Sookie and Michelle decided to make Allie’s favorite foods for dinner and dessert, hoping that comfort food would help her feel better. When I asked about my favorite foods and what would make me feel better, Michelle had made a snide remark that I already had what made me feel better when Sookie and I were delayed coming back from the doctor’s appointment. It takes a lot to ruffle me, but hearing Sookie’s mom so casually refer to the fact that her daughter sucked my brains out through my penis definitely rattled my cage. There will never be a time in my life when I want to know that my daughter is having sex. Sookie had laughed at my blush, knowing that it doesn’t happen often. She had even said to me that if I had a son, I wouldn’t have any issues discussing sex with him. In fact, she said that if we ever to have boys that I am in charge of the sex talk with them. As much as I wanted to argue with her that she was wrong, she wasn’t. It would be a hell of a lot easier for me to discuss sex with a boy than a girl, unless it’s talking dirty to a girl. I will tear out the tongue of any mother fucker that thinks he’s gonna talk that way to my baby girl! Never mind that I talk that way to Sookie when I want to make her hot and bothered.
It’s do as I say, not as I do!
While they cooked dinner, I was regulated to watching Allie while she finished some assignment for school. Allie was being unusually quiet since Sookie and I had returned though she did come up to both of us and apologize for her earlier behavior. Before I could respond, Sookie said that we accepted her apology, but that she had to go write a letter apologizing to both of us and explain how her actions affected other people. Allie’s head had dropped and she mumbled a “yes ma’am” before trudging to the dining room table to work on her assignment. Not knowing how to handle the situation, I deferred to Sookie, but I thought it was an extremely harsh punishment. What kid didn’t have the occasional temper tantrum?
When Allie had finished the assignment, she left it on the table, letting Sookie know she was done and that she was going up to her room to wash up for dinner. With Allie out of the room, I felt comfortable voicing my opinion over what I thought was Sookie’s unfair treatment. I carried the piece of paper Allie had written her assignment on with me so we could discuss it. Sookie was sprinkling breadcrumbs on top of a tray of macaroni and cheese.
“Can I talk to you about this?” I shake the piece of paper in my hand so she knows what I’m talking about.
“Sure,” she says as she closes the oven door after putting the last of the topping on the macaroni and cheese. Michelle had stood off to the side of the oven, frying chicken in a cast iron pan that is so big it fits over both eyes on the cooktop. The smell in the kitchen is absolutely mouth-watering and I can’t wait to eat. I have yet to have a bad meal in this house. It seems all the Stackhouse women are blessed with the ability to cook amazing meals at the drop of a hat.
Sookie washes her hands in the sink, drying them off on a towel before grabbing her glass of tea so she can join me at the kitchen table. She takes the piece of paper from me and reads through it quickly, her lips turning up in a small smile. “What did you want to talk about?”
“Don’t you think you were a little harsh on Allie? She apologized to both of us after you sent her to her room. What was the point of her having to write an essay?”
Sookie sets her glass down after taking a sip of her tea. Her jaw tightens slightly and her hands curl into fists, her nails digging into the flesh of her palms. She takes a deep breath before speaking. All of these are signs that she is ready to unleash her temper.
“Eric,” she says in an even tone through clenched teeth. “How many times have you had to discipline a child?”
My teeth snap shut and I feel a muscle tick in my jaw. “I wondered how long it would take you to throw it in my face that I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing when it comes to my child,” I say in a low, furious tone. I scoot my chair back, fully intending to leave the kitchen before either of us says something we’ll regret.
Sookie grabs my wrist to keep me seated. “I didn’t mean that as a slight against you for not being around. I should have phrased that better,” she says with a sigh. “Every child is different when it comes to discipline. I’ve never believed in striking a child, though my parents didn’t share that opinion. Never to me, but Jason did seem to get walloped a good bit. I think all those blows to the back of the head did permanent damage,” she says with a snicker.
“Watch it Baby Girl,” Michelle says with a mock glare. “It’s not too late for you to go out and pick a switch.” She turns her attention back to the chicken in the frying pan, turning the pieces to make certain they brown evenly. Sookie chuckles again before turning her attention back to me.
“When I was a kid, Momma and Daddy punished me by making me do chores around the house. Their favorite punishment was having me pull weeds from the garden. I think Daddy sprinkled dandelion seeds in the garden intentionally so I’d be out there for hours,” Sookie says with a frown. “I hate gardening to this day,” she adds as an afterthought.
