Tissue warning: There’s a few moments that may get you:
Frying Pan: I think the side of my head is safe from flying pans.
Chapter 6 – A Good Start
“Can I help you?”
Eric realized it was a good thing he didn’t need to breathe because finally talking to her would have taken his breath away. As it was, his response stuck in his throat before he came out with the brilliant, “Ah.” Then came to his senses. “I came to meet you both.” As they just looked at each other for a moment he felt almost heaviness in the air – an excitement – and he was sure it wasn’t just him. He was happy, very happy with her reaction though. As soon as those words were out of his mouth, her heartbeat picked up and he detected a slight flush in her cheeks. Drinking her in, finally in person, he realized that her hair was also much longer than any of the pictures he’d seen and he liked it. In addition to noticing her hair, he really liked that her eyes were staring at him almost with a look of disbelief but happy at the same time.
Hunter giggled and smiled from his bed and Sookie looked sideways at him while she answered. “I don’t understand.”
“I do Mommy.”
She was dying to know but manners had her inviting him into the room before Hunter could explain. “Won’t you have a seat?” She gestured to the chair on the other side of Hunter. As soon as he came in, Hunter and Sookie thought to each other about how neither of them could read his mind. Sookie described his brain as a void; she also recalled the same feeling early in the morning outside the window. Before he sat he removed his coat and uncovered some arm porn that would normally have her drooling, but she refrained. Eric saw her eyeballing his arms but he kept some of his typical comments to himself – for now.
“Thank you. These are for you.” While he moved to sit he also extended the flowers across Hunter to Sookie; then he focused on Hunter. “So would you like to explain why I’m here?”
“He’s my wish!” He giggled out.
“What? Oh and thank you for the flowers Mr. Northman.”
“You’re welcome and please call me Eric.”
“Eric then. I’m Sookie and this is . . . “
“Your son Hunter.”
“Yes, this is Hunter who needs to explain ‘cause Mommy is very confused.”
“I asked Make a Wish for a date, well a date for you with Eric Northman.”
Eric had to contain his laughter when he looked at Sookie. Her jaw dropped, her eyes grew wide and a blush was blooming from her face down to her chest. As he took a moment to glance at her chest, he was pleased to see that the weight loss hadn’t impacted that bountiful cleavage but he quickly admonished himself for going there already. After a moment to compose herself, Sookie finally spoke to Hunter. “You used your wish for me?” Her voice rose in surprise at his actions while she asked the question. Hunter nodded wildly. “Why did you do that? You could have requested anything like going to a Saints game and meeting the players. You love football – I really thought for sure that’s what you’d asked for.”
Eric noted that tidbit away. He could still grant that wish if the boy wanted it.
“I don’t need anything Mommy. You gave up everything for me. When I’m gone, you’re going to be so sad and I wanted you to have at least a great memory and maybe a new friend.”
Well that did it. Her reaction changed from a combination of awed and embarrassed to sad and the waterworks started. Uncontrollable, messy crying.
Eric’s normal reaction to any crying was to ignore it so really, he was at a loss now. He watched as she lowered the top half of her body onto Hunter’s bed while she clutched her son’s hand. Slowly, he reached over and took her other hand. It was warm and soft as his thumb made circles over the back of it. The big surprise was when she tightened her grip on his fingers. That he wasn’t expecting. She calmed only a moment later and apologized as she lifted her head. Hunter broke the silence as she mopped up her face with a tissue Eric had grabbed for her. “This was supposed to be a good thing Mommy. Why are ya crying?”
“You gave me your wish. That’s a big deal for Mommy.”
In his innocence Hunter asked, “So are you guys going out right now?”
Sookie was silent so Eric answered. “I was hoping we could just visit tonight. What do you think Sookie?”
She shrugged and answered. “Sure. I guess I’d like to know how all this came about.”
Before Hunter could begin, one of the nurses popped in. She‘d seen the flowers and realized Sookie had no vase. “I know it’s not beautiful, but it’s the biggest beaker I could find.” Sookie just looked at her confused until she continued. “For your flowers?”
“Oh! Thanks Theresa.”
