“Momma! Far! Wake up! Santa came! Its Christmas morning! Wake up!”
The shrieking cyclone that I assume was our daughter rouses me out of my slumber. I feel as if my head just hit the pillow. With extreme effort, I open one eye and turn my head to look at the iHome on the nightstand. Ah hell; the sun isn’t even out yet. Sookie and I have only been asleep about four hours. Last night Allie had fought going to bed; like every child, she was too excited for Santa Claus to visit. She tried hard to stay up, but she ultimately passed out on the couch a little before eleven. Corbett and Michelle had taken her to their room for the night, giving Sookie and me the opportunity to play Santa Claus.
Who knew that being Santa Claus was such an exhausting job?!?! I thought we just put Allie’s present out and took a bite out of the food she’d left out. Mor and I had tried to convince her that Santa Claus preferred rice porridge with cinnamon sugar, a custom most Swedish families observed, but my daughter had looked at us as if we were the Abominable Snowman. She said that Santa only ate cookies, and that his favorite was the white chocolate cherry cookies while the reindeer liked the oatmeal raisin and the carrots.
When did mythological Christmas creatures develop such discerning palates? I hate to see what she thinks the Easter Bunny prefers to eat.
After taking a few bites out of the cookies and carrots, I’d thought we were finished since Sookie and Mor had pulled all Allie’s presents out from Santa Claus out of their hiding place and had them sitting in the living room. Both my mother and the woman, I loved, looked at me as if I was daft.
Is there a rule in a book somewhere that tells a father how he is supposed to handle playing Kris Kringle? I don’t remember elaborate displays from Saint Nicholas when I was a child. Each child had their gifts in a neat pile with their name on top so there would be no fighting over who had what.
Clearly that isn’t the way things are done in the Stackhouse family.
Sookie had handed me a pair of boots and told me to leave tracks around the fireplace. While I did that, she and Mor worked on taking all the presents out of the boxes that required batteries or charging so they would be ready to go when Allie woke up in the morning. We had stockings to fill, toys to assemble, and a letter from Santa Claus to write. When all was said and done, Sookie, Mor, and I spent nearly three hours making sure everything was just right for Christmas morning.
I appreciate my daughter’s enthusiasm for the holiday, but I want to sleep!
Sookie’s groggy voice whispers, “What time is it?” When I turn my head the opposite direction, I see Sookie’s head resting on the pillow next to mine. She’s sleeping on her stomach with her arm over my chest. She hasn’t bothered to open her eyes yet.
“Not even six,” I utter with a groan.
“Too early,” she retorts while shifting her arms to pull a spare pillow over her head. Sookie is even less of a morning person than I am; she doesn’t function until she has at least two cups of coffee in her. Seconds later, Sookie’s breathing evens out, lulling me back to sleep.
“Come on love birds; time to rise and shine!” Jason’s booming voice startles me out of my sleep a second time Christmas morning. To add insult to injury, he rudely yanks the covers off us.
Thank God Sookie insists I wear boxers while we sleep. No amount of clothing however can hide my morning erection. What do you expect? I’m lying next to the most beautiful woman in the world every night who sleeps in only an oversized shirt and boy shorts. We haven’t had any kind of intimacy since before my family arrived, not that I have had time to take matters into hand so to speak.
“Dude, that’s my sister you’re pokin’! There ain’t no sex on Christmas. The Bible says so cause it’s Jesus’ birthday. It’s a holy day,” Jason says solemnly.
Sookie jumps out of bed quite agile for someone who had been dead asleep, grabbing ahold of her brother and doing something to him that makes him shriek like a girl.
“Damn it Sook! It’s Christmas. You can’t go givin’ me a purple nurple; it’s unchristian like,” he says protecting the offended area with his hands as he glares at his sister. “I’m tellin’ Mom!”
“Go ahead,” Sookie challenges as she crosses her arms over her chest. “Why do you think she sent you up here? She was too chicken to come herself.”
