Chapter 17: Cat's in the Cradle and a Silver Spoon
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Charlaine Harris. I'm just having fun playing with a different pair for a while.
Okay. So here we go. This is what the first chapter built up to, and it's our final chapter in this little journey. I can not thank you all enough for reading and giving a non Eric/Sookie fic a chance. I was kind of afraid that my betas would be the only ones reading when I posted this, so you all have really made this special. Thanks again.
And of course, thanks A Redhead Thing and E_Hunter for being their awesome selves. They are the hot to my dog and the Wang to my Chung. I couldn't do it without you girls, SMOOCH.
Anyway, on with the show...
Tray was amazed at how completely undone his wife was by her pregnancy. He'd spent time with his cousins when they were pregnant and remembered that they'd gotten a little moody, but this...this was something different and it had started the second the doctor had confirmed that she was pregnant.
Finding out they were having a baby had kicked Amelia's already high sex drive up another notch while it was the opposite for Tray. Hearing they were having a baby made the thought of sex with her terrifying for him. It wasn't that he thought he was so large that he would hurt the baby, but the thought of her body rocking and shaking, and, well, contorting, he didn't see how that could be good. Their sex life turned out to be a recurring argument throughout the pregnancy and she was completely shocked that he was the one saying no.
The list of changes in her seemed to go on and on. Her morning sickness seemed to calm down, but then she started to have cravings. She had a Big Mac sandwich for lunch every day when she had been rather anti-fast food before her pregnancy. There were foods that she had liked that she suddenly hated. She had him grill salmon, and then couldn't even let him bring it in the house, before she realized they shouldn't make it again until after the baby was born. Her mood swings were epic. He never knew if he was coming home to an ecstatic mother-to-be or a crying, barely functioning lump in their bed. Her memory was shot, and it irritated her more and more each time she forgot something.
One afternoon he came home to find her on the phone with Sookie, discussing, what she called, the abnormal size of babies that ran in his family. He didn't think there was anything abnormal about it at all.
"No, seriously. Did you hear them talking while we were at Maria Starr's last weekend? All of those kids were over ten pounds. That's just not normal. You're smaller than me, Sookie. You better think about that if you're serious about Alcide."
Throughout her pregnancy, Amelia consistently measured large and, though they would never say it to her face, the cousins were worried that she would have to spend some time on bed rest. They doubted she would be able to deliver without a C-section, but again, no one was saying it to the expectant parents.
Pam called almost daily and made several trips south during Amelia's second trimester. She was continuously on Amelia's case that she should spend at least the final month of her pregnancy in New York City, maintaining that there were no 'real hospitals' near Bon Temps because it was too far away from civilization. She was sure the entire state was filled with rednecks and Cajuns. Amelia rolled her eyes and tolerated Pam's concern until a weekend visit when the older woman began to question whether a graduate of Bon Temps High School stood a chance at being accepted at Columbia or New York University. Tray had known that what Pam was doing was like poking a bear with a stick and wasn't surprised when his wife finally snapped.
"They'll get him into Tulane, and that's all I give a fuck about, Pam. No Dawson is going to some metrosexual, inner city Yankee school anyway."
"I'm sorry," Pam gasped. "Did you just call me a Yankee?"
Amelia huffed. "In a roundabout way, I guess I did."
"What the fuck, Amelia?"
"What the fuck, Pam?" she managed before they both started to laugh.
When Pam gave up on that argument, Amelia thought that was the end of it, but when she was six months along, Pam surprised her by sending a designer down to decorate the nursery. He showed up without any notice, carrying a leather portfolio and a large stack of fabric samples. He was tall and thin, with brown hair that had obviously been professionally highlighted. It was perfect, too perfect, though it was looking a little limp in the humid Southern heat.
He introduced himself as Colman, and when he shook her hand she had to stifle a giggle at how soft his hands were and how perfectly his nails were manicured. She wondered if Pam had chosen him for his appearance or if he was, in fact, a good designer because he was the definition of metrosexual. Sighing, she let him into the house, knowing that it was easier than fighting with Pam over using the designer, let alone paying him.
