“Do you want to give your mom a call?” I asked Mr. Fidgety at my side. “I’m sure she’d want to see you try out for the team.”
We were ten minutes outside of Bon Temps. I didn’t know if Sookie had plans for the day – and I tried really hard not to think of how she could be using her free time to celebrate her engagement with Sam without Hunter around – but I still thought she might like to know what he was up to today.
Hunter looked at me like it had completely skipped his mind that he had a mother who might want to cheer him on, so he dove into his pocket for his cell phone and immediately placed the call. I felt more relief than I had any right to feel when she seemed to pick up right away because she couldn’t have said anything more than, “Hello,” when he immediately started rambling out, “Dad and me are on our way to Bon Temps. I’m going to try out for little league! Dad got me a glove and a bat yesterday and we spent all day practicing. He said I’m really good and not just because he’s my dad and has to say that, but that I really am and the coaches would have to be blind dickheads not to see it and do you want to come? We’ll be at the ball field in ten minutes.”
Note to self: Explain to Hunter the importance of paraphrasing things like dickheads when talking to his mother.
His excited little face got a little taken aback as he handed the phone to me and cringed, “She wants to talk to you.”
“Hello?” I asked into the receiver, knowing very well my balls could be on the chopping block.
But instead of taking me to task for the dickhead comment, she opened with, “Is he really good or are you really just saying that because you’re his dad?”
“He’s better than me when I was his age,” I replied truthfully. I could already picture her pacing a hole in the floor and practically heard her fretting on the other end of the line, so I tried to reassure her with, “It’s little league, Sookie. Not the majors. He’ll do fine.”
Her sigh filtered into my ear right before she said, “I had a feeling he wanted to play, but he didn’t have anyone to play with. You know how great I am at throwing a ball.”
“And you’re equally as stellar at catching one too,” I laughed and asked, “Do you remember? That’s how I knew you were wearing a pink bra underneath your white t-shirt on the night that we met.”
When I’d spotted Sookie in the stands that night at the Rangers Ballpark, I’d tossed her a baseball and Jason ended up spilling his beer down her front when he lunged to catch it.
I ended up giving him season tickets in thanks.
In my peripheral I could see Hunter turned red – apparently at the knowledge his mother wore a bra – and he groaned, covering his ears, while Sookie gasped and shrieked out, “Eric!”
I’d missed her shrieking my name – and all of the other sounds I used to be able to get out of her – among other things.
“Of course I remember,” she laughed, “But that’s not something Hunter needs to know about.”
“He’s got his ears covered and is humming something that suspiciously sounds like a wounded bison being picked apart by a pack of mountain lions.” Hunter proved he could still hear me given the glare he graced me with, so I laughed and said, “It seems our boy inherited your lovely singing voice.”
“You’re such an ass,” she cackled.
“You like my ass,” I reminded her before my brain caught on that I shouldn’t be reminding her of those things.
Or maybe I shouldn’t be reminding myself of those things.
Hunter’s volume merely increased hearing what amounted to me flirting with his mother, while she snickered, “Yeah, well it’s an All-Star, even if you’re not.”
“Ouch,” I smirked, not caring how true that statement was. I’d never thought myself an all-star, so I was never disappointed by not making the team.
But I’d missed our back and forth banter.
I missed a lot of things about Sookie.
The long pause afterward made me wonder if she was thinking along the same lines, but instead of giving voice to any of it, she asked, “So you think he’ll make the team? I’d hate for him to be disappointed if he doesn’t. Especially since…you know…you played for the majors. That’s a lot of pressure for him to live up to.”
“He’ll do fine, Sookie. But if you don’t believe me, then you should just come out and see for yourself.” But wondering if perhaps she had plans, I added, “That is unless you had something else to do today?”
“Nothing that can’t wait,” she replied and ended the call with, “I’ll see you there.”
So what could wait? Celebration sex with Sam? Grocery shopping? Celebration sex with Sam? Laundry?
Celebration sex with Sam?
Whatever it was, it wasn’t important since we were important enough for her that whatever else she planned on doing could wait.
Like celebration sex with Sam could wait until half past never.
So I handed Hunter back his phone and said, “Mom’s going to meet us at the ball field.”
And I really hoped Sam wouldn’t be there too. I knew it was selfish of me, but I didn’t get a lot of fatherly moments with Hunter, having been away for so long. I wanted this to be just us – just this once.
A family moment.
And Sam wasn’t family. Yet.
But my worries were for nothing because Sam was nowhere to be seen when we arrived. Just Sookie, wearing a fitted tee and a pair of shorts that I would spend the rest of the day being jealous of. She was still young and growing into herself when we’d first met, but after having Hunter her curves had filled out.
