Okay, so I won't take up too much of your time here. I'll let you get to the main event, then see you at the bottom. I do, however, have to thank scribeninja, chanel addict and slacker dee for being amazeballs prereaders and making sure I got this right. You ladies rock my socks.


Chapter Sixty: The Future Is A Masterpiece

Five Years Later

"Mommy, watch me!" Haley shouted from the monkey bars.

I was pushing Nicholas and Connor on the swings. Haley was very good at climbing and hanging, but I attributed that to having a near giant for a father. I glanced at my watch and sighed with disappointment. Eric was late. Again.

I was getting sick of this.

I was tired of making excuses to the kids about why Daddy didn't come to the park, the library, the zoo or anywhere else we went. I hated the disappointment on their faces whenever he overslept, or missed an outing because he 'just stopped by the bar real quick,' and ended up doing paperwork that kept him there for hours. I felt like the bad guy.

I felt like a single mother more often than not. I knew Eric was working so hard for "us," but the kids didn't understand it. All they knew was Daddy wasn't there. I could handle him pulling away from me, at first, but not from them. They didn't understand it anymore than they deserved it.

I watched Haley traverse the monkey bars, and shouted my praise to her. Nicholas and Connor were two weeks past their third birthday. Nicholas was the bruiser of the family. He had a temper on him that only Eric ever seemed to be able to diffuse easily. He had also inherited his father's athletic reflexes and skills. Connor was my little comedian. He was constantly doing the silliest things just to make everyone laugh or smile. Stella said it was like having a clone of Johan when he was Connor's age. I wasn't the least bit surprised to hear it. The two of them balanced each other out nicely.

Haley, my baby girl, she was the perfect blend of Eric and me. She was fiercely protective of her little brothers and very opinionated. She inherited Eric's love for a good snuggle, and I often woke up to find her in our bed, curled up next to her father. She had him wrapped around her little finger.

"Daddy!" Haley dropped from the monkey bars and ran to Eric, who was walking up behind me.

"You're late." I growled at him through a clenched jaw.

"Forgot to set the alarm." No apology, just excuses. For the sake of the kids, we slapped on our happy faces and had our picnic lunch.

Haley was spending the night at her friend Kacy's house. The boys were going to Amelia and Tray's. They got along well with Charlie, the little boy who would never be my son-in-law, much to Amelia's dismay. Haley and Charlie didn't get along. At all. Charlie thought Haley was too bossy- which she sometimes was. Haley thought Charlie was a dork- although, I have no idea where she heard that word.

Still, a house without kids gave me hope that Eric and I could talk. This had to stop. I was tired of feeling like I did. I loved him. Desperately. I didn't feel like myself with the rift between us. I missed him, but was too angry to really let him in. I got resentful. It was time to put a stop to it. It was either fix it, or start looking for divorce lawyers, and I really didn't want that.

Eric played with the kids after we ate. The four of them chased a soccer ball around the open field while I sat on the sidelines and watched. For a little while things felt normal again. I laughed along with them when Connor tried to bounce the ball off his head the way Eric did.

Inevitably, Eric's cell phone rang. It was Sarah, the bar manager. I groaned, knowing playtime was over. Eric came to answer his phone. "I'll make it quick," he said. Famous last words.

I listened to Eric's side of the conversation. Apparently there was a mix up with some dates and the beer vendor hadn't shown up. No beer, no business.

"I have to go." Eric said after he hung up.

"Yeah, I heard. At least say goodbye to the kids first. They won't be home later." I sighed heavily.

"It's not like I planned this, Sookie." Eric's sigh matched my own.

I ignored him and called the kids over. "Daddy has to go. There was a mix up at work."

"Noooooo!" Three voices chorused back and my heart broke.

Haley, my little voice of reason, said, "Can't Sarah fix it?"

I was wondering the same thing.

Eric apologized and promised to make it up to the kids later. He was in their debt big time. I hated that I almost wished he wouldn't have come at all. Then I wouldn't be left to answer questions I didn't have answers to. He hugged and kissed the kids goodbye. He didn't say anything to me before he walked off. Sadly, that was nothing new.

I was in a mood for the rest of the afternoon. Haley was picked up by Kacy's mom at 4:00. I dropped the boys off at Amelia's a short time later. She had offered to take them for the night so Eric and I could talk. I didn't have the heart to tell her Eric was at work. I put on my best fake smile and talked up an evening I knew wasn't going to happen.

On the drive home, I cranked up my iPod to listen to less than kid friendly music. A Staind song came up on my shuffle, and I nearly broke down at a red light. You just refuse to bend, so I keep bending 'til I break. The words hit me hard. That's what my life had become. I made excuses, ran interference and I covered for Eric. I was party to his absenteeism. I was part of the problem.

But I didn't want to be. I wanted our life back. I wanted us together, united and head over heels in love with each other. I wanted to be the couple we once were that made people gag because we were so sweet to each other. I tried to figure out how it had come to this point. Where did we go wrong?

I parked in the garage and was greeted by Jeter in the laundry room. It was strange to come home to an empty house. There were no cartoons on in the background, no kids screaming or laughing. I dropped my purse on the kitchen counter and tried to decide what to do with myself. The house was clean. There was only silence. I moved to the living room and sat down on the couch. I watched the sky get increasingly darker though the patio doors that led out onto the deck.

We'd moved into a new house shortly before Nicholas and Connor's first birthday. There simply wasn't enough space for two adults, three kids and a dog the size of a pony. Our new house had a full basement, a living room, front room, dining room, kitchen, screened in patio, four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms and a laundry room. It was the perfect house for our family. I loved our house. I loved it more when it wasn't so dark and silent.

Darkness filled the empty space around me, but I didn't move. I sat there in the dark, thinking about all of the things that had gone wrong in my marriage. I thought, briefly, that maybe Eric was having an affair. Really, it added up when I put together the circumstantial evidence. He worked in a bar. He was the sexiest man I'd ever seen. He wasn't having sex with me, and I knew his sexual appetite better than anyone. If he wasn't fucking me, there had to be someone. I thought maybe it was Sarah for a moment, but quickly rejected the whole theory.

Eric was a lot of things, but a cheater wasn't one of them. Eric had always been straight with me about things, whether it was good, bad or ugly, he always told me the truth. He had made a promise to me long ago that if he ever lost interest in our relationship, or if he met someone else, that he would tell me the truth. I promised him I would do the same. We had made that promise at a point when we couldn't imagine being with someone else, but Eric always kept his promises.

Or he had up until recently. Maybe it was just me he didn't love anymore. It was the not knowing that was killing me. When the garage door started to go up, I didn't move either. I stayed right where I was, even though Jeter took off like a shot, and was fidgeting anxiously at the garage door. I heard Eric greet our dog more affectionately than he had greeted me in months.

