In the days leading up to our trip to Bon Temps, I was like a rabid dog when it came to Sookie’s care. After our scare with the baby I didn’t want her to have to lift a finger for anything and appointed myself as her personal butler, nurse, waiter, and all-around lackey. She’d allowed it at first, having been just as terrified over the thought of losing the baby as I had been, but it wasn’t long before I could tell I was getting on her nerves.
Doctor Ludwig had told her she should take a day or two off before returning to work to give her body a chance to recover from the fall and thanks to the short week due to the holiday, she wouldn’t be returning until the following Monday. I’d wanted to postpone our trip, but Sookie wouldn’t hear of it and since the doctor had already said there was no medical reason why she shouldn’t go, I had nothing more than my overprotective instincts over her and the baby to use to plead my case.
I couldn’t help it though. Ever since I’d been able to fully wrap my head around the fact that Sookie and I were going to be parents, it was practically all I could think about. It may have just been because of my own childhood issues, but I was bound and determined to be a good father; a father that wanted and cherished their child.
Like me, it may have not been planned, but unlike me, it would always be loved.
I’d never been as scared as when I thought we might lose the baby. I knew Sookie was strong; stronger than she gave herself credit for, but I also knew that if we lost the baby, a part of her would die inside. It would kill a part of me too and it would’ve been hard to be strong for her, when she would need it the most, when I would be grieving too. So when the doctor turned the monitor and I saw our baby for the first time, healthy and strong and safe inside of Sookie’s body, my knees nearly buckled from the emotions that swept through me. Hearing that it would be okay and seeing we’d somehow managed to make a tiny little piece of perfection with little arms and legs and the boundless energy of its mother, the love I felt for it swallowed me up like a tidal wave, pulling me out to sea with it, whether I’d wanted to go or not.
I dove in head first.
I’d gone to the grocery store the following day, every bit the rabid dog I’d become, and demanded to see their surveillance footage. I didn’t let on that Sookie was pregnant since we hadn’t made it public knowledge yet, but I would’ve been just as mad had she not been. My wife had been assaulted and I wanted heads to roll. The only problem was that they only had cameras at the entrance, over their registers, their stockroom, parking lot, and a few select aisles where they had high dollar merchandise. Cases of water and milk weren’t on their list of priorities, so there wasn’t any footage of those areas and I ended up walking out of there with no more idea of who could’ve hurt her than I’d gone in with. I refused to believe it was just a random accident considering there hadn’t been anyone around her when it happened. Shopping carts didn’t just go flying off on their own, but I couldn’t think of anyone that might want to hurt her.
I had half a mind to contact my private investigator, but since I couldn’t think of anything he would’ve been able to find out that I hadn’t found out on my own, I didn’t bother. My faith in him wasn’t very high anyway since he hadn’t been able to find out anything we didn’t already know about when Sookie and I first met up in Vegas. According to him it would take nothing short of a court order to be able to view any security footage and since no crime had been committed, that wasn’t likely to happen. He’d interviewed the bar and wait staff, but no one could remember anything other than seeing Sookie and I having a drunken good time together at the bar and on the dance floor. I’d been told we’d made a bit of a spectacle of ourselves, but no one had noticed us beforehand other than that we were there. I honestly didn’t really care anymore and was only thankful now that we’d met in the first place.
Our trip to the airport Wednesday morning had been uneventfully stressful. We’d gotten a temporary reprieve and were no longer being actively stalked by paparazzi hanging around the gate thanks to someone else’s seventy-two day marriage falling apart and I may have felt a bit smug that mine was seventy-five days long and holding strong, but I knew they would return when news of Sookie’s pregnancy became public. Regardless, there were always a few at the airport and with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us there were more than the normal amount hanging around. If I could have, I would’ve wrapped Sookie’s body in enough bubble wrap to make her the size of a dwarf star and rolled her to the gate, but she wouldn’t let me.
Nor would she let me carry her, get her a wheelchair, or surround her in a group of privately hired mercenaries.
