Chapter 14: A Queer Looking Party

Alcide In Wonderland

Chapter 14

A Queer Looking Party

**

From the second I got those pictures from Sookie, all I could think about was picking the boys up from school. I was looking forward to asking how their day was.

They’d never had a great time of school. Between Jack’s dyslexia and Carm’s speech issues, they’d always been self conscious enough that I wished like hell Ame had been the type of mom that would consider homeschooling until they grew into themselves.

The smiles they were wearing in the pictures Sookie snapped gave me hope that this school was going to be better.

When we got back to the house, I grabbed my clothes and Eric’s to run them through the wash so that the pollen wouldn’t get to Carm and while we were eating lunch, I got two more pics…

More smiles.

They were eating lunch with their classes and I couldn’t help but notice that their sandwiches were practically gone.

I would be the first one to jump on the ‘canonize Sookie’ bandwagon if I could be sure that it wasn’t a dirty joke… Until then, I was fine with calling her a miracle worker. They hadn’t even been in Bon Temps for a full day yet and I already had a list of positive changes to thank her for…

Everyone needs a hero, I guess…

It was safe to say that Sookie was mine.

The last thing I really had to do was tell them, somehow, that Ame had called it quits.

Since Eric actually had the psych degree, I could ask him how to handle it, but since Sookie was better practiced with kids… she’d be my go-to guy for that advice too.

With Eric’s plans to make a sideshow out of Bill’s arrest, tonight wouldn’t be a good time… But it’d have to be soon. I wasn’t going to be able to dodge the topic for long and Carm was my little inquisitioner. He’d be asking for details in no time.

And I wasn’t going to fuck it up by stumbling over how to answer them.

**

I was looking for the boys before we’d cleared the entrance to the bleachers. I was worried that they’d be getting in Sookie’s way…

Those worries were put to bed quickly. Carm was sitting on Sookie’s shoulders, blowing a whistle at her cheerleaders.

I had to look for Jack though… That little turd was sitting in the bleachers surrounded by high school girls… The sight caused a flashback… I couldn’t help but picture picking him up from some girl’s house just like I had Hunter the night before…

My 8 year old was flirting with 6 girls at once… Including one of Hunter’s ‘spares’… He was going to kill me.

**

As soon as he spotted us, he came running over and jumped over the steps to get to me.

At least he wasn’t too busy flirting to ‘deal’ with his dad. “What are you doing hanging out with all those girls? You’re just asking for cooties.”

“They helped me with my homework. Hunter hooked me up.” Fucking hell. Hunter ‘hooked up’ a third grader. I laughed, but I’m sure that one statement gave me a few more gray hairs.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah! I like it here.”

“Me too, kid. How was school?”

“It was weird. I’m gonna know my teacher. I have to call her Mrs. Merlotte at school, but anywhere else I can call her Tara… She taught me a trick for reading.”

“Oh yeah?”

“And she told me that she doesn’t like dyslexia.” Aww shit…

“Why’d she say that?”

“Cause it sounds like a disease. Her and Sookie call it ‘Deluxia’ because it’s just an extra thing.” Eric took off to go flirt with Sookie. I’d just wait to hug her later.

“Something extra, huh? You buy it?”

He shrugged. “Tara said that either way, I wasn’t allowed to use it as an excuse. She says that they don’t believe in special ed here. My fourth grade teacher will take a class over the summer to learn how to help me next year.” I wanted to fucking cry. That bitch teacher he had last year made him out to be an educational black hole and had the balls to tell me that I should hope he’s good at sports so that no one notices… I almost hit her.

“I already like this school better than your old one.”

“Me too! Did you meet Hunter? He’s Taryn’s boyfriend. He’s real cool. He’s gonna hang out with us tonight.”

“Yeah… he’s Sookie’s cousin. Her twin’s boy.”

“Really? Is that what Sookie’s kids’ll look like then?”

I laughed at him. “Probably. If Eric has his way, you’ll meet most of Sookie’s family tonight. He’s having a little party.”

“A party? Why?”

“It’s a secret. But I don’t have to make dinner. He’s ordering pizza.”

He giggled at me. “You can’t hide forever.”

“I can try.”

**

By the time Carm was on his way over to see me, Jack was already on his way back to tend his ‘flock’…

“How do you like your new teacher?”

“He’s a real nice duy… more fun than dan Miss West. We’re doing ‘I’ dis week… I need something to take to school on Friday.”

“Something that starts with I?” Shit… Of all the letters… at least it wasn’t Q.

“Yeah… and I dotta say some stuff about it too. I tan’t just bring in an iguana…”

“You know someone with an iguana?”

He rolled his eyes at me. “You know what I mean! And de other tids all know what dey’re taking.”

“Alright, give me something to go on.” I picked him up and found a seat on the bleachers not ‘too close’ to Jack…

“Uh… Indian elephants… Ink… Iron… Italy… Ireland… I’m screwed.”

I laughed. “Don’t say ‘screwed’… And you still have India… Iceland… Indiana… Illinois… Irises… The IRS…”

“You suck at dis too.”

I snorted. “Thanks. Maybe Sookie can help since I’m an idiot.”

“Idiot starts with I!… Can we print some pictures of idiots?” Dan Quail… Marilyn Manson… Ray Romano…

“I don’t think that’s the kind of thing your teacher wants… Ummmm… How about ‘identical’? We could print some pictures of twins. Like the Olsens and the Sprouses.”

“Nah… The Olsen twins are scary and one of the Sprouses dot fat.”

“You’re pretty picky.”

I’m freakin’ out. I don’t wanna look stupid.”

“You won’t look stupid. This week’ll be rough because the letter is hard… Just think about the kid that’s cheating by doing Indian elephants. That’s like taking in something red for R…” He gave me a frustrated cringe. He wasn’t buying it… when Eric came over I jumped on the chance to have someone else look like an idiot. “…Carm needs to take something to school on Friday that starts with ‘I’ any ideas?”

“Uhhhh… You could take an iPod with a play list of ‘I’ artists… Iggy Pop, Icubus, Iron Maiden…”

Carm shook his head. “We only have a minute to talk about it.”

“Ok, how about Lee Iacocca? He’s the guy that designed the Ford Mustang.”

“I tan’t even say dat!”

“Right… Sorry… You’ve got your ‘I’ animals… Impala, Ibex, Insects in general…”

“What are dey?”

“An impala is like an antelope and an ibex is like a mountain goat.”

Carm snorted at him. “You’re a dork. Who knows dat?” I didn’t feel too shitty for laughing since Eric did too.

You’re giving me a headache. How about ibuprofen? That starts with ‘I’.”

Carm blew a raspberry at him. “I’m soooo asking Sookie!”

**

Since Carm was getting antsy because practice wasn’t holding his attention once he wasn’t part of it, we decided to go back to the house… I practically had to carry Jack to the truck. The nightmare was already starting.

Instead of the usually quiet slide out of their seats followed by the trudge into the house like they were exhausted or on their way to the firing squad, they practically ran in… straight to the fridge to make themselves a bowl of their fruit salad and a drink…

Since there wasn’t any homework left for them to do, they followed me out to the shed and helped hose down the lawn chairs Sookie had… well, they didn’t help as much as liberate spiders so that I wouldn’t kill them…

It was almost like Carm could sense Sookie coming up the driveway. He almost tripped over the chair he was trying to prop up against the house to get to her.

He was chomping at the bit to tell her how retarded Eric and I were, but he grabbed a couple of grocery bags and hauled them to the kitchen and started putting things away…

No sooner than Sookie moved a chair to the sink so that they could wash up to make brownies, he finally broke…

Daddy and Eric’s ‘I’s suck!” We both lost it.

Sookie smiled at him. “Actually, I think they both have very pretty eyes.”

He growled. “For class! I dotta have something for Friday.”

She giggled at him. “Ohhhhh, those ‘I’s… gotcha. What did they suggest?”

“Daddy said some places and Eric watches a lot of Animal Planet.” He was whining.

“Animals are good.”

“Not dose! Nobody ever heard of an infalla and who tares about Indiana?”

“Chevrolet named a car ‘Impala’ because it’s sleek and fast and Indiana is famous for racing… the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts one of the biggest races in the world. Haven’t you ever heard of an Indy car? The Indy 500? Since we’re on a car jag… Did anyone mention Lee Iacocca? I have his autograph.” Surprise, surprise.

Who is dat duy?”

“He designed the Mustang… He pulled Ford through a serious recession and is responsible for some of the most famous cars on the market… the minivan- that was him. He’s considered one of the best businessmen ever.”

He stared at her… “Better than Trump?”

She giggled at him again. “Right up there with The Don.”

Hunter had been texting so I couldn’t tell if he’d heard a damn word until he cleared his throat. “Hey Carm, how ‘bout inflation?”

Carm rolled his eyes.

