I’d worked just half a shift and then had slipped out the back door of Merlotte’s. Sam had lent me his truck so that I would be less recognizable to Sandra Pelt or any cronies she had working for her.
Still—I’d looked into the rear view mirror about a thousand times on the way to Red Ditch to make sure I wasn’t being followed. And I’d kept my shields down too.
The last thing I wanted to do was lead danger in Hunter’s direction!
Remy had asked me to come down to Red Ditch for Hunter’s “kindergarten introduction.” After learning what one of those was, I was sad that such a thing hadn’t existed when I started school. Of course, there’d been only two kindergarten teachers in Bon Temps anyway, so I suppose it wouldn’t have mattered much in my case.
But there were five in Red Ditch. Remy, Hunter, and I would get to meet all of them, and we would have some choice in who would be Hunter’s first teacher.
As I glanced into the rearview mirror again, I couldn’t help but to wonder what happened if no kids/parents chose a particular teacher.
I shuddered, thinking of all the times I’d not been chosen by others.
PE classes in school came to the forefront of my mind.
It never failed that I’d be the last one picked, whether we were playing dodgeball, basketball, volleyball, kickball, or tetherball.
I bit my lower lip. Other times I’d not been “picked” had been more subtle. For example, I’d never gotten an invitation for a slumber party or a pool party.
And the one time that Gran had really “tried” to have a party for me—when I turned ten years old—only Jason and Tara had come, though Gran had made sure that all of my classmates had invitations.
She’d even called all the parents of the kids in my grade to remind them.
Given Gran’s popularity in town, almost all of them had said that their children would be there—unless something came up at the last minute.
I’d tried warning Gran not to cook too much food.
Not to make too big of a cake.
Needless to say, many leftovers had to be frozen.
“These will make good lunches for you and Jason,” Gran had said as I’d helped her to wrap up and store portion after portion of my favorite dishes.
They became less favored by me after that day—because I’d had to hear Gran’s disappointment in not giving me a “good party.”
I’d tried to keep smiling so that she wouldn’t feel so bad. In fact, it was that day that I found out that smiling could make one’s mouth hurt.
Thankfully, Gran never tried throwing me another big party after that.
I shuddered and then said a long prayer to God that Hunter would never have to face such an event. I already knew that he was better off than I’d been at his age, however. He had a dad who cared about him. And, even at five years old, he’d learned how to construct basic shields. And I knew that they’d get stronger with practice.
Most importantly, he knew that he wasn’t all alone in the world, and his parent was willing to talk to him about his telepathy.
Plus, he knew not to speak out the thoughts of others when he could help it.
I sighed. There would be no doctors’ trips to try to “fix” Hunter. There would be no parents wondering why he was broken and abnormal. There would be no uncle victimizing his mind.
I nodded. Indeed—Hunter would do so much better than I had. And—if he started having trouble—I hoped that Remy would contact me.
I looked into the rearview mirror again and stretched out my telepathy as far as it could go. No one—including Sandra Pelt—was following me.
I breathed out a sigh of relief.
THREE HOURS LATER
Both Hunter and I had “heard” the teacher who would most likely be trouble for him. Though not a Fellowship of the Sun member “officially,” she didn’t necessarily shy away from the beliefs of the radical group either.
For example, she kept a stake in her desk—just in case.
And—as for the two-natured? Well—she thought that they were worse than vampires. I didn’t want to imagine what she’d do if Hunter “slipped up” around her.
Of course, Remy had listened to both Hunter and my misgivings about that teacher. And then he’d signed Hunter up to be in the class of the teacher he got the best vibes from, Mrs. Carter.
Mrs. Carter’s bangs were still trapped in the 1980’s, but I agreed that she was the nicest of the teachers. And she had a Were son-in-law. Plus, she was a bit hard of hearing.
All-in-all, she was perfect for Hunter.
Remy and I had taken Hunter to the Dairy Queen after the meetings, and I’d treated both of them to Blizzards. Erin, Remy’s girlfriend, happened to stop by as well, and we all sat together companionably for a while before it was time for Hunter to go home and take his nap.
