Chapter 43: A Very Northman Christmas


It amazed me how quickly Sookie dropped off into sleep. Maybe it was because she felt like a weight was off her shoulders by sharing her news with me, or maybe she was just exhausted from what we now knew to be morning sickness kicking her ass. I was willing to bet it was a combination of the two. The reality of her confession hadn’t quite sunk in yet. I was happy, I knew that much. We’d talked about kids a little bit, so it’s not that this was a disappointment in the slightest. The timing wasn’t ideal, but I meant what I’d said to her about never truly being prepared.

The tricky part was going to be keeping this quiet from everyone else, at least for a little while. Telling everyone Sookie had a stomach bug was only going to last for so long before they started getting suspicious of what was really going on- assuming they weren’t already. I’d come home from my errands with Johan and Dad, surprised to find Mom on the couch and Sookie still in bed. When Mom mentioned that Sookie had gotten sick out of the blue I kept waiting for her to badger me into telling her what was wrong, but all she did was ask if the rest of us were feeling alright since she assumed it had something to do with breakfast.

We were all fine, of course, and I was surprised that Mom shrugged it off so quickly. I knew, however, that it wouldn’t last, and I found myself grateful their time in Chicago was almost up. If word got out we were pregnant, Mom would kick the nagging into overdrive where marriage was concerned, and I wasn’t about to ask Sookie to marry me just because of some silly old fashioned notion that I was supposed to do that. Marriage wasn’t going to be the solution to any of our problems. Whenever we did it, if we did it, it would be because it was what we both wanted.

I held onto Sookie tightly, and eventually drifted off to sleep. Although I have no idea how long I stared at her before I did. I woke in the morning to the sound of Sookie gagging and heaving in the bathroom. The shower was running and the door was closed, but that only muffled the sounds a little bit. I rolled out of bed and knocked on the bathroom door before letting myself in. Sookie was on her knees in front of the toilet. I moved quickly to stand behind her and hold her hair.

“This really sucks.” Sookie said when her body let her come up for air before revolting on her again.

I felt horrible for her. There was nothing I could do to make this better, and I hoped this phase would end quickly for her. I rubbed her back and gently wrapped one of her elastic bands around her hair before tucking the ponytail into the back of her shirt to make sure it stayed out of her face. I filled one of those little Dixie cups with water and set it on the edge of the vanity. I put toothpaste on her toothbrush, and hoped it would be over soon.

“Is there anything I can do?” I asked her once she was sitting with her back against the tub.

She shook her head and sipped her water. “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

I frowned, hating not being able to help her. “Toothbrush?”

She smiled at me and extended a shaky arm to take it. I watched as she brushed her teeth and spit into the toilet. I helped her off the floor when she decided she was done being sick, at least for the time being. I followed her back to bed after turning off the shower. I spooned up behind her and let my hand rest on her stomach. I tried to imagine what was was going to feel like when the soft skin there was pulled taught over the growing bump that housed our child. The idea of a pregnant Sookie was actually pretty damn sexy.

“You’re going to look good pregnant.” I whispered against her neck.

“Oh, you mean when I’m fat, bloated and yelling at you for breathing in my direction?” Sookie snickered.

“I won’t see any of those things.” I kissed her neck.

“It’ll be hard to miss.”

“Mmm, I don’t think so.” My hand moved up from her stomach toward her breasts, and her breathing hitched when I found them. “These will be much bigger, a hardship I’m more than willing to help you handle.”

Sookie giggled and said, “Be careful with those, they’re sore.”

“Getting bigger already, I suppose.” I massaged her gently.

“You’re such a guy.” I could hear the eye roll in her voice.

“Isn’t that one of the things you like most about me?” I teased, earning me another giggle from her.

“Of course it is.” She rolled over so we were face to face. “I just think you don’t understand how troublesome these can be.” She put my hand back on her breast.

These are a thing of beauty.”

She shook her head at me, but didn’t stop me from kissing her. Things were just starting to get heated when there was a knock on the bedroom door. We both cursed, but I was the one to mumble under my breath I was glad we would have the house to ourselves again in a few days.

“You forget your brother will still be in town, and we aren’t guaranteed Johan will knock.”

“He will if he wants to live.” I kissed her forehead before getting out of bed to answer the door.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, but breakfast is ready.” Mom said with a big grin on her face. “Oh, and Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, Mom.” I returned the hug she offered me.

