“I care about very few people in this world. A small handful of vampires and you.”
His confession – as always – had been blunt and to the point. Even after every stupid thing I had said and done over the years, Eric had remained the one constant in my life. Someone I could always rely on for the truth.
Even if it hurt.
And though he hadn’t admitted it, I was sure it hurt him to champion Bill’s cause to me of all people on the night before his death. But that was Eric’s way.
To put my needs above even his own.
My beautifully renovated house was a testament to that.
My simple admission to him that night – that I was scared – held more meaning than either one of us had realized. I hadn’t only been scared of Bill’s death, but of life itself.
What would mine be like without him?
Without either one of them?
I’d learned the answer to that not long after Bill’s death in the cemetery. He might have been right that I would have never moved on with my life, so long as his undead one continued, but not for the reasons he’d spouted off.
But because of his blood.
With him, it had always been about the blood.
But it had taken me some time before I came to that realization.
I’d grieved for him in my own way, I supposed. But I never quite managed to hit all five stages of grief.
Denial had been hard to come by, considering I’d been covered in the truth of his true death when I’d walked home from the cemetery that night. But throwing away the countless article of clothing ruined by blood – mine or any other’s – the second stage of grief hit me hard.
I was so angry at him. At the world, really. But all I could think about were his excuses for doing what he ultimately did. His assumption that marriage and children were what every normal human should aspire to.
Bill, of all people, knew what my life had been like before he’d ever returned to Bon Temps.
It was why my virginity had been ripe for the taking, with his lies hiding behind his pretty words.
Marriage and children with a human man had never been in the cards for me. At least not without giving away a part of myself by using the last of my fairy light, which I’d told him that night was something I wouldn’t do.
Not even for him.
And honestly, after seeing – and worse, hearing about – all of the failed relationships I’d been surrounded by my whole life, marriage didn’t seem all that it was cracked up to be. Being a telepath had jaded me enough that I wasn’t so sure I would even want to one day get married.
Something he should have known when I didn’t say yes right away to his proposal on that night that now felt like a lifetime ago.
So while I’d literally had the blood of his suicide on my hands, I was completely free of any guilt over his death.
And it was a good thing I’d been left to my own devices for a few days afterward, while I tried to work through it all. But just as I thought I’d gotten my rage under control, Bill managed to get under my skin yet again.
Albeit, in an entirely new way.
I’d automatically reached out with my telepathy, hearing the knock at my front door, but all that I got from their mind was static.
Like when a TV channel lost its signal.
Cautiously answering the door, I found a stately looking gentleman on the other side. Wearing a black suit in the Louisiana heat, he didn’t look uncomfortable at all. But his eyes and his smile were warm, so I only hesitated for a second before inviting him inside.
He explained he was Bill’s lawyer and was taking care of his estate. I didn’t see what that had to do with me, until he presented me with a check.
A large one.
There were so many zeros on it I’d lost count when my eyes glazed over.
Glazed over in red.
“How dare he?” I sputtered in rage, shocking the portly man whose name had more letters than my mouth could handle.
“I’m sorry?” he offered, not apologizing for the audacity of a former confederate soldier/vampire/vampire god/asshole, but clearly because he didn’t understand why I was so angry at being given a windfall.
But the whole thing had reminded me of my Uncle Bartlett’s death all over again.
Something else Bill had had an underhanded hand in.
“He has a child,” I spat out and then tried to shove the blood money back at him, adding, “Jessica Hamby. Fortenberry. Whatever in the hell she calls herself now.”
I knew their marriage wasn’t legal, but I didn’t know if she’d legally changed her last name.
“Yes,” Mr. Mouthful agreed with a jovial smile. “A lovely girl. I visited with Mrs. Fortenberry last night where she was presented with her inheritance as well.”
Well, that at least answered one of my questions.
But I doubted Mr. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious would know why Bill thought he could buy me off after his death.
And then looking at me like I wasn’t an ungrateful asshole, he smiled again and softly patted my arm in a way that reminded me of Gran, as he said, “Miss Stackhouse, if you’ll forgive me for being presumptuous, take the money. Take a vacation. Do something that you’ve always wanted to do without feeling an ounce of remorse. And when you return and you are ready, I would ask that you consider coming to work for me.”
So while I was busy catching flies, he handed me his card as well before turning to let himself out. But taking a final look back at me, with a glint in his eye, he added, “A telepath would be very useful in a courtroom and having the contractual protection of a demon would provide you with an additional layer of security.”