“Actually I came up with the coffee that I knew the two of you would need,” Michelle says as she walks in the room with two extra-large mugs filled with the aromatic divine nectar of coffee, setting them on the highboy so they are out of the line of fire of the squabbling siblings.
Oh shit! I scramble out of bed to hide from the woman I one day hope to call my mother-in-law that I have a raging hard on. Michelle only laughs at my antics as she crosses the room. “Trust me Eric; it isn’t anything I haven’t seen before. I lost track of the number of times I either walked in on Jason or heard him masturbating. Damn boy never did figure out how to lock a door,” Michelle says as she twists the nipple that Sookie had not offended. Jason howls in pain as the rest of us laugh. Michelle leaves us and hollers from the steps that breakfast will be ready in ten minutes and that’s all the time we have before Allie dives into her presents. Corbett’s had his hands full keeping her out of the living room while Michelle put breakfast together.
“What are you doin’ here so early anyways?” Sookie glares at her brother as she grabs one of the mugs of coffee and drinks deeply. Clearly Jason hasn’t gotten the memo that his presence is neither needed nor wanted in our room.
“Holly said the baby wanted to get up and celebrate Christmas,” he says while scratching the back of his head. “That was nearly an hour ago. I hope this kid comes soon. I’m tired of all the things she says the baby is making her do. Last night she said the baby wanted eggnog with pickled beets and chocolate shavings,” he says turning green with the memory.
“That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard,” I say as I try to stifle my gag reflex. I’ve slipped into a pair of lounge pants and my t-shirt.
Sookie harrumphs in response as she slips on a pair of flannel pants. “You should have seen my cravings with Allie. Kim chi, chittlins, and pineapple smoothies were my go to snack foods. I would have them at least once a week.”
“Not together?” Pineapple smoothies are alright, but Kim chi and chittlins? I am horrified at the things women do in the name of pregnancy. I have had food cravings before, but never for something that will turn the stomach of normal human beings.
Sookie shrugs. “What baby wanted, baby got. I had no control. And speaking of baby, she’s getting restless.”
Allie’s voice floats up from the bottom of the stairs saying we’d better hurry up, time’s wastin’. Sookie grabs her brush from our bathroom, running it through her hair to get all the knots out before she weaves it into a loose braid.
“Come on. It’s time for our first Christmas as a family.”
“I think we may have gone overboard,” I groan from somewhere hidden among a mountain of discard boxes, wrapping paper, tissue paper, and bows. It’s nearly eleven in the morning and we are finally finished with Allie opening her presents. I honestly don’t know where all the presents had come from! I knew everything I had bought, but that only covers a fraction of the toys that surround Allie’s sleeping form. It looks like Toys R’Us and FAO Schwartz had opened new stores in the living room.
Amidst Allie’s glee with all her newfound treasures, the adults had managed to exchange presents too. Corbett and Jason had each gotten new hunting gear, including guns and bows, from the women in their family. Turns out the father/son combo would sit for hours during hunting season waiting for their prey to walk by. Corbett joked that they needed to try out their new gear and since I was the new guy in the group, I could play the role of the prize buck.
I knew he still wanted to mount my head on the wall above the fireplace!
