Sara always felt a little weird coming here because she'd never been friends with Chris. By the time Sara got old enough Chris was long gone, graduated from college and everything. They'd talked more than a few times over the years, though, because they shared something that they couldn't really talk about with to just anybody. Sure, Brad knew but Sara never felt comfortable talking to him about that night and everything they'd experienced.
Brad had been racked with a fair amount of guilt that he hadn't just brought Sara with him to Darryl's house the night Chris babysat for them. Of course, Chris would've gone through the night by herself if they hadn't been along. Not that she needed their help to get out of it, but it might have been a lot more tempting to just give up if she'd been by herself.
So, that left talking to Chris whenever she had a somewhat … odd … day because of that night. She wasn't emotionally scarred from it or anything, but she could appreciate as she got older that she'd changed that night. She was never the same after that.
It helped, too, especially today and this visit that Chris was married as a result of that night. Brad had been shocked as hell when their parents got a wedding invitation from Chris' parents that indicated Chris was marrying Joe.
Sara was the only one Chris had confided to as to how they met up again after that night. So, she felt better coming here to talk to Chris about Erik and what had happened yesterday.
She'd had sex with him. She absolutely had not planned on doing that. Eventually, maybe, but not their first date. Not after hearing how different their lives were. She still wasn't sure how that would even work.
"Hey," Chris said when she opened the front door to let Sara in. She didn't live too far away. Joe worked at a factory not too far from where they lived so it worked out okay for them Sara supposed. It took less than an hour to get to her parents' house in traffic so it wasn't bad.
"Hi," Sara said. "How are you feeling?"
"All right," Chris said. "Thanks."
Chris had just had a baby a couple of weeks ago she'd said. Sara had known she was pregnant but not when she was due or anything. They didn't talk regularly. It was their second and Sara thought their son was the cutest thing alive. She was pretty sure she'd think their second son was just as cute. It helped that Joe and Chris were both pretty attractive people.
"Hi Joey," she said when the older son came to the door. He was about four so didn't say a whole lot. Then again, he didn't know Sara real well so that might have been the reason behind him not saying much, too. She wasn't sure.
"Hi," he said, wrapping his arm around Chris' leg.
"Sorry. He really needs a nap but is fighting it because he doesn’t want to seem like a baby so he’s a little out of it."
"It's okay. If I came at a bad time."
"Nope. You're fine. Joe is upstairs changing the baby, but he'll bring him down once he's done."
Their oldest son was the first baby Sara had ever held in her life. She'd never had a reason to. She hadn't ever babysat. Her experience that night had sworn her off babysitting ever. Part of it, too, was that she was afraid she'd get a kid ten times worse than she'd been to her babysitters.
"Do you want something to drink? My mom brought me some sun tea when she came by on Friday to see us."
"Yeah," Chris said.
"I haven't had any since I was a kid."
"Mom still makes it all summer. Do you want some? Otherwise I have pop or something."
"I'd love some."
"All right. We'll go on into the kitchen so I can get it then. We'll sit in there. I know it's not as comfortable as the living room but I have to get Joey fed and Joe is going to feed Ryan. I knew you were coming over so I made sure to pump for his bottle."
"If it's a bad time…"
"No, you're fine. Totally. I have to do that when I take him places so it's no big deal. I'm a lot more comfortable doing it than I was with Joey."
"How long do you breastfeed them for?"
"Oh, I don't know. Joey was eight months before I stopped completely. From six to eight months it was his first feeding of the day until one day I was really sick with the flu so Joe just gave him a regular bottle. I figured at eight months that was good enough. We'll see if I make it that long again this time."
"Well, still, isn't giving a bottle bad for him?"
Chris shrugged. "It's my milk whether a bottle or not, and honestly, Joe likes being able to feed them once in a while. With Joey I pumped for the last feeding of the night so Joe could give him a bottle after the first month I think. He felt as if he was helping me, and well, he liked holding him. I don't know what everyone else does, but it worked for us. I was able to get a little extra sleep, too. You know? I'd go to sleep before that last bottle and then I wouldn't have to wake up until he woke up for the next feeding. It was very nice, trust me."
"Besides. It's nice to have someone stop by who's not my mother. My friends call once in a while, but they seem to think because I have a newborn in the house they can't come over."
"Does she come by often?"