Well, that explained his static thoughts.
So once he was gone, I took up residence on the couch.
The very same one Eric had bought to replace the one destroyed by Maryann the Malicious Maenad.
And taking a good look around, I couldn’t find a single thing that needed a giant check – like the one in my hand – to fix.
Eric had already seen to it himself.
But remembering the six and a half feet of vampire real estate made me remember something else. Something he’d said to me when he’d first returned from France, where Pam had found him, when he was still infected with Hep-V.
“I wanted to see the world one last time before I died.”
I hadn’t seen much of the world one time for there to be a last time, so I decided to take a page out of his multi-volume book and applied for my very first passport. I paid a ransom to have it expedited and while I had the money to do that now, it still stung forking it over.
But it paid to pay the outrageous amount because my passport arrived a week later and with nothing left to keep me there – excuses or otherwise – I closed up the Stackhouse homestead, that had taken a Northman to look so grand, and off I went.
Into the wild blue yonder.
Or green yonder, as it turned out.
Ireland had been the first stop on my mental itinerary. The rolling green hills I’d seen in pictures – okay, and in the movie Leap Year – had always called out to me in a way that made it feel like a place I could call home.
And even though I now had enough money that it shouldn’t have mattered, I still couldn’t bring myself to fly first class or to stay in luxury hotels. My frugal upbringing wouldn’t allow it, but I still loved every minute of it. I loved the anonymity. Nobody looked at me like a freak and the moment I had taken my first step onto Irish soil, I actually felt like I was home.
A feeling I only got to enjoy for about two weeks, when I first heard about the Irish folklore that it was where fairies had descended from.
I was on the next flight out tout de suite.
Landing in Great Britain – or was it England? – I knew I wasn’t all that far away from the land of the Fae, but I wasn’t going to let them put a damper on my trip.
Around the World in However Many Days.
But even so, it seemed like Mother Nature was doing her damnedest to take up the slack for them. Rain fell from the sky in buckets. So much so that I didn’t see nearly as much as I’d hoped to at first and I stayed in my room a lot of the time. I wasn’t feeling lonely so much as alone, but it was while I was there when the dreams finally began to subside.
For the last few weeks they’d been coming at me from all sides of my subconscious. Weeks for Bill’s blood to leave my system and with its departure came a clarity that I hadn’t felt since the night he’d first darkened Merlotte’s doorway.
I knew because it wasn’t long after that he’d gotten his blood in me.
I may have forgiven him for his lies – I could see now that he’d had no choice with someone like Sophie-Anne pulling his strings – but that didn’t mean I had forgotten.
I’d nearly died thanks to the beating the Rattray’s had been glamoured into giving me.
And that was when I finally hit the last stage of grief.
In spite of his dying declarations – a death I had come to view his ‘sacrifice’ as the coward’s way out – and selfish to boot for asking me to be the one to end him – I didn’t believe it had been my fairy light that had been drawn to the darkness of vampires.
It had been Bill’s blood that he’d continually found a way to get into my system.
And now, weeks later, when I had no one’s blood but my own in my body, I could finally see what had been in front of me all along.
He was hard to miss at close to six and a half feet tall.
Not that he was physically in front of me. Eric hadn’t darkened my doorway or any other I’d been behind since the night he’d flown me back home.
Although I had wondered – or had I wished – it had been his tires squealing away that night I’d been woken from my bed.
But by design or by circumstance, I didn’t know why he’d stayed away, but I did know that I couldn’t blame him for his absence.
Just how many chances did I think I would get with him?
Lord knew I hadn’t done anything to deserve a single one of them.
And now on foreign soil, I’d often wondered if he’d felt me leaving.
Bon Temps. Louisiana. The country.
Take your pick.
But thinking perhaps he too had needed his space, I hadn’t gone to him. Hadn’t called or communicated with him in any way to tell him I was leaving.
I couldn’t even be sure that he would’ve cared.
However now, when I was all alone – in both my company and my bloodstream – I missed him. I missed talking to him. I missed his smirks and his arched brow. I missed his dirty innuendo that never failed to wind me up or make me blush.
But most of all I missed talking to him, like we had when he’d lost his memories. Granted, ours had been a mostly one-sided conversation, since he hadn’t remembered any of his previous life, but still.
I missed it.
I missed him.
