Chapter 21 – Stubborn!
Tissue Warning – possible for some of you: Check
Frying Pan (possibly aimed at my head for the first part of the chapter): Check
Willies: Check (The wagon is mentioned)
ROLLER COASTER – OH YEAH! Hang on folks!
Chapter 21 – Stubborn!
As scheduled, Ludwig arrived the day after Christmas to review the results of the test. Shortly after first dark, Eric took off for the hospital – nervous about what the elf would have to say. Eric had asked Doc Maria to come out as well since he had something to show Sookie and Maxine had a Christmas party to attend.
Hunter and Dylan played Nintendo while the adults caught up. Ludwig was pleased to meet another doctor so concerned with Hunter as Maria was. Eric noticed the two of them hit it off quickly, especially when the topic of insurance ‘rigmarole’ as Maria called it came up. Perhaps he could forge something more than just passing professionals between the two women. Ludwig could use a colleague and Sookie knew Maria was sure she and Hunter were telepaths but the woman never said a thing. She might be trustworthy enough to work with supernaturals. After all, she was already keeping the secret that Eric had brought in Ludwig and she wasn’t on staff at the Parish hospital. Yes, he believed the woman could be trusted.
While giving her report, Ludwig chose her words carefully so as not to share the fairy secret since Maria was in the room. With the fairy dust test positive, Ludwig’s biggest concern was the lack of success with the portals – though she referred to them as contacts – so she had no treatment plan. Then, even when she had a treatment, Hunter would really need to be at Ludwig’s facility, not the parish hospital. That led to the start of a difficult discussion between Eric and Sookie on Hunter’s adoption but they stopped abruptly not wanting to continue in front of the boy. Since Maria was already at the hospital, Eric was able to take Sookie out. He knew she was going to be mad but the sooner he told her his plans, the sooner she could get over it and take what he was offering. He had wanted to wait until everything was perfect but they needed to move forward.
“Where are we?” He’d brought them to a small townhome about 10 minutes from the hospital. They were standing in an empty living room and she could see what looked like a kitchen under construction.
“Your new house.”
“YOU DID NOT!”
“Let me explain.” Remembering how he’d reacted to her ire when he gave her the car, he took an unnecessary breath and worked to compartmentalize her feelings from his in the bond. “I bought that entire row of homes across from the hospital; eight townhomes altogether. Four of them were split into two single floor apartments each, while four others are remaining as two story residences. These are the homes I presented to the families on Christmas Eve. Originally I kept one townhome for you, but once we knew we wanted to move Hunter to Ludwig’s facility, I had Bobby procure this one which is around the block from Ludwig’s. When it’s complete, it will be put in your name.” He moved closer to take her hands. “When Hunter’s been moved to Ludwig’s you can walk there from this house and until then it’s only 10 minutes to the Parish hospital.” She went to say something and he stopped her. “There’s more. All the houses across from the Parish hospital are owned by a charitable corporation, the Adele Stackhouse Children’s Fund.” Sookie gasped and he kept going. “The corporation has been seeded with the funds needed to operate and maintain them. It will need a manager.” Sookie remained speechless and he could feel her gratitude starting to win out over her anger so he continued. “The homes are for families of long term patients in the hospital. Families of pediatric patients would be given priority, but as the manager you can create your own system.”
“Yes. It was my intention to wait until your home was complete to tell you this, but I’ve already hired you as the manager of the fund. It comes with this house and a small salary. It should come with an obscenely large salary but I figured you’d be more likely to refuse if I did that.”
“I need a minute.” Sookie had learned over the years to pause when she was really overwhelmed or upset – as she was right now. Her former habits of outbursts and tantrums weren’t really effective and she needed that step back right now.
“I’m going to check on a light tight level I boldly had added for me. I’ll give you some space.” In actuality he was getting out before she started yelling. He hoped if she thought about it, she would see how this made sense and just accept. Time and space would be his friend right now. He even shut out her emotions as he walked away.
