I felt something was ‘off’ when I woke up the next morning, before I fully regained consciousness, and it took me opening my eyes to realize what it was. Seeing that I was in the guest room – my old room – brought back the memories of the night before and what had brought me there to begin with, but the ‘off’ feeling hadn’t come from sleeping in a different bed, it had come from sleeping in a bed without Eric there beside me.
Bubba’s big ass pressed against me just wasn’t the same as the other big ass asleep in the room across the hall.
I couldn’t believe Eric’s reaction, or overreaction, the night before. While Bill fucking Compton would never make his way onto my Christmas card list, I didn’t think the man was secretly stalking and lusting after a Preg-a-saurus. I hadn’t seen him since the night he’d been to the house and if anyone needed a bodyguard, it was Eric since he was the one with the crazy stalker bitch after him. God only knew what bush or tree she was hiding behind before she jumped out and showed her face again and his attitude and demeanor the night before of the whole thing only reminded me of his doucheyness of the olden days.
Why couldn’t he have reverted back to when he was the Master Wooer instead? If he was going to act like a caveman, couldn’t he at least leave it to just pulling my hair a little while he fucked me like an animal?
The other thing I couldn’t believe – more than anything else – was that he hadn’t slipped into bed with me at some point in the night. Granted, had I been awake and felt him climb in beside me, I might have kicked him in his shins, but he still could’ve at least tried. The sad part was I was already becoming accustomed to going to sleep and waking without him because of the crazy hours he’d been working and I supposed it was good practice for when he left for Greenland to play kissy face with Sophie Anne.
And I hoped she had a penchant to eat massive amounts of garlic and onions before each and every one.
While I knew he was stressed and tired from working all of the time, I didn’t think that excused his behavior in the least. I had my own stresses to deal with; the pregnancy, working, and his upcoming departure to name a few, so he wasn’t the only one who had issues and the fact that I’d been his fan girl growing up didn’t mean I would kowtow to the great Eric Northman now.
If he hadn’t lost those three weeks of his memories, he’d know that.
I knew it still irked him he couldn’t remember that time and we’d talked about taking a drive to Miramar that day, but the thought of being locked away within the interior of his car, undoubtedly arguing for several hours with nothing but a console, and perhaps Bubba’s needy ass in between us, didn’t sound pleasant. I was still angry for a whole slew of reasons and knew I’d either say something I would regret or turn into a blubbering idiot. Neither of those things sounded like a great way to spend the day, so rather than turn into a Sookie Monster of a different kind, I opted to go out for a little while to try and clear my head.
I hadn’t intended on standing there and watching Eric sleep for twenty minutes, nor had I intended on kissing his stupid kissable forehead before I left, but taking Bubba with me had been all Bubba’s idea because he darted out into the garage and refused to go back into the house when I tried to leave him there. I supposed Eric would need to get used to not having him around too, so I didn’t try very hard to get him to stay and doubted I could’ve pulled his heavy ass back inside anyway, but as soon as we turned out of the gates surrounding the neighborhood, I had no idea of where we could go, so I just drove until we’d ended up at the shelter I used to volunteer at. With everything else going on, I hadn’t had the time to go there regularly anymore and it was already too late to do much now since I’d already missed the breakfast rush, but Lafayette’s car was still parked outside so I pulled in next to his and since I didn’t have pockets, I tucked my cell phone into my bra like any respectable redneck would. The girls were so big now, it fit perfectly right inside of my cleavage and couldn’t be seen thanks to my maternity top.
No sooner had we walked through the door when I heard his voice asking, “Hookah, how in da hell do you keep upright with them ta-ta’s gettin’ up in here five minutes before you?”
“Shut the hell up,” I smiled. “Do not mock the powers of the Wonder Twins. They not only bring the great Eric Northman to his proverbial knees, they make milk too!” Spying his mug on the counter next to him, I asked, “Need a little cream for your coffee?” I laughed outright seeing his face contort into horror and added, “What? I’m just trying to be hospitable. It’s the southern lady in me.”
My boobs beeped a second later alerting me I had a new text and as he watched me reach into my top to pull out my phone, he snickered and reached into his own tight top pulling out his cell phone, saying, “Girl, I think my ghetto fabulousness has rubbed the shine off a your southern lady-ness.” Seeing my grimace as I read Eric’s text, he asked, “Somethin’ wrong shuga?”
“It’s Eric,” I answered as I hesitated in replying back to both of them. I didn’t want to tell Eric where I was for fear a Humvee full of mercenaries might pull to a screeching halt outside seconds later, but I didn’t want to give him any more reasons to worry about me either, so I gave Eric an evasive answer and explained to Lafayette, “We’re sort of fighting and he wants to know where I am.”
