Chapter 6 – The End
Eric was nervous. He’d planned a special dinner date for Sookie on her last weekend before her laser treatments started. The recovery wasn’t going to be too bad, but he had more than just a special dinner in mind when they made the date.
Though they slept together most nights, they split to get ready for official dates, as Eric wanted to pick her up properly each time. So, he approached her house with flowers in hand and she opened the door to see him in a suit and tie. They’d dressed up for dinner before, but he’d never worn a tie. The look on her face had him answering the unspoken question. “The restaurant requires jacket and tie.”
“Oh. Glad I went for fancy too then.”
She twirled for him and he was dumbstruck at how beautiful she was in red. He turned his head sideways as if trying to peak under the skirt. “Did I see something red and lacy under that dress?”
“Behave Captain. That’s for later!”
He almost gave away one of his surprises at her comment, but caught himself before he blurted out the first thing that popped into his head. He put his hands up and said, “Yes Ma’am.”
After putting the flowers into water, he helped her into the car and sped to their dinner destination in Center City, Philadelphia.
They arrived at Barclay Prime and were seated in a table centered in front of a fireplace. Sookie had heard about this restaurant, but had never eaten at the only place in Philly where you could pay $120 for a cheesesteak. “Eric, this is lovely! And this table, right next to one of your precious fireplaces.” Her eyes sparkled at the mention of the fireplace knowing that they’d finally had their fun in front of the one in her house. Of course, they locked the door and told Michele to keep hold of Jason.
“You know how much I love fireplaces, especially after…” Rather than finishing his sentence, he waggled his eyebrows.
He helped her into her seat and leaned in to bite her earlobe gently. She admonished him for his waggling eyebrows and the nibble with a quiet, “Behave you.”
As he sat across from her, his face expressing fake innocence; he said. “You’re the one that showed me that red lace something you have under your dress. I’m pretty sure my mood is your fault.” She gasped and he could see she was ready to give him what for so he added. “But, I’ll make an effort to please you; I’ll behave Sweetheart.” He mumbled “Until I get home,” as she thanked him.
They enjoyed small talk while perusing the menu and through their dinner. Sookie wanted to try the cheesesteak but didn’t want just that. They compromised and selected the cheesesteak and a seafood dish to share. When they were full, and had declined dessert, he suggested they take a walk.
After a few blocks, Sookie smirked and Eric figured she knew they were headed to Will’s Eye. Three blocks out he used his phone to send a text, though he gave the impression that he was answering one. As they crossed the final street, Eric had a tough time keeping up with the idle conversation. His stomach felt like it had dropped to his feet while simultaneously forming a block in his throat preventing him from talking. That, he had to resolve. For what he was about to do, he had to talk. He could see the front entrance of Will’s and was pleased his helper had set everything up. To him, it was critical to do this with Sookie before she had surgery. He loved her today and always, not because of or after her stain removal.
He glanced at Sookie and if he wasn’t so nervous, he would have laughed at her expression, puzzled didn’t adequately describe it. She didn’t say anything as he took her hand guided her to the chair he’d arranged to be near the door to Will’s. Eric reached behind the chair and pulled out a pillow. By the time he was on his knees, tears were streaming down Sookie’s face and a crowd had formed on the sidewalk.
He took her hand. “Sweetheart, Sookie…” He took a breath to calm his nerves, then owned up to it. “I’m a little nervous.”
She chuckled at his words through her own tears. “Try channeling Captain Northman.”
He shook his head, “That guy wasn’t good enough for you. I hope I am.”
She nodded, “Yeah, that guy threw food at me.” They both laughed and it helped his nerves settle, some. She continued talking. “You though Honey? You are good enough for me. You most certainly are.” He smiled and reached into his pocket and he started to pull the ring from its cushion. Before he could place the ring on her finger, she put her hand on his arm. “While you are most certainly good enough for me, you can’t skip the words.”
He looked up sheepishly and said with a shrug. “You’re a tough woman, Sookie.” After a taking a deep breath, he started. “When you left me at the hospital the last night I had my bandages and I thought you weren’t coming back, I realized I didn’t want to be without you. Ever. The moment you walked in the room the day the doctor took off my bandages, I finally realized what had been missing in my life. It was you, it was loving you.” He paused and kissed the back of her hand. “I want to spend the rest of life loving you. Sookie, will you let me do that? Will you be my wife?”
