Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.
~ Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland
Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I have no idea how I am going to give Sookie and Hunter their presents. Both gifts I know Sookie is going to consider as too extravagant, but I want them to have them. I don’t want Sookie to think I am trying to buy their affections either. This is all so fucking complicated!
I haven’t seen Sookie since our shopping adventure, although we still continue to talk or text every day. Thank God I have unlimited talk and text! For as much as we speak, I still wish I could see her. Her smile and laugh light up the room; I miss seeing them.
I know I told Alcide that Sookie and I are just friends, but I lied. I want something more than friendship from Sookie; I can finally admit that to myself. From the very start, something has drawn me to her. We met under the shittiest circumstances possible, and all I wanted to do was protect and care for her. I worried about how she and Hunter would cope with everything. What they were going through was something I was all too familiar with, and I wished I could have spared her from having to experience that.
Seeing her and Hunter in the park rocked me to my very core. I thought I had put them behind me. Hell, I didn’t even know them, so how could I care so much about them? But finding out that she didn’t hate me, it gave me hope. Thanksgiving was a huge surprise to me. It just seemed too coincidental that Sookie and I kept crossing paths. I know she wasn’t ready for a relationship; she wasn’t the type to jump from one man’s bed to the next. But I hope that one day she may see me as something other than a friend. I can tell she finds me attractive, and we have flirted on more than one occasion, but she always seems to retreat back before things get too far.
Sookie wasn’t the only friendship I started Thanksgiving night. I’ve spent a couple of times hanging out with Jesus and Lafayette. Both men are close friends of Maria’s, so I’ve seen them a couple of times at the Mexican restaurant while Alcide and I hang out. They’ve also invited me to their home a couple of times. I think Lafayette is making it his personal mission to turn me gay. Like I explained to him, while I don’t mind having a hands on relationship with my dick, I don’t ever see myself wanting to get up close and personal with someone else’s. He just laughs at me and tells me I don’t know what I’m missing.
So that’s how I find myself back at Jesus and Lafayette’s house the Sunday before Christmas. We are all hanging out in the basement watching football. They have Sunday NFL Ticket so we can watch all the football games, which is awesome. Lafayette as usual has made an amazing spread of food. While I enjoy joking with Lafayette and we have similar experiences because of the Army, I actually find myself closer to Jesus. He is very calming, very insightful; he is very relaxing to be around.
Throughout the game, I’ve been checking my phone to see if I had any texts from Sookie. One of the conversations she and I had this week was about the routine she and Hunter have on Sundays. I asked her to text me when she got home, because I want to make sure she is ok. I don’t want for something to happen to her because she is too upset to drive.
Jesus comments on my preoccupation with my phone. “Are we keeping you from something, Eric?”
“No, I’m just waiting for a friend to let me know they got home ok.” I set my phone down on the table that way I can see if it lights up.
Jesus and Lafayette share a look which I can’t interpret. “What?” I ask with a bit of frustration in my voice.
Lafayette smirks at me. “Sook and Hunter won’t be home for another hour or so. You got plenty of time to relax and watch the game. They are usually home by 3. She always calls us when they get home.”
“I never said it was Sookie I was waiting to text me,” I mumble.
“Pretty boy, do you think us stupid?” Lafayette asks gesturing at himself and Jesus. “We both saw how you barely left Sookie’s side Thanksgiving. I knows you two ran into each other at the mall, and then spent the afternoon shopping together. I knows she gave you a Christmas basket, because Alcide was pissed he didn’t get one and kept bitching about it so much that Maria finally just gave him hers. You have to be someone truly special to get one of those baskets,” Lafayette says slyly.
“And I know that you two have talked and texting almost every day because her face lights up every time she checks her phone and sees a text or email from you,” Jesus adds with a smile.
“She does?” I ask hopefully. My response gives the two of them all the information they need. Dammit, I walked right into that trap.