He walked into the family room. "Sookie?" He was behind me and he turned the lights on.

"Do you still love me, Eric?" I almost mumbled the question. I was terrified that he might say no. I didn't know what I would do if he did.

He sighed and said, "You know I do."

"How would I know? You never say so. You're never here. You're body is, but you aren't. Is it because of me? Do you want out of this?"

"Sookie..."

"Just tell me if it's too much, Eric. If you're going to break my heart, that's one thing, but the kids..." I trailed off when I started to cry. I couldn't think about the kids right then or I would completely fall apart.

He came around and sat on the coffee table in front of me. "Sookie, I don't want out. I love you. I love our children."

"Then why do I feel like a burden to you, Eric? I used to feel like your partner. Now it's like I'm just this weight around your neck. I hate feeling this way! I hate that our house is empty, and instead of fucking on this couch, I'm crying on it and wondering if my marriage is over! And I don't know what to do about it, Eric. I don't know how to fix it." I wiped my eyes and cheeks.

He wasn't saying anything, which didn't help. The silence got too loud. I couldn't take anymore.

"Maybe we should separate for a while." I suggested.

"What?" That got his attention. "Sookie, separating is not what I want. Don't you get it yet? Everything I do is for you and the kids. Don't you think I hate missing out on the fun stuff? I would love to be able to just turn my back on work and go play, but I can't."

"That's bullshit, Eric. You're the boss. You can leave whenever the fuck you want, and we both know it. You choose the bar. You choose it every time that goddamn phone rings and you go running." I got up and headed for the kitchen with Eric hot on my heels.

"It's my bar, Sookie!"

"It doesn't have to be!" I shouted back as I got myself a glass of wine and quickly drained it.

"So this is about the bar?"

"It's about you! You've changed! The Eric I fell in love with took responsibility for all of his mistakes and shortcomings. He didn't break promises. He didn't make excuses or try to placate me with shiny new promises he had no intention of keeping. Not only did he tell me he loved me, he showed me. What happened to you, Eric? Where did you go?"

"I'm not the only one who changed."

I threw my wine glass in the sink, the sound of shattering glass making quite an impression on him. I was so close to losing it completely.

"Stop doing that! This is about you! I know I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes. I'm tired of feeling like this, Eric. I'm tired of seeing our kids so disappointed all the time because you're not there. They miss you. I miss you. Do you miss us, Eric?" I stared at him.

He crossed the room in two quick strides and held my face in his hands. His eyes were intense and blazing as he looked at me. There was heat there in his eyes that I hadn't seen in a long time. My heart sped up and I had to force my knees not to go weak under the weight of his stare.

"Every second of every day. I think about you all the time. I wonder where you are or what you're doing, or if you miss me, too. We shut down, Sookie. We let the world get in the way. I miss you. I love you. I don't want to lose you," he told me.

I believed him. It was all there in his eyes. I knew those eyes. I knew when they were lying. There was nothing but insistence there. He needed me to believe him as much I needed hear the words he'd just said.

"I love you, Eric." I whispered. It felt good to say it.

His lips crashed down on mine in a kiss that was as frantic as it was passionate. Our mouths moved expertly against one another, and yet, in an exploratory way. It had been so long since we'd exchanged anything more than a peck with each other. Sex in our relationship was non-existent. The last time we'd had sex was on Valentine's Day, and it was the worst sex we'd ever had. I'd faked an orgasm for the first- and only- time, and I'm fairly certain Eric knew I was faking. He knew my body too well not to know.

My heart and head just weren't into it that night. My body wanted it, but the rest of me was somewhere else. I was thinking about treats for Haley's kindergarten class and papers I needed to grade when I was done folding laundry and putting away stray toys. So I faked my orgasm. After that, Eric stopped trying.

But there would be no faking it that night. I reached into Eric's pocket and retrieved his phone. I broke our kiss and turned his phone off. He pulled my t-shirt off and put me up on the counter. Our lips met again in that same frenzied way, each of us trying to devour the other. Piece by piece, our clothes came off.

His mouth moved along my jaw and down my neck, stopping at the spot under my ear that always drove me crazy. From there he moved to my breasts, teasing them both with his mouth and fingers until I was tugging on his hair to get his lips back on mine. It had been more than three months since we'd had sex last, and I didn't really want to do it on the kitchen counter.

"Bedroom." I said between kisses.

Before I was a mother, I would have done it right there without a second thought, but I'd changed. Eric was right about that. He scooped me up off the counter and in record time, I was being dumped on our bed. Eric crawled up next to me and we picked up where we'd left off downstairs, only now his fingers were at work between my legs.

"Eric, later." I pulled him on top of me. "I need you inside me. Now."

He growled at my admission, and I almost came right there. I needed to hear that sound. I missed that sound. His eyes met mine. My hand moved between us to guide him inside me. I was so beyond ready for him. I missed him in ways I hadn't even realized until just then. He slid into me with the littlest bit of resistance from my body. I wasn't used to him anymore, and the thought brought fresh tears to my eyes.

"Did I hurt you?" He kissed my cheeks so sweetly. It was such a loaded question he'd asked, but I knew what he meant.

"No." I wrapped my legs around his waist to pull him closer and deeper inside me. I kissed him with everything I had when he looked doubtful. "I love you, Eric."

I rocked my hips and squeezed him from the inside. He groaned and then started moving. His thrusts were slow at first, savoring the feeling of being joined like we were. Having him inside me again felt so good. Guilt overcame me for turning him away, and then faking pleasure when I didn't. His thrusts became faster and more powerful. His fingers laced with mine and pinned my hands on either side of my head.

I kissed whatever skin my lips could reach while he whispered over and over again that he loved me. Hearing him say it in such a desperate fashion woke something inside me that had been lying dormant for far too long. He muttered something in Swedish, and it was my undoing. I cried out as my orgasm started. My walls spasmed, then clamped down. He only thrusted into me harder, and I screamed his name at the intensity of it all.

The orgasm, his voice in my ear, the weight of my love for him- it was all too much. It completely overwhelmed me. With one last thrust of his hips against mine, he swelled and released deep inside me with a roar of his own. His body fell on mine, and I didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry from how free I felt right then.

So, instead, I kissed him. I wrapped my arms around him, holding him to me, and kissed him until I had to pull away to breathe. When he rolled to the side, he tucked me against him and kissed my hair. We were a sweaty, trembling mess of limbs. I felt fan-fucking-tastic.

"You didn't fake that, did you?" He asked a bit nervously, and I winced.

"No, and I'm sorry I did before. I shouldn't have done that. It wasn't fair to either of us." I turned over and climbed on top of him. "I promise I won't ever do that again."

