The next morning I wake up early to start breakfast. I mix up batter to make cinnamon raisin French toast and I get a ton of bacon into the oven. Coffee is brewing and I’m just about ready to start making the toast when it’s time to wake Jo up. She’s become increasingly more difficult to get going in the morning so I have no doubt she’ll be drinking coffee just like her mother before she graduates from high school.
“Jo, it’s time to wake up,” I say quietly and gently shake her.
“No,” she grumbles and rolls away from me.
“Ten more minutes,” I warn and then head back toward the kitchen. “I made bacon.”
That’ll get her.
I’m not sure what’s bothering Sookie. My guess would be stress, like I suggested last night. We do have a lot going on all at once so maybe she just needs a break. Since she’ll be asleep for a little while longer, I grab my phone from the bedroom and make a call to her dad. Corbett’s always up at sunrise so he’s already on his second or third cup of coffee.
Maybe a night off, no kids, will do us both some good. I think Sookie, more than me, really needs the break. Corbett agrees to take Jo for the night on Friday and keep her until whenever we want to get her on Saturday. I get a couple of pieces of toast ready and put them in the oven to keep them warm. With the coffee finished, I pour a cup for Sookie and get it doctored just right. She’s sound asleep on her stomach and I set the mug down on the nightstand beside the bed.
I turn off the alarm and sit down beside her. I rub her back gently and lean down to kiss her head.
“Baby, wake up,” I whisper to her.
“It’s time to get up, babe. There’s coffee on the nightstand for you and I’m making breakfast,” I tell her.
Sookie rolls over and blinks a few times before her eyes settle on me.
“Morning,” she says in a sleepy voice.
“Morning.” I lean down and kiss her forehead. “I already woke Joey up once but she’s not out of bed yet. Breakfast is almost ready whenever you are. And I talked to your dad.”
“Mmm, what about?” she asks, reaching out to thread her fingers through mine.
“About us getting a night off. Your dad is going to pick Jo up Friday evening and keep her overnight for us so we’ll be kid less for a few hours.”
“Have I told you lately you’re the best future Mr. Stackhouse in the world,” she grins.
I chuckle and say, “Yes, you have. Do you want breakfast in bed or do you want to come to the table?”
“I’ll get up. I’ll grab Jo on the way out.” She sits up and immediately plops back down. “I don’t want to do today,” she groans before forcing herself out of bed.
“You could take a sick day you know,” I suggest. “You have plenty of time off.”
“I don’t know. I should just power through. I’m sure I’ll feel a lot better once I eat and shower,” she sighs.
“Okay. If you don’t I will even take a sick day with you,” I offer. I don’t have as much time off in a year as she does, but I wouldn’t mind a day of us just bumming around together. I would even drop Jo off at daycare for her and pick her up later.
She smiles at me and says, “If I take the day, I would love to have you with me. Maybe that’s my problem. I just need a break.”
I smile at her and say, “Then it’s decided. We’re taking sick days. I’ll take Jo to school for you after breakfast and you can stay in bed. I’ll come home and we’ll just be lazy and stay in bed all day. We can just watch movies and snuggle.”
“That sounds pretty perfect,” she agrees. “I’ll still get her up. I’ll meet you in the kitchen.” Sookie gives me a quick kiss before she slips into the bathroom.
I get up and go back to the kitchen to get a plate ready for Joey. I know she’ll want more bacon than French toast. I set the plate on the table along with a cup of chocolate milk and she’s wrapped around her mother when Sookie comes into the kitchen.
“Good morning, Peanut,” I say to Jo and kiss the top of her head.
“Mornin’, Daddy,” she grumbles.
“I made you bacon.”
“Thanks,” she says.
“I think Daddy is trying to get the Dad of the year award,” Sookie snickers as she settles Joey in her booster.
“I’m just being nice. I can throw all the bacon away and we can have oatmeal instead,” I suggest.
It earns me twin looks of horror from the other side of the room.
“You throw out that bacon and you’ll be sleeping at your Mom’s for the next two weeks,” Sookie says with a death glare.
“Calm down, I’m not throwing away the bacon,” I chuckle. “There’s more in the microwave if you want more after you finish what’s on your plate, Jo.”
“Mmm, okay,” she says around a piece of bacon that she snatched up as soon as she was put in her seat.
“Are you eating now?” I ask Sookie as I take the plate of French toast out of the oven.
“Sure, I love having breakfast with my baby,” she smiles, referring to both me and Joey.
“How many pieces of toast do you want?” I grab her a plate from the cupboard.
“Two is good. Do you need any help?”
