We were headed toward the bar when another round of morning sickness hit. Eric was able to pull over before a I redecorated the interior of the Corvette. He called Pam to tell her I wasn’t feeling well, and we ended up going home. I got out of the dress I’d worn for court and put on a nightgown. I wasn’t planning to leave the house again for the rest of the day.
Eric got out of his suit and then we curled up in bed to call my parents together to let them know the outcome of Eric’s sentencing. Eric’s hand settled on my stomach, stroking it gently as I talked to my Mom on speakerphone. I wanted to tell her I was pregnant. It was getting harder and harder to keep the knowledge to myself, and not telling my Mom was especially hard. I’d felt bad enough for lying to her while I was in Louisiana for Christmas. I’d had the chance to tell her my last night there, and I hadn’t. The first person to know was Tara, and that was only because she was with me when I took the test.
I’d resolved that the next person to know would be Eric. I didn’t want him to be fifth on a long list of people to tell. But now that he knew, we had plans to make. I knew my Mom would ask if having a baby meant Eric had asked me to marry him, and I wasn’t prepared to go into the list of reasons why we were going to hold off on that. Mom wasn’t terribly old fashioned when it came to things like this, but then again, it was never her daughter she was referencing when she talked about unwed mothers.
After assuring her we were doing well and we’d let her know what happened with the school board the next day, I left a voice mail for Jason to let him know what happened. By the time we finished making all of the necessary phone calls, it was lunchtime. Eric got up to let Jeter outside while I made us grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. We settled in the living room to eat and watch a movie together. It wasn’t long after we finished eating that we fell asleep on the couch with Jeter sleeping on the floor in front of us.
I was woken up by leg cramps that I hoped were just a fluke, and not something caused by the pregnancy. It was difficult to even stand up, but it was worse when I stayed seated. I walked around the house for a little while. The creaking of floorboards in the old house woke Eric. I was looking right at him when his eyes opened.
“You okay?” He asked sleepily, rubbing his eyes as he stretched out on the couch.
“Leg cramps.” I stopped near the big picture window in the living room and peered outside.
The sky had darkened, and all I could think was house grateful I was winter was already half over. It was just barely three o’clock, but the sky was already almost as dark as I would expect it to be at eight o’clock in the summer. I turned on the Christmas tree, knowing we would only have it for another day or two before we had to take it down. The house was going to look a little empty without it, and I was going to miss the smell of pine.
“So I’ve been meaning to ask you something.” I said as I went back to the couch to sit down next to him.
“Shoot.” He wrapped his arm around me to pull me closer.
“Why didn’t you tell me about the plans you were making with Pam to take over the bar?”
“She told you about that?”
“It just sort of came up on New Year’s Eve. I’m not really upset about it, but it’s just weird that you haven’t mentioned it.”
“We’ve had other things on our minds that were more important than that.”
“Okay, well, I think we should talk about it. If things don’t work out with the school board tomorrow, is taking over the bar something you really want to do? I know it was important to you because it was important to Pam, but I never really got the feeling it was what you wanted your life to be.” I curled my legs up under my nightgown to keep them warm.
“I honestly don’t know, Sookie. The bar is a good business, and if I can have a reliable manager in place, it will keep me free most nights to be at home with you once the baby comes. I guess the bigger question is whether or not you’re going to want to go back to work when the school year starts next fall.”
“My gut says yes, but I don’t think I’m going to know for sure until after the baby is born. I guess we should be planning for the possibility I might not. Is that going to be possible for us? Babies are expensive, and even though the house is paid off-”
“Your house is paid off?” Eric arched an eyebrow at me.
I sighed and said, “Copely bought both properties because he didn’t want some weirdo sharing a common wall with Amelia. The deeds were originally in her name. When I moved in, she transferred ownership of my house to me. So essentially, Copely Carmichael bought me a house. I paid the property taxes and the utilities, but I didn’t pay a dime for the house itself.”
“Holy shit.” Eric said under his breath.
“Yeah, exactly. Do you have any idea what the market value is on the house?”
Eric’s brows furrowed together in thought. I assumed he was trying to crunch some numbers in his head. When he came up with a number that seemed about right to him, his eyes widened. “Damn.”
“You can say that again. The houses weren’t cheap. I don’t know if he knows I’m listed as the property owner on the house, but he’s got one hell of a surprise coming to him if he ever finds out.” I couldn’t help but laugh. “So if we’re going to move into my house, then what do you want to do with this place? Do you want to sublet it, or do you want to sell it?”
