In the aftermath of his arrest, Sookie decided to petition the court for sole custody of their daughter. Given that Sam had narcotics in his system at the time of his arrest, not to mention the possession charges and the DUI, a judge was all too willing to remove his rights to visit Joey without a court liaison present. Any of his visits would be supervised and he would have to complete 120 days in rehab before those visitations could begin.
At the very least it would be four months before he saw his daughter again, but that wasn’t taking into account the criminal sentence he received. Thanks to Jason’s connections in the D.A.’s office it didn’t look like the charges against Sam were going to be dropped or pled out. The most Sam could have hoped for would be for his case to be reassigned to the Drug Court so that he could get the help he needed to kick his addiction to the crack cocaine that was on his person at the time of his arrest. That also happened to be what was in the vial that fell out of his pocket.
If he wasn’t reassigned to the Drug Court he was looking at no less than $500.00 in fines and six months in jail, per charge. Honestly, I’m not sure which Sookie was hoping for but I knew what I preferred. What surprised us all was that Sam pled guilty to the charges. Maybe he decided he needed help or maybe he realized just how fucked up it was that his own daughter had asked another man to be her father.
Whatever the reason, we definitely didn’t see it coming.
Sentencing was announced immediately after Sam gave his plea, rather than going through the motions of making him wait. He was given the maximum for someone with his list of charges. $3,000.00 in fines and eighteen months in jail. He was also going to have to complete 180 days of rehab. Sookie cried when the sentence was given and I’m not sure if it was because she was disappointed in the way things turned out (only because he was Jo’s bio dad) or if she was relieved we wouldn’t have to worry about him coming around for at least another year and a half.
By the time Sam gets out of jail and rehab Sookie and I will be married and hopefully, we’ll have a child of our own to keep us busy. By then Jo will be almost seven and her memories of her father will be nearly nonexistent.
True to her word, Sookie’s gone off the shot. We’ve decided to do something simple and quick because like she said, we just want to be married. We decide we’re going to need a new house if we’re going to have babies. Both of us have been living in three bedroom houses but that’s not really going to work for a family of five. Jake will only be with us part-time, but we can’t put either of them in a room with an infant.
So today we’re going to look at houses. We want to stay in the same neighborhood we’re in, if possible, because we both like the school that Joey’s going to. Sookie and I differ on our personal tastes as far as design goes but to be honest, I don’t really care as long as everything isn’t pink, furry or covered in sparkly shit. I don’t want to live in Barbie’s Malibu Dream House… much to my daughter’s disappointment.
“Eric, it would take you a year to clear out that backyard,” Sookie says quietly as we look into the backyard of the house we’re currently looking at. It’s close to our current house, but I can tell by the look on her face she is not impressed.
“Yeah, I’m not feeling this place either,” I tell her. The backyard is a damn jungle and the inside of the house needs a ton of work. The current owners definitely don’t have the place staged right for showings. There’s clutter everywhere. “Plus can you imagine a newly mobile child at the top of those stairs?”
Every. Parent’s. Nightmare.
“I wouldn’t let my baby down in this place,” she whisper-yells. “We would have to tear it down and start over.”
“Oh so you wouldn’t just call the Property Brothers to come and fix it?” I tease. She has crushes. It’s cute.
A little twinkle shows in her eyes.
“Well… Jonathan is sooo cute,” she smiles. “Good idea, babe.”
I snicker and say, “I don’t mind doing a little renovation but I don’t want to buy a dump and have to start from scratch. The house has to be at least a little move-in ready.”
We’ve been watching a ton of HGTV to get ourselves educated on home buying so we’re stuffed full of real estate terminology at the moment.
“Then this dump isn’t going to work,” she says.
She’s right about that.
“We’ll keep looking,” I shrug. We’re just hitting up open houses and this place is definitely not going on our list of houses to see again.
“If we have to go out of the neighborhood it’s worth it to find something livable and sanitary.”
“Yeah we’re not leaving for a house of horrors,” I agree and open the passenger’s side door of the Jeep for her.
Sookie climbs into the car and I go around to get in behind the wheel.
“Where to next?” I ask since she’s holding the list of addresses.
She picks up her list and says, “There’s a house on… Myna? I don’t like that street name, but it’s worth a look. Go right at the stop sign.”
I nod and pull away from the house we’re definitely not buying. I follow Sookie’s directions to get to the next house and we pull up in front of an off-white house with a two car garage and a nice little front yard.
“Already this one looks better,” I tell her as I turn the car off.
“Yes it does,” she agrees, looking through the windshield. “It looks a little cookie cutter, but that could be okay.”
“Cookie cutter doesn’t really bother me,” I tell her.
We get out of the car and walk up to the front door hand in hand. A realtor greets us and starts asking a zillion questions about what we’re looking for in a house. Already I see the carpet all over the place and know that’s going to be a problem for Sookie. Toddlers and carpeting don’t mix. It traps dirt and it stains and kids are messy, messy little creatures.
