November 1, 2003
“What are the plans for the Fellowship of the Sun?” Pam asked after the Sheriffs had left Fangtasia. It was the night after Halloween and Eric had met with the Sheriffs before they were leaving his territory.
“In Dallas, the Fellowship is quite vocal, and the vampires there are dealing with protestors outside their businesses. Cleo and Gervaise have vampires that reported very minor issues in their areas: name calling, throwing TrueBlood bottles, nothing more aggressive than that. They really wanted to know if we’ve had any reports. Luckily, the answer is no, so far.”
“What are they doing about it?”
“Tracking and information gathering for now. They call the human police as needed. It really wasn’t much of a meeting; I think they were just trying to get out of their areas for two nights.”
“So Sookie sat home last night from the Halloween party for nothing.”
“Pretty much. Has she talked to you yet?”
“Except for the conversation we had about the FBI glamour being complete we’ve discussed nothing besides nail polish colors or something equally as insignificant. How long are you planning to keep your distance Eric?”
“Her emotions are pretty much choking me right now. Anger and fear mixed with some of the depression we saw just days ago.”
“They aren’t just choking YOU.”
“What do you mean?”
“She was so depressed last night it made you depressed and I didn’t get to enjoy our special donors for our guests as much as I wanted to.”
“Poor Pam didn’t enjoy her orgy with the extra donors I paid for.”
“Did you even bother to taste one yourself?” When he didn’t answer she did for him. “Bagged blood again?”
“Leave it Pam.”
“Fine, I won’t say anything about your eating habits, but please tell me you’ll talk to her tonight when we get home? I’m all ready for her surprise tomorrow. You want to be there to see it, right?” He nodded his head. “Then make nice later.”
“If she’s up.”
The business with the other Sheriffs was over and Pam offered to close, even though it was a busy Saturday night so Eric could go home early. Sookie was eating a late snack when he walked in from the garage. Music was blaring from the radio, covering the sound of his arrival, so Sookie jumped when he greeted her. “No pastries tonight?”
“No, I’m trying to figure out what meals to eat when, and so far I know that late night, or rather I guess this is super early morning pastries cause heartburn. That or it’s just the worry over everything that causes the heartburn. Who knows? I’ll at least limit pastries to earlier in the evening.”
“How was your evening?”
“Fine except for the crying?”
“Even though you feel them, can you sometimes pretend you don’t? It’s embarrassing and aggravating that you throw my emotions in my face. I mean, why ask how the evening was if you were just going to answer for me?”
“I ask in the hopes that you will talk to me about it.”
“It’s not the right time Eric.”
“When will it be the ‘right time’?” He grabbed her empty plate and loaded it into the dishwasher.
“Thanks. I’m going upstairs.”
“Sookie, you didn’t answer my question, when will it be the ‘right time’ to talk?”
“Maybe never Eric. Is it a condition of my captivity?”
“Sookie.” He said in a frustrated voice.
“I’m going to bed.”
He nodded and kept quiet. He wanted to yell out and force her to tell him about her crying. He wanted her to feel like she COULD share that with him and he would accept it and comfort her. He felt like a fucking pansy instead and he went to his chambers to simply work until dawn. Tonight he even found himself anxious for his brat to return home so he could talk about his unsuccessful chat with Sookie. ‘Gods, once Sookie is finally mine and Pam stops worrying about it, she’s going to tease me for centuries about all this girl talk. I’m not looking forward to that.’
The next night, Eric rose, unsure if Sookie’s surprise would improve the situation or make it worse. Still, the plan was already in play and Sookie would be enjoying it just after he went upstairs. He focused on his shower, dressing and work for Norse until them. Pam would be returning to her home after tonight. She could have gone home after the Halloween party, but she claimed concern for Sookie’s mood as a reason to stay longer. “Pam. Do you think this is a good idea? She may go back to her depression after the visit.”
“We’ll watch her. She needs this. Come on, I’m ready.”