It had completely slipped my mind that it was Christmas morning. Mom turned and headed back for the kitchen, while I turned to see Sookie looking as mystified as I was.

“Did we really forget it was Christmas?” She laughed.

“We were preoccupied.”

“You know, by this time next year I don’t think we’ll be forgetting it’s Christmas.” Sookie’s hand rested on her stomach. “I’m starving.”

“Good. Breakfast is ready.” I extended a hand to her, and she walked with me to the kitchen.

Mom and Dad were already at the table. Dad was going over the Tribune while Mom was making a list of what I assumed needed to be done for dinner later. Sookie and I greeted the parentals before sitting at the island. The small kitchen table was only designed for two. Usually Sookie and I ate at the island.

“Eric, you should get a bigger table.” Mom said without looking up.

“There isn’t really room for one.” I shook my head.

“Oh, nonsense.”

“We usually sit over here at the island, Mom.”

“Well that’s not going to work forever. What about when you have kids? Or if you have people over for supper? You can’t just park them on a stool.”

“Stella, will you stifle? It’s Christmas morning, for Pete’s sake.” Dad didn’t look up from the paper.

“All I’m saying is a table like this isn’t very useful.”

“I have a bigger table.” Sookie volunteered. “We just don’t really have a place to put it right now.”

That was true. The table in Sookie’s dining room at her old house wasn’t going to fit in my kitchen. Come to think of it, we were going to need more room when the baby was born. I looked over at Sookie with my brow furrowed together. Maybe it would make more sense if we lived in her house. At the moment, the place was just holding space. No one was living there, and Sookie had yet to decide what she was going to do with it. Since the housing market wasn’t really ripe for selling, maybe it would be better for us to live there and put mine up for sale.

Her house was newer. It was brand new construction when she moved into it. She would be closer to Amelia and Tray. I didn’t know what my fate was as far as teaching was concerned since I had yet to hear from the school board. I decided my idea would have to go on the list of things Sookie and I needed to talk about as soon as my Ringling Brothers Circus of a family went back to their own homes. I know Sookie thought my Mom was sweet, but I was willing to bet that would change when she was 8 months pregnant and Mom was calling every half hour to see if she’d gone into labor yet.

After breakfast Mom and Dad headed off to mass, and I was surprised they didn’t try to guilt Sookie and I into going along. It was for the better since I’d long ago given up practicing Catholicism, and Sookie wasn’t Catholic to begin with. We did, however, set them up with directions to the nearest Catholic church and the keys to the Comet. Sookie’s car probably would have been better, but Dad found the GPS to be more irksome than he did helpful.

Moreover, his exact words were, “Son, I found my way through a jungle in ‘Nam. I think I can find a church three miles away.”

No sooner were they gone than Sookie and I were locking the door to our bedroom and stripping off our clothes to take a shower together. We got significantly more dirty before we got clean, but neither one of us were complaining. I stood at the vanity shaving while Sookie put on her makeup.

“How are you feeling?” I asked her.

“I’m fine, Eric.” She smiled at me in the mirror.

“Just checking.” I winked, and we went back to our tasks.

“So, I had a crazy thought earlier.” Sookie said as she started to comb out her hair.

“Let’s have it.”

“Well, your Mom sort of started it. See, I was thinking maybe living in my house would be better. I know it’s crazy, and with everything going on right now moving is really the last thing either of us needs to worry about, but there’s more space and it needs less work and-” She stopped talking when I started laughing. “What’s so funny?”

“I was thinking the same thing.”

“You were?”

“I was. I just figured I’d wait to bring it up until some of the madness died down.”

Sookie laughed and said, “Eric, sweetheart, I’m pregnant. You may or may not be employed, and you might be incarcerated soon. We don’t really have time to sit on things that require a big decision between us.”

“I’m not sure it bodes well for me that you can laugh about jail time.” I smirked at her.

“You know what I mean!” She slapped playfully at my arm.

“Hey, there’s a razor in my hand.” I reminded her.

“Sorry.” She leaned over and kissed my arm where she hit me. “So do you really want to talk about this, or should we just forget about it for a while?”

“No, I think we should talk about it. I was thinking it would probably be a good thing for us. Not only is your house bigger, but there’s also a bigger yard. The garage is attached to the house, and you wouldn’t have to take the baby out in the rain or snow in order to get him or her into the car. There’s plenty of room for Jeter to move around. Assuming you’re okay with him moving into your house.”