Her stubborn nature matched my overprotective one in every way and only solidified the fact that she was perfect for me, even if her continued denials made me want to rip my hair out. I’d become so accustomed to the people around me giving in to my every request that her outright refusal was like a breath of fresh air, but my love for her only made me want to choke on it. Our frustration with one another was reaching critical levels by the time we got onto the airplane thanks to me barking at anyone that got within a ten foot radius of her. She was embarrassed and thought I was being rude, but I didn’t care.
It was my job to keep her safe.
After I growled at an unsuspecting passenger, who had been standing too close to Sookie and whipping his carryon around like he was blocking an invisible barrage of bullets aimed at his body as we were boarding the aircraft, she threw herself into her seat and grumbled at me, “Are you going to be like this for the foreseeable future? Because if you try to keep me from hugging Gran she’s gonna take you down quicker than a hooker’s panties at a Viagra convention.”
I knew she was pissed, but that really wasn’t my intention. I also knew she’d been extremely horny as of late and my refusal to have sex with her was only adding to her frustration. Doctor Ludwig had said that we could, but I wasn’t ready just yet. After everything that happened I didn’t want to do anything that might make us lose the baby and whenever I was inside of her, my desire for her often clouded my mind to the point of insanity. I was afraid of being too rough with her, of somehow hurting her or the baby, and if that meant I had to wait until it was born safe and sound, than that was a sacrifice I was willing to make. Of course I didn’t tell her that I was waiting until after the birth. That would just make her even more pissed off, but I was only trying to protect her and our baby. Denying Sookie sex, as well as denying my own urges, was no easy feat and I wished they made an anti-Viagra for me to take, but since I had no desire to fight with her either, I tried to make a joke and asked, “Do they have Viagra conventions?”
“I wouldn’t know,” she glared back at me. Lowering her voice so she wouldn’t be overheard by the other passengers, she added, “But maybe if you would just fuck me already you wouldn’t be so ornery.”
“Ornery?” I chuckled while ignoring the fact that she was probably right. “Are you switching over to southernisms already? The plane hasn’t even left the tarmac.”
Sookie just rolled her eyes back at me and pulled out a book from her bag while mumbling, “I guess that’s the only lift off I’ll be getting any time soon.”
No sooner than she had said the words, the plane started taxiing down the runway while the guilt I felt over denying her ate me up inside, not to mention the fact that I could probably level an entire petrified forest with the angry Woody Woodpecker secured away inside of my jeans. Sookie had made it perfectly clear that she felt increasingly unattractive as her pregnancy progressed, but, truthfully, I found her to be sexier with every passing day. Knowing that I was the cause of every new curve of her body brought with it a whole new level of eroticism. It was proof that my seed had planted inside of her and it only made me want to fill her with more of them, but thoughts like those didn’t help to reinforce my willpower. Nor did knowing now that I had the use of both of my legs again, if I held her up, we could try fucking against the airplane’s bathroom door.
We could make our own ‘Snakes On a Plane’ movie only there was just one snake and it was inside of my pants.
I was still lost in my inner pornographic directorial debut when a voice from the aisle next to my seat brought me back to reality.
“Oh! It’s you again!”
I looked up to see a waif-like flight attendant standing next to our seats. She smiled at me with recognition in her eyes and I figured she might’ve been a fan that I’d met previously, but couldn’t remember. I appreciated all of them, but it was mostly the nut jobs that stood out in my mind, like the woman who had me sign a diaper. When I smiled in return I watched her eyes shoot a glare in Sookie’s direction before she looked back at me and added, “I heard about your accident on the news and that you lost a few weeks of your memory, so you probably don’t remember me, but I didn’t get a chance to ask you for an autograph the last time we met. Would you mind?”
I glanced over at Sookie and saw she was fully engrossed in her book, while wondering what the flight attendant was talking about. Sookie was always gracious and understanding when fans stopped me for autographs or pictures, but the woman’s glare towards her would indicate otherwise. Since I couldn’t remember meeting the woman before I just shrugged it off and took the cocktail napkins and pen she held out to me. I always tried to personalize them when there wasn’t a large crowd and asked, “What’s your name?”