And wondering if he perhaps had missed me too, I did something I hadn’t thought to do in a very long time.
I picked up my phone and pulled up Eric’s number.
But before I could hit send, my fingers faltered as did my mind.
What would I say?
How would he react?
Did he even want to hear from me?
After all, he had my number too and hadn’t used it in god knows how long.
And while I’d been compared to an angry kitten on more than one occasion, I felt more like a cowardly lion in that moment.
But I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
Not even Louisiana or the continental United States.
So I put my phone away and pulled out my laptop.
I’d used it to keep in touch with everyone while I’d been away. Skyping with Jason whenever he was around, as well as trading emails with Jessica, Lafayette, and Sam.
And as much and as often as I’d wondered about a certain blond vampire sheriff, I hadn’t given in to the urge until now.
Opening up a new email, I began to type. Not really knowing what to say, other than asking how he was doing, I gave him a brief synopsis of what I’d been up to over the last few weeks.
At the end, as I reread it, I knew it was both awkward and brief.
Oh, who was I kidding?
It was lame to the extreme.
But it was something.
An olive branch, as it were.
After hitting send, I stared at my email, waiting for a response for a full minute.
And then an hour had passed.
And then another.
Having already taken several glances at the clock, I quickly redid the time zone math in my head and knew he should have been up by then. Lord knew he kept his phone on him at all times, so he would have gotten my email already.
And then recalling one time when I’d had the misfortune of stomping my way down into Fangtasia’s basement, ready to tear Eric a new one over Bill’s disappearance, I remembered he didn’t always have his phone on him.
Because sometimes he had no pockets, like when he was fucking Estonian dancers on weird sex swings.
I didn’t want to think about that or anything – or anyone – else he might be up to.
I had no right, especially after all of the others who had been in me since I’d last been with Eric.
What in the hell had I been thinking?
First I had sex with some weird Faepire in the cemetery and then had sex with Bill so soon after Alcide’s death.
That right there should have clued me into the fact Bill’s blood had a strong hold on me. But then no one would ever accuse me of being smart.
Especially when it came to men.
When a week had passed and then another, with no response from Eric, I came to the realization that I probably wouldn’t be getting one from him. I didn’t even know if the email address I had for him was still good, but since I hadn’t gotten anything saying it had been undeliverable, I figured I had nothing to lose and emailed him again.
The next one was much longer than the first and read more like a journal entry. In it I said all of the things I really wanted to say to him. Things I didn’t think I would have the courage to tell him if I’d known he would truly read it. But he’d shared so much with me – in his blunt and stoic Eric sort of way – I felt it only fair to do the same.
I told him about everything that happened since he’d left me on my front porch. I told him of Bill’s final moments and how I’d come to view his actions since then. I apologized for my behavior from the time he’d regained his memories after the witch’s curse and thanked him for all that he’d done for me over the years.
If nothing else, I felt better for having gotten it all out, even if he would never read a word of it.
When I finally saw Big Ben at high noon, I’d teased him in my email to him that night that I’d actually found something I had seen and he hadn’t.
Not with daylight being a factor and all.
When I saw the Eiffel Tower at midnight I wondered to him in my next email, if he thought it was as beautiful as I did.
When I saw the African Sahara at sunset I’d mused to him about how stunning a sparse land – that could easily mean my death if left all alone there – could be.
And when I drifted down the Danube at sunrise – on a Viking River Cruise of all things – I’d chuckled the whole way through my next email, certain that Eric would get a kick out of that.
But that was the thing. I couldn’t know if Eric would get a kick out of that because I didn’t know what or where Eric was anymore. Shreveport, I’d assumed.
But I’d also learned what an ass it could make of me by assuming anything.
After all, I’d been so sure that I would get some sort of response from him when I’d visited his homeland and likened Örland to a windy shithole.
But it really was.
It was during my travels, when Jason had extended me an invitation to his wedding to Brigette.
And when I say he had extended me an invitation what I mean is, he’d called me and said, “Hey Sook! Me and Brigette are in Vegas and we’re gettin’ hitched! Like in an hour. Can ya make it?”
“No,” I’d sighed, from my towel on the prettiest little beach on Kauai.
And asking him to hold off for the few hours it would have taken me to get there didn’t even cross my mind.
Las Vegas hadn’t made the cut on my list of must-sees.
Was it selfish of me to miss the wedding of my only family member?
But something else I’d realized over my time away was that selfish was sometimes synonymous with Sookie.