Now that Pam was ready, he made a quick call and they went upstairs in search of Sookie. He’d planned the day of the surprise perfectly since on Sundays, Potts and Sookie ordered either Pizza or Chinese, a no cooking night, they called it, and Potts was making a show of getting ready to order so Sookie wouldn’t be suspicious.
The timing was perfect. Potts was pulling the take out menus from the drawer when he heard the front door open and an older woman’s voice said. “Oh my Lord, this place is beautiful.”
Sookie stopped dead, looked from Pam, to Potts then Eric expectantly. Eric nodded and she went running for the foyer. If Eric thought he felt strong emotions when Sookie and her Gran spoke on the phone, he now realized that was nothing. He was almost overcome with the huge feelings rolling off his tiny southern spitfire in the foyer. He could hear them both crying at their reunion and before he had a chance to meet Gran, he left for his office, claiming work as an excuse.
Meanwhile, Sookie almost choked Gran from hugging her too tightly. After giving Sookie and her Gran a few minutes, Pam walked into the foyer. Sookie immediately turned and introduced Pam to her Gran. “Pam, please meet my Gran, Adele Stackhouse; Gran, this is Pam Ravenscroft.”
“Sookie, I spoke to Pam last night, she arranged for my visit today.” Sookie turned and smiled at Pam.
Pam nodded to Gran, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Stackhouse.”
Instead of nodding, as vampires do, or even just trying to shake Pam’s head, Gran scared Pam by grabbing her in a hug. Frozen in Gran’s embrace Pam could do nothing but hold her arms at her side and wait it out while Gran rocked her back and forth. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to check on my baby girl. Thank you Pam.” Pam could see Potts snicker from over Gran’s shoulder, and she scowled in reply.
“You’re very welcome Mrs. Stackhouse. I know how important seeing you was to Sookie.” Gran finally stopped rocking Pam, and loosened her grip a little. “Would you like a tour of the house?”
“Pam, I told you last night I want to cook for Sookie, so that’s what I need to do first. She looks like she’s lost weight. Have you been feeding her?”
“Yes Mrs. Stackhouse. Lots and lots of pastries.”
Gran gasped and turned to scold Sookie. “Pastries? Really?” Sookie glared at Pam and informed her Gran that it was other foods IN ADDITION to pastries.
After Sookie introduced Potts and Gran, the women walked into the kitchen with the bags Bobby had placed in the foyer from unloading the car. “What’s all this Gran?”
“Fixins for dinner and dessert. Pam asked me to make a list for Bobby, and he shopped today while I packed some of your things. When he came back from the grocery store, we loaded the extra stuff and here I am! That Bobby certainly seems nice enough.” She whispered the rest. “But his Mama didn’t raise him to have manners.”
“Gran, you don’t know the half of it.” Sookie said and gave her a knowing look. “But enough about asswipe, whatcha making for dinner.”
Gran swiped at Sookie’s butt. “SOOKIE, you watch your language.”
“Sorry Gran, but honestly, if someone deserved to be called that, it’d be Bobby. You’ll just have to trust me and give me a little leeway if he is part of the conversation.”
“Ok baby girl, just don’t make it a habit.” She started pulling groceries from the bags. “Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans sound good?”
“YUMM, are you putting bacon in the beans?”
“Potts, is that OK for you?”
“Oh, Sookie, Mrs. Stackhouse, I don’t want to intrude on your dinner.”
“Nonsense. I want to meet the folks that are keeping Sookie company. Pam, will you stay as well? Do you have any of that bottled blood?”
“I can stay and I’ll prepare my meal.”
“And where is this Eric?”
“I believe he’s working Mrs. Stackhouse, I don’t think he will join us.” Pam was quick to answer. She could feel Eric’s emotions and they were all over the place: guilt, sadness, frustration (probably at feeling so guilty). No, Pam knew it wouldn’t be a good time to fetch Eric.
“Ok, but I hope to meet him before I go tomorrow.”
“Yes Sookie, when Pam called she told me to pack a bag. Bobby won’t be driving me home until tomorrow evening.” This news started another round of tears from Sookie until Gran told her to calm down, because she didn’t come to watch Sookie cry.
