Chapter 25 – Going to the Chapel
What do we need to prepare Mags?:
Not too bad on tissues – some of you are taken in by overly happy moments.
Frying pan – you’ll see who’s back.
“Is Gramma coming?”
“And they’ll be married but still having another wedding later?”
“February or as soon as Johanna is ready to leave the hospital.” Hunter was in his bed but sitting up and peaking into the bathroom as Sookie was getting ready to leave. She and Eric were both attending Hoyt and Jessica’s civil wedding ceremony. Hoyt had taken Eric’s suggestion to heart and wanted to do anything he could to expedite Johanna’s adoption.
“So it’ll just be you and Eric and Gramma as witnesses tonight.”
“Yes baby. So many questions.”
“I want to be there when you and Daddy get married. Are you gonna go and get married some night like this? I know I’m not ‘spose to but I do read you every once in a while and you never think about the wedding like Jessica does.”
“Oh baby, no. Eric and I have to do the opposite for your adoption. We need to not be married because there has never been a vampire that tried to adopt and we don’t know what will happen if we do. Eric and I will be married after you’re legally my son.”
“So will I be a Stackhouse and you’ll be a Northman? I thought I was going to be a Northman.” This obviously upset him – she could see it plainly on his face there was no need to read his thoughts.
She assured him right away. “No, we’ll both change our names when I marry Daddy. We talked about this.”
“Ok then I’ll wait just so long as you promise I won’t miss it.”
“Miss what?” His father’s voice called from the doorway.
“Daddy!” Hunter squealed out and put his arms up. With the bar schedule, Eric hadn’t seen Hunter awake for days. Eric could hear the nurses making ‘aws’ from their desk while he walked in the room. “I don’t want to miss your wedding to Mommy.”
He picked up the boy and asked him with a confused look on his face, “You won’t. Why do you think you will?”
“Cause Hoyt and Jessica are getting married tonight without Johanna.”
“Ah, well Mommy explained, right?” Hunter nodded. “Where are they?”
“Having a special dinner with Johanna in the playroom before they leave.”
“And Mommy’s still getting ready?” Sookie had shut the door to the bathroom as soon as she heard Eric so she could be completely ready and make an entrance: She was wearing a special dress.
“You know how women are.”
Eric laughed at his boy. “Where did you hear that?”
“Jeremy at dialysis was talking about always having to wait for his girlfriend.”
“Mommy doesn’t make me wait.” He nodded towards the bathroom. “See, here she is now. Good evening min Röðull.” He almost choked when he saw all of her. “That’s gorgeous on you. Do we have to go to the wedding?” Sookie was wearing a black and cream lace 1920’s vintage style dress. It was the one Eric had purchased for a date and Sookie hadn’t worn it.
She giggled at him while leaning in for a kiss. “Hi Sweetie.” I’m sorry I didn’t wear it before and yes we are the witnesses, we MUST go. I want to go.”
“I know. I want to go too. I was just toying with you.” He checked the time. “Mustapha and Theresa should be here momentarily. Are we just meeting Maxine at the restaurant?”
“Yes the limo is taking her right there.”
They heard some giggling as Hoyt returned with Johanna. Sookie took that as her cue to go get Jessica ready so she walked to meet her in the nurses’ lounge which they were using as Jess’ dressing room. The bride had selected a light green strapless dress for the ceremony tonight. It had a sweetheart neckline with pleated bodice, a sparkling pin adorning the waist and a flowing skirt that came to her knees. Sookie surprised her with a pretty lace strapless bra and panty set to match and for the wedding night she’d found her a lovely white nightgown. Jessica cried of course. Sookie had become a sister to her and she was pleased to have her sharing her special day; Sookie was just as happy about it. While Sookie hadn’t done much planning for her own wedding, Eric and she had already decided that Jessica and Hoyt would stand with them as well – whenever they got around to it.
