A month later my belly is bigger with a noticeable bump, Eric and I are doing well and I’ve started the job with the county counseling teenage girls. It’s a great job with health insurance, a good salary and a fantastic maternity package. For the time being I’ve decided to hold off on pursuing my Master’s. I still want it but I have too much going on right now to be able to focus on it properly.
Dad has finally come to terms with me having a baby so of course now he wants to meet Eric. We’re going over on Sunday for dinner. It should be interesting.
I’m in what will be the baby’s room, testing out paint samples when Eric calls out to me from the front door.
“Babe!” he calls just before I hear him close the door.
“I’m in the baby’s room!” I call back and swipe some light orange on the wall. It kind of reminds me of mac ‘n cheese.
He walks in a few seconds later, leaning against the doorjamb. “I want to eat that,” he chuckles from behind me. “Are you sure you want to paint in here?”
“Yeah. I don’t want Sally to be surrounded by asylum white,” I smirk. I’ve got swatches of yellow, green, mocha, orange, a light gray and a terra cotta red on the walls.
“What if I suggested you do the painting at my house?”
“I could do it there too,” I reply.
“No, just my house,” he says.
“But then what about her room here?” I give him a confused look. Dr. Pardloe couldn’t confirm it yet but I’m still convinced it’s a girl.
“She wouldn’t have a room here, and neither would you…”
“Are we ready for that?” I ask. We’ve only been officially dating for like five weeks.
“Probably not right now, but I think we will be by the time Sally is born,” he smiles.
“We could be, but if we’re not I want to be prepared,” I tell him.
“Your prerogative,” he shrugs. “We already made the deal to spend the first month after she’s born together. Do you really think you’ll want to come back here when that month is over? Unless you want me to move in here.”
“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” I admit. “It would be easier for you to come here, since me moving in with you isn’t just moving me in. Plus if I have to have a C-section it’s going to take longer for me to recover.”
“Okay, I like the terracotta then. I would like us to be living together by the time she’s born though. I’m pretty positive neither one of us will be able to be away from her.”
“I’d probably sneak in during the night to check on her,” I snicker. “I’ve been feeling the bubbles again.”
He smiles and says, “I can’t wait to be able to feel her.”
“Soon,” I smile.
“You know, I could always sell the hotel and we could get something smaller together…”
“Do you really want to sell the house?” I ask. “I think we should hold off on house hunting until we’re married. That’s a big commitment to make.” Not that Sally isn’t, but a house is different.
“I’m not saying we should do it tomorrow, just putting it out there,” he shrugs again. “As for the house, I love it, but it wouldn’t be a huge loss if I sold it.”
“You know it’s a little ironic that you’re talking about selling it now that you might have a family to fill it.”
He smiles and says, “Well, I would want you to feel like it’s yours too…”
“Does that mean I could get rid of the ugly brown chair?” I ask hopefully. That thing is hideous but Eric loves it.
“It could go into an unused room.”
“Like the attic?” I smirk.
“Like the room we’re not using as a sex room because you don’t like the south facing window.”
“It’s like an oven in there!” No one warned me about the hot flashes I’d be getting. Being pregnant in the summertime blows. I have the air conditioning cranked up in here and I’m still hot.
“It’s nice in the winter,” he smiles. “I’ve been looking at custom baby gates to fit across the top of the stairs.”
“Good.” He won’t need it immediately, but soon enough.
“I don’t know what to do about the bottom.”
“Pray?” I joke. “Hire a goalie?”
Eric laughs and says, “It won’t be too bad keeping her from going up the stairs anyway.”
“Oh, you could get a dog like in Peter Pan and name her Nana. She could carry Sally around and stop her from climbing stairs,” I giggle.
“Perfect,” he grins. “What time are your parent’s expecting us?”
“Dinner is at five. I told Mom we would come at three. She’s making her apple stuffed pork chops.”
“It is. Who do you think taught me to cook?” I smile and look around the room. I like the green.