Gran, Potts and Sookie all pitched in to prepare the meal while Pam watched from the counter. She noticed how Gran and Sookie moved gracefully in sync around the kitchen and Potts was off to the side. Obviously, Sookie and Gran spent a great deal of time in the kitchen together. Before long, a pecan pie was in the oven, potatoes were boiling and chicken was frying. Pam was grateful none of the foods smelled offensive to her, and she could truly sit and enjoy the company.
Pam found herself wanting to help, so she offered to set the table. Sookie immediately expressed concern over Pam handling the silverware. “Sookie, I’ll be fine. Let me participate.”
“Ok. It really won’t hurt?”
“Not this stuff, Eric ensured there was no silver in it when it was purchased for Potts.”
“Ok. You set the table. Wait, do you know how to set a table?”
“Yes, I just looked it up on the internet while you were cooking, I have an image here.”
Dinner was eaten quickly and Pam commented on how much food Sookie could consume in one sitting. “I’ve never seen you eat this much at once Sookie, not even pastries.”
Gran replied before Sookie could, since her mouth was full at the time. “What is all this talk about pastries?”
Since Sookie was able to respond now, she did. “Pam discovered on my first night here that I enjoyed chocolate cake. So she started having Bobby pick up a selection from the Shreveport Sweet Shoppe every day. Now she has an inventory of my favorites and Bobby purchases those – still every day so they are fresh.”
“Pam, that’s really sweet of you. Just don’t spoil her.”
“Spoil Sookie? Mrs. Stackhouse, Sookie is like Teflon with spoiling. We couldn’t spoil her if we tried. She refuses gifts – even practical clothing, on a regular basis.”
Gran turned to Sookie. “Sookie, I’m pleased you don’t want to be spoiled, but you needn’t be stubborn about clothing or other items that are practical.”
“I’m not stub….”
Pam stopped her. “Do not even try to say you aren’t stubborn. You take the prize.”
Sookie wanted to respond. Her mouth opened and closed a few times while she tried to formulate a response, but she just couldn’t. Pam was right and she knew it. She decided to change the topic instead. “Gran, how about that tour? We can do the house tonight, and tomorrow I can take you around the gardens, maybe get your opinion on my plans?”
“Lead the way.”
Potts said goodnight and headed out for the evening before the tour started. The house was so large that the tour took a while, even though they skipped Eric’s office since the door was closed. Gran thought Sookie’s room was nice but it didn’t feel homey so she asked Pam. “I packed some stuff from Sookie’s room at home as you suggested. Can we hang stuff or display it in here?”
“Certainly Mrs. Stackhouse. I’ll have Bobby spend the day tomorrow helping with that.”
“Thank you Pam, and really, you can just call me Gran as everyone does.”
Before Pam answered, she looked at Sookie to see if she had an objection. What she found was a huge smile on her face as she nodded. “Thank you … Gran” she said, almost like she was trying on the name for size. “I appreciate that.”
“Now Sookie, after you look through those boxes, we have a kitchen to clean, then I thought we could play some cards.”
“That’s great Gran. Pam, you can join us.” Sookie had started opening the boxes and squealed when she saw her CDs. Pam cringed when she squealed even louder at finding her the vinyl albums. “Gran, you packed Daddy’s albums? Did you pack the turntable?” Gran nodded.
“I need to do some work myself, and I want you both to have some private time. Besides, all that squealing hurts my ears.”
Gran did it again, she reached out and hugged Pam and rocked her, thanking her again for helping with the visit. Pam was relieved that Potts wasn’t around to see it this time.
A few hours later, the kitchen was clean, Gran’s bag was upstairs in a guest room, and Gran and Sookie had played several rounds of Gin Rummy. “Sookie, I wanted to meet Eric, but I’m just tuckered out. I’ll have to call it a night.”
“It is unusual for him to be in the office all night, but I guess he’s really busy, or he’s just afraid to meet you.”
