Chapter 17: Throwdown

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Throwdown

Friday….

I rolled over to find Sookie, and found… a pillow. Shit… 7 AM. Just once, I’d like to sleep in… WITH her.

Brush teeth… shave… laugh at the HUGE FUCKING HICKEY… pants… T-shirt to cover up the HUGE FUNCKING HICKEY… kitchen…

She was standing at the stove in a pair of grey dickies and red Bon Temps wife beater with black suspenders and vans…  The way those suspenders fell to the outside of her breasts like parentheses… Mmmm…

Every burner on the stove had something on it and both boys were eating breakfast… pancakes and sausage with some kind of fruit salad.

I waved at the boys and went over to Sookie, wrapping my arms around her ribs. I whispered… “If you don’t stop sneaking away from me, I’ll have to handcuff you.”

She tilted her head to kiss my cheek. “Promise?” Ungh.

“You bet that sweet ass of yours.”

She turned around, making sure to rub me on her way, giving me a bright smile and a sweet ‘good morning’ kiss.

The house smelled like too many things to pick anything out again. “What are you cooking today? I thought you were just making sandwiches for lunch.”

She giggled at me. “When have you known me to JUST make sandwiches? Potatoes for potato salad… eggs for devilled eggs… jambalaya… Etoufee & gumbo in the crockpots… the sandwiches and fruit salad are done and in the fridge already and…” she bent over and reached into the oven to grab a plate, piled high with food. “…I woke up at 3 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I started on the food and graded papers.”

I realized something was missing… “You’re neck healed faster than my shoulder…”

She licked her lips… and cut her eyes in my direction. “Thanks to the pound of stage makeup I’m wearing.” She stuck her tongue out at me.

Changing the subject… “Where are Nancy Drew and Shrek?”

Dimples. “Nan is putting the seats down in the back of her truck to make room for the stuff that needs to go over to the Herveaux Homestead. Shrek is still sleeping.”

She poured a cup of coffee for me and stared at me where I stood, hands full and probably leering at her. “I want a kiss.”

She raised an eyebrow at me. “I’m a little busy. Get it yourself.”

She asked for it. I took one step, putting my foot between hers, pinning her to the counter with my thigh and leaned over for a long kiss. The kind that reminded me of why I wanted to wake up next to her more. Fuck. Throb.

The boys, of course, noticed and started ‘oooooh’ing and chanting ‘Eric and Sookie, sittin in a tree..’. We couldn’t help but laugh and I took my breakfast over to sit down.

**

I started smearing strawberry preserves on my pancakes while the boys watched. “Are you going to make fun of me like your Dad does?”

They shook their heads. “We wanna try.”

Oooh! It would be fun to ‘convert’ them. I took their forks and cut a mouthful for each of them… and watched their eyes light up. Victory. Oh, such sweet victory!

Carm started laughing. “It’s like dessert!”

I nodded at him with a shit eating grin, drunk with the idea that it would twist Alc’s panties every time they ask him to pass the preserves instead of the syrup. Sookie caught me in my moment and offered the boys more pancakes with that wicked grin of hers…

When Alc walked back in, Jack was handing the preserves across the table to Carm. “Woah! What are you doing?”

The boys started laughing at him. “Eric let us taste his! It’s really good!”

I stuck my tongue out at Alc and he started laughing. “You’re a bad influence.”

I ‘cleared sleep’ from my eye with my middle finger while the kids chanted ‘nanny nanny boo boo’ at him and Sookie handed him a plate and a mug of coffee.

We all got quiet when we heard sudden stomping overhead… the sound of the bedroom door being flung open and bouncing off the dresser… “COULD ONE OF YOU ASSHOLES DO SOMETHING TO SHUT THOSE FUCKING BRATS UP!?!?!?!?”

Uh oh… The look on Alcide’s face was the least of my concern… Sookie was on the steps before Marnie was done signing her own death sentence. Alc had me boxed in while he looked for somewhere to put his breakfast and I nearly knocked him over trying to get to the staircase. I skipped most of the stairs trying to get into that room to stop whatever might happen… Holy fucking hell!

The sound of the door slamming shut again… God Damn it!… I heard a loud slap just as I reached for the knob. Then nothing. Alc had caught up to me just as I stepped into the room…

Sookie was a statue, hands in her pockets. Marnie was hunched over with her hands to her face. I put my hands on Sookie’s shoulders and gave her a squeeze. She was panting. Rigid. I used the antique mirror in the corner to look her over, making sure that I hadn’t missed the sound of Marnie hitting her. Sookie’s jaw was clenched and her face was contorted in wrath.

I suppose I should have been angry at Sookie… Something told me I should have been, but… I was more jealous of her than anything.

I watched Marnie slowly straighten herself and stare at Sookie in shock.

“The chivalrous streaks in Eric and Alc are too strong to put you in your place, I’m taking over the project.”

Marnie used the back of her hand to wipe the blood from her chin. “You split my lip!”

“My students would call that a bitch slap. Fitting, dontcha think?” Sookie had barely seemed to register that I was in the room, but I think Marnie thought I was holding her back.

“Do you always resort to violence?”

“Sometimes. Since telling you that being a cunt is unacceptable… pointing out the different ways that you tend to be a cunt… and explaining ways for you to avoid being a cunt doesn’t seem to be effective in preventing your flare-ups, it seems like the only thing that no one has tried is using your ass as a punching bag.”

Marnie was half way between bitching and crying. “You’re the one that let those kids scream while a guest was sleeping.”

I watched in the mirror as a creepy smile made way for a wry laugh. “YOU’RE going to say something to me about manners?… Besides, you’re confused. You aren’t a guest. At this point, YOU are a rat in a humane trap… Nothing more than an unwelcome intruder that we have to stomach until animal control comes to take you away… This is those children’s home. It doesn’t matter that it is temporary. ‘HOME’ is where you can feel safe and loved. You will not fuck with that. You will not talk to or about them like that again. You could have been treated like a guest… I’m pretty fucking hospitable, but you chose to start shitting on the welcome mat almost as soon as you darkened our doorstep.”

“HUMANE? What’s so humane about being attacked? I’m pressing charges. I bet everyone would love to know their kids are being taught by a psychopath!”