He whisked past Amelia, and she led him to the room that they had decided to use as the nursery. He took some measurements and paced the room, seeming to examine every inch including the closet.
They got along fine until he realized that Amelia truly didn't know the gender of the baby. He had apparently thought Pam was joking about that.
"Who doesn't find out?" he snorted. "That's just ridiculous. How do you plan?"
"We don't find out, that's who," Tray answered from the doorway. "We're hoping for a healthy baby, and that's all that matters."
"Oh, my, yes. Well," Colman said, back peddling when he heard Tray's booming voice and saw his imposing size. "I suppose it will be a great surprise."
"We don't want any little cartoon animals, and we don't want to use the generic green and yellow because we don't know the gender, but you can certianly accent with them. Beyond that, you're free to dream," Amelia said sweetly.
Colman nodded, giving the room another once over before turning back to them. "Anything that you feel you must have in the nursery?"
Amelia glanced at her husband and unconsciously rubbed her baby bump. "Well...the standards. A crib and changing table."
Colman rolled his eyes, and Tray snorted because he would have told the designer the same thing.
She pursed her lips at both of them, and then continued with a sigh. "We need a ceiling fan, but I don't want it to look like every other ceiling fan. You know?"
The designer nodded. "I do. Let's sit down and talk a little bit to let me get the feel for some things you folks like and dislike. We can look at some fabric samples too, and then I can come up with a couple of ideas for you to look at in the morning."
"How long is this going to take?" Tray asked, having no familiarity with interior designers.
"It depends on what we decide on. I may need some things shipped down here from the City, but I can't imagine more than a week or two. Maybe three."
Tray muttered something under his breath and Amelia stroked his arm. "Why don't you head back to the shop, baby." After having a few minutes to process Colman's appearance, she was beginning to get excited about the prospect of decorating the nursery. They sat down and talked for a little over an hour, and she felt much better about his soft hands when he shook her hand on the way out the door.
The next morning, Colman presented four ideas to them. There was a Hawaiian beach theme with bright hibiscus flowers and surf boards in primary colors, a travel theme with vintage posters and maps, a more sophisticated nautical theme with a round life preserver, signal flags, and plaid curtains, and, finally, a retro-modern room that included a mural on the wall of a tree that had two little owls perched in its branches. Amelia was overwhelmed with the decision and was surprised when Tray said he liked the owls right away.
"I thought we said no cute cartoon animals?" she laughed.
"We did, but those are retro birds. Right?" he asked, looking at Colman for support.
"Oh, yes. Totally different than cartoon animals."
"I feel like everyone is doing the owl thing," she sighed.
"But not like this!" Colman gushed excitedly before he began going over the details of the room in even more depth. He talked about drawer pulls and window treatments, an over-stuffed chair and window seat with owl shaped pillows and accents in shades of green and orange. By the time he was finished she was grinning, and Tray was nodding in agreement.
"Yep. Sold," Tray said with a chuckle. He kissed the top of his wife's head and left them to work out the details.
Colman left on a mission to scour Shreveport antique shops for furniture and interview several artists from Centenary College for the mural. He had ideas of what he wanted from New York, but Amelia had pushed him to try to shop locally and look for a local artist first. He'd huffed and tried to explain how much easier it would be to make a few phone calls and have everything, including a muralist, delivered, but she held her ground, and he eventually gave in.
Pam called less than an hour later, thrilled that there was what could be considered a theme for the baby's room. She was already beginning to incorporate the room design into the invitations and decorations for the baby shower she and Sookie were planning.
Six weeks later, Amelia left Pam a voice mail when she was sure the woman was avoiding her calls.
"Pam, call me. I don't know what you think you're doing, but you are not winning friends here. The entire male population of Bon Temps feels like this is a threat to their masculinity." She sighed into the phone. "A couples shower? How many times do I have to explain to you that this isn't New York."
Conveniently, Pam missed all of her calls and refused to address her questions when she responded to Amelia's emails. Sookie maintained that she didn't know anything. She'd been given the task of renting the VFW Hall and ordering a cake from a baker that Pam approved of. Pam said she would take care of everything else if Sookie agreed to be available to help set up before the shower.