“We could replace the floors. It doesn’t look that hard to do and as long as I don’t get pregnant right away it could be a fun project,” she suggests as she looks around.
“Toots, just imagine me walking around here with a tool belt and then tell me how much work I’ll get done that doesn’t involve making you scream my name,” I whisper to her.
“None,” she giggles and leans up to give me a quick kiss.
The house isn’t looking so bad. There are some nice built-ins in what I’m guessing is supposed to be the living room, but then we get to the kitchen and everything comes to a screeching halt.
“This is an oddly shaped kitchen,” I say as we look around. It’s full of weird angles and the backsplash tiles clash with the counter tops. We’d have to renovate the kitchen for sure.
“You know, I’ve never really gotten the appeal of ‘open concept’ until I saw this. It’s blocked off from everything. If the kids are out there we can’t see them unless we’re doing dishes. Oh, Joey will start doing dishes at the beginning of the New Year. Supervised of course, but she needs to earn her keep,” Sookie says seriously.
“I have no problem with that. We had chores growing up. She needs to learn to be responsible and accountable for things,” I agree. Jake already has to clean up his room before he goes to bed each night so it’s a start.
“My parents were a little old fashioned. I had to do inside chores while Jason worked like a dog in the yard. Daddy didn’t take out the trash from the time Jason turned six until he moved out.”
“Did he suffer some head injuries while he was out there, because that would explain a lot,” I joke. Jason’s a good guy but some of the things he says… I have to wonder if Michelle was drunk for a lot of her pregnancy.
“They blame it on being the first kid so they didn’t know what they were doing. Alls I hear when they say that is Jason got dropped on his head a lot,” she giggles. “He bit the end of a thermometer once too, could be the mercury.”
I shake my head and laugh. Jason’s a trip.
We keep walking through the house and go up the stairs to the second floor. The house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms. The bedrooms are a decent size and the house gets an okay amount of natural light, but there are parts that get a little cave-like and Sookie likes her natural light. The bathrooms are all in need of a makeover. All in all the house would be okay if it wasn’t for the clusterfuck of a kitchen. We would have to take down a wall and that would mean losing a lot of storage in the kitchen. If Sookie didn’t cook it probably wouldn’t matter, but she loves cooking and baking. She’s determined to get Joey in on it as well and now Jake wants to help since he’s quickly becoming his big sister’s shadow. A better kitchen is definitely a must for us.
So we leave the house on Myna sure that it’s not the place for us. We get back in the Jeep and move on to a house on Colgate. The house has great curb appeal but then we get inside and it’s like the ‘70s went there to die. There is way too much wood paneling for either of our tastes and there are big, white ceramic tiles on the floor that are awkwardly laid out next to hardwood. The rooms are spacious but they all are in need of a little work. The kitchen needs a facelift and there’s a big pool out back.
I’m a little apprehensive about having a pool when we’re planning on having babies around the house. I know we can get a gate for it but I also know how sneaky kids are, especially mine. Jake was a professional climber as soon as he figured out the hand/eye coordination to do it. Joey is a stealthy little shit when she wants to be. Combine those two things together and you’ve got one hell of a troublemaker on your hands.
We cross that house off the list and move on to a fourth house over on Salters. The outside is a soft shade of yellow with shutters on the windows. Again there’s carpet just about everywhere but the kitchens and bathrooms that we would have to rip out, but the kitchen is enormous and fairly open. There would be plenty of room for a table in there so the kids could be doing homework while Sookie’s cooking. The living room was also pretty visible from there so they would be easy to keep an eye on.
The biggest downside to this house is the lack of a yard. There’s lots of patio and there is an in-ground pool, but the kids need a yard to run around in and they wouldn’t get that with this house. They can’t be in the pool all the time. The house has character but it also has ridiculously high ceilings and already I can see Sookie trying to figure out either how to clean them herself, or how much money it would cost us to have professionals come in to do it for us.
All the same, we agree that it has the right amount of space for us and things we don’t like, aside from the yard, are a pretty easy fix. Nothing would need to be changed immediately in order for us to live there so we put it on our short list of places we want to see again before we make any offers.
Our last stop on our tour of homes is over on 43rd Street about three blocks from our current house. The house has a white brick exterior with a dark roof and as soon as it comes into sight, I’m pretty sure Sookie’s in love with it.
“That’s it, that’s the one,” she says as we park in the driveway. “I can feel it.”
“We haven’t even seen the inside yet.” I turn off the car and take off my seatbelt.
“I know. What do you want to bet that we’re going to fall in love as soon as we walk in?”
“I think that bet might be a little skewed since you’re already salivating,” I tell her as I open my door.
“I just know this is where we’re going to raise our kids. Haven’t you ever heard of woman’s intuition?” she asks over the hood of the Jeep.