“Of course I am! Jeter’s part of the family.” Sookie smiled at me. “Kind of like our first kid.”

“You would also be closer to Amelia and Tray. You’d be farther away from work, though.”

“If it meant not being woken up by freight train whistles at three in the morning, it’d be worth it.”

I tried to do the math in my head. I assumed Sookie had gotten pregnant in the early part of November, which meant if I was estimating correctly, we would have a baby by the middle of August the following year. The good news was that she would be able to finish out the school year before the baby was born. She would probably miss the first two months of the following school year, if she wanted to go back to work at all. That was another talk we were going to have to have. If she wanted to stay home, I would support that just as much as if she wanted to go back to work. The decision would be hers to make.

I didn’t realize how many things there were to consider in all of this, but there was a lot of planning that needed to done, and there were a lot of decisions we were going to have to make. It all started to sink in a little, and I knew it was only going to get more complicated the further into the pregnancy we got. One thing was for sure, our lives were going to have to slow down quite a bit. I decided right then and there that once all of this court stuff was taken care of, Sookie would be my number one priority. Everything else in the world could just fuck off. Her and our baby were all that mattered to me, and I would do whatever I had to to make sure they were both taken care of.

“Where’d you go?” Sookie whispered as she ran her hand up my back.

“Just thinking about the future.” I shook my head.

“Mmm.” She kissed my arm and then left the bathroom to go get dressed.

Pam and Johan arrived shortly before Mom and Dad got back from church. Pam was glowing in a way I hadn’t seen in years, and that was only because of a two month trip to Greece shortly after we graduated from college. She was immaculately dressed, but I would expect nothing less from her. She also seemed to have her full snark back.

“Eric, can I see you in the other room for a minute?” She asked once the four of us were standing around the island.

“Sure.” I followed behind Pam, leaving Sookie and Johan to talk in the kitchen.

Pam closed the door to the bedroom before reaching into her purse to pull out the little red velvet box she’d been in charge of holding for me. “It’s all set.”

“Sized and everything?” I asked as I took the box from her.

“Yep. The jeweler had no trouble matching it from the ring you gave me.” Pam grinned as I opened the box. “So when are you going to give it to her?”

I wanted to tell Pam my plan- her plan- had been put on hold. She’d gone with me to help pick out an engagement ring for Sookie to make sure I didn’t get anything too gaudy or too cheap. Apparently, there were rules and guidelines for buying engagement rings that I had no idea about. After visiting several jewelry stores we found one that sold vintage rings. The one I’d picked out for Sookie was an antique ring. The band was platinum and there was an intricate design in the setting. Smaller diamond chips, as Pam called them, were embedded in the band around the bigger setting. It was unique without being flashy, just like the woman who I hoped would be willing to wear it for the rest of her life.

“Do you think she’s going to like it?” I asked Pam, in spite of having asked her that no less than a dozen times before I wrote the check for it.

“She’d be crazy not to.” Pam said. “You’re lucky I like her enough not to run away with it myself. So, when are you going to ask her?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“You mean you don’t want to make Stella’s year and ask her tonight?”

“Uh, no.” I shook my head.

I wanted to tell Pam about the baby, but now wasn’t the time for it. I was sure Pam would have a lot to say on the subject, and we had maybe another two minutes before someone came looking for us to see what we were up to. I’d also sworn Pam to secrecy about this. No one, especially my loudmouth twin, was supposed to know about this. I didn’t want anyone making a big deal over it, and I definitely didn’t want Sookie to find out from someone else.

“Pity. You might change your mind when she starts talking shit about me.”

“Give it a rest, Pam. It’s not like you don’t say things to intentionally piss her off.”

“I’m just being myself.”

I laughed and said, “Exactly.”

She punched me in the gut, and then turned to walk out of the room. “So what are you going to do with that thing in the meantime?”

Hiding the ring would be somewhat tricky since Sookie had access to everything in the house, but there were a few places I knew she’d never think of to look. “I’ve got it under control.”

“Good. Not that I wouldn’t love to see the look on Johan’s face if I suggested he and I get married.”

That brought everything to a screeching halt for me. “Pam, what’s the deal with you two? I thought you guys were… well, I didn’t think it was serious.”

“I didn’t think it was either, but things have a way of changing.”