Sookie and Tray's cousin had been dating exclusively since the weekend in Shreveport and Alcide had told his father that he was interested in moving back home, going so far as to tell him that he was willing to work in the office and learn the business end of the company. It had been a big step for Alcide; and according to Cal, Jackson knew it and was looking for a new project manager in New Orleans. Amelia was excited for them and thrilled that Tray's cousin would be moving closer. Tray was a little shocked that his cousin was ready to settle down but glad that it was with someone like Sookie. He liked Sookie and could imagine their children growing up the way he and Alcide had together, but he wasn't telling anyone that little tidbit.
The day of the shower, Amelia found herself riding into town with Tray and Alcide since Sookie was already at the VFW hall helping Pam decorate. The cousins moaned and complained the entire way into town.
"I'm not playing shower games," Alcide whined. "Tray will kick my ass if I put my hands on your waist to measure you with toilet paper or something around your stomach."
Amelia laughed out loud. "How the hell do you even know about shower games?"
"I have sisters and a shitload of girl cousins," he said seriously. "I suck at that find the baby pin in the rice game. Oh. and I'm not smelling any fucking diapers to guess what kind of random shit, well it's not actually shit...but you know, whatever they've put in the diapers."
"Ohmygod!" she laughed. "I'm going to pee! Tray, make him stop talking!"
"Alcide, shut up so my wife doesn't piss herself on the way to her own party." Tray chuckled, shaking his head. "But you're exactly right; if you put your hands on my wife like that, I'll have your nuts."
Amelia giggled and gave Tray a dirty look. "Both of you stop talking," she said, turning up the radio.
Despite the uncertainty about what exactly Pam meant by a couples shower, their male friends were still coming. Jason and Hoyt were bringing Hoyt's mother, Sam was coming with Tara and Terry, and Cherise assured them that Cal would be there come hell or high water.
The parking lot was half full when they arrived, and Amelia was a little overwhelmed by how many friends she'd made while living with Tray in his small town. She imagined a shower in New Orleans would have been just as large, but it wouldn't have meant nearly as much to her. She bit back a laugh as Alcide walked in front of them, carrying a large stuffed monkey under his arm.
She elbowed Tray and nodded towards his cousin. "He looks so natural," she laughed.
Tray snorted. "I can't imagine him with kids."
"He'll be great. Just like you will."
He grinned down at her. "Well, I hope so because it's too late for me to back out now."
"Damn straight," she laughed as they caught up with Alcide who held the door for them.
They walked into the hall, and Amelia was amazed by the transformation. Pam had definitely had more help than just Sookie. The room was decorated in accents of orange and green to match the design in the baby's room. There was even a very large potted tree standing near the end of the buffet with plush owls perched in its limbs.
"Hey, ya'll!" Sookie called as she came over to greet them. She gave Tray and Amelia each a quick hug before settling into Alcide's arms for a longer embrace.
Tray shook his head at them and chuckled. "Whipped," he muttered.
"So whipped," Amelia agreed.
"Shut it," Alcide growled over Sookie's shoulder while she just grinned.
"Ladies," Pam said as she came to stand next to them, putting an arm around Amelia and nodding to Sookie. "Boys."
"Pam, this looks amazing," Amelia said with excitement. "What's the plan?"
"The caterers are bringing out the food and after everyone eats we'll break up into two groups. You can open your gifts, and the men can go into the bar area and do man things."
"What?" Tray asked in surprise.
"Well, you can stay if you want," Pam said, looking at him like he was crazy. "But there will be liquor and poker in the bar."
"You're the best Pam-in-law ever!" Alcide said with a grin.
"Poker?" Amelia asked.
"Yes, poker. What the hell did you think I was going to have all of these men do? Smell shitty diapers?"
Tray snorted, and Alcide gave him a dirty look.
"I didn't know, and you wouldn't tell me anything!" Amelia laughed, then she turned and pretended to glare at Sookie. "And you, I can't believe you didn't tell me!"
Sookie held her hands up in defense. "Hey, now. All I knew was that it wasn't going to be what you thought it was."
"I was enjoying your distress way too much to give away the surprise," Pam laughed.
Tray put his arms around his wife from behind. "Well, I'm glad that it wasn't what we thought it was. Thanks for setting all of this up, Pam."