“Of course I have. Something told me to flirt with you the day we met,” I tell her and reach out for her hand. I have to admit, I am getting a good, homey feeling about this house. There’s a nice little covered portico in the front and there are lots of windows at the front of the house.
“Babe, real hardwood floors,” she gasps when we walk in. “I don’t want to try to sway you, but look.” She points into the kitchen and she says, “Counter space galore.”
She’s right about that. The kitchen has recently been renovated, as is apparent by the sparkly counters and stainless steel appliances that all look like they’re brand new. The line of sight is good and the island in the kitchen is narrow but really long so there’s room for the kids to sit on stools while they do homework. We haven’t done much entertaining yet but I’m sure that will change over time and it would be nice to have plenty of space for guests.
When Sookie gets into that mind frame, she’s a hell of a hostess. Truthfully, I can already see her baking Christmas cookies in here. I can see the racks of cooling baked goods and her chasing sticky fingered little mongrels out of the kitchen to keep them from getting too high on sugary treats.
“It’s a little perfect,” I concede and she snorts beside me.
“It’s also haunted. I can feel that too. But it’s not creepy, ya know?”
“Uh, you better keep that haunted stuff to yourself or we’ll never have our bed to ourselves ever again,” I tell her. Jo’s big ole scaredy cat.
“I learned my lesson when she said she wanted to watch Pet Cemetery. That’s that night she called you crying, but you couldn’t understand her,” Sookie laughs.
“That was a bad, bad night,” I recall. Joey wouldn’t go to bed until I came home from Trey’s to check under her bed, in the closet and everywhere else to make sure that Church wasn’t going to jump out in the middle of the night and eat her face.
“I doubt we’ll be getting a pet anytime soon,” she laughs and adds, “I’m a terrible mother.”
“No you’re not. If the worst thing you ever do is let her watch a movie that scares her, I think you’re ahead of the curve,” I say as we move on.
“Hmm, found the one bad thing,” she says, pointing to the backyard, or lack of backyard. The yard is mostly swimming pool. “They can play out front. We can put up a white picket fence.”
“You know, if the rest of the house is as great as the kitchen I’d be willing to let go of the backyard. The front yard is pretty spectacular, though. There would be room for them to run around out there.”
“Let’s look upstairs,” she suggests and takes my hand to lead me. We get upstairs and as we walk into the master bedroom Sookie says, “Find our realtor, we need this house.”
“This is pretty amazing,” I agree. The room is spacious, which is key when you have a bed as big as ours. The bathroom has recently been remodeled as well, and the shower alone is great but I think Sookie has a little orgasm when she sees the soaker tub. Which is confirmed when she walks over to sit in it.
“I can even fit when I’m pregnant,” she smiles. “Maybe we should look at the rest, but as long as we don’t find any dead bodies on the way to the other rooms I want it.”
I offer her a hand to help her out of the tub and say, “Toots, you could be carrying a litter and still fit in that tub.” It has to be at least two and a half feet deep. It’s ridiculous. She definitely won’t be giving babies baths in there though. Maybe in the sink…
“Hey, maybe we can teach Jake to swim in here before we let him in the pool,” she grins.
I chuckle and say, “Yeah, maybe. Aude’s planning on signing him up for swimming lessons in the spring.”
“If we have a pool I can teach him unless she doesn’t want me to.”
“I’ll let you work that out with her.” We move on from the master bedroom and go down the hall to look at the other bedrooms.
“Do you think Jake would sleep in his room or come in here to camp out with Jo?” she asks when we get to the room decorated for a little girl. There’s a little cubby that a small child can fit in with ease.
“I think Jake might claim this room as his and let Jo come to visit,” I joke.
“We could always tell them no and that we’re saving it for the new baby to stop any fights.”
“We could do that. Honestly, I think this would be a good room for Jo and she’s going to be with us full-time anyway. Maybe should let her pick which room she gets?”
“Your call, Papa bear,” she smiles and pats my chest. “She may not even like it. The cubby might freak her out.”
“Especially if she hears any of your theories about the house being haunted,” I snicker.
“I won’t tell her that,” Sookie promises and we move along.
The other bedrooms have just as much character as the first. Because of the sloping roof the rooms are interesting shapes and don’t have the usual flat ceilings. There are lots of windows and alcoves which are great for tucking in desks or a chair. I wonder if the hardwood is original to the house. It’s a little bit distressed, but overall in pretty good condition. The other bathroom upstairs is also in great shape, having recently been renovated as well.
In short, Sookie was right. This house is perfect for us.
“I’ll call the realtor when we get home,” I tell her.
“Thank you, Eric. This is going to be good for us,” she smiles and kisses me softly.
“I think you’re right, Toots.” I open the passenger’s side door for her so Sookie can climb up.
I look up at the house and smile a little. That feeling Sookie was talking about when we first pulled up hits me too. I think this is supposed to be our new house.