"Eric, will you do me a favor and grab my tennis shoes from the closet for me?" I was running late, and needed to get on the road as soon as possible.
"Yup, sure." He grabbed my shoes, handed them to me, and then bent and kissed the top of my head. "If I'm only going to be working half a day today, I need to get over to the bar. I'm meeting you at the doctor's office at 2pm, right?" Eric was slipping on his jacket while he confirmed my appointment.
"Right. 2pm in the lobby."
He nodded, winked, and left. He was starting to get used to the idea of being a father again, even though it was obvious that he still has reservations. He was being very supportive of me, but I knew that he just needed a little more time.
Today, he was going to meet me at the doctor's office, and we would get to find out if we were going to have a boy or a girl. I was both nervous and very excited at the same time. Excited, because I just couldn't wait to know. Nervous, because I knew that no matter what, Eric would find out that I'd been keeping a secret from him.
But, I had some business to attend to first. Today was Hadley's birthday. Every year on this day, Jason and I would meet at the cemetery to put her favorite flowers on her grave, and then we would go to her favorite diner and have lunch and reminisce about how wonderful our cousin was.
I was surprised to see Jason's car in the cemetery parking lot when I pulled in. He'd never beaten me there before. Normally, I was five minutes early, and he was 10 minutes late. As I walked to meet him, I tried not to remember my last encounter in this cemetery. I had no desire to remember the events that led to Eric killing Bill.
"Jason, you were early?" He turned to me and half smiled, knowing I was expressing my shock.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. That never happens, right? I just really needed to talk to Hadley and Gran alone for a few minutes." Jason and I were never really religious, but, we always believed that when we were at the cemetery visiting our loved ones, we could speak to them, and somehow, they would answer us in our hearts.
"Why? What's up big brother?"
"Well, Sook, I have a hard decision to make. I made a promise to someone to keep a secret for them. Well, I've kept my word so far. But, if I continue to do so, that person will just get into more and more trouble over. So, I'm trying to decide if the right thing to do is to tell the truth, or keep my word."
"And what have Gran and Hadley told you to do?"
"They told me to follow my heart. I just haven't figured out what my heart's telling me yet." I nodded, and stood next to him, taking his hand in mine. We stood there, taking comfort in each other's presence while we remembered all the loved ones we'd lost along the way.
We didn't speak much at the cemetery, and I could tell he was still trying to make a decision by the time we got to the restaurant. Shortly after the waitress had taken our order, he turned to me, and I could tell he was getting ready to say something quite important.
"Sookie, listen, I need to tell you the truth about something. I know you're gonna be mad at me, but, I just ask that you let me get it all out in the open before you lay in on me, okay?" I'd never seen him this serious before. I motioned for him to proceed.
"I know that I made a huge mistake in marrying Crystal. I guess I was just stupid, and was thinkin' with my johnson rather than my brain." Now there was the understatement of the year. "It's one thing for me to have to pay for the mistake I made. But, you've been paying for it, too, and that just ain't right. Sook, I know that you got really upset with Eric because he paid her off, but I want you to know that it wasn't his idea." Oh, boy. I did not like where this was headed. "He did it because I asked him to."
"How? Why? You've never even MET Eric, Jason."
"Sam gave me his phone number after he saved your life in the cemetery. I called him on the phone and told him that you and I didn't really see much of each other because there was bad blood due to the whole Crystal situation. But, that I was very grateful that he'd rescued you, because you were the only family I had left. He told me that Crystal had shown up at the farmhouse while you two were there, and that she was threatening you, asking me money again. He told me that I needed to man up and take care of my wife, so she'd leave you alone. Of course, me being the dumb shit that I am, I made a big deal about how I was never able to control Crystal. He said that maybe I should find someone who could and ask for help. So, I asked him if he could get her off your back. He told me that he would, but, he said that he didn't want you to find out about it, ever. He said he knew that I was your only living family, and he couldn't bear to see you loose me, after everything else you'd lost, and that if you found out, you'd probably tell me to take a flying leap."
"He was right."
"I know. He loves you, Sook. He's a good man."
I was lost in thought as I made my way back to Shreveport for my doctor's appointment. Now, I was even more nervous about my doctor's appointment with Eric. Not only did I owe him a huge apology about the way I'd handled the Crystal situation before, but, I had to admit to him that I'd kept him in the dark about something very important.
When I got to the doctor's office, Eric was already there waiting for me. I signed in at the front desk, and sat down next to him. I took his face in my hands, and placed a soft kiss on his lips. I pulled back just enough to look into his eyes and said, "Jason told me everything. I wish you'd told me the truth."
"Sookie, I…" but I interrupted his thought.
"No, Eric. It's okay. I was wrong to be mad at you. I still think you shouldn't have done it, but, now that I know your reasoning, I can't blame you at all. And I'm sorry I was so upset with you."
Just as he was about to say something else, the nurse called my name. We stood, and walked hand-in-hand to the ultrasound room. I lay down on the examination table, and the nurse began setting up the machine. A moment later Dr. Crane came in, turned off the overhead light, and flipped on the ultrasound machine. She squirted the cold, blue jelly onto my bare stomach, and said, "Okay, let's have a look, shall we?"
I reached out and grabbed Eric's hand. I had thought I would have time to speak with him before we got to this point, but, there was nothing I could do about that now.
As we looked at the large computer screen with the ultrasound image on it, I felt Eric squeeze my hand as the familiar shape of an arm and a hand came into view. "Alright," Dr. Crane said and she moved to get a better angle. "Let me point out what we're seeing. Obviously, you can see a hand here, and over here," she said moving again, "we can see a little bit of a face." She paused, turned to look me in the eye and said, "Sookie, this is going to be a beautiful little boy." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Eric stare in awe at the first image of our son. But, then Dr. Crane moved to the other side of my belly, wiggled things around a bit, and said, "And it looks like baby #2 is going to be a girl."
