Chapter 10 – How many last goodbyes?
Tissue warning: Low, maybe some of you that are caught up in sweetness
Frying Pan: Low
On Thursday night Eric rose to some very important information from Mustapha on his investigation into Jason’s trial. The bottom line was the Sheriff of Bon Temps appeared to be ‘clean’ of intentional wrongdoing – just a lazy idiot. He was simply in town having an extended brunch at Merlottes while Bobby was waiting for him in jail. He left the bar when the call came in from Maxine – and only then because he was closer to her house. Eric would deal with as needed for his ineptitude and lack of respect for his position but it could wait. He thought Mustapha would like the opportunity to provide suggestions for getting the man fired. As a vet and former cop; Mustapha believed in taking positions of protection seriously.
Bobby WAS released during the day after the Shreveport police department got involved and confirmed his claims. They were also able to have the charges against Jason for Bobby’s assault reinstated. Eric had a Judge, Charles Harkem, he knew in Shreveport assisting (via Mustapha). Mustapha informed Eric that he would need glamour to assist with learning more about the judge and Jason’s attorney, Portia. As follow-up, Eric sent a text to Indira to coordinate with Mustapha.
Other than missing Sookie and Hunter since they only had some time for phone calls, the night went without incident.
By the next night, the separation was already very much bothering him and he decided to try a night visit if he could get away from the bar. Even seeing Sookie and Hunter sleeping would be better than nothing. Because he couldn’t be sure of his schedule, he kept his nighttime visit plans to himself so he didn’t disappoint them or cause Sookie to stay up just to see him. With her bruising, she needed the rest to heal even if she didn’t take her care seriously. Just the night before, they’d had a brief ‘discussion’ about her working with broken ribs and she of course chose to work anyway stating that on Fridays she spent most of the afternoon sitting in the office. He shook his head and remembered what she told him about her stubbornness the night she needed to go to the ER. Yep, he had witnessed it himself again during their ‘discussion’. Their equally hard heads would make for some interesting fights in the future. Of course, fighting also meant some good making up opportunities and he grew hard at that thought. ‘GODS! What this woman does to me and I’ve only known her a week.’ He said in his head. Just as he was about to go down the path wondering what he was doing, he dismissed it and instead decided to go with the feelings and call her. She was still at Merlottes based on her schedule and he had time before going to the bar. Simply hitting her speed dial number (number one, of course) had him smiling.
“Do you have time to talk?”
“I’d make time for you if I didn’t, but I truly do have time now. I’m almost done the bookkeeping entries and Hunter will be late at dialysis today.”
“Before I get to that did you know Bobby visited me today?”
“He came to check on us. I’m glad he was released . . . he was kind. He was concerned about what had happened because he hadn’t been able to get me a guard in time. I was surprised because his first visits were cordial but not friendly. I just thought you should know.”
“I’ve had some problems with Bobby until just recently. This is good news. Thanks for telling me. Now will you tell me about Hunter and what happened today?”
She sighed and he heard it. “Marjorie’s family had a meeting with a hospice team today.” Before he asked, she explained. “That’s a specialty that deals with quality of life issues usually in helping a patient die peacefully. He was so upset he was late to dialysis. They . . . they’re stopping Marjorie’s treatments and now their focusing on keeping her comfortable.” She paused to catch her breath. “She’s going home on Monday after her parent’s get the equipment needed. Hunter is devastated.” She kept to herself that the hospital hospice coordinator was thinking Hunter was next.
“Yeah, he plays with the boys but you can tell Marjorie is his favorite.” In his head, Eric was trying to figure out how to help the situation. “Where do they live?”
“No wonder the Dad isn’t at the hospital every day.”
“No, he’s working two jobs to keep them going financially, and with the commute to the hospital, he just can’t be here much. It’s like that for other families too.”
Understanding about the reality of these kids, their illnesses and the impact on the families was starting to creep into Eric’s thoughts. He knew from Hunter that Marjorie had a brother and a sister – this illness surely had a huge impact on them as well. For his new little buddy, he would try to do what he could to help. He needed a little more information. “That’s got to be tough on everyone. How long does she have?”
“Maybe a few weeks.”