"Good." He looked up into my eyes and ran his fingers through the tangles in my hair. "And I'm sorry I let work become a bigger priority than you and the kids. I'll make changes."

"What kind of changes?"

"The kind that will put me behind the scenes again. The bar isn't worth losing my family over. I can't lose you, Sookie."

"I can't lose you either. I don't want to raise our kids alone." My bottom lip quivered at the thought, and Eric stretched forward to kiss me.

"That's never going to happen. We'll fix this, Sookie," he promised me.

I stayed there on top of him, the two of us kissing lazily until he grabbed my hips and lifted me up high enough for him to slide inside me again, which was how we spent the rest of the night.


Eric

I woke up to Sookie's lips wrapped around my cock and her tangled mop of hair teasing my thighs. Part of me worried the night before was just a dream, but there she was, waking me up in a way she hadn't since before the boys learned how to climb out of their cribs. We'd spent the night talking out our problems in between rounds of very powerful- and very needed- sex. I knew it wasn't going to be fixed immediately, but it was a start.

The first steps in the new chapter of our life together. I knew I'd been neglecting her and the kids. It wasn't on purpose. There was just so much going on, and I had wrongfully assumed that being in love was enough to keep us going. Communication about anything other than the kids shut down. The affection dried up. The fire went out.

Hearing her suggest we separate was a jolt to my system. That wasn't what I wanted. I tried my best to explain it to her. I'd done a shit job of showing it, but Sookie was my world. I couldn't even begin to describe how much I loved her. I was pissed at myself for giving her a reason to doubt me- for doubting us.

I had promised her I would make her happy, and I had broken that promise. I resolved to change that. Every day, from that point on, she would know I loved her more than anything. Our kids were amazing, and of course I loved them, but Sookie would always come first. She had to.

If she was happy, our children would be happy. I wanted to be an example to our sons, and set an impossibly high standard for our daughter. In short, I wanted to stop being a shit husband, and be the man my family deserved.

Sookie humming around my cock got my attention and brought me back to the present. "Morning, lover." It felt good to call her that again.

She released me from her mouth and said, "I missed you calling me that."

I pushed her onto her back and kissed my way down her body until I was between her thighs. "I missed the way you taste."

I licked her glistening slit and rejoiced a bit when she shivered. I spread her open with my thumbs and blew cool air on her clit before flicking my tongue against it. Her hips bucked to try for more friction. I held her down gently, and started the dance we both did so well.

In no time at all, she was gasping for air and demanding I be inside her. Her taste on my tongue was heaven and I couldn't believe we'd gone so long without this. Her tugs on my hair became more insistent, and the pleading look in her eyes was hard to resist. I abandoned my post and moved up her body again.

She surprised me by turning over. Her ass brushed against my cock. Her hips raised to me in offering. I took my position behind her and pulled her up on her knees. I slid into her easily, and my thrusts were immediately frantic, and maybe a little possessive. Sookie was such a beautifully amazing woman, and she was mine.

She was mine, and I nearly gave her away out of my own stupidity. She turned her face to look at me over her shoulder, and I had to kiss her. I pulled her up so she was sitting on my thighs. Her face stayed turned and I kissed her deeply. Her hand found mine and guided it around to her front, her fingers staying on mine while I rubbed her clit.

The back of her head landed on my shoulder when she came, but I wasn't anywhere near done yet. I wanted the feelings swirling between us to last forever. Telling her I loved her seemed too simple, but I couldn't stop saying it.

"Jag trodde jag förlade dig." I whispered, my voice cracking some with emotion. "Det finns inget liv för mig utan dig."

She cried out and gasped my name as her second orgasm began to build. I pulled out of her and put her on her back. I hooked her legs over my arms and entered her again at an angle that had my cock stroking her clit with every thrust.

"Oh, God, Eric, I love you!" She shouted while clawing at my back.

We finished violently, and at the same time, a short time later. I collapsed on top of her, feathering kisses on her face and neck until I had to pull out of her. I fell to the side and tucked her against me. Before I knew it, we were both asleep again.

In the days that followed, I took a leave of absence from the bar. My first order of business was to call Pam. She and Johan were still living in Stockholm, but were thinking about moving back to the States. Johan wanted kids, and Pam was far less opposed to the idea than she once was.

"Pam, we have to talk about the bar. I want out. I'm offering you first dibs on primary ownership." I got right to the point.

"Hello to you, too, brother-in-law. I'm fine, thanks for asking. Good thing Sookie's in charge of teaching your children manners." She snorted.

"I'm sorry, Pam, how are you this morning?" I rolled my eyes.

"Pregnant." She said.

"What?" My jaw about hit the floor.

"With child. Knocked up. Bun in the oven. Preggers. There's a pea in the pod. Up the spout. In the family way. On stork watch. Shopping for two-"

"Just two?" I smirked.

"Asshole." She muttered. "Well, congratulate me already. You're going to be blood related to me now."

"Hopefully the kid will have Johan's sense of humor." I said dryly.

"As long as it has my fashion sense, I don't care." Pam said simply.

"So when is this bundle of joy making its grand entrance?"

"Christmas, can you believe it? My baby is going to pop out like the second coming." Pam had to be rolling her eyes.

"How precious." I shook my head.

"So about the bar..." She asked a bunch of questions about the bar, wanting all sorts of financial stats I didn't have in front of me at the moment.

I promised to email her everything when I got back into the office the following week. I congratulated her on the baby, but she just 'yeah, yeahed' me like she hadn't berated me nearly an hour before for skipping over the congratulations. I was a bit surprised, but I was happy for them. They were happy together. I didn't like to put too much thought into it, but I had somewhat reconciled with myself that the first part of their relationship had been like foreplay for them. They got off on challenging each other and testing limits. It wasn't for me, but that's why I was married to someone like Sookie, and not to Pam.

It got to the point where the kids got sick of having me around the house, I think. My parents usually watched the boys during the day since I was sleeping and Sookie was still teaching at the high school. Mom took Haley to school in the afternoon, but I picked her up most days. We had a little time alone before Sookie got home with the boys. I would start dinner while Sookie did homework with Haley. Yes, my five-year-old had homework.

Some nights we ate together and some nights I just grabbed something on my way into work, depending on how busy we were going to be that night. The bar really was doing very well. Our reputation had grown, and we were still doing the under age nights Sookie had suggested when we first started dating. The space next to the bar had become available, and I was thinking about expanding again. But that was something I would have to think about after I got things straight with my marriage and my family.

Things steadily improved. I shifted some things around at work, and scaled back my hours significantly. I was only working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I turned over control of weekends to Sarah, and hired a second manager to back me up on the nights I was there. On Mondays I would go in and do some paperwork and double check inventory to make sure the order forms were going out correctly. I'd ended up firing my head bartender for the goof on the order that pulled me away from my family. It wasn't the first big fuck up, and I was tired of dealing with incompetence. I promoted another bartender to take his place.

