Love Still Isn’t Easy: Chapter 9
Sookie called me on Sunday afternoon and invited me over. I was hoping that it was the date that would take us to that next step, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. She sat me down and gently told me that she was still in love with Eric and apologized for leading me on. It hurt, but I could see that she was sincere and that she had really thought it through and surprisingly I found myself proud of her. We’d really grown up a lot since we’d known each other in college.
We agreed to remain friends, which was all we’d really been since my arrival in spite of my hopeful and subtle advances. Then we had a long and frank discussion about the Arlene situation. I assured Sookie that I would never have taken part in any kind of scheme to fraudulently extract money from Eric. It broke my heart when I learned that I wasn’t the father of Arlene’s children. I wanted to be their father more than I wanted Sookie Stackhouse, and that was saying something.
As painful as it was for the both of us, she brought up the time frame when Arlene’s second child was conceived. “So, the two of you were separated at that time?”
“Yes, but we were obviously still sleeping together. Otherwise I wouldn’t have assumed that I was the baby’s father.”
“And did she explain to you what she was doing in L.A.?”
“She wasn’t in L.A. then. It wasn’t until she came here right before your wedding that I knew what was going on. She’d never been to L.A. before that.”
Sookie’s face looked blank and she paused before her next question. “Then how did she sleep with Eric?”
“I guess in Shreveport.”
“Eric never went to Shreveport. He was in the middle of a shoot. He barely had time to sleep, much less take a trip to Shreveport.”
The light bulb went off for the both of us, and for the first time I really seriously considered the possibility that Arlene had done the unthinkable. I was mortified at how I may have underestimated her ability to ruin lives with her lies, but then my next thought was a euphoric hope that I was the father of the children after all.
“Bill, if you have something to tell me…”
“Sookie, no. I had nothing to do with this. You have to believe me. I want to be the father of those children. Nothing would make me happier than learning that Eric isn’t their real father.”
“And do you think that Arlene is capable of doing what I’m now starting to think she’s done?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe.”
“So, if you weren’t in on this, then how would she have gotten your DNA?”
“I have no idea…” Suddenly I remembered the bizarre blow job period of our sex life during her pregnancy and how she had insisted on going down on me, but then had always run into the kitchen to spit. My blood ran cold when I wondered—what if she had been planning all of this back then? And in the next instant, I knew that it was true.
“What is it, Bill?” I must have had an odd look on my face, but I wasn’t about to disclose to Sookie the details of what I suspected.
“I think Arlene’s more devious that I ever thought possible.”
After Bill left on Sunday night, I tried calling Eric, but just got his voice mail. I wanted to tell him about my conversation with Bill, but couldn’t exactly leave all that in a message, so I just asked him to call me. He didn’t.
The following morning I was in my office when Bill came in. I offered him a seat and could tell he had something important to say so I closed my door.
“I couldn’t sleep last night.” I nodded, knowing how it felt to lose sleep over this mess. “The more I thought about it, the more I’m convinced that Arlene has defrauded Eric. I don’t know how exactly she did it, but we lived together, so yes, it is entirely possible that she got some of my DNA. In fact, I think she has been planning this for quite awhile. Sookie, I swear to you that I had nothing to do with this.”
“I believe you, Bill.”
“But, I do have something to confess.” I sat up in my chair, holding my breath. “I didn’t exactly follow Arlene out here. I came out with the intention of getting you back in my life. I’ve always loved you, and I knew that Arlene was planning on breaking you and Eric up. I selfishly took the opportunity to come out and find you.”
“How did you even know where I was?”
He sheepishly removed a folded piece of paper from his pocket, opened it and laid it on my desk. It was a tabloid article about me and Eric with scribbling all over it.
“I’m guilty of wanting you back and not fully disclosing my intentions, but I swear I knew nothing about Arlene’s plans. I mean, I knew she was planning on ruining your wedding, but I honestly believed her when she told me that Eric had fathered the children.”
I thanked Bill and forgave him as he left my office. I slumped back into my chair and stared at the tabloid article. My photo was from some red carpet event and there were devil horns scratched onto my head and a crudely drawn pitchfork in my waving hand. I absently read the list of names and phone numbers scrawled across the page, recognizing the names of tabloid journalists that I’d spoken to frequently myself when I was trying to clear Felipe’s name. But then I stopped on one name that I was very familiar with. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and had to be sure it was who I thought it was. My blood ran cold as I picked up the phone and punched in the number. It rang twice before a woman chirped, “Debbie Pelt.” Oh my god.