For anyone who hasn't yet noticed, I did change my pen name to scribeninja. I'm still LindsayK, just more ninja-like.
This is the last chapter of Candle in the Window. I hope you've enjoyed the story, and I apologize for the amount of time it took to get these last chapters out to you. You've all been such awesome, patient readers.
Thank you to my beta, FDM, who edited this at record speed. I love you, even if you do put chocolate in your chili. :)
Chapter 11 - Welcome to the World
Forty-eight minutes of pushing. That's what it took to deliver our baby boy. It felt like hours, but it was a mere forty-eight minutes. There were no complications, and he came out screaming, healthy, and beautiful. Everything seemed to move in slow motion after my final push. I remember the doctor placing him on my chest so that we could bond for a moment, before taking him away to clean him up. Eric brought him back to me when they were through, and sat on the edge of the bed so we could both admire him.
He looked up at both of us, and Eric kept his face close when he spoke to him so the baby could see who his daddy was.
"He's so perfect," Eric said, sounding a little choked up, and a lot excited.
"What can I say, he's got two good-looking parents and a hell of an oven in his mom," I said.
"You did so great, Sookie. I'm so proud of you," he said, and turned my chin to him so he could kiss me. One of the nurses got a picture of us as we kissed, and I started blushing when I imagined how I must look.
"Thanks, Cindy," Eric said, nodding at the nurse.
"You planned that?"
"I knew you'd throw a fit, so I asked her if she could try to get a candid shot of all three of us."
"I probably look like a monster right now."
"You're beautiful," he said, tucking some of my sweat-soaked hair behind my ear.
A couple hours later, after seeing Alcide, Maria, the kids, and Jason, I passed out. When I woke up, it was bright outside, and even though I felt disgusting, my view warmed my heart. Eric was changing our son's diaper, and getting him dressed again. I didn't clue him in to the fact that I was awake, and watched as he picked him up, cradling him in his big hands before sitting in the glider.
"We've got to figure out a name for you, little man. I promise not to let your mommy give you a crazy one," he said. Eric stared at him for a moment, smiling. "You look like her. You have her nose and her ears," he said, touching them gently with his index finger, "which is probably a good thing. She's going to be so happy to see you when she wakes up."
"I'm awake," I said, making Eric jump slightly. He looked at me and smiled.
"Say something else."
"He's looking for you."
"Eric Northman, bring me my son," I said with a smile. I saw my baby's tiny head moving around like he was trying to find the source of my voice. Eric got up, and brought him over to me, placing him gently in my arms.
"Hey there," I cooed at him. He was so beautiful. "How long have I been sleeping?"
"A good nine hours or so. What do you remember?"
"Did I feed him? That felt real, but like a dream."
"We woke you up to feed him, but you were really out of it."
"Have you kept him in here the whole time?"
"Yup," he grinned, proud of himself. "They've taken him a couple times for their nursing stuff, but the rest of it he's been in here with us."
"What on earth are we going to name him?" I asked. "We haven't been able to agree on anything."
"We can rule out most of your names since we don't want to be those embarrassing parents who send their kid to school with a name like Theo."
"Okay, that may have been my hormones talking, but they weren't all bad. Is the baby name book still in my purse?"
"Yeah, I'll get it."
It took us almost an hour to finally find the name that felt natural and right.
"Connor Hale Northman," Eric said. "I can live with that. Besides, we get to name like seven more of these things."
"Oh, come on, you always said you wanted more."
"I do, but I'm not going through that seven more times. Maybe three more. Two years apart."
"I can live with that," he said. "Now let's get a nurse in here so we can do all the official stuff, and then you can take a shower."
"Oh god, that sounds like heaven right now."
We checked out of the hospital the next morning, and took our baby home. I sat in the backseat with him, and Eric drove home slowly, cursing under his breath at the idiotic drivers.
Connor was sleeping when we got him home, so we brought Jude in and let him check the baby out. He sniffed him and the car seat for a moment, then licked his tiny hand. Apparently, Connor got Jude's approval because Jude plopped down right in front of the car seat like he was standing guard. We laughed and took the baby into the nursery upstairs. Eric laid him in the crib so he could keep sleeping, and I unloaded the stuff we brought home from the hospital. Jude followed us in, and parked himself on the floor right in front of the crib.
