I let my eyes close as soon as we turned to get onto the freeway to head back to San Diego now that I’d fulfilled my promise, or rather Pam’s promise, for me to give the station their exclusive interview on the events the day Sookie had been kidnapped a month earlier. It had been hard to talk about and I did my best to try and remain detached, reciting the events as though they’d played out in a movie and hadn’t happened to the two people I loved more than life itself, but I managed to get through it only because I was so grateful for their help that day knowing if I hadn’t gotten the ride on their helicopter, I never would’ve made it in time to see Sookie before she’d been wheeled into surgery.
So much had happened in that short amount of time that it was hard to remember what life was like before Lilly had been born. Sookie and I’d had no choice but to quickly assimilate and we now knew more about preemies along with the necessary medical jargon than we could have imagined possible, but seeing her grow stronger every day made it all worthwhile however, for me at least, the biggest change of all had been Sookie herself.
I hadn’t been kidding when I’d warned her that day about my protective instincts rearing its head, but surprisingly enough, she hadn’t been kidding when she’d agreed to accept it. By the very next day I’d hired her new bodyguard from the reputable Flood Agency and instead of getting angry – like a part of me had expected – as soon as she’d met Rasul, she shook his hand welcoming him into our fold, and then looked back at me asking where was mine. I almost balked at the suggestion I needed my own bodyguard and even though we knew of no other threats to either one of us now that Debbie Pelt was locked up, I figured it couldn’t hurt which was why I could rest on the drive back to San Diego now that Mustafa Khan was in the driver’s seat. Neither him nor Rasul were overtly huge, with their bodies leaning towards the lean edge of the spectrum, but their resumes were impressive with each of them having served in the military and I got the feeling it was one of those situations where if they’d told me all that they’d done they would have to kill me.
I was curious, but not THAT curious.
They also didn’t hold back in ganging up on us and giving us both a very professional ass chewing once they learned of everything that had led up to that fateful day, not only for ignoring our own instincts with both Compton and Pelt, but for ignoring Bubba’s warnings as well and considering how everything had played out, we couldn’t really argue with them. He seemed to instinctually know neither one of them could be trusted and once I got him back from Terry and Sam, who had been taking care of him in the first few days after Lilly was born, Rasul and Mustafa had begun taking turns working with him some more, with both of them having worked with canines while they were in the military. Both were impressed by his natural abilities and Bubba just seemed to be happy he had two new friends, even if his snoring coming from the backseat at that moment didn’t show it.
Once Sookie had officially been discharged from the hospital, a little over a week after she’d been admitted, and Lilly hadn’t had any major setbacks, Gran and Jason had both gone home to Louisiana two weeks after their arrival, but there was still a steady stream of support at the hospital most days from our friends coming to visit and my father chose to stay in San Diego for the time being. The only times he drove back to L.A. were to attend his AA meetings. I’d never been more grateful to have him back in my life and his love for his granddaughter nearly surpassed our own. ‘Completely smitten’ was what Sookie had said when she’d seen the two of them together and she was right, but it wasn’t something I’d ever expected to see from him. Hell, nothing of my life now was anything I had ever expected to have – much less thought I would’ve wanted, but I wouldn’t trade any of it now. I shuddered to imagine what my life would have been like had I never met Sookie – with my potential future guest appearances offering commentary on assorted World’s Dumbest videos coming to mind – and could only be grateful that she’d saved me.
Even though the movie was on hold for now, the sitcom I technically still currently starred in and its future was in the forefront. The producers had been gently pressuring Pam for an answer on whether or not I’d be back for the upcoming season and we’d had a business lunch with them earlier that afternoon while I was in L.A. where they’d even gone so far as to offer to make concessions for the movie’s filming schedule while bumping up my salary – thanks to my skyrocketing popularity which they wanted to capitalize on, but I was still undecided. We didn’t really need the money, especially if I could get a decent movie role once a year, but I wanted to talk to Sookie about it all before I made any decisions. After everything we’d been through, the thought of moving to Bon Temps for the majority of the year was sounding better and better, but there hadn’t been any time for us to discuss any of it yet. I also had to consider the rest of the cast and crew. While shows got canceled all of the time with little or no notice, I knew there were a lot of other people counting on the show coming back for another season. Part of me felt selfish for wanting to bail on them, but a larger part of me wanted to spend time with my family. And Sookie hadn’t even said whether or not she wanted to go back to work at some point and while I didn’t think she’d want to go back anytime soon, it was still a concern. I’d been too chicken shit to ask her knowing if I didn’t like her answer it would lead to a fight and neither one of us was in the right mindset for that to happen. We were both still too raw over everything and all of our time and energy went into making sure Lilly was doing okay.
