Chapter 4 – It’s just stuff
“I won’t be in until later tonight Pam.”
“Fine Master. I’ll handle the bar until you get here.”
She hung up but grumbled for a while about the unfairness of her maker. Eric laughed when he could feel her annoyance through the bond. That wasn’t making him change his mind though; he would be late because tonight he had a special appointment in Bon Temps. Bobby had secured a private viewing of the Stackhouse home and therefore the personal property. Per Bobby, the auctioneer had cataloged about 3/4ths of the house, so most of it was out on tables awaiting the auction on Saturday. What remained was in the attic and it would be left open for him to peruse. He was actually impressed that Bobby got something right.
He chose to arrive in a limo that picked him up at Fangtasia, this way he could be sure the house was empty while staying hidden in the car. When he got to the house, Bobby was actually still there and confirmed the auctioneer had left after giving Bobby the key. “You can wait outside Bobby. I’ll be a little while.”
“Yes Ma . . . sir.”
The porch steps groaned under his weight and upon closer inspection, he saw that much of the exterior needed work. No matter now, according to the information Mustapha had obtained, the basic house structure was being kept intact to keep the historical ranking, but the façade would be done over. The house would become the main community center for a posh vacation home resort for the wealthy of Shreveport and beyond. Furnan was hoping to attract Dallas residents with the beauty of the Stackhouse property which boasted a wooded section, open field and a pond large enough to support fishing for the new community. He was investigating the deal and the plans with Furnan, hoping to stop him and buy the property back. For now though, he was following through with his desire to secure the contents before they were dispersed to a variety of collectors and other buyers at the auction.
The first room he entered had been the living room, now it held rows of tables covered in belongings; knick knacks, empty photo frames, vinyl albums and a turntable. The dining room was the same. He only glanced at most items not really knowing what was a potential treasure or memory for Sookie. Down the hallway he found two bedrooms, but they were stacked full of furniture; all of it labeled with lot numbers for the auction. The last room on the main floor was the kitchen and in addition to the old fashioned looking cooking equipment, Eric noticed that the jamb of the door leading to a screened in porch had markings on it. After studying them, he realized the marks indicated Sookie, Hunter and Jason’s heights marked with a date. He guessed it was each of their birthdates since he recognized Hunter’s as his birthday from the paperwork he’d read. This was probably something that would be wanted so he decided to ask Bobby if they could procure it somehow.
In the first of the upstairs bedrooms, he found quilts handmade by Adele based on the flyer for the auction. These would definitely be something Sookie would want. Actually anything could be like that – he stood firm on his decision to just buy everything and let Sookie decide. The second bedroom was empty since all the furniture had already been moved downstairs. He did notice a book rack that was attached to the wall – not built in. It looked handmade and hand painted. That was probably worth obtaining.
As promised, the stairs to the attic were down so he ascended to see the remaining items. Most of it was boxes, and since the ceiling was low, he wound up bringing them all down to the empty bedroom. After a quick look in the boxes, he returned to the attic to check the remaining items out. Stuck to nails along a ceiling beam, he found three bouquets of flowers that he guessed were left to dry. All of them were the same species: Alstroemeria or Peruvian lily. That gave him an idea.
The last item, tucked in the back corner was a writing desk that appeared to be full of handwritten letters but he didn’t pry by looking at any of them. ‘I wonder if Sookie even knows these are here. Well, no matter, come Saturday night, she’ll be the owner of these again.’ As that was the final item, he quickly left the house and actually thanked Bobby for arranging the time. “Tell the auctioneer I moved everything out of the attic.”
Bobby couldn’t hide his puzzled face. “Ah, sure.”
“Call Furnan, there’s a door jamb in the kitchen that has writing on it, kid’s heights and in one of the upstairs bedrooms there’s a bookrack attached to the wall. See if those can both be procured. And just to confirm; I want everything, no exceptions.”
“Understood. I have 6 people plus me bidding for you at the auction.”
“Excellent. I look forward to your report when I rise on Saturday.”
“You OK Mommy?”
“It’s a hard day baby, but the auction today is just things. I have everything I want right here in this bed.”
“At least you’re not working tonight.”
“Yeah, Sam and I thought it would be too hard today. Everyone at Merlotte’s will be talking about the auction.”
