After confirming for the third time that I would be there to pick him up after school, Hunter finally got out of the truck.
Only for Jason to climb in and take his seat, while telling him, “Hey, little man. You best behave for your momma ‘cause I wanna see you kick some ass at the game tomorrow night.”
Then pausing for a brief second, he added, “And don’t tell your momma I said ‘ass’ to ya.”
“Okay, Uncle Jay,” he chuckled and added a quick, “Bye!” before taking off to head inside of the school.
Turning to me, Jason acted as though I’d been expecting him that morning, while shaking his head and complaining, “She gets all bent outta shape, like the kid ain’t never heard nothin’ that cain’t be found in a bible. You ever see her get mad? Like really mad? Sounds like a sailor on shore leave for the first time in a year.”
Being that he was Jason, I just went with it and pulled away from the curb, while giving him a look that made him laugh out, “Oh yeah. You’ve prob’ly seen her really really mad.”
To put it lightly.
But not wanting to rehash that – even mentally – I only said, “Not that I don’t appreciate the company…”
“I expected to be shotgunnin’ Sook,” he shrugged. “Figured enough time’s gone by that she cain’t be that mad anymore. But if she is, she could only yell at me for beatin’ on her piece a shit ex for so long, before she’d be late for work.”
I couldn’t help laughing at his astute way of doing things.
He was smarter than he looked.
But now that we were stopped at a red light – one of only two in the town that I knew of – I turned to him and took my sunglasses off, so he could see what they’d been covering and said, “I don’t think she minds, as much as you think.”
He’d been sitting on my right and hadn’t seen any of the damage that was confined to the left side of my face. But given the look on his face, I could only assume the hamster fell off of the wheel for a second, before righting itself enough for him to say, “I miss all the damn fun. When the hell did that happen?”
So I proceeded to give him a brief rundown of the events from the day before and felt strangely vindicated when he got as pissed as I’d felt after I told him what Sam had both called and said about Sookie.
Maybe it was because I was still used to believing Jason would never side with me over anything after what had happened.
It would probably take some time for me to let go of that feeling completely.
But after a long stretch of silence, with him silently fuming, I couldn’t take it anymore and asked, “What?”
“Shut up,” he grumbled. “I’m figurin’ outta way to make room for him in my freezer and where I’ll be parkin’ the wood chipper next to the pond out behind my house.”
“You’re a brilliant mother fucker,” I laughed, nixing the two shovels on my mental list, and added, “I’ll bring the beer.”
“Better bring a keg,” he smirked, before looking serious again when he asked, “You call Andy?”
He really was a brilliant mother fucker because it hadn’t even occurred to me to call my fellow little league coach.
Who was also a detective with the Bon Temps Sheriff Department.
Not that we were especially close, but it helped that he always looked relieved to see me at the ball field, with the equipment at the ready and the kids doing their warmups whenever he arrived late to practice.
Shaking his head when he saw me pick up my phone to scroll through the contacts, he chuckled, “Good thing you’re pretty or else you’d never get anywhere in life.”
“Speaking from experience?” I asked with a small grin that fell away the moment Andy answered his phone.
“Andy, it’s Eric,” I began, while taking the turn up Sookie’s driveway. “I just wanted to give you a heads up about…”
“Son of a bitch!” Jason shouted at my side.
But I didn’t have to ask why.
I could see why with my own eyes.
“Andy?” I growled into the phone, just as Jason leapt out of the truck. “Can you meet me at Sookie’s house? It looks like it was broken into last night and someone vandalized her car.”
After telling me he’d be there in five, I hung up the phone and got out to survey the damage. Her car was the most noticeable at first, with all four tires being slashed and the windshield smashed by what I assumed was the rock sitting on the front seat.
More than pissed, I was mostly afraid for their safety because no matter what physical evidence had been left behind, I knew Sam was behind it.
And for his crimes, the only suitable punishment – in my mind – was his execution.
Jason had just taken a quick look at the car before tearing into the house, but walking up the front porch steps behind him, seeing the broken flower pot lying on the wooden boards made a shiver run down my spine.
He’d been looking for the spare key.
To get into the house, uninvited.
Sometime in the night when he returned and would’ve only seen Sookie’s car in the driveway.
So he would’ve thought they were alone.
I couldn’t remember if we’d left any other lights on, but I knew the small lamp in the front hallway ran off of a timer. The front door had been kicked in, so I could only imagine how pissed he’d been, likely thinking Sookie was refusing to answer the door if he’d knocked.
I couldn’t believe how pissed I was thinking what he would’ve done to her had they been home.
His assuming ass should’ve also assumed Hunter would be home too.
So what would Sam have done to him?
“I’m gonna kill that asshole,” Jason growled, coming back out onto the porch looking calmer than I’d expected, given his threat. “But he only tossed some furniture and tore up Sook’s room. Her shit’s everywhere.”
“Hunter,” I breathed out. “What about Hunter’s room?”
The piercing look he gave me let me know his threat to kill Sam hadn’t been an idle one, just as he answered, “Untouched.”