Thankfully she hadn’t had any setbacks and every Sunday following her birth, Sookie would take a new picture of her with my hand alongside her tiny body – a replica of her first photo – to gauge her growth. It made us feel better actually seeing her progress when we would compare the most recent with the first since we spent so much time with her it was hard to tell with just our eyes, no matter what her weight on her chart said. She was growing, arguably looking more and more like her mother every day, and we’d been on ‘Big Blue Watch’ waiting for her eyes to open, but she was stubborn – also like her mother – and hadn’t given us a peek yet, which was ironic considering her little pink blindfold had “No Peeking!” on the front. She still needed help breathing, but we’d been assured her lungs were developing normally and we’d been told once she could breathe on her own and she gained a little more weight, we would finally be able to hold her. In the meantime all we could do was hold our breath and pray like mad that our luck would hold out and we could take her home in a couple of months.
If my father could be described as ‘completely smitten’ with Lilly, then I was that times a thousand. I loved her more than I thought possible and I could easily spend hours just gazing at her memorizing every little detail, counting every breath she took and cataloging every twitch she made. She slept a lot, but seemed to recognize our voices – especially Sookie’s – by turning her head a little towards the sound whenever we talked to her when she was awake and her coloring was getting better now that she was starting to get bigger. It felt like she’d been there forever and yet time seemed to have flown by at the same time, but I was anxious to get her healthy and home. I wanted the midnight feedings and bleary-eyed days – the giggles and tantrums signaling her toddler years had commenced – because it would mean she was out of the woods and it couldn’t happen soon enough.
Once she was stable enough we’d discussed the possibility of having her transferred to Cedars, so we’d be closer to home, but it only took all of five seconds before it became clear that neither one of us wanted to do it. The staff in the NICU knew her – knew us – and had become like an extended family of sorts. The hospital had their own security measures in place to guard all of the newborns, but we had our own temporary team that kept watch outside of the NICU twenty-four hours a day. After everything that had happened, we were both being as careful as possible, but the staff understood our need to have our own measures in place if only for our own peace of mind. The nurses were extra protective of Lilly too knowing the press was clamoring to get a picture of her and while we’d gotten to know some of the other parents in the NICU, having a bodyguard in the NICU at all times seemed overbearing for everyone involved, so they kept an eye out – just in case – to make sure no one tried to get that world exclusive shot and Sookie and I decided together we would be staying put until we could all go home together.
Everything about our lives now was so different from what it had been. While Sookie and I were together nearly 24/7, it felt like there was a wedge between us and I didn’t like it, but I didn’t know how to make it go away either. We were both exhausted the majority of the time – most of the time we both had to be reminded to eat – and I was sure a lot of it had to do with our focus being solely on Lilly, so it made me feel guilty for missing ‘the old Sookie’ like I did, but my guilt didn’t stop there.
Even though Compton had been stalking her weeks before we’d ever met – my stomach still turned remembering the photos the police had shown us they’d found on his computer that he’d secretly taken of Sookie – I still felt responsible for it all. I was the one that had invited him into our home. I was the one that had not so good-naturedly mocked him for years for bedding my cast-offs. In his mind, I’d stolen Sookie out from under him and I guessed I had – even if she never would’ve given him the time of day otherwise – but it didn’t make me feel any less culpable. I should’ve known Debbie Pelt was a danger and questioned who she was just based on the fact she’d knocked on our front door. After hearing Jason’s tale of his unsuccessful pickup in the bar, I should’ve sought her out when I spotted her in the airport when we were leaving Shreveport and put two and two together instead of flying off. I should’ve paid attention to Bubba’s warnings when we’d come across her outside of the coffee shop. If I had – considering how chatty she was with me – she may have told me about Compton’s plans any one of those times. None of this ever would’ve happened and instead of our daughter being in the NICU, she’d be safely tucked away in Sookie’s belly where she belonged while I would be freezing my ass off at the North Pole.
It was a trade I would gladly make.
Nothing could change any of it now though, so I didn’t my best to let it go and just concentrate on our future. It had been the first time I’d been away from both Sookie and Lilly for such an extended period of time – and with it brought a fresh wave of guilt since I felt rested just from the change in scenery, but the ache I felt in my chest lessened with every mile we got closer to San Diego until I was nearly bouncing in my seat by the time we made it back to the hotel we were staying in. The hospital was less than five minutes away so we could be there at a moment’s notice, but since it was already after nine, it was too late for me to see Lilly again – I’d spent a couple of hours with her that morning before I had to leave – and I knew Sookie would be back in our room by then. I’d taken Bubba with us for the day since he didn’t get to go many places lately and once he was done doing his business outside, we went in and all piled into the elevator.
