Ever since I’d admitted my feelings to both Sookie and myself, everything seemed better. Not just our relationship, but food tasted better, the air smelled cleaner, the sky even fucking looked bluer. Had I known falling in love would give me such a high I wouldn’t have fought against the idea of it for so long, but I knew it took meeting Sookie for that possibility to even exist. She was everything I never knew I wanted in a girl and I thanked fuck that she felt the same way.
The house didn’t seem nearly as empty as it had that first day when she left for work, but after two days at home alone I was ready to pull my fucking hair out. I couldn’t remember what I used to do to occupy my free time during the day before she’d come into my life, but when she left for work on Thursday morning I had a plan. Since she had to work late with the Drama Club after school and knowing she had her doctor’s appointment later on that evening, I figured I would try and make us dinner. I’d watched the Food Network for two days straight and got the idea after seeing some guy make a bunch of shit I couldn’t remember, but knew I liked Coq Au Vin. I’d had it before at restaurants and since it was chicken I knew the protein would be good for Sookie and the baby.
How hard could cooking chicken and vegetables be?
It took me a while to find what looked like an easy recipe online and after printing it out I went into the kitchen to make sure we had all of the ingredients before getting started. I had to dig through all of the cabinets since I had no clue where Sookie stored everything and found most of what I needed with the exception of pearl onions, shallots and a few spices. I was pretty sure shallots were those green onion thingies so I decided to just double up using regular onions instead and returning to the piece of paper, I glanced down at the directions to get started.
In a large, heavy Dutch oven over high heat fry the bacon until crisp and all of the fat is rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crisp bacon bits to paper towels to drain. Reserve.
Dutch oven? What the fuck? Isn’t that where you pull the blankets over someone’s head after farting?
I wandered over to the oven and saw the brand name was Viking so that was no help and started opening cabinets looking for what I had no fucking idea, but hoped to come across something that looked Dutch like a pot shaped like a wooden fucking shoe. I eventually settled on using the same frying pan Sookie always used to cook breakfast since I knew for a fact that you could fry bacon in it. I turned the heat on high and once the bacon was sizzling in the pan I went back to the directions to see what was next.
Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper. Brown the chicken pieces in the hot bacon fat, working in batches, if necessary, and turning to ensure even cooking.
Sookie had put most of the things I’d had Alcide pick up at the grocery store into the freezer saying there was no way we’d eat it all before it spoiled, so the chicken was frozen solid. I tore open the package and tried to separate the pieces but they were stuck together pretty good and figured they’d come apart in the pan once they warmed up. I didn’t notice, at first, but the kitchen was quickly filling up with smoke from the frying bacon and I was digging in the drawer full of utensils looking for a slotted spoon when the smoke alarm went off startling the shit out of me. I couldn’t get to the window to open it fast enough and started fanning my arms trying to get the smoke out when it dawned on me that I should probably check on the bacon. The house phone rang a second later, but I ignored it knowing Sookie would’ve called my cell phone if she needed me.
What had started off as thick strips of bacon were now blackened bacon dust on one side and raw on the other. I pulled off some paper towels and set them next to the stove on the counter while I tried to scrape the remains out of the frying pan, but the slotted spoon only furthered my aggravation since the crumbled pieces slipped right through and I threw it aside in favor of using a large serving spoon I’d found in the same drawer. When most of the larger chunks were out, I grabbed the block of frozen chicken and tossed it into the pan making for one hell of a smoke, sizzle, and splatter storm and remembered at the last minute to add the salt and pepper, probably seasoning the pan more than the chicken, but it was hard to see through the smoke. While the chicken browned I figured I’d earned a healthy swig of the Pinot Noir the recipe called for and was in the middle of swallowing my second healthy swig when I heard a loud banging on the front door. I’d barely heard it over the sound of the chicken cooking and the smoke alarm that was still blaring, but I took the time to turn the chicken over first since it was starting to come apart.
Note to self: When it’s time to turn the chicken again, use something other than the serving spoon.
The red dots where the grease splattered onto my arms were still sizzling as I made my way towards the front door when it crashed open and a bunch of firemen came barreling inside. I was thankful they’d at least thought to try opening it before busting it down while mentally chastising myself for leaving it unlocked yet again after I’d watched Sookie drive off to work that morning.
“What the fuck?” I yelled at all of them.
Did they get etiquette lessons from Pam?
The first one through the door approached me saying, “Your alarm company notified us that your smoke detectors had been activated and they got no response when they tried contacting you.”
“Shit,” I said, running my hands through my hair which was a really bad fucking idea since they were covered in frozen chicken bits and bacon grease. I could see the fire trucks through the now open door and it didn’t dawn on me until then that the house’s smoke detectors were tied into the overall alarm system. “Why didn’t they call my cell phone?” As soon as I asked the question I remembered that I’d gotten my number changed during my missing three weeks and must’ve forgotten to notify the alarm company.