“Eric,” Jesus says in a serious voice, “are you sure you want to do this? I’m not saying I’m against the idea of you dating Sookie. But have you really thought about this? It’s not just Sookie you have to think about here. There’s also Hunter. He doesn’t really remember Sam, so whoever ends up in Sookie’s life is going to have to step up and be a father to that little boy. Can you do that? More importantly, are you willing to do that?” Jesus asks softly.
What the fuck?!?!?! “If all I wanted was someone to fuck, I could find that at any bar on any given night,” I say coldly. “I know Sookie and Hunter are a package deal. If I wasn’t ok with that, I wouldn’t bother her.”
Lafayette intervenes, “Eric, we’s just worried about her. You don’t know how rough it’s been for her without Sam. I’m not just talking about him dyin’. It was hard for her the two years he was deployed. I don’t know if she can go through it again,” he says sadly.
I calm down instantly. Fuck, I never thought of that! I know I’m going to get deployed again. My superior hinted that I’m going to get a promotion in January, and I know that will mean sending me back overseas. All the hope I was clinging to is gone. I look at the guys helplessly, “What do I do?”
It’s Christmas Day, and I’m exhausted. Hunter had a hard time falling asleep last night because he was excited for Santa Claus. It wasn’t until after 10:00 pm that he finally fell asleep. I didn’t get to finish setting everything up from Santa until almost 1:00 am. And of course, my adorable little man wakes me up before 7:00 am. I love him, I do, but dammit I’m tired!
Hunter sits on the couch impatiently while I head for the kitchen. He knows that he can’t open presents until I come back into the room. As much as I would love to let him tear into everything, I need coffee. I make myself an extra-large cup of coffee with the Keurig, and gather up the blueberry muffins I made yesterday. These will tide us over while Hunter opens all his gifts. I come back into the living room with the tray of goodies and find my son bouncing on the couch. I smile at him and torment him a bit by walking slowly into the room. He looks at me impatiently. I set the tray of food and drinks down on the coffee table. I sit down on the couch, reaching for my coffee. I take the first sip and close my eyes. Thank you sweet baby Jesus!
“Mom,” Hunter whines while I continue to drink my coffee.
I laugh at him, “Alright little man, have at it!” Hunter flies off the couch and slides to his knees in front of the toys left out by Santa Claus. I have my camera ready so that I can take pictures of him for Gran and Jason. My baby loves Legos, so Santa Claus brought him two big Lego sets. One is Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the other is The Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean. Both of these are a little out of his age range, but Hunter hates toys for kids his age. These two sets will take us several weekends to put together, but he will enjoy it. He also has lots of cars and trucks to use on the race track carpet that Jesus and Lafayette bought for his birthday earlier this year. There are also some new games set out. Seeing the awe on Hunter’s face as he investigates everything Santa brought for him makes it my lack of sleep worth it.
Once I get Hunter to tear his attention away from the gifts from Santa, we open the gifts that are under the tree. Hunter isn’t really excited to open the first two gifts from Gran. She sent him a new pair of jeans and two sweaters she knitted. To a four-year old boy, getting clothes as a present is the worst thing ever. However, she totally redeems herself in his eyes when he opens the Spider-man action figures. Jason sent him everything he would need to start t-ball in the spring. Hunter wasn’t able to do it this year, because he hadn’t turned four yet. Hunter is yelling with excitement and rushes to grab my cell phone so we can call Gran and Jason. I showed him how to use my phone before in case of emergency. I can hear his voice speaking quickly and animatedly as he talks to Jason. I get up from the couch and go to the kitchen to start making breakfast.
“Momma,” Hunter screams while running into the kitchen with the phone in his hand, “can we start practicing this afternoon? Uncle Jason says I gotta practice if I’m gonna be any good.”
Leave it to my dumbass brother to get my son all worked up. I roll my eyes knowing my back is to Hunter and he can’t see. If he sees me rolling my eyes, I have to put a quarter into the jar. Anytime I curse or roll my eyes, I have to put money in the jar. It helps me keep from passing on my bad habits to my son.