“AGAIN! You really need some vocabulary reference materials. A PSYCHOPATH has a distinct LACK of empathy by definition. I have a hero/mother complex with a passion for problem solving. I’m driven to take care of people and cure their troubles. If you hadn’t decided to be so absolutely socially repellant, I probably would have wrung my hands over how to ‘fix’ you. Or at least figure you out so that your family would at least know why you treat them all like shit. At this point, I could give a flying fuck.” Sookie pulled her phone out of her pocket and dialed, holding it out with the speaker on as it rang.

“Bon Temps 9-1-1. What’s your emergency?” Marnie’s eyes lit up, surprised that Sookie would do the dialing and excited at the chance to cause more trouble.

“Hey Kevin.”

“Hey Sook. Something wrong?” The ‘joy’ drained from her.

“I backhanded Eric’s sister. Split her lip. She wants to press charges.”

“Why’d you hit her?”

“She called Alc’s boys ‘fucking brats’.”

Kevin chuckled. “Rigghhht… You didn’t hurt your hand, did you Sook?”

I started to chuckle, Alc joined from the door, making Marnie’s look go from deflated to angry.

“Nope. I’ll still be playing tomorrow. Rachel letting you off your leash?”

“Naw, but she’s taking me out for a walk… Woof.”

“I’ll talk to you later sweetie.”

“Bi-cycle.”

Sookie smiled as she turned to leave and called back to her from the hall. “You can play your bitchy little game all you want, but don’t forget who has home field advantage.”

**

Listening to Sookie and Alc go back downstairs, I stood stock still. Arms folded. Giving her the chance to apologize, like it would happen…

And she stared. Like she was waiting for me. Stupid fucking cow…

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

“ME!?!? She hit me!”

“She warned you. For the record… THAT was a ‘come to Jesus’.”

“Eric! Blood is thicker than water!”

“Right… And if you ever, EVER treated me or our parents LIKE family instead of ants under your magnifying glass, you might get the fringe benefit of having a brother to stick up for you.”

“YOU ASSHOLE!”

Breaking point. Rather than walk around it, I grabbed the footboard of the bed and shoved it out of the way. She got the blitz and backed into the wall, looking terrified of me for the first time in her life. I bent to put our faces so close together that her eyes crossed trying to focus on me as I yelled. “SHUT THE FUCK UP! RIGHT NOW!!! If you were a man, I would have kicked your teeth down your fucking throat a long time ago. The only requisite for you while you stayed is that you are nice. I didn’t ask for an apology when you showed up unannounced. I didn’t have a tantrum about your timing, gate crashing when Smom and Dad come to visit me for the first time. The words I usually use to describe you when my family comes up are ‘vacuous and venomous’ but that’s only after I try to not mention you at all. So here you are… Surrounded by people who EXPECTED you to be a BRAINLESS, HATEFUL BITCH… And you are actually WORSE than I described! Do you get off knowing people hate you? Do you sleep better at night knowing that your own family hopes that they don’t hear from you?”

She started crying, as if I would fall for the crocodile tears. “Eric, I… I hate you.”

“Well… Thanks for that breakthrough. I didn’t get that until just now. Since we’re sharing… you couldn’t possibly hate me as much as I HATE YOU!!!!”

I left her there. I couldn’t take anymore. I couldn’t stand looking at her. All it did was remind me of how many lines she’d crossed… How many times that I chose, WE chose to ignore her behavior… It reminded of how close I had been to inviting her to the wedding.

**

Down in the kitchen, my housemates were doing their best to pretend that the last 10 minutes hadn’t happened. Alcide was watching the boys methodically pack their lunches. Sookie was standing at the counter, cutting up ingredients and throwing them into a huge mixing bowl full of potatoes. She didn’t look at me. She didn’t look in my direction at all. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she was laying low.

I was angry that Jack and Carm had to hear what happened. I was sure they’d heard most of it so I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet and raised my eyebrows at Carm, waiting for him to tally up my ‘bombs’. He smiled at me and told me it was ‘on the house’. Cute.

I struggled to finish my breakfast, no longer in the mood in spite of both boys giving me a high five and hugging Sookie’s waist on their way out the door. I watched Alc hang back, going over to Sookie while she was elbow deep in potato salad since there wasn’t a spoon made that could stir a batch that big.

He put his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her over to kiss her temple. “Thanks for that. I’ve never hit a woman, but I have shot a couple.”

He winked at her when she tried to smile at him.

**

The door wasn’t even closed behind them before I was out of my seat, taking care of my dishes… putting me right next to her while she worked. I was still trying to put something together… something to say when she beat me to it…

“If that didn’t help, I’m sorry.”

“No, Sookie… I’m sorry. This is crazy. I should have sent her right back to the airport. I didn’t think for a second that she’d act like that towards children. Smom will be mortified.”

“Which is why I don’t plan on saying anything about this morning.”

“Sookie!”

“Do you think, given the circumstances, they would begrudge me for slapping her?”

“No, but…”

“Then all telling them will do, is humiliate your parents. If the slap works and she starts to behave, then great. If not, then she’ll go back to acting like a bitch and your parents will be here to see that we can handle the abuse. I don’t want them to walk into this ashamed of anything.”

Then from the doorway, we heard, “I don’t either…” We both looked over our shoulders and Marnie was standing there with her arms crossed. “I’m sorry. I’ll tell them that I stumbled over the edge of the tub if you think it will go over.” BULLSHIT!

Sookie just nodded, continuing to work on the potato salad.

“What did you mean earlier… ‘figure you out’?”

“Eric and Alc call it handling. I’m usually pretty good at figuring out the best way to deal with people.”

“Do you think you can figure out what’s wrong with me?” She’s a total fucking bitch. That’s what’s wrong.

“I can tell you that I’ve already ruled out most of the mental disorders that can be treated with a prescription. How long have you been like this?” Since birth!

She sat quiet for a minute and my skin was crawling. I couldn’t believe that Sookie would entertain the idea of helping her. I reached into the pot with the eggs and started shelling them… something to do with my hands. Fuck! Smoking sounded good right now!

“Since high school… at least.”

“How old were you when your father bowed out?”

“11. I called him on father’s day and that was the last time I talked to him. Then he changed his number.”

“Rationalize it for me. You hate Eric. Without using the words ‘perfect’ or ‘asshole’ tell me why.” Oh, fucking beautiful. Like she needed an invitation. I’m pretty sure I scowled at Sookie.

“I’m jealous of him.”