“With Allie, she hates being alone in her room where she is away from everything. She likes being in the center of everything; my little social butterfly,” Sookie says with a grin. “The other reason why I would make her write the essay is so she understands all aspects of her poor behavior. We discuss it later and I add my perspective if I think she missed something. She doesn’t have a ton of interactions with people outside of the family, so things like this are crucial in making sure she understands what accepted social behavior is. Did you actually read what she wrote? It might surprise you to see how she viewed her actions earlier today,” Sookie says sliding the piece of paper back towards me.
I lift my hand to stop the progress of the page. I stopped the progress to really think about Sookie’s words. My father’s way of punishing his children usually involved his hand or his belt. My mother never really disciplined us; she was more of the gentle scolding type. It’s not that my siblings and I were bad kids, but we were rambunctious and our father did not have the patience to deal with exuberant children. He was more of the children are to be seen and not heard mentality. All I know is that I do not want to be anything like my father when it comes to raising my children.
My eyes drop down to the paper, taking in the childish scroll. I smile because the writing reminds me of Allie’s personality: bubbly and bold.
Today I was bad. I was rude to Momma and Eric. I didn’t mean to be, but I was. Eric had to go to the doctor and I wanted to go with him. Momma said no, and I got mad. I started screaming and crying. I know better than to act like that. If we had been in public, I wouldn’t have done it. When we are out, there are always people watching us. Momma and Eric are both famous, which means people are always taking their pictures. If I had done that when we were out, people would have recorded it and put it on the Internet. I don’t want to be on the Internet. Momma said when people take our pictures in public, they are doing their job and we can’t stop them. But she said that they aren’t always nice when they take pictures. They like the bad stuff a lot more than the good. Today would have been really bad. They would have gotten a picture of my ugly side as Momma calls it.
I don’t wanna be ugly.
I’m sorry I acted the way I did. It was mean and rude to Momma and Eric. Momma loves me and is always taking care of me. This is not how I want her to treat me, so I shouldn’t treat her like this. And I definitely don’t want Eric to treat me like this. He is fun and makes me laugh. We read stories and play games together. I help him when he’s in pain. Eric makes me happy. I don’t want him to leave.
I love him and hope he loves me too.
I swallow loudly as my eyes keep reading the last sentence over and over. She loves me and hopes I love her too. I want to run out of this room, grab Allie in a big hug, and tell her all night long that I love her. I want to tell her that I’m not going anywhere ever again. My eyes blur as my emotions riot out of control in my body. I feel so much for my kid that I don’t think my body can hold it all in.
“You should keep that,” Sookie says with a smile. “It can be proof later on when she’s a teenager and hates our guts. We can wave that in her face every time she says she hates us and to get out of her room. That piece of paper says she loves you and wants you around all the time, not just when she wants to borrow the car or go to the mall,” she says with a wink.
“Umm,” I clear my throat trying to push the emotion down so I can speak. “Err-”
“It’s OK sweetie,” Sookie reassures me as she grips my hand tightly. “I cried for hours the first time she said she loved me too. No one is judging you.”
“OK,” I say blowing out a long breath. I tap my finger against the slip of paper. “She already knows about the paparazzi?”
Sookie’s smile turns to a frown as she glances back at the paper. “Yeah she does. I had to explain it to her after we had gone grocery shopping. One of the magazines at the checkout counter had a picture of me and my costar kissing from the show with a picture of his wife looking angry next to it. I had to explain that we were kissing for the show; it wasn’t real. But the conversation about the paps has been an ongoing thing. She’s worried they will make her look bad if she does something wrong. That’s part of why we do this exercise, so she can think about what would have happened if we were having our pictures taken.”
“The rags haven’t bothered her have they?” There will be a serious beat down if any of those fucking vultures hurt a single hair on Allie’s head. I will find all of them and show them what it means to be a Viking!
“Not in the way you think,” Sookie admits. “When I made it big there was some speculation over who her father was. Most people thought it was Jesus since we all lived together; they thought I was their surrogate. Some even said it was my costar Jake, because there was a picture of him and her together eating ice cream while they sat on a park bench. Jake and his wife Amelia were awesome though; they’d take Allie for me if I ever needed a sitter. Allie and their daughter are really close, which also caused comments about him being Allie’s father,” she says with a huge sigh.
“How did I never hear the rumors about Allie?”
“Outside of New York, I’m not a big deal,” she says with a shrug. “Why should you hear any rumors about me?”