“My pleasure.” Eric’s back was to the door and when Theresa turned to Sookie just before walking out, she gave her a big smile and thumbs up.
“Let me just get these in water, then we can discuss this whole thing.”
With the flowers now on the shelf by the window, Sookie settled back into her seat and turned to Hunter. “Ok baby, give me the scoop.”
Hunter started. “Well, you really seemed to like Mr. Northman after we saw him at Good Shepherd and that gave me the idea for a wish. I already knew I was giving you my wish somehow. Mrs. Oleski helped me write a letter to Mr. Northman. That was a while ago though. I don’t know what happened after.”
Eric picked up the story from there. “Well, I can tell you. The letter was sent to my Viking Industries address and a receptionist threw it away – she did that three times and didn’t forward the phone messages from Make a Wish. I’ve already spoken to her about making her own decisions about my mail and phone messages. I apologize for the delays her actions caused.” Eric knew the receptionist had been trying to capture his attention for months and he was sure she disposed of the letter because it mentioned a date with Sookie. “When the Make a Wish people didn’t hear back, the woman who runs the program for Louisiana got involved.”
“Mrs. Burke.” Hunter offered.
“Yes, Mrs. Burke. She came to see me at my bar since I hadn’t responded otherwise.”
“She went to Fangtasia?” Hunter asked out of curiosity.
Eric was surprised the boy would know such a detail. “How do you know that name?”
Sookie stiffened at the question and tried to think to Hunter to keep quiet on the answer he was about to give. She was too late; he just blurted out, “Mommy has that magazine you were in.” He was referring to the Shreveport Monthly magazine that covered business, recreation and other articles of interest for northern Louisiana. A few months back, Eric had been featured as a prominent business man and exemplary vampire/human liaison with the local authorities. The blush that had finally gone away on Sookie returned immediately.
Eric couldn’t help but play with her. “She does, does she?”
Hunter nodded and continued, much to his mother’s horror. “Yep. When she saw you at Good Shepherd, well I told you in the letter, she thought you were beautiful. Well, Mommy and one of my doctors there were talking about you after you left. They both thought the same thing about you. Anyway, Doc Maria bought Mommy one of those magazines when it came out a few weeks later. She’s had it ever since.”
At this point, Sookie just planted her face into her palms, trying to hide from the conversation.
Eric couldn’t be more pleased. At least they had a mutual interest in each other. That was a good start. Given her embarrassment, he decided to save her since it would be hard to get a conversation back on track with her face planted in her hands. He pulled his wallet out. “Sookie.” No reaction. He wanted to laugh, but that wouldn’t help her right now. “Sookie. Would it make you feel better if I showed you something in my wallet?”
That was a puzzling statement. “What could you possibly have in your wallet to make me feel better?” The words were muffled through her hands, but he understood.
“You’ll have to take your hands from your face to look.”
“I’m pretty comfortable like this thank you.”
Now he did laugh. “But I came to talk to you, not the back of your hands. Please, trust me. You’ll be laughing at my expense in a moment, either that or . . . well just look.” It occurred to him that his ‘stalker’ behavior could horrify her but he took the chance.
She peeked, just moving her fingers enough to look down at his wallet. After placing it on the bed in front of her, he’d opened it to the picture in one of the photo sleeves. It was a picture of her. To see the picture better, she removed her hands from her face to pick up the wallet and inspect the photo. She was shocked. “Where did you get this?”
“Sam has a Facebook page with pictures. I was his 54th ‘like’. I guess not too many in Bon Temps are Facebook users.”
“No, a little too high tech for most us.” She returned the wallet to Eric. “So you were checking us out?”
She was simply asking and didn’t seem upset about it though. “I did. I have to admit it was for my own security when I looked into you. Especially given that this letter campaign from Hunter started after the article in Shreveport Monthly. I needed to be sure it wasn’t a scam.”
“I get that. But you printed a picture of me.”
“And you kept a magazine with pictures of me. How about we admit to mutual interest?”
Her head cocked to the side as she thought that one through. “I’ll give you that.”
That was surprising to Eric. “That was easy.”
“Eric, the past four years,” She eyed her baby with love, “Have taught me to think about bigger pictures. Course, that magazine article focused on your business and Sheriff duties – not your life. My guess is your investigation gave you more than that on us. We’ll have to even out that information.”
