I watched Eric walk from the room to go call Pam and felt myself sigh. Not because he was leaving, but because of the way those jeans did my favorite part of him justice. However Lilly got my attention again in true Stackhouse fashion by smacking my face.
Maybe Eric was onto something about it being genetic.
My biggest argument with Eric at the moment had been she was Northman through and through and he was blind not to see it.
Maybe it was because Lilly had his eyes.
I snorted at my ridiculousness and just stared down at her, enjoying the feel of her against my chest and wondered if she knew just how much we loved her. How lucky we all were that there was a light at the end of this godforsaken tunnel and hoped we were also at the end of the drama that seemed to stalk us like, well…our stalkers.
We got occasional updates from the detectives and prosecutor on Debbie Pelt and the last we’d heard, she was being treated for her delusions with medication and was relatively sane now, but because the court appointed doctor treating her had declared she’d been capable of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of the crime, they were going forward with her prosecution. Not only would she go on trial for what she’d done to us, but she was charged in the death of Bill Compton as well since he’d died in the commission of a felony she’d been an accomplice to. That also meant Eric and I would have to testify at some point in the future, but her parents had hired an attorney for her that was making a case to plead she was mentally incompetent which they must have believed considering what else she admitted to once she was back on her meds.
It seemed after she was done stalking us in Louisiana over the Thanksgiving holiday, she’d made a spur of the moment trip home to Jackson Mississippi where she abducted her sister. Debbie had been adopted as a baby when the Pelts couldn’t conceive a child of their own – that is until she was two years old and Sandra was born. Be it sibling rivalry or something more that had to do with her mental state, she had resented her sister and what she perceived as her parents’ preference for their biological child over her. Debbie’s brown hair and eyes were the opposite of her sister’s blond and blue and since her parents were also fair haired, she felt like the black sheep of the family. She’d been so jealous of me for being Eric’s wife that she took out her frustrations on her sister and murdered her – the first blond she’d ever been jealous of, so when she was done facing charges in California she would have to return there for a second trial.
I didn’t feel sorry for Debbie – I wasn’t that good of a Christian – nor did I forgive her for everything she’d done to us, but I did let go of the anger because I knew it wouldn’t do anything but fester and take away from the life I was trying to lead now. I’d be happy to never see her again, but that just called for another wish for gassy rainbows because we’d have to face her when it was time for her trial.
That was just a bridge we’d have to cross when we got to it.
And if Pam was there, she just might throw her over it.
I felt a little tug at my heart just thinking about it – not over Debbie, but because it brought back memories of my own parents’ deaths. The flash flood had come up out of nowhere and swept their car off of the bridge they’d been driving over and out into the river. It took a full day before their bodies were found nearly a mile downstream. Thinking about them now made me look down at Lilly and try to pick out any discernible features of theirs in her, but it was no use.
She was a Northman through and through.
But still I wondered over what their reactions would have been seeing her. I had always been daddy’s little girl, so I was sure he would’ve been over the moon holding his granddaughter for the first time and then he would’ve taken a shotgun to Eric now that he had physical proof Eric had defiled his little girl.
If he only knew…
My mother however would’ve loved both of them. She was a friend to everyone she met and in every memory I had of her she was always smiling, if not laughing, and it was what helped me come to terms with their deaths as I got older. Jason and I missed out on having years of memories with them – happy stories I would have had that could be passed on to Lilly, but I knew they never would have chosen to leave us that way and at least I wasn’t left with any doubt they had been happy with their lives. What we may have lacked in money or material things we made up for in spades with a life full of love and that was what I wanted most to give to Lilly. Eric’s career might have afforded us a financial security, but I’d give it all up in a heartbeat if it meant her life would be rich with happy memories instead.
We were at least fortunate enough that my mother had insisted on taking pictures all of the time whether or not there was a celebration at hand. Gran had hundreds of them documenting the time from when they were just high school sweethearts all the way up until their deaths which was why I was determined to do the same for Lilly. We had the paparazzi to thank for documenting the start of our relationship, but we’d gotten better about taking pictures ourselves and probably had hundreds of her by now too, but the ones that meant the most to me were the weekly shots we took of her with Eric’s hand alongside of her. To me there was something about them that transcended the sterility and fragility of both her and her environment. Seeing his hand gently cupping her bare body, wearing nothing more than tubes and wires, didn’t bring with it feelings of a cold and harsh reality because in those moments it didn’t matter that he was a rich and famous actor or that she was the most talked about baby in the world. In those photos he could’ve been any man – he was every man who had ever been a father that loved their child and that was what those pictures illustrated to me.
