To say our parents were excited about Eric proposing to me was an understatement. My parents had always been pretty open-minded and liberal when it came to things like children outside of wedlock but it didn’t mean they didn’t want me to marry Eric. We even made plans to have Mom and Dad come up and visit us in the spring. Eric and I had talked about going to Sweden for spring break, but that plan was put on hold. With Pam only getting there a few weeks before spring break was set to start, we figured they would probably need some time to adjust to living together.
Eric and I had Pam over for dinner as we planned the Monday after Valentine’s Day. I mostly sat back and watched my fiance- it was still weird to call him that- and his best friend snipe at each other like brother and sister. I knew that even though Eric was as happy as he could be for Pam and Johan, he wasn’t entirely thrilled about Pam leaving. He was doing his best to keep his mouth shut about it, though.
I was in the kitchen washing dishes after dinner that Monday night while Eric was outside with Jeter. Pam came and stood next to me while I loaded the dishes into the dishwasher. She folded her arms over her chest and stared right at me.
“What’s up, Pam?”
“He doesn’t want me to go.” Pam seemed disappointed.
“Of course he doesn’t. Your his best friend. His brother moving thousands of miles away was hard enough. Now you’re going, too. He’s not going to ask you to stay because he knows how much this means to you, but isn’t it good that he’s going to miss you?” I asked as I put the last piece of silverware into the basket.
“What’s there to miss? He’s got you. The baby will be here before either of you know it. It’s not like I’m leaving him to fend for himself.”
“Oh, come on, Pam. You mean to tell me you’re not going to miss him?” I turned off the water and dried my hands on a dish towel. “You two have been best friends for almost fifteen years. That’s nearly half of your lives. Don’t tell me you aren’t going to miss him.”
Pam stayed silent. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume it was because she didn’t care. I tended to think it was because she didn’t realize until it was too late just how much she did care. After nearly losing Amelia after the car accident, I could understand what the two of them were facing. It wasn’t easy to be separated from someone you depend on.
“Have you two set a date yet?” Pam changed the subject to avoid me asking any further questions.
“Not yet. It’s on our list of ever growing things to do.” I leaned against the counter. “I do have a favor to ask of you, though.”
“Now’s not really a good time, Sookie.” Pam teased.
“Oh, but I think you’ll like this one. It involves a new dress.” I smiled over at her. Pam perked up immediately. Mention of shopping, particularly for clothes, was a great way to get her attention.
“I’m listening.” She said expectantly.
“I’d really like it if you’d be a bridesmaid. Eric is going to ask Johan to be his best man, and I imagine he’ll be asking Tray to stand up as well. Amelia is going to be my matron of honor.” I told Pam.
Pam looked at me with watery eyes, clearly surprised I was asking her. “I would love to. So long as you don’t make me wear some tacky hunter green monstrosity. I prefer pink.”
I laughed and said, “I can’t promise you pink, since I don’t know when we’re going to actually get married, but I can give you my word there will be no hunter green monstrosities.”
“And nothing with bows at the bustle, either.” Pam shivered.
“Got it. No green, no bows.” I nodded.
“Would it be too much to ask if you put Eric in a top hat and tails? That would be priceless.” Pam snickered at the thought.
I had to admit, the idea of Eric in a top hat made me giggle. The idea of Eric, Johan and Tray all in top hats had me nearly doubled over with laughter. For some reason the 3 Stooges flashed in my head and I couldn’t stop laughing. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom on account of it. Lately if a sneeze caught me off guard- or if I took too deep a breath- I had to go to the bathroom. By the time I was heading back toward the kitchen, I heard Pam and Eric picking on each other. I was going to miss that more than I’d realized.
“I should get going.” Pam announced as I walked into the kitchen.
“So soon? It’s not even nine.” I found myself saying.
“I have things to take care of and I’m sure you two want some time alone. Don’t worry, you’ll see me again before I leave.” Pam winked at me.
We were taking Pam to the airport, so of course we’d see her again, but I would have figured she’d stick around later than nine. I was fully prepared to relinquish my hold on Eric so he could spend as much time with Pam as they wanted before she left. I stood there next to Eric as Pam put on her coat, cursing the winter weather like it had just rolled into town. Eric stepped forward to open the door for Pam.
“I’ll see you later.” Pam said as she started out the door. “Thank you for dinner.”
“You’re welcome.” I answered, thinking she’d make a wise crack of some kind, but she didn’t. She just left.
Eric closed and locked the door. He looked troubled. His brows were furrowed together the way they often were when he was deep in thought about something. My hands settled on my stomach, almost cradling it the way they often seemed to do.
“Are you okay?” I asked Eric after a few minutes of silence.