“True. The article didn’t call me Sheriff though; publicly we use the term liaison. How do you know about that?”
“My ex – Alcide Herveaux.” She lowered her voice for the rest of her explanation. “I know he’s a werewolf; we talked about other supernatural stuff.”
“That’s surprising. He shouldn’t really share that.”
“I didn’t give him a choice. But enough about that, tell me about you.”
Eric noted that she glossed over some big points in that exchange and he’d ask some other time.
Sookie continued on. “What prompted you to follow-up on Hunter’s letter in the first place? I don’t gather you have a shortage of available dates – at least that’s what the article mentioned.” Before he could answer Sookie blurted out her next thought. “Wait, you can fly!” Then she turned to Hunter. “That wasn’t a dream?” He smiled and shook his head. “Huh, so you’ve really been checking us out – from the window?”
Eric was confused about how she figured that one out – but he was more worried that this would be the stalker bit that would get him kicked out. “I couldn’t resist. It’s not I lingered or anything. Hunter saw me twice – I even waved when he did, not realizing how potentially bad that could have been at the time.” He paused when he saw she really appeared curious, not mad. “I happened to come by one night when . . . something happened with Hunter that day. You were so upset. I damn near came in right then but I refrained since you seemed . . . overwhelmed at the time and Jessica was with you.”
Sookie blanched, the day still raw in her memory. She knew damn well it was a turning point, a bad one, in her boy’s health. “Yeah, that would have been too much that day.”
There was a moment of silence before he continued. “So you asked about me.” She nodded. “Since most people ask, I’ll start with my age. I’ve been a vampire for about 1000 years; I was turned when I was 24 years old.”
“Well, I know where I’m going for history discussions now.” Sookie smiled at him. Meanwhile, Hunter couldn’t be happier to see them together while talking and smiling. His Mommy’s genuine smile wasn’t something they always saw these days. He could also read from his Mommy how happy she was to be getting to know him. This is exactly what he wanted. Mommy deserved to be happy and she would need someone special when he was gone.
He chuckled and continued. “I’m happy to share anything I know with you. I lived in Sweden as a Viking, but in truth I was a farmer and only went ‘a Viking’ some years. Others in my clan did more raiding than I did.”
“What’s considered rude to ask? I may know about vampires, but I’ve never spoken to one.”
“Honestly, our human lives, our turnings, especially our makers – those topics are considered rude, but ask away. Mostly because you were correct before, I have a private investigator and I know a good deal about you Sookie. I’d apologize for that but like I said it started as a standard security measure. It grew out of extreme interest. So in exchange, go ahead and ask anything. I’ll tell you if you ask something I just can’t answer.”
She nodded, acknowledging his statement. Truthfully, before Hunter, she would’ve kicked him out and screamed that he was a creepy stalker, but being a mother and going through the past four years had given her perspective. She really couldn’t fault him for checking them out and hell, he expressed interest in her. That was startling and pretty exciting since she had what would be considered a crush on him, mostly based on his visit to the hospital and that article. The magazine pages may have been worn out from the amount of times she pulled it out to re-read it and look at the pictures.
“Did you have a family?”
“I did. I was married and had 6 children, though I lost two. One a boy in his fourth winter, one a baby right after she was born; my wife died with her.” Even after all these years it still hurt to think of his children; the pain was evident on his face.
She reached over and patted the hand that was resting on Hunter’s bed. “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
He flipped his hand around so he could hold hers. Focusing on their clasped hands he added, “I won’t say it didn’t hurt but life was very hard then. Honestly, I was considered lucky to have had four children from one marriage survive as they did.”
“So you were 24. That must mean you left a young family behind?”
“One of my brothers took in my children. I’ll share more on my turning some other time.” His eyes flickered to Hunter’s face and she understood. She was surprised at herself for asking a question related to his human death, but her curiosity had her blurting out the question before thinking it through.
Hunter had had enough about families and stuff – he had questions of his own. “So how did you know you could fly?”
