Chapter 15 – Slipping through my fingers
With a huge smile, Sookie knocked on the door to Frannie’s room. “Frannie, time to get up so you can get ready!”
Frannie’s voice was soft as she answered. “Come in Mom.”
The bride was still in bed so Sookie scooted in with her. After she’d moved to hug her, Sookie could feel she was shaking. “What’s wrong Frannie?”
“I’ll be gone for a month Mom.” She wiped a tear away. “I’m going to miss everyone.”
“Honey, you’ve lived away from home most of the past two years.”
“But we talked every day. At least texted once a day.”
“Honey. I can assure you, you and Sam will be so busy touring and well, being ah . . . busy you won’t miss us. If you do, reach out.” Sookie was quiet as she took in Frannie’s overly worried face. “Is that what this is really about though?” Frannie teared up and turned into Sookie for comfort. “Are you having cold feet? Are you concerned about getting married?” Frannie shook her head no so Sookie tried again. “Do you want me to go into your head and figure it out?”
Frannie pulled back and said, “No. I’ll tell you.” Wiping her face first with the tissue Sookie offered, Frannie collected her thoughts. “Sam and I talked last night. We aren’t having intercourse tonight.”
Sookie was quiet then responded. “Help me out here, how does that have you upset? I mean, I get it’s your wedding night, but there’s more to what you’re saying, right?”
“We’ve waited for that. Well, you know . . . We haven’t had full blown sex.”
“I know, and that was your decision.” Sookie took her daughter’s hand to help her through the discussion.
“He said, we might be tired and all from the wedding, so he had no plans . . .” Frannie couldn’t finish her statement because she broke down. After she got her sobs under control she added in her concerns. “What if he’s decided I’m too broken from being raped, or I won’t be any good? Maybe he doesn’t want to make the marriage official by not consummating it.”
“Honey. Stop and think about what he’s saying. He has a good point. I think he’s showing you respect. Rushing your first time isn’t the best idea.” Frannie continued to shake her head as Sookie talked more. “You’re having some jitters about the wedding whether you want to admit it or not. I had them. It’s natural.”
“Really? You were worried about pledging to Daddy?”
“Of course I was. It’s a huge commitment. Having jitters doesn’t mean you don’t love him or want this. To me, those nerves prove you realize how serious the vows you’re about to take are. So, think about what Sam said. Do you think he’s caring for you as best he can, or trying to get out of a wedding he’s wanted for years?”
Frannie sobbed and laughed at the same time. “I’m being stupid aren’t I? There’s no way he’s trying to get out of this wedding.”
“Your father had to remind him of their agreed timeline many times Frannie. That man has been of single mind since you started dating, and his dreams all come true today.”
“It is one of those dream come true days.” Sookie smiled as she and Frannie hugged. In her head though, she was worried about someone who did not consider the day a dream come true. Eric had promised he resolved his feelings about losing Frannie to Sam, but she could feel the underlying melancholy coursing through his body. For Daddy, today was about loss. Sookie’s thoughts turned to him as he felt his presence drifting further away. Not that she blamed him; the family rooms upstairs were all about getting the girls ready. Like the day of the shower, the house was abuzz with giggling and activity for the wedding. Frannie’s wedding party was small, her sisters and Kaley, but with the rest of the family gathered to ‘help’ it was getting crowded for such a large house.
Eric sighed as he turned to leave the house. Seeing he wasn’t going to get a minute with Frannie anytime soon, he walked to the large tent they’d erected on the property for the wedding. The guest list was over three hundred; Frannie was unhappy about that. To make the wedding size more palatable, they compromised. He had to invite certain colleagues and in exchange, all supernatural attendees were told there would be no royal pomp and circumstance for the day (or as Frannie put it when they were arguing, royal bullshit). The invitation list was the only disagreement related to the wedding – and from what he heard – he was lucky. His Lilla wasn’t a bridezilla, Sookie and Sam were happy if Frannie was happy, and Eric wrote the checks. Not that he thought Frannie overspent at all. If anything, she didn’t spend nearly what he’d expected.
