Chapter 20: A Limited Engagement

Saints & Sinners

Chapter 20

A Limited Engagement

**

Saturday continued…

All three cars pulled into Corbett’s driveway together just after three. We were fashionably late.

I saw the desperate look on Frannie’s face when she got out of her car and she realized Jason’s Torino wasn’t there. I tried distracting her by handing her a cake to carry and she forced a half smile in my direction. Corbett met us halfway with a huge smile and plenty of hugs… as ever and he paid special attention to Fran, whispering something into her ear that actually made her giggle slightly.

I watched Sookie practically toss the pies she was carrying on the table on the deck and charge off to tackle a man dressed just like Corbett with black hair. His face was long and narrow and when he heard Sookie scream ‘Unc’, he lit up. His arms flew open and he ran at her fast enough that I was sure they’d hurt each other. I was astonished that they didn’t and when I was introduced to Uncle Dermot, I thought he was going to crack my ribs.

My asshole, I mean father seemed to be somewhat more at ease now that we were around some of his contemporaries. Maybe he was just feeling his years at the house, being horribly outnumbered by a younger generation. I didn’t really care. Too many nasty looks would get him put in his place with so many Stackhouses in the vicinity. He needed to watch it because at this point, I don’t think I’d feel like defending him.

The Four Horsemen rallied back around the collection of grills in the back and most everyone else settled into mingling and chilling out. Until…

Hunter had been at the other side of the yard playing catch with the boys and suddenly shouted ‘Momma!’ and took off running towards the path between the garage and the house we’d come through. I heard a woman yelp and laugh, then I saw why. He’d scooped her up and started what I’d call a victory lap, running in big circles and then up on the porch to sit her in the chair between Sookie and Hadley. They both gave her a hug while Alcide and I sat completely gob-smacked.

Sookie did the introductions and I don’t think I blinked the whole time Linda (aka: Momma) was shaking hands and hugging…. The same Stackhouse smile. And now I knew what I’d be waking up next to in 30 years… At the risk of sounding perverse, I wouldn’t be disappointed if I were waking up next to her now. Linda was absolutely radiant. Sookie and Hadley caught us staring and laughed at us. It took me longer to shake off the stun of Linda’s resemblance to Sookie than it did Hadley’s. It was uncanny. I caught myself wishing that I had paid closer attention to the photos in the stairway. My reaction probably wouldn’t have been so obvious if I’d been prepared.

**

Once the initial reaction wore off, and we moved back into the realm of normal visiting I noticed that Fran was pacing, beer in hand, like a caged cat. I watched her for a long time, feeling very guilty for meddling. If Sookie and I hadn’t been so fucking proud of our little plan, she wouldn’t be so miserable right now. She caught me staring and slowly walked over and sat on my legs, leaning back again.

I whispered to her. “He wouldn’t miss the party.”

She huffed. “I don’t know if that’s good or bad at the moment.” When she spoke… her breath…

I gently took her beer from her and had a sip, then watched her as I placed it on the table. I could feel how tense she was. She’d gone to the trouble of filling a Guinness bottle with tea… it was the lemon that caught my attention. Not drinking and hiding that she wasn’t drinking. I tucked her hair behind her ear, so I could be that much closer to it. “Does he know?”

She gaped at me while her eyes overflowed with tears and she threw her arms around my neck. She whispered, “Don’t tell.” We instantly had a bit of an audience, like the family could smell her tears.

I gave her a squeeze. “How far?”

“2 months. Don’t tell.”

“Why haven’t you told him?”

“I don’t want him to hate me.” At this point every eye in the yard was on us… Every ear was trying to hear what we were talking about.

I did my best to spread a guilt trip around to all the spies as I got up and carried her inside to the front of the house. I sat down in a dining room chair with her when she resisted being set down on her own. “Fran, why do you think he’d hate you?”

“Even if he believes me, he’s not ready. We’ve been playing this stupid fucking game for so long…” She trailed off to try to catch her breath, making it painfully obvious that I was the only person who knew she was pregnant.

“He was making fun of me and Sookie for waiting to have kids. Sookie turned the tables on him though.”

“And?”

“He said he’s waiting for you to stop being stubborn… ‘I’ll have her pregnant b’fore she’s unpacked’.”

She laughed at my Jason-imitation. “That asshole.”

**

…By the time she had calmed down, we were starting to feel like an aquarium exhibit. Every few minutes a single set of footsteps would pass by the doorway, entering through the den or kitchen and exiting through the other. We had actually tried to guess who the last few were, just for fun…

She walked outside on her own, holding my hand and still sat on my lap, but this time she sat on my knee. Corbett spotted us straight away, handed his tongs over to Unc and came over to sit next to us.

“Would one of you care to explain what the fuck is going on?”

When Frannie gave me a panicked look, I leaned over to explain quietly. “Jason wasn’t pleased to see Fran keeping company with Alc earlier. They argued. She was upset.”

He started mumbling obscenities under his breath and pulled out his phone, but Fran put her hand over his and simply said, ‘please don’t’.

He made a frustrated grimace and kissed her forehead as he stood up. “You are too good for him. He doesn’t deserve you or your patience.” Then he patted my shoulder on his way by.

**

Corbett hadn’t been back at the grills long when Jack and Carm announced that Rene had arrived. I almost didn’t recognize him without his makeup. As it turns out, he’s a pretty good looking kid… even considering the black eye.

Corbett  gave a loud whistle to call him over and Rene was only about half way there when Corbett started explaining to his ‘brothers’. “Boys, I want you to meet my youngest son! Rene… These are your new uncles…” He sounded a little bit like The Godfather as he told the account of the ‘great favor’ Rene had done for the family. The poor kid didn’t know whether to cry or run.

It was nearly 4 o’clock… Had and Sookie spent a lot of time moving food from the kitchen to the buffet tables…. And the yard smelled like heaven because of the grills. My mouth was watering. Meat.

I had noticed she was uncounted for and was starting to wonder where Pam was when she walked up to us with a dolly loaded down with boxes. 6 file boxes… She was without humor. Completely. “I was called by the Director this morning and asked for a meeting… He was briefed by Cater’s team last night and thought ‘WE’ would like to continue the case.”

“Is that all IDs?”

She nodded. “More than a thousand of them… From all over the state. The field offices in the surrounding states are sending theirs during the week so that ‘WE’ can begin sorting through them and finding Compton’s work. This is big… The biggest case of its kind according to the director. It would be HUGE for our careers. And when this goes to trial… the prodigy will be credited. I was firm on that detail.”

“We need a warrant for Compton’s office, email and records… Sookie mentioned networking contracts. Bill might have gotten access to the holographic laminate that way.”

She nodded. “One more thing… then nothing else work related for the day… The director asked if you liked your new office. When I told him that you hadn’t been to the branch yet because you are on leave (and working anyway), he told me that since whatever you were doing was working for you… you obviously didn’t need an office. They’re crowded anyway. You boys have been offered your ‘EZ Pass’. No more office… you’ll stop by for briefings.” NO. FUCKING. WAY!!!!!

Alcide and I were so stunned we had nothing to offer, but our staggered looks were enough. She started to cackle and patted our shoulders before she wheeled next week’s project out to the driveway. Our dumbfounded asses watched her until she disappeared.

Finally, I held my beer out to Alc. “To little league?”

He clinked his bottle to mine, laughing. “Fuckin-A-Right! To Little league!”

**

After a while, Corbett brought Rene up to the deck and pointed to a chair by us to sit in. He went to the coolers and grabbed a beer and a soda, then went to the back door and yelled in for ‘June’ and ‘July’ to come out for a word.

Corbett settled into the chair next to Rene, handed him a soda and waited… Had and Sookie came out and rather than drag chairs over, they sat in Alc’s lap. The look on his face was priceless. I wanted to tell him ‘welcome to my world, mother fucker’, but I behaved.

I could feel my father staring. Corbett chuckled and started… “Bud made his usual call this morning to lie about what he caught on the lake and told me about my boy’s regrettable morning. Now… it was nice of y’all to offer him a place to stay and all, but he doesn’t need someone taking care of him… He and I have come to an agreement.”

Sookie and Had were each sitting on one of Alc’s knees and scooted down his leg slightly. I’ll say it again… Priceless. “Alright Daddy, what’s the deal?”

He raised an eyebrow at her and looked like he was going to tell her ‘nunya’. “Terry needs help on weekends, stocking and cleaning. Especially this time of year. So since he’s 18, Rene will start working as a barback at Dirges next weekend and staying in my old place out there to keep an eye on things for us now that I’m not gonna need it. He’s a grown man… he isn’t a charity case. He’ll earn his own way, got it?”