“What does that mean?” If Pam and Johan were going to drop a bomb at dinner, I wanted a head’s up.

“It means I have a lot of thinking to do, and your Mom might want to figure out a way to get along with me.”

“Pam…” I said in a tone of warning.

“I can retract my claws, Northman, you know that.”

“Why won’t you just tell me what’s up?”

Pam sighed heavily and said, “Fine. You want to know what’s up? What’s up is that I love your brother, and he loves me. There’s a distinct possibility I might be going to Sweden with him for a little while.”

“You what? What about the bar, Pam? You can’t just leave.”

“You’ll be here.” Pam shrugged.

“Have you forgotten that there’s a possibility that I might be in jail two weeks from now?”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“Oh? And how do you know that? Did you bribe the judge?”

Pam sighed and looked at me like I should know better. “You’re not a repeat offender, Eric. Your lawyer can now prove that Bill had motive to take out your girlfriend. In spite of your ridiculous guilty plea, you were acting in defense of the same woman he tried to have killed. He was also banned from the bar and had no business showing up to an invitation only party that he certainly wasn’t invited to. Frankly, the fucker is lucky I didn’t find him first. At worst, you pay some heinous fine and end up with probation. You’re not going to go to jail, Eric.”

“I hope you’re right, but I need to be prepared for what happens if you’re wrong. I don’t have myself to think about anymore.”

“Sookie’s a big girl. She can take care of herself.”

I was so close to telling Pam it wasn’t just about Sookie either, but as predicted, there was a knock at the door. “Everything okay in there?” Johan called out.

“Keep your pants on!” Pam shouted at him.

It was then that I realized Pam and Johan were Mom and Dad: The Next Generation.

Dinner was going relatively well considering the tense stares Mom and Pam were shooting back and forth at one another. I managed to get Johan to myself for a few minutes when I took Jeter outside, and I was able to convince him that Christmas dinner was the wrong time to announce that he and Pam were a couple. The thought was still a bit over my head, and I knew if I was having trouble with the idea, Mom was going to flat out reject it.

It’s not that I was against it so much as it was just weird. For as long as I’d known Pam she had never so much as considered dating a man, much less got serious with one. Now she was talking about moving to Sweden to live with my brother who she was in love with. Pam being in love with anyone was something that required careful consideration. It certainly didn’t happen often.

Even though Johan had given me his word he wouldn’t bring up the move, it was obvious things between Johan and Pam had changed. Pam seemed softer, and she wasn’t teasing Johan the way she usually did. Nor was she pushing him away when he got too close to her. I could tell by the way Dad was looking at them that he had figured out something was up, but as expected, he kept his mouth shut. He liked Pam quite a bit, and there had been a time when he’d questioned my sanity for not wanting Pam myself. It had just never been that way for us, and it was never going to be. Pam and I were too much alike, and I had no interest in dating myself.

We were mid-meal when Sookie suddenly dropped her fork and bolted from the kitchen. Everything stopped for a moment with everyone’s eyes but mine following her out of the room. Of course it was Mom who spoke up first, wanting to know what was wrong with Sookie.

“She’ll be fine, Mom. It’s just a little stomach bug.” I said dismissively.

Mom wiped her mouth and pushed back from the table. “Maybe I should go check on her.”

“No.” I said quickly. “Give her a minute.”

“But Eric, I-”

“Stell, do you want an audience when you evacuate chow?” Dad asked without looking up from his plate. I had to restrain a laugh.

“I’ll go look in on her if she doesn’t come back in a minute.” I promised my mother.

Mom cast those suspicious eyes of hers on me, and I knew it was only a matter of time before she put it all together. I just hoped she would keep it under her hat. When Sookie didn’t return to the table five minutes later, I excused myself to go check on her. I found her kneeling in front of the toilet in a position that was becoming far too familiar for either of our likings. Even worse, there was a routine becoming familiar with all of this I knew neither of us were too thrilled about either.

“Maybe we should just tell them.” Sookie suggested once the storm had passed.

“If we tell them, they’ll never go back to California.” I warned Sookie, who laughed weakly as I helped her up off the floor.

“Your Mom might mellow out a little, though.”

“Don’t get your hopes up. She’ll just want to know how long it’ll be before the first one has a brother or a sister to play with.”

Sookie laughed nervously and said, “Let’s get through this first one, and then we’ll talk about going back for seconds.”

