“I got it,” I called when the doorbell rang. Thor was sitting next to me and jumped up like his ass was on fire so he could greet our guest. He wasn’t a barker, really but his tail was going a million miles a second.
“No, I got it, Daddy!” Madi yelled. She ran quickly right by me to get to the front door first.
“What’s the rush?” I stepped up behind her as she opened the door.
I stood there with my jaw on the floor for a good twenty seconds. What the fuck was Tits McGee doing at my front door?
“What are yo–” I looked at the boy. Fuck me running Sookie’s little gargoyle was the little shit seeing my daughter. I looked down at Madi who was looking up at me with an expectant smile. It suddenly made sense as to why she hadn’t told me she had a boyfriend. “Come in,” I sighed. I wasn’t happy. At all.
“Nice to see you too, Eric,” Sookie said as she stepped into my house behind her son. She looked to my daughter and said, “It’s lovely to meet you, Madi.”
“Thanks, Ms. Stackhouse. Daddy, this is Josh. Josh, this is my dad,” Madi introduced us.
“It’s good to meet you, sir.” Josh extended a hand to me. There weren’t any stains on it, so he obviously wasn’t a grease monkey.
“You too.” I shook his hand. He had a firm grip. That much I could respect. “So Madi tells me you two have been dating a few months now, huh?” I waited for Joshua and his mother to walk in before I closed the door behind them.
“Yes, sir,” he confirmed. “Just over five months now.”
I looked over at Sookie and said, “I can see now why it was a secret.” I wished Madi would have told me she was dating the enemy’s son. A little warning would have been nice. I didn’t like Sookie at all, but Josh couldn’t help who his mother was.
All she did was smile.
“Ms. Stackhouse, can I get you something to drink?” Madi offered. “We’ve got water, milk, orange juice, Diet Coke, sweet tea, lemonade…”
“Sweet tea would nice, Madi, thank you,” she answered politely.
“I already know what you want,” Madi said, shooting a wink at her… gargoyle.
“So…” I didn’t know what to say. I was still stunned my daughter was dating a Stackhouse. “Would you like to have a seat?” I walked toward the living room. I saw Gracie peek her head over the top of the stairs. I shook my head at her letting her know now was not the time. I was sure she knew who her sister had been dating.
Madi met us in the living room with two glasses in her hands. She gave one to Sookie and the other to Josh, and then she sat down next to her boyfriend.
“So I’m guessing you’re wondering why I’m here,” Sookie said to get things going. Her eyes shifted to Madi, whose eyes suddenly went wide. Josh nodded, silently communicating something to me daughter that left me out of the loop.
I wasn’t happy.
“I am as a matter of fact,” I confirmed. “I don’t have any intentions of being a caveman. I understand my daughters are growing up… why is everyone looking at me like that?”
“I am growing up Daddy,” Madi said. She turned toward me and I noticed Josh took her hand. He gave it a little squeeze that made Madi smile some. “Josh and I… Well see the thing is I love him…”
“So you’ve said…” I didn’t like the feeling I was getting in the pit of my stomach.
“Remember how when I was twelve you gave me that really awkward talk about how when a man and a woman love each other–”
“No,” I said immediately. I stood up from my chair, making Thor stand up too. “Don’t you dare say it, Madison Paige.” I remembered that talk. If she was talking about having sex with that little cumstai– Oh. My. God…
I started to get light headed. There was only one reason Sookie Stackhouse would have showed up at my place for this talk. My baby was… no…
“I’m pregnant, Daddy,” she said, confirming my worst fear.
“No… You’re…” I looked back and forth between Madi, Josh and Sookie. Sookie obviously already knew. “Madi, you’re still a baby yourself,” was all I could think to say.
“We’re young, but I know we can do this, Daddy. I love Josh and he loves me. We can make this work,” she said.
“I do love your daughter, sir. I’m going to be here to help her with whatever she needs,” Josh said.
I stared at him for a good thirty seconds. That little shit touched my daughter in ways she should have never been touched. I glanced back at my traitor child that allowed him to do it. I thought I taught her better than that.
“You’re goddamn right you’re going to help her,” I muttered. It had been a long, long time since I felt like I needed Aude like I did just then. I had to sit back down when I started to wobble on my feet. I wasn’t prepared to be a grandfather. Hell, I wasn’t ready to be a dad at twenty-three and Josh was going to be one sixteen or seventeen. “You two realize how big of a responsibility this it, right? Madi, it’s not like when we got Thor. This is a human being you’re… you’re going to be responsible for.”