"Any time," she smiled, but her eyes looked sad and then, in a flash, it was gone. "You know how I love to bring culture down to this dirty swampland."
"Keep that up and we really will name the baby Swampy," Amelia teased.
"Fuck. That could cost one of you some inheritance, that's all I'm saying," Pam deadpanned.
"Good thing she's independently wealthy," Alcide laughed.
"Watch it, tool boy or I won't tell you about the farmhouse I want you to remodel for me by the river."
"Oh, I'm all ears," Alcide said, his eyes lighting up as he took Pam's arm and they moved into the hall with Sookie.
Amelia glanced at her husband. "Did she say what I thought she did?"
"I think she did."
"That is, at the same time, both wonderful and terrifying."
"Yes. Yes it is," he laughed.
They settled in for a delicious buffet with shrimp and cheese grits, salad, biscuits and berry cobbler. Through the course of the meal the nervousness of the male guests was slowly replaced with excitement as they got word of the impending poker game. The men began to eat faster and were rapidly excusing themselves to the bar area. Amelia smiled up at her husband as he leaned down and kissed her gently before he threw away their plates.
"You want me to stay and help you open gifts?"
"No." She laughed. "You go play poker. You can see everything when we load it into the Jeep."
He gave her a small nod and sauntered off behind Alicde into the other room.
Pam had Amelia come to the front of the room to open her gifts, and she did, in fact, have the guests try to guess how big around Amelia's belly was. Tray's cousin Selah won, having torn off the length of toilet paper closest to her actual size, and Pam presented her with a Victoria's Secret gift card, saying that shower prizes were always crap so she'd chosen something that a woman actually wanted.
Tray was shocked when he came back into the larger hall to see the gigantic pile of gifts that had been unwrapped near his wife. He recognized the high chair and exersaucer amongst bags that appeared to be filled with clothing and toys. He'd thought that they had already bought a large amount things for the baby and couldn't get his mind around the idea that they actually needed more. He still wasn't sure he believed Amelia when she said they might not need it all, but they would use most of it.
The final weeks of her pregnancy had flown by with the final touches to the nursery, a tour of the labor and delivery department at the hospital in Monroe and visits to Pam's new house. Tray called it her summer home; she called it a tax write off.
Amelia felt fine during the last few weeks of her pregnancy, and they were lulled into a sort of relaxed sense of security. She was, however, exhausted and didn't move around too much unless she had to. Even though she was just over in the house, it wasn't unusual for her to call on the phone down to the garage instead of walking over from the house as she'd done in the past. He wasn't surprised at all when the phone rang around eleven in the morning about a week before her due date, but her words sent him into a panic.
"I think my fucking water broke."
"Wait. What?" he asked, standing quickly and nearly hitting his head on the raised hood of the car he was working on. "What do you mean you think your water broke?"
"Oh, I mean it did. I cleaned it up as best I could, but I think we should probably go to the hospital."
He was holding the phone between his ear and his shoulder, trying not to drop it, as he quickly wiped his hands so he could meet her at the house. "You cleaned it up?" he asked in disbelief. "Never mind. Grab your bag, and we'll call your doctor from the car."
He expected her to be ready when he entered the house, but he heard her moving around in their bedroom. His heart sped up. What if they didn't get to the hospital in time? He didn't want to deliver the baby on the side of the road. He didn't want to deliver the baby anywhere.
"Amelia!" he called.
Her voice came from the bathroom, and when he found her she was sitting on the edge of the tub rinsing something off her legs. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Shaving my legs...what I can see of them."
"Are you kidding me? We're having a baby! Get in the car!" He was anxious and speaking loudly and fast.
"Baby, my contractions are still ten minutes apart." She dried off her legs and pulled on a pair of pants. "I had to change anyway."
"Oh my god," he grumbled, not really understanding why she'd changed.
She threw a very wet pair of yoga pants at him. "Did you want me to wear those?"
"What the hell happened to them?"
"My. Water. Broke."
"Oh!" he said, finally understanding why she'd needed to change. "Yeah. I guess you had to change."