He got ‘yes, sirs’ from all around.

“Now since I feel like I owe this BRILLIANT mother fucker a HUGE solid, he will be joining you for the fellowship this summer on my dime as payment for the job he’s done for the family. Since he’s family, he will be showing up for family dinners, especially Monday nights so that we don’t have to worry about him becoming the Unibomber out there all by himself. You girls WON’T harass him past that. He isn’t married… he doesn’t have to put up with a fucking nagging ass woman watching his every move. Done.”

He stood up and gave Rene’s shoulder a pat… and walked away. And right there… No more questions as to why HE got the title ‘ALPHA’. June and July just nodded and offered another ‘yes sir’ with wide smiles on their faces.

The look on Rene’s face was hard to read. Apologetic or worried… “Miss Stackhouse… I didn’t go to him. I don’t want you to think… I had a hard time deciding. I had pros and cons for all the offers and… I was still…”

“Rene. Hush. This is perfect for you, right? You’ll be doing what you’re used to, taking care of yourself, with a few perks, right?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Don’t apologize for seeing your luck turn around. EVER.”

He nodded and sat quiet for a minute. “Miss Stackhouse, when do you announce the Stackhouse and Compton recipients?”

She slid to the end of Alc’s leg and she looked like her eyes might come out of her head. “Homecoming. WHY?”

“When I went home, I couldn’t sleep so I started going through things. The mail… I got a letter… from Columbia.”

When she jumped up and hugged him, she pulled him out of his chair and she was crying into his neck before he had his arms around her shoulders. She squalled about how proud of him she was.

He was starting to look over whelmed, so I tried to help Rene out. Crying in public isn’t on any man’s to-do list. “Hey Sookie, maybe you and Rene can work out a caretaking deal.”

She lifted her face from his shoulder and looked at me, wiping away blissful tears and slightly confused.

“That little ‘bungalow’… I’m not positive, but I think it’s only a couple miles from the campus. He could keep an eye on it since its empty all the time anyway. He could check it out with us when we visit next month.” I gave her a wink. I wasn’t sure if it had occurred to her that he’d be alone at Christmas otherwise.

She gasped and looked back to Rene. “We do! We have an apartment up there! If you pick Columbia, you could stay there. I’ve only used it a couple of times. Even then, only on weekends… We can talk about that later… I’m so happy for you!” Then she yelled into the yard… “Daddy! ALPHA! Rene got his letter from Columbia!”

He responded with a wide smile and booming laugh. “This party just keeps getting bigger! We have new family, a wedding, a baby, a homecoming and a dream school! PROUD a’YOU!!”

Poor Rene started getting weepy again.

**

Frannie turned around and mouthed ‘baby?’ so I whispered Tara’s news to her and her tears were as instant as Sookie’s had been at the information. “I’m gonna be an AUNT!?”

Sookie’s head shot around and she had an ‘oh shit’ look… “OHMIGOD… I forgot to tell you. Tara!”

And fuck if there was any wildlife left in the woods of Bon Temps! The squeal the triplets let loose could have warned Hiroshima AND Nagasaki! I think I might have heard a distant car alarm go off, but was probably coming from my own ears as the drums ripped open.

The only perk to their display was that it gave Rene an escape from being emotional. He made the wise choice and joined Lafayette, Hunter and JB in the yard with the boys to pretend to enjoy playing catch.

**

When they settled down, the triplets went back to sitting where they were before… This time they were bouncing and… being cheerleadery. Had and Sookie were resting with their legs between Alc’s and talking about a baby shower.

I’d noticed that Dad had gotten up to go into the yard with the 4 brothers. Smom and Linda were talking a mile a minute like they had been friends since finger-paint. Pam had been sent to sit with the ‘women folk’ so she was sulking with them. Corbett would be paying for that later and Marnie had joined us, her peer group.

I reached out and grabbed her hand, surprising myself. “Having fun?”

She smiled and nodded. “Alc wasn’t kidding about these people being a blast. Makes me wish our family was bigger.”

I gave her a chuckle. “Just wait until we get to Dirges. The place is better than anywhere I ever partied in college.”

“It’s that nice?”

“No. It’s an owner professed dump. It’s an airplane hangar in the middle of nowhere. Bar. Stage. Tables. That’s it. It’s the people that make it fun.”

She looked truly excited… another surprise.

**

By the time the old(er) guys stomped up on the deck with HUGE trays full of meat, Alc was looking a bit bothered. HA!

Corbett noticed and laughed. “Girls… is he being punished for something?”

Sookie snickered and both girls nuzzled into his neck, speaking in unison. “Only if he wants to be.”

The only one who heard them that wasn’t laughing was Alc and he sounded like he was truly pleading. “Eric, do something with your woman.”

I almost didn’t… but I figured saving him would be the humane thing to do. I gave a little whistle and slapped my thigh. “Sookie. Heel.”

I got ‘the’ look from her as she obediently came over and straddled my leg and kissed me. She snuggled in under my chin and I wrapped my arm around her back. My father nearly dropped a tray full of steaks, but her father just chuckled, recognizing it as a joke. Corbett even chuckled when he saw my Dad’s jaw still dropped.

“What’s got your knickers in a knot, Jim?”

He actually furrowed his brow a little. “I’m just trying… he’s had a lap full of women since we got here. This morning they were all in bed with him. I don’t get it.”

Corbett shot me a high eyebrow over his shoulder and started a low chuckle. “Fucking pimp.” I laughed even though I was angry about Dad’s behavior.

“You… Your…”

Corbett stood up from arranging things on the table and dead-eyed my father. “Do you think he’s fucking them all?”

“I don’t know what to think.”

“Presume he is… Do any of them look like they are bitter? They look like close friends to me. Yes?”

Dad was unsure as he nodded.

“For the record… The Stackhouse dinner table has almost never had enough chairs. We are a close family. We hug and hang out in bed for cartoons, camp out on the couch and never thought twice about stacking in a chair. From what I hear… Eric has a comfy lap.”

I mumbled to Frannie and Sookie that I wondered what jackass started that rumor and they both giggled, knowing I was accusing Jason.

“But…”

Corbett huffed. “Look, if Sookie and Eric had an orgy this morning, they’re grown. Their call. Period.”

“So it wouldn’t bother you if your daughter had a threesome with Eric and… say Frannie?”

Most everyone laughed and Corbett bit the inside of his mouth. “That’s none of my business unless someone suffers. If it doesn’t hurt anyone and everyone is happy, there isn’t any problem. It’s between them. When my kids are happy, I’m happy. Try it.”

My father was still staring Corbett down, more in confusion than out of confrontation when I saw a little flicker in Corbett’s eyes. Something dawned on him…

He took another step towards my dad and lowered his volume. “I get it… You’ve been wracked over Marnie for years. Worried about her moods and decisions… You don’t know how to not be waiting for something bad to happen. You don’t know how to just be at ease. Now that Marnie’s doing great, you’re projecting the half empty glass in Eric’s direction…”

I reached over and took Marnie’s wrist and started rubbing the back of her hand, hoping she wouldn’t feel guilty. I was surprised when I felt her other hand on the back of mine.

I whispered to Sookie. “Your dad did psych?”

Sookie giggled into my neck. “No, but Daddy was a great study buddy.”

Once dad was done processing and gave Marnie and me an apologetic look, Corbett gave his arm a friendly slap and told him ‘it happens to the best of us’… then to dive in because he wasn’t sure if he made enough.

**

THAT was bullshit… Steaks, ribs, barbequed chickens, lobsters and salmon- all done on the grill. He’d made squash and mashed potatoes again along with broccoli casserole, pasta salad with crab and an antipasto. There were finger foods like fried ravioli, cherry tomatoes wrapped with basil and mozzarella, bacon wrapped scallops the size of my fist and two kinds of puff pastry; one had cream cheese and lox, the other was andouille and cheddar. Chicken/corn chowder. She-crab soup. Red beans and rice…

By the time I tried a small amount of most of it, I couldn’t move. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get back up if I sat down in the low chair I’d been in so I leaned against the wide wood railing… then sat on it… then decided to lay down on it…

**

…I heard giggling… considering who my present company was, I didn’t trust it. When I cracked my eyes though, it was Sookie. She was standing over me… on the railing.

“My dear, are you aware that you roll around when you sleep alone… a lot?” I smiled up at her.

“Good to know. I wasn’t asleep though.”

“Snoring.”

I chuckled. “Maybe.”

“I think you might have OD’d. Do you need food rehab?”