"Only every day during the week. I love her, don't get me wrong and she watches Joey so I can take a nap when Ryan's sleeping. So, I'm not complaining, but it's just nice to see someone who wants to see me and not the kids."
"Oh, well. Of course I want to see the baby…"
"It's okay. I remember what I was like when I was your age. I didn't want to see babies either. Okay sit down. Joey, go sit with Sara at the table I'll get your lunch in a minute."
Joey ran ahead of Sara to the table. He struggled a bit getting onto his chair with the seat that was on it so Sara helped him. Chris brought a sandwich for him with some carrot sticks, grapes, and a few Fritos on the plate. Sara couldn't help but smile a bit, because it was similar to something she could relate to her mother making her when she was little.
"How are your parents?" Chris asked when she brought two glasses of the iced tea her mother had made to the table. Joey had a cup of something, too. With the lid on it she couldn't tell. Milk probably, she imagined to go with his lunch.
"They're good. You know, Mom and Dad."
"Right? Mine are the same. They never seem to change, do they? I mean, we do, so they must, too, but they don't seem to. It makes me wonder when that stops. Is it when we have kids? God, I hope not, I'm only twenty-eight."
Sara hadn't thought about things like that much. She had no idea. She knew nothing about her parents before they became parents.
"I don't know."
"He's fine. I saw him last weekend. I'm actually going out with him tomorrow I think."
"He and Darryl still into cars?"
"Yes," Sara said.
"Hey, Sara," Joe said when he'd come downstairs.
"Hi," she said. She still found it a little hard to believe that Chris was married to him. How crazy was that? It made her wonder if Chris hadn't babysat for her that night where she would be. Strange to think how a few hours could change the path of your life so completely.
"Car's still looking good I see," he said.
"Yes. I just washed it this morning before coming over."
"Taking care of it. That's good."
"Brad would lecture me if I didn't."
"Yeah," Joe said with a soft chuckle. "You do have an alarm on that thing, right?" Joe asked from the doorway.
"I do," she said with a blush.
"Good girl," he said. "All right. I'll leave you two to talk. Three I guess, but I promise Joey won't tell me anything you guys talk about."
"Oh, it's fine," Sara said, blushing a bit.
"He'll go down for a nap in about thirty minutes anyway. That's why Chris only gave him half of his sandwich."
"So, what's up?" Chris asked once Joe had gone into the living room.
"Well, I don't know where to even start," she said.
"Oh God, sure. I saw Mr. Dawson," she said.
"What? Sara. How?"
She told her about her car dying and everything that led to her showing up there Friday night and again yesterday.
"So, he asked you out. Why is that bad? I mean, you like him. You've liked him for years."
"Sure. I liked the idea of him. I didn't know him. I was ten when I saw him."
"Well, I knew I liked Joe, but you're right it was totally different. I was almost eighteen."
"You're not making me feel any better."
"I'm not trying to make you feel bad, Sara. I'm sorry. So you saw him. He asked you out."
"After I went down there!"
"Well, he has a point. I'm not sure I would've taken your leaving your phone number on the receipt as a sign you wanted him to call."
"I didn't know what else to do! I wasn't expecting him to have an employee or for Mr. Pruitt to be there."
"I suppose. So, what is his name anyway?"
"Erik," she said. She blushed profusely at the idea that she hadn't even known his name until right before she'd had sex with him.
"Yes," she said.
"Is he still cute?"
"Yes," she said.
"Okay. So, why does saying his name make you blush?"
She glanced at Joey who was picking at his grapes (sliced in half Sara noticed now). He'd eaten most of his half sandwich already (except the crust). He hadn't eaten any carrots.
"I, uh," she said. She was blushing even worse now. Why she wasn't sure. She knew things about Chris no one else knew because she couldn't tell them. "Can't really…"
"Oh," Chris said. "Huh. Okay. One second. Joe?" Chris called out.
"Yeah, babe?" Joe called from the living room
"Are you feeding Ryan yet?"
"Nope. I forgot to grab the bottle. He's not fussy yet so I figured I'd wait until it was time for Joey's nap."
"You want to come get Joey and have him eat the rest with you. He's almost done anyway. He needs to eat at least one of the carrot sticks, though."
"Yeah, sure," he said. "Come on, buddy." Joe took the time to grab the bottle he'd forgotten Sara noticed.