And I would’ve loved for my parents to have seen them too.
Those thoughts not only threatened to unleash a few stray tears, but my bitterness as well. It seemed unfair that good people like my parents were taken from this world much too soon when people like Eric’s mother still walked the earth no matter how recklessly they lived their lives.
I still worried Eric’s mood would take a nosedive at some point where she was concerned, but it hadn’t happened yet. I’d expected at least an argument when I’d taken that stupid dolphin back to the hotel with us and given it to Bubba as a chew toy, but he hadn’t said a word other than to apologize for snapping at me earlier that day and admitting his mother’s return was the reason behind it. I had already guessed as much, and wasn’t mad at him for it, and with every passing day the eggshells underneath my feet seemed to lessen a little more. Almost a full week had passed since she’d left and she hadn’t called once. She hadn’t tried to use him for his money. She hadn’t seemed to hurt him at all while she’d been there, so I had hope we’d perhaps dodged another bullet.
Or perhaps Eric had farted a rainbow while I’d been gone.
I snickered feeling a little rumble coming from his daughter’s hind end, but unsurprisingly no rainbows appeared and watching her sleep soundly on my chest while feeling the warmth of her skin pressed against me made my own eyes droop. Eric had been way too enthusiastic over the past several nights in wanting to celebrate my ‘early retirement’ and it was starting to catch up with me.
Because every night when he chased me, I always let him catch me.
I closed my eyes intending to rest them for only a few moments, so I was surprised when Eric’s dad was suddenly at my side gently shaking me awake and saying, “Sookie. Have you heard from Eric?”
“What time is it?” I asked, thinking I couldn’t have been out for very long, so I was shocked when he replied, “It’s almost one o’clock.”
We’d gotten to the hospital a little after nine that morning and weren’t in the NICU for very long when he’d walked out to call Pam. I shifted in my chair so I could stand up and put Lilly down, saying, “He went out to call Pam, but that was a while ago. Did you check the cafeteria? Maybe he got hung up signing autographs?”
As soon as I started putting Lilly down in her incubator she started fussing which made me pick her back up. I knew I was setting myself up for long days and nights of constantly having to hold her in the future, but I wasn’t about to deny her. She’d gone through enough fuckery in her short life, so if she wanted to be held, then damn it that was what I was going to do.
Fuck Dr. Spock. I preferred Mr. Spock anyways.
I soothed my non-Vulcan baby in my arms and reached for my cell phone, but didn’t really expect to have a message from Eric since he knew I wouldn’t get it until later on anyway, however seeing the tension on Dad’s face made me falter for a second and hesitantly ask, “Why? What’s wrong?”
Fuck me for seeing that damn light at the end of the drama tunnel. I probably jinxed our asses.
He looked around at the other people inside of the NICU and half-whispered, “Step outside with me and I’ll tell you.”
Lilly was still squirming in my arms and the last thing I wanted to do was put her down now that I was worried about whatever new bullshit was getting thrown at us, so I clutched her to my chest and pleaded in a whispered shout, “Just tell me!”
He must have seen the determination on my face because I watched his shoulders sag in defeat just as he said, “Have a seat first.”
Fuck. This was sit down news?
I moved back towards the chair on shaky legs and sat down, with Eric’s dad coming to kneel in front of me, as he said in just barely more than a whisper, “Pam called me when she didn’t hear from Eric.” I almost interrupted him saying he’d left with the express purpose of calling her, but seeing his grim expression made me keep quiet. That is until he held up his phone to show me the picture of Lilly on the screen and I gasped out loud when he explained, “This is from a gossip magazine’s website. Someone got a picture of her and sold it to them.”
Someone my ass.
Seeing that picture of Lilly didn’t bring any of the warmth I normally felt seeing one and instead I only felt outrage. It felt as though we’d been violated all over again only this time I didn’t have Bill Compton to blame it on.
