump all that on you. You’re my boss so that’s just really inappropriate.”
“It’s fine,” I told her. “With you staying at Amelia’s I imagine we’ll see each other outside of work. We may even become friends,” I finished with a small smile.
“Yeah maybe,” she said. “I’m actually looking to get out of Tray and Amelia’s place. I appreciate what they’ve done for me but I’m sure they want their privacy back and I like having my own space. Plus Tray snores like ridiculously loud.”
“Believe me, I know,” I laughed. “I’ve been friends with him since I was twelve.”
“I don’t know how Amelia sleeps next to him,” she laughed. She had a gorgeous laugh.
“Sleeping pills and booze.”
“That might sadly be the answer,” she agreed.
“If it ever gets too bad before you find a place you’re welcome to come here. We have a spare room on the first floor that isn’t used.” What the hell was I thinking inviting her to stay the night?
“Thanks, but that would be kind of weird for me I think. I really am looking for a place of my own so if it gets that bad there’s always plenty of hotels I can stay in around here,” she said. “I appreciate the offer, though.”
That was the best answer. If she stayed the night I’d probably end up making a move. I still owed Dawson a hundred bucks.
“Sorry, that just came out. You’re right, it would be weird. It’s bad enough you’re going to have to stare at my ass all day. I wouldn’t want you to try to catch me just out of the shower to catch a glance at the goods,” I joked.
“I wouldn’t need to do that, Eric. You offered to show it to me not twenty minutes ago,” she reminded me.
“Damn. You’re right. The offer still stands,” I chuckled. I walked over to grab the pork chops out of the oven, wiggling my butt as I walked. I knew from her giggle that she watched.
“You’re ridiculous,” she said.
“I’ve been called worse. Can you get two plates down? They’re in the cabinet to your left.”
“Of course.” Sookie turned and had to arch her back when she reached for the plates.
Her ass looked amazing in the jeans she was wearing. When she struggled a little I stepped up behind her to grab them. I unintentionally rubbed myself against her sexy ass. I wasn’t sorry.
“How about you get the silverware instead?” I said in a low, husky voice.
“Uh huh,” she breathed. “Did you have this place remodeled for giants?”
“Nope. It came like this.” One of my hands settled on her hip, the other on the counter in front of her. I wanted to do so many dirty things to her. She smelled amazing and her body felt really fucking good.
“That’s what she said,” Sookie mumbled under her breath.
“Hmm, someone has a sense of humor,” I said with a quiet chuckle.
I forced myself to take a step back. She was my new employee. I didn’t need to try to seduce her. I really needed to get laid, and quick.
“Do you like apples with your pork chops?” I asked when I took the plates to start serving dinner.
I plated up Sookie’s dish. I knew she wasn’t super hungry so I gave her half of what I had and she seemed satisfied. Now that she was an employee I had to be cautious. I didn’t come onto her a lot, or at all, in the short time we knew each other. It was obvious we had a mutual attraction. At least I’d hoped so. She may have been reacting to me since her ex was the last man, or only man, to touch her. Either way, I was going to be more mindful of my actions when it came to Sookie. I didn’t need to fuck up a good thing, and having her as an expeditor was going to be a great thing.