“I’m going to have dinner with Papa; do you want to come with me?” I asked Madi. I’d called her on my way to Dad’s to get his advice on what to do about the whole situation. I was still in shock that my daughter had a boyfriend, let alone pregnant with the enemy’s baby.
“I’m feeling a little sick, Dad. I think I better stay home.”
“I’m going to tell him about the baby, okay?” It was her business to tell, but I knew it would be easier for me to talk to my dad about it. I knew it was hard enough for her to tell me. Seeing disappointment in her Papa’s eyes was going to be really hard on her.
“Let your sister know I’ll be home late tonight. Love you, princess.” I wanted to let her know that even though I was upset I was on her side. I knew Josh was grounded, which was hard on Madi with the young love and all.
“I will. I love you too. Give Papa a hug for me.”
“Of course. Do you want me to tell your Nana too?” Karin, Aude’s mother, and I still had a good relationship. She was like my own mother in a lot of way since I lost my mom over a decade ago. I learned really quick that it didn’t matter how old you were, you always needed your mom. That was never more evident than right now.
“I will.” I should have made her tell them. “You know I should make you tell them, right?”
“Do you need me to pick up anything for you before I come home later?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Okay. Let me know if you do need anything.”
I hung up with Madi and slipped my phone into the cup holder. It was going to be a lot easier to tell Dad about Madison’s baby than it was to tell him Aude was pregnant. I was twenty-two when we found out and it was still tough. I felt like I was taking the news surprisingly well. Sure, if Sookie wasn’t there when I found out I probably would have tried to kill Josh for his actions with my daughter. Later on I got to thinking and reminded myself it took two to make that choice. I was sixteen once. I remembered what the hormones were like. I didn’t have to sweet talk the girls I was with at the time into having sex with me. As much as I didn’t want to believe Madi would do something like that, I wasn’t naive.
When I pulled into Dad’s driveway I sat in the Buick for a minute or so trying to come up with the words to tell him our sweet, innocent Madison wasn’t so innocent anymore. When I realized I was never going to be able to come up with the right words I got out of my car and walked up to my dad’s back door, letting myself in like I always did.
“Where you at, old man?” I called out as I walked into the kitchen.
I stopped at the fridge to grab two beers. I still hadn’t had that drink. I cracked mine open after setting Dad’s down on the table next to him.
“What’s new?” I took a seat on the old couch. I tried replacing it for him a million times. He wouldn’t have it though. The old man was frugal with him money, He figured a new couch was a frivolous spend since he didn’t sit on it anyway.
My dad had built his empire brick by brick from the ground up, literally. He actually built the building he worked out of for over fifty years. He could have had a brand new home with all new furnishings several times over. He was happy with the old house I grew up in, though. He was good with money, and didn’t give me dick. Everything I had I earned on my own. I knew a lot of people figured Dad helped me with money or got me clients when I first started out. That wasn’t the case. I worked hard for what I had and earned my reputation all on my own.
“The Rangers need to get themselves a better lead off man,” he said, pointing at the TV where he had the Rangers’ game on. “That chump from the Padres threw him a beauty right down the middle and what’d that meatball do? He struck out. Again.”
I shook my head. I didn’t give a shit about sports and he knew it. I was all cars, all the time for as far back as I could remember.
“That’s terrible,” I said. He knew I didn’t give a shit, but I tried to humor him.
“You still don’t know what a lead off man is, do you?”
“Nope,” I chuckled. “You know who might? Madison’s boyfriend…” I stopped there so that bit of news could sink in.
“Madison’s got a boyfriend huh? Good for her. What kinda kid is he?”
“The kind that knocked my baby up–”
“She’s pregnant. She has a doctor’s appointment in the morning to confirm it and get checked out. It gets better,” I sighed. I took another long swig of my beer before I added. “He’s Sookie Stackhouse’s son.”
Dad stared at me the same way he did when I told him Aude was pregnant.
“I told you to put those girls in a damn convent,” he said.
“I know and now I regret not doing it,” I sighed. “The kids claim they’re in love. He’s claiming responsibility and has a job… but they’re fuckin’ babies.”
“You’re damn right they are. They should be thinkin’ about putting that baby up for adoption so real adults can take care of it,” he said. “What the hell is wrong with them? Didn’t you teach her about birth control?”