Hunter chuckled at him. “Hear me out… You know what it is, right?”

“When prices go up. Like gas.”

“Actually, that’s supply and demand. Inflation is a steady, reliable price increase that is directly proportionate to cost of living… A farmer grows corn. The more it costs him to grow it, reap it, ship it, the more the corn will cost the store. The store charges more then we pay more… and if we’re paying more, then we need to make more to pay for it… It’s like the life cycle, but since humans pay to live we have to include money.” Hunter was definitely playing in Carm’s comfort zone… the kid was locked in.

“Antelope eat the grass, lions eat the antelope, lions become the grass. The Lion King, right.”

“Not bad.”

“What would I take in?” That was an easy sell.

Hunter shrugged. “Put together a short list of stuff, like… 200 years ago, you could get a whole cow for the price of a gallon of milk now… for that matter, our grandmother’s wedding dress probably cost less than your jeans…”

“How much are wedding dresses now?”

I didn’t mean to, but I wasn’t the only one to look at Sookie waiting for the answer. She was the only one in the room who’d bought one… “Gran’s wedding dress cost $12. It would cost about $300 now.”

Hunter snorted. “Grampa still got her on the cheap. That dress mom got for Homecoming cost a grand.”

She shook her head at him. “Small price to pay to look like a million bucks, kid… Go on and get your homework out of the way so we can get to the fun stuff.”

“A million bucks? I don’t care how you spin it, my mother paid extra so she could be… sans sous-vêtements in a hotel with all of my friends and Quinn. She’s punishing me for something.

Eric and I had to force back a laugh, but Sookie didn’t bother hiding it. She laughed right in his face. “Awww. If you just thought ahead and gave her stretch marks, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about… Go on.”

She slapped his ass when he turned to leave, grumbling that she wouldn’t laugh if she had a MILF as a mom.

All things considered, he lost a lot of sympathy for that one… the ‘poor kid’ had a mom that loved and looked out for him. Her being hot was the least of his problems considering who he was griping to.

**

While Eric ordered enough pizzas to feed an army, Sookie went back to Carm… They decided that since the little turd had a fistful of fives in his sock drawer they’d work on a list of things that $5 would have bought over the past couple centuries, starting with the cow Hunter mentioned.

Of all the things… the 4 year old turned his nose up at Indy cars and insects… to talk to his class about inflation.

He looked stoned as he stirred together the bowl of brownie mix until…

Until

It was out of the blue… completely unexpected…

“Is Sookie donna be our new mommy?” There goes being prepared for the discussion…

He didn’t ask anyone in particular… he’d actually been looking into the brownie mix…

Periods… Could we go back to talking about periods? I knew this shit was going to come up. I knew I needed to say something to them about Ame not living with us anymore… the separation… the divorce… I had a shitload of ‘I don’t knows’ to give them when they got around to asking when they’d see her again… but… now? Now and by asking if Sookie was replacing Ame? Now?

Fuck.

Periods. Puberty. The birds and bees… I was more ready to talk about anything other than the fact that the last time they’d see their mother for a while, an undisclosed while, was on the curb at the airport…

I’d rather take a bullet than tell them that she’d walked away from them… I was going to have to pick up the pieces after they learn that she’s gone.

When Sookie opened her mouth, I didn’t know whether to drop to my knees and thank God that she had a clue of how to answer him or brace myself. I put all decisions on hold… She’d managed to come up with a way to answer their period questions well enough…

“Well, since your daddy and Eric are like brothers, and I’m marrying Eric… That would give me more of an Aunt’s assignment.” Yeah… I could deal with that… She even reminded them that she’s marrying Eric

Jack wasn’t buying it. “Adults always do that.”

She shook her head. “Do what?”

“Answer a different question. Carm meant because Mommy left us.” WHAT?

How would he know…  “Why do you think Mommy left us?”

“Because she told us. She said we were old enough to take care of each other now.” Old enough? They have trouble with a tooth paste tube and they’re ‘old enough’!? I should’ve just killed her.

“Are you alright with everything?” I had to ask, because suddenly I wasn’t… I wasn’t alright with any of it.

They nodded. “We were worried that she’d take us with her when you broke up. This is way better.” I was locked up, trying to decide if it was better if they figured it out on their own or if they’d overheard Ame talking about leaving.

“Ok, then. What did she tell you?”

“She said that she didn’t like being angry all the time. Some people are born to be a mom, but she wasn’t. She said that she was going to Dallas and that you’d take care of us.” I wanted to find her… track her down and beat her like a fucking man… Jack had looked right at Sookie when he mentioned people being ‘born’ for motherhood… Ame had, for at least a couple of days, been ragging about Sookie…

“Do you have any questions?”

“Not anymore.” How the fuck…

I get that Ame has all of the maternal instinct of an alley cat, but the boys were staring down the barrel of a divorce and they didn’t have any questions? None? Other than if Sookie was filling the ‘mom billet’… no questions. Seriously?

“What do you mean?”

Jack laughed at me and tested the batter before he looked up at Sookie. “Is this high maintenance?”

“Yes sir. This is what I meant…” She gave me a look and, I swear, she might have been willing to shoot me if I asked. “… On the way to school this morning, they had a thousand questions. I called them high maintenance.”

Fucking insane… “Ok. I’m high maintenance. Humor me.”

Jack huffed. “We were worried about how you’d take care of us, but now Sookie is teaching us to cook.”

“Is that all?”

Carm added, “You’re not drowly anymore.”

Jack laughed at him. “We knew that would happen.” How fucking long… Oh my fucking GOD! I’d been worried about how they were going to take the news and there I was, completely fucking retarded over the conversation.

“When do we det a new mommy?” Them too? Great. Sookie, Laf, now the boys… I’d be up to my asshole in drama again before the ink on the divorce was dry.

Sookie giggled at them. “Who says you need one?”

“A mom an a dad. Dat’s how it works.”

“Who says? I don’t have a mommy and I am fine with that.”

“Why don’t you have a mommy?”

“Because she was a meanie. Me and my daddy and brother got along really good without her.”

“Do you miss her?”

“No sir. I don’t.”

“Why not?”

She gave me a hard stare, “Because my Daddy is happier without her around to pick on him. He is so awesome that me and my brother don’t think about her not being around. Having one great parent is better than having 20 angry ones.” I was still praying for a stray bullet.

“Does your Daddy have a dirlfriend?”

“Yes sir. She makes him happy. He loves spending time with her.” I actually laughed a little… Pam doesn’t make Corbett happy… she’s just something to ‘do’.

“If dey det married, will she be your mommy?”

All of the voters in the room got a chuckle out of that… “Well, that’s complicated…”

“Try.”

“Well, if my Daddy marries her, she will do mom type stuff, but she won’t replace my mother. I wouldn’t want her to.”

“Why not?” I caught myself, amused that Carm might be as good at interrogation as Eric.

Sookie gave him a big grin. “Well, when you get too big for your shoes, they start to hurt your feet. If you forget to buy new ones for a while, they can hurt enough to take the fun out of everything. The wrong shoes can make your favorite things unfun, right?… You three guys have been wearing the wrong shoes for a long time. Now, when you go shopping for new shoes, are you going to want the same thing? Or are you going to try for a better fit?”

They told her ‘better fit’ in unison.

“Right. So do you want a new mommy? Someone who makes Daddy grumpy and doesn’t have fun with you? Or do you want Daddy to find a girlfriend who likes spending time with you guys?”

Jack raised his wise-ass eyebrow in my direction. “Do you know someone you can hook him up with?”

When Eric stared to laugh, I looked round but there wasn’t anything I could throw at him.

Sookie laughed at him. “Your Daddy has a lot going for him. He won’t need my help finding a girlfriend. Now hurry up with those brownies so that we can lick the bowl.”

“Where are you going?”

She smile and mussed his hair, then mine on the way out. “I’m jealous of you guys… I miss my jeans. I’ll be right back.”

**

Not a whole minute went by before Carm called me a ‘slacker’ because they’d gotten the brownies ready before I buttered the dishes…

We… we were done?

I’d pictured tears. I was bracing myself for it. I know they didn’t trust her to take care of them. I know they didn’t like spending time with her… Hell, she hadn’t gone on a single trip or outing with us in a couple of years, and they never seemed to care… but still.

They didn’t even hint at being upset or confused… unless I counted that Jack said they’d been scared that she’d keep them…

Instead of being happy that they weren’t crushed to find out their parents were getting divorced, I fell into the trap… I started worrying that they were too ‘unfazed’…

Maybe the boys were just looking at ‘this’ as a break from her.

Maybe once they started getting details, things would sink in and then they’d start to show some affect.

Maybe not knowing how to get in touch with her would fuck them up… abandonment issues a’plenty just waiting…

Fuck…

I was only half listening while I was mind fucking myself, but they still seemed fine… wondering why it was taking Sookie so long to get changed… but fine.

