I awoke to the smell of something wonderful floating through the air. My arm reached out to where Sookie had been lying next to me only to find that I was alone in the bed with my eyes slowly opening while adjusting to the natural sunlight shining through the windows. I stretched out my arms and legs recalling the shower we’d shared the night before and I doubted I had ever been as relaxed as I was at this very moment. The memories of it flashed through my mind like a highlight reel on SportsCenter causing another part of my anatomy to stretch out (and up) as well.
That thought, along with the sounds of Sookie moving around somewhere else in the house, convinced me to get out of bed. After making a pit stop in the bathroom to brush my teeth and relieve my full bladder I walked down the hallway finding Sookie in the kitchen. The smell that I had woken up to turned out to be the pecan pie she’d said she was going to make, but what I saw was even better than what I had smelled.
Sookie was wiping down the counters that were still covered in flour, which also coincidentally covered some of her as well, while wearing an apron. And, by all appearances, it seemed she was wearing nothing BUT an apron. My legs were already stalking towards her before my brain had made the decision to move, but she turned towards the kitchen sink before seeing me enter the kitchen and I could see from behind that in actuality she was wearing clothes in the form of a pair of cut-off denim daisy duke shorts and a halter top. Barely clothes, but still…clothed.
Undeterred, I made a mental note to try and convince her to change her outfit before we left the house because I didn’t want to have to kill someone later on for leering at her while I silently continued forward and wrapped my arms around her waist from behind earning me a high pitched shriek with Sookie yelling, “God! Eric, quit sneaking up on me!”
I buried my face into the side of her neck and inhaled her scent saying, “Still thinking of me as your God Lover? Are you interested in a morning prayer service?” I’d remembered everything that she’d said while in the throes of passion the night before, most of which I was sure she hadn’t realized she was saying out loud at the time, and I’d found it to be a massive ego boost that I had affected her so profoundly. Truth be told, I was affected just as much by her.
I watched the blush rise up from her chest as she tried to keep the smile from her face while she smacked my arm saying, “Jesus didn’t brag about turning water into wine so take a page from his book and shut it mister.”
I laughed out loud enjoying the softness of her body wrapped up in my arms and was surprised at the feeling of contentment that washed through me. This beautiful woman cocooned in my embrace had quickly become my whole world and suddenly I no longer cared who I was before she’d come into my life because deep down inside I knew I would be no one without her. My only reason to pursue my true identity now was to put an end to whoever was after me in order to keep her safe.
The sound of the timer buzzing next to the stove earned a sigh from both of us as Sookie pulled herself away to get the pie out of the oven as she said, “Why don’t you jump in the shower while I make us some breakfast and then we can bring this over to Mr. Compton.”
“You’re not going to join me? Who’s going to wash my back?” I attempted to pout, but I’m sure my expression was more of a predator eying his prey. Now that I knew of the carnal pleasures to be had with Sookie any amount of time in between our encounters was too much. If I had my way I would spend every waking moment worshipping her naked form knowing eternity wouldn’t be long enough for me to get my fill of her.
I could tell by the look in her eyes that she’d considered the idea for a moment before she took a deep breath and sighed, “I’m sure you’ll manage.” I pouted for real then earning a giggle from Sookie as I sulked back down the hallway.
Once we were done eating, and I accidentally on purpose spilled a glass of orange juice on Sookie which made her have to change her clothes, she grabbed the pie and we left the house on foot walking hand in hand to Compton’s house. It was late spring, but the weather wasn’t too warm yet and I found myself happily getting lost in the sight of the sunlight dancing across Sookie’s hair and face.
When we got closer to the cemetery that separated the farmhouse and Compton’s land I noticed Sookie’s pace slowing down until she came to a stop at one of the tombstones. I didn’t realize she was crying until I heard her sniffle and looked down to see tears silently falling down her face. Looking at the tombstone I saw that it read ‘Adele Stackhouse’. I let go of Sookie’s hand and silently stood behind her with my arms wrapped around her waist as I kissed the top of her head.
“This is my Gran,” she whispered. I noticed she was buried in between a ‘Mitchell Stackhouse’ and a ‘Corbett Stackhouse’ with ‘Michelle Stackhouse’ on his other side and I realized, with the exception of her brother, this was Sookie’s entire family. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had parents or siblings somewhere out there in the world and a part of me felt ashamed for only thinking of it now.
I kept my arms wrapped around Sookie until she wiped the tears from her eyes and grabbed my hand before smiling softly up at me and said, “She would’ve loved you.” I highly doubted that statement given everything her granddaughter had been through since I came into her life, but I kept those doubts to myself. I also kept quiet on the other thought that popped into my head wondering if Sookie would, or could, love me too because I was pretty sure I was falling in love with her.
