I barely had my foot in the door before Hadley was giving me the third degree about how the trip to Monterey went. She was so busy asking questions that it was hard to answer her.
“For cryin’ out loud, Hadley, if you’d hush up I could answer you,” I laughed, and closed the front door. The two day trip wasn’t long enough.
“Well, I want to know everything. Don’t spare any details.”
“It was nice. The inn was right across from the beach, so we could hear the waves when we opened the window. We had a nice window seat in the room and the view was just gorgeous. On Thursday we had fish ‘n chips for lunch at a place by the inn. We went for a long walk on the sand and took a bunch of pictures. It was a nice way to start the trip,” I told her.
“Sounds lovely. You two just spent two romantic days on at the beach. You better not tell me all you did was walk on the beach,” she said expectantly.
“It’s not. I tried taking hits from a bong.”
“That’s not romantic at all,” she laughed. “What do you mean ‘tried’?”
“I think I’m a pot smoking failure, but Eric doesn’t mind blowing smoke at me,” I smiled.
“Of course not. It allows him to kiss on you,” she snickered. “What else?”
“We had yummy scones for breakfast yesterday.” I knew what she was getting at, but I was enjoying delaying telling her.
“Scones are not romantic, Sookie. Eric needs to step up his game if he thinks scones are sexy.”
“We watched the sunrise this morning?”
“That sounds pretty.” She waved her hand, silently telling me to get on to the good stuff.
“It was, especially because we were naked,” I admitted.
“You did it!?” she whisper-yelled.
“Thursday,” I confirmed. “Well, that was the first time…”
“Of course you did it more than once. You’d be crazy not to. He’s a good lookin’ man. Is he big? How bad did it hurt?”
“I’m pretty sure he’s bigger than average, if those Italian statues in museums are accurate,” I said. “And it hurt. Eric tried to tell me it wouldn’t, but it did. It’s getting better.”
“This is average.” She held her fingers about five inches apart. “Even if he had a teeny, tiny dick it was going to hurt. I promise you it only gets better from there.”
“He’s definitely not teeny tiny.” I held my hands up about the size I thought he was.
“Holy cow. I’m surprised you’re walking straight,” she laughed.
“Believe me, I was not feeling good at first after. You know the first thing he said to me after was to ask if I wanted to take a shower. That’s weird, right?”
“Not too weird. Some people don’t like feeling all sticky and stuff. Maybe he thought you might feel weird. A lot of women bleed the first time…”
“Then I must be wired differently than other girls because the last thing on my mind was running to the bathroom to clean up. I figured he thought I was disgusting and couldn’t wait to get me off him.”
“Oh… did you tell him that?”
“Of course I did. He thought I was ridiculous.”
“I don’t think Eric finds you disgusting. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have taken you to such a romantic town for the weekend if he did. You guys are still seeing each other, right?”
“Of course we are. We talked about what was bothering me. I see now that I overreacted, but in the moment it felt insulting.” Emotions were running high and I was definitely insecure about how it went knowing that he had more experience than I did. I took it the wrong way, but I honestly didn’t think I was the only one who would.
“Good, I’m glad you guys talked about it. I probably would have let it stew and drove him away,” she chuckled. “It’s so strange you’re seeing him. In a good way,” she added quickly. “It’s cute.”
“Why is it strange?”
“Because you swing into town and immediately pull one of the most eligible guys off the market. There are tons of women around here that couldn’t do that. Believe me, they’ve tried. You have some sort of voodoo magic.”
“Then I guess they’ll be thrilled when I leave town,” I snickered. I didn’t really try to get Eric; he had picked me.
“That doesn’t mean they’re going to get a shot. They didn’t before,” she shrugged.
“He’s not going to stay single and pining after me forever, Hadley. We both know this is just a summer thing.”
“A girl can wish things work out differently,” she sighed.
“What are you talkin’ about?” I laughed.
“I want you two to get married and have lots of babies. Duh,” she snorted.
“That’s not happening, honey.” I liked Eric a lot but I wasn’t sure he was the happily ever after man for me.
“It’s just a thought,” she said. “I know it’s not likely to happen.”
“So how’s the search for Jim Morrison going?”
“Sadly, I haven’t found him. Or anyone even close to him yet. Maybe I’ll find out where he’s touring and try to hunt him down.”
“That sounds like a lot of fun, actually. You could travel the world trying to find him. When you get to Italy you have to eat a whole pizza for me.”
“I will,” she promised. “Oh, hey, maybe he’ll be in Los Angeles when we go?”
“Could be. There’s lots of famous people there, right?”
“Yep. They all live in Hollywood.”