**

Sookie hummed when she came back to the kitchen and went straight to Carm’s bowl to steal the spoon he’d used… and came over to lean against the counter next to me…

She licked the spoon and looked up at me. “Eric teach you how to do that?”

I tapped my ashes into the drain. “I’ve been smoking since he was in little league.”

She laughed and elbowed my arm. “I meant the cerebral mastication… the part you were worried about is over… they’re fine.”

“Am I being retarded for worrying about how fine they are?”

She took another taste of brownie batter. “Nope, but I can tell you from experience that it’s all good.”

“How’s that?”

She smiled and told the boys to go wash up because Hunter was itching to get upstairs. As soon as they ran out… “You wouldn’t be second guessing anything if Ame were their step mother. Right?”

“I guess not.”

“That’s what you’re really dealing with, sweetie. She wasn’t a mom to them emotionally. That wall that she built up kept them from connecting with her, bonding with her… If you had left or if she had taken off with them, losing you would have crushed them…”

“I’ve arrested guys for beating the shit out of his kids and watched them cry when he got carted off though… The boys don’t seem to care at all.”

But… those are the guys that apologize and try to make up for what they’d done… Ame never did any of the requisite bonding. She’s a chair.”

“A chair?” An electric chair…

She nodded and set her spoon in the sink. “They’ll notice that she’s not around, notice that they don’t have to move around her anymore… but when it comes right down to it, she wasn’t the most comfortable place to sit…” She patted my ribs and kissed my cheek. “…You’re the sofa, big guy. Always have been… I’d help you clean up, but I think crime scenes are more your thing.”

I looked around the kitchen as she walked out and laughed… there was a chocolaty dusting of brownie powder on half of the table, smears of egg and broken shells… not to mention the spoons and bowls covered in goo.

She yelled back from the stairs, “It looks like Franken-Berry killed Count Chocula during a lovers’ quarrel in there.”

She didn’t get by me that time… as soon as I started laughing, I knew she’d handled me again. I only wasted a second or two trying to figure out if I minded.

She told me flat out that she wasn’t going to lie to make me feel better and if nothing else, I could trust her to tell me if I was fucking up…

**

I was just starting to wonder what happened to Eric when he came through the kitchen with a basket of laundry… with his mind-fuck face on.

“Everything alright?”

He growled, dropping the washer lid to run a load. “Fine.”

“You look pissed.”

“I’m not pis…” He came back into the kitchen and looked like he was trying to not laugh as soon as he layed eyes on me. “Sookie kissed you?”

“Yeah… On the…” Funny bitch… I didn’t even have to look to know Sookie’d left behind trace evidence. My asshole partner laughed while he started clearing the table and I cleaned the shitty smear from my face.

“Did she catch you worrying about the boys’ reaction?” I barely heard him over the drum roll coming from the music room.

“Yeah. She told me not to.”

“You going to listen to her?”

“I guess… She’d tell me if I have something to worry about.”

He nodded and went back out to grab the broom and started sweeping while I did dishes.

**

By the time he was done, Sookie and Hunter had started playing Thunderstruck. It was a shame that boy couldn’t get into Dirges with the voice he had.  He sounded a lot like Corbett… Then again… He didn’t have a shortage of groupies as it was. If they all knew he could sing too, Hadley would have to lock him up and home school so she wouldn’t be a grandmother by the time she’s 40.

“Is there a single average member of that family?”

“Alc, there’s only two of them up there, right? No one else got here?”

“No. Why?”

“Because I can hear 2 guitars, a bass and the drums…”

Noooooo…

Maybe… a karaoke machine?

Had to be…

I didn’t realize until I was walking away, that I’d left the water running…

There was no way the boys were playing with them…

Not that well…

No way…

I was about halfway up the stairs when I heard a miss on the bass that made me grasp what I was hearing…

**

I know I was staring.

I couldn’t help it. I was stopped in the doorway, worried that I’d distract them if I went all the way in…

Jack was playing.

I could barely see him behind the drum set, but every few seconds I saw a huge smile moving through the gaps…

Carm noticed me first and stopped playing long enough to wave at me. It made him nearly drop the bass, but he propped it back up on the arm of the couch and went back to playing.

I saw Sookie nod to Jack to cue him a couple of times and he caught on really fast…

I was so excited for him I could shit.

Period.

All I could do is smile.

**

When the song was over and Hunter had high 5ed the boys and Sookie climbed behind the set enough to kiss Jack, she noticed Eric and me in the hall.

“Hey there! What do ya think? How’d they do?”

“They did great! How’d you do that? Jack’s piano teacher said that he’d probably never read music because of the dyslexia.” I didn’t see any around, but… there’s no way he played the song because he remembered it…

“Of course he wouldn’t… I never did either.”

“You’re dyslexic?”

She nodded. “Family trait. Daddy and Jason too. We play everything by ear…”

No fucking wonder she managed to rattle off a list of people that had it… No wonder she’d written that book… and about John Lennon no less… shit. No wonder Tara never blinked. She’d been raised around it since her whole adopted family was dealing with it.

“…You wanna hear some country?” I shrugged and sat on the couch with Carm. I couldn’t find it in myself to give a shit what they played. Jack and Carm hadn’t smiled so wide in ages.

**

While Sookie hummed through Nothing Better To Do to help Jack along, Hunter crouched down and arranged Carm’s little fingers for him… He had to learn three different patterns along with cues and a ‘stop’, but he still looked offended when Hunter asked him to go over it a second time. It was all too cute… I had to explain that Carm got higher Guitar Hero scores than I did… to which my ‘pride and joy’ told Hunter that I get ‘booed’ off stage… stoolie.

While they played, with even less mistakes than Thunderstruck, I was floored…

Not that the hundred dollar an hour piano teacher had been my favorite person, but I had a whole new reason to want to beat her ass… She had Jack in tears. As much as he loves music, always had, she told him ‘never’.

Fuck her. It took Sookie less than 10 minutes to show him how to play a song. Start to finish. A 5 minute song by a band like AC/DC.

Sookie had the right idea. I’d never wanted to youtube anything more in my life… or piss on a shallow grave for that matter.

When Jason and Lafayette slipped into the room, Carm stopped playing long enough to slap Laf 5 and go back to playing while Laf started singing backup… Jason sat down behind the keyboard and started playing…

Sookie walked over to him and said something in his ear. He got a surprised look and yelled, “No Shit!?”

She winked at him and went back to singing. Judging by the way he stared at Jack afterwards, she’d filled him in.

**

Once they were done I actually remembered to cheer for them with everyone else and Jason came over to sit on my lap so Carm started laughing his little ass off at the retard while Sookie introduced him.

While Sookie coached Jack through Tush, Jason managed to talk Carm into his lap so he could help him through the song and by the time Tush was over, Corbett, Pam and Rene had come in… More introductions and Carm stayed on Jason’s lap for Who’s Your Daddy…

That was almost as impressive as them playing…

Carm was (usually) so freaked out by strangers that he didn’t like any kind of crowds and he only let one nurse see to him when he got his allergy shots…

At this rate, I’d retire before I’d take a transfer.

**

Sookie and Jason were singing to When The Sun Goes Down when Hadley came in… She leaned over Hunter and Sookie’s guitars to kiss them hello, and then came over to sit on my leg…

Uhhhhh…

I’m aware that there wasn’t anywhere else to sit, unless she was going to sit on Pam’s lap instead, but…

She made herself at home… dancing a little while she unbuttoned her blouse and pulled it off to lay it over the arm of the couch. She was wearing a tank top under it and all, but… damn. Friendly much?

She leaned over to my ear with a big smile on her face. “They’re adorable.”

Uhhhh… “I like to think so.”

“I brought you a present.”

Payback for meddling? “I shoot back.”

I got a chill when she giggled into my ear. “Awww, don’t be like that. It’s a peace offering. Some habanera shmear and homemade bagels.”

“Wow, thanks.” Fucking Christmas in July

She leaned away, still smiling. “No problem. You’ll need to eat it soon so you get some. It evaporates.”

“Oh, that won’t be a problem.”

When I heard the bass skip rhythm, I looked across Pam to see that Carm was staring with his mouth open. Shit. Less than an hour after the talk, and there’s a woman on my lap. Father of the fucking year.

Hadley waved at him and he almost smiled, and then looked over at Sookie… and then back to Hadley…

He was locked up from seeing the ‘twins’ together… Heart attack avoided… barely, but still.

When I caught Pam leering, I reached over and palmed her head to turn it away… since she didn’t know about my pending divorce, she wasn’t going to get to stir shit up… Poor bitch.

