I woke up the next morning to an empty bed. Eric must have moved into his hole in the spare bedroom sometime during the night, I figured. My neighbor and former boyfriend, Bill Compton had built it, so that he could spent his days here and not leave my house during the day. Sometimes, it had been too rushed for him to make it home on the other side of the cemetery between his house and mine. Anyways, I think that Eric has now spent many more days in the hole than Bill ever had. Didn’t that seem ironic? Bill and Eric always had been competitive when it had come to me. A hole in my spare bedroom was just another symbol of that competition.
Not that I really thought about Bill anymore. Sometimes, Eric would ask him to do certain things for him and I’d run into him at Merlotte’s or at Fangtasia, but other than that, he had been basically leaving me alone. I think that Eric must’ve threatened him or used his authority to ensure that Bill didn’t bother me, especially since Bill now knew (it wasn’t a huge secret) that Eric and I were now dating. I still hadn’t forgiven him for how he had used me in order to do the former queen’s wishes. I don’t think that I could ever forgive him for that.
I climbed out of bed, took a shower and got dressed. I had some laundry that needed to be done before I went into work at Merlotte’s. I headed into the kitchen. On the kitchen table there was a single red rose laying on the table, along with a note.
I picked it up to read it.
My dear one,
I finally figured out how to program your coffee maker so that you would have some coffee ready for you when you woke up. I know how grumpy you can be in the morning and how you like to have something extra to wake you up, but since I won’t be able to be there to give you my own special wake up call…this is the next best thing.
I also got you this rose, as a thank you for the great night that I had last night. We must do this again soon. Would tonight be okay? I was thinking of taking you out for a night on the town as soon as you are finished work. You are off at seven? I will meet you here at eight. I hope that gives you enough time to make yourself look beautiful, even though you already look beautiful enough for me.
Until tonight my lover.
I picked up the rose and smelled it. I had no idea how Eric had managed to find a red rose in the middle of winter. Or, how he had managed to get one in the middle of the night either. But I didn’t care. It was the thought that counts and this wasn’t the first time that Eric had given me flowers, or anything else, for that matter.
Eric was one of the most generous, giving guys that I’d ever met. Not that I had a lot of experience, mind you. It was just one of the things I loved most about him. How thoughtful he was. He was always there whenever I needed him the most. If he couldn’t, he would make sure that someone would be there in his absence.
My heart raced at the thought of the date that he had planned tonight. I wondered where we would go or what we would do? Would he take me out for dinner and dancing? Or, was he one of the more laid back types? I really had no idea. We were still trying to get to know each other in more of a romantic kind of way. We hadn’t really done any of this kind of thing before. Not that we had had any choice in the matter, but now things were different.
You see, we had basically had been forced to get to know each other during business dealings. The more that we’d seen each other, the more we liked and respected each other. Then, the blood-bond thing happened. I had been so confused because I had been in a relationship with Quinn, a were tiger. But I had been drawn to Eric and he had been drawn to me, until finally…my relationship with Quinn ended and I had been kidnapped. That was when I realized just how much I really cared for Eric.
I guess that the old saying must be true. You don’t know what you really have until it’s gone. While I had been kidnapped, I had had nothing to do but think…and I had plenty of time for that. I had figured that I would never see anyone that I knew ever again. I would die down in the basement where I was being held, without getting the chance to say goodbye and I would be all alone. If there was one thing that I feared of the most, it was ending up alone.
That’s when I realized that the person that I missed and needed the most was Eric. The one who I had fallen in love with while his memory was erased. It was while I was laying down there that I suddenly realized that that my Eric was indeed still there, but hidden underneath all of the real Eric’s other layers. The ones that he had used to protect himself and those he cared about the most. No wonder he had lived to be over a thousand years old. There weren’t too many people who ever got close enough to know that Eric was really a good, decent man and to see underneath all of those layers. But because he’d had his memory erased and had no idea why he should keep his walls up in the first place, I had seen firsthand the kind of man that he really was deep down. A part of me had always known that I’d seen glimpses of him, but I hadn’t been able to recognize it for what it was. I was actually thankful now that I had been kidnapped. Funny, how that works?