Things started to smooth out. Pam and Johan announced the pregnancy to everyone, along with their decision to move back to the States. Pam also opted to buy back into the bar, thereby taking some of the weight off my shoulders. Johan was going to pick up ownership as well, and when I mentioned my ideas of expansion, Johan actually had an idea of his own. He wanted to turn the space next door into a diner.

Perfect. Our drunks could go next door and sober up.

I couldn't complain, though. Things between Sookie and I got better. We had a standing date night every Friday, which was made possible because Haley and Kacy were inseparable and Kacy's parents didn't mind having Haley around. The boys went to Amelia's one Friday, and stayed with my parents the next. Once Pam got back into town, we would be shifting schedules again, and I would only be working during the day.

The question then became what to do with all of my free time? I started thinking about teaching again, only I was thinking about maybe working with younger kids. I found out a position was opening up at Haley's school on account of the current gym teacher retiring. So, when I went to pick her up from school one day, I stopped by the office to speak with the principal about what they needed from me in order to apply. Having a child already attending the school wasn't a problem. In fact, it seemed to be to my benefit.

I updated my resume and emailed it to the address the principal had provided to me. I was in the process of trying to teach Haley how to crossover dribble in the driveway when Sookie came home. It was Friday, and it was my parents' night to watch the boys. Kacy's mom would be coming by on her way home from work to pick up Haley. I was very much looking forward to a night alone with my wife. I hadn't told her yet about my intention to get back into teaching, but I was sure she'd be happy about it.

Sookie jumped out of her SUV and ran straight into the house without so much as a word to either of us, which wasn't like her at all. Haley looked up at me with eyes so much like her mother's. She was worried.

"What's wrong with Mommy? Did you fight like before?" Haley had a memory like a steel trap.

"No, dotter, we didn't fight." I assured her.

"Are you sure? Sometimes you can be a röhvhål." She cursed at me in Swedish with such innocence in her eyes, I couldn't be mad at her.

"Where did you hear that word?" I asked her. I knew who she heard it from.

"My Pammy." She giggled. "Is it a bad word?"

"Yes, it's a very bad word. I don't want to hear you say that anymore."

"Okay." She shrugged. "What word did I say?"

"Don't worry about it. Just don't use it anymore." I said sternly, but not too harsh.

"Don't have a cow, man." My daughter watched The Simpsons with me whenever I was home.

I wanted to go inside and check on Sookie, but I didn't want to worry Haley, and I knew if I went inside there was no way she was going to just sit and watch TV while Sookie and I talked. She was going to want to be involved in the conversation, and if something was wrong, Sookie would have to lie. She hated lying to the kids- we both did.

Thankfully, Kacy's mom pulled up a short time later. Haley ran to the porch to get her overnight bag. She kissed me goodbye and got in the backseat of the car. I waved to Kacy's mom and stepped closer when she motioned for me to.

"Would you be able to pick her up in the morning? I have a dentist appointment at noon, and I have to be out the door by ten thirty."

"Sure, not a problem. Thanks for having her overnight."

"Oh, it's no trouble at all. She always tells Kacy to say please and thank you before I get a chance to."

I laughed and said, "I'll pass on the thanks to my wife. She's the manners police in our house."

"That's just being a good mom. You two enjoy your night." She waved, and then backed out of the driveway.

I picked up the basketball and headed inside. Sookie was upstairs in our bathroom with the door locked and the shower running. Her clothes were strewn around the room and her purse was nearly overturned on our bed. I wanted to pop the lock and let myself in, but if she'd locked the door, it meant she wanted privacy. So, I stretched out on our bed to wait for her.

The water turned off a few minutes later, and shortly after that, the door opened. Sookie came out of the bathroom in her nightgown with damp hair. Clearly date night wasn't going to be what I thought. She looked a little on the pale side. I sat up quickly, worried that something was definitely wrong with her.

"Jesus, Sookie, what's wrong?"

"Stomach flu or food poisoning, I'm not sure which. I've been sick as a dog since just after lunch this afternoon." She crawled into bed.

"Can I get you anything?" I rubbed her back gently.

"A less sensitive gag reflex would be awesome."

Tell me about it.

"How about some ginger ale and saltines?"

"Sounds perfect."

I kissed her temple and went downstairs to get what I'd offered her, only to realize we didn't have ginger ale in the house. I got her a glass of water and the crackers. She snacked on crackers without complaining about any crumbs that got on the sheets. She sipped water carefully to make sure it was all going to stay down. No such luck, of course, and the remainder of the night was spent dashing back and forth from the bathroom to throw up.

I felt terrible for her. I ran to the grocery store to pick up some ginger ale, Gatorade and some stomach medicine but I'm not sure any of it really helped. I picked up Haley the next morning, and she took over nursing duties for me while I went to get the boys. We stopped by the house long enough for me to check on Sookie. She was pale, exhausted and still throwing up. I decided to keep the kids out of the house on the chance she had the stomach flu and not food poisoning.

Not to mention, she'd never get any rest with three kids running around the house. I took them to the park and played with them until they all complained they were hungry. We went to McDonald's nearby since there was a Playland attached. The three of them chowed down their happy meals, then got lost in the giant pit of balls. I let them play for close to an hour before I told them it was time to go. All three of them looked exhausted, and it was still early enough that they could take a nap without it messing up their bedtime.

As soon as we got home, I declared it quiet time. Everyone had to go upstairs to their bed until Mommy or Daddy came to get them. They complained, but did as they were told. I heated up some chicken soup for Sookie on the chance that she wanted to try to eat something. By the time I got upstairs, all three kids were out cold in their own beds. I brought in the soup to find Sookie passed out as well. There was a note on the nightstand telling me she was feeling better, but to let her sleep.

I kicked off my shoes and got in bed next to her. She turned onto her other side and snuggled against my chest, draping an arm over me. I hugged her close, but not too tight, and then let sleep pull me under as well. I woke to the feeling of someone staring at me, and found out it was three someones. Our kids were kneeling at the end of the bed.

"About time you woke up." Haley rolled her eyes.

"I told you they weren't dead!" Nicholas was too loud, as usual, and slugged Connor.

"No hitting, Nicky." I reminded him in a whisper. "And be quiet. Mommy's still sleeping."

"We want to go outside." Connor informed me.

"Okay. I'll be downstairs in a minute. Go get your shoes on." I told them.

The three of them were a blur of motion. It was like watching the Marx brothers try to get out the bedroom door all at once. Haley won on account of being a girl, and promptly reminding them that ladies always went first. It made me proud to see her stand up for herself. I pitied the fool that ever thought he might boss her around. It was never going to happen.

"I'm starving." Sookie whispered next to me.

