I tried not to watch Sookie as she walked away, but it was like trying to not watch a train wreck happening right in front of you. Thankfully, before I could lose it all over again, my parents surrounded me with a group hug while telling me they were glad I was home. I wished I could say the same, but I knew I would go back to the island in an instant if it meant I could have Sookie back. My Sookie that is.
“What’s with the crowd?” I asked my father in an attempt to distract myself from Sookie’s departure.
My father growled out, “Bill Compton.”
Hearing that one name was enough to make me break my gaze from Sookie’s departing form and look at my father for the first time in six months. I’d gone longer than that in the past without seeing him and he’d always seemed to look the same. He might have a little more gray hair at his temple or the lines on his face might be a little deeper, but he never really seemed to age. At least, not that I could really tell. But now, he looked liked he’d aged ten years in the time we’d been gone.
He answered the unspoken question on my face with, “It’s a long story. One that I’ll explain later, but in the meantime one of us has to address them since they’re here. Would you like to do it, or would you rather I do it?”
“You do it please?” There was no way I was up for a press conference. I wouldn’t be able to hide the pain I was feeling inside if any of them asked me about Sookie and I KNEW they would ask me about her.
My father smiled softly at me and said, “Of course son. You head to the car with your mother and I’ll join you in a few minutes.”
My father started walking towards the podium while I headed to the one limousine left on the tarmac noticing only then that Sookie was already gone and the hole inside of my heart got even bigger.
My mother had wrapped both of her arms around my waist and didn’t let go the entire way to the car which kind of shocked me. She’d never been the affectionate type, but now it would seem that I would need a crowbar to detach her from me just to get in the car. After I tugged on her arms a few times she finally looked up at me with tears streaming down her face and smiled softly saying, “I’m sorry.” I got the feeling she was talking about more than not letting me go long enough to get in the car, but I wasn’t going to make her say it so I just kissed the top of her head and said, “It’s okay.”
My father joined us a few minutes later and we spent the fifteen minute car ride in silence with them flanking me on either side just staring at me and smiling with relief. It felt nice after everything I’d gone through in the last 24 hours so I just enjoyed it while I could.
Once we got to their house they led me inside and we all sat in the study without any of us saying anything. My mind was still consumed with thoughts of Sookie wondering what she was doing and then feeling sick imagining her loving homecoming with Bill. The thought of his hands and lips on her threatened to relieve me of the small amount of food I’d eaten earlier that day so I figured I would drown my sorrows instead to try and numb the pain.
I stood up to get a bottle of whiskey from the bar my parents kept in the study, but when I opened it I found it completely empty. Before I could ask, my mother said, “If you’re looking for alcohol, there isn’t any in the house.” She may have well said that the walls were made of water, simply impossible. From the look of disbelief I was sure I was wearing she smiled and said, “I haven’t had a drink since we were told your plane disappeared.” I watched the tears form back in her eyes as she continued with, “I knew I would drink myself to death worrying about you and I wanted to still be here WHEN you came home because I believed in my heart that you would.”
Will wonders never cease…I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Sookie doesn’t love me, my father would be proud if I joined the circus, and my mother was sober. Huh.
I sat back down and it was only then that I noticed my parents were sitting side by side…holding hands. I felt my eyebrow creep up into my hairline while looking at them because I’d often wondered if I was a test tube baby. Physically, I was the perfect blend of each of them so I knew I wasn’t adopted, but they’d had separate bedrooms for as long as I could remember so I figured a team of doctors brought about my existence.
My father just shrugged his shoulders and smiled saying, “You’d be surprised what can happen when there’s only one other person in the world that can possibly understand what you’re going through.”
I know he said it in reference to him and my mother, but hearing him say the words brought tears to my eyes thinking I thought I had found that one person in Sookie, but I was wrong.
That reminded me of what my father had said earlier about the press being there because of Bill so I asked, “What did you mean about Bill Compton being the reason for all of the media at the airport?”
I watched my father’s smile disappear only to be replaced by anger as he said, “That callous ass has been using this whole ordeal to further his quest for political gain, playing the distraught husband to the press in one breath and then asking for their votes in the next. Meanwhile he’s suing me, the manufacturers of the jet and Northman Inc. for the distress all of this has caused him. Like WE weren’t upset as well! He even sued for “loss of consort” with his wife! WHO does that?”
Ugh., Just the thought of what him and Sookie could be up to at that very moment was enough to send me reeling so I just shook my head, telling my parents that I wanted to get some rest and went to my room. I didn’t come out for three days.
My mother had been coming in to check on me and bringing me trays of food that went nearly untouched and never asking me what was wrong, but by my third day in bed she’d had enough. She walked in bright and early opening my drapes allowing the sunlight into my room and then sat on my bed staring at me until I finally acknowledged her.
“I’m just tired,” I whispered.
She brushed the hair out of my eyes and said, “No, you’re not. You’re hiding. I just don’t know from what.” She smiled softly and asked, “Do you want to talk about it?”
I dropped my eyes from hers unable to say anything. I didn’t want to say it out loud because the reality that Sookie didn’t love me would be all the more real.
I involuntarily gasped and held my breath with her next question. “Does it have to do with Sookie?”
I had thought I’d cried myself out, but I realized I was wrong when they started silently flowing once more. Seeing my pain, my mother curled her body around mine, spooning me from behind while running her fingers through my hair and said, “Tell me.”