That answer stopped him cold; the conversation reminded Eric that Hunter was also diagnosed as terminal unless he got a new heart and kidney. He didn’t like it. Being intrigued by the letter and using it as a cure for boredom seemed like a good idea at the time but now? The realization that he’d set himself up for heartbreak was screaming at him. Even if he knew he would be attached this quickly, he wouldn’t change anything; Sookie and Hunter were quickly becoming the best part of his life. Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t hear that Sookie had been talking to him.
“. . . that we aren’t sure about . . . “
“Sorry Sookie, you lost me. I stopped listening for a minute – given the news.”
“I understand. I was just talking about whether the kids will even see each other again after she’s discharged.”
That was something he could try to remedy. “Can Hunter leave?”
“Not without a nurse and a significant amount of equipment.” She knew what he was thinking – and was torn about whether to allow it. Visiting Marjorie wasn’t a necessity per se, but it would take Hunter a long time to get over her death. Being able to visit could help. “I know what you’re thinking.”
“Sookie, it’s not a hardship for me to see to that.”
“I was going to say I’ll talk to the counselor here about what’s best for Hunter and Marjorie.”
“Good. Now since you seem compliant I’ll tell you about the new car I picked out for you . . . “ She was laughing before he even finished the sentence, then she sucked in her breath. “Still hurting?”
“I guess it was fortuitous that I missed the lunch shift today since I stayed with Hunter. That would’ve hurt.”
“You normally leave before his dialysis on Friday so you can make the lunch shift?”
“Yeah. Not today though. I’ll need to make all my tip money for the week tomorrow.”
“You’re planning on working your longer shift tomorrow – the one where you’re on your feet the whole time!?”
“Have to. I make the most money on Saturdays and I already missed last week due to the auction.”
His tone was admonishing as he started, “Sookie.”
“Don’t Eric. I have to work – it’s not up for discussion.”
She changed topics to stop him from going on about her work or bringing up the car. Hers worked fine, thank you very much. From their prior conversations, he had mentioned his vampire children, Pam and Karin. Since he had about 30 minutes before the sun set, she asked. Eric knew he’d told her to ask anything so he indulged her question. Karin, he informed her, was currently travelling through Europe. She made a surprised noise when he said she was in the third decade of her trek. Understanding her reaction, he explained that living for centuries really changed how you viewed time. As he talked about Karin, Sookie could hear the pride in his voice. He spoke of her accomplishments over the years, the positions she’d held, and how they maintained a close relationship even though they’d lived apart now for almost 500 years. The discussion about Pam seemed strained and even though Sookie was miles away from him, she could feel his reluctance to talk about her so she stopped him. “Eric, I can tell this isn’t easy for you. I don’t know what’s going on but you don’t need to talk about it.”
“Maybe it’ll help to talk about it. I told you before that Pam was more like a true child to me.” Sookie gave an affirmative noise. “After I started the spoiling; it never stopped. As a result, I’ve created a child that I can’t say I’m proud of. I love her, I’ll care for her as needed, but I don’t like her these days. I’m trying to fix it, undo what I did wrong as a maker. I just hope it’s not too late.”
“Surely you don’t believe you are completely responsible? She wasn’t an infant you raised; she was a woman when you turned her, right?”
“Nineteen. I’ve never pushed her from the nest Sookie. You changed topics on me so I wouldn’t keep talking about a new car for you, but as an example, Pam gets one every year, rather she expects one every year and I give it to her. Pam has a house, which I paid for, with three bedrooms in addition to her resting lair that spans the basement. The bedrooms are for shoes Sookie, racks and racks of shoes. She has multiple women every night then claims I give her too much work and that’s why she can’t get it done.”
“I can’t imagine.”
“I know. Reading Hunter’s letter made me snap a bit. His selflessness was a stark contrast to her selfishness. She’s been cut off from my credit cards; she has through this month to get the monthly reports done. I’m doing the prep work in case, but it’s her last chance. She at least expressed remorse and we’re planning to talk after closing tonight.”
“I’m sorry you need to go through that.”
“Maybe it’ll be better since I have someone to talk to about it.”
“You sure do.” She looked out the window and noticed the sky changing. “Looks like it’s almost time for you to get going and I should finish up so I can get back to Hunter.”
“Yes, I need to get in early since it’ll be busy tonight. I’ll text or call you if I can.”
“I hope you can. Bye Eric.”
“Goodnight my Sookie. Tell Hunter I missed seeing him today.”
She smiled because she knew he really meant it – the ‘my’ and missing Hunter. “I will.”