Theresa, one of Hunter’s regular nurses walked by while Sookie and Hunter were chatting. She knew Sookie meant what she said about Hunter being everything she wanted, but that wasn’t stopping the nurses from pooling together to buy one of her Gran’s quilts for her. They’d managed to collect almost $1000 and were hopeful it would be enough. The talk around Bon Temps was that Adele Stackhouse’s quilts would fetch a great deal of money since they were all hand stitched. Four of the nurses that didn’t work Saturdays were spending the day at the auction so the group working was all on edge waiting for a text that they’d won one of the bids. As she walked by the nurse’s station, she received and update that the nurses had called from the auction. “They just confirmed they spoke to Sookie’s boss and told him their plan. He’s spreading word to keep the locals from bidding on one of the quilts. They picked one Sam knew her Gran had made for her: It’s covered in flip flops and it was made in recognition of Sookie’s love of the sun.”
“Sounds perfect Nancy. I can’t wait to hear what happens.”
At the auction, Bobby had overheard the conversation between the nurse and Merlotte and he made an executive decision: He’d leave this ‘flip flop’ quilt for the nurses. He knew all the contents were for this Sookie anyway, and she’d probably be happy to have such a gesture. Of course, he could die for this decision, it was Eric after all, but he was pretty sure this was the right thing to do. He was taken from his thoughts as the auctioneer called to the crowd to begin.
Jason Stackhouse was pissed. He’d arrived two hours before the auction was set to start and his ire grew with each passing minute. He couldn’t believe his life was about to go up for sale and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. His Grandpa’s guns were in that house and he wanted them. He had almost two thousand bucks and he was sure he that would be enough to win them, though it really burned him that he needed to buy them back. As he scanned the crowd, he noticed most of Bon Temps seemed to be represented. He also noticed many outsiders, but he’d heard from his buddy Rene that collectors from all over were expected and it would drive prices up. ‘Goody for ma fuckin’ cunt sister. Glad she’ll get so much money out of this here fiasco.’ He thought to himself. ‘If I don’t get ma guns, I’m gonna tan her hide. Yeah, she’ll regret it. First chance she leaves that hospital she’ll be mine.’
He settled down with Rene when the auctioneer notified everyone that he was about to start.
Several hours later, every item had been sold to only seven people and the nurses. Most of Bon Temps had walked away upset about 2 hours into the bidding. Sam was calling Sookie with the update. “Your brother had to be removed before he was officially arrested for his obscene language and threats. Nobody was outbidding these seven out of towners or ‘lucky 7’ as we started calling them. Well, they weren’t the only out of towners, but the seven that took everything (he kept the quilt purchase a secret). The good news, Sookie, is that you made a ton of money at the auction. There was one very interesting bidding war. A dark haired and very good looking man came and bid on a desk. While the auction had raised about $125K, $97K of it was this desk.”
“Some old writing desk. Was it antique or something?”
“Shit Sam, if we had something worth that much in the house, I would’ve sold it before now. I have no idea what makes that desk so special; I don’t even remember it.”
“Well, now that one of the ‘lucky 7’ owns it, we’ll never know.”
“When is the stuff being picked up?”
“It had to be gone within three days.”
“Well, I guess that’s that. Thanks for calling Sam, I really should get going.” Sam could hear the sadness in Sookie’s voice as they ended the call. At least the nurses got the quilt for Sookie and with her having the night off, Sam knew they were going to present it to her shortly. That should brighten her night.
Sookie wanted to be mad that these ‘lucky 7’ as Sam called them now owned so much of her life but she’d already said goodbye to that stuff and focused on what she needed to do for her son. In fact, the auctioneer hoped they would get collectors and possibly antique vendors as they would drive up the earnings. That was something that with Sookie’s hospital bills, she needed. After her mini self analysis she decided to be happy. She never dreamed she would make as much as she did. The dinner tray for Hunter arrived, disrupting her thoughts. “Hey honey, your dinner’s here. Let’s get you sitting up.”
“How long did I sleep? Did Sam call?”
“He did, and before you ask, we did very well.”
“Will it pay off everything?”
“No, but it’s a good amount. We’ll split it between the hospital and the doctors. OK?”
“OK.” Being a telepath, there wasn’t much Sookie hid from him. So while most four year olds wouldn’t even know about bills, Hunter knew about the extreme debt from his medical condition.