Michelle’s Christmas presents were all part of a similar theme. Corbett had wanted to surprise her with a trip to Europe. He’d said his wife had always dreamed of going to Europe, but they had never had the opportunity when they were younger what with two kids to raise and jobs to deal with; one thing after another kept them from going. Now they finally had the time and the money to do everything Michelle wanted to do. Sookie and I had offered to pay for their trip for them, but Corbett politely refused. He said this was something he wanted to do for his wife and didn’t need our money. I could appreciate his sentiment. So Jason and Holly had given Michelle a brand new set of luggage, which she opened first. Michelle had looked confused when she opened the gift, but had politely thanked her son and daughter-in-law. Next came the present from Adele, which was a new HD camera to capture all the memories of her trip. Michelle was even more perplexed by this, but still pretended to be excited about her gift. All of us were chuckling and smiling in anticipation of her next gift which was from Corbett. I had to hand it to the man; he had a very original idea for giving Michelle her trip to Europe. He’d purchased a navy leather scrapbook that was engraved with “Our European Vacation”. Michelle teared up instantly reading the words on the cover and had flung herself at her husband, kissing him for everything she was worth. The rest of us had laughed while Jason of course moaned that he’d been traumatized enough this morning seeing me and his sister; he didn’t need to lose any more brain cells. Corbett had pulled away from his wife’s lips and told him to shut it; he couldn’t lose something he didn’t have in the first place! Michelle had been so overcome with her present that it took her a few minutes to open up the book. On the first page, Sookie had mounted the first class airline tickets we had purchased for their trip. While Corbett insisted they wouldn’t mind flying coach, I told him that the flight was too long and too uncomfortable not to sit in first class. Trust me, I knew from firsthand experience. Michelle teared up again and admonished us for being too extravagant, but she hugged us fiercely. To top everything off, Mor and Mormor had given Michelle a basket containing different dictionaries that would translate English to French, Spanish, German, and Swedish. Mor said that her new friends better stop in Sweden; she wanted the opportunity to return the hospitality the Stackhouses had shown her.
Mor and Mormor received little gifts from all of us, but nothing too big since they would have to take it back on the airplane with them. As for my Sookie, she received trinkets from her family as well as mine, and I have given her the few small gifts I had for her. But there were two gifts I was waiting to give her: one was the gift from Allie and I, the other was solely from me. It didn’t seem like a good idea to give this to her in a room full of our family; it was something that did not need any witnesses to.
While Allie slept, clean up began around the living room while others worked to begin the Christmas feast. Once the living room was somewhat back to rights, minus the mountain of toys surrounding our Allie Cat, I tugged on Sookie’s hand to get her attention.
“Come with me a minute,” I requested softly. “I have a present for you that I don’t want the others to see,” I whisper against her ear as I use her hand to pull her body against mine in a half hug. My lips move against her ear and down her neck, sucking lightly on the spot where her neck meets her shoulder, making her blood rush through her body. Sookie shivers as I continue to place soft kisses back up her neck to her lips. Our kiss is soft but I can feel the passion rising between us. It’s like every exhale that passes her lips fans the flames of passion in me.
“MOM! Will ya tell them that Christmas is a holy day and there’s no fornicatin?!?! Jesus wouldn’t like it!” Jason’s shrill cry of displeasure pulls my lips from Sookie and she whines in protest, turning my head with her hand so that she can press her lips against mine again.
“Don’t make me turn the hose on you two!” Corbett glares from his recliner and that does force Sookie’s lips from mine. This time I’m the one to whine in protest. When will we finally get to be alone?
“Hush up Daddy,” Sookie admonishes before turning her glare on her brother. “Jason, don’t make me come over there and whoop you! I don’t make comments when you’re kissin’ your wife; don’t make comments when I’m kissin’ the man I love!”
“But Holly n me ain’t ever looked like we were gonna get it on in a roomful of people,” Jason states loftily from his perch on the couch.
“No, you just took me out to the bed of your truck. No one in the bar saw us, but everyone could damn sure hear us,” Holly says as she smacks the back of Jason’s head while waddling to the kitchen.
“Hey! You’re supposed to be on my side,” Jason cries in outrage as he looks at the retreating back of his wife.
“Come on; this could get ugly,” Sookie whispers to me and pulls me towards the stairs. Jason and Holly continue to bicker as we go up the stairs, and I can’t help but laugh loudly as Holly accuses Jason of being a hypocrite to which he replies, “I ain’t no damn hippo!”
It’s a wonder he can dress himself in the morning.
Sookie is giggling as she leads the way to our bedroom. I hadn’t told her where I wanted to talk to her, but this is perfect. I flip the lock on the door, keeping prying eyes out.
