The scariest moment of the year is happening right this second. The worst part is, the fucking paparazzi are here to catch it on camera. I can already see the fucking headlines now about the Golden Child and the Ice Princess. Whatever. That’s not what this is about. I’m standing with Sookie at LAX with my arm around her as we wait for her father to show up. His plane has landed and the baggage carousel is already spinning. I’ve never seen him, but I know the second Sookie spots him because she takes off like a bullet through the crowd.
I smile when she wraps her arms around a small man. He has the look of a happy, hardworking man and my heart swells a little imagining my own daughter running for me like that one day.
Okay. Too much.
I follow Sookie and wait patiently for her to let him go. I know she was nervous about how her parents would react when she showed up and it went exactly how I expected it to.
Several seconds later she lets him go and I step up to offer him my hand.
“Hello, Mr. Stackhouse,” I smile, “I’m Eric.”
“Nice to meet you, Eric.” He offers me his hand. He has a firm grip.
“Daddy, do you have more than a carry-on? Maybe a suit bag?” Sookie teases.
“Your mother made me bring more than a carry-on,” he chuckles.
I follow them to the baggage carousel so we can wait.
“How was your flight?” I ask, not really sure what to say to him.
“Not bad,” he answers.
I nervously wrap my arm around Sookie’s shoulder to avoid chewing on my nails or tapping my leg.
“I was always nervous flying when I was a kid,” I say. “Now there’s not enough leg room for me.”
“That’s because you’ve got tree trunks instead of legs,” Mr. Stackhouse chuckles. “Sookie used to hate flying too. She cried all through takeoff on the flight to Helsinki, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did,” Sookie nods. “We hit turbulence like ten minutes into the flight. It was awful.”
“Aww, I’m sorry,” I say, kissing her head. I decide to kill my nerves some and tell her dad, “Mom is excited to have you stay at her house for the night. She’s anxious to meet you.”
“I got some buddies back home that don’t believe it’s happening,” he grins and reaches to get his bag from the carousel.
“You mean Mike, Bud and Terry?” Sookie snorts. “Mom calls them the Stooges for a reason.”
“Back in our day it was more the Four Horsemen,” Mr. Stackhouse smirks.
“See? Why are they surprised I raised a little hell of my own?” Sookie chuckles as we start walking toward the exit.
We brought my Escalade today since Sookie’s car is packed with boxes. As we walk through the doors a few pictures are snapped of us. At least these pictures won’t make Mom cringe, which is better than the last few shots when I was fucking malnourished and looked like I hadn’t slept in a month.
We get to the car and I put Mr. Stackhouse’s bag in the back of the SUV before I help Sookie into the front seat. Her dad hops in the seat behind her since there’s zero leg room behind me.
“I hope you’re hungry. Mom had Luna make charbroiled chicken sandwiches for lunch,” I tell him.
“I’m starving,” he answers.
“Dad might actually eat more than you,” Sookie informs me.
“That’s pretty impressive,” I chuckle.
“Gotta keep my strength up,” he says. “Farmin’ is hard work.”
“Sadly, I eat so much due to my ridiculously giant size,” I snort. “I don’t look well if I don’t put down thousands of calories in a day. In rehab I got into nutrition and was able to find a book to help me figure out what I need to stay at a healthy weight with my new fitness level.”
“You definitely look better. My wife and I saw plenty of pictures of you in those rags Sookie was in,” he says.
I reach over and take Sookie’s hand before I say, “I wasn’t sure I’d be recognized anymore, but the paparazzi got a few shots and I’m sure they’ll figure out who’s holding onto the Ice Princess.”
“I’ve been demoted?” Sookie winks at me.
“No, baby, you’ll always be my queen. I Googled you and you were dubbed the Ice Princess.”
“My baby girl was untouchable on the ice. She told us about your bet. My advice? Get your ironing board ready. You’re gonna need it,” Mr. Stackhouse tells me.
I will never admit out loud that I know I’m going to lose. When I made the bet I just wanted to get a rise out of her and I’m so, so glad I did. It put that fire in her to challenge herself and get back on the ice.
“Nah, I’m going to wipe the floor with her,” I chuckle.
“Son, you’ve been breathing too much of this California smog,” Mr. Stackhouse pats my shoulder. “This air almost has chunks in it.”
“Oh, yeah, it’s fuc– it’s terrible for you. I’m anxious to get out of it.”
“It’ll be good for my grandbabies,” he agrees.
“We’re going to get dogs once we’re settled,” Sookie says. “I miss old Juno.”