Joey didn't have nearly as much of an issue getting out of the chair as he had getting into it. Maybe Sara wasn't supposed to help him? She didn't know.
"Eat a carrot like Mommy says then you can go out and play for a while in your sandbox before your nap," Joe said as he walked to the living room again.
"Sorry. I didn't realize…"
They were both quiet then. Sara had no idea what to really say and Chris was clearly waiting for her to say something.
"So, you had sex with him," she finally said. "That's what you're blushing about?"
"God, I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you."
"Well, better me than someone else. You know I'm not going to tell anyone. So, what's wrong? Was it bad?"
Sara giggled softly at that. That would've been her luck, too, worshiping him for years only to have him disappoint her in that way.
"No. I just. God. Our lives are so completely different. He has this dog that he got from a former drug dealer who's in prison for murder. He dated this guy's sister. I just…"
"Sara. That makes no sense."
"I'm sure it doesn't to you. That's not really the point anyway. It just made me realize. How much in common can we have? I mean, after that night with you I knew things I shouldn't have. I know that, but we didn't have drug dealers down the street from us."
"Well, no, of course not."
"So, what am I doing going on dates with him? What the hell was I thinking having sex with him? I had to know, though. You know? I had to touch him, to know if he was what I thought he'd be like."
"Oh God, Sara, I do know. You have no idea the first time I saw Joe after that night. I was twenty-two. I'd dated a couple of guys during college after Dan and I broke up, but none of them made me feel like he did just in one night. He made me feel special. You know? Pretty. Like I was worth something."
Chris shrugged. "For a while, yes, but it was different. I don't know how to explain it. Clearly, I'm married to Joe so there was a reason for it. I saw him, though, and I was scared. I didn't have sex with him our first date."
"Before your first date," Sara said with a soft sigh. Chris laughed.
"Technicalities. You went there for a date. I'd say that counts as being on a date."
"So, we did things. You know. Like you, I guess I had to know he was for real. That I hadn't dreamed up that attraction or made more out of it than was there."
"But we didn't even have that!"
"No, but you did."
"Does he know who you are?"
"No," Sara said. "It hasn't come up."
"I suppose it wouldn't. Are you going to tell him?"
"I don't know. I should, I guess, but God a part of me wonders if he'd freak out."
"Hmm. Well. I don't know what to tell you there. I mean, it was years ago and you were almost eleven so maybe it doesn't matter."
"I know. I probably should," she shrugged.
"So, you're just not sure about it because it was only your first date?"
"I just. God. He knows drug dealers, Chris. Well enough for the guy to give him his dog."
"I know Joe well enough to have children with him. Remember how we met?"
"I do," she said.
"I don't know what you want me to say."
"I guess I just needed to hear that I'm not crazy."
"Do you think you're crazy?"
"I don't know! I mean, I've had sex before, but never like yesterday."
"I'm not sure I want to know."
"Well, just so spur of the moment when I was, you know, sober."
Chris laughed. Sara knew Chris had never had sex with anyone but Joe. One of the many things she knew about her former babysitter her brother would freak out about her knowing.
"I'm glad you don't do that anymore," Chris said softly.
For a while there she dated a guy, the only guy she'd had sex with until yesterday. The only way she could have sex with him was if they'd been drinking. Her own thing, feeling inadequate or too small, whatever. Sara had seen a picture of his girlfriend before her and to say she wasn't remotely like Sara was an understatement. Chris understood a little because she was on the smaller side of things. Joe certainly didn't seem to mind, though.
"I still don't know what you want me to say, Sara. If you actually like him as Erik not just Mr. Dawson who you thought was Thor. Well, then go for it. If you don't, then I'd say don't. You know? Differences aren't going to make or break your relationship. The kind of differences you're talking about. So he grew up differently than you did. That doesn't mean he's a bad person or your relationship would be doomed to fail. You never know, he may be an ideal boyfriend because he knows how rare someone like you walking into his life is. I know that's how Joe felt. If my parents had any clue how Joe and I really met do you think I'd be sitting here today?"
"No," Sara said. She wasn't sure what the Parker's would have done, but she suspected Joe wouldn't have been allowed within ten blocks of Chris if they knew how they'd met. Of course, Joe hadn't stolen a car since that night.