Turning around, I find Sookie sitting on the bed with a brightly wrapped package in her hand with a shiny bow. “You have two more presents to open; one from Allie and this one from me. This one isn’t for anyone else’s eyes but yours.” She’s biting her bottom lip and her eyes shine with mischief and lust. I think I know what’s in the box and my cock jumps to attention to offer his approval.
“You have two more presents as well: one from me and Allie and then one just from me. Do you want to open your present first?”
Sookie shakes her head no. “You first,” and holds the box out to me. With a smile, I take the box and eagerly shred the wrapping paper. The paper falls away to show a large white box. Lifting the lid and pushing the tissue paper aside, it’s exactly what I thought it would be. Sookie knows I love seeing her body in sexy lingerie. Seeing her in the barely there scraps of lace, silk, and satin makes my inner caveman come out. I want to ravage and protect her; shout for the entire world to hear that she is mine! Lingerie makes me both want to savor and devour; fuck her and make love to her.
There are at least four different ensembles in the box, but my eyes are drawn to an ice blue sheer baby doll negligée with a matching thong. Lifting the nightie out of the box, I lay it against my chest. “It’s definitely my color, but I’m not sure if it’s my size,” I deadpan.
Sookie laughs at me. “You know damn well those are for me to wear, but you will enjoy them as much, if not more than me. I wanted you to know what to expect when you and I are finally alone together.” Her eyes and voice are full of sexual promise and it makes me ache for her even more than I already do.
“I look forward to when we’ll finally be alone,” I murmur against her lips before kissing her deeply. My tongue battles with hers in a kiss full of carnal need. The slow duel between us spins me up, making my need for her twist painfully inside me.
With a gasp, I rest my head against hers as I fight to regain control of my body. “We need to be alone soon,” I growl in frustration.
“How about tomorrow?” Sookie whispers her question softly and I pull away from her to make sure I heard her correctly.
“What are you talking about?” How is she suddenly going to make a houseful of people disappear?
“Tomorrow we leave for New Orleans with Allie, Gran, Mor, and Mormor. We always planned to go to New Orleans after Christmas; Mor and Mormor wanna see the sights. I wanted to take them to New York, but I thought it was too dangerous given that we haven’t resolved anything with Pam. We’re gonna stay at Le Pavillon. The four of them are gonna stay in a suite while you and I have a suite of our own. Well even be on different floors so they can’t hear us,” she grins wickedly as she tells me this. Neither one of us are any good at being quiet. I love it when Sookie screams as she comes undone and I know she loves when I’m vocal during sex.
Rather than say my thanks, I decide to show Sookie how thankful I am for this present. It isn’t long before the box of lingerie is pushed to the floor and Sookie and I are rolling around on the bed fighting for dominance. My hands move greedily over her body before settling on her breasts, molding them with my hands before rolling her nipples between my thumbs and forefingers. Sookie’s hands settle on my hips, pulling me tight against her which causes her to whimper in pain.
“What the hell is in your pocket that’s digging into me?” She pushes me back to stare at me accusingly.
“It’s your Christmas present.”
“What did you get me? A hermit crab? Damn thing pinched me,” she grumbles while rubbing her thigh.
I lean up to straddle Sookie’s thighs and help her sit up. Nothing ever goes how I plan when it comes to the woman I love. Why should the moment I chose to propose to her be any different?
“I hope it doesn’t pinch. Your mom helped me with the size,” I say as I pull the engagement ring from my pocket and hold it up for her to see.
Sookie gasps, her mouth dropping open in shock and her eyes widening in surprise. I use her silence as the chance to say everything that is in my heart.
“Seven years ago, I had planned to propose when you came to visit me in New Orleans,” Sookie’s eyes widen further and her lips tremble as if she wants to speak, but I silence her with my finger against her lips.
“As I was saying, I had everything planned out. I was going to take you to a romantic bed and breakfast, propose over a candlelight dinner, and then spend the rest of our time in bed celebrating our newly engaged status,” I say with a leer which earns a giggle.