“Me too. Best dog I ever had. Don’t tell Luci that,” he chuckles.
“What kind or dog was Juno?”
“A Viszela,” Sookie answers. “A short hair. Good for hunting and working but super friendly to its humans. She was good at keeping critters away from the chickens.”
“Is that the kind of dog you’ve always had?”
“Even if I wasn’t allergic, I wasn’t home enough to have a dog. I look forward to that too. I think I’m just fuc– ready to get out of here.”
Sookie shakes her head at me and squeezes my hand. I’m trying really hard not to cuss in front of her dad. I’m going to be a hot fucking mess when we have kids.
“What I mean to say is I’m ready to get out of L.A. and start a life with Sookie,” I say, squeezing her hand back.
“We’ll be having us a little chat about that later,” Mr. Stackhouse warns.
“As expected,” I smile, catching his eyes in the rearview mirror.
“You’re lucky firearms aren’t allowed on airplanes,” Sookie snickers.
“I only used a gun when that little shit came around because your mama said he was a shifty sumbitch,” he replies. “I shoulda shot him in the goody bag.”
I assume he’s talking about Luke. “Believe me; I’ve wanted to do that since I first heard about that little shit– um… him, too.”
“You get a clear shot you take it.”
“Yes, sir,” I nod.
I get onto the freeway and sigh when I see the fucking parking lot in front of me. I’m getting off on the next exit and taking back roads.
It takes almost an hour to get home in traffic. I glance in the rearview mirror at Mr. Stackhouse again and notice he’s starting to get antsy. It really is cute that he has a crush on Mom. He’s also humming the Beverly Hillbillies theme song.
“Mom is probably pacing the kitchen to make sure everything is just right,” I say as I turn off my car.
“Are you kidding? She can’t do anything wrong according to Dad,” Sookie chuckles.
“He’ll figure it out soon enough that she’s just like everyone else,” I smile. “Mr. Stackhouse, I promise Mom puts her pants on one leg at a time.”
“No one asked you,” he says, completely aghast.
This is going to be hilarious.
I shake my head as I get out of the SUV and go around to open Sookie’s door. I head around back to get his bag from the back. I carry it up to the door and Mr. Stackhouse freezes when I open the door. I hear Mom squeak in the back of the house and struggle to hold back the laughter.
“This is where she lives?” he whispers to Sookie.
“No this is a rental,” Sookie sasses.
He glares at her as he takes his first step into the house. Mom comes strutting out of the kitchen like she’s walking down the red carpet. I know she’s excited to meet a girlfriend’s dad and she looks really proud. I love it.
“Mom, this is Corbett Stackhouse, Sookie’s father. Mr. Stackhouse, this is my mother, Kirsten,” I introduce them.
“Lovely to meet you, Corbett,” Mom smiles as she reaches to shake his hand.
He looks down at her hand before he looks at Sookie, and then Mom. He holds out his hand to slowly shake hers.
“Likewise, Ms. Northman,” he says with awe in his voice.
“Please call me Kirsten,” she says. “Sookie speaks very highly of you. Come in, come in, we’ll go get drinks.”
Sookie leans closer and whispers, “I think he’s having a stroke.”
I snort quietly. “You might need to help him walk,” I whisper back.
Her dad still looks stunned.
“Um… yeah, I can use a drink,” he nods as he starts to follow Mom.
Sookie chuckles quietly and takes my hand so we can follow our parents.
“What can I get you, Corbett?” Mom asks.
“Water is fine,” he says, staring at her. He’s completely star struck and it’s pretty fucking obvious.
“Water it is. What about you kids?”
“I’ll get it,” I offer and go to the cabinet to get down three glasses for water. I fill them using the filtered water from the fridge. I set Mr. Stackhouse’s water on the island in front of him and hand Sookie her glass.
“Thank you,” Sookie and her dad say in unison.
“So how was your trip, Corbett?” Mom asks.
“It was good,” he nods. “The lady in the seat across from me had a seven month old baby that I played with for most of the trip.”
“Awww that’s sweet,” Mom says with a warm smile. “I’m excited about the prospect of having babies around again. Eric was such a good baby. All Jimmy had to do was play a little guitar and he’d go right to sleep.”
“Sookie was a very active baby. She barely slept,” he chuckles. “She always wanted to be in the middle of everything.”
“You’re going to have to settle for grandpuppies for a while,” Sookie tells them.
“I’m fine with that for now,” her dad says. The baby talk seems to have loosened him up some.