A few hours later, Eric was on the throne at Fangtasia sending some requests to Mustapha and Bobby.
We have a task that needs to be completed by Sunday evening so I need you to work this weekend. I’ll pay whatever is needed for that. Essentially, we are setting up the equipment and resources needed for Marjorie Kilpatrick to receive hospice care at home.
Please investigate what has already been done – and through what companies. Reach out to the parents or the nurses to determine what is still needed. I’ve met the parents so you can say you are working for me. Cover all expenses and ensure only the top of the line equipment is being used. I also want the best nurses with the girl 24X7 for as long as is required.
Secondly, find out what would be involved for Hunter to travel to Marjorie’s homes for visits. Do not order anything until Sookie or I request it, but please be ready. Sookie is aware of this part of my tasks for you, so you can discuss it openly with her.
I know you normally do investigations only – so contact Bobby, copied on this note, to pay any bills on my behalf.
Then another task for Bobby:
I want a block of row homes across from the hospital purchased immediately. Offer whatever incentives are needed for existing residents and have them moved out as quickly as possible. The row needs to become apartments and townhomes for families with loved ones in the hospital. Keep one two story unit intact and refurbish fully. This first full unit is the priority and can be started while you procure and update the rest of the houses. I want a summary tonight on your progress.
I understand the houses surrounding the hospital are in poor condition and not worth that much so hopefully a new house in good repair and some cash for the trouble will be all the incentive needed for the existing residents. I would prefer to not need glamour.
With those tasks assigned, he looked out at the crowd. The pathetic women who thought he looked up to see them disgusted him. He was ashamed he’d spent time with so many of them when they first opened. Of course, when he first opened, they were simply attractive women looking for a good, maybe adventurous time. The desire to be with a vampire and be bitten – the obsession rather – hadn’t taken root yet. Once that obsession started, the desperation came with it and that’s when his revulsion started. Since his thoughts had spiraled downward too much, he left the throne after an hour, unable to stomach the crowd now that he had Sookie. It was only 9PM, plenty early enough to call.
“Hi. How’s Hunter tonight?”
“He’s OK. His physical therapist Heidi came by and showed us some exercises he can do even in the bed.”
“That was a late visit.”
“She came in as a friend. Medicaid cut off her services with Hunter after he started taking the new drug. Even though she firmly believes he needs to keep his muscle tone up, their benefit algorithm didn’t agree and that’s what wins.” Hunter was fast asleep while she spoke and she took a moment to play with his blanket. “Even though she only worked him for about 45 minutes, he’s out.”
“Can she come often?”
“Well, she takes night classes and works full time. I don’t expect that we’ll see her much but it doesn’t matter, she went over everything with me so we’re going to do it every day.”
“When do you leave?”
“We’re travelling by day to arrive at first dark for the Summit. Take off is at 6AM Sunday morning. Bobby is traveling with us to help with the coffins.
“You’re using that Vampire airline?”
“Anubus, yes.” He wanted to stay on with her, but he could feel Pam approaching. “I have to go Sookie. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Sookie was surprised at the sudden end to their talk, but tried not to let that show. “Sure, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
After he hung up, he sent a text.
E: Sorry, Pam was almost to my door and I don’t want her to hear us
She immediately felt better.
S: I get it. Thanks for texting.
“Eric. I was just checking on you since it’s a busy Friday night and you weren’t out for that long. Some of the fangbangers are looking for you. I saw a real bombshell out there.”
“I’m not interested and I needed to get some work done for the Summit.”
“That’s what you said the other night.”
“Well, maybe if you took an interest in a job well done, you’d understand how long it can take to do this preparation.”
“I . . . I don’t want to get into that now. We’re still talking later. I just thought I would check on you.” With that, she quickly walked out of the room.
The training session he was delivering at the Summit was a presentation on his accomplishments over the past year with his human/vampire relations. He’d been praised by not only his Queen, but other monarchs as they’d heard about the success in his area. To him, it was simple really: Build relationships, share information, respect others. In contrast, many of his counterparts worked to establish a position of superiority which doesn’t establish good relations. He had little hope that his presentation would change anything, but he’d been asked to deliver it by his queen, so that’s exactly what he would do.