“Deal.” I kissed her forehead. “Are you okay now?”

“For now.” Sookie shrugged. “You should go back out there before your Mom forms a one woman search party. I’ll be right behind you.”

I nodded and went back to the kitchen. Mom was already starting to put away leftovers. There was more food than necessary, and I had no idea what she thought we were going to do with it all. I supposed she planned to send a good deal of it with Pam and Johan, since she was very aware of the fact that neither of them could cook. Johan was used to women cooking for him, and Pam never wanted to be seen as housewife material. I once again found myself floundering at the idea of the two of them together, and yet, at the same time, it made perfect sense.

Sookie came back to the kitchen and was immediately asked a thousand questions by my mother. I could see the white flag of surrender raising in her eyes, and I knew she was just about to go back on her word to keep our secret between just the two of us when Pam intervened.

“Johan and I have news.” Pam said with a big smile on her face.

I didn’t know whether to hug her or bash my head against a wall repeatedly. I stood behind Sookie with my hands on her shoulders, waiting for Pam to lower the boom. I figured Pam and Johan’s best shot at a positive reaction came from Sookie and Dad. Mom, on the other hand, was going to need to step away from the knives and the heavy glass platter nearby. We didn’t need to start a new Northman tradition of mass murder.

“Well, spit it out.” Dad winked at Pam.

Sookie blew another raspberry, as she seemed to do every time Dad got too cheeky with his commentary. If it had been one of his sons to do such a thing, it would have meant a box to the ear. From Sookie, Dad found it endearing, and I think it actually encouraged his snappy talk instead of hindered it. It was good to see Sookie was finding a niche in my family, just as I had done in hers. I wondered if it would have been this easy with anyone else.

I was familiar with the tales of others, and how meeting a significant other’s family members could be a nightmare experience. I figured Sookie and I were either extremely lucky, or maybe it was a sign we were supposed to be together. I didn’t know, and truthfully, I didn’t care. The only thing that mattered was that it somehow had all come together. For once, it was nice to have something fit together easily. The last thing either of us needed was family drama, but it seemed we were about to get a heaping dose of it from Pam and Johan.

“Pam has decided to come to Sweden with me when I go back.” Johan said with excitement in his eyes.

As expected, Mom dropped the glass in her hand. She stared at Johan as if he’d just broken her heart. Her eyes moved to Pam’s, and they turned menacing. Without so much as a word, Mom’s face turned bright red and she stormed out of the room, cursing in Swedish under her breath.

“That went well.” Dad noted before turning back to his plate.

I looked at Johan with wide eyes. If he thought I was going to talk Mom down off her ledge, he had another thing coming. As Sookie would say, “His cheese done slid right off his cracker.” No way in hell was I getting in the middle of this. The old Eric wouldn’t have hesitated to step up and play mediator between the two of them, but this wasn’t my problem. Mom was perfectly happy with Sookie, and that was my only concern. I’d been telling Mom for years that Pam wasn’t the person she assumed her to be, and it had gotten me exactly nowhere. Maybe Johan would have better luck.

“Well, don’t just sit there. Go talk to your mother.” Pam elbowed Johan in the ribs.

My twin sighed, and slowly got up. Sookie whistled Taps as he walked past us, earning her the first evil glare she’d ever gotten from Johan. As soon as he was out of the room, the rest of us were fighting to keep our laughter at a low volume.

“He would have done it to me.” Sookie said in her own defense.

“You know, Toots, you’re gonna fit in just fine in all this crazy.” Dad stopped to kiss Sookie’s head on the way to the sink.

Absolutely amazing.

Mom had by no means accepted Johan and Pam as a couple, and she kept staring at me like it was my fault the two of them were together. Sookie and I cleaned up the kitchen together while Dad and Pam took Jeter outside. We could hear Johan and Mom arguing in the spare bedroom in Swedish. It wasn’t a pretty argument, but Johan was right about everything he said. I understood Mom’s concern, but it was really a moot point. She believed what she wanted to about Pam, instead of seeing what was really there. And to top it off, if what she was most concerned about was Johan’s happiness, then her personal feelings toward Pam shouldn’t matter. For whatever reason, Pam was like catnip for my brother.

“You know, I’m glad I got to meet your parents, but I think you’re right about it being nice to have the house to ourselves again.” Sookie smiled as she handed me a clean plate to put in the dishwasher.