“Nope, I’m good.” I put two pieces of toast on the plate along with five pieces of bacon because I know my girl. I bring the plate over to the table and set it down in front of here. “Here you go, Toots.”
“Thanks, babe,” she says with her eyes devouring all the bacon before she shoves an entire piece in her mouth.
“You’re welcome,” I laugh and go back to the stove to make more toast.
Jo ends up wanting more bacon, which is no big surprise. After breakfast Sookie gets Joey ready for school while I clean up and call into work for the day. I don’t care that it’s the middle of the week. Once Joey is ready, Sookie gives her a hug and a kiss goodbye and I get her buckled into her car seat in the back of my Jeep. Both kids have seats in each car so that either of us can have both kids in the car at the same time. We might as well get used to it.
Hell, we’ll probably have to trade in Sookie’s little Honda for something bigger since we’ll have three car seats in there. It’s not surprise to me that Joey asks why I’m taking her to school instead of Sookie since she usually leaves with Sookie in the morning.
“Mommy’s not feeling very good today so I’m going to drop you off and pick you up after school today,” I answer.
“What’s wrong with her? She looked okay to me.”
“She’s just tired, mostly. Mommy’s been very busy lately and she just needs a day off to get some rest.”
“I want a day off to rest,” she pouts.
That means she wants a day off to be Mommy’s shadow.
“We’ll talk to Mommy about that later,” I tell her. “But I talked to Pop Pop this morning. He and Gramma want a Joey night on Friday.”
“Really?” she asks, and she looks excited.
“Yep. Pop’s going to come get you after school on Friday and you’ll stay over at their house.”
“Yay! Gramma always makes cookies with me!”
“That sounds like fun. Hey, should we get Mommy some flowers later after school?”
“Yes. Mommy loves flowers and they always make her happy,” Joey agrees.
“What color flowers should we get her?”
“Pink, Dad, duh.”
“What was I thinking?” I chuckle and shake my head. “Should we get her some ice cream too? Or maybe a brownie?”
“Brownie and ice cream.”
“Good idea!” I smile back at her at a red light. “You know what else Mommy might like?”
“Hmmm, maybe some shoes. Aunt Pammy said all girls want shoes.”
I roll my eyes and say, “Be careful what advice you take from Aunt Pammy. I was thinking more like if you colored Mommy a picture or made her a card.”
“Oh, I can do that,” she smiles. “Think she wants a horsy?”
“I think Mommy will love anything you color for her just because you colored it.”
“That’s ‘cause I’m her favorite girl,” she says in another ‘duh’ tone.
“Yes you are,” I agree. Sookie has saved every single thing that Jo has colored for her. They’re all put away in a box in the closet.
“Do you want me to color something for you too?”
“Sure. I could use something new for my office at work,” I tell her. Every time she gives me something I at least take it with me and hang it up so I can take a picture of it for her to see later. I don’t always keep the stuff up, but she doesn’t need to know that.
“I’ll make you a blue horsy,” she says as she looks out the window.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those before. Can you give it a green tail?”
“You’re awesome,” I tell her.
Jo gives me one of her cheesy grins and a few minutes later we arrive at the daycare. She unbuckles the harness on her chair and I walk her into the building. I get Jo signed in and walk to her classroom with her.
“Have a good day at school, Peanut,” I tell her as she takes off her jacket.
“Thanks, Daddy. Love you,” she says and skips off.
She goes over to the section of the room with the play kitchen and immediately starts playing with her friends. It’s good to see her getting along with other kids her age. I leave her be since she’s already at the age where she doesn’t want either of her parents hovering around her constantly. On my way back home I stop at a grocery store to get some movie snacks.
I find Sookie lying on the couch in a pair of my sweats and one of my shirts. She’s got a throw blanket over her legs and one of our pillows from the bedroom on the couch with her. Honestly, I’m a little worried it’s more than her just being tired or stressed out. I drop the bag of candy on the coffee table and kick off my sandals to sit down beside her.
“Sook, are you okay?” I ask with concern and rub her back.
“I think so. Maybe I’m just getting sick. I haven’t been sick in a long time,” she says softly.
“Do you usually cry yourself to sleep when you get sick?” That can’t just be a cold coming on.
She rolls to look at me and says, “I guess not. I don’t know. My emotions are all over the place.”
“Could it be because the birth control is gone? That’s all hormones and stuff so maybe not having them anymore is what’s causing it,” I suggest. It’s a reach, but it’s possible I suppose.
“Could be. Maybe I should ask my doctor if this is normal,” she sighs and reaches up for me. “Come snuggle with me.”
“Scoot over,” I tell her.
