I was going to kill whomever was responsible for the heinous design I was being forced into. I was also going to insist Sookie be induced to stop the insanity. I seriously considered “accidentally” setting that hideous Tinkerbell on Acid dress she was wanted me to wear on fire. Honestly, I knew Sookie’s sense of style was questionable, but even she had to know just how wrong the dress was.
“Pam, are you dressed yet?” Amelia called from the other side of the bathroom door.
“Fuck you!” Was my quick response.
“Come on, Pam, it’s not so bad. And really, when you think about it, it could be worse.” Amelia insisted.
I flung the door open, expecting to see Amelia dressed in the same God awful tutu-corset combo as me, but instead, she was dressed in a lovely ruffled golden dress that I would have shanked someone for at the moment. While it wasn’t exactly my taste, it was lightyears better than the dress I was mentally torching, at the moment.
“What the fuck are you wearing?” I demanded.
“Oh, this is my dress. What do you think?”
“I think if you don’t trade with me, you’re never going to find out what it’s like to bring a life into this world.” I threatened her.
“Pam, no death threats on my wedding day!” Sookie called from down the hall.
I grabbed the hanger holding the bane of my existence, and marched down the hall to where Sookie was being primped. “I would rather go naked. How’s that?”
“No nudity, either.”
I snickered and said, “I bet Eric’s going to love tonight.”
“Oh, Eric already got him some.” Amelia offered, causing Sookie to turn bright pink.
“Oh, relax, Sook, it’s not like we don’t know you and Eric have been bumping uglies.” Amelia teased.
“Pam, I promised you no hunter green monstrosities with bows. Do you see any hunter green or bows?” Sookie stared at the dress with a serious expression on her face.
I was just about to answer her when Amelia said, “Oh, wait! Pam, you don’t have the best part of your outfit!” She disappeared into the nursery across the hall.
“I swear to God if there are wings to go with this, I’ll have Johan moon everyone in the middle of the ceremony!” He would do it, too, if I told him to.
Sookie just giggled, apparently not taking me seriously. Although, I suppose she had a right not to. Johan would have serious hell to face, and Eric would be the least of his worries. Mother Northman, as she was insisting I call her now, would never forgive him. As much as I like revenge, I had no interest in raising the ire of that woman. Eric I could handle, but Mother Northman was another story.
“Here.” Amelia handed me a dress bag. “I’ll take the dress.”
I handed her the hanger I was already holding and yanked up the plastic sheathing to reveal a second dress identical to Amelia’s. I stared at Amelia, then Sookie, both of them fighting not to laugh. I knew what reaction they wanted, and just to appease the very large pregnant woman, I gave in.
“I hate you both.” I said coolly before turning on my heel and going back to the bathroom to change.
“Oh, come on, Pammy, where’s your sense of humor?” Sookie called after me.
“Don’t call me Pammy!” I shouted, then locked myself in the bathroom.
I was going to get her for this.
I chuckled as Pam vented her frustrations over the stunt Sookie and Amelia had pulled. Eric was laughing much louder in the background, which only pissed Pam off more. She shrieked in my ear, threatening Eric with the possibility of his child being an only child. He just shook his head and kept laughing.
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting, Pam? You’re not wearing the dress, so just relax, get ready and get yourself together.” I advised her in a gentle voice.
She huffed a few times before saying, “I’m going to get her for this.”
“I’m sure you will.” I had no doubt Pam wouldn’t forget this anytime soon. “Now go get ready. Time’s running out.”
“Yeah, yeah. Tell Eric’s it’s not too late to make a run for it.”
“You’re on speakerphone, Pam.”
“The only direction I’m running is toward Sookie.” Eric called out from his seat.
“I’ve never seen someone so pussy whipped.” Pam said with a chuckle, just as Mom came downstairs.
Her nose turned up with distaste, but she managed to keep her commentary to herself. “Pam, I have to go. I’ll see you soon.”
“I’ll keep a car running just in case.” She said, then disconnected.
“I don’t know what either of you boys see in her.” Mom shook her head.
“Can we not have this fight today?” Eric asked without looking away from his computer. He’d stolen Sookie’s iPod to put together a playlist for the wedding, since he figured the parents wouldn’t appreciate Tool or System of a Down in the middle of the reception.
“Who’s fighting? I’m just making an observation.” Mom said innocently.
“Sounds more like a judgment to me.” Eric spoke up.