He watched as the caterer finished preparing the tables for the event and thought about the day. Without his blood tie to Frannie, he couldn’t feel if she was excited or scared. He hated the lack of sensing her and at the same time he knew it was the right decision. The past years he’d watched as Frannie and Sam’s love bloomed before his eyes – and it was for the best that he didn’t feel it too. He knew they’d waited to have intercourse; his Lilla had told Sookie about their decision. When his wife shared that news, his respect for Sam grew. The man had waited a hell of a long time for what was going to happen after their wedding. He also knew, because he wasn’t stupid, that Sam and Frannie had engaged in other variations of sexual intimacy. As hypocritical as it was, he couldn’t stand the thought.
When Frannie returned from her month long European honeymoon, she would be living in a different house – it was the one he built on the property – but a separate house nonetheless. At least she would be working with him on a regular basis. He’d survived when she went to school in Baton Rouge, he would survive this.
He looked down at his watch and realized three hours had drifted away while he was thinking; the caterer had completed setting all the tables, and Frannie was walking his way. Her hair was in an up do and her face was made-up but she was in shorts and ironically, one of his button front shirts. “We’ve been looking for you.”
“Why didn’t you call?”
She raised her eyebrow at him and he checked his pocket; no phone. “Ah. I had to escape the girl party quickly. I was afraid I’d be mascara’d next.” He looked at her and smiled. “Speaking of mascara, you look lovely.”
She blushed and looked down. “Thank you Daddy.” She reached for his hand. “Now come on, Mom wants you back at the house.” She smirked. “Something about stockings for Addie and Pammers.”
“I’d rather put a tie on Hunter.”
“I bet, but he’s all dressed. Moyra too.”
He stopped her about twenty feet from the back door to the house. “Wait. Lilla . . . I don’t know if we’ll get time later today.”
“What is it?”
“I want to say something.” He put his hands on her shoulders. “I’m happy for you. I couldn’t be prouder of the woman you are and I recognize that Sookie and I only added the final touches. Your brother Quinn loved you and raised a wonderful person under the worst circumstances. I know he’s looking down and smiling.”
She smiled at his words. “Thank you Daddy.”
“Though he’s probably happy because you’re marrying a shifter and not a vampire.”
”Well, that’ll change.”
“Sam agreed to become a vampire?” Eric’s eyes rose to his hairline.
“He did. Now that we’ve seen a few other shifters turned to vampires without problems, he’s agreed that we’ll both be changed after kids. We’ll be with you forever.”
Eric took her gingerly in his arms (he wasn’t about to mess up that hair or makeup). His relief was palpable. Frannie had left the decision to Sam; she wouldn’t become a vampire without him. “I’ll thank Sam when I get a moment today.”
She stepped back from their embrace. “Anything else before we go in?”
“Are you happy, ready, sure?”
She held out her right hand and used her left pointer finger to mark off each of Eric’s questioned as she answered. “Yes, after I get my dress on and yes.”
“Then let’s get you dressed.”
A few hours later, the family was getting in the limos for their trip to the Bon Temps Church. Eric had been told that the wedding details had been leaked but security had things under control at the church. What they couldn’t control were the pedestrians that were lining up on the sidewalks near the church for a glimpse of Frannie. Eric recognized many of them as residents of the town; well wishers for the happy couple. With the Bon Temps well to doers, however, came news and paparazzi. None of the attention bothered Frannie; she beamed from her seat in the limo with the rest of the Northmans, Kaley, and Gran.
When they pulled up to the church, they could see that their own and some borrowed supernatural guards had kept the crowd off the church’s block, but they were still close enough to hear the shouts when Eric exited first. Alcide walked up from his limo with his son Jack so he could greet everyone. Moyra came out second and moved to stand in front of Jack. Eric almost groaned when he looked down to see his angel making eyes at Jack and twirling her skirt around. “Hi Jack.”