Not long after Mom and Johan came out of the bedroom we gathered in the living room to open our gifts. Sookie and I sat on the floor together, and it was while Mom was actually admiring a sweater Pam had bought her that Sookie pulled me down to whisper in my ear.

“Is it just me, or are you thinking about what next Christmas is going to look like, too?”

“It may have crossed my mind once or twice.” I smiled over at her. She kissed me gently, and our eyes met for a minute.

“Sookie, this is for you.” Mom handed Sookie a beautifully wrapped box with a shiny gold bow on top.

“Thank you.” Sookie took the box from Mom and began to methodically remove the paper.

“Ugh, get on with it.” Johan, the Tazmanian Devil of gift opening, hated it when people took to long to remove paper. I may or may not have informed Sookie of this before we got to gift opening.

She carefully peeled back the pieces of tape, and then folded the thick scarlet paper. Johan was going nuts. It was fun to watch, I have to say. I knew what was inside the box since I’d gone shopping with Mom to find it. Every single jewelry store we passed, Mom had stopped at to look at rings. You know, “window shopping,” and what not. I was sometimes convinced Mom would have made a great car salesman or real estate agent.

After taking more time than I thought possible, Sookie finally got the box open. I had great idea for Johan’s presents next year I would have to remember to tell Sookie about later. She took her time removing the tissue paper one piece at a time, folding each one gently. Johan rolled his eyes impatiently, and I was impressed he didn’t lunge off the couch to take the box from her to get to whatever prize lay in wait inside. Imagine the sheer frustration on his face when Sookie revealed an envelope.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Johan shouted, and everyone burst out laughing.

“It was all Mom’s idea.” I nodded in Mom’s direction, and she turned bright pink.

“You hush!” Mom chided.

“Just wait. I’ll get you back for this.” Johan glared at me.

“What are you mad at me for?”

“Because Mom’s not sneaky.”

This was true. Mom was definitely more of the ‘in for your face’ style than she was a rascal. Next year’s gifts would require Dad’s assistance. He was far more diabolical than Mom. Sookie’s gift ended up being a rather hefty gift card for Border’s and a picture of a new bookshelf that matched the ones in her house that Mom had insisted on ordering for her.

“This is…” Sookie was about to protest when she remembered her manners. “Thank you.” She finished instead.

“You’re welcome. We weren’t sure what else to get you, but Eric said you’re an avid reader. This way you can pick out what you like.” Mom explained, as if Sookie wouldn’t have figured it out.

“It’s very thoughtful of you. I love it.” Sookie grinned at them, and even more surprising to both of them, she got up off the floor to hug them.

After that it was like all of the tension of the last few hours was forgotten, and for a few hours, the Northman family Christmas wasn’t a total loss.

Since we couldn’t go past the security checkpoints with my parents, Sookie and I said our goodbyes to my parents at the drop off point for the departures. Dad and I unloaded the luggage while Mom talked Sookie’s ear off about one thing or another. In some ways I was sorry to see them go since I wasn’t sure how long it would be until I saw them again. Although I had no doubt Sookie and I would have a hard time keeping them away once they learned Sookie was pregnant.

Once the luggage was handed off to be checked in, the round of goodbye hugs began. “Take care, Old Man.” I told Dad when he hugged me.

“You do the same. And see if you can’t keep your ass out of the clink, will you?”

I snorted and said, “Believe me, I’ll do my best.”

“And you, Toots, if you need anything, you call us.” Dad said when he got his arms around her.

“Yessir.” Sookie promised, putting a little extra drawl into her voice.

“She’s a good girl, Eric.” Mom whispered to me in Swedish. “Don’t let her get away.”

“I have no plans to let that happen, Mom.” I whispered right back, keeping to the other language.

“Good boy.” She kissed my cheek before pulling back. “I’m going to miss you both. You must come see us this summer after school lets out.”

Sookie and I shared a look. By then she would be approaching her third trimester, and flying wouldn’t be possible for her. “We’ll definitely try.” I said for us both.

Mom wrapped Sookie in one more hug before Dad was able to drag her inside the airport. Sookie and I stood there for a moment after they were gone, listening to planes fly overhead. She reached for my hand and squeezed.

“You ready to go home, Mr. Northman?” She smiled up at me.

“Yes, Miss Stackhouse, I think I am.” I kissed her hand, and off we went.


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