“Don’t be a chicken shit now, Marnie. You just came to the person who split your lip to help you. What are you jealous of?”

“He isn’t bad at anything. He never brought home a report card that he wasn’t proud of. I got dragged to every ball field in 4 states to watch him win trophy after trophy. Whenever he broke up with a girl, there were a dozen more who’d chase after him.”

“And?”

“And…” Another deep breath. “And Mom and Dad were always proud of him. They weren’t proud of me.”

“And?”

“He always had friends. Lots of them. He was out with friends every night. He had to give his friends rainchecks.”

“Now say why.”

“Because he’s friendly. He’s a people person. He isn’t mean.”

Sookie bumped me with her hip and gave me a smile while she rinsed her hands. “Which is why you decided to hate me. Because you saw me with my squad and had a flashback to how lonely you were in high school.”

She nodded.

Sookie dried her hands and walked over with her hand out. “Could you pass the saran wrap? It’s in the drawer behind you.”

Marnie balked and actually looked a little scared. I bit my lip to hide my reaction… Marnie had taken Sookie’s threat seriously.

Sookie giggled. “For the bowl. You’re safe.”

Marnie actually chuckled… “So? Do I need medication?”

“You’ve been on lithium before, right?”

“Yeah, Eric tell you that?”

“No. You present on the surface as bi-polar because your favorite flavors seem to be dormant and enraged, but if you were bi-polar you’d have lashed out at me yesterday when I ‘put’ you at the stadium and during dinner… The meds made you worse though, right?”

She nodded. “Much.”

“I don’t think you need meds for the emotional stuff anyway.”

“Ok… Then what?”

“Well, for starters I think you’re diabetic. It’s probably aggravating your mood disorder.”

I started shaking my head. “Why would you think she’s diabetic?”

She smiled at me… God damn it. If it weren’t Sookie being the one doing this, I wouldn’t care. “It’s a hunch. Marnie, when was the last time you shaved your legs?”

She blushed a little. “Uh… Last week I guess. Why?”

Sookie circled the table and stooped next to her subject. She had Marnie pull up the ankle of her sweatpants and then smiled up at her. “I think you might have neuropathy. Last night, when I told you dinner was ready, you kicked the coffee table. I would have noticed it, but you didn’t seem to. And your hair… It’s growing in patchy. Along the shin but not around back. You’re not old enough for that to be happening because of hormones. It probably didn’t help that you hadn’t eaten yesterday.”

“You’re like House! You ever watch that show?”

Sookie laughed as she stood up. “I love it, but my medical knowledge is limited to family stuff. My Gran was diabetic. She always had little bruises on her shins from bumping stuff… Getting your sugars in check should help a lot.”

Marnie smiled up at her like she was handed the last life raft on a sinking ship. “Which mood disorder do you think I have?”

She looked over at me like she was waiting for my permission. I gave her a nod, anxious to hear what Marnie’s next crutch would be. “I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that you have ‘passive-aggressive behavior disorder’.”

Marnie asked what it was, but I had to dispute it. “Sure enough, she fits some of the criteria, but she doesn’t have the contributory denial of honest expression of feelings.”

She grinned and raised an eyebrow at me, seemingly engrossed by the challenge. “Eric, she doesn’t just have some of the criteria. She has no less than 8 of them. And the causal root… Since dad was gone for a third of your childhood, Smom carried the brunt of the raising… She’s chipper and highly positive. Loving and supportive. As depression set in when she was in high school, so would cynicism. She didn’t believe that Smom’s positive reassurances were genuine. Instead of alcoholism, the fact that the rest of her family was happy and found healthy ways to cope while she was miserable was the factor. She had hostility she didn’t feel comfortable venting. And on top of the fact that her absent father wanted to ignore her existence, she didn’t get the surrogate you did since Dad had to be gone. This is one hell of a recipe.” No shit! All I could do I smile at her and shake my head.

Marnie started looking anxious. “What criteria? What is it?”

I let Sookie explain… Pissed that, again, I had missed something so big.

“Passive-Aggressive behavior disorder is a collection of extreme personality traits that your mind sets up as a defense mechanism to help itself cope with extreme self esteem issues. The criteria are a list of responses that are common for a specific disorder. The 8 you are guilty of are: fear of completion, victimization, fear of dependency, sulking, fear of intimacy, obstructionism, creating chaotic situations and making excuses.”

Marnie looked like she was going to throw up. “FUCK! I’ve done all that since I got here.”

Sookie snickered. “Sunshine, you’ve done all that since you woke up… Therapy will help.” Sookie walked out, and came back just a minute later with a couple of books. “This is ‘Living With The Passive-Aggressive Man’. It explains the disorder inside and out and it has some coping exercises in there… And this is a journal. Be as mean as you want, as long as it’s on paper.”

“This will help me to not be a bitch anymore?”

“Honey, a book and a diary aren’t going to make you something you’re not. If there is a bitch under there, you’ll still be a bitch… You have to learn how to cope with what… WHO you are. Getting treatment will just make it easier for you, file down your spikes a bit. This disorder is one of the catch-22 life throws at you. You’re afraid that you are inferior and no one will like you, so you behave in way to guarantee it on your own terms.”

She opened the book and started reading quietly… Sookie and I went back to peacefully shelling the eggs. Eventually, I watched Marnie reach into the fridge, grabbing a bottle of tea and read as she walked upstairs. Sookie called her back. “There’s a plate in the oven for you. You need to eat. And I’ll leave your lunch in the fridge for you. Eat that too.”

Marnie smiled at her and thanked her as she got her breakfast from the oven… She smiled?

**

Once Marnie was upstairs, Sookie looked up at me and cringed. “You’re pissed that you didn’t catch it.”

“Yes ma’am, but not too much. I don’t think that it would have done any good if I spotted it though. It took you hitting her, being worried about being an embarrassment to listen to anyone.”

“It wasn’t being slapped… You’ve never been that angry at her, have you?”

I shook my head. “I’ve always done my best to ignore her shit.”

“What it took was seeing an extreme, honest, negative emotion come from you. From what I can tell, Smom has always been pleasant and you and your Dad have the same talent for neutrality.”

“Neutrality?”

“SEEMING calm. He had to dial back how he thought you were a saint… And you… and your manners.”

“WE are Dr. Frankenstein.” I let a wry chuckle.

“Yes sir… The 3 of you created the monster by being so fucking well adjusted… Marnie is wired in such a way that she probably would have thrived in an emotionally abusive household.”

