A foreign and yet somehow familiar sound managed to work its way into my slowly waking mind. And since I was still hovering in the fog of sleep, it didn’t take much for me to be convinced I was still dreaming.
Made even more convincing when I inhaled deeply and would have sworn it smelled like Eric was right there.
In my bed.
But the logical side of my brain knew that was impossible. I’d watched him drive off the night before after he’d taken us home from the drive-in movie, so there was no way he was in my bed.
But my libido didn’t have a logical side and already worked up over the thought of him actually being there, it was a struggle to remain still.
My lower half wanted to commit anarchy.
A coochie d’état, if you will.
And I may have moaned a little at the thought of him using the mighty hammer in his pants to put me out of my misery.
The resulting coochie de grâce – death by dick – sounded like a great way to go.
But it was that other sound – the foreign and yet familiar one – still going strong in the periphery of my consciousness that kept me tethered to the world where Eric and his deadly dick didn’t exist in my bed, when it managed to finally register in my brain.
A circular saw!
My eyes shot open and landed on my alarm clock. Seeing the time, I knew Sam would have already left by then, so that could only mean one thing.
Thing 2 and Thing 1 had a death wish.
And if they didn’t end up killing themselves with the saw, then I would sure as hell finish the job.
My body shot upright, right before I shot out of the bed, down the hall, and out into the backyard. But as soon as my bare feet hit the wooden planks on the deck, the saw wasn’t the first thing I saw.
Too busy ogling the operator, I supposed.
Because there stood Eric, wearing a light sheen of sweat and sawdust, and somehow managing to saw his way right through my panties from twenty feet away.
It really wasn’t fair.
For him to be so good looking.
For me to be greeting him with bedhead and morning breath.
For my two youngest to be flanking him on either side, leaving me no choice but to dive across the center of the saw, if I wanted to get to him.
No, it really wasn’t fair.
It felt like I was in a constant state of neargasm around him and the fact he was sporting his scruffy look wasn’t helping any. The epitome of a Lumbersexual – part metrosexual part lumberjack – he was pushing all of my buttons.
Except for the one button I really needed him to push, to push me over the edge.
Maybe we could tether the boys to a tree and…
Bad mommy! Bad!
But Eric was at least a safety conscious pseudo-father because I noticed all three of them were wearing safety goggles. Someone had set up one of our fold-up card tables off to one side of the yard, with an open box of donuts and what looked like blueprints sitting on top.
It looked like a mini jobsite.
I wasn’t even standing in the sun and yet I was still melting.
Since no one had noticed my arrival just yet, I took the opportunity to quietly watch them for a moment, and ended up feeling like the suburban version of Jane Goodall watching the primates in their natural habitat, when as soon as Eric was done cutting the plywood underneath his hands, all three of them took a step back and pounded on their chests.
While grunting like apes.
It was adorable.
And I was pretty sure just watching the three of them together had somehow managed to pound the final nail into my coffin at the same time.
I was a goner where Eric was concerned.
So that made me Fay Wray in the King Kong remake going through my mind.
But knowing it was absurdly soon to be having those kinds of thoughts – sex was one thing, but what I was feeling was a hell of a lot deeper than superficial lust – I quietly slipped back into the house and chicken-shitted it back to my bedroom. Grabbing my phone, I dove underneath the covers, like the ankle-snatching boogeyman himself was hiding underneath my bed, and called the only person I could think of.
Which I would soon come to think was a stupid ass idea when she answered with, “Did you sleep with him yet?”
On the off-chance anyone came looking for me, I ignored her questionable greeting and whispered into the phone, “Good morning, Hooker Hadley. May I please speak with Doctor Hadley? I need a second opinion on my self-diagnosis that I’m certifiably insane.”
Without missing a beat, she cheerfully replied, “Please hold.”
My lips pursed, trying to hold in the giggle that wanted to be set free hearing her softly sing her ‘on hold’ music – Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond – before she made a shuffling noise and said, “Doctor Savoy, licensed cocktologist at your service. How may I help you today?”
Taking a deep breath, I let it all out in a whispered rant of, “IthinkI’mreallyfallingforEric.”
“So you fucked him?” she squealed.
“NO!” I whisper shouted.
“Well then yes, you are correct that you’re certifiably insane,” she calmly replied. “I would’ve fucked him at your dinner party in front of everyone if I’d been you.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised, really.
What else had I expected to hear from a licensed cocktologist?
But before I could cry, scream, or hang up, she went on to say, “You’ve been on one-eighth of a date with him. And while I’ll admit that he should be made to walk around in a biohazard suit to keep the heterosexual women safe from his should-be-illegal sexy self, that’s just the lust talking. I need to know more before I ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ the you be cray-cray diagnosis.”
She already knew a little bit about how he was around the boys, but she hadn’t heard about our resumed date after the Billshit fiasco the night before. So once I filled her in, I went on to explain, “I woke up to the sound of a circular saw this morning and when I ran outside to kill Treyson for trying to kill themselves with it, I saw it was Eric. He’s out there helping them build their treehouse! They’re all wearing safety goggles and acting like adorable cavemen, beating their chests and grunting.”