To maintain some small bit of tradition, Sookie would drive Jessica to the wedding and Eric was driving Hoyt so he would be waiting for his bride. Since Hoyt was already in his suit, he and Eric left for the restaurant and greeted the judge while the women got ready. When Hoyt approached Eric about getting married and asked him to be his best man, he accepted of course, and offered M&S which he closed for the event. He also asked his friend, Judge Charles Harkem, to conduct the ceremony so there would be no issues with an after dark start time.
Jessica stopped back to show Johanna her dress before they left and her baby presented her with a gift for the wedding. Sookie couldn’t resist so she peaked into Johanna’s head and heard that Eric had purchased her peridot and diamond filigree earrings so she could give her mother a wedding present. Sookie had to tell the bride to breathe through the need to cry so she wouldn’t ruin her make-up. “Baby girl, I love these. Did you pick them out?”
“Yep, Unca Eric helped me – we wooked onwine one night when you guys weren’t heaw.”
“Well, they’re perfect. I’ll cherish them always. AND, this means that you will be with me tonight.”
“You coming back Mommy?”
Jessica’s words caught in her throat – just like they did each time Johanna called her Mommy. “You bet.”
“Love you baby. We’ll be back soon.
Jessica and Sookie arrived at M&S shortly after and Maxine greeted them at the door. Jess’ parents had died many years ago so Hoyt, Maxine and Sookie were her only family. In Maxine’s hands was a beautiful bouquet she’d had made for Jessica. It was pink Sophie Roses, Candy Bianca Roses, cream Hydrangea and pink Astilbe and it coordinated with her light green dress beautifully. Maxine cried when Jessica took off her coat and grabbed the bouquet. “I cain’t believe ma baby’s getting married. I’m so happy Jessica.”
“I am too Mama Fortenberry.”
“That’s just Mama now.”
“Mama then.” Sookie couldn’t resist a peak and what she heard brought tears to her eyes. Maxine felt like Jessica was truly her daughter and she couldn’t be happier. Jessica was keeping her own emotions in check since she’d lost her own parents and Maxine had stepped up to fill that role – just like she had with Sookie.
Recognizing ‘just about to cry’ looks on both women’s faces, Maxine decided to get them moving – mostly so Hoyt could see Jessica before her crying ruined her make-up. “Well, let’s get you in there. Ma baby looks quite dapper in his suit. Of course Sookie your man is a sight too. Heck, that judge is quite handsome as well.”
Sookie just laughed at Maxine’s good mood as she guided her into the restaurant to the dance floor for the wedding.
The ceremony was brief and they stayed for a wedding cake that Eric ordered for the event. While they ate, they chatted about the loose plans Hoyt and Jessica had made for their public ceremony. They would be married, or rather re-married, at their church in Bon Temps and just have a simple party at Merlotte’s after. “Course we’re only doing that after our baby is ready to join us for the wedding.”
“Of course Jessica.” Hoyt smiled back. “Any day we should hear about the adoption.”
Eric chimed in. “Sookie told me the home visit went well.”
“As did yours, rather Sookie’s.”
Sookie smiled brightly and Eric leaned in for a kiss. He could feel her enthusiasm as the reality of Hunter’s adoption got closer every day. For tonight though, the focus was on the newly married couple so he left his happiness about Hunter to the simple kiss.
“Theresa texted me that Johanna and Hunter are both still up. Shall we go end our celebration with the kids?” Sookie noticed that Eric had that ‘up to something’ look on his face, but she chose to ignore it. It was likely a surprise for the newly married couple.
“That sounds good Eric. Since I came right here, I didn’t get to see my grandbabies.”
“Charles, would you like to join us and meet the kids?”
“Certainly. I’ll see you there.”
They all made their way back to the kid’s room at the Parish hospital. After the judge arrived and introductions were made, Eric nodded to him. “Well Mr. and Mrs. Fortenberry I have good news for you.”
Hoyt looked up from Johanna’s bed where he was sitting with her in his lap. “What’s that?”
“I have your adoption papers right here.” He held up a document. “It’s official. You’re sitting with Miss Johanna Maxine Fortenberry.”
Hoyt was speechless. Jessica just started balling out loud and Maxine, well she hugged Eric since he was closest. “You knew, didn’t you?”