The slight smile that had begun to creep up on Eric's face was gone in that instant. He just stared at the screen, not moving. I asked Dr. Crane if she would give us a minute alone, and she said she'd be back in a few minutes to talk to me.
"Twins?" Eric asked.
"Yup, twins. I found out two weeks ago. I knew I should've told you, but, something made me hold back. I'm so sorry, Eric. Here I've been so upset about you keeping secrets from me, and then I go and keep a major one from you."
"Wow." It almost seemed like he couldn't think of anything else to say. And I was not about to pressure him into talking to me about it. I knew that this was something major that he was going to need to process. So, I just let him be silent. Dr. Crane came back a few minutes later to take some measurements and make sure everything else was okay. She printed out a few photos from the ultrasound, and told me she'd see me again in a month.
Eric and I left the doctor's office separately, because he said he had to go back to work. I knew part of it was that he'd want to talk to Pam about what he'd just learned, but also, he probably wanted some time away from me to think about things. I was starting to worry when it got to be 11pm and he still wasn't home. But, Pam called me and said that they had been talking about a lot of things, and that he'd fallen asleep on her couch. I wasn't surprised, but, I was a little hurt, and I felt guilty for feeling that way.
I called Eric's cell phone the next morning to remind him that I was going to be out of town for the next two days for some work-related training in Baton Rouge, but, he didn't answer, so I just left him a message. I did call Pam though, and she said she'd make sure he remembered. She told me congratulations about the twins, so, I knew that she and Eric had discussed it already.
When I had found out that Sookie and I were going to be having twins, I just about lost it. I told her that I understood why she'd kept it from me, and I truly did. I wouldn't have wanted to tell me either, especially knowing how I'd been reacting to the entire pregnancy itself. I told Pam about my new discovery, and she told me to come to her place after work, because she wanted to talk to me about it.
"Eric, listen, I know this is hard for you. I know that you feel that if Lizzie and Mattie could see you right now, they'd think you were trying to replace them. But, that's not true. They would want you to be happy."
"Pam, listen, I know you loved them as if they were your own, but, please don't try to tell me how my own children would feel."
"Damnit, Eric, I'll say it 100 times if I have to. Think about it. Would they want for these two little babies to go through life with an almost non-existent father, just because of something that happened long before their lives even started?" Okay, so she did have a point, there.
"Eric, I know you miss them. I miss them, too. But, moving on with your life isn't forgetting them." I'm sure she could see the skepticism on my face, because she started to get more forceful as she continued. "Eric, Cindy was more than just my sister. She was my best friend. She and I shared everything in our lives, from the day we were born until the day she died." She paused, and I saw her wipe a tear away from her eye. "When we lost her, I thought I'd never have that kind of companionship, and friendship with another person during my lifetime. But, then when you met Sookie, that all changed. She has become my friend. She has become my sister. She hasn't replaced Cindy. She's not a better friend or sister than Cindy. She's just different. And, I know that Cindy would want me to have someone to make my life fun again."
She was right. Cindy, Lizzie and Mattie wouldn't want me to spend the rest of my life moping around being sad. They'd want me to get on with my future, and remember all the wonderful times we'd had in the past. I knew what I had to do. And I didn't have long to do it.
After two days of training, and a long drive home, I was exhausted and ready to crawl into bed and sleep for a week. I was somewhat confused when I arrived home and saw several delivery vehicles in the drive.
I parked my car in the garage, and began looking for Eric. When I found him, I felt my heart swell, and my eyes tear up. He'd opened up Lizzie and Mattie's bedrooms, and had bought new cribs, rocking chairs, and anything else we could possibly need. He set one room up as a nursery, and the other as a changing room of sorts. There were painters busy painting a beautiful mural on the walls. Eric was directing the delivery men where to put new furniture, and almost looked like he'd been caught like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar when he finally saw me standing there.
When he came to stand in front of me, I wrapped my arms around him, and we just stood there, holding each other for what seemed like hours. I kissed him, thanked him, and whispered that I loved him. With a smile, he turned to the delivery men and asked that they excuse the two of us for a while, picked me up, and carried me to our bedroom.
A couple of hours later, after another wonderful round of love making, I lay with my head on his chest, lazily tracing circles on his stomach.
"Your Dad's name was Ryan, right?"
"Well, I know we haven't discussed names at all yet, but, I kinda have an idea."
I hadn't expected this from him so soon. "Oh yeah? Tell me."
"Well, I was thinking Ryan Matthew, and Hadley Elizabeth." I sat up, and couldn't help tears from spilling over when I looked at him.
"That's perfect, Eric. I don't think we ever could've come up with anything better." He kissed me, and rolled so he was on top of me, and I could feel his desire against my stomach.
"Wait," I said, and noticed that he didn't like the idea of waiting.
"I want to ask you something."
He indicated that he was waiting, but not very patiently. "Marry me?"
He smiled, and laughed loudly. "Isn't it supposed to be me who asks you that?"
"Yeah, but, since when have we ever done anything conventionally?"
"That is true my love. Of course I'll marry you. There's nothing in this world that I want more than to have you as my wife."
He kissed me fully, and in that moment, I knew that my life was finally complete.
A/N Thanks so much for everyone who has been supportive with this story. I've had a lot of fun writing it. A few people have asked if I'm going to be starting something new soon. Yes, I am. I've got a couple of things in mind, but, I'm first going to see if I can flesh out an entry for the Eric and His Great Pumpkin contest. Thank you for the wonderful reviews, you guys really are the best!!!