“Hey Andy,” I greeted, when he walked up to the truck.
Hunter had taken off the moment we’d arrived at the ball field, excited to be playing his first game.
Even if for the rest of the team, it was their second game.
Normally I would’ve made him stick around and help me schlep the gear to the dugout, but I let him go because for the first time since that night at their house, he was acting like he used to.
Seeing Sam act the way he did had really shaken him. It was surprising in a way at first because it hadn’t occurred to me Hunter would’ve had some sort of attachment to him and had probably considered him a friend. At the very least he would’ve thought Sam was an adult he could trust and now that trust was shattered. But it only brought home the fact Sookie’s mild – but absolutely true – warning, on the night of our second first date, likely had more to do with Hunter than with us.
This was it. If our relationship didn’t work out this time, she wouldn’t be willing to give it another go because she wouldn’t put Hunter through it again.
At the time, my thoughts had been selfish in nature – that I wouldn’t be able to handle going through losing them all over again – but seeing how affected he’d been by Sam’s betrayal, only now could I truly understand her reasoning.
I wouldn’t willingly put him through that either.
Not that I thought Sookie and I wouldn’t work out this time. I honestly couldn’t imagine how we couldn’t work out, but I doubted I would feel completely at ease until she promised me forever.
In the back of my mind, she was only mine for now.
While we were both so similar to back then – the chemistry between us was as strong as ever – we were different now too. I had changed in that I now knew what I had to lose and wouldn’t do anything to lose her a second time, but she had changed too.
She was barely twenty years old when we’d met. Not old enough to go into a bar, but old enough to run off with me. And while she’d always had her own mind – her own opinions – she’d been more reliant on me. She’d gone from having her family taking care of her to me taking care of her and looking back, it showed in the way she always seemed to defer to me to make decisions.
Now that she’d been on her own for a while, she’d grown into herself. She was more confident in who she was and what she wanted. Hearing her explanation as to why she’d broken off her engagement, I knew she wouldn’t let anyone walk all over her.
Not that I walked all over her before, but this new self-assured version of Sookie was decidedly sexier.
We hadn’t been back to Bon Temps other than to take Hunter to and from school and he hadn’t asked us about going home.
He seemed to like his new one just fine.
But he liked it a little too much.
He’d slept in between us again the night before, so I was hoping he would be exhausted after the game tonight and pass out in his own bed.
Because while Sookie may have joked more than a few times about getting a quickie in, that’s what she would more than likely get, whether we were aiming for one or not.
It was pure torture to have her in my bed and not be able to do anything about it.
At the moment, she was at the garage picking up her car. Tray had completed the work pretty fast, which seemed to both please and annoy Sookie.
She liked driving the Vette.
She liked it even more when I suggested she park her car in Jason’s garage for the time being, using the guise of there being no point in keeping three cars at my place, so she could keep driving the Vette.
I definitely got points for my suggestion.
I’d dropped her off at work that morning and Jason had picked her up, so he could take her to the ball field with him when they were done. But not seeing her with me had Andy multitasking, with the coach in him pulling the equipment out of the truck, while the detective in him asked, “Was Sookie able to get the TRO?”
Nodding, I grabbed the rest of the gear and said, “Yesterday afternoon. The lawyer she works for filed for the temporary restraining order at the court himself and got the judge to agree to forbid him from having any guns, while we wait on having a full court hearing in three weeks to try and get a long term protective order put in place.”
I didn’t realize what a big deal Mr. C was in the world of law, but I found out pretty quickly he was a man you wanted in your corner. He worked faster than the time it would take to figure out how to say his name correctly and I felt even better finding out his building came with private security.
Sookie introduced me to the guy in charge when I’d stopped by the afternoon before, some Khal Drogo looking fucker named Mustapha Khan.
She’d been all smiles and polite at first, when introducing us. But she didn’t find it very funny when I felt the need to get my point across by pointing at her and over enunciating her name, as I said, “Soo–kee – mother of Hunter. Not Khaleesi – mother of dragons.”
He was the size of an NFL linebacker. She may have called me Fred Flintstone, but it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if his usual pick-up line was an actual pick-up.