“Not until I rose tonight. We were hoping Charles would get the paperwork in time to finalize it with the wedding. We’re keeping this from most of Social Services for the moment. We don’t want them getting nervous for any reason before we have Hunter’s adoption complete and can have the appropriate parties arrested.”
The Judge added. “It was close; I only received everything this morning and that was from bypassing everyone but the head of social services. Seems someone in that unit held things up for a few days.”
Sookie scowled. “Sabrina?”
“Yes Sabrina. I understand she has your application for Hunter now. I’ll see what I can do to expedite it.” He looked to Eric. “Then we move, right?”
“As soon as the ink is dry on Hunter’s adoption, the DA and Chief Stanton are making their move. We don’t want to risk any foster parent issues before Hunter is Sookie’s, legally.”
“I understand. That’s why we expedited everything.”
Maxine steered the conversation back to the name. “AND Hoyt and Jessica – you kept her middle name a secret – I am so thrilled!”
“I thought you’d like that Mama.” He put his arm around his wife. “Actually it was Jess’ idea.”
“I knew I loved you for a reason Jess.”
The conversation was cut off by a request from Mustapha to Eric. “Can I speak to you for a moment?” Mustapha had approached the Judge and Eric after he received a very important text.
“Sure. Let’s step outside.” They left the commotion of the room, since the nurses and other families were stopping in to congratulate Hoyt, Jessica and Johanna on the wedding and adoption. Eric led the PI to the waiting room at the end of the hall. “What’s going on??”
“Jason just pulled into the hospital.”
“I’m not surprised but that boy is stupid. That he would really come here on the day he was released? Idiot.”
“Should I have Tony stop him?”
“No. It’s time he saw he has no chance to hurt her. I just hope he doesn’t do something stupid and I have to react.”
“Yes, please don’t test the limits of your friendship with Judge Harkem.”
They walked back quickly and Eric got everyone’s attention. “Everyone, I need to warn you that Jason is at the hospital.”
Mustapha added. “He’s on his way up now.”
With Hunter already in her arms, Sookie moved to Eric’s side immediately. “You’ve had him followed?”
“He’s too unstable Sookie. This is actually a good opportunity for us to show him that his efforts to hurt you are futile.”
“This is the brother that was just released from prison today?”
“Yes Charles. I’m sorry you’re here for family drama. Maybe you can cut out. . . “
He put his hands up. “I’ve read up on him Eric. I think perhaps knowing a Judge is in your fiancée’s corner is a good thing.” He looked to Sookie. “If that’s alright with you Sookie.”
“More than alright.”
The group was quiet as they waited. It took a few minutes from the last text Mustapha had from Tony until the elevator dinged on the floor and Nancy nodded her head into the room confirming it was Jason. She moved away from the area however. Things were already going to be tense and Theresa was with the kids if they needed anything from a nurse.
“What in the hell is going on here?” Jason sneered when he stepped into the doorway.
“Don’t hello me bitch. Explain why it seems like your partying it up when you should be out working to pay off your debt.” He scanned the room and saw Eric holding onto Sookie. “I see the rumors are true. Guess you are whoring yourself out these days. Fucking Fangbanger.”
She could feel Eric tense at her words but she squeezed the arm where she could reach him and responded instead. “JASON STACKHOUSE! You watch your language around the kids.”
She really wanted to explain to Jason why he was the way he was and why Hadley was an addict. She hoped that perhaps there was a way to cure them both. But she and Eric spoke and given Jason’s current state, knowing where his anger came from wouldn’t stop it so they agreed telling him was too much of a risk. For now, she had to hope that when Jason realized he wasn’t going to ever be close enough to hurt her, that he’d just leave her and Hunter alone. “I’ll use whatever fucking language I want.”
“Please leave or I’ll call security.”
“You aren’t gonna have your fanger boyfriend take care of me?”
“Yeah, show him your fangs Daddy.” Hunter yelled out.