All I could do was shake my head, knowing that statement was completely and miserably accurate… “Fuck! Sookie, how many eggs are you making?”

She laughed at me. “Subject changer… 120… 240 deviled eggs.”

“For 40 people?!”

She smiled and shook her head. “About half of those people eat like Alc, Hunter and Jas. And it won’t be just 40… I heard rumblings yesterday that most everyone is ditching their other projects to defect to mine.”

“Alc didn’t get enough for that many to work…”

“Oh, trust me! They won’t all be working… There wouldn’t be room for it anyway. They all want to hang out with the new kids in town.”

“So what made you suggest the volunteer program?”

“Father Riordan at the Catholic church… He came to me about 5 years ago. He asked if I knew of any responsible girls who could babysit a couple nights per week for a young mom whose husband skipped out on her and left her with two little ones.  A couple of weeks after I sent Dana (Taryn’s sister) in her direction, he called me again about Mr. Humphries and asked if I knew about a boy who would cut his grass for him when chemo took the wind out of the poor guy… It grew from there. It became mandatory for my jocks and a bunch of other kids jumped onboard with it because of how good volunteer work looks on a college application.”

All I could do is smile at her like a goon. While she talked about the program her eyes twinkled with excitement. It was ‘her baby’. The group did big things like decorate the main drag through town for the Christmas parade and stuff goodie boxes for the kids at the hospital and area shelters. They did small things like rummage sales for the church’s sunshine fund. Some of the kids had found their own way to volunteer. One boy went to a local retirement home and helped the seniors do things like send emails and shop. Then there was the babysitting and yard work and ‘chow force’. I had to ask what that was… Some of the girls would prepare meals and deliver them when someone was down because of surgery or injury. At the moment, they were rotating meals for one of Corbett’s friends from the Fire Department who had to have back surgery…

**

After another hour of peeling eggs, we were finally done with the task… I watched Sookie half them and fill them quickly while we talked more. She wanted to know if there was anything that she needed to know about me that might give us away and their wasn’t a damn thing I could think of that they’d care about. Being a walking Prozac for Marnie would more than likely eclipse that she didn’t know that I’ve never had a pet with hair because my father is allergic.

She laughed at me when I complained about my hands smelling like raw sewage. Hard boiled eggs were definitely not an elegant thing to smell like. She smiled at me, calling me a crybaby, and grabbed an orange out of the fridge. She straddled my lap while she peeled it, keeping it as intact as possible. I was watching her with interest, to say the least… She took my hand and started to rub it with the white side against my skin… then the other hand.

“All better?”

I gave my hands a sniff, disappointed that she was done. “Yes ma’am. Thank you.”

She cut her eyes at me while she did the same to her hands. “No problem…” She put the peel on the table and grabbed the orange, popping a piece into her mouth then mine. “Is it silly that I’m so excited to meet your folks?”

I smiled at her. “I have to say yes because I was terrified to meet yours.”

She giggled at me and continued to feed us both. “Yeah, but you’d never talked to them. You had the right to be worried. For all you knew, you could’ve been going to meet R. Lee Ermy from the Texas Chainsaw remake. I already like your parents.”

I started laughing. “Good point. I was worried that my dad was going to be an asshole… but…”

“He’s not the guy you thought he was.”

I nodded.

“I call it a Trees Complex. It’s not in DSM-5 or anything, but I’m working on it.”

I raised my eyebrow… I had to hear this… “What is a Trees Complex?”

“You could meet and peg nearly anyone based on the fact that you are crazy-sexy-smart… But didn’t notice the stuff with Alc and you had issues with your father and your sister… You didn’t notice the Forest for the trees. You were sitting too close to the TV to see anything but pixels.”

“Oh shit! That is a platinum level ego stroke! How am I supposed to pay for that?” I slapped her ass and she moved her hip against my hand.

She giggled. “I’ll have to let you work that off.”

“Oh really? What do you have in mind?”

She looked up towards the ceiling while she pretended to think about it, placing a section of orange between her lips and slowly sucking it in the rest of the way. Ungh… My mouth started to water while I watched her throat… swallowing the fruit… humming slightly… torture…

“OOH! I know…” She leaned over and started the kiss I’d been waiting for… Her mouth, her lips tasted like fruit… her hands went into my hair and I pulled her to me until she was sitting against my dick… leaning and grinding. Fuck. I could feel her start smiling when I started to pull her suspenders from her shoulders and she let go of my hair to slide her arms out and then start opening my pants. She pulled away from me just long enough to yank her shirt off and put our mouths together again, plunging her hand into my pants… stroking… squeezing.

She started backing away from me and I tried to follow her, thinking that we were going to the bedroom, but she put her hand in the middle of my chest to keep me where I was. Mmmm Fuck.

She stood between my knees and bent to swallow me without much warning and when I groaned she giggled… my hands went into her hair just for something to hold onto… so I wouldn’t slide out of the chair. My eyes wouldn’t focus… keeping them shut… she was pushing me… bottoming out…

Her tongue drew little swirls when she pulled back… so slow… raking her teeth over the tip… FUCK.

She looked up at me with that smirk of hers as she slid her pants off… She put herself back on my lap… dropping down onto me… twisting her hips like she was dancing… When I groaned she tackled my lips… Kissing… moaning into each other… my eyes burned, my hands felt hot on her thighs as they pumped her up and down… she tensed  around me pushing me closer to finishing…

She stopped… sitting still and closing down around my cock… letting up a bit then going back to clamp down again… gradually… Giving me the taste of a few random twists from her waist. FUCK. She was biting her lip so hard it was white when I felt her change… She buried her face in my neck… her body arched away from mine and she was shaking. Not just her legs… her entire body was trembling as she pitched her hips back and forth… riding my dick and grunting into my neck, giving me chills… like I needed more encouragement…

We both gave up being quiet at the same time… groaning and moaning mixed with our panting and not caring that someone would hear…

Sookie let a loud whimper and sat up again and I could feel her getting closer… I reached up and grabbed a handful of her hair… rough, and the look on her face changed instantly as I pulled her to me, holding her for a long kiss… That was it… for both of us… We all but yelled as we came… she collapsed into my chest, heaving. The only thing I had the strength to do was rest my hands on her back and give her a random rub or squeeze… Drained.