“I don’t know. Selling it would probably be best, but I don’t know how easy that’ll be with the market right now.” Eric sighed.
“We have time to figure it out.” I laced my fingers with his. “I was thinking maybe we’d move over spring break week. That way we’ll be settled before I’m too big to do much of anything but complain.”
“I won’t need to bring much with me.”
“Your bed.” I grinned up at him, and he grinned right back.
“My bed, huh?”
“Yep, your bed. It’s bigger, and I’m used to it now.”
“We could sleep closer together in your bed.” Eric wiggled his eyebrows at me.
“Eric, the only way we could sleep any closer together than we do now is if we were surgically attached.” I laughed against his chest.
“Are you complaining?”
“Hell no.” I shifted on the couch so my leg was slung over his like it was when I slept. “I like waking up in the middle of the night with your arm draped over me, or being able to feel your heartbeat on my back. It’s comforting.”
“Good.” He kissed my forehead.
“Although, it’s going to have to change when the baby comes.”
“Lover, I imagine a lot of things will change when the baby comes.”
“Does it scare you?”
“The unknown? Yeah, sure. I don’t have tons of experience with babies myself, obviously, so this is going to be a learning on the job sort of deal for me.”
“Well, I used to babysit all the time when I was younger, and then there was Hunter.”
“So you’re a baby expert then?”
“Hardly.” I laughed quietly. “The good thing is, I work with plenty of women who’ve already been through it. Besides, what are the odds your Mom isn’t going to be here every chance she gets to dote on the baby anyway?”
“I would be shocked if she didn’t try to talk us into moving to California to be closer to them.”
“Oh that could be fun!” I straddled his lap with a big grin on my face. He looked at me like I was insane. “Just think about it! We could live next door, or across the street. Your Mom could be there all the time, and-”
“And I could take a long walk into the ocean and just keep going.” Eric finished for me.
“She’s not that bad!”
“I’ll remember that when you need a hearing aid after she damages your hearing when she finds out you’re pregnant.”
“You’re terrible.” I shook my head slowly.
“And you, my love, underestimate Stella Northman’s desire to be a grandmother.”
“You know, I’m kind of surprised she didn’t say anything about the possibility of me being pregnant when I kept getting sick.”
“Oh, I’m sure she talked Dad’s ear off about it all the way to Christmas Eve mass. I bet she prayed on it, too.”
“Eric, is it really so bad that she wants to have grandchildren? Don’t you want that someday, too?”
“Sure I do, but I’m never going to pressure our kid into having a child of their own just to make me happy.”
“Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, she wants you to have children because she knows how happy she was to have hers?”
I could tell by the look on his face he hadn’t given that much thought. His large hand ran up my arm to the back of my neck and pulled me closer. Our noses were almost touching, and our eyes were set on one anothers. I was completely prepared to kiss him, but instead I found my nightgown being pulled up over my head.
“It’s a little cold in here, you know?” I arched an eyebrow at Eric.
He ignored my complaint for the moment, and let his eyes focus on my stomach. “It’s amazing to think there is a tiny person in there.”
“I have to call my doctor in the morning and make an appointment. You want to come with me?”
“Good.” I grabbed his hands and held them tightly. “I know this wasn’t planned and the timing is all wrong, but I’m really exited about this, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’d be so okay with it if I weren’t doing this with you.”
“You know, I feel the same way.” Eric grinned, and then pulled me in to kiss him.
Since the meeting was closed session, I couldn’t go in to support Eric. I had no choice but to wait in the hall, and it felt like I’d been summoned to the principal’s office for being a lookout while my best friend went to the bathroom to sneak a cigarette between classes. Whatever was decided in that room was going to change both of our lives. Not having him at school with me all day was going to suck, no doubt about it.
I kept checking my watch to see how much time ticked by, and it was moving insanely slow. It felt like I’d been sitting there for hours, when it had only been about twenty minutes. Eric seemed torn about whether or not he wanted to return to teaching. I know he loved coaching and he wanted the chance to see the season through. On the other hand, taking on the bar full-time was something I knew he was considering, at the very least, and if Pam was serious about moving to Sweden it was going to be a full-time job for Eric just like it was for her. Working two full-time jobs with a pregnant girlfriend and a psycho on the loose was more stress than any one person should have to take on all at one time.
There had been a last minute cancellation at my doctor’s office, so we had a five o’clock appointment to find out what was what. I didn’t have any reason to think the baby was unhealthy, although I was a bit worried that having taken birth control pills while I was pregnant may have done some harm. I’d tried to do some research on the internet, but there were conflicting reports from various sources on the subject. I trusted Dr. Ludwig to give me the bottom line. Mostly, I was excited about the prospect of hearing the baby’s heartbeat.