In the office, Pam snickered when Eric stiffened. They had both heard the comment and Pam knew that was actually partially (if not mostly) what was going on. Eric was afraid to meet Gran. He rose knowing he should just get it over with and Pam offered to collect Gran. “Why don’t I bring her in here to meet you? I can keep Sookie company.”
“I don’t need to meet her alone, Sookie can hear our conversation.”
“Eric. The woman is a spitfire just like Sookie. She’s going to rip you a new one for what’s happened to her ‘baby girl’ and you know it. Couple that with the barrage of feelings you’ve had already tonight and you are in for an uncomfortable meeting. You also know that you have to just sit and take it or Sookie will never forgive you. You can’t scare her or punish her or glamour her. Get yourself together while I go collect Gran. Who, in case I didn’t mention it already, has told me I can call her Gran.”
“Pam, you mentioned it at least twenty times since you’ve come to the office. I believe the phrase is ‘rubbing it in’.”
“Yes, that’s the phrase.”
A few minutes later, Pam introduced Gran to Eric then stepped out of the room to rejoin Sookie. She wanted to stay, just to see Eric’s face when he got his tongue lashing – but since she could hear everything from the den, she would have to settle for listening in only.
“Mrs. Stackhouse, I hope you’ve been enjoying your visit.”
“I am and I appreciate that you allowed this.” That was the end of the pleasantness from Gran. “What I don’t appreciate is the fact that I need to make arrangements to visit my grandbaby in her prison. It’s a very nice prison, lovely in fact – but a prison. She can’t see her friends, she can’t go off the property without an escort; she has nothing but a few books and her gardening to occupy her time. She will wither here Mr. Northman.” He sat and let her continue, seeing from her angry stance that she was not done. “I truly understand the reality of the situation. Jason kidnapped and drained a vampire – a crime punishable under human law, so I can’t really blame you for wanting someone to be punished. I think Sookie is incredibly brave and selfless to take on the punishment – but can nothing else be worked out? Is there no other way for you to get vampire justice? Who the hell do you all think you are having your own set of vampire laws anyway? Please Mr. Northman. Sookie looks so sad, she has bags under her eyes that weren’t there before and she’s lost weight. What do you want with her?”
Gran finally sat and looked at Eric expectantly. He’d been sitting in his office for hours pondering how he would answer this exact question. Just as Pam did, he knew this was coming and he tried to prepare the best way to answer. Now, even with all that time to prepare, he had nothing to say that he thought would help, but he dove in anyway. “Mrs. Stackhouse. I know you’re upset and I know Sookie isn’t the one who should be punished. That’s why I moved her from the jail I kept Jason in. I wanted her to be comfortable. As Sookie mentioned on your call the other day, I report to other vampire management, and must provide documentation on the punishments I hand out. If I don’t punish those who harm other vampires, I could actually be killed for not fulfilling my duties. We don’t just get ‘fired’ as you would in a human situation. My management charged me with justice. Amy was killed for the vampire’s death, and under vampire law, Jason should have also been killed for draining him. I did not kill Jason and instead kept him alive, but in prison. Taking Sookie in was a swap – a life for a life. Thankfully, the vampire’s maker had already met his death, or he could have demanded the right to kill Jason. I hope that one day Sookie will not see this as a prison, or maybe someday after time has passed I can safely let her go, knowing that my management will not attempt to punish Jason for the crime, or me for letting her go.
As for whom we think we are? I’ll answer in terms of the law that was broken here by a human. We are a group of creatures that are being taken and drained by humans; then being left to the sun. Often, these crimes are not even investigated by human police. I have also learned that now the Fellowship of the Sun is expanding beyond Texas and starting to protest vampire businesses and in some cases, going after and hurting my own kind simply for existing. Human laws have been lax in protecting my kind, while simultaneously imposing taxes and what I believe are unconstitutional requirements on my kind to report our whereabouts and details of our relationships to the government. As a vampire Sheriff, I have a responsibility to the vampires in this area to protect them from drainers. I can’t let this go.”