**

Another song over (and more applause) Sookie asked Jack if he had song request…

“Uh… do you know Summertime? By the New Kids…”

Sookie dropped to her knees and started pretending to sob… Hadley threw herself backwards over the arm of the couch…

What the fuck? Jack stood up to lean over to see what was wrong. “That’s not the only song…”

Jason cut him off. “Get back to your seat, BROTHER!” He got up and started showing Carm how to play the song…

I got hung up on Hadley’s belly button ring for a sec before I realized that Corbett, Lafayette and Hunter were ‘fighting’ over who got to ‘be Donnie’.

The fucking New Kids? Seriously?

Sookie ‘wept’ from the floor, “Now you did it, Jack! You’ve gotten the FanGirls going!”

Jack snorted, “FanGirls?”

Hadley laughed, “You’ll see, killer. You’ll see.” She leaned over to my ear, “If you have a video feature on your cell, you might want to get it out…” She groaned and got up to go over to the keyboard…

Corbett won the fight over who was going to be Donnie and Jason ended up being Jordan… And it was the most hilarious shit I’d ever seen…

None of them played… The band was Sookie, Hadley and the boys… while the four retards did the singing and the ‘boy band’ dancing… the funny part was how choreographed it was, like they rehearsed it during a sleepover…

That wasn’t all… When they were done with Summertime… they did Grown Man too…

When assclown time was over, Sookie wasted no time… She decided that her and Hadley were getting their turn…

The boys were eating it up… They weren’t used to… well any fun, let alone so much.

The guys all took over the instruments and Carm came over to sit on my knee because his fingers were tired… Jack, on the other hand, looked at Corbett like he was on crack when he offered to take over the drums. Corbett laughed at the sweaty little turd and started helping show him his part of Pon De Replay… I had no clue…

I didn’t know the song, but… there’s something to be said for showmanship… I might have been close to drooling over the way Hadley was dancing… Like her voice wasn’t amazing enough… the more she danced, the more her tank top inched up her body…

Then I caught myself…

I managed to shake ‘it’ off until…

Hunter managed to argue them away from doing a Shakira song… Thank God

So I thought…

The idea of them (Hadley) dancing like Shakira fucked with me enough that I thought I was safe when they decided to do a Pink song…

The bouncing was bad enough, but the ‘push out my bra like that’ line got acted out…

Except she wasn’t wearing a bra…

Goddamn.

I was going to hell…

No doubt about it.

I was fucked… the only thing that helped was focusing on Sookie… Not only did it make me realize that I’d need therapy to figure out how they look so much alike but I wasn’t tempted by her, but there was a list of reasons why I wasn’t too keen on being ‘caught’ focusing on my partner’s fiancé… with her family in the room.

**

Everyone started filing downstairs after congratulating the boys. They’d played for nearly an hour… Even Pam had been nice enough to say something about how well they did and Rene asked Carm if his fingers had recovered enough to play Ultimate Alliance…

The last ones upstairs were me, Hadley, Sookie and Jack.

Hadley smiled at Jack. “I bet Hunter’s jealous. He still isn’t that good on drums. How long have you been playing?”

I couldn’t tell if she was just being nice or not, but the important thing is that Jack couldn’t either. He looked like he was going to split apart… “That was my first lesson.”

“Ever?”

“I had a couple of piano lessons, but my teacher quit.”

“Did you glue her to the bench?”

Jack laughed, shook his head and ran out… He looked like he was over ‘it’. He’d gotten an uptight look every time those lessons had been mentioned since, now that he knew he wasn’t ‘hopeless’, he was fine.

It was beautiful.

**

It would’ve been nice to get some kind of warning… When I got to the kitchen, Jennifer Cater slapped my ass. I was on course to join Corbett and Jason at the sink and I hadn’t even noticed that she was there… and the bullshit was already starting.

Eric had already taken the brownies out of the oven. I had my mouth open to thank him since I’d completely forgotten about them when Jason bounced onto his back to flirt with him. That would be the kind of ‘friendly’ behavior we’d been ‘warned’ about.

“You broke my heart. After what we did on Monday, it hurt that you haven’t called.” It made me wonder what I missed after I fell asleep at the table.

Eric laughed and played along. “I’ve never been good at this. Technically, what we did was yesterday. So I shouldn’t call you until Friday.”

“The three day rule! After everything we meant to each other? Three days?”

“You could have called too.”

“I thought I meant more to you. Now I’ll have to find someone to help make you jealous…” He bounced down, grabbed a beer and headed my way… Oh boy. “…Hey sexy. Can I buy you a beer?”

I took the beer from the tard. “Sure, but if you want me to put out, you’ll have to buy me a car.”

“A car? How do I know if you’re worth a whole car?”

I shrugged. “Eye candy always costs more.”

He had me worried when he sized me up and licked his lips… “You like ‘em big or… compact, Stud?”

“Doesn’t matter when I do the driving.”

He laughed and slapped me five. “Oh, I’m gonna like having your sweet ass around!”

**

When Jason seemed to be done flirting with me for Eric’s sake, I went to find out what kind of pizza the boys wanted. Carm was on the couch next to Rene asking to go to the menu so he could switch to Spiderman because ‘Mr. Fantastic sucks’… Jack was discussing blonde vs. redhead (Hannah vs. Michelle) with Hunter…

I was leaning into the fridge to get the parmesan when I got goosed again… The boys were right behind me and I hoped for a split second that it was Jason or Laf being a goofball. I knew better. The first thing I’d felt were fingernails in my thigh… they dug all the way up the back of my leg and squeezed my ass… It was one thing to be creepy as hell, it was another thing entirely to grab me in front of my kids. If she weighed more I might be able to get away with hitting her…

When I stood up and turned around, Sookie and Hadley were both staring… and all I could do is hope that Eric had said something to Sookie about what an annoying twat Cater is.

Not that the Bon Temps version of ‘New York style’ was what I wanted since I’d seen the tub of shmear and bag of bagels in the fridge, but I was eating a slice. I was leaning against the counter next to Eric when Cater used getting a drink as an excuse to rub her hand over my dick… and then Eric’s… Ew.

I still didn’t know if Sookie knew about Cater’s track record or not, but either way… judging by the look on her face, she was not.not.not happy with seeing ‘her’ dick get groped. I had a really strong feeling that Cater wasn’t going to be touching Eric again… not for free anyway.

**

Three pieces of pizza later, the boys finally stopped eating and threw away their plates and went back out to the living room to play with Hunter and Rene… Maybe I was just a prick when I was a teenager, but I would’ve had to be paid to hang out with little kids…

Being impressed was interrupted by Hadley… “Hey Alc, you have a minute to help me with something outside?”

Anything to get a break from Cater. I drowned my cigarette and followed her out the back door. “What are we doing?”

“I don’t know. I just needed an excuse to bum a smoke. Y’all are killing me.”

I snorted and handed her my pack and lighter. “Who are you hiding from?”

She lit and took a long drag… her eyes rolled back like she’d needed one for a while. “Hunter. His other grandmother died a couple years ago from emphysema. He begged me to quit and I pretty much have… except for when I’m really stressed out or around a bunch of smokers.”

I laughed at her. “Gotcha. He probably knows though. You smelled like smoke last night.”

“We’re comfortable with the lie. If he thought it was more than occasional he’d bitch like a ragging wife.”

“So… it always like this around here? I think Tara and Sam are the only ones…”

“Yeah. We’ve been joking for years that we should just build one big house and all live together to save the gas. Sam and Tara have kinda fallen out of the habit though.”

“They more quiet because they aren’t genetically part of the Stackhouse solar system?”

She giggled and took another long drag. “No, Tara’s practically been PMSing for the past few years because of the drugs she’s been on… The crueler part of fertility treatments. They made her feel pregnant… right down to having morning sickness from time to time.”

I winced. “Shit. That’s harsh.” It’s all I could come up with, especially considering that the first thing Ame did was rub salt in the wound for them.

“No shit right… anyway, they’re around as much as she’s up to it. Sam won’t leave her side. They’ve been inseparable since she got home from college.”

“High school sweethearts, right?”

“That’s an understatement. They were worse than me and my husband ever were. We called them ‘Sara’ because they might as well have been the same person. How long have you and your wife been together?”

“Uh… almost nine years, but we split up.”

She raised an eyebrow at me. “Split up?”

“Yeah. As we speak, she’s probably on her way to Dallas.”

“But the boys… Hunter said they started school today.”

“They did. I have custody.”

She scowled. Scary as shit, about to beat an ass, irate as hell… “She… oh no she didn’t! I mean, good for you and all, but… what kind of mom…?”

I shrugged, understanding what she meant and having a hard time not laughing at how pissed she was… “The kind of ‘mom’ they won’t miss. They found out earlier that we’re done.”

“Tonight!? And they’re… shit!”

“Pretty much the same reaction I had.”

“Tell me you beat her!”

I laughed. Bent over, gasping for air… “No, I didn’t beat her.”