"I made you soup before, but you were sleeping."

"No soup."She grumbled and then looked up at me."I need real food. I ate an apple while you were out with the kids. It didn't give me any trouble."

I kissed her forehead and said, "That's good. I'm glad you're feeling better."

"I am. How about I order the pizza while you go supervise the little rascals?" She suggested.

"Sounds like a plan to me." I slipped out of bed and put my shoes back on.

Sookie sat up slowly, rubbed her eyes and groaned when she saw how crazy her hair was. She mumbled something about looking like shit, but I wisely kept my mouth shut. Instead, I headed downstairs to look after the kids. Sookie came down a while later, her hair tamed back into a ponytail and dressed in a pair of yoga pants that made her ass look amazing. If she was up to it, we'd be locking our bedroom door later.

The pizza arrived an hour later, much to the excitement of our kids. We got them set up in the sunroom with their dinner so they could watch their beloved Spongebob while they ate. Sookie and I sat at the table together, talking about what the next week was going to be like for us. It was Sookie's last week of teaching. Haley's kindergarten graduation was the week after that. We were planning to have her graduation party the week after that. Then the there was Sookie's birthday shortly after that. I'd planned a trip for us that would be kid-free, but it was a surprise.

Pam and Johan would be coming in the middle of the month, in time for Haley's sixth birthday. We had also planned a trip up to Michigan with Amelia and Tray for the summer that would have us staying in a rental house on the beach. We had a busy couple of months coming up. I was looking forward to it all.

We played games with the kids for a while after dinner until Nicholas started to yawn. He was always the guide by which we knew to send the kids up to get ready for bed. All three of them needed baths before bedtime. I took the boys into the guest bathroom upstairs and supervised their bath time, while Sookie took Haley to our bathroom to shower. Haley had very abruptly decided at the age of four that she was too big for baths because "that's what the babies did," and she wasn't a baby. Her first shower had been a bit disastrous. She wasn't prepared for the constant rush of water in her face, and she'd choked a bit. She was doing much better with it, but one of us still supervised the activity just in case.

The boys splashed and played until I brought out the shampoo and washed their hair. After that they started to gather up their bath toys and put them in the netted sack we kept them in under the sink. I pulled them out of the tub one at a time to dry them off. It was always a battle over who was going to get out of the tub last. That night was no different.

"I'm the big brother, so you go first." Nicholas ordered.

"But it's your turn." Connor insisted.

"Nuh uh! You got to stay in longer last time." Nicholas whined.

"You realize I could just pick up both up by your necks, right?" I flexed my hands at them, and they laughed at me. The truth was, I could probably pick them both up with one hand if I gripped them right, but that was neither here nor there.

They continued to argue over it, and I just leaned against the sink watching them rationalize the whole thing. It was fascinating to see them together sometimes. It very much reminded me of Johan and myself. Nicholas might have been the older twin, but Connor- for all of his goofing and silliness- was the more reliable twin. Nicholas was more likely to give me shifty eyes and try to push blame onto one of his siblings when he did something wrong.

"Nicholas Corbett, it's your turn to get out first." Sookie settle the argument as she walked past the bathroom with Haley on her hip. She winked at me while Connor stuck his tongue out at Nicholas.

"No fair, Mom!" Nicholas pouted.

"I'm going to count to three, and you better be out of that tub or no bedtime story." Sookie threatened.

She was a hard ass, but she had to be. These kids would walk all over her if given half a chance. Nicholas pouted, but climbed out of the tub before Sookie got to two. I dried him off and sent him across the hall to dress himself while I got Connor dry. Haley's hair was braided and she was wearing a cute little purple nightgown with blue flowers on it. Her head rested on Sookie's shoulder, and for a moment, she looked much younger than her five years. She got like that when she was tired.

"Daddy will you tuck me in?" Haley yawned and batted her eyelashes at me.

As if I would ever say no. "Of course, dotter." I reached for her and Sookie handed her off to me.

I kissed Sookie's forehead, and then went to the end of the hall where Haley's room was. We had given Haley a choice when we moved into the new house about what she wanted her room to look like. She had made her Pammy proud by choosing pink. The walls were the color of bubble gum and there were pictures of angels on her walls. Where she got this fascination with angels from, I'll never know. I assume it had something to do with her grandparents taking her to church when she was there on the weekends. Sookie and I had decided to let the kids decide for themselves what their religious affiliation would be once they were old enough to choose for themselves.

Haley got into bed easily, and snuggled under her covers. My baby girl was a snuggler. If I was sitting on the couch downstairs, chances were she was curled up in my lap, or snuggled next to me. It was like having a lap cat that talked. We had a short conversation in Swedish. She was doing very well with speaking both languages. Nicholas spoke it when he got angry. Connor was the only one who seemed to be having trouble grasping it, and he sometimes spoke in an English/Swedish hybrid that confused the hell out of his teachers.

"I'm teaching Kacy Swedish." Haley said with pride.

"Are you?" I smiled at her.

"Yep. It's like our own secret language from all the other kids. You know, like how Nicky and Connor have their language?"

Ah, yes, the twin speak. No one knew what the hell they were saying except for the two of them. Mom told me it was normal, that Johan and I had had our own language as kids. I didn't remember any of it, but she insisted we would sit together making sounds she didn't understand, but made perfect sense to the two of us. I wondered if it felt different for Haley to be an only child, in that sense. It seemed so, since she was hellbent on making Kacy her twin.

"Yes, I know. Just no teaching Kacy the bad words until you're at least fifteen, okay?" I stroked her little cheek and she giggled.

"I promise." She held out her pinky to me, her ultimate promise extended.

I hooked my finger with hers and said, "That's my girl. Jag äsklar dig, min dotter."

" Jag äsklar dig, min far." She held her arms up to me for a hug, which I eagerly gave her. I kissed her hair, pulled her blankets up around her and turned off her lights.

I left her door cracked just a little, knowing she would be sound asleep until one of the twins woke her up in the morning. My little girl slept like the dead, just like me. I stood in her door for a while and just watched her. I could hear Sookie down the hall, reading a chapter of Harry Potter to the boys. She was so animated about it, doing different voices for different characters. Her British accent left something to be desired, but the boys didn't really know the difference.

I stayed out of sight and let her finish her chapter. By the time she finished, both boys had their eyes closed. I stepped into the room and watched her adjust their covers. She whispered that she loved them in Swedish, which was something I never noticed she did before. She kissed each of them and then smiled when she saw me standing behind her, just observing her. She really was a great mother to our kids.

She hung back while I told them I loved them as well, and kissed their heads. Sookie came and stood beside me with her head resting on my arm and her arms around my waist. We stood there quietly, watching the boys as they slept. I stood there as long as she wanted to, then followed her when she'd had enough. I waited for her in the hall while she went in to give Haley a kiss goodnight.