“I might.”

“You should work it off. Hit the weights in the garage with the other guys.”

I looked around. “You DIDN’T tell Alc there’s weights?”

She nodded. “He looked like a fat kid at Hershey’s when I told him.”

I could hear the clanging of weights in the background… lots of it. “We might not get him back. He’s been going through withdrawals. Who’s out there with him?”

“The 4 brothers, JB and Hunter are all out there. The other guys are whining that he’s holding them up because his sets are too long… Rene went home to do some planning, but he’ll be partying with us tonight. And Lafayette had something come up so he won’t.”

“Has Jason shown up yet?”

She shook her head and hopped down to give me a kiss. “I’m done. I feel so low right now. I never should’ve… As much as it bothered him, he always stayed out of stuff when I asked him to. I owe him a big apology. Both of them.”

“We both do.”

She moped for a few minutes, just standing in the crook of my arm while my hand rested on her back. “Change the subject.”

I was groggy as hell… and too preoccupied with my guilt anyway. “I can’t think of anything, hon. Sorry.” I sat up and swung my legs over. She stood between my knees and hugged my waist.

**

Marnie saved us… Yes, Marnie.

She broke up our little shame-shindig, which as it turns out is not unlike a pity-party. Just invite self-blame.

“Sookie… I know it’s probably not… my curiosity is… Would you mind showing me the pageant stuff?” It actually warmed me that Marnie was trying so hard to, I don’t know, word things carefully.

Sookie took a cleansing breath and looked up to give me a grin. “The cavalry… Wanna jump on the diversion bandwagon?”

It sounded as good as anything so on our way inside, I asked Smom if she was curious to see it… She might not have been as curious as she was pleased to be invited.

**

When the door to the room swung open, I felt like I was going to be sick for a second. It was a shameless shrine and it reminded me of the twisted museum of mementos that DeCastro had built for himself. The huge four poster bed was even dressed in red satin and antique lace. The canopy was barely visible under the meticulously placed sashes, pinned to drape over and boast Sookie’s titles. There were 3 bookshelves that were loaded with clear display cases for each tiara and crown. Hundreds. The vanity looked like something out of a Hollywood dressing room. The mirror was surrounded with lights and the surface was carefully arranged with very ornate perfume diffusers on a silver tray. And a silver frame with a birth certificate in it.

Smom looked it over. “Marion Juniper Stackhouse? Who is that?”

Sookie scoffed. “Me… Daddy named me and Sheila didn’t ever like my name because it ‘sounds trashy’. She always had a thing for Marion Davies because she was a beautiful woman who found a rich man to take care of her. So when I got a little older, she had my name changed for pageants. Marion sounded ‘more elegant’. Daddy changed it back as soon as he found out, but she still used that one for entering me.”

Smom gave her a sympathetic smile. “I like ‘Sookie’. Does it mean something?”

Sookie gave her a grin. “It’s a southern thing. A old southern GUY thing. It’s kind of a catch all term for something really great or pretty. ‘Aw sookie’ is something you can hear about a royal flush on poker night or a  classic car with a new paint job. Daddy said I was smiling the day I was born and Doc Burley started it.”

Marnie was standing at the closet, slowly leafing through the gowns.  Sookie hadn’t crossed the threshold and I was just inside leaning against the wall and I heard an un-amused grunt behind us. Corbett toweled the sweat from his face and kissed the back of Sookie’s head. “Dirty laundry?”

She chuckled and leaned back against him. “Something like that.”

He put his big arm across her shoulders. “Now that we’ve done the exorcism… What am I doing with this shit?”

Sookie snickered. “Burn it to make room for the grandbaby’s nursery.”

He chuckled as he gave her a squeeze and pointed to the bookshelves full of tiaras. “Ok. But something tells me all those diamonds aren’t going anywhere.”

“Send Lucifer one every couple of months as her allowance.”

Smom had listened to the quick exchange, displeased. “Ooh no you don’t! What a waste!”

Sookie quirked her head to the side with interest. Smom’s outburst seemed to entertain her. “What do you have in mind?”

“I’m gonna betcha that your mother doesn’t approve of my sweet boy.”

We both nodded.

“Fuck her… anywho…” I threw my head back laughing. This woman NEVER cursed. “I think lemons to lemonade would be fitting after what she put yah through! I think yah should take those crowns to a jeweler and have them taken apart… make yourself something beautiful to wear to marry your ‘loser’. Then every time yah see it sitting in your jewelry case, you’ll think of him instead of that witch. And make sure someone tells her!”

Corbett squeezed by Sookie and took Smom’s hand, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “That’s a perfect idea, Deb. You’re just evil enough to fit in to this lot.”

Smom bubbled up with a giggle. “I have an idea for those gowns too. I’ve been drawn into every craft imaginable with the other navy wives. Do yah mind if I take them back with me? I bet Marnie and I can come up with a way yah wouldn’t mind looking at them.”

He smiled at her. “I’d put money on that. I’ll box it all up and get it to you before you have to head back and I’ll get Dermot started on breaking down the queen’s jewels.”

“Dermot’s a jeweler?”

He chuckled with a nod. “My brother has always had a thing for anything that sparkles. Linda and I always joked his kids wouldn’t have a sandbox, they’d play in faerie dust… It’s kind of funny that his kids ended up with the same affinity. Claude’s a stripper and surrounds himself with sequins and glitter clad women and Claudine is an artist who works in glass. Hey, you’ll get to see her stuff next time you visit… I bet he could even make Miss April here a bunny collar with all he has to work with.”

“Miss April?”

Corbett started laughing and thumped me in the chest so I explained the Fundraiser to Smom and she started laughing too. “I might not forgive yah if I don’t get a picture of that.”

I smiled and gave her a kiss on her forehead. “Smom, the party is held the day after Thanksgiving. I was hoping you’d see it in person if you guys come back for the holiday.”

She beamed at the invitation. “Your father wouldn’t cooperate.”

“So you and Marnie can dress up as Butch and Sundance and leave his humorless ass at home. But everyone in town does it. He doesn’t have to wear something trashy.”

Corbett tried to help out. “I bet if y’all sit around with Sookie’s albums, you might be able to talk him into a VE day type of thing. You could don some ‘cracker jacks’ and he can dress as a nurse. Pam thought of that one when we were talking about it, but I nearly killed myself last year in heels.”

“What did you go as last year?”

“Paris Hilton. Borrowed a Chihuahua and everything. Sookie’s got pictures.”

I started laughing. “Are they in night vision green?”

“No, but I still have the costume.” He blew me a kiss and wiggled his eyebrows at me. Then asked me if I was ready for my spanking because it was ‘game time’…

**

I sat down with a beer on the porch while I waited for Corbett to rally the men… still disturbed by the testament to Munchausen’s and amused by my father-in-law at the same time. Frannie came over to sit in my lap and leaned back this time.

“Thank you.”

I smiled at her. “What for?”

“You’re a good fucking listener, that’s what. You’d make a damn good therapist if you got sick of being a super hero crime fighter.”

“Well then, you’re welcome. Have you gotten any thinking done?”

“I’ve been thinking this to shreds for years. How’s that working for me?”

We both laughed. “You think it’s time to stop thinking?”

She shrugged. “You can’t live in your head forever, right? It’s lonely up there.”

I gave her a serious nod. “I know all about that.”

“It looks like you’ve recovered well.”

“I like to think so.”

She gave me a big smile. “You’re a keeper. A good listener AND you hand out hope, huh?”

She gave me a thankful peck on the cheek and sat back. As she did, I noticed Jason walking towards us from the corner of my eye. Great.

“Y’all look cozy.”

Frannie looked up at him and I became part of the chair. “Calm down, Jas. He’s just keeping me company.”

“Can I have a minute?”

She shook her head. “Daddy is pulling the game together now. We should wait. You missed a great spread and a lot of fun… Rene got into Columbia and Daddy ‘gave a putting’ to Jim for being uptight.”

“Columbia?! No shit! Fucking hell! Good for him! He’s set. I got a friend or two there, Sook too. He won’t have to compete for internships.”

“And Eric and Sookie are handling him to take care of the apartment so he doesn’t need to worry about working.”

“Bout time something happens for the boy. What did CMC do to get a puttin’?”

“He got all cactusy in the shorts about the way we all sit in each other’s laps. Tossed it out there that we were all in bed together this morning. Daddy knew better and found his issue while he was trying to rationalize it for him. He seems better now. He was in the garage watching Alc and JB go set for set when I left.”

“Alc and JB? Set for set? Alc was keeping up?”

