Finally arriving home that evening, I was in a mood.
A bad one.
Like finding out I would have to attend the stupid campaign party the mayor was hosting over the weekend wasn’t bad enough, my day had only gone spectacularly downhill from there.
At the meeting we’d learned new witnesses for the defense appeared out of thin air for the upcoming Pinto trial, which meant they would need to be deposed and their stories corroborated.
When the meeting ended John Flood showed up in my office to tell me the asshole that had leveled threats against me via my son and Maxine had disappeared into thin air.
None of the cameras captured his face, thanks to the hoodie he’d been wearing up over his head, and he’d disappeared down a back alley, never to be seen via CCTV again.
Seeing John reminded me to have him look into one Debbie Pelt, but considering the way my day had been going, I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn she was just as Houdini as everyone else.
And then, I got my period.
If I’d checked my Period Tracker app over the weekend – like I’d meant to – I would’ve known to at least be prepared for Aunt Flo’s imminent arrival.
But because of a certain unnamed man – unnamed for the purposes of Pamanipulation Day – with tendencies to do shirtless pushups in my living room and who had achieved an unfair level of hotness – I’d grown rather accustomed to the sticky feeling of a little spillage from my juice box.
So I didn’t realize my period had started until my morning pot of coffee had kicked in and I’d gone to the ladies, where I found the rocket’s red glare in my underwear.
Thank god Panty Protection Protocols had been in place.
But not finding my emergency tampon in my bag – which I could’ve sworn had been in there only a few days ago – had necessitated me going in search of my right hand gal to see if she had one.
Like my emergency tampon, she was missing too.
So I’d been forced to play a different kind of Let’s Make a Deal in the workplace – one more suited to Wayne Brady and daytime television than a public defender and a stint upstate – by accosting the women – and two men who’d had the misfortune of being there – in the breakroom.
Following the winning contestant – Bill’s assistant Caroline – back to her desk, she discreetly handed me a tampon from her purse and laughed lightly when I grumbled, “I could’ve sworn I had a Pam lying around here somewhere.”
Surely she would have one, considering Pam was all about Pam and her name could be found in the letters.
T-A-M-P-O-N equaled P-A-M T-O-N.
As in thanks a ton Pam, for pulling an Amelia Earhart at a time when I actually needed you for something.
By the time she turned up I knew she was lying about wherever it was she’d been because she handed me a wheatgrass and mango smoothie, as though she’d gone out and gotten it for me.
For me, as in the same person who’d once told her the only green things I ate came from a bag of M&M’s.
So even though we both knew she was full of shit – her lipstick had been clearly visible on the tip of the straw – I thought to make her pay for it by accepting it from her and taking a huge sip.
Unfortunately, I paid for it too.
But it explained – in part – why she was full of shit.
It tasted like shit.
Like the contents of a John Deere grass catcher bag, after mowing down a mango grove, had been chewed up and partially digested by a dairy cow.
It lent credence to the talk around the water cooler – that Pam wasn’t of this world – and would explain all of the stories about alien anal probing, if that’s how they harvested their sustenance.
But moods were a funny thing and despite not feeling the least bit amused by mine, as soon as I walked into the house, I found myself in a much different mood, finding an extraordinarily hot Manny in place of my normally hot Manny.
“You got a haircut,” I heard myself say, catching him midstride walking from the kitchen towards the living room.
I hadn’t thought he’d needed one.
I’d been wrong.
So very, very wrong.
“I did,” he smiled shyly, running his fingers through his now shorter hair, before he slowly but deliberately stalked forward until he was right there.
Proving, among other things, that the doors to any boundaries we might have once had, had been blown off the hinges.
So there was no way he didn’t hear my whispered, “I got my period.”
Way to spill, Sookie.
Like it wasn’t bad enough my word vomit had returned, even my other set of lips were unwelcomingly spewing.
My own box should not be cockblocking me, especially when he looked like that.
After all, that’s what a vagina was.
A box a dick came in.
“Okay?” he chuckled, wrapping his giant paws around my upper arms and rubbing them up and down.
Was it supposed to be a subliminal message a hand-job would be well received?
As well as a warning I would need both hands to do it?
If so, mission accepted.
