Chapter 3 – Struggle

Struggle

EPOV

I woke up with a throbbing pain on the right side of my back. I could feel that I was lying down on a mattress as well as the feeling of someone pressed up against my left side. When I opened my eyes I had no idea of where I was and the panic started to set in. I quickly turned over and saw a beautiful girl asleep next to me and just the sight of her instantly calmed me.

I focused on her willing myself to make sense of everything. Who was she? Where was I? Only then did it dawn on me that I couldn’t remember anything. I stared down at her while trying to get my brain to work, but no matter what I tried I couldn’t remember. Not her or even me. Nothing in the room looked familiar to me and I couldn’t understand why. It was almost as if I was born at that very moment with no recollection of my past.

I watched as she started to stir and when her eyes opened, looking into my own, the panic faded completely. I figured she must be someone special to me because of the calm I felt in her presence. I watched her eyes go wide and she sat up saying, “You’re awake!”

I wondered if I had been asleep for so long that she was surprised that I was awake. I could see the recognition in her eyes, but I still couldn’t remember who she was so I asked, “Do I know you?”

Her features went from surprised to disappointed and I felt bad thinking that I must have hurt her feelings, but I was at a complete loss. She said that she had rented me a boat the previous day, but that didn’t jog my memory in the least and again she seemed disappointed. I fought the urge to pull her into an embrace wanting to make it up to her, but I told her the truth instead. Not only did I not remember her, but I couldn’t remember anything at all.

“Are you serious?” she asked. I couldn’t stop staring at her beautiful face and combined with her southern accent she was making me want to strip her clothes off and become reacquainted with her and her body. I wondered if we were in bed together because we’d already had sex. If that was the case I would try to talk her into doing it again because I would want to have remembered it.

Once I realized she was still waiting on an answer I said, “Unfortunately, yes. Why am I here? Did we…” I was trying to think of a tactful way to say fuck, but she cut me off with a smirk saying, “Apparently your personality is still intact and we most certainly did not have sex.”

All of the playfulness left her face as she recounted everything that she knew from the time we’d met the day before until I woke up here in her boss’ house. None of it made sense, but at least I knew why my back was hurting. I could see the slight bruise on her arm from where the needle had been stuck in her arm and I reached over without thinking and ran my finger across it. I watched the goose bumps rise up on her skin and I looked up into her eyes and asked, “Why would you do all of this for me, a virtual stranger? Why not turn me in?”

It seemed odd that she would be so trusting of someone she barely knew and no matter how grateful I was to wake up here instead of a hospital or jail cell I still struggled to understand her actions. For some unknown reason I worried that her trusting nature would get her into trouble one day.

She thought over her answer while looking into my eyes and she reached out brushing some hair away from my face. I closed my eyes and leaned into her touch until the sound of her voice made me open them again. “I know it all looks bad, but there’s just something about you that tells me you’re a good person. And I’m sure you’ll have a really good reason for it all when you get your memories back.”

I was glad that she seemed so sure that I would eventually remember, but I couldn’t find it within myself to believe it as well. In the meantime I needed to make new memories so I started by asking, “What’s your name?”

She smiled and said, “Sookie. Sookie Stackhouse. And your name is Eric Northman.”

I rolled both of our names through my mind but I was still drawing a blank. Sookie must have read my expression because she stood and walked across the room grabbing a duffel bag from the floor and placing it back on the bed next to me.

“This is yours,” she said. “You had it when you rented the boat.”

I gingerly sat up, still feeling the pain in my back, and opened the bag to see what was inside. I pulled out some clothing as well as a gun and a knife and I looked up to see Sookie looking back at me. “I had these in the wetsuit?”

She smiled grimly and said, “Yes. There was also a rifle in the cabin below deck, but I hid it in a storage bench.”

I stared at the gun and knew instantly that I knew how to use it which only frustrated me more that I couldn’t remember anything else useful. I set it aside and pulled out a smaller drawstring bag that I opened and turned over dumping the contents out onto the bed. I felt my eyes go wide when I saw several stacks of one hundred dollar bills banded together in five thousand dollar increments as well as several passports. I opened each one and was shocked to see that they all had different names but the same picture and they were all from different countries. There weren’t any mirrors in the room and it felt strange to not know what I looked like, but I held one up to my face and looked at Sookie for confirmation.