Pam closely supervised the bar closing to ensure there were no mistakes. She wanted to get back on Eric’s good side – and get his credit cards back – so she was willing to put on a show. Really, he called her back to open the bar. ‘Did he think I would want to do all this hard bar work for years? It’s bad enough he thinks I should do the reports for his sheriff duties. I‘ll do it for a while though, just to get him through this funk. I’ll also meet this Stackhouse woman and take care of her.’ The pep talk to herself put her in the right frame of mind and again she focused on her worry for Eric as she entered his office for their talk.
“Yes Pam?” She moved to sit on one of the guest chairs across from Eric. He steepled his fingers and wait for her to begin.
“I want to talk through our disagreements from the past few days.”
“So talk. Tell me your side of things.”
“I guess if I look back at my behavior, I’ve been selfish.”
‘She guesses? SHE GUESSES!’ He wanted to roar at her, but for Pam, this WAS progress. “And what does that mean to you?”
“I’m going to be sure to get this month’s reports done on time. I’ll prove I’m worthy of being your second.” There. She’d said it and made her promise. She was hopeful this would repair them enough for now, that is until she could deal with Stackhouse.
“I look forward to seeing your reports on my desk no later than first dark on the second.”
“Of course.” She was quiet and just smiled at him expectantly.
“Is there something else Pam?”
“Well, yes. Now that you ask.” She moved a little forward in her seat, obviously excited about something. “There’s a sale tomorrow at Saks in New Orleans. I can’t make it down, so I was hoping Bobby . . . .”
“No.” ‘Unbelievable.’ He thought to himself but kept his face even. This was all about correction – not punishment, yet.
“But we just made up.”
“You agreed to do your job and I am pleased about that. I will start considering whether we ‘made up’ or not after you have actually completed the reports. In any case, I am not changing my mind about supporting you. I am done. You will procure your own day person; you will spend your own money. If you need help recruiting and interviewing, or if you need help setting up bank accounts and investments, I am here to help. Just let me know.”
Pam knew she was screwed. He stopped using contractions. He was pissed and she needed to backpedal. “Of course, I understand Eric.” ‘And I’ll be taking care of your distraction as soon as I can so this problem is over. Who does he think I am? Karin? Supporting myself? Poppycock!’ “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He nodded and she left the office without any further discussion knowing retreat from a pissed Eric was the best course of action.
He was frustrated but if he thought about it – not surprised at the meeting. At this point, he’d completed and reviewed his presentation for the summit and it was ready so he felt he’d earned a little reward. Yep, he was going to visit Sookie and Hunter. Since it was just after 3AM, he had time to drive to the hospital and go in. A security guard tried to stop him from going up the elevator to a patient room, but a quick call to the nurses’ desk confirmed he was permitted on the floor: They had no limits on hours for approved visitors in pediatrics. Even though she had fallen asleep on the chair and he didn’t get his usual smile, he still paused at the door and felt that chest tightening he always had when near her.
Now that he was here, he wasn’t sure what to do since he only had his phone and there was only so much work he could do on that. First, he wanted to get her into the bed. She’d explained that she often fell asleep before she got in bed so that must have happened earlier. Hunter stirred and woke while Eric moved him and he smiled. Eric returned the smile. “Go back to sleep Hunter, I’m getting your mother into bed.”
“I thought we wouldn’t see you ‘til you came back.” They were whispering so Sookie wouldn’t wake.
“I had time after work tonight.”
“So you came here?” Hunter was clearly waking up too much now; his voice was rising in excitement.
“I’m going to miss you guys.”
“Yeah, we’re going to miss you too.” Hunter looked thoughtful for a moment then his eyes started to sparkle. “Can we play a game or something?”
“Are you trying to get me in trouble Fidget?” That was the wrong thing to say since it just started giggles from Hunter. “I really need you to go back to sleep, your Mommy would not want you up at 3:30 in the morning.”
“Get Mommy in bed first, so you won’t wake me again when you put her in.”
He smirked at the boy. “You’re stalling to stay up . . . but you’re also right. Skooch over.”
Hunter shifted and Eric gingerly lifted Sookie from the chair to place her in the bed, being especially careful of her bruises. Sookie spoke a few words, but never really woke and Hunter tucked into her when she was in position. He was on his side, facing Sookie with his arm around her waist. He turned his head to Eric and whispered. “Will you rub my back like you did for Mommy?”
“Of course Hunter.”