Instead, he looked prepared to embark on a different kind of mission and said as much, when he sweetly asked, “What do you need? An assortment of chocolate in the candy, ice cream, cake variety or a long soak in the tub, followed up with a backrub?”
When I only stared at him dumbly – because he couldn’t be of this world either – he added, “Are you in the mood to watch a romantic comedy, something that will make you cry happy tears, or would you prefer watching a nonstop video stream of kittens, puppies, and/or a bunch of baby pandas playing on their specially made jungle gym in China?”
Was he for real?
Maybe I’d imagined his existence.
I wouldn’t put it past the Karmic Justice League to give me Captain America in my dreams and wake me up to Maxine at my front door.
They could be assholes like that.
But he felt real enough.
Like the cramps in my lower back.
Proof they could be assholes like that.
So I smiled, probably for the first time that day, and said, “Quit being so annoyingly perfect. You’ll ruin me for all other men.”
Honestly, he could probably drop trou and take a dump right there in the foyer and I’d manage to overlook it.
He was rockin’ his new haircut that hard.
“Yes,” he flatly agreed. “And wouldn’t I hate to do that.”
Moving his hands down to my hips, he pulled me flush against his body, with his fingers kneading my lower back as he slowly leaned down and gave me every chance to pull away, until his lips hovered just above my own.
So I felt them moving against mine when he repeated in a low husky voice, “Okay?”
“So okay,” I breathed out, just before he sucked me into The Kiss to end all kisses.
Different than the ones we’d shared the night before, instead of the anger-tinged urgency we’d used to attack one another, this kiss was just pure raw want.
One hand stayed on my lower back to keep me pinned in place, while the other snaked up my spine and tangled into the hair at the back of my head, with his talented fingers kneading away whatever tension I’d carried home from work.
And causing another part of me to involuntarily tense around a piece of absorbent cotton.
Running my hands over his fruited plains and up his mountains’ majesties, they moved up over his shoulders and through his much shorter hair, where I was pleased to find his waves of grain on top was just long enough for me to grab onto.
It was a good thing too.
I had plans for that handhold in the very near future.
But even if I’d been open to getting my red wings via shower sex – something I was still undecided on, but the polls were leaning heavily in his favor – I was not open to having sex with him for the first time when I was on my period.
As in it would happen more than once.
Because it would.
Thanks to my birth control my period usually didn’t last more than a few days, but I didn’t want to tempt fate by discounting the assholery of the cosmos, even in just my thoughts.
With my luck I would turn into some medical marvel and get my own documentary on the Discovery Channel.
The Perpetually Bleeding Woman.
That wasn’t the kind of Marvel super power I wanted to have.
But the longer we kissed, the more it became obvious that fate wasn’t the only thing being tempted, so I did the only thing I could do.
I kicked off my shoes to automatically make me four inches shorter, so gravity would pull us apart.
Because I assumed it would take one force of nature to combat an equal force of nature, which was what that kiss was.
A force of nature.
And a test of the absorbency of my cotton cork.
But my assumptions only made an ass out of me because Eric’s grip on my body tightened and I quickly found myself suspended in midair, with my feet dangling four inches above the floor.
It was only natural for my legs to wrap around his waist.
Intrinsic survival instincts kicking in, is what it was.
And maybe the fundamental desire to procreate.
Or at least practice at it.
Eric walking forward the few inches he needed to press my back against the door was probably necessary since I was weighed down by extra fluids.
Grinding his lower half against mine, I moaned into his mouth and swallowed his in return, and then moaned for a different reason when he pulled back just enough to pant out, “We should stop.”
“Definitely,” I breathily agreed before pulling his lips back to mine.
Like my heart beating, I had no control over my actions.
You try making your heart stop and see how easy it is.
Fusing our mouths together was much the same thing.
Because who in the hell could live without that?
Or want to?
I really hadn’t planned on doing this – attacking her the moment she stepped into the house – but just laying eyes on her after thinking about her all day long made me react without thought.
Somewhere along the way of making plans on how we might fill four uninterrupted hours together over the weekend, my thoughts had turned from simply spending time together to simply spending that time together naked.
Trips to gun ranges or maybe to dinner and a movie turned into visiting all of the spots around the house I wanted to fuck her.
