As soon as I felt the bed move, I reached for the nightstand drawer and pulled out my cuffs without opening my eyes. I held them up and growled, “Don’t even think about running this morning, Princess.”
She giggled, “Don’t be silly… I’m doing yoga…”
“Over my dead body. I’ve got back up. Go back to bed.”
“If I left how would you know if I’m behaving or sneaking out to the gym?” That’s when I heard another giggle.
I finally cracked my eyes, but my clock said it was just after 5. The windows were just getting lighter… I rolled over and she was standing there holding Jack like an infant… like he wasn’t damn close to her weight. “What’s wrong?”
She was swaying with him like she was trying to rock him to sleep. “He did great last night… By bedtime, you wouldn’t have known he’d gotten upset… but… someone snuck into his dreams…”
Jack corrected, “Night. Mare.” And instead of waking me up, he went to Sookie? Shit. I’d be lying if I denied that was a blow to my ego, but… with the way she mommed everyone, I was more scared that he was getting too attached. It wasn’t like Sookie was going anywhere, but… if he was going to get confused, going from a house with no kind of mother to a home with a super-mom would do it.
“Come here. Sookie shouldn’t be lugging you around. You’re bigger than she is.”
She smiled and ended up lying down with us. She stared at him for a long time before he asked her, “What?”
“You should talk about it.”
“I don’t want to.”
She nodded a little. “Ok then. I’ll talk. You need to realize that the way she and your daddy are breaking up, the way she went about it, doesn’t leave her a lot of options. She gave your daddy custody of y’all. She can’t just show up and start changing the life you’ve got now because she feels like it. Your daddy is calling the shots when it comes to your life. That makes you a very lucky little man because not only will he take great care of you, but he cares about how y’all feel about what’s going on. You might not trust her to stay away, but you need to trust your daddy to look out for you.”
“Amelia’s going to come back though…”
I shook my head. “She’s not coming back to live with us. Not ever. We aren’t staying married. I’m getting a divorce. I won’t be letting her live with us. I won’t let her see y’all any more than the court says I have to unless you say otherwise. I know y’all are happy now. I get the message. Don’t worry about it. Lafayette and I are going to court soon to make sure your mother gets some rules laid out for her.”
“Do you miss her?”
“No. Not at all.”
“Jack, there hasn’t been a single time since y’all got here that I’ve thought of New Orleans or your mother and wanted anything to be different. I’m just as happy here as you are. If I never heard from Amelia again, I’d be fine with that.”
“She calls you an asshole.”
“I can be an asshole when I need to be.”
“She calls me ‘little asshole’.”
He shrugged. “When she’s mad at you… she sends me to my room so she doesn’t have to look at you.” If Amelia had a brain in her head, she’d stay the fuck away from me for the rest of her life. Being a cunt was one thing, taking it out on my boys was another thing entirely. I was tempted to call Corbett and see if he wanted to go hunting… Sheila and Amelia could share a shallow grave somewhere between Baton Rouge and New Orleans… Had and Keisha would be our alibis. There wasn’t a single thing I could think of to say to my son. It was my fault. Amelia hated me as much as she did because I didn’t have the sense to leave her years ago. We’d been punishing one another since we fell out of like. The boys ended up being collateral damage.
Sookie fought back tears and reached over to smooth his hair. “I know what that’s like, sweetie… My mother still compares me to good people that she hates as an insult… I don’t let it hurt me… If I am exactly like Daddy or Momma or Hadley or my Gran, good. You’d be doing yourself a favor to grow up and be a good man who loves his family just like your father.”
“Does anyone compare you to her?”
“Once in a while, but I shoot them.”
He actually giggled. “I guess I should learn guns like Daddy, huh?”
She grinned at him. “There’s that smile. Try to get some sleep.”
Carm started groaning from his bed on the floor and bitched about how noisy we’d been on his way to the bathroom… When he came back, he climbed up to the bed and Jack scooted closer to me to make room.
Carm yawned most of, “Why the slumber party?”
Sookie snuggled, hugging him like a teddy bear. “Your brother had a dream about your mom that freaked him out a little. We’re trying to settle him down.”
“I dreamt about her too.” Fan fucking tastic. Of all the fucked up phobias… my kids are terrified of seeing their own mother.
“What happened in your dream?”
He shrugged a little. “She came for a visit and started a fight with Daddy about the man-cave and she tried to put us in the van and take us to Dallas with her… It’s ok though. Daddy shot her.” How fucking sad was it that a 4 year old thought that his father shooting his mother was a good thing? He was right. I would shoot her if she tried to take them, but… still.
“You dreamt that I shot her?”
He smiled when he nodded. “Yep. You winged her so you could get us into the house and Kenny came to get her.”
Jack grumbled, “Daddy wouldn’t shoot her, Carm.”
Carm snorted. “He shot people for less. Go back to sleep. We don’t have to be up yet.”
“I don’t want to dream about her.”
Sookie reached over and grabbed his hand. “Then I’ll do it for you. I’m going to dream that Amelia finds a brilliant therapist who helps her get her act together so she can realize how perfect you are… Then she’ll start making the past few years up to you boys when you’re ready.”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“How do you know? I dreamt once that I went on a date with the Crocodile Hunter and since Eric is blond and watches too much Animal Planet, he’s close.”
He managed to laugh a little again… both of them did.
Sookie closed her eyes and told us, “As soon as y’all start farting, I’m outta here.”
Jack and I looked at Carm and warned her that he was the one that snored from both ends… when Carm was done giggling that he didn’t know what we were talking about, the boys settled down and followed Sookie’s lead.
I laid there and watched Sookie skim her thumb over Jack’s wrist until he started snoring… Carm went a minute or two later, and then Sookie’s hand stopped moving to soothe Jack…
I closed my eyes and dozed off while thinking about Carm’s dream… In my version, I didn’t ‘wing’ Amelia.
When the alarm went off at 6:30, Sookie was still with us. It shocked the hell out of me that she hadn’t snuck off to give all the cars a tune up or some shit.
She smiled at the boys while they stretched. “What did y’all dream about this time?”
They shook their heads and told her ‘nothing’.
“Much better. Jack, why don’t you go get in the shower… Carm can I get you to go to the kitchen and tell Eric that I need him please.”
Jack was still like a walking storm cloud, but they both got moving.
She waited for them to take off before she scooted closer to me. “Would you like to hear a funny story?”
“Is it really funny or is it funny in a way that could help me get away with murder?”
“Does it matter?”
I chuckled, “I guess not. Either one could put me in a better mood.”
“Right. So… Eric’s going to be on his rag all day.”
“How is that supposed to be funny?”
“Ohhh, I’m getting there… Last night he fussed at me for doing too much… He had the brilliant idea to bet me that I couldn’t stay off my feet until we leave for the airport.”
“That sounds easy enough.”
“Well… He bet me a piercing.”
She saw it coming and covered my face with a pillow so I could laugh. “What are you going to make him get pierced?”
She scooted closer and whispered, “I have no intention of making him get anything pierced, but I may or may not have led him to believe that a Prince Albert is in his future.”
“Oh. My. God…” That was too fucking funny. Probably the best distraction ever.
“It’s perfect. I used to have a Nefertiti. He saw that Had is pierced when I was helping her into PJs the other night… My whole family is or has been pierced…” Had told me Lafayette needed practice, but I thought he’d stuck to the girls.
“Even your dad?”