Breasts, hips, and ass, she had a perfect hourglass figure.
It made me want to flip her upside down and spend an hour enjoying whatever ran out of her and into my mouth.
It also made me think maybe wearing basketball shorts wasn’t such a good idea.
I seemed to get high marks when she came over and hugged Hunter, finding him both fur and funk free, because she smiled at me and said, “So I see you all survived the night.”
Before I could say anything, my little non-paraphraser beat me to the punch and said, “We ate greasy burgers and fries and had milkshakes before we passed out in a food coma! Dad said he was going to throw me in the pool to get the dirt off of me before I got in the shower, but he didn’t want my sludge to clog up the filter.”
Instead of berating me for my Neanderthal parenting style, Sookie merely looked wide-eyed at me and asked, “You have a pool? I’m so jealous!”
“You’re more than welcome to use it,” I offered.
I remembered all too well how tiny her bikinis were.
But hearing her proclaimed jealousy, I damn near opened my mouth to offer to pay to have one put in at their house. That is until my brain caught up and realized Sam would get some enjoyment out of it too.
I remembered all too well how tiny her bikinis were.
“I just might take you up on that offer,” she smiled, but before my hopes could get as high as my dick was trying to get in my shorts, she turned back to Hunter and asked, “So are you nervous?”
While we walked towards the bleachers, I watched as she fretted over him like any mother would and felt a pang in my chest over just how much I’d missed out on. How much I’d missed this.
How much I’d missed her.
But seeing the rock on her hand, I knew I’d already missed out on my chance, so I buried my feelings away for now.
I could always dig them back up later on with my pal Jose Cuervo.
The crowd was much bigger than I expected. It seemed like everyone in Bon Temps was there and they each had their own rugrat between the ages of eight and twelve. I hoped I really hadn’t been swayed by my paternal DNA in assessing Hunter’s skill level, so while Sookie was busy fretting Hunter to death a few feet away, my eyes were busy assessing the competition when I was stirred out of my reverie by an unfamiliar voice saying, “You’re Hunter’s dad, right? The ballplayer? Eric Northman?”
My eyes followed the voice to see a pretty brunette staring back at me and I could tell by the look in hers that she was interested in more than my son’s paternity. But not knowing who she was – and not wanting to piss off the potential wife of Hunter’s potential new coach – I just nodded and said, “Yes, I am.”
“Oh, I’ve heard about you,” she smiled. Her eyes traveled the length of my body and her expression turned lustful when she licked her lips and said, “I can’t believe Sookie would downgrade from you to Sam. I certainly wouldn’t have let you get away. I’m Dawn, by the way. Dawn Green.”
Green with envy, perhaps?
She was pretty enough that had I met her a week ago, I probably would’ve picked up what she was putting down, but now…
Now my eyes narrowed back at her and I could feel the frown forming on my lips, hearing her say anything bad about Sookie. It was me who let Sookie get away, not the other way around, but before I could set her straight Hunter was back at my side. It reminded me of our run in at the park the day before, so instead of showing my ass yet again – even if it was Sookie’s favorite part of me – I let my indifference to her not-so-subtle offer shine through and only said, “Nice to meet you. Now if you’ll excuse us, I have to get back to my family.”
Sookie could have a harem of husbands, it made no difference. She would always be the mother of my son, so she would always be my family.
And as we walked away Hunter informed me at a decibel everyone in our twenty foot radius could hear, “Mom said she’s a tramp.”
The tramp and his mother included in said twenty foot radius.
I didn’t bother to look back at the tramp, not caring what she’d heard, but I was amused seeing Sookie’s horrified expression. And as soon as we got close enough, she leaned forward and whispered to him, “What have I told you about not repeating everything you hear?”
“But Dad hasn’t heard it yet so it’s new to him,” he argued, using kid logic.
“Dad can form his own opinions,” she whisper argued back and it made me wonder where that thought might lead her to.
Because I know where it led me to.
But not wanting to relive any of that misery, I merely threw my arm over his shoulder and said, “He was just giving his old man a heads up. I’m new to town, so he’s just doing his part in keeping me informed of the dangers lurking about.”
“Yeah,” he snickered. “But you don’t need a GPS to find any tramps. They seem to flock to you just like that lady from yesterday.”
I guess Sookie never taught him to not repeat everything he’d seen either.
At his mother’s raised eyebrow, he went on to give her a blow by blow of our little skirmish in the park, while I contemplated how bad it might look if I fashioned his new glove into a Hannibal Lecter-like mask over his face. So when he ran off to let me face any potential blow back from his blow by blow account all by myself, instead of seeing any anger in her eyes, all she did was smile and say, “Well at least now you know about Dawn. She’s like a local celebrity around here. People come from miles around to see her because she could give McDonald’s a run for their money. Over one billion served. On her back.”