“We didn’t get to have that happy ending, and were instead ripped apart. Not a day went by during that time that I didn’t think about you, ache for you, and most importantly, loved you. Without you, I was nothing; a shell of a man without anything to live for. Sookie Stackhouse, you are the only woman in the world that I love; no one else will ever mean as much to me as you do. You are my best friend, the mother of my child, the keeper of my heart, but most importantly, my soul mate. Without you, I am nothing. Will you grant me my greatest wish and become my wife?”
Sookie nods her head vigorously as she lifts her hand for me to slide the ring on her finger. Big, fat tears slide down her face as she watches me slip the diamond down the length of her finger to rest in its rightful place. My fingers clasp hers tightly so we can both stare at the ring adorning her finger. A weight I didn’t know was resting on my shoulders slides away as I see my ring resting on Sookie’s finger, letting the world know she is mine! No one shall ever come between us again.
“I can’t believe you’ve had this ring for seven years,” Sookie murmurs in awe as she stares at the brilliant diamond on her hand.
“I haven’t,” I admit. At her puzzled expression, I smile faintly. “The ring I bought you the first time, while beautiful, is something I’ll never give to wear as an engagement ring. Pam had helped me pick it out, so in my mind it seems tainted. This ring I bought after we came here.”
“But you haven’t gone anywhere without me?”
“They have this thing now called the Internet. You can do your shopping online.” Sookie shows her appreciation for my sarcasm by rolling her eyes.
“So Momma knew you were doing this?” She glances down at her ring again, moving her fingers so she can see the ring sparkle in the light.
“And your father; I did ask his permission. I thought he was going to get his shotgun,” I admit. “But all he said was ‘It’s about time,’ and turned his attention back to whatever game was on.”
“Sounds like Daddy,” Sookie replies with a shaky laugh. Her eyes finally look up from her ring and I see all of her love for me shining in them. “We’re getting married!”
In between kisses, she keeps murmuring how much she loves me, how she needs me. Sookie’s hands are working their way under my shirt and I groan loudly as her fingernails scratch lightly down my back. I need her too and let her know by thrusting the neediest part of me against her.
“Yes,” she moans as she pushes my shirt up towards my shoulders.
Someone bangs against our door loudly and I drop my head against Sookie’s breasts with a loud groan. “How soon do we leave for New Orleans?”
“Not soon enough,” she growls.
“Open up lovebirds; it’s time to celebrate,” Mor says through the door.
“Jag föredrar en fest för två,” I shout back as I nuzzle Sookie’s stomach. My fiancé giggles while her hand moves through my hair as I move lower down her body, my face hovering over the promise land. All I have to do is loosen the drawstring holding up her pants . . .
“I don’t know what you said, but I don’t like it,” Corbett growls through the door. “You got two minutes and then we’re coming in. Your choice.”
“I told you he hates me,” I whisper to my fiancé as I lean over her. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside every time I think of her as my fiancé. It feels so right; it’s all I’ve ever wanted.
“Don’t worry; he hates me too,” Sookie responds drily. I give her one last kiss, full of ardor and promise. We will be continuing this celebration later, even if I have to wake her up in the middle of the night for it.
“Jason,” Corbett bellows. “Go get my drill! We’re takin’ the hinges off this door!” Jason shouts up that he’s on it while the women of our soon to be joined family castigate Corbett for his high-handed behavior.
Sookie rolls off the bed and stomps to the door, flinging it open to face her father. “Can I help you? You’re interruptin’ somethin’ that doesn’t need your input! I don’t interfere when you and Momma disappear behind a locked door. Why can’t you extend me the same courtesy?”
“My house, my rules,” Corbett retorts smugly in the face of his daughter’s anger.
“Technically, it’s Gran’s house,” is Sookie’s smart rebuttal. “And since Gran was an ardent supporter of free love, I don’t think she’d mind that my fiancée and I want to celebrate with a little free love of our own.”
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” Corbett glares at his daughter, clearly unhappy with her defiance of his wishes. I can sympathize with Corbett; he wants to believe that his little girl is chaste and pure. Never mind that his little girl has a little girl of her own. I know I’ll be swimming up de Nile when it comes to Allie and sex.