“I’m not really sure how to answer that.” Eric admitted.
I gave him a small smile and reached for his hand. “It’s going to be okay, you know.”
He nodded, took my hand and said, “Yeah, I know. It’s just going to be weird without her around.”
“I know.” I squeezed his hand. “Let’s go to bed.”
“You go. I’m gonna go downstairs and go over some of the paperwork for the bar. I’ll be up in a while.” He leaned over and kissed me gently.
I stood there in the living room for a while before heading off to bed alone. Jeter followed me and curled up near the heat vent. I changed clothes, washed my face and brushed my teeth. I arranged my pillows the way I needed them lately to support the Bean while I slept. Only I didn’t go right to sleep when I got in bed. I laid there for a while with my hand resting on my stomach. Bean was doing gymnastics and stretching its little arms and legs in every which direction. Little kicks and punches landed on my hand no matter where I let it rest.
I took a few deep breaths and tried to relax. I knew if I let the tension slip away, Bean would relax and I’d be able to get to sleep. I snuggled deeper under the blankets and let my eyes close. I stroked my stomach rhythmically, and in no time, I was out cold.
“So, Tray and I decided we want to start trying to have a baby.” Amelia said casually over lunch one day while we were at work.
“Really?” I grinned at her and she nodded. “Ame, that’s wonderful.”
“It’s about time. We’ve been talking about having a baby for a while now. It just seems like the right time.”
“I’m just a little bit nervous.” Amelia said before taking a bite of her salad.
“That’s normal, though, right? I mean, I get nervous all the time and I’m already pregnant.” I shrugged.
“But it’s different for you, Sook. You and Eric didn’t have to try, it just happened. What if the accident changed things for me? What if I can’t have a baby?”
“We’ve been trying since I woke up, Sookie.” Amelia explained with a pained look on her face.
“Well, that’s only two months. That’s not so bad. Think about all of the things that have to go exactly right in order for you to get pregnant. Besides, putting too much pressure on yourself jinxes the whole thing, I think. Just relax and let it happen. When the time is right for you guys, it will.” I said as gently as I could.
“This is going the sound stupid, but I was hoping we’d be pregnant together. I suck at doing things alone.” Amelia confessed.
“Ame, you’re going to be a great Mom. You don’t have to be pregnant the same time as me in order for that to be true.”
“I know, but then our kids could be in the same class. We could volunteer to go on the same field trips and bake stuff together for bake sales…” She trailed off.
I giggled at the thought. “We could take turns car pooling.”
“Exactly! Then one day our kids would grow up, fall in love and get married.” She laughed right along with me.
“And if we both have sons?” I arched an eyebrow at her.
“Then we’ll march in the Pride Parade.” She nudged me under the table.
“Oh, yeah. I bet Tray would love that.” I rolled my eyes.
Tray was a good guy but I had a feeling he would have a hard time accepting a gay son. Not that he would disown the boy, but it wouldn’t be something he would easily welcome. Come to think of it, I wasn’t sure Eric would be so okay with it either. The laughter between Amelia and I dried up, and we went back to focusing on our food.
“It’s amazing how tiny you still are.” Amelia shook her head as I dove into a brownie.
“Pffft.” Was my astute response.
“You are! Yes, you’ve got a bump going but that’s what’s supposed to happen.”
“Then explain to me why when I was watching Allie McBeal reruns the other day, the face bra idea sounded really, really good to me.” I glared at Amelia.
“You’re being ridiculous. You look great.”
“I feel huge.” I took a bite of my brownie, earning me a pointed stare from my friend.
“Your tits are epic.” She said bluntly.
“Ame!” I looked around the faculty cafeteria to see if anyone heard her, my face burning bright red.
“They are!” She was staring right at my chest. “I hope mine get that big when I’m pregnant.”
I laughed and said, “No, trust me, you don’t.”
“Easy for you to say. You always have plenty to cart around. Not all of us are that lucky.” Amelia looked down at her own chest.
“You look good, Ame. You’re proportioned.”
“Yeah, well, I would gladly take disproportion.”
“Okay, but the expansion project I have going on here also comes with spare chins and thicker ankles. My ass is bigger and I swear to God, even my fingers are fat lately.” I looked down at my hand. I was afraid to leave my engagement ring on, as much as I loved it.
“That’s just water.” Amelia waved it off.
“I’ll remember that when you’re pregnant and bitching because you can’t get in those size two pants of yours.”
“Size four.” She corrected and I threw a balled up napkin at her.
“Even on my smallest day, I couldn’t fit in your clothes.”
“That’s because you have that curvy, Marilyn Monroe thing working for you. Trust me, you look good.”