Sookie’s head was whirling with her thoughts and emotions. ‘He did this for us. He didn’t ask and that pisses me off, but I would have said no. It also helps the other families, so I can’t argue that. Can I accept a fluff job that comes with a freaking HOUSE and a salary? I don’t care how small the salary is – the house alone seems overboard.’ She paced around the empty room while she continued. ‘This is Sam and Alcide all over again. Be my whore and I’ll take care of you. No, that’s not right – at least I don’t believe that’s it. Unlike them, Eric loves both me and Hunter. But where was all this going? In love after a few weeks, buying me a house, gift wrapping a job. The whole thing scares me.’ Her energy was zapped by her thoughts and she slumped down to the floor before she got herself dizzy from walking around in circles. ‘What will people THINK? Of course, this would provide her what she needed to adopt Hunter. Could she swallow her pride – AGAIN – and do this? When the time came for treatment, he needed to be at Ludwig’s hospital. They couldn’t finagle that while he was a foster child.’
When Eric returned to the room she was no closer to a decision on how to handle his offer; she was truly overwhelmed. He’d opened the bond again just before he came up the stairs and could feel her utter confusion and weariness, so he didn’t press her for an answer. “Just think about it; then we’ll talk.”
“Do you want to look around?”
“I can’t right now. I’m . . . my head hurts from all this thinking.”
When Eric imagined telling her about the house and the position, he figured they’d fight it out. Her shutting down was something he hadn’t expected or planned on and he wasn’t sure how to deal with it. They had some time before they needed to get back to Hunter, it was early so he offered, “do you want to grab some dinner?” She absent mindedly shook her head. He was really concerned now. “Sookie, are you OK?”
“I’m tired Eric, can we just go back?”
A wedge. There was nothing visible between them but it was there just the same; he could feel it. They might as well have been on different ends of the country. When he pulled into the hospital parking lot he even asked, “Should I even bother to come up?”
“Why would you ask that?”
“You’re quite upset about tonight.”
“I don’t know what to think about tonight.”
“And I’m offering you space.”
“I don’t want space. I want you but maybe while I’m thinking about it . . .”
“What has you so upset about my offer?”
“You said I could think about it before we talk.”
“I did, unless talking about it will help.”
“Not yet.” She started to open her door. “I want you to come up, I want our shower and cuddle time, I just can’t talk about this all yet. Is that OK?”
“We can do that.”
Sookie was good to her word; she wanted to cuddle and shower but she DID NOT want to talk. Even though they were sitting physically together, she was distant and withdrawn. She promised she loved him and she just needed time when he left. He wasn’t so sure; this sullen version of Sookie was just not his Sookie. Eric returned home and pretty much just moped trying to talk himself out of panic that he’d lost her completely. He went through his own range of emotions: Depressed, fearful, angry, and hurt, mostly hurt. The call from her when he rose the next night was a welcome surprise and even more so when she seemed bright and happy. Through his blood tie he could feel a bit of nervousness but she sounded like she was putting that aside.
“You’re working tonight?”
“No, I need to work tomorrow and Saturday so can we go out tonight and Sunday?”
“Yes, Hoyt is here with his princess and will stay.”
“I’ll be over after sunset.”
He arrived with plans to take her to dinner so he was surprised when she got in the car and told him to head to the lake or his house. He wasn’t upset, just surprised. He figured they were going to ‘talk’ first, possibly argue. They never got to the talking part at all. Sookie got physical the minute they entered the gazebo then asked to go back to the hospital claiming she was too tired for any talking.
The same thing happened again on their next two nights out and when he tried to talk to her about the house and job she just told him she needed more time, disrobed and the talk was over. He was at a loss. He loved being with Sookie physically but that’s not all they were. She even had Maxine arrive on Monday, New Year’s Eve, for them to go out. He honestly had planned an evening celebrating the New Year with both Sookie and Hunter. At this point, he hadn’t had his Hunter time in a week except for some short chats on the phone. Even knowing they would fight, he decided on their next night together he’d resist her charms and insist they talk. At the very least, he needed Hunter time while she sorted through her thoughts.
