Chapter 39 – All kinds of Dates
March 15 2004
“Yes you are min älskade. Dressed in jeans as I asked.”
“Where are we going?”
“Patience. I like surprising you.” He took her hand and he headed for the back door.
“The back yard?”
“Yes.” He left her at the back door then moved to the storage shed at the back of the property and removed a large plastic storage box. Too curious to wait, she ran behind him as he placed it in the yard. “Open it.”
The lid stuck but she pulled it off with persistence and found a tent, firewood, and sleeping bags. When she turned to look at Eric, she found him pulling a large round item out from the garage. Looking closer she recognized it. “A fire pit?”
“Yes. We’re camping out.”
“What about dawn?”
“Well, we’ll need to return to our bedroom before dawn, but we can hang out here for a while.” She smiled and clapped her hands. “I take it you like this?”
“I’ve never camped before. I mean, we had campouts in the living room like Jason and Hadley just had, but never a tent or anything.”
“I know. I spoke to Jason to get date ideas. He told me you were always jealous that he had time as a Boy Scout and went camping, but joining the Girl Scouts was never an option for you.”
“He . . . he knew that bothered me?” Her chin crumpled a bit. “And you asked him for ideas?”
“Don’t cry Sookie. What has upset you?”
“Upset me? Nothing, that’s just the sweetest thing.” She reached up to hug him. “Thank you.” The tears only lasted a moment and she returned to the date quickly. Looking around, she noticed no food. “You promised me dinner for our date.”
“You’re having hot dogs cooked over the fire and sum-mores.”
“It’s pronounced smores – all one syllable.”
“I don’t think my prior heritage from Sweden will allow me to say that word correctly.” She just giggled. “But no worries, I’m sure we can make it correctly. I have a cooler full of food in the garage.”
“Well, let’s get started.”
Eric first started the fire then they worked together to pitch the tent. The blow-up mattress was a cheat on authentic camping but he was planning on tent sex and the ground wouldn’t be comfortable. As soon as the fire had turned to coals, Eric started cooking some hot dogs for Sookie while she nibbled on the gourmet potato chips he’d bought. “Bobby may have been an ass, but I give credit where it’s due. He DID find my new favorite gourmet food store. These hand cooked chips are to die for.”
“I never understood that phrase when used for something like food. An ideal, a country – I could see those as things ‘to die for’ but not a potato chip.”
“You haven’t had these or you’d understand.”
“I’ll just take your word for it and kiss the hell out of you in a moment so I can try them myself.”
She snickered at him. “Put the hot dogs down and do that now. You want to taste the chip, not hot dog.”
After a long make-out session followed by re-heating the cooked dogs, Sookie finally had her dinner and started on her smores. A perfect light brown was her goal for her marshmallows and she was currently spinning her cooking fork over the fire to achieve it. Eric laughed. “For someone who needs to work on her patience issues, you are certainly doing well with your marshmallows.”
“This is a smore Eric, a smore from a real campfire. It’s got to be perfect. I don’t want a burned marshmallow and I really want that marshmallow gush when I put it in the graham cracker and chocolate sandwich.”
“See?” She held it out and he admired her work. “It’s just right.” After assembling her sweet, she took a bit and the marshmallow did in fact gush out. Eric snapped a picture. “ERIC!” She yelled with a mouthful of marshmallow.
“What? I want to remember this. I want to document our life.”
‘How can I be mad at that? Even though I have a face full of chocolate and marshmallow.’ She shook her head.
Eric adjusted himself several times as she indulged in her dessert. The moans were more than usual and he was having difficulty with his own patience. Sookie noticed. “Looks like you’re ready for your good night kiss already.”
“Can we enjoy the fire for a little bit before we, um, retire to the tent?”
“Of course. Come sit with me.” He patted his lap as he sat in the oversized camp chair he purchased for just this reason. “Tell me about your day.”
“Well, I arranged time to visit with Hunter; he’ll be spending a few days with us later this month.” He nodded his acknowledgement. “I ran out to Bon Temps to do some cleaning and visit with Gran. I. . .”
“Wait, you don’t get off the Gran topic that easily. How are things going with Gran?”
“Better all the time. I love her, I forgive her of course. It still stings a bit but I’m working through it.”
