Eric was gonna shit kittens.
It was the only logical conclusion.
When Maxwell Lee had come to me that afternoon and told me he’d already tracked down one of the mysterious payments as being authorized by Victor, I couldn’t believe it. The only way I could make sense of it was if there was something going on between Eric and Victor that I didn’t know about and they chose to keep me out of the loop.
Then I was gonna shit kittens.
Not because they were keeping secrets from me – mostly – but because neither one of them said anything when I told each of them I was going to look into it.
And it would just piss me off they would let me waste my time if that was the case.
Which also wouldn’t make sense, at least where Eric was concerned.
Which was why I was back to thinking it would be him who was the one shitting kittens.
Victor earned seven figures in his position as COO, but he also had a harem of ex-wives he’d been court ordered to keep accustomed to the lifestyle they lived while with him. Still, I didn’t think it was so bad that he’d start stealing from the company. All he would have to do was go to Eric if he needed the money and he would’ve gladly handed it over. Eric had more than he would ever need in one lifetime and Victor was like a father to him, so he wouldn’t have thought twice about it.
I sat on the news for the rest of the day. Something like that should be delivered in person and honestly, I was hoping Maxwell would come rushing into my office declaring it had all been a mistake. It wasn’t Victor who was stealing the money because that would break Eric’s heart.
Instead he would tell me it was Bobby who was stealing the money because I’d been a good girl all year and Santa had finally come through.
Victor hadn’t come into work that day either. I had no idea if he was out schmoozing business partners or maybe on the back nine with the fuckwad, but either way, I wasn’t his timekeeper. It wasn’t my business where he was.
But I’d make it my business if he was the one stealing from Eric.
I was pulled from my thoughts on my drive back to Eric’s place by the fact the power seemed to be out in the neighborhood. It was already night time – I’d stayed late hoping for a Christmas miracle – so it was dark out. All of the lights – house, street, and traffic – were out, so I was forced to play polite with the other drivers as we played ‘Mother May I’ at every intersection controlled by a traffic light. That is, until a big ass SUV came barreling through nearly causing an accident.
Access to Eric’s property was controlled by an electronic gate, but I didn’t think twice about the power being out because I knew he had a solar powered backup generator. Which was why I was confused when the power seemed to be out for the gate too.
Pulling out my phone, I remembered seeing Eric’s on the nightstand beside his bed when I’d left that morning and I doubted he’d gone back for it once he got to playing with his Legos, so I hit my Godric App and waited for his usual sweet voice to say my name.
Instead what I got was, “I believe there is something wrong.”
“I know,” I chuckled. “Why else would I be App-ing you? I can’t get in through the gate because the power is out. Is something wrong with the generator?”
“Yes. When the city grid went down, I moved to the auxiliary power in the generator, but there was an immediate disconnect at the source. I am attempting to reroute the lines to get the city grid powered up, but it too seems to have been the victim of a hard disconnect. I am afraid I’ll be forced to wait on the outskirts of the neighborhood, while the power company workers reconnect the lines. But Miss Stackhouse, I find this occurrence of dual power failures to be very suspicious.”
“What do you mean?”
“The odds of it happening on a clear night in seventy-two degree weather where there is no sign of wildfire or downed airplane on top of the house are two million four hundred sixty-seven thousand three hundred and fifty-two to one.”
I didn’t see any bright glowing fires where Eric’s house was further up the hill, but I couldn’t help smirking at his literalness and offered, “So, what you’re saying is, it’s hinky.”
“To say the least.”
“Well then, can you tell me how to get the gate open so I can go check it out?” I asked. Eric’s house sat at the top of a hill and while the street front was fenced and gated, I knew if I walked further up, I could get to the house through the woods. But I didn’t feel like hiking in the dark and I wasn’t wearing the right shoes.
I would deny it to my dying day, but sometimes Sookie Stackhouse was unprepared.
“Of course. Grab the leatherman and flashlight from your glove box and I will tell how to disengage the locking device on the gate manually,” he replied.
And after much cursing on my part, that’s exactly what we accomplished.
I parked in front of the darkened house when I got to the top of the hill and told Godric, ”The front door is wide open.”
“Perhaps Mr. Northman is checking the generator,” he offered, but I didn’t think so.
Something felt off.
So I grabbed my flashlight in one hand and kept my Godric App’d phone in the other while I crept inside. Nothing immediately looked out of place, but it still felt like something was wrong.
And if Eric jumped out from a dark corner and scared kittens out of me he was going to get a flashlight to his balls.
Maybe then he’d see the light.
The house was quiet – too quiet – and I didn’t dare disturb the still air with more than my breathing while I silently kicked my shoes off and tiptoed down to the lab.
But then my scream shot that plan to hell.
He was covered in blood. Lying in a pool of it and as I dropped to my knees, I could see through his torn clothing he was covered in bite marks.
“He’s been attacked! Bitten!” I yelled back at Godric’s insistent voice, asking me what was wrong.