Sookie was ignoring the house and the job offer as best she could. In her head, she just couldn’t stop telling herself it wasn’t right. At the same time, she didn’t want to stop seeing Eric so sweeping it under the rug and ignoring it seemed to be the best option. She knew what she was doing too – every time he wanted to talk, she distracted him with words or something else to change the mood to lust. It helped that being with Eric and making love was fantastic and then she would be tired after – mostly because she wasn’t sleeping well with all this pressure to sort through all her thoughts.
Meanwhile, Hunter was furious with her. He tried to stay out of her head but when she continually pulled Eric out of the room right away taking him for herself on a night they were supposed to stay together in the room – he started trying to figure out what had happened. All he heard were jumbled thoughts about a house and a job offer. He also heard Mommy worried about what others would think. When the boy tried to bring this up he was told to stay out of her head. It was one of the rare times she actually yelled at him in anger. The few times he did get to talk to Eric it was only brief calls and Mommy was right there so he didn’t get a chance to ask about anything he’d heard. He was heartbroken and didn’t understand what was going on.
A week after Eric had made the offer he arrived to pick Sookie up as scheduled. He’d even sent a beautiful black vintage 1920’s style dress so they could go out to dinner and talk. She wasn’t in the dress and as soon as they got to the car she asked him to go to the house. It was the same routine again. At his house, he pulled her to the kitchen when she started to head to his bedroom. “Sookie, can we talk?”
“Later, I need you Eric.”
He tried to resist, he really did but she started stripping out of her clothes and she did wear the bra and panties he’d bought to go with the dress he’d wanted her to wear. They were black; something he’d never seen her in and he liked it. He gave in and ran with her to his bedroom in an instant. As soon as they were sated he immediately admonished himself for his weak will. Since she’d asked to go back to the hospital he was putting his shoes on when he decided enough was enough and he needed to put his foot down. As she walked back into the bedroom from the attached bath he started speaking. “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He looked up to see Sookie with a horrified look on her face and he could feel sadness and anger. A clarification was needed immediately. “I mean I don’t want to do JUST this anymore. I need more.”
“Great, Alcide all over again.”
“It is not! We love each other. We had more – you took it away this past week and for what? So you can be selfish?”
“SELFISH?! I’ve given up everything for him.”
“Selfish with your pride Sookie. Selfish of what you think others think.”
“I know what others think.”
“Of course you do and you’re obsessed with making sure nobody thinks badly of you – even when their thinking is wrong. You’ve trapped Hunter and yourself here because of this. You won’t let me be your mate.”
“We’ve only discussed going steady Eric but you are my mate as you say. I’m only with you.”
“You not fully with me. Mates allow each other to care for them.”
“That’s rich. You won’t feed from me.”
“We talked about this. You need to gain weight for no other reason than to strengthen up for the kidney donation. Have you gained anything?”
“I gained a few pounds.”
“In four weeks. You heard Ludwig; you need to gain a total of 20. How can I possibly take blood when you need it?”
He’d fully dressed by now and moved to help her with her bra. “I want us back the way we were. I’ll be faithful to you while you work through this but I literally can’t just do this anymore. It hurts too much to spend this time with you then drive you back so you can go right to sleep and ignore me.” She was speechless now. He ran to the kitchen and grabbed her other clothes quickly and when he returned, she hadn’t moved at all. “I miss Hunter though, so if this is going to take you a while to process can I please have one night a week with him?”
He looked up at her and saw her face cocked to the side in question, her mouth slightly open, and tears still silently falling down her face. “Are you there Sookie?”
They just stared at each other for a moment and she finally spoke. “Eric. I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid of losing who I am by just taking and taking and taking. Folks are already calling me a whore. I went to Maxine’s the other day and two of her friends were there. Maxine had gushed about your attentions and all they thought was how ashamed my Gran would be if she could see me now as a fangbanger.”