“Fucking retard! I’ll do it! Me and Sookie… That’s bullshit!”

I was still laughing. I couldn’t help it. I had a woman standing in front of me telling me I should beat my wife.

“Seriously. Give me an address.”

“I’m not going to do that. It would practically be a contract hit.”

Nuh uh! It’d be a revenge killing!” I could barely tell she was joking, but we were joined by Hunter…

“Hey mom, everything alright out here?”

“Not even close.”

He shot a dirty look in my direction and since I was already smiling, I didn’t have to hide anything… he probably thought I’d told on him. “Jack wants an O’Doul’s.”

“Negative.” Hadley’d said it at the same time I did.

It’s non-alcoholic.”

“He doesn’t need to get a taste for it and then give me grief for the next decade.”

“You saying that me having it is wrong?”

“No. I’m saying that since he’s only 8, I can’t handle the idea of seeing him drink a beer since milk bottles aren’t so distant of a memory. Humor me.”

Hadley added. “And because he fucking said so. As smart as you are, that’s not something you’ll understand until you’ve got your own to look after.”

“Shit. You don’t have to gang up on me. I fucking get it.”

I laughed at him. “Watch your mouth…”

“You got something to say…?” Indignant much?

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t give a shit what you say. Sookie started a cuss tax… Carm’ll have his greedy little palm up for a fiver if you cuss around them. He’s got sonar and a goal.”

He chuckled. “A goal?”

“Jack and Carm want to have a grand when we get to New York.”

Hadley giggled. “Around this family, that won’t be a problem… When are y’all going to New York?”

“I guess Sookie’s been too busy to mention it… Christmas. The love-birds want to get married at Rockefeller Center.”

“She’s planning on everyone staying in the penthouse?”

Penthouse? “I guess so. Her apartment.”

“That bitch! She hasn’t been too busy. She knew I’d put a boot in her ass about furniture. The damn place isn’t much more than a Park Avenue warehouse.”

“They just decided yesterday.”

“She gets to live then, but I’m glad I grabbed those books of sofas for you to look through. I need to start ordering stuff now to have it delivered and set up in time…” She grabbed my hand and started towing me behind her. “…Come on. I’ve kept you from your cop girlfriend long enough.”

“She’s more of a rapist.”

She started laughing. “That explains a lot… I’ll cover you.”

**

Pam had the balls to give me a high eyebrow when we got back to the kitchen. Silly cunt. I could just see the evil wheels spinning in her head. She really did think that she might have something over me… I couldn’t help but be amused, just thinking about what she thought had been going on out back…

And it got even better when Hadley grabbed a couple of beers and leaned back against me. She was literally covering me…

Eric noticed when he came back into the room and leaned over to call me an asshole. Before I could say anything, Hadley laughed and told him she was sorry her ass wasn’t big enough to help us both out… I wasn’t. He had someone to officially keep him from getting molested.

Since I was protected, it left Eric open… Cater reached past him for something and rubbed like she was trying to get a spark… It was sad and depraved and the green in Eric’s gills actually made me feel sorry for him… But the look on Sookie’s face… that was outstanding. She had a murder/death/kill look that was priceless.

I couldn’t tell what she was doing, but Sookie had gone to stand next to Cater while she ate. I could see Sookie’s shoulder move a little once in a while and Cater looked like she was trying to ignore it. No sooner than Cater’s plate was in the trash, Sookie grabbed her hand and took her to back porch…

I leaned down to Hadley’s ear, “Tell me you know what Sookie’s up to.”

She growled. “No and I wish I could see through walls… I’m not leaving until she spills.”

“Good. We’ll gang up on her. That shit’s gonna drive me nuts.”

“It’s too quiet out there.”

“Eric must’ve told her about the problem. If there was a ‘keep your hands off my man’ conversation going on, we’d hear something.”

She snorted and patted my leg. “It might’ve been more fun if he hadn’t. I haven’t seen a good catfight in ages.”

“You should spend more time at the stadium. I hear there’s plenty of catfights over your kid.”

She elbowed my ribs hard enough that I grunted. “Not funny. You’re about as ready for beer as I am for dating.”

“But we’re both dealing with a flirt. Hunter and Jack have joined forces.”

“Jack always been like that?”

“Since he could bat his eyelashes.”

“Not Carm though.”

“Nope. He’s so shy it hurts.”

“Good. I’m stealing him. You can have Hunter in trade.”

I laughed, “Sorry. I’m kind of attached to him.”

She giggled and turned her head to look at me. “Figures… but it’d serve you right if he grows out of it.”

“He will, but I’m gonna enjoy it while it lasts.”

**

Amazingly, Cater was eager to get to work when Sookie was done with whatever handling she’d been up to so Eric threw out all non-essential personnel and went to grab Rene for Cater’s briefing.

I could’ve not been there.

I could’ve just gone to the living room and played video games with the kids since Pam and Rene did most of the talking…

I actually realized that I was bored since all I was to the briefing was another person who saw the shit at the Loudermilk plantation… and Bill’s arrest for forgery was the focus of the meeting anyway. That made Rene the ‘King for the Day’… And Eric would be the court jester since the prick was practically giddy as he set up the show.

I was grabbing another beer when my phone went off.

Hunter. “Did you tell her?”

I ignored an annoyed look from Pam to answer. “About last night?”

“Duh. I heard her yell about kicking asses and ask for an address.”

“Wouldn’t she have gone off?”

“Ha. If she finds out after the fact, neither of us will know what hit us.” Oh. Beautiful.

“Didn’t tell her. She was talking about my X.”

“Cool. Thanks. What were y’all doing then?”

“Nunya.”

“Not funny.”

“Not trying to be.”

I put my phone away, even if he wanted to keep nagging, I wasn’t going to play along. He dropped it though. I was text free for the rest of the meeting.

**

With the meeting adjourned, I went to check on the boys. I found them sitting with Hadley at the coffee table with a huge binder. Carm was in her lap too…

“What are y’all up to?”

Jack shot a big smile in my direction. “We’re couch shopping. Hadley said that there’s a lot of choices and we could make your job easier by narrowing it down for you.”

“Well, show me what you’ve got.”

Carm grabbed a pile of pages and handed them to me. “We found four dat we agree on.”

I looked through them and the boys had picked 4 giant, overstuffed sectionals. They were all black or dark brown… suede or leather… and not a throw pillow or flower in sight. “Did y’all have a favorite? They all look good to me.”

Jack got up and came over to leaf through. “That one, but Hadley said it could take a while to get a black one. She only has it in gray right now.” It was one of the suede ones and it looked like it was long enough that I could stretch out on it.

“How dark is the gray?”

Hadley bit her lip while she thought about it. “It’s between like a pewter and a charcoal… on the darker end of the spectrum, definitely. I can do black leather and have it ready in about a week. I’m just out of black suede right now and it’s on backorder.”

“You made this?”

“Yeah. I have red, dark green, brown and beige leather and I have purple, blue, brown and beige suede. I have the frame done for one. I was going to do it in red…”

“Gray is good.” As long as it wasn’t covered in flowers, I was fine.

“Yeah?”

I nodded. “Yeah… y’all get back to work… we need new living room furniture too.”

Carm gave me a surprised look. “What about de other stuff…?”

“New house, new furniture.” I didn’t want a single fucking thing Ame had picked out.

“Everything?” Right down to mattresses…

“Yep. Dining room, living room, y’all were sharing before, so you need beds of your own instead of the bunks… dressers. The whole nine yards.”

“You want us to pick it?”

“Why not? All three of us like the same couch. Make sure you pick a sleeper for the living room though.”

They both just stared up at me.

“If y’all want to keep the old stuff, we can… but why not pick something we like?”

More staring. I was starting to worry that it might seem like I was ‘erasing’ Ame and it might be too much… Hadley patted Carm’s leg. “Hey, where’s your coloring stuff. I have an idea for y’alls beds.”

He spun around to smile at her before he launched off of her lap and ran into the hall. He came back with a stack of paper and a box of crayons…

While they settled into the floor, I ran back to the bathroom and by the time I was back, Jack was clutching a piece of paper to his chest and Hadley’s drawing was being scrutinized by Carm.

I sat on the sofa behind them. “What did y’all come up with?”

Carm laughed, “Hadley’s a better drawer dan Sookie!”

Jack bounced up to sit next to me while Carm and Hadley talked quietly… The paper had a picture of a stage… curtains and all… dark red curtains over the window and the platform for the bed was done up to look like a stage… it looked like there were even lights set into it…

He looked so excited, like he was dying to say something.

It was hard to not laugh at him. “Tell me what I’m looking at.”

“The stage is my bed. And it has lights. Hadley said that if we use a Christmas light bulb, it won’t get hot enough to burn me if I roll over on it, but it would have pexlie…”

“Plexiglas?”

