“What’re you thinking?”
My thoughts exactly.
What in the hell had I been thinking?
After Eric and I had agreed we were definitely bonkers because yeah…we were getting married, he’d made the most illegal of U-turns to head back to Bon Temps to ask my dad for my hand in marriage, in some stupidly sweet gesture of traditionalism.
Like anything about us or my family was traditional.
Or so I thought.
I should’ve stopped him.
I should’ve whipped my top off and shoved my hand down his pants to distract him.
And if that hadn’t worked, I could’ve told him I’d been born a boy.
I had to go all swoony and shit, thinking it was sweet and considerate and a whole bunch of other adjectives to describe just how thoughtful it was that Eric wanted to get my dad’s blessing.
My dad – the very same man who’d taught me how to hotwire a car on the off-chance I ever needed that particular skill.
On the off-chance I ever found myself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
“My baby girl’s got both decks stacked,” he’d told me not long after my sixteenth birthday.
Dad-speak for I had both brains and boobs.
“You’ll be the first one them dead heads’ll go after. You need to know how to get outta Dodge when the time comes.”
But I thought my daddy was adorable – and still did – so I’d thought it was only more adorable when Daddy gave Eric his blessing, with a, “You look like you could take on a horde of walkers, so I know you’ll keep my baby safe.”
But Aunt Lin’s genetics notwithstanding, it was the Stackhouse women who were the brains of the family operation. So it was those very same opinionated brains that decided a quickie Vegas wedding was out of the question.
Which was why – instead of saying ‘I do’ in front of an Elvis impersonator, like I wanted – I was now sitting in my grandparents’ living room, drowning in a sea of bridal magazines, color swatches, and floral arrangement choices, when my mom repeated her question.
“What are you thinking?”
That I should’ve used my upper stacked deck and distracted Eric with the lower set, so we could be in Las Vegas right now?
But instead of saying that truth out loud – because it would only result in a cuff to the back of my head – I only sighed out, “About zombie apocalypses.”
“You remember how to hotwire a car, don’tcha baby?”
Letting my eyes flit up to him across the room, I couldn’t help but smile with my answer of, “Yes Daddy.”
Sighing again, I went back to flipping through a magazine, wondering if he hadn’t had his daddy-blinders on when he’d declared me smart. While I’d heard all of the ‘How I met your mother’ stories over the years – and mine and Eric’s fell within the normal range of them – I never once gave any thought to their actual weddings.
Every last one of them – Aunt Lin included – had had a traditional ceremony.
So while Daddy had pulled Eric aside to go over the blueprints he’d drawn up for his yet-to-be-built-zombie-proof bunker, after he’d given us the go-ahead to get hitched, Gran and Momma had gone all When Matriarchs Attack on me.
Instead of Munchausen’s, they were suffering from Bridezillas by Proxy.
And maybe I really had been born a boy because I didn’t care about the actual ceremony. It was the marriage I was looking forward to and would’ve happily said ‘I do’ in a courthouse, wearing whatever I had in my closet.
But at the same time, I didn’t want to ruin their fun.
Even if they’d already ruined mine, in more ways than one.
Because not only were we not getting married right away – Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are wedding cakes – Eric and I had ended up spending the night in Bon Temps, so we didn’t even get the chance to celebrate our engagement, with us popping each other’s corks.
And not in a good way.
When we’d all gone over to the main house for breakfast, as soon as the stack of bridal magazines hit the table, my knight in shining handcuffs looked like a horde of hungry walkers were after him and beat feet out the door, under the guise of going home to get us a change of clothes.
Which left me sitting there to explain all by myself how we’d moved in together a week earlier.
But my anger at his disappearance only stemmed from how much I hated that he’d thought of a reason to leave first.
Apparently, my upper deck wasn’t so stacked.
But at least now I knew I couldn’t count on Eric if a horde of hungry walkers were after us.
I was a miserable bitch by the time he returned, even if the sound of his car pulling up was like finding an untouched-zombie-free WalMart in the middle of an apocalypse. But my misery must not have worked its way down to my toes yet because it was my happy feet that carried me outside to greet him.
Grabbing a duffel bag from the backseat, he slung it over his shoulder and took one look at me, asking, “That bad?”
“Worse,” I whined. “After you left, Aunt Lin and Hadley showed up, with Hadley throwing her rotten apples into the bunch, trying to convince me to hire some wedding planner named Alice.”
If only my upper decked really was stacked, I would have thought to ask Eric to swing by the book store on his way back to get something new for her to read.
“Fictional vampires aside,” he smiled, taking a step closer and wrapping his arms around me. “What kind of wedding do you want?”
“Honestly?” I asked, with the corners of my mouth barely lifting into a smile. “I would’ve been happy going to Vegas, with an Elvis impersonator performing the ceremony.”
He just stared back at me for a moment, like he could hypnotize me with his gaze alone.
And when that didn’t work – because Sookie Stackhouse would be no one’s puppet – he kissed the top of my head and said, “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
Despite my heart doing a happy pitter patter in my chest, I still gaped up at him, with only the, “But…” falling through my lips.