But then he managed to shock me silent by saying, “Werewolves.”
Jesus fucking Christ.
It was enough to get my head back in the game and I leaned down to put my ear to his chest. I could feel the slight rise and fall from his shallow breathing, but his heartbeat sounded weak.
There, but weak.
But when I sat up and took stock of the rest of his injuries, I cried out again seeing his leg.
It was nearly torn off just below the knee.
“Call an ambulance! There’s so much blood. Godric, I don’t know if he’s going to make it,” I cried.
“There’s no time,” he said. “With the power failures, there are already reports of numerous accidents. Between the traffic congestion and lack of enough resources, he could die before they ever arrive. He only has one chance.”
I was still crying, softly begging Eric to wake up, when the sound of Godric’s voice broke through my grief by yelling, “SOOKIE! If you want Eric to live, you must act quickly!”
“What?” I sobbed. “What can I do?”
I wasn’t a paramedic. A nurse. A doctor.
I was dropping the ball left and right when it came to being prepared.
“Look on the desk,” he ordered. “There should be a round steel cylinder. Inside there is a vial with a clear serum inside.”
It took everything I had to look away from Eric, but when I did as he said, I noticed for the first time the lab was a mess. It must have gotten trashed during the attack and my heart squeezed seeing poor Pam had been a victim of the melee too, but I managed to locate what I thought he was talking about in a pile of broken bits off to the side of the room.
“I have it,” I said. “Now what?”
“Go to the cabinet where he keeps his medical supplies. Inside you should find a box of large hypodermic needles. Grab the biggest one you can find, fill the syringe with 30 cc’s of the serum, and inject it directly into his heart,” he calmly explained.
While I freaked the fuck out.
“WHAT? What is this stuff? I can’t shoot anything into his heart!”
Still sounding calm, he asked, “Do you want Eric to die?”
I didn’t have to answer him. He knew the answer because he knew practically everything.
Hopefully that extended to whatever he was having me shoot into Eric’s heart.
It was less than two minutes since I’d entered the lab, but I had no idea how long Eric had been lying there, so I rushed back over to him. Filling the syringe with the serum, I tore the rest of his shirt free to expose his upper body, but before I jabbed the needle into his chest, I had something I had to get off of mine.
Leaning over him, I softly kissed his lips and said, “I love you Eric.”
I might not have wanted to admit it before now. Or maybe I hadn’t even realized until now, but I knew deep down in my bones it was true.
I loved him.
And I couldn’t lose him.
So I held the needle over his heart and did exactly what Godric said, pushing the serum into his chest and watched.
I thought maybe he’d sit straight up and gasp for air, like they did on the movies when somebody gets a shot of adrenaline to the heart, but nothing happened.
“Nothing’s happening!” I cried out.
“His heart may be beating too slowly to adequately pump the serum through his veins,” Godric guessed. “You’ll have to help him. Do chest compressions.”
So I did.
I straddled his body and pushed on his chest over and over. I begged and pleaded. Raged and railed over and over for him to open his fucking eyes for I don’t know how long. I could feel him getting colder to the touch, but it only drove me to work harder because I wasn’t going to let him die goddamn it.
And then it happened.
I thought maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, so I stared, blinked, and stared some more. But certain it was happening, I said, “His bites are healing.”
The wounds were slowly closing. Some of the smaller tears were now just red lines on his skin. And while I was curious about what Eric must have concocted that would make it possible, I didn’t care enough to ask Godric about it right now.
I only cared that it seemed to be working.
But remembering his torn leg, I jumped off of him and quickly tried to reset it so – if it healed – it would heal correctly. I knew if he’d been awake, it would’ve hurt like hell, so I cried for him while I did it.
I’d never felt such a murderous rage before then, but I knew I would gladly kill whoever did this to him.
I wrapped his leg using his torn shirt to keep it in place, while I went back to doing chest compressions. But it was in the silence when I heard another sound.
Coming from upstairs.
Did the attackers come back?
“Godric,” I whispered, while slithering off of Eric. “Someone’s in the house.”
I found Eric’s baseball bat and turned off the flashlight, while I waited, hidden beside the door. When the faint sound of footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs, I counted each of their twelve steps and then swung as hard as I could.
A hoarse, “Oomph,” came from the intruder’s lips, but as I stepped out of my hiding spot with my bat raised and ready to swing again, I was hit with a bright light from up above.
I recognized the voice as belonging to John Flood, but I kept my bat raised, asking, “Colonel?”
I didn’t recognize the man I’d hit with the bat, but by the looks of him, I’d knocked the wind out of his chest. He was also dressed like a soldier and was armed, but all Flood said was, “We were ambushed by the wolves like they knew we were coming. I suspected we might have a mole when every camp we raided was empty, but now I know we do. There’s no other way they would’ve known we would be there, but since they knew about us, I thought they might know Eric was helping us too and come after him. Where is he?”
