I woke up later than I should have the next morning since I had not been able to sleep very well. But I still had the same sense of resolve. I would fight to have Hunter come and live with me. The desperation that I’d heard in his voice last night, called out to me. I couldn’t ignore him.
I showered and dressed. The first thing that I would do was make arrangements to see one of the lawyers in Bon Temps. I knew that it was going to be a long shot at best, but there was no way that I couldn’t do it without having a lawyer. The question was…who?
Let’s see…there was Portia Bellefleur and Sid Matt Lancaster. My first choice was Portia, just because she was a woman and would understand my case better. I called her office and was lucky enough to get an appointment later on that day.
It was a good thing that I’d taken a few days off, I thought. I would’ve been working at Merlotte’s otherwise.
I did some things around the house until it was time to head into town for my appointment. I wore a dress that was both understated and businesslike. I had bought it before my trip to Dallas, which seemed like a lifetime ago.
I entered Portia’s office and her secretary told me to take a seat. That Portia would be with me in a moment. I fidgeted around in the chair because I was nervous. This was the first time that I’d ever had to see a lawyer for my own reasons.
Soon, Portia poked her head out of her office door and motioned for me to enter.
“Hello, Sookie,” she greeted me, cheerfully. “What brings you by?”
“Um…I need a lawyer,” I tried to explain.
“A lawyer?” Portia frowned. “I haven’t heard that you’re in any trouble, Sookie.” She would know, her brother Andy, was a policeman and he hadn’t said anything about it to her. “Why do you need one?”
“Um…” I was nervous and I shifted around in my seat. “I need a lawyer because I want to become a guardian of a little boy. In fact, he’s my cousin, Hadley’s son,” I explained. “I was wondering if you would be able to take the case?”
“A boy?” Portia repeated. Either she was deaf or she was in shock.
“Yes, his name is Hunter. You see, he’s been living with his father until very recently…his father died in that car accident the other night near Red Ditch.”
“Where’s his mother? Why doesn’t she raise him?” she asked.
“Um…she’s dead,” I replied. “She died awhile ago.”
“Please, I know that I don’t have very much money, but maybe we could make out a payment plan?” I suggested.
Portia sat in her seat behind her desk, while she studied me. After a few moments, she spoke. “Sookie, I’ve always admired and liked you.” Yeah, right. That was a load of crap. I knew that she’d tolerated me mostly because I worked at Merlotte’s and had to serve her drinks most of the time. “I would love to take your case, I really would, but…”
That’s when Portia stopped talking for a couple of minutes. I could read it in her mind that she was trying to figure out the best way to tell it to me. I knew that she was going to turn me down. I decided to sit there and wait patiently for her to explain, so that I wouldn’t prove to be the crazy Sookie that everyone in Bon Temps thought me to be.
“First of all…you’re an unmarried woman. You don’t think the boy would be better off living with a wedded couple? You, yourself, told me that you don’t have very much money and would have to work out a payment plan. How are you going to pay for it? This could be very expensive.”
“I know, but…”
It was like she ignored me because she started talking once again. “And adoption cases take a really long time. Are you prepared for the amount of time that this could take? And what about a father figure? Who’s going to be the father figure in this little boys’ life? You’ll also need to look into a babysitter for when you’re working. That can be very expensive too.”
“I know, but…”
“The family courts really look into a person’s background. What about yours? You know what some people have said about you in town. You work as a barmaid in a local bar. You have been involved with vampires.” And Weres and the fae, I added in my own mind. “Vampires aren’t the most admired race in this country, as you well know. What if one of your friends decides to kill this little boy?” Talk about farfetched, but ok-ay. “I’m sorry, Sookie. I can’t take this case. I just think that you have no hope of ever winning, no matter if you can get your finances arranged so that you can pay for it.”
I lowered my head. I had a feeling that what she was saying was true, but it still didn’t seem to faze my resolve. If anything, this made me want to fight this that much harder.
“So, you won’t help me?” I repeated, just to be sure.
Portia shook her head. “I’m sorry, Sookie. Maybe if you were married or had a better career or a more stable home environment…?” She shrugged her shoulders to end her sentence, and left the rest of her explanation hanging.
“Okay,” I sighed. “Thanks for your time.” I stood up and reached across Portia’s desk to shake her hand, to show her that there weren’t any hard feelings and because I was raised to be polite. She took mine in hers too.