“Hi Moyra.” In a not so subtle move, Alcide nudged the boy’s shoulder. “You look nice.”
Moyra started twirling her hair and she smiled. “Thanks Jack, you do too.”
Seeing his seven year old flirt was more than he could take so he chose to ignore it for now and get the rest of the crew out of the car. They moved quickly into the narthex, but only after the bride smiled sweetly and waved to the crowd.
The bridal party gathered at the back of the church after Jason escorted Gran to her seat. Sam and his best man, Hoyt, were waiting with the Reverend Collins at the altar. Frannie, Sookie and Eric had discussed the processional and Sookie was adamant that Eric walk Frannie down the aisle alone. First because she believed it was Eric’s honor to do so. Second, she knew she wouldn’t make it down the aisle without blubbering; she didn’t want to ruin all the pictures for Frannie. At the moment, she and Hunter were poised at the start of the aisle, waiting for their cue to walk in. After seating his mother, Hunter would move to serve as a junior groomsman, pairing with Moyra.
Before his minions went up the aisle as the flower girls and ring bearer, Eric knelt down and spoke to them. Basically, he put the fear of the Gods in them to behave. It was a concern Sookie and Eric had discussed several times leading up the wedding. In the end, they left it up to Frannie if she wanted to risk having the little ones in the wedding party. Of course she did and told her parents that if the trips did try something it would make her wedding memorable. Besides, they only needed to keep their usual exuberance and ingenuity controlled through the ceremony. Everyone expected some kind of ruckus at the reception.
The final song before the procession was finishing and Frannie turned to Eric. “Almost time Daddy. You ready to give me away?” She saw the flash of hurt on her Daddy’s face and she reached up to put a hand on his cheek. “You’re always going to be my Daddy and my hero, you know that right? I might have a new address, but I’ll see you guys all the time.”
Having heard Frannie’s words and feeling Eric’s reaction, Sookie sobbed from her position with Hunter. Eric worked to keep control over his emotions. The day was already hard enough without Frannie voicing his unspoken concerns out loud. He pressed his cheek into her hand and offered a quiet thank you. Taking a few unnecessary breaths he answered her first question. “I will give you away at the end of the aisle though I’m not ready. You will always be min Lilla. I don’t care how old you are or how many children you have.” Frannie stifled a sob and the photographer captured her look of pure adoration before she turned to breathe and control her emotions.
The first notes of the processional started and Hunter took his mother’s arm. As she’d predicted, she smiled and balled for her entire walk. Once Hunter had her seated next to Gran, he passed Sam and Hoyt and took his place. The triplets were next and you could feel the room take in a breath. Their antics were well known and documented among the human and supernatural political community. Russell’s constant tweets about the trips may have been the cause of their notoriety. Aside from walking to the far right, they got up the aisle without incident and stood in their position; two Packsters in the wings ready to swoop in and take control if needed.
Moyra and Kaley followed, one after the other and when they reached the end, the attendees stood in anticipation of seeing the bride and Eric knew it was time. He guided his daughter with pride up the aisle, nodding and smiling along the way. Frannie was the quintessential beautiful, blushing bride and held her head high as she took comfort from Eric’s hand over her tiny one on his arm. When they reached the end, Sam stepped forward, eagerly, to take his bride’s hand, but Eric put one finger up slowing him down. Everyone laughed. As they’d rehearsed, Eric waited for the pastor to ask the question that wasn’t spoken as often anymore. Given the supernatural setting, it was appropriate though: until this moment, Frannie was his. “Who gives this woman in marriage to this man?”