She leaned down next to me whispering, “It’s on the second napkin.” Feeling her in my personal space made me look up at her where I saw her eyelashes batting back at me flirtatiously, as she added, “Along with my phone number.”
I didn’t have the chance to tell her I was married; thanks, but no thanks; or to fuck off because Sookie snatched both napkins from my hand and shoved them into the seatback in front of her saying, “You’re a long way from Babylon Kate, but we all know your number is 666. Now you and your seven headed beast should be heading back before I give you a whole new appreciation for the word Revelation.”
It was obvious that Sookie remembered meeting ‘Kate’ before and if she’d come onto me the last time, it explained the glare she’d shot at Sookie. I was just happy that Sookie’s anger was directed at someone other than me and after Kate huffed and stomped away, I smiled back at Sookie asking, “You can coin phrases like ‘Spousal Pussy Privilege’ and quote bible lore? I’m impressed. You really are smart.”
Sookie slammed her book shut and growled, “I’m smart enough to know where to hide her body if she doesn’t back the hell off.”
While I enjoyed Sookie’s own possessiveness over me, I didn’t want to get her worked up knowing the stress wasn’t good for the baby and tried to calm her down, offering, “Maybe she just didn’t realize that we were together.” Glancing down at my tattooed ring finger, I rubbed my thumb over it, adding, “Maybe I should start wearing my wedding band again.” I’d seen it in some of the earlier paparazzi photos of Sookie and me together, but I hadn’t been wearing it during the GQ photo shoot or when I woke up in the hospital. She still wore the plain gold band on her left hand that I knew had been her mother’s, but it never occurred to me to ask if she knew why I no longer wore mine. A part of me didn’t like the fact that she wore a ring that hadn’t come from me, but I understood the sentimentality behind her choice. However, I also knew of her practicality in choosing to wear that ring when we were still pretending to be a real couple and it bothered me now that we were a real couple.
I didn’t get the chance to ask about my own ring when Sookie huffed, “Like that would help. You were wearing it the first time we met her and it didn’t slow her down.” I could see her earlier agitation coming back now mixing in with her current anger, so when she opened her book again I didn’t try to maintain any conversation with her hoping she’d calm down while reading. It seemed to do the trick and by the time we landed in Shreveport Sookie was visibly excited to be so close to seeing her Gran again. I’d spoken to her several times on the phone whenever Sookie called her and had to admit that I was excited to finally meet her, again, too. It had been hard on both of us keeping JB (our new nickname for the baby, Jumping Bean) a secret from her, but Sookie wanted to see her reaction in person. I was just happy to be expecting a joyful one, opposed to the one I’m sure my father would have in store for us if he were still hanging around.
Once we were finally in our rental car, Sookie happily chattered nonstop all the way to Bon Temps. She’d warned me time and again that her brother was an idiot, but she couldn’t expect everyone to be as smart as her and if they came from the same gene pool, I had my doubts as to the veracity of her claim.
How dumb could he be?
As we pulled up the driveway and the house came into view, a small bit of pride swelled within me seeing how nice it looked with the knowledge I had a small part in making it that way, even if I couldn’t remember doing so. The front door opened before I could even shift the car into park with Sookie’s Gran coming down the front porch steps to greet us with her arms held open wide.
Sookie burst into tears as she got out of the car and ran over to hug her, sobbing out, “Gran!”
The woman stood at least two inches shorter than Sookie and managed to appear both spry and frail at the same time, but her voice was strong as she happily chuckled out, “Baby girl! You hush with those tears before you get me started.”
A solid looking man appeared at their side, his resemblance to Sookie unmistakable, as he said, “Gran cooked enough supper to feed Pharoah’s Army so quit yer snottin’ and gimme a hug. I’m so hungry, every time I swallow my aaa…butthole will say ‘thanks’.”
His unexpected greeting had me choking back my laughter, but it was enough to make Sookie stop crying as she snorted and both her and Gran swatted his chest, chastising, “Jason!” in unison.