"It seems we have ourselves a little guard dog," Eric said as we made our way back downstairs, baby monitor in hand.
"I'm glad. Can you imagine all the cute pictures? I need to get a new memory card for my camera, and a back up hard drive to store them on."
"You're not going to take that many pictures of him," Eric laughed.
"The hell if I'm not! I want to document everything. Could you imagine if we got his first smile on camera?" I gushed as Eric and I sat on the couch. He pulled me into his side, and I laid my head on his shoulder.
"It'll get harder as he gets older."
"Eric, don't talk about him getting older. I just gave birth. I don't want to imagine him as anything but my little baby for a while."
He chuckled into my hair, and I yawned, loudly.
"You should take a nap. Sleep while he's sleeping, cause he'll be hungry when he wakes up," Eric said, and stood up.
"But I'm comfy here. Sit back down, we'll sleep on the couch."
"Nope, you need decent rest while you can get it," he said, then scooped me up into his arms carefully, but like I weighed nothing.
"Jesus, how can you carry me? You're going to hurt yourself!"
He rolled his eyes, and tightened his grip as he started for our bedroom. "I'm as strong as I was before, if not stronger. Alcide and I have been working out a lot. And you are not heavy."
"I call bullshit. I gained twenty pounds, Eric!"
"So what? You're still beautiful, and your boobs and butt are bigger. I win."
I couldn't help myself, and started laughing.
"Don't get too used to them, because I'll be making use of that treadmill of yours as soon as I can."
"Whatever you say, dear," he said, and set me down on our bed.
He curled up behind me and held me close, his hand resting on my stomach where the baby used to be.
"I definitely need to knock you up again soon," he whispered. "I miss the way it felt."
"I know what you mean," I said, and placed my hand on his. "But if you knock me up again before he's two, I'll rip your balls off."
I fell asleep to the sound of Eric's soft laughter, and woke up to our son screaming his little head off. We both got up groggily and looked at the clock.
"We only slept forty minutes," Eric said, rubbing his eyes and stretching.
"I suppose we better get used to it."
When we went into the nursery I stopped and let out an, "Aww!"
Jude was sitting in front of the crib, staring up at it with his head cocked to the side. It was adorable. Eric rolled his eyes at me, and picked up Connor. I stood back and watched as Eric cradled our tiny son in his arms, rocking him and shushing him gently to calm him down. I was so happy that we were able to have this, together, and also sad that I'd held out on it for so long.
"He's hungry," Eric said when he pressed his finger to Connor's lips and he tried to suck on it.
I sat in the rocking chair and lifted my shirt, and Eric brought him to me. He gently placed him in my arms, and stayed there until I got him to latch on. It was a strange, slightly painful feeling, but a good one.
Eric pulled the glider over and sat with us, watching contentedly as I fed our son.
One Year Later…
"Daddy!" Connor squealed excitedly in my arms as I sat down on the bleachers.
"Yes, there's daddy," I laughed, waving at Eric so he'd know we were there. He waved back before continuing with practice. Connor hobbled over to the railing and held on as he watched, and I went to sit next to him, letting my feet hang over the side.
Connor was growing into a very handsome little guy. He had bright blonde hair, and Eric's eyes and bone structure. He had my nose and ears, and Eric's lips. Most people tried to say he was the spitting image of one or the other of us, but he was actually the perfect mix.
"Ball!" Connor shouted, and smiled up at me as he pointed to the field where Alcide had just tossed it to one of the players.
"Very good!" I said, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
Eric and Alcide started their roles as coaches over the summer with weightlifting and football camp. It was four days a week, and they alternated who supervised the morning weightlifting. School had just started, and with it would come the first game. Eric confessed to me that even though they had a fantastic team he was worried about the season opener. A lot of the players were having trouble seeing Eric and Alcide as coaches, and not former NFL superstars who they idolized.