We started walking towards Compton’s house again and I was pulled from my thoughts by Sookie when she asked, “Should I introduce you as Eric?”
“Probably not a good idea in case he still keeps in touch with his nephew.” I didn’t want to use any of the names on any of the documents I had and figured we should keep it simple. “How about John?” I grinned. “Like John Doe.”
“Ugh…no,” she replied. I gave her a questioning look and she followed up with, “My ex’s name is John, even though everyone called him Quinn.”
I was surprised at the minor stab of jealousy I felt hearing Sookie talking about her ex. I knew of him because she’d told me the story of how she’d ended up in St. Thomas, but now that we’d been intimate just the thought of someone else being with Sookie in that way made me want to spit nails no matter how irrational I knew that was. My only saving grace was knowing that Sookie was with me now and I had no intention of letting her go. I pushed those thoughts aside and asked, “Well then you come up with a name.”
We stopped walking while Sookie stared up at me chewing on her bottom lip thinking it over, but seeing her like that only made me want to remove her lip from in between her teeth with my tongue. I should have known by the way her lip curled up innocently as she asked, “Umm…how about Seymour?”
“Seymour?” I asked.
“Yeah, Seymour Butts,” she cackled.
“Tsk tsk. Sookie, I didn’t think you had it in you,” I mocked scorned her unable to hide my grin.
Her eyes narrowed as she took a step closer to me and said, “Oh, I’ve had it in me Hugh.”
“Mhmm…Hugh G. Rection,” she broke out into another fit of giggles. Personally, I liked Hugh just fine knowing it had to do with Sookie thinking of other parts of me. We resumed walking towards the Compton house with each of us going back and forth with ridiculous names never really deciding on any one in particular by the time we found ourselves on his front porch. I figured I’d just go with whatever name Sookie went with at the moment when she knocked on the front door.
We heard movement inside and I felt Sookie’s grip tighten on my hand when the door opened to reveal an older African American woman. She looked at the two of us with a kind smile on her face as she asked, “May I help you?”
I looked over at Sookie to see a confused expression on her face before she finally uttered, “I’m Sookie Stackhouse.” She pointed behind her towards the farmhouse that could barely be seen from where we stood as she continued, “I’ve just recently returned home and I thought I’d make Mr. Compton a pie and bring it over so we could catch up with each other. Is he available?”
I’d turned to watch the woman as Sookie spoke and saw a flash of pity go across her face before she smiled sweetly and took a step back saying, “Won’t you please come in? My name is Octavia and I’m Mr. Compton’s daytime nurse.”
“Oh my, is Mr. Compton alright?” Sookie asked with her southern accent the most prominent I’d heard from her yet. No matter how inappropriate the timing was at the moment, hearing her made my dick twitch just the same.
“Physically he’s fine,” she answered as she showed us into the living room where we saw a frail old man sitting in a wheelchair in front of the television. The three of us stood in the doorway as Octavia explained, “Mr. Compton is suffering from Alzheimer’s. He has good days and bad days, but I’m afraid the disease has progressed to the point where he doesn’t have many lucid moments anymore. Sometimes, first thing in the morning after he wakes he’s more aware of his surroundings, but for the most part he’s pretty withdrawn these days with barely any memory of who he is much less anyone else.”
“That’s just awful,” Sookie exclaimed. She handed me the pie as she walked over and knelt down in front of the wheelchair, reaching out to place her hand on top of Compton’s as she said, “Mr. Compton? It’s Sookie, Sookie Stackhouse. Adele’s granddaughter. Do you remember me?” She smiled softly at first, but it slowly left her face when it became apparent she wouldn’t be getting a response. Octavia walked over and patted her back saying, “I’m sorry dear, but please don’t take it personal.”
I watched Sookie wipe the tears from the corners of her eyes as she stood and forced her lips into a smile saying, “It’s just so sad.” She reached out and took the pie from my hands before placing it into Octavia’s saying, “I’d like you to have it and if you ever have need of anything or are just looking for a little company while you’re here please feel free to give us a call.”
Octavia seemed genuinely touched and said thank you as we left the Compton house without any more information on Bill Compton than we’d gone in with. Sookie had remained quiet and once we were passed the cemetery I looked down at her and asked, “Are you okay? You seemed a little shook up seeing him like that. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were that close.”