“She did a great job,” he compliments.
“Yes, she did.” I cross the room and open the closet door. I’ve got five huge boxes of diapers in there already. I’ll go through them in no time.
“Stocking up, huh?”
“Yep. I’m trying to have a bunch of this stuff on hand so I don’t have to worry about it in the first few weeks. When I see them on sale I buy a box.” I put the paint sample in there and smile at the dress Hadley picked out the day we went shopping.
“Smart. I didn’t even think of that, but I’m rarely in stores that sell diapers.”
“That will change.” I close the closet door and gasp when I feel a tiny hand or foot hit my side.
“What is it?” he asks and walks over to me.
I grab his hand and put it where I felt the kick.
“Sally moved,” I tell him. I’ve never felt anything but bubbles.
He puts his other hand on the other side of my stomach and presses in on both sides, squeezing me lightly. “Sookie…” he whispers with a look of awe on his face. “That’s my… my Sally.”
“Yeah,” I whisper and grin when she moves again. My eyes well up immediately.
“I love her even more,” he says, keeping his hand where she’s moving and he lifts his other hand to my face to pull my lips to his.
I kiss him softly and revel in the feeling of my baby moving. The books all said it wouldn’t happen until I was closer to the twentieth week. I don’t mind Sally being ahead of schedule on this.
“My baby is the strongest little thing in the world,” he chuckles. “I’m so glad I was here for this.”
“You’ve got a little Rockette in there,” I laugh.
“We should start thinking of names soon.”
“I’ve thought of a few,” I admit.
“I haven’t,” he says, still smiling.
“That’s not a surprise.”
“What are you thinking?”
“My favorite name for a girl is Amy,” I tell him. It’s simple, classic.
I’m not into picking trendy names. I was the only Sookie in my class, unlike the Jennifers and Jessicas. In my junior year English class I had four Ashleys. Four.
Ashley. Ashlee. Ashly. Ashleigh.
Amy is a normal name but it’s not trending right now. Since I was twelve-years-old and talking about babies with my girlfriends, I’ve wanted to name my first daughter Amy Kathleen. It sounds classy and dignified without sounding too unfriendly.
“Amy Kathleen, to be specific,” I add.
“Amy is nice.”
“Do you have any preferences?”
Please no food names.
“Not really. Just nothing crazy,” he shrugs. “I like traditional stuff.”
“No car names?” I joke.
“Hell no,” he laughs. “Maybe we can give her a Swedish name.”
“Heidi?” I giggle.
“Not so much,” he chuckles. “Maybe an Elsa or Elina or something.”
“Oooh, I like Elina,” I tell him.
“It was going to be my name if I was a girl,” he smiles.
“I like it,” I nod. I repeat the name over and over in my head and the more I say, the more I like it.
“It’s an option.”
“I think I like it more than Amy,” I admit.
He grins. “I think I do too.”
I look down at my belly and ask, “What do you think, kiddo? Do you like Elina? Is that your name?”
In my mind I can hear myself cooing the name at a whimpering baby girl. It’s a nice nod to Eric’s background but it’s not so Swedish it sounds foreign either. It’s perfect.
“I can hear her. She loves it,” Eric winks.
“Are you the baby whisperer?” I giggle.
“Maybe. I’ve never tried talking to a baby in utero before.”
“I talk to her all the time.”
“Maybe I should have more conversations with her. I’ll talk to her about my day when I’m with you.”
“That’s a good idea. I’m sure she’ll know your voice when she comes out.”
“I think my heart is going to explode the first time she looks for me when she hears me in a room. It’s so weird; I never thought I’d be so in love with someone I haven’t even met yet.”
“It is pretty crazy,” I agree. I feel another little kick and I laugh as I say, “Mom’s not going to let go of my belly tomorrow.”
“I don’t want to let go,” Eric laughs.
“Well unfortunately I’ve got full custody for the next four and a half months. I’m sure I’ll be wishing to trade you by Halloween.”