Sookie moves and I stretch out on the couch so she can pretty much lie on top of me. She rests her head on my chest and I rub her back.
“If you need everything to slow down just say so, Sook. There’s no rush to do all this stuff we’re doing,” I kiss her head.
“I think I just want to get it all over and done with. I want to be in our new place before we get married, I want to get married before we have a baby. I think once things actually start happening and not just stressing over them I’ll start feeling better. At least I hope so,” she says looking up at my face.
“Well for today let’s not worry about all that,” I suggest. “We’ll just relax and be lazy. Jo was very disappointed she wasn’t getting to have a lazy day with you.”
“Aww, maybe after the move we’ll have a family day where all four of us eat shitty food and watch Disney movies all day,” she smiles.
“That would be nice. She cheered up when I told her she was going to your parents’ house on Friday. She’s excited to make cookies with Gramma,” I chuckle. She’s easily distracted.
“She’s excited because Mom lets her eat all the cookies too. Generally right before I pick her up,” Sookie chuckles and turns to nuzzle her face into my chest.
“Well that’s what Grammas are supposed to do. Someday you’ll do the same thing to Jo’s kids.”
“Are you going to even allow her to date? She can’t give me grandbabies if you don’t.”
“Of course I will. I’ll just make sure Uncle Jay runs the appropriate background checks first. Maybe have him assign an armed chaperone to follow them around town.” That’s reasonable.
“You’re too cute, Mr. Northman. Do you want to stay here or stretch out in bed?”
“Whatever you want is fine with me. Also, I feel worse for Jake since he’ll have two moms thinking none of the little hussies he dates are good enough for him.”
“It’s going to be awesome,” she giggles, “Aude and I will get together and tag team them.”
“Poor kid,” I sigh.
“It’s your fault for making such a handsome boy.”
“You sure you want to test my gene pool and have another?”
“I want to have your children more than anything else in the world,” she whispers sincerely.
“Good,” I whisper and kiss her head again. I’m perfectly comfortable where we are so unless she wants to get up, I’m content to stay put.
“What do you want to watch?” she asks after a few minutes of comfortable silence.
“I don’t care. I’ll probably fall asleep soon anyway.” I’m a little tired myself.
“Me too.” She stretches over me to grab the remote from the coffee table and flips through the channels until she finds HGTV and then she settles back on my chest. “Jonathan and Drew can lull us to sleep.”
I rub her back and in no time both of us are conked out on the couch.
I’m not sure how much time passes but when I wake up I’m alone on the couch. I sit bolt upright when I hear what sounds like Sookie gagging in the bathroom.
“Shit,” I mutter and jump off the couch to find her.
She’s in the bathroom, on her knees, with her head in the bowl. Uh oh. I reach down to hold her hair for her and rub her back while she gags and heaves.
I don’t know how long she’s been at it, but at least five minutes pass before she finally reaches up to flush the toilet. Her face is red and I can tell she was crying at one point, not that I blame her. I grab a washcloth and dampen it with cool water. After I wring it out I hand it over to her.
“Stomach bug?” I ask while filling a cup with water so she can rinse her mouth.
“Probably. I just woke up and ran,” she sighs, and sits back against the wall.
“I’m sorry, babe. Do you want some ginger tea?” I offer. Maybe it’ll help settle her stomach. “I can run out and get you some ginger ale if you want.”
“Tea is fine,” she says and reaches up so I can help her to her feet.
I gently pull Sookie up and then scoop her up to take her back to our bedroom so she can lie down.
“Stay here, babe. I’ll get it. Want some dry toast?”
“Yeah, unless we have saltines. They were my saving grace when I was pregnant.”
“I think we have some from the last time you made chili. I’ll check. If we don’t have some I run out and get some for you.”
“No, I don’t want you to go anywhere,” she almost whines. “Toast will be fine if we don’t have the crackers.”
She’s being really clingy, which happens sometimes but not like this.
“Okay, I’ll stay. I’ll go get the water going and then come back to bed.”
“Thanks, baby,” she says softly and curls in on herself.
I go to the kitchen to start the water for her tea and put a couple of pieces of bread into the toaster. The water heats up pretty fast so I grab a ginger tea bag from the cupboard and put it in Sookie’s favorite mug. With the tea and toast made, I go back to the bedroom to find that Sookie hasn’t moved.
“Here you go, Toots,” I say softly and wait for her to sit up.
It takes her longer than normal to sit up. When she’s up she scoots back against the headboard and reaches for the toast.
“This relaxy day was a good idea,” she sighs and drops her head back with the toast in her hand.
“Seems so. Can I get you anything else?” I offer.
I smile and sit down on the bed beside her so we’re both propped up against the headboard.