**

We hadn’t completely calmed down yet when we heard footsteps on the front porch and then the front door opening.

Sookie sat up like a shot with a goofy look on her face.

I smiled at her. “Not decent! Stay out of the kitchen!” I thought it was Alc.

She giggled and started reaching for her clothes.

We heard a chuckle… It wasn’t Alc’s. “Damn! Y’all realize children eat in there, right?!” Sookie’s father. Fuck.

Sookie started laughing at the look on my face. “Which is why we didn’t do it on the table. Give us a minute.” My jaw dropped open. I couldn’t imagine saying anything like that to my parents.

I whispered to her. “I’m just going to go die of embarrassment.”

I heard a muffled laugh… female. Oh, hell! “We can come back later if you aren’t finished.” Pam. Fuck me. Why isn’t she at work?

Sookie started to laugh as she slid her suspenders back in place. “Don’t worry, we’re done.”

I had managed to get my pants closed and dive into the fridge, hoping that my search for a cold drink would give my face the chance to get its natural color back. That’s right… blushing.

Once Sookie had waved them in, they both went to lean against the counter. Pam gave me a wink. “Are you sure?… Stackhouseus Interuptus is a terrifying thing… I’d hate to incur a wrath.”

Sookie’s head snapped over and she gave me a dirty look. “You told her?”

I tried to laugh it off. “You know how guys are… We were just talking about our bitches.”

Corbett started laughing. “HEY! Watch it.”

I didn’t know what he was ‘offended’ about… my calling Pam a ‘guy’ or implying he was her pet. Like it mattered since both were partly true.

Sookie smiled when Pam asked her if she had something she could paint in. “Sure… when should your stuff get here?”

“Wednesday. But it wouldn’t help. I haven’t got much other than work clothes.”

“Help yourself… go ahead and get something for Dirges tomorrow too.”

Corbett looked confused. “Dirges? When was someone going to tell me?”

“I thought Jason would’ve. Him and Eric are trying to push Alc together with Had and… it’s a complicated plot…”

He started to nod. “You’d be okay with him dating YOUR sister?”

Sookie and I both laughed. “NO! She’d eat him alive… I get what you mean though. He’s a good guy. I thought Frannie was a better choice since he just split with his wife. You know. Something more casual.”

Corbett snorted. “Not gonna happen… Frannie is Jason’s. Even if those two never get their shit together. It pisses me off thinking about it. It’s like they want to pine over each other forever.”

Sookie started laughing. “Daddy, we have a plan for that.”

His eyes lit up. “I’m all ears.”

“Alc is in on it. You should’ve seen the look on Jas’s face yesterday when I told him how hard Frannie tried to make Alc one of her ‘stand-ins’. I’m going to try to get her down for a visit while they’re still staying here and use Alc to push Jason into doing something.”

“Like how?”

“Alc is down with anything as long as it isn’t around the boys. He doesn’t want to confuse them. We figure a trip to Dirges and plenty of lap-sitting and close dancing would do the trick.”

His face was taken over by that wide Stackhouse smile and he chuckled. “If that doesn’t make him claim her, he doesn’t deserve her. It’s a complicated plot though. How are you going to use Alc to get Jason and Frannie hooked up AND push Alc and Had together?” OK. Just as weird as hearing an 8 year old… hearing a guy Corbett’s age and size say ‘hooked up’… bizarre. I’m just saying.

Sookie flashed her smirk. “I think Had already likes him and that seeing him with his hands all over Frannie will push her to flirt. I can tell her about the Jas/Frannie scheme after it works.”

Pam had been quiet… “You’re going to attempt handling 4 people at once?!”

Sookie nodded with a shrug. “I’ve handled you and both the guys.”

“WHEN?”

“Yesterday… the suits. I let them leave the house in suits, cranky that that had to wear them instead of tense about the assembly. After the carefully worded text to you, they changed and relaxed right away, forgetting that they were about to have to deal with the student body… It worked though… The guys were more comfortable and they did great. The kids responded to them really well.”

I started to laugh when Pam’s jaw dropped. “You bitch!”

Sookie blew a kiss at her.

Corbett started laughing too. “I’ve handled you too.”

“When have YOU handled me?”

He cleared his throat and locked down on her. Fuck. It’s a family trait. “For starters… In the car last night on the way back from Shreveport.”

She pulled her hand back and punched him in the shoulder. HARD. He started laughing again and we all watched her face turn red. Priceless.

Corbett finally pulled himself together. “So… did Had tell you about our little intrigue?”

Sookie shook her head and went to the fridge grabbing drinks for everyone, since I didn’t.

“She called me to make sure that I handled Linda into joining us for the Northman Shindig.”

“Bravo!?”

“Yup. She’s sick of them candyassing around. Linda asked her the other day if we’d ‘heard how he was doing’.”

Sookie started laughing. “You don’t need testing to make sure we’re all related! Busy body bunch of bitches… All of us.” Sookie turned to me to explain. “Bravo and his wife split about 15 years ago. That woman’s pussy had fangs! So when his kids were old enough to spell divorce, he filed. Then when Had’s father finally kicked…”

Corbett cleared his throat. “Respect for the dead.”

“When Dear Uncle Howard moved on to take over as CEO of Eternal Inferno Enterprises; Brimstone Division, better?” He chuckled and gave her a nod. “Linda and Bravo started flirting. They are JUST as absurd as Jason and Frannie.”

Corbett stepped in. “The major difference being that Bravo couldn’t settle down because of work and Linda wouldn’t leave her widowed daughter and grandson… But guess who started a countdown to retirement on his email.”

Sookie gasped. “When? How long?”

“4 months. He told me to find him a house. The cock’s coming here to roost.”

Sookie looked almost as excited as she was when she got Tara’s news. “When Dermot moves home in the spring…”

“The Horsemen ride again.” He gave her a little nod.

“Terry knows?”

“Oh, you’d think that bitch was picking out a wedding gown. He’s being such a girl about it he might have his own vag. It’s hilarious.”

I thought she was going to wet herself… Sookie was bouncing.

Pam looked confused and I was hiding how lost I was. So Sookie started to explain. “Ok… Daddy and his brother Dermot grew up together, obviously. They were always called ‘the Stackhouse twins’ because they never did anything without the other one. They worked together at the garage and played sports and both of them went to Auburn. When they got home from school, they met Bravo at a party and now they were triplets. Then they started playing poker with Terry. No one ever saw them when they didn’t know where the others were and what they were doing… Everyone started calling them ‘the four horsemen’. Their bikes were even white, black, red and silver. And it’s been twelve years since they’ve all been in the same place.”