Sookie came to a stop and looked up at me with fresh unshed tears saying, “Eric, that wasn’t why I was upset. I’m upset that we’ve hit another dead end. If he barely even knows who he is himself, he’ll never be able to tell us anything about Bill Compton, or where he is. I know you’re frustrated not knowing who you are or what happened to you and now I’m at a loss as to what else we can do.”
I cupped each side of her face in my hands as my thoughts from earlier that morning ran through my mind once more and I finally gave voice to them saying, “Sookie, as long as you’re safe I can honestly say I don’t care if I never get my memories back.”
She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language so I did my best to explain my thoughts only feeling the truth of them as they fell from my lips. “We can’t let our guard down, probably ever, but I imagine whatever happened that allowed them to track us to Florida from St. Thomas never involved your name or identity. Otherwise, someone would’ve been waiting for us here already. I meant what I said on our way to New York. You feel like home to me and if you’ll have me, I’d like to stay with you. We could build a life here, together. Or somewhere else if you don’t want to stay, but as long as I’m with you and you’re safe from harm I’ll be happy.”
Sookie seemed unconvinced and said as much. “But won’t you feel short-changed living this half life here with me? Without your memories; not knowing who you are or where you came from? No matter how much I might want to keep you all to myself, it wouldn’t be fair to you and it’s something I could never ask of you.”
I watched a stray tear fall from her eye and gently brushed it away with a kiss before placing a gentle kiss on her lips. Pulling back to look into her eyes I said, “But you didn’t ask it of me. I’m asking it of you.”
I watched the emotions flit across her face as she went over everything I’d said and I felt the tension building inside of me as if I’d just asked her to marry me and was awaiting her answer. That thought made me feel sad knowing we could never get married, legally anyways, with this hanging over our heads. How could she marry someone who didn’t even know his real name? Was it fair to have asked this of her? Asking her to let me into her life even more than she already has? Building a life with me knowing we could never take that next step?
I ended up rambling out every one of my new questions in the next moment and was shocked by her reaction. Sookie smiled before pulling me down for a kiss that we quickly got lost in and when we finally broke apart from each other she said, “If you’re willing to give up searching for your true identity to stay with me, I can certainly give up a futuristic piece of paper that’s much too soon to even be contemplating right now anyway. It’s not something I would need to be happy, but it would seem that I do need you.”
My heart soared with her words and I swept her up in my arms taking her back into the house and showed her just how happy I was. Several times. And days turned into a week and weeks turned into a month and so on and so on.
Neither one of us ever truly let our guard down, but after keeping our distance from the outside world at first, we slowly allowed ourselves to be assimilated into the community. It would’ve been difficult not to after Tara, and eventually Jason, stopped by and once the news of Sookie’s return with a ‘boyfriend’ in tow spread like wildfire through the little town it would’ve been impossible to continue laying low.
We had enough cash to sustain us for a while, especially since the house was paid for leaving only the property taxes and utilities needing to be paid, but Sookie insisted on getting a job waitressing at the local diner. It didn’t take long for me to go stir crazy enough to look for something to do myself, but it was more difficult for me since I couldn’t provide any documentation (that I’d want them to use anyway) on who I was. We’d opted to keep ‘Eric’ as my first name after Sookie spent that first week we’d kept to ourselves trying to get used to calling me Hugh (what?), but she could never keep it up consistently and we didn’t want to get called out if she slipped up and called me Eric by accident. We took half of my Stephen Thomas persona from New York and I became known around Bon Temps as Eric Stephens. It wasn’t exactly original, but not uncommon enough to attract attention either.
It was during one afternoon while I ate lunch at the diner Sookie was working at that I met Tray Dawson. He owned a motorcycle shop in town and after striking up a conversation I learned he was looking for some help in the shop. I didn’t know how good I’d be fixing motorcycles, but it turned out I was pretty good. When I told Sookie excitedly how easy it all seemed to be she didn’t look as surprised as I felt. The best part was that Tray was the one to offer to pay me under the table so I didn’t have to worry about providing him with a social security number.
Over the following months I was readily accepted as Bon Temps newest citizen. With the community being as small as it was it didn’t take long to know who everyone was which made it easier to know when to be wary of any strangers that happened through town. We’d even felt at ease enough for both of us to go back to our natural blond hair.
Sookie spent time getting to know Octavia and had come to view her as a friend. She’d tried to find out any information she could on Compton’s nephew, but Octavia had never been in contact with him, having been hired through an agency, and she’d never heard from any relatives in the time she’d been working there. According to Sookie, Octavia never asked why she was interested but said she’d let her know if he, or anyone else, ever contacted her.