We walked down the hall together, and it was Sookie that locked our bedroom door. She stripped off her clothes and headed for the shower. She tossed a look over her shoulder at me that let me know my presence was definitely welcome, if not mandatory. I wiggled my eyebrows at her, and quickly followed.


Sookie

I couldn't get the smile off my face. Things had changed so much since that fight Eric and I finally had in our kitchen a few months before. There were still kinks to work out, but we were transitioning into a much better situation. Having Pam and Johan back in town helped a great deal. Haley was exceptionally excited to have her Pammy around. The two of them had always jabbered on and on during our Skype conversations. It was cute to watch them speak broken Swedish to each other. The boys were significantly less impressed with Pam, but they loved Uncle Johan. He was a big kid, just like them.

"Mommy, look what Johan gave me!" Connor came running into the kitchen where I was putting the finishing touches on dinner for the kids.

My three-year-old was wearing a pair of suspenders with little clown faces on them. I shook my head and stared at Johan as he walked into the room. "Did you really think that was necessary?"

"I think they look dashing." Johan held out his fist to Connor, who bumped it without hesitating.

"I think they look dashing, too." Connor had no idea what he was talking about.

"As long as you like them, baby." I knelt down to give him a hug.

"You should get going before Pam starts calling." Johan advised.

"Yeah, I guess I should. Okay, well, all the important stuff is on the fridge. You have all the numbers in case you need to call us." I said.

"Eh, don't worry about it. I'm just going to give them ice cream for dinner and then let them jump up and down on your bed until they exhaust themselves." He winked at me so I knew he was kidding.

"Mmhmm. Just remember, you've got a kid of your own coming, and payback's a bitch."

"Mommy, you said a bad word." Haley said in a sing-song voice from the kitchen table.

"Yes, I did. I'm sorry. Will you keep an eye on Uncle Johan and the boys for me?" I asked her.

"I'll try. I can always call my Pammy if they get too nuts."

"You wouldn't!" Johan gasped dramatically. Haley's response was to stick out her tongue. "You spend too much with your Pammy!"

Johan hauled her little body out of the chair and held her up over his head, tickling and shaking her until she was laughing so hard she was bright red and threatening to tinkle on him. He let her down reluctantly after fining her two kisses for her threat. She paid him, then took off running to find her brothers. I had no doubt Nicholas was going to give Johan a hard time for the rest of the night now because he had been "mean" to Haley.

"Good luck." I smirked, then grabbed my bags.

Eric had no idea what was about to happen. He thought I was at a summer seminar class. I was planning to start on my master's degree in the fall, but I was thinking I might have to hold back for a bit on that. I'd made reservations for us at a hotel. I'd even gotten Pam in on things. She called Eric in a completely faked panic, telling him the bartender had called in sick and she needed him to cover for a few hours until another one could get there at ten. He had tried to convince her to call in anyone else, since I was supposed to be at class and their parents were out of town for the weekend.

Eric had reluctantly agreed to go. I told him I was fine with it. I'd take the kids to Amelia's for a few hours, and one of us could pick them up on the way home. I'd assured Eric I wasn't mad, then sent him on his way. With Eric gone, Johan had come by a short time later to watch the kids for the night. It was good practice for when he and Pam had a child of their own. I figured all three of our kids would equal the trouble they'd have with just their one, between Johan's sense of mischief and Pam's smart mouth.

I put the bags I'd packed in the back of the SUV and climbed into the driver's seat. I plugged in my iPod and listened to the mix Eric had made years ago for our wedding. We'd been married six years, two months and four days. It was the seventh anniversary of the day we met. It was amazing to me to think of how far we'd come, and to think, I hadn't even wanted to stay for breakfast the morning after we slept together.

I drove to the bar with a smile on my face, dressed in the very same outfit I'd been wearing the night we met. I parked the SUV next to Eric's car. He'd given up the Corvette as his regular ride. It just wasn't practical for a man with three kids. He would never drive the SUV around all the time like I did, but his Audi made much more sense. It still only accommodated two car seats, but if he had to take all three kids somewhere, he took the SUV.

I slid out of the car and strutted my stuff across the parking lot. Chow waved me in when he saw me. A line was already forming outside the bar. It had taken on much more of a club-like atmosphere in the last two years. Profits had increased, so Eric couldn't really complain. I slithered around the bar, not wanting him to see me right away. Thankfully, he was busy when I walked in, or he probably would have spotted me.

I blended myself into the crowd, but managed to catch Pam's attention. It was strange to see her with a belly. She was five months pregnant, but had started showing at about nine weeks because she was so thin. As far as pregnant women went, she was adorable. Unlike me, she had managed to keep the bulk of her weight gain strictly at her stomach. There would be no chubby ankles or double chins for Pamela Ravenscroft-Northman. No sir.

She got Eric's attention for me, and had him searching the crowd. I ducked behind a tall man, and I heard him tell Pam she was out of her mind. I couldn't help but smile as I got closer and closer to the bar, listening to the two of them bicker like they always did. I waited until Eric was good and frustrated with Pam before making my presence known. He'd get me for this later, but I was counting on it. I had good news I wanted to share. I could only hope Eric felt the same way.

I banged on the bar and waited for him to turn and notice me. "I'll be with you in a minute." He said over his shoulder. I banged some more.

I watched every muscle in Eric's back tense up. I saw the flex of his forearms. The temper our son had inherited had clearly come from his father. I bit back a smile as I continued to bang on the bar. Eric finally lost patience and turned around, prepared to let the irritating customer have it. When he saw it was me, he narrowed his eyes.

"What can I get you?" He pressed his palms on the bar.

I fidgeted with my necklace, making sure to flash my rings at him. "How about a Screaming Orgasm?"

His smile became a smirk and he said, "Doesn't your husband take care of that for you?"

I leaned forward and gestured for him to do the same. "Very well, but what girl doesn't need a good stiff one now and then?" I may have licked his ear.

He cleared his throat, obviously down for playing along with me. "I think I could help you with that."

I looked him up and down and said, "I'm sure you could."

Sweet Mary, the smirk on his face...I wanted to lick the corner of his mouth. He was wearing tight black jeans and an even tighter black t-shirt. I couldn't wait to get him alone. He made me my shot, but then I had to figure out how I was going to get away with not drinking it. Pregnancy and alcohol don't mix.

"Something wrong with your drink?" He asked when I hesitated.

"No, I'm sure it's great. I was just hoping for an actual screaming orgasm." I pouted.

He leaned close again and said, "I get off in an hour."

"That's what she said." I smirked at him.

"Indeed." He winked. On cue, the other bartender appeared, and tapped Eric on the shoulder. "Well, would you look at that. Looks like I'm getting off now."

