The last full week of school went by in a blur. Despite becoming sick each morning, Sookie was able to keep it quiet from her parents and focus on getting done with the school year. Junior prom was the next night and she couldn’t help but feel a little bit excited about it. She and Eric had tentatively planned out their weekend. After school tomorrow they would both go to their own homes to get ready, he would pick her up, take her for dinner and then go to prom with their friends. He would stay over like he usually did and after breakfast, she and Eric would tell her daddy.
On Saturday mornings her mom liked to go yard sale shopping with some of her friends from church. It would be the best time to get it over with.
Eric hadn’t pushed her anymore to tell him what had stopped her that night and for that she was grateful. She turned off the light and snuggled into her bed. Her hand slipped down to her stomach and she rested it there for a moment. The idea of growing a baby inside her tummy hadn’t exactly sunk in yet even though she knew it true.
Her phone buzzed and she picked up.
S: Night, see you in the morning.
E: You will. Sleep well.
S: You, too.
The next afternoon, Sookie was cleaning out her locker. She had two finals next week, but didn’t need all the junk that had been tossed in there over the year. Notes from Tara and Amelia, love notes from Alcide (those went in the trash), old homework assignments and lots of books.
“You need help carrying all of that?” Eric came up behind her so quietly she startled.
She laughed. “Yes, please. The only thing I need to do before we leave is to talk to Miss Watson.”
He raised his eyebrow. “Your guidance counselor? What for?”
She gave him a duh look and waited for the realization to set in.
“Oh. Well, why tell her now, before you tell your parents?”
She shoved a few more books into her backpack that was now hanging off his arms. His muscles tensed and swelled with the weight. “Because I need to have a plan when I talk to my parents.”
“What is your plan?” He asked, curiously watching all the crap she kept pulling out. How in the world did she get all of that in there?
“I’m going to start taking online classes soon so I can be done with school before the baby is here.” She threw a pair of gym socks away.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” He leaned against the locker next to her. “It’s going to be a lot of pressure, Sook.”
“Eric, either way it’s going to be a lot of stress. But getting done before the baby is born will be the easiest for me. I can’t imagine trying to take care of the baby and keep up with school. I couldn’t do it.” She put her hands on her hips and looked at him for a moment. “Besides, do you want to walk at graduation without me?”
“No way!” He straightened up as she slammed her locked door shut, slinging her backpack over his arm.
“Then it’s settled. I need to talk to Miss Watson and then you can take me home.”
* PDP *
Sookie was fresh out of the shower and blowing her hair dry when Tara arrived. JB was going to pick her up there so the girls could get ready together. Tara went to the salon after school and her hair was pulled back from her face and twisted up in the back, with long, loose curls trailing her neck.
“It looks great, Tara!” Sookie smiled at her friend as she finished drying her hair.
“Thanks!” Tara smoothed it back and hung her dress on the back of Sookie’s door. “How are you feelin’, Sook? I haven’t seen much of you this week.”
“I know, I’m sorry.” Sookie gave her oldest friend a tight hug. “I’m doin’ okay.”
Tara held on a moment longer than she normally would and when she pulled back, her eyes looked teary.
“Don’t cry, Tara. I’ll be okay.” Sookie patted her arm.
Tara took a deep breath and started doing her make-up in the mirror over Sookie’s dresser. “So, Eric really threw Alcide for a loop at JB’s party Saturday night.”
Sookie snorted while she closed the bedroom door and pulled out the new bra and panties she bought to wear under her dress. “He threw all of us for a loop!”
“You didn’t know he was going to do that?” Tara gave Sookie a look she knew so well.
“I had no clue he was going to do that.”
“Well, it could work out in your favor, depending on what people believe. As long at they just think you are a cheater, that’s not too bad.” Tara kept her hand steady as she expertly applied her eye shadow.
“I wanted to kick him when he said that! Everyone is going to think I was sleeping with two guys at the same time!” Sookie moaned, shaking her head. “Then when he said that Alcide and I never had sex, he might’ve put doubt in people’s minds. Either way, everyone will think I cheated on Alcide.”
“I hate that, Sook. You’re not the type to cheat.”
“I wouldn’t ever do something like that. To be honest, though, Tara?” She paused until Tara caught her eyes. “As silly as it might sound, it feels better to have someone claim me…and the baby, then to not be wanted. I would rather they think I cheated on Alcide and Eric is the father, then to have Alcide tellin’ everyone it isn’t his and what a whore I am. If Eric hadn’t stepped up…” She sat down on the side of her bed, shaking her head, determined not to cry. “I would’ve looked a whole lot worse in their eyes.”
Tara sat next to her, rubbing her back. “You and I have never cared all that much about gossip.”
“No, but it’s a little different this time.” Sookie laughed a little then sighed. “Do you think people believed, Eric?”
“There’s been a lot of talk at school this week. I would guess that more believe Eric than don’t. Most of the guys know how Alcide talks about the girls and most of the girls…well, they know Alcide.” Tara smirked and nudged Sookie’s shoulder. “I’m sorry I let you get wrapped up with him, Sook.”
“It wasn’t your fault. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. And what a sinker it was!”
“I know you make up your own mind, but if I hadn’t been so wrapped up with JB at the time…maybe things would’ve been different.” Tara kicked her bare foot against the hardwood floor.
“Eric and I’ve been talking things a lot. Everything would’ve been different if I hadn’t freaked out that night with him.” She stared across the room, focusing on the picture of the two of them at the dance. He looked so nice.
“You never would’ve hooked up with Alcide, that’s for sure.” Tara agreed. “But you can’t help how you felt. Have you explained things to him yet?”