Then taking a look around, he asked, “It wasn’t like this when you picked Hunt up this mornin’?”
“After what happened last night, Hunter was afraid to stay here,” I sighed, thinking he’d probably never want to step foot into this house again, if he knew what happened. “They both spent the night at my house and Sookie took the Vette into work this morning.”
“Kid’s got good instincts,” he grumbled, kicking at the pieces of the flower pot with the tip of his boots.
“I really do want to kill him,” I admitted in a near whisper.
Even after the clusterfuck of the night before, I didn’t feel as much rage as I did now. Then it had manifested in a normal way. Skyrocketed blood pressure culminating in a bloody brawl, just like any pissed off guy with a healthy amount of testosterone.
Now though, I felt eerily calm.
Like I imagined a serial killer might feel.
“We take him out in the woods where no one can hear us and we can make a game outta it,” he offered. “But you’re gonna need to bring two kegs.”
Before any real plotting could happen, Andy’s cruiser turned onto the driveway and we both met him on the lawn next to Sookie’s car.
“What the hell happened?” he asked, twisting and turning his head to take in every detail.
Knowing he wasn’t talking about the damage to the car he could see with his own two eyes, I proceeded to tell him what had happened the night before with Sam. His face never lost its professionalism, until I got to the part of how Hunter reacted to Sam’s blustering.
I knew him and his wife, Haleigh didn’t have any kids yet, but he’d told me they were trying to have a baby of their own. And just seeing the look on his face now, I knew he was going to be a great father.
Because Andy looked like he wanted to kill Sam too.
After he called for his backup team to come out to the house with their crime scene equipment, he turned to me and asked, “Does Sook know?”
“No,” I sighed, already dreading having to tell her. “She knows I was going to change the locks this morning – and doesn’t know I planned on calling to have a security system installed in the house – but she went straight from my place to work this morning.”
And then remembering that little piece of paper – that would probably do no good – I added, “But she did say she was thinking about filing for a protective order against Sam.”
“Might not do any good,” he muttered, looking at the busted front door. Then shrugging, he added, “But it can’t hurt.”
“You gonna arrest me if I hurt him?” Jason asked, still sounding pissed.
Chuckling, he slapped him on the back and said, “Only if there are witnesses.”
And then pausing briefly, he added, “And only if they’re willing to sign a statement against you. But everyone ‘round here loves your family. Sookie grew up in this town. Merlotte may have been slinging beers here for a few years, but he’s still the outsider.”
I’d never really believed there was still a thing as small town justice, but by the looks on their collaborating faces, I knew I was wrong.
So I could only hope that my relation to Hunter – and thereby Sookie – would protect me from being on the wrong end of their judge with no jury system, should the need arise.
It took most of the morning for them to go through the car and house, looking for fingerprints and any other clues they could find. Andy said Sam’s would be on file from getting his liquor license, but they would need Sookie’s in order to rule her prints out.
Thankfully, Andy agreed to get Hunter’s prints off of the iPad he’d left in his room.
I didn’t want to him to know what happened at the house, until I could tell him Sam was in jail.
Whichever came first.
Once they gave the all clear, I took the liberty of gathering a few more of Sookie’s things. I’d noticed that morning, that she’d only packed a couple of days’ worth of clothes, but there was no way in hell I would be letting them stay there until Sam was in jail.
Whichever came first.
But knowing I would soon be dead if I phrased it that way, I knew I needed to find a better way of telling her I wouldn’t let her do something.
I was hoping once she knew everything, she would just come out and say they were staying with me, so I wouldn’t have to say anything at all.
While we’d been waiting for the cops to finish their work, Jason and I ran to the nearest home improvement store and bought a new front door and all new locks, so we were able to get everything installed right before the tow truck arrived to haul Sookie’s car away.
The shop owner, Tray Dawson, knew both Jason and Sookie, but while replacing all four tires and the windshield could be done that day, the minor body work that needed to be done would take a few days until it was completed.
Even as pissed off as I knew she would be hearing about her car, I didn’t think she’d mind having to drive the Vette for a while.
She’d grinned at me that morning, after sinking down in the leather seat, and said we might not see her for a few days.
Too busy driving to Maine for some fresh lobster.
But now that it was approaching the lunch hour, I still had a couple of hours before I would need to pick up Hunter, so with everything done that could be taken care of, I headed to Monroe.
I found Sookie sitting on a bench outside of the law office where she worked, soaking up some sun and nibbling on a cookie.
Her eyes had been closed, with her head tilted back, so she didn’t know I was there until I sat down beside her and leaned over, whispering, “Boo.”
Grinning, her eyes remained closed, while she crooned out, “Aww…you’re my boo too.”
In spite of my actual reason for being there, I couldn’t help smiling.
It really was ridiculous how much I loved her.
And not wanting to ruin her good mood, I put it off for a few more minutes and teased, “I’m telling Hunter you had a cookie for lunch.”