I dropped the bat and back down onto my knees beside Eric, now that they didn’t appear to be a threat, and meekly offered, “Here. They came here and attacked him.”
I went back to doing chest compressions and briefly explained what I’d done and why, when a third man who’d come down the stairs with Flood offered to take over for me.
“How long has it been, Godric?” I asked.
“Forty-seven minutes since the injection,” he replied.
As I was inspecting Eric’s wounds – they were definitely healing – the power was suddenly restored and Godric pulled up Eric’s vitals on the only flat screen in the room that hadn’t been destroyed, probably because it was mounted on the wall.
The man doing compressions stopped for a moment so we could all see Eric’s heart – on its own – was only beating at thirty beats per minute.
And it was steadily declining.
“I don’t understand, Godric. His wounds are healing, so why is his heart rate dropping?” I asked.
“I am unsure,” he replied. “The heart rate of the man injected on the video only rose, but Eric’s serum was only meant to mimic certain aspects. Not copy them exactly. If I were to speculate, it could perhaps be due to the fact Eric had lost so much blood prior to being injected. There could be a reaction we are not yet aware of due to being bitten by a transformed wolf. There are many unknown factors at play, but perhaps it will rise once the serum has fully taken effect.”
But what if it didn’t?
I kept my worries to myself and only stared at Eric. We could see on the screen now that the chest compressions were doing nothing to keep his heart rate up, so I pulled myself underneath his head to use my lap as his pillow. Running my fingers through his hair, I softly pleaded, “Please, Eric. Wake up.”
His face was growing paler and his breathing more shallow. His skin was cold too and while I itched to cover him with a blanket, I had to see the wounds on his body continue to heal so I could convince myself he wasn’t going to die.
That I wasn’t going to lose him.
Flood had taken a spot on the floor by Eric’s feet, while the other two stood guard. He pulled my makeshift bandage off of Eric’s leg and said, “This looks nearly healed.”
And it did.
“His leg was nearly torn off,” I whispered, while staring at the jagged angry red line that was slowly turning pink where the tear was.
And yet his heart rate continued to drop.
He was down to only taking one small breath per minute and it was only adding to my worry, so I continued to whisper softly to him, begging him to open his eyes. To fight. To come back to me.
To not die.
While Flood and his men spoke softly amongst themselves, I kept my eyes glued to Eric, with only the sound of his heartbeat coming from the monitor in my ears. It was all I wanted to hear. The only thing keeping me sane because hearing it told me he still had a chance to pull through.
It told me I hadn’t lost him.
But then my greatest fears were met when he pulled one last ragged breath into his lungs and the sound of his heart flat lining filled the air.
“NOOOO!” I sobbed and slid out from underneath him so I could cover his body with my own. I straddled his hips and pounded on his chest, pushing with everything I was worth yelling, “NO! DON’T YOU DIE ON ME! DO YOU HEAR ME ERIC! DON’T LEAVE ME!”
I was like a madwoman. Everything else ceased to exist while I fruitlessly tried to bring him back to life. Breathing the air out of my lungs into his. Pushing his heart to keep pumping. To keep going.
To keep him there with me.
No one tried to stop me. No one attempted to get in between the crazy lady and the man she was crazy about.
No one told me my actions were pointless.
I don’t know how long I kept at it. It felt like seconds and hours all at the same time, but I was human and I couldn’t keep up with it forever. So when I felt my body give out, there was nothing I could do to stop myself from falling down on top of Eric.
Where I remained.
It felt like seconds.
It felt like hours.
There was no sound coming from his chest. No rise and fall telling me he still breathed.
And I wept.
Flood’s whispered voice barely broke through the haze of grief shrouded over me, but I’d heard him.
But I didn’t acknowledge him.
“Miss Stackhouse, we should get you somewhere safe,” he softly entreated. “The wolves could come back.”
I didn’t care. I hoped they would.
Then I could kill them all.
His words died just as I felt something.
Pushing myself up, I stared down at his face, seeing no change. So I looked over at the monitor, seeing there was no change there either.
“I…” I paused, afraid to jinx anything but unable to keep it to myself. “I thought I felt him move.”
My hopes rose when Flood added to my insanity by saying, “I thought I saw his lips move.”
“Eric?” I asked, brushing the hair away from his face. “Baby? Wake up.”
I knew I looked crazy. I knew I sounded insane.
Begging and pleading with a dead man to wake up.
But then he did.
His eyes snapped open and the three other men in the room all took a step back, but all I did was put my face closer to his and whisper, “Eric?”
I could tell he was confused. His eyes darted around the room, trying to get his bearings, and I paid no mind to the fact – according to Godric – his heart still wasn’t beating. Instead I smiled when his eyes finally locked onto mine and recognition filled them.
He knew me.
And then we all startled hearing another sound and before I even knew what I was saying, I asked, “Baby? Are those fangs?”