Sookie smiled through her tears and reached over to touch his face. “Yes, on one condition.” When he tried to speak she cut him off. “I get to spend the rest of my life loving you back.”
“I can live with that.”
“Oh, two conditions.” He raised one eyebrow in question. “I want you to move in, officially, right away.”
“I can agree to that.” With that, she put her hand out and he placed his mother’s engagement ring on her finger, as he’d tried before.
She stared at her hand for a moment then looked back to Eric with tears falling down her face. “I never thought I’d date, let alone get married.” Stuttering a little, she sucked in air trying to calm down. “Now,” She shook her head, “Now I have you, and this beautiful ring and you came … you brought us back to here… and I’ll stop babbling now.”
He smiled. “You can babble if you want. I enjoy it.” He looked over his shoulder, “They might enjoy it too.”
Inwardly she cringed then looked over his shoulder, wondering who he’d invited. It wasn’t so bad, some of the Will’s staff started walking her way to offer congratulations. Then, from the side, her brother, Jason and his family appeared. That was a surprise. “You knew?”
Jason puffed out his chest proudly. “Eric asked for my blessing, ‘course I knew.” Jason moved to hug her “Congrats baby sister.” Then he tugged on her arm. “Come on now. It’s getting late for Ella, and Eric arranged for champagne and dessert.”
They arrived home after a short celebration with her friends and family. It was late and Sookie knew she should be tired but she had a surprise for the evening. Eric grabbed her from the car and carried her into the house. “Eric!” She yelled. “That’s for the wedding, not the engagement!”
“I want to do it all the time.”
She shook her head and she almost let him carry her to the bedroom but she had plans. Big. Plans. “Eric, wait.” He stopped at her request. “Put me down.”
She almost laughed at his confused face. “I was going to carry you to bed, sweetheart.”
“I know, I have something for you first.” He put her down and she pointed to the couch. “Sit here, please.” After taking off his coat, he followed her orders. She declined his offer to remove her coat for her. “I need it.”
He smirked “I think I’m going to like my surprise.”
“I know you will.” She turned to him and spoke. “I heard a song the other day. It got me thinking and… I’m babbling now. Let me turn on the song and you’ll see.”
She pulled out her iPhone and cued up the song. As the first lines played, she moved in front of him, swaying to the music while unbuttoning her coat. Sookie loved to dance, so she was comfortable moving for her man. Now that the coat was gone, she needed to get the dress off to reveal the real treat she’d been wearing all evening.
She knew the moment Eric realized the importance of the song she’d selected. The line about loving you like I’m gonna lose you was his clue. She nodded her head when he gave her a questioning look. While running her hands down his chest, she sang the words when the refrain came again then stood. Keeping her body moving to the music, she continued her striptease and undressed down to the bra, garters, and stockings she had on under the dress.
Eric had been quiet until this point but he couldn’t hold in his shock. “You weren’t wearing panties all night?”
“I took them off before we left Will’s.” She put her finger over his mouth and whispered, “Now be quiet, I still have stuff to strip off.”
As if he hadn’t interrupted her, she got right back with the beat until the song was over and she was naked. She ended by straddling him on his lap. “Eric,” She nipped at his chin. “I’m done waiting. I’m ready for everything.”
He stood with her legs around his waist and headed to the stairs. He didn’t question her decision, he didn’t ask her if she was sure. They’d discussed their first time, many times, and the timing was up to Sookie. She was glad he took her at her word.
When they reached the bedroom, he placed her gently on the bed and treated her to a striptease of his own. “I love that you used music, singing, and dancing to tell me what you wanted.”
“I thought it seemed ‘us’.” She pulled on his belt loops. “Now get back to your striptease.”
He finished quickly and joined her and positioned himself on top of her, taking most of his weight with his arms. He kissed her softly. “I love you. I’m going to take care of you tonight, and every night for the rest of our lives.”
“That sounds good to me Honey, as long as I get to take care of you too.”
“Of course. But right now,” He paused and looked down at her chest. “I have exploring to do.”
He started with her mouth, neck, and then her breasts, spending extra time there, until her begging and pleading had him moving further down. She spread her legs as he made his way down so he could take her in his mouth.