I was just about to tell them it was a false alarm when the fireman lifted his head, peering over my shoulder, and asked, “Are you cooking something?”
“Shit!” I yelled and half-hobbled half-ran back into the kitchen.
Since the fireman wasn’t on crutches he got there first and was turning off the stove as I came into the room. The rest of the firemen trailed in behind me while the first one looked down into the blackened frying pan and asked, “Uh…what are making?”
A fool of myself? A complete disaster? Take your pick.
I cleared my throat and since I was surrounded by nothing but testosterone, I tried to sound manly as I answered, “Coq Au Vin.”
“Really?” he chuckled while the rest of them laughed.
“Yes really,” I snapped feeling sufficiently pussified.
Even though I stood a little over six foot four, I felt psychologically dwarfed by Mr. I’m A Big Guy’s Guy That Puts Out Fires For A Living. Not only was Sookie lusting after that fucking pirate, but she’d gone on to list some of her favorite uniforms. Firefighters were at the top of her list and while she’d just been egging me on at the time, she’d unknowingly given me a lot of different ideas on how I could surprise her on Halloween, but it also meant I didn’t want any of them in the house when Sookie got home.
She was mine.
The fireman poked at the chicken with the spoon and surprised me when he said, “You should’ve thawed the chicken first and cooked it in a Dutch oven since the whole thing needs to go in the oven to finish cooking.”
“What?” I asked not hiding my surprise. “You know how to make it and what the fuck a Dutch oven is?”
“Sure,” he replied. “I make it sometimes down at the firehouse, but since it takes so long I only ever make it on a Sunday.”
Since I didn’t know what a Dutch oven was, clearly I had more testosterone.
Forgetting all about my pussification and not caring how much of a shmuck I would look like, I hobbled over to the cabinet where Sookie kept all of the pots and pans and opened it, asking him, “Is there one in here?”
He at least found some humor in my misfortune because he chuckled again as he reached inside and pulled out a huge pot-like thing that had a lid and looked nothing like a wooden fucking clog. I found out his name was Benedict Talley, but he went by ‘Eggs’ and as the rest of the guys gathered their gear he gave me a quick tutorial on what I should do and showed me where the switch was to turn on the exhaust fan over the stove. I pulled another pack of chicken out of the freezer and, at his suggestion, thawed it in the microwave before they all headed out and wished me luck while telling me to the various names of nearby restaurants I could just order it from.
Everybody’s a fucking comedian.
The joke really was on me since after a couple of hours it became overwhelmingly apparent that we wouldn’t be eating anything I’d made. I couldn’t even bring myself to taste test it thanks to the aroma wafting out of the oven that smelled anything but appetizing and gave up, calling a nearby restaurant for two takeout orders and then texting Alcide to pick them up for me.
I was trying to clean up the mess I’d made when I heard the front doorbell ring. I almost didn’t recognize the sound since it seemed everyone just walked into the house on their own. I was already aggravated having failed at making dinner for Sookie and reined in my scowl as I opened the front door to see a smiling brunette on the other side. I wondered if she was Sookie’s friend Amelia and almost asked when she opened her mouth, saying, “Hi. I’m your neighbor, Debbie Pelt.” She pointed randomly down the street, but her eyes never left me as she continued, “I know we’ve never met, but I saw the fire trucks here earlier and just wanted to make sure you were okay.” She took a step closer to me asking, “Is there anything you need? Anything at all?”
Was I suddenly on Wisteria fucking Lane?
She was pretty enough and there was a time I might’ve been tempted, but not anymore. Now I had my very own in-no-way-desperate housewife and was more than a little irked that she’d had the nerve to ring my fucking doorbell just to come on to me. Regardless of my five times mother fucker status, I knew she had to be desperate considering she was eye fucking me when I knew I probably still had bits of frozen chicken and bacon grease in my hair.
She must’ve taken my silence as a good sign and took another step closer, purring, “Well?”
Since I was already in a shit fucking mood I decided to spread the cheer and gave her what Sookie called my panty poofing leer because whenever I looked at her that way, her panties seemed to magically disappear. I knew for a fact there was no magic involved; I just had quick hands and Debbie’s eyes flared with lust seeing it directed at her which made her shocked look all the more priceless when my features went stone cold and I followed up with, “No,” and shut the door in her face.
I was still incensed a little while later, thinking about all of the nameless women from my past and how I used to think I was living a great life. I had a hot new woman at my choosing whenever I’d wanted one, but when I compared how I felt then to how Sookie made me feel now, I was almost angry with myself for making so many bad choices. Granted, I didn’t know Sookie back then and even though she knew about my past she didn’t judge me for it. She’d jokingly likened my sexual history to prehistoric times, calling it my ‘Your Ass Ick Period,’ but personally, I think she just liked my dinosaur. Even so, especially knowing that she’d only had one other sexual partner, I felt a little like my past disrespected her somehow.