“And it’s not true. Let me ask you something though – and you will be pissed but just promise me you’ll think before you run out of here.” He ran to the door. “In fact, I’m locking you in here. You can hit me or yell or scream but not leave.”
She was livid and her tone conveyed it. “Nice.”
“We have to work through this. You’re too important to me. Hunter is too important.” His eyes were pleading and she could clearly see the hurt.
She put her hands up as a gesture of peace and answered, “Ok Ok I’ll think, don’t lock me in; I promise I won’t run. Go ahead, ask away.”
This was going to be bad but he had to point it out. “If you’re so concerned about people calling you a fangbanger or a whore,” After a short pause he continued, “Then why have we only been sleeping together since I offered you the house and the job? Are you trying to make it seem that that’s all you are to me? Because it’s not: I miss my friend and confidant. I miss you Sookie.
Her eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared in anger. He could feel it in the bond. One foot actually headed towards the door and he reminded her. “You promised.”
That stopped her cold, she did promise. She wanted to hit him and call him names. She wanted to tell him how wrong he was, but she couldn’t. What he said, it was exactly what she’d done. SHE made herself out to be a whore through her own damn actions and by ignoring all other aspects of their relationship besides the sex.
He broke into her thoughts. “You told me you want ‘my everything’ what changed? You’ve shouldered all of this on your own for years. Yes, friends have helped but you’re the one who stayed up worrying, you’re the one studying about his illness, you’re the one that put your education on hold for him. I’m telling you – you don’t need to do this alone. I love you and I love Hunter. I want to share all of this with both of you – the good and the hard parts. What’s going to happen when Ludwig is ready to treat Hunter? You can’t move him to her facility; he’s not your child legally. I’m giving you the means to address that and you’ve spit in my face.”
“I didn’t do that.”
“Not literally, but Sookie think about the past week.” He rubbed his face in his hands. “I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone – as a human or a vampire. I love you so much it literally hurts,” he put his hand over his chest, “right here. I can feel it in my dead heart. Sometimes I’m thankful I don’t need oxygen because my love for you would prevent me from breathing it feels so present and heavy in my chest. That love is the same reason why I can’t be a booty call Sookie. I deserve, no we deserve more than that.”
She was literally stunned into silence by his proclamations. When he got no reaction he continued. “Look, I’ve said my piece. You know what I want. When you’re ready you let me know.” He took her hands and rubbed the back of them with his thumbs. “In the interim, can I please spend time with Hunter?”
A realization that he was right about everything was slowly creeping in. She had put her concerns about what others thought of her above Hunter, above Eric and even above herself. Would she rather work and take care of Hunter, absolutely. It just wasn’t possible. Her only option was to leave him every day for a job and after much soul searching just a year before; she knew that wasn’t an option. At that time her belief was that if he only had a year or two with Hunter she wanted every minute even if it meant paying for that time for the rest of her life. While her beliefs hadn’t changed, she still questioned whether being with Eric for his money was right – that’s when it hit her – what she’d done. She wasn’t with Eric for his money she was with Eric because they were in love. Her friend Maria even told her not to hold it against Eric that he had money – and yet it’s exactly what she was doing.
While Sookie ran through Eric’s words in her mind, he waited patiently for an answer. The discussion had been hard, but necessary if they were going to move on. After several long and painful minutes he felt resolve coming from her – and he didn’t know what it meant. Finally her head started shaking and he thought she meant no to his Hunter request. He pulled away in frustration wondering how he’d gotten here but she stopped him. “Wait.” She tried to pull one of his hands back but he resisted. “Eric, wait. I didn’t mean no to Hunter. I shook my head at the mess I’ve made. I’m sorry.”
That halted his path to leave the room. He still had doubts so he probed the blood tie and asked. “About what?”
“Everything. You aren’t Alcide and you aren’t Sam. We love each other and I’m sorry I lost myself to bad thoughts to the point that I couldn’t even see what I was doing to you and to Hunter.”
“What did you do to Hunter?”
“He was so upset he tried to read me to understand why you weren’t allowed to see him.” He groaned at learning the boy had had just as bad a week as he did. “I yelled at him. I think it’s only the second time in his life that I got that angry – directly at him I mean.”
