It took all of my willpower to hold it together once Eric and I got to Sam’s. He was a nice enough guy and I’d known for a while that he had a thing for me, but I just didn’t see him that way. And now that I had to try and deal with Lafayette’s and Jesus’ murders while trying to escape their same fate it was all I could do to not collapse into sobs at any given moment. I was sure the shock of it all helped steel my resolve for now, but that could only last so long and I hoped we would be far away from here when it happened so I could mourn their loss without having to explain myself.
While Sam was outside readying the plane for our departure my resolve waivered when a picture of their dead bodies flashed through my mind and a sob came out of my throat. The sound had no sooner left my lips when I felt Eric wrap his arms around me from behind and I automatically turned myself towards his body while he tried to soothe me. I knew he felt responsible for their deaths and while I was pretty sure they were killed by someone looking for Eric, I couldn’t place the blame on him. He’d been shot himself and I knew no matter what, neither Lafayette nor Jesus deserved to die for helping him. Whoever had killed them was evil to their core.
Sam came back in and grunted his displeasure at seeing Eric’s arms wrapped around me so I reluctantly tried to pull away not wanting to give him a reason to back out of helping us, but Eric merely tightened his hold on me letting out a little growl of his own. It was enough to snap me out of my sadness for the moment and I chuckled as I playfully slapped at his chest while I pulled away and turned to face Sam.
“Will we be leaving soon?” I asked.
He ran his hands through his hair and I worried knowing this was his ‘tell’ when he was nervous. I waited on pins and needles wondering if he was going to back out when he finally said, “Yeah, we should be good to go in a few minutes.” He walked over to his desk and pulled out a map calling us over to see what he was now pointing at and I felt my body sag with relief.
I’d forgotten about Sam’s younger brother Tommy. I’d met him a few times when he’d come to visit Sam and now remembered that Tommy lived in the Florida Keys. Apparently Sam had called Tommy when he was outside getting the plane ready and got Tommy to agree to meet the plane several miles away from the coast. It was a chancy proposition given that the US Coast Guard might spot the plane landing, but the way Sam spelled it all out made me think that this might not have been the first time they’d done this sort of arrangement. I, however, didn’t want to know so I didn’t ask and a sideways look at Eric told me he thought the same thing.
Sam went back outside to finish fueling the plane and while he was gone Eric pulled me back into his arms and asked, “How well do you know Sam?” I hid my smile at his obvious distaste and was flattered that Eric seemed to be jealous, although he had no reason to be.
“I met him not long after I started working for…” My breath caught in my throat with me unable to say their names and Eric rubbed my back and whispered, “I’m sorry.” Once I was able to compose myself again I asked, “Why do you ask?”
“There’s something about him that’s not sitting right with me.” I pulled back and looked up at Eric with my unspoken question and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s just instinct I guess. He’s shifty.”
“Shifty?” I laughed. “Sam’s just…Sam. I trust him.”
“Okay. It’s not like we have a lot of other options anyway,” he sighed.
Sam came back and said everything was ready to go and we all hopped into the plane minutes later. Sam sat in the front with Dean as his co-pilot while Eric sat down beside me in the back. Surprisingly, I actually managed to fall asleep not long after we took off. Normally I’m a nervous passenger when flying, but the exhaustion from the previous night coupled with Eric’s arm around me was enough to lull me to sleep. I was dead to the world until Eric woke me a couple of hours after we’d left Sam’s as we were landing in the Atlantic Ocean with no land visible as far as the eye could see.
We sat in the plane bobbing up and down in the ocean with Sam staring through a pair of binoculars for a few minutes before he said, “There he is.” I stared out into the distance where Sam had been pointing and I eventually saw a tiny dot that turned into a boat, getting progressively larger the closer it got to us. Tommy came to a stop next to the plane and once the plane and the boat were tied together we all climbed on board. After introductions were made Sam and Tommy spoke in hushed tones to each other and Tommy handed Sam a suspicious looking duffel bag that he’d pulled out from under a seat.
I turned away from them, not wanting to witness what I thought I was seeing, and wondered how my life had gotten so crazy in less than 48 hours. I’d found and helped rescue a stranger that I felt an undeniable connection to from the moment we’d met; the two men I’d come to look at as my only real family had been murdered, more than likely by whomever had tried to kill said stranger; I’ve just fled my home for the past year traveling with the same stranger running from those same killers, and now I was on a boat only miles away from illegally entering the US while witnessing a probable drug trade with nothing more than the clothes on my back and a virtual stranger by my side. It had been years since I’d stepped one foot inside a church, but I was pretty sure I was due for another visit.