I really didn’t want to get into this either, but if push came to shove…
“She’s crass, vulgar and rude. She’s not exactly the kind of woman a mother dreams will marry her son.” Mom folded her arms on her chest.
“Maybe she’s not,” I started forcefully before Eric got the chance. I loved my mother, but I’d just about had it with her bashing Pam every chance she got. More to the point, I was tired of seeing Pam so upset over it, even if she wouldn’t admit it. “But I’m not exactly the kind of guy most mothers hope their daughters will marry. I’m irresponsible, immature and every bit as vulgar as Pam is. What you don’t get to see about her, Mom, is that she’s also very generous and loyal to the people she cares about. She’s smart and she works hard for everything she has. And whether or not you want to see it, she has a big heart. She’s just very selective about who she lets into it. Sound like anyone else you know?” I jerked my head toward Eric.
“Johan, I…” Mom looked a bit stunned by my outburst, since I was usually more likely to placate her than I was to argue.
“You don’t have to like Pam, Mom, but you do have to respect her.” I said firmly, earning me a smile of support from my twin.
Mom huffed, turned on her heel and stomped up the steps. She yelled in Swedish at Dad when she passed him, and then a door slammed upstairs. It was going to be a long fucking night if that was her attitude.
I didn’t want to jinx myself, but everything was perfect. Pam had given the reaction I’d expected her to. As an added bonus, she griped about the yellow dress as well. I just rolled my eyes and refused to let it bother me. I fought hard against the hormones that were threatening to rise up and toss her out my bedroom window.
I sat patiently while my hair was styled elaborately. A thread of crystals was being woven through my hair so it would sparkle in the fading light. My makeup was a little heavier than normal, but that was mostly because I hadn’t been able to spend as much time outside as I would have liked. Stupid bedrest orders. The trickiest part of getting ready was having to stop every ten minutes or so, so I could go pee. Not that I wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy most of the time, but the frequent urge to pee was something I could live without.
I had just been zipped into my dress when the Bean starting kicking up a storm. It felt like she was using my kidney as a soccer ball. I gasped, and reached for the edge of the dresser to steady myself. Amelia put a concerned hand on my shoulder.
“Whoa, everything okay in there, Mama?” She asked with humor.
I took a few deep breaths, pressed a hand to my lower back and stood up slowly. “She’s just beating me up, that’s all.”
Amelia bent down further, put her hands on my belly and said, “Listen here, little missy. Today is a very big day, and we can’t have your Mom grimacing in all of her pictures. So how about you go easy on her, and when this is all over, she’ll treat you to an entire pint of that chocolate mint cookie ice cream you love so much?”
I had to laugh at Amelia’s tactics. Although maybe there was something to her madness, because the Bean chilled out. I was able to finish getting ready in peace. Mom arrived not long after the caterers finished setting up out back, and took it upon herself to photograph just about every square inch of the house and yard. Every time I turned around there was a camera in my face, and while I didn’t mind, the hormones did.
“Mom, I’m going to say this as nicely as I can.” I smiled pleasantly at her as I put my hand over hers. “Get that camera out of my face before I make you swallow it.”
“Sookie!” Daddy admonished.
“Oh, it isn’t her talking, Corbett, it’s the hormones.” Mom shrugged it off. “I’ll keep the camera out of your face. For now.” Mom promised.
That little outburst aside, everything went okay. Mostly, I was anxious to see Eric. He’d left about an hour after the best sex we’d had in months. I was surprised to find the hormonal rush I’d felt earlier hadn’t really worn off. I just hoped it would last, and I wouldn’t be passed out before I could get him to scratch my itch, so to speak.
I spent my time going over my vows and making sure everything was set up in its exact, right place. Eric and Tray had done an amazing job with the yards. I put Jason in charge of making sure all of the candles and lights were lit just before the ceremony started, since he was dancing around like a puppy, begging for something to do. Crystal didn’t say a whole heck of a lot. She mostly stayed out of the way and took care of Caleb.
It surprised me that I didn’t feel the slightest bit nervous. I always thought I would. I mean, not in the ‘I have doubts about this’ way, but more because I was worried I’d screw things up in the middle of the ceremony. I thought I’d be worried about tripping on my dress or, God forbid, pulling a Ross Gellar, and saying the wrong name in my vows. Oy, what a clusterfuck that would be. Although, really, how many people does that actually happen to? Not to mention, there was no way in hell I could ever mistake Eric for Quinn. I shivered at the mere thought of it.