“Eric always wanted pets but we were nomads for most of his childhood,” Mom says.
“Sookie was raised with all kinds of animals,” he smiles, looking at his daughter. “She’ll teach him how to be a good pet parent.”
Sookie rolls her eyes.
“They’re animals. You and Mom were really good at reminding us of that,” she says. “Mom can’t stand those dog food commercials with the outraged owners that act like they can’t tell the difference between their pets and their children.”
“I’d never put my cat through rehab,” Mom snorts.
“Ha! Could you imagine parakeets in group therapy?” Sookie cackles.
“Oh, hell, with Debbie and Felicia it already felt like it,” I snort.
“Hamsters in art therapy,” Sookie giggles.
“Oh, that reminds me. Quinn told me he has one of the paintings Jessica did and he wanted to give it to me,” I tell her. He called when she was at yoga this morning but with all of the Corbett excitement I forgot to tell her.
“That was nice of him,” Sookie replies as Dad walks in. He’s actually got a shirt on for a change. “Hi, Jimmy.”
He nods at Sookie and looks at her dad. “I’m Jimmy, Eric’s father,” he says, reaching out to shake Corbett’s hand.
“Corbett, nice to meet you.”
Luna announces lunch is ready and we all take a seat around the table. I think Corbett is finally getting over the fact that my parents are famous and they all seem to be getting along pretty well. I don’t know what happened between Dad and Sookie, but even his attitude has improved greatly.
“So, this is it,” I say with a grin when Dad and I pull up outside my new house. I close on it tomorrow but we’re parking the truck here overnight.
“Looks nice from the outside,” he says as he turns off the truck.
“It’s nice inside too. We can look through the windows if you want. You have to see the dock out back. Almost seven acres will belong to me as of tomorrow.” I take off my seatbelt. My ass is numb.
“That’s a pretty big deal, Sookie,” Dad says and opens his door. “Show me what you bought.”
I hop down from the truck and lead Dad to the covered front porch so he can look through the windows. There are hardwood floors throughout the house and several wood burning stoves to provide heat.
“Wow,” he says as he looks through the window. “It’s all yours? Eric’s name isn’t on it, right?”
“All mine,” I nod.
The first floor is pretty much an open floor plan but when we go around the corner he gets a better view of the kitchen. There’s a nice island and pretty granite countertops. The appliances are stainless steel and there are pot lights dotting the ceiling all over that are on a dimmer switch.
“Good, he’s a nice enough kid, but I feel better knowing this is all yours,” he says.
“We’re not married and we haven’t been together that long. I love him but I’m not crazy,” I chuckle. We continue on to the back of the house and Dad gasps.
“Oh, baby, this is beautiful,” he says as he looks around, taking in the view.
“All that’s missing is a mountain in the background,” I smile. “This is going to be gorgeous in the fall when the leaves start to turn.” It’ll be a bitch to rake the yard though. I’ve got six acres of trees immediately surrounding my house.
“It will be,” he agrees, putting his arm around my shoulder. “This is what your mom and I wanted for you. Not that house in Laguna. I like this move a lot better.”
“Me too. The instant I first got here I felt like I was home,” I tell him.
“I can see that,” he nods. “So you really think this Eric kid is the one?”
“Yeah, I do. I think we’re good for each other. Because of what we’ve been through we’ve seen each other at our worst and we can talk about it if we feel the itch to use without feeling judged for it. Plus, he loves me. He tells me so and shows it in his actions. He’s a good guy, Dad,” I answer.
“It was funny watching him try to control his mouth. He’s going to have to watch those cuss words when you two have little ones running around here.”
“Either that or he’ll have to field the phone calls from their teachers,” I chuckle.
“I’m just glad you’re happy.”
“I am,” I nod. “Do you think Mom’ll like it?”
“I think she’s going to love it,” he says. “She might try to move in.”
“I might kidnap her when I have my first baby,” I warn.
“She’ll come willingly,” he teases.
“I’m sure she will. Maybe we’ll see about building a guest cabin somewhere on the property for when we have guests,” I suggest. “We definitely need a fire pit behind the house.”
“That would be good,” he nods.
“How about we unhitch Betsy and go get something to eat?” I suggest.
“I can definitely eat,” he chuckles and turns to go back to the truck and trailer with my car on it.
Dad and I are just getting to our hotel when I get a call from Eric. I send Dad in ahead to get checked in. Our hotel is in Bangor since this is where the closing is tomorrow morning.
“Hey,” I answer.
“You look tired, baby,” he purrs into the receiver.