However I didn’t feel bad enough about it right then to do anything to change it. I’d thought they would make a good couple early on, but I wasn’t all that surprised she’d managed to get him all the way to Vegas.
Jason in the land of showgirls?
Stop the presses!
But I was genuinely shocked when it was all said and done that she had gotten him all the way to the altar.
And I was less shocked when he let me in on the little fact soon thereafter that she was pregnant, but I was happy for them.
At least one Stackhouse was normal.
That bitterness I still felt towards Bill and his actions wasn’t something that had gone away in my time away.
Not completely, but I was getting there.
Alcide, I could see now, had been a mistake. An attempt to find as normal of a life as I thought I could have. He’d been warm blooded. He could have fathered my future children. But now I realized – as horrible as it sounded – he’d merely been a Band-aid on the weeping wound of my soul.
He had been my first love. His initial motives for the start of our relationship aside, it had been with him that I learned to both give and receive love in return.
Even if it had only been real on my part.
I could only say now for certain that it wasn’t love that I felt for him at the end. Compassion, maybe. But not real love.
Real love wasn’t one-sided and his selfish actions at the end proved that it wasn’t love that he felt for me that made him want to end his life.
It was the love he felt for himself.
But only now – when blood was no longer a factor in my decision making – could I see the truth of my feelings.
Eric had been my true love.
I knew it because I still felt love for him now, even when his blood was no longer coursing through mine.
I knew it because I had fought him tooth and nail at every turn, denying my feelings for him from the start and refusing to truly believe his feelings were true for me.
And while he’d said I was one of only a small handful that he cared about, I didn’t have the gall or the balls to believe that still held true now.
But even so – and even if he had ignored my many emails to him over the last few months – I couldn’t seem to get him out of my mind.
Just like I couldn’t seem to shake my childhood memories of sitting in the kitchen with Tara and Gran, with her telling me that I could have any kind of future I desired, as long as I didn’t limit myself.
Had my staunch refusal to even entertain the idea of one day becoming a vampire been the real limit I’d placed on myself?
I couldn’t be sure.
In my many months away from my life as a telepathic fairy hybrid waitress, I’d seen and done things I’d only ever dreamed about.
But I had done them alone.
That wasn’t to say there hadn’t been a few men along the way who would have gladly joined me on my travels. Finding men who could speak English, but who thought in their native foreign tongue, showed me I could be with a human man, if I so desired.
But I hadn’t.
I hadn’t truly desired anyone because all I could see when I closed my eyes was six and a half feet of Nordic perfection.
Their skin was too warm.
Their thoughts, while foreign, were too loud.
Their hands too soft.
Their expressions smirk-free.
Their un-Eric-ness had made them less appealing in every way.
Even their ability to walk around with me in the daylight was eclipsed by the darkness that shrouded my heart.
I worried that only a dark soul who’d lived a thousand years would be able to seep through it.
Something I’d learned the truth of one day, while waiting to board my flight back home – with the birth of Jason’s first child looming, I really didn’t feel like I’d had much of a choice – not watching the television that was on for the waiting passengers, when I’d heard Eric’s voice coming through the speakers. Even though a year had passed since I’d last heard it, I would know it anywhere.
And, for the first time in a year, I truly laughed myself silly.
He was so cheesy. Nothing like the mysterious and brooding vampire I’d first laid eyes on in Fangtasia, sitting on his throne like God himself had put him there.
I wouldn’t have been surprised in the least to learn he had divine blood in him somewhere.
If not by birth, then by consumption.
But a part of me recognized a part of him that he had given me glimpses of before.
The softer funnier side of a thousand year old Viking vampire sheriff.
Both with his memories and without.
Christ, I missed him.
And seeing him now – doing his best Billy Mays impersonation – I knew it would always be him. Eric would always be the one who would fill my thoughts.
The one who could fill my body in ways no other ever could.
The only one who would always hold the largest piece of my heart.
After sending that first awkward and lame email to him, I’d never stopped. Not a single day had gone by when I hadn’t sent him something.
When my month in Hawaii had been up, I’d moved onto Australia. I’d told him in great detail about my trip to see the Sydney Opera House. I’d sent him a selfie I’d taken of me feeding a baby kangaroo at a petting zoo. I’d jokingly likened him to the sharks that had been spotted in the bay and that kept me in knee high water when I went to Bondi Beach.