Sam threw the duffel bag into the plane and walked towards me giving Eric the stink eye as he put his arms around me and said, “I don’t know what’s got you running, but know that I’ll always be there for you.” Hearing the sincerity in his voice made the tears well up in my eyes once more as I hugged him back and said, “Thank you Sam. I wish I could tell you everything that’s going on but I’m afraid for your safety.”
He pulled back and asked, “Does Lafayette and Jesus know you’re leaving?” The tears fell from my eyes as soon as he said their names and he looked horrified saying, “I’m only asking in case they come to me looking for you. I don’t know what you want me to tell them.”
I couldn’t form any words and I was grateful when Eric answered for me saying, “They were murdered and whoever killed them is after us or me actually, but because Sookie has been helping me she wouldn’t be safe staying here.”
I felt Sam’s body tense up as he yelled, “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DRAG HER INTO?” When Eric didn’t respond I pulled back and held Sam’s hand in my own as I said, “He didn’t drag me into anything. I wish I could tell you more, but really, it’s not safe for you to know everything. All I can ask is that if anyone comes to you looking for me that you deny having seen me for the last couple of weeks. And please, be wary of any strangers lurking around asking questions.”
Sam stared down at me as I stared back at him pleading with my eyes for him to understand. I knew I was taking a huge selfish risk by going to him and asking for his help knowing what the consequences were for Lafayette and Jesus, but I couldn’t think of any other way. The thought that he would meet the same fate ate away at me inside and I could only hope and pray that he would be okay.
His eyes finally softened, as did his tone when he said, “Okay chere, if anyone asks I haven’t seen you in weeks. And I’m sorry about Laf and Jesus. I know they meant a lot to you.”
“Thank you Sam,” I whispered.
He put each hand on my shoulders and said, “Stay safe chere. Hopefully our paths will cross again and when all of this bullshit,” he glared at Eric before looking back to me and saying, “is over and done I hope you’ll call me and let me know that you’re okay.”
“I will.” They were the only words I could form.
Sam rubbed his hands up and down my arms before glaring back at Eric and saying, “Keep her safe.”
Eric, who had been glaring at Sam the whole time he was touching me, tore his eyes away from Sam and looked into my own saying, “I will.” Deep down inside I knew he would and it was probably the biggest reason I was running with him. I knew I would be safest with him.
Sam climbed back into the plane and once Tommy untied the ropes that held the boat and plane together he started the engine and turned the boat to head back to the mainland. I sat next to Eric while I watched Sam’s plane take to the air and the tears flowed again while I thought of everything I had just left behind. Not the material things, but the people who had become my family and friends. I always knew I would be leaving there one day, but I never thought I would be leaving like this.
Eric put his arm around me pulling me up against his side and even though I barely knew him I couldn’t deny that just being in his presence felt right. I knew from the get go that we had chemistry, but with everything that had happened in the last two days it had turned into something more than just a sexual attraction.
The way he followed me back to my apartment after he had woken up with no memory of who he was or what had happened to him all the while looking like a lost puppy had pulled at my heartstrings. I guessed it was because, with his memory loss, I was the only person in his life. He had no one else that he could rely on, and now that Lafayette and Jesus were gone I was, quite literally, in the same boat as him. I still occasionally kept in touch with Tara, Amelia, and sometimes Jason, but they weren’t really a part of my life anymore. I certainly wouldn’t feel right running to them now. It was just now sinking in that Eric was all I had.
We’d been on the boat for about an hour when I looked over and saw that Eric had fallen asleep. I knew he must have been exhausted and his back was probably hurting him as well. I just stared at his face while he slept and all of the questions I wished he could answer were running through my mind. Who was he really? Did he have a family worried about where he was right now? My heart dropped wondering if he had a wife or girlfriend waiting for him to return. Did he have kids? I knew I was already falling for him so I made myself a new promise, since I’d already broken the one about staying away from trouble. I promised myself that nothing would happen between Eric and me until I knew I wouldn’t be the ‘other woman’. I knew I was making a huge assumption that something like that would happen between us, but I couldn’t deny the attraction that was there. And, without his memories, he wouldn’t even know he was cheating if we did, but I knew if we took that next step that I would be heartbroken if and when his memories returned and we learned he had already committed himself to someone else in his life.
I was lost in my own thoughts when his body jerked awake and he had a wild look in his eyes. His chest was panting and a light sheen of sweat coated his face until he looked over at me. I watched the tension leave his body while he looked into my eyes and I asked, “Are you okay?” It took another minute or two before he answered, “Yes.” I knew there was more to it, but I didn’t want to push him for an answer yet so I just squeezed his hand in my own and leaned against his side as we continued towards the shore.