“Yeah… Hunter is the only one I can think of that isn’t… Eric is flipping his shit because he figured I’d get bored with sitting still…”
“Not with this shit going on.”
She rolled over and started sitting up. “No shit. I think the best part is that he’s going to be carrying me from one room to the next all day in an effort to ‘win’ the bet.”
When I heard Eric coming down the hall, I got up and made myself busy looking for clothes because if I hadn’t, I’d have laughed my ass off…
As the boys got done with their showers, I collected their laundry and stripped their sheets and shoved the mattress back under my bed…
I checked my phone out of habit and found two new texts…
Had sent one at about 10:30. “Home again. Sweet dreams.”
I figured the second one was from her too, but it wasn’t… It was from Ame and it came through at 3am. What. The. Fuck. “You can’t keep them from me forever.” She hadn’t even asked to see them. All she’d done was call and stir shit up by threatening to move closer and it seemed like that was exactly what she planned when she dialed my fucking number. Seriously, what the fuck?
I couldn’t help it… I replied. “You didn’t ask to see them.”
I didn’t figure she’d have been up to answer so fast… “I shouldn’t have to.”
That was it. “You shouldn’t have to? What the fuck is that? You gave them up. You threw them away. You didn’t want them a week ago and now you’re acting like I’m the bad guy here? Fuck you. Both the boys dreamt that you came back last night. Jack called it a nightmare and the only reason Carm didn’t was because in his dream, I shot your stupid, hateful, selfish ass. Do my kids a fucking favor and just drive off a fucking cliff. Don’t bother replying to ask if you can see them. Since you’re the last thing they want to see right now, you’re going to have to have a court order to get anywhere near th…” When my phone wouldn’t let me keep typing, I almost threw the fucking thing…
As it was, I was holding it tight enough to make the casing creak.
I stared at the text message before I started going through and changing ‘you’ to ‘u’, ‘and’ to ‘&’… The longer I thought about it, the calmer I got until I just deleted the fucking thing. I wasn’t about to have a text war with her. I wasn’t going to spend my day giving her ways to piss me off. I wasn’t going to accidently give her a reason to show up.
I forwarded the thread to Lafayette and left a message for him about it while I made my bed.
I still wanted to kill her.
Carm was leaving the kitchen with two lunch bags when I got to the foyer and started putting them in their bookbags while he chirped that Alpha made breakfast…
But when I got to the kitchen Jack was climbing into Sookie’s lap like he couldn’t stand being away from her. He was getting too dependent on her…
Had said the furniture would be delivered Friday afternoon… I could go shopping on Thursday to get most of what we needed. We needed a ton of stuff anyway…
I started a mental list of stuff I’d need to get while I loaded the washer… and when I got back to the kitchen, Sookie was whispering to him.
I was close to having a panic attack when I realized that taking him away from her could fuck him up more. It wouldn’t be taking taking, but he might not have understood that… as much as the boys had going on, I was surprised they were wrapping their heads around anything at all…
I was going to have to talk to Sookie. Have to. It wasn’t like telling them about getting a divorce. I knew it had to be done. I was going to do it. Sookie just made it easy…
What was going on was one of those ‘fucked-if-you-do/fucked-if-you-don’t’ situations and… I had no idea which option was going to be the smaller dick.
God only knows how long I stood there watching her rock him and hum, but CMC, Eric and Corbett were just as locked in as I was…
Corbett finally cleared his throat. “Hey Jack, I brought you a present… When I got home last night, I edited the video from Dirges on Saturday.” It got Jack’s attention, at least. He looked at him, his eyes looked a little less like he was about to cry. Fuck, I hated seeing him like that.
“Sure did. The disks are in the pocket of my jacket. One is a DVD so you can watch it on TV and the other one has the songs broken apart as MP4s so you can put them on your iPod to watch.”
When Jack smiled, I could’ve kissed the man. “Do we have time to watch it before breakfast?” No. There was no way in hell there was time to watch the whole thing, but if he wanted to watch it, if it was going to take his mind off shit for just a few minutes, then I’d let him eat popcorn for breakfast.
“It won’t be ready to eat for another half hour or so, but I’m not the one to ask.” Corbett nodded to me, but he knew already I’d be alright with it.
“Y’all are already dressed. I don’t see why not. C’mon. We’ll stop it when y’all leave for school and you can finish it after homework.”
To get the disks, I had to reach past a scanner, 3 packs of Marlboros, an iPod, earbuds, a wad of keys that needed its own zip code… Corbett’s pockets were worse than most women’s purses.
Carm was getting comfortable by the time I put in the disc marked ’11-09 PG’ (as opposed to the one labeled ’11-09 adult’)…
I was about to go looking for Jack when he finally joined us with a much bigger smile on his face. “Sookie says we can have a movie night tonight when they get back.”
“Oh yeah? Did she say what movie?”
He shook his head. “Nope. She gave me a hint. It’s about music and Moondance is on the soundtrack.”
“Sounds right up your alley. You’ve got 3 versions of Moondance on your iPod.”
He was nodding when he started to giggle because Marnie bolted down the hall saying, “gottapee gottapee gottapee”.
Smom was right behind her and waited by the door. “Are you boys gonna watch the game from last night?”
Jack shook his head. “Alpha’s over. He made breakfast and brought a disk of Dirges. We’re gonna watch the Stackhouses.”
Her eyes lit up and she started walking back. “Oooooh, I’m right withya. That sounds like the best way too…” I lost track of her as she went up the stairs, but she was still talking to herself.
“She seems kind of excited. You want to wait or…?”
Jack nodded. “We’ll wait. What did they do first?” Shit…
“Um… I might’ve had too much fun to remember.”
Carm snorted. “You dot drunk.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Do you remember anything?” Had’s ass. Blow job. Dancing. Jason proposed. Mostly the blow job…
“I didn’t just drink. I danced a lot.”
Jack raised his eyebrow at me. “With Had?”
“Yeah. Had and Keisha…”
“Kenny’s sister. I danced with Momma and Marnie… I got one dance with Sookie…”
“You didn’t dance with Pam?” Not to my favorite song if she was the last bitch left with legs…
“I didn’t see her much… I have something you can watch…” I pulled out my phone and cued up the video I took of Jason and Eric dancing…
The boys’ mouths fell open and they were still speechless when Smom and Marnie made it into the room…
Watching the video made me decide I wouldn’t be drinking the next time Had went on stage.
I wanted to kick myself in the ass for missing/forgetting the show. I knew that she’d done the singing thing professionally and I’d seen her playing around in the music room, but knowing that someone was good at something and seeing them in action were two very different things.
The show distracted all of us from what could’ve pulled us all under by the time they left for school.
Jason shouted, “Tarzan and Jane swinging from a vine,” and I was locked in from the first “Candyman.”
Sookie had lead for Candyman, but Had took the lead for the next couple of songs… Ain’t No Other Man and All Nite…
And they ended up dancing together while Fran sang the dirtiest version of Naughty Girl I could imagine…
All the while, I pretended to watch the whole show instead of just Had… I probably wasn’t as convincing as I could’ve been…
Had made porn out of songs that had been harmless before… I’d be fucked every time one of them came on the radio anymore.