“It was her,” I said as my heart sank for Eric while my anger rose for my daughter. Seeing that fucking dolphin lying alongside her body, I knew without a doubt who had sold that picture.
Who had sold out her own son.
“Her?” he questioned with a growl in his voice, probably having already guessed who.
“Yes, her,” I gritted out. “Crystal Meth strikes again.”
I knew heroin had been her drug of choice, but Crystal Meth just flowed better and had been what I silently called her in my head.
And in that moment I could totally picture myself fighting her on The Jerry Springer Show. I never would’ve guessed all of those many months ago the whore I would be fighting to chants of ‘Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!’ would be Eric’s own mother.
“How can you be sure?” he asked. Not because he didn’t believe me, but more than likely because he wanted to shout out his evidence as he beat her into a coma.
I fully supported him in his bid for a domestic violence charge and would be the first one in line to bail him out of jail.
“The dolphin,” I sighed. “It’s the same one she brought with her that morning and I took it out of there as soon as I saw it. It had only been in Lilly’s incubator when she was in here, so it had to have been her.”
Bubba ripped it to shreds that very same night as if he’d somehow known it oozed evil – or perhaps that was just Crystal’s natural scent lingering on the toy – and I may have taken a split second to fantasize about him doing the same to Crystal until my Oh Shit alarm went off.
“Where’s Eric?” I stupidly asked considering that was what he’d more or less just asked me.
I quickly handed Lilly over to him and dove for my purse to pull out my cell phone, not waiting for a reply to my first question and asking another. “What did Pam say when she called you?”
“A lot of stuff I’m not going to repeat in front of my granddaughter, but the gist of it was that she’d been fielding phone calls from reporters wanting to know if you all planned to release a statement and to confirm if that picture is really Lilly. She’d been waiting for Eric to call, but figured the two of you saw her text and were going apeshit, so she waited a little while and when she still couldn’t get a hold of Eric, she called me.”
What was there to confirm? Hanging right above her sweet little head was the pink hospital tag with the words ‘Baby Northman’ written across it and again I was assaulted with images of Crystal hanging from a noose while I beat her like a piñata.
Only instead of candy falling out of her it would be dirty syringes and crabs.
But I forced down all of my rage knowing Eric had been wandering around God knows where for the last few hours likely knowing it was his mother who had fucked him over again and used his own daughter to do it. My hate for her could wait, but my need to find Eric could not and as I stared at my phone seeing there was no word from him, I knew then what I had to do.
My eyes flicked over to my still fussing and squirming daughter, but instead of feeling torn over leaving her to go find Eric, I felt only relief seeing the two strong arms that held her. The two large hands that could physically do a world of hurt, but I knew would only protect her and keep her safe because I had no doubts about her grandfather. I was grateful we had him as a part of our family and knew I could depend on him to take care of her, so I could go and take care of her father.
And, God help me, I would be lucky enough to get the chance to TAKE CARE of her bitch grandmother.
Seeming to read my mind, he stared back at me and only said, “Go. I’ll stay here with her. Just let me know when you find him.”
I could only nod before running from the room and as soon as I slid to a stop in front of Rasul, his eyes widened seeing my panic as I nearly shouted, “Where’s Eric?”
He didn’t waste time bothering with any guesses and whipped his phone out to search for his signal. My heart stopped while I held my breath seeing his own eyes widen before looking back at me and saying, “Los Angeles.”
There was no need for me to give him my ‘What the fuck you talkin’ about Willis’ speech because both him and Mustapha always knew what we had planned each and every day. Our schedules had rarely changed considering we were at the hospital day in and day out, but he still called Mustapha once we got to the parking garage and confirmed that Eric was not with him nor had he contacted him. Eric often had to field phone call after phone call, so Rasul had no need to question why he’d been gone for so long having been witness to a few of those marathon sessions and it wasn’t like we were prone to go running off either. The hospital had been our home away from home and we both knew better than to leave without Rasul of Mustapha with us, so seeing our car still parked where we left it that morning made me start to panic wondering if maybe Eric had been kidnapped and taken to L.A.