Hadley was it-had-to-be-a-first-time-in-the-history-of-ever struck silent for a moment, so I filled it in with a defeated sounding, “He brought them donuts. And drew up blueprints. Eric told me last night that he’s the one who designed Edgington’s Performing Arts Center and yet in the eight hours that we were apart, he thought nothing of making them actual blueprints for their treehouse. He’s already been to Home Depot and Krispy Kreme and I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet! And did I mention the fucking tool belt he’s wearing or the kid-sized matching ones he must have picked up for the boys? How in the hell am I supposed to resist all of that?”
My rant seemed to break her out of her stupor because she made a slight hissing sound that ended with, “Ooooh…that’s as good as swapping spit with an Ebola patient. You, Miss Thang, are done for because that shit is the blueprint for an ovum explosion.”
“Tell me about it,” I sighed in agreement. “I feel like the Easter bunny because I’m almost certain rainbow colored eggs are flying out of my cooch as we speak.”
“Want me to come pick up the boys so you can ask Eric if he wants to taste the rainbow?” she giggled.
Yes for me, in that a day of just me and Eric sounded like a great idea.
But no for the boys because they’d be heartbroken if I kicked them out now, when their dream come true was taking place in the backyard.
My dream cum true could wait for a little while longer.
But at least she’d confirmed I had cause to be done for because done for I was. I’d just needed a second opinion, but now that I’d gotten a third, fourth, and fifth one from her, I was done with her.
“And…” I giggled, “I think that’s my cue to skedaddle, Skittle Skank. It’s gonna take me an hour to achieve the ‘I always wake up with beautifully wavy hair, light makeup, and no funk in my mouth’ look, before I can head outside and act surprised.”
“Don’t forget to do your stretches,” she laughed, giving me yet another tidbit of unsolicited advice. “Nothing brings sexy-time to a screeching halt faster than getting a charlie horse. But in all seriousness though…”
Completely roped in by her solemn sounding self, I zeroed in on the sound of her voice.
And then wanted to smack myself when she ended up saying, “If he agrees that The Dress is blue and black, you need to propose.”
“It’s white and gold!” I argued back, wanting to make her black and blue for dredging up one of our most heated ‘agree to disagree’ topics to date.
So heated that we’d almost come to blows.
But, as it turned out, I was arguing to no one in particular since she’d already hung up.
I guessed we were still agreeing to disagree.
So I got out of bed for a second time that morning and after doing a few lunges, I headed into the bathroom, wondering what Eric’s answer would be.
To the color of the dress.
Not a proposal.
It was definitely too soon for that.
Hearing Trey’s shout over the sound of the blade slicing through the wood, I turned off the saw and whipped my head towards him in the next second, hoping he was praying for more donuts instead of yelling out because something was wrong.
But seeing him squeezing his fingertip – and remembering Jason’s growled out Mother Hubbard from the night before – I realized two things in quick succession.
Something was wrong.
And they both had a knack for cursing without actually cursing.
I was impressed with them on too many levels to even keep count anymore.
But I kept myself from smiling at the latter to address the former, by kneeling down next to him and asking, “What’s wrong?”
Since I hadn’t mentioned anything to Sookie about bogarting her kids, her trees, or her backyard this morning, I had a feeling it – our activities and our relationship – would all come to a screeching halt if one of them lost a finger.
Because while she was pretty laidback when it came to letting them be boys, I was just as sure that more than one of us would be screeching for a whole slew of reasons if I caused one of them to need something to be reattached to their bodies.
No parent was that laidback.
So I let out a small sigh of relief when Trey held out his still intact finger and huffed, “Splinter.”
Grabbing my reading glasses from where I’d left them on top of the blueprints I’d drawn up, so I could see the small wooden shard lodged in his finger, Trey took it like a champ, while I worked it out from under his skin. All the while, my eyes kept darting towards the house, surprised we hadn’t woken Sookie up by now.
Not that I wanted to wake her up.
Even though I’d rung her doorbell relatively early that morning without giving much thought to that very possibility.
I’d been more than a little excited at the idea of building a treehouse with them and had been working on the blueprints for the last few days in my spare time, basing the design on every little thing they’d told me they wanted.
And then added my own embellishments to ensure it would withstand the attack of a thousand dragons.
I always kept my word.
A fact Billshit would learn if he fucked with anyone on their side of the fence again.
But it had been a little after eight a.m., which I hadn’t really thought about until a bedheaded Jason had opened the door mid-yawn and clutching a box of Boo Berry cereal.
And then acting as though my dropping by so early and unannounced on a Saturday morning was a regular occurrence, he held the box of cereal out towards me and asked, “Want some? I should warn ya though, makes your poop blue.”
“Thanks for saving me from an embarrassing trip to the doctor,” I chuckled and held out my own box. “But I brought donuts.”