Frannie nodded. “Easily.”

I didn’t doubt it for a second. A normal guy could’ve gone to bed and fucked his wife after a rough shift… His weight bench didn’t perfect an ‘unapproachable sleep posture’.

**

Once the men were rallied and on the porch, Frannie finally stood up to let Sookie join me. She hogged my lap, sitting sideways and gave me a big smile.

“You look like you’re up to something.”

“Those charges won’t stick. You have no proof.” She giggled as she started to kiss me. No small kiss either. Her sweet full lips met mine and as she made little noises into my mouth she pulled me closer and tickled behind my ear with her thumb… and by the time I talked myself into pulling away, my evil angel of a fiancé was very aware of the hard on she’d given me.

I growled at her when she smirked at me and called her a bitch under my breath.

Her lips brushed against my ear when she whispered to me. “That was a bad idea. Now I don’t want to wait to finish later.”

“Finish what?”

She chewed and licked, breathing into my ear before she answered. “Mmm. My plan was to crank you up for the game…” She scraped her teeth just under my ear and I got chills all over. “And then take care of your mood after.” She whimpered as she started chewing down my neck. “But now… I can’t think of anything but your cock. How hard it is right now… How good it tastes… How I love watching you shove it into me… How it feels when it twitches as you come… I’m could come just thinking about what I want to do to you, what I want you to do to me with your big, thick… ” Oh God. I was in actual pain. Everything between my belt and my knees was throbbing. All I wanted to do was take her somewhere and fuck her. I needed to. More. Than. Anything.

“Stop.”

“Are you angry? Do you want me to leave?” Her tone had changed. It was normal again. She had completely dropped character… She HAD been up to something, and she did a very good job.

“No. Just be still.” The last thing in the world I needed was for her to get up so that everyone could see my dick bulging in the leg of my jeans.

I did my best to finish my beer and calm down and Sookie was doing her part by chatting it up with Marnie and Linda…

**

According to Terry… We were ‘lollygagging’ so as the 9 of us congregated in the yard I stood and watched the deck amused…

In high school, college and any other cookouts I’d been to… when ‘the men folk’ set a plan for sport into motion, the ladies found something to do to entertain themselves… Not the Stackhouses. I watched everyone climb onto the wide wood railing like they were stadium seats. Smom gave Sookie a grateful peck for helping her get situated, causing a retarded ass sappy moment for me. I should have been focusing on the game. Instead I found myself thinking that it was funny that in all the places I’d lived… I’d find everything in a piss-ant town like Bon Temps.

By the time we started playing, Corbett had taken his iPod out of his back pocket and rifled it through the air to Sookie. Within minutes, The Clash was pumping into the cool air and it made me want to be adopted by Corbett. I had thought that he might have played the kind of music he did because his kids liked it… Judging by the mix of Ramones, Femmes, Sex Pistols, Butthole Surfers… I quickly realized that it was the other way around.

The ‘girls’ had gotten out a bottle of Patron and started their own drinking game… Nothing as structured as Monday night’s drinking game, but most of them sat on the railing with a shot glass in hand… Calling plays. Betting for shots. First touchdown, first to get tackled, fumbles…

As the game progressed, our audience got louder and more rambunctious. At one point, the triplets stood up on the railing and danced and sang along to Cherry Bomb and Smom was so entertained that she nearly fell from her perch laughing. The four brothers even barked along with Too Drunk To Fuck while we played.

Oh, and by the way… friendly game my ASS. Sure, we were smiling and laughing the whole game through… even when we were beating the living shit out of each other. Alc and I were going to be shitting Corbett’s lawn for a week because we foolishly underestimated the old fuckers! We definitely had size as an advantage. My father was the tallest of all of them and he was the same height as Hunter. Sure, Jas was only about 5’ 8’, but the rest of us were well over 6 feet. And as it turns out, our sizes only reminded us that the bigger you are, indeed, the harder it hurts when you get yanked from your feet when a 61 year old man launches himself at your hips and takes you down. ‘Unassuming’ was not a word I would EVER use to describe Terry again. That mother fucker hit me like a Mack truck 3 times.

Even though we won, there was no proud swagger for Alc and I… There was just something very humbling about BARELY winning against the men we were playing. It made us hope that we were in such good shape at their ages… and made us look forward to our next excuse to play…

As we collected our discarded keys, phones, jackets, shirts and set our sights on the beer cooler Corbett started joking that we should feel ‘real proud’ of ourselves for beating up a bunch of old men…  Mother fucker winked at me.

**

I walked over to the railing and reached up to put my hands around Sookie’s ankles and she smiled at me as she started to climb down. She put her arms around me and hugged me in spite of how gross I was. Dirt, grass, sweat, grime… “Did you have fun?”

Her face was flushed and she was slightly unsteady. “You could have warned me.”

She snorted. “Me?! I’m drunk from betting on you!”

I started laughing. “Oh really?! I’m sorry to disappoint you then.”

She snorted again. “Who’s disappointed? Today has been crazy fun.”

“Are you going to be ok later? For the stage?”

“Yes and no. If I keep going like this I won’t be… But if I stop drinking now, the only problem later will be that I’m horny as hell.”

“Aww. You poor baby. What that must feel like!” I pouted my bottom lip out at her to taunt her. After her little mind fuck with me on the deck before the game, I was having a hard time mustering much sympathy.

She gave me a very unamused glare and pulled me down enough to speak into my ear. “Oh, I fully intend to fuck you until we can’t see straight… but the damage is done, my dear. By the time we’re at the bar… I’ll be ready to rip your clothes off again.”

Gulp. I tried to laugh off the threat. “I am not fucking you in your father’s house.”

She licked her lips and narrowed her eyes at me. “You don’t have to. You can just lay there.”

God help me.

**

The desserts were laid out on the tables, waiting for us to dive in before we all needed to start getting cleaned up and dressed for the bar. Sookie brought a slab of cake to me that I had watched her make with extra interest. They had called it a ‘Pina Colada Torte’ while they were making the whole thing from scratch and from memory. They had made two of them because it was a favorite family recipe. I watched Had and Sookie stand side by side and make the simple white cake and then start on the good part… They made butter cream icing with Malibu and folded in apricots, pineapple, cherries and bananas; one flavor for each layer. Then the outside of the cake was covered with more butter cream and buried in coconut… I’d never drooled over a cake before. I really needed some time away from Alc… He ate 2 slabs and a few smaller pieces of other pies and cakes ‘just to taste’.

I had been doing my best to not be distracted by the looks Sookie had been giving me… I was sitting between my parents and Sookie was eye fucking me from the other side of the deck. Dessert had just been a stopgap for her so it seemed.

It was just after 7 when Corbett yelled out for us to ‘hit the showers’ as the women were all putting away the last of the food. Pam being the only one to not help and getting a dirty look from Corbett in the process. Jason headed over to the garage and Sookie led Dad, Alc and me into the house, stopping to grab the garment bag along the way.

After she showed my father to the bathroom in her father’s office, she stopped at the door to her old room and unzipped the bag to pull Alc’s fresh clothes out and direct him to use that shower in there.

“Why aren’t you using your old room?”

“I haven’t been in there in… 12 years. I’m a stubborn bitch. We’ll use the den.”

He shrugged and opened the door. His foot had just landed on the other side of the threshold and he stopped dead. “Mother fucker. I think I’m going to throw up.” He even sounded like he might too.

Sookie cringed but tried to laugh it off. “I have pictures of how I kept it. You wouldn’t recognize it.” She might as well have not said anything though.

“Eric, did you see this psycho shit?”

“I did.”

“It’s just like…”

I cut him off, not knowing if he’d had enough to drink to actually say ‘it’. “Yeah. I know. Get your shower. You smell like a stray dog.”

He looked back at Sookie just long enough that she could see him feeling sorry for her.

“What?”

Alc gave me a look, letting me explain… I shrugged. “We’ve seen that kind of thing before.”

“What kind of thing? Y’all knew she’d done it.”

“Can I get away with just telling you that it rings an unpleasant bell or two for us?”

She stared at me, not locked down, just staring and I could swear that I could see, if not feel, a flurry of emotions while she processed. Finally… “Recent?”

We both nodded.

She blew out a big breath. “I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“All the shit y’all have to deal with. I can’t imagine.”

The shit WE deal with?

**

She seemed to have all but shrugged it off as she took my hand and led me to the den. Rather than lead me to the bathroom, she took me to the couch and pointed. I couldn’t help but be amused at the ‘order’. She situated herself on her knees next to my leg to face me and locked down on me again.