The boys cheered between songs like they were watching it all live and barely took their eyes off the screen the whole time we watched…
Until, of course, Corbett came into the room with their breakfast. He put little casseroles down in front of them and then pulled juice bottles out of his back pockets for them while Jump was playing…
As soon as the boys were all set, he grabbed Marnie’s hand and started dancing with her and singing along while she laughed… “Now I’m gon take it to the roof… Everybody with me got they own parachute… You ain’t scared of heights when you sippin on Goose… Party all night like I’m flyin Jet Blue?… You ain’t never seen nobody get this loose…”
When she got to laughing too hard to keep dancing, he grabbed Smom… That poor thing was practically hysterical by the end of the first line.
He ended up slinging both of them over his shoulders and carrying them into the kitchen as his way of telling them breakfast was ready.
The boys had been laughing since he took ‘it to the roof’…
The sausage casserole that Sookie had made on Saturday morning got a makeover, Corbett style… Instead of sausage, his version had little cubes of country fried steak… and I wasn’t the only one who chowed down like a pig. That shit was phenomenal and I would’ve asked for the recipe if I thought I had half a chance of getting it right.
I didn’t even realize that Had and Hunter were there to get the boys until I heard her singing along to one of the songs.
She followed the boys into the kitchen and put their dishes in the sink for them while they said goodbye.
She told everybody ‘good morning’ and hugged the Northmans… She told them it was nice to have met them and she was looking forward to when they’d be back for Thanksgiving… and thanked Marnie for not making her whoop her ass. Marnie laughed and gave her an extra hug when she thanked her for a second chance.
They were running late because they’d spent too much time in the gym, so they didn’t stick around…
We were bloated like we’d just washed up, but we managed to play musical chairs so that the four smokers could share the ashtray… and we’d just lit up when there was a knock on the door.
Eric was nominated to answer it. Sort of. None of the rest of us wanted to waddle that far and um… technically, his house.
He groaned, “Assholes”.
Corbett laughed and swung his legs into CMC’s lap. “Lazy assholes, kitten. Make yourself useful and shake that ass on your way out.”
Before Eric could get to the door, there was another knock… that one was harder, ruder… “It took you long enough.” Fuck. Pam. And judging by her tone, Pam was more pissy than usual.
I leaned over to Corbett, “Did you even go home last night?”
He smirked. “Of course I did. Home is where the heart is.” He wiggled his eyebrows and slapped me five. I understood better than anyone how right he was.
Pam snapped from the foyer, “Where’s Tweedle Dumber?”
Eric deadpanned, “Cancun, with his wife.” Everyone in the galley got a laugh.
“Your partner! Prick.” What the fuck!? She’d lost her nut if she was talking to Eric like that.
“He’s in the kitchen, twat.” At least he wasn’t going to let it slide.
When she stomped into the kitchen like she owned the place, Corbett was chuckling, “This is gonna be beautiful.”
“Herveaux! What did you say? And to who?”
I turned around and not only did she look like she was ready to lock and load, Eric was burning a hole into the top of her head. “Whom.” Smom giggled too fast to catch it when she slapped her hands over her mouth.
“Fuck you. What did you say?”
“And to whom?… I heard you. I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Try using smaller words. I’m kinda dumb.”
“Alright Forrest fucking Gump… Do you think you can explain to me why the director came to my office to give me the day off?” Because she didn’t qualify as a paper pusher.
“Uh… maybe the Ghostbusters were booked for the day GOZER! What the fuck crawled up your ass?”
“You were a pissy bitch through the whole briefing yesterday and were all buddy-buddy with the AD and now I’m getting the Cock-Network vibe at the office.” Maybe she shouldn’t have fucked a superior.
“Well then it wasn’t me. I aired out my shit list while I ate lunch with these folks. I said jack shit out of the meeting about the job.” Since the after party with Drew was off-the-record, that wasn’t technically a lie.
“Then what were you talking to the AD about?”
“Not that it’s any of you goddamn business, but it was guy stuff. Ammunition, sports, beer and dick size.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine then. What was on your shit list? You know, the one you aired over lunch.”
“Again, none of your business, but I mentioned to my friends that I think you suck at your fucking job. I put it out there that you did fuck-all on this case and that the only credit you didn’t take during the briefing was on the work Rene did on the forgery end. I’m so fed up past my fucking chin of how insanely lazy you are that I even told Sookie to shut up when she tried to defend you. As I vented, I glossed over the fact that your talent for deduction doesn’t qualify you to be a meter maid and that you would even make a shitty receptionist… Before you fucking slip another catty insult into asking me to clarify… There are 14 unaccounted for minutes between you leaving Corbett’s house and arriving at the right florist. Tell me, Sherlock, how long did you sit in the empty parking lot of an abandoned florist fixing your makeup and not noticing that even though I told you that Sookie was at the florist her car wasn’t there? And if you were qualified to operate a phone, you might not have had the chance to perfect your lip liner!… Do you have anything else you’d like to throw at me? Or do you need a hint that right now is the perfect fucking time to shut your mouth unless there’s an apology waiting on deck?”
“I’m your superior. You don’t get to talk to me that way. I do my job…” Timeout. Flag on the play. 10 yards for that bullshit play.
“Excuse me. Hold up. You need help with a few things already… YOU are not my superior. You just outrank me. I DO get to talk to you any fucking way I please when you come to where I live to jump on my shit for something you have no proof of because it didn’t happen. And you do NOT do your job. Eric and I have only ever given you status reports. I can’t remember the last time you had a hunch, let alone had one pan out. This case… this time, Sookie was our fucking handler. Kenya was more helpful than you were… Sorry. You were saying?”
“Could I trouble you for the reason behind your sudden change in perspective?” She put her hands on her hips like it was my hint to comply… all it did was make me glad I was sitting down so I wouldn’t have punted her like I was going for the extra point.
“Oh, so now we’re going to switch to professionalism, huh?”
I made her wait long enough for me to take a sip of my coffee. “We moved in as soon as Kenya got there.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Kenya covered twice the distance in half the time as you did AND secured the station before she left. And 6 minutes was the difference between Sookie just being unconscious and being dragged through broken glass and pinned in a walk-in… What’s changed, SIR, is that while Sookie blames herself for not leaving when Eric told her to, Eric blames himself for waiting on your useless ass and my kids blame the ‘bad guy’, Forrest Gump blames the stupid mother fucker that thought that being an overbearing feminazi makes you valuable to any part of law enforcement. But since he’s not here, I’ve decided to take it out on you for being arrogant and selfish enough to fake it.”
“You sexist prick!”
“There wasn’t a sexist thing about anything I just said.”
“You accused me of putting on makeup instead of being on point.” On point? She had to be kidding!
“YOU were wearing a fresh coat of gloss.”
“Now I know why your wife…” Why my wife what? Hated me for telling her that she was epically lazy and sucked at her job. Hmmmmm. Coincidence?
I stood up and put myself in her face and Sookie grabbed my wrist… not pulling, just holding it. “YOU DO NOT want to finish that sentence!”
She didn’t have the sense to back down. “Oh really? Why not?”
“Because I have a fresh box of fuck-you labeled ‘Pam’s personal life’. If you want to run that race… you won’t win. Do you have any Bureau business to discuss or were you about to leave?”
She stared at me, snarling and dying to say something else. God only knows how she managed to keep her cum dumpster shut. It sure as hell wasn’t because she was smart.
She finally gave up and turned around to see Eric right behind her. She was stuck between the two assholes she’d pissed off and, unfortunately, told that she was scared of being buried alive.
“Do you mind telling me why there was a message from Cater on my desk when I got to work this morning?”