It took another hour before we were finally pulling up the dock where Tommy kept his boat. We were lucky to have made it back without getting caught and I smiled a little wondering to myself if it was because my Fairy Godmothers, Laf and Jesus, looking out for us. I giggled a little picturing them in pink bodysuits and full ballerina skirts knowing they would’ve loved them.
Once we were on land Tommy surprised me by saying, “I overheard what you were telling Sam and I know how highly he thinks of you.” His eyebrow rose up with a knowing look on his face and I wondered what exactly Sam had told Tommy about me in the past, but I just remained silent and nodded.
Tommy’s gaze moved from mine to Eric’s as he said, “I don’t want to know whatever it is that’s going on, but I figured if you came back to the States on the down low, you’re gonna need to travel on the down low now that you’re here.” Tommy then turned and pointed towards an older sedan before turning back and saying, “It’s not much, but it runs good and the registration is up date, so if you want it it’s yours.”
My mouth gaped open at his offer, but Eric didn’t hesitate at all saying, “If you’ll take a thousand dollars for it you have yourself a deal.” Tommy’s eyes lit up at Eric’s response and we were in the car heading north on the interstate with Tommy being a thousand dollars richer.
We sat in silence for a while before Eric reached over and held my hand asking, “How are you holding up?”
None of what had happened seemed real yet even though I knew it was so all I could say was, “I’m okay.” I turned to face him and squeezed his hand asking, “How about you?” I had to keep reminding myself that he had no memories and I couldn’t imagine what the last twenty four hours had been like for him.
Eric sat there, I assumed thinking over his response, when a smile came on his face and he said, “I’m hungry.” I knew he was deflecting, but he started slowing down and I looked to see that we were pulling into a roadside rest area that had a gas station with a small convenience store and a diner. My stomach growled just seeing it so I let his deflection go for now.
We walked into the diner and after we each cleaned up in the bathroom Eric chose a booth in the corner and sat with his back to the wall so he was facing the rest of the dining area. A waitress brought us some menus and I noticed her giving me a funny look, but she walked away again before I could think too much of it. I felt like I was starving and I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to eat so I looked up at Eric to ask what he was going to order when I saw that he wasn’t looking at the menu. He was scanning the room with his eyes instead and my whole body tensed up expecting more trouble.
I leaned forward and whispered, “What’s wrong?”
Eric snapped out of it and looked back at me saying, “Nothing’s wrong.”
“Something’s wrong. What were you looking at?” I casually turned my head to glance around the room, but all I saw were a few families and random truck drivers all either eating or waiting for their food. I turned back to Eric and gave him a ‘Well?’ look.
“Really Sookie, there’s nothing wrong. My brain just seems to be in overdrive at the moment.” He looked confused and I felt bad for him, but I still didn’t understand.
“In what way?” I asked.
Eric took a deep breath and blew it all out before saying, “I can’t remember anything before I woke up lying beside you twenty four hours ago, but as soon as I saw the gun in my bag I knew how to use it. My senses woke me from a dead sleep before the intruder ever got into the house and when we got into Sam’s airplane I knew I could fly it. I know I can hotwire any car out there in the parking lot and that the cab of the blue pick-up truck out front is the best place to look for a weapon. I know that out of the twelve people scattered around this room, the guy in the baseball cap at the counter would be able to handle himself in a fight and the one sitting alone in the booth drinking coffee has a knife strapped to right ankle. I can recite the license plate numbers of all seven cars in the parking lot and I can read and speak every word of Russian, French, German, and Swedish that are written on the passports in my bag. How can I know all of that and not know who I am?”
Well damn! He looked so lost again and the only thing I could think of to say was, “We’ll figure it out.”
The waitress returned as soon as I’d said the words and we each placed our orders, but I noticed the funny look she was giving me again before she walked away. I also noticed the flirty looks she was making at Eric and I bristled in my seat holding back the urge to kick her legs out from under her.
Eric must have noticed because as soon as she was out of earshot he asked, “What’s wrong?” I smiled thinking I just asked him that same question five minutes ago.
I didn’t want to own up to my flare of jealousy so I just said, “That waitress keeps giving me funny looks. Do I have something on my face?” I knew from my trip to the bathroom when we walked in that my appearance had seen better days, but I didn’t think I looked bad enough to warrant extra attention from our waitress.
Eric smiled back at me and just seeing it pushed the irritation right out of me. I started repeating my ‘no nookie’ promise I’d made to myself earlier and had completely forgotten what we’d just been talking about until Eric said, “No, there’s nothing on your face. You’re beautiful.”