Or maybe it was my own shame and yet one more reason why I really didn’t deserve her.
I was lost in my thoughts when I heard the front door open and froze for a second wondering if it was the desperate housewife until I heard the heavy footfalls of Alcide with him calling out a second later, “Honey, I’m home!”
I didn’t bother turning around when he came into the kitchen and he laughed out loud, asking, “Shit. Was there an earthquake I didn’t know about?”
“Fuck you,” I growled out while trying to wipe up the bacon grease that covered the stove and countertop, but only managed to spread it around more.
However he had my full attention when he asked, “Who’s the brunette fan club of one in your driveway?”
“She’s still out there?” I asked, turning to face him. She hadn’t looked too crazy, but you could never really tell. “She said she’s my neighbor, but I’ve never seen her before. But then, I don’t know most of my neighbors,” I said while heading towards the door.
“She was standing out there staring at the front of the house when I drove up, but when she saw me she turned and jogged away,” he said, adding, “She looked kinda feral.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Sookie was due home any minute and I didn’t want her to have a run in with a crazy bitch, but before I could even leave the kitchen I heard the door leading from the garage open. Sookie’s voice called out into the house a second later, repeating Alcide’s greeting of, “Honey, I’m home!”
I couldn’t help the grin that came onto my face just hearing the smile in her voice and while she’d joked that she liked coming home to her house husband, offering to be my sugar momma if I wanted to quit work to be a stay at home dad, I had a feeling once she saw the kitchen she’d be changing her mind.
With the crazy bitch temporarily forgotten, my head darted around from side to side seeing how much evidence still surrounded me and I felt like a criminal caught red handed. I’d wanted to clean it all up before she got home and Alcide was enjoying my momentary panic and only laughed harder when she asked, “Do I smell bacon?” as she came into the kitchen.
“I’m pretty sure the whole neighborhood smells bacon,” Alcide snorted.
“Eric?” she asked as her eyes widened and took in the mess surrounding me before they traveled down my food stained body. I wasn’t at all tipsy from the wine I drank while I cooked, but I still wished I’d thought to put on some of her eyeliner so I could’ve swaggered on over and slurred pick up lines to her with a fake British accent to distract her from the mess. Instead I looked like a Chef Boyardee reject from Skid Row.
If only I’d thought ahead and borrowed one of those firemen’s uniforms.
“How was your day?” I asked, acting like nothing was amiss and glaring at Alcide so he’d shut the fuck up.
“You cooked?” she asked, ignoring my question and looking both amused and sweetly disgusted.
“Yes,” I answered. It wasn’t a lie. We just wouldn’t be eating what I cooked. I gave Alcide another glare and added, “I made Coq Au Vin for dinner.”
Her eyebrow rose up as she asked, “You went from Pop Tarts to Coq Au Vin?” Moving so she could look at the counter behind me, she added, “You didn’t stick the chicken in the toaster did you?”
“No,” but I knew now, for future reference, that was a no go.
Alcide laughed again and held up the bag of takeout saying, “And I made a trip to the restaurant for the Coq Au Vin you can actually eat for dinner.”
Sookie shot an amused but disapproving look at Alcide before her eyes continued to take in the biohazard surrounding me. She walked up and attempted to put her arms around me, but gave up when she couldn’t find a clean part of me to touch. Instead she leaned up on her tip toes and kissed me, saying, “Thank you. That was very sweet of you.”
“I’m just glad you didn’t have to taste it first,” I admitted with my face crinkling up.
“It’s the thought that counts,” she said as she picked mystery bits out of my hair and scrutinized it, asking, “Chicken?”
Among other things…
I knew I probably looked the worst Sookie had ever seen me, but her eyes were still filled with nothing but love as she stared back at me and offered, “Why don’t you go up and take a shower while I clean up in here?”
I felt bad leaving the mess for her, but my need to be clean overrode it and I gave her a quick peck on the cheek before making a beeline for the shower. By the time I came back downstairs the kitchen looked normal again and Alcide was gone. Sookie had made up a couple of plates and brought them over to the table, but I grabbed her before she could sit down and laid the mother of all kisses on her. I’d missed her all day long and thanks to my grotesqueness I’d missed out on what had become our standard greeting when she had gotten home. Once we broke apart, I smiled down at her saying, “Hello.”
“Hi,” she panted back with a smile. When were both finally seated at the table, she asked, “So what brought on your sudden desire to cook?”