He paused and touched Frannie’s cheek before answering, “I do,” and kissed her on the forehead. With his words, she became Sam’s. He took Frannie’s hand and placed it in Sam’s and moved to sit next to Sookie. After blowing out a breath – one he didn’t need anyway – he relaxed; he figured he’d completed the hardest part of the day and survived. The rest of the wedding was a blur for him. To his left, Sookie sometimes sniffled at parts but otherwise kept the crying to a minimum. He knew words were being spoken by the Reverend, but he didn’t hear them clearly. Instead, he gazed at his children at the altar. Moyra standing proudly with her big sister but her head turned to the left and over her shoulder. He followed the gaze and discovered she was staring at Alcide’s son Jack. He caught her winking and decided to pretend he never saw it. To ensure he saw no more Moyra flirting, he quickly turned to the right so he could check out his boys. Hunter and Jarl were like statues next to Hoyt so there was nothing interesting to see there. His next glance was to the far left of Kaley, where Addie and Pammers were. Taking a moment, he braced himself then looked. It wasn’t too bad. While they weren’t standing still, they weren’t causing any problems (yet). They were seated on the floor (in their white dresses) and taking turns trying to keep the flower petals in the air by blowing on them. That, he could handle. Feeling another presence to the left, he turned further and wasn’t surprised to see the Ancient Pythoness had popped in for the ceremony. The old woman didn’t share it often, but he knew she loved the children.
Before he knew it, the Reverend was taking Sam and Frannie through their vows so he returned his focus to the bride and groom. Everything was going well until Sam was invited to kiss the bride, and he did kiss her, with enthusiasm. The kiss wasn’t the problem; it was the triplet’s obviously coordinated shouts of ‘ewww’ followed by extended gagging noises and motions that brought an end to the lovely, elegant ceremony. Almost all the attendees were silent as they waited for a reaction from the Northmans, one snicker could be heard and Eric was positive it was Russell. For a moment Eric was horrified for Frannie and he moved to capture the three troublemakers but she turned to them after the kiss and said, “Just wait, one day you’ll get it; then I’ll be in the church making noises at your weddings, or I’ll have my children handle that.” She leaned over to the three and with a serious look added, “That is, if Daddy lets you marry at all.” When she stood, she smiled and addressed her guests with a shrug. “At least they waited until the end of the ceremony.” Her good nature and obvious amusement had the room laughing with her and Eric decided the triplets would live to see another day after all.
Hours later, Eric and Sookie had finished dancing a romantic waltz and he was leading his wife off the dance floor. They came across Moyra and he knelt down. “You ready to dance with Daddy?”
Moyra shook her head and held up her right hand. He hadn’t noticed until then that it was attached to Jack Herveaux. “Jack and I decided we’re getting married. He’s got all my dances now.”
Sookie was equal parts amused (because it was cute) and horrified (because Moyra couldn’t have hurt Eric more if she’d plunged a knife through his chest). She bent down. “It’s fine if you plan to marry, but you can still dance with Daddy. That’s not cheating on anyone.”
Moyra, maturing as the seconds ticked by responded. “Jack and I will discuss this and get back to you.” Then she walked off leaving Eric standing there with his mouth hanging open.
The rest of the reception went off without incident. Well, if you didn’t count turning the wedding cake around so the side the triplets had put their fingers in was out of the pictures. Nobody was surprised. Sookie watched Eric with concern though. He was putting up a good front; smiling and enjoying friends, dancing with her and others (including a dance with Moyra- finally), and schmoozing with the political attendees. Underneath his happy façade, she could feel that he was missing something. Sookie believed he’d come to terms with Frannie’s wedding, so she didn’t think that was it. At one point, she saw him talking with Claudine and his spirits rose. That had her curious but she needed to wait; Frannie and Sam were headed her way.
“Mom, we’re ready to say our goodbyes.”
Sookie looked at her watch and noticed how late it was. “Of course. I know you have a flight to catch tomorrow morning. The limo will be at your house by 10:00 AM.” She stood to walk them out and asked, “Have you said goodbye to your father?”