“You are a forgiver. I must admit that makes me happy as I’m sure it does Gran.” He looked off to the fire for a moment. “Sometimes I don’t think we or especially I deserved the forgiveness.”
“Probably not.” His eyes grew wide and she felt him become upset. “Hang on, don’t be upset, let me explain.”
“If you take the love out, the emotion and look at the facts, I probably shouldn’t have forgiven or taken you back. But it’s the love that changes everything. The love made your leaving hurt that much more, but it was the reason I was able to take you back. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, I’m sorry I brought it up though. It hurts to think of a possibility where we wouldn’t be together.”
“I know. Let’s talk about something else.” She poked at the fire with a stick for a moment. “OH, I was about to say I made our appointment with our fertility specialist.”
He smiled widely. “That’s great. When can we go?”
“Why so far out?”
“He’s just that popular, and actually Ludwig called and got us in earlier than we would normally have needed to wait. But that’s fine. We need to work on the sperm donor stuff and they’re mailing the catalog out so all that will be in place before our first visit.”
“That’s good at least.” He didn’t really like the idea of another man’s sperm in Sookie, but had long since resigned himself that it was necessary for them to reach the goal of having a family. He’d suck it up, as Pam told him many times.
The fire held their attention for a long time while they just snuggled quietly together. Sookie broke the silence. “Tell me more about Godric’s maker. Will I be scared of her?”
He chuckled. “No more than any other vampire in the room when she shows up for our Pledging.”
“What does that mean?”
“She is the oldest known vampire and a seer. She is respected or at least feared by all other vampires. They will all kneel to her.”
“Why doesn’t she do something about vampires that ‘aren’t with the program’ in terms of integrating with humans?”
“I think she is. She just works very methodically. I think we will eventually see change. Hopefully.” He kept the rest of his thoughts to himself. He was certain he was part of the change based on the hints she dropped when he met her in Dallas, but that was not for him to discuss with Sookie, yet. Well, he didn’t know anything he could say anyway.
He was taken out of his thoughts by Sookie’s whisper. “I want you Eric. Let’s go to the tent.”
“Do I get more than a goodnight kiss?”
“You get whatever you want. The creativity for this date was over the top. You’ve been a very good boy.”
“I’ll show you how good I can be in the tent min älskade.”
A few weeks had passed since Hadley’s initial visit and as they discussed, Hunter was coming to spend Sunday and Monday night with Sookie and Eric. On mid-Sunday morning, Sookie and Peter were driving to Red Ditch to pick him up. She planned to spend the day with Hunter on his shields; then have playtime with Hunter and Eric that evening before bedtime. She rode with a huge smile on her face, anticipating the joys of Aunt-hood. She didn’t care that she was giving up date nights for Hunter. Sure, she’d enjoyed thinking of dates and seeing what Eric came up with, but having Hunter would be great too. When they arrived at the small but well kept house, she was expecting some hesitation from Hunter. Remy had warned her he’d never been to a sleepover so he was certain Hunter would back out of his commitment to spend time with Sookie. Remy couldn’t have been more wrong. Hunter was on the porch with his back pack and stuffed animal ready to go. “Are you ready for our playdate Aunt Sookie?”
“I am. And who is this?” Sookie asked, pointing to the stuffed dragon.
“Scatha, my dragon.”
She crouched down to talk to Hunter at his level. “It doesn’t look like a long worm dragon.”
Hunter’s eyes grew wide. “You know who Scatha is?”
“I like to read. How do you know who Scatha is?”
“An older brother of a kid from daycare saw my dragon and we started talking about dragons. He told me all about The Lord of the Rings and such. I thought it was pretty cool so I used the name. Daddy says I’m too young for the books yet.”
“I’ll talk to him about it sometime.” She stood again. “Where is your Daddy? I need to discuss your visit before we leave.”
“In there.” He pointed over his shoulder into the house.
Looking both nervous and a little sad, Remy was waiting in the kitchen just staring at a wall. “Remy?”
“You OK? You look a little lost there.”
His head shook as he responded. “I . . . I’m hurt that he’s so excited. I have no right to feel that way. I should be thrilled he’s getting help.”