“I would if I could,” he tells me.
“Maybe we can get you one of those super fun maternity pad things,” I snicker.
“If you keep cooking for me I won’t need one.”
“Are you staying for dinner tonight?” I ask.
“Yeah, I’ll stay until you kick me out,” he chuckles.
“Well Sally wants stir fry,” I tell him. I need to start prepping the veggies.
“Want help?” he offers.
“Sure. There’s a lot of veggie prep to do. I’ve been eating broccoli like it’s going out of style.”
“Give me a knife and hand me veggies,” he smiles.
I turn and head for the kitchen to get the veggies out.
“Do you like peapods?” I ask. I love them.
“Yep,” he says, popping the P. “I like the bean sprouts too. I like the way they crunch.”
“Me too. I’ve got peppers but I don’t like them cooked,” I tell him. “They get all soggy and slimy. Ugh.”
“Nothing worse than soggy and slimy,” he agrees. “I don’t care for red peppers. I only like the green bell peppers.”
“Then no peppers. Do you like spicy? I use chili flakes in my stir fry,” I warn. I can leave them out if he doesn’t like spicy food.
I drop carrots, a few broccoli crowns and bags with peapods and bean sprouts in them on the counter.
“Spicy is good.”
“Good. Then I’ll let you deal with the veggies and I’ll deal with the garlic and ginger.” I grab him a cutting board and a knife.
Eric takes the knife and cutting board before he grabs the carrots.
“If you want peppers I can just pick them out.”
“Nope. I only eat them raw.” I move to the pantry to get the rice so it has plenty of time to steam. On my way back I grab the scallions out of the fridge since I forgot them.
Eric and I work together well when it comes to cooking. Elina keeps moving around and all I can hope is that Eric and I work together just as well with her.
I can tell Eric is nervous and it’s all because of my dad. Mom will love him immediately, but Dad is a much tougher customer. He wants what’s best for me but sometimes he says things that border on being cruel. If he’s smart, he won’t talk to me that way in front of Eric.
“Babe, relax,” I say as we walk up to the front door. “Everything is going to be fine. My parents are going to love you.”
“Really? I knocked up their baby out of wedlock. I think your dad might want to kill me,” he chuckles nervously.
“He’s over it. If he does some crazy stuff today it’s just to mess with you.” I open the front door and call out, “We’re here!”
Mom appears first and comes over to hug me.
“Hi, sweetheart,” she says.
“Hi. Mom, this is Eric Northman. Eric, this is my mom, Michele.”
“It’s so great to meet you, finally,” Mom says and gives Eric a hug too.
He hugs her back tightly and says, “You too.”
“Where’s Dad?” I ask.
“Watching the game in the den,” she says. “Corbett, get your butt out here and say hello to your daughter!”
Dad comes walking out a moment later. He glances at Eric and then looks at me.
“Hey, princess,” he says and reaches out to hug me.
“Hi, Dad.” I hug him back and that’s when Elina decides to make herself known.
“Jesus, kid, what’s that?” Dad asks and leans back to look down at my belly.
“I think I ate something funny,” I deadpan.
“You oughta get that checked,” he replies. “Are you going to introduce me to the baby daddy?”
“Of course. Eric, this crusty old joker is my dad, Corbett. Dad, this suave son of a gun is my baby daddy, Eric Northman.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Stackhouse,” Eric smiles and holds out his hand for my dad to shake.
“It’s Corbett, and we’ll see how you feel about that after dinner,” he winks.
“If you want honey on your biscuit you’ll behave,” Mom says.
“I’ll be on my best behavior,” Dad assures us.
“That thing you felt was the baby, Dad. She started kicking yesterday,” I say, and Mom’s hands immediately highjack my belly.
“That was my response too,” Eric chuckles.
“Where is she?” Mom asks. I move her hands but Elina isn’t kicking right now.
“I’ll let you know next time. She went bonkers last night after I fed her stir fry.”