Finally… “You aren’t morose about a case… You were feeling sorry for me because of a similarity to that room and one.”

I thought about denying it for a minute, but I ended up confirming it with a nod.

“Don’t.”

“Sookie, that kind of thing is the hallmark of true…”

“Stop it. I know. We probably had some of the same text books. Stop fucking pitying me for having a twisted mother. I could have had it a lot worse.”

Unbelievable. Her mother had erected an altar dedicated to what she forced on Sookie, a practice that was kept for the criminally cruel and deranged. Sookie was still unwilling to see how unfortunate she was. “School me.”

“Oh! Trust me… Worse is easy… and pity is subjective. It’s all a matter of perspective.”

I managed half a smile. “Give me something then. You’re mother trained you like a pet, dressed you like a doll and paraded you in front of strangers, mind fucking you until you married a man who abused you… For the record, I expect you to sugarcoat that for prime time AND give me worse.”

She grinned and bit her lip. “You’re cranky.”

“I’m waiting.”

She giggled. “Fine. Brute… Sheila might not have cared that I didn’t like it, but she pushed me towards her expectations. There are still plenty of women that expect their daughters to be debutantes and marry well. Sheila was guilty of overkill. Period.”

“Uh-huh. You glossed over the part where she pushed you to marry a man that she knows hurt you, continued to hurt you and even now she has the balls to blame you for leaving.”

She narrowed her eyes at me and growled. “She did push me, but it was still me. I was the retard that said ‘I do’. I was the retard that checked out for four years and didn’t take the wheel on my own life. Me. Not her. She can’t be blamed for all of it.”

Not wanting to argue… “Fine… Give me some time to get used to things. I’m still new here. Give me a worse.”

“The yard was full of ‘worses’… Had would have a brother Jas’s age if her father hadn’t beaten Momma for letting the car get a scratch at the grocery store and that was just the first time he put her in the hospital. Frannie was raised in foster care because her mother was an addict and she never met her father and wouldn’t know where to start looking for him. Lafayette’s father started calling him ‘The Fag’ when he was 12 and started leaving him in the car when the family went to church and told him it was the closest he’d ever get to God. Uncle Dermot was an 8 year old orphan then lost his wife in childbirth. Terry was a POW: ‘nuff said. Your sister spent most of her life hating everyone and everything because her emotions declared war on her and all of you suffered with her and DON’T THINK FOR ONE SECOND that what Alc is and has gone through with Amelia isn’t worse than what I was dealt by Bill. It’s a hell of a lot easier to be punched by someone you hate than be told you’re useless by someone you love.”

I’m not sure how long I processed all of that, but I caught myself blinking nonstop. “DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE RIGHT???”

She slumped over and laughed into my chest. “Yes.”

I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. “You’re a fucking pill.”

She stopped giggling with a snort. “Are you sick of me already?”

“Negative. You can’t get rid of me.”

She lifted her head and raised her eyebrow at me. “I guess I’d better make the best it then, huh?” She kissed my neck and it sent a chill up my spine.

“Yup. You’re stuck with me.” She started kissing along my jaw slowly.

“I’m totally fine with that.” She took my ear into her mouth and started nibbling and tickling… Ffffuck.

“I guess I should get in the shower.”

She let go of my ear… “Or not.” …Her lips were on mine and it didn’t occur to me for a second to not kiss her back.

She pulled me down on top of her, sliding down on the cool leather couch and putting her legs around me. My pants were getting smaller by the second when she let go of my hair to start opening my belt. She slid her perfect hand into my pants and I only had a moment of hesitation before her fingers… those fingers… made me forget that we were in an open room in a house full of people. Her hand wrapped around my cock and her fingertips massaged in pace, stroking and pulling. Greed. I wanted more. Now.

I wrapped my arms around her hips and hoisted us from the couch, moving for the bathroom completely indifferent to the fact that I was in someone else’s home, let alone her father’s. But I was stopped dead with the sight Corbett walking into the room in nothing but a towel.

“Hang on… I need y’alls keys… Tray’s here for the cars early.” Nothing about the fact that I was obviously planning on fucking his daughter in his den.

Sookie growled at him and took one arm away from my neck to reach into her pocket and tossed her keys at him.

His look got angry. “Don’t be a bitch!” I waited for him to say something about… well us. “Tray’s the one that can’t tell time. I told him to be here at 8. Take it up with him.”

As he turned around saying ‘carry on’, it took me a minute to realize that my face felt like I had a sunburn and Sookie was laughing into my neck.

**

She looked angry when I set her down, shoving my dick back into my pants. “You people have no shame.”

“Sure we do.”

“Your father just interrupted us in his house and had no reaction.”

She shrugged. “You want him to be uptight and flip his shit because his adult daughter was trying to grab a quickie with her fiancé?”

I couldn’t help but to be flustered. On top of knowing that my cock was going to be hurting all night, the only thing I could think of to distract myself with was being reasoned away. “I don’t know.”

She huffed at me and started pealing her clothes off, tossing them over the back of the couch. She was stark naked when she unzipped the garment bag and started pulling things out. “You should have spent some time in the philosophy department yourself. Embarrassment is a wasted state of being. It serves no purpose other than to dignify orthodox and usually outdated social confines.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “We’re talking about the same man who offered to outfit the cheer squad just to cover your body.”

She snorted as she held out my clean clothes to me and then started stepping into a pair of black boy shorts. “He wanted me to not be so exposed… I told you, the rape affected him more than it did me. He’s still afraid that someone will think I’m ‘asking for it’ when I dress light. He has no problem whatsoever with my sex life. We talk about everything, always have.”

EVERYTHING?”

She giggled and shook her head at me. “Go get your shower.” She cut her eyes at me and called Frannie and Had for them to get dressed with her.

I surrendered and walked to the bathroom realizing that there was probably no way to win an argument with her. No way to even get into one for that matter. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not.

**

When I came out of the bathroom… still frustrated as hell from the combination of blue balls and embarrassment, the triplets were all in their underwear and doing their hair and makeup using the mirror over the mantle. Not helping the blue balls. At all.

Alc and JB had been welcomed into the folds and were lounging on the couch with beers in hand and joking along with the girls while they got ready.

Alc gave them a snort. “While you’re all here, can one of you explain why you have like… NO modesty?”

Frannie deadpanned. “I’m pretty sure THAT wasn’t directed at me, ladies…”

The twins giggled at her sarcasm and Had ran with the answer… “There isn’t much room for modesty in locker rooms and backstage during a quick change… besides, what’s the point in being modest in my undies when my bathing suit shows the same wares?”

“Humph… Most gals are though.”

“Most ‘gals’ silly little bitches. Most ‘gals’ didn’t have a family that helped with having a healthy self image…”

Sookie cut her off with a giggle. “Most ‘gals’ can’t get away with a cock-hard bikini, no matter how long it’s been since they had a 10 pound baby.”

Had pounded her fist. “Damn fucking right.”

**

I grabbed myself a beer from the kitchen, sticking my head into the game room to check on the boys who were shooting pool with Terry and Hunter, and got back just in time to see Frannie lacing Sookie into a corset top. Fucking hell.

I had to think of something so that I wouldn’t be… obsessing. “I forgot to ask… Why’d your dad need the keys?”

“He had the cars towed home. We’re using the limos tonight so he doesn’t have to worry about anybody getting back.”

“Limos? We’re going to take limos out to go clubbing? Your dad’s a little hung up on the Paris Hilton jag, huh?”

She laughed while she bent over to adjust the corset. Mmmm. “They’re hardly ever used. They just take up room at the dealership except for things like weddings and proms.”

That was it. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. By then she’d crossed the room and started putting on the rest of her outfit…

The corset was short, stopping at her ribs. Black lace with little cherries embroidered all over it and pushing her tits up to her chin and staring down into her cleavage was definitely getting a reaction out of me.

I watched her step into a pair of pants… capris that stopped at her knees. Black with red pinstripes and so low on her hips that she had to push her panties down so they wouldn’t show. And when she turned around… the dimples on her back… oh fuck.. I was drooling…

Like the corset and low pants weren’t bad enough, she opened a shoe box and pulled out a pair of shiny red fuck me pumps… 5 inch heel at least… and my cock throbbed while she bent over to buckle the straps.

She smiled at me innocently enough when she handed me a necklace to clasp for her… a silver choker, then gave me wink once it was on. There was no fucking way in hell I was going to get through the night. I should have rubbed one out in the shower when I had the chance. Pouting. Pouting like a son of a bitch.