Taking the seat next to him so he could realize she was willing to spend a few minutes talking, she responded. “Remy, you didn’t know what you were dealing with; he’ll understand. He sees that you’re trying now. I’ve read it from him on a few of our recent visits.” Being pleasant to Remy was something she really had to dig deep for. His thoughts were hurtful even though they were improving and the memories he resurrected were painful. For Hunter’s sake, she made the effort.
“I know. It doesn’t make it hurt less that he likes you, Eric and even that scary Pam more than me. The Gran part, that doesn’t bother me. Lord knows my parents have treated him like he has the plague. God only knows what they’ve thought around him.”
“How scary can Pam be? She buys him new clothes every week.”
“But she threatened to kill me if I tell anyone that she likes Hunter.”
“Pam grows on you. She dotes on Hunter whenever we visit; he’s going to respond to that.”
“I know. . . . Hey, can you ask her to cut back on the clothes at least? His closet is overfull and most of it blue.”
“Ah, no. I can’t do that.” He raised his eyebrows in question. “Um, she can still scare me as well. How about I agree to just keep clothes at Gran’s and my house? And forget about telling her to stop with the blue. Hunter told her it’s his favorite color – she’s going with that.”
He laughed at her hypocrisy. “Fair enough.”
“So any last minute information for me?”
“Ok. Well, I need to tell you something before we go. It’s a doozy though.” He nodded for her to go on. “Remy. There’s more that just vampires that are real.”
His eyes grew wide. “What the hell does that mean?”
“At my house, heck right in my car, Hunter is going to meet a Werewolf.” As if rejecting the information he put his hands up but she pressed on. “There is also a species called Daemons. We know a few. I’m sorry to lay this on you right now, but I couldn’t tell you ahead of time since I want to introduce them to Hunter this trip and if I told you even a day earlier, he would’ve read it in your thoughts.”
“Why does he need to know? Hell, I don’t want to know.”
“And you shouldn’t really know. Remy, if you can’t handle the information, I’ll have a vampire come over and glamour the information away. I just wanted you to be aware of what your son will learn at this sleepover.”
“You haven’t answered my question about why he needs to know.”
“Remy, he can tell the difference from their heads. I need him to be informed before he blurts something out at the wrong time. These other species aren’t ready to reveal themselves. Folks could be in danger.” She took a hand and looked him in the eyes very seriously. “Remy, can you handle knowing this?”
A hand rubbed over his face as he thought more. “After all you’re doing for me, I’ll keep the secret. I don’t want anyone you know getting hurt. I still can’t believe that what I thought was folklore and fairytale stuff is real.”
‘And I didn’t even tell you all of it.’ She thought. “Yeah, I know. It’s a shocker.” She rose from the table. “Well, I really want to get going so I have plenty of time on his shield lessons.”
“I’ll walk you out to say goodbye.”
“Remy.” She grasped his arm. “Take this time to relax and enjoy yourself. Being a single parent can’t be easy.” He simply nodded and walked out with her.
While they were on the road to Shreveport, Hunter’s questions started. “Mr. Peter, what are you?”
Peter turned to Sookie and she nodded for him to answer. “I’m a Werewolf. I can change from a human into an actual werewolf. I can show you if you want.”
“THAT WOULD BE COOL!”
“Aunt Sookie, what else do ya got at the house?”
“I think I’m going to let you make your own discoveries.”
They pulled into the driveway and were greeted by Eric’s new dayman, Mustapha Kahn. “Welcome Hunter, my name is Mustapha.”
Sookie just laughed. “You’re going to run out of excitement if you keep this up.”
“Not possible.” His head whipped around towards the door. “WHOA, I can’t hear you but I can tell your happy and wondering about something, me?”
Potts laughed. “Yes Hunter. I’m a Daemon and you will only be able to detect my moods. My name is Potts and I’m very happy to meet you.”
“Potts? That’s funny, that’s like the enchanted teapot in Beauty and the Beast.” Sookie found that especially funny when she thought about it.
“You like that movie?” Potts was a little surprised that he would know a princess movie.
“NO, they made us watch it at daycare. It’s for girls.” He said like he was sniffing vinegar.
“Well, let’s get you into the house. I have lots of lessons I want to cover before you need your afternoon nap.”
“Lessons Aunt Sookie?”
“Remember, we’re covering shields today.”
“Oh yeah. Let’s go.”
She showed him his guest room for the sleepover and he freshened up before they went to the den to start. “Blocks? We’re going to play blocks?”