“Yep, that’s you.” She tried to smile but I could tell that it bothered her as well. There was a wallet in the bag that had more cash inside along with a New York state driver’s license that had my picture and the name ‘Eric Northman’ with an address in New York City. None of the other passports had that name so I couldn’t be sure if that was my real name, but it felt right anyway.

We both stared at the contents of the duffel bag piled on the bed with each of us lost in our own thoughts when my stomach growled. I looked up as Sookie said, “I guess you don’t know when the last time was that you ate, huh?”

A small smile formed on her lips that had me smiling back at her as I shook my head no. She continued to smile as she continued with, “Well then, I’m going to run over to my apartment and fix you something to eat. Why don’t you just rest until I come back?”

The thought of her leaving me here wasn’t pleasant at all. I wasn’t afraid, but for whatever reason I felt like I had to stay with her. I was sure I looked like a lost puppy as I looked at her and asked, “Is it alright if I come with you?”

Her eyebrows furrowed as she answered, “Doesn’t your back hurt? I won’t be gone long.”

My back did hurt, but not so much that I couldn’t move around. “A little,” I replied, “but I’d rather go with you if you don’t mind me tagging along.” Just the idea that she wouldn’t be near me had me feeling lost inside and while I was sure I sounded somewhat pathetic, I didn’t care enough to chance not being with her.

She smiled again and said, “Okay,” as she started piling everything back inside of the duffel bag. I slid to the side of the bed and after she helped me put on a t-shirt I leaned on the headboard as I slowly stood up. Once I was sure I could withstand the weight on my legs Sookie tossed the duffel bag over her shoulder and I followed her to her apartment above the garage. She explained how she came to live there and while I should have been more concerned about everything else I found what I wondered the most was whether or not she was unattached.

We walked into her apartment and she appeared to live alone but I asked anyway. She smiled and confirmed, “I live alone.” I sat down at her kitchen table and watched as she pulled out some items from the refrigerator before looking over at me and asking, “Do you remember if you like turkey sandwiches?”

I tried to shrug my shoulders but the movement made the pain in my back flair and I ended up hissing instead. She grabbed a bottle of water and gave it to me along with a couple of ibuprofen tablets that I quickly swallowed down while she went back to fixing our dinner.

We ate in silence while a million questions ran through my mind. Once we were finished I followed Sookie into the living room and she helped me sit on the couch before sitting in the space next to me and asked, “How do you feel?”

“Physically I’m a little sore, but it’s not that bad. The rest of me is just…” I couldn’t find any words to describe how it felt to not know who you are.

“Lost?” she asked.

I nodded and stared back at her still wondering how she could be so trusting of me. Especially now that I’d seen the gun and knife she said I’d had when she found me along with the passports and piles of cash. I didn’t feel like I was a ‘bad guy’, but it certainly looked that way. I felt protective of her and yet I wasn’t so sure that the one person she needed to be protected from the most was me. We had no way of knowing whether or not whoever had shot me wasn’t going to come looking for me and I didn’t want her to be caught in the middle.

“Sookie, maybe I should leave.” A look of shock flashed across her face as she responded with, “Why? Where are you going to go?”

I had no idea where I would go, but I’d figure out something. “You’ve already done a lot for me and I’m grateful, but I don’t know who I am or how I got shot. What if I’m dangerous? What if whoever shot me comes back to finish the job?”

She chewed on her bottom lip as she thought over what I’d said and all I wanted to do was lean over and kiss her. I could tell when her decision had been made by the way she squared her shoulders and she said, “You’re not dangerous.”

I looked at her as if she was insane and leaned over pulling the gun out of the duffel bag as I held it pointing away from her with a questioning look on my face. Her eyes narrowed while she said, “Do you feel like you’re dangerous? That you want to hurt me?”

Just the thought of hurting her had me recoiling inside and I answered instantly. “No!”

She seemed pleased with my response and she smiled saying, “So then I have nothing to worry about. And no one besides Lafayette and Jesus know that you’re here so you’re safer staying put than you would be wandering the streets.”

She seemed so sure of everything that I had a difficult time trying to come up with a way to dispute her claims. And I still felt uneasy at the thought of being away from her, but I would do it if I thought she would be better off if I left.