“What are you going to do now that you’re finished with the show?” It’s a discussion that we’ve avoided talking about, but it’s suddenly looming large over us. We’ve been so focused on the present that we haven’t talked about the future. My future is in limbo with The Vampire Mysteries. I know Pam and my lawyer have been in talks with the studio. According to my lawyer, the studio violated the terms of my contract and I was under no obligation to finish my role as Alexander. Of course, the studio did not see it that way. I have remained silent in all of this, choosing to let the studio and my lawyer hash it out. The studio has serious delusions if they think Freyda and I can ever work together again. However, what if other producers and directors don’t want to take a chance on me because they think I am difficult to work with? I’ve been acting like an ostrich for long enough burying my head in the sand to see how this all plays out. I need to take control of my career now so that I can be free of Pam once and for all. She’s done enough damage; I don’t need her destroying my reputation along with everything else.
“I’ve been approached to do another Broadway show, but I don’t think I wanna do it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Broadway. Seeing my name up in lights was absolutely amazin’!” Sookie has a dreamy smile on her face as she talks. I know the feeling; it’s the same one I had the first time I saw my name on the credits for FDNY.
“We’ve actually been approached about makin’ Bayou Blues a movie,” Sookie continues after a minute. “They even want me to reprise my role, but I’m not sure I want to do it without the full cast. I spent so much time with them, that I can’t imagine other people in those roles. It would seem like I’m betrayin’ everybody,” she admits.
“It doesn’t hurt to listen to the offer,” I say as I clasp her hand with mine. “If the four of you don’t like what they have to say, you don’t do it. It’s that simple,” I say with a reassuring smile.
“I told Lafayette I don’t wanna think about it until after the New Year. We’ve got a lot of other things to take care of between now and then. And one of them is sitting in the other room,” she says with a pointed glance towards the living room where our daughter is watching TV.
“Did you enjoy your dinner Allie Cat?” Michelle Stackhouse asks as she begins clearing the dinner dishes from the table. Allie’s favorite dinner consisted of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and cornbread with chocolate chips. For dessert, we have pecan pie and peach cobbler. I have never eaten as much food as I have since coming to the Stackhouse home. My personal trainer is going to kick my ass when he sees how much weight I’ve gained due to my inactivity and overeating.
“Yes I did. I can’t wait for dessert,” Allie says in excitement as she wiggles around in her chair. I still find it cute that Allie dances around when she is eating food she enjoys. Seeing all of her favorites tonight, there was a moment when I thought she was going to fall out of her chair because she was wiggling so much. Even now, she’s wiggling around thinking about dessert. But before dessert, there is something we need to talk about.
Sookie and Michelle clear the dishes quickly; Michelle loads the dishwasher while Sookie cleans the table and puts the leftovers away. There is a sense of tension between all the adults; Michelle told Corbett when he came home from work that we planned to tell Allie tonight. His only words to me had been “bout time” before he’d pulled a beer from the refrigerator.
Sookie returns to the table, sitting next to Allie so that our daughter is between us. “Allie Cat, can we talk to you for a minute before we have dessert?”
“Am I in trouble?” Allie looks worriedly at her mother, unsure why Sookie wants to talk to her.
“No baby girl,” Sookie says with a small smile. “But it’s something pretty important.”
“Do you remember how I told you that your daddy was someone I loved very much, but he never knew about you?” Allie nods her head and Sookie continues her tale with a shaky breath. “Well what if I was to tell you that I finally told your daddy about you?”
“Was he mad?” Allie’s voice is very quiet and she looks down at her hands.
Sookie and I look at each other over our daughter’s head. It’s time for me to take over the telling of this story. This is the single scariest moment of my life. What if Allie is angry with me? What if she wants nothing more to do with me? With a large sigh, I answer the question my daughter asked.
“Not at you Allie; I wasn’t mad at you. I was so excited to learn about you,” I say with a gentle smile.
Allie’s head whips around to look at me, her tiny mouth opening in surprise. She looks at me with wide eyes and sits completely still in her chair.
“You’re my daddy?”
“Yes,” I say with a smile.
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” Her eyes narrow and she looks to be getting mad.
“I was scared,” I admit honestly. “What if you didn’t like me? What if you didn’t want me to be your daddy?”
Allie climbs down from her seat and walks over to me. I scoot back in my chair, unsure what Allie is going to do. My daughter and I look at each other in silence for a few moments.
“Are you sure you wanna be my daddy? I can be a brat sometimes,” Allie says with a raised eyebrow.
I smile at her fully, relief setting in that she seems fine accepting of the fact I am her father. “I think I can handle it. Are you sure you want to be my daughter? You might get my cooties,” I tease her.