Connor was very attached to Eric, and had some separation issues when Eric started working regularly. Since I wasn't doing anything else, I suggested taking him to the practices sometimes so he could see where his daddy was, and Eric liked the idea, especially since the school was within walking distance. We would walk to the school once they'd already gotten started and sit in the bleachers until the guys headed for the locker rooms. Connor liked to watch all the players walk by in their helmets and gear, and they took to him quickly, giving him high-fives and making him laugh. He'd become their little mascot.
When Eric sent the guys in, Connor and I walked down to the end of the bleachers and he got his requisite high-fives as the boys walked by. He was giggling when Eric got there and took him from me. Connor bounced in Eric's arms and said 'daddy' over and over.
"Hey little man, I missed you," Eric laughed.
"Hmm…" I said, raising an eyebrow at him.
"I missed you too my little cream puff," he smirked, pulling me to him with his free arm and planting one heck of a kiss on my lips.
We broke apart when one of the players shouted "MILF!" as he walked past. Two others chuckled and high-fived him. Eric stiffened and turned around to face them.
"You three. Two laps. Full gear. Now," he barked.
Their eyes hit the ground, and they turned around to head back to the track. Eric turned back to me and apologized for them.
"You know, as disrespectful and offensive as it was, I'm glad to know I'm still considered hot," I said quietly.
"I thought I proved that to you last night," he whispered back, and before I could respond Alcide walked up to say hello.
Connor got excited and reached for Alcide, so Alcide took him from Eric to give him a hug.
"You just keep getting bigger, kiddo," he said.
"You just saw him two days ago," I laughed.
"They grow in the blink of an eye," he smiled.
"Seems like just yesterday that Maria was giving birth to Jo, and now she's crawling everywhere."
"That does happen," Eric laughed, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "I'll be ready to go in fifteen."
"Okay, we'll be here," I smiled. Alcide handed Connor back to me and then he and Eric went into the locker rooms.
I took Connor back up on the bleachers and held his hands as he walked the length of one. When he got to the end I turned him around so he could go back the other way, and then I lifted him up and lowered him to the ground as though he had jumped. He laughed hysterically and turned around, and began slapping the bleacher to let me know that he wanted to do it again.
"More!" he said.
"Alright, alright," I laughed, and just as I was about to pick him up again the boys that had to do laps came up to us. I picked up Connor and held him on my hip.
"We just wanted to apologize about before, ma'am," the one in front said, and the other two nodded. "It was a rude thing to say, and we hope we didn't offend you."
I glanced beyond them and saw Eric and Alcide watching with identical smirks on their faces. I smiled warmly at the boys.
"It's alright, boys. I appreciate you coming to apologize. I just hope y'all learned some manners from this incident."
"Yes ma'am," they said in unison.
"Alright, hit the showers," Eric said, and the boys hurried off to the locker room.
"Look at you, teaching valuable lessons to your jocks."
"Believe it or not, jocks do have brains that are capable of absorbing things other than football plays."
"Could have fooled me."
"Funny," he smiled. "Ready to go home?"
"Yes, the house smells like chili by the way. Just have to make some cornbread when we get back."
"Have I told you lately that I love you?"
Eric picked up Connor and tossed him into the air once to make him laugh. I loved the sound of the two most important men in my life laughing together.
From the first time I came to a practice with Connor, it struck me just how full circle Eric and I had come. It wasn't a great many years ago that I was sitting on the bleachers doing homework while waiting for my best friend to finish practice so he could take me home. Now I was lucky enough to be doing the same thing, only my best friend was my husband as well, and rather than doing homework I was watching our child.
Eric strapped Connor into his car seat while I loaded the stroller into the back. He still had his corvette, but he only got to drive it occasionally now. The rest of the time he drove his SUV. I got into the passenger seat and Eric gave me another kiss after he got in and started the engine.
"I'm starving," he said. "Knowing there's chili and cornbread in my near future is the best news I've heard all day."
I smiled, and took his hand, but didn't say anything. There would be more good things in his near future, and he didn't have a clue. I was practically busting to tell him, but I wanted to wait until Connor was asleep for the night.
When we got home Eric played with Connor and Jude in the living room while I made up the cornbread. I enjoyed listening to the sounds of them laughing for a few minutes before I interrupted them so we could feed Connor before our food was done.