Did that mean she cared? Didn’t care?
Did I care what she thought?
I already knew the answer to that considering I was thisclose to gagging my own kid with Rawlings finest leather, but since I didn’t know how she really felt about it all, I cast out feelers by locking my eyes onto hers and saying, “I think I’ve had enough fast food garbage for one lifetime.”
The insinuation was there, but would she pick up what I was putting down?
“But you’ve always had an affinity for greasy burgers.”
The insinuation was there too – in her eyes more than her tone of voice – but even if I wasn’t second guessing everything I’d done wrong that had cost me my relationship with Sookie, after Hunter’s Google admission from the day before I knew I had to change. He deserved to have a father he could look up to, not down on. So it was with that thought in mind that filled my voice with conviction when I said, “Really Sookie, I’m…”
”Hey, there you are!”
We both looked up to see the man attached to the voice that had interrupted me. I recognized him from the pictures Sookie had sent, but watching him give me the hairy eyeball before putting his arm around Sookie told me he knew who I was too.
But then, Sam should know who I was.
“You made it,” she smiled back at him before turning to me and saying, “Eric, this is Sam.”
“It’s good to finally meet you,” I said, offering my hand and dickishly evaluating the strength of his handshake.
A four out of ten. Tops.
“You too,” he smiled back at me, but his eyes were still watching me warily. I resisted the urge to snap his fingers in half and let go of his hand, but second guessed myself a second later when he added, “So, did Sook tell you the good news? We’re getting married.”
It wasn’t so much his words as it was the way he said them.
Like he was pissing on her leg and marking his territory.
I could always toss her into my pool to clean her off, but I wouldn’t mind holding his head under the water for a minute or ten.
“She did. Congratulations,” I smiled, with my teeth feeling unnaturally clenched.
“I told you I told him,” Sookie whispered through some clenched teeth of her own. But instead of looking contrite over his posturing, he merely held onto her body even tighter and stared me down.
And suddenly I could see the four seams forming across his head, with the chant of, ‘Swing batter batter swing!’ echoing in my mind.
“Hey Sam!” Hunter called out and appeared at our side seconds later, making all of us ratchet down a notch. He didn’t seem to notice any tension between us as he looked up at him and innocently asked, “Why aren’t you working?”
“I am,” he admitted. “I just wanted to run over real quick and see how it was going.”
Between me and Sookie no doubt, since he had yet to even look at Hunter.
Was that strife I smelled in the air surrounding their relationship?
I wanted to ask him what he did for a living, making a jibe about being a fry cook, when I knew he actually owned the bar. But with Hunter there and my vow to be a better man from now on, I kept it in.
But since Hunter wasn’t telepathic it didn’t mean I couldn’t think it.
“Well they’re only up to the B’s and since I’m an ‘N’, I won’t be getting called up for a while,” Hunter informed him.
That’s right. He’s an ‘N’. For Northman.
I almost wished Sookie had chosen to hyphenate his last name, so he’d be even farther down the line as a Stackhouse-Northman. But his last name could’ve been Compton considering Hunter had barely finished his sentence when Sam turned to Sookie and said, “I really need to get back. With everyone in town running around today we’re getting slammed right now.”
“Okay,” she replied, not looking too put out that his visit was less than five minutes long. And seeing the sourpuss on her face I guessed maybe it was five minutes too long.
In that moment I really wished I was a telepath.
He made a point of lifting her left hand and kissing the ring on it before turning to me with another fake smile and saying, “Well it was good to meet finally meet you Eric. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of each other from now on.”
“Yep,” I smiled in return.
I’d be seeing him at the bottom of my pool if I had my way.
Sookie looked mad enough to spit nails by the time he turned tail and left, so when Hunter ditched us for his friend Jake, I gestured to a spot underneath a nearby tree and said, “I guess we should take a seat. It looks like it’ll be a while.”
What I really wanted to do was ask what in the hell she saw in Mr. Territorial, but knowing I had my own caveman streak running through my veins I figured it might be a pattern for her.
Just like tramps seeking me out was a pattern for me.
She followed alongside me silently and seemed lost in thought, staring down at her engagement ring, so I let her be figuring she’d say something eventually. And she did.
“Was it just me or did you feel that splash back from my golden shower?”
“No,” I chuckled, actually feeling grateful she’d brought it up because it was killing me to not say anything. “It wasn’t just you. Got any of those baby wipes leftover in your purse? Or do you need to change your shoes?”