All things considered, it wasn’t that farfetched.
All things considered…I probably had every right to jump to paranoid conclusions, but I knew Eric well enough to know when he saw that picture he would’ve been livid. He would go storming off wanting heads to fucking roll. His passion didn’t just lie in between the sheets – or up against the shower wall just that morning – but after every shitty hand we’d been dealt, he was fiercely protective of us. He’d always been that way starting with our first morning as husband and wife when we’d become separated in the casino lobby. We didn’t even like each other then and he was still like a rabid grizzly bear warning everyone in his path to not fuck with what was his. Lilly and I were his more than ever now and I hated that it never even occurred to me that his mother would hurt him in this way. To use our daughter to feed her own greed was unfathomable to me and I knew once it sank in – if it hadn’t already by then – it could go one of two ways.
He would either come back under the blanket of guilt he had no reason to feel or he would sink down into the pit of despair where I couldn’t be sure I would even be able to reach him.
We hopped into the car while I tried calling Eric over and over, leaving him both voice and text messages telling him we would deal with it together, but for Christ’s sake…answer the fucking phone already! Traffic was a nightmare and then we were stopped for a full two hours on the interstate thanks to an accident somewhere miles ahead of us, so what was normally a ninety minute ride took fucking hours thanks to all of the rubberneckers we were sharing the road with. Trying to drive through downtown L.A. during rush hour was no picnic either, but I kept pinging Eric’s phone the whole way there to see where he was while hoping it would keep its charge. He hadn’t charged it the night before but he’d had three bars when we’d left that morning. Normally that would be more than enough, but I was sure my constant calling and texting would’ve worn it down. No sooner had I had the thought when I pinged his phone again, now that we were in the city, when it came back saying his signal couldn’t be located.
I recognized the one section he’d mostly been tooling around in while we were still on our way as being the general area where his mother had lived before. I figured he’d run off to go track her down and I’d help him bury the body if that’s what it came down to. He’d said she’d moved to San Francisco, but I was guessing he no longer believed it or thought she might’ve stayed in L.A. after her big payday. However that last location we had for him put him in a part of the city I wasn’t familiar with at all, but we headed there anyway and when we got there, what I saw scared the shit out of me.
Granted his mother was a drug addict, but had that been Eric’s only reason for coming there?
I was sure if I rolled down the windows I’d hear the COPS’ Bad Boys theme song blaring through the night air because we sure as shit weren’t in Diagon Alley. This was Crack Alley – I was sure of it.
Somebody probably just stole the sign telling you it was.
I wasn’t sure what the look on my face was when I bug-eyed Rasul as if to say, ‘I don’t like it either but we’re fucking staying until I find my husband,’ so I tried not to be alarmed when he reached underneath the driver’s seat and pulled out a military looking handgun that he put in his lap before giving me the side-eye.
Gee, things sure have changed. All I ever found underneath the seats was a stray pen or loose change.
We drove the streets for a while at a complete fucking loss all while I threw prayers and wishes out into the stratosphere hoping he hadn’t turned to drugs to dull his pain. I vowed I would never leave him – promised I would work through whatever problems came our way, but I never promised I’d do it with a smile on my face. I could understand his hurt and I’d do whatever I needed to, to help him through that, but as soon as he was thinking clearly again, I’d kick his fucking ass for putting us through this. How he could possibly do that to Lilly after the pain his own mother put him through thanks to drugs…
I took a deep breath to calm down knowing I was getting ahead of myself – getting pissed off in my fear of the unknown, over possibilities I didn’t know for sure existed yet. What I did know was that Eric loved us and no matter what he may or may not have done tonight, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. If he had a onetime slip up then we’d deal with it together.
But in order to do that, I had to fucking find him first.
Without Eric’s signal we had no way of knowing if he was near or far and we had no idea of what kind of car he was in. I figured he must have rented one and knew what credit cards he had in his wallet, but I didn’t know any of the logins or passwords to even begin to track him down. Eric had written it all down and showed me where he kept everything in his office, but that was all I knew.
Their location – not his.