“Go ahead,” she smirked, with one eye now open and staring at me. “He can have a cookie for lunch too, just as soon as he gets a job and can pay for it on his own.”
Then she popped both eyes open and waggled her eyebrows at me, asking, “So are you here so we can have a lunchtime quickie in the backseat of your truck?”
“Is that an option?” I asked, now willing to wait to tell her the news.
For a thousand years.
Giggling at the hopeful look on my face, she answered, “I would say yes, but you’re like Chinese food. Ten minutes after I had you, I’d be hungry for more.”
Then gesturing to the building behind her with a pointed thumb, she added, “But a girl’s gotta work, if she’s gonna have cookies for lunch.”
Sliding inappropriately closer to her body, I leaned down and nuzzled against her neck, breathing in her scent and asking with my exhale, “So what does a guy have to do to have Sookie for lunch?”
“You’re off to a good start,” she breathed out, pressing her neck into my lips.
That was good.
Because I didn’t feel like stopping.
So I allowed myself the little reprieve before I had to toss the pile of shit that was waiting to hit her fan and continued to kiss her neck, licking and nibbling my way across every inch of skin that came across my lips.
From the way she started to squirm, I was beginning to wonder if it was enough to make her cum across her other set of lips.
I wanted to lick and nibble my way across them too.
But before I could lose myself to that thought – and fall to the ground on my knees in front of her, so I could get lost under the skirt of her dress – she pushed me away and shook off the shiver that made goosebumps rise up on her skin, snickering, “If you keep going, I’m gonna look like I pissed myself from the puddle I’ll leave behind.”
Smiling at her, I waited for her to gather her wits before I let the smile fall away and said, “Speaking of pissed…I need to tell you what I found when I stopped by your house this morning.”
That was putting it mildly.
Sookie was positively livid by the time I was done telling her everything and she only got angrier seeing the small smile on my face.
But I couldn’t help it.
Jason had been right.
She did sound like a sailor on shore leave after a year away at sea.
“What did Andy say?” she asked. “Are they going to arrest that asshole?”
I knew better than to try and physically comfort her.
Touch Sookie when she was that mad and you could lose a limb.
And I needed all of mine, if I was going to do all of the things I wanted to do to her again.
When she wasn’t that mad.
Instead I just sat there and said, “They dusted the house and car for fingerprints, but I don’t know if finding his there will be enough.”
I’d thought about it on my way over and while my legal expertise only went as far as the last episode of Law and Order I’d watched, I added my two cents’ worth of legal tender by saying, “He was your fiancé until just last week, so an argument could be made that any prints they find were from before last night.”
“I clean my house regularly,” she hotly declared, while looking completely affronted.
So I backed down like a frightened little bitch – because I was – and backtracked with, “You know what I mean!”
Narrowing her eyes, she seemed satisfied that I wasn’t calling her house a pigsty and her anger turned into defeat when she sighed out, “He’s like herpes. The gift that just keeps on giving.”
Maybe it was a dick move, but frightened little bitches had to take whatever opportunities they were presented with, so I took that one to say, “I uh…packed a few more of your things, so you won’t have to go back for a while.”
A while equaled forever in my mind.
And that same rule applied when I hoped it would take a while for her to figure that out.
Her brow rose up, while she stared me down, so I was surprised – and relieved – when she only asked, “Did you pack my shoes too? I can’t wear the same shoes with every outfit in my closet.”
“I did live with you for six years,” I laughingly reminded her. “I know all about your shoes and outfits and how it’s un–fucking–fair I don’t have to go through the same scrutiny as the scrotum–challenged.”
Giggling, she said, “I trained you well.”
“You did,” I agreed.
There was no point in denying it.
The proof was in the umpteen pairs of shoes I had stowed away in the back of the truck.
“What are we going to tell Hunter?” she sighed. “If he knows what Sam did, he’ll never want to go back.”
“So we don’t tell him,” I replied, instead of saying what I really wanted to say.
Then don’t go back.
But she was right. He didn’t need to know every little thing – or even every big thing – and he was already frightened enough.
Not to mention the fact if he found out his nightmare had indeed come true, with Sam breaking into the house, he might very well never want to sleep alone again.
I loved him, but…
But then I thought to add, “And even though I doubt it even needs to be said, I’ll stress to him the importance of steering clear of Sam if he happens to see him when we’re not around.”
Even only the night before – after everything he’d said and done in front of Hunter – I wouldn’t have believed Sam would do anything to him.
But after everything I’d found that morning, I wouldn’t put anything past him.
He could very well try to hurt Hunter, if only to hurt us.
I really would kill him then.
Something my telepathic girlfriend picked up on because she said my thoughts aloud.
“I would kill him.”
Trying to calm us both down by bringing some levity back into the conversation, I put my arm around her and squeezed her body to mine, saying, “Jason’s already making room in his freezer and we’re thinking the wood chipper should go in the back right corner next to the pond in his backyard.”
Snickering, she leaned into my shoulder and said, “Small town justice. No Bon Temps jury pool would ever convict us.”
Because the time could very well come when I would be counting on it.