Twisting the top off of my beer, I took a deep pull from the bottle and stared out into the backyard, saying, “This place is nice.”
Then turning to face where Tray was standing by the grill on the patio, I twisted my expression into an overly exaggerated sad face and fake sobbed, “My little boy is all grown up.”
At nearly a decade older than me, we both knew how ridiculous I sounded right now, but he only rolled his eyes and tried to fight off his grin, as he huffed out, “Suck my dick.”
“If you’d said that to the little woman, you might not be standing here right now,” I laughed.
Opening his own beer, he flicked the cap at me and grinned, “Nah…that’s what got me here in the first place.”
Then taking a good look around himself, he sounded genuinely happy when he ended with, “But here is an okay place to be.”
I knew he wasn’t talking about their new house, which had been a wedding present from Amelia’s dad and where we’d spent the day moving them into, but being married and with a kid on the way.
I was envious.
“You?” he asked, confusing me for a second. But I quickly figured out I’d spoken my thought out loud when he added, “You are jealous of me?”
Thankfully he didn’t wait for an answer I didn’t have the mental capacity to form and instead laughed out, “Well, just forget how to work a condom and you – my friend – can be standing here with me. We can take turns helping each other figure out how to put the damn cribs together.”
I would be glad to, but first Sookie would have to forget to take her birth control pills.
“What are we laughing about?”
Glancing up, I already recognized the voice as belonging to Amelia’s cousin Ty, but I stared passed him and in through the patio door where I could see Sookie helping Amelia put things away in the kitchen.
Like at the wedding a week earlier, we’d been studiously avoiding one another and only talking to each other when necessary. And oddly enough, with a smaller audience, we had to be twice as careful with how we interacted around everyone else.
I never would’ve thought I’d rather have a few hundred people between us than just a handful.
It made it ten times as hard staying away from her.
“Faulty birth control,” Tray answered.
They hadn’t advertised the wedding was a shotgun one, but they hadn’t kept it a secret from those closest to them and being Amelia’s cousin, he was in the loop.
He was also on my shit list for the way he kept staring at Sookie when she wasn’t watching.
But I was watching.
And if he kept it up, Ty was going to get a Columbian necktie when I went Scarface on his ass.
What the fuck kind of name was Ty anyway?
He wasn’t as cool as someone like Ty Cobb.
Hell, he wasn’t even as cool as Ty Pennington.
I’d quickly come to the conclusion it could only be short for Asshole.
Sookie still hadn’t told her family about us, but I wasn’t upset about it. We’d both forgotten the fact her parents were leaving the day after the wedding to go to their timeshare in Cabo for their annual two week vacation.
Our yearlong secret relationship wasn’t news she wanted to share with them over the phone.
And I happened to agree with her when she said while she was sure heart surgeons in Mexico knew their shit, why risk it?
Grabbing a beer from the cooler, my eyes rolled seeing Asshole grimace when he took a dainty fucking sip, but I had a hard time keeping my expression neutral when he leaned forward in the chair he’d set his delicate ass into and asked, “So, do either one of you guys know if Sookie is seeing anyone? I know she didn’t bring a date to the wedding, but I wanted to make sure before I asked her out.”
Tray’s reply of, “I don’t think so,” was drowned out by my barked out, “She’s a lesbian.”
“You know that’s not true, right?” Tray laughed and then explained to Asshole, “That’s just a rumor she started to keep the guys at her dad’s bar from hitting on her.”
Now I was surrounded by two assholes.
“Really?” he asked, looking way more excited than I was comfortable with.
And if he kept it up, I would make sure he was feeling uncomfortable by the time he left.
My foot up his ass wouldn’t feel all that great.
I’d been in a relationship or two in my time, but I’d never been so possessive about a woman before.
Then again, I’d never been in a secret relationship before.
And none of those women had been Sookie.
I hadn’t been in love with any of the others either, so I was sure that played into my green streaked hand. But I wasn’t sure I could passively stand there and watch some other guy asking her out, even already knowing she would tell him no.
And I couldn’t leave knowing he would be asking her out.
Since when did a catch-22 become one of the nine circles of Hell?
Catching movement in my peripheral, I glanced in through the patio door and saw Number Four making her way into the kitchen. She’d shown up not too long ago – after the majority of the work had been done – so I jutted my chin in her general direction and said, “Why don’t you ask her out? With the way she hit on me at the wedding, I can almost guarantee she’ll spread her legs for just about anyone.”
Tray dropped his head and I could tell he was trying to fight off his grin. But I didn’t understand why until Asshole turned to look into the kitchen before whipping his head back to face me, with his glared declaration of, “She is my sister.”
“Huh,” I shrugged, warring over wanting to laugh at his intimidating stare and at the same time wanting to Dirty Harry him.
Do you feel lucky, punk?
I was pretty sure he worked with Amelia’s dad, so he was a white collar worker and probably hadn’t broken a sweat since his last calculus final. But even if his manicured hands hadn’t been enough of a clue that we led completely different lives, I had no doubt I could kick Ty Pennington’s ass.