“Yep. It’s what my shields look like in my head. I was hoping it would help.”
“Who taught you?”
“Well Hunter, I had to learn on my own. I’m hoping that I can save you some trouble by starting you earlier.”
“Sookie, your shields are down. You’re so sad.”
“No, I’m very happy with my life. I’m sad about how hard my childhood was, and I was only recalling it.”
He nodded to indicate he accepted her comment and Sookie put up her shields.
They worked for a while, ate lunch then moved onto working with balloons for other shield training. Sookie was taking stabs at the best way to describe shields and her tactics were working. Hunter was starting to make progress when she put him down for an afternoon nap. “When you wake up, you’ll play with Potts for a while until Eric and I come up from his day chamber.”
“Oh, do you take an afternoon nap too?”
She laughed to herself thinking it was more like afternoon delight, but she answered him with a G rated response. “Yes, while you’re here I’ll be up a good part of the day and then I stay up with Eric for most of the night. So I’ll need to nap when you do.” Hunter’s eyes grew wide. “Hunter, normally I stay up the whole night with Eric.”
She laughed at his enthusiasm as she had all day, but she quickly turned serious. “Now you, little man, need to get some sleep.”
Eric and Sookie found Hunter playing soccer with Potts and a guard outside. Surprising Sookie, Eric ran up to the three of them to join in the game. Potts looked up and quickly said “human speed vampire!”
They continued to play for a short while with Sookie cheering from the side. Eric only ended the game because he had to go in and cook dinner.
Hunter’s focus turned to Eric and he asked. “YOU cook?”
“What are we having?”
“I’m making your Gran’s recipe for fried chicken for the first time tonight. Actually, Pam should be back with Gran any minute now. She told me she was going to judge my effort.”
Sookie was very surprised. “You invited Gran?”
“Of course, she’d be mad if she missed out on a sleepover with Hunter. She’s spending the night.”
“That’s so sweet.”
He leaned in to whisper in her ear, “and she can let you sleep in tomorrow since I want to keep you busy until after sunrise.”
“Always thinking.” She reached up to kiss his cheek and lingered with her arms around his neck.
Hunter interrupted their moment. “Can I watch you cook?”
“Of course.” Hunter smiled at Eric’s response but kept staring at Eric. You didn’t need a bond or telepathy to see he was curious about something. “What are you thinking about Hunter?”
“You. You seem pretty normal to me. My daddy warned me about vampires, but you’re not like he said.”
‘Normal, he thinks I’m normal? I better correct him so he doesn’t become immune to the dangers of vampires.’ Taking the seat next to Hunter at the counter, Eric stared very seriously at Hunter. “Your Daddy wasn’t wrong, Hunter. This is very important. Vampires in general cannot be trusted, they aren’t your friends. In the past month you’ve met some specific vampires that are assigned to protect you and you can trust them. Sophie-Anne has provided them because of her relationship with your mother.”
“Yeah. Mina’s real pretty and nice to me. Joel is OK.”
“You also have Pam and me when you stay.”
“Who has Pam and me?” Pam called from the foyer. “Oh, it’s the smurf.”
“Hi Miss Pam. Eric and I were talking about vampires to trust.”
“A very serious topic, is Eric doing a good job explaining it to you?”
“Yes Ma’am. Then he’s going to make Gran’s fried chicken.”
“He better get it right.” They heard Gran chuckle as she came in. “I’m going to judge him.”
“No pressure Sweetie.” Sookie giggled to Eric as she hugged Gran. “I’ll set the table.”
“You outdid yourself this visit Eric. You did a great job on the chicken last night and again tonight with the smothered pork chops.”
“Thank you Gran. I did have lots of help from Hunter though.”
“You sure did.” Gran turned to Hunter and smiled. “Are we having playing another board game tonight?”
Hunter started jumping up and down and shaking his head a few seconds before he started speaking. “Nope! Eric got an early release of Brother Bear. It doesn’t come out until tomorrow but he owns the store.” He ran to get the movie from the den then back to the kitchen. “See! Here it is. He bought me my own copy and everything.”
“Well that’s pretty exciting. We’ll watch it together before bed.”
Sookie took over the conversation while she dried the dishes. “But first we’re heading out to the local diner for dessert so Hunter can test his shields.”