By picking up whoever had caught his eye and throwing them over his shoulder, while he made a mad dash for his cave.
And Sookie was shiny and beautiful, so I knew from experience any caveman would be attracted to her.
So I felt minutely better seeing the corner of his lips twitch upward, as he nodded and said, “Got it.”
And then added with a smirk, “And I get that a lot.”
I wasn’t surprised. Him and the Dothraki chieftain could be twins.
But I was surprised to find out he was gay.
But Sookie did, which explained why she pinched my side and smacked my ass before she shoved me out of the building to go pick up Hunter.
Although, I didn’t get that explanation until later.
I already knew from my numerous phone calls to Andy since then that they weren’t able to find anything definitive that could tie Sam to the break-in. Andy’s cousin Terry had said, as far as he knew, Sam had been working in his office at the bar from the time he would’ve left after our fight in Sookie’s yard until closing.
And he had another alibi for the remainder of the night in the form of one of his waitresses named Daphne.
It hadn’t changed my stance though. I still believed Sam was the one responsible. Something Andy believed to be true too, adding he could’ve slipped out the backdoor for a little while and no one would’ve been the wiser, but he couldn’t prove it.
And my question as to whether any prints or DNA could be found on the rock used to smash in Sookie’s windshield were met with a gruff, “This ain’t no CSI: Bon Temps.”
But it didn’t take any scientific test – real or fictional – for the detective in Andy to notice the nearly identical to his one-game-old uniform shirt on Hunter’s back, and he looked at me with a questioning expression, so I explained, “I’ll go with whatever you decide, but after everything that happened, I really don’t want his name on my kid’s back.”
In my fit of what Sookie had laughingly called ‘Father Fury,’ I’d gone ahead and express ordered all new shirts for the entire team – and two coaches – and had just picked them up in Shreveport before driving out to Bon Temps.
Now, instead of seeing ‘Dickface’s Bar & Grill’ on the back, it read ‘The Law Offices of Desmond Cataliades’.
I’d made sure Sookie’s boss wouldn’t mind having his business advertised on our backs before having them made and offered to pay whatever fee was associated with being a sponsor out of my own pocket. It only seemed fair since the work he was doing for Sookie was pro bono.
But I wasn’t sure what the little league rules were on changing sponsors once the season had started, since Dickface had already paid the fee to have his dick name on our backs.
So I felt better when Andy began to chuckle before saying, “Well then, Merlotte just got one of his demands taken care of.”
Pulling out the shirt in his size, he changed into it before explaining, “He called me this morning, probably not long after he got served the TRO now that I think about it, and said he didn’t want to sponsor the team anymore. Said he didn’t want his good name associated with likes of you, so now he don’t got to worry about that anymore.”
If that only took care of one of his demands – and having the gall to make any demand after everything he’d done made the Father Fury in me demand I beat his ass again – I couldn’t even begin to guess what else he felt he was entitled to and asked, “What were his other demands?”
Shrugging, he replied, “To get his money back. But it’s too late for that.”
Changing into my new uniform shirt was all the sweeter, knowing Dickface was at least paying for something.
Even if it wasn’t enough.
It would never be enough.
We got the gear set up and new shirts passed out before the kids got started on doing their warmups, but I didn’t realize how distracted I was, until I finally saw Sookie and Jason making their way to the bleachers.
Breathing a small sigh of relief now that she was there safe and sound, I focused on the ballgame that was starting. Being little leaguers, the games were only six innings long, instead of nine, which would lead one to believe the games wouldn’t last as long.
And that belief might hold true if the pitchers weren’t eight and nine years old.
Wild pitches seemed to be the norm, but at least the umpire’s calls were forgiving because his strike zone could be called generous.
And, according to some parents in the stands, somewhat ridiculous, unless he was legally blind.
But instead of losing my cool, I kept my mouth in check and repeatedly told myself they were just kids.
They were still learning and at this stage, playing the game should be about having fun.
And my mantra was working – mostly.
Hunter was playing second base and seemed to be a natural at the position. I’d spent the majority of my career playing the outfield, so this little talent was all his own.