“Yeah that stuff… and underneath is places for toy bins so my floor won’t be taken up if I get music stuff later… and she said she can paint my dresser to look like a piano… She said it can all be done for cheaper than any captain’s bed the store has because her and Jake can build it.”

“Who’s Jake?”

She looked back at me. “He’s the boy I have working with me as a carpenter. He built that entertainment center, this coffee table and Eric’s dresser. He does a great job and he’s only 20. Most of the custom stuff we do costs less than the stuff you can get from the showroom floor.”

I looked back at Jack, who was practically in my face. “You really like it? You’re going to be stuck with it for a while.”

“I really like it… and Hadley said that I should get a full size bed.”

“Really?”

“Mattresses last 7 years. She said by the time I’m 15, I’d be hanging off a twin.” It made sense since I had been… And I wouldn’t have thought about it even though I took my naps on my mom’s queen when she wasn’t home just so I could stretch out.

“If you’re sold, I’m sold. What’s Carm got?”

“I have money turtains!” Money curtains?

Hadley giggled and handed him his piece of paper. “It’s not done, but he’ll fill in the blanks.”

Carm pounced, shoving his brother out of the way to give his drawing to me. Another platform bed (this one was twin sized though) sitting on top of what looked like lockers… a little desk with a cash register on it… the door looked like a safe….

“Alright. Hit me.”

“My bed sits on top of safe deposit boxes… I tan put my toys in dare and my bed stuff and my turtains… Hadley?”

“I can run money through my copier and print out iron ons… I was thinking that the legs of his desk can be made out of brass and steel washers so they look like…”

I finished, “Stacks of coins… You could be creating a monster.”

Carm rolled his eyes. “She said she tould find an old fashioned tash register for me to use as a piggy bank… Green walls… I really like it.”

“You don’t need a bigger bed?”

“Nope. I’ll only be 11 when we need new ones.”

“Where will we find safe deposit boxes?”

“Jason said we tan have the old ones from the bank. Dey just dot new ones. My bed’ll almost be free.”

Hadley added, “We can just remove the locks’ works and he’ll have as much storage as Jack.”

“Alright… Did y’all find new living room stuff yet?”

Carm gave me a pissed look. “Uh, we were tinda busy.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at Mr. Serious. “Well, three rooms down, two to go… Not bad. Why don’t y’all get ready for bed. We can shop more later.”

They smiled and left, but a second later Carm came back and snatched his drawing out of my hand… Little shit.

Hadley hoisted herself onto the couch and started cleaning up her mess. “I hope you don’t mind… I think you scared the shit out of them by giving them some say-so.”

“Naw. It’s great. Thanks for your help. It’s fun to see them so excited.”

“Jake’s a God with airbrushing. I’ll see what he can come up with for the walls if you want… I brought paint chips too. Sookie said your house is a COP project on Friday so I was thinking I could save you a hardware store headache by mixing the paint myself.”

“Shit. Thanks. I’d probably stand in the store like a retard. I’m clueless except for the boys’ rooms.”

“Most guys are… Jason gave me cart blanche for his place and even Lafayette called me and all he was doing was painting. Hunter’s godfather had his sister pick everything.”

“At least I’m not the only one.”

She snorted. “To be honest, I prefer the folks who need some help… The Sookies of the world are a pain in my ass… It took forever to talk her into changing Gran’s house at all and then another eternity to find all of specifics.”

**

She was still making fun of Sookie’s pickiness when Eric came from the back of the house and squatted down next to me. “The boys are getting into their PJs?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“They should go.”

“Uh… I don’t think so.” They didn’t need to see HS beat the shit out of a computer geek.

Come on. You know they’ll keep it straight since there’ll be witnesses… It’ll be like a Tiger Cruise for them.”

“You are a humongous child sometimes.”

He snorted at me. “Coming from the guy who likened Sookie’s mother to a fart, that’s fucking rich… When else will they get a hint at what you do when you have to take off in the middle of the night?”

“I was just going to stay here with them… If he bolts…”

“You really think that’ll happen? He won’t know what hit him until he’s in the van. It could be the only chance they have to see a cop do anything but eat donuts.”

“You’re an asshole… Fine.”

No sooner than the giant retard disappeared to tell the boys to put their shoes back on, Hadley grumbled ‘oh, hell no’ and grabbed my hand to drag me through the kitchen and out the back door again.

**

I handed her the Camels so she took one, “Thanks, but not what I wanted. What was that?”

I lit my own. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

“I might not win, but I’ll at least hurt you.”

I laughed at her. “How well can you keep a secret for about half an hour?”

“Oh, I can hold anything for that long. Spill.”

“Bill’s about to get arrested.”

“Bill? Bill Compton? What’d that douche do?”

“He’s supplying kids with fake IDs… He’s hacking into the DMV servers so they’re perfect. He’s also helped an illegal get an ID so he can get an apartment and stay under the radar…”

“That fucker’s the reason that the Vampire is here!? How he got Maudette?”

“You’re quick.”

“I’m a Stackhouse…  Rene… Oh my… He’s here because he helped!” She was smiling from ear to ear.

“I wouldn’t say ‘helped’… He knew all along. He’d already done everything. All we did was connect his work to our case so that Homeland Security would take care of things. It’s better that they get the collar because of Eric’s involvement with the asshole’s ex-wife. That kid’s fucking awesome.”

She tensed up and smiled like Howdy Doodie. “Oh. My. God! Sookie’ll shit… Hell, I might shit! This is huge! Someone finally took that baby seriously!”

“Yeah, Pam and Cater were fighting over him when Cater got briefed.”

“Fighting over him? Like how?”

“Like vetting him to be a paid consultant.”

“Goddamnit! This is too exciting! This is gonna kill me.”

“You’d better keep your mouth shut. Eric knows where I sleep. He’s not telling Sookie.”

“That’s not good.”

“Why? You think she’ll be pissed?”

“No… But she’ll freak him out while she… She locks up.”

“How?”

She giggled. “She does this thing… Whenever anything big happens, she checks out while her ‘machine’ analyzes everything… Jas said she did it to him when he punched Bill at Dirges.”

I started laughing. “It kinda serves him right then… He does the same fucking thing.”

“No way.”

“Yeah… He looks dead calm, but he’s over thinking everything. I call him the ‘mental masochist’.”

She rubbed her butt out in the grass while she giggled. “Absolutely perfect… Can you imagine what their kids will be like?”

**

We got back into the house… again… and we were just in time to see Eric at the door with Cater and her goons.

Let the games begin…

The boys weren’t exactly happy to be walking through the cemetery at night, so Jack rode my shoulders while I carried Carm and our chairs…

I felt like a damn Sherpa.

Eric was ridiculous… like a fucking schoolgirl. He had everyone set themselves up at the edge of the trees with a perfect view of the front of Bill’s house. Hadley and Lafayette were the only civilians not asking questions… Even the boys were trying to figure out why they’d been dragged out to the cemetery in their PJs and hoodies.

Once we were settled in, I heard Sookie start pumping Eric for information and he broke. He went through and explained everything to the group, giving Rene his credit. Once he sat down again from the hugs he got from Hadley and Sookie, Jason scooted his chair to practically sit on top of the poor kid and put his arm over his shoulder.

I told him to find a good tattoo shop because I was gonna treat him to his first… Even if he didn’t make a career (or ritual) out of it like Eric and I had, he’d gotten his first… losing his cherry and tracking down his first scumbag called for ink.

Period.

**

The team used the normal tactics… Seizing the house and all of the computer shit was done ‘by the book’ with no surprises. I had to explain to the boys what all the noises were, why Bill was barfing all over himself and about the computers being taken for evidence since it looked to Carm like they were stealing.

I wasn’t exactly happy about it, but I can’t say I was surprised that Cater’s evil ass decided to parade Bill over to the group…

I wasn’t surprised when Eric stood up to taunt him by applauding either… and the whole family joined in like they were drunk soccer fans…

Rene got another round of accolades from the HS goons who all shook his hand and suggested he apply and that if he found any more ‘weasels like Compton’, all he needed to do was call.

All the while, Bill stared at Sookie. He was still gagging from time to time, but still managed to look cocky covered in his own puke…

He finally blurted, “FUCKING WHORE!”

Uh oh… I saw it coming, but I was too far away to do anything about it… Before I knew it, Sookie had rabbit punched him in the nose and her hand was back in her pocket before the blood fountain sprang from his nose. “Watch your mouth.”

Eric pulled her back a step, but he was smiling like a retard.

“Hey now! That’s a lot of extra paperwork.” Cater sounded serious, but she was still grinning…

Sookie apologized and started listing all of the places that Bill had a track record of hiding flash drives…

All it did was piss Bill off. “I should have killed you when I had the chance!” That would be the kind of shit that I didn’t want the kids to hear…

Sookie just smiled at him though. “Aww, think of all the fun you’d have missed treating me like crap.”