Hunter stood proudly and stated, “I’m ready.”
The adults all giggled at his enthusiasm, but Pam responded. “Ok smurf, but we need to finish cleaning up first. How about you and Eric head outside and kick the soccer ball around for a bit.”
Sookie laughed, “you’re just upset you didn’t get to see him play yesterday.”
“Maybe. I’m grabbing my camera.” Eric growled softly but didn’t say anything.
A short while later Sookie walked onto the porch to call them in from the yard but she stopped to watch for a moment, daydreaming about Eric playing with their child someday. She shook her head to take her out of the daydream and called them in. “Ok guys, let’s get in the car.”
After everyone was buckled in, Sookie reminded Hunter. “We talked about trying to shield some folks while listening to others, remember?” He nodded animatedly. “We also talked about how you should practice full shields, meaning you won’t listen to anybody. That’s easier.”
“I remember Aunt Sookie.”
“Ok, well I just want you to do full shields for now, and when you can do that without getting tired, you can try focusing. OK, so no listening at all at the diner and let’s see how long it takes for you to get tired.”
“Got it Aunt Sookie.”
A short while later they were driving home again. Hunter had made it all through dessert and didn’t tire at all. Sookie told him how proud she was, but cautioned him that once he was back at daycare, he would probably get tired before going home. “Don’t get sad if that happens Hunter, you’ll have to practice to get stronger, but I know you can. Look what you can already do after two nights.”
“I know Aunt Sookie, it was actually the balloon stuff that helped me best.”
“I’m glad Hunter.”
Everyone praised the boy for his efforts and his smile showed how happy that made him. Since it was getting late, Sookie corralled everyone as soon as they were home. “Let’s get that movie started, it’s already pretty late for our little man and he needs to go to daycare tomorrow morning.”
After the movie, Sookie reminded Hunter that he wouldn’t see Gran, Pam or Eric the next day before he was being dropped off at daycare for his Daddy to collect him later. He gave Gran and Pam big hugs, which they both accepted before Pam drove Gran home. Hunter then asked Eric to read him a story, and he agreed. Watching Eric read the story was a joy for Sookie. She again found herself daydreaming about their own kids. ‘I have to stop. We don’t even have our first appointment and there is no guarantee it will work.’ She sighed to herself as Hunter’s eyelids drooped while he was snuggled into Eric. ‘But look at that, I want to see this every night, so badly.’
After tucking Hunter in, Sookie and Eric went to the kitchen with the sperm donor paperwork in hand. “So we have this catalog to review. I haven’t opened it; I wanted to wait for you.”
“Thank you min kära. Let’s get started.”
They opened the first page and found a list of questions or items that they should consider when selecting a donor:
*Do I (we) want to use a ‘Willing To Be Known’ donor?
*Should the donor have physical characteristics similar to my own (or to my partner’s)?
*Can I (we) have more than one child using this donor?
*What is the donor’s medical history?
*What is the donor’s family’s medical history?
*What are the donor’s interests, education, values, talents, etc.
Eric started on the top item. “Sookie, I don’t know how you will feel about this, but honestly, I don’t want to have anything to do with the sperm donor other than purchasing the sperm.”
She could tell he was a bit nervous about this so she calmed him with her words immediately. “Eric, relax; I agree. You will be the baby’s father.” Pointing to the next item she added, “that makes this question very important. I want extra tall, blond and blue eyes as part of the physical requirements. We even have the option to pay for extra information on the donors so we can check that type of information for a few generations.”
“Agreed on both points. I want the information we have to go back as far as possible. That even covers one of the other questions on the donor’s family’s medical history.”
“Yes.” She hesitated to ask about the item that was inadvertently skipped. “What about having more than one child?”
“Why do you seem nervous about that question? We can have as many as you want. I like the idea that we would use the same sperm donor for all of them.”
“Well, that was easy. The last question on interests and talents? Honestly, I don’t care about that so much. If the physical characteristics, medical history and other stuff check out, my priorities are met.”
“Yes, we will focus on nurture for interest, values and talents.”
“Yes, I’m sure we won’t find someone who has an interest or talent in sword fighting, it’s kind of an old fashioned thing. Maybe a niche interest if you will.”
“Are you calling me old?”
“If the shoe fits. . .”