My chest may have expanded with fatherly pride.
Pride that flowed out of my chest and through my mouth, when I loudly cheered him catching the poorly aimed ball thrown to him by the catcher and still managing to tag a kid out on a steal between second and first.
His expression was one of pure shock at first, followed by elation and I didn’t think the smile could’ve been wiped from either one of our faces.
But I was wrong.
Because as my eyes swept over towards the bleachers in search of Sookie, my gaze caught sight of another spectator.
Standing off to the side and partially hidden by the snack stand, with his eyes trained on Sookie, he looked like a stereotypical predator.
If he’d been wearing a sash that said ‘DATELINE’ it would’ve completed the picture.
I forced my feet to stay within the ball field and not take off in a sprint towards that asshole. The last thing I wanted was for Hunter to notice him there.
Not when he was so happy.
Not when he seemed to be feeling normal again.
Since his tagging out the runner ended the inning, I calmly walked over to where Andy was standing and said only loud enough for him to hear, “Sam’s standing by the snack stand.”
Andy’s head whipped towards the small building, while I high-fived the kids as they piled into the dugout and tried to smile normally when I told a passing Hunter, “Great job!”
I really was proud of him.
And I really wanted to kill Sam for taking some of that happiness away from the moment.
But I was determined for me to be the only one suffering from his presence by trying to hide the fact he was there from Hunter. Andy seemed to be of the same mindset because he gave me a look that said he would take care of it before walking out of the dugout.
So while the kids who were next in line to go up to bat got ready for their appearance at the plate, I sent a quick text to Jason to let him know what was going on, in case Sam got by Andy and made a move towards Sookie.
Darting my eyes back and forth from the snack stand to the bleachers, I saw when Jason read my text. And then leaning towards Sookie, he said something to her, while pointing at something in the opposite direction of the snack stand, and only looked for Sam when she was focused on whatever he’d mentioned to her.
He really was a smart fucker for being such a bonehead sometimes.
Sam took off the moment he noticed Andy making his way towards him and the rest of the game passed without incident. Our team narrowly pulled a win out of their ass, which had Hunter’s ass sitting on cloud nine all the way back to Shreveport.
Thankfully, he was so hopped up on his high that he and Sookie talked about the game the whole way home, so I could stew with neither one of them being the wiser.
At least that’s what I thought.
But, like I knew all about Sookie’s outfits and the shoes she needed to go with them, she knew all about me and my silent stewing.
Something she proved when after Hunter went off to take a shower and she turned to me and said, “What’s got you in your grumpy pants? They won, so you should be in your happy pants.”
“Sam was at the game,” I admitted without hesitation, wanting to protect her from the news on one hand, but unwilling to lie to her about it.
Distrust would be the quickest way to lose her.
Her eyes narrowed, likely rewinding the images of the evening at the ball field in her mind, but after she chewed on my words for a few minutes she eventually shrugged and said, “He’s digging his own grave. Don’t let him drag us down with him.”
I don’t know why I was still caught off guard hearing her refer to us as us. We’d agreed to give our relationship a go again. For all intents and purposes they were living with me now. And yet I still felt a little quickening in my chest whenever she said anything that had to do with there even being an ‘us’.
“I love you.”
The words had fallen from my lips without any conscious thought. I’d admitted my feelings for her already, but it was only the second time I’d said the words out loud again since the first time in my kitchen.
Like my admission, my omission hadn’t been a conscious thought either, but in the back of my mind, I knew I hadn’t wanted her to feel pressured to return the sentiment, no matter how much I longed to hear the words from her.
Even now I didn’t need to hear her say them in return, but I did need to say them.
I just didn’t know how much I needed to say them until I did.
All traces of our conversation about Dickface disappeared from her expression, with her eyes turning glassy and her lips turning up slightly in the corners, as she said, “I love you too. I never really stopped.”
My feet were already carrying me towards her, when they stopped on a dime hearing, “Can I have something to eat? I’m starving.”
Staring back at me, her smile grew wider, while she shook her head and said, “He seemed like such a good idea at the time.”