“Hunter, I think it’s gonna be too cold today to go outside and practice. But I promise we’ll do it soon. Now, let me have the phone so I can talk to Uncle Jase.” Hunter hands me the phone and runs back into the living room to play with his toys.
Placing the phone between my ear and I shoulder, I continue mixing the waffle batter as I talk to my brother. “Merry Christmas, Jase! Thanks for Hunter’s presents, but did you have to get him worked up about them now?”
“Merry Christmas, Sook! What’d I say? All I did was tell the kid to practice,” my brother says cluelessly.
“Nevermind. Did you like the gifts I sent you?” My brother is easy to shop for; hunting, fishing, tools, or his truck. Honestly, he would probably even love if I gave him beer, but I wasn’t going to be that white trash.
I spend a few minutes talking to Jason while I cook the waffles. He passes his phone to Gran, and we speak about the holiday. Once I get off the phone, Hunter and I eat breakfast. After breakfast, he plays with his toys while I wash the dishes. Once I finish, I find my son sleeping among his treasures. Enjoying the peace and quiet, I take a leisurely shower and spend time doing my hair and make-up. After I dress, I find Hunter still sleeping. This gives me the opportunity to start dinner for Lafayette, Jesus, Hunter, and I.
Several hours later, Lafayette and Jesus arrive at the house with more presents for Hunter. He tears through all the presents quickly, more Legos, cars, and games. The last present causes Hunter to scream in excitement.
“An iPad! Momma, they got me an iPad!” Hunter screams in pure joy as he tears through the rest of the wrapping paper. He asks Jesus to help him open it. While they are distracted, I turn to Lafayette angrily.
“Lala, that’s too much! I can’t believe you bought him that! I told you not to spend a lot of money!” I am so angry at the two of them, I can’t even form words.
Lafayette raises his hands and spreads them wide. “It wasn’t us honey chile. We’s just the delivery men.” He gets up from the couch and brings me a large box. I look up at him in confusion. “Santa asked us to bring this for you,” he says with a wink.
The box is wrapped with beautiful shimmery silver paper and a giant red bow rests on top of it. There is a card resting underneath the bow. The writing is unfamiliar to me. I open the envelope and pull out a folded piece of paper.
Please don’t be mad at me for buying Hunter the iPad. I haven’t spent a lot of time around children, so I was unsure of what to buy. I know the iPad is something that he can use for fun as well as school, so I thought it would be the best gift. I’ve already loaded some apps, music, and movies I thought he would like. Trust me; everything is age appropriate, I had Maria double-check.
Now, inside this box is something I wanted you to have. You do so much for everyone else; I wanted to return the favor and do something special for you. And before you say you haven’t done anything for me, you have. You have touched my life in so many ways; I can’t even begin to describe them all. I hope that when you look at this item it will remind you of how I touched your life.
Tears pool in my eyes as I reread his message to me. I can’t believe he did this for us. I carefully tear the paper and find a large white box. I open the box and push aside the tissue paper.
“Oh my stars! I can’t believe he did this!” I pull the Michael Kors bag out of the box and hold it up to me. When I look inside, I see the matching wallet. The tears fall from my eyes. I look up to find Lafayette staring at me with a smile on his face.
“Why did he do this Lala?”
Lafayette wipes the tears away with his thumb and cups my face in his hands. “Why don’t you ask him yourself baby girl?” I look at him in confusion, and Lafayette moves away from me, but his eyes flicker towards the foyer. When I look over there, I gasp in shock. Standing there is the best Christmas present I received today.
“Merry Christmas, Sookie,” Eric’s deep voice floats through the air.
I push the gift and box off my lap. Without thinking about my actions, I walk to Eric and wrap my arms around his waist with my face pressed to his chest. I feel one hand land on the small of my back; the other cups the back of my head. I feel so safe in his arms; it feels nice to be held by a man again. I hear him murmur my name and I pull back to look at him. Once our eyes meet, his lips descend to meet mine.