GAH! That man was so infuriating! I wanted to tell him to take his highhanded bullshit and shove it where the sun don’t shine when he appointed himself executioner of my car, but when he yelled back that he was worried about me breaking down I found I couldn’t yell back. I was so sure he wouldn’t want me seen driving my car because of how it would make him look, that when he seemed to be genuine when he gave his reasoning why (he gave a shit…), I didn’t know what to say.
Did he really give a shit?
To be honest, I got worried every time I got in my car over whether or not it would start and planned on buying another one after saving up enough money. Could I drive Eric’s car in good conscience though? I didn’t want him to think I was using him. Living rent free in his house was doing enough to put a dent in my self-reliant armor, so how would I feel driving his car for free too?
Once Alcide broke into our temporary ceasefire I decided to keep quiet and think it over before committing to anything. As I put the groceries away I thought about how I would feel if the situation was reversed and it was Eric using my car. Would I think he was a freeloader using me for the things I had? Probably not, especially if I had been the one to make the offer without being asked. I still didn’t know what I would end up doing, but if I decided to take him up on his offer there was no way I was letting him scrap my car. I would need it after our year was up, or until I could buy another one, and there was more than enough room in his four car garage to store it in the meantime.
I was surprised when Eric decided to dry the pots I washed and wondered what he was up to. He wasn’t the domestic type, as he’d already told me the day before, so I couldn’t help being a little suspicious over his motives. Alcide already knew the reality of our situation so there was no need for him to act like a husband, like he did back at the grocery store. I started regretting inviting Alcide to dinner and really wished he would leave so Eric and I could talk, really talk, about things like the car and his flirting with random redheads (and possibly getting blown by them in the dairy cooler) when I’d already made it perfectly clear I wouldn’t be publically humiliated again.
Jealousy was a bitch and I hated even admitting to myself that I’d felt it seeing Eric with her, but everything he did and said was so confusing I didn’t know what to think. He’d definitely been jealous over Lafayette at first and the hateful glares he was giving Alcide made me wonder if something similar was going on there too. Alcide was good looking enough, but I didn’t think he’d been flirting with me and why would I look at him anyway when Eye Candy Eric was right there? Even when he lifted his shirt, all I could think was his abs couldn’t compare to Eric’s.
I was so fucked.
I had just finished putting everything away and was pulling things out to start making sandwiches for everyone for lunch when Pam walked in flashing more bling Snoop Dog at the Hip Hop Awards.
“Party tonight at Death Row Records?” I asked, trying to keep my temper in check having a clue what the rings were really for.
She cocked an eyebrow at me in return saying, “Don’t be silly…that was last week. Now pick a ring, any ring, I have to get the rest back before I’m stuck sitting next to LiLo in court for walking out with them all.”
I gritted my teeth and looked over at Eric who had no expression on his face whatsoever. I didn’t know if this was his idea or Pam’s, so I didn’t know who to be pissed at, and opted for a generically pissed response of, “I already have a ring so you can take them all back!”
Pam’s eyes glanced down at my ring finger before rolling back into her head and said, “Yes and as lovely as it is, you need to wear something more befitting someone of Eric’s stature. Speaking of which, I hope that car in the driveway belongs to an immigrant landscaper I failed to notice pruning the bushes in the yard because there’s no way you can be seen driving that. Use one of Eric’s cars.”
I heard Eric’s sigh right before I exploded. “No! There’s no fucking way I’m wearing one of those rings so just take them all back! It wasn’t a part of our agreement and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna wear some fake wedding ring!”
“FAKE?” Pam yelled back. Clearly I’d hit a nerve., “I’ll have you know every one of these rings are very real bumpkin and any one of them cost a hell of a lot more than that tin can you call a car outside!”
“Fake sentiment you hoity bitch. I have no doubt those rings are real because anything less than the real deal touching your skin would probably burn hotter than Holy Water getting splashed on you during fucking Christmas Mass. The ring I’m wearing may not be worth much money, but my father gave it my mother with love so it’s fucking priceless to me.”
“Quit being so goddamn stubborn. If things had gone differently and Jack Daniels hadn’t been the best man at your wedding, you can’t tell me that you’d turn down a ring like any one of these. What is everyone going to think when they see a $50 ring on your finger?”
“Maybe they’ll think I was telling the fucking truth on that shameful video when I said I didn’t marry Eric for his money!”
“Quit feeling so worthless!”
“Why would I feel so fucking entitled? You know what? You all don’t know me so I’m gonna clue you in; I was dumb enough to give away my virginity to a man who I thought loved me, that I had planned on spending the rest of my life with; I was dumb enough to marry a man I didn’t even know and now have to live under a fucking spotlight for the next year just so my Gran can show her face at church; but I’m not dumb enough to walk around sporting a fucking big ass diamond ring that means absolutely nothing. It’s bad enough that I can’t give away my innocence or my ability to be a first time blushing bride to whomever I end up with in the future and I’ll be damned if he has to think he’s got to give me a ring like one of those in order for me want to marry him.”
The room was completely silent after my impromptu speech and I silently cursed myself when I realized I’d made a plate full of sandwiches for everyone while we’d been arguing. My appetite was completely gone and I didn’t care how rude I was by leaving them all standing there when I said, “Help yourself,” and left the kitchen as fast as my feet could carry me.
I stayed in my room for an hour putting everything away and contemplated taking a nap, but I knew I’d never be able to fall asleep. Then I remembered the glorious swimming pool just waiting for me in the backyard and threw on a bikini, wrapped a sarong around my waist, and grabbed a towel before leaving the room, hoping I could slip out back without anyone noticing. I crept down the hallway quietly, but didn’t hear any sounds so I peeked into the kitchen and found it empty. The den was empty too so I darted out the backdoor and tossed the towel and sarong down on a chair before diving into the warm water.