I was happy to give Erin and Remy a few minutes alone as Hunter and I went out to Remy’s truck.
“You should be my mommy,” Hunter said suddenly.
“What?” I asked, having been taken totally by surprise.
“Daddy likes Erin and all, but he really thinks you’d be the best mommy for me,” the little boy said as he danced after a butterfly.
I took a deep breath. “But, Hunter, I’m your aunt.”
“No you aren’t,” he said matter-of-factly. “Daddy said you were mama’s cousin, so you are my second cousin. Or first cousin once behooved.”
“Removed,” I corrected.
“Yep—that’s it,” Hunter smiled as he skipped to the truck. “Anyways, Daddy thinks you’d be a good mommy if you didn’t have vampire friends.” He shrugged. “But I like vampires. I like how their heads don’t say anything.”
“Me too,” I sighed as I leaned heavily against Remy’s truck.
“Will you be my mommy?” Hunter asked. “Please?”
I leaned over to hug him. “I’m sorry, but I can’t, baby,” I answered.
“Why not?” he frowned.
“I don’t love your daddy,” I responded. “And mommies and daddies should love each other.”
“But—don’t you love me?” Hunter asked. “I’d like for you to be my mommy!”
I was tongue-tied, but was saved from answering when Remy came out of the Dairy Queen.
Remy smiled at me. “Hey, Sook, wanna come back with Hunter and me to the house for a bit? You can put Hunter down for his nap if you want.”
I felt myself nodding. I loved spending time with Hunter. Plus, I felt that I needed to nip any ideas that Remy might have of him and me getting together in the bud.
Hunter was beautiful.
His hair was dark blond and unruly. I slid my fingers through it.
And I let myself wonder for a moment: what would it be like to have a child—this child? Someone to love with everything in me. Someone who didn’t judge me because he was like me.
I imagined having other children too.
I sighed and placed my fingers over my belly.
Being a mother was something I’d always had such mixed feelings about. I suppose that a lot of women felt the desire to have kids—an instinctual urge to be a mother.
I was one of those women.
But—then again—I had long worried about bringing a child into the world. What if he or she shared my curse? Could I protect my child from a world full of thoughts?
I knew what the answer to that question was: “No.”
And then there was the more fundamental question. Of the “living” men I’d been around, only Sam—whom I viewed as only a friend—had ever entertained the notion of having kids with me. On the contrary. Most had cringed at the idea of having a kid with a “crazy” person!
Plus—of the three physical relationships I’d had—only one could have resulted in a child, and having a kid with Quinn just didn’t seem palatable, given what I now knew about him.
After Eric’s amnesia, I’d had a recurring dream of having children with him—little blond-haired, blue-eyed babies dancing around in the sunlight.
But that dream had ended up being a torment—a repeated piece of torture, reminding me of what could never be.
Sometimes my dream even took me back in time, giving me an Eric with a warm hand for me to hold as we proudly watched our children.
Other times, I watched the children alone in my dreams—but I never did so peacefully.
No. I was often frantically searching for a video camera so that I could record them running in the sun and playing in the light so that their father could see them that way.
But I could never find a camera. And—almost always—some kind of danger would come as I searched for it.
Often that danger looked like Neave and Lochlan.
After having those dreams—those nightmares—I would always wake up feeling like a failure as a mother, even though I was almost certain that I’d never be one.
I pushed those thoughts away and just enjoyed the moment with Hunter before rising to my feet and facing the inevitable discussion with Remy. Truth be told, I had more than one thing to talk about with him.
After a lot more time than I’d thought it would take, Hadley’s estate had finally been released to me, and I didn’t feel right taking any of it—not when Remy and Hunter might need it.
“You prefer your tea non-sweet—right?” Remy asked me as I found him in the kitchen.
“Yeah. Thanks. A glass of tea would be nice.”
I read from his head that he’d made a pitcher of unsweetened tea especially for me. And it wasn’t just out of simple hospitality. He was trying to impress me.