This is what he needed before he left town to spend most of the week with vampires. Lying, manipulative, selfish beings, all of them. Hunter and Sookie embodied goodness and innocence and he craved their company. He knew Sookie wasn’t innocent per se, but she had a simple view of the world – work hard, help others – even with all her hardship, she wasn’t tainted. A nurse stopped in to check on Hunter about two hours later and he knew he really needed to go. With a kiss to Hunter’s forehead and a stolen kiss to Sookie’s mouth, he headed out, knowing unless he could get away from Fangtasia for a bit, it would be the following Sunday before he would see them again.
“You missed him!” Hunter woke with a grin and told his mother.
“Eric. He was here last night.”
“Hmm, I didn’t think I got in the bed last night.”
“Nope, it was Eric; I woke up when he was moving us around. Then he got us situated and he rubbed my back like he did for you the other night.”
She immediately sent him a text, even though he would be asleep for the day (or dead, but asleep seemed better to say).
S: Thanks for putting me in bed last night.
E: No thanks are needed. I enjoyed seeing you both
Sookie was shocked to see a reply; it was about an hour after sunrise
S: What are you doing awake?
E: I’ll be gone any minute now, but I can stay up past sunrise, I just can’t stay in the sun
S: Good to know. I’m sorry I missed you last night
E: I got to steal a kiss; it made the trip worth it
S: Gold medal wooer! You also made Hunter’s day – his little secret time with you
E: Then it was even more worth it. Tell him I said hello and I was glad to see him, if only for a short while last night
S: I will. I’ll talk to you later
She received no response after a few minutes then texted again.
S: I guess we lost you. I’ll miss you while you’re away
The day passed quickly with games in the playroom for Hunter and his friends – and no talk about Marjorie’s departure, though Sookie could hear from Hunter’s thoughts that it was weighing heavily on him. A little while after lunch, Hoyt and Jessica arrived so Sookie could leave for work. Like Eric, Hoyt also believed that Sookie should take the night off since she was still recovering from Jason’s handy work, but his stubborn friend would not relent. She put on her Merlotte’s uniform and headed out. Jessica noticed that the pants on the uniform – pants that Sookie had only just purchased last month – were starting to get baggy. Not wanting to upset Hunter, and knowing he didn’t (or wasn’t supposed to) read minds she kept her thoughts to herself. To her, it seemed like Sookie was starving herself and she wondered if it was on purpose, like she didn’t want to be around after Hunter was gone. While she wanted to talk to Hoyt about it, she realized she would have to wait ‘til tomorrow to discuss it with Hoyt’s mother – Hoyt couldn’t handle those kinds of conversations.
Shortly after 1AM, Hoyt got a call from Sam. Waiting for Sookie’s return, he and Jessica had both fallen asleep in Hunter’s room, a typical Saturday night for them. A call at this time was rarely good news, so Hoyt woke up quickly and spoke to the caller.
“Is there a problem?”
“Sookie can’t drive home in this condition, she’s too damn tired. Terry’s going to drive her out, but can you drive him back? You know, so we don’t have her car stuck here.”
“Why didn’t you send her home or call earlier?”
“You think it was MY choice that she stayed?”
“Nah, I know better, sorry. Had my own fight with her about whether she should even go to work tonight. We’ll take Terry back. Is he leaving now, or waiting til close?”
“Now, she can barely stand and her shift normally ends at 1 on Saturdays anyway, I’m not having her stay any later.”
From Sam’s side, Sookie glared at him. She didn’t think she was too tired to drive. Ok, so she slipped and fell, that didn’t mean she was too tired. Maybe she was getting some orders a little confused, but nothing too bad, just diet versus regular soda and such. He was babying her and she didn’t like it. When he hung up he told her to grab her things. “Don’t bother glaring, it won’t change my mind, and you know damn well that Terry’s thrilled to be helping you out.” He grumbled the rest. “It’s not like you let folks help you all that easily.”
The statement might have been mumbled, but she heard it and knew he was referring to his marriage proposal that also included the money she needed to keep her house. That wasn’t help – that was asking her to trade herself for money – whoring is what it felt like. Sure, maybe Sam loved her, but she didn’t love him – not in a husband and wife way anyway. It wasn’t right and he knew it. Now was not the time to dredge that up though. As mad as she was, he was trying to help her out here, so she softened a bit. “I’m sorry Sam. I just don’t like having so many folks put themselves out for me, us. It’s getting hard to keep my dignity.”