“Yes, I taught the girls about birth control. Karin has talked to them too when it got weird for me. I’m pretty sure Madi is planning to keep the baby, Dad. I’m not going to force her to give it up but I’m not going to take care of them either. They need to be responsible for their actions.” Dad knew I wouldn’t throw Madi out on her ass, and I’d help her with whatever they needed help with so she could finish school. If she needed a job I’d give her a job at the shop too until she figured out what she wanted to do. She was smart enough to get a scholarship to get into any school she wanted to. The baby was going to derail a lot of that though.
Dad shook his head. “This is going to ruin her life.”
“I don’t know if it will ruin her life, but there will be some hiccups and roadblocks.” I couldn’t believe I was defending her. “The kids claim they’re in love. I don’t think they realize how hard it’s going to be to raise a baby. Or two.” Since Madi was a twin there was a strong possibility she was going to have twins.
“Ha! At least you finished high school first and had a decent job. What does this kid do? Take tickets at the theater? You can’t raise a baby on that. You can’t even wipe your ass with the good two ply for that kind of money.”
“He works at Soup’s On as a prep cook. He wants to be a chef,” I said. I knew cooking for a living took a lot a time away from a family; it also didn’t pay a whole hell of a lot.
“Oh, well then they’ll be on Easy Street in no time,” he said with biting sarcasm.
I didn’t know what to do or say to him. I wanted his advice on how to make things easier or how to deal with the prospect of being a grandfather. It was obvious he was more upset than I was. I should have been as mad as him, I was sure. I couldn’t be that angry with my kids though. I loved them and short of murdering someone for fun I was always going to have their back, even when it was something as dumb as getting knocked up at sixteen.
“I’m pretty sure they know how hard it’s going to be,” I sighed. “I just don’t know what the fuck to do. I know what’s done is done, but I need to figure out how to look at that little gargoyle without trying to strangle him, and learn how to be in the same room with his mother without throwing out snarky comments to counter hers.”
“She’s probably hot for you,” he said, ignoring the bit about the gargoyle.
“Ha!” I barked. “Sookie Stackhouse isn’t hot for anyone and she’s jealous as shit of me.”
“Maybe you’re hot for her too,” Dad snorted.
“I don’t think so, Dad. She’s a pretty girl, but that’s as far as it goes.” She had a killer rack… her ass wasn’t too bad either.
“You wouldn’t be the first pair of nitwits to hate each other until you figure out you’re actually crazy about each other,” he said. “Aside from all that, remember that you were a gargoyle once too. You remember how Aude’s father treated you?”
“I do,” I sighed, ignoring his comment about Sookie and I being into each other. That was nowhere near the truth. “The difference was Aude and I didn’t start dating until we were in our twenties. I wasn’t exactly a gargoyle.”
“I don’t remember Burt describing you as the son-in-law of his dreams,” Dad snorted.
“I was a hell of a lot better than that shitty ex of hers.” Andre never could get over the fact that Aude chose me and chose to have kids with me. If the shitstain wasn’t locked up on drug charges when Aude died I would have suspected he was at fault for the accident.
“You’re avoiding the point. Don’t blame him for her getting pregnant. Was it Aude’s fault that she got pregnant?”
“I thought about that,” I sighed. “I know it wasn’t all him. They’re so fuckin’ smitten with each other. It’s really hard to believe though.” I had a talk with Gracie that night after Madi went to bed. She told me a lot about Josh and how good he was to Madi. If he got past Grace’s inspection, that was pretty good. She also assured me she had no plans of having sex with anyone anytime soon. She didn’t have a boyfriend, or even like any boys at the time.
“You know that won’t last. The blinders will come off right around the time that kid keeps them up all night. He’ll be at work and she’ll be at home with the baby. When he’s not at work he’ll be sleeping or out with his friends… It’s not gonna end well, Eric,” Dad predicted.
“I really hope it doesn’t go like that. I know his dad isn’t around and he’s insistent he’s not going to be the kind of dad his was. At least that’s what the girls told me. I want to get to know him better. I didn’t have a chance to give him The Talk because his mother was there and I’m sure she would have thrown a fit.”
“Of course she would. Would you want her giving that kind of talk to Madi?”
“No.” We were both very protective of our children. “She let Madi know she was a young mother, though. That she knows how it is to be in her shoes. As much as I can’t stand that woman, I appreciate that.”