“Looking back on it, it’s a funny story though scary at the time.” He put a grin on his face as he looked at the fascination on Hunter’s face. “It happened after I was a vampire for about 150 years. I was being chased. I’d stolen something from a wealthy property owner and he sent his guards after me.” The story purposely left out that what he stole was his daughter’s affections for a night. Hunter didn’t need to hear that part. “Anyway, I got to a cliff; it was small one that dropped into a river. I had no choice but to jump for it figuring I’d heal when I got to the bottom. To my surprise, I never fell. It wasn’t graceful, but I was suddenly floating. Eventually I learned how to turn it into flying instead of just flailing around in the air. I guess it’s kind of like turning the doggy paddle into the breast stroke.”
“WOW, I can’t imagine finding out that way.” Hunter’s eyes were impossibly wide as he expressed his fascination.
He chuckled at the boy. “It was surprising.”
At that, Hunter yawned deeply so Sookie jumped in. “I think we should start the movie we’d planned so you can relax. What do you think Hunter?” The boy nodded. “Eric, you’re welcome to stay. We already picked out Monsters Inc. It’s a children’s movie about . . . “
“I’m familiar. I have a child, a vampire child,“ he quickly added, “and she’s fascinated with all things Disney and Pixar. I swear I turned her before she’d grown up enough.” He added with a chuckle that Sookie and Hunter joined; then replied to her invitation. “I’d love to stay.”
Sookie moved to the closet in Hunter’s room to grab the portable DVD player and that’s when she discovered it was gone. Before she even said anything, Hunter knew. “Mommy? Where is it?”
“I don’t know Hunt; gimme a minute to look around.” She knew looking was pointless. This is why she’d gotten a padlock to the closet door; the hospital staff had warned her about thefts. When she opened the door just now, she realized in her excitement to get Hunter to the playroom earlier, she hadn’t engaged the padlock. The player and ALL his films were stolen while they were out of the room. ‘Great, just great. His only distraction during dialysis and I had to go and let it get stolen.’ The tears started again before she could even try to calm enough to stop them. Quietly crying, she stayed with her head and shoulders hidden in the closet until Eric cottoned on to what was happening.
“Mommy, it’s OK. I’ll just watch what’s on the big TV’s at dialysis. Please don’t cry.”
Eric stood and approached her. “His stuff is missing?” She nodded. “Is there not security here? Are his personal belongings always at risk?”
She sobbed out. “It’s my . . . It’s my fault. I did . . . didn’t secure the padlock earlier.”
With a gentle tug on her shoulder, he moved her around to him. “Come here.” He said and enveloped her in a hug. This was her undoing. He was so strong and so comforting giving a hug without all the extra brain noise. While she loved her friends and they did hug her through her tears often, she never got the peace she was getting right now. Instead of stopping the tears, she let loose in his presence for the second time tonight. Eric figured with her life right now, this was going to be standard and he simply shushed her while stroking her back through the episode. This crying was an easy fix though; the boy would have a new player and movies in the morning, he’d deal with that after he left them for the night.
It went on for a few minutes until Sookie pulled back and noticed she’d ruined his shirt. “I’m sorry. You aren’t fit to go anywhere now.”
“You were the only thing on my schedule for the night anyway.”
That earned him a watery smile as she moved for the tissues. “I’m so sorry baby.” She turned to Eric. “We’d been working to build up his movie collection. Everyone knew that’s what he wanted for birthdays and such. I can’t believe I let them get stolen. Stupid.”
“Sookie, you can’t beat yourself up like that. The hospital should . . . “
“I was warned Eric. That’s why we had the padlock. Things go missing; the hospital doesn’t have the staff to deal with it. Lost and stolen items are not the responsibility of the hospital.” With a rub of her face, like that would change her mood, she asked Hunter, “Well, what would you like to do now baby? We obviously can’t watch a movie.”
“Songs and a game?”
“Sure.” She reached for the guitar and looked for her pick; she must have dropped it earlier when Eric came in. While she reached under the bed, Eric asked Hunter some questions. He needed to figure out what movies to get the boy.
“So Monsters Inc.? Is that your favorite movie?”
“I like tons of movies. Disney and Disney/Pixar stuff is really cool. Oh and the Ice Age movies.”
