Chapter 20 – Here Without You
“Just have Alcide chaperone, Eric. I think it’s a good idea. You rehearse lines together, why not the other scenes?”
“Because it’s bad enough that I need to do it once, I don’t want to touch her more than I have to.”
“And how many takes do you think will be needed to get the scene right if you’ve never kissed before?”
“Dammit Victor, leave it alone. Don’t you have a family you need to see for Easter?”
“Eric, my place is with you to help you through this filming. I’m here to support you.”
‘Fuck, Sookie’s instincts must be right about not trusting Victor. He is playing the support card. He only cares about his wallet. I just don’t know what his endgame is yet.’
“Let me go talk to Alcide. I’ll talk with you later.”
Eric did talk to Alcide. From a business perspective, he knew Freyda’s suggestion to rehearse was not out of the question. From his personal perspective the situation made his skin crawl. Sookie had only been gone for 3 hours before Freyda suggested the private practice session.
“I got your back, Eric. I can be right near you, right next to you – whatever works.”
“Fine, let me call Sookie and get this over with.”
Godric was pleased when Eric and Freyda approached him to discuss the rehearsal. He suggested they started small, with some of the kissing scenes in the yard on the way to the barn. Alcide stayed close, but still behind while they rehearsed. The rehearsal consisted of them talking, kissing and then holding hands on the way to the barn.
When Eric was done, he ran to the house to brush his teeth and take a shower. He called Sookie when he finally felt clean.
“The rehearsal is over, Alcide being there actually helped.”
“How was the trip to Bon Temps from the airport, how was the flight – we hardly had any time when I called earlier.”
“The flight was fine; Pam and I each had a girl which helped them through landing. Jason greeted us and really wanted me to skip the rental car. After toying with Pam like I was going to accept his offer to drive us everywhere, I did rent the car. Eric, you should have seen her face when she thought we were gonna spend the week hiking up into a truck – it was priceless! She is with the girls now down by the pond. They are coated in mud and Pam is running after them with towels to keep them neat! I’ll forward the pictures later.”
Eric could barely respond over his laughter. Finally, “Sookie, she was texting me from the airport when the car/truck debate was happening. She was begging me to call you to tell you trucks were not safe for the girls, they couldn’t go to church in their Easter outfits in a truck, Jason didn’t look like a safe driver…She sent me about 20 texts while you were toying with her, but my favorite was her concern over what the bouncing the truck would do to your breasts. She said the truck would jiggle them too much and could do them harm only a plastic surgeon could fix. The costs of the surgeon would be more than the cost to rent the car.”
“Eric, that is priceless, I can spend the week sharing Pam’s culture shock moments with you and you won’t miss us at all.”
“Oh, I want the stories but I still miss you. Having fun at Pam’s reactions will not make up for cooking with you, or talking with you, eating with you, eating you, touching you. Lunch is going to be very HARD for me every day. Bedtime is going to be very HARD. Waking up is going to be very HARD.
Breathlessly, Sookie just responded “Eric.”
“Sookie, can you be alone right now.”
Shaking her head as if removing her lust induced daze she replied, “Not until later you bad boy. In fact, here come the girls and Pam now. I’ll call you later tonight. How late are you filming?”
“We’ll stop filming by about 11 our time. We’ll be filming in Pam’s room tonight.”
Sookie froze, she knew what that meant, one of the sex scenes. “Ok, I may be a little drunk then.”
“OK Love, I’ll laugh at you being tipsy. Talk with you then. Love you.”
Pam came in screaming for help. “Sookie, I cannot get them both de-mudded alone!”
Eric chuckled as Sookie ended the call “I love you too.”
Sookie saved Pam by stripping the girls outside and using some damp towels to get the worst of the mud off before taking them to the bathtub. Pam looked like she was smelling vinegar the whole time. “Sookie, are you going to allow all this mud at home? The new pond at home will have frogs too. That’s what seemed to cause all the extra interest; apparently there are tadpoles in the water that cannot be seen unless you’re standing in the mud. We’ll need to build you a cleaning area near the pond so they can enter the house.”