“Eating is always a good idea,” Hunter offered, hearing only what he wanted to hear as he walked in between us on his way to the kitchen.
It was either laugh or cry, so I chose the former and chuckled, “It’s the Jason in him.”
But Sookie seemed hell bent on getting the latter to happen by pressing the front of her body against mine and lifting only her eyes, while she asked, “So what is it going to take to get the Eric in me?”
“We could feed him Robitussin for dinner,” I offered in a hoarse voice.
It used to knock his ass out when he was a baby.
Her eyes narrowed, likely rewinding the images of those nights from his childhood in her mind, because she sounded just as frustrated as I felt when she said, “He’s sleeping in his own bed tonight.”
“We’ll tie him down if we have to,” I agreed.
“Is anybody gonna cook anything or am I gonna have to start a fire?” Hunter called out from the kitchen.
“Cinder blocks,” Sookie grumbled, while pulling away and walking towards the kitchen. “We can seal him in his room, like a time capsule.”
“I’ll stock it with Twinkies,” I chuckled, following behind her. “They supposedly last forever.”
Unaware he was in danger of being King Tut’d, Hunter looked up at us with wide eyes as we made our way into the kitchen, asking, “Twinkies for dinner? We’re never leaving!”
I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like if and when they did.
Once his belly was full, Hunter’s energy rapidly waned. With his dinner eaten and his active night at the ball field, we didn’t even need the tryptophan Sookie had grumbled about from the turkey we didn’t have or the time we didn’t have to make one.
His eyes were drooping, getting heavier with each passing minute, as he sat at the table. So we shooed him off towards his room and held our breaths when he face planted on the bed. His feet were hanging over the edge, but neither one of us seemed willing to adjust his body further onto the mattress.
“The fall won’t kill him,” Sookie whispered my thoughts aloud, as she slowly crept from the room.
His M.O. on the previous two nights was to fall asleep in his bed for all of five minutes before climbing into ours. Something we both seemed to be cognizant of because instead of jumping each other the moment we entered the bedroom, we each took our time getting ready for bed.
We silently changed our clothes, with me changing in the walk-in closet and Sookie using the bathroom. When she came out with her face and teeth freshly scrubbed, I went in and brushed my teeth, with neither one of us saying a word.
Our mutual looks said all there needed to be said.
I was sure the moment either one of us acknowledged the fact we were finally alone, or that we might actually have the opportunity to christen the mattress, it would jinx us.
So instead we climbed into opposite sides of the bed and lay there, side by side in the darkened room.
Five minutes had gone by.
And then ten.
Neither one of us so much as breathed during the entire time, until Sookie rolled on top of me and exhaled with a soft giggle, “I think we’re clear.”
And her intentions were clear when she sat up, straddling my hips and pulling her sleep shirt over the top of her head, leaving her completely naked.
I didn’t know where to start. Where to put my hands or mouth.
There were so many options.
But Sookie seemed to know exactly where she wanted to start because she leaned down, pressing her bare chest on top of mine, and kissed me.
It was perfect.
It was everything.
It was everything perfect.
It was everything I both needed and wanted, but feeling her body grinding down on top of mine, and knowing there was nothing more between us but my shorts, I both needed and wanted more.
Rolling us over so I was on top of her, she seemed to be of the same mindset because her hands immediately began pushing the shorts down my body.
But where I was of the mindset of worshipping her body with my mouth for a while, as soon as my fully erect cock sprung free from its cotton confines, she shifted her hips just enough and used her hands on my ass to pull me down so that I was sliding into her for the second first time.
She was already so wet, so I could only imagine what she’d been thinking for those ten minutes, but every thought fled my mind at the feeling of being inside of her again, with a hoarse, “Fuck,” tumbling from my lips.
“That’s the plan,” she moaned in return and moved her hips to get me to move mine.
With my eyes now adjusted to the darkness, looking down into hers, I could see it all.
Her love for me.
Our future together.
So I leaned down and pressed my lips to hers, feeling her smile form when I agreed to any and everything she wanted, by quoting a line from her most favorite – and the dumbest – movie of all.
“As you wish.”