Sookie sat back up. “Ok baby, what’ll it be tonight?”
“That Pooh corner one.”
“You got it.”
She played and sang a few songs for him before he asked for a game. The pediatric playroom had a selection for the patients to borrow anytime, so Sookie left to go see what was available. Eric used the time wisely. “So Hunter, if your Mommy permits me come back tomorrow night, is there a treat I can bring her? What about you?”
“She’s cooking for me tomorrow so don’t worry about that. My diet is too hard. For Mommy – she loves this drink from Sonic – it’s a Caramel Java Chiller. You bring her one of those and you’ll be her best friend. I promise.”
“Good man. Keep it a secret though.” He winked at Hunter and had to contain his laugh when the boy tried to wink back – he couldn’t get the one eye only part down.
“You two look like you’ve been up to something.”
Eric covered for them. “Not at all. Just chatting. What game will we be playing tonight?”
“Can’t say I’ve ever played that.”
“I didn’t think you had Eric. It’s got some of the same concepts but scaled down in time and ease for younger ones. This one has a Shrek theme.”
“Yay!” Hunter yelled. “The other one they have here is the Princess edition. Marjorie makes me play that one sometimes.”
“Why is that so bad?” Eric asked.
“Cause you have to be a Princess character when you play it. I’m a boy silly. I always insist on being Jasmine since her outfit is pants at least – and NOT PINK!”
They chuckled at him while setting up the game and explaining the rules to Eric. They had only gone twice around the board when Sookie noticed Hunter had fallen asleep right in his semi-sitting up position. “Well, that damn drug strikes again. He sleeps all night then again for about half the day. It’s supposed to get better – when his body adjusts at bit – but that hasn’t happened yet.” With sadness that her day with Hunter was over, she tucked him under the covers for the night. “He’s fully out if you want to talk, or I know you said you had no other plans but it’s pretty early for you so I understand if you want to get to your bar.”
“Why would I want to go the bar when you’ve invited me to stay?”
“Great.” She beamed at him and it was a look he wanted to see all the time. “I just need to run my guitar out to the car.”
“I’ll do that and come right back.” Removing the stretchy bracelet from her wrist that held her keys, she handed them to him and described her car. He let her get through the description even though he already knew the yellow rust bucket in the parking lot was hers.
“Thanks. The parking lot gives me the creeps at night.”
When he returned, he saw that Sookie had moved their chairs to be next to each other instead of across Hunter’s bed. Before the getting to know you conversation, Eric mentioned that her guitar would be impacted by living in the car.
“I do. I also know that even with my guitars being kept in my home, they are still impacted by humidity changes, so I know your guitar must need adjusting to the truss rod.”
“It does, I don’t have a choice though. The closet here is not wide or deep enough for a guitar. Lucky for me, Hoyt is kinda a music guru and he does it for free. You know who he is, right?” Eric confirmed with a nod. “He teaches guitar and piano lessons on the side.”
“That’s good.” By now, Eric had settled into his seat next to hers, but angled for their conversation. They talked about Eric’s move to the states, the planning that went into the Great Vampire Reveal and his decision to open the vampire themed bar. “It was nice at first, actually more than nice. I was excited about something and that hadn’t happened in a long time.”
“What happened to take away the excitement?”
“At Pam’s suggestion, and it seemed like a good one at the time, I combined my Sheriff duties with the bar – specifically publicly within the bar. This was different than the prior set-ups I’ve had in the bars I’ve owned. Normally, I would take Sheriff meetings in a back office, out of sight from humans. Once I agreed, the suggestion got a little out of control. Pam bought a throne for me and I would sit out in the bar area watching the activities and the vampires could approach me as they needed. I had a privacy spell to keep our conversations quiet.”
“Wait, did you say spell?” He nodded. “I guess witches really do exist then. Alcide and I never covered that.”
“Yes they do, and the magic is very real. Maybe we can cover more about supernaturals some night, since Alcide opened the door.”
“Sure, but get back to your throne, your majesty.” She giggled when she said it and he gave her a sideways grin.
“Hardly, and I’ll cover that some night as well.” He shifted in his chair before he continued. “Well, I started this” he searched for the word, “expectation I guess, with the humans. Many came in just to watch me and approach me on my throne.”