Eric had to fight to hold in the laughter at Hunter’s statement. Instead he let Sookie continue on. “Jason, IF you ever touch me again I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to stop Eric, MY FIANCE, from coming after you. For now though, you just need to leave and pretend I don’t exist. I think it’s better that way.”
Jason’s eyes narrowed and his fists clenched. “You threatening me?”
“No she wasn’t.” Judge Harkem answered for Sookie. “It’s only a threat to you IF you touch her. So just don’t and we won’t have a problem.”
“And who the fuck are you?”
“Judge Harkem, First Judicial District. Happy to witness your meeting with your sister.
Like shaking the cobwebs out of his brain, Jason’s head moved from side to side for a moment. “Did I hear fiancé and Daddy?”
Finally Eric spoke. “Yes, that’s me. Sookie’s fiancé and Hunter’s father. I suggest you do as your sister just said. Turn around, leave and forget you have a sister. She doesn’t need a brother like you in her life.”
Jason tried to stare down Eric for a moment but a human can’t win that contest against a vampire. Instead, he turned his anger on Hoyt. “So she’s got you sucked into her mess of a life I see. You can forget about being my friend.”
“Jason, I haven’t been your friend for years. We used to work together on the road crew. That’s all you are to me: A former co-worker.”
“Former? Nope, I checked. I can get my job back starting Wednesday.”
“Well good for you but I don’t work for the road crew anymore.” He shifted Johanna into Jessica’s arms and stood. “I think while you’re forgetting about Sookie, you can forget about me too. I don’t’ want anything to do with you Jason. Haven’t for years like I’ve been telling you. Maybe this time you’ll listen.”
“You’re pathetic. Have been since High School.”
Jason looked around the room again and Eric recognized the look. He was plotting or planning something; he decided to share some additional information. “Jason, you should know. Sookie now has guards 24X7. You won’t get her or Hunter alone. Efforts to try and hurt her would be pointless and foolish.”
“She ain’t worth it anyway. I got me some big plans now. I’m gonna join up with the Fellowship of the Sun with ma buddy Rene.”
“Well, you enjoy that Jason. Have a good life.”
Security actually did show up at the door, compliments of Nancy and they started to escort him out. Eric joined them and Jason became smug. “I knew you’d try ta come after me.”
He stood tall over Jason but did not touch him (and that was difficult). “I want nothing more than to erase you from existence Jason, but while your sister doesn’t want you in her life, she also doesn’t want you dead. You even TRY anything again and I will choose your sister’s wrath over your life.”
Eric had an additional task to complete with Jason. “One more thing Jason.” Once he had him in his stare, he glamoured him to not recall or speak of Sookie’s mind reading talent. He also glamoured the two security guards to forget they saw glamour or heard a thing.
When he returned to the room, Mustapha and Theresa were heading out and Sookie was convincing the newlyweds to head to their fancy Hotel Suite for their mini-honeymoon in Shreveport. They were staying two nights at the local Hilton compliments of Eric. He offered for them to stay longer or use one of his other hotels, but as a teacher it was hard for Jessica to get the two days off that she did. “We’ll go Sookie, lemme just get my girl in bed. Mama, call for your limo, we’ll walk you out in a few minutes.”
“I canceled the limo Hoyt. Charles offered to see me home.”
The room was speechless until Eric finally said. “Charles, you’ve got to be careful of that one. She’s feistier than she looks.”
He looked back at his ally with an innocent look on his face. “Yes Maxine?”
“Don’t give away any of my secrets.”
“Oh, I’ll let Charles get to know you all on his own. You two have a good night.”
Charles offered his arm to Maxine and they walked out together. Jessica was helping Johanna get to sleep since Hoyt was in a bit of a daze. He finally turned to Eric and said. “What in the hell was that?”
“Charles is a widower; he’s been alone for many years. Your mother can be very easy to talk to. Just let them enjoy some friendship.”
“I’ll kill him if he hurts her.”
“You’ll have to get in line. I’ll make a friendly call to Charles tomorrow night. Don’t worry Hoyt.”
Eric patted him on the back. “Go have a honeymoon. You won’t get one when you have your public wedding, you’ll have Johanna home by then.”