Waving me inside, he looked much more awake now eying the artery hardening nirvana in my hand and smiled, saying, “Well then, you come to the right place.”
But after a quick round of twenty questions between the three of us, hearing Sam had just left to go hiking with his friends and Sookie was still asleep, I thought the right place for me at the moment was outside of the house.
It was just as well since their backyard was where I planned on spending the day anyway.
And after hearing why I’d shown up to begin with was enough to get the two of them to follow right behind me.
In my defense, I hadn’t planned on starting the treehouse without her knowledge.
But – in my defense – I couldn’t say no to either one of them, when they begged and pleaded for us to start now, now now!
So after explaining the do’s and don’ts of what they were allowed to do/do with assistance from me/touch it and lose your head, we moved on to practice our ‘please forgive us’ sad looks on the off chance Sookie was mad about it all when she inevitably found us.
They both assured me that look was a surefire way to get out of trouble and given their spirited nature, I was certain they knew it as a fact.
And hearing the patio door slide open, I knew I was about to find out for myself.
“Excuse me, sir?” Sookie called out from the deck. “I don’t remember ordering any of this.”
My attempt at preemptively forming what Jason had ultimately dubbed my Just Sad panda face was lost the moment I looked at her.
Nobody should look that good after just waking up.
“Speak fer yourself, woman!” Jason called back. “I put in an order with Santa months ago and he’s got a strict ‘No take-backs!’ policy.”
“Oh he does, does he?” she smirked, with a small shake of her head.
“S’in the fine print,” he nodded.
And a not-so-subtle elbow to Trey’s ribs had him nodding too.
But staring back at her, I thought maybe I should suggest she run some errands or go to the spa or whatever it is women like to do with their ‘me time.’
Because I wasn’t going to get jack shit done with her there.
My determination to make some headway on their treehouse had drastically changed course because all I wanted to do now was set sail for Paradise Sookie.
My rudder was already trying to steer me in her direction.
I was so singularly focused on her, had I not seen her feet carrying her towards us, I could have been convinced I’d already been put out to sea. But I was drowning in something else altogether when she got close enough to pick a Boston crème donut from the box and, keeping her eyes glued to mine, she used her fingertip to wipe away some of the filling that had oozed out of it.
And then used her mouth to suck it off of that same fingertip.
So maybe I could send the boys out to run some errands?
Or to the…boy spa?
Whatever – wherever – they wanted to go and do, so long as I got some ‘me time’ with their mother?
When the rushing sound died down in my ears, I was able to hear the boys excitedly explaining to her all that we’d been up to and all that we had left to do, completely oblivious to the fact their mother was killing me one lick at a time.
So I tried to shake off the decidedly adult images flashing through my head – both of them, actually – and focus on the here and now.
Here and now, we had the boys with us.
Here and now, I was supposed to be helping them build the ultimate treehouse.
Here and now, was definitely a bad time to do very bad things to Sookie that would definitely scar them in ways that were definitely not cool.
At least that was what I kept telling myself – there and then – until she winked at me before looking back at the two of them and, using her mom voice, ordered, “You two. Go brush your teeth and put on something other than pajamas.”
There was some minor grumbling – not much, but enough that I half-considered shooing them off with a small two by four or my nail gun aimed at their retreating feet – when suddenly it was just me and Sookie.
She wasted no time in coming to stand directly in front of me, with her eyes trained on mine as she softly asked, “Do you have any idea of how many dirty things I want to do to you right now?”
“Not a one,” I smiled down at her. “Why don’t you list them for me?”
But instead of giving her a chance to say even a single word – no matter how eager I was to hear her list – my lips were even more eager to get to hers.
By the time we were interrupted by the sound of the boys singing some sort of ‘Ew’ song, it took me a second to realize my lips hadn’t been the only eager part of my body.
Because we’d somehow ended up, tangled up with one another, with her lying back on top of the blueprints.
With me on top of her.
She looked as dazed as I felt when I forced myself to pull away from her and she took my offered hand with a smile as I pulled her to her feet.
I wasn’t sure what I’d been expecting her to say – maybe something to do with the kids’ singing or the treehouse being built in her backyard that she hadn’t ordered – but I certainly wasn’t expecting her to ask, “White and gold or blue and black?”
Even without any specifics, I lived with Pam, so of course I knew exactly what she was referring to.
So I met her now suspicious gaze with my matching one and answered, “White and gold.”
I gave zero fucks that the actual dress was blue and black.
In that picture it was white and gold.
If she thought otherwise, I didn’t think it would be a deal breaker – per se.
But it was white and gold!
However, my rising angst and blood pressure – as ridiculous as it was true – soon ebbed away, hearing her say the three little words I longed to hear.
“Yes. It. Is.”
The giggle she followed up with brought a smile onto my face, but I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe…
It was too soon for either one of us to be saying those three little words.
Even if I was pretty sure the feeling itself had started growing long before today.