I stripped him down to his diaper and put him in his high chair so Eric could feed him. The kid always ate for Eric. He wouldn't put up a huge fuss with me most of the time, but more often than not I had to do the train and airplane noises to get him to open his mouth.
As soon as Connor finished we gave him a cookie to eat while we had our supper. Eric put cheese and crackers in his chili, and thanked me profusely after his first bite.
"This is just what I needed. I don't think any meal makes me feel more at home than your chili and cornbread."
I smiled at him as he ate. His good mood would only improve in a couple of hours, and I was extremely excited to do it right this time. We finished eating, and I took Connor upstairs to give him a bath, while Eric did the dishes. He came up when he was done and helped me complete the nighttime ritual of reading a book and putting him to bed.
We went downstairs with the baby monitor to watch a little TV, and after about an hour Connor stopped babbling, and started snoring.
"I love that he snores like you," Eric said, and I smacked him on the arm.
"I'm not nearly that loud," I laughed, and then snuggled into his side.
When we'd both almost passed out on the couch we decided to head up to bed. I began to get nervous about telling him, because I wasn't sure if his reaction would be the same as I'd imagined it. We had agreed on two years, and it was only now just over one.
Eric checked on Connor while I got changed for bed, and I was already under the covers when he came in. He gave me an odd look, but didn't say anything as he pulled off his clothes and put on a pair of flannel pajama pants. He went into the bathroom to brush his teeth and turned off the overhead light before crawling into bed.
"Okay, tell me what's on your mind," he said.
I took a deep breath and turned on my bedside lamp.
"Is this serious?" he asked, his brow furrowed in concern.
"It's important, but not a cause for concern," I smiled. I picked up his hand and took another deep breath.
"Spit it out," he chuckled, trying to ease the tension. "I'm dying here."
"I'm pregnant," I said, like ripping off a band aid.
"What?" he asked, shock written all over his face. "How? I mean, you're on the pill, and just… really?"
"Well, you have that supersperm stuff. I was on the pill the first time too, and I guess I should have taken a lesson from that. Ten home tests came out positive, my boobs are sensitive, and I can smell everything. I know we said two years, but I don't think it's a bad thing, and Conn…"
Eric reached forward suddenly and cradled my face in his hands as he kissed me hard. I guessed he wasn't upset.
"You make me so happy," he said, unable to stop smiling as he spoke. "Did you think I would be mad?"
"No, not really. I was just getting nervous."
"I'm the one who should be nervous. You said you'd rip my balls off if I knocked you up before Connor was two."
"Well have no fear, because I rather like your balls," I giggled. I was positively giddy now that it was out in the open.
"Do you?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows as his fingers played with the hem of my tank top. Apparently my husband got horny when he knew I was pregnant.
"I do," I said.
Eric pulled my top off and tossed it over his shoulder as he lowered himself on top of me.
"I love you, Sookie," he whispered into my ear, and I responded in kind before he showed me just how much he loved me.
After we were both sated, we laid there in a tangled pile of sweaty limbs, breathing heavily and grinning like fools.
"I can't wait to see all of this one," he said after he caught his breath. "I feel like I missed so much of Connor."
"You really didn't," I smiled. "Next time I'm definitely getting a different form of birth control. And when we're done, you need a vasectomy. I'm not going to have five kids and get surprised with a sixth just because your little swimmers feel like being cocky."
Eric burst into laughter, and kissed me again. He was soft, and gentle, almost reverent in the way he kissed this time.
"I'm holding you to five now, I hope you know that."
"We'll see," I said, knowing that I wasn't actually opposed to the idea. I was really growing to love it, actually. I wanted a lot of children and grandchildren, a house full of disorder and happy kids.
"I'll have to do my best to convince you," he smirked, pressing himself into my thigh. "It is awfully fun making them."
"You know, I think you're right," I said with a sly smile as I shifted just right against him. "I think you're very right."
And there you have it. I hope it didn't disappoint! I do have a link for you to check out! I did an author's interview with the wonderful smittenskitten for her blog, and in the words of Krismom: "It reads like a director's commentary." Which gave me the giggles. Check the interview out here:
Please check out the other interviews on the blog!