“I know, Daddy,” she nodded. She looked over at Josh and said, “But I know we can make it. Nana will help me. I hope you and Ms. Stackhouse will help us too.”
“Have you told Nana?”
“No, not yet. I wanted to tell you first. I wanted to wait a few days before I told you so you could get to know Josh first and see how great he is.”
“Yeah, that wasn’t happening,” Sookie piped up. “Sorry, but your dad deserved to know this now. If you’re going to make adult decisions, you have to face adult consequences.”
I looked over at Sookie. It was the first time ever we’d agreed on something.
“She’s right, princess,” I nodded. “I’m pissed and hurt that you would be so careless, but the deed is done.”
“We were carefu–”
“No, careful would have been abstaining from sex, Josh,” I cut him off. There were plenty of other ways to get off that didn’t involve penetrating my daughter. Eeww.
Sookie snorted from the other side of the room.
“You always told me to be careful, Daddy, and we were,” Madi insisted. Her pretty blue/gray eyes welled with tears.
That did it. When my girls cried I was a fucking sucker.
“I’m in shock, Madi,” I told her. “I think the last thing Sookie or I ever expected was for one of our teenage children to come to us and tell us they’re having a baby.” I glanced over at Sookie, hoping she would agree. “You’re still our babies. This is scary for us too, princess.”
“I don’t know if Josh told you, but I wasn’t too much older than you when I got pregnant with him, so I understand how you feel,” Sookie told her. “I’m sure your dad just wants what’s best for you.”
I wasn’t siding with her in a professional sense, but she was going to be helpful in this situation. Without a mom in her life, Madi was going to be a mess. I wasn’t sure if Nana was going to be much help in that regard.
I reached out to take my daughter’s hand. Thor had wedged his way between her legs, trying to soothe her the only way he knew how.
“Mads,” I sighed. I had nothing. I was still in too much shock to say anything more. I looked over at Sookie and Josh. “Do you two want to stay for dinner?”
“I’d like to,” Josh replied, and looked over at his mother.
“I think I’ll slip out and let you talk,” she said. “I know you weren’t counting on me being here.”
“We have plenty,” I assured her. “It seems you need to get to know my princess too. My other daughter is practicing her cooking skills and she’s made a big batch of loaded baked potato soup.”
“Josh makes great baked potato soup,” Sookie boasted. “He’s working as a prep cook at Soup’s On.”
“Yeah, I want to be a chef,” he chimed in.
“You’ll have to critique Gracie,” I told him. I was glad he had a goal. Having a job was a good sign.
“Uhhh, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he replied. “I’m pretty sure she could kick my ass.”
“No offense, but probably,” I chuckled. I looked at Sookie and said, “Madi has a twin that comes to work in the shop with me a few times a week.” I never thought I would ever be telling Tits McGee about my kids. Or that we were going to share a grandchild.
“That’s nice,” Sookie said. “What about you, Madi? Do you know what you want to do with your life?”
“No,” she answered. “I guess be a mom, now.”
“She’s sixteen,” I said a little too defensively. “I think it’s crazy to think anyone her age would want to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I knew because it was all I knew–” I stopped when Madi put her hand on my arm to shush me. “Sorry…”
“Daddy?” Gracie walked into the room tentatively. She had to have known about the pregnancy. The girls didn’t hide anything from each other.
“Dinner is ready if you guys are hungry. I toasted bread bowls for everyone… If they’re staying.”
“I think so.” I looked at Josh and Sookie again. “Come on; let’s go to the dining room.” I stood up from the chair I was in and headed toward the dining room. We usually dished up our own plates but Gracie had to have known it was going to be tense so she sweetly made everyone a bread bowl of soup.
Josh, Madi and Sookie followed me to the dining room.
“Ms. Stackhouse, this is my sister Gracie. Gracie, this is Josh’s Mom,” Madi said.
“Nice to meet you, Gracie. Dinner smells fantastic.”
“Nice to meet you too, Ms. Stackhouse. Thank you. I figured with all this,” she motioned to Madi’s flat stomach, “Everyone needs a little comfort food.”
“I’m going to get so fat,” Madi muttered, and turned to Josh to hug him.
“No you won’t,” he said, rubbing her back to comfort her.
I watched how they interacted. He seemed like a good kid. It was clear he cared for my daughter. I appreciated that he didn’t turn tail and run when he found out Madison was pregnant.
“Do I need to make you an appointment?” I asked. I waited for everyone to take their seat before I sat at the head of the table in my normal spot.