“Pam, you take mud baths, why would you deny my girls the same.”
“Sookie, I take mud baths where the tub is filled with volcanic ash and peat moss followed by a shower in a location I DON’T NEED TO CLEAN. Big difference Sookie, huge!”
“Ok Pam, why don’t you lay down for a while, I am going to see what Jason killed me to cook for dinner.”
“Oh, did you want to help me gut and clean the squirrel or bunny?”
“Sookie, you don’t have stores here?”
“Pam, relax, you’re just too easy to get. We’re having dinner out tonight. I want to take you to the bar and restaurant Sam and Bill opened.”
“Pam, are you locked up?”
Jason had come in and was looking at Pam, “Sook, ya broke her.”
“Nah, she’ll be fine – watch this.”
“Pam, since you seem to be out of it, I am going to go dress the girls for dinner.”
“NOOOO Sookie, you won’t do it correctly. I am fine.”
They arrived at MC’s about an hour later and were seated in the busy and noisy dining room. Pam’s eyes were wide and she took in the place. Deer and other animal heads hung on the wall. The restaurant featured a well worn wooden floor, booths around the entire perimeter a rectangular bar dominating the center and poorly dressed people all over the place. Many of the women were in well worn jeans and boots. At least Sookie had dressed well in a virginal white sundress that Eric would have been drooling on. She was still gaping at everything when she was frightened by the creature with the flaming red hair. “Hiya Sookie, how ya been?”
“Good Arlene, how are you?”
“I just got myself engaged again!” Arlene yelled and held out her hand.
“Wow, that’s great Arlene, who is the lucky groom?”
“It’s Rene, you remember him, dontcha? He was my second husband. Who’s your friend?”
“Arlene Fowler, may I introduce Pam Northman, I’m dating Pam’s brother.”
“Nice to meet you Pam, you sure do dress fancy. Sookie, where’s your new beau?”
“He’s working over the entire Easter Holiday.”
“Oh, that’s a shame, but Lord knows the overtime will probably be nice money. Now, what can I get y’all to eat?”
After they ordered, Pam’s phone started beeping. Just as she was looking at her alert, Sookie’s attention was drawn to Eric’s name being mentioned on the TV. Some entertainment show was on and the reporter was announcing something about his love life. First, there was video of her yard and barn with Eric and Freyda kissing and hugging. Then they cut back to the reporter who had an image from the Philadelphia airport showing Sookie leaving with the girls. Based on what Sookie could hear, the story was that Eric had moved onto Freyda and Sookie had left him to return to her native Louisiana. Pam moved to a squat next to her and whispered, “I was just alerted to these stories being leaked. We’ll talk about the fallout later. Hold you head high and let’s enjoy our dinner. You know what’s really going on.”
Pam’s words did not have a chance to help when Jason started yelling. “See Sook, look at that snake! I don’t care how purty he is he’s been lying like a no legged dog. Daaum.!”
Sookie responded in a forceful whisper, “keep your voice down, he is not cheating or lying. We will talk about this later. I want to enjoy my dinner.”
They looked up from their conversation to see that everyone in the bar/restaurant was staring at them, specifically Sookie.
Arlene approached Sookie first, “Oh Sookie, didya really come home ta stay, did he break yer heart?”
“No Arlene, it’s not like that at all. That’s his costar and I was already informed that the love scenes were being rehearsed and filmed this week. I really am here for a planned visit.”
“Oh, bless your heart Sookie, I know you’re just trying to be strong. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday though; there was no film crew around them. That wern’t work. Ya hang in there girl.”
Arlene’s sympathy party was interrupted by the phone ringing. “Thanks Arlene, I need to get this call.”
“Hello my Love, have you seen this crap?”
“Yes, and I’m bothered at the audacity of people putting out the false story, but I’m fine.”