"Do you like him?"
"I don't know. I just sort of freaked out about this life he had."
"It was fine. You know, a little uncomfortable eating with someone I'd just had unplanned sex with."
"You did use…"
"No! I stopped taking the pill after Alex and I broke up. I didn't plan on needing it. He pulled out and everything. I'm due in a couple of days so should be fine."
"I know. I know there are things worse than getting pregnant! I didn't plan on it."
"I know. I'm sorry. I shouldn't lecture you. Just be careful, Sara."
"So, uncomfortable, but okay? Lunch, I mean," she said and it was Chris' turn to blush.
"Did he ask to see you again?"
"Yes. He said he'd call me Monday when he saw what his week was like to see me during the week."
"Okay. Well, then see what happens Monday."
"You make it sound so easy."
"It's not hard, Sara. You can't control how you feel any more than I could what I felt for Joe."
"I wanted you to say…"
"That you should stay away from him? He's too old for you?"
"Does he seem to care how old you are?"
"No," Sara said with a shrug. He hadn't seemed to be bothered exactly. "I'm pretty sure it's because of my age he didn't call to begin with, though."
"Okay, understandable maybe. He's gone out with you. He's had sex with you, Sara. Clearly he doesn't care."
Joe came in with Joey right behind him.
"Joey ate two of his carrots so I told him he could get a full half hour outside before his nap."
"Fair," Chris agreed. "He'll nap harder having been outside for a while."
"That was my thinking, too. Ryan took the entire bottle," he said, holding it up so Chris could see it was in fact empty. "I'm going to sit with him until it's time to put them both down."
"All right, Joey," Chris said. "You can go out for a half an hour like Daddy said."
He opened the door and darted outside. Sara knew from being here before that his sandbox was practically right outside their back door. Out of the sun so he could play in it all of the time without Chris or Joe worrying about him getting sunburnt.
"Sara," Joe said.
"It's good seeing you again. Come by again sooner than the last time, all right?"
"Yeah," Sara said with a soft blush. Joe chuckled at that.
"Ryan and I will be outside with Joey then."
"Okay, thanks hon."
He grabbed a hat near the back door, putting it on Ryan's head before heading out there. Sara watched him, trying to picture Erik feeding a baby let alone putting one down for a nap or worrying about things like hats and ears that needed covering. She just couldn't. He didn't seem like the hold babies type. Then she hadn't had him pegged as a dog type either. Of course, Pablo didn't live with him so he wasn't, technically, a dog type.
"Did I help at all?"
"I guess. I just, I didn't mean to have sex with him."
"Oh, I believe you. I didn't mean to marry Joe either, yet here we are. I also know that you've had a crush on him, the idea of him, for so long that maybe you had to get that out of the way. Sex I mean. I don't know. Joe and I were different."
"You did have sex before you were married, though."
"Yes, but it took me a few dates to get there. I found it hard to believe he was really interested in me. He knew why Mike and I had broken up and that I hadn't had sex yet. So I wondered for a while if I was a challenge. Some guys hear the word virgin," she shrugged. "So, I was way more careful with him than I needed to be. Trust me, he was incredibly patient, too."
Gipp wasn't a crazy popular last name so Chris had been able to find Joe with relative ease when she set about doing that toward the end of her senior year of college. Sara was, to this day, surprised it took her that long to do it. Anyone with eyes saw that Joe liked Chris that night. He risked his job and life for her. As a kid, Sara had thought he'd risked his job and life for all of them, but as she got older she realized it had been for Chris. A promise he'd made her not them. For whatever reason, a promise he'd made her meant more than his job. Possibly his life. Did he love her? Probably not, Sara didn't believe in love at first sight, but she'd clearly made an impression on him.
Then Dan had shown up at their house. Sara wondered a time or two if that hadn't happened if Chris would've looked for Joe sooner.
Sara had liked Dan.
Who wouldn't have?
He was nice, nice looking, and super polite.
To her almost eleven-year-old mind he was perfect. He helped them and drove out to their house to return her roller skate. Yeah, okay, returning the skate was a way to see Chris again, she knew that now. At the time, though, it hadn't occurred to her he had any sort of ulterior motive. Joe being someone Chris should date hadn't entered Sara's mind that night because, well, it just wasn't something she'd grown up seeing. She could count on one hand how many black kids there were at her schools growing up. Maybe two hands when she got to high school, but still there weren't many. So seeing her friends date someone not white hadn't ever happened.