Gran nodded, understanding the logic. “I’m sorry about the lack of understanding by humans. I hope that just like Sookie and I don’t think all vampires are bad, you realize that not all humans are bad.”
“I have been learning that slowly in the past few decades. I agree. You do realize that you and Sookie are somewhat in the minority on your perspective. Not judging a group by the actions of just a few?”
“I know most of my friends are intolerant and bigoted and I’m sorry about that. I’m still not happy with Sookie’s situation and I will likely hold it against you for a while. I must admit that I do understand, reluctantly from a logical perspective. Emotionally, my heart is broken that I’m separated from my baby girl and I won’t get over that or your role in this situation anytime soon.” He nodded; no words would have been useful as a reply. “I’m still curious about one thing.” She paused then continued. “Mr. Northman, I appreciate that you did not kill Jason as you could have, so remember that when I ask – why didn’t you?”
THAT question he did not expect. He was counting on her just being grateful and not really questioning the motives. What could he tell her that she would believe? It’s not like Jason was a great conversationalist and that’s why he kept him. He had no special skills as far as Eric could see – AT ALL. In the end, he decided on the truth, but he warned her. “I’ll tell you, but you may not like the answer.”
“It’s not going to have something to do with homosexuality? Not that I care if that’s what you like, but I don’t need to hear it. I know Jason is pretty.”
Eric actually wanted to laugh out loud but refrained, with difficulty. “No, no that’s not it.” He took an unnecessary breath and told her. “It was his blood. It tasted better than any other human.” He looked to Gran for her reaction. Disgust, shock, fear – that’s what he expected. What he saw was a flash of realization? What was THAT all about? “Mrs. Stackhouse, is there something I should know about your family?”
Gran, having walked in with no fear, prepared to ream a vampire out now looked scared as she answered. “I don’t know what you mean Mr. Northman.” He could tell it was a lie, but would not push tonight. She continued, “I was about to go to bed when Pam came for me. I think I’ll head that way now.”
“Certainly. Do you remember how to get back to the den?”
“I do. Thank you for allowing me to stay.”
“Anything to help Sookie adjust.” He said, and he meant it.
“Oh, one final thing Mr. Northman.” He nodded for her to continue. “Do you have any idea who has been paying my bills or who suddenly bought some of my acreage?”
Eric’s lips twitched, but he tried hard to maintain an innocent face as he replied. “I have no idea what you mean. But if I did, I’m certain that your benefactor is only trying to help both Sookie and you through a difficult situation.”
“My guess is he or she also bought the new vehicles for the police department, maybe to make up for the money spent to try and find Jason and Sookie. Well, my benefactor should know that I can be stubborn about accepting charity, but in this case, I feel Sookie and I need that peace of mind. So I’d thank him if he was here.” She turned and left the room before Eric could respond further.
The room was silent after Gran left and Eric continued to sit there and think about his conversation. He didn’t even notice when Pam returned. “Well, what do you think that was all about?” She asked, pulling him from his thoughts.
“The family thing?” Pam nodded. “I have no idea. She came in fearless, and my question about the family scared her.”
“You scared her?”
“Not like that, when I mentioned how Jason’s blood tasted, she reacted. Not in a ‘that’s disgusting way’ but rather, yeah, that makes sense. Then I asked her if there was something I should know and just asking the question made her scared. I didn’t push as you heard, but I will get to the bottom of this eventually.”
“I’m sure you will. While your pondering Gran’s reaction, you might like to know that I discovered something that might make Sookie happy.”
“Well, do share.”
“Sookie has a cat at Gran’s house.”
“See if she wants it brought here, if so, have Bobby arrange it.”
Sookie enjoyed her day with Gran. After they arranged some family pictures and keepsakes in Sookie’s room, with the help of a very grumpy Bobby, they moved outside. The afternoon was sunny and even a bit warm for November, so Sookie put on a bikini top with her shorts to soak up some sun. They walked the grounds with her landscape plans and Gran praised Sookie for her planning and even helped her tweak a few ideas. Adele was impressed with the tools that Sookie had purchased for her work. They were very high quality, quality that she had never been able to afford. She warned Sookie to take good care of the tools, since they should last a lifetime. Sookie burst out laughing at that. “What’s so funny Sookie?”