I knew our best shot at finding him was looking through his credit card charges to see if he’d rented a car and then try to find out what kind of car he was driving, but I was torn – afraid to leave the neighborhood imagining the moment we did, Eric would turn the corner we’d just left. For all I knew Eric had been in enough of a snit he just handed over a pile of cash to the first unsuspecting motorist he came across and they were driving him around, which then made my mind leap to another possibility and my eyes turn upwards to the sky.
Nope. No news helicopters.
I was almost disappointed and I could tell Rasul was getting antsy too, so once the rain started and made it nearly impossible to see through the windshields of any passing motorists, he finally convinced me to return to the house. I’d tried calling the home phone every few minutes after Eric’s cell phone had died on the off chance he’d headed there, but all I ever got was the answering machine. According to my text messages from Eric’s dad and Pam, no one had seen or heard from him either and if nothing turned up on his credit card accounts, I was prepared to stand in the middle of downtown L.A. with a bullhorn yelling out his name.
As we pulled up to the gates of our neighborhood – a sight I hadn’t seen in close to two months – I was too bogged down in my fear and worry to get my hopes up that he might be there when Rasul asked the guard on duty if he’d seen Eric recently.
And then my heart nearly flew out of my chest hearing him say he’d just driven through a few minutes earlier.
It wasn’t just my spirits soaring because Rasul floored it as soon as the gate opened and we flew down the street and up our driveway. The first thing I noticed was the two unfamiliar vehicles parked in front of the house and I started getting pissed off again wondering what in the hell was going on for him to have a guest at the house, while I’d been ten seconds away from interrogating street dealers looking for his ass, but when I got out of the car my anger was put on hold seeing Eric come through the front door.
He just stared at me like he wasn’t sure I was actually standing there and I started to wonder if he even wanted me to be standing there, but my feet decided they didn’t care and ran towards him anyway. Most of my worries were put to rest when he met me in the middle and then caught me in his arms.
My anger, however, was back to burning hot.
“You came for me,” he mumbled against my neck, but thanks to our close proximity I could easily smell the alcohol on his breath.
We’d gotten rid of all of the liquor in the house once Eric’s dad started coming over again, only so he wouldn’t have to face the temptation, and I pulled away enough so I could look in his eyes. They were tired and a little red, but his pupils weren’t dilated like he’d taken anything else, so Wicked held onto him tightly while Immoral punched him on his arm as I snapped, “You’ve been in a bar this whole fucking time?”
It seemed at least SHE was a Stackhouse.
I felt bad when Eric dropped to his knees even though I hadn’t hit him that hard, so I was even more confused when he rambled out, “We took the biggest gamble of our lives when we got married – when we decided to stay married, but…”
“What in the hell are you talking about?” I interrupted, still pissed off. “We’ve been driving around for hours looking for you and you were off getting your drunk on this whole time?”
Through the red haze in front of my eyes I saw Eric roll his own as he sighed, “Not the whole time. I spent a fair amount of time in Crack Alley looking for my mother.”
I knew it. Maybe they stole the sign right before we got there.
“But when I didn’t find her,” he added, rambling on with, “I did go to a bar. I didn’t know what to say to you yet because I didn’t think you’d forgive me for letting that bitch get close enough to do what she did and I went there to drink myself under a table because I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you both, but then I ordered a Jack and Coke which made me think of that pirate mother fucker and he’s single now and you could end up with him, but he’s already got his own fucking Lily and she’s my daughter goddamn it and I don’t want her to hate me.”
Christ…how drunk was he?
“Eric!” I yelled while grabbing onto each side of his face. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you see?” he smiled.
“I was sitting there at the bar and when that blond sat down next to me, eye fucking me and asked…”
“Whoa,” I interrupted again. “What eye fucking blond?”
“That’s not the important part,” he huffed in exasperation.
“Oh, I think I’ll decide what’s important,” I huffed back.
Seriously…I felt like I needed to throw a sheet over him. Out of sight – out of eye fucking minds.
He ignored my jealousy and yet stoked it even more, saying, “I would bet my last dollar a year ago tonight I was sitting in that very same bar with another faceless blond or brunette or redhead, with fake tits and fake everything else, and probably woke up next to them without even bothering to find out what their name was.”
Oh, sure…THAT he remembers.