“Jus’ flash dem titties at him and he’ll forget all about it!” he chortled as though that would cure everything along with world hunger.
They weren’t THAT big, but it would probably at least distract Eric for a little while in the meantime.
“No,” I glared back at him. “That would be rewarding him in spite of his highhanded fuckery last night.”
Laf pulled up two chairs for us to plop down into and said, “Tell momma all about it.”
So I did, fully expecting him to agree with me like any good friend should, but Laf always had a way about him that made him see both sides of the coin and this case was no different. I both loved and hated that about him because really all I wanted to hear was that I was right and Eric was wrong.
Because he was.
I didn’t want to hear that Eric was just worried about me and the Bean; how he wanted to make sure we were okay and probably felt like shit because he knew he couldn’t be there to do it himself; how he might feel like it was thanks to his career that put me in the hospital to begin with and it terrified him it could happen all over again – even worse – when he was thousands of miles away with no way of getting to me.
Nope. Didn’t want to hear one fucking word of that.
But some of it might have leaked through despite my reinforced bitch shields.
So like any normal girl in the throes of full on denial, I distracted him by saying, “So, I think I may have found you that bit of spice you were looking for, only I don’t know how to go about asking him if he’d be interested. I know he’s single and my instincts tell me he’s gay, but he hasn’t come out and said anything.”
And just like that, Lafayette’s attention was focused on everything that didn’t have to do with the little bit of guilt that was creeping up inside of me over Eric as I continued to dodge answering his texts on my whereabouts. After his nagging reassurances extoling the powers of my innate ability to blindly seek out and befriend the members of the gay and lesbian community (and doing a quick run through of my closest friends confirmed his suspicions), I left Lafayette with a promise that I would mention him to Jesus when I saw him on Monday afternoon at rehearsal.
Bubba and I had just climbed back into the car with me contemplating going back home to face Eric and get it over with when Pam called which only got me fired up again, so after telling her what happened with Eric (and getting her caveman concurrence) I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of doing what he was so hell bent on getting me to do just yet and drove to the Senior Citizen’s Center instead. I hadn’t been there in ages and spent the next couple of hours catching up with all of them (after first silencing my cell phone because pulling it out of my bra in front of Lafayette was one thing, but there was no way I would do that kind of thing there) while they all showered Bubba with affection. He ate it up and hadn’t acted like Cujo once, so as a reward I took him to the local dog park so he could run around and play with the other dogs.
There weren’t a lot of people there thanks to the dreary afternoon and when he seemed sufficiently tuckered out, I called him over so we could finally head home. I knew Eric’s dad would be there soon and while I’d told Pam Eric could just order pizza, I didn’t really want him to have to knowing he didn’t get to enjoy many home cooked meals anymore thanks to his schedule. I’d pulled out some chicken to fry up for dinner before I’d left that morning and needed to get it started, but just as Bubba jumped into the driver’s side door, I heard a somewhat familiar voice call out from behind me, saying, “Sookie?”
Bubba had just been making his way into the backseat at the same time when I turned to face the voice, but all I saw was him streak by me as he nearly knocked me down in order to get around me. His scary Cujo bark was back in full force and I yelled out his name as I watched him leap onto the unsuspecting woman I now recognized from the maternity store while I ran over to them trying to get him off of her. She screamed as he bit down on the arm she’d put in front of her while I tried to pull him off by his collar, but he was too big and he ended up knocking her down to the ground with her hitting her head and I watched in horror as it bounced hard on the pavement.
Bubba finally let go of her arm and she was covered in streaks of blood, but he stood over her growling until we both seemed to realize she wasn’t moving and in my panic, my adrenaline spiked giving me the strength to wrestle him into the car and shut the door. I ran back over and knelt down to check on her, but now that I didn’t have Bubba’s body in the way, I could see something else that made me panic.
In the melee, her fake pregnancy belly pillow had come loose and was lying beside her.
Alarm bells were ringing in my head and the sounds of Bubba’s deafening angry barking made a quick return, but over it all I was still able to hear from right behind me, “Hello Sookeh.” I barely had the time to gasp, much less turn around, before one arm banded around my body from behind as another hand came up and pressed a sweet smelling rag to my face. I tried to break free to no avail and just as my body and mind started to fade, I heard him speak softly into my ear, “Never send a woman to do a man’s job.”
I don’t know how much time had passed when I started to come to, but I could tell that I was moving and when I tried to stretch out, I quickly realized I couldn’t and my eyes finally popped open as the adrenaline started pumping through my body again, now remembering the last moments before I’d slipped away.