“Where do we go from here Sookie? What do you really mean, what do you want?”
“I want your everything just like I want to be your everything. I want to share my life – our lives with you – the good and the hard – well hopefully more good than hard. That feeling that you have here?” She placed her hand over her chest as he had. “It’s the same for me. I’ve never felt anything like it. It’s beautiful and powerful and scary all at the same time. And you’re right – we deserve more than this. But for us to move forward, this is a two way street. You start taking blood.” When he started to say something she stopped him. “I do need to gain weight and I’ve once again been so upset about this past week I didn’t eat much. Don’t make me, us, wait until I gain 20. As long as I keep working on it, you feed from me.”
“I have other means.”
“It’s what your mate would do, right?” He reluctantly nodded. “And we’re mates now, right?”
He simply opened the top drawer of his dresser and grabbed a box; then he dropped to one knee before her. “Actually, I’d like us to be husband and wife and Hunter’s mother and father. Will you be my wife? Can I be Hunter’s Daddy?”
“You had to ask my while I’m just wearing a bra and panties?” She was smiling and he could feel joy in the blood tie so he smiled back.
“The opportunity presented itself. We’ll leave the bra and panties part out when we tell the grandkids.” They both laughed.
“You got me a ring that looks like wings.”
“I did. I knew it was meant for you as soon as I saw it.” His look was intense as he gazed up and noted, “You know, you didn’t answer me yet.”
“Yes Eric. I’ll marry you and you’re already Hunter’s Daddy in his head. Actually since I’m a mind reader I can tell you he’s been wishing for this.” She tugged on his arm and he stood and kissed her; then placed the ring on her finger.
His smile lit up his face before he again leaned down to kiss her passionately. When he was satisfied he’d made her lightheaded from his attention, he finally spoke. “You’ve made me very happy Sookie. As much as I want to celebrate with you, here in our bed; right now I want to go back to the hospital and tell Hunter – even if we have to wake him. Can we do that?”
His excitement was evident – and she was excited too but it was tempered by the guilt of what she’d done to them in the past week. “Sure. Can I put my clothes on first?”
He sighed and shook his head. “If you insist.”
She moved to get her clothes from where he placed them on the bed but she stopped. “Eric thanks for pushing me. I was being stubborn and selfish and hurting my two favorite boys while doing it.”
“I knew the house and job thing was going to be hard for you – I will admit I never expected the reaction I got though. Good Gods Woman, you have a hard head. People say I do, but you take the cake.”
“Hmm, then you might be glad you met me now. I’ve improved and softened with motherhood.”
“I can’t even imagine.”
Hunter was asleep when they got to the hospital but as he said earlier, Eric wanted to wake him up. The engagement was exciting and he wanted to share it but he also just plain missed him. The next day was a non-dialysis day so he could nap if needed. “Fidget. Oh Fidget. Can you wake up?” Eric was softly stroking his cheek and still in his sleep, Hunter used his hand to bat it away. They all giggled at him. Eric tried again, this time moving his shoulder. “Hunter. You need to wake up.”
He blinked a few times and his eyes finally opened. “Eric?”
“You can call me that for the moment.” Maxine gasped behind Eric having caught on.
“What does that mean?” His little hands were still rubbing his eyes to take away the sleepiness.
Eric looked to Sookie and she nodded. “It means I’m wondering if you’d like to call me Daddy?”
“A family? We’re going to be a family?” His little arms went up and waved like crazy for Eric to pick him up. After removing Hunter from the connections, he complied, of course.
“Really?” His head whipped from left to right looking between Mommy and Eric.
Laughing at his enthusiasm Sookie responded. “We are baby, we are.” She held up her hand. “Look. Eric and I are getting married.”
“That’s Daddy now and how come things didn’t seem good with you guys one minute and now you’re getting married?” Eric really liked that Hunter took to calling him Daddy right away.