And while he’d never replied to any of them, in a small weird way, I felt closer to him than I ever had. Like I’d had him there with me all the while and from the first email I’d sent to him, it was the first time since I’d stepped onto the plane that flew me out of Louisiana that I didn’t feel completely alone.
My travels had taken me to New Zealand next and seeing the landscape where the Hobbit movies had been made, made me ask how Doctor Ludwig was doing. Her bedside manner wasn’t the best, but I knew firsthand she was the best one to treat you when attacked by a maenad.
And on the slow days, when there wasn’t much to tell him at all, I would simply send him a corny joke.
Q. What do you get when you cross a vampire and a snowman?
Q. Why did the vampire bite the clown?
A. He wanted circus blood in him.
I’d held out a small bit of hope that those silly little jokes would get him to give in. To finally send me a reply, unable to hold back, with a corny joke of his own.
But he never did.
So when my travels finally came to an end and I returned to my home in Bon Temps, while I was no longer alone – per se – I still emailed Eric regularly. I kept him caught up on all the happenings in Bon Temps and even told him about my new job with Mr. C.
I doubted I would ever be able to say his last name correctly, but he didn’t seem to mind the nickname.
It was nice putting my gift to good use. I no longer viewed my telepathy as a curse. It was a part of me.
And being okay with me was something I’d learned to do in my year away.
With Jessica and Hoyt living just across the way in Bill’s former home, I saw them often. It was from her that I learned Eric and Pam had turned New Blood into a huge business venture and weren’t around Shreveport all that much anymore.
My mind reasoned that was why Eric hadn’t replied to any of my emails.
My heart refused to think of any other cause.
But it wasn’t until I was holding my brother’s firstborn that I was surprised to find that while my heart filled with joy – with the tiny Stackhouse who’d grown our small family by one in my arms – I didn’t have any pangs to have one of my own.
And it wasn’t until the birth of his next baby that I realized I didn’t want a child of my own if its father couldn’t be the one who held my heart.
And that was impossible, since his heart didn’t beat.
Not to mention the fact that he didn’t seem to want anything to do with me.
So I filled my days with my new job and my rapidly expanding circle of friends and family, now that I was home. And my nights were usually spent down in Eric’s cubby, reading or simply being.
It wasn’t an exciting life.
But then I’d had enough excitement in my life to last several lifetimes.
It had been shortly after Jessica and Hoyt’s third wedding anniversary – they’d gone to Vermont and made it official while I’d been away – when they invited me over for dinner. While Jess couldn’t eat food anymore, she hadn’t forgotten how to cook and made a lovely supper for Hoyt and I to share.
We’d grown even closer since I’d been back and I viewed them both as my extended family, so when they asked me for a favor that made my fork drop to my plate with a clatter, it didn’t take very long after that for my mind and heart to wrap itself around the idea.
And that was how I ended up agreeing to be the surrogate mother to their IVF baby.
Using the eggs of Jessica’s sister Eden – who had just turned eighteen a few months earlier – and Hoyt’s sperm, their little one was conceived in a petri dish and inserted into my womb.
I’d never been sick a day in my life, but that all came to an end when I discovered that morning sickness wasn’t confined to the hours before noon. And while I was happy to go through it for them, I couldn’t wait to be rid of the little bugger.
And be able to sleep on my back again.
I’d worried initially that I might have a difficult time handing the baby over when it was born and while I felt a connection to it that went beyond the umbilical cord we shared, my love for it grew in a way that was the same kind of love I felt for Jason’s children.
That of a favorite aunt.
And I knew how to be one of those, just fine, thanks to Jason’s brood of three.
But the pregnancy only cemented the fact in my mind that I wasn’t meant to be a mother. It chafed a little at my insides that even in something so human as to procreate, I wasn’t ‘normal’.
It chafed me even more that that fact chafed me at all.
My little chat with Reverend Daniels on that day so long ago had truly been eye opening. I hadn’t realized up until the moment came that I had truly begun to accept that I wasn’t fully of this world. It was why I’d refused to give Bill the last of my light to end his pitifully sad life.
I had never been normal, not even when I thought I was fully human.
And I never would be.
Both humans and Supes had reminded me of that fact at every turn.
So why had it taken a pregnancy for me to fully realize that fact?
But at least I wasn’t pregnant with my own baby when that realization came about.
A silver lining, if there ever was one.