I strained to hear anything that might give me an indication of what the board’s decision might be. Obviously, the easiest thing would be if Eric was maybe suspended for a while, or was assigned to additional counseling. I knew he would do it, and without complaint, if they made it a requirement. Wanting him to remain a teacher was also a bit selfish on my part because I liked having him so close to me all the time. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hear a peep coming out of that room.
When the silence got to be too much, I started pacing the room. All of the sitting and the silence were driving me crazy. I berated myself for not bringing a book to read, or for just waiting at home like Eric had suggested. I’d insisted on being there when he got done with the meeting, thinking I would at least be able to overhear what was happening. I was suddenly kicking myself for not staying home. I could have been finding ways to keep myself busy. The counters were in need of a good scrubbing. The kitchen windows needed cleaning. The living room needed to be vacuumed. I had a whole list of things in my head I could have been doing to keep my mind off of what was happening in the room to my right.
The door opened suddenly, and Eric was standing there with a blank expression on his face. No one followed him out of the room. He was holding a manila folder in his hands, and I ran over to him. He didn’t say anything. He just wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. With no verbal or facial cues to go off of, I had no idea what had happened.
“So what’s the verdict?” I looked up at him.
Eric released a deep breath and sagged against me a little bit. Oh, this can’t be good, I thought to myself as he lead me toward the door. The second we were standing outside the building, he nearly knocked me over with the force of the kiss he laid on me. I felt myself being bent backwards, and I know I made some kind of noise that was muffled by his mouth on mine. Horns honked as people drove past us, but Eric didn’t let up right away.
“What was that about?” I asked breathlessly when he finally stood me upright.
He handed me the folder he’d brought out from the meeting. “That is a copy of my letter of resignation.”
“Your what?” My eyes widened as I scrambled to open the folder.
“It was already drafted for me when I walked in. I was given in the option of signing it and leaving quietly, or they could fire me in a more public arena and make an example out of me.”
“You’re serious?” I stared up at him, and he nodded. “So, what did you do?”
“Well, since I’m not going to be teaching anymore anyway, I decided I would resign. This way, if I ever decide I want to teach in another district, I won’t have a termination on my record.”
“So you quit?”
“Sookie, I was fired. They were just giving me an option of making it look like I wasn’t.”
I sighed and shook my head. “This is unbelievable.”
“Lover, it’s for the best, really. Yes, I’m disappointed I won’t get to see my team through, but it’s better than having to go through any public scandal that might result because I get fired. The last thing either of us needs is for newspapers to get a hold of this, and since this is a small town, it’s entirely possible that would happen.” Eric pointed out.
We really didn’t need publicity. “Did they at least give you a reason?”
“You mean aside from the fact that I had a brief psychotic break and beat the hell out of a former teacher?”
“Yeah, a teacher who tried to kill three people, may have killed his wife and child, and is wanted in connection with the murder of your neighbor? And you did not have a psychotic break!”
Eric grinned at my enthusiasm and passion for the argument. “Sookie, the school is trying to cover its own ass. Having one loose cannon on staff was bad enough, but now they’ve got a convicted violent offender who is supposed to be a role model to young adults? It was never going to work. It sucks, but I can’t blame them for doing what they think is best.”
“But you’re not a violent offender!” I argued with him, my blood boiling at the school for not even giving him a chance to explain himself before they leveled their punishment.
Eric grabbed my hands and held them tightly. “My criminal record says otherwise.”
I sighed heavily and said, “This is all Bill’s fault.”
“He didn’t have a gun to my head when I did what I did, Sookie. And I may have just reacted to what I saw that night, but I have to take responsibility for that. I have to deal with the fall out from it. That is a better example for me to set for the kids I was trying to teach. There are always consequences for your actions, and these kids will see it first hand.” Eric was being remarkably calm about all of this.
I glared up at Eric and shoved the folder back at him. “You’re being way too blasé about this.”
“What am I supposed to do, Sookie? Should I throw a tantrum and really give them a reason to be assholes? It’s not worth it. Besides, I think maybe in the long run, this is the right thing.” Eric opened the passenger’s side door of the car for me.
“So you’re okay with this?” I looked up into Eric’s eyes, and saw they were smiling.
“Sookie, the best thing I ever could have gotten from that job, I already have.” He bent down to kiss me again.
“Very smooth, Mr. Northman.” I whispered against his lips.
He smiled back at me and said, “There is one thing I’ll miss.”