Eric had even left the morning paper laying on the kitchen table for me to read while I had my morning coffee and prepared myself some cereal. I flipped it open and looked at some of the headlines. Nothing really caught my eye until I noticed something about a small town near Bon Temps.
It was about the accident that I had found out about on the news last night before. It had been broadcasted right before Eric had called.
The headline read: TRAGEDY STRIKES RED DITCH.
Red Ditch was really familiar to me, I thought to myself. I briefly remembered the reason why I’d gone there. My cousin, Hadley had been married and then had been turned into a vampire by Queen Sophie Anne. Before she had been turned, she’d given birth to a son named, Hunter. He lived with his father, Remy Savoy, who resided in the small town of Red Ditch. It wasn’t far from here.
I had gone there to visit and to meet Hunter for the very first time. That was when I had learned that Hunter had inherited one very interesting trait. He had the ability to read minds like I did. I had offered his father some advice and had explained that I would be able to help them out when Hunter grew older and would need more guidance with his telepathy. His father had refused at the time, but I knew that he would need me one day.
I continued to read the article underneath the headline.
Tragedy has struck the small town of Red Ditch last night. A young couple, driving home on highway 11, was struck by an oncoming vehicle in a head on collision. The driver of the other vehicle was said to be drunk at the time of the accident and was admitted into the hospital in Shreveport, in critical condition. The names of the deceased have not been released, as family members have not been contacted as of yet. The car that the young couple was in, said to have rolled five times before coming to a stop in the ditch.
I would’ve read more, but the doorbell rang. I was curious as to who would be at my doorstep at that time of morning. I got up to answer it. I looked through the peephole before opening the door. I knew, besides being able to read the policeman’s mind, just who were the victims in the car the night before. I felt the sense of dread come on.
I decided to be brave, took a deep breath and opened up the door. “Hello,” I greeted the policeman, politely. It wasn’t one of the ones from Bon Temps. I figured that it was one of the highway patrol’s men.
“Miss Sookie Stackhouse, I presume?” he asked, curiously.
I nodded my head.
“Would you mind if I came inside? I have some…news to tell you, that you should know about.”
I stood back, to allow him to walk through the entryway. He took a quick glance around before turning back towards me. I waited for him to speak, still shocked at the knowledge of what I knew.
“Miss Stackhouse…” he began. “I’m terribly sorry to inform you that…last night, Remy Savoy and Kirsten Duchesne have perished in a horrible car accident. We are letting you know because we understand that you are somewhat related?” the officer made it sound like a question. I nodded my head, while tears formed in my eyes. The officer nodded his head too. “We’re terribly sorry for your loss. We will notify you when their bodies will be released for their respective burials.”
The officer made a move to exit, but I cut him off before he could. “Excuse me, sir?” I asked, curiously and almost scared to ask this question. “But was there…a little boy in the car with them? Remy had a son named, Hunter. I was wondering…is he dead too?” I waited patiently for the policeman to answer.
I could see from his thoughts that it wasn’t true. I breathed a sigh of relief before he answered me.
“No, he has been taken into foster care, where we will be well taken care of,” he informed me. “Well, I’ll be off. Thank you for your time. I offer you my deepest condolences.” With that, the officer made his way to his waiting police car and drove away.
I paced around my living room in a daze. I was terribly worried about Hunter. He was all alone now. He had no family, other than me and Jason. I couldn’t help it. I burst into tears at the thought. What would happen to Hunter now?
I collapsed on to the chair nearest me and cried my eyes out. I didn’t know what else to do. I felt like I was letting Hunter down, when I had promised him that I would help take care of him, if and when the time came. But now what? How would I ever be able to find him in the system? I’ve heard many stories over the years of children getting lost and never finding their siblings or loved ones ever again.
I had a sudden idea that came to mind. What if I were to take Hunter in? I could look after him, couldn’t I? When he needed help with his telepathy, I would be right there. I was related to him. I could tell him stories about Gran, my aunt (his grandma) Linda, and his mother, Hadley. He would know where he came from and how much he was loved.