“Are you psychic?” I chuckle.
“Not quite.” I can hear his smile.
“Then how do you know I look tired?” I am tired. It was a long ass drive that we did in shifts.
I hear footsteps behind me and his voice in stereo as he says, “Because I couldn’t go another night sleeping without you.”
I whirl around and there he is with a sly smile on his face. I hang up the phone and hug him tight.
“I missed you too. I forgot how loud Daddy snores,” I tell him.
“I have a room for us so you don’t have to deal with that,” he smiles and kisses my forehead as he hugs me back.
“Oh bless you,” I sigh happily. “I took Daddy out to the house and he loves it. If we were closer I’d run you over there too, but I don’t want to be in a moving vehicle until tomorrow morning.”
“It’s fine. I’m fucking beat from driving out here,” he says.
“Then I’ll just get my bags and we can go up and crawl into bed,” I smile and pull back to go to my car. I grab my bags and Eric takes them from me. After I lock up we walk into the hotel to find Dad at the front desk just getting his room key.
“Where’d you come from?” he asks Eric.
“California,” Eric chuckles. “I got here about an hour ago.”
“He was lonely without me,” I tell Dad.
“That’s… cute. I guess you’ll be rooming with him tonight?”
“Yep. You’ll be able to watch TV in your boxers like you always wanted,” I tease.
“Perfect,” Dad grins. “You guys get good sleep tonight. We have a lot to get done tomorrow.”
“I know, Dad. We’re just going to crawl into bed and pass out.”
“Okay.” He looks at the hotel clerk and changes his room to a single. “What time are you going to the realtor in the morning?”
“She’s meeting us here at nine and then we’re going to the bank to sign the paperwork there. I can give you my car keys so you can get Mom from the airport and then we’ll meet you afterward,” I say.
“That works,” he nods. “Thanks for coming to be with my little girl,” he tells Eric.
“You’re welcome, sir,” Eric replies.
“I’m going to bed, kids.” Dad takes his new key and gives me a hug goodnight.
“Goodnight, Dad. Thanks for everything,” I whisper as I hug him back.
“You’re welcome. I love you,” he says before letting me go.
“I love you too.” I watch him head for the elevator. “Are you checked in?” I ask Eric.
“Yep,” he nods and picks up my bag again.
“Then lead the way.” I’m ready to pass out.
We walk to the bank of elevators and board a car to go up to the third floor. It’s a quick ride up. Eric leads me to the right to room 322. He lets us in and I follow him inside. It’s a standard room with a huge bed, sitting area and a little kitchenette area.
“Do you want a shower before bed?” he offers as he locks the door behind us.
“No, I’ll wait until morning.” I kick off my sneakers and start pulling off my clothes.
“The bed is already turned down.” Eric pulls off his shirt as he steps into the bathroom. He doesn’t close the door before I hear him going pee.
I peel off my shorts and trudge toward the bed in my underwear. After closing the curtains I flop on the bed face down. Man, this is comfortable. I haven’t moved a muscle when Eric lies down next to me.
“I can’t wait to try out the new couch,” I mutter. We picked out a big U-shaped couch for the living room that we can nap on together. I suspect we may even eventually conceive a child on that couch.
“I’m sure we’ll crash on it tomorrow night once we have everything in,” he chuckles.
“That’s entirely possible,” I yawn.
“I’m excited,” he whispers and kisses my head.
“Me too. When do you leave for Vermont?” At first he said he was going for a month, but I don’t think he’ll last that long.
“I drove through Vermont on the way in and figured out it’s only five hours from my grandparent’s house to our house. I think I might just drive over and spend a few days at a time and the come home to you.”
“Sounds like a good plan,” I agree.
“My grandparents want to meet you.”
“I’d like to meet them too. We could have them over once we’re settled in,” I offer.
“They’d love that,” he says with a yawn.
“We can figure it out in a couple of weeks.” I turn over onto my back and Eric immediately nuzzles into my boobs.
“Mmhmm,” he agrees.
“We must be tired. We haven’t even accidentally fondled each other,” I smile. My eyes close and I start running my fingers through his hair.
“I’ll fondle you in a couple days,” he promises.
“If you really need me to I can wake you up with my mouth on your pussy.”
“You know I’ll never turn that down,” I chuckle. Seriously, the man’s tongue is fucking magical. I’d be a fool to say no.
“I think you’ll have a good day tomorrow, then,” he chuckles.
“I think we both will,” I whisper.
“Mmm, good,” he hums. “I love you, baby.”
“I love you too,” I reply.