“I treated you like you deserved and the only ‘FUN’ I had was while you were sleeping!” Oh shit… Hunter took Jason down by his waist and Hadley went to help Pam stonewall Corbett… I was surprised that he didn’t just go through them…

We waited while they pulled Bill to the van and carted him off and headed back to the house, leaving Eric and Sookie behind.

**

Hadley was hugging Corbett’s arm… “Alc, he’s not getting out anytime soon, right?”

“No. Not with the laundry list… Even if we can’t make the rest stick, Rene’s file puts him away for life.”

Corbett grumbled, “Lucky mother fucker… he’s lucky he’s going to jail… I should’ve killed him when I had the chance… All this time…”

Hadley laid her head on his arm. “You promised Sookie… and she was right… he’s not good enough for a quick death. This’ll be much better… Just think about that prissy little rooster in jail. He’s going to get treated like he treated Sookie.”

He kissed the top of her head. “I guess you’re right… I won’t get pictures though.”

**

Everyone had calmed down a lot by the time we got back to the house and the first thing Carm did was go to Corbett and Jason with a tally of their cussing fees… I was ready to fuss at him about ‘time and place’, but they both laughed and pulled out their wallets.

Hadley came back from the kitchen with fistfuls of beers and passed them out while everyone settled in to the living room furniture… I actually had a ‘props for Pam’ moment when she sat on the arm of the club chair next to Corbett and asked if he was alright…

He could have done without hearing that the prick had been going after Sookie in her sleep, finally explaining why she was such a light sleeper once they split up, but he’d be fine…

And then Eric came in the front door, carrying Sookie. He looked like he was on the verge of an aneurism… Hadley waited for them to get to the kitchen before she laughed and nudged me to say ‘told ya so’. No shit… He was locked up because she was locked up… It was hard to not laugh at them… If they ever had a reason, I guess they had one then, but still…

When the boys started trying to figure out which video game to play, I shit in their corn flakes…

“School night guys. Y’all need to turn in.”

They both scowled at me.  Carm whined, “Dare’s tompany.” Hadley didn’t help… she giggled that he was ‘too cute’.

“Yeah, but I don’t have to drag them out of bed in the morning.”

Jack decided to go with a stall tactic. “What about the brownies?”

Corbett smiled at him. “There’s brownies? Why didn’t someone say something?”

I shook my head. “They’re in the microwave, but we can’t exactly get to them at the moment.”

“We’ll see about that… Come on. I might need backup.”

“Not a good idea. Remember? Landmines…”

“Not with the kids awake and the house full of people. Sookie’s not that bad.”

Hadley took my beer when the boys started pulling one my arms…

**

She was on the counter with her legs wrapped around Eric and her hands were up his shirt…

I warned him… at least they were covered though.

Corbett barked at them, “NOW COME ON!… Alc, you were right about them being landmines! How do you put up with this?”

“I’m getting used to making tight U-turns.” Since I’d given the boys a hard time, they’d climbed onto my back so I set them down so they could go get the plate.

They took the plate straight to Corbett. “We made ‘em before band practice.”

“You cook?”

“We’re learning. Sookie’s teaching us.”

He took a bite and smiled at them. “Nice job… I wouldn’t have known Sookie didn’t make them.”

He took two more and handed one to Pam before they ran off to pass them around.

By the time they passed the brownies around and Carm conned a drink out of me with Hadley’s help (she’d asked if a couple sips of her Yoo-Hoo would be too much- so I caved) it was 8:30…

I waited for them to get done with their snack and then wrangled them into the bedroom…

They didn’t want to go to sleep. They were just too excited…

And Hunter’s slip- that Eric and I would be at the school tomorrow, spun them up even more…

They tried everything… They got up to go to the bathroom. They got up to go back to bathroom to brush their teeth. They were really grasping when Jack asked about me being shot and they made me feel like an asshole when I wouldn’t give them specifics about why ‘that guy’ was ‘mean’ to Sookie… Not only did I tell them that some guys are just bullies, but I told them not to ask her about it because it would be prying.

I’d barely had the chance to say anything to Laf, so when he asked for ‘the papers’ from Ame and left, I felt like shit… Between the boys and the arrest, Hadley had been the only one I’d had the chance to talk to all night. He’d been up Jason’s ass for most of the night anyway though… But I’d missed Rene and Kenya taking off too.

**

A fresh beer and a comfy seat later, I realized that the living room had become a ‘boys club’. “Y’all run Sookie and Hadley off?”

Eric shook his head from his ‘throne’. “They’ve disappeared into the bedroom. I think they’re scheming.”

“Quit your crying. They’re probably just talking furniture. Hadley’s torqued that Sookie hasn’t mentioned Christmas. Apparently the apartment needs to be gussied up.”

Jason laughed, “That’s an understatement… When we went up this summer, there wasn’t anything but mattresses and they were standing up against the wall. That Egyptian Cotton brat would’ve stayed in a hotel if we hadn’t made her go to Target to grab some basics.”

I spent the next hour taking turns playing video games with Jason and Hunter… or recycling beer until Jason had a stroke of genius and grabbed the Bailey’s. I almost made the mistake of saying that I loved the goofy prick, but Eric beat me to it… The kiss Eric blew practically got him a lap dance from his future brother in law…

That fucker might be brilliant, but he was a clown first.

When Sookie and Hadley finally emerged, Jason had just cracked the second bottle of Bailey’s… I’d only had three, but him and Eric had been hammering them back like it was going out of style.

Hadley went outside and Sookie settled into Eric’s lap. “What are you two up to?”

“Nothing… Hadley brought paint chips for Alcide so that the paint can get ordered and delivered. She’s going to have it done tomorrow. Then you guys can just deal with getting enough rollers and brushes and paint trays and tarps for 30 helpers and we’ll be work-ready at noon. The house’ll be done by 3 and Alcide can go get the boys and you and me can clean up and head out to get your folks.”

No. Fucking. Way. “30!? There’s going to be 30 people there?”

She grinned and nodded. “29 students. Plus us. Like I said, it’ll be done in no time. I’ll make sandwiches for everybody. We’ll be golden.” We might be ‘golden’ now, but once the student body finds out that we’re cops…

“That list might dwindle after tomorrow though.”

Hunter snorted, “No! You might as well be an astronaut. You guys are already super stars here. Guilt by association. You’re a Stackhouse by proxy.”

“For Pam and Eric, maybe, but…”

Jason hopped into my lap and kissed me. Tard. “You’re MY bitch, big guy.”

“Get off me, you freak.”

“I was good enough for you earlier.”

“Earlier, you weren’t drunk. I don’t want to take advantage.”

“Suit yourself… ooooh, nice titties…” He pinched my nipple on his way back to his seat. “Anyone can tell ya, I’m more fun when I’m drunk though.”

Sookie laughed at him. “That’s assault, brother!”

‘Assault’ reminded Eric… “Hey, that reminds me!… Cater didn’t touch either one of us again… What’d you do?”

“Uh… um… I kinda gave her a taste of her own medicine.”

“What would that be?”

“I got handsy with her and lied to her.”

He started laughing. “Ok, give it to me. Beginning to end. What were you doing to her in the kitchen?”

“I unhooked her bra… one hook at a time.”

I started laughing so hard… It had been a long time since I laughed hard enough that I needed to piss… I had to ask her to hold off telling the rest of the story until I got back.

I didn’t wait to get comfortable. As soon as my ass hit the couch, I asked about the laundry room.

“I uh… pinned her to the wall and took advantage of her open bra. I… molested her.”

Ohhhh… Kenya had been sooooo right about things… Sookie managed to put an end to 2 years of being felt up. Beautiful… we were all laughing so hard we needed to be sedated…

Eric barely calmed down, “Sookie, what did you lie about?”

“It wasn’t as much a lie as an empty invitation. I told her that you were too much for me and that with all the noise, no one would notice if the three of us snuck back to the bedroom for a while. When she tried to politely decline, I offered to bring Alc along since she seemed to like him too.”

“That would explain why she wanted to go straight to work when you let her free!”

That… and I licked her shoulder while I was ‘helping’ her fasten her bra.” No she didn’t…

Eric’s face was still red… “You’re bad!”

“Well, she started it!”

Hadley stood up and high 5ed her. “Well played, cuz! You know, I would have helped. I could have used the evil outlet.”

Hunter gave Hadley the Stackhouse-death-rays. “MOM! I don’t need to hear that shit!”

“You hush, little boy.”

“It’s bad enough that you danced with Sophie at a school dance.”

She snorted. “Hunter, it was just a dance. It’s not like we made out.”

“You’re the BiMILF on every guy on the team’s phone.”

“I’m the woman dancing with an old friend that got labeled… and I promised not to chaperone any more. Shut up about it.”