Just how much did he have to drink that he thought this was a conversation I would want to have now when his sober mind would know the answer to that question would always be NEVER?
My eyes narrowed down at him as I calmly gritted out, “As much as I’m not enjoying your stroll down Fuck ‘em and Leave ‘em Lane, what’s your point?”
“Sookie,” he said softly. “My point is that I’ve lived that life. It was all that I knew and I thought it was pretty great. I thought I had everything…money, fame, any woman I wanted, but the truth I know now is that it was all a lie. What I have in you and the life you’ve given me is more than – greater than – anything I could’ve ever imagined was possible and as much as I’d always wanted to be rich and famous, I’d give it all up if that was the only way for me to keep you. I have more money than I could possibly spend and yet I can never give you a normal life. I can afford to pay for guards and turning this place into a fortress to keep you both safe, but I can’t go back in time and undo what’s already been done. I can’t go back and do things the right way by romancing you, taking you out on real dates that could eventually lead to giving you your fairytale wedding and I’m sorry for all of it. I don’t remember that night or the weeks after, but Drunk You chose to marry me. Practical You chose to stay married to me for your job and to spare Gran the disappointment of the truth. Scared and Pregnant You chose to stay married to me when I couldn’t remember you at all because you loved me and hoped that I would get my memories back, when it turned out I never needed them at all because I fell in love with you all over again.”
I felt the urge to interrupt him again wondering where all of this was going, but I was distracted watching his hand pull something out of his pocket as he said, “I’ve had this for a couple of months now, but with everything else going on, it never seemed like the perfect time to give it to you. I tried to think of something or someway for me to make this special for you, so I’ll appeal to your practical side and say there’s really no better time than now. There’s no romantic gesture I could possibly make to make up for everything you’ve had to go through because of me, but what I’m asking is for you to choose me anyway. You know every secret and blight of my past – you know what it’s like to live in the fucked up fishbowl I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life in, so – knowing all of that – here in the relatively private and not-so-romantic setting of our driveway, I’m asking you now to make an informed decision on if you would do me the honor of spending the rest of your life swimming in the fishbowl at my side.”
I didn’t have time to comprehend it all and seeing the ring box in his hand I figured he was needlessly proposing given we were already married, but my mind went completely blank when he opened it and I saw the ring.
Not any ring…THE ring.
I could barely see through the tears in my eyes and I desperately tried to blink them away while my legs gave out and I landed on my knees in front of him, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it and I was barely able to choke out, “How?”
That ring was more precious than anything Gollum had ever grasped and I hesitantly reached out with a shaky hand to touch it not truly believing it was real. My parents’ lives weren’t the only things lost in that flash flood all of those years ago. A piece of Stackhouse history had been lost with them in the form of the engagement ring that had been passed down for nearly a century starting with my great-grandmother Rose. Her beau, and eventual husband, George Stackhouse had been a wealthy landowner in the early 1920’s, but when they fell on hard times during the Great Depression, great-grandmother Rose’s ring was all they had left to survive on. She’d pried the diamonds out and sold them herself in order to keep her family afloat, like any woman worth her salt would. They survived it and were able to get back on their feet, but they never fully recovered to where they had once been financially. Great-grandfather George had eventually replaced the stones with fake ones, but his wife had loved it and worn it with pride just the same and ever since then that ring had been passed on to the next generation of Stackhouse women with Gran being the next in line and then my mother. I’d spent hours sitting in my mother’s lap running my fingers across it, memorizing every little detail and imagining the day when it would be mine.
Because even back then I knew Jason would probably never get married, but it had more to do with his past noxious odor than his present philandering ways.
The ring had always been a hair too big on my mother’s finger and she’d never gotten it sized, so when she got thrown into the river it too was lost.
“Gran,” he answered softly and finally drawing my eyes back to him. “I asked her over Thanksgiving about what type of ring she thought you might want and she told me about this one. She gave me pictures and I had a jeweler make a replica. The only difference is that these diamonds are real.”
It was perfect in every detail that would forever be etched into my memories. The ribbons on the sides that I always thought looked like hearts and may have played into our drunken tattoo designs, but now it no longer existed only in memories or pictures.
Because my Master Wooer had given it back to me.