“You’re kidding! They would do what? Walk up and offer their necks?”
“Some would crawl.”
“GET OUT!” She covered her mouth while he laughed at her. Hunter moved a bit but didn’t wake. She resumed at a softer volume. “On the floor, they would crawl to you?”
“That was Pam’s fault; she started rumors that I liked it.”
“Among other things, yes.” His face showed displeasure for just a second, but Sookie caught it before he returned to his normal features. “Well, now there are nights that Pam says the crowd is almost out of control until I get there. I’ve since returned my sheriff duties to scheduled meetings, mostly late on Sunday and Monday nights, or rather early mornings, but it doesn’t help with the human problem.”
“Well you are pretty to look at.”
“Oh really?” He preened at her words with a smile that told her he was being funny, not cocky (this time).
“Pfft.” She waved her hand around. “You don’t need me to feed that ego I can tell. You’ve got women crawling to you for attention.”
His face turned serious as he responded. “I don’t care about them. I can barely tolerate that part of my life anymore.”
“That’s sad. What do you do for fun?”
“Stalk pretty women, or rather A pretty woman. Fly outside her window.”
“Sounds almost as lame an enjoying cooking days in Gramma Fortenberry’s kitchen. We’re a pair.”
She turned a bit melancholy at that point, so he moved the discussion to another topic that he wanted to explore. “Tell me about your college days.”
“Well, I was awarded a scholarship to LSU, but you knew that didn’t you?”
“Yes, and that you studied English Lit but I don’t know anything more. Did you go right after High School? How far did you get?”
“I did start right away; literally the summer after I graduated I was so excited. I worked part time at Merlotte’s in Bon Temps and commuted to the Shreveport campus since room and board weren’t part of the scholarship. I was three years into my four year degree when I got Hunter. I mean, you know I didn’t give birth to him I guess.” He nodded. “Before I dropped out, I had been looking at graduate school programs. I was torn between teaching High School English with a BA and teaching certificate or continuing on and maybe teaching at a University. I never had to make the decision. Life decided for me.”
Her hand was hanging off the end of the chair arm as she spoke and he reached over to take hold of her fingers, unable to resist. “Still, that was a big decision, something you didn’t have to take on.”
“There was no choice. My cousin Hadley, Had for short, walked into Gran’s house with the baby, said it was me or an orphanage. I grabbed him and never looked back. He was about three months old, but really the size of a newborn since he was a preemie and she’d done so many drugs while pregnant it really impacted his birth weight. I learned later that he’d been sick since birth, not that Had told me that before she walked out of his life. We haven’t heard anything from her since.”
“So her name was Hadley. Hale is your grandmother’s maiden name, but there is no Hadley Hale in the area. How did she get away with not using her real name at the hospital?”
“She was with a vampire.” His face conveyed his shock. “Yes, before the reveal I knew about you guys. The vampire was in the car when she dropped off the baby, but I never met him. I asked about records and such and she was pretty cryptic but she did tell me the vampire glamoured the hospital on the details. The only part of his records that wasn’t a lie was his father’s name: Remy Savoy. He was killed and I suspect it was a vampire that at least participated. Had told me Remy had beaten her several times. I don’t know when or how the vampire piece came in but my guess is it was payback. Anyway, that’s where the Savoy name comes from. I’m trying to adopt Hunter because that’s one of his dying requests. Well it’s my wish too.” He vowed to himself then that even if he needed to glamour the entire of State of Louisiana, they would both get that wish.
Her voice quavered when she spoke of Hunter’s dying and he grasped her full hand to hold it, but she kept on talking to finish her sentence. The whole story was curious and he had a ton of questions, but it seemed like Sookie really didn’t know much. He was a pretty good judge of people, and Sookie seemed to be sharing, not withholding information. “Most people wouldn’t have given up what you did for a sickly baby.”
“I’m not most people.”
“No you’re not. You’re an angel”
She gave out a burst of laughter. “Hardly.”
“You are. I’ve decided. Anyone who is this selfless to provide for a child is an angel here on earth. And angels do exist Sookie. Hunter is lucky to have you.” Another subject change was called for, given serious discussion started to way heavy on both of them. “So, what’s your favorite book?”