Frannie had ended up ‘squeezing’ into a vintage style navy blue sailor top (and matching mini skirt) that showed more tit than Sookie’s corset and was wearing high heeled blue and white saddle shoes.

For Had, Sookie had picked a pair of capris like hers, but in red. Her top was a TIGHT, sleeveless, white shirt tied just below her bra without being buttoned. She was nearly spilling out… the shoes she wore were the white heels with the ankle strap that Sookie had teased me with once before… She was hard to take… It was like seeing Sookie dressed to kill in double… Fuck.

They had all helped one another smooth down each other’s hair in true pinup style and their makeup was done to mimic the 40’s… Alcide made the girls laugh when he joked that watching them get ready to go was like watching the Discovery Channel.

**

The ‘old people’ and the ‘young’uns’ were separated into respective limos. Jack and Carm were more than a little excited about their first limo ride and Alc even held them up through the sunroof as we made our way down the long driveway to drop them off at our house. After Sookie told Hunter that there was fixings for sundaes and Hadley told him if he touched the liquor she’d kill him, Alc followed him up to the house to let him in and leave him pizza money.

There was a palpable tension between Frannie and Jason during the drive. It was the loudest silence I’d ever heard. Marnie was excitedly asking questions about Dirges and when we were about half way there, Sookie inched herself even closer to me to wrap her arm around mine. She laid her head on my shoulder and laced our fingers together as she set our hands in her lap. She started stroking the outside of my thumb with hers, immediately getting a reaction.

God help me. It must have been all of the earlier teasing, but I fell out of the conversation and noticed nothing but the small caress. I had to calm down.

I leaned over and put my lips to her ear, barely breathing. “Sookie, you’ve got me so on edge, you’re making me hard. You’ve got to stop.”

She didn’t seem to react, still stroking my thumb as she moved to breathe her reply. “What will you do if I don’t stop?”

I’d brought it on myself… her whisper… I’d all but invited the reminder of her dirty little taunt from before. Gulp. Moving back. “I don’t know. I can’t take much more though.”

Her nose tickled the rim of my ear as she came back. Shiver. Throb. “I need you to fuck me so bad it hurts. I can’t help it.”

Making it WORSE. Still rubbing. “Sookie. Stop.”

I hadn’t pulled my mouth away from her ear before she all but threw my hand from hers and folded her arms across her chest. She inched away from me to lean against the door and she stared out of the window. Oh fuck. EVERYONE noticed that I’d pissed her off and I was at a loss. Jason and Frannie even took notice in spite of having their own issues. So I was forced to sit there in an alarmed silence until we could have a minute… All I could do was hope that she’d let me say I’m sorry before we had our first argument.

**

As everyone started to file out of the car, Sookie made no move. Part of me was happy she’d give me the chance to apologize before we went in, part of me was worried about not knowing how angry I’d made her. JB looked back at me with pity just before he closed the door behind him.

I started right away. “Sookie, I’m sorry…” She didn’t even look at me before she clapped her hand over my mouth. Switching gears… now, I was pissed.

Sookie jerked into motion and grabbed the phone to call the driver. “We need a few minutes to talk. Could you please take a lap around Center Square?”

It seemed like the car was moving before she told him ‘thank you’ and she moved to straddle me and grabbed my lip between her teeth. She breathed into my mouth and grinded herself down on to my lap.

I was confused and breathless as she moved her mouth down my neck. “You’re not angry?”

Her hand disappeared behind her back and I heard her pants unzip. “Only that your pants are in my way.” She slid backwards to stand up enough to start peeling her pants down her hips. She stepped out of them and came back over to me and started yanking my belt open. Corset. Heels. Period… Holy fucking gear change, batman!

“Sookie…”

“Do you really want to talk? If we don’t do something about our collective mood, we’re going to hurt each other when we get home.” She started yanking my jeans down my hips and God help me, I let her.

She dropped to her knees between my feet, grabbing my cock and blowing hot air as she licked from the hilt to the tip. Her bright red lips wrapped around the rim and she trapped the head between the roof of her mouth and her tongue, flicking it over the sweetest of spots. I caught myself humming and digging my nails into seats as she worked. Hands down, she gave the best blow job I’d ever had. She had no qualms, she buried me deep in her throat and her tongue… her tongue did things that were just unbelievable.

She slowly inched up, and turned around. She lifted one foot, sliding it onto the seat next to me and then the other to back down onto my lap slowly… I wrapped my arms around her, pawing at her thighs… And then she grabbed me, lining me up and slowly lowering herself down around me… Ffffuck… Her hands went to the ceiling of the car and she pushed down, rocking and grinding… tightening around me with force, on purpose, just to push me…

I grabbed her hips as she leaned forward, bracing herself against my knees. She started lifting and dropping, pitching her hips and the only noise in the car was our panting and moaning…

Every time we got close, she’d calm us down until I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed her waist and pulled her back against me and reached around to find her clit… Her head fell back to my shoulder as she jerked and gasped…

I could feel her twitching around me right away and started breathing ‘fuckeric’ over and over… Her hands went back to the ceiling, pushing down again… Her hips were barely moving. They didn’t have to. Her muscles were fisted around me doing all the work as she built her whisper to shout ‘FUCK! ERIC!’ in full voice. And then she stopped mid ‘fuck’ and her back arched away from me and her puss took over. Yanking… bending… squeezing me until I came.

I held her around her ribs while I waited for my body to stop vibrating. No shit. That’s what it felt like.

**

She was still short of breath when she started giggling. “I think we might be able to get through the evening now.” She twisted around to kiss me.

Doubtful. She’d have me hard again the first time we dance. “If we can’t, we need to find a 12 step program.”

She pulled her legs out from under her and stretched them out before she grabbed her pants to put them back on and I pulled my pants back up to close them. She climbed back onto my lap and started kissing me until we had to come up for air. “Too late. I’m beyond help.”

I hugged her close to me and she started nibbling down my neck. All I could come up with was an ‘oh really’. I was tempted to call the driver and have him just take us home.

“I’ll just end up one of those sad ‘rehab rebounds’. I’d do ok for a while, but I’d end up ODing and going right back. I’m addicted. Don’t try to be a hero; you can’t help someone like me. I’m too far gone.” Every word that came out of her mouth was breathed against my neck and sending me into my own relapse. Somehow she made addiction sound… fucking hot.

“Sookie, can we just go home?”

“I wish.”

As much as I hated to do it, I picked her up off my lap and set her on the seat next to me. I held her hand and tried to ignore the ‘please fuck me’ look on her face. “We need to calm down or we’ll both be twats again.”

She forced a smile and nodded. For the rest of the ride she held my hand, resting them on the seat between us.

**

I hadn’t even noticed the condition of the parking lot when we were there before. It was worse than the football game. Much, much worse. There used to be hundreds of acres of land to this clearing and now it was buried under an avalanche of cars. I was nervous to go in…

The scene inside was just as bad as expected. Everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder in the front half of the hangar. The crowd spotted Sookie right away and she smiled and waved, pounding fists and slapping 5 to everyone who offered. It took us a while to get through the crowd before ‘traffic’ let up by the bar, making it easy to spot our party ‘already in progress’.

The smiling and laughing halted when we got to our collection of tables where everyone seemed to be waiting on baited breath. I guess they wanted to know how our ‘fight’ went and I wish like hell I had thought to ask Sookie how to handle it. Especially since I found myself on the receiving end of Corbett’s ‘death beams’.

My father in law wasn’t going to let us get away with being nearly an hour late without an explanation. “D’you get lost in the parking lot?” We hadn’t even sat down.

I opened my mouth to… hell, I don’t know, LIE. But Sookie beat me to explaining. “We were cranky.”

“What d’ya fight about?”

“We didn’t fight…” Oh fuck. “I gave Eric a ‘1st & Tense’ before y’all played and then you cock blocked us when you got our keys.” She shrugged. “We took a lap down Main Street for a ‘Screaming Oh’.” Ok. As much as I love her honesty, there’s a right time and a wrong time to be THIS honest.

I wasn’t as embarrassed as I was scared. I was sure that I was getting a ‘disapproving’ look from Dad, but what had my attention was that Corbett and his brothers were giving me the dirtiest fucking looks I’d ever gotten. “Shit Sookie! God and everybody? Really?”

She turned and looked at me with big innocent eyes while Marnie, Jason, Frannie, JB, Alcide and Had all laughed their asses off.

And then Corbett started… “Sookie Stackhouse you little bitch! I can’t believe you would stoop so low! You CRANKED him up! Against your own father!?” What?

No fucking way. He’s pissed that she gave me an edge… What the fuck?