When I had no response she smiled and said, “So, now that that’s settled, is there anything I can get you?”

I felt grimy all over so I asked, “Can I use your shower?”

“Sure, right this way.” I followed her to the bathroom and she helped me take my shirt off. I looked down and watched as she stared at my naked chest with her mouth slightly open and couldn’t help feeling pleased at the thought that she found me attractive. When her eyes finally met mine again I smirked while a blush crept up her face at being caught, but she just smiled and left the room.

I stayed under the hot spray for a while letting the hot water work out the stiffness in my neck and shoulders. When I finally emerged from the bathroom I saw that Sookie had fallen asleep while sitting up on the couch. It was already after 11 o’clock at night and I didn’t want to disturb her, but I also wasn’t comfortable just climbing into her bed. Other than the kitchen table the couch was the only other place to sit down so I turned out the lights and quietly lowered myself on the opposite end of where Sookie was and smiled when her sleeping form slowly leaned over until she was resting against my side. I don’t know how long I spent staring down at her until I finally drifted asleep.

My eyes shot open and every hair on my body stood on end. It was still dark out and I could feel Sookie’s sleeping body pressed against my side. I glanced at the clock and saw that it was three o’clock in the morning. My insides were practically vibrating and I could feel my body filling with adrenaline as I tried to figure out what my senses were trying to tell me.

I carefully unwrapped myself from Sookie and lowered her head until she was lying down on the couch as I stood up. I heard a faint noise outside and peered through her curtains down below staring for a few minutes until I saw the source.

A man was standing in the shadows of the house and I watched as he slowly crept along, checking each window for a way inside until he finally found one that was unlocked. I saw him pull a gun out from the small of his back before he quietly climbed inside.

I spun around and got my gun from the bag and put my hand over Sookie’s mouth as I shook her awake. Her eyes sprung open and before she could make any noise I whispered, “We need to go. Someone just went into the house with a gun.”

Her eyes went wide and she said, “But what about Lafayette and Jesus?” From the way she spoke of them earlier I knew she wouldn’t leave quietly with me without them so I said, “I’ll go in and get them, but I want you away from here.” I didn’t give her any time to argue and pulled her up as I grabbed the duffel bag and we climbed down the stairs as quickly and quietly as possible.

The garage was empty and Sookie whispered, “They’re not home. Their car isn’t here.” I felt relieved knowing she would be more willing to leave now. I had a strong desire to go into the house and find out who the intruder was and what he wanted knowing he had to be there because of me, but my desire to keep Sookie safe outweighed everything else.

I listened at the door and when I was sure there wasn’t anyone waiting on the other side I stepped out pulling Sookie along behind me. We stayed in the shadows and quickly cut through the neighboring yards until we were a few blocks away before slowing down. I kept her hand in mine and we ducked into a dark alley where I said, “We can’t stay out in the open. Is there somewhere nearby we can go until I figure out what we’re going to do?”

She responded instantly with, “The shop.” We made our way there less than five minutes later, but I made Sookie hide down by the docks while I went inside to check it out. As soon as I walked inside I was glad I did.

There was broken glass and splintered wood showing there was obviously a struggle. I checked the other rooms and found them empty, but I stopped short at what I found behind the counter. A sound at the door caused me to whip my body and gun around but I quickly lowered it when I saw Sookie standing there. Her eyes were wide as she took in everything, but when I tried to block her view of what I found behind the counter it was too late. She saw the blood on the floor first and tears started falling from her eyes as she yelled out, “LAFAYETTE! JESUS?”

I caught her falling body by wrapping my arm around her waist and said, “I’m sorry. It’s too late. They’re gone.”

The bodies of both men were lying behind the counter, each of them with a bullet in the back of their head. Sookie screamed as she shook her head saying, “NO! I have to help them!”

“Sookie, we have to get out of here. There’s nothing we can do for them now, I’m sorry.”

She struggled in my arms trying to free herself until her body went limp against mine as she broke down into sobs. I held her close wanting to soothe her, but I knew we needed to leave before whomever it was that killed them came back.