“Good luck, Sookie,” she replied, but in her mind, she added…you’re going to need it.
I felt tears forming in my eyes, threatening to fall before I left Portia’s office. I quickly raced out and rushed outside to my parked car. No sooner than I was inside, I laid my head against my steering wheel and started to cry.
I was so frustrated, I could scream. What century were we living in? I wondered. Weren’t there women nowadays, who were looking for sperm donors so that they could experience motherhood? What was so different about me? This was my cousin’s child too. That had to count for something.
I sat there and cried for I don’t know how long. Eventually, I started up my car and backed out of the parking lot.
I had to try to see if Sid Matt Lancaster might take the case. He was an old friend of the family and had been close to my Gran. He had even represented my brother, Jason, when he had been arrested on murder charges. He had gotten Jason off of those…maybe he could do this for me?
I had to try.
I drove home and planned on calling Sid as soon as I got there, since I didn’t have access to his phone number on my cell phone.
It was a little while later. I had made an appointment to see Sid the next day, which would have to be rushed. Remy Savoy’s funeral was being planned for that day, so that I would have to dress both appropriately for a meeting with a lawyer and a funeral.
I changed into some worn out clothes after I made the call to Sid’s office. I wanted to get the laundry done, that I hadn’t done the previous day like I’d planned. I cleaned, while I did my laundry, since there was nothing better to do.
My thoughts were full of Hunter and what he was doing and worrying about whether he was okay or not. By the time I realized it, the sun had gone down. I wondered if Eric was going to call me. He usually did.
A part of me wanted to talk to him, just because I missed him. Another part, wanted to talk to him, because I needed some sort of advice about this custody battle that I was going to have over Hunter. I hoped that Eric would understand and would support me, but you never knew.
My cell phone rang, alerting me that I had received a text message. I rushed over to my phone, picked it up and looked at the display. Sure enough, it was from Eric.
His text said, ‘Sorry about last nite. 2nite instead?’
I texted him back, telling him that I would love that.
“Good, but this time, work not going 2 interfere. I promise. See u soon.”
I laughed, happily. Eric was going to come over. It made me extremely excited and jovial. After the kind of day that I’d had, I deserved it, I thought. A nice, warm, relaxing night of staying in, with my man. And maybe he could help me figure out how to best get through this thing with Hunter?
Before I knew it, Eric showed up at my door. I had just finished putting my laundry all away and had changed from my sweats, into something nicer.
“Hi,” I greeted him, with a warm smile on my face.
“Hello.” Eric smiled back.
The sight of his smile and just his presence caused a warm feeling to flood throughout all of my extremities. I let him come through the door, catching a whiff of his cologne. He smelled really, really nice. I wanted to jump him but first things first.
“How was your day?” he asked, curiously, making small talk.
“Ok-ay,” I hesitated, because it really hadn’t been.
He could tell. He stared at me, curiously and full of concern. “What happened now?” He asked, as he mentally prepared to hear more bad news.
I sighed. I wasn’t sure how to tell him this. I already knew that he was against it, as it was. How was he going to take it, if I told him that I’d decided to fight for Hunter…for real?
“Um…” I hesitated again. I could feel Eric peering into my mind, which I was keeping purposely from him. While I was finding it hard to tell him what I wanted, I didn’t want him to know about it until I told him. This was something that was too important. “I’ve made a decision…” I began.
Eric stood there, looming over me, while he tried to see into my thoughts. I could feel his curiosity and his concern. Most of all, I could tell that he was confused. That he hoped that it didn’t have anything to do with him. In a way…it did, but not directly. Well, kind of…sort of.
“Go on…” he urged, his patience wearing thin.
“I’m going to fight for custody of Hunter.” I laid it all out there, and waited for the yelling to begin.
But he didn’t say anything. He just stood there, and took it all in. As if he was thinking of the best way to convince me to change my mind.
“You don’t have any comment?” I prompted him to let it all out. “You aren’t going to tell me, that this is the worse idea that I’ve ever had? You’re not going to tell me that, I’m making a big mistake?”
“Why should I?” Eric replied. “You just said it.”