I was in a car, going God knows where down the freeway, sitting next to a familiar yet entirely new kind of monster.
“Ahh…” Bill purred. “My little southern belle has awoken.”
I wanted to yell and scream, but there was something in his eyes that scared the ever loving bejeezus out of me seeing the massive amounts of crazy behind them. Even more so than the fact that he’d apparently kidnapped me and I was afraid of pissing him off when I couldn’t defend myself or the Bean thanks to my hands being bound by something behind me and my seatbelt tightly secured over my body. He must have pulled the belt out so that it locked back into place as he released it again because it had no give whatsoever when I tried to move, so my survival instincts kicked in, with me hoping I’d eventually have the opportunity to kick him, and I meekly asked, “Bill? What are you doing?”
It was stupid, considering the predicament I was in, but my mind flashed to Bubba and I hoped he hadn’t done anything to him. My eyes welled up at just the thought, but I didn’t have the courage to ask knowing I’d fall apart if he told me he’d hurt him; or worse.
“I’m taking back what is rightfully mine,” he answered calmly.
The crazy kind of ‘ I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti’ calmly.
“What do you mean Bill?” I asked, even though I was terrified of his answer. “What’s yours?”
“Why you, of course, Sookeh,” he replied, looking over at me like I was a dipshit.
Great! Apparently I attracted not only bi and homosexuals, but cavemen as well.
A big part of me wanted to ignore him; pretend he wasn’t there and I wasn’t there with me wishing like hell I’d listened to Eric and stayed home. He was never going to let me live this down, if I lived at all, and the thought of spending hours arguing in the car with him was so much better than where I was now, but a larger part of me needed answers. I couldn’t understand why on earth Bill would think I was his when I didn’t even know him. I didn’t want to give away the fact that Eric and I had seen him in the casino’s security footage, so I just asked, “Why do you think that I’m yours? We don’t even know each other.”
“That is where you’re wrong, darling,” he replied and making me want to vomit, but his explanation made it all so much worse.
“You see, I know all there is to know about you, partly thanks to your cousin Hadley.”
Hadley? I hadn’t seen Hadley in years.
“Now darling,” he started with his voice full of contriteness which only freaked me out more, “don’t be upset, but before you I used to date your cousin.” He paused before clarifying, “Well, I use the term date loosely since I was obligated to pay her for her time.”
He looked back at me and when the realization dawned on me he was saying Hadley was a prostitute, which sadly was no big surprise, he continued on with, “She was a beautiful girl, but her beauty was fast being ruined by her drug addiction. I sometimes dabbled with her, but I’ve since given that up. Since you didn’t hold that against him I will assume you won’t hold that against me.”
Hearing him talk like we were going to be together in a way that didn’t involve restraints, while refusing to say Eric’s name, made me want to yell out over and over that I was most definitely Eric’s in a way that was just as crazy as him, but I had the Bean to worry about so I kept my fucking mouth shut in the hopes he would continue telling me just what in the hell any of it had to do with me while trying to figure a way out of the mess I was in.
The old adage ‘Be careful what you wish for’ came to mind when he was done.
“You see, I tried to get her to clean up her act. I’d come to care for her, in a way, and could see the southern beauty she used to be underneath the abused waif she’d become before drugs took over her life. I thought she would make a respectable…not wife because I would never marry someone with that kind of history, but partner of sorts. Someone I could proudly display on my arm when I went anywhere, but who also knew her way around a bedroom. When I suggested she change her lifestyle, she laughingly told me if I wanted a wholesome version of her, then I should seek out her cousin. She’d seen you working at that little diner one night when she was out working, but had never gone inside to make herself known to you. She said she didn’t want the hassle knowing you would attempt to try and help her when she didn’t want anyone’s help. I, however, did want help because I’d already set my mind to having her to myself, so I went looking for you thinking you could help me in achieving that goal.”
His head turned to look into my eyes and I didn’t like what they held as he said, “And then I saw you.”
Ass puckered? Check. Deer caught in the headlights? That was me.
“Darling, I could tell from the moment I saw you that you were perfect for me. Not only were you more beautiful than Hadley could ever hope to be, but you were the type of woman I could actually marry. She’d told me about how you grew up as a bookworm; that you were studious and didn’t waste your time doing the same kinds of things she did.” His voice took on an angry edge that had me shaking when he spat out, “She mocked your virtue even as she took my money, paying her as the whore she was.”
Hadley had been right; I would’ve done everything in my power to try and help her if I’d known where she was and what she’d been up to. Growing up, she’d always been closer to Jason, but she was still my family and that would always mean something to me.