“Come on, you need to eat.”
“Are you eating?”
“Not tonight baby.”
Hunter had just finished his dinner, which he called tasteless, when several of his regular nurses walked in wearing street clothes. Behind them, the two nurses working tonight stood at the door in their scrubs. “What’s going on guys?” Hunter asked.
Nancy spoke, “We got your Mommy something Hunter.”
His smile was wide since he already knew what it was and Sookie was already tearing up; she’d heard their thoughts about their plan and knew she needed to put on a good show about being surprised. From behind the three standing in front, one of the nurses held up the quilt. It WAS Sookie’s favorite and no acting was needed, she was truly overwhelmed for a moment before she could speak. “Oh God. She made that one for me. It was my favorite. How did you know?”
“Sam told us. He also kept anyone that he knew from bidding on it.”
“You shouldn’t have done this – but I’ll admit it – I love it! Thank you so much!”
She had risen to accept the quilt and now she sat back down with it wrapped around her shoulders. A smile stayed on her face that most in the room hadn’t seen in a while.
“Ok, now that you feel better Mommy, will you eat something?”
“In a bit baby. I don’t want to move right now. I’m wrapped in my Gran’s love.”
“We got all but one item, and I have a reason for that.”
Eric was immediately pissed. “You better. Start explaining.”
“I overheard some of Hunter’s nurses talking to Merlotte. They got together to purchase a particular quilt as a gift for Sookie. I pulled one of our bidders aside and told her to ensure the nurses won the quilt. They did win and they are presenting it to her tonight.”
“Tonight? She’s working.” Eric was intrigued. He’d planned to go see her tomorrow since she worked Saturdays. Maybe if she was upset because of the auction, a visit tonight would be the right timing. Besides, he really was anxious to meet her.
“I also heard that she and Sam decided that working tonight would be too hard for her.”
“Interesting. When will you have all the items?”
“They are all paid for and being moved to storage tomorrow. Everything will be done by the time you rise tomorrow night. I’ll drop off my copy of the keys at Fangtasia.”
“Excellent Bobby. One thing though, drop the spare keys at my house. Don’t discuss this with Pam.”
“Understood.” Bobby was smart enough to know there was some tension going on between the two of them, and he chose to stay out of it.
“So, no problems?”
“Jason Stackhouse needed to be removed from the auction after several guns were sold. Apparently he had planned to bid on them, but they were sold as a group for $2,250. Jason stopped bidding at $2,000.”
“What happened that he was removed?”
“He started verbally attacking and threatening our bidder. The sheriff stepped in and asked Jason to leave or be arrested. He did tell Jason he was making a note of the threats in case anything happened to our resource. I took the initiative to hire a guard for the next few days. I got a were from Packmaster Flood.”
“Do your bidders know about weres?”
“No, and the guard has been told to keep the existence of weres quiet. If something happens and he needs to, he’ll shift into a wolf and we’ll just use glamour to erase the memory from her mind.”
“This was good work Bobby. Your need execute on my request like this more often.”
“Well, Pam had no shoe sales she needed me to get to today.”
He’d heard similar comments before but never really paid attention. “Are you serious? Is that why some days you don’t get done your assignments?”
“I thought the two of you coordinated and she would inform me her work took priority. I would rather not say anymore and get in between the two of you. Sir.”
“Fine. I’ll deal with this. My work is your priority. In fact, I’ll be informing her to find her own day help going forward; simply ignore all her requests from now on. That’s going to mean NO EXCUSES for you.”
“Understood. Anything more for today?”
“Yes, can you get me a bouquet of Alstroemeria?”
“Where should I send the flowers?”
“You know what, never mind. I’ll get it myself. Enjoy your evening.”
Bobby was just pocketing his phone when he heard someone growl at him. “Who do you work for?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You, on the phone just now, who was it?”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss that.” THWAP – he was back handed hard.
“Start talking, or there’s more where that came from.”
“Mr. Stackhouse, you really don’t want to do this.”
“HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW MY NAME?” When Bobby didn’t answer, Jason punched him hard. “I want the guns. Those were my Grandpa’s guns and I wannem now.”
“I can’t do that Jason, and if you don’t stop now, you will regret it.” Bobby was afraid. He knew Jason was upset about the situation and he seemed damned unstable. Bobby wasn’t a fighter and perhaps, if he survived this, he’d need to learn how to protect himself.