On the kitchen counter.
Bent over the back of the couch.
And my rapidly growing favorite spot – here, up against her front door.
I needed a reason to stop.
God knows the fact she had her period wasn’t doing it.
If anything it only gave me a reason to work on crossing shower sex off of the list.
But the fact was we’d only met six days earlier and we’d only known each other’s names for half of that time. Since we lived together, it was hard to distinguish how soon was too soon.
Did the three date rule even apply?
If I considered her willingness to literally leave the door open on Sunday night, then maybe our Monday night make-out session could be considered our first date.
If you took into account we’d shared a meal together and then squinted really hard.
But even so, that had only been twenty-four hours earlier.
So dry humping her against the front door was probably too much too soon.
Forcing myself to pull my lips away from hers, seeing her staring back at me wild-eyed, with her lips kiss swollen and her face reddened from both heat and whisker burn, I had to lock my muscles in place before I folded like a cheap lawn chair and dove back in.
It didn’t help that my inner caveman grunted his approval at having left my mark on her.
But it took both of us hearing the grunt of cavebaby to draw our focus away from one another and looking towards the sound, Sookie softly cried out, “He’s crawling now?”
Grinning up at us both from the entryway into the living room, Jason immediately started babbling and reaching for Sookie, with his arms and legs wildly kicking out, as a puddle of drool began forming underneath his chin.
Once I gently set her back down onto her feet, I watched her go to him and smiled as I said, “It’s more of an inchworm/army crawl, but he’s getting better at it. We did our pushups together earlier.”
Well, I did pushups, while he pretty much pushed off with his hands and rocked in place on his belly. But it wouldn’t be long before he would really be mobile and while the house was somewhat baby-proofed, I knew more would need to be done to make the house safe for him to explore.
Taking a step and nearly tripping over her discarded shoes, I reached down to pick them up and turned towards them to passive aggressively tease her about putting them away, but stopped short seeing the tears running down her face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, forgetting all about her shoes and walking towards them to wrap my arms around her.
Hoping it was just her hormones at work, I soon found out it ran deeper than that when she eventually admitted in a small voice, “I feel like I’m missing everything. First his first tooth came in and now this. The next thing you know, he’ll be graduating high school and I’ll only know about it because you sent me a picture text.”
Resisting the urge to smile – both from her ridiculousness and from her seeming certainty she would still want me around when he graduated high school – I hugged her tighter and ultimately lost the fight to keep my grin to myself, when she pouted up at me adding, “Save me a huge piece of his cake. Huge. I’ll need it to drown my sorrows in buttercream.”
“You’re not going to miss his graduation,” I offered assuredly.
But instead of bolstering her spirits, I only seemed to make things worse because she dropped her eyes from mine and said somewhat coldly, “You don’t know that.”
Coming up short once again by her unexpected mood swing, I took a moment to study her. Sookie had dropped a few breadcrumbs about her past here and there, but nowhere near enough for me to form an entire slice.
So I took my cues from her – that there was more to the story I still didn’t know anything about – and knew I sounded a bit off myself when I said, “You’re right. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. But I can promise you if you’re still at work when the time comes for him to walk across the stage and get his diploma, I will go downtown and physically carry you out of the courtroom if I have to.”
Taking a slow deep breath, she slowly released the air from her lungs and then repeated the process twice more before she shrugged and infused her voice with more warmth when she said, “I guess that’ll depend on how much cake I’ve eaten between now and then. You might not be able to lift me.”
“Then I’ll just roll Big Momma out of the courthouse,” I shrugged and then dodged her flying hand meant to smack my chest.
My return smack was an automatic response – and it automatically landed on her ass where it was meant to land – just as I ordered, “Now go upstairs and change, while I get dinner going.”
“I told Pam you have issues,” she grumbled but turned for the stairs just the same. “But I will do as I told her I would and overlook them.”
“Yes, Saint Anastasia,” I volleyed back with the verbal equivalent of an eye roll thrown in. “You can regale me with tales of your martyrdom over pancakes.”
“Pancakes?” she asked, both looking and sounding much more chipper when she turned to face me.
“Chocolate chip pancakes,” I replied with a calculated stare before adding, “And bacon.”