“I fell in love with her.” The words came tumbling out and I couldn’t seem to stop them. “I fell in love with her and I thought she loved me too, but she doesn’t. I was just a stand-in, a way for her to pass the time until we were rescued.”
My mother hugged me tighter and asked with a little bit of an edge to her voice, “Did she tell you that?”
I sighed, “Not in so many words, but when the helicopter arrived she told the rescuers that our whole time on the island was one big nightmare and she wished it’d never happened. She wouldn’t look at me or talk to me or let me hug her when she cried. I guess she felt guilty for what we had done knowing she was going back to her husband.” It was the only explanation I could come up with while I’d been in bed for three days.
My mother wouldn’t drop it and said, “I’ve met Ms. Stackhouse a few times at your father’s business functions and she always seemed very sweet. Were you two fighting before the helicopter arrived?”
“Her name is Mrs. Compton,” I spat out before continuing, “and no, we weren’t fighting. I’d just got done telling her that she was the only woman that had ever meant something to me. She started crying, I guess from the guilt, and then the helicopter arrived. She couldn’t get away from me fast enough.”
My mother sat up and looked down at me while mentally running through everything I’d just told her. “How did the topic come up?”
“She asked me how many relationships I’d had in the past and I told her none.” My mother’s eyebrow crept up into her hairline and I saw where I’d gotten it from. “I haven’t! I’d never met anyone that I wanted to be with all of the time. They were nothing more than a…temporary distraction.” I censored myself since she was my mother.
With her eyebrow still raised she asked, “And what did Sookie have to say to that?”
“Nothing. The helicopter showed up right then and she took off to get away from me.” I didn’t want to talk about it anymore so I pulled the covers over my head.
My mother pulled them right back down and asked, “But you did tell her that she meant something to you?”
I was about to say’ Of course I did’, but as I thought about it I remembered how she had recoiled at my words when they’d come tumbling out of my mouth. Didn’t I say it? The light bulb flashed above my head as I remembered, No! I didn’t say it! “Uh…no, I didn’t.” I thought about it for another minute and said, “But, she didn’t give me the opportunity too. And she called our time together a ‘nightmare’ and then the next day I overheard her on the phone telling her husband she loved him and couldn’t wait to see him.”
“Min älskling son, perhaps she was hurt by your words and thought she was among those other women who didn’t mean anything to you. If that was the case, can you blame her for wanting to run away? And if she thought she meant nothing to you, maybe she thought she’d be better off being with her husband rather than being alone. Especially after everything you both went through.”
Could it be possible? Did she REALLY not know how much I cared about her after all of that time? How much I LOVED her?
My mother left my room with the parting phrase, “If you really do love her, you should at least let her know how you feel.”
I stayed in bed for another few minutes trying desperately to keep myself from hoping too much that maybe we could work everything out. I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with her, but at the very least after everything she’d told me about Bill, he definitely didn’t deserve her.
With that thought, I threw the covers off and jumped into the shower. I still hadn’t gotten a haircut, but I was in desperate need of one so my mother called her personal stylist to come over to the house and an hour later I was looking more like myself. I also felt ravenous all of the sudden so I ate a quick, yet big, lunch and then logged into the company’s mainframe to get Sookie’s address.
I hopped into my mother’s car since it had tinted windows in case the news crews were still camped out at the entrance to our estate, which they were, but they thankfully didn’t follow me. I wasn’t so lucky when I got to Sookie’s house though. There were 3 news vans parked along the curb, but I didn’t want them filming me going up to her house so I drove around until it was dark. I went passed again after nine o’clock and they were finally gone.
I parked a few houses down anyway and walked up the street and to her front door more nervous than I’d ever been in my entire life. I didn’t want to cause any problems for her with Bill if she had decided to stay with him, so if he was around I planned on just using the excuse that I wanted to see how she was doing.
My palms were sweaty when I knocked and I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest when I heard someone approaching from the other side of the door. My heart fell when it was Bill standing in the now open doorway. His left eye was black making me wonder what had happened while, at the same time, making me wish that I was the one that had done it.
“What do YOU want? If this is about MY lawsuit you’re wasting your time because I’m still proceeding with it,” he sneered.
Douche bag! “I wanted to talk to Sookie, to see how she’s doing.”
He scoffed, “Oh please! Don’t act like you haven’t seen how that bitch has humiliated me on the news.”
I felt my fists clench when he called her a bitch, but I had no idea what he was talking about. I was practically in a coma since we’d gotten back and I hadn’t watched ANY news.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I merely wanted to check up on Sookie.”
“That cunt walked out with her father on the night she got back, in front of ALL of the news cameras, with her suitcase in hand while telling them anyone voting for me would be a fool! I’m better off without her defective ass!”
I didn’t know it was going to happen until I saw my fist make contact with his right eye, knocking him onto his ass.
“How DARE you!” he sputtered while clutching what I hoped would turn into his second black eye.
“Add it to your lawsuit.” I turned and walked back to my car feeling better than I had in days.
I had no idea where Sookie’s parents lived so I drove back home to formulate a plan. I still didn’t know if she wanted and needed me as much as I did her, so I was still afraid of putting myself out there. I found their address on the internet and by the time I went to sleep I knew I couldn’t keep my feelings hidden from her any longer. It was, again, now or never.