“Let me see,” Dad says and reaches over to touch my belly. “You used to always go crazy when I touched your mom’s belly.”
“It’s true,” Mom agrees. “He spent many a night on the couch because of it.”
“Thanks for that, by the way,” Dad deadpans.
“You’re welcome,” I grin. “At least the couch was comfortable.”
“Because I wore it in. Is this gas or is she moving?” he asks, pressing a little on my side.
“It’s the baby. But I could probably outfart Jason,” I snicker.
“Gimme.” Mom knocks Dad’s hands out of the way.
“She’ll be there about five more months, Michelle. You aren’t going to miss it,” Dad chuckles.
“Neither will you,” Mom retorts. Her face lights up when she feels the baby move. Tears quickly fill her eyes. “You’re not really going to call her Sally, are you?”
“No, it’s not her name,” I smile. Dad looks confused.
“Her heartbeat sounds like a Mustang according to Sookie,” Eric explains.
“What if she’s not a she?” Mom asks.
“Then it’s a really good thing Sally isn’t her name,” I snort.
“We’ll figure something out,” Eric shrugs. “Worst case scenario we can name him Eric after me.”
“You know Corbett was convinced you were a boy too,” Mom says. “He called you Floyd.”
“Floyd was my dog growing up,” Dad chuckles.
“You wanted to name me after a dog?” I quirk an eyebrow.
“No, it’s a human name. I like it and your mom wouldn’t let me name your brother Floyd.”
“I don’t blame her. You could have at least lied and said it was a Pink Floyd thing,” I smirk.
“That would require me to lie to you,” he shrugs.
Mom lets go of my stomach and asks, “Are either of you thirsty?”
“I’m fine,” I reply.
“I’m good, thanks,” Eric says.
“Sookie, you come help me in the kitchen and let your dad have his minute with Eric. Boys, no bloodshed in the house,” Mom says.
“Yes, ma’am,” Eric replies sweetly.
“Not making any promises,” Dad winks and motions for Eric to follow him.
“Have fun.” I kiss Eric’s cheek and follow Mom to the kitchen. She doesn’t need help with anything. She’s just running interference for Dad.
I follow Mom into the kitchen to find she does, in fact, have everything under control.
“So on a scale of one to ten, how worried do you think Eric should be?” I ask as I grab myself a glass for some of the iced tea I know is waiting in the fridge. Mom drinks it like it’s water.
“I’ve been working on him and he wasn’t hiding in a bush when you guys showed up so I take that as a good sign,” she says. “Maybe four and a half scared.”
I chuckle and shake my head.
“Well, I have my next appointment on Wednesday so maybe we’ll find out if she’s a she,” I tell Mom. “Eric mentioned something about us living together yesterday.”
“Oh… well… that’s soonish. I guess you guys are having a kid though and it wouldn’t be fair to Eric if you kept her away after she was born.”
“It’s not like he would never see her. Logically, I know it makes the most sense for us to live together because it’s easier than schlepping baby stuff back and forth from one house to the other, but I don’t want that to be the only reason we make that leap,” I explain. “Right now it’s just on the table. I’ll think about it. My lease isn’t up until October so I have time to think it over.”
“Good plan. He seems like a good guy from what little I’ve seen of him.”
“He is. His parents will be here for the birth, assuming she doesn’t decide to make her grand entrance too early. So I’m sure you and Dad will get to meet them. Eric described them as a Swedish Phil and Miss Kay,” I chuckle.
“Oh, that’s cute,” she giggles. “I assume he speaks Swedish?”
“Yes he does. It’s his first language. He was born in Sweden and moved here when he was six,” I explain. “I told him I want him to teach the baby Swedish.”
“Be honest, Sookie,” Mom says seriously. “Is it the sexiest thing you’ve ever heard when he speaks it? Or does he not speak it around you. I didn’t detect an accent.”