“Boredom?” I offered. “Besides, after working all day the last thing you should have to do is come home to cook dinner when I’ve been sitting on my ass.” `Since I didn’t see myself turning into Wolfgang Puck any time soon I said, “Maybe we should hire someone to do the cooking and cleaning.”
“What?” she asked before quickly dismissing the idea, adding, “No!”
“Sookie, you work all day long. You’re pregnant. You should be resting,” I argued. Even if I learned how to do more of the cooking and cleaning, I’d be going back to work soon too.
“I’m not out digging ditches all day long and being pregnant doesn’t make me an invalid. I can work and take care of things around the house. Women all over the world do it and I can too,” she said with her face turning stubborn.
“And you don’t have to do either of those things, but since we have the means to have help around the house I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t,” I said with my earlier aggravation coming through.
We ended up silently staring each other down while we finished our meal and as she was putting the dishes into the dishwasher I finally spoke up asking, “Why are you so against the idea of having help?”
I put my arms around her when her body sagged and she leaned back against me saying, “It would just feel weird to have strangers in the house doing things I can do perfectly well on my own.” Her voice got small and I could barely hear her as she admitted, “I know it’s archaic, but it would make me feel like I’m failing at being a good wife.”
I spun her around and pulled her chin up so I could look into her eyes, asking incredulously, “Is that what you think?” Seeing her nod, I felt aggravated all over again that she would think so little of herself and set her ass straight. “Sookie, you are a fucking rock star of a wife. You cook, clean, do the shopping, the laundry and take care of my needy ass even though you’ve gone back to work full time all while your body is busy growing Frank. Everything you do for me, for us, is better than I ever imagined it could be. I know you can do it and do it well, but this would be a way for me to take care of you. Let me.”
I could see her struggling internally and thought I had her until she gave me her own panty poofing leer and waggled her eyebrows, asking, “What if I wear a French Maid outfit while I dust?”
My pants tightened at the thought making me growl out, “Not fair Mrs. Northman.” I could already picture her bent over my desk with her little black skirt flipped up over her hips with me pounding into her from behind as she yelled out, ‘Oh mon Dieu! Oui Eric…oui!‘
She could undoubtedly feel the effect her suggestion had made on me and rubbed her body against mine with a sexy smirk on her lips, but it didn’t reach her eyes and she said, “How about we compromise? You give me some time to get used to the idea and I’ll let you know when it’s too much for me to keep doing everything.”
I knew Sookie hadn’t grown up having much money and up until seven weeks ago she’d still been living paycheck to paycheck. Even though I’d had to borrow money from Pam to move out of my father’s house, it hadn’t taken me long to make enough money to not only pay her back, but for it to not even be much of a consideration for me anymore. It still boggled my mind that she had issues with me trying to spend any of it on her, but if she needed the time to adjust then I would give her that.
“Do you promise to actually tell me when it’s too much?” I asked. Seeing her nod, I smiled and held her tighter against me, rubbing my hips against the front of her body, and said, “Okay. Now…tell me. Do you know where we can find one of those little French Maid outfits?”
She giggled and rubbed back saying, “No, but I’m sure Pam would.” When my hands started to wander down to the buttons of her shirt she playfully slapped them away, saying, “Sorry buddy. I’m not about to travel up your Eiffel Tower now. We need to get going to Dr. Ludwig’s.”
I wanted to find some way to argue her point and find out how much French she actually knew, but I knew she was right and let go of her so she could get ready. As we were backing out of the garage I remembered the woman that had rang the doorbell earlier and turned to Sookie, asking, “Did you see anyone when you were driving up to the house?”
She looked back at me confused, asking, “What? Where?”
I told her about my strange visitor and could’ve sworn I saw a flash of her own possessive anger go across her face making me feel a little better knowing I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. I finished the story with what Alcide had told me right before Sookie had walked into the house and then stared at her waiting to hear her thoughts on it all. My initial reaction to meeting the woman hadn’t raised any red flags, but after Alcide told me she’d still been hanging around when he showed up almost thirty minutes later made me a little concerned.
Sookie laughed, asking, “The fire department showed up?” She waggled her eyebrows at me adding, “In their uniforms?” When my only answer was to silently glare at her she calmed herself and asked, “So you didn’t recognize her at all?”
I shook my head answering, “No, but I don’t really know any of the neighbors.” It’s not like there were block parties or I met anyone while I was out tending to the lawn. That’s what everyone paid landscapers for.
Sookie shrugged her shoulders seemingly nonplussed and said, “Meh…she probably just wanted to play with your hose, but who doesn’t? From the sounds of it you were pretty rude slamming the door in her face which, by the way, was the abso-fucking-lutely right response, so I doubt she’ll be back.”
Everything Sookie said made sense, but for some reason I wasn’t so sure. I just hoped she was right.