I grabbed the keys to one of the boats and carried Sookie out of the shop and down the dock until I found the right boat. I went back and got my duffel bag before jumping in and quickly taking us out into the ocean. Once we were a few miles out I cut the engine and dropped the anchor. The sun wasn’t up yet, but the sky was beginning to lighten and I felt that we’d be safer out here for now where I could see all around us.

I found Sookie curled up into a ball still crying, but making no sound. My heart broke seeing her in so much pain and I sat next to her not knowing what to do. I was afraid that she would blame me for the death of her friends so I was surprised when she curled up in my lap while I wrapped my arms around her wanting her to feel safe.

We stayed that way until the sun finally rose up over the horizon. While the tears had stopped, Sookie’s breathing was still a little erratic and I continued to rub her arms and back with my hands waiting for her to speak. My mind was running through different scenarios on what we should do next. We needed to get away from here, but I knew the boat would never make the journey without the need to refuel somewhere along the way. Commercial flights were out of the question so I was stuck.

“Who do you think killed them?” she asked, barely whispering the words.

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think it was whoever shot you?”

I sighed and answered, “More than likely.” I tilted her chin until she looked up at me and said, “I’m so sorry Sookie. It’s my fault your friends are dead and I know you probably want to be rid of me, but I don’t know where to take you so that you’ll be safe.”

The tears silently fell from her eyes again as she answered, “You didn’t kill them. And now that they’re gone,” her voice broke before she took a deep breath and continued, “I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

I hugged her close again and whispered, “We’ll figure it out together.” She tucked her head underneath my chin and I knew I would kill to protect her. I would die to keep her safe.

We silently held each other for a while before she pulled back and with a determined look on her face she asked, “So what do we do now?”

Hearing her say ‘we’ warmed my insides and I said, “We need to figure out a way off the island. I think we should go to New York and start looking for answers there.” I didn’t realize how presumptuous my thoughts were until I said them out loud. I quickly followed up with, “Unless you’d rather not go with me. I still think you should leave the island, but you don’t have to go with me to New York.”

“I told you, I have nowhere else to go and I want to help you figure out what happened. I want to go with you.” I could see the sincerity behind her eyes and while I knew it might be dangerous for her I still felt like I was the one that should protect her and I wouldn’t be able to do it if she wasn’t with me. I was shocked when she said, “And I know how we can get off the island.”

She stood up and started the boat and as soon as the anchor was up she drove us towards the shore. We ended up at a deserted dock several miles away from the boat shop where a puddle jumper airplane was bobbing in the water. I grabbed the duffel bag and followed Sookie as she walked up to a small office front with a sign that read, “Merlotte’s Tour by Air”. There was a collie lying down across the doorway that sat up as Sookie approached and she bent down scratching his head saying, “Hi Dean.”

We walked inside and saw a man sitting with his feet kicked up on the desk reading a newspaper. He folded it up when we walked through the door and his eyes lit up seeing Sookie. I didn’t like it.

“Hey Chere. Just coming by for a visit?” He ran his hands through his wiry strawberry blond hair and I didn’t like the way he looked at Sookie. It was obvious that he liked her and I had to stop myself from standing in between them and growling at him.

She smiled sweetly, seemingly oblivious to his affection, and said, “Actually, I was hoping you could do us a favor.” Upon hearing the word ‘us’, he finally looked over at me and I watched him size me up while I did the same. I had no doubt that we each held the same contempt for the other with both of us wanting Sookie for ourselves.

He finally looked back at Sookie and asked, “And what would that favor be?”

“We need to get back to the States, but literally, under the radar. Do you think you could help us out?”

His eyes shot back over to me as he asked, “And who is this guy? Did he get you in some kind of trouble?” He was getting angrier with each question, but I held my own anger in check since it seemed that he was genuinely worried about her.

Sookie placed her hand on his shoulder and said, “The less you know the better.” He opened his mouth to disagree, but Sookie held firm saying, “Really Sam. I need you to trust me on this. All I can tell you is that we’re not safe here and we need to get back to the States. Will you help us?”

He kept glancing back and forth from me to Sookie before he finally settled his gaze on her and said, “Okay Chere, I’ll help you.”

 

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One comment on “Chapter 3 – Struggle

  1. kleannhouse says:

    poor Layfayette and Jesus what a horrible way to go. love that Sam had a collie out front. KY

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