But then I heard Eric’s voice, and my heart started pounding. All those nerves I’d been waiting for came rushing at me, and for the first time ever, I worried maybe he might change his mind. It happened all the time, didn’t it? You think getting married is what you want, but then you have this glimpse of your future and before you know it, you’re running like your life depends on it. Eric wasn’t just signing himself over to me, but to the Bean. That’s a lot of commitment to make over the course of a ten minute ceremony. What if he changed his mind?
I felt a panic attack start to set in. Deep down I knew I was being ridiculous for panicking like I was. I knew he loved me, and he was excited about the Bean. Amelia went to get Eric to see if he could calm me down, but I didn’t want that. I didn’t want him to know I was freaking out, or that I doubted him. I could deal with this on my own. I locked myself in the bathroom to prove it.
I took big, deep breaths and steadied myself on the vanity. I was just getting back to normal breathing when there was a knock on the door. “Who is it?”
“It’s me, lilla syster.” Johan. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was Eric. My heart started again when I realized I was able to tell the difference from one twin to another, just by hearing his voice.
“Come in.” I said after unlatching the lock.
“Wow.” He smiled at me once the door was open. “Sookie, you look beautiful.”
“I look like a Thanksgiving Day float, but thank you.”
“Nonsense.” Johan held out a small box. “Eric asked me to bring you this.”
Ah, yes, the exchanging of gifts. I’d tried to talk him out of this, but he had insisted we keep this tradition. I’d sent Pam out with his- a mjolnir on a braided silver chain- a while ago. I opened the box to find a pair pearl of earrings that he’d somehow managed to match perfectly to my dress. They were the same shade of white, and sparkled more than I thought pearls could. They were beautiful.
“Oh,” I gasped at them and tried not to tear up. The last thing I needed was more threats to my makeup. “They’re beautiful. Tell him I said thank you.” I smiled over at Johan.
“I will.” He nodded, and lingered in the doorway as I put them on. “Listen, Sookie, not that you need my approval, but I think this is a good thing. You’re good for each other. He’s a different person when you aren’t around. He was miserable when you were in Louisiana for those few days, and even before that… with the car accident… well, I’ve never seen him such a wreck over anything. You two are lucky you found each other.”
“Thank you, Johan.” I squeezed his hand, and wasn’t the least bit surprised when he yanked me forward and hugged me. If I wasn’t such a sea cow, he probably would have swung me around for a minute.
The Bean decided to make herself known again, in that moment, and started kicking up a storm. She probably thought it was Eric. She’d been good about ‘performing’ whenever her Daddy was around lately. Johan pulled back, a scared look on his face like he was worried he’d done something to upset the baby.
“Johan, it’s fine. She kicks all the time.” I assured him.
“Can I?” He held his large hand out so it was hovering over my stomach. It was nice to hear someone ask for a change.
“Of course.” I smiled at him.
He put his hand on my stomach to feel his niece move, and smiled broadly when one of her tiny limbs smacked right against his palm. “She’s strong.”
“You have no idea.” I laughed. Music started to play outside, and I craned my head to look out the window. It was almost sunset. I took a deep breath, and said, “Well, I guess it’s time to go promote Eric from baby daddy to husband.”
Johan laughed and said, “He’s looking forward to it.”
I stood at the archway in the yard, my eyes drifting over to the kitchen windows every few seconds to watch for Amelia’s signal that we were good to go. I watched Mom take her seat in the front row with Dad at her side. She hadn’t said much since Johan stood up for Pam earlier in the afternoon. She absolutely refused to look Johan in the eye, and the only thing I could be grateful for about the whole thing was that I wasn’t a pawn caught between them. So far Dad had done an impeccable job of running interference.
Jason escorted Michelle to her seat, and then sat down himself between his mother and Crystal. Little Caleb was in the tiniest suit I’d ever seen. The poor kid looked miserable. Tray made his way closer to the archway with a big grin on his face.
“Man, you’re gonna lose your shit when you see Sookie.” He clapped me on my shoulder.
“Thanks for the warning.” I shook my head.
My eyes were trained on the kitchen window while my hand reached into my pocket to make sure I had my vows there just in case. I was pretty sure I had them memorized, but there always the possibility my brain would decide to go on vacation when I needed it. Yeah, I could probably wing it, but I didn’t want to end up quoting lyrics to a bad 80’s power ballad, and making an ass of myself.