I swam for a while, feeling the tension leave my body with every slice I made through the water, and eventually climbed onto one of the floats to lounge in the sun like I’d been dying to earlier that morning. My eyes closed to block out the rays while my skin warmed in the sun and I let my mind wander over everything that had happened to me in such a short amount of time. I had no idea of how much time had passed and didn’t realize I was no longer alone until I heard Eric’s voice ask, “What happened to your hips?”
My eyes shot open and Save me Jesus… Eric was standing by the edge of the pool in nothing more than a pair of swim trunks. The cloudless sky suddenly became very interesting to me and I was glad my bikini bottoms were already wet from the pool water or else the jig would have been up. I heard the splash from him diving into the pool (I hadn’t seen it happen since I was trying to burn out my retinas in the sun) and the next thing I knew he was breaking through the water right beside me.
“Where’s everyone else?” I asked, hoping they’d come strolling along and give me a reason to be a proper young lady instead of shameless hussy like my body wanted me to be.
“I told them to leave,” he said with his eyes never leaving the side of my body. I watched as he placed his hand over the bruises on my hip and sure enough, they fit so we couldn’t acquit.
“I did this,” he said, barely above a whisper; barely a question.
You’re doing something else too, I thought. Having him touch me in such a personal way should have made me want to push him away instead of using my traitorous hand on the opposite side from him paddling in the water to keep me closer. “Well they weren’t there before I went to Vegas, so…yeah, I guess they were from that night.”
He used his fingertip to trace the pattern of bruises before looking up at me with a sly grin saying, “I’d say I was sorry, but I have a feeling if I could remember how you got them I wouldn’t be.”
Stupid inability to NOT smile back.
“If I could remember, I doubt I’d accept your apology.”
Stupid mouth working before stupid brain filter could kick in.
Were his lips always so soft and full looking? Did the sun have to make the water look all shimmery as it trailed down his face from his hair? Were his shoulders really that broad that they spanned half the length of my body?
Neither one of us said anything with only the sound of the water lapping at the edge of the pool to fill the silence. I couldn’t help gasping a little when Eric’s left arm came up to rest on top of my calves since he had to have been treading water because I’d been floating in the deep end. The sun glinting off his hand made me notice the plain gold band that covered his tattoo and before I could say a word, he noticed and said, “We match.”
Did I want to open this can of worms?
“Why didn’t you even look at any of the rings Pam brought over before deciding you didn’t want any of them?”
Oh, I guess HE wanted to open the can of worms.
“I told you why, or at least I told Pam so you should have been paying closer attention,” I teased. I’d already figured out it was Pam’s doing seeing how she basically did everything for Eric, like buying him toasters and shit.
“Why were you so angry when we left the store earlier? Was it the tabloid picture?”
Damn, he was opening a REALLY big fucking can with that one.
I chewed through all of the ‘skank’, ‘whore’, and ‘bitch’ words before I swallowed them and said, “I saw you flirting with that redhead. It’s probably just a part of your personality or something, but I won’t be humiliated in public like that, so I’m asking you now to refrain from doing anything that could be misconstrued by others.” Others like me.
I wasn’t prepared for his reaction.
He laughed! Not a chuckle or a guffaw, but a big booming hold your sides before they split open I’m about to pee myself laugh!
I didn’t think my request was all that fucking funny and I pushed his stupid arm porn off of my legs and slid off the pool float on the opposite side, finding it very difficult to stomp my way out of the water in the deep end. I didn’t get far before he grabbed onto my arm and pulled me back to him, trapping me in over six feet of sinfully sinewy muscle. Damn him!
I was getting ready to take a cheap shot knowing I could care less if he could ever have kids in the future when he said, “Sookie, I wasn’t flirting with that skank.”
If I were a Schnauzer, my ears would’ve perked up with my head tilted to the side. Since Eric had the courtesy to regurgitate the word I’d previously swallowed, I let his balls have a temporary reprieve and gave him a look so he’d know he had 5 seconds to continue before he became a soprano.
“Her name is Sophie-Anne LeClerq and I can’t stand her. She’s fucking the director of the movie I want the lead role in so I can’t tell her to fuck off like I want to.”
“So you flirt with her instead?” Bullshit; a prime example.
Eric’s eyes traveled from my face to my cleavage, of which I was currently sporting a lot of seeing as how my boobs were pushed up from how he was holding onto me, and his arms tightened around me before his eyes came back up to my own. Only now the amusement they held had been replaced by something else. Something I tried desperately not to give a name to.
“I wasn’t flirting with her. In fact, I was talking to her about you.”
“What about me?” What could he possibly have to say about me to her?
He raised his stupidly sexy eyebrow and asked, “Do you really want to know?”
I raised my own non-sexy eyebrow and said, “What did I say about answering a question with a question?”
He grinned asking, “Like you did just now?”
Why were his smiles so fucking contagious? “Are we going to play ‘Who’s on first?’ next?”
He got that look again, that I still refused to name, saying, “I’d much rather play spin the bottle.”
Just how many cans did he plan on opening today for Christ’s sake?
The atmosphere surrounding us suddenly changed with even the birds and squirrels disappearing, like a tornado was on its way. His eyes slowly moved back and forth from holding my gaze, down to my lips and back again. I was completely caught up in it all; his eyes; his arms; in just him and I was both afraid to move and afraid not to.
God, give me a sign…