Sookie was lost to Eric’s loving touches. While they used words to express their love often, this time, Eric was using his body to demonstrate. They’d enjoyed physical intimacy often but there was something different tonight. It was an anticipation; knowing they were going to join completely for the first time. It had more meaning now that they were engaged, though Sookie had planned for this course of events even before Eric proposed. Sookie could feel Eric loving her with his mouth until she was so close that when he replaced his tongue with his fingers, she came screaming his name. In that instant, Eric thrust in quickly and Sookie felt a twinge and some stretching. The discomfort wasn’t bad, it was like a scene in the background of a picture, not the focus. Concerned for her, Eric stilled to ask if she was alright but with a smile, she encouraged him to “Get back to work.”
“Yes Ma’am.” He replied and started loving her in earnest. The striptease had worked them both into a frenzy of desire; it didn’t take long for Sookie to be making the little pants he knew meant she was close. With a quick adjustment to the angle of his thrust she was calling him Oh God, Jesus, and occasionally his name as she tumbled over the edge. He pumped, once, twice and then swelled and released in her.
“That was beautiful Honey.”
“It most certainly was Sweetheart.” He sat up and kissed her, “I’ll be right back.” In a moment, he returned from the bathroom with a cloth. “It’s messy without a condom. I’ve never made love without one.” As they’d prepared for this event, Sookie started birth control so they could have intercourse without a barrier.
She giggled, “Me either.”
“I can’t express how honored I am to be your first, your only, lover.”
“And soon to be husband.” She added. After a beat, she held up her hand to admire the ring that now graced her finger. “When can we plan the wedding?”
Tentatively, he offered, “Tomorrow?” She nodded. “I don’t want to wait. I was thinking we could be married the week between Christmas and New Year’s, maybe a small wedding; then use the big bash we’ve been planning for New Year’s to celebrate with everyone.”
“I thought you wanted to do the New Year’s party to celebrate your retirement from the Marines?”
“The wedding is more important.”
“Well, we can do both, one great big party.”
“With a dancefloor.”
“Well, we might not be able to get a venue like that. It’s already the fall, people are going to have stuff booked.”
“I have a surprise for you that may solve that.” She made a go-on motion with her hand. Instead of answering, he ran downstairs and back to the room. He presented her with his tablet and pulled up pictures of houses. It took her a moment to figure it out, but Eric’s surprise was a day of house shopping in Bryn Mawr and the surrounding area. He’d already found five listings for them and had planned a day with the Real Estate agent. “Sookie, all the houses are walking distance from a train station to Philly, and,” He paused for effect. “I can walk to work.”
“What work? What are you saying?” She sat up, excited to hear this news.
“I start teaching in January at Bryn Montgomery University. I’ll be an Associate Professor in the History department and will begin work on my PhD.”
“ERIC!” She threw her arms around him. “I don’t know how much more good news we can handle.”
“It’s all falling into place now, isn’t it?”
The weeks went by quickly. Sookie had two laser treatments to her face and the stain had diminished significantly but was still visible. After a great deal of angst and soul searching, Sookie had her make-up done professionally for the Marine ball. Eric had made it clear it was her choice, and for such an event, she wanted to be confident on his arm so she chose to cover her diminishing scar. Sookie knew, for that event, she’d be meeting many of Eric’s superiors. While he was retiring, she still wanted to make the best first impression.
They did in fact, make an impression. As they had continued with their ballroom lessons, they prepared several dances and once a few saw them together on the floor, they found themselves the center of attention. Sookie had never given into the princess dreams that many other little girls did, but that night, in those moments, she felt like she’d become Cinderella and she found her prince. Unlike Cinderella, she went home with the prince instead of making him hunt through the town to find her.
As Eric suggested, they planned for a small wedding and dinner party on the Tuesday between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The party focus was on the big bash to celebrate New Year’s, the wedding, and Eric’s retirement. The venue issue had been solved by the purchase of a large estate two blocks from Bryn Montgomery University. For its size alone, Sookie called the estate their very own castle on the hill. To get Sookie to agree to the house, Eric had to pull out all the stops. Of course, she thought the place was gorgeous but she was overwhelmed by the square footage. It was when he spoke about holding the wedding in the house that she caved. The house had enough property that they had rented a large heated tent with a dancefloor. They were practicing a few dances to wow their friends, Sookie’s favorite so far was a quick step to Pete Townsend’s Let My Love Open the Door.