Corbett chuckled in my direction… “You better get a work out in before Saturday. I’m sure you’d hate to get your ass stomped by a bunch of old men.”

No clue. None. “Stomped?”

“Well, my brothers found out that the Stackhouse clan is expanding and want to put together a game.”

Oh really? “Age versus beauty?”

He gave me the high eyebrow as he snorted. “If you say so, old man. I figure your dad and the four of us… against you, Alc, Laf, Jas and Hunter.”

5 men in their 50s- Terry being just over 60 against 5 guys under 35? “Hardly seems fair.”

“You gonna cry?”

Sookie and Pam were trying hard not to laugh. Let’s face it… We were too.

“Make sure you take your Centrum.”

He snorted again. “Flintstone’s chewable.”

“Depends.”

“Pampers.”

“Metamucil.”

“Juice boxes. I can do this all day.” He started laughing.

“Oh, I doubt that… Grandpa.”

He smiled from ear to ear and that was it. Our shit talking was over. He was beaming at the idea of being a grandfather. He looked just as happy as Sookie had when she heard. Minus the tears, of course.

He gave Pam a slap on the ass and told her to go get ‘those clothes’ and fussed at Sookie to put on some ‘fucking underwear’ since she was going to be around ‘all those walking hard-ons’.

“You heard she’s cheering tonight, right?”

“Aw fuck…” He yelled to her. “What uniform are y’all wearing!?”

She called back, “Shut up! I’m grown!”

He shook his head without a bit of humor on his face. “Between Tara’s costumes, Dirges and cheering no one would be surprised if you die of hypothermia!”

“How risqué could the cheerleading uniforms be?”

“My silly bitch daughter let the FOOTBALL TEAM pick them. Her fucking bathing suit covers more.” Oh. Fuck me.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“I wish I was.”

She yelled from the back. “It’s not THAT bad!”

“Your ass hangs out the bottom and the fucking top shows more tit than what you wore to Dirges last week!” Oh shit. I’m so fucked.

I growled. “Well, get used to it. She’s cheering until after Christmas.”

“No way!… Sookie! Give me a list of everyone’s sizes! I’ll go order descent uniforms if you’re cheering that long!”

“Didn’t I tell you to shut up!”

Oh, that made him happy. Jason had the same look on his face yesterday morning when he found out Frannie was into the Hulk. I had to try to not laugh.

“She’s your woman. You do something.”

I actually did laugh. Mockingly. “Fuck that! I have to sleep with her. I’m not pissing her off by bossing her around! Besides, I don’t mind.”

“You don’t mind that she dresses like a… trollop!”

She came back into the room, now wearing a pushup bra under her wifebeater. Ooof. “Daddy, stop it. It’s not like I take my clothes off for money. I’m not a whore.”

I watched his face go into full retreat. “No! That’s not what I meant. You know that’s not what I meant. It’d hurt Frannie’s feelings to hear you suggest it. Don’t do that.”

“What’s so different?”

“She just does it for fun.”

“Exactly.” Sookie let her evil smile creep out and slowly started to laugh, Pam and I joined in. She’d handled him right out of his hissy fit. The look on his face as he realized he’d been ‘managed’ was priceless.

“You little bitch. I’m going to kick your ass one of these days.” He grabbed her for a hug. “Wear a tracksuit when you aren’t on the field?”

She groaned into his shoulder. “Fine. And don’t worry about tomorrow at Dirges. I won’t vamp out.”

I pouted. “No leather pants?”

That earned me a dirty look from Dad. Sookie just winked at me. Mmmm.

**

We were pulling up Alc’s driveway at 11:30. I was surprised to see that there were already a lot of cars, but Sookie explained that the kids get cut loose after 3rd period, but HER 3rd period students would have cut class to come out early.

As soon as the car stopped we were rushed by kids who started grabbing the food and taking it to the deck around back.

A tall, dark haired boy came running up to Sookie and stopped just in front of her. Without preamble he blurted out, “Give me a couple popsicle sticks and a rubber band and I will fuck it like a dirty MacGuyver.”

I nearly died laughing. The spontaneous delivery was enough on its own, but the line was funny as hell.

When she was done laughing, Sookie grabbed his head and pulled him down to kiss his forehead and then let him go. “Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Nice try, Chester.”

I was watching the exchange, completely amused. Chester looked over at me. “Miss Stackhouse offered extra credit to anyone who could stump her on a movie quote. She’s only given out one this year.”

“Oh really? What was the quote?”

“Fuck no, not today, thank you kindly.”

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Right?”

She slapped my arm. “Asshole. Where were you last time?”

I started laughing again. “It doesn’t matter. Cheating is wrong.”

Chester ran off, defeated but smiling and we had almost made it to the house when three more kids came running up to her. One girl and two boys.

Boy #1 blurted, “Forecast for tomorrow, a few sprinkles of genius with a chance of doom.”

Followed by the girl. “One day some of the kids from the neighborhood carried my mother’s groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect.”

Then Boy #2. “We’ll start the ass-kissing with you.”

Sookie smiled at all of them and then pointed her finger to each in turn, starting with boy #1. “You should know better than to come to me with Family Guy quotes. Stewie is my hero… All I heard when you spoke was Ray Liotta. Goodfellas is on my top 20 list… And you. How dumb do you think I am? I played Boondock Saint’s in class.”

They all grimaced their way back to the house.

“Sookie, how did you get away with playing Boondock Saints in school?”

“It has political and socio-economic undertones. Besides… Find me a kid that’ll narc on a teacher for showing a bad ass rated R movie like that and I’ll start the ass kissing with YOU.”

**

It took us a while to find Alcide and even then, Hadley had to point him out. There were easily 20 kids there already, most of them working in one capacity or another. Painting. Taping. Setting up the lunch buffet. And 3rd period still wasn’t out yet. When we caught up to him he looked worried. The house has 10 foot ceilings and he had only managed to find a couple of ladders.

Sookie smiled and patted his chest, calling over two students. Stella and Matt. They came over eagerly and Sookie handed Stella the brush and a cup of paint to Matt. Stella climbed up onto Matt’s shoulders and he walked over to the wall for her to start cutting in at the ceiling. Alc laughed when Sookie told him that it wasn’t her first rodeo. A couple other sets of students followed suit and even Pam let Corbett lift her to his shoulders… Then I offered.