“Hmph.” I finished off my brownie.
“So, about me getting pregnant.” Amelia was back on that again. I loved her, I really did, but she could be so obsessive about things.
“What about it?” I sipped my apple juice, which wasn’t really the best chaser for a brownie.
“What if I can’t?” She looked at me with big eyes full of genuine anxiety.
“Ame, honey, there’s always the possibility it may not happen. I wish I could tell you it’s a sure thing and you’ll be pregnant in no time, but it may not happen that way. If it doesn’t, there are options. There’s all kinds of fertility specialists out there these days, not to mention there are thousands of kids who need homes. You and Tray could adopt.”
“But I want to be pregnant. It’s supposed to be one of those God given rights, isn’t it? It’s what separates us from men- at least in part- and I don’t know… I guess I just… I don’t want Tray to think less of me if I can’t have a baby.”
“Amelia, that’s crazy talk. Tray is upside down, inside out, ass backwards in love with you. Do you have any idea how miserable that man was while you were in a coma? Believe me when I tell you, his feelings for you will not change if you can’t get pregnant. All this pressure you’re putting on yourself isn’t going to do you any favors. Just relax and let it happen.” I advised her, knowing what I was saying was going in one ear and right out the other.
“You’re right.” She exhaled slowly.
I had no doubt whatsoever that in a month, we’d be having the same conversation.
The weekend before Pam left Eric and I started moving his things over to my house. Well, technically, Eric moved while I cleaned. He had Tray, Terry and some of the guys from the bar helping him out. We still had to decide what to do with Eric’s house. He was seriously thinking about keeping it as a rental property, but we weren’t sure how to deal with that. There was a whole lot that went into being a landlord we didn’t know anything about and we didn’t really have time to learn it all. Since we were going to have to pay property taxes on the place, we figured we might as well hold onto it a little longer while we decided what we were going to do.
The biggest challenge was getting Eric’s mattress up the stairs. I never realized just how sharp of a turn it was from the stairway to the hall that led to the bedrooms until I had to watch someone try to bend a California king around the corner. It was a comedy of errors that left Eric beyond frustrated, and me fighting not to laugh hysterically behind him. I didn’t want him to spend his first night in our house in the guest room or on the sofa because he was pissed off at me.
Eventually, the boys got the bed all set up and the furniture moved around where I wanted it. We ordered pizzas and ate together in the kitchen/living room area. Pam showed up just in time for dinner with all of her bags in tow. She dropped everything in the front room before grabbing a beer out of the fridge and taking a seat at the kitchen table next to Amelia.
“So, Pam, you all set for your trip?” Tray asked as he passed her.
“Yep, I’m good to go.” Pam sipped her beer.
“We’re leaving at 7:30, right?” I looked over at Pam.
“Barring some freak weather happening, you got it.” Pam nodded.
The doorbell rang and Eric went to get the pizza. We ended up watching Dumb and Dumber while we ate. By the time the movie ended and everyone had their fill of pizza and beer, it was after ten. Amelia and Tray headed home, as did Terry. The guys from the bar had to be on their way as soon as they were done eating since it was Saturday night. Pam excused herself to go call Johan. Eric and I cleaned up the kitchen and waited for Pam to come back in before going up to bed.
“There’s fresh sheets on the guest bed and there are clean towels under the bathroom sink across the hall from the guest bathroom whenever you want to shower.” I told Pam.
“Thank you for letting me stay here tonight.” Pam said appreciatively.
“Of course.” I smiled at her. “You’re family, Pam.” She nodded with tears in her eyes and actually hugged me. It was weird to see Pam being so emotional. She looked over at Eric and I excused myself. “You two take your time. I’ll be upstairs.”
I got up to the bedroom and got ready for bed. I settled in my one usual side of the bed with one of my pregnancy books and my reading glasses on. I had my feet propped up on pillows. One minute I was reading about nursing and the next, I was off in Lala Land. Jeter growling in his sleep woke me up sometime around three in the morning. The lights were still on and I was alone in bed. I marked my page in the book and pushed myself out of bed. I could hear Eric and Pam talking downstairs. I thought about going down there but figured they didn’t need me butting in on their conversation.
“I really think she’s good for you, Eric.” Pam slurred. Apparently there had been more drinks since I’d gone up to bed. “I’ve never seen you smile as much as you do now.”
“You’re drunk.” Eric laughed.
“Yes, I am. But I’m not wrong. It’s good that you’re so crazy about each other because that’s the way I feel about Johan.” Pam admitted.
I groaned quietly, wondering just how awkward the conversation was going to get.
“I’m glad you’re happy, Pam. It’s a little weird, but it’s good.”
“Why is it weird?”