Eric smiled at her. The creepy Mad Hatter smile. “Oh! Goody. My turn?”
“What did Cater want?” She was whining.
He got even closer to her. “Perhaps she lost my number. We had a date last night.”
“Oh really? What did you do on your little date?”
“We stunk up a room somewhere.” I couldn’t help it, I laughed, but at least I wasn’t the only one.
“Northman, tell me what the fuck Homeland Security is calling me for, right now.”
“Why haven’t you just called her to find out?”
“Are you calling me lazy now too?” Yes.
“Not in so many words. Why haven’t you returned that call?”
“Just tell me what she wanted!”
“It seems like it would have just been easier to have called Jennifer, huh?”
She stepped back and bumped into me. “You sons of bitches can call this whatever you want, but you’re ganging up on me!”
Eric practically sang, “You should make up your mind.”
“Do you want us to treat you like another cop or do you want to be obeyed like you’re our mother? You can’t have it both ways. The chasm is too wide.”
“I’m not your mom!” No kidding.
He made up the step she took away from him, keeping her pinned between us. “Then you really need to shove the damsel-in-distress routine up your fucking ass and stop throwing the sexism card out. Right now, you need to get down on your knees and thank God that I’m enough of a sexist to not deck you. That’s what us guys do to keep each other motivated, focused even. If I had shit the bed half as bad as you did on this case, Alc would have knocked my dick in the dirt and vice versa.”
Corbett breathed out an ‘Amen’ and Sookie gave my wrist a squeeze.
“I could write you both up for insubordination.”
“That would be a fun meeting.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it might be interesting to see the look on your face. They read the charge… Northman and Herveaux…” Fuck that. Business had gone out the window when she called him a prick. By then it was just fun…
“How come your name goes first?!”
He rolled his eyes and used his placating tone, “… Herveaux and Northman were disrespectful to their immediate superior… Then we get to defend ourselves. We could start with the fact that on a case where more than 5000 man hours were clocked, you put in seven, including the 5 hours it took for you to get to Bon Temps.”
“Do you have any idea how miserable working together is going to be now?” Like it was a blast before? What fucking world was she living in?
“Do you have that poor of a memory that you don’t remember that we only spent about 3 hours each week in the same building? I think we’ll manage.”
When she tried to shove past him, she bounced off of his shoulder and back into me and almost fell on her ass.
As soon as the door slammed shut behind the bitch, I started trying to figure out if Eric was mentally flogging himself for standing up to her. I grabbed another cigarette when I sat down and listened to him apologize to Corbett since he thought he had to see her later…
Corbett laughed in his face though. “That was fucking awesome. I’m moving in!”
I held my hand out to slap him 5. “Feels good to have ‘em back doesn’t it?!”
“Amen.” He sat down again, putting Sookie in his lap… that’s when he started mind-fucking himself.
“It’s nothing, you know… She could go straight to the Director and tattle, but she won’t.”
“How do you know that?”
“That box of fuck you I mentioned… They used to fuck.”
His mouth fell open. “When did you find that out?”
“At the office yesterday. We might be on the books as rogues now, but I think we should go in from time to time to get the gossip from Robin and Orrie.”
“Shit… I forgot to tell you because of everything going on… Robin is the Director’s assistant. Her husband is our handler. Orrie Malloy. They seem like good people. She’s about to pop though. Her due date is in the first week of December…”
“We have an SAIC. Why did we get a handler?”
“We don’t have an SAIC. Get this… We’re answering directly to the Director here.”
“Yeah… At the moment, Orrie’s probably gathering cold cases for us to go over. Unless another Vampire type rolls into the area, we’re 9 to 5 for now.”
“Yep. No more fugly waitresses at greasy diners… You get to eat dinner at Café Sookie pretty much every night. I understand if you need a minute. I did.”
He needed more than a minute. With the way he stared at my pack of smokes like he was thinking about picking up the habit, I was glad I hadn’t dropped the bomb that Drew had a pro-crush on him and witnessed what he did to Bill the night before.
He finally shook off the shock… “You met him? The Director?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Trust me. You couldn’t imagine what he’s like if I drew a picture so I won’t even try. He seems like fun. You need to have Sookie buy you some ties though… He made fun of everyone’s but mine.”
“Ties? Wait… If Pam isn’t our SAIC anymore…”
“I don’t know what he has planned for her, but she isn’t part of our PODs anymore. Orrie will be calling us to check in everyday.”
“What’s his standing?”
“He rated high enough to make it on to OC Task Force before he opted for a desk with a baby on the way. He’s got 6 years in.”
“No SAIC. No AD… our only middle man between us and the Director is… a peer?”
“A peer with a bead on everything that happens at the Field Office because his wife helps run it… We’re playing with a stacked deck… Need another minute?”
“No. I need to wipe.”
He’d forgotten that his mom was in the room… she might’ve been giggling, but she still whacked his arm. “James Eric Northman the Fourth! That’s disgusting!”
He laughed at her and twisted in his chair enough to use Sookie as a ‘shield’. “It’s true though. Tell me that you wouldn’t have shit you pants if Dad found out that 4 people got cut out of his chain of command overnight…”
She opened her mouth to deny it, but closed it again.
“See. You got nuthin’…”
She cut him off by blowing a raspberry at him and got up to start working on the dishes.
Corbett leaned over to me and whispered, “Was that Orrie last night? The one that wasn’t there?”
I shook my head and whispered back, “Marshall.”
He sat back with a raised eyebrow and mouthed, “No shit?”
I gave him a nod and he slapped my shoulder as he got up to go help Smom with the dishes.
When there was another knock on the front door, Corbett shoved me hard enough to nearly knock me out of my seat and laughed, “Pam’s back! She finally figured out how to load her gun and she’s come for you!”
We laughed at the goofy fuck… I was starting to see where Jason got his sense of humor… Corbett was just more laid back about it.
When I opened the door, Drew was waiting with a big grin on his face. “Did I miss breakfast?”
“You sure did, but there’s still coffee.”
“Spectacular. Since Pam was in the building this morning, I abstained.”
“Afraid she’d spit in all of it?”
“Yes.” He couldn’t have been more serious so I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Does it make you feel better to know that after she spat in your coffee, we shat in her cornflakes?”
“Oooooooh. Do tell.”
“She showed up to read me the riot act because I’m somehow responsible for how she got the day off work.”
“Oh, you are, Darling… While the details of the case are still being held, Pamela has a new nickname… they’re calling her ‘The Multi-Slacker’. Fitting, yes?” Very.
“That’s much better. We just called her The Nutcracker in NOLA.”
“I know. It’s ruined Tchaikovsky for me.”
“You poor thing…”
When I showed him to the kitchen, he was like a one man invasion. All eyes were on him… he was either fine with that or oblivious to it.
He grabbed Sookie’s hand and bowed to kiss it. Picture a carriage, a puddle and a coat. That was pretty much the feel of it.
“Miss Stackhouse, I’m more sorry than ever that I took my time introducing myself. Your pictures don’t do you justice! You are more stunning in person, even considering your current condition. I look forward to seeing you at 100%. I hear you’re quite the spectacle!”
She raised an eyebrow at him and snorted. “That’s all really sweet and I’m proud of you for managing to make a Google search sound ominous. Maybe now that your chap stick is all over my ass, you can settle down enough to tell me who the fuck you are and why you’re in my kitchen so early.” I bet myself a million dollars that he was going to be amused as a minimum.