"What about your wife?" I nodded to his left hand. "Is she okay with you taking home strange women?"

"Probably as okay as your husband would be with you taking home a strange man." He said without missing a beat.

"Touche. Good thing I have a hotel room. Are you interested?"

"Lead the way." He smiled at me.

We didn't say a word to Pam, just met at the end of the bar. He stepped out and laid a kiss on me that had my toes curling immediately.

"Were you serious about the hotel?" He put some of my hair behind my ears.

"Oh, yes." I smiled up at him.

"Good." Without warning he put me over his shoulder, and walked out of the bar.


Eric

We fell back on the bed together, a mess of frenzied limbs and lips. She'd woken me up two days ago with a good morning blow job I had yet to reciprocate for, and I planned on paying her back, in full and with interest. I knew she was on the same page as me when she didn't complain that I ripped her panties off.

I wasted no time burying my face between her thighs. Her back arched and a primal moan escaped her. Her fingers threaded in my hair, alternately tugging and pushing while my mouth made itself busy. I savored her sweetness on my tongue, my fingers easily gliding inside her to stroke the spot I knew so well. I held her hips down and went at her relentlessly until she was begging for release.

"Eric, please..." She pleaded, her voice breathless and demanded all at once.

She whimpered when I removed my fingers and started to kiss my way up her body. She was writhing under me, and I was surprised when she turned over onto her stomach. I grabbed her hips and lifted her up. She smiled at me over her shoulder and wiggled her ass at me. Under other circumstances, I would have teased her some more, but I knew we'd both had enough of that. I did, however, manage to surprise her when I slapped her ass.

We both groaned when I pushed inside her in one swift thrust. I watched her hands curl against the sheets. I could hear the scratching of it. She was so hot, wet and tight, my favorite combination, and when she spread her knees a little farther apart, I was able to get just a little bit deeper inside of her. She moaned when I pulled out, and then met my thrust when I pushed in again.

A fast and hard pace was set after that with my hands on her hips and both of us desperate to finish. I reached around and rubbed her clit in furious circles until her core started its spasms, squeezing and releasing my cock until I had to slow down. I didn't want to be finished yet. I knew we had more than enough time to go again, but I wanted this to last just a little longer.

Without giving her time to recover, I pulled out and flipped her onto her back. I watched the bounced of her amazing breasts as she landed. She expected me to enter her again, but instead I traveled back down her body. She gasped when my lips fastened around her clit. Her hips shot up off the bed, her feet firmly planted against the mattress. She was still sensitive from her orgasm, and it didn't take long before I had her right back on the edge.

And I kept her there. I kept her there until I knew she was about to lose her mind. She came almost immediately when I entered her again. Her orgasm was violent and I would bear marks from it on my back for a few days, but it would be worth it. Her face when she came was beyond beautiful, and the knowledge that I was the only one who got to see that face only made me want to see it again.

I got to see it a third time, and it was enough to take me down with her. For a moment, I thought she'd passed out, she got so still and quiet. I'd never fucked her into unconsciousness before, and I wasn't sure that was something I'd be proud of if I ever did it. Maybe before she was a mom, but it was different now. Her eyes fluttered open and she stared up at me.

"God, I love you." She pulled my mouth to hers and we lay there kissing lazily while we came down from our high.

After Sookie was sure she had full use of her legs (really powerful orgasms always left her unable to walk for a few minutes), we got in the shower together to clean up. It wasn't about sex at that point, but about taking care of each other. We got clean and put on pajamas. I had drawstring pants on and she was wearing one of my old concert tees- Pearl Jam, to be exact, and she looked fuckhot in it. It didn't escape me that she hadn't bothered to put panties on. My wife knew me well.

We ordered some room service, both of us feeling a little peckish after rather energetic sex. Sookie reached into the one of the overnight bags she'd packed, and produced a small wrapped package that she handed over to me.

"What's this for?"

"Did you forget what today is?" She climbed into my lap.

"Fuck your husband brainless day?" I joked.

She rocked her hips against me, and there was an instant reaction from my cock. Knowing she was on top of me, in one of my favorite shirts and she wasn't wearing panties made it hard not to just pin her under me and keep her there until we both passed out from exhaustion.

"Perhaps it is, but I was thinking along different lines."

"Pity." I leaned forward and kissed her hard.

She pulled back first, and tapped the box. "Open it."

"Aren't you going to tell me what today is?"

She smiled and said, "Seven years ago today, where were you?"

I grinned, immediately remembering. How had I forgotten? "So it is fuck your husband senseless day."

She laughed and said, "Yes, I guess so. Amelia suggested we call it our fuckaversary."

He laughed with me. "That Amelia."

Indeed.

"So, open your present."

"It's naked pictures of you, isn't it?" I teased, and Sookie slapped my arm.

"Never. Gonna. Happen."

It was worth trying. I tore the paper off the box, then opened it. I removed the lid from the box and pulled back the tissue paper to reveal my present. Inside was a lovely picture frame with a sonogram photo inside. Holy shit.

"Sookie?" I looked up at her.

She was smiling and there were tears in her eyes. "I found out last week. I was going to tell you sooner, but I wanted to surprise you, and I didn't want the kids running in and out of the room. I know we didn't plan it, but-"

I cut her off with a kiss. Planned or unplanned, it was okay. "I love you."

"You're okay? We're okay?"

"Yes, of course we're okay. I know things are a little crazy right now, but I think it's always going to be like this. We'll get through it like we always do." I promised her.

She breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm sorry, it's not like I thought this was a deal breaker. I just didn't want you to be upset or disappointed."

"Lover, there is nothing disappointing about this. It's wonderful." I assured her. No, we hadn't planned on another child, but we hadn't planned for Haley either. It would be okay. "What about you. Are you okay with this?"

She nodded excitedly, biting her bottom lip. "Yes, I'm okay with this. But I think this needs to be the last one. I think four is enough."

"Sure it is. We'll have enough for a basketball team." I joked, and got slapped again.

We talked about this new baby, and I learned she was due on Valentine's Day the following year. It seemed she'd gotten pregnant the night of our big fight in the kitchen. What was it with us and makeup sex that seemed to knock her up? Crazy.

We ate our snack and settled in to watch a movie. We ended up making love again before going to sleep, and then again in the shower before we left in the morning. It would probably be a while before we got more than a quickie. We had started using our shower the way we had before Haley was born. We got home to find Johan looking rather exhausted, and ready to get home to Pam.

"I don't know how you do it." Johan shook his head.

"We're a team." I kissed the back of Sookie's hand.

"I'm getting snipped after the baby comes." Johan was being serious. I had no doubt he'd follow through on that.

"Well, I'm going to get out of here before I have a child crawling on me. I'll see you guys later." Johan saluted, then shouted a goodbye to the kids.