Since Jason and Gran had gone home two weeks earlier, we now only had five rooms booked for the foreseeable future with two of the rooms usually having my father in one and Pam, or some other visitor, in the other. Sookie and I shared a suite with Rasul occupying the room directly across from ours (so he could see anyone at our door) and Mustafa used the one on the other side of us that had a connecting door to our room in case he needed to swoop in movie-action-hero style to put a beat down on whatever fucking nut-job came at us next. Sadly, I’d learned my lesson the hard way and wanted to be ready for any eventuality. I called it being prepared.
The looks Sookie gave me told me she called it being paranoid.
She was surprisingly a good sport about it all though and let me do whatever my paranoid heart desired with no complaint whatsoever, but I was smart enough to know my free reign would only last so long. I couldn’t lock her away forever, but we were both smart enough to know taking extra precautions wouldn’t hurt either and neither one of us questioned any of Rasul’s or Mustafa’s security related suggestions.
Rasul was standing outside of our door when we made it to our floor, so I knew Sookie was in our room and after getting a quick uneventful report from him, I bid the two of them goodnight and headed in. I didn’t see her right away but I could hear the shower running and followed Bubba into the bedroom to see she’d left the door open, but instead of following him in there, I just said, “We’re back,” loud enough for her to hear and started getting changed. It had been so long since we’d been intimate at all and was probably the biggest cause of that wedge I felt, but I knew she was still recovering from the accident and from giving birth and wasn’t enough of an asshole to try anything.
I could stare at her all day long and never get enough, but there was something decidedly sexier about her now that she was a mother. I didn’t know if it was because I’d come so close to losing her or if it was because I’d been the one to make her a mother, but whenever I had her alone I had a hard time keeping my urges at bay.
A hard time.
I missed having that physical connection with her and from the way she sometimes kissed me goodnight I would guess she missed it too, but I always ended them before they got out of hand knowing it was too soon.
And when she’d fall asleep, I’d run straight to the bathroom for a hook up with my right hand.
I was already changed into a t-shirt and shorts by the time the water turned off – sleeping naked was no longer an option since rolling over and into her in the middle of the night was no longer an option – and it was only moments later when she appeared in the doorway in nothing but a towel and a smile, asking, “How did it go?”
If she’d been asking about my dick’s reaction to seeing her, I’d say, “Straight up,” but knowing she was asking about the interview I tried to ignore the tent I was currently pitching and shrugged, “Okay, I guess.”
It was a taped spot that would be played on their parent company’s morning news show, but I knew it was a big deal for the reporter himself to be the one to do the interview. I’d mostly shaken off the depressive feelings from reliving it all earlier that day, so instead of focusing on that and becoming maudlin all over again, I let my eyes focus on the drops of water that fell from her hair and onto her shoulders, trailing down her neck and into the towel.
Depressed or horny – I couldn’t decide which one was worse.
Sookie didn’t seem to notice and instead walked over to the dresser where she pulled out a tank top and shorts before walking back towards the bathroom, but just as she got to the door she let the towel fall off and I got a glimpse of what was underneath.
Horny. Horny was definitely better.
I gave my right hand a knowing look all while she chattered at me from the bathroom and I knew I should be paying attention, but all I could think about was what it would be like to get my hands – among other things – on her again. It made me feel a little guilty thinking of all of the dirty things I had done – and was looking forward to doing again – to the mother of my child, but I couldn’t help it.
I knew I had ‘mother’ issues, but this was something else entirely.
“What are you thinking?” she asked appearing in the doorway now dressed for bed.
That it’s time for a reunion for me and my BFF’s?
I missed them – a lot – and felt like an even bigger perv since I knew they made her uncomfortable ever since the birth and her breast milk had come in. She expressed it with a pump a few times a day so it could be given to Lilly, but I was more than willing to share.
“Eric?” she asked as she climbed into the bed beside me. “Are you okay?”
I knew I should say something – something that had nothing to do with sex; or lack of sex; or wanting sex, but now all I had was sex on the brain.
Oh, and a hard-on to rival the flag raising on Iwo Jima. It was even leaning thanks to my shorts.