Sookie laughed at me. “Now… you have seen me draw… Do you really want to put a paintbrush in my hand?”

“Good point. How about, you just let me put my head between your legs?”

She started laughing and slapped my shoulder. “Eric, there a lot more hours in the day before we can get to that. You need to behave.”

“Yes ma’am.” I pouted in her direction and ended up having one of the shorter cheerleaders stand on my shoulders and with so many hands at work, by the time the rest of the volunteers showed up, we were pulling the tape off the living room and dining room walls. Sookie wasn’t kidding when she said that we’d be done by three…

She also wasn’t kidding about the amount of students who were going to show up. Hunter and Taryn had stopped at the hardware store to buy more rollers and brushes to accommodate the 70 students that came to help. It looked to me like every football player and cheerleader were there along with a few others. Every one of them was wearing a black t-shirt or wife beater with ‘C.O.P.’ printed on the back with ‘Civic Obligation Program’ printed smaller underneath it.

Once everyone who signed up for the day’s task had shown up, Sookie called everyone to lunch. As expected, every one of the football players tested the limits of their paper plates with massive slabs of sandwiches and obscene amounts of potato salad, fruit salad, deviled eggs and spinach dip. To balance that out, the cheer squad’s plates all looked like they were counting calories. While the boys carbo loaded for the game tonight with sodas and juices, the girls drank diet soda or water.

One of Sookie’s guy leaders saw that she had stacked her plate pretty well and jokingly gave her grief about it. “Hey Miss Stackhouse! Easy on my back!”

She laughed at him. “Terrence, I had more than this at lunch yesterday.”

“It adds up. I can’t catch you if you pudge out on me.”

“Then I’ll have to replace you and someone else will get to cop a feel.”

The boy blushed and went back to eating while half of the other players volunteered to stand in for him. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Hunter came over and settled in next to me with his load of food.

“It doesn’t bother you?”

“What?”

“That they all have the hots for your girlfriend.”

“Why would it?”

“Uh, because she’s YOUR girlfriend.”

“That’s right. She’s MINE. Not theirs. They can want her all day long, but she goes home with me. Besides, I can’t fault them for having good taste.”

“You’re a crazy mother fucker.”

“No sir. I’m just smart enough to know she trusts her boundaries. If the fun banter she has with her students works for her, then it’s harmless. I trust her to tell me if something is off.”

“What if one of them touches her?”

“You mean like your Dad? She put a man 3 times her size in the floor.”

He chuckled a little. “That was an honest mistake though. What if someone…”

“Sookie HAS been threatened on my watch… twice. I did my best to handle both of the assholes without making the situation worse.”

“Bill and Quinn?”

I nodded. “The verdict is still out on Quinn. I might still need to knock his dick in the dirt.”

And so help me God, no sooner than the words were out of my mouth, did we hear his fucking crotch rocket coming up the driveway. Hunter and I rolled our eyes at each other and we heard him start yelling from the front yard. “Sookie Juniper Stackhouse! I need to have a word with you!”

All of her men; father, cousin, friend and fiancé shared a round of looks over the tide of grumbling and growling from the students. Sookie just sat there and continued to eat, like she did the night I met her and Bill started banging on her door. Quinn yelled and screamed like a lunatic looking for a lost dog until he found his way around the back of the house and finally spotted Sookie. She’d been perched on the railing with her back to the yard and he didn’t bother to continue the walk to see who was on the porch.

“You had to have heard me! Why were you ignoring me?!”

“Quinn, I wasn’t ignoring you, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to holler back at you just for the sake of giving you someone to sound retarded with.”

“Sookie, I’m not in the mood for your shit. Norris called and he’s standing in the park alone with no volunteers. And now I get here and you look like your having yourself a happy little fucking hootenanny.”

“You need to try to keep it professional, comrade. 20% of the high school is here.”

“Fuck being professional! You’re walking all over the fucking rules and I’m sick of it. I’m really close to firing your ass.”

“What for?” She took another bite of her sandwich.

He balked. Not only did she not react like he wanted her to, but he didn’t have a reason to fire her and he knew it.

“That’s what I thought… You want to cut some payroll, then I suggest Norris. He might as well be a janitor for all the teaching he does. No one showed up because the only reason anyone signed up to pick up trash with that douche bag in the first place is because they thought my project was full. Look, we aren’t having a hootenanny, I ALWAYS feed the kids when we do a large project. The boys are carbo loading for tonight and the girls are downing diet redbulls for extra pep. It isn’t against the rules for the kids to switch projects as long as the sponsor gives them a green light. I’m not sure what the problem is other than you jumping at the chance to yell at me like you own me.”

“Fuck you! This is bullshit.”

That was it. I wasn’t listening to it anymore. “What did I say?”

The sound of my voice was met with nothing. If he had just kept walking, he’d have seen me or Corbett and dialed it back like she told him to.

“Quinn! What did I tell you yesterday?”

Still nothing.

I put my plate down and got up from my seat on the deck, forcing myself calm. I vaulted over the railing and went to stand over him. “What did we talk about yesterday, Quinn?”

“W’ we’ we’… You tried to scare me.”

I smiled at him. “I did scare you… We talked about control, didn’t we.”

He nodded.

“What gives you the right to come to our friend’s home and talk to her like that? In front of her students no less.”

“I… i….. I don’t have the right?”

“No, you don’t.” I leaned over and whispered in his ear. “You heard about Bill… He’s bent over a prison bunk getting railed right now… because he didn’t know when to shut his fucking cocksucker. Tell her you’re sorry.”

He looked like he was going to shit his pants. “S… sooo. Sookie, I’m sorry.”

“That was your last chance. The next time… you’ll regret. Get the fuck out of here.”

He turned and walked away like he was speed walking.

**

When I turned around Sookie was smiling down at me… Along with everyone else.

I jerked my head to get Sookie to join me in the yard and she bounced down and walked over to me.

She giggled at me. “I don’t know what you said to him and I don’t care. Thanks.” She stretched up to kiss my cheek.

“Is Quinn acting like that because of me? Or is this the norm?”

“He’s on his period. He gets like this from time to time and takes it out on me because he knows I can take it.”

“I don’t like it.”