“But nothing,” he declared in a way that made me want to blast his babies out of my coochie chute. “The wedding is for the bride. Not the bride’s family.”
And the wedding night was for the groom.
So if he was willing to be a martyr on this one, then I was more than willing to be the tag-team martyr when it was all said and done.
I would happily die by impaling myself on his sword.
“I think Jay and I should flank Linda when we get in line to go through the security checkpoint.”
Everyone was a little…pissy.
Everyone except Sookie, who was happily bouncing on the balls of her feet at getting out of what she’d called The Redneck Royal Wedding.
But they’d get over it.
I’d given them the choice. Come with us to Vegas to be there for the ceremony or stay home and see the pictures on Instagram.
They’d chosen to come along – with daggers shooting out of their eyes – but they’d made the choice on their own.
Linda, however, was staring at the TSA agents like she was about to get anally probed.
A quick look at her aunt’s paranoid face was all the explanation she needed to whisper agree, “Good call.” And then eying her, like a ski-mask-wearing perp strolling into a bank, she added, “Did anyone check her luggage for extras?”
“Jay did,” I nodded. “But neither one of us were willing to get a beat-down by frisking her.”
“Good call,” she repeated and smiled, “Can’t have you sporting a black eye in our wedding photos.”
“We could have used the filters before putting them on Instagram,” I grinned. “But I wouldn’t be able to fuck you blind when it’s over, if she kneed me in the balls.”
“I like how you think,” she leered in a way that was making Lucky try to reach for her. “We can get a seeing eye dog when we get back.”
“Quit talking,” I leered in return.
And then rubbing my lower half against her hip, I added, “Because now all I can picture is fucking you doggy-style and I don’t want Bubba over there to pat me down when he notices the bulge in my pants.”
“Want me to help you with that?” she asked, with the promise of her words shooting straight down my spine.
And if she didn’t stop soon – straight out of my dick.
But we could always filter the cum stain out of the pictures, right?
However, knowing we didn’t have the time or opportunity to take care of our needs the old-fashioned way, she did the only other thing that would help me out of my predicament.
By calling out, “Gran!”
I could only shake my head, with faked disappointment at her tactics, but neither one of us could hold in our smiles when we looked over at the family matriarch and heard her harrumph at Mitchell, “I’m tellin’ you, Bob will be fine in the cargo hold!”
“But he can’t breathe in there!” he argued back.
Walking away from him, she pshawed him with a wave of her hand and said, “He stopped breathing when your Buick ran him over.”
I tried – and failed – to hide my snort with a cough, but Adele didn’t seem to notice and when she reached us, it seemed she’d finally shed her hostility at not being able to bogart our wedding ceremony.
But Michelle was still trying to kill me with her stare alone.
And if she didn’t calm down soon, we might have to move up the timetable on making them towheaded grandkids to get out of the doghouse.
It would be too crowded in there if we were going to need a seeing eye dog.
But Sookie must have seen Adele’s turnaround attitude too because she leaned in without any fear of getting smacked and whispered, “Nobody checked Aunt Lin to see if she’s got any stowaways in her pockets.”
“That girl,” she sighed, with a shake of her head. “It’s my fault. We went to an Elvis Presley concert when I was pregnant with her and the smoke was so thick, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.”
And then turning a knowing smile towards us, she waggled her eyebrows and added, “But we were feeling good by the end of it.”
Sookie squeezed her eyes shut, likely praying Adele wouldn’t elaborate on just how good they ended up feeling when the night was over.
And it must have worked because Adele straightened her features and sweetly called out, “Linda, honey? Would you come over here?”
Jason and Hadley were having a heated debate – something about her being ‘divergent’, but it had to be kept a secret – while Linda gave the TSA agents one last glare before walking over to us.
Adele cupped her daughter’s face and smiled saying, “You look really pretty today in that red blouse.”
“Thanks Momma,” she smiled.
Adele smiled warmer in return and said, “Now, do you remember when Corbett and Jason made us watch all of those god awful Star Trek movies?”
I wondered what she was getting at – I couldn’t remember any alien ass probing in any of the movies, but I hadn’t been paying that much attention – until Linda nodded and Adele went on to say, “Do you remember what they were saying about the red shirts?”
Screwing her face up in concentration, I could only imagine what Linda had in her head that she was forced to sift through before the lightbulb appeared and she exclaimed, “Whenever they poofed themselves to another planet, the ones in the red shirts were always the ones that never made it back to the ship!”
“That’s right, baby girl,” she beamed.
But Adele’s face then morphed into something decidedly sinister when she held Linda’s face still by her chin and put her own face inches away to add, “Now, if you have any of your little mood enhancers in your pockets, you’re going to go to the bathroom over there and feed them to the Tidy Bowl Man. Then you’re going to come back here and get in that line.”
Turning Linda’s head by her chin to face the TSA agents, Adele went on to explain, “And when it’s your turn to go through the scanner, if that fella over there pulls you to the side? Well, you’re going to let him put his hands on you, like he bought you a nice steak dinner and took you dancing afterward. You’re not going to put up any fuss or else you, my dear, will be like the rest of the red shirts. Do you understand?”