“Among other things,” Sookie answers smugly.
He glares at his wife before stomping down the stairs. Michelle chuckles as she embraces Sookie. “Like mother, like daughter.”
Shit! I’ve used that expression a couple of times when it comes to Allie and Sookie. Allie better not be like Sookie . . . Hell she better not be like me either. We need to find nuns to be her role models.
When we get downstairs, there are several bottles of champagne on ice waiting for us to celebrate our engagement. Turns out, Michelle had told everyone that I planned to propose to Sookie today. I don’t know how Mor managed to stay quiet. While Michelle and Mor are passing out the champagne, Corbett mentions that I should have asked his permission to marry his daughter. Not even Jason sided with him on that asinine comment. There was even a bottle of sparkling apple cider for Allie.
Speaking of min prinsessa, she comes walking in the kitchen, rubbing her eyes and cuddles up against her mother. “Did we wake you sweetie?” Sookie leans down and kisses the top of Allie’s head while rubbing her back.
“Y’all are noisy,” Allie grumbles. She’s like her mother and doesn’t wake up in the friendliest of moods.
Setting my champagne glass down, I pick our daughter up to cuddle her in my arms. “Sorry min prinsessa, but we’re celebrating.”
Allie whips her head around to glare at her mother. “Momma did you give Far my present without me?” Her lower lip trembles like a California earthquake as her eyes fill with tears.
“You know me better than that Allie Cat. Why would I give your daddy the present you want to give him? We’re celebratin’ the gift your daddy gave me,” Sookie says with a tender smile to me as she holds her hand out to show our daughter her engagement ring.
Allie looks at the diamond ring on Sookie’s hand with interest. “Far did you and Momma get married while I was sleepin’? That’s not fair!” Again with the trembling lip. She definitely has a flair for the dramatic; that she definitely gets from me.
“No you silly girl,” Sookie says while tickling our daughter. “We’re engaged. It means we’re gonna get married someday. You remember Jason and Holly’s wedding?” At Allie’s nod, Sookie continues. “We’ll have one of those with me in a pretty dress and Far looking handsome in a suit.”
“Do I get a pretty dress?” Allie looks at her mother and me slyly.
“Haven’t you gotten enough pretty dresses this week?” Sookie and I tag team tickling our daughter as she wiggles around in my arms, shouting for us to stop while giggling. It’s only when Allie starts crying “uncle” do we stop with the tickling. Allie’s face is beet red when we’re finished and she’s panting for breath.
“Let me down please. I wanna give you your present,” Allie says as she wiggles in my arms. Once on her feet, Allie takes off running for the living room. She comes back in as quickly as her little legs can carry her, carrying the present I got for her to give Sookie as well as what I assume is the present for me. She hands the respective gifts to each of us, gesturing for Sookie to open hers first.
When Sookie opens the lid on the infinity necklace, Allie excitedly explains, “The stones are for me and Far, and he said it means we love you forever and ever!”
Sookie gives our daughter a watery smile as she slips the necklace out of the box so she can clasp it around her neck. Once it’s in place, she leans down to give our daughter a kiss. “And I love you both forever and ever.” Sookie stands so she can kiss me as well, whispering ‘I love you’ against my lips before pulling away.
“Now open yours Far, but be careful. It’ll tear easily,” Allie warns me with fear in her eyes.
“Yes min prinsessa.” The gift Allie handed me is in an envelope, so I have no idea what’s inside. I slide my finger inside the flap to open it and find a single sheet of paper folded in thirds. When I open the paper, my eyes scan the document and I feel tears well up in my eyes as I finally understand what I’m looking at.
“When you and Momma get married, it means you’re gonna have the same last name. Since we’re a family, I should have the same last name too.”
I grab my daughter and plant a very big kiss on her cheek as I hold her in one arm as I wrap another arm around the woman soon to be my wife. “There’s nothing I want more than for you to have my name too.”