“Ok, we are just having a late break and I wanted to check in. Will we still talk later?”
“Yes, you go on and work, my dinner is just about to come out.”
They finished dinner and were headed out of the restaurant when they were bombarded by press. Someone had called the Shreveport news agencies.
“Sookie, has Eric moved onto Freyda?”
“Sookie, is that your home where they were caught on film?”
“Sookie, what do the girls think about your return to Louisiana?”
“Pam, have you sided with Sookie? You aren’t with your brother?”
“Pam, have you and Sookie started dating?”
Sookie picked up Eleanor, and ordered, “Jason, grab Maura and get us all to the car. Pam, stay close to Jason.”
They ignored the reporters and made it to the car. Eleanor and Maura were less shaken up than Jason. Sookie wound up driving for him.
Back at the house, Jason continued his yelling from when Sookie shut him down at the restaurant. “Sook, ya said we would talk about it, so talk. I’m fixin to take Eric’s head off, and what’s with the reporters, does that happen often?”
“Jason, calm down. There is no problem. Let me get the girls settled for bed; then we can talk.”
Jason was still pacing later when Sookie tried to calmly explain the video and that Eric was not cheating. To calm him about the reporters, she admitted that the girls don’t like the reporters, but they know that one of the adults will protect them. Jason wasn’t buying any of it. “Sook, ya told me you found out that Sam had been cheatin’. Maybe ya just don’t see it this time. I don’t see why ya ain’t giving Bill a chance.”
Sookie saw Pam move out of the corner of her eye and stopped her. “Pam, he doesn’t understand, let me try to explain before you get upset.”
“Jason, Bill has actually hurt me, hit me I mean. I never saw him as anything but a cousin, and dating him was never going to happen. You need to realize that and move on, just as Bill needs to realize it.”
“Sook, he could be good fer ya, stable. With Bill, you can jus keep InnKeeper and not worry about sellin’.”
“Look Jason, there is more to selling InnKeeper than you think. I really don’t want to get into it now. I want to sit on the porch, drink some wine and go to bed.”
“Yeah, Sook, speakin’ of bed, I noticed you put Pam’s stuff in your room with ya. I know I don’t have much space, but Pam can sleep with me if that’ll help.” He winked in Pam’s direction with his statement.
“Jason Corbett Stackhouse! I’m gonna tan your hide for being fresh. Go on, get to bed. Leave Pam and me in peace.”
“Wha’d I say?”
The next morning, Sookie stayed in bed while Pam took care of the girls. Jason had left for work early, and Sookie planned to take them to the local park to play with Arlene’s kids. Using the contacts list in Sookie’s phone, Pam got the address from Arlene, left a note for Sookie and drove the girls to the park. Sookie truly had too much to drink and could not even maintain a conversation with Eric. Both Eric and Pam had a good laugh at Sookie trying before Pam put her to bed. Eric was worried at first, but Pam explained that she was this tipsy on three glasses of wine since Sookie really never drank alcohol. Now she just needed to sleep it off. Eric called again in the morning but when he got Sookie’s voicemail, he called Pam. She explained Sookie’s condition and that she had the girls at the park. Eric took the opportunity to catch up with the girls, asking about their flight and Uncle Jas’ house.
Eric had joined the cast for lunch in the Barn. Freyda was sitting at the same table, but it was Victor that spoke. “Eric, is everything OK with Sookie? Freyda was concerned with the video that was leaked yesterday.”
“Yes, I spoke to Sookie earlier; she saw the video and was pretty pissed.”
“Oh Eric, I am sorry” Freyda purred, moving to sit next to him. “What can I do to help?”
“Yes, help with your break up with Sookie.”
“She is pissed at the station for jumping to conclusions, but not at me. She trusts me.”
Victor and Freyda shared a look that did not escape Eric.
‘What the hell, that plan was foolproof. The video was incriminating, no crew was around; it definitely should have worked.’ “Well, Eric, I’m happy for you, you really did find a good one there.”