I certainly wouldn’t break a sweat – or even a nail – kicking Asshole’s ass.
But there were already enough pictures of me floating around on Instagram with #WED (which apparently stood for What Eric Did) @ #DawsonWedding, so I just gave him a ‘What are you going to do about it?’ look before turning to Tray and asking, “How’s Amelia been feeling?”
Apparently morning sickness wasn’t confined to the morning hours, so they were putting off their honeymoon until after the baby wasn’t making her miserable.
And according to Sookie, Amelia wasn’t all that happy to hear Sookie’s mom laughingly tell her if she waited that long, she wouldn’t be going on her honeymoon until after the kid moved out of the house.
No one knew, of course, but Sookie and I were leaving the next day to spend a couple of days together where no one knew us and – more importantly – where no one would bother us.
She said it was our duty as the best man and maid of honor to ensure someone was fucking in celebration of their wedding.
It was yet another thing we happened to agree on.
“Depends on the minute,” Tray shrugged. “She can go from happy to hurl at the drop of a dime, but she’s just happy she didn’t throw up at the altar.”
“We’re all happy she didn’t throw up at the altar,” I chuckled.
A grin broke out onto his face, when he said, “She was wearing seasickness bands around her wrists under her dress. It was her something blue.”
Ty must have been tired of being ignored because he stood up and silently headed into the house, with my eyes staring daggers into his back the entire time.
“Something on your mind?”
The sound of Tray’s voice – amused, no less – pulled me from my murderous thoughts, watching that smarmy asshole slide up alongside Sookie, so I forced myself to look away and over at Tray, asking, “What?”
Pointedly looking at my hand, he then turned his knowing eyes onto me and said, “If you’re not careful, you’re gonna crush that beer bottle in your hand, so I’m telling you now. I won’t be held accountable when Amelia throws up all over you. She couldn’t stand the sight of blood before she got pregnant, so she’ll probably erupt like Mount Vesuvius.”
“Think the weather will hold out for the ballgame next weekend?” I asked after a long pause – and after I loosened my grip on the bottle – hoping to change the subject.
It was no ‘hullabaloo’, but one could hope.
We’d been careful enough that I hadn’t yet been put into a situation where I had to dodge any questions about me and Sookie. And the last thing I wanted to do was lie outright to one of my best friends, especially when we were so close to being able to come out.
The change in topic had to do with the Guns N’ Hoses charity softball game that had been cancelled twice before. Once due to a torrential downpour and once again due to a five alarm fire.
If locusts swarmed the ball field next, I would take it as a sign from God that I should just grab Sookie and run, whether her family knew about us or not.
Tray waited until I met his eyes again – probably to scrutinize the relief behind them I knew I couldn’t hide – when he allowed the subject change and only said, “Hopefully.”
Hopefully my luck would hold out for the rest of the night and he wouldn’t be such an observant mother fucker.
I only needed to keep it together for one more week because Sookie’s parents would be flying back on Saturday morning, so they could be there in time for the game and she planned on telling them about us when it was over.
But, silly me…
I’d forgotten how much enjoyment karma got at my expense, until the patio door slid open in the next moment and Sookie walked through it.
With an asshole trailing her ass.
Putting her profession to good use, she was carrying a bottle of tequila and a handful of shot glasses, as she made her way to the patio table where she set them down and said, “Sorry to intrude, but there’s a little too much estrogen floating around in there and I needed some testosterone to even it out.”
I couldn’t have hidden the smirk on my face if I’d tried – which I didn’t – seeing Asshole’s lips pucker to one side, as though he was trying to decide whether or not he should be offended that his presence hadn’t qualified as enough testosterone.
So I vaguely mused over getting a side gig as a mind reader when he turned to her and semi-teased, “I don’t know if I should be offended.”
“Where did you get your manicure done?” I asked, looking right at him. And when he turned his no longer semi-teasing eyes onto mine, I added, “My mom is looking for a new nail salon.”
Sookie bit her lower lip to keep from laughing, but it was too late for Tray to do anything more than try to disguise his with a cough before doing a little subject changing himself by telling Sookie, “After the wedding last weekend, I don’t know if tequila is a good idea.”
His eyes had darted my way, likely recalling what happened the last time tequila and I had gotten together, and we’d taken it out on Quinn’s face when Sookie was added to the mixture.
Observant mother fucker.
Undeterred, she proved carrying a bottle of tequila and shot glasses weren’t the only things she’d picked up working at her dad’s bar, sounding just like her brother when she stared back at him and taunted, “Pussy.”
“What the hell is that for?” he laughed.
Nodding, she then shook her head in mock dismay and replied, “That’s what Amelia said you always say. I gotta tell ya, Tray. I’m all for a little fun and games, but I gotta draw the line now that she’s married. I can’t keep her happy like I used to, so you gotta step up and go down or else this marriage just isn’t going to work.”