“I love you chere, but you need change your thinking. Anything anyone does for you isn’t something you wouldn’t do for them. Nobody has any less respect for you. In fact, most of this town believes what you did and keep doing for Hunter is honorable.
“I just don’t see it like that, but I also don’t want to get into it now.”
He couldn’t contain the snark in his reply, “Cause you’re too tired.”
With a final hurt look she headed towards the door when Terry called for her. “Goodnight Sam.”
“I’m sorry for the smart ass comment. Goodnight Sookie.” He watched her depart and sighed. He really did love her in a romantic way, but she didn’t love him beyond friendship back. It hurt, but he accepted it. She’d been mad when he proposed, but he really thought he was doing something for all three of them, at least she got over the anger enough to remain friends.
A package had been delivered by Bobby to Fangtasia before Eric arrived for the night. To say it taunted him all night long was an understatement. He hadn’t expected the item he ordered to be done until sometime during the week and now he really wanted to go to Sookie, seeing that it was a gift for her. But, he’d missed working the last weekend and it was still his bar and a good moneymaker at that, so he decided to make plans to leave at closing as a compromise. Hopefully he would be seeing Sookie just as she arrived back at the hospital after her shift at Merlottes.
Chow had just yelled last call when he turned to his child. “Pam, I’m all set to go and Chow is going to close down. I’ll just meet you at the airport.”
“I thought we were driving together.”
“I have to check on something so I’ll just meet you there, like I just said.”
‘Something my ass, SomeONE – Sookie Stackhouse. I’ve got to get over there and see this cunt that’s stolen my Maker’s common sense. She must have a magic pussy for him to be acting like one all the time.’ She scowled as she thought, but corrected her face to confirm what he’d said. “Sure Eric, I’ll see you there.”
When he arrived at the hospital, he saw Sookie’s car at the main entrance and she was being lifted out. He parked and ran in a blur to the doors. “What’s wrong?”
“Hey, you must be Eric. I’m Hoyt. Terry here,” he nodded to man behind the wheel of Sookie’s car, “Drove her home from work. She was too tired to drive herself.”
Eric didn’t hide his anger well and he near grimaced out, “I told her not to go.”
Hoyt shook his head at the conversation, not even phased by an angry vampire and simple concurred, “Same here, but she is stubborn.”
“That she is.” He started to reach for her. “Here let me take her, I know she doesn’t weigh much, but it’s much easier with my vampire strength.”
Sookie was so tired she didn’t even make a noise as they moved her from Hoyt to Eric. They both walked through the door, Eric nodding to the security guard that had stopped him just the night before. Jessica was surprised to see Eric walking in with Sookie in his arms; then she watched as he kept moving to get her ready for bed. Still holding her, he grabbed a set of the comfy clothes she wore as pajamas from the closet in Hunter’s room and he pulled down the blanket on Sookie’s side of the bed. Since Maxine had fully apprised Hoyt and Jessica of the ‘Eric / boyfriend’ development, neither was surprised to see him moving around the room like he was part of the family already. Even if Maxine hadn’t told them, Hunter spent most of the visit talking about Eric. The boy was clearly taken with his new friend and that made Eric OK in Hoyt and Jessica’s opinion. Eric finally put Sookie down and started removing her shoes and Jessica stopped him short of helping Sookie further. “I’ll help her change. You boys,” She pointed to the door, “Wait in the hall.”
While they waited, Eric and Hoyt chatted for a few minutes. Terry arrived shortly after they had been tossed into the hall and he was introduced to Eric as well. Eric liked these men immediately, mostly due to their dedication to helping Sookie so he found ways to connect with them. For Hoyt, music and instruments were a launching board for conversation since Sookie had told Eric about Hoyt’s side job. For Terry, they discussed time in the service. While it was over 1000 years ago that he had fought in his own armies as a human; he also participated in battles as a vampire over the years so they found common ground there. Jessica opened the door and was visibly upset. Hoyt’s arms were around her immediately. “Jessica, Baby, what’s wrong?”
“I can’t believe Jason did that to her. His own sister!”
“But he’s in jail; he ain’t getting away with it this time.” Maybe she was just tired, but she seemed really upset about it – and she’d already had a good angry cry over Jason already. “What else is wrong? You’ve already cursed Jason for this beating.”