“I can do it,” Madi replied. “It would be kinda weird if you made an appointment for me at the gynecologist.”
“It would be weird if I went to the appointment with you,” I chuckled awkwardly. “Just let me know if you need anything. You know where your medical cards are.”
Madi nodded and picked up her spoon so she could start eating. Josh and Sookie did the same.
I needed a fucking drink.
I went to work on my own soup. It was delicious as always. Gracie had gotten her cooking skills from her mother. We all ate quietly. It was weird. I noticed Josh and Madi making eyes at each other which made me uncomfortable. Sookie and I barely looked at each other at all. It was the most uncomfortable dinner I’d ever experienced.
I had a lot of thinking to do. I also had to figure out how to respect the little gargoyle that knocked my little girl up. He had a lot of good qualities so far, but he was always going to be the little shitstain that defiled my daughter.
“Well, to thank you for having us tonight, how about you come by the restaurant whenever you’re all free? Dinner’s on me,” Sookie suggested around the time everyone was finishing up.
I was surprised by that. “I didn’t think I’d ever be allowed in there,” I blurted out without thinking.
“It’s public domain,” Sookie shrugged. “Just don’t go opening up some sad copy of it on your side of town and we’ll be fine.”
“I have no desire to open a restaurant,” I replied. “And I could say the same ab–” I was shushed by my youngest child reaching up to slap her hand over my mouth.
“Play nice, Dad,” Gracie scolded.
“You two better knock if off if you want to be around the baby,” Madi warned.
We were going to help her raise the baby. She didn’t have much choice about allowing us around it.
“I’m going to play nice,” I said after pulling Gracie’s hand away from my mouth.
“Good, because I don’t want you two fighting all the time over who did what first. Even Gracie and I don’t do that crap,” Madi said.
“It’s not an argument. My shop was clearly there first,” I shrugged, earning twin eye rolls from my kids… Josh too.
“Yes, your shop was there first,” Sookie conceded. It wasn’t really worth arguing since it was a fact. “I just did it better than you, that’s all.”
“The fuck you did,” I snorted.
“I’m going to put you two on a timeout if you’re going to act like toddlers,” Gracie sighed.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Sookie calmly stated.
Truth was, we probably weren’t that far off in the money we made. I was never going to admit that.
“No, they don’t,” I agreed, turning toward Josh. “I’m not going to lie and say I’m happy about this, but I am happy you’re not a snot nosed little shit that I want to introduce to the end of Bessie, my shotgun.”
“Thank you, sir. I like all my parts right where they are.”
“I think I have a couple of girls here on your side,” I said, motioning to Sookie and Madi. “You can keep your parts, and please call me Eric. Save the sir business for my dad.”
“Okay,” Josh nodded.
“Daddy, can I show Josh my room?”
“You have five minutes,” I agreed. “Door stays open.”
“Thank you, Daddy.” She got up and pulled Josh along with her.
Gracie got up to start cleaning up the mess, leaving Sookie and me alone in the dining room. I wasn’t sure I’d ever been alone with her. I took a good look at her. She was a pretty girl; definitely too young to be a grandmother.
“It looks like you and I are stuck with each other,” I commented.
“I appreciate you telling Madi you were young when you had Josh. She’s going to need all the womanly advice she can get. We lost her mother just over eight years ago and this is a time she would need her the most.” That may have been the nicest thing I ever said to Sookie.
“I’ll be happy to help her any way I can,” Sookie replied. She took a drink from her glass of iced tea. “She seems like a very sweet girl. Who knew?”
“Josh seems to be a good kid, too. I know he’s scared too. I’m sure his dad is going to have a lot of advice…”
“His dad is as useless as tits on a turtle,” she snickered.
“Interesting,” I nodded. “I wasn’t quite his age when the girls were born but I wasn’t anywhere near ready and I had two to raise. I get how he feels.”
“I’m sure you do.”
Right. I was done trying to be nice to her. Sookie Stackhouse was a world class asshole. I stood up from the table and took Sookie’s plate so I could take it into the kitchen.
“I got this, sweetheart. Why don’t you go keep Ms. Stackhouse company while I clean up.”
“Are you sure?”
“It’s for the best,” I reminded her. Gracie patted my arm before she went to the dining room to talk to Tits Mc– shit; I had to stop calling her that if she was going to be co-grandparenting with me.
I was going to be a grandfather. I wasn’t even forty yet. I wasn’t ready to be a papa. My little girls still had a lot of growing up to do. Now Madi was going to be growing up right alongside her little one.
I really, really needed a drink. A strong one.