She smiled at him. “Yup! Right under your nose too. Jealous that you didn’t think about it?”

“Yes!” All four Horsemen started laughing. Corbett scowled at her and pointed his finger. “Well played, you sneaky little shit. I’ll get you back though. Watch out.”

“Whatever old man. Bring it.” She turned around and kissed my cheek. “Beer or shots?”

“Both. Do you even know what a filter is?”

She laughed. “Yes, sir. I do: Fucking In Lazy Thrusts Entering Rectally. F. I. L. T. E. R.”

I bit the inside of my mouth so that I wouldn’t laugh. It didn’t work. “Cute. Learn that from a student?”

“Nope.” She swatted my ass on her way to the bar. When I sat down in the seat next to Corbett, I noticed that I was right about my father. He was not amused.

**

The party got back underway though, with or without his participation. Everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves. Even Jason and Fran seemed to loosen up and were taking part in the same conversation without shooting daggers at each other.

Sookie came back with our drinks, plopping into my lap. Four shots of jager, 2 beers and 4 jagerbombs. Nice.

“What’d you get for you?”

She smiled and gave me a kiss then knocked back a shot. “What’s your dance card look like?”

“It’s full.”

She smiled at me suspiciously. “Who got to you first?”

“Some little handicapped girl.”

“Aw. That’s sweet. What’s her disability?” She was letting me set her up.

“She was born without an ounce of modesty.”

Sookie licked her lips and killed another shot and then chugged one of her bombs… She took my hand, trying to drag me out to dance so I hammered back by drinks quickly before I let her yank me to the floor.

**

Four songs later, Sookie’s feet needed a break. When we sat back down, the crowd at our tables had dwindled. Most of our party had moved on to the dance floor. Corbett and Jason were the only ones at the table. Frannie was dancing with Alcide and Hadley. Even Smom and Dad hit the dance floor and Marnie was dancing with JB. That was an entertaining sight.

After she set down the tray full of beer she came back with, Sookie straddled my lap and my hands went to her hips. “You don’t have to wait for me if you want to dance.”

I smiled at her. “I’m exactly where I want to be.”

“I only need a minute. These are killer heels in more than one way… We should go cut in on your parents.”

I raised my eyebrow at her. “I’m down with dancing with Smom. Are you sure you want to dance with my Dad?”

**

She was sure. Sure enough to drag me out to them smiling like a Cheshire cat. I ended up dancing with my nearly drunk Mom to Flower by Moby. She was having so much fun, I thought she was going to bust. What’s more, Sookie and Dad danced close and talked through the whole song. While Smom sloshed around the dance floor with me, I watched my father smile more than a few times. How the fuck does Sookie do that?

When the song was over, the four of us were headed back to our seats because Smom needed to be poured into a chair so that she didn’t have a drunkcident she’d be embarrassed about tomorrow. As soon as her ass was in her chair, Jason jumped on me piggyback style.

“You drunk yet, sexy?”

I started laughing. “That depends on what you’re planning on doing back there!”

“Dance with me! They’re playing my song!” The song… Deliverance by Bubba Sparxxx. I hung my head and started shaking my head. “C’MON! You can lead!”

“Jason! I am not dancing the Drunkback Mountain with you!”

Sookie slapped my ass. “Go on! He’s a great dancer.”

**

I have no idea what the fuck possessed me. Part of me thought that I was calling his bluff… I ended up dancing a tango with Jason fucking Stackhouse! What’s worse, I was buzzed enough that I was laughing the whole fucking time at the goofball faces the cartoon bastard was making. Except when I almost tripped over Pam and Alcide, who’d stopped dancing and gotten their phones to start recording my drunk’tarded display. There was no way I’d EVER live this shit down. Those two cunts would upload that shit to youtube and include the goddamn link on their business cards.

Sookie saved me. Dancing with him didn’t end the joke… He wanted to keep dancing. When the next song started I nearly pissed my pants at the ‘cat fight’ they put on over me. My sides were going to hurt for a week. We were both laughing when the ‘fight’ was over and we started our dance to URA Fever.

“God  BLESS you! I don’t think I want to slow dance with him.”

She shook her head in all seriousness. “No. No, you don’t.”

I dropped my head to her should for more laughing. “You got me drunk and now there’s video of that.”

“There’ll be more. I plan on getting you drunk and forcing fun on you for a long time.”

“Promise?”

“Definitely. You have me.”

We danced the rest of the song and most of the next attached from our mouths to our hips… until we were interrupted.

**

I was tapped on the shoulder and immediately tensed. When I looked behind me, there were 4 guys standing there.

They all had the same haircut and damn if they didn’t look like they were in some kind of uniform. Jeans and Havana style shirts.

“Sorry sir. The Colonel wanted us to let Sookie know that there are issues outside and we need to start soon.”

Sookie grumbled and called them sacrificial lambs before she took my hand and stomped over to Alcide and broke up his dance with Hadley. On our way to a small door behind the stage she stopped at a control panel and flipped some switches, grabbing a microphone. When she opened the doors, we were nearly blinded by the difference in light and she led us right into the back of a pickup and whistled into the microphone, causing a shrill squeak in the speakers. It was horrible, but it got their attention.

“Ladies and gentleman! Can I get your attention for a minute please?”

She waited for a minute for everyone to settle down. As my eyes adjusted to the light I realized that we were looking down at thousands… THOUSANDS of teenagers.

“I need my Eagles to show everyone who you are.” More than a hundred arms went into the air. “Leave ‘em up for me guys. You know what this is about… Everybody else… Most of you know who I am. I’m Sookie Stackhouse. These are my friends Alcide and Eric. They’re FBI Agents. They’re working on a case right now and need your help… The Eagles standing with you can vouch for these guys. Some prick is making fake IDs for my kids. Last summer a student from Clarice didn’t make it home from her first outing with hers. The guy who’s making fakies has helped a serial killer and convicted pedophiles. What these guys want is your ID. They aren’t gonna call your folks. They aren’t gonna search your house for porn and they aren’t gonna pull you over to make sure you don’t have smokes. They just want to get this guy behind bars and keep him there…”

I peaked over at Alc, looking to see if he was as impressed as I was that she had their attention and noticed that Pam was standing right next to him. And yes, they were both looking at Sookie instead of the crowd. Awed.

“…Eagles, could you put your hands down if you DIDN’T give them your ID.”

Only a few hands dropped.

“There you go, guys. They’re here. They handed their fakies over and they’re here. Not home grounded because these guys went to their parents. They’re good for their word. You’ll never hear from them again about this. I wouldn’t bullshit you. There is a box on the counter at the drink pass and if you feel weird about doing there, there’s two limos out front that you can hand them over to the drivers. And hurry up! We go on stage in 10 minutes.”

When Sookie turned around, she noticed Pam and smiled and grabbed her for a hug. “I didn’t know you followed us. I would have included you.”

Pam grinned at her. “You did fine. I just wanted to see you in action.” She nodded to the ground next to the truck and Sookie spun around.

There were easily 20 kids standing there, waving their IDs at us and more on their way.

Pam looked orgasmic. “We should have you ask for all of the evidence we need.”  She was smiling when she bent over to start taking IDs from the volunteers.

**

By the time we made it back inside, all of us had handfuls of IDs.

Sookie bounced up and wrapped herself around me, stealing a long kiss ‘for luck’. Like she needed it. And as we made our way back to the table, I was tackled again.

Lafayette had managed to get done with whatever called him away in enough time to get back for the fun. So the first time I laid eyes on my father after my dance with Jason was with Laf wrapped around me like a prom date.

He whispered in my ear. “Where’s Jas?”

“Dunno. We just came in from outside. What’s up?”

He pulled back and gave me a sinister smile. “I didn’t leave for work. I left to be his accomplice.”

“Hmmm. Really?”

He rubbed his body against me and something hard dug into my hip. “You feel that?”

I raised an eyebrow at him and nodded.

“Touch it.”

I laughed. “You aren’t even going to buy me a drink first?” The joke was just cover. I laid my hand on the lump in Laf’s pants pocket and felt the bulge. Just a couple inches wide. Squared like a small cube. Rounded edges. “It’s not very big.”

Laf threw his head back and laughed. “Oh trust me! It’ll seem plenty big when the time is right!”

**

He hopped down and went off to find Jason and I sat down next to my father who was unamused again. Maybe feeling like he was in the dark was why he was acting like an ass-clown. So I leaned over and whispered to him, “Jason had Laf go pick up a ring.”

“What kind?”

“The kind you buy for a girl you’ve been in love with for 10 years.”

“Really?”