With the changes she’d made to her working schedule, she was able to balance moving, time with Eric, and wedding planning. The small ceremony enabled Sookie to enjoy the planning without stress. Well, there was one decision she couldn’t seem to make and that was causing her some anxiety. With only a few days before the wedding, Sookie still had no idea what she wanted to do.
Eric was sure he’d nailed the Christmas gift. He hated to see Sookie suffer over anything, and the final wedding decision was causing her actual pain at this point. Hoping his gift would solve the dilemma, he wrapped the package and put it under the tree.
It had been tough to come up with a gift as they agreed to spend $75 maximum! That left out upscale jewelry and the bigger and safer car he wanted to get for her. It was a moment of weakness on his part that had him agreeing; Sookie had her lips poised over his cock, the temptress, but a promise was a promise.
Now though, on Christmas Eve, his confidence waivered. There was nothing he could do about it; he’d need to wait until the morning when they’d planned to open gifts.
He fretted through their Christmas Eve dinner with Jason and his family. His hands wrung on the way to Mass that night. Only the times he and Sookie were performing the music for the mass was he able to forget about his concern for the gift.
Sookie noticed and said something when they arrived home from church. “Honey, will you tell me what’s wrong?” She pulled his hands into hers. “You’re not acting like yourself.” She gasped. “Are you having cold feet?”
Her comment made his jaw drop. “NEVER! That couldn’t be further from the truth!” He ran to the tree and grabbed his gift for her. “I can’t figure out if you’re going to like this gift or not. I’m panicking, and I can’t wait until morning to see your reaction.”
“Then we’ll exchange our gifts tonight.” She reached for the flat, rectangular box with his gift from her. “Do you want to open this first or do you want me to open my gift first?”
Eric was torn. Having Sookie open her gift first would relieve him of his burden. However, if she reacted badly, she might not want to continue with the gift exchange. The expectant look on her face as she held out her wrapped package, made the decision for him. He would open hers first to make her happy, or keep her happy for as long as possible. “I’ll open this first.”
He carefully pulled open the wrapping and lifted the lid to the box. Inside, there was one ticket to an upcoming Philadelphia Orchestra performance. “I don’t understand.”
She beamed with a triumphant expression. “One ticket for you was within the price parameters we set. I just happened to buy myself the ticket for the seat next to yours.”
At her explanation, he sported a wide smile. “That’s brilliant!”
“I thought so.”
He nodded toward his still wrapped gift to her. “Can you open your gift now? I’m going to jump out of my skin.”
“Your concern has me worried, but I’ll open it.”
The gift was in the box labeled for the product within, and hopefully she would understand; he’d made a tough choice for her. “I want you to understand, I didn’t give this to you because I feel you need to use this. I gave this to you because you’re torn about your desire to wear it, and guilt that it makes you vain.”
She placed the box of concealer on the floor and grabbed Eric in a hug. “Thank you. I have felt guilty about wanting to wear the make-up. At the same time, I wanted to cover what’s left of the stain and the scar for the wedding. I mean, all those pictures.”
“So, you know why I did this? You don’t see this as me pushing my own will…”
She interrupted him. “NO! You’ve taken a huge burden from me.” She emphasized her comments with a kiss. When she pulled back, too soon as far as he was concerned, she was sporting a smirk. “You know… we’ve been to Christmas Mass, we aren’t expected at Jason’s for dinner until later in the day, we’ve opened our presents. Whatever will we do for the rest of the night and tomorrow morning?”
He waggled his eyebrows. “Let’s build a fire.”
She snickered. “You do love having fun in front of a fireplace Honey.”
“And I will enjoy you by a fire for many more years.”
The night before the wedding had Sookie and Eric sleeping separately. Eric, and his best man, Godric, were with Jason at his house and they’d invited Lafayette Reynolds and Hoyt Fortenberry, friends from Jason and Sookie’s Bon Temp days to stay over for an informal bachelor party of sorts.
Sookie was with Michelle, Ella, Tara Thornton, another Bon Temps friend, and Hoyt’s mother, Maxine, at the new house. What was technically a Bachelorette party was a G rated dinner and dessert followed by an Ella safe movie. They were just cleaning up from the meal when there was a knock on the door.