The baby was due the second week of December, but I didn’t let that stop me from insisting on having a Thanksgiving Day spread that Gran would be proud of. I’d invited all of my family and friends to attend, which now included Bellefleur’s newest cook/bar back Tim.
I’d come across him one day, loitering in the parking lot of Bellefleur’s, when I’d stopped by one Saturday afternoon for lunch. And now that I’d finally learned to not give the stranger the benefit of the doubt, I immediately dove into his mind.
And what I’d found there broke my heart.
Tim was a drifter and a war vet. He’d been waiting on me to go inside, so he could root through the trash to find something to eat. His clouded thoughts had put me in mind of Terry and a part of me knew he’d been sent our way for a reason.
Perhaps even by Terry himself.
And like I was prone to do, I took to him like he was a stray cat and led him inside.
Not quite the same thing, as finding a snow white vampire running down my road in the dead of night, without his memories, but it was close enough.
And after speaking to Arlene in the back, Tim was hired on the spot and given Sam’s old trailer out back to live in rent free.
I’d been his hero ever since.
Tim had no family, having been disowned before he’d ever joined the military for being homosexual. But now he had a new family made up of both humans and vampires – and even a fairy hybrid or three – who loved him unconditionally.
A fact that did wonders to help him begin to heal.
I heard the familiar crackle of the turkey being lowered, just as his voice called out, “The turkey is frying.”
He wouldn’t let me lift anything heavier than a loaf of bread whenever he was around and he’d come over early that morning, knowing what I would be up to.
I was only pregnant for Christ’s sake. Not an invalid.
But knowing his heart was in the right place, I called out, “Thanks hon,” in return and chuckled hearing what equated to him blushing in his thoughts at the term of endearment.
He really was a sweet guy.
Not long after, everyone else started trickling in. Jason, Brigette, and their three hellions – I mean, little darlings – filed in very much like a tornado moving through a trailer park. Sam and his family showed up next, followed by Andy and Holly. And once the sun was fully set, the rest of our brood showed up.
The yard was lit up by fairy lights – no longer a pun, it was just a fact of life – and after I poured the beverages for the youngsters at the children’s table, I walked towards the end of the grownup table to give Tim a little hug.
He was feeling a little overwhelmed at finally feeling like he belonged in a family.
“We all love you,” I whispered into his ear, and laughed lightly when his beard tickled my face as he nodded in response.
When everyone was seated, we all raised our glasses in a toast of thanks for family and friends.
And, like always, Eric had been included in my silent prayer of thanks.
I’d always extended him an invitation to each and every get together or family function I’d had over the years in the emails I still sent him, but he’d never come to any of them. I even had a pile of unopened Christmas presents for him down in his cubby that grew just a little larger each year. But after the second full year of no-shows, I’d finally stopped setting a place for him at the table.
And everyone else had always known better than to ask who the empty setting had been put out for.
A small miracle there.
Busybodies. All of them.
But there wasn’t an empty seat to be found around the table this year and my glass of sparkling apple cider had barely been set down the tablecloth, when not a bird, not a plane, but a Superman nonetheless – in his own way – landed at my side.
All of me froze, not quite sure at first if my pregnancy brain wasn’t just making me see things that weren’t really there. I hadn’t had sex in just over four years – unfortunately, with Bill being my last partner – and to say my pregnancy hormones raged against that fact would be an understatement.
So it wouldn’t have been the first time I’d imagined a giant Viking swooping in to sweep me off of my swollen feet.
But it wasn’t until his eyes turned cold when they landed on my swollen belly that I recalled something else.
I’d never mentioned in any of my emails – that he may or may not have read – about the not so little favor I was doing for Jessica and Hoyt.
I don’t know why I’d never told him. Vanity perhaps, not wanting him to think of me being as big as a whale and as gassy as Jason, on the off chance he had been reading my emails. Or maybe it was because it wasn’t my news to share, much less my own child I was growing.
Baby Fortenberry was just squatting in my womb until it was safe for me to kick the little rent dodger out.
But it was obvious Eric didn’t know anything about little he or she who would be evicted well before Christmas because his voice was just as icy when his eyes took in everyone at the table – Tim especially – before turning them back on me and snidely remarking, “I gather congratulations are in order?”
Like the flip of a switch – and like there weren’t four years and a thirty-seven week old fetus in between us – I stood up, preparing to let him have it with both barrels.
And – in all likelihood – the last of my fairy light too, if he didn’t watch himself.