And just with that question, her smile returned and the conversation continued. Eric stayed for a few hours. They spent a great amount of time talking about a shared love of books, even debating the merits of their favorites. The conversation flowed easily, nothing forced, nothing uncomfortable until it was approaching almost midnight.
The nurses on the floor had been ignoring Hunter’s room once they saw how happy Sookie was with this guest. Several had seen the Shreveport Monthly that Sookie kept in the room and they knew why she kept it. Truth was, most of them shared Sookie’s fascination with the vampire. They didn’t know why he was there and the gossip flowed. Eric, with his superior vampire hearing, listened into them occasionally but kept their tittle-tattle to himself for now.
With the new shift, Nancy, who was on for the night needed to check on Hunter before it got too long into her shift so she hesitantly knocked on the door alerting them. “Sorry to interrupt Sookie, but I have to just check on Sir Hunter here.”
“Oh, Nancy, you’re already here?”
“It’s after midnight Sookie.”
“WOW, It’s late, I didn’t even notice.” She turned to Eric and smiled. “Must be the company.” He returned the smile as they looked at each other. “Mr. Northman, would you like to accompany me to the glamorous nurse’s lounge so I can grab a water while she gets some vitals from Hunter?”
“He won’t wake and wonder where you are?”
“Not with the meds he’s on now, he loves Nancy anyway.”
“Then I would love to.”
Hand in hand, they made their way to the nurse’s lounge, Sookie having an open invitation to enter from the nurses. She grabbed a cup and filled it from the water cooler and gulped it down. “We’ve been talking for so long I forgot to drink anything.”
“I’ll endeavor to keep you hydrated the next time.”
“So will there be a next time?”
“Well, we have the obligatory date for Hunter’s wish.”
Her face fell immediately, self doubt creeping into her mind. Here she thought they’d been getting along nicely and it occurred to her that this was all for him to fulfill the commitment he’d made – which was nice – but she didn’t want to have anyone take her on a date out of obligation. Eric noticed the mood change immediately. Gone was the smiling and light Sookie and in place was a colder, darker version. “I don’t need you to do anything out of obligation Mr. Northman. Your visit has been very nice and great distraction for an evening, but you’re under no requirement to continue.”
He could see why she thought that so he quickly corrected her thinking. “Sookie, you took my comment literally. I already told you I’m interested in you. Tonight has made that interest even stronger and if I may boldly add; I believe it’s mutual. I meant that as a lighthearted comment in regards to your son’s wishes. Please don’t think I’m here out of the need to fulfill an obligation. I wouldn’t do that to you, Hunter or even myself.”
Quickly realizing the advantage to telepathy and missing it for the moment, she stared at him trying to decipher the truth of his words. He was right, the attraction – the interest was mutual. The problem was she had little to offer him in return. This was the difficulty, well one of them, with Alcide; he always wanted more of just Sookie. Much to Alcide’s displeasure, she wouldn’t sacrifice her son for a relationship. One thing in Eric’s favor that Alcide didn’t have though – she eventually got to the point where she could hear every thought of Alcide’s – even though in the beginning his thoughts were more just colors that words. Eric, Eric was a blissful, peaceful big old blank. Heaven. After her internal debate, she admitted, “The interest is mutual. I don’t know what I have to offer you though; I need to be upfront about that.”
“How about I visit again tomorrow? My bar is closed and I don’t have sheriff meetings until 1AM. Surely, if nothing else, we can enjoy talking.”
“I’d like that.” Pointing to the mess she’d made of his shirt, she added, “You might want to pack an extra shirt though.”
“A good suggestion. Who knew you would be so messy? None of my reports provided that tidbit.”
Their tones were light and they laughed softly and smiled as they joked together. “Fire that PI, he missed a well known fact about Sookie Stackhouse.” She tossed her now empty cup into the trash, “I should get back. I need to get a shower and some sleep.”
With his hand out, he offered, “I’ll walk you.”
She took it and they walked slowly back to Hunter’s room. When they got to the door, Eric lifted the hand he was already holding and kissed the back. “Until tomorrow night.”