She sputtered and stalled for a moment before finally getting out her other concern. “She’s wasting away Hoyt.” She continued the rest in a whisper. “It’s like she wants to die with him.” She was right, Hoyt couldn’t take this kind of talk so when he started to shut down; she started smoothing things over right away. “I’m sure I’m wrong, she just doesn’t take the time for herself. I’ll get Tara and Lala to help me on a rotation to get her eating again.”
Eric finally chimed in, though he’d been clenching and unclenching his fists the whole time. “What do you mean again?”
“She had near stopped eating before – running from the hospital, to work, to the Parish office for the adoption. She didn’t have time to eat. So the three of us who could, literally came to the hospital at least 5 nights a week to make sure she had dinner. It looks like that needs to happen again.” Jessica’s head shook as she recalled that time. “She did gain some weight back, but now it looks like she lost it all again – actually she’s thinner than I’ve ever seen her.”
“What do you need to help?”
Jessica smiled at Eric and his honest offer. “Well, since it’s dark around dinner time, you can be one of the rotations. Is there a night that’s better?”
“Let’s exchange numbers, we can text about it, you’ll need to tell me what to get – it’s been a while since I needed to eat.”
“I’ll help you.” They swapped phones to do the number exchange – and wound up adding Hoyt’s phone to the mix before the Bon Temps folks headed out. At the last second, Jessica turned and hugged Eric. “I’m glad Hunter wrote the letter. You’re a welcome addition to this self adopted family.”
“Nobody is happier than me, I assure you.”
“And that’s why you’re a welcome addition. Goodnight Eric. Have a safe trip.”
“And you three drive safely.”
Eric decided to enjoy a few minutes of Sookie and Hunter before he headed to the airport. Since he didn’t have his luggage, he needed to plan for the stop at home and other last minute prep. That meant he couldn’t stay long but that didn’t stop him from giving them both kisses and leaving a note he quickly wrote for Sookie. Rather, to his ‘Stubborn Sookie’. He looked forward to her reaction via text or even better – via the phone when he called later that day.
Sookie woke the next morning with a piece of paper in her hand, and NO CLUE how she ended up in bed, changed into night clothes. ‘God, I hope Jessica did that.’ She looked at her boy, still sleeping beside her, so instead of moving and waking him, she decided to read the note. When she opened it, she recognized the handwriting right away and got that butterfly feeling in her stomach knowing he’d seen her again last night – even if she wasn’t awake for it.
My Stubborn Sookie:
I arrived just after 2AM with a surprise for you – and I was the one surprised! I couldn’t believe you worked yourself to be that tired Sookie. I hated seeing it, and I really do want to talk further about this when I’m back. I know there’s a better way.
She rolled her eyes at the letter.
Don’t roll your eyes – I bet you just did. Please be open to a conversation.
Now, back to your surprise. You may have already found it, but in case you didn’t, feel around your neck.
She did and gasped, she could feel something so she pulled on the chain and saw a ‘going steady’ charm that had her catching her breath. All his attentions were working, she was rapidly falling in love with him and she knew it.
It’s not a ring or a pin, but I do believe it was a tradition for a boy to give this to his girl if he found it in the Cracker Jack box. I had one made (the originals had a thin layer of silver on them – and that wouldn’t do for me). I had hoped to see you awake after your shift to give this to you in person, but that was just not how it happened. I didn’t want to wait any longer for you to accept my offering thereby confirming we are going steady. (I hope I’m doing this right and I didn’t need to pass a note to Jessica to pass to you or something). Please wear it and know that I’ll be thinking about you this whole week.
One final thing, we need to plan our date. Can you check on having someone stay with Hunter the night of the 28th? I can hire a limo for Maxine or any of your friends if needed. Just let me know.
Tell my Fidget that I said HI and I miss him already.
She giggled through most of the letter. She loved his boyish comments about needing to pass a note. ‘How would he even know about such things – it’s not like he was in the sixth grade somewhere.’ The part about having a talk? She couldn’t wait for him to try talking her out of her work. ‘That’s gonna be a fight. Maybe I should find a private room for the next time I see him.’ Finally – they were going to have their date. That was by far the most exciting part of the letter. She made a note to check with Maxine about the 28th right away so she could text Eric. With all the complaining he did about the Summit, she knew he hated going and maybe he would be just as excited to nail down the date night as she was. She sent Eric a text thanking him for the necklace and telling him they would talk about ‘the talk’ when he was back. Just after she hit send, Hunter starting rousing from his sleep, so she got up to start her day, humming and smiling the whole time.