He started patting himself down. “Pardon me. Where the fuck did I leave my manners?” He stopped ‘searching’ to put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a middle finger. “Ah! Here they are!” I won the bet. Surprise, surprise. He put his hand out to shake Eric’s and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to not laugh at the constipated look on his face. “Assistant Director Andrew Marshall.”
Sookie laughed, “Liar! Even when Feds wear suits that nice, they don’t make them look that good.”
He straightened his purple tie and smiled at her while Eric managed to look like he was going to puke. “Nice to meet you Assistant Director.”
Drew bobbed his head from side to side. “Okay… there’s a thing… with that… you know how us bureaucrats are… paperwork, red tape. Technically… I’m the interim Director until the old gas bag retires. That arse had three months of leave on the books and announced that he was taking it all before he takes his curtain call with only a week’s notice. I don’t know though… Director isn’t wordy enough… Fuck it… You’ll call me Drew anyway.”
At least Sookie was amused. “Since you seem to love making an entrance you could always introduce yourself by saying ‘Tonight’s guest star in the role of Director, will be…’.”
Drew stared for a second before he leaned a little closer. “You’re not married to him yet… I like candle lit dinners, long walks on the beach and classical music…” Oh Lord.
“As enticing as that sounds… we’re cookout, surfing and clubbing folk… and this one put a bullet in a guy’s head for me. I’m all in.”
The goon blew a fucking raspberry at her for rejecting his ‘offer’. While I laughed, I poured a cup of coffee for him and started another pot. “Very well… Anyway… Twining… has shite for brains… When I was handed the job two weeks ago, I called him and asked for you two. Having a PTF of my very own was first on my list of essentials. I’ve been watching you since you took down Jessup. Instead of sending you, that wanker sent Pam. Like I want that twat… So… here’s the deal. I joined the FBI to be an agent, not a fucking paper mule… I’m joining your little party… Oh. Hellllllo…” When I turned around with his cup of coffee, he was shaking hands with CMC. “Congratulations on the cloning experiment. No denying that relationship, Dad…” He made his way around the table until he got to Corbett and winked and told him that he was almost as stunning as his daughter. No shit, Corbett blew him a kiss.
“So Drew, did you come out here just to flirt with the locals or is something going on?”
He rolled his eyes. “Can’t I do both? I wouldn’t dream of dragging Eric away from home when I wanted to meet Sookie anyway…”
“Does Robin know about the competition?”
He flapped his hands and looked over his shoulder like he was scared. “Shhhhhh. She’ll hear you.” We all laughed at him… If he and Jason ever ended up in a room together, we could sell tickets. “We do have some business to discuss… if it wouldn’t be an imposition to do it more privately.”
No one needed to be asked, they all started leaving and Sookie told Eric, “This doesn’t count,” as she started to get up. Eric looked like he was going fight for the win.
I cleared my throat. “Hey Drew, Sookie could stay, right… Since she knows the case?” Eric looked like I nut punched him. I gave Drew his coffee and leaned against the counter to wait for my refill to finish brewing.
“Absolutely. So… Pam… How’s that working out for you?” He waited for the ‘happy’ look on Eric’s face. “That’s what I thought… I don’t want her at my office. It wouldn’t work out. She’s already gotten one promotion she didn’t deserve from fucking me… Right about now, she’s probably trashing her hotel room. I just called her to tell her she’s got the same job as before… in New Orleans…”
Sookie held her finger up to stop him. “Daddy! I need you in here for a sec.”
We didn’t have to wait. I don’t think he’d even sat down yet. “What’s up?”
“Daddy, Pam may very well be trashing the house. She just got transferred back to the NOLA office.”
He laughed, “Oh… I doubt that. She’s too lazy to give a proper half and half… She’s too lazy to get herself in that kind of trouble.” We all lost it, including Drew who pushed the limits of what my brain could picture without needing to be bleached by saying there was a lot of things Pam was too lazy to do.
When the coffee pot was done, I refilled for all of us and took a seat while Drew took over, still smiling from his laughing fit. “Alright… So!… dah’de dahhh… Yeah… Pam’s a lazy twat: established. I’m along for the ride: check. Very big fish in the fridge: affirmative. Petulant accomplice fucker type mutilated and stripped of his pride: BONUS! Veerrrry well done, by the way. I talked to Jennifer Cater this morning and was informed that after more than a hundred hours of interrogation, you had him confessing to the Zodiac killings in two hours… I think we have a cause for celebration, we do! Nice work.” Nice cover.
I shook my head and gave him a look that he answered with a wink. “You know that Sookie and her student are the only reason we got this asshole, right?” No matter what shit Pam tried to say, the PTF could’ve stayed in New Orleans and it would’ve been solved.
“OH! I do! I love it! I ‘Google searched’ Mr. Lanier as well. Yes… In fact… I’ve filed papers to add him to the payroll as a paid consultant. I hear he’s going to Columbia. That boy is a find! I’ll be paying him a visit later about his new allowance. He has a remarkable eye for patterns and I’m sure that a file or two once in a while shouldn’t be too much of a distraction from his school work…”
Sookie squealed. Not like a pig… that frightening ‘girl squeal’. The kind that make gun ranges feel quiet. I swear, I felt my fucking eyes melt a little while she bounced in Eric’s lap… and cried a little.
My ears were still ringing when Drew started up again. “So. Interesting bit of information. Reference material, if you will. Did you know that Google Maps isn’t entirely accurate?” Oh, fuck me.
“Nothing to be ashamed of, love. As it turns out, Magellan, TomTom and Garman all provided the exact same information. It took me 5 minutes to get from her position at the time to the florist going exactly the speed limit. She shat away 25 minutes doing fuckall. I did the math. From what I can tell, the satellite believes that the speed limit is 35 instead of 50.”
Sookie nodded. “It was just recently changed when the town got new traffic lights, the ones that are remotely controlled for emergency vehicles…”
“Does anyone know what Pam was doing?”
Eric snorted, “No, but she wasn’t happy when Alc accused her of putting her makeup on in the wrong florist’s parking lot.”
I shrugged. “It’s the only thing I could figure. I looked up florists in Bon Temp because I couldn’t remember the name of that one… the closed one was still listed.”
“Do we know for a fact that she was at Corbett’s?”
“That’s what she said… Corbett was on a call though. He was actually dispatched to the florist from another call.”
He had his mouth open to say something when I had a brain fart and asked Sookie for Linda’s number.
By the time the phone was ringing, I felt like a goldfish in a cat’s water dish with the way the three of them were watching me.
“Stackhouse Ford Lincoln Mercury. Parts and Service. This is Keisha. How can I help you?”
“Hey Keisha, Alcide Herveaux…”
“My knight in shining armor. Thanks for the other night. I wouldn’t have made it without your help.”
“You and Had are kinda cute together. Since I owe you and all, let me know if you need a wingman. She has a jealous streak.” I could’ve had a lot of fun with that.
“And a violent streak. I’ll let you know… I’m actually calling on business. Is Linda around?”
“Sure thing. Wait one.”
I got up to get another refill to avoid seeing that I was being gawked at.
Linda was giggling when she picked up. “I hear I’m on your list, Bam Bam.”
“Cougar, you’re near the top of it. Want to make it up to me?”
“Keep in mind, Brother can and will hide your body for me if the price is too high. Tell you what, you can have Hadley in trade for your boys. We’ll call it square.”