The three of them were out in the backyard. Kacy was out there, along with the a little boy from across the street I'd seen before, but couldn't remember his name. When the kids saw us, they came running over to hug us.

At five-years-old, my daughter said four words I was sure I wouldn't be hearing for at least another twenty years, "Daddy, I'm getting married."

"You are?"

Haley's little blonde head bobbed up and down. "Yep. His name is Alex."

I crouched down in front of her and asked, "Don't you think you're a little young to be getting married, min dotter?"

She giggled and said, "You're silly, Daddy." Then she ran off to go play with her friends, taking her brothers with her.

I looked over at Sookie and asked, "Do you know this Alex kid?"

She rolled her eyes, pointed to the little boy that wasn't ours and said, "It's not a legal marriage, Eric."

I narrowed my eyes at her. "You didn't answer my question."

She sighed and hugged me before pushing up on her toes to kiss me. "He's a very nice boy. He shares his blocks with her and holds her place in line."

"Sounds like she picked a winner." I smiled.

"Like her mother." Sookie grinned, then kissed me again.

Since we stood there on the deck together, arms wrapped around each other and the kiss deepened. Of course, we didn't get very far when one of our sons whined.

"Ewwwww! Nicky, they're kissing again!"

Sookie and I laughed into each others mouths, but pulled apart. "Wait here, lover, I have some munchkins that need the silly shaken out of them." I wiggled my eyebrows at her.

She gasped with wide eyes and said, "Uh oh! You're all in big trouble now!"

I growled loudly, then took off chasing the kids around the yard. Before I knew I was covered in kids, with Sookie laughing hysterically from the deck. She rubbed her belly, and I winked at her, before turning my attention back to the kids.

A little while later, the kids were playing together while Sookie and I were in the kitchen. My back was a bit sore from inadvertently being kicked and stepped on in the course of our rough housing. Connor broke away from the pack and into the house.

"Mommy, can I have juice?" He retrieved his own little cup from the lower level cabinets were we kept them.

"Yes, you can." Sookie smiled down and watched Connor run to the fridge to get the apple juice out. He handed it to me and I poured some into his cup.

"Thanks, Dad." Connor grinned, sipped his juice, then headed for the sunroom.

"Guess what?" Sookie asked with a twinkle in her eyes once we were alone again.

I let my hand slide up her leg, under her skirt. "Damn, you're wearing panties."

She slapped my chest playfully and said, "I'm a Mom now. My commando days are long over."

"That's not entirely true. I seem to remember a date night last fall..." I trailed off, getting a giggle from her. She'd surprised me when she came home without any of our kids.

"Well, it just so happens that I scheduled the boys for a play date with Charlie." Sookie's eyes were sparkling as she talked. This was a very good sign. "And Haley is spending another night at Kacy's."

"Don't toy with me, lover." I practically growled at her.

"I would never." We didn't joke about a night without the kids. We loved them dearly, and enjoyed being parents, but it was nice to have some quiet time without the kids underfoot.

"Does this mean I get to have you all to myself?" I nuzzled her neck.

"If you play your cards right." She squeezed my ass.

Then I really did growl at her. She giggled and kissed me back when my lips met hers. The rest of the night went rather smoothly. The kids had their baths, and didn't put up much of a fight when we put them in bed. Sookie came down after she finished tucking Haley in for the night to find me sitting on the couch watching the History channel. She grabbed the remote out of my hand and dropped it on the couch. She parked herself in my lap, and didn't hesitate to attack me.

We were going at it like teenagers on the couch, when we heard little footsteps overhead. Sookie pulled back, but I just went to work on her neck, refusing to give up until I heard footsteps smacking against the tile of the entryway. My hands were on her breasts, teasing and cupping them while she listened with her keen mother's ear to make sure we weren't going to be interrupted for a glass of water, a nightmare or another bedtime story. The toilet flushed overhead. There were more little footsteps, and then silence.

Her lips immediately returned to mine. She kissed me passionately while her hips rocked against mine. You'd think we hadn't had sex in a year, and not in less than twelve hours. Still, I missed her.

"Let's go upstairs." She whispered against my lips.

"Carry me?"

"Sure." I scooped her up.

Her head settled on my shoulder and her warm breath fell on my neck. She let her fingers toy with the ends of my hair, and I kissed her forehead as I walked up the steps with her cradled in my arms. I set her down in bed when I got to our room at the end of the hall. She slid back toward the headboard with a shy smile on her face.

"What?" I quirked an eyebrow at her.

"Nothing. I love you, is all. I don't say that enough. Kids and work and a million other things get in the way and I shouldn't let it." She suggested.

"Are you unhappy, Sookie?" I got nervous all of a sudden. I thought things were getting better, but if she wasn't so sure, then I needed to step up my game.

"No, of course not." She scrambled to the edge of the bed. "Eric, I love our life. I love that we have such a well choreographed routine, and that I can count on you to pick up the slack when I'm having a bad day. I love the way you are with our kids, and how even when I know you're exhausted, you don't turn them away." Her lip started to tremble and tears filled her eyes. "And I love that you put up with me when I'm close to losing it. You...you're everything. I couldn't do this without you. I just want you to know that because I've never said it, and I should."

I stepped closer to her, and tucked some of hair behind her ear. She leaned into my hand and I tilted her face up to kiss her. My other hand came up and cradled her face while I kissed her. When I pulled back I pressed my forehead to hers. Our eyes met and then I spoke.

"You know I'm not going anywhere, Sookie. We have bad days, but we get through them together. To tell the truth, if I was ever going to run away, I'd take you with me." I admitted, and she giggled.

"I love you." She said again.

"I love you, too." I kissed her once more.

"Show me?"

"Always." I smiled at her, then peeled off her shirt.


So there you have it, baby birds, the final chapter of Hot For Teacher. I hope it was worth the wait. This story has been so much fun to write, and it has really come to me pretty easily, with the exception of these last two chapters. Saying goodbye to them is hard. I've really come to love these versions of Eric and Sookie. The vision I had for this story is so different from the way it turned out, but I am beyond proud of it.

I have to thank every single person who has read, reviewed, favorited, alerted, recommended or criticized this piece. Your comments, whether they be encouraging, humorous or constructive have been beyond appreciated, and I love you all for taking the time to read this, much less put down your thoughts for me. Slacker Dee called this a "holy grail" story. I'm not sure I agree with that assessment, but for those of you who feel the same way, thank you for welcoming me to the fold. This was my first big venture in the AH world, and it's because of these characters, and you as readers, that I have fallen in love with it.

So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Enough gushing. I'll be writing one shots in this verse from time to time, so don't be surprised if you see the "After School Specials" appear one day. After all, we have another Northman on the way.

Thanks again!

Mama bird