Unsure of whom it could be, Sookie used the window to the side of the door to take a peak. She muffled a curse under her breath that only Maxine heard since she’d followed Sookie into the foyer.
“Who is it Sookie?” Sookie couldn’t hide the panicked look at tear filled eyes when she turned to the older woman. Maxine moved to take Sookie’s shaking hands. “Should I call someone, the police? Who is at the door?”
“It’s…” She had trouble getting the words out, “It’s my mother.”
A gasp was heard to the side of the foyer, it was Michelle and she’d heard the end of the conversation when she arrived in the foyer. “What is she doing here?” The way she said ‘she’, left no room for confusion on how she felt about the woman; it had been spoken as if she was describing the scum under her shoe.
Sookie had started crying in earnest at this point and she asked Michelle to try and send her mother away. “I can’t face her. Tonight, of all nights… why is she here?”
Michelle promised her, “I don’t know what’s going on Sookie, but I’ll make her go away.”
Maxine cleared her throat and offered an explanation while Michele Stackhouse, Sookie’s mother, rang the bell again. “I told a few folks at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill that Hoyt and I were flying up for your wedding I guess it got back to her.” She shook her head and continued, “though why she would fly up on her own… the woman must have a reason.”
Michelle cracked the door and with a firm voice, she informed Michele Stackhouse, her undesirable mother-in-law, that she wasn’t welcome. “Michele, you’ll need to leave before I call the police. This is private property and you aren’t welcome.”
“My daughter is getting married tomorrow. I have a right to be here!”
Sookie’s jaw dropped at the woman’s words. “You gave up any parental rights when you forced that procedure on me, when you didn’t support me the way I was, when you abandoned Daddy during his illness. You… are dead to me. Go away.”
“I am not leaving. I did some investigating after I heard about your wedding. Seems you struck it rich with your fiancé, you must have fixed that ugliness you call a face to have done that.” Then women in the foyer gave a collective gasp at her hateful words. Michele continued as if the woman hadn’t reacted audibly. “So, to me that means you realize that I was right to try to fix you all along. It’s time to repair our relationship and move forward.”
Sookie was sure it was only the ‘rich’ part of her situation that had caused this ‘lovely’ reunion. “Go away Mother. You aren’t welcome here.”
“Oh? How about this… I’ll be at the Garden Spot tomorrow night for your small dinner celebration; that’s a public place.”
“How do you know where our reception is? How do you know about this house? We only moved in a few weeks ago.” Sookie was sure her cousin Hadley, still in Bon Temps on bed pregnancy-related bed rest, hadn’t shared the details. She hated Michele as everyone did.
“I have sources. Now don’t blame Maxine, but after I heard about your wedding, and that she’d been invited, I paid her a visit. Found the invitation for the ceremony, reception, and your New Year’s Eve party on her desk. I had all the information I needed to come reconcile.” They heard her huff and shuffle her feet. “Maybe we should have this conversation face-to-face? Or would you rather I just appear tomorrow night?”
Sookie looked at the women in the room, hoping for some kind of guidance. Michelle shrugged her shoulders and Maxine was looking down. “Maxine, I won’t have you feeling guilty about this. She would have found a way to get to me somehow. I’m still happy to have you and Hoyt here.” She focused on Michelle. “Why don’t you take Ella upstairs and away from this joyous reunion?”
Michelle nodded and left the foyer. Maxine moved closer to Sookie and took her hand; a gesture that helped Sookie more than she could express at the moment.
She opened the door all the way and her mother strolled in, with a duffle bag, and moved to hug Sookie. The woman stopped short though; “You… you didn’t fix your face; least not all the way. What man would want…”
A voice boomed from the doorway. “That would be me, I’m the man marrying Sookie and you’re trespassing.”
Behind Eric, a uniformed officer appeared. “You’ll need to leave ma’am.”
It was Sookie who stopped the officer for a moment. “Thank you, Officer, but if she leaves now, she’s planning to crash my reception tomorrow, it’s at a public restaurant. At least that’s what she’s threatened.”