“You got that right. Thanks for all your help. I can never repay. . . “
Putting his hands up, Eric interrupted him. “You’ve taken care of Sookie for years, this is kindness in return.”
“Well I still thank you.”
Jessica hugged Eric and Sookie and they headed out. Sookie moved to Hunter’s bed. “Well, baby, it’s time for you to go to sleep like your little buddy Johanna.”
“I’m too excited. We could be just days away from the adoption Mommy.”
“I know baby I know, but that doesn’t mean you can stay up late. You need to go to sleep.”
“I don’t wanna.”
Eric stepped in. “Hunter. We’re all excited. I know it might be hard to calm down; would you like help?” Sookie smirked. Eric wanted to have Hunter sleep on him as much as Hunter wanted to do it. Eric had complained a few times in the past week about missing this time with his boy.
“Yes Daddy.” Eric removed his suit jacket, tie and shoes and got into bed. Hunter immediately snuggled into his chest for his backrub.
After watching them together for a moment, Sookie grabbed her night clothes to head to the bathroom and whispered to him, “I’m getting ready for bed; I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
“Wait?” Eric requested – also in a whisper.
“Yeah Mommy, Daddy probably wants to shower with you.” Hunter was too sleepy to know he’d just given away what he knew; he hadn’t even opened his eyes. Eric had a hard time not laughing at Sookie’s face. It reminded him of the first night they met and Hunter had told him about the magazine she kept of him. He simply nodded to her that Hunter was right and kept rubbing his back.
It didn’t take long before Hunter was out but Eric remained in position to get more Hunter time. Sookie waited patiently for him; she had no concerns sharing Eric with Hunter. In fact, sharing Eric’s attentions with Hunter pleased her and she knew it was a huge factor in falling in love with him. She was holding one of her fiancé’s hands as she sat and watched him rub Hunter’s back and softly kiss his head every so often. His actions caused a pang in Sookie’s chest and he looked up and just smiled at her adoring look. “Just one more minute.”
“Take your time. You seem at peace.”
He needed it after the ordeal with Pam the night before. Sookie got lost in thought remembering how long it took for Eric to recover after delivering Pam’s punishment.
From Fangtasia she drove him to their new house; immediately led him to their chamber and suggested a bath. He agreed so she left him on the bed and started to fill the tub. “Do you want me to let you soak, bathe you or join you?”
“Can you join me AND bathe me?” He didn’t need to say more; he needed her to take care of him. He’d been the master with Pam and in control as he needed to be; now he was done and with Sookie he could let go. Exposing his need and vulnerability to Sookie was a show of his trust and love. It was something that she did not take lightly and was honored and proud to be the one to help him now when he needed it.
“Of course.” She removed her clothes, tied her hair up and started undressing him. The tub had filled while they were in the bedroom so she guided him in first, then sat behind him as he’d moved up to make room for her there. The bath had been supplied with sponges and soaps so she got to work on his back. She noticed he flinched very slightly so she pulled her hand away and leaned around him to speak. “What’s wrong Sweetie? You don’t get back aches.”
“Well, I’m not going to do something that caused a reaction like that.” He stayed silent so she added, “You’re keeping something from me.”
“How do you know these things?”
“I’m an expert at knowing when the words don’t match the thoughts Eric. I don’t know your thoughts but your face is giving you away. You can tell me you don’t want to talk about it, but I won’t hurt you by touching you.”
He sighed but answered her. “It’s like a ghost pain. I really am not hurt.”
“Gho . . .” It dawned on her. “You have your bond with Pam open and her punishment was to her back.”
“Are you taking the pain from her or just sharing it?”
Sookie stayed silent while she waited for the answer. “Why do you have to be so clever? I’m taking it from her. Just for a short time tonight.”
“Then I’m not touching your back on top of it.”
“Sookie.” It was one word, but his frustrated tone spoke volumes.
“Eric, I’m not judging you – you handle your child as you see fit. I’m just not adding to your pain.”