He silently stared back at her like he was trying to figure out whether or not she was kidding.
I knew, about whether or not Amelia and Sookie had ever fooled around like that.
I knew because I was sure I was wearing the same exact expression.
It seemed like even the crickets had stopped chirping to contemplate her words, but Sookie only reached over and grabbed one of the cigars from the box one of the other guys had brought along for the move. We’d had nearly the whole crew here until about an hour ago, which was why it hadn’t taken long to move them into the house.
Sitting back in her chair, she didn’t seem to mind the dead quiet that now surrounded us all and paid us no mind, while she cut the tip off the cigar before bringing it to her lips and lighting it.
Simultaneously lighting up parts of me, when her eyes flicked my way as she wrapped her lips around the end of it, knowing exactly what I would picture in its place.
She was going to pay for that.
Physically shaking off his stupor, his jaw had yet to close as he stormed back into the house and playfully yelled, “What the hell kinda rumors are you spreadin’ about me, woman?”
Sookie’s eyes locked onto mine as she giggled, with my responding smile being completely her fault.
All I wanted to do was dive across the table that separated us and grab onto her, but Asshole reminded us of his presence by saying, “So you work at your father’s bar?”
His question was clearly meant to draw her into a one on one conversation, so god only knows what he was thinking when she just glanced back at me and sounded around the cigar still in between her lips, “Mmhmm.”
I know what I was thinking.
The sound reminded me of how she sounded when she hummed around my dick in her mouth.
She would pay for that too.
But short of beating Polo Prissy Pants to death, I didn’t know how else to make him pay for putting his pitiful moves on her by quasi-asking, “So I guess being asked out for drinks one night wouldn’t be something you’d be interested in.”
You know what she was interested in?
That’s what she was interested in.
But instead of diving across the table and grabbing onto him, like I now wanted to, I shifted in my seat feeling her foot coming into contact with my leg under the table, sliding up and down my calf.
She was petting me into being docile.
It was working.
And her responding words worked even more when she turned to him and said, “I’m not opposed to going out for drinks with anyone, but my boyfriend would be opposed to me going out on a date with anyone other than him.”
Goddamn right he would.
I didn’t even care that I was thinking of myself in the third person.
I could admit it was a little crazy, but that’s what Sookie made me.
A little crazy.
In a good way though.
“I didn’t realize you were seeing anyone,” he replied in a way that sounded somewhat accusatory.
Considering he looked at me when he’d said it, I guessed he considered it my fault he wasn’t fully informed of her relationship status.
Which, in a way, it was my fault.
Both keeping him in the dark and being the reason why she wasn’t single.
But fuck him and his faulty belief that he had any right to know.
Her foot was still midway up my calf, but it stopped moving and merely pressed against me, when she turned to him and said, “I didn’t realize I should be walking around with a scarlet letter ‘F’ on my shirt to inform others I was in a monogamous relationship.”
He seemed gobsmacked to be on the receiving end of her verbal smackdown, but I was only too amused to be a witness to it all, so I teased, “How did you pass the second grade, thinking ‘F’ stands for ‘monogamy’?”
“Oh, I didn’t learn that until high school,” she grinned. “’F’ stands for ‘fucking’.”
Fucking JB DuRone.
Dumb as a box of rocks.
But we both had a past and I certainly didn’t fault her for hers. He and everyone else she’d ever been with were history.
I was her present and her future, so that was all that mattered to me.
Standing up in a huff, Asshole started striding for the door, while snapping out, “I also didn’t realize how crass you could be.”
“This is nothing,” she laughed out loud and at the same time tried to hold me in my seat with nothing more than her foot pushing down onto my own. “Stick around I’ll tell you all about how I stuck it to your mom last night.”
Seeing him gently sliding the patio door shut didn’t have nearly the same effect as slamming a door shut would, which only made her call out, “Pussy!”
And she only grinned wider, when she looked back at me and heard me say, “And I was so sure I couldn’t possibly love you more. You had to go and prove me wrong.”
“Please,” she scoffed. “Ever since Cinder-spread-her-legs showed up, all I’ve heard about is how hot you are and how lucky I was you stepped in when I was cornered by Quinn. And let me be clear. Not lucky, as in, he could’ve assaulted me and you saved me from that special kind of hell. But lucky, as in, you were my knight in shining armor. I had to come out here before I beat her to death with a meat tenderizer.”
Shrugging, I smirked, “I’ll help you hide the body.”
“This is how I know our red and blue marriage will work,” she nodded, sounding as certain as her words declared her to be. “We have a mutual appetite for destruction.”
Shaking my head, I looked up at her through my lashes and asked, “Did you just make a Guns N’ Roses pun?”
“You love my punny ass and you know it,” she laughed in a way that always warmed me from the inside out.
I did love her, punny ass or not.
She knew it.
I knew it.
And a week from now everyone else would know it too.
Locust plagues notwithstanding, it couldn’t happen soon enough.