Wait a minute…what am I thinking? I asked myself. I’m thinking of taking in a child. Who I’d briefly met for a few moments in his young life. How would I support him, when I could barely support myself? I was a single woman, working as a barmaid. I was sure that the court system would see that as a bad thing and would never award me guardianship. How would I be able to afford the high cost of lawyer fees to begin with?
I used to babysit Arlene’s kids in the past, before our friendship was ruined, but that was all of my experience with children that I’ve ever had. How would I know that I’d even make a good parent? More to the point, what would people in Bon Temps think? What would Eric think about it?
No, I sighed. Maybe it would be better if foster care found someone who could adopt him.
I looked at the clock on the wall and realized that it was time to get ready for work. I quickly changed and got ready. I checked the refrigerator to make sure that there was some Tru-Blood in there for Eric when he woke up.
I wrote him a note.
Off to work, although I’m not in the best of moods, as you’ll know as soon as you wake up. I heard some sad news today. I’ll tell you all about it, when we go out on our date later tonight.
Speaking of which, I’m really excited for it and can’t wait for our date tonight. I hope it cheers me up. What do you have planned?
Thanks for the coffee and the rose. I’m sorry, I just left you a Tru-Blood. It needs to be warmed up and I’ll need to buy more on the way home from work. Just thought I’d let you know that I may be a little late.
I left the note on the kitchen table, like he’d left mine, headed out the backdoor, to my car in the driveway.
My day at work was uneventful, except Sam called me into his office, when my shift was almost over.
“I heard,” Sam offered, from his side of the desk.
“Heard about what?” I asked, puzzled and confused.
“About that accident. You knew the couple who died.”
I looked away from him. I didn’t know that Sam had known anything about it. I couldn’t recall ever mentioning it to him before. “How did you know?” I asked, curiously.
“Amelia,” he answered, as if that explained everything. “One night she came in and had a little too much to drink. I think it was around the time of your kidnapping…anyways, she mentioned a lot of things that night and also how excited you were because you had found another relative. And right before you walked in for work today, they announced the names of the deceased.” He explained.
I wished that Amelia was there right at that moment. It hadn’t been Amelia’s place to blab it all around town. I was now angry at my close friend. I frowned, but didn’t say anything to Sam. He stared at me, expecting me to elaborate, but I remained silent.
“So, it’s not true?” Sam insisted.
“Amelia shouldn’t have opened her big, fat mouth,” was all that I would reply. “I thought you weren’t really into gossip, Sam?”
“Then, what’s with the third degree?” I asked back.
Sam shrugged. “Nothing. I’m just curious to see if you will be needing any time off,” he explained.
“How would I be able to pay my bills?” I reminded him. “Even if I wanted to-I just can’t afford it.”
“Why don’t you get Eric to help you?” Sam suggested. “I’m sure that he would be willing.”
“Of course, he’d be willing!” I shouted at him. “But then, I’d be a kept woman. I don’t want that. And for your information-he’s also offered me a job at Fangtasia and more money too. I turned that down as well.”
I could tell that I’d stunned Sam. He was staring at me, like I’d grown two heads.
I could tell that he wished that he had the financial freedom to do the same. I nodded my head. “Call me, crazy or whatever-but I have no desire to work in a vampire bar. No matter how much I got paid. Besides, what would you do with one less waitress?”
Sam choose to move on to a different topic of conversation. We weren’t going to solve anything. We were both happy with our work situation as it was. That was enough for now.
“Getting back to the accident…”
I glared at Sam. “I don’t want to talk about it. Amelia still has a really big mouth. But on second thought…maybe a few days off would be just the thing that I need?” I suggested, changing my mind as I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I was an emotional wreck after hearing about Remy’s and Kirsten’s accident.
Sam nodded his head, sympathy in his gaze.
I put my apron away and took my purse from his desk, then left the bar.
I stopped off at the Grabbitkwik on the way home and bought some Tru-Blood for Eric, since he would be staying at my house for a few days. I wasn’t really prepared for company, even though that company would be making me happy and take my mind off of things for awhile. I also rented a couple of movies.