When I sat back, I nodded. My father was smiling back at me. Fuck. That’s all it took?

**

Alc, Pam and I had counted the 146 IDs we were handed over to us outside and were watching the pass in awe, giving more praise to Rene who’d finally joined us from being outside with some friends. Kid after kid dropped IDs in the small box sitting on the counter.

The whole family of Stackhouses was on or next to the stage. Tuning, talking, arranging. Sookie was talking to the four guys who interrupted our dancing/making out. She was using big arm movements and moving around like she was holding back the need to dance with her explanation. Tara came over and sat next to me, apologizing for being double booked this weekend and thanking me for her flowers. Smom and Dad were introduced and excitedly started chit chat.

Alc and Tara were talking about how well Jack was doing and how much fun he is. Tara had just told him that Jack’s appreciation for ‘older girls’ had broken a few hearts already when the ‘sound check’ started.

Jason strolled onto the stage. ‘Checking’ one mike at a time. “Check… Check… mike 1…” There were 12 of them on stage tonight and Sam was standing at the console (now I know it’s a sound board) helping Jas to adjust the levels. Every time, Jason did the normal roadie sound check… until he was center stage.

“Check… Check… Sound good Sam?” He got a nod and a thumbs up. “Check… Frannie, will ya marry me?”

She’d been in girl huddle with Hadley and was probably the only person in the bar who didn’t notice. Smom slapped her hands over her mouth.

Jas laughed when he realized he’d have to say it again. “Fran?”

She turned around and looked at him, probably not realizing that all eyes were on them.

“I’m a fucking idiot. I shoulda asked a long time ago. Will ya marry me?”

She was locked up. I don’t think she could have moved if she wanted to at the moment.

“Come on Frannie. I love you. I’m sick of missing ya. Marry me.”

She broke her trance and shot a dirty look in my direction, worried that I’d told him her secret. I shook my head and mimed the locked lips thing and ‘tossed the key’. She started crying.

She yelled back to him, even though she didn’t need to. The bar couldn’t have been more quiet. “Jason Stackhouse, you don’t want to marry me!”

“You’re right. I don’t want to. I NEED to. Marry me Francine.” He stooped down and got on one knee. “C’mon now! I danced my last dance as a single man and everything!” I started laughing uncontrollably. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring box and held it up. He wiggled it in the air.

She was still… I don’t know, apprehensive. Corbett and Laf picked her up and set her on the stage so she walked over to him as he opened the box. No shit, even from 50 feet away, the rock was HUGE. She started bawling and stared down at him for what felt like forever and you could cut the air in the hanger with a chainsaw.

She finally gave him a nod and the bar exploded with cheering and whistling. The sudden noise was deafening as he slid her mammoth engagement ring onto her shaking hand then bounced up to grab her. It was the first time I’d actually seen them ‘together’. They really did make a good looking couple. Instead of the din dying down, the applause just kept growing while the couple kissed.

**

Eventually the rest of the family went out onstage and congratulated them and Corbett, in fact, had to carry Jason and put him behind the drum set so that there wouldn’t be a riot outside. JB and Marnie joined us, needing a break. It was nice to her having fun, and not flirting.

It turned out that the ‘4 guys’ were the brass so with Unc and Bravo, there were 6 trombones, saxes and trumpets between them.

The show started with the triplets center stage. Last week when I heard Sookie ‘warming up’ her pipes with Laf, she sang Candyman… Ungh. This time was worse. The three of them dancing together and singing… perfect harmony with Sookie at the lead. Nothing I could have in my spank bank could compare to how sexy the show was. Nothing. They followed Candyman with Ain’t No Other Man, Naughty Girl, If, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Sway, When I Grow Up, All Night, a few more that I didn’t recognize, but wanted a private show of… They sang for over an hour… dancing against each other and putting on a floor show that would put Vegas to shame… I was mesmerized the whole time… and hard…

I was jealous as hell when Had and Frannie left the stage to come over and join us, sitting on Alc and JB’s laps. I wanted Sookie back. I might have been moping that I had to keep sharing her with most of northern Louisiana, but it didn’t last long…

There is something entertaining about a 6 foot country boy in his fifties doing Flo Rida, Ludacris and DMX. My future father-in-law rapped In The Ayer with Sookie as back-up from behind the drums, then Jump, then Get Back, then Up In Here, then Touch Me… It was fucking crazy and amazing at the same time. All of it was rocked out, heavy in guitar with some horns mixed in… Impressive.

They spent the next hour and a half NOT playing Ska like I had thought. They spent it playing songs that they turned into ska. Suicide Blonde, Too Shy, Enjoy The Silence… It was mixed in with actual ska and some punk classics…

When things got a little crazy outside at one point, Sookie came out from behind the drums to play violin for a bit of an ‘Irish Interlude’ with Corbett. They played the Boondock Saints theme… then the two of them sang an acoustic version of Sunday Bloody Sunday (not U2’s, Rene said the name of the band was Eire Og). The crowd calmed down quickly. And were spun right back into full frenzy when the Stackhouses switched gears on them and started with some reggae party songs…

I have no idea who the fuck Enur and Baby Rasta are, but I did recognize the Pittbull songs that Jason took lead for. Alc laughed that Jason’s Spanish was ‘fucking perfect’ during el Lobos. He took Hadley to dance to Oye Loca with a huge smile on his face. When JB took Frannie and Marnie, I grabbed Tara.

I’d been slamming back Jager and redbull all night, probably more drinking than I’d done EVER. Tara giggled at me and told me that I wasn’t a bad dancer for a ‘giant, drunk, white boy’. All I could do was laugh back and thank her, then made her stay to dance to Shake with me. It was the last song and even though I was having a great time dancing with Tara, I happy to be one step closer to getting home with Sookie.

**

When the show was over, I scooped Tara up and carried her back to the table so that we could wait for our family. She laughed at me and slapped at my shoulders and as soon as soon as I sat down, Sam joined us so I introduced them to Smom, Dad and Marnie. And all of us ‘untalented’ people talked each other up, laughing and joking around until the rock stars joined us. I was surprised that my lap had stayed empty for so long…

Sookie fixed that condition for me as soon as her guitars were in their cases. She sat down and laid back against me, out of breath and sweaty and I wrapped my hands around her ribs while the rest of the family trickled over to join us. No one seemed to want to leave; the whole family was together and apparently it didn’t happen very often since the family was so big. I was having fun, but I could be having more fun rolling around naked…. But that train of thought was not helping…

**

It was nearly 3 o’clock before we all got in the cars to go home at the same time. We were all toast; Hadley worse of all apparently. Sookie laughed, calling her a light weight. She was proud of her cousin for letting her hair down for once though… Even if she did pass out before we got to the house.

Dad nearly had to carry Smom upstairs while the rest of us went to work. Alcide carried Had back to our room and set her on the bed so that  Sookie and Marnie could rally around her to get her a shower and dressed in some of Sookie’s PJs while us guys rearranged the couches and opened up the sleepers and dressed the beds… with more goofing off than necessary, but we got it done. Since JB, Laf and Hunter were all staying, it was a puzzle the kid had to solve. The ‘grown ups’ were piss-terically laughing at the idea of all of us sleeping in mine and Sookie’s bed. Hunter unfucked the Rubik’s cube of sleeping arrangements…

Hunter was going to bunk with Carm after Jack was moved to pair up with Alc. Laf and Had would bunk together on one couch and JB got the other fold out. I went and grabbed sweats for the guys and got fussed at for not knocking. Had was laid out on the bed, getting dressed like a sleeping infant. I fussed back that I wasn’t being a pervert. I did see something that gave me a thought, but not about Had…

**

When our bedroom door closed behind us after everyone was settled in, Sookie pulled off the t-shirt she’d put on after showering with Had and swayed her way to bed while I started undressing myself.

When I climbed in and snuggled up to her, she seemed too exhausted for more than just going to sleep. Fucking disappointed. Just disappointed. Not pissy. How could I be?

I think she might have already been half asleep when she whispered that she loved me.

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4 thoughts on “Chapter 20: A Limited Engagement

  1. Is everything okay in Pam and Corbett land? Seemed a bit strained at the party.

    I love Smom. I think she may very well be the best thing ever.

  2. I can’t find a fault in anything you write! I’m sure I’d be just as giddy reading your grocery list as I am reading all of these fabulous stories.This chapter was…amazing, to say the least. Jason asking Fran to marry him, Sookie spinning Eric up, the singing, the ID’s, the whole family…just phenomenal! Thank you Angela, for sharing such fuck-tastic writing/stories!

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