“We should go on one of those celebrity house tours. They have those, right?” I could have sworn I read something about it in a magazine.
“They do. Mom and I thought about going on one when we were down there last but decided not to. It would be fun.”
“Yes it would. Mama would love to see those pictures.” My mom loved reading the gossip papers. Daddy thought it was a waste of time, but then Daddy thought most stuff was a waste of time.
“I bet she would. She should come out here with you next time.”
“That would be nice. I don’t know if she ever will. If Daddy throws a fit over it, she’s likely to give it up just to avoid the argument. She’s pretty good about picking her battles these days.” Mama was no doormat, but she didn’t go starting fights with Daddy over little things. Although why he had a problem with Mama wanting to do things for herself, I’d never understand. Maybe he was afraid she’d find something better. That was silly, of course, but people got scared about silly things all the time.
“He needs to chill out,” she laughed. “Maybe you can make him a pot brownie.”
“He needs a whole pan of those suckers,” I laughed too. “You know, I haven’t had one of those yet. Are they any good?”
“If they’re made right. Mom makes the best pot brownies. I’ll have her make you a batch while you’re here.”
“I’ll give them a chance. Do they taste weird?” Based on the way pot smelled, I’d think they would but maybe hidden in all that chocolate it was hard to tell.
“They’re a little different, but not bad. It depends on how the pot is added. Mom makes weed butter so it’s not that bad.”
I laughed, trying to imagine Daddy smearing that on a biscuit in the morning with breakfast. “Could you imagine my dad puttin’ that on toast in the mornin’?”
“I don’t think you’d be able to handle it if you saw that,” she snorted.
“Probably not,” I agreed. “Well, I guess I should go unpack.”
“Okay. I’m going to stay out here. I may go meet up with Al tonight,” she informed me.
“Al? That’s the guy from the bowling alley, right?” I vaguely remembered seeing him the first night I met Eric.
“Yeah. I think I’m gonna hang out at his place for a while, if you know what I mean.”
“I think I do,” I nodded. “He’s got pretty eyes.”
“Gorgeous eyes,” she grinned.
He wasn’t quite my type, but it didn’t matter since Hadley was the one into him.
“Well go have fun. I’ll see you whenever you get back,” I promised. I picked up my suitcase to take it back to the bedroom.
“I’ll still be here a while.”
I left the living room to go get my things put away. Eric and I hadn’t made plans to see each other again but I knew we would, probably sooner rather than later.
I was relieved when I saw a letter come in the mail for me the next day from my brother. Mama had forwarded it from home. If I was getting a letter, odds were he was still alive. Although judging by the postmarks on it, it had been a while since he had sent it. I tried not to think about what could have happened since then. If he had died over there Mama would have called to tell me or sent a telegram or something.
As soon as I got the letter I ripped it open and sat down on the couch to read it.
I know it’s been a while since my last letter. I been thinkin’ about ya. I been thinkin’ about a lot of things from home. When I get back I’m gonna eat three whole fried chickens and five pounds of mashed potatoes, and I’m gonna sleep for a week. Preferably with a leggy brunette.
I laughed at that. Leave it to my brother to already be planning the next lady he’d get in bed. Of course Daddy never gave Jason any guff over the girls he fooled around with. The double standard was ridiculous.
It’s been raining a lot here lately. I heard in a letter from Mama that you’re going off to California. Heck, but the time you get this you’ll probably be there. I just want you to know, I think it’s a good thing you’re doing. The world is so much bigger than Bon Temps. I wouldn’t recommend traveling through a jungle in wet boots like I’m doing right now, but see as much of it as you can. It’s a pretty cool place. Maybe someday we can go off and have an adventure together. I think I’d like that a lot.
Reading those words made me cry. My brother, God bless him, had a tendency to be like our father, so to hear him give me his blessing for what I was doing meant more than I could describe. I hoped he’d make it home so we could have that adventure he was talking about.
I’m sure you see how it is here on the TV. Don’t watch too much of that stuff, okay? It’s bad enough I’m gonna remember it. You shouldn’t have to.
You’re a good sister, Sookie. I miss you. I’m sorry I wasn’t as nice to you as I shoulda been. Being so close to dying all the time has a way of changing a man. I’m gonna do better when I get home. Heck, I might even settle down and get married. Wouldn’t that just beat all? Take care of yourself out there in California. Oh, and if you see Raquel Welch, kiss her for me.
I laughed at the way my brother closed his letter out. Even in a war zone, he could still find a way to make me laugh. I wanted to write him back, of course, but I wanted to take some time to think about what I wanted to say. Maybe I’d get some pictures developed before I did so he could have something to look at other than the jungle.