“Yep,” I lied. I knew it wasn’t fair to her to get myself all worked up when she was likely tired and I couldn’t really take care of her needs since she had yet to be cleared by the doctor. She was still taking medication for the hemophilia but her prognosis was good – thank God – and she was moving around a lot better than she had been since the surgery, but I wouldn’t feel better until we got the all clear from the doctor. I also wouldn’t chance having sex again without birth control since it seemed my sperm were like heat seeking missiles with her eggs locked in their sights.
And then she wrapped herself around me so that my other heat seeking missile gave her leg a warning that it was loaded and ready to fire.
“So then why are you all tense?” she asked, snuggling even more against my side.
The fact that she had to ask told me it was too soon for any kind of sex to occur since her early warning radar system – which worked without fail for the last six months – was on the fritz, so rather than admit to all systems being a ‘go for launch’ and risk upsetting her, I lied again and forced out a yawn, saying, “I’m just tired.”
The fact that she was just out of the shower meant that her cherry scented skin and hair was more pungent than usual which only served to turn me on more. I associated that scent with Sookie which meant I associated that scent with sex which meant my case of blue balls was only going to get more painful until she fell asleep and I could do something about it, but if that was the worst of my problems, I could live with it.
Because I still had her.
It was two weeks later when we were getting ready to leave for the hospital when Sookie said, “Don’t let me forget that I have my follow-up appointment this afternoon.”
I hadn’t forgotten, nor would I, because I wanted to know that she was one hundred percent healthy.
And if she wanted to celebrate with a night full of orgasms, I was more than okay with that too.
But, I didn’t want her to think that was my primary concern – because really, it wasn’t – so I just replied, “Okay,” while pulling my shoes on. When I stood up I noticed she was looking at me oddly, making me ask, “What?”
Her eyebrows were furrowed and her lips were pursed like she was trying to figure something out before she looked away and said, “Nothing.”
I didn’t think much of it until I saw her discreetly wipe her hand across her eyes, so I walked over and turned her by her shoulders seeing her eyes were glassy with unshed tears. “What’s wrong?” I asked, pulling her into my arms.
“Nothing,” she mumbled against my chest.
“Liar,” I softly accused. We’d both shed our fair share of tears lately, but she was nowhere near as bad as she had been when she was pregnant, so something had to be bothering her.
“It’s just…” she paused as her breath hitched in her throat.
I waited for a few more seconds, but when she didn’t say anymore I finally prodded, “It’s just what?”
“I just…do you…” After another moment she blew out a deep breath, saying, “Never mind. I’m just being stupid,” and tried to pull away, but I wasn’t willing it make it easy on her knowing something was wrong, so I refused to let her out of my arms, saying, “Just tell me.”
When she realized I was like The Borg and resistance was futile, she looked up at me with a fire in her eyes that I hadn’t seen in six very long weeks and huffed out, “Fine. You want to know what’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. What’s wrong is that you don’t touch me anymore. I know we’ve both been tired and all and for the first couple of weeks after Lilly was born they could’ve used me up in the rafters for the remake of ‘Carrie’ on prom night with the amount of blood that was coming out of me. I get that and it’s probably my fault too because it’s not like I tried too hard to initiate any sexy time when I started feeling better, but the reason I didn’t is because I just…I get the feeling that maybe you just don’t see me the same now. I mean, you’ve been front row center for my most non-sexy moments ever and you’re probably scarred for life, but you’re still sexy as all get out and I still want you. Obviously I still want you because I’ve at least tried to get your motor running when I’ve kissed you goodnight, but you always pull back, so I feel gross and unattractive and now you’re stuck with me and I don’t know if I should even bother to ask my doctor about birth control.”
From her tone and facial expressions, she didn’t know whether to be angry, frustrated, or sad. It was easy to spot considering I was feeling all of the same things only I had amusement added to the mix. She hadn’t really fully been herself in the weeks after the accident, but now she was exactly like the little spitfire I remembered and it was turning me on.
So I attacked her lips with my own.
I knew I surprised her, but she only kissed me back for a few seconds before she started pushing against me, arguing, “No! I don’t want a pity kiss. I know you love me, but if you don’t want me like that right now, I don’t…”
Her words trailed off as soon as I grabbed her hand and – in a very ungentlemanly fashion – shoved it down the front of my pants so she could feel the evidence herself how much I still wanted her like that. I grabbed a hold of her face, not trying to hide the smirk on my own seeing her shock, and looked into her eyes, saying, “Not that I was, but I could probably fake a pity kiss, however there’s no such thing as pity wood.”
Even though she still looked a little stunned, that didn’t stop her hand from automatically wrapping itself around me and stroking up as she asked, “There isn’t?” I saw the twinkle in her eye right before my own rolled back – I was powerless to stop them – and she added, “No empathetic erections?”