Eric had moved into the foyer and took Sookie in his arms. “I’m not going to let that happen. Godric is already on the phone to prevent her from coming near us tomorrow or at the New Year’s Party.” With a kiss to Sookie’s forehead, he vowed, “She won’t be part of our lives Sookie. I’ll do everything in my power to get her out of the state.” He glared at Michele. “Walk out the door Michele. I’m saying this in front of the police office. You. Are. Not. Welcome.”
True to his word, Eric had several layers of protection in place for the wedding. First, and thanks to Godric, they had a restraining order for Michele. Having the police officer, a friend of Jason’s, arrive at the house with Eric had been instrumental in procuring legal protection. After Eric had made his promise to Sookie, ensuring Michele wouldn’t be part of the wedding, and asking her to leave, Sookie’s mother went ballistic with screaming and arm flailing. It wasn’t hard to prove she was a threat. To enforce the restraining order, Jason had arranged for several uniformed police officers to attend the festivities. If Michele tried to crash the wedding, they were ready to arrest her. As a final layer of protection, Eric asked his fellow Marines to serve as guards as well. The men were already attending to salute the newly married couple with a sabre arch. Eric figured, he prayed, that Michele would see the swords at the men’s sides and stay the hell away. If she was still around when they returned from their honeymoon, Eric was prepared to offer the woman money to go away; he’d believed getting a piece of Eric’s wealth had been her real goal.
With security in place, Eric was able to focus on his wedding, and his nerves. Even with those nerves, preparing for his wedding went quickly and before he knew it, he was standing in front of the alter, waiting for Sookie. The orchestra he’d hired was playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Sookie had trusted him with all the music selections, and he picked her favorites. Ode to Joy meant she’d arrived at the church and he let out a big breath. Soon, it would all be happening soon now.
The music changed marking the arrival of Sookie and her attendants. Ella was the most adorable flower girl and he smiled at her, but it was Sookie standing tall next to her brother that took his breath away. After he saw Sookie, his next steps were on autopilot. They’d chosen to have a full mass, so years of repeated attendance had him making the motions and speaking automatically. He came back to himself to say his vows, and then again when he played the piano and serenaded Sookie. Before he knew it, they were married and walking under the sabre arch.
Sookie turned to him and smiled. “We did it!”
“We did Mrs. Northman.”
Epilogue – one year later
“So, are we opening our presents tonight, like we did last year? Or waiting for morning?” She asked Eric as they walked in from Christmas Eve Mass. Their dog, a large, mixed breed trained to serve as a guard, ran up to greet them. They’d adopted Poofer after the wedding as another layer of protection for possible Michele visits. Luckily, to date, they hadn’t heard from the woman.
He answered immediately. “Tonight. I kind of… my present for you won’t work…” He ran his hand through his hair. “Oh hell! Let me go grab it.” Eric left the room and returned after a few minutes from the garden shed on the property. In his hands, he held a small animal cage. Before he made it to her side, Sookie heard the mewls coming from the cage.
“A kitten!? You got me a kitten?” He nodded, and she ran to meet him. “How old? What color? Boy or girl?” She’d always wanted a kitten, but her mother refused and her work schedule before she met Eric prevented her from taking the step.
He answered her questions, “They are ten weeks old and…”
“A brother and sister; I couldn’t split them up.” He set the cage down and opened the door. “I adopted them two weeks ago and they’ve been staying at our neighbors, so Poofer has been there everyday for a visit. He loves them. We don’t have to worry about litter training, that’s all done.” He nodded to the box under the tree. “Your wrapped gift is the pet necessities we needed.”
She put her hands on her hips. “You had to go over our limit.” With his begging, she’d upped the amount they could spend to $100, but that wouldn’t cover the adoption and supplies.
“I didn’t. It was a free adoption weekend. I only had to pay for supplies.” She narrowed her eyes at him and he thought he was in trouble. “Why that look?”
“I’m mad at your cleverness.” They started setting up the kitten supplies as she spoke. “I can’t wait to see what you come up with in other years.”
He shook his head vehemently, “No! We’re gong the route of spoiling starting next Christmas.”
She smirked, they’d be doing some spoiling, that was for sure, but not how he thought. They moved back to the tree after showing the kittens the litter box and food bowls where Sookie exclaimed, “Time for you to open my gift!” She presented him with a small package. A somewhat flat box like last years, but not wide enough to hold a ticket to anything.