Before I put the letter away I read it again. I’d kept every single thing he had sent me and I knew Mama had done the same. It was hard not to think about the possibility that I would never see him again. I tried to be positive and think that of all the soldiers on the ground over there, God was making sure to keep an eye on my brother. I prayed for him all the time, hoping it would be heard. If he didn’t come home I knew my parents would never be the same. I wasn’t sure they would be able to recover from the loss.
I put the letter away in my suitcase, not wanting it to get lost or damaged somehow. Once I had my thoughts collected, I’d sit down and write him back.
In the meantime, I got dressed to go meet Eric at the bowling alley. He was working, but I could visit for a little while. Longshadow, his coworker, looked the other way the same as Eric did about me being underage. Even the cops tended to look the other way a lot of the time. Too many hippies in the area were out smoking weed and singing songs out in the park, not causing any trouble to bother with arresting them. There were bigger fish to fry, I supposed.
My hair was already done, so I borrowed Hadley’s white go-go boots again to go with the shift dress I’d brought with me. I borrowed one of her bracelets too, and then grabbed my purse on my way out of the bedroom. Aunt Lin was sitting on the couch, working on a new necklace. She was a wizard with beads and crystals.
“I’m goin’ to see Eric. I might stay over,” I told her.
“Okay. If I need you I know where to find you. You look nice,” she smiled.
“Thanks. It’s nice to get dressed up sometimes. Eric’ll probably be mad he’s at work,” I laughed.
“Just remind him he needs to afford to take you on those weekend getaways,” she chuckled. “I’m sure he’ll be happy you’re there.”
“About those weekends, he was thinking of maybe drivin’ up the coast to Oregon and spendin’ a night up by the border if that’s okay with you,” I said.
“As long as it’s not more than a night. I also want you to call me when you get there and before you head home.” It was the same rule as before.
“I will,” I promised. “I’m not even sure when we’ll be doin’ that. There aren’t any plans set yet. I think we’ll go after we get back from Los Angeles. He wanted to come down for that too, but I think I’d rather go with just you and Hadley.”
It wasn’t like I didn’t want to spend time with Eric, but I felt bad that he had taken up so much of my time. I had planned to spend more time with my family, and that all seemed to go out the window pretty fast. I knew if he came to L.A. with us that I would end up being with him more than I would Aunt Lin and Had, and they deserved to have some of my undivided attention.
“That’s perfectly fine. You’re allowed to want your own time,” she replied. “I’m giving you all this freedom since it’s really your last summer before adulthood. You should be able to spend it however you like.”
“Thanks, Aunt Lin. I appreciate everything you’re doin’ for me. I got a letter from Jason.” I wasn’t sure if she figured that out. Mama had put his letter in another envelope to forward it on to me. “He seems to be doin’ okay. He told me to kiss Raquel Welch if I see her.”
“We’ll have to keep an eye out for her and make sure to get a picture. I’m so relieved he’s doing okay.”
“Yeah, me too. I never thought I’d miss him as much as I do sometimes.”
“You’re both growing up. Your relationship is going to change and you’re going to realize that no matter what, you were born with someone that has your back. I was the same with your dad.”
“Until he went loony tunes,” I joked.
“Mildly loony. I’ll send you home with some special baked goods to calm him down.”
“Yeah, Hadley said something about pot brownies yesterday.”
“I’ll make you some if you’re interested in trying them.”
“I might be. Hadley says they don’t taste weird. Is the high different?” The high from the smoke was interesting. I kind of felt like I was floating in my own body and the rest of the world seemed to go away. Whatever might have been bothering me before wasn’t bothering me anymore.
“It usually is. I can’t say what it’ll be like for you since everyone reacts to it differently.”
“I guess I’ll just have to try it if I want to know, huh?”
“Yep. Say when and I’ll make them.”
“Anytime you want is alright with me,” I answered.
“Okay. I’ll surprise you. Have fun tonight.”
“Thanks. Have fun with your beads.” I leaned down to give her a kiss goodbye. On my way out I slung my purse over my shoulder.
The walk to the bowling alley was a pretty good one. I wondered if my parents would even recognize me when I got home in a few weeks. I felt like a different person, so I wondered if they would pick up on that when I got home. Going back to the way things were wasn’t going to be easy. Maybe, just maybe, I had outgrown Louisiana the same as Aunt Lin did. There was only one way to find out, and it involved leaving a great guy I knew I was going to miss pretty awful. The good news was that California wasn’t going anywhere. I could always come back if it was where I belonged.