At 1AM his shopping choices were limited. He knew Pam would probably smell Wal-Mart on him, but he wanted to make the movie selections himself and include a note. The DVD player, every Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks film were loaded into his cart while he struggled over the other selections. Of course, anything princess was left on the shelf, since Hunter had clearly expressed his view on Princesses. That left him with reading summaries for any of the ones he didn’t remember from Pam’s collection. A vampire reading the movie labels for children’s movies did cause a few strange looks, but he didn’t even notice while he chose anything he thought Hunter would like.
He had considered a tablet device with downloaded movies but decided that would probably be too easily stolen. If someone managed to leave her room with a player and 22 movies without being noticed, a tablet would probably be gone after the first day. That could be sold for too much.
Once the cart was full of movies, he checked out and headed to Fangtasia. He decided to catch up on paperwork so he would have more time in his early evenings later in the week.
“Why do you smell like a hospital?” Pam scowled as she asked Eric.
“I was at a hospital.”
“Nothing that concerns you Pam. How is business tonight?”
“You’re just changing the subject. Wait, what’s on your shirt and do I smell human tears?” She moved closer to his chest to check the source of the scent further. “Did some vampire harm a human and you did what, console her or something? What the fuck Eric.”
“I told you it doesn’t concern you.” The discussion was pissing him off and as usual, Pam was oblivious to the fact. She did, however, remind him that he needed to change his shirt before he went out with other vampires. Hell, he hadn’t even thought about smelling like a hospital either since he purposely did not take in any scents while there. Since he hadn’t even planned to come into the bar, he decided not to leave the office. Gods knew he had plenty of work to do.
“THAT’S really all you’re going to say?”
“Either stay and work on the inventory with me or leave my office.”
Pam knew she should probably work with Eric, but she had seen a gorgeous red head with squeezable breasts and she wanted her. If she stayed, the red head might leave the bar before she had a chance. PLUS, her maker was really just grumpy and not someone with whom she wanted to spend any time. “I’ll work the door.”
“Fine, but you better work the door, not troll the floor in search of a feed and fuck.”
“ERIC! I need to eat.”
“I felt you feed already tonight. I think you’re done.” Her mouth dropped open and she stood still just staring at him. “What Pam? I gave you a choice, you chose the door so get. Ginger cannot work the door; she doesn’t have the brains to be trusted. I’ve told you this already.”
She left slamming the door behind her and he sighed. As her maker, he questioned where he’d gone wrong. One more month was all he was going to give her; one more month for her to take the initiative to do the monthly reports. This monthly report would be a good test since if she didn’t do it; he could quickly put it together and get it to the Queen only a day or so late – having the vampire Summit next week gave him an excuse. That wasn’t an option for the quarterly report since he delivered that at the meeting: It needed to be in hand, at the meeting, no excuses. Yes, one more month and if she failed, he’d find a new second to replace her.
Making that decision actually gave him some relief on his Pam worries so he was able to focus on the inventory and get his orders in for the week. After Pam left Fangtasia, he went to his car and retrieved his bags, leaving them on the desk for Bobby to collect and deliver later.
He returned home close to sunset and wrote an email to Bobby:
I left several Wal-Mart bags on my desk. Please package and wrap them as a gift and deliver to Hunter Savoy, Room 345 at Shreveport Parish hospital, but be sure to refer to him as Hunter Stackhouse when you speak to him. The package must be there before Noon. There’s a note addressed to Hunter for the package, and another to be handed to his mother, Sookie Stackhouse.
That’s it for your day.
He knew Hunter’s dialysis was shortly after lunch so he wanted the boy to have his films in plenty of time to get the player ready to use. Other than the loss of Hunter’s movies and the player, the evening went very well. Of course he hated that Hunter’s belongings were stolen, but the other parts were perfect. She didn’t rebuff him – even when he admitted he’d had her researched. In fact, she was actually quite open to him. Surprisingly, he got to hug her and hold her hand and that he enjoyed very much. Somehow she knew he was outside the window though, and that puzzled him, but he’d think about that later. Just before the day finally pulled him under, he grabbed the wallet from his nightstand to look at the picture. To the empty room he said, “Even better in person.”