“How young was she? She doesn’t look a day of thirty.”
“In her teens, I think. She didn’t give the exact age,” I said. “The gargoyle is seventeen.”
Dad laughed and said, “You weren’t a virgin at seventeen.”
“I know but I didn’t get my girlfriends pregnant.” Yes, I had more than one at that age… I wasn’t always such a good guy. Having the girls really straightened my ass out when it came to women.
“Not for lack of trying,” Dad said, still laughing.
“This isn’t funny,” I sighed.
“It’s karma, son.”
“It’s bullshit, is what it is. And seriously, the Stackhouse boy? We learned pretty quickly why they kept it a goddamn secret for so long,” I sighed. I didn’t care what Dad thought. I wasn’t interested in Sookie Stackhouse. The only thing I was interested in when it came to her was getting cars out from under her. We did a hell of a better job on them than her team did.
“Well maybe this’ll get you two to stop bickering over nonsense. She does a damn fine job over at her place. I’ve seen the work. It’s solid,” he said.
“You’re not supposed to take her side. Her dad says hi,” I told him.
“Corbett’s a good man. If that wife of his wasn’t so batshit crazy, he mighta started his own place like his daughter did.” Dad took a long pull from his bottle. “I gotta say, whether you wanna hear it or not, it takes guts to do what she did with a munchkin runnin’ around. You know most fellas don’t want to hear car talk from no woman.”
“If they know what they’re talking about I don’t care who’s doing the talking,” I shrugged. Unless it was Her. “I’m sure it does take guts, that doesn’t mean I like her.”
“Hell’s bells, Eric, I’m not talking about just you. I’m not even sayin’ you have to like her. I’m only sayin’ that I respect the woman,” he said.
Okay, I was getting a little too defensive. Time to reel it in.
“I know, I’m just frustrated, Dad.” I finished off my beer. “This is a whole shitstorm I wasn’t ready for.”
“Of course it wasn’t. You thought your princesses were going to stay virgins for life and you would be the only man who ever mattered to them,” he said.
“That was my hope,” I shrugged. I knew that would never be the case. It didn’t mean I didn’t have the same wish every other father of a daughter had.
“Did he propose to her?”
“Not that I know of. I wouldn’t sign off on a marriage, though,” I said. “I’m not sure what Sookie thinks of them getting married if he did propose.”
Once again, Dad shook his head.
“I guess I have a few months to get used to the idea. We’ll find out how far along she is tomorrow. I don’t know if they’re going to want to live together or what.” If they did want to live together once the baby was born, it would be fair for them. I didn’t know if I wanted Josh living in my house or not. I knew I didn’t want to let my baby go.
“It would be easier on the baby. You want my honest opinion? I say you set some real clear limits on all this. If you’re gonna support Madison, you make it clear that there are going to be rules in order to keep that support whether it’s her finishing high school, gettin’ a job or whatever, but set some rules. And remind that girl she’s lucky I’m not her father because I’d toss her out on her butt.”
“I can do that.” I wasn’t sure what those rules would be, but he had a good point. “You think I should suck it up and talk to Sookie about those rules?”
“Think you can be an adult about it? That might be a better question.”
“We’re going to have to try,” I sighed. “I’ll bring it up at the appointment in the morning.”
“You’re going?” Dad looked surprised.
“Hell yeah I’m going. This is my princess we’re talking about.” Duh. “I want her to know I’m going to support her in any way I can. I’m not going in the room with her for the exam or anything, but I want to be in the waiting room when she’s out.”
“Well, at least you’ll be in a doctor’s office if the claws come out,” he said.
“Yep,” I chuckled. When Sookie and I were anywhere near each other it was almost a compulsion to talk shit to her. I wasn’t always the one to start it either, so I knew she had the same affliction. “I don’t want Madi to be there without her family too. I’m not happy, but I’m not going to act like it’s not happening.”
“I suppose that’s the best you can do,” he sighed.
“Need another beer?”
I sat there with my dad for another hour or so. The dinner I meant to have with him never happened so on my way home I stopped to get a pizza at Gracie’s request. I didn’t know what I was getting into with this grandpa thing, and I didn’t know how Sookie and I were going to get along. I was going to make the best of it. I was going to try to play nice with Sookie.
I had to keep telling myself it would all be okay in the end. If I didn’t I was going to go crazy.