A dam of rapidly building sobs was caught in my throat, so I couldn’t even breathe until he unleashed them all at once by taking my silence the wrong way and hesitantly said, “I know it’s not the same. It’s not the real ring, but if you…”
“I love you,” I finally gasped out and threw my arms around him, no longer able to hold back the uncontrollable sobs that wracked through my body.
Eric held me against him and let me cry it out while quietly saying he loved me too, but when I eventually calmed down to nothing more than sniffles and hitched breaths, he asked, “So…is that a yes?”
I forced myself to sit back on my knees and stared back at him, with his blue eyes blazing back at me, and once again wondered over my luck, but feeling the exact opposite of how I’d felt on the morning we’d woken up together and found out we were married. What I had hated with every fiber of my being back then – the notoriety; the lack of privacy; the assumptions made by not just us, but everyone who had an opinion of our relationship – and were so far removed from what I considered normal for any human being (five hundred dollar pots to piss in and all), but I wouldn’t change a thing now.
No, we would never be a normal couple. No, we would never be able to go about our lives in anonymity nor could we turn back time and do it all over again the normal way. But we weren’t normal and never would be. Eric wasn’t normal, but not because of his fame or fortune. He was my hero because no normal man could give me something as precious as what he had given me.
My past and my future.
And my brother was a wannabe Shitter Mogul, so who was I to throw stones at what was normal?
Realizing he was still waiting for me to say something, I realized we’d come full circle. Neither one of us could remember how it all began, but I knew as long as it ended with Eric at my side then I would have my fairytale, so I leaned forward and with my lips pressed against his, I let him know unequivocally that my answer to him way back then was still the same now. It would always be, “Yes.”
I poured every ounce of love and affection I had for Sookie into our kiss before finally pulling back and pulling her to her feet, knowing her knees were probably hurting just as much as mine by then. She cried again when I slipped the ring onto her finger, but knowing the story behind it from Gran, I wasn’t surprised. I was just happy she didn’t give me any grief over having real diamonds put into the setting and seeing Rasul patiently waiting in the car – pointedly not looking at us to give us some privacy – I started walking her towards it so we could head back to San Diego. I figured I would just have Alcide take the rental back in the morning, but as I opened the car door for Sookie she finally tore her eyes away from the ring to look at the other cars in the driveway and asked, “I’m guessing the sedan is a rental, but who does the other one belong to?”
I ignored her question long enough to usher her into the backseat hoping she’d get distracted by her ring again, but seeing her now suspicious eyes trained on me, I shrugged and asked, “Can I borrow your phone to call Pam?”
I discovered mine had died when I’d gotten to the house to get the ring, but my evasiveness wasn’t working on her, with her only narrowing her eyes at me even more and saying, “Eric.”
Hoping I could charm my way out of it I gave her what she’d called my panty poofing grin and said, “What? Bubba ruined the interior or your car, so I replaced it. Your only requirement was that the new one be black and that is black.”
And it was closer to the size of the Black Pearl than the last one, so it was a better fit for the name.
“Eric Northman! That is not a car. That is a tank!”
And the Conquest Knight XV was bullet proof too!
I kept that part to myself and only said, “And my requirement was that it have adequate leg room, which that one does.”
“For who? Chewbacca? Did you buy it from the Governator when Arnie came out of office? Who in the hell drives around in something like that?” she ranted.
In typical amusing Sookie fashion she threw her hands up in the air and let loose on me fuming, “Can you even get to the end of the driveway without needing to fill it with gas? Have you heard of global warming? The polar icecaps are melting Eric – melting! You might want to keep that in mind before you take it for a spin because there might not be any Greenland left for you to go film your movie. Think of all of those poor polar bears drowning at sea because it’s too far in between icebergs for them to swim.”
“More food for my whales,” I shrugged just to egg her on.
She was always so much more irresistibly sexy when she was angry.
“Ugh,” she sighed. “I can’t believe you spent God knows how much money on something so unnecessary! No normal person needs something like that!”
I cut off her tirade with a laugh and pulled her face to mine, leaving a big smack of a kiss on her lips, and quipped, “Too late. You already knew that about me and still said yes.”
And I thanked my lucky fucking stars for that.