“The accent gets more prominent when he gets flustered or agitated, but he does speak it around me and it is the sexiest thing. I have no idea what he’s saying and I don’t care. He could be reciting the grocery list for all I care,” I say, fanning myself.
“He’s a looker too. If I were about twenty years younger I’d be giving you a run for your money,” she laughs.
“You better hope Dad doesn’t hear you say that,” I laugh too.
“That old coot isn’t going to say a damn thing to me about it.”
“He shouldn’t since he’s still got a thing for Sandra Bullock.” My dad’s crush on her is sort of legendary.
“Exactly. I even allowed him to put her on his list.”
I just blink. I don’t want to hear about this.
“Right, so… moving on to things that won’t make me need therapy…” I say.
“Oh, like what?” she smiles. “You obviously know how tab A fits into tab B. You should be able to chat about old people sex.”
“Not when those old people are my parents.”
“Eh,” she shrugs. “Then I guess I won’t ask if the Swede is any good.”
“I’m not telling you. I don’t want you putting him on your list,” I snicker.
“Nah, he’s a little young for me.”
“Yes, he is,” I agree.
“What, you don’t think I’d make a good cougar if I left your dad?”
I cringe again. “Mom, seriously?”
“Calm down, Sookie,” she giggles.
I wait another fifteen minutes before I ask, “Should I go in there and check on them?”
“Oh… they’ve been so quiet I forgot they were here. Sure, make sure at least one of them is still alive.”
I sigh and head for the den to find Dad in his chair and Eric on the couch.
“Who’s winning?” I ask since they’re not about to kill each other.
“Giants,” they grumble in unison.
“Not Giants fans, huh?” I smirk and take a seat beside Eric on the couch.
He immediately wraps his arm around me and says, “If I was a big baseball fan I don’t think I’d be a Giants fan.”
“Honestly? I don’t like orange that much,” he laughs. “Secondly, Brian Wilson irritated the shit out of me with that beard. Now I feel bad for the Dodgers.”
I laugh and Dad snorts.
Eric just shrugs and says, “Dinner smells delicious. I’m actually pretty hungry now.”
“It’s probably almost done. Mom’s in there talking about being a cougar,” I laugh.
“She’s delusional,” Dad chuckles.
“I don’t know, old man, I think she could land a younger guy.”
“Of course she could. She’s way too good looking for me. She’s delusional because she’s never getting rid of me.”
“Eh, she’d get tired of the bullshit that comes with younger guys anyway,” I tell him.
“Hey, do I give you shit about anything?” Eric asks.
“Not on a regular basis.”
“That’s ’cause he’s closer to my age than yours,” Dad snorts.
“He’s got you there, Gramps,” I pat Eric’s knee.
“You’re the one that likes old bal… you like me just fine,” he smirks. Dad glares.
“Never said I didn’t. Just do yourself a favor and never say anything bad about Sandra Bullock,” I say quietly.
“She’s smokin’ hot. Why would I do that?”
“The boy has taste,” Dad grins.
“I’m just warning you. Jason once said she had man arms–”
“Don’t you dare repeat that blasphemy in my home, Sookie Stackhouse,” my dad growls, cutting me off.
“I’m merely trying to explain why insulting your fantasy wife is bad,” I say.
“Your brother wasn’t allowed in this house for three months after he said that. I don’t want to give you the same punishment,” he says, only half kidding.
“If you do I’m taking the kid with me,” I warn. “Besides, I like her. Not the same way you do, but I like her.”
“See, this is why you’re my favorite child.”
I snort. “He said the same thing to Jase when I told him I got a job at the club,” I tell Eric.
“I’m sure I’d do the same if Elina started working at a strip club simply because I don’t want anyone looking at her clothed, naked would give me a heart attack,” Eric says. “I would support her if she chose to, but I would want to go rip the eyeballs out of every man or woman that saw her nude.”
“Amen,” Dad says quietly.
“If we’re lucky, Elina will prefer going backpacking in Europe to pole dancing,” I snicker.