He seemed to be on a roll now that he was talking and before I could ask him about her, he explained, “I watched you for months. I would sit outside of that little diner at night and watch you through the front window; always with a smile on your face; a kind word for everyone you met. I got to know your routine and saw how selfless you were volunteering your time in feeding the street vermin before going to spend time with the elderly.” He looked at me again with a seriousness on his face that made his next statement crazy times a thousand as he said, “While I can appreciate you wanting to help those less fortunate, I will not allow you to continue on with that now that we are finally together. Your time should be spent with me.”
Months. He said he’d been following me for months before I’d ever met Eric and the fact that he knew those things about me at all made me believe him. Eric couldn’t even blame his celebrity for this since it seemed I had a stalker first.
I hoped to God I would have the opportunity to be able to jokingly make a neener neener face at him.
Maybe Eric had had a sixth sense about him the whole time because even though he’d had no real reason to suspect him, Eric had been right all along. My whole being was tense and had been the entire time, but my mind was suprisingly calm. My heart wasn’t trying to thump its way out of my chest, so I didn’t know if I was in shock or my body was trying to save my energy for when I’d hopefully have a chance to escape. We couldn’t stay in the car forever and the sun was already disappearing from the sky, so with him mainly sticking to the far right lane of the freeway, I didn’t even have the opportunity to try and signal anyone with my facial expressions that I needed help.
But oh how I needed it.
Eric would be going ape shit by now, but thanks to me showing my ass all day long, he wouldn’t even know where to begin to look for me. No one knew where I’d gone because it had been a last minute decision and I could only hope that someone would notice Bubba in the car, if Bill hadn’t done anything to him, and call the police. Surely they would call the house, even if they towed my car, since Bubba was there, but that only reminded me of who else had been there and Bill’s words of ‘Never send a woman to do a man’s job’ filtered back through my head.
“Who was the other woman at the park?” I asked softly. I knew it hadn’t been Hadley, even if she did look similar to me.
“Ah,” he nodded and answered, “Debbie.”
“Debbie Pelt?” I asked in disbelief. The picture we’d seen had been ten years old and while she could have dyed her naturally brunette hair blond, we knew her eyes were brown and that woman had had blue eyes.
Her face didn’t even look the same, but before I could say anything he answered, “Yes.” Shaking his head like he felt sorry for her, he added, “She’s a very sick woman. I’m afraid she’s obsessed with him and she’s gone off the deep end.”
Hello? Care to glance into that mirror above your head? Look familiar?
“We met, in of all places, in Las Vegas,” he said while now glaring at me. “Sookeh, I was very disappointed to see you dressed as you were that night. I hadn’t even expected to see you there at all because I’d only gone for the celebrity poker game and one last weekend of bachelorhood before I formally committed myself to you. I’d planned on approaching you when I returned.”
I had to swallow back the bile that threatened to come up realizing just how long he’d been after me, but he kept talking like it was nothing at all, saying, “After he showed up and you’d fallen under his sway, like so many others, I decided to forgive you your fanaticism over him and continue on with my plans of courting you. He was never one to stay with one woman for more than a night or two, so I would be the bigger man and help you heal your broken heart when he cast you to the side like everyone else. Debbie, it turns out, had followed him there and had been trying to garner his attention, but she was no match for you and he understandably chose the better. Since I was allowing you your little last dalliance, I saw no reason not to have my own and we spent the night together in my hotel room. She’d been very vocal about her obsession over him and my association with him on the show worked to my advantage, but when we woke up the next day to the news that you’d actually married him, it changed things. Again, I did not believe it would last longer than it would take to get an annulment signed, but then you moved in with him. He accompanied you everywhere and then you never left his side after the accident. Debbie was the one to figure out you were pregnant and while she refused to believe it was his, I knew you well enough to know it must be. You were not a whore like Hadley, or Debbie for that matter, and Eric Northman is not the type of man who would want to become a father, so I knew he probably only agreed to the farce for publicity’s sake. I had no doubts you would separate after the child was born, so I put my plans on hold while still keeping an eye on you. However Debbie did not stick to those plans and continued to put herself into Eric’s path. She followed him to Louisiana; she dyed her hair and got extensions so mimic your own; she wore contacts to have the blue eyes she thought he would rather see; she even had minor plastic surgery trying to alter her face to look similar to yours, but as you could see, she failed. Beauty such as yours cannot be falsely obtained.”
Was I supposed to be flattered? Because I so wasn’t. He was fucking cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
“I’d placed a tracking device on her car, like I did with both of yours, so that’s how I knew she’d been following you both,” he said casually while my body flushed feeling thoroughly violated. I could feel the urge to start yelling again, but I swallowed it now knowing just how insane he was.