While Sookie moved over to give her brother a hug, I moved forward towards them all with Gran wrapping her arms around me as she said, “We’re so thankful that you’re okay and able to come out here to spend the holiday with us.”
Her frail appearance hid the strength she possessed as she squeezed my ribs, but I found I enjoyed it and hugged her back, saying, “I’m happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.”
She still had her face buried against my chest, while Sookie and Jason reverted back to their childhood and were playing some sort of slap game with each other, but my concern over Jason taking it too far was put on the back burner when I felt my shirt dampen. I looked down as best I could and saw Gran was crying, but before I could ask what was wrong, she said, “What invite? You’re family so no invitation is needed. You’re always welcome here.”
Gran tried to discreetly wipe her tears away, but by then even Sookie and Jason had noticed while I asked, “Is everything alright?”
When she smiled back at me I could see Sookie had gotten her own smile from the Stackhouse side of her family tree and she explained, “Everything is just fine. I’m just so glad that you’re okay. After seeing the pictures from your accident it was obvious that it was only by God’s grace that you’re here with us today.”
The ability to stun someone into silence must also be a Stackhouse trait because I stood there with my mouth gaping open over her concern for me. While we were related through my marriage to Sookie, she didn’t really know me from Adam and yet even now, two months after the accident, she was still reduced to tears over the thought of me being hurt. My own father hadn’t so much as wished me well when he’d visited me at the house right after I’d gotten home. I was beyond touched and found yet another reason why I loved Sookie. Being with her gave me the family I’d always wanted but had been too afraid to wish for.
After Jason helped me carry our bags into the house, we were told to wash up because supper was ready and smelling the aromas wafting out of the kitchen made me comply without argument. However, once we were seated, I realized Sookie and I had never discussed how or when we’d drop the baby news bomb. The only thing I knew was that we’d do it face to face, so when Sookie led off the conversation, asking, “So, is there anything new with you guys? Anything exciting going on around Bon Temps?” I figured she was laying the groundwork for a reciprocal question to be asked and made sure to pay attention to what was being said and by whom.
Gran told Sookie about things going on in the town and filled her in on the people she knew growing up, but it was becoming more and more obvious to me that Jason had something he wanted to share as well. Even though he’d been emptying and refilling his plate at an impressive rate, I could tell he was excited and was looking for an opportunity to jump into the conversation. He was fun to watch with his head jerking forward when he sensed an opportunity and then would snap back when either Sookie or Gran kept talking. His movements were jerky and I couldn’t help picturing him as a flannel clad Frogger trying to leap his way across the road without getting plowed down by the Sookie’s and Gran’s barreling down towards him.
It wasn’t until we were nearly done with dinner when he finally saw his chance and spit out, “Well I’m thinkin’ a settin’ up one a them social networkin’ sites.”
I was impressed. Maybe Sookie just saw him as dumb since he was her brother and I asked, “Do you know a lot about computers?” I knew he worked on the parish road crew, but that didn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t be tech savvy.
Sookie coughed out, “Porn,” under her breath and then took another bite of her dinner as though she hadn’t said anything.
Gran seemed none the wiser, but then neither did Jason and he looked back at me answering, “Well, I have one.”
As difficult as it was, I ignored the repeated coughed out ‘porn’ commentary next to me and tried to salvage the conversation since he was Sookie’s brother and asked, “So what kind of social networking site did you have in mind? Something like Facebook?”
I figured I was on the right track when his face lit up as he asked, “Well have you ever heard a Twitter?”
Pam. My balls. In her possession if I ever opened up an account.
I left all of that out and just replied, “Yes.”
“Well,” he explained excitedly, “it’s kinda like that, only instead a bein’ called ‘Twitter’ it’ll be named ‘Shitter’!”
A piece of biscuit flew out of Sookie’s mouth while my dropped fork clattered to my plate and Gran reached over and cuffed the backside of Jason’s head as she said, “Jason Stackhouse! You will NOT talk like that at my dinner table!”
Sookie was lost in a fit of giggles while Jason rubbed the back of his head, apologizing, “I’m sorry Gran, but I cain’t help it if that’s its name.”