And then Amelia appeared, her thumb crooked skyward with a sparkling smile on her face. Johan appeared moments later at my side. He leaned over and whispered, “She loves you. She’s ready.”
I nodded, suddenly feeling like I had the Jesse White Tumblers working a new routine in my stomach. Music began to play through the speakers that we’d placed around the yard the day before. Pam was the first to walk out of the house with a bundle of sunflowers in her hands. I was amazed to see her eyes watering. There was my Pam, my best friend for the last thirteen years, on the verge of Pam was crying, I was fucked. It took a big deal to bring Pam down. Fuck me.
Amelia came next, carrying the same flowers. She beamed at Tray the whole way, but gave me a reassuring wink when she got to her place. The music changed, and everyone stood up. My heart leapt up into my throat. Corbett appeared in the doorway first, and I took a deep breath to steady myself. My eyes closed for just a moment, and when I opened them, Sookie was there.
I felt like someone dropped a Buick on my chest for all the air I was able to suck in. Gorgeous didn’t even come close to describing how beautiful she was as she walked toward me. I kept my eyes on hers, and the way she was looking at me wonder why the hell we had put this off for so long. We were such fools. I knew it for so long… she was the one. She was it. She was the whole world to me, and my stupid ass had let all this time slip away.
When she got to where I was standing, it took all the control I had not to pull her close and kiss her. She kissed her father’s cheek before she was handed off to me. Corbett smiled at me, clapped me on the shoulder and then went to take his seat. Sookie and I clasped our hands together, music continuing to play softly as the ceremony began.
No one interrupted. No one objected to our union. I heard the clicking of cameras behind us and saw the flashes as the light started to dwindle. The longer the ceremony went on, the more obvious the twinkle lights and flickers of the candles became. I stole glances over at Sookie, and she was always looking right back at me. And then, it was our turn to do the talking.
We turned to face one another. Her eyes were filled with tears, and I knew I was going to be in deep shit when she started crying. It was inevitable. She would have cried anyway, but the boost of pregnancy hormones weren’t doing either of us any favors. Her hands were shaking just as much as mine where, and that gave me some sort of comfort. It was good to know I wasn’t the only one shaken up.
I took a deep breath, looking deep into her eyes and squeezing her palms to mine. She smiled at me, and I relaxed. Amazing how that’s all it took for the world to slow down. All I needed was her smile.
One more deep breath filled my lungs and then I began. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I don’t ask too many questions because I can’t think of a life that doesn’t include you.” I let go of one of her hands, and put my palm on her ever expanding belly. She smiled down at my hand before letting her eyes find mine again. “I’d like to think that if we’re still here, and still as devoted to each other as we have been from the beginning after all the things we’ve been through in such a short amount of time, that means we are where we’re supposed to be. Everything about the world feels better when you’re next to me.” The small sob that escaped her was my undoing, and I felt a tear slide down my cheek. She reached up and wiped it away. God, I loved her. “Your smile makes everything better, and I don’t know if you’ll ever really know just how much I love you. I don’t think there are words for it. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, ‘As for me, to love you alone, to make you happy, to do nothing which would contradict your wishes, this is my destiny and the meaning of my life.’ All I want in this world, Sookie, is to love you and make you happy, so that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. I love you.”
The hand that was still holding mine squeezed it tightly, her thumb rubbing the back of my hand soothingly. Seriously, what the fuck did I do to deserve her? I was a lucky son of a bitch. She took a few deep breaths and then put her hand over the top of mine as it rested on her belly. Our daughter kicked, but not in that crazy Lord of the Dance way she sometimes did that had Sookie doubled over doing breathing exercises.
“I remember the first thing I thought when I saw you. Hello gorgeous.” She confessed with a hint of a blush, while everyone laughed quietly. “And now I get to wake up next to you everyday. Who would have thought it with the way we started?” She squeezed my hand again. I definitely didn’t think we’d be here, and I know she didn’t either, but we were both happy as hell for it. “In keeping with the theme of quoting great people, Jane Austen once said, ‘It’s not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy- it is dispostion alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.’ Everything between us happened so fast, and it amazes me every day how easily we just fit into each others lives. There was never any doubt about whether you were the one for me. Everyone here knows what a crazy couple of months its been, and the fact that neither of us gave up…” She trailed off, pausing to take a few deep breaths. She looked down at her belly, and pressed my palm firmer against her. “I was never afraid to show you all of me, and you will never know how much it means to me that you did the same. I can see your heart every time you look at me, and God, I love you so much for sharing it with me, Eric. For the rest of my life, it’s you and me.”