I also spent time teaching Sookie, out in the woods surrounding the farmhouse, how to shoot a gun as well as ways she could use the woods to evade anyone chasing after her. I taught her to defend herself with a knife and how to disarm an attacker as well as hand to hand combat using nothing more than her body as a weapon. We made it a game of sorts anywhere we went where she would point out different items around that she could use as a weapon and how. She was a fast learner and I was impressed with her skill level. Her small size was a disadvantage with a larger opponent, but her unassuming appearance worked in her favor because no one looking at her would suspect all that she was capable of.
I even went so far as to build a hidden underground bunker of sorts not too far into the tree line that was stocked with water and other non-perishables along with several weapons that was large enough to house both of us if necessary, but my main objective was to provide a safe place for Sookie to go to if the need arose. Just the thought of her being harmed was enough to keep me up some nights.
Other nights I would wake with the still foggy nightmares of flashes of what I assumed was my former life. Some of it I thought had to be training I’d gone through and was very similar to what I’d taught Sookie. Water was a prevalent theme as well as darkness, but I was never able to hold onto much of the dreams after I woke up. I didn’t tell Sookie about them though. Not because I didn’t trust her, but there wasn’t much to tell and I wanted to spare her the frustration they caused me knowing she would feel the same way.
We went about living normal lives together going to barbeques in the summer and we watched the Fourth of July fireworks cuddled up on a blanket down at the lake alongside half of the town. We walked hand in hand through town practically every day and I even helped build floats for the small Labor Day Parade. Together Sookie and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house inviting her brother and his latest girlfriend along with Tara and JB and their son.
I may not have had my previous memories, but I had plenty of new ones and they all centered around Sookie. Our mutual attraction for one another never waned or faltered and only seemed to increase as time went by. I would never have enough of her and I was certain she felt the same way.
I was happy. We were happy. It was like we actually were a normal couple.
A normal couple in love. We’d both been dancing around the word with each of us hesitant to say it out loud, but there was no denying it. I knew it. She knew it. I think we were still waiting for the other shoe to drop, or armed attacker to burst into the room. I’d already bought her an engagement ring that I had hidden upstairs and intended to give her on Christmas morning. I knew we couldn’t get married, at least not anytime in the foreseeable future, but I wanted her to know that I wanted that kind of commitment with her. As ridiculous as it sounded I wanted to mark her as mine because I was undeniably hers. It would be even more ridiculous to ask her without ever having told her how I truly felt about her, but I wanted to pick the perfect moment instead of blurting it out in the throes of passion.
I was surprised, but it turned out the perfect moment was on a cold Sunday afternoon in early December. We were decorating the tree we’d just come back from buying at the church parking lot and she caught me silently staring at her still awed by her beauty, both internal and external.
Sookie brushed away non-existent dirt from her face and fixed hairs on her head that were already perfectly in place as she asked, “What? Is there something wrong?”
She could’ve been covered in raw sewage and completely bald and it wouldn’t have changed how I felt about her and before I knew it the words were leaving my lips. “I love you.”
She gasped at my unexpected declaration and I watched the tears form in her eyes as she remained momentarily silent. I didn’t expect her answering three words. “And that’s wrong?”
I pulled her into my arms knowing my touch calmed her as much as hers calmed me and said, “Nothing could be more right,” before I leaned down giving her a gentle kiss not wanting to push her into anything more in that moment. I felt her hand on my cheek as she pulled away to look in my eyes and said, “I love you too.” I knew she did, I’d had absolutely no doubts, but actually hearing her say it was unreal. I wasn’t prepared for the physical reaction my body had from the rise in my heart rate to the warmth that flooded my veins. My knees actually got weak and I found myself clutching her a little tighter.
I’d somehow known from that very first night I’d woken up next her that I wouldn’t willingly let her go, but now there was no comparison. Without her in my life I would never be whole. I would let her go if she asked it of me because I could never refuse her anything, but I would never again be complete or at peace. She held the key to my happiness and it would always be hers to hold.
I wasn’t sure who initiated what, but before I knew it we were well on our way to becoming naked underneath the Christmas tree. I registered that the phone was ringing, but neither one of us cared about anything more than getting the other undressed so we let the machine get it. I completely missed whoever it was and what they had said, but Sookie must have been paying attention because her actions went from frantically removing clothing to completely still.
I nipped at her neck using my own hands to pick up where she’d left off, but she grabbed my hands asking, “Eric, didn’t you hear that?”
“No Lover,” I sighed, “I was a little preoccupied with getting you naked. Whoever it was, they can wait.” I attempted to thwart her protests with another kiss, but she couldn’t be swayed.
“Eric! That was Octavia. She said Mr. Compton’s nephew called saying he was in the area and he’s on his way over there now!”