“Yes Freyda, the best. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to make a call before we get back to filming. Alcide, can you go over some contracts with me when you get a chance? I’ll be in the office.”
“Hey sleepy head are you awake?”
“Barely. How are you?”
“I’m fine. Just wanted to hear your voice since it’s been almost a whole day. Well, I don’t really count the slurry stuff you were saying last night.”
“Ugh, now you know I can’t hold my liquor.”
“I do know, although not as up close and personal as Pam knows, and Jason. Pam told me he had to carry you to bed.”
“Stop, no more…tell me something good.”
“One of the new scenes is completely done.”
“So, one to go, and it will still be shot before I return?”
“Good, cause I don’t want to use more alcohol to not think about it.”
“I agree. You are no good on alcohol. I missed talking to you last night. I only have a quick break; Alcide is here for a meeting, so I need to go. I’ll talk to you tonight. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
Eric ended the call and turned to Alcide. “I want Victor and Freyda followed and monitored.”
“What’s going on?”
“I think they planted the camera person from last night.”
“I wouldn’t put it past either of them, why do you think they did it?”
“At lunch, they started a conversation about the video. It felt rehearsed. When I got to the part about Sookie being pissed at the reporters but not me, they couldn’t hide a shared look that I swear revealed shock and disappointment. I just don’t trust them, but I have no evidence to accuse them of anything.”
“No, not with all the peace keeping work Godric has assigned. I’ll talk with Maxwell about extra eyes.”
“Don’t let this get back to Quinn. I need to get back to filming. Thanks Alcide.”
Pam took the girls to lunch after the park; then returned home to Jason’s house. “Sookie, are you up?”
They heard her in Jason’s bedroom. “In here.”
“Mama, whatcha doing?”
“Cleaning for Uncle Jas, you know I think it only gets done when I come around at Easter. I think it’s the real reason he agrees to host us down here.”
“Sookie, you’re too good to people, you need to stop and do more for yourself.”
“That’s not likely to happen. You guys up for an egg hunt then a drive out to my old family home? I called Tara and she’ll be there this afternoon. Her husband, JB, is visiting his folks while he’s off and won’t return until Sunday morning for Easter.”
“I would love to see where you grew up Sookie. Teacups, let’s get you cleaned up before we go.”
“Uh, Pam, you may not want to take the time to change them. There is a lake on that property as well. They’ll be playing with Tara’s son Robert in the mud for hours. We should just pack something clean for them to change into.”
Letting out an exasperated sigh, Pam turned and replied, “Ok, I’ll go pack for them, but now the pictures from the egg hunt will be ruined by these horrible clothes.”
“I’m sure we’ll survive that atrocity Pam.”
The girls loved the Bon Temps egg hunt, and they fit in perfectly with their dirty pants. Nobody was dressed in Easter dresses or bonnets. Sookie smirked at Pam as she pointed that fact out.
“Sookie, you tried to tell me we were eating rabbit last night, it’s not like I have that much respect for the culture here….”
“I’ll get you for that Pam. Maybe I will fix you up with one of the town’s most eligible bachelors for the Easter Sunday Brunch.”
“Try it witch!”
They headed to Sookie’s family home after the egg hunt and Sookie gave Pam a tour. She explained that her friends Tara and JB were currently renting the house. Pam appreciated the history of the house and the stories Sookie had of her childhood. While the girls played, Sookie ended her reminiscing with a visit to her parent’s and Gran’s graves. Pam joined her for a few moments to pay her respects; then gave her time alone. Losing her parents had hurt Sookie, but she was young when they passed and it didn’t leave her with the ache she still felt over the loss of Gran. Gran raised her, was her best friend, her grandmother, father and her mother all in one. Spending time at Gran’s gave, she told Gran about Eric and Pam. She told her she felt like they were family to her and while she was nervous about where they would all be in the next few months, for now, she was very happy. When she finished talking, Sookie left Gran’s grave in tears. She was shocked to find Pam waiting for her at the edge of the property with her arms out. Sookie took the hug offered by Pam and quickly finished her pity party. Pam whispered, “I’m sorry I heard, but Sookie, I think you’re my family too.” They walked hand in hand to the kitchen so Sookie could cook dinner for everyone while Pam tended to her teacups.