“How will I regret it? You left the restaurant with your little auction bidder buddies ta tell your ‘sir’ you got e’rething. You conveniently moved to the back of the alley here so ain’t nobody gonna hear us.”
“Jason. Stop. You aren’t going to get the guns and if you leave now, we’ll forget about this. Are you really going to risk your freedom for some guns? Your sister lost most of her belongings today as well. It’s not like she’s taking a vacation with the money.”
“NO, she’s paying off bills for a kid she shouldn’t of taken in. For a kid that killed ma Gran. And I AM angry and she’ll feel it too, believe me. But right now, I want to know WHO. YOU. WORK. FOR.”
“Well then. Im’a enjoy this.” Jason proceeded to beat Bobby for a few minutes and it didn’t stop until the guard Bobby had hired for the other bidder came out of the restaurant concerned that Bobby had been gone too long. The guard spooked off Jason but didn’t give chase since Bobby was bleeding and in obvious need of medical help.
Bobby tried to tell the guard to call Sookie to warn her, but his jaw was broken. Tony shushed him. “Bobby, your jaw is broken, don’t try to talk. I just called an ambulance and the police.” The sirens started in the background. “I’ll meet them at the end of the alley and get another guard just in case. Was this that Stackhouse guy?” Bobby nodded yes before Tony left his side. When Tony got to the end of the alley he also called for help. He figured he needed to go to the hospital with Bobby and setup another guard for his original charge.
“You called for police?”
“Yes, a man was beaten; he’s at the end of the alley. His name is Bobby Burnham and it looks like his jaw is broken.”
“You know him?”
“Business associates. He needs medical attention, can we talk later?”
The Shreveport police officer moved with the paramedics to take care of Bobby. Meanwhile, another guard showed up and Tony filled him in. “Dan, I was hired to guard someone by Bobby Burnham. Instead, Bobby was actually beaten by the threat and I called you in to guard my charge while I go to the hospital with Bobby.”
“Got it. I’ll report to you?”
“Yeah. I mean, I’m not calling his vampire right now. That dude is scary and Bobby and the woman you’re guarding are both still alive.”
“His vampire?” He’s a fangbanger?”
“No, Bobby is a day guy.”
“Ah, what vampire?”
“FUCK, thanks for calling me in asshole. He’s one scary mother fucker.”
Tony just shrugged his shoulders and pointed through the restaurant window to the woman Dan needed to guard. Then he informed the paramedics he would follow them to the hospital.
Once Bobby was being examined in the ER, Tony stepped out to call his Packmaster. “Packmaster, I’ve got a situation.”
“The threat we were guarding against attacked Northman’s dayman. He’s in the ER now, he’s pretty beat up.”
“You never worked with Northman directly on this – right?”
“No, so I wasn’t sure if I could just call him directly or not.”
“I’ll call him. You at Good Shepherd?”
“No, we were closer to Parish and I didn’t argue with the paramedic.”
“You know what Northman looks like, right?”
“Yeah. Tell him Bobby was beaten by Jason Stackhouse.”
In one of his Shreveport homes, Eric had changed two times, trying to find the right message with his clothes. He started with a suit; then tried his leather pants and vest. With his final outfit, he was sure he’d nailed it. Sookie seemed to be a down to earth girl so his standard jeans, black tee-shirt and motorcycle boots was the right choice; it represented him.
He looked up the address for a florist and got in his car. After he’d picked up the bouquet, he worried that it wasn’t enough of a gesture; he even drove around Shreveport wondering if he should stop for something else. ‘Perhaps chocolates? Perfume?’ He found himself worrying about making the right first impression and only stopped when he remembered, he was giving her the key to a storage unit that was going to be filled with ALL the contents of her home – former home that is. He wasn’t planning to go to the warehouse tonight but he planned to take her in the next few days. Knowing he didn’t need any more, he stopped window shopping and drove towards the hospital. With the flowers in hand, he left his car in the hospital parking lot and walked in. He hadn’t been this excited about something in a long time and the grin on his face showed it. As he walked towards the elevators to go to Hunter’s floor, he froze. Sookie was in the corner of a waiting room and she was talking to a young red headed woman, likely Jessica Hamby this friend who continued to help her. Since this was Hunter’s wish, he wanted to wait for her to go back upstairs to reveal himself. To kill time, he did something any potential suitor would do: He hid out of sight for a few minutes and eavesdropped. Shameless, he knew.
