This was the best job she’d ever had! She got paid to basically sit and socialize, all while making sure the kids didn’t kill themselves or each other. She didn’t need to change diapers or try to organize any sort of activity. She could also get parents and shoo those little monsters right out the door if their behavior was too bad. Plus her gym membership was free. But some days…
Sookie rolled her eyes as Luke ran a toy dump truck into the emergency door-AGAIN. He was seriously going to set it off one day. Ayden was screaming and crawling after Jenny while Lylah threw toy cars at everyone within range. A jangle at the gate drew her attention and her eyes shot to the newcomers.
“Good morning!” Her voice was falsely cheerful as she set Liam in the exersaucer and loped easily to the entrance. “This your first time here?”
The man smiled and extended his hand. She chuckled and took the offered hand, shaking it firmly. “It really must be your first time here. Parents aren’t usually this friendly their first day.”
“Well, I’m Andre Northman and this-” He reached down and hauled up one of the cutest little girls she’d ever seen. “-is Khaleesi.”
Sookie raised an eyebrow and Andre barked out a laugh. “Yeah, my son’s wife is a huge Game of Thrones fan. Anyway, we took the tour yesterday and she seemed to like it here. So we figured we’d give it a try, huh?”
His last question, directed at the small girl, made her giggle as he bounced her on his hip. Sookie grinned. They really were an adorable family and he didn’t look old enough for her to be his granddaughter.
“So how does this work? You were closed when we came by yesterday and the guy showing us around wasn’t too clear on the rules and whatnot.” His blue eyes cast around the large room, taking in the chaos with a smirk on his handsomely lined face. “But it looks like fun.”
“Yeah, it’s a blast-usually.” Sookie smiled and grabbed the clipboard off the wall. “Whenever you come, just sign her in. Her name and age, then your name printed, the time in, sign your name and where you’ll be. You can put cardio if you’ll be upstairs, floor if you’ll be around down here, or class if you’ll be in there. Also, if you plan on going in the sauna or showering, we’d appreciate it if you could just duck in and let us know. You don’t even have to come all the way in-just kinda wave from the doorway. If she needs a new diaper or needs help with the potty, we’ll have to come and get you. We’re not a daycare so we don’t do any of that. Otherwise, she can play to her heart’s content and you can get a little time away.”
He grabbed a pen from the holder and scribbled the required information as the girl peeked shyly at Sookie from her perch on his hip.
“Hey Khaleesi.” Sookie wiggled her fingers and stuck out her tongue. Khaleesi giggled and clapped her hands together happily. “Wanna come in, girlie?”
Surprisingly, at least in her experience, the little girl held her arms out for Sookie to take her. Andre grinned as he finished signing the log. “Alright baby girl. Be good for-”
“Oh I’m sorry! Sookie! Miss Sookie.”
“-Miss Sookie. We’ll be back in a little bit.”
With not a backward glance, Khaleesi kicked her little legs and plopped out of Sookie’s arms. She toddled away towards the shelves full of toys and Andre gave a small nod to Sookie as he walked out.
Her mind wandered again as she yanked the baby gently out of the exersaucer where he’d started to fuss. She bounced him lightly on her hip, humming under her breath as her eyes wandered around the room. The bigger kids were thankfully playing Sonic and were calmly waiting to trade controllers. The babies were generally in good spirits today as they sat in their small area and played with the various toys. The toddlers-well, at least two of them would be going home within the next ten minutes which would free up Sookie’s attention for awhile.
The minutes ticked by, slowly dragging as they always did on the nights she worked by herself. Once Liam was gone for the day, she plopped down to rest her feet for a few minutes.
Khaleesi toddled over to her and plopped herself in Sookie’s lap, happily waving a toy car in her face. Sookie giggled and played with her for a few minutes as the kids wandered around them. Then her nose caught a whiff of something foul.
“Aw man! Who did it? Who’s the stink butt?!”