“Odds are we won’t be,” Eric winks. “I’ll support her no matter what she decides, though.”
“You say that now,” Dad snorts.
“Maybe she’ll be an FBI agent that goes undercover in a beauty pageant,” I grin.
“You’re really trying to keep the title of favorite aren’t you?” Dad smiles.
“Or maybe she’ll be a raging alcoholic that gets court ordered into rehab,” I suggest.
I laugh when the lightbulb comes on in Eric’s head and he says, “Ooooh, I see what you’re doing. Those are all Sandy’s movies aren’t they?”
“Very good, Gramps.”
Eric tickles my side. “I’m gonna get you later,” he whispers.
“Doubt it,” I whisper back and wink at him.
“Stop it with the lovey dovey shit,” Dad says. “I don’t need to see it.”
“What lovey dovey shit?” I ask.
“The whispery, winky shit.”
“That’s not lovey dovey, that’s speaking in hushed tones so your old man ears don’t hear us.”
“Which means you’re being lovey dovey, or worse, talking about sex. You’re not allowed to do that again,” he teases.
“Talk about sex? Well as long as we can still do it…” I smirk.
“No, you can’t do it. You should be in a nunery.”
“A pregnant nun. That’s a ringing endorsement,” I laugh.
“Well you obviously can’t go to one now, but before you met this… Eric, you should’ve been there instead. None of this is coming out right,” Dad sighs.
“Don’t worry, old man. I’m used to you not making sense,” I tease.
“You know, she dressed as a nun once–”
“That’s enough outta you, cradle robber.”
“I was sixteen and it was Halloween,” I tell Eric. Dad doesn’t want to know the dirty things my then boyfriend did to me that night. I’m sure Eric doesn’t either, for that matter.
“No, I was talking about the time you danced,” Eric says. “As a nun… I’m stopping now.”
“Oh!” I completely forgot about that. “Yeah, that was fun.”
“I don’t want to know how fun,” Dad grumbles. “Is dinner ready yet?”
“I don’t know,” I shrug.
“I’ll go check.” Dad gets up and goes into the kitchen.
“I’m glad you two are playing nice,” I say to Eric.
“Oh, yeah he gave me the ‘if you ever hurt my little girl I’ll kill you, blah blah blah’ talk. He’s been good since then.”
“Good. You’ll be giving the same talk someday.”
“I took notes,” he winks.
“Sometimes,” he says and leans in to give me a quick peck.
“Careful, Dad doesn’t want any lovey dovey stuff,” I giggle and put his hand on my belly where Elina is kicking.
Eric smiles warmly and gives me another kiss. “I’m never going to get tired of this,” he whispers when he pulls back.
“I’m sure I will eventually.” For now it is pretty cool.
“I bet you will, especially when she gets stronger.”
“By then I’ll probably just want her to come out and play,” I sigh.
“I’ve always been pretty scared of kids,” he chuckles. “I’m not scared of this one.”
“You’ll be fine. Until she starts teething, I’m sure.”
“Crying girls already make me uncomfortable,” he laughs.
“Oh I know.” He always panics a little anytime I get upset.
“I’m learning to live with it.”
“It’s Elina’s fault. I’m not usually much of a crier.”
“Suuuure, blame the one that isn’t here to defend herself,” Eric teases.
“It’s true. Ask my parents,” I shrug.
“It’s true,” my dad says when he walks back in. “Sookie was one of the toughest little girls on the block and not much has changed. Dinner’s ready.”
“Told you so,” I grin smugly and haul myself up off the old couch.
Eric follows me to the dining room. Dinner is delicious and it’s obvious that my parents like Eric. It’s a good thing because I really don’t want to spend the next eighteen years breaking up fights. By the time we get to dessert Eric has relaxed and even teaches Mom a few Swedish words. It’s cute watching him try to correct her accent since it sounds the same every time. I hope he’s just as patient with Elina because if she’s like me, she’s going to need it.