Bill pulled into the driveway off Hummingbird Lane after seeing Sookie and Pam leave. He was in a very good mood, expecting that the video of Eric and Freyda meant the end of the relationship between Eric and Sookie. Oh, he was going to benefit from that video, and he had nothing to do with it. Eric was digging his own grave just as Bill figured he would. He broke into the house to prepare the basement for his first arrivals and then crossed the cemetery to capture Tara and her son Robert. Tara was surprised to see Bill at first. When his actions started to concern her and she asked him to leave, she quieted immediately when Bill pointing a gun at Robert’s head. They allowed themselves to be led to the abandoned Bellefleur house across the cemetery and down to the basement. Tara shackled Robert to the large sewer pipe in the basement at Bill’s instruction; then did the same for herself. Bill finished by pulling and cuffing their hands behind them; then tightening the chains to prevent any movement since he could not stay with them all the time. Bill covered the basement windows to prevent anyone from seeing in or out; then brought in more of his supplies. Tara’s eyes grew wide as she watched Bill unpack a cot, chains, handcuffs and what appeared to be very sharp knives. She started crying and screaming. She wanted to be brave for Robert, but fear took over. Bill demanded she quiet herself and when she did not, he struck her hard with the end of a hammer he had used to nail wood over the window. Tara blacked out and Robert started crying. “This house is not close to anything but a graveyard, and nobody there can help you now. So stop crying for help before I hit your head as well.” After finishing his set-up, Bill turned the lights out on his captives and left.
Eric was happy. It was Friday night and he had just finished filming the final intimate scene with Freyda and he could hardly wait to call Sookie and share the news. He ran into the house to start his dinner and then dialed the webcam to Sookie.
She had barely answered when he blurted, “We’re done.” Not realizing the impact the scenes were having on her, Sookie just started crying in relief. “Oh Sookie, I know this was bothering you, but I had no idea this call would make you cry.”
“I’m sorry” she squeaked out.
“Don’t be sorry, I wish I was there. But the good news is we have finished filming half of the house scenes for the whole movie. We are a bit ahead of schedule. I have even more good news. The move into your new Barn is all done! You can host your first open mic night in the new location the week after you return to Pennsylvania. The flyers Pam had made can be distributed; I’ll have Bobby take care of that tomorrow.”
Sookie started to brighten, “That is great.”
“I have one more bit of news. Maxwell discovered that Freyda and Victor paid one of the catering staff to make and post that film you saw last night. He was instructed by Victor to film it without getting Alcide in the picture, and when it was done, to share it with one of the celebrity news rags. He reported his findings to Godric and after chewing Freyda out, the bottom line is, she is not welcome in the house again. Not that I am cooking for everyone anyway, but when you come back she won’t be in the house anymore.”
“I don’t know how I feel about all that. I mean, I’m thrilled that she is kicked out of my house, that kind of pissed me off, but I was trying to respect what Godric was trying to do. On the other hand, they schemed against you. Why did Godric only chew out Victor?”
“Victor is my problem, he doesn’t work for Godric.
They talked a while more about the movie and the egg hunt for the girls. Sookie called for them so they could get on the iPad and show Eric the loot they got from the hunt. Eric continued to cook his own dinner while they talked; ending the call only when Sookie promised to call him in about an hour and he waggled his eyebrows at his request. She rolled her eyes at him but promised.
After putting the girls to bed, Sookie excused herself to take a bath. She snuck her phone in and called Eric.
“Hey, are you done with dinner?”
“Yes, and I’m alone in the house.”
“Hmm, I’m alone in the tub. I wish I had someone to wash my back.”