“Who’s lifetime Gran, mine or Eric’s?”
“Oh my. That was unintentionally funny wasn’t it?” Gran chuckled.
Gran cooked several meals with Sookie, and left them in the fridge so she could enjoy them during the week. Since she also baked cookies and Sookie’s favorite chocolate cake, making Pam promise to not have any sweets delivered until Sookie finished the home baked goods. All too soon, it was time for Bobby to drive Gran home. Eric emerged from his office, where he’d been hiding all evening again, to say goodbye. He promised that Sookie would be provided the best care possible, and that Pam would call her again soon to arrange for another visit.
As soon as Gran walked out the door, Eric braced himself for Sookie’s reaction. Just as he predicted, she stomped up the stairs, insisting on some time alone. He sighed. He really didn’t know much about human emotions, but the roller coaster of extreme reactions that Sookie had just couldn’t be normal, or healthy. He called Ludwig. “What do you want Northman?”
“Is she sick?”
“Emotional, wavering between extremes and I’m worried.”
The tiny doctor smiled to herself. ‘Northman has met his match. This tiny human has changed him a great deal in only days.’ She smartly kept her thoughts to herself and continued to listen to Eric as he explained the range of Sookie’s emotions.
“Northman, nothing about what you’ve said is dangerous for the girl. She’s in good health, it’s not like she has a heart condition where she needs to be kept calm.”
“Still, what if she goes back into her depression again?”
“Then you’ll step in like before. Northman, call me if your human really becomes sick. I’m busy.” She hung up on Eric and he was left staring at the phone.
All Eric could do was wait and he knew it. Though he had sheriff work and needed to go to Fangtasia; he found he didn’t want to leave Sookie alone. He went upstairs and knocked. “Sookie, I’m leaving for Fangtasia now.”
“Fine.” She said while she was blubbering out her tears.
“Will you be OK?”
“Like you give a shit.”
His hands curled into fists as he tried to keep his anger at her words to himself. “I do give a shit, I thought we established this.”
Sookie was tired and sad with no energy to fight, so she just answered him “I’ll be fine Eric. I got up early to spend time with Gran and I’m tired and sad now that she left.”
“I’ll check on you when I return.”
A few hours later, Eric returned and he noticed there was no evidence that Sookie had left her room. Her scent wasn’t ‘fresh’ in any of the rooms downstairs, and the kitchen looked unused. He went to her bedroom. The bond he had was weakening since it had not been refreshed, but he could still sense that she was awake, so he knocked and called her name. Sookie sighed deeply at the intrusion, but she did get up and open the door.
“Sookie, are you well? Do you need something to eat?”
“I’m not hungry.” She sniped, but quickly added, “Thanks for asking.” After all, her Gran was just here and had reminded Sookie several times when she seemed less than polite.
“Would you like to watch a movie or something?”
“No Eric. I just want to be left alone.”
“Sookie, we talked about times you need space, but you have me quite worried. Your severe depression was not that….”
“Jesus Fucking Christ Eric! I’m allowed to be upset. Go away.”
“Don’t talk to me like that.”
“This is one of those times I need space.”
“You’ve had space, I left several hours ago. I never felt you sleep, so you’ve had all that time to process.”
“You monitored me the whole time?”
“With difficulty, our bond is weakening.”
“In any case, there isn’t a time limit on needing space to recover from my Gran’s visit. Please, leave me alone.”
“If this is how you are going to react to a visit from Gran, I might not allow it again.”
“You ASSHOLE! You know, you talk a pretty line about caring and that I’m not truly your captive. You may not beat me or rape me, but you sure can hand out punishment just the same. Even your threatening to withhold visits is a punishment, I’m certain since you monitor me you felt the pain you just caused. Your companion shit is all a line, I guess to get me to comply. I’m supposed to just be your puppet, and do what you want, kneel before you. I can’t have my own thoughts, my own things except the few items here in my room, it’s just a pretty cell Eric. Admit it. And if you do cut me off from Gran, then I will slip into my depression, I can guarantee it.”