I angrily shook my head. “No, I’m just saying aloud, what you’re supposed to say to me.” I paused, while I studied his reaction. Okay, it was good. He wasn’t freaking out. He wasn’t yelling. Maybe he had accepted it? “I’m sorry, if this wasn’t what you were hoping for when you decided to start dating me, but…my mind is made up. There’s nothing that you can do to change my mind for me.”
“Got any Tru-Blood?” Eric asked, instead, changing the subject.
“Yeah…” I stared at him, puzzled and confused. What was going on through his head? He was keeping his closed off from me too.
“Would you mind warming up a bottle for me?” Eric suggested, while I stared at him, both puzzled and confused.
“Okay, it shouldn’t take too long.” I headed into the kitchen. I took a bottle out of the refrigerator and warmed it up in the mircowave. I took it back out into the living room and handed it to Eric, who had moved in front of the fireplace and had started a fire. He stood there, looking into the flames. “Here you go.”
He took it from me, then took a sip. This was really strange. Eric hated Tru-Blood. He much preferred the real thing. He only drank it on certain occasions or when a human donor wasn’t available. Not that he needed very much to survive, since he was so old.
He was never this quiet either. At least, not with me. Usually, he was too busy trying to sweet-talk me into doing things for him or into bed. Not that I needed very much convincing anymore in either regard, but it was still strange.
“Eric?” I asked. “Are you okay? I’ve shocked you, haven’t I?”
Eric slowly turned to look at me. “Yes,” he admitted. “Have you thought about this? Have you thought about what this will mean? What this will do to the both of us? We won’t have any more freedom. We won’t be able to do things together like we used to. This will change both of our lives.”
“I can feel that you’re upset.”
“Upset?” Eric repeated. “Yes, I am very upset. Lover, this is not like you. If you want to have children, we could work something out. Is that what you are wanting?” He asked, still puzzled and confused.
“No,” I shook my head. “I want Hunter. He’s the only child that I want. He needs me. I’m the only one who can really help him. He’s alone and confused. He’s very scared. You see…what made me change my mind and make this decision is that he called me late last night…”
Eric didn’t say anything, but motioned for me to continue with a wave of his hand.
“He called me, begging me to help him. The home that they put him in is being run by very bad people. Very bad, according to him. He’s terrified. I promised him that I would find him and he could live with me,” I explained.
“You should not make promises that you can’t possibly keep,” Eric replied, frustrated and angry.
“Who says that I’m going to break those promises?” I replied back, just as frustrated and angry. “I’m going to find a lawyer and we’re going to go through the family court system, so that I can win guardianship and custody of him.”
“Sookie,” Eric sighed, shaking his head. “I can see that there’s no way that I can change your mind.”
“But you live out in the middle of nowhere. What if this Hunter needed medical care? Would you be able to provide that? What about school? What about clothes? What about food? You know, those things that you humans need in order to survive…”
“I have all of that.” I was perturbed. Even my blood-bonded was trying to convince me not to go through with it. “Thanks for your support,” I replied, sarcastically. “I really thought that you of all people, would understand me and would support me.”
“I do, I am.” Eric replied back. “I am only trying to point out to you, the reasons why this is a bad idea. What about your work? Do you think that you can raise a little boy on your own on a barmaid’s salary? I know how much I pay my barmaids…I imagine that Sam pays about the same. I know that you have no money. If you do this, you will not have any money at all.”
“And yet…you are still willing to go through with this.” Eric studied me, carefully.
Eric sighed. I could feel him giving up in our fight.
“And before you ask…yes, you will be still welcome to come here, as often and as long as you wish.” I smiled sweetly up at him.
“That was never a concern of mine,” he replied, surprised that I would say such a thing. He stared at me with a startled look on his face. “I can always be quiet.” He bragged. “I am just not sure about you. You may wake him up in the middle of the night and we will be forced to share your bed.” He teased.
I gasped, before I began to laugh. That was when I knew that Eric was on my side. “You think I’m…loud?” I asked, incredulously. I stood there and stared at him, appalled.
Eric laughed. “Gotcha.” He winked at me.
He was beginning to learn too many new phrases, I thought to myself. I didn’t care though, I was happy that Eric (while not liking it at all) was still going to support me and help me through this. I wanted to count my lucky stars that I had a man that was willing to do this.
It made me very happy. I felt like celebrating. It was indeed a great end to a horrible day.