She smiled and cocked her head to the side. “Territorial?”

“I prefer the word ‘protective’. Does it bother you?”

“How could it? There is plenty about my life that could irk you, and you roll with the punches like a champ. I’ll draw the line for him.”

I gave her a little bow. “Thank you.”

She put her hand on my neck and pulled me down for a kiss. “Yes sir. Anything for you.”

**

We split into groups for painting. The girls stacked on their boyfriends to do the cutting in at the ceiling in several teams, and then moved to another area to make room for the rest of the work to get done. Hadley even sat on Alcide’s shoulders to help in the bathrooms. Hmmm. Thankfully, Hunter was busy in the laundry room… with Taryn. So he didn’t see anything to growl about. Corbett noticed though and I caught him giving Sookie a toothy nod of approval.

While we all worked, different conversations were going in each room. Most of them were talking about Homecoming in one way or another. The Fundraiser for their early December Homecoming was traditionally done the day after Thanksgiving. The students were chatting back and forth about ticket prices and what their costumes would be. While they chatted about it Sookie smiled over at me from time to time while she painted with a roller.

Hannah looked down at us. “Miss Stackhouse, what are y’all wearing?”

“We haven’t gotten around to talking about it.” She cut her eyes up at me sheepishly, not knowing that I knew it was a drag event.

I decided to have fun with it. “Do you know what you’re doing, Hannah?”

“I found a hella trashy dress while I was shopping for prom. I got a huge wig and a feather boa, so I’m going to be a drag queen.”

“Nice. What do you think we should do?” Sookie looked frightened. This was fun.

Hannah started to giggle. “I don’t know… how about a flapper and a gangster.”

I looked over at Sookie and licked my lips and acted like I was picturing her as a flapper. “I don’t know about the suit though. Let’s stay away from that if we can.” I’d rather not see her so covered up.

Hannah started humming while she thought and I let Sookie stew. “A doctor and a nurse.”

“Not bad, keep ‘em coming.” That was a little on the sexist side.

“How about Hugh Hefner and a Bunny?”

“SOLD!” Hannah started giggling.

Sookie looked like she was going to throw up. “Uh Eric, um…”

“Hush, it’ll be fun.”

“Eric?”

“Can you think of something better?”

“Uh…”

“Hey Alc!”

He came in from the hall. “Yeah?”

“You’re going to the fundraiser with us, right?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Hannah just helped us figure out our costumes… do you have any ideas for you?”

“No… What are y’all going as?”

“Heff and a bunny.” I gave him a wink over my shoulder to get him to play along.

His eyes were as big as the pancakes we had for breakfast. “You’re a conceited mother fucker.”

“Why not show off?” I looked over at Sookie and she was absolutely GLOWING. Her face was so red, she could be a stop sign. Too much FUN!

“Well, shit…” He wandered out of the room and came back a minute later with Hadley. “I’m not going stag when the costumes are themed.”

Had smiled at me, he’d filled her in. “I never go as anything good, Hannah. Watcha got?”

“Uh… Wonder Woman and Superman? I suggested a flapper and a gangster too, but Eric rejected it because of the suit.”

Had smiled at Alc. “Tommy gun?”

He wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Legs.”

She laughed. “The flapper and a gangster… That’s a winner. It’ll be too cold for tights… It takes brass ones to wear a satin bunny suit.” She looked right at Sookie for the last bit.

Sookie’s face was puckered up when I gave her a smooch. “That’s what they make coats for, right hon?”

“Guys… It’s not that kind of party?… It’s…”

Alc was really helping to sell it. “Oh come on, Sookie! Don’t be a shit! It’ll be fun.”

I cut her off again. “I wonder what Jas will go as.”

Alc yelled over his shoulder. “Corbett, you and Pam come up with costumes for the fundraiser yet?”

“Sheik and a belly dancer. Why?”

I had a hard time picturing either one of them as a belly dancer. I chuckled. “Good one.”

Sookie grabbed my arm. “Would you shut up! You’re going to want to rethink our costumes.”

I smiled at her, in spite of the death grip on my arm. “Why? I have a great ass. I could pull it off.” I turned and wiggled my ‘tail’ at her.

The room fell silent while she wrapped her head around what I’d said. “YOU SON OF A BITCH!!! YOU KNEW??”

Everyone in the room was cracking up. Hadley and Alc leaned against each other and I nearly pissed myself. I nodded. “Kevin told us… The looks on your face!” I leaned in for a kiss and she slapped my ribs. “Hey now! Play nice. I still owed you for the baby oil and jell-o.”

She snickered. “Yeah. I guess you did.”

**

By 2:30 every wall in the house was a color. Hopefully, the right color. Everyone pitched in to pull the masking tape and take the cans of spare paint to the garage. Sookie announced that she was refusing to take home any leftovers so the guys all blitzed the tables on the porch, most of them shoved a deviled egg or two in their greedy mouths while they stacked the plates with heaps of food, leaving nothing but crumbs in their aftermath. It was like a plague of locusts with shoving. The girls all watched them and laughed… unnoticed. Sookie didn’t even bother keeping the serving dishes. They were tossed in the trash out back.

Sookie and Hadley promised to lock up  for Alc so that he could leave to get the boys and the second he was through the door, the two of them locked their elbows together and started speaking in a whisper as they walked around the house. Secret squirrel bitches.

All of the kids said their goodbyes and I was left, waiting on the kitchen counter. When they finally came back downstairs, Sookie joked that she was sick of waiting for ME and told me to hurry up.

“Your parentals are landing soon, sexy. Let’s get a move on.”

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7 thoughts on “Chapter 17: Throwdown

  1. I loved the bitch slap but can’t think of anything but Eric dressing in a Bunny outfit complete with the tail. If he does it there won’t be a person not in love with him.

  2. CH17: LOL for converting the kids pancake preferences. Oh Marnie…..you’ve really screwed up now. A violence comment from the woman trying to rip the door off the hinges. Time to take the bitch to the Bates Motel somewhere and let her rot. Wow SookieHouse!?!?!? Love the volunteering story. LOL for getting caught by Daddy and Pam. Aww for the Four Horsemen getting back together. OMG she let the football team choose uniforms? Movie Quote extra credit…..interesting. Juniper??? Oh I really wanna see Quinn get his arse kicked now. Hee hee for getting her with the costumes. Secret Squirrel indeed.

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