He could feel the truth of her words and knew she wasn’t judging him; she was simply concerned. Though she didn’t judge him he looked at the situation from her perspective and realized he was wrong. Pam would never learn and punishment would only get worse if she continued to misbehave. With that, he released his hold on the pain from Pam. He felt a bolt of shock with the pain as Pam took it on but he did not waiver. Even though he was no longer taking the pain, he still felt for lack of a better word – sore but he didn’t want to end together time so he offered an alternative. “Let’s change places and I can hold you while we soak.” When she was resting on his chest he told her. “I gave the pain back to her now – it’s the right thing to do.”
“I know that was hard for you Sweetie.”
“The whole night was hard Sookie. While the bar was open I could feel her fear. Later when the cleaning crew was working, the fear turned to panic. I felt all of it then still needed to be the one to hurt her – to deliver the exact thing she feared the whole night. The worse was when I went to collect her and told her she could talk – she begged me not to hurt her.”
Sookie gasped at the selfishness of that request. “That’s so . . . oh Eric how could she do that to you? After everyone was gathered. You would appear so weak in front of your Area. So unfair.”
“So Pam. Obviously, I ignored her and even commanded her not to cry or speak.” He sighed before continuing. “Knowing that this one correction will likely not be enough is weighing heavily on me. When she’s out, there will be punishment for even the slightest infraction. I hate it but would rather do that than kill her.”
“I know Eric, I know. I’ll support you in any way you need it.”
“Thank you. You and Hunter are the only reason I can go on tonight.”
Sookie recalled that they stayed in the tub (re warming the water) until she was pruned and it was close to dawn. He was simply quiet and stroked everywhere his hands could reach on her body. He especially liked rubbing his fingers in and out of her folds – and Sookie came several times from his actions but he resisted any time she tried to reciprocate. With his ability to stay up after sunrise, they still had time to make love after they got out of the tub and like the night Pam had tried to hurt her, Sookie took control for Eric. At that time, Eric told her he knew it would take a while for him to get over the Pam situation, but with Sookie he also knew he would.
“You ready to shower?” Sookie actually jumped at hearing his words bringer her back into real time. He chuckled at her reaction. “It looked like you were lost in thought.”
“I was. Yes, let’s shower.”
She got the spray to temperature and stepped in with Eric close behind her. “Ludwig is meeting us tomorrow at Claude’s bar to hear what he’s learned.”
“Good. I hope he was able to find someone.”
“Me as well min Röðull. Are we washing your hair tonight?”
“Yes please. Or wait . . . ess pweese.” He chuckled at her imitation of Johanna. “Hunter really never talked like that. With telepathy, he spoke early and very clearly.” He wet her hair and started shampooing. She enjoyed the feel of his hands in her hair as she always did. “I’m certain it’s wrong of me to say – but I think hearing Johanna talk is too cute. I almost wish Hunter had gone through that phase.”
“Then we’ll have another child because that is too adorable to miss.” He turned her to dip her sudsy head under the shower and noticed she wasn’t smiling – he also felt a bit of pain through their blood tie. “What did I say?”
“You know I can’t have my own child now that we’ve learned about how fairy hybrids without the spark can turn out.”
“But you have the spark, isn’t the risk reduced?”
“It’s not zero risk though, I can’t raise a Jason or a Hadley – well I would if I did get pregnant without knowing – but knowing is what’s telling me to never have my own child.”
“We can adopt more.”
“I don’t want to wait to marry so I can adopt. Hunter is likely it for us.”
“Sookie.” He got her attention and she opened her eyes. “If you didn’t have the obstacles, would you want more children?”
She couldn’t lie – he’d know it. “Yes.”
“Then we’ll find a way. We can get an egg AND sperm donor or adopt. I’ll make this happen.”
The shower covered the physical evidence but he knew she started tearing up from the way she felt. “Ok, cause I really want to see you with a little girl.”
“I want that too.”
“I really really want to see you when your little girl goes out for her first date.”
“Sookie, Sookie, Sookie.” He shook his head. “That’s why convents were invented. No daughter of mine will ever date.”
Chapter tidbits have been updated for this chapter.