I was going to be the subject of one of those Lifetime movies Pam had accused Eric of watching too many of. I just knew it.
He was a chatty fucking Cathy now that he was confessing his psychosis and kept rambling on with, “I started going to that diner you used to work at as a way to still feel close to you after I knew I would have to wait for the child to be born. Seeing you there last night, up close for the first time in months, changed my mind. I no longer wanted to wait to have you when you were mine first. I saw you first and Northman had no right to take you from me. You were always supposed to be mine and yet somehow I found myself once again waiting for him to throw you away like all of the others. I decided he’d had you for long enough and I knew Debbie had taken to following you around since he’s been filming where she couldn’t get in to see him, so I called her. She told me how you’d agreed to have coffee with her next Saturday, but like I said, I didn’t want to wait. I told her to approach you and talk you into going with her today and then she could have him that much sooner. Had she done her job correctly, you would have merely become disoriented and fallen asleep when she slipped a little something into your drink and I would’ve come to your aid and taken you away quietly. You wouldn’t have been subjected to all that you were earlier. I didn’t want to scare you.”
Like THIS was any less fucking terrifying now?
My mind had been soaking up every word he’d said, filing and cataloging it away for – hopefully – a future trial, but one thing kept getting stuck in my head, so when he’d fallen silent again, I fearfully asked, “Why did you refer to Hadley in the past tense?
He’d said she was beautiful and it had been bothering me, just like it bothered me when he pursed his lips and contorted his face like he smelled something bad as he answered, “Now darling, I don’t want to frighten you with what I’m about to tell you, but it really is for the best.”
How in the hell can you brace yourself for something like that when it was coming from a madman?
I’ll tell you… You can’t.
He gave me what I assumed was supposed to be a comforting smile and patted my knee, making me outwardly cringe and shy away from him, which made him change his look into a menacing one and scaring me even more, while he answered, “I killed her.”
I couldn’t help the startled gasp from leaving my throat or the tears that finally fell from my eyes and he had the nerve to look sorry again as he explained, “Darling, don’t be upset. Really, it was for her own good. She would never become a productive member of society. In fact, had I not killed her when I did, she would’ve likely shown up on your doorstep when she learned you’d landed a rich husband. It was why she’d come to me right as I was getting ready to leave for Las Vegas, looking for a handout, and she lashed out in her jealousy when I told her we were through; that I would be pursuing only you once I returned and she said some very nasty things to me in return. My anger got the better of me, but now we don’t have to worry about her intruding on our lives anymore. I buried her body in the middle of the desert on the way to Las Vegas, so no one will ever know.” He paused and added thoughtfully, “I doubt anyone has even noticed that she’s gone.”
Hearing just how far gone he was in his mental illness had the fear and adrenaline pumping like mad through my body now. I needed to get the hell away from him and I wondered where in the hell the paparazzi were when I actually needed them, but since I could tell by the signs on the freeway we were still in California – headed south apparently – I didn’t know when or where I’d get my chance. I assumed if he’d wanted to kill me, he would’ve done it already, but from the sounds of it we were going to run away and live happily never after together. I just didn’t know where La-La Land existed, so I pushed aside the grief and anger I felt over Hadley’s murder and in my fear for my own safety, I asked, “Where are we going?”
Since he seemed to take that as an, ‘It’s okay that you murdered my cousin. I’m over it,’ he smiled broadly answering, “Mexico.”
Mexico? What in the hell was in Mexico? I didn’t even know how long it would take to drive to Mexico, but from the clock on the dashboard I could see I’d been gone from the dog park for over an hour now. My mind went into overdrive as I thought about the fact we would have to go through the border crossing and I knew could yell out to someone then for help, but either I had a flashing billboard on my forehead detailing my plans or Bill was telepathic because he said, “I’m afraid I’ll have to sedate you again before we get there in case you try and alert anyone that I might have taken you unwillingly.” He looked back at me as if to question if I would dare do so, but I was no actor and doubted my ability to hide the fact that yes, I guaran-damn-tee you I would be screaming my fool head off. He must have read that too because he shook his head as though he was hurt I would dare to think that way and said, “If they even ask about your sleepy state, I’ll blame the pregnancy and then once we’re in Mexico we can take care of that little issue and get on with our lives.”
What? Take care of WHAT little issue?
“What do you mean?” I asked, unable to keep the terror from my voice.
Again, he looked at me like he was speaking to a child, and said, “Why the pregnancy, of course. If you go to the right doctor and have the money, they don’t care how far along you are to abort it. Then your only ties will be to me.”