Before Eric could start unwrapping it, Sookie nudged him to look under the tree. They’d put the kittens down to focus on Eric’s gift and the tiny fur balls had both moved to snuggle into Poofer. Eric gave her a knowing smile, “Told ya.”
“That’s too cute and I want to get a picture, but after you open your present.”
He took his time undoing the ribbon, removing tape from the edges and pulling off the paper only to fold it before he opened the box. Sookie wanted to huff in anger, but she was too excited. Finally, he pulled up the lid and his brows furrowed in confusion. It was an ornament, an off-white ceramic ornament. If he had to guess at the shape, he’d say it was a cradle. He pulled it out to better understand and that’s when he saw the writing. Painted in gold at the bottom was ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ and the year under that was for the following Christmas. Sookie was telling him in a most unique way that they were having a baby. Tears fell from his eyes as he continued to stare at the ornament; then he looked at Sookie to see she was crying as well. “When?”
“I’m due at the end of June.” She paused, “Well, according to the online due date calculator I found. My doctor’s appointment is next week, while we’re both off.” She pointed into the box. “The appointment card is in there.”
“June.” He said it like it was the answer to life. “I’ll only have one class a week over the summer and some office hours. I can be home with you and the baby.”
“Not that we were planning or preventing specifically, but really it’s the perfect due date for us with your schedule at the University.” Sure, he was excited but wanted to check, she put a hand on his arm. “I know we weren’t preventing pregnancy, but it did happen quickly. You’re okay with this, right?”
He grabbed her by the waist and placed her on his lap. “Okay? I’m more than okay! I’m ecstatic! I almost wish I wasn’t on winter break so I could be telling everyone in the History department!”
She smiled at his enthusiasm for a moment before offering a dose of reality. “We’ll need to keep it quiet until after we meet with the doctor. I want to be sure everything is alright.”
He pouted. “Not even Jason, Michelle and Ella? We’re going to their house for dinner tomorrow. I’ll struggle to keep it quiet.” She smiled. Eric and her brother had grown close. So close that, Eric insisted that Jason and Michelle accept help with the purchase of a house in the neighborhood. Jason struggled with what he felt was charity but relented when Sookie told him how much she’d like living as close as they had been. Turned out, a smaller property went up for sale that Jason could afford. It was help with the ‘fixer upper’ part they needed and instead of money, Eric helped with his hands. Together, they’d restored a falling down mission style cottage to its former glory; much to the appreciation of the other homes in the area. Now they were two blocks apart and a playground was almost at the exact midpoint between them.
To answer Eric’s question about discussing the pregnancy, she decided to play with him. “You can’t keep it a secret? I’ve known for four weeks! You’ll live.”
He poured on the charm to get his way. “My beautiful and talented wife, you are the strongest woman I know and while that was hard for you, keeping baby Northman a secret will be impossible for me.” He made big pleading eyes at her and added, “Can you reconsider? Just Jason and Michelle… please?”
“You can tell them.” It had been her plan all along to share the news with her brother. “Heck! You can show them your present and watch them ‘get it’ like you did.”
“You know, the baby could pop out with the talent for pleading and begging like you have. If it’s a girl, you’re doomed.”
“I think I’m doomed no matter what. This baby will be spoiled with love and attention… and probably anything he or she wants forever.”
“I have no doubt.”
They stayed connected with Eric rubbing Sookie’s tummy and talking to his baby. He asked how she was feeling, if she had any changes to her body and she filled him in on how she suspected she was pregnant and that so far, she hadn’t been too sick. An occasional bout of nausea was her only complaint. Eric left her only long enough to grab a pen and paper so he could start making a list of baby things they needed.
“Oh Lord Eric! We have plenty of time.” Sookie yelled as she watched him write. Suddenly, she burst out with laughter.
“What’s so funny about a high chair?”
“A high chair? Nothing. You got me thinking about how babies and toddlers eat though.”
He turned his head to the side, still perplexed. “I don’t get it.”
“I can’t wait to give this little one mashed potatoes and Jell-O. Then I’ll sit back and wait until you’re wearing it.”
“You’re never going to let that go, are you?”
“Never. Just like I’ll never let you go.”
“I accept those terms.”
LOOK! Mags remembered to turn on Comments! YAY!