“If I was there I would do more than just wash your back you know.”
“Oh really, and what would you do?”
“I would play with those delicious breasts of yours. I would kiss them and suckle them and pinch them.”
Feeling brazen, Sookie replied, “Eric, you’re having an effect on me from so far away, I need to do some of that for you here. Can you touch yourself for me?”
“Yes Love, where should I touch?”
“Start with your chest, your hard muscles that are covered by your soft hairs that tickle my fingers when I rub you. Where else should I touch Eric?”
‘She is actually doing this. I can’t believe it.’ Smiling, he requested “Sookie, get on your knees with your legs spread and move one hand down your tummy to my pussy. Part your folds like I do. Imagine my tongue on you as you play with your clit.”
“Yes Love, should I touch more too?”
Sookie was getting breathless the more they went on but she continued. “Yes, take your cock in your hand and stroke it while I stroke my clit. …. Are you hard Eric?”
It did not take long for them to both come to completion. Sookie blushed at what they had done, but she did feel better. Eric called her on it. “You are very quiet now that you’ve cum my Love. Are you blushing?”
“Eric, stop. I may not be able to look you in the face when we go home.”
“Oh Love, you will have to get over that because nothing is going to stop me from attacking you when you walk in through the door. You’ll need a plan for the girls.”
“Yes dear. I better get out of this tub before Pam figures it out.”
On Saturday, Sookie was home alone to assemble the Easter baskets while Pam had taken the girls to the park again. Jason had also disappeared claiming he had a date for lunch. Sookie was starting on the Easter baskets in Jason’s room when she heard the door open. She called out figuring it was Jason since Pam was going to text before she returned. Nobody answered at first, so Sookie stood to investigate. She froze when she went into the living room to see Bill standing there. She clutched the stuffed rabbit purse from Maura’s Easter basket in her hands. Taking a firm hold of her Bill said, “Sookie we need to talk without interruptions.”
Sookie started squirming to get out of Bill’s grasp. “Bill, we have nothing to discuss. How did you even know I would be here?”
“I spoke to Jason. He and I are both concerned about your relationship with Eric and he knows I’m the better man for you.”
“WHAT? HE TOLD you I would be here?”
“Yes, Sookie. Jason is trying to help you. Eric has been cheating on you, how can you stay with him?”
“He is not cheating on me, and honestly Bill, my being with you will never happen. Whether I am dating Eric or not has no impact on that fact. I never had those feelings for you. I thought of you as a cousin and a friend, but lately, you just scare me and I no longer wish to be around you.”
Bill delivered a large slap across Sookie’s face and yelled “You are mine. You always should have been. I have waited long enough.”
Wiping the blood from her lips Sookie replied, “I don’t know what you’re saying but you need to leave this house; we are not going to talk. Please let go of me and get out.”
“No Sookie, we are leaving.” He kept his grip on her and started dragging her through the house. Bill wasn’t much taller than Sookie, but he had more muscle and Sookie wasn’t able to escape his grasp. She could however kick and she did. She knocked over all the furniture and knick knacks she could reach on the way out. She grabbed Bill’s arm and scratched as hard as she could and rubbed her hand with her blood from her lip and his blood from the scratch on the door. Once outside, she continued to knock over the porch furniture and the pots of flowers she had placed there for the holiday. She wanted Pam to know there was a fight when she returned. Once they reached the car and Bill secured her from escape, he touched her cheek and tried to lean in and kiss her. Since she was bound, her only response to Bill was to spit at him. He was so furious he hit her hard enough to knock her out.
Pam arrived about an hour later and stopped before she even got to the door; the front porch was in complete disarray and the door was ajar. She was on the phone to Eric before she got out of the car. Eric had her hang up and call Sookie. The phone rang several times then went to voicemail so she called Eric right back. Keeping on the line with Eric at his request, she entered the home and when she saw the smear of blood on the door and everything broken on the floor, she knew Sookie was gone before she started calling her name.