“Do I really need to give you a list of reasons why it’s weird you’re in love with my identical twin?”
“Pffffffffffffft.” Pam laughed. “You might be twins, but you two are about as different as night and day. You know that. Besides, we both know we would never work as a couple.”
“You got that right.”
“You’re too much of a perfectionist. You have to have everything in its proper place.” Pam complained.
“And you’d rather make jokes than have a serious conversation about things.” Eric retorted, although he didn’t seem to be at all offended.
“I’m sorry I’m going to miss it.” Pam suddenly sounded sad.
“All of it. The bar is going to be an even bigger success because of you. I’m going to miss watching your kid grow up. I always thought I’d get to be your kids’ favorite aunt.”
“You will be.” Eric assured her.
“Well maybe someday you can be my kid’s favorite uncle.” She suggested.
Johan and Pam as parents. There’s a thought I’d have to give more attention to when I had more brain power available to me.
“I’d like that.” Eric said warmly.
I went back to bed a few seconds later, figuring I’d eavesdropped on them enough. Not long after that, I heard them coming up the stairs. Eric got Pam settled in the guest room and then closed the door behind him in our own bedroom. He exhaled slowly as he leaned against the door. I watched him pull off his clothes and go to the adjoining bathroom. I listened to the running water and flush of the toilet before the bathroom door opened quietly. I closed my eyes and waited to feel Eric’s weight settle on the other side of the bed before sliding toward me.
As per usual, Eric spooned up behind me and rested his hand on my stomach. Bean wasn’t moving, but that wasn’t unusual for that time of the night. I put my hand on top of Eric’s and stroked the back of it with my thumb. He kissed my shoulder and breathed in the scent of my hair.
“You awake?” He whispered.
“Yessir.” I patted his hand. “Everything okay with Pam?”
“She’ll probably be seriously hungover, but yeah, I think she’s fine.” Eric snuggled against me.
“Good. I’m glad you two got to spend some time alone together.”
“Thank you for being cool about it.”
I rolled over so we were face to face and I touched his cheek. “I meant it when I said she was family, Eric. There’s a lot I don’t know about Pam, but if she’s family to you, then she’s family to me. You don’t need to thank me.”
He kissed me gently, at first, but that quickly changed. I knew he was a little drunk and it was probably better if we just went to sleep. Unfortunately, my hormones were calling the shots and any chance for sex wasn’t to be wasted. We had to be quiet since Pam was across the hall. Rather than sliding them off, Eric ripped my underwear before tossing them to the floor. With the Bean becoming more prominent between us, we had become a bit more adventuresome in sex positions. I rolled onto my side and Eric spooned behind me. He lifted my leg up onto his and entered me with one fluid thrust.
As good as it felt, it wasn’t really the ideal position. He was big on eye contact and I was big on kissing. Still, the position got us what we both wanted, which was an orgasm we had to fight to keep quiet. Eric fell asleep shortly after that and I went to the bathroom to clean up a little. When I got back to bed he was rolled on his back, his mouth hanging open just a little bit. I snuggled up beside him, rested my head on his chest and let myself drift off.
Pam was dressed in a powder pink track suit with full makeup on and her hair done. She was one of the few people I knew who would bother to get the least bit fancy for such a long flight. She had a stop in New Jersey to make before catching her connecting flight to Stockholm where Johan would be meeting her. I’d endured a round of nausea and dry heaves on account of her morning coffee, but it was worth it. She and Eric had bantered like they always did over the breakfast of bagels and cream cheese we’d had before heading to the airport.
“Call us when you get there.” I said as I hugged Pam goodbye.
“Call us when you get to Jersey.” Eric corrected in a stern, fatherly tone.
“Yes sir.” Pam saluted him like he was a drill sergeant.
I stepped back to let the two of them hug it out. “Take care of my brother, Vodkaknockers.”
“I will. You take care of the Bean. Make sure Sookie eats. She’s too skinny.” Pam winked at me.
I scoffed, getting a small laugh out of them both before they let each other go. Eric stepped back and reached for me. I tucked myself into his side and we both watched as Pam walked into the airport where we couldn’t follow. It was easier to say our goodbyes curbside than it was to park and whatnot, since we couldn’t go very far without a boarding pass anyway.
“How long do you think it’ll be before she comes back?” I looked up at Eric.
“She promised she’d be back for the birth, so at the most, another five months.” Eric kissed the top of my head.
“You think it’ll be sooner?”
“I guess that depends on when you’re going to marry me, Miss Stackhouse.” Eric walked me to the passenger’s side of the car and opened the door for me.
I sighed as I got in. “Yeah, I guess we should figure that out, huh?”
Eric just winked at me and closed the door.