“Oh?” I asked as I got into the car.
“There was this one teacher.” He leaned over me as I put on my seat belt. “She had the silkiest blonde hair, and the most amazing blue eyes. She used to wear this beyond sexy pinstriped skirt and a pair of red shoes that I have always wanted to see up in the air while I fucked her.”
I gasped slightly at his admission, my heartbeat tripling its pace. “Really?”
He nodded and said, “I had her once in the closet of the dance studio.”
“Did you?” My eyes met his as I recalled the one time I’d let myself go that far on school grounds. I shouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did.
He got so close to my ear, his lips grazed it. I whimpered quietly, feeling a sudden burst of lust pounding through my veins. All I wanted was for him to get in the car and take me home. We had a few hours before going to the doctor, and I knew just how I wanted to spend them.
“From the first time I saw her, I haven’t been able to get her out of my head.”
“Sounds like you might be in love with her.”
“Oh, I am. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I think she’s ruined me for anyone else.” His admission made me smile.
“If she were here right now, what would you say to her?” I forced my lip not to quiver, and I held back whatever tears were trying to pool in my eyes.
A devilishly glint rose up to claim Eric’s eyes. “I would apologize for being such a bad boy lately. I really do need discipline. She was very good at giving me that.”
My mind traveled back to what had happened that night after Eric and I had fucked in that closet. My body was immediately on fire and all I could say was, “Eric, get in the car.”
“Yes, Miss Stackhouse.” He nodded and did as he was told.
For the first time since the first night we slept together- still unbelievably to me, the night we met- Eric used a condom when we had sex that afternoon. Sex before a doctor’s appointment like the one I had was probably a no-no, but my body wasn’t taking no for an answer. It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about it, but it struck me again how happy I would be to never get out of bed as long as Eric was in there with me.
“Why need to start playing the lotto.” I whispered to him.
He laughed quietly and asked, “Why’s that?”
“Because if we win, we can just live off of that and we’d never have to get out of bed.” I grinned at him.
“I like the way you think.” He rolled on top of me, and started going after round three.
“Eric, we can’t. I have to shower and get ready for my appointment.” I pouted. I really didn’t want to get up.
“Then I’ll have to be quick. I like a challenge.” He winked at me. He rolled to the side to get another condom, and I took the opportunity to get out of bed. I should have known that wouldn’t stop him. “Where are you going, lover? I’m not finished with you yet.”
“I have to get ready.” I grinned at him as I backed into the bathroom.
“You’re ready.” He said as he put on the condom.
I wanted to be stronger and tell him no, but that just wasn’t going to happen. I started the shower all the same, and made a show of bending over to turn on the water. I heard Eric growl behind me, and the next thing I knew. I was bent over the vanity, and he was pounding into me from behind. I moaned and cursed with his thrusts, watching his eyes in the mirror while he watched mine. He whispered dirty things in my ear, punctuating certain thoughts with the thrust of his hips. It was naughty and sexy, and everything I liked about having sex with Eric.
My knees shook as I backed up to meet Eric’s thrusts. He was going hard and deep, and I barely registered the soreness of my breasts as they bounced in time with his pounding. One of his large palms settled on my lower back while the other grabbed onto my shoulder. I held onto the vanity for dear life, grunting and moaning as I got closer and closer to the explosion set to go off inside me at any moment. The palm on my back slipped around to my front, and clever fingers dove between my thighs to gently pinch my clit, sending me rocketing out of my own body with an orgasm so fierce, my knees finally buckled.
Eric caught me, and seconds later, he was having his own explosion. We ended up on the bathroom floor, and I had no idea how the hell I was going to stand up. I couldn’t feel a damn thing below my waist. We laid there panting, trying to remember how to speak. That little interlude was definitely going on the highlight reel, and there were plenty of moments I could think back to in a pinch that would get me going. But this one… well, damn.
“I can’t get up.” I said with a laugh.
“Me either.” He admitted with a laugh of his own.
“I have to get in the shower.” My heartbeat was finally starting to return to normal.
“I’ll help you.”
“No, you won’t. You’re going to take Jeter outside. You can shower when I get out.” I turned and kissed his chest.
“You’re so bossy.” He teased.
“You love it.” I managed to get myself up into a sitting position.
Eric sat up behind me and turned my face to his. “You know that teacher I was talking about earlier in the car?”
“I vaguely recall you mentioning some hussy.”
Eric laughed and said, “You should know she doesn’t compare to you.”
I leaned back and kissed him. “You always had a way with words, Northman.”