Chris had dated Dan for a while after that night, too. She couldn't say she was surprised when she'd heard through her mom (who'd heard from Mrs. Parker) that they'd stopped dating. Chris told her a couple of years ago that they'd broken up because while she liked him she didn't LIKE him. They'd dated long enough she thought that should've by then. Sara could see her point. She'd never LIKED anyone either.
"And don't use me as an example, Sara. You're not me, Erik is not Joe."
"You do what you need to do. If he makes you uncomfortable."
"He doesn't. Not really. It's just the differences."
"I wonder what he'd do if he found out who you were."
"I don't know." The closest she got to telling him who she was was letting it slip she knew Mr. Pruitt's name.
"Has your mom seen your hickey?"
Chris laughed softly, gesturing to Sara's neck.
"Oh, no. She was gone when I left to come here. My hair covers it up."
"Yeah, be careful of that going home. She sees that…"
"I know. I wasn't even thinking," she said. She'd brushed her hair away from her neck while they were talking. She'd be a lot more careful talking with her mother. It was too hot to wear a turtleneck or something so she'd have to ride it out and be careful until it was gone. It was pretty dark, too, so she imagined it'd be there for a few days. Thank God her mom worked days.
"Are you just wanting me to tell you having sex with him wasn't bad? I don't know what you want me to say. Having sex on a first date isn't bad. I mean, is it perhaps untraditional. Sure, but things are different even now from when I was your age. Forget our parents. I have single friends, you know, and I hear about the things they do on dates. We'll just say I'm very grateful I'm married and got my dating out of the way before it would have been strange for me not to have had sex yet."
"Joe didn't mind?"
"Uh, no," Chris said simply.
"I suppose not."
"Sara," Chris said cautiously. "You're twenty-one. You were in college the first time so it's not like you rushed out and had sex when you were fourteen or anything."
"I know. I just," she shrugged.
"It's probably good in your case he's not your first. You idolized him. That may not have been a good fit for him being the one to do that with. You have someone to, I don't know, compare it to."
"I wasn't ten when I met Joe."
"I was almost eleven!"
"I know, I'm not trying to make you out to be younger than you are. But it's different. You had a crush on the idea of him forever. It didn't even occur to me until my senior year of college that maybe the reason I couldn't find someone I really liked was because I'd already found him. I didn't spend years thinking about him or anything."
"That makes me feel worse."
"Don't let it, sweetie. Come on. I just meant it's different. You left that night thinking he was Thor. That was huge to you, to come so close to not just meeting your hero but him coming close to making you think he wasn't very heroic at all. I don't know. I'm probably saying it wrong. I'm not good at this. I'm very glad I have two boys," she said with a soft laugh.
"You won't have anymore?"
"Oh, I don't know. Joe wants to try one last time for a girl. I'm of the mind two is enough. Ask me when this one is done with the waking up every three or four hours stage and I may give a different answer."
"Joe helps, a lot, but during the week he's the one who works so other than that last bottle of the night I try to do as much as I can."
Chris didn't work. She worked as a teacher before she'd had Joey, but hadn't gone back to work since. She had told Sara after Joey that she thought about working as a substitute or something when he got old enough she could do that, but then she got pregnant with Ryan so clearly she wasn't planning on doing that soon.
"You know, Joe would probably offer a better perspective than I can…"
"Oh, God, no," Sara said with a laugh. "There's no way I could tell him that I had sex with someone I hardly know!"
"Well, I could tell him later and if he has some advice or an opinion I could let you know. He likes you, you know."
"And not because he thinks of you as that little girl. He genuinely likes you. You were one of the first things he asked me about the first time we talked again."
"Surprised I wasn't crazy I bet."
"No, but like me he knows how you met Erik to begin with so he'd understand the situation better than most. I know that's why you're here talking to me."
"Well, right, I can't possibly explain the situation to anyone else. It's not as if I've never stopped by to see you before today."
"Oh, I know that. I never would have believed ten years ago I'd have some of the conversations I've had with you."
"So was that a 'yes' I can tell him later?"