Sookie jumped in. “Hey kid, that’s how we roll. When there isn’t a guy around worth dancing with, us girls dance together. If it had been Sophie and Frannie, you’d have a completely different point of view.” And maybe he hadn’t seen Jason dance with Lafayette… like ever

Mentioning Fran suddenly increased the tension level in the room… Hadley rolled her eyes and scooted over to show me paint chips to avoid the sibling bickering…

**

“You wanna start with the den?”

“To be honest, I don’t really care.”

“Guy.”

“Yeah. I’d be fine with a fresh coat of winter white.”

“That whole ‘I don’t stare at the walls’ thing?”

“Pretty much. Gray couch. Black entertainment center. Neutrals, right?”

“Yeah… but, you don’t want to go with red or yellow in a room you’ll spend a lot of waking hours in… It’ll make you hungry.”

“Blue?”

She grinned. “Blue’s good… I would go with purple…”

“Negative.”

She giggled at me. “I would… But since you don’t have ovaries, you couldn’t get away with it… How’s this one?” She held out a paint sample that was basically a blue crayon.

“Sold. Next.”

“Kitchen?”

“It’s open to the dining room… again… I’m not partial.”

“What kind of table were you thinking?”

“Wood?”

She started shaking her head. “You’re a pain.”

“Sorry. I’ve just never really cared.”

“That much is obvious… How about a bright yellow?” She held out a sample that looked like a school bus.

“I can do yellow, but that’s horrible…”

She tried three more before I wasn’t reminded of traffic signs or warning labels…

She humored me for a while… She did her best to not get too annoyed with me but I really just didn’t give a shit and if it hadn’t been so late, I probably would have gotten the boys to help. My main concern was that I didn’t want the whole house to look like a fucking vulva-palooza… Ame didn’t give two shits that I thought the kitchen looked like arterial red or that our bathroom was so damn yellow showering in the dark was preferable to getting blinded by turning on the light…

I managed to get a color picked for every room by 11…

I was toast. I’d been ready to crawl into bed before I started drinking and by then… I was donskie.

**

Eric was on some kind of rag. He’d barely talked to anyone since right after Sookie was done explaining her thing with Cater, so God only knows what had crawled up his ass. But he ended up grabbing Sookie and carrying her to the bedroom after Hadley and Hunter took off.

Jason and I shared a look and he finally shrugged and started to get up. “Smoke?”

“Hell yeah…” We grabbed the glasses and empties on our way to the kitchen…

We joked around about Bill’s arrest, which led to me ragging on him for how fast Hunter took him down and then I told him I was turning in…

The boys were both snoring when I got to the room and neither of them budged when I accidently dropped my boot…

Bending over to pick it up made me realize how much I’d had to drink though…

Too much…

I’d just gotten settled in when I felt the bed move.

Shit head.

I hadn’t had that much to drink… “I don’t think so.”

He didn’t say anything, but he was laughing through his nose when he spooned up behind me…

I slid my hand over to find my gun, and pulled back the hammer…

He heard it… “Aww… that’s no fair.”

“You’re not sleeping with me.”

“You’d let Hadley crash in here.” Maybe.

“No I wouldn’t. Beat it.”

“Liar. Come on. I’ll behave. Sookie says I can’t sleep upstairs when I’ve been drinking because I sweat booze and it stinks.”

“But you want me to let you sleep in here?”

“Eric said I could.”

“I’ll kick him in his nuts later. Out.”

He stared laughing and kissed me on his way out. “You’d totally let Hadley snuggle. Dick.”

 

NEXT>>

34 thoughts on “Chapter 14: A Queer Looking Party

  1. Fabulous fabulous fabulous. I love Jack and Carm and ah fuck it the whole bunch of them, I love them all! They’re such a great family.
    I hope you’re on the mend and feeling better soon, despite being sick you’ve done a fantastic job and I can’t wait for more. Thank you so much.

  2. Yay!! thank you thank you thank you!!

    Loved all the Hadley / Alcide time. I loved your ideas for the boys rooms. Also loved learning more about the jam session in the music room.

    Carm’s “I” – “Inflation” ideas. Great!

  3. Yay! Alcide’s back. God, I love that cute grump. I’m just falling in love with his boys all over again. I loved them in S&S, but now they own me!

  4. When I get an update of one of your stories it makes me feel better. I hope there’s something that makes you feel better too.

    Righteous chapter! Hadley and Alc sure do get along. I can’t wait for the lemon sparklers they set off.

    I hope you’re better soon.
    hugs,
    GV

  5. Only you could write words good enough to express the love I have for you and your storys!!!!
    Wow that sound kind of creepy! Anyway…. thank you and I can’t wait till your next up date. I hope you Feel better soon.

  6. You’re my hero. You were/are sick dealing with two sick kids and still knocking it out of the park.

    To anyone dumbass that says this is just a repeat of S&S, GO SCREW!

    Alcide is 100 times more observant than Eric with his Sookie colored glasses. We’re getting so much more insight into the characters, as well as, explanations for things we didn’t get in EPOV.

  7. I read somewhere your reply to a reader´s review.She was asking you if this Sookie was based on you,and you answered no.
    Well I´m starting to think that your a damn good liar.Cauze I don´t know where do you get the strengh and the time to keep writing with kids,hubby,and RL.Really.
    I hardly have time to read your stories (well,add a few more FF´s)and deal with the rest of the world.
    So,THANK YOU for your effort.

  8. Thank you so much for this beyond brilliant chapter. Alcide’s POV really is so much more insightful than Eric’s. I love the interactions between him and Hadley. In a way they are very similar in the same way that Sookie and Eric are similar. As for the boys. I absolutely love Carm. He seems to steal each and every scene he is in which is quite a feat for a “shy” 4 year old. Love Jack too,and I agree with the concept of beating the music teacher particularly after hearing more in this about what she said to him. As for Ame how could someone like her birth those wonderful little boys. Keep up the good work, and please get well and update soon.

  9. How cute are Carm and Jack! Boy Alcide is going to have his hands full with those charmers. I also think Jason is just HILAROUS with all his flirting not to mention trying to snuggle with Alc in the night. Nice interactions between Hadley and Alcide. You can see the beginning of something happening. It’s interesting that he kept thinking of her as Sookie’s twin but noted that he doesn’t have the reaction to Sookie that he has to Hadley. Boy that whole conversation with the boys about Sookie not being their mom kinda got spun when Hadley sat on his lap during the band play didn’t it? Nicely done

  10. What a treat for a friday morning. Would have loved to see Hadley team up w/Sookie to teach Cater a lesson… I must agree with Laura – you are amazing

  11. Hee, hee! Alc is SO gone over Hadley! Everyone around him can see it! Priceless! I know I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again. I really love hearing the story from Alc’s perspective. It adds so much richness to an already masterful story. Thanks for the update!

  12. Hey chicky!!! Awesome chapter!!! I loved it!!! For some reason I thought Hadley and Sooks switched clothing and tried to pull a fast one on Eric to see if he would fall for it… I guess that was a different chapter!!

    Love ya,

    Melissa

  13. Such a good one! I’m loving Alcide and Hadley, can’t wait for more of them. I am completely sympathetic with the cold thing. I’ve had a nasty one dogging me all week! Hope you and the family are better soon.

  14. Lady –if you do this outstanding kind of work when you are sick…..

    This chappie was out of the park. Love the Alcide PoV –I can even hear Joes voice when I read the dialogue —

    Loving it always!
    Pat

  15. I am on my knees bowing to the goddess which is you. Again a great chapter, love this perspective, the boys are fun and smart, Hadley and Alc do have a thing going that seems like it is so good for both of them. Can’t wait for more

  16. Another brilliant chapter but I would expect nothing less from a brilliant writer such as yourself! Sorry you’re feeling under the weather and I totally hope you feel better soon! I absolutely loved S&S and now AIW is giving me a whole new reason to love this story! I agree with the other readers… Alcide is a lot more observant than Eric, seeing as how Eric is so in love with Sookie he’s slightly oblivious to the other things going on. I love, love, love Alcide and Hadley’s budding relationship. They are so similar seeing as how they both have kids and can relate to the situations that good parents face (unlike Amelia, who is a terrible mother all around). I’m looking forward to seeing more from them (and I’m hoping they had a little action behind the scenes that Eric and Sookie didn’t know about… They both deserve it after all!) Thanks for the update! Looking forward to more, as always!

  17. I hope you’re feeling better soon. We can’t live without you – you’re the one that makes us feel best. I just love this companion to my favorite favorite story. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome stuff with us.

  18. Love your stories but I really like A-C’s view of what went down. Also how it is really like a love story between a father and his children. Showing a father’s love for them and how he is dealing with life. Great read. Thanks.

  19. I get misty every chapter reading how much Alcide loves his boys!
    Jason is such a loon, your version of the characters are effing awesome!
    *bows down to a Master*

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