“I—um—I’m sorry you had to see me with Erin earlier,” he started. “We’re not serious.”
“No—it’s good that you have someone,” I said firmly. “She’s nice.”
Remy sighed. “Yes. But she doesn’t understand Hunter. Sookie, do you think that . . . .”
He paused, so I jumped in so that he would be waylaid from any “romance” he might be planning.
“You know,” I said, “Hadley had some money when she died. It turned out to be quite a bit, and she made me the person in charge of her will. Um—do you and Hunter need anything?”
“You mean financially?” Remy asked with a frown.
I nodded. “Yeah. Like I said, there’s quite a bit, and I also inherited some money from another relative recently, so I don’t need what Hadley left.”
“No,” Remy said defensively. “Hunter and I are doing just fine.”
“But if you wanted anything . . . ,” I offered.
Remy stood up as if I’d insulted him. “We’re good. I thank you for coming out and reading Hunter’s potentials teachers, but it’s probably best if you get home before dark.”
I will admit to feeling a little sucker-punched as I stood up, but I read mostly stubborn pride from Remy’s thoughts. He didn’t want to think of himself as needing anything from anyone.
In truth, that impulse sounded pretty familiar.
I stood and smiled at him. “Well—thanks so much for the tea. And I won’t mention Hadley’s money again,” I assured. “But—uh—just so you know, I’m plannin’ to put it all into a trust in Hunter’s name. Maybe for college?” I suggested.
“Hunter will always have what he needs from me,” Remy said mulishly.
I sighed. Obviously, all I had to do to make Remy uninterested in me was to offer him money. Good to know.
“Well,” I said with a smile, “then it’ll be mad money for him one day. Or—uh—he can donate it to charity.” I took a breath. “I know that he’ll have all he needs from you.”
Remy relaxed a little. “I didn’t mean to seem ungrateful.”
“And you didn’t,” I replied hurriedly. “Not at all.”
In the next moment, Remy was across the room and kissing me—with tongue.
I stood motionless for a moment in shock as his thoughts bombarded me.
He thought I looked a little like Hadley.
He liked my tits.
He figured I would be a good mom for Hunter.
He hoped that I could be convinced to get out of my vampire phase.
In truth, it wasn’t the nature of his thoughts that gave me pause.
It was the pain of them “attacking” me all at once.
I pushed at his chest.
“I need to go,” I panted as I hurried toward the door.
“Sookie, I . . . .” Remy stopped midsentence and took a deep breath.
“You are trying to do right by Hunter. I know,” I assured. “But I’m not single, Remy,” I added.
“You’re with that vampire,” he frowned. “Surely you don’t think that will last—do you?”
Remy’s words made me cringe, but I still tried to smile through them—channeling my inner Gran or my inner Scarlet O’Hara or my inner bull-shitter. “Well—be that as it may, I’m a one-man kind of girl. But—uh—I’ll always be here for Hunter,” I assured.
“You could be his mother,” Remy said decisively.
I couldn’t quite remember which word was appropriate for describing the figurative knife I had in my gut.
My word of the day calendar was great, but sometimes I didn’t remember things perfectly.
“Surely you don’t think that being with a vampire is better than being Hunter’s mom—do you?” Remy asked with challenge.
I took another step away from him. “Call me if you need anything—for Hunter,” I said before practically running out of the house.
In my haste, I tripped and skinned my knee as I tried to pull myself into Sam’s truck. But I managed to get into the vehicle only moments later.
I watched Remy get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror as I drove away.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. In the books, Remy doesn’t make an overt pass at her, but Sookie doesn’t go to Red Ditch in the books to attend the school function. I always thought that Remy was interested in Sookie romantically—at least to a certain extent. So I decided to incorporate that idea here as I change things up. Also, with Sandra on the loose, I always thought that Sookie was a little foolish for potentially leading her to Hunter. Thus, I made her a little smarter here—borrowing Sam’s truck and being careful to listen for any thoughts and monitor whether she was being followed.
Again, I hope you are enjoying this “revision.”
Many thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia–as always!!!!