In a corner to the side of the waiting room, he was able to see the women and hear the conversation but not be seen too easily. His assessment of Sookie’s weight from what he’d seen as she slept was correct; she looked gaunt. He cheeks were hollowed in and from the cut of her dress; her shoulder bones looked like they were poking directly through the skin. While he may have liked the look of more flesh, his concern here was the why she was so waiflike. She was obviously not eating enough either due to financial concerns or the stress. He couldn’t wait to fatten her up. Right now though, his dead heart was hurting as he watched her cry on her friend’s shoulder.
“Thanks Jessica, I needed a few minutes away. This day has been upsetting and I’ve been trying to remind myself that it is really just . . . well just stuff and it IS just stuff. But . . .”
“But some of it is memories too. I get that Sookie. It’s OK for you to be upset.”
It was hard for Eric to stay put and not tell her right away about all her ‘stuff’, but again, this was also about Hunter so he stayed where he was. Some may have referred to this as stalking, he preferred to think of it as proper courting; he was just getting to know her as best he could.
The crying started slowing enough that Sookie could speak again. “I just needed a minute. I feel so bad, you guys coming here when you finally get a Saturday night to yourselves.”
“Sookie, Hoyt and I wanted to be here for you. We go on a proper date every Friday night and you know it. Besides, we get one Saturday night a month when Lala comes.”
“What didya do last night?”
“We went ice skating. We do that every couple of weeks – at the indoor rink in Monroe, you know the one?” Sookie nodded. “After, we went out for hot chocolates – there’s a new dessert and coffee restaurant in Shreveport.”
“Sounds like my kind of place.” Jessica was about to suggest a girl’s night out, but she was unsure how Sookie would feel about it. With everything Hunter was going through, she knew Sookie hated to leave his side for any amount of time. Still, that place was only about 10 minutes away and Hoyt LOVED to visit with Hunter.
From his hidden position, Eric closed his eyes for a moment and just enjoyed the sound of her voice. It only added to her appeal and he couldn’t wait until he heard her speaking to him. He especially wanted to hear her laugh; something he feared didn’t happen that much for her.
“Maybe we can go one night? You do deserve something fun for yourself.” Eric was very interested in this answer
“I don’t know.”
“I do. Come on, it’s only 10 minutes away and it’ll be my treat. Let’s pick a day with Hoyt when we get upstairs.”
“Just for a short outing, right?”
“Ok. Let’s go upstairs. I’m all calm for my baby now. Thanks again Jessica.”
“My pleasure Sookie.”
Eric stayed hidden, but could see them get into the elevator. Just as he was about to follow in the next car he got a call. It was Colonel Flood, Packmaster to the local weres. He never called for social reasons so he reluctantly answered. “Northman.”
“Flood.” Well, now that they pleasantries were out of the way . . . “I got a call from one of my guys; he was hired by your dayman to guard someone who did some auction bidding for you?”
“Yes, I’m familiar with the request. Why are you calling me, why isn’t Bobby?”
“The threat, Jason Stackhouse, attacked Bobby. He’s in the ER of the Parish hospital. Any instructions?”
‘Godsdammit! Now I’ll need to deal with this instead of meeting Sookie. Jason Stackhouse will pay for this.’
“I’ll need to check on Bobby and assess the threat. Where’s your guy?”
“Names Tony. He’s at the ER with Bobby. Before you flip out, he already called a second guard to take care of the original woman he was hired to protect.”
“Very well, I’ll see him there. I appreciate the call.”
Flood liked Eric, and this was why: He talked to people – didn’t order them around; he had manners. Other Packmasters he knew reported that their local vampire sheriffs were too busy being superior to have a decent interaction. He wasn’t going to start hanging with Northman, but they had a pretty damn good working relationship. “Not a problem Eric. Hope your guy’s OK.”
At least he was already in the hospital, but damn if he wasn’t torn. To his right was the ER and in front of him, the elevators leading to Hunter and Sookie. With a sigh he headed right towards the ER, handing the flowers to some stranger in the waiting area saying he had to go and couldn’t deliver them as planned. His angel would have to wait.