Sookie fessed up – without the details. “Because Mommy finally realized she wasn’t thinking right and almost threw away the best thing in our lives Hunter.”
“Well good. Cause I really missed Er . . . Daddy.”
“I missed you too Fidget.” They did some extended hugging while Maxine asked to see Sookie’s ring. She ooh’d and aah’d over it of course.
“So when is the wedding?”
With a loud laugh Eric answered. “I only just asked her Fidget. Maybe 15 minutes ago, we didn’t get that far.”
“Ok. What are we doing now?”
“Now, I’m going to see your Gramma to her car then we’ll relax for a bit so you can go back to sleep.”
Maxine packed up quickly and took Eric’s arm. On the walk down to the car, Maxine gushed over the engagement. “I’m so happy for you. How did you ask, was it a romantic dinner?”
“Not exactly. Don’t you think Sookie should tell you?”
“She’ll tell Lala and Jessica. You can share it with me.”
“I didn’t plan it for today at all. I got the ring about two weeks back and was trying to figure out how I wanted to do it. Well, things have been hard the past week between us and honestly we had a fight and it ended with a proposal.”
“You bring a beaker of flowers for a date, you take her to a storage facility and you propose at the end of a fight. Good Lord I’ll have ta spend some time with you on honeymoon planning so you get it right. Itsa good thing we all love you anyway.”
He laughed at his ally and kissed her cheek as he helped her to the car. “Thank you Maxine. Have a good night.”
“You too Eric.”
When he arrived back in Hunter’s room they were waiting for him in bed, both sporting big smiles. “Did you save room for me?” That feeling in his chest was present again; confirming with the talk and engagement tonight that they were his family made him happier than he’s ever been.
Hoping Eric would read to him Hunter had selected a book while he was with Maxine; his Daddy agreed. They resettled on the bed after the story, Hunter in the middle, and the boy turned to Eric right away. “I’ve never had a Daddy.”
“I’ll be your only Daddy Hunter. I’ve been a Daddy before and I’m very excited to be a Daddy again.”
“So you’ll have to lead then, since you’ve done this before.” Sookie and Eric smirked over his head at his innocence and seriousness.
“Of course. Right now, for example, it’s time for you to relax and go to sleep.”
“But I’m too excited.”
“Which is why I’m going to help you.”
“One of my favorite things to do with my son Vali was have him sleep on my chest, so come here,” He held arms out and Hunter moved up onto his chest. “I’ll rub your back and sing, you will sleep.”
“You didn’t sing the last time I fell asleep on you.”
“You were watching a movie at the time.”
“I got a question first.”
“You’re stalling, but go on.”
“Will I have your name?”
He and Sookie glanced at each other and she nodded. “Yes, after Mommy and I marry. We’ll be talking about that soon.”
“And a middle name? I never got one.”
“What would you like?”
“Something about you, I don’t know what specifically – I trust you and Mommy – surprise me.”
“Thanks for your trust; I think I’ll let Mommy surprise both of us on that. It’s time for you to sleep though now.”
“Ok. Goodnight Mommy, Goodnight Daddy. Love you.”
“We love you too Hunter.” Eric answered for both of them – mostly because Sookie was getting misty over their interaction. Hearing him say Daddy got her each time he’d done it.
With Eric’s attentions, Hunter was out quickly and he shifted him a bit so he and Sookie could talk. “I was thinking we shouldn’t marry until after Hunter is adopted. Since Louisiana doesn’t recognize vampire and human marriages, it could actually be used against you.”
“I want us to bond too – the blood bond I mentioned before.”
“So we exchange blood for that?”
“Yes, three exchanges for a bond; we’ve had one exchange.”
“And it’s permanent?”
“Yes. I want to marry you out of respect for your human traditions and because I live in a human world. The bond and pledge are vampire traditions and unlike a marriage, there is no divorce.”
“What does it mean though?”
“We’ll feel each other’s emotions and location. We won’t be able to be apart physically for long.”
“Wait, if we can’t be apart then what happens when I die? I’m mortal.”