I stopped in at Tara’s store, to see if there were any dresses that I could wear that were in my price range. Sometimes Tara kept a secret stash just for me.
When I walked in, Tara was with another customer. I looked around at some of the clothes, to see if there was anything that I could wear that night.
“Hey,” Tara greeted me, after the customer had left. “What brings you by?” she smiled.
“I need clothes. A dress. Something sexy for a date that I’m having tonight,” I explained.
“Oh, who is the new man?” Tara asked, curiously.
“I wouldn’t exactly say he’s new…” I hedged. I was fearful of her reaction. She didn’t say anything, just stood there looking at me, expectantly. “His name is Eric Northman and you’ve met him…kind of.” Although, I wasn’t entirely sure if Tara would remember. “He’s a vampire.”
I closed my eyes and waited for Tara to start screaming at me and telling me that I was doing a really stupid thing. But she didn’t. I opened my eyes. She just stood there looking at me expectantly and patiently to continue on with my story.
I decided to continue on while I still had the guts. I took a deep breath before continuing. “You see, he and I have exchanged blood more than three times, which means that we’re bonded to each other. When it first happened, I was very resentful of our bond. But now-since I’ve been kidnapped and he found me-I’ve discovered that it’s more than that. He’s always been there for me. He’s amazing in bed. He puts me first…” I paused, trying to come up with more reasons to convince her to be fine with it. “He’s nothing like Bill. I know that what I’m getting into and I’ve never been happier in my entire life.”
Tara stood there a moment, not saying anything at all, after my last minute, flung together speech. “Are you finished?” she asked, patiently.
I nodded my head.
“Good,” Tara turned towards a rack of dresses and pulled one out. “I think this would look amazing on you.” She said.
I stared at her, kind of speechless. “You’re not going to tell me that I’m stupid? You’re not going to tell me not to see him?” I asked, incredulously.
Tara shook her head. “No, I can tell that you won’t listen to me. I have to admit that the vampires that you know are different from the ones that I do. If you say that you’re happy…who am I to argue with that?” She shrugged. “Besides, I seem to recall that this Eric is handsome in a Nordic kind of way.”
I stared at her, not quite knowing what to say.
“Anyways, I think that you will go your own road. You always have. I know how the guys around here have never appreciated your charms. I’m glad that someone values you enough to want to make the effort.” She continued. “Here, try this dress on.” She held the dress out towards me. “I think the color makes your eyes look bluer.”
I reluctantly took the dress from her and headed towards the change rooms. I tried it on and checked myself out in the mirror; turning this way and that, so that I could see from different angles.
“Come out here so that I can see,” Tara called out from the other side of the door. I stepped out of the room, so that she could look at me. Tara grinned when she saw what I looked like. “If he weren’t dead already…you’d knock him dead,” she joked, laughing at her own joke.
I looked at my reflection in the three-way mirror. “You really think so?” I asked, while I gazed at myself.
“I sure do,” Tara replied back. “Would you like to put this on Eric’s account or on your own?” She asked, already knowing what I would do.
I checked out the price on the tag and thought about it for all of three seconds. Since I was taking more days off and Eric had set up an account and everything…why not let him pay? “Eric’s,” I replied. What’s the point of having an expense account, if I wasn’t going to use it? Besides, Eric wouldn’t mind, especially if it were for his benefit.
Tara nodded her head, while I ducked back into the change room. I quickly changed back into my uniform and headed towards the cashier desk. “I don’t suppose you’d want to buy accessories to go with it?” she offered.
I shook my head. It was one thing to buy a dress that was way out of my price range, for a date with the man who was going to eventually pay for it; but it was another thing entirely to buy more things on top of that. I hated the fact that I couldn’t afford decent things for myself. “No, that will do. I have a nice purse and shoes at home,” I explained.
Tara rung in my purchase, then handed me my dress. “I hope you have a great time.”
“Thanks.” I started to walk towards the door when it opened up and Bill Compton walked through.
I was surprised to see him. Although, it was now dark and he was Tara’s landlord, so I shouldn’t have been. I stared up at him, curiously, wondering if he was going to say anything to me or not.