I laughed at her. “I’ll have to sleep on that and I’m telling Had that you’re poaching. She already has an offer on the table for Carm.”
“She would! What can I do for you?”
“Do we have to talk about that?”
“Fraid so… You sent Had a pic of Pam cleaning, so you were at Corbett’s. Were you there when I called her?”
“I was… that bear-trap was getting in my way all day long… When you called, she was painting her nails because her polish came off while she was scrubbing toilets.”
“Do you remember what she did after she hung up?”
“Um… she finished her nails and then flipped me off on her way out.” She finished her fucking nails.
“She did?” Nail polish.
“Yeah… even left her mess on the kitchen table.” That cunt finished painting her fucking nails?
“How long do you think that was?” Maybe Pam was almost done PAINTING HER FUCKING NAILS when I called.
“She was pretty much done… She used the blow dryer for a few minutes to dry them and she was out. Is that all you needed?”
“For now… Thanks Cougar.”
A Special Agent In Charge got a call from a member of HER task force, saying that a serial killer who’d been in our case load for more than a year had a LIVE victim in his reach and that we had a known location… And that festering cunt blew dry her mother fucking nail polish before she moved.
When I turned around, Sookie’s hand went up. “If she doesn’t have a good excuse, I don’t want to know. In the scheme of things it doesn’t matter to me.”
“How the fuck does it not matter?”
“Because it doesn’t change anything. We already know that she doesn’t have a give-a-shit bone. Now the Bureau does too. Think about it… Anyone else, Alc… would you tell anyone else?”
I growled at her. “Probably not.”
Eric nodded. “Me either. Once Pam’s back in New Orleans, I might break down and look at the official record… but if I find out she finished watching a TV show or something…” I was starting to think he was smarter with Sookie in his lap. If he knew that Pam was drying her nails instead of backing us up, Pam would look worse than Sookie in her autopsy pictures.
“Then why’d I ask?” Assholes… if they didn’t want to know, I’d just pissed myself off for no good reason.
Drew smiled and waved his coffee cup at me. “Because I need to know…”
Sookie laughed, “And so you could flirt with Momma.”
“Flirt my ass… What is it with you Stackhouses? Y’all keep trying to haggle for my kids.”
She rolled her eyes. “She offer a new truck or a lifetime supply of food?” Better.
“If I hold out, you think I’ll get both?”
She nodded very seriously. “Definitely. Hunter grew out of being doted on. She’s jonesing.”
Drew bowed when I handed his coffee to him. “I’m new here. Are there flash cards?”
“Linda is Sookie’s aunt, Corbett’s sister. You don’t need flash cards… just age progression software and a picture of Sookie. Hadley is Linda’s daughter…”
Sookie interrupted, smirking, “She didn’t come up.”
I rolled my eyes at her and sat down. “Not yet… but I only mentioned her to explain Cougar’s relationship to Junior Pimp.”
Drew cleared his throat. “And what would that be?”
“Hunter is Linda’s grandson, through Hadley.”
“Right… and we’re missing the brother, yes? Jason?”
She nodded. “And his wife Fran…” Sookie stopped talking when she nearly jumped out of her skin… Without any warning, the front door flew open hard enough to slam against the wall behind it.
The boys shot down the hall and we could hear doors slamming back against more walls and furniture while Had and Hunter came in carrying groceries.
Jack came from the back and stared at Eric… Since Sookie was in his lap, Jack couldn’t sit on hers. I almost wanted to punch Eric when he caved and stood up. How that fuck was that going to make anything better?
Had kissed Eric’s cheek… and that’s when Drew kind of lost it. “You greedy asshole! You have two of them.” No. Eric had one of three… and the others were already spoken for.
Eric shook his head. “That one is mine. This is Hadley, Sookie’s cousin and her son Hunter… This is our new boss, Drew Marshall.”
Had shook his hand and once that was out of the way, I asked… I almost thought she’d called in a bomb threat to the school so she could hang out all day. “What’s up?”
She started rubbing my shoulders while Drew gave me a jealous look. “Wonderful parents that we are… We were too distracted with everything to remember that school is out today. Voting day. I covered my embarrassment by casting my ballot and then went to the showroom to announce that I’m playing hooky. I was going to take them back to my place, since I don’t know what you have to do today, but they insisted on coming home. Jack wants to be around Sookie. Helping around here is a great excuse to hang out for the day, unless y’all need some quiet.” Even if we needed the quiet, the massage wasn’t making any noise.
“Thanks. That seems to be the plan… Just hanging out. Even Corbett is slumming it with us today.”
She patted my shoulders on her way to pour a cup of coffee. “Sook, I’m stealing some bum-wear from you… The boys groaned at me when I suggested that I go change first.”
Sookie rolled her eyes. “Help yourself, but stay out of my drawers. I never get my underwear back from you.” That wasn’t something I needed to hear.
Change the subject… “You realize you’re the grown up, right?”
Had slapped my cheek like I’d insulted her. “Only when I have to be. Besides, it’s kinda hard to throw the ‘grown up’ card when I’d just told all of my employees to ‘bite me’ and ‘nannie-nannie-boo-boo’ on the way out the door, rocking a shoulder digit.”
She smirked and turned to leave… flipping me off with her hand at her shoulder… and swaying her ass enough to make me want to follow her.
I didn’t realize that I was trying to guess what she was changing into until Drew asked, “Soooo… where’s my room?”
Eric laughed at him, “Sorry. The inn is full.”
“Oh… You liar! Pam, useless as it is, has a big mouth… She says your family is leaving today.”
“But the Herveaux Clan is still here. If you want to stay, you can sleep under the piano.”
“This is all because I was flirting with her, isn’t it?”
“No… It’s because you don’t meet the dress code standards.”
Drew laughed, “You ARE right about that. I don’t ever wear those undershirt things… Except as an UNDERshirt.” He could, but it would just be sad.
I flexed as a joke. “If you got it, you show it… When you don’t, you hide it under a suit… Marsha.”
“That kid being in the room makes it IMpossible for a comeback!”
Alc snorted at him. “No one said life’s fair.”
“How much have you spent on steroids?”
“This is natural, baby. Rage and free weights.”
He sang, “Anabolic…” Sookie giggled and told him to leave the singing to her.
I answered, “Anaerobic…”
“Too much. That’s just intimidating. Your jubblies are bigger than hers.”
Instead of pointing at Sookie, he pointed over my shoulder to Had as she came back… she wasn’t wearing a bra…. Mine might’ve been bigger, but hers were more fun. “And?”
Had didn’t give him a chance to answer. “But mine look better in a bikini.”
He smiled at her. “Let’s test that. You and I will leave tonight for the Maldives. No need to pack…”
She leaned into the fridge to put a few things away while she laughed at him. “That would be tempting if it wasn’t their wet season.”
Drew scrambled to comeback, “All the more reason to stay indoors…”
Jack giggled and made a buzzer noise. “Lame cover. You didn’t know that.”
He jokingly scowled at Jack while the rest of us laughed. “You make a horrible wingman!” Jack shrugged with a ‘who gives a fuck’ look on his face.
Had sat on Drew’s lap sideways and grabbed his ‘pecs’… then reached over to squeeze mine. When she started giggling, the look on his face was priceless. “Doesn’t the Bureau make y’all pass some kind of physical test?”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m feeling objectified.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You mentioned mine first.”
“I’m not sure why that matters. I was…”
“Checking me out?”
