It was only half past nine when they pulled into her driveway. The lights were still on so she knew that meant her daddy was still up.
“He’s going to wonder what happened,” Eric said as he turned off the car, a worried look on his face.
“He’ll ask some questions. I’ll tell him we broke up but I am not ready to tell him anything else.” She flipped on his dome light and took a look at him.
“How do I look?”
“Like you got into a fight.” She sighed. “Come on.”
They stomped up the stairs and into the house.
“Hey, Sunshine! You’re home early! And look at that, you brought the tall kid with you.” Corbett stood up with a big smile on his face. “Good to see you, Eric! It’s been awhile! You’ve filled out quite a bit over these last few months!”
Eric stepped forward to shake his hand. “Nice to see you too, Mr. Stackhouse. I’ve been lifting weights.”
“God almighty, kid, what happened to your face?” Corbett stepped closer, tilting Eric’s head into the light. “Where’s Alcide? Why didn’t he bring you home?”
Exchanging a look with Eric, Sookie twisted her hands together and tried to keep her voice steady. “Well, we broke up tonight, Daddy and Eric was kind enough to bring me home. I figured he and I could catch up, if you don’t mind him being here so late.”
“You know we are always happy to have Eric around. We hardly see him these days. What happened with Alcide? Did he do this to you, son?” Corbett’s face grew a little bit red and Sookie hoped he wouldn’t raise his voice and wake up her mama.
“Yes, sir.” Eric responded respectfully, his hands tucked inside his pockets. “Sookie and Alcide broke up tonight and he wasn’t very nice to her. I guess I lost my temper. I’m sorry, Mr. Stackhouse. I promise you Sookie wasn’t in danger.”
The corner of Corbett’s mouth lifted as he said, “What does he look like?”
Eric tried to hide a smile. “I would say he get the worst of it, sir.”
Corbett grinned and slapped Eric on the back. “Call me Corbett, son. You’ve been around as long as I can remember. Mr. Stackhouse makes me feel too old.” He focused his attention back on his little girl. “Are you okay, Sookie?”
She nodded and forced a smile. “I’m fine, Daddy. I think it’s for the best. I’m more worried about Eric. May we be excused so I can get him some ice?”
“Of course, Sunshine. You kids hang out as long as you want, just remember the bedroom door stays open.” Corbett sat back down in his recliner and un-muted the TV.
Eric followed Sookie into the kitchen where she filled two zip lock bags with ice and grabbed a couple of hand towels. They quietly climbed the stairs and he stretched out on her bed with a heavy sigh. She helped him position the ice and sat down next to him. He watched her curiously while she figured out what she wanted to say.
“I’m in a big mess, Eric.” She was looking down, pulling at the edges of her skirt. A string peeked from her hem and she focused on snapping it off.
He nodded. “I agree. Do you have any idea what you want to do? Keep it? Adopt? Ab-“
“No.” She said firmly, looking him in his eyes. “I couldn’t have an abortion. It isn’t how I was raised and I know a girl who had one last year…Eric, she was just never the same.”
“Did it mess her insides up?” Eric asked confused.
She tried not to roll her eyes and reminded herself he was a clueless boy. “No, it didn’t mess her insides up. It messed her head up. She wound up dropping out of school.”
“Oh! Okay. So that’s out.” He rubbed the soft stubble on his chin thoughtfully.
Eric was always good with calm, cool logic and she needed his level head now more than ever.
“As far as keepin’ it or puttin’ it up for adoption? I just don’t know. I guess my first step is to make an appointment at the women’s clinic and figure out how far along I am.” She got up and grabbed her jammies out of her drawer. “I’ll be right back.”
She changed quickly in the bathroom, brushed her teeth and washed her face. When she came back in her room, Eric was laying there with that same thoughtful expression.
“I’ll go with you,” he decided. “You shouldn’t go alone.”
She sat down next to him on the bed, her eyes getting watery again. “Would you really?”
“Of course,” his voice cracked a bit and he cleared his throat. He looked like he might cry. Sookie had never seen him cry. “Would you mind turning off the lights? I have an awful headache.”
“Sure. Let me get us some water and I will get you an aspirin, too.” She turned off the overhead light.
When she returned Eric quickly swallowed the aspirin and lay back down. She sat down next to him and he put his arm around her, pulled her down so her head rested on his chest. The familiar sound of his heart beating in her ear relaxed her. Alcide didn’t like to snuggle and it was something she had missed. Eric was the best snuggler she knew.
He rubbed her back soothingly and she let out a shaky breath. “It’s gonna be okay, Sook.”
“I hope so,” she whispered.
He leaned down and placed a gentle, comforting kiss to her forehead. She felt a wetness as he pulled away, and wasn’t sure if it was from the ice, or if he, like her, was silently crying.