So NOT helping! I felt the blush creep up towards my cheeks and the tingle in between my legs, but I ignored it all and stammered out, “So then why does she keep looking at me weird?”
Eric’s smile got bigger, more than likely from the obvious effect his words had on me, and said, “We are in the south so maybe she’s not used to seeing pretty girls with pink, purple, and blue streaks in their hair.” His face turned serious when he continued with, “Whoever is looking for me will more than likely know that you’re with me. As much as I like them, it might be a good idea to change your hair into just one color.”
I hadn’t thought about it, but as soon as he said it I knew he was right. I’d stand out too much with the streaks no matter where we were so as soon as I agreed with Eric’s suggestion we decided to find somewhere we could buy hair dye and some clothes. That thought made me realize that I didn’t have a dime to my name. Well I did, but the majority of what little I had was currently sitting in a bank in St. Thomas.
Our food came and when I hadn’t touched mine Eric asked, “Why aren’t you eating?”
I didn’t like feeling dependant on anyone and while I traveled everywhere with Quinn, his sponsors were the ones footing the bill, not him, so I didn’t really mind. But now I was here with no way of getting access to my savings account without calling the bank and I was pretty sure that would be a bad idea. I was still lost in my thoughts when I heard Eric say, “Sookie?”
I looked up at him and sighed before saying, “I don’t have any money Eric. Everything I have is back on St. Thomas and the only way for me to get it now would be to call the bank. I should’ve thought it all through before going to Sam.” I wanted to kick myself.
Eric’s eyebrow cocked up in disbelief as he said, “Sookie, you saved my life. The only reason you’re going through any of this is because of me. There isn’t enough money in the world for me to ever repay you for that, but I can certainly take care of everything for you here. Please don’t worry about it.”
I opened my mouth about to protest, but he raised his hand in front of me and said, “And please don’t argue with me about it. In addition to all of the other things I seem to know I can sense that you have a stubborn streak a mile wide, but I’m not backing down on this one so you’ll just be wasting your breath.”
My eyes narrowed as I glared at him and his accurate appraisal. I knew I was as stubborn as the day is long, but Mr. Freaky Senses calling me out on it when he hardly knows me made my inner tween want to stomp my foot and yell out ‘whatever!’ Gran’s voice echoed in my head asking where my manners were so I just said, “Fine. And, thank you.”
The shit eating grin that appeared on Eric’s face at winning our first almost-fight made me want to pick another one so I could win one, but the smell of the cheeseburger in front of me drowned out that desire pretty quickly. We finished eating our meal and Eric asked the whore, I mean waitress, where the closest store was. She put on a really good display of her chest as she leaned over the table towards him as she wrote down directions to a nearby Wal-Mart, but if Eric even noticed her blatant attempts he hid them well. Too bad for her that my inner tween was still looking for an outlet to vent her frustration on so I accidentally-on purpose spilled a full glass of sweet tea on her saying, “Oops! Sorry.” Whore.
I couldn’t help snickering when she stomped away and the clueless look on Eric’s face told me that he really had no idea of what she was doing. He paid for our meal and as soon as we were in the car he looked at me and asked, “Did I miss something?”
I laughed until my sides hurt and tears leaked out of my eyes until I finally calmed down enough to answer him. “Really? You know which guy in there could give you trouble, which one was carrying a knife, you know everybody’s license plates and how to speak God knows how many languages, but you didn’t know the waitress was flirting with you?”
The corner of his mouth rose into a smirk as he asked, “She was flirting with me? And you didn’t care for that I take it?”
Oh boy…Then I remembered his little pissing contest with Sam and said, “Hello Pot, I’m Kettle, nice to meet you.” He just looked even more confused so I reminded him, “I do believe you growled at Sam earlier today. And it makes no difference whether or not I cared that she was flirting with you, for all she knows you’re my husband or my boyfriend so what she did was downright rude.”
Eric’s eyes narrowed into a smoldering gaze as his voice dropped an octave and he said, “You didn’t answer my question.”
Ruh roh Shaggy. “What question would that be?” I asked in my most innocent voice.
His eyes stayed locked on mine as he slowly leaned towards me and all I could do was chant, ‘No nookie! No nookie!’ in my head and hope my body would listen. With his face just inches from mine he whispered, “Why didn’t you like that the waitress was flirting with me?”
I leaned forward a little myself and whispered, “Why do you want to know?”
I swear you could cut through the tension in the car with a knife it was so thick between us and just when I thought he was about to kiss me the alarm went off in the car parked next to us and I practically jumped out of the seat. It was enough to break the spell we’d been under and we both laughed as Eric started the car and we headed out of the parking lot.