“Bad idea… My son is very protective of me and… his ‘jubblies’ are bigger than mine too.”
“Oh really? What about your husband’s?”
“So I have a chance?”
She kissed his cheek as she got up. “Not a one, doughboy.” It was the wrong time for me to have a mouth full of coffee. It came out of my nose… it only made everyone else laugh harder.
“No need to be mean…”
“Mine have more meat to them…”
“I should be going.”
“Or you could just get off of ‘jubblies’. Wanna talk about tans?”
“No. I want you to come to your senses and run away with me… You know where to find me when you do. Alc, Eric… forced leave for two weeks instead of ‘mental health’ since this was personal for you, yes? Yes. I think so. Nothing but Vampire case loose ends or you’ll be written up. A free vacation is much better than taking your banked leave to relocate.”
Both of us nodded… We’d have been idiots to argue with free leave.
He was standing up to leave when Corbett came into the room fast enough to move Had instead of waiting for her…
“Got a call. Pep Boys on the highway is going up. Jim and Hunter want to go with. We’ll be back in a little bit… Hey Jack, if you want, you can go next time as long as your dad is cool with it… You could go this time, but it’s a HazMat…”
Jack called after him, but he was already through the door. “What’s ‘HazMat’?”
Sookie groaned. “When chemicals burn or get spilled. It’s short for ‘hazardous materials’. Pep Boys has oil and all kinds of stuff that you wouldn’t want to breathe. They could make you sick.”
“Why is he taking CMC and Hunter then?”
“Because their faces aren’t too small for normal masks if the fumes are so bad they need to use the oxygen tanks.”
Drew cocked an eyebrow in Jack’s direction. “There’d be no fun. The smoke tends to be too thick to see any action anyway. The best fires are old empty buildings. Cleaner smoke and less peril to be concerned with… Right. Now that it’s been rubbed in my face that had I chosen the fire brigade, I’d get to kiss pretty girls… I’ll leave you to sulk in private. Alc, walk me out?”
“Your lad? He was shaken by Sookie’s attack?”
“Shaken enough. Piggyback that with the fact that their mother called last night and mentioned moving closer, he’s flipping out about having to deal with her again.”
“And negligent. I didn’t know how bad until they got away from her though.”
“Makes those Sookies more appealing, doesn’t it?” He had no fucking idea. “So what was the Multi-Slacker doing whilst letting a deputy in Bum Fuck make her look worse?”
“She waited to finish her nails… plus drying time.”
“Tell me you’re making that up. I’ll use it anyway, but…”
“I wish I was.”
“What did you tell her when you called?”
“Honestly, I don’t remember too well. Eric was keeping Sookie on the line while he got his shit together and I was stuck calling her… I didn’t know Sookie was still in there with him, so she didn’t get that info. I had to tell her to shut the fuck up so she’d stop bitching about football and… I threatened to roll on her if we missed him because she dragged ass.”
“So she took her time to teach you a lesson.”
“I think so.”
“Astounding. How many other times has she done this?”
“She hasn’t, but she hasn’t ever had the chance to be a flat tire. We call, we have beaucoup backup right away in NOLA… even if it’s just local, it’s still fire power.”
“It’s a sad state of affairs all around… The Bureau shouldn’t have let her get this far… nepotism is fine for opening doors, but not shoving her past her level.”
“Her father. Retired AD… Lovely, yeah?”
“Beautiful… what’s up with the phone call from Cater? She pitched a fit about it while she was here.”
“Since Cater never heard back from Ravenscroft to confirm that you were under orders, I was forced to claim that I knew about the interrogation. If anyone has anything to say about how Eric handled the confession, it comes down to me… given my record, I’m a softer place to fall if Compton does make the mistake of recanting… Ta.” Watching our backs already.
He wiggled his eyebrows and grabbed my ass before he slid into his Jag.
Yep. Already loved working from the Shreveport office.
Nothing to hate.
Not a goddamn thing.
I was still kind of stoned with the idea of having a chain of command that had a clue when I sat back down in the kitchen.
I couldn’t shake it… it was hard enough to wipe the damn grin off my face.
When Had sat down, she put her feet in my lap and groaned. “I hate knowing when Daddy’s on a run. Damn nerves… So since Pep Boys is having bad luck today, I’ll help you make lunch and then Daddy will be your dinner tutor.”
Ooh. Private lessons? “Thanks, but y’all should worry about what they’re eating once we’re out of here this weekend.” Jack sat away from Sookie and glared like he wanted to cut me for mentioning the move.
Had noticed too. “I wouldn’t worry about that too much. Sookie and I worked out a schedule for you. For a while, you’ll get two lessons a week and a crock pot or casserole from each of us. You won’t have to worry about Monday nights, for obvious reasons, and that gives you two nights a week to either cheat and order out, or stretch your legs on your own. By summer, you’ll be pitching in for cook outs.”
“Oh, I’ve got no problem finding my way around a grill. It’s the kitchen I get lost in.”
“Then it’ll just be like getting used to a new cell phone. Subtle differences.” Suuuuuuure.
“If you say so…”
Jack started shaking his head and blurted, “What if she comes back? I don’t want to live in that house. She knows where it is.” Fuck me. He couldn’t think he could hide from her.
Eric tried to help. “Jack, she knows where this house is too.”
“She wouldn’t come here though. She hates Sookie. She knows Sookie won’t be at the other house. She would go there.”
“Your Dad would have to give her your address no matter where you live, but if she shows up you can call 9-1-1 and Kenya will come arrest her for trespassing.”
Jack rolled his eyes, like Eric was talking out of his ass. “What if she wants us back? She could take us.”
That was it… on top of the fact that I hated that one phone call had given him nightmares, I was sick to death of picturing different ways to kill Ame. I didn’t want to think about that cunt anymore than the boys did. “Over my dead body. That WON’T happen. She wouldn’t get far before an Amber Alert has every cop, fed and spook on her tail. You’re with me. That doesn’t change until YOU say so.”
That didn’t calm him down at all. He acted like he was going to yell at me for a split second before he basically melted back against Sookie. It took whatever she whispered to him to calm him down at all and he ended up leaving her lap and going to the back of the house.
Sookie looked just as morbid as Jack. “We’re going to go lay down for a while. Nothing we say is going to be an instant fix. He’ll calm down in his own time. K?”
I nodded, hoping like hell she realized the same thing about me.
She had Eric carry her to the back and as soon as they were through the door, Had got up and hugged my neck from behind my chair. “The offer stands. Just give me an address.”
I almost laughed. “She may or may not be at 132 Nita Street, Dallas, but you didn’t hear that from me.”
She hummed against the side of my head, “How much time do you need to establish an alibi?”
“Not much… do you have a working plan?”
“The less you know, the better.”
“Does it make you feel better to know that, in the long run, your boys are going to appreciate what you are to them more than a normal kid?”
“No. Not at all. I’d rather they had two sane parents that they take for granted and play against each other. I hate like hell that we didn’t break up before it got like this.”
“That’s what makes you a great dad though… you can look back and see where things went wrong instead of thinking that it was all someone else’s fault. Y’all are going to be alright. You’ll get them through this.”
“Right now, Sookie’s getting them through this…”
“Don’t do that. How much experience do you have with being scared by a parent?”
“None. My father walked out and didn’t look back.”