The toddlers scattered, shrieking happily as Sookie grinned. She picked up the little girl on her lap and set her down gently, surreptitiously pulling the back of her diaper out to check. Nope, not Khaleesi. She repeated the process with all the diapered little ones, tickling them as she caught them before she checked them out.
“Oh goodness Roman! Seriously, dude?!?” She shook her head as a wall of stench hit her smack in the face, the little boy shrieking in delight as he ran off. Sookie rolled her eyes as she tugged her phone from the pouch of her hoodie.
Moments later Lafayette sauntered in casually, hopping gracefully over the gate.
“You better stop that sugar!” Sookie smacked his arm lightly as she tried to fight back a grin. “Josh saw you do that last week and he keeps trying to do it now!”
“Aw that boy will get it sooner or later. He’s a giant!” Lafayette smirked as he grabbed Ryan around the waist as he ran past, swinging him in the air. Sookie shook her head. Sometimes she wanted to steal Lafayette from the front desk. “Oh and keep an eye out hunny chile! Dere’s a newbie out dere wif a body to DIE fo! Tall, blond and sexay!” Lafayette smacked his own ass, the loud crack echoing through the room.
Sookie rolled her eyes again as she ducked out to the gym floor. Her eyes scanned the cardio equipment, not finding Roman’s dad. She repeated the procedure on the green, upstairs, and over by the free weights. Sighing, she looked around for one of the male employees but came up empty.
She huffed out as she stood at the entrance to the men’s locker room, her brow furrowed for a moment before she sighed again. “Alejandro? Alejandro Ramirez?” She paused, waiting for a response. “Roman’s dad?”
Ugh, she hated when parents did this. She ducked her head down, her eyes trained on the floor. “Lady coming in! Cover up your man business guys!”
She heard a few chuckles as she gingerly stepped around the partition, her eyes firmly fixed on the small blue tiles under her feet. She yanked open the door to the sauna and ducked her head in, eyes still fixed downward. “Alejandro?”
She waited a moment, but backed away after getting no response. She heard the men shuffling around behind her, going about whatever guys did in the locker room as she headed toward the room with the showers. The hand not shielding her eyes reached for the handle on the glass door-
-only to be smacked with it as someone forcefully pushed from the other side.
The squeak she let out echoed around the tiled room as her ass hit the floor. Her eyes were wide as she momentarily forgot where she was. She looked around to see an older gentleman very nearly naked and she shielded her eyes once again.
“I’m so sorry! Oh, shit-I mean, shoot!”
Her attention was grabbed once again by the person who’d knocked her down, her eyes only focused on his extremely nice calves and blue sneakers.
“I’m sorry! I don’t usually come in here, but I needed to find a dad…” She gulped in a breath as a huge hand wrapped itself around her arm and yanked her unceremoniously to her feet. Startled again by the sudden movement, her hand dropped and her eyes landed on the man before her.
Oh, this had to be who Lafayette was talking about. She’d never seen him, she was sure of that. But damn he was gorgeous. He towered over her tiny frame and his long, lean body was corded with muscle in an extremely pleasing way. His blue eyes shone, though the furrow between his brows was quite out of place on such a beautiful man.
A sharp shove from behind knocked the mystery man into her, his arms coiling around her waist as he caught her body from falling once again. Sookie gulped in a breath as her eyes found Alejandro-who had a towel draped around his shoulders and was otherwise naked as the day he was born.
“Eep!” Her face shot forward right into her mystery man’s pecs. “Uh-sorry!”
She backed up a step, stumbling in her haste as she covered her extremely flushed face with her hands.
“Mr. Ramirez, Roman needs a diaper change!”
And she turned on her heel, darting out of the locker room, banging her shoulder against the wall on the way out.
Lafayette raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow at her swift return and beet red face. “Yous ok, baby doll?”
Sookie nodded silently, her lips pursed as she kept her eyes trained on the kids running amok around her. She knew Lafayette would get it out of her eventually, but she was absolutely NOT ready to talk about it. She doubted she ever would be and she knew she’d never be able to look Roman’s dad in the eye.