Allie nods her head. “I think I can handle it,” she says mimicking my words. She smiles at me and raises her arms so I can hug her. Lifting my daughter in my arms, I settle her on my lap and wrap her up in my arms. I feel tears sliding down my face as I hold her tightly in my arms.
Our hug feels like it goes on forever, but is too short at the same time. When Allie pulls back, her tiny hands wipe the tears from my face. “Don’t cry Daddy,” she says in her tiny voice.
My heart stops and I feel like I can’t breathe. Hearing Allie call me daddy is the greatest moment of my life; the feeling is similar to what I think winning the lottery would feel like. There is this overwhelming sense of incredulity and a buoyancy that I am finding hard to contain. When my eyes drift to Sookie, I see that she is openly sobbing and dabbing at the tears with a napkin. Michelle is also crying and Corbett is patting her hand to comfort her.
Returning my attention to Allie, I smile at her to let her know I’m OK. “I can’t help it Allie. I’m so happy to hear you call me daddy. I love you,” I say as I lean down to kiss her forehead.
“I love you too Daddy,” she says as she leans forward to kiss me. When Allie pulls away, she has a sly grin on her face. “Can I have dessert now?”
All the adults laugh at her and Michelle rises to begin dishing out the dessert for everyone while Sookie gets coffee for those of us that want it. Allie stays on my lap, talking animatedly about how Christmas is only in a few weeks. I haven’t given much thought to the holiday with everything else that is going on, but I want to do something special for it since it will be the first one where Sookie, Allie, and I are a real family. I can’t forget about Mor and Mormor; I need to do something special for them too.
Sookie sets a plate overflowing with our desserts in front of Allie and me, saying we can share. Since Allie doesn’t like pecan pie, I leave her all the peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream, though we fight over the whip cream. Everyone else is eating, talking, and laughing, making it a very good night indeed.
When everyone is finished, Allie helps clear the table and Corbett actually washes the dirty dishes by hand since the dishwasher is still running from earlier. This evening has been such a relief; I can’t believe how easy Allie has adjusted to me being her father. It almost seems too easy.
“Alright munchkin,” Sookie says to Allie. “It’s time for you to go upstairs and take a bath. I know you’re wired, so bedtime will be a little later tonight. Don’t get used to it though,” she says with a serious face.
“OK Momma,” Allie says as she skips around the kitchen on her sugar high. She skids to a stop and looks at Sookie solemnly. “Are you OK that Daddy’s here now?”
“Of course baby,” Sookie says with surprise as her eyes flicker between me and our daughter. “Why wouldn’t I be?” Sookie draws Allie closer to her, keeping her hands clasped with our little girl’s.
“Well, cause you said that bad things happened between you and Daddy. That’s why you weren’t together,” she says with a furrowed brow.
“It was all a misunderstanding Allie Cat. Your daddy and I are fine now,” Sookie says with a reassuring smile.
“OK. Somebody better make sure to tell Lala and Jesus that,” Allie says as she looks at her mother with big eyes and nibbles at her lower lip.
“Lala and Jesus? Allison Elizabeth Stackhouse what do you mean we need to tell Lala and Jesus? What have you heard?” Sookie’s using her best mom voice now to get our daughter to confess to what she knows. While I am curious to hear what those two men have said about me in front of Allie, I’m more worried about making sure we change her last name to Northman as soon as possible. I want the world to know she is mine.
“Well,” Allie says drawing that one word out for several syllables. “I heard Lala mentioning Daddy to Jesus the day after your last show, saying he’d seen that mutha f-” Allie’s word is cut off with a warning sound and glare from her mother. “He was telling Jesus that Daddy was at the show. Then he went on and on about how Daddy had some nerve.”
“I see,” Sookie says in an even tone though she is far from being calm. “What else did you overhear?”
“Ummm, I kinda found pictures of you with Daddy in a photo album a while ago. I asked Jesus about them. He didn’t want to tell me at first, but I kept pestering him, asking if it was my daddy. He finally said yes.” Allie looks back and forth between me and her mother trying to gauge our reactions to this bombshell. I am flabbergasted! All this time we’ve been worried about telling her and she already knew?!?!?! I don’t know whether to be relieved, elated, or mad. I’ve gone through the emotional wringer for no reason.
“So you’ve known this whole time I am your father?” Allie swings her head around to look at me, trying to figure out if I’m mad. I smile at her reassuringly. How can I be mad at her from keeping the knowledge to herself when Sookie and I have done the same thing to her?
“Of course. Why else would I have gone up to your table at that restaurant? I know not to talk to strangers, but you weren’t a stranger; you’re my Daddy!”