“No,” I sighed out relishing the feel of her hand touching me since it was so much better than my own.
My eyes had closed when I felt her other hand start undoing the buttons on my jeans with her asking, “So this isn’t a case of consolation cock?”
I barely had the chance to open my eyes and force out something along the lines of, “Unh uh,” when I watched her drop to her knees and kiss the tip of my cock before asking, “What’s your stance on forgiveness fellatio?”
All for it…
There was no time for me to answer her before I was once again welcomed into the nirvana that was her mouth and while I loved the funny and dirty things that came out of it, I loved being in it a hell of a lot more. Our cumfessional was taking place in the center of the room, so there was nothing for me to hold onto other than her hair and I locked my knees hoping I wouldn’t end up falling on top of her when the time came.
Because I was about to.
I’d been taking care of myself here and there, but that paled in comparison to what she could do for me – and to me – and I didn’t have it in me to be even the tiniest bit embarrassed when it only took a couple of minutes before she hummed everything out me while I may have yanked a few hairs out of her. Every thought in my head – both upper and lower – were gone, but one thought came back to me as soon as she stood up with a smile on her face.
Our cumfessional worked both ways and it was time to pay penance to her pussy.
She must have read it in my eyes because she caught my hands before I could grab onto her jeans, leaning up for a kiss, and saying, “There’s no time, but if all goes well at my appointment later, you can settle up later on tonight.”
For a moment I’d lost myself back to the days when we could – and often would – fuck all day long and while I wouldn’t give up having Lilly for anything, I couldn’t wait for those days to return.
I was already flipping through my mental rolodex of babysitters so we could practice making a new one.
As if she’d read my mind, Sookie said, “We should pick up condoms while we’re out. I need to find out what our other options are for birth control, but regardless, none of them will be working by tonight.”
She’d just swallowed who knows how many of Lilly’s potential siblings, but knowing it was going to happen, that I’d finally get to be close to her again in the ‘I get to see her naked while I’m naked and we’ll do things to each other’s nakedness’ was just hours away made me euphoric.
And horny, but really, that was nothing new.
She giggled into my mouth when I swooped in for another kiss and she was the one to pull away first, saying we needed to go. Seeing Lilly (and picking up condoms) was the only thing to get me to leave our hotel room, but even with just our short but intense encounter, the wedge was gone. The tension in my shoulders, the weight in my chest disappeared altogether and it wasn’t for the obvious reasons. While Sookie and I always held hands, now we were leaning in towards one another whereas before there was a bit of a distance. Neither one of us had stopped smiling since we left our room and it seemed to even be noticed by Rasul who’d been waiting for us in the hall. He was too professional to say anything, but it was there in his eyes and that’s when I knew we’d shifted back to how we’d been before. Rasul didn’t know us back then and things would never be exactly the same because now we had a baby girl and bodyguards, but the overall bliss I felt was exactly the same. It was like the cloud that had been hanging over us for so long was suddenly gone.
Thank fuck for that.
We dropped off Bubba with Mustafa and headed out, walking into the hospital only a few minutes later. Lilly had finally opened an eye a few days earlier and because Sookie liked to taunt me, she’d wondered aloud if Captain Jack had been in Vegas too since my daughter was imitating a pirate. She wasn’t.
She was winking at HER FATHER.
We were guessing her eyes – or at least one eye – was blue, but honestly it seemed to be mostly made up of her pupil so it was hard to tell. I didn’t care. I was just happy she had an eye and I was anxious to see the second one, but as we passed through the lobby and I spotted the little convenience store at the far end, I told Sookie I’d meet up with her in the NICU in a few minutes.
“I need to pick something up,” I winked.
Like MY DAUGHTER.
Her eyes glazed over for a second before she remembered Rasul was standing there and she blushed, saying, “Okay. See you in a few,” with them turning to head towards the elevators.
I turned towards the shop, not sure if they’d actually carry condoms, but it was a purchase I didn’t want to forget to make. I was perusing the shelves while making a mental pornventory of the things I was going to do to Sookie later on that night when I heard, “Eric?”
I didn’t get bothered much at all at the hospital since I spent the majority of the time in the NICU where the only celebrities were in the incubators. Even coming and going, most of the people coming to the hospital had other more important things to worry about and getting my autograph or picture wasn’t one of them, but there was still the occasional fan. My smile from earlier still hadn’t left my face until I turned around to face the voice I hadn’t recognized right away and just like that the cloud was back.