Lafayette passed Alejandro as he walked back to the front desk, slapping him a high five on the way. Sookie’s blush returned full force as Roman shrieked and ran to his dad. They retreated to the bathroom and disappeared behind the door, thankfully giving Sookie a respite from her embarrassment, however momentary.
That respite was short-lived however when she heard a throat clear from the gate. Her eyes shot up to see the sheepish smile of her mystery man. She heard a squeal behind her and Khaleesi streaked past her legs, wobbling as fast as her tiny feet could carry her.
“Hey baby girl!” The man leaned over the gate with no problem, scooping up the small girl in his arms. “Did you have fun?”
Khaleesi nodded and smacked gleefully at his face, her little arms flailing around as she babbled.
“Uh, can I help you Sir?” Sookie’s eyebrows lowered. Obviously Khaleesi knew this man, but she didn’t. Of course her dad would be gorgeous. It would figure with such an adorable little girl and a handsome father.
“I’m uh-sorry. I mean-uh…I’m Eric.” He stuck his hand out to shake hers. “I’m just here to grab this munchkin.”
“I’m sorry Sir, but I can only release her to the person who signed her in.” She gave an apologetic shrug as she felt her blush begin to creep up her neck once again.
“Oh. Sorry, didn’t know.” He grinned bashfully at her again and pulled his phone from his pocket. His large fingers swept deftly over the screen for a moment before he pocketed it once again. “My dad will be here in a minute.”
“Okay-” A shrill scream sounded from the corner and Sookie turned to dart away. “Kayleigh no! Leave your brother alone!”
She turned back a few minutes later to see Andre and Eric playing with Khaleesi just outside the gate.
“I’m very sorry, Sookie. I didn’t know about that rule.” The older man shrugged as he grabbed the pen from the holder. “Oh, uh-hang on. I think she needs a diaper change. Is there somewhere…?”
“Uh yeah, we have a bathroom back here with a changing table. But someone is in there right now.” Sookie cast her eyes around the room, noticing how many children were still here. “You can come in and wait if you want.”
Eric ducked down and picked up-a pink flowered diaper bag? Sookie suppressed a snort and he grinned boyishly at her. Andre chuckled as he took the bag and stepped inside the gate and set Khaleesi down. She immediately grabbed his shorts and tried to tug him away, pointing frantically toward the toys in the corner.
“Ah well.” He shrugged as he let her tow him along. “Duty calls!”
Sookie giggled and leaned back against the wall. Her eyes found the clock above the doorway. Twenty minutes. Then she’d be free. Of course she was sticking around to work out, but at least she wouldn’t have kids crawling all over her.
“So, uh-” her eyes whipped back toward Eric. “I wanted to say I’m sorry. Again. You know-for uh…knocking you down.”
Sookie flushed scarlet as her embarrassment came back full force. “It’s not your fault. I should’ve been-well…I couldn’t watch where I was going per say, but you can bet I’ll wait to find one of the guys next time!”
He chuckled again, leaning against the wall on the other side of the gate, his eyes sweeping over her slowly.
A throat clearing to her right drew her attention and she flushed again as she came face to face with Alejandro. He had an infuriating smirk plastered across his face and she seriously wanted to smack him.
“I’ll see you next time Sookie! Take care!” He grinned as he grabbed the pen and scribbled randomly on the sign in sheet. Roman shrieked and kicked his dad in the hip, wiggling his way down before he took off out the door.
Sookie snorted as she watched him struggle after his son and caught Eric’s eye. They both erupted into laughter, doubling over with the effort to breathe.
“Oh, I meant to say-Khaleesi is absolutely adorable! She’s so easy going!”
Eric smiled, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “Yeah, she’s a pretty good baby.”
“You’re lucky to have such an easy daughter.” Eric choked at her words and sputtered out a cough.
“Oh, uh no! She’s uh-she’s not…I mean…I’m her uncle!”
Sookie’s eyebrow shot nearly to her hairline and she smirked. Well, didn’t that just open up a whole new realm of possibility?