Take make her laugh, I turned to the Justice officiating and asked, “Can I kiss her yet?”
Even the Justice laughed along with everyone else and said, “Almost.”
The traditional vows about taking each other for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health until death parted us were repeated by each of us. It felt good to slide her wedding ring on her finger, and even though I probably wasn’t supposed to, I lifted her hand to my lips and kissed it. I was surprised when she did the same once my ring was on a few seconds later. Camera flashes were going to blind us both by the end of the night, no doubt.
“By the power vested in me by the state of Illinois, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Eric, you may kiss your bride.” The Justice smiled at us.
Sookie and I took our first steps toward each other as husband and wife. She reached for my face as I reached for hers, and our lips met easily in a rhythm we’d long since perfected. I bowed my forehead to hers and whispered I loved her before kissing her bottom lip. She choked back a sob, stroking the sides of my face with her thumbs. The Bean between us kicked me right in the gut, almost as if she was telling us to knock it off.
Our hands joined together again, and we turned to face our family and friends. They all clapped loudly, hooting and hollering for us before we were swarmed. Without ever letting go of her hand, I gave a one armed hug to every person I encountered. It was a small party, but it was exactly what we wanted. And there was no crazy Bill or Sophie-Anne popping up to ruin it, or create some sort of crazy drama. It was perfect.
I turned to look at Sookie, who looked over her shoulder at me like she knew I was watching her. I smiled, kissed her hand and said, “Come on, wife, let’s dance.”
She nodded her assent, then followed me through the yard to the other side. It was party time.
Try as I might, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Eric for more than a few seconds. Our choice of first songs probably shocked a few people, given Eric’s staunch objection to country music, but when I told him to listen to the words of the wong, he agreed it was perfect for us. So, for our first dance as husband and wife, we swayed slowly to Shania Twain’s “Forever and For Always.”
Eric and his mother, who was even bigger mess than I was, danced to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” which I thought was a great choice. Most people would probably turn their nose up at such a selection, but it was fitting. Daddy had chosen the song we chose to, and it wasn’t that God awful Butterfly Kisses song. I hated that song with a passion, and Daddy knew it. “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” played while we danced.
“You know I’ll still shoot him in the face if he hurts you, right?” Daddy reminded me as we danced, and I couldn’t help laughing.
“Daddy, don’t make me laugh. Your granddaughter will decide I need a potty break if you do.” I warned him.
“You made a good choice with him, Sookie. It’s obvious to everyone here how much that man loves you, and I can see you love him just as much.” Daddy spoke quietly against my ear.
“I never had a choice, Daddy.” I said in ernest.
It dawned on me then that I didn’t. I was drawn to him from the second I saw him. While it was true I had no way of knowing things would go the way they did, I’d known he was special. Every opportunity I’d been given to run away from Eric, I’d only run to him. That spoke volumes, in my opinion. When I thought about how much I loved him, my heart hurt. It was too much, and somehow not enough. It was the best kind of contradiction.
I took a break after my dance with Daddy to go potty and get something to eat. I’d been too busy to eat much of anything all day, and I suddenly realized I was starving. I opened the bathroom door to see Eric standing there casually, waiting for me.
“Hey.” I smiled up at him. He was my husband. My smile got bigger.
“I meant to tell you sooner, but you look beautiful, my lover.” He bent to kiss me, and it was one of those toe curling kisses that made me forget the rest of the world.
“If I weren’t starving, I’d say we should forget everything else and just go up to bed.” I winked at me.
He gave a small growl and said, “Not too tired?”
“Oh, trust me, you’re getting lucky later.” I pulled him close to kiss him again.
“I found ’em!” Amelia called from the end of the hallway. “Will you two quit it with the kissy face so we can eat?”
Eric and I both growled at Amelia, who just laughed at us. I kissed Eric’s chin and said, “Later.”
“Yes, wife.” He put his hands on my hips and rubbed against me in a torturous way, and them pushed me toward the back of the house.
“I’ll get you for that.” I said over my shoulder.
“Promise?” He dipped to kiss my neck.
I shivered, but kept walking. He was going to be the death of me, I was sure of it. I looked at the clock over the stove on our way out, and wondered how long I had to wait before I started claiming pregnancy was draining me of my energy so I could get Eric upstairs, and all to myself.
For the first time ever, I was thanking God for my crazy pregnancy hormones.