"I won't if you don't want me to, but he's a guy. I'm not. As much as I would like to tell you it means this or that I just can't because I look at it from the same standpoint as you."
"Well, obviously if he doesn't call…"
"I suppose that'd be a good indication, yes. If he does call, which I'm sure he will. It doesn't sound like he was expecting it anymore than you were."
"You'll have to bring him by."
"I can't do that! He could recognize you."
"Why not? He's not going to know who I am. How many people have walked into his garage the past ten years?"
"Sue me. I'd like to see him."
"You thought he was cute?"
"Well, sure. Obviously, he's not my type because he and Joe are nothing alike and I never dated anyone even close to being as big as he is. He was cute, though."
"Who was cute?" Joe asked coming in with Ryan.
"The owner of the garage from the night we met you."
"Oh," Joe said, glancing at them both curiously. Probably wondering why there were talking about that night and Erik in particular. "So, no one I need to get jealous about then?"
"Uh no," Chris said with a soft laugh.
"All right. On that note, I'm going to get Ryan down. He's getting droopy. I'll come back and get Joe when I'm done."
"I should go anyway," Sara said.
"Yes. I've taken up enough of your time. I know you're busy."
"Sara, you're fine."
"No, you made me feel better."
"All right. Well, I'm glad I could do that. Don't feel bad. It happens. You didn't plan it. And like I said, maybe you had to get that out of the way."
"Say hi to Brad. Is Darryl going along, too?"
"I think so. If there's cars involved they're inseparable."
"Well, say hi to both of them then."
Brad hated when Sara relayed those messages to him from Chris. He'd never quite gotten over his crush on her. Oh, he'd gone on and dated other people, but there was still something about Chris even ten years later that he liked. She supposed it was that liking versus LIKING thing Chris spoke of. As Brad wasn't married she wondered if her brother had found the one he LIKED only to not have it reciprocated. That'd kind of suck. Before the night she babysat for them she was pretty sure Brad hadn't LIKED her, but after that night. Well, it was pretty much a done deal.
Sara stood then, taking her empty glass to the sink and rinsing it out.
"I'll walk you out."
"Oh, but Joey…"
"He'll be fine for a minute. He knows he's due to come in pretty soon here anyway. He'll milk it until Joe or I come and force him to come inside, though."
"Yeah," Sara said with a smile. She remembered pushing her mom and dad's rules or time restrictions.
Chris reached in and hugged her when they got to the front door.
"I agree with Joe, don't wait until you just have something to talk to me about to stop by. I'm always here. Mom would love to see you, too, if you wanted to stop by some weekday when she's here."
"God, I haven't seen her in forever."
"Well, think about it."
"I will, thanks."
"And don't feel bad. I don't know if you do, but it happens. You know? You can't kick yourself for something that you didn't plan on happening."
"Now if you see him again tomorrow and it happens again…"
"I'm not sure I'd complain if it did."
"Oh. Really? Well, then ignore my warning then. Just be careful. You know things about him, about yourself he doesn't know. You know? He may not understand that you've known of him for as long as you do. I don't want you to get hurt."
"I know. I will."
"All right. Your car does look nice," she said, opening the door.
"I probably would've taken it as some sort of sign, too. It dying like it did. I don't think you did anything I wouldn't have done."
"Except have sex with him."
Sara laughed a little at that. They both knew the chances that Chris would have had sex with him at the same time were next to none.
She got in her car then, turning it on. She wasn't sure she felt any better now than she had before coming here. She felt better, she supposed that Chris didn't think she was crazy about all of this. That was something.
She got home, having no idea what she was going to do with the rest of her day. Her parents were gone. Her dad was golfing and her mom was doing something at the club. She'd be home in a while to start dinner. Whether Sara would eat dinner with them she didn't know yet.
'Hi Sara, it's Erik,' he said over her answering machine. 'Um. I know I said I'd call Monday, but I thought I'd try today. I'm in and out because I'm doing stuff in my yard, but you can call back if you want. If you don't or can't that's fine, I'll still call tomorrow. Hope you're having fun whatever you're doing.'
She felt a little better he called. He had to know she hadn't planned on having sex with him. Then again, maybe he didn't know that. She did give him her phone number randomly. At least he'd see it as being random. She debated about whether to call him back and decided she would later. He'd probably be in later in the evening since he had to work tomorrow morning.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com