“Not yet. I wanted to walk over with you.” She took Sookie’s hand and Sam fell in step behind them. When they reached Eric, he was chatting with the Mayor of Shreveport and Frannie tapped him on the shoulder; he turned and smiled. “Daddy, Sam and I are leaving.” The Mayor stepped away to give them some privacy. Frannie took a hand each from Sookie and Eric. “I wanted to thank you for the wedding, it was beautiful. Thank you for taking me . . .” her words caught for a moment but she got it out. “Taking me in. You’ve been the best parents a girl could ever want.”
Sookie replied with her eyes filled with tears. “You’ve been a joy Frannie, and don’t think because you’re married we’re done being your parents.”
Eric squeezed her hand. “What your mother said.”
“I wouldn’t want you to stop being my parents.” She gave them both a big hug and they walked to the main door of the reception tent.
Sookie was lost in her emotions so Eric offered their final words. He took her face in his hands and spoke softly. “We love you Frannie. Go enjoy your vacation and call us if you need us or miss us.” After kissing her forehead, he took Sam’s hand and gripped it. “Welcome to the family. Take care of my Lilla. She might be yours officially, but I’m watching.”
“I wouldn’t have expected otherwise. Don’t worry Dad, she’s my life.” Sam moved Frannie in the direction of their home on the property before Eric could react to being called ‘Dad’ by Sam.
“I thought we told him years ago not to call us that.” Eric mumbled.
Sookie put her arms around his waist and looked up. “I told him not to call me Mom. You’re on your own Sweetie.” She went onto her toes to kiss the frown from him face and when she went back down again she asked him about his feelings. “You were in an inscrutable mood today. Care to share?”
He took her hand and walked to the side deck of the house. “Moyra is growing up.”
“Yes, it was inevitable.”
“She isn’t a baby anymore. She rarely sleeps with us, she’s growing independent.”
“And it’s breaking Daddy’s heart.” His sadness had returned so she tried to add humor. “You have Addie and Pammers.”
He mock glared at her and waved his hand. “The triplets came out as full grown mischief makers. I don’t recall cuddly babies.”
Sookie shook her head in agreement. “No. Nursing and diapers were the only baby things about those three. Where is all this heading? What was the chat you had with Claudine?”
He sat in one of the outdoor couches and pulled her to his lap. “Do you remember when we had the triplets and the Ancient Pythoness visited?” Sookie nodded her head. “You said something about enjoying the triplets, since they were going to be our last and she said . . .”
“If you say so.” She looked up at him with her eyes wide. “You want more?” He nodded. “What about my turning?”
“That’s what I discussed with Claudine. Well, she brought up your human lifespan to me. Do you realize you can go decades before we need to turn you? You won’t age – I mean – you haven’t aged since you started taking my blood. Ludwig’s confirmed this.” After he made his points, he looked at her with a small pout to help his cause.
Sookie had blocked her emotions in the bond the moment she realized he was talking about more kids. She hadn’t thought about her Amma’s words in years and at first she was shocked. Now that he was talking more, she realized having more children was something she wanted too. She smiled and opened the bond to release her excitement. “I want more too.”
“We can have children for decades.” He smirked at her. “We’ll put that Duggar family to shame.”
She giggled at that thought and realized Eric was now happy – something she’d been hoping for all day. He really was wired to be a family man. The triplets took that moment to come running from the tent covered in brown stains. Sookie suspected the brown was from the chocolate fountain. As they got closer, Sookie noticed they’d used the chocolate like hair gel to slick their hair into some very strange styles. The Packsters assigned to them were running behind looking haggard from chasing the three all day long – they too were covered in chocolate and Eric knew they’d be getting bonuses.
Sookie caught Eric’s eye after the minions passed and said, “Let me clarify. I want more, ONE. AT. A. TIME.”
His eyes were wide and he gave a serious nod. “Agreed Min Kara.” He started walking to the mess that was his triplets. “But first, it’s time to get the hose out.”
Sookie sighed and added. “Again.”
Trips and Moira
A/N – two epilogues after this one for Glimpses. Those are coming along at a snail’s pace though . . .