He turned and left. His anger was near dominating him and he needed some kind of release. Then he remembered it had been days since he fucked and fed, and that sure wasn’t going to happen with Sookie ANYTIME soon. Calling his guards to alert them that he was leaving the property, he opened the back door and took off into the air. He recalled Pam had a date and he wondered if she would share since he didn’t have time to wait for a willing donor. Before he headed to Pam’s he changed his mind. ‘No, Yvetta at the club is always ready for something. I’ll surprise her at her home.’ His perfect memory served him well as he recalled her address, and landed a few minutes later outside her apartment door. When she opened the door she was shocked, but quite happy to see him. “Invite me in.”
“Yes master, please come in.” She replied happily, while she started stripping her clothes off.
Eric smirked. ‘Yes, I made an excellent choice tonight.’
An hour before dawn he was flying home in a much calmer state. He had not forgotten Sookie’s words and now that he could think straight, he even acknowledged that she was correct. She had nothing here of her own. She did have her own thoughts, so he did not agree with that, and if Sookie thought about it – neither could she since she made no pretense to keep all those thoughts to herself. ‘What can I do to help her?’ The idea came to him and he smiled, landing in this back yard. He paced out what he thought was the right size on the property, then quickly ran into the house to add to Sookie’s landscape plans and make calls as needed. He also called Pam to inform her Yvetta would not be working that night. He had certainly taken his anger out on the Estonian and Gods knew she liked it like that, but she wouldn’t be in any shape to dance later. After making his calls, he fell into his daydeath pleased that he had a plan to help Sookie’s mood.
The next afternoon, Sookie was surprised by the results of Bobby’s errands. A huge man was standing next to Bobby, almost as tall as Eric and with dark features and green eyes. While she was curious about him, she was more curious about the animal carrier Bobby held.
“What’s that?” She asked as she pointed to the carrier.
“Your flea bag.”
Instead of answering, he just shoved the carrier at Sookie. When she reached for it, she noticed he hand bandages and scratches all over his arms. She peaked in the carrier. “Tina! Oh I’ve missed you.”
Normally, Sookie would thank someone for doing anything for her, but not this time. Bobby had called her precious Tina a fleabag! Instead, she praised the cat. “I see you defended Mommy from Bobby. I’m so proud that you can detect a smacktard so easily. Good job Tina.” The man next to Bobby chuckled quietly.
Lifting her gaze from the carrier, she smiled evilly at Bobby. Bobby only glared at Sookie for a few moments before she said. “Don’t you need to introduce me to this other guest? Or, wait; does the cat have your tongue?” Now the man next to Bobby was laughing at Sookie’s comments or Bobby’s red face or both.
Even though Bobby lived in the south, he had no idea how to handle a proper introduction and he simply sneered at Sookie as he said. “This is Alcide Herveaux;” then he walked out the door.
Sookie shrugged her shoulders at Bobby’s idiocy. “Are you the electrician?” Sookie asked, confused.
“No, my company has electricians, but I am here to put together some building plans for a cottage on the property.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize Eric was building something. Can I help you with anything?”
“You are Miss Stackhouse, correct?”
“You mean you couldn’t tell from that charming introduction Bobby made?” He laughed out loud as she presented her hand. “Yes, I’m, Miss Stackhouse, but you can call me Sookie.”
“Well, I need your help since it’s going to be your cottage and you need to help design it.”
She was unsure what this meant; then she remembered what she said last night. ‘I have nothing of my own. He’s giving me my own space. He listened.‘
Alcide and Sookie marked out the area in the lawn with rope and identified the best locations for windows before sitting down to design the space. They were still debating ideas when Eric left his chamber for the night. Eric could feel happiness and even bursts of excitement from Sookie, but that didn’t mean she was ready to face him. He warily approached the kitchen table where he could hear Alcide and Sookie talking. “Good evening Sookie, Alcide.”