“Right. You’re not copping out. You’re letting him commiserate with someone who’s been there and came out alright… Hunter can’t help with that because his father died. I can’t help with that because my father was abusive until we got a restraining order. Sookie’s the man for this part of the job. She knows what it’s like to have a parent shit on her parade… and you know how to make sure he’s safe… You boys are going to be fine.” Even if she was just blowing smoke up my ass, it was starting to work.
“I have my uses. Don’t let this get to you. You might’ve been on your own in New Orleans, but you’ve got us here. You’re the one with home field advantage… Did you call Laf?”
“He says I can’t change my phone number. She texted me at 3am… told me I can’t keep her from them forever even though she signed them away.”
“What do you mean, ‘signed them away’?”
“She signed papers severing her parental rights…” She stood up and started rubbing my shoulders again, kneading harder that time. “That fucking Dear John letter that she wrote said she wishes she aborted Jack and never had Carm… She had everything done in early October and notarized on Monday… She felt like that for no less than a month.”
She cleared her throat twice before she said anything. “A judge is going to look at that as emotional abuse.”
“It doesn’t matter, does it? She has a certain amount of time to withdraw…”
“She basically put them up for adoption and didn’t care what the fuck happened to them until she found out that they were happy without her. She’d need to get a mental health professional to act as her proxy to prove she’s in the right mind to retract… from what I’ve heard, she’s crazy enough to deny that she needs help.” Hearing that actually made me feel better than the rest of her pep talk had.
“That’s a really good point. Maybe you should be a lawyer.”
She squeezed down on my shoulders. She might’ve been trying to hurt me, but it felt good enough to make my eyes roll back. “Who told?”
“I have my sources.”
“Daddy or Sookie?”
“Could be. You’d be surprised who leaks what around here.”
She slid her hands down my chest, still massaging. “Can they negotiate like I can?”
“Not even close, but at least they don’t flirt with my boss.”
She giggled on her way back to her chair. “Don’t worry about me… He’s mooshy.” The way her nose wrinkled up, I couldn’t help it. That shit was cute.
“And I don’t think he can love your oobatz and poppers like I can.”
Shit. Eating. Grin. “It might be fun to see him try though.” The thought of Drew trying to handle either one… he’d cry, but I shook it off.
“Me or the care packages?”
Her eyebrow twitched. “Good to know.”
I had just realized that she’d handled me out of freaking out for the time being when we heard Eric yell ‘shit’… That was going to cost him. Carm could’ve heard those dollar signs from a mile away.
Had winked and told me to cover her so that she could sneak a smoke when we heard him start stomping down the hall.
He slammed his laptop down on the table and threw his ass into a chair like he was raring up to kill someone…
“I’m a fucking retard.” But he’s pretty.
“Ok. Why were you carrying Sookie? I didn’t even notice that she hadn’t gotten up all day. She alright?” Since he hadn’t started with work related news, I had a feeling… Had was going to have too much fun with their little bet.
“That’s all part of my retardation. She was spent last night after running errands. Corbett said that he hadn’t found a way to get her to take it easy so I bet her that she couldn’t stay off her feet today.”
Had laughed into her hand. “Eric… What did you bet?”
He whined. “A piercing.”
She started laughing so hard, I thought she was going to fall out of her chair. “Oh! You are soooo getting stuck!”
“I hate you too.” We both lost it… I laughed so hard that my eyes watered. “Shut up.”
Had was the first one to pull her shit together. “It’s not that bad. Daddy says his didn’t hurt.”
“Alpha!?” I probably should’ve thought to look surprised, but I was too busy laughing.
She nodded. “Jason too, but he’s a crazy mother fucker. I didn’t think that’d make you feel better. JB and Laf too.”
“I knew Laf has his nipples…”
“He’s got his junk done too. They all do.”
“The whole family?”
“Yeah. Last year a nasty storm pretty much shut everything down when we went to the Super Bowl. We were all hanging out in the hotel bar, bitching about being bored. Some guy came in after a walk and he said that there wasn’t anything but a tattoo shop open. We all ended up swapping dares. I even let Hunter get his nipple done.” Liar… But the look on Eric’s face was priceless. “Sookie took out her Nefertiti because it caused problems.”
He whined again. Fucking baby. “Like an infection?”
“No… like it was hard to walk straight without… praying.” I started laughing all over again. I knew damn good and well that when he made that bet, that’s exactly what he was planning to ‘win’. He looked like Had shot his fucking puppy.
“So all the guys have a Prince Albert?”
She chewed on her lip while she futzed with her phone and then I heard his chime in his pocket. “Brace yourself.”
It took him about a second to turn green. “They all have that?!”
“No. That’s what Jas and Laf have… The next one is what JB and Daddy have.”
I didn’t have the chance to brace myself when he shoved his screen into my face, but I’d seen a dydoe before. The hard part was playing it up. “Holy Shit SON! You’re screwed.”
When he looked at the next pic, he looked even more like he was going to be sick. “If I shoot myself, do you think she’d let me out of it?”
I had to take the phone from him to see, but it was just a Jacob’s Ladder… I faked it again. “Oh my god! The sweet spot!?” I guess I just spent more time in tattoo joints… Hell, I’d seen that done. Maybe… it was just because it wasn’t my dick on the line.
“What if I get HIM to shoot me?” It was adorable that he thought it would be that easy.
Had rolled her eyes at him. “Quit being a baby. Daddy has 2 of those. He lived. You will too.”
I couldn’t help it. “Two? Why not the full ladder?”
She shrugged. “Isn’t it weird enough that I know my uncle has his cock pierced?”
“Fair enough… What did you get done during your ‘Super Bowl Vacation’?” If I didn’t ask, Eric might’ve actually noticed.
“Wouldn’t you like to know? Do you have anything pierced?”
“Just ink. I have to walk through too many metal detectors. The ones at the Field Office are set too sensitive. I’ve seen them get set off by tiny shit.”
She started laughing again. “That’ll be fun to explain EVERYDAY.” Eric shot her a dirty look over his phone.
I shook my head. “It won’t be too bad. We don’t have to go in that often anymore.”
“Does the wand-olier believe people or is he going to have to whip it out?”
Eric grumbled, “Fuck you.”
She was having just as much fun as I thought she would. “Oh come on. I’m just playing. They’ll think it’s your zipper… Seriously. Daddy loves his… oh. God.”
“What?” His eyes were wide like he wanted to ask what was behind him.
“Healing time… Shit Eric. Miami… OH NO! The honeymoon!” She was totally selling how completely sensitive she was for his situation. She looked like she was going to cry for his pecker.
He gave her the Ice Look. “And the horse you rode in on.”
“Oh baby… don’t worry… Did she say exactly what she was going to have you do? She…”
“Maybe she meant your nipple.”
“She’s having too much fun with this to have meant my nipple.”
“Maybe you can negotiate for a tattoo.”
I started laughing again. “He should probably just get stuck. If he negotiates for a tattoo, that could end up being on his dick too…”
“It would heal fast enough for him to get laid on his honeymoon.”
Crime scene after crime scene, I’d never seen him cringe like he did or cover his eyes.
He moved his hand to scowl at both of us when he heard Had slap me five. He growled, “Both of your horses.”
When Carm came in to collect Eric’s tax from ‘the brown word’ echoing through the house, I took Had’s ditched cigarette from the ashtray while she went to the bathroom.
I got a text while she was gone. “That was too much fun. It’s a shame Sookie missed it.” While I was reading I got another one…
There was an audio file attached. “It’s a good thing I recorded it.”