She laughed and took his face in her hands. "Baby, I'm pretending like this really isn't happening yet. So just get me to the hospital - oh fuck." Her eyes got wide and she clutched her stomach as she felt a contraction. "We need to go."
He nodded and grabbed her overnight bag from the chair in the bedroom on their way to the car. He'd broken several traffic laws during the drive to the hospital and prepared himself to drop her father's name again if they didn't check her in immediately, but, thankfully, he hadn't needed to do it.
A nurse checked them in and took Amelia's vital signs. Her contractions came harder and faster, and her good mood disintegrated. Six hours later the baby was crowning and she was still cursing his name and saying nasty things about the size of babies in Tray's family.
Doctor Robinson popped up from the sheet draped over Amelia's legs. "Just a couple more pushes, Amelia."
She squeezed Tray's hand so tightly that he had to hold back from wincing and growled, "Does she think I'm not pushing?"
"No, that's doctor talk for you're almost done."
"You're so full of shit, and this is entirely your fault."
"I know. Just push a couple more times, and you'll be all done."
She panted and groaned, glaring at him when she could through the final contractions. The doctor called a play by play from between her legs and suddenly, she called out, "It's a boy!" and there was a squalling, dark haired, large baby boy being placed in Amelia's arms.
"Hello, son. Welcome to the world," Tray laughed, looking down at their baby.
"Do you have a name?" the nurse asked.
"Thomas Johnathan Jackson Dawson," they said together, grinning.
The nurse looked back at them with a smile, but it was obvious she didn't know the significance.
"She said I could choose the name if it was a boy." Tray grinned. "He's named after Stonewall Jackson."
"He's a Civil War buff," Amelia added, not taking her eyes off of their son.
"That's sweet. Ya'll going to call him T.J.?" the nurse asked as she continued to move around the room putting away supplies and rolling the clear hospital issue bassinet closer to the bed.
"Um, I don't know," Amelia said, glancing at Tray, who shrugged. "I guess we'll have to see if it fits him."
"Good plan," the nurse agreed with a wink. "I'll give ya'll a few seconds, and then I'm going to need to take him for a minute. You can come with if you'd like." She nodded at Tray.
"Oh, Tray. He's perfect," Amelia cooed, seeming to him as if she'd already forgot the pain.
"See, I told you, a couple more pushes."
"It's not over. You owe me for this. My breasts are going to be all jacked up, and who knows when I'll get my bladder control back. So you don't tell me it's over."
Picking the wet washcloth up from the side table, he wiped her face again, her eyes never leaving their son.
"You okay?" he asked quietly.
"I'm fine. He's beautiful." Her eyes finally left the baby and met his. "You're not lonely anymore, are you?"
He laughed and leaned down to kiss her gently on the lips. "No, I think you took care of that."
She laced their fingers together. "Yeah. I think we did."
They grinned at each other for a few minutes, until the nurse interrupted to take the baby to the other side of the room to clean him off. Tray followed her and the doctor stepped back between Amelia's legs to finish the delivery. It was quick and painless, though that might have had something to do with the epidural that hadn't worn off. She was glad that Tray's cousin's had told her what would happen in the delivery room so she knew what to expect, and before she knew it the room had cleared out and it was just the three of them.
Tray held the baby after she had nursed him, telling her to take a nap. She was still on some good pain medication and was completely exhausted so she wasn't going to argue with that idea. Sighing in contentment, she watched Tray as he talked quietly to their son. She couldn't hear what he was saying, but somehow the words didn't matter. It was the most amazing thing she'd ever seen. Even though she'd found her place in the last few years with him, and Pam had filled a large hole in her life, she finally, and for the first time, felt like she was part of a family.
Thanks again, I know I keep saying it, but I really mean it! I have a hard time finishing stories, because I kind of want them to go on forever...so posting the last chapter is always rough for me. LOL I have some new ideas up my sleeve, and a Twilight fic that I'm going to start posting soon, so I'll be around. See you soon!
Also - I really dig these owls and want to order them for my son's room. (Everyone envision my husband's eye rolls at FF invading our home.)
Owls from Etsy:
plush owl http:/ny-image3(dot)etsy(dot)com/il_fullxfull(dot)222205715(dot)jpg