“You really are going to have to roll me out of the courtroom,” she grinned and darted up the stairs, apologizing to the baby in her arms for her future inability to walk to his graduation.
I’d been toying with the idea of ordering pizza for dinner, but considering her wildly swinging moods, I thought something sweet would be the better way to go.
And maybe it would help to bring back more of her usual sweetness.
By the time they came back downstairs, I was just placing the food on the table and once she strapped Jason into his highchair, I put a few small pieces of a plain pancake onto the tray for him to go wild with.
He was just as enthusiastic about it as his mother.
The moans she made with every bite of her food were making my pants uncomfortably tight, but I ignored it and said, “So I was thinking…”
“I thought I smelled something burning,” she smirked.
But watching her tongue dart out to catch any stray syrup on her lips lessened the intensity of my glare, so I continued on like she hadn’t said anything at all by saying, “About setting up an online dating profile.”
“Um…sure,” she hesitantly offered, with a stilted smile. “If that’s something you want to do.”
Shoving an extra big portion of pancakes into her mouth, she looked everywhere but at me. So I was left wondering what caused her mood to swing back, until I ran over our conversation again and shook my head saying, “Really?”
Either missing or ignoring the sarcasm in my tone – like she’d missed the point of my suggestion – she merely made a noise in the affirmative, while taking her time chewing the food in her mouth.
So I tossed a piece of bacon at her and said, “A fake one. For you to date and for my sister to hate.”
And then I laughed, both at seeing the look dawning on her face and at the piece of pancake that was soon lodged on her cheek, when Jason decided to get in on the impromptu food fight.
“High five,” I grinned, holding my hand up in front of him for him to smack.
Instead he only waved his chubby fist in its general direction.
It was still a work in progress, but once he had it down we would work on fist bumps.
Peeling the pancake from her cheek, she set it down on the side of her plate and used her napkin to wipe her face, saying, “That’s actually a really good idea.”
“Don’t hurt yourself doling out the praise,” I playfully snarked in return and threw her words from the night before back at her adding, “I might be pretty, but I have some brains to go along with my brawn.”
A piece of bacon bounced off of my face a second later, as she said, “I just meant that I can tell Pam I’ll be bringing fake you to the mayor’s campaign party this weekend. The fact fake you will stand me up will just make her lower her defenses, so I can land the two of my one-two punch later on.”
“You have a party to attend this weekend?” I asked, already mourning the four uninterrupted hours of us time together.
“Ugh,” she huffed out. “Yes. I’m sorry. I meant to tell you earlier, but then I walked into the house and you looked like that and how was I supposed to remember anything then?”
Pausing with her fork hovering in midair over her plate and her eyes trained on her food in resignation, I smiled with my question of, “Did you mean to say all of that out loud?”
I loved it when she rambled.
I learned the most interesting things when she did.
Catching the piece of bacon she threw at me next, I bit into it, which gave her the time to say, “But I know it’s your day off, so if you have plans or don’t want to watch Jason, I’ll…I’ll…”
Sighing, she looked resigned for a different reason and shrugged, as she said, “Well, I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe he can be my date.”
Throwing the half eaten piece of bacon back at her, she caught it and popped it into her mouth, while I said, “I can and would watch him for you. But what if there was someone else who could watch him for a few hours, so I could be your fake real date to the party?”
“Are you already a part of some Nannies ‘R Us collective I’m unaware of?” she asked after swallowing. “Do you all meet up at the park by the swings and take turns riffing on your employers?”
Straightening up in her seat, her tone was that of Sookie Stackhouse, Assistant District Attorney, when she said, “If so, consider this my formal notice of intent to take the stand in my defense. Shall I bring my own copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to swear my oath upon or will one be provided by the collective?”
Staring at her playfully serious expression, I was once again brought up short, but for an entirely different reason.
Before I even knew what her real name was, I’d known there was something about her that had felt…inevitable.
But where before it had felt like a meandering journey where time held no meaning, it now felt like a runaway train, barreling towards a cliff’s edge and running out of track.
I wasn’t in love with her.
Not after six days and only knowing her name for half of that time.
But none of that mattered.
It didn’t take away from the fact that for the first time in my life I had the feeling I was staring at the woman I was going to one day marry.