I didn’t point out the fact that since he was the one naming it, he could very well help what it was called, but I couldn’t seem to help myself as I blurted out, “And what would this site be used for?”
Sookie leaned over, still laughing, and epically failed at whispering to me, “You’re stirring up the shit now.”
Gran rolled her eyes and gave up on keeping her grandchildren in line as she started clearing the dishes from the table, but all of my focus was trained on Jason as he furthered his explanation, saying, “Well ya see, the guys and I are always trading stories on some a the weird places we find ourselves when we gotta drop off the Browns at the Super Bowl and I thought it’d be neat to have a place to go and post it. Instead a ‘tweets’ we’d call’em ‘sheets’.”
Sookie was in hysterics by that point and I had to hold onto her arm just to keep her from falling out of her chair. She hadn’t even caught her breath as she asked him, “Would you post pictures too? If celebrities joined would they be Shitter Verified?”
Jason looked even more excited as he said, “Hell yeah we’d post pictures, but I don’t know nothin’ ’bout verifyin’ celebrities.”
Sookie barked out even more laughter, saying, “Careful. If you don’t you could be sued for Defecation of Character!”
I couldn’t hold it back anymore, but Jason ignored our gasping laughter and tear stricken faces, saying, “One guy told a story about the time he had to go when he was out drivin’ in the middle a the night. The only thing around was a construction site and he had to go so bad he ran right into the port-a-john and dropped a load before lookin’ ta see if there was any toilet paper. There wasn’t. He called out to his friend in the pickup to look around for anything he could use to wipe his self, but the only thing he could find was his kid’s stuffed Alf doll in the back a the truck. He took the shirt off it to use, but since he’d had chili and hot wings for supper, he needed more than that tiny shirt and ended up using Alf. ‘Course he wasn’t about to take that back home to his kid so he left it there sittin’ on the back of the port-a-john as a fond how dee do for the next fella that walked in. That was Shitter picture worthy!”
Gran walked back into the room a few seconds later and shook her head seeing Sookie and I leaning against one another still crying in laughter. Jason waited for her to walk out again before regaling us with stories of the time one of the ‘fellas’ took a tour of a fancy model home and it was only after his ‘meeting with the Governor’ concluded that he found out the toilet was just for show and hadn’t been hooked up to the plumbing lines, so he beat feet out of there before the realtor found him and his housewarming gift. Another one took a dump while scuba diving and was immediately engulfed by a school of fish, all of them seeming to have an appreciation for what they considered his edible gift to the sea. The more Jason talked, the more the twelve year old boy inside of me wanted to invest in his website because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed so hard. I just thanked God that Sookie was laughing right along with me because it would’ve been hard to hide my amusement from her if she’d thought it was crass and I added another mental note to the ever growing list of things that made her perfect for me.
When we could finally breathe normally again we all got up and helped Gran clear off the table and clean up in the kitchen. I could tell by Sookie’s poorly hidden eagerness that she wanted to tell Gran our news, so as soon as the last dish was put away Sookie grabbed my hand and we faced Gran as she said, “Gran, we have some news.”
We must’ve been a little louder than I’d thought while we’d been listening to Jason because Gran raised her eyebrow, asking, “Does it have anything to do bodily functions?”
Coyness filled Sookie’s voice as she responded, “Sort of…”
Gran clucked her tongue, saying, “Sookie! I expect that sort of thing from your brother and why you encourage him I’ll never know, but don’t think for one minute you’re too grown for me to put a whoopin’ on you too.”
I watched a huge smile light up on Sookie’s face as she said, “Yes ma’am. Just make sure you’re careful of the baby when you whoop on me.”
Gran’s harsh look changed into uncontained joy in a heartbeat and her arms flew out to embrace us both while their earlier tears made another appearance. I could handle happy tears any day of the week and let them sob it all out, enjoying the amount of love that filled the room, when my eyes landed on a decorative plaque hanging just below the kitchen window.
Live, Laugh, Love.
It was a phrase I’d seen and heard a thousand times before, but only now understood thanks to the little blond woman in my arms that showed me how to do all three.