Turning to finally face me, she smiled and smacked my arm saying, “Hunter only ever peed on you as a baby. My ninja-like reflexes kept me dry.”
True. That kid saw an invisible bullseye on me every time I changed his diaper.
“Well you seem to have lost some of your ninja-ness,” I laughed. “You might want to brush up on that or else your wedding dress will be yellow instead of white. And it may be a good idea to put one of those doggie piss pads on the floor in front of the altar.”
Her smile was still there, but it wasn’t as happy as I’d seen in the past. Instead it was kind of sad when she admitted, “We haven’t gotten that far in the planning stages, but…”
And when her words ended there and I couldn’t take the suspense any longer, I asked, “But?”
“Never mind,” she sighed. And seeing what was likely my ‘I’m-not-going-to-drop-it’ expression, she added, “You’re the last person I should be talking to about my relationship with Sam.”
Aside from the ways we could make one another’s bodies explode, talking was one of the other strengths in our relationship. Sookie and I always could – and did – talk about everything at one point.
It was what made telling her I’d cheated on her all the more difficult to spit out the words, but it would’ve been even harder to keep them in.
But I wasn’t going to push her into it. And honestly, she was right. I already knew I couldn’t be objective when it came to her and any man – Sam or not – so instead I shrugged and looked around for inspiration in changing the subject, finding it in the melee surrounding us.
“Was there something in the water that made the town’s citizens so fertile eight to twelve years ago?”
“I wouldn’t know,” she chuckled, looking relieved that I wasn’t going to dig for information. “But the water I was drinking back then must’ve been suspect too.”
She’d gotten pregnant in spite of being on the pill, but remembering how she’d gotten that way I couldn’t stop myself from smirking back at her with, “Or maybe I’m just that manly. All I had to do was look at you and bam! You’re pregnant.”
“Yeah,” she laughed and then her eyes filled with a playful yet shameless quality when she added, “All you did was look at me.”
Yeah…wearing basketball shorts was a really bad idea, just like my chosen subject change.
And thinking about everything Sookie and I used to do that had nothing to do with how I looked at her was threatening to get me arrested for indecent exposure.
There was no hiding the effect my memories were having on me.
“Now who’s doing the looking?” I asked when she couldn’t seem to stop.
At the effect she was having on me.
“That’s like trying to not look at an ostrich flying overhead,” she laughed and turned away, while her skin turned bright red. “It’s one of those things you can’t not look at.”
Fuck me, but all I wanted to do was kiss her.
So fuck me for fucking her over once upon a time, making it so that I couldn’t.
“Did you see me?” Hunter yelled, breaking the spell we’d been under and running towards us with a big grin on his face. And feeling like an even bigger shit for missing out on his tryout because I was too busy flirting with his mother – when I had no right to – I tried to think of something to say.
But Sookie just smiled brightly at him, like her eyes hadn’t just been glued to my shorts’ attempt at surrendering themselves to her, and said, “Yes we did and you did great!”
Maybe it was true?
All mothers had eyes in the backs of their heads?
“The coaches said we would find out next week who made what team,” he rambled out in the next breath. “Can we go now? I’m hot and sweaty and I want to go swimming.”
Swimming, like my dick was still doing in my shorts.
“Aww,” Sookie pouted and pulled herself to her feet, brushing off the dirt from her ass, which did nothing to brush away my eyes from it. “I’m jealous.”
“So come with us,” I offered, thankful I hadn’t said with me.
As in cum with me, which was what I really wanted.
“Nooo,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t want to intrude on your time together.”
“It’s no intrusion,” I volleyed back. And looking down at Hunter, I said, “Is it.”
Not a question.
“I don’t care,” he replied with a shrug and took off for the car.
“See?” I grinned at Sookie already picturing the skimpiest of bikinis on her.
And what it would look like off of her.
“He doesn’t care.”
But I did.
“I guess he doesn’t,” she huffed and shook her head. “He just ran off without a goodbye or a go to hell. There was a time when he wouldn’t even leave me alone for long enough to pee by myself.”
“But at least he never peed on you,” I said, pointing out the bright side. But talking about peeing on her reminded me to sober up enough and say, “Unless you think coming along might get you another golden shower later on.”
While I could admit that I did want Sookie back – admit to myself – I really didn’t want to purposely sabotage her relationship with Sam.
Especially now when he seemed to be doing a bang up job of it all by himself.
But my intended sincerity was met by her narrowed eyes. I thought for a moment I was actually going to have to come out and say that I didn’t want to ruin her relationship with that asshole, when her shoulders and back straightened just as she said, “You know what? I would love to go for a swim. I’ll meet you at your house in about an hour.”
Huh. Well…okay then.