I wasn’t ashamed to admit – in that moment – I was more than a little afraid of Adele.
And shocked she hadn’t killed me with her cast iron skillet the moment I put my foot down in her living room and called off her plans for a Redneck Royal Wedding.
“Yes Momma,” Linda grudgingly agreed.
Before she slunk off towards the restrooms, like she was a Russion spy trying to lose a CIA tail.
We all just stared after her, when Adele finally turned to us and smiled, “At least the concert was great!”
Sookie and I chuckled at her bright side, but that all came to a screeching halt, with Sookie’s chuckle turning into a choked cough when Adele asked, “You’re family is coming to the ceremony too, aren’t they?”
My father had been a career military man and they ended up staying near Las Vegas when he retired out of Nellis AFB, so it was a no brainer that they would be there.
Once I called them and told them I was getting married.
Even though I hadn’t spoken to them in a couple of weeks, so they had no idea who or what a Sookie was.
“Sure,” I agreed, hoping I wasn’t inadvertently lying to my soon-to-be Grandmother-in-law.
But I was obviously a bad son to not even think about calling them with the news, much less an invitation.
I really hoped we had daughters…
I’d have to stock up on ammunition, but I hoped we had them nonetheless.
But everything had happened at warp speed, from me meeting Sookie to us waiting in line at the airport on our way to Vegas to get married.
Looking down, I was glad to see I wasn’t wearing a red shirt and wandered away from the group to call my parents.
Sookie’s deer-in-the-headlights look wasn’t helping any, so I stared at my feet while the phone rang and tried to sound like I was a grown man – instead of a scared little boy about to admit I broke the neighbor’s window with a baseball – and said, “Hi mom!”
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
She’d always had an innate ability to know when something was wrong. When I was lying or trying to hide something.
If we had daughters, I hoped that was a genetic trait.
It wasn’t even a lie.
Marrying Sookie didn’t feel anything but right or else I wouldn’t be doing it.
So I focused on that, hoping my conviction would come out through my voice when I said, “I’m getting married!”
“When is she due?” she asked, sounding both excited and horrified at the same time.
“She’s not pregnant,” I grimaced, even though technically she could be.
After all, birth control wasn’t 100% effective.
“Eric,” she said in a tone that made me feel ten years old again. “Is this some sort of revenge is best served cold pay back for when I told you you’d get hairy palms from disappearing into the bathroom so often with my Cosmo magazines and you ended up getting a rash on your hands from slathering them in Nair? Because if it is, kudos!”
And I really hoped she would keep that story to herself.
Because Jay would be telling it at every opportunity.
“Then who is this girl I didn’t even know you were seeing that you’re now marrying?”
Thankfully, a two week history made for a relatively short story and by the time I was through, I ended with, “Listen. We’re about to go through the security checkpoint, but I’ll call you when we get to Vegas and let you know where we’ll be.”
I glanced up a Sookie, forcing myself to look confident – even if I didn’t feel confident – and lowered my voice, asking, “You’ll be there, right?”
The way she’d said my name that time made me feel like a child again too. Only instead of feeling like I was in trouble, she’d said it using a tone that always made me feel safe and loved, in the way only a mother could.
“Of course we’ll be there,” she replied. “And Pam’s here visiting, so she can come too.”
“You’re not…”I began, but faltered from there, not sure which word I was looking for.
Mad? Disappointed? Upset?
“I am,” she said, with amusement in her voice.
But before I could question what she meant, she explained, “I’m honestly surprised you’re not marrying Jason Stackhouse and I’m a little pissed at you for it. Now I owe your father ten bucks.”
“Thanks Mom,” I sighed out.
Both in relief and disgust.
Like my best friend and my soon-to-be-wife, they were closely related.
“Anything for you, baby,” she chirped. “You know I would love you no matter what, so if you’re really bringing Jason here in drag, you can forego the theatrics.”
“Okay,” I sighed again, only this time in exasperation. “Now I really have to go before you scar me for life. I’ll call you when we figure out what we’re doing.”
By the time I made my way back over to Sookie, she looked like she was about to crawl out of her own skin, so I asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I haven’t even met your parents and the first time I’m going to see them will be at our wedding?” she rambled out in a single rush of breath. “What if they don’t like me? What if they think I’m not good enough for you? What if Aunt Lin goes on one of her paranoid rants or Gran and Pop talk about beavers that may or may not be named Bob?”
Putting my hands on her shoulder, trying to force some sort of calm from my body into hers, I waited for her to still before saying, “My parents will love you. You’ve already made my dad ten bucks richer.”
And my explanation for why he was ten bucks richer made her relax – and snort – before she asked, “So…are you sure you’re marrying the right Stackhouse?”
Looking down at her, I could barely remember what my life was like before she’d bulldozed her way into it. I loved her more than I ever imagined was even possible.
I was sure of it.
So I let her know by answering, “I’ve never been more sure about anything.”
And that was the God’s honest truth.