“I want you to join me as a vampire but I’ll respect your wishes whatever your decision. We don’t even need to discuss it now since our focus needs to be Hunter’s illness.”
“I’ve never considered that. Later is good. You didn’t answer my question though. What happens when or I guess if I die?”
“I will meet the sun.”
“I don’t like that. It makes me not want to bond.”
“Sookie, you are it for me. I want to marry you, bond with you, pledge to you. If you choose to live out your human life, I’ll be at your side until the end then go with you. That will happen whether you and I blood bond or not. I won’t live without you.”
“You really mean that, don’t you? Even without the bond?”
“We’ve only known each other. . . “
He stopped her. “I’ve lived 1000 years Sookie. I know without any doubt that what we have is real, and true and rare. Trust me, how we feel about each other doesn’t happen to people all the time.”
“I believe you, I do. We’ll bond and pledge. We’ll be together per both our traditions.” She was quiet for a few minutes. “We’ll need to travel to get married. I want to wait until Hunter is better – maybe the transplants done. Lord, I hope Ludwig finds something.”
“Yes, well since we didn’t talk that much earlier, she wants to meet again. As you know, I leave tomorrow for the quarterly sheriff’s meeting in New Orleans so you can meet with her alone or wait ‘til next Monday after I’m back.”
“I want to wait. I won’t be able to handle it if it’s bad news.”
“I understand.” He held her for a few minutes before bringing up ‘business’. “So you’re going to accept the house and the job, right?”
“And can my lawyer work with you on the adoption?”
“Yes.” She could see he was relieved and happy about her answer. “I really am sorry for what I put us through.” Pain ghosted on his face at her words. “I really hurt you didn’t I?”
He wanted to move beyond this week and quickly but he would not lie. “Yes. It was like you were running or hiding even though you were still right in front of me and the loss of time with Hunter was devastating.”
With a hand on his face she added, “It wasn’t my intention to hurt you or keep you and Hunter apart. I was overwhelmed, truly. I’m so sorry that I hurt you.”
“I know that. I didn’t help by just pushing the house and job on you.”
“I would’ve said no, so maybe it was the right way. Who knows? Just remind me if I do this again.”
“Oh, I will. And tell me to back off if I push.” She nodded at him. “So you’ll get a call from Desmond Cataliades or Donald for the legal parts. I don’t know if they do adoptions specifically but we can start with them.”
“I’m excited. I mean, I have hope for my baby’s illness and his adoption. Real hope. I haven’t felt that in a long time.”
“I can feel your excitement and I’m just the same. There is one thing I need you to start considering.”
“I feel an uh oh coming.”
With a head nod acknowledging her comment, he dove right in. “I’m thinking we need to leave the area for a while. Raise Hunter someplace where I’m not a vampire sheriff or a bar owner with a fangbanger following.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have a friend, the Vampire King of Pennsylvania; we can live there under his protection or hidden more likely until Hunter is older. I’m not saying to pack your bags. Hunter needs to be healed before we start planning anything. I just didn’t want to surprise you. Even if we stay, I’m stepping down.”
“Isn’t it more dangerous to have an unknown sheriff if we stay?”
“Oh, I’ll know the sheriff. Karin is returning to take over for me. I expect her in mid-March. My contract includes a provision for me to make such a substitution.”
“You’re really serious about all this, being a family?”
“I am. I want to be a stay at home dad. I had to leave my children far too often as a human father. It’s bad enough I have to die for the day. You can finish your education, get a job or stay at home with us. We can even have more children.”
“I’m still reeling from the proposal. Ease me into this stuff. We were only going steady for a little over two months and now we’re engaged. Surely we’ve broken a rule somewhere.”
“I don’t care about rules.”
“Good. I don’t care what others think about this.”
“You do care, but you’re not letting it rule your decisions anymore. Right?”
“Right.” She answered and yawned. “I think I need the same sleep treatment as Hunter. Will you rub my back and sing to me?”
“Of course my beautiful fiancée.”
“Gold Medal Wooer.”