Sookie shook her head. “Not yet, but that is next after we talk to Daddy in the morning. I hoped we’d have a nice night together at the dance. I didn’t want to ruin it.”
“He’ll understand, Sook. Eric has been our friend ever since we can remember.”
“I hope so.”
“Okay. Let’s get this party going. This is our junior prom!” Tara smiled, throwing her arms and Sookie’s neck, both girls smiling in the mirror.
“It’s going to be a great night!” Sookie agreed, feeling the weight slowly lift off her chest. “For tonight, I’m just me, going to prom with my best friends. Nothing else.”
“That’s a good plan. Tomorrow you can deal with everything else.”
With a determined nod, Sookie turned on her iPod and she and Tara danced around the room while getting ready.
“I’m really glad I went all out on my dress this year!” Sookie exclaimed over the sound of The National. “Next year I probably won’t go, and if for some reason I do, I won’t have this body!”
“I’m glad you did, too! When we shopped I remember how torn you were about buying the cheaper dress or the one you brought home. It looks sensational on you.”
“Thanks! I like yours, too!”
Sookie stepped into her ocean blue chiffon dress as they heard their dates pull up. Tara helped her adjust the one sparkling strap over her shoulder and they finished arranging her hair in a cascade of curls that fell from the crown of her head delicately brushing against her bare back. The sweetheart neckline enhanced her breasts without showing too much. She wore delicate silver shoes and as she looked at herself on the mirror, she felt like a million bucks. The dress really brought out the color in her eyes and set of her tan.
Tara was equally as striking in a hot pink floor length gown, which hugged her curves and had a slit running up one side. Catching one another’s eyes in the mirror, they nodded they were ready and began their descent down the stairs.
Sookie held tightly to the railing and she stepped carefully in her new shoes. She was grinning from ear to ear with excitement, but also had a rush of butterflies in her tummy. She first saw polished dress shoes, then fitted black pants, which led her eyes to the tuxedo jacket and the crisp white shirt and blue tie that made Eric’s eyes pop.
When he saw her, his smile instantly widened and she relaxed seeing how comfortable he seemed.
“Wow, Sunshine!” Corbett exclaimed. “Look at you!”
“You look very pretty, Sookie.” Michelle said softly from beside her father, camera in hand. “Let me get some pictures.”
She approached Eric and he took her hand in his squeezing it reassuringly. “Sookie,” he whispered into her ear, ”I have never seen you look more beautiful.”
Her cheeks flushed from his kind words but she could tell from the look on his face he meant every word. “You look pretty handsome yourself.” She grinned and held out her wrist as he slipped on her corsage. She didn’t pay a lot of attention to what was going on around her, the flashes of the camera or JB and Tara greeting one another so happily. Honestly the only thing she saw was Eric, the little boy who had been her best friend, the gawky teenager who she shared nearly every secret with, to the young man he was becoming in front of her very eyes. Her hands shook as she pinned on his boutonniere and he helped steady them.
“This dress is amazing, Sook.” He grinned, pulling her into his side and turning them to face the camera.
Her mother snapped shots of the girls, the boys, individual couples, Sookie and her dad, Sookie, her dad and Eric; Sookie, Tara and her dad and then Eric offered to take one of Michelle and Sookie. As her mom slipped her arm around her waist, she said, “You look absolutely radiant, honey.”
Sookie turned to her mom with a look of surprise that quickly turned into a flushed cheeked smile, her eyes full of love for her Mama. Corbett joined them and Eric took a few more family shots.
“Okay!” Tara looked ready to burst with excitement. “Are we ready to get this show on the road?”
“I’m ready if everyone else is.” Eric took Sookie’s hand in his own and she nodded, meting his sparkling eyes with her own.
“Me too, sounds good!” JB jingled his car keys.
“Okay, kids! Have a good time.” Corbett gave them all a big smile. “No curfew tonight, kiddo, but just remember when you and Eric get home to go to bed-“
“Keep the bedroom door open!” They all chimed in, laughing.
Corbett smiled wryly. “I don’t say it that much do I?”
“No, honey, not at all.” Michelle winked at her husband and leaned into him.
“Bye!” Sookie called.
“See you at the dance, Sook!” Tara smiled as JB helped her into his car.
“Bye, Tara! Bye, JB!” She waved and carefully picked her way through the gravel to wear Eric parked.
“You going to be okay in those shoes?” Eric teased her, gripping her hand to keep her steady.
She stuck out her tongue in response. “Yes! It’s just hard when it isn’t a flat surface.”
He laughed and tucked her into the car, quickly making the walk around and slipping in on his side. “I hope you’re prepared to dance all night, Stackhouse.”
“I sure am! Even if I have to do it barefoot!” She laughed and leaned back into his comfy seat.
He fiddled with his iPod for a moment before they took off down the road. They were headed to a little Italian restaurant in Monroe and then over to the country club where the prom was being held.
“Tonight is your night, Sook. Anything you wanna do, you let me know. If you want to dance from the moment we get there until the prom closes down, that’s fine with me.”
“You’re too good to me.” She reached across and squeezed his hand resting on the gearshift.
He shook his head in response. “No body is too good for you, Sookie. If anything, people aren’t good enough for you.”
Sookie’s eyes filled with tears and she blinked rapidly to keep them at bay. “Okay, none of that!” She laughed. “I don’t want to cry tonight!”
He chuckled. “Fair enough.” He brought their joined hands to his mouth and pressed a kiss to her fingers.
A/N: Thank you so much for your support this last chapter. All of your comments and encouragement really made such a difference I am actually feeling inspired to write this story again. It really means a lot and the three R’s can make a writer’s day! Read, review and recommend. You guys seriously rock. The first part of this chapter was beta’d but the rest is all me, so hopefully I didn’t mess it up too much! ❤