“Northman. How are you?” Alcide asked.
Sookie’s motion caught Eric’s attention and rather than answer, he watched her stand and walk towards the hall. “Eric, can I speak with you for a moment in your office?”
“Alcide, will you excuse us?”
“Actually, I’ll take my leave, I have a date tonight. Will tomorrow at 2 work for you?”
“I’ll have some preliminary drawings for you.”
“Great, thanks Alcide.”
“Sookie, I’ll walk Alcide out and return here so we can talk and look over these ideas.”
Eric returned to find Sookie in the kitchen smiling over a kitchen idea book. “So you’re going with a kitchen in your cottage?”
“Not a full one, just someplace where I can prepare snacks or a light lunch. That’s OK, right? I mean, Alcide said…”
“It’s fine Sookie. I told him a kitchen was likely. I want you to have a retreat Sookie. A place where you can process all the changes to your life.”
“I appreciate that.”
They sat quietly for a few moments. He really didn’t want to start a blow-up but he wanted to talk to her more about his reasons. After weighing the risks he decided to continue. “Sookie, you were right.”
She was shocked and a little confused. “What was I right about?”
“That you have nothing here. I know the circumstances were bad, but the bottom line is, this is your home now too. I didn’t think just redecorating would be enough. I still want you to live in the main house, but I thought you might like a place where you can get away from, well all of us. Look, I shouldn’t have threatened you with not seeing Gran. I’m sorry.”
“Wow, you’re really working hard here.” She laughed a little. “I think I need the place away from everyone, thanks.”
“Will you show me what you’ve been discussing with Alcide?”
“We haven’t completed anything; it’s all ideas so far.”
“So, show me the ideas.”
He didn’t need his fading bond to realize how excited Sookie was about the cottage; she was practically jumping out of her seat. Eric was quite satisfied to give her something that caused this much excitement, and seemed to have put ‘upset Sookie’ away for a while. The ideas had all been reviewed and Eric decided to leave for Fangtasia before any more difficult topics came up. “Sookie, I need to head to Fangtasia.”
“Sure. I’m going to try to narrow down my decisions so I can look at samples from Alcide.”
“If you leave me a list I can email Alcide before dawn.”
“That would be great, thanks.” She thought for a moment. “Or you can wake me if I’m asleep when I get home and I’ll share the decisions with you.”
“I’d like that. Did you call your Gran about the cottage?”
“I um, Eric I didn’t realize I could call my Gran.”
“Oh, you’re right, I never clarified that. You can call your Gran any time you want Sookie.”
And with that, she was even happier than she’d been in weeks. ‘Shit, I should have clarified calls to her Gran before. Well, it’s done now.‘ He rose to leave. “I’ll leave you to call your Gran and I’ll see you when you return.”
“See you then.”
He smiled and tallied his score. ‘Tonight was a step forward; I hope we don’t have any steps back.’ When he headed out, he could hear her talking to her Gran on the phone.
“What do you think Gran?”
“I think it sounds nice. Have you thought about a fireplace?”
“Oooh, no! I’ll add that to my list. What else Gran?”
“What kind of sunlight will you get? What about plants?”
“A place for plants is already on the list.”
“Sookie, you sound quite excited about this. How did this all come about anyway?”
Sookie explained the fight that occurred the prior night and that the cottage was Eric’s response. “My, it sounds like a doozy of a fight.”
“Gran, that’s par for the course for Eric and me.”
“Oh. Why didn’t you mention that when we were visiting?”
“Well, it’s gotten better then when I first moved in. I also didn’t want you to be upset since we were having such a nice visit.”
“You didn’t want me to be mad at Eric, well madder than I already was.”
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing” Gran answered but wondered to herself. ‘Could there be something else here? Was she protecting him by keeping their fights a secret? He’s building a cottage for her to make up for a fight, that’s a pretty extreme response to a fight. I’ll need to watch this, I think there’s something more going on with these two.’