“How about a back rub when you’re done with your tea?”
“Sure.” She sits back up and takes a bite of her toast. “This is the best toast I’ve ever eaten in life,” she giggles.
I smile at her and hope she keeps it down. Sookie nibbles her way through the toast and sips the tea. She seems to be okay. When she’s done she lies down so I can rub her back but I don’t get very far before she’s practically throwing me off of her and running for the bathroom again.
Sookie’s back in the bathroom, chucking up her attempt at dinner, when her phone rings. I know it’s the realtor calling so I answer because I know Sookie wouldn’t want the call to go to voice mail.
“Hello?” I answer.
“Hello, Eric?” Selah sounds confused that I’m answering Sookie’s phone knowing how excited she is about the house.
“Yes, it’s Eric. Sookie’s… she’s got a stomach bug,” I explain.
“Well that’s too bad. I’m calling with news about the house.”
“Good news, I hope. Sookie could definitely use it right about now,” I say.
“If you guys are available I can bring the paperwork by to be signed. The Bellefleurs accepted your offer,” she tells me and I can hear the smile in her voice.
“That’s great news,” I grin. “Let me talk to Sookie. We may need to wait until the bug passes. I wouldn’t want to get you sick, but we’re definitely… yes, we’re excited.”
“I could always give it to you guys to sign and then I can pick it up later. I know she’s been anxious about their decision.”
“She has been. Let me talk to her and we’ll get back to you early tomorrow.” I really need to get off the phone and go deal with Sookie.
“Okay, do you want me to let the Bellefleurs know you want it?”
“Yes, absolutely we do.” I don’t want to rush her off the phone, but I really need to go deal with Sookie.
“Okay. Call me when you can.”
“Will do. Thanks for calling,” I say and then hang up.
Sookie’s still heaving into the toilet but at least her hair is up this time. I resume rubbing her back and wait for her to be done.
“I think I just threw up my spleen,” Sookie groans when she comes up for air.
“I’m sorry, baby.” I get her some more water. I hand her the cup and say, “I have some good news. That was Selah on the phone. The Bellefleurs accepted our offer. We got the house.”
“Really?” she says and gives me her Christmas morning smile.
“Really. Selah wants us to set up an appointment to sign some paperwork. I told her you’re not feeling well so we’ll get back to her tomorrow.”
“This is amazing, Eric. Seriously, if I could stay out of the bathroom I would start packing now,” she tells me. The smile hasn’t left her face.
“Slow down there, killer,” I chuckle. “How about I get you some Saltines now?”
I picked up a box to go with her flowers and her other treats when I picked up Jo from school.
“Yes, please and when you get back I’ll have fresh breath so you can kiss me.”
“Deal.” I reach out and help her up off the floor. I kiss her head and then go to the kitchen to get the Saltines for her.
Jo’s in the living room watching cartoons and I’m a little surprised that she hasn’t come to check on Sookie but it’s probably for the best. We don’t need a sick five-year-old too. Sookie’s just spitting out toothpaste when I come back to the bedroom. I get the box open and one of the sleeves of crackers open after that so they’re ready for her.
“Get your sexy face over here,” she says in a scratchy voice.
I step into the bathroom and offer her the sleeve of crackers.
“Oh, if I’m sick you shouldn’t kiss me,” she remembers.
“That’s probably a good idea,” I agree but kiss her forehead anyway.
“I hate being sick,” she pouts as she takes the crackers.
“I know.” I stroke her hair and lead her back to bed. “Do you want some more tea?”
“No, I’m okay right now. Maybe some water in a little bit. Damn, Eric I don’t want to be sick on Friday,” she whines as she crawls into bed.
“I don’t want you to be either. You just stay in bed and get some rest and I’ll take care of putting Jo to bed.”
“The worst part is, I feel fine other than the throwing up.”
“That’s a little weird. No body aches?” I know she isn’t running a fever.
“Nope, just the nausea. And I’m exhausted.”
“I still think it could just be the stress getting to you. Maybe getting the house squared away will make it better.”
“Hopefully. Does this mean I can have a kiss now?” she asks, puckering her lips.
“After last night I think if you’re sick it’s only a matter of time before I start throwing up too,” I tell her and lean down to give her a kiss.
“Exactly, and now I’ve missed out on a full day of kisses,” she winks and kisses me again. “You’ve been really good today though and when you’re sick I’ll return the favor.”
“Hopefully you won’t have to.” I give her another kiss.
“Go put Jo to bed then come back to me,” she smiles.
“Yes dear.” She gets one more kiss and then I go out to the living room to get Jo ready for bed.