My gaze kept returning back to the note that I’d found on my coffee table that morning. Was it Eric? It didn’t sound like the kind of note that he’d leave me. He always signed it with a big letter, E. Besides, he didn’t really have to tell me that I was his. We both knew it. We had moved past that stage in our relationship. It confused me.
I pushed my thoughts about the note away, while I continued getting ready. I had an appointment with Sid Lancaster, followed by the funeral in Red Ditch.
The families had agreed to have a dual funeral service. I didn’t know that much about Remy, other than the fact that he’d married Hadley and was the father of their little boy. I hoped that Hunter would be allowed to go. They had been the only parents that he’d ever known. I wanted to see him to make sure that he was okay and to tell him that I was going to be fighting for guardianship of him.
I finished getting ready and walked out to my car. I drove into Bon Temps, and to Sid’s office. It was in the more influent area of town, as most of his clients were wealthy.
He was expecting me. I sat down in a chair in front of his big desk. He gazed at me with pleasure.
“Hello, Sookie,” he exclaimed. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other. How are you doing? I hope that Jason is doing well.”
“He’s fine,” I replied, even though I didn’t really know. Jason and I hadn’t really talked for a long time now. Not since he had forced me to catch his soon-to-be ex-wife in a compromising position. I was still angry at him for dragging me into his troubles. I had enough troubles of my own, let alone worrying about his too. Even Jason knew that I wasn’t happy with him and was trying to avoid me.
“How are you doing since your grandma’s death? I hope that you aren’t missing her too terribly.”
“I’m fine. I do miss her, but it’s not as painful as it once was before,” I replied. “You’re probably wondering why I made an appointment with you…?”
“Yes, now that you mention it…I was curious as to why you had made this appointment.” He frowned. “I hope it’s nothing serious. You aren’t in any legal trouble, are you?” He asked.
“No,” I shook my head. “But I do need a lawyer.” This was where I paused because I didn’t know how to tell him about Hunter and the reasons why I wanted custody of him. I took a deep breath, then began.
“Do you remember my cousin, Hadley?” I wondered.
“Yes, she and her mother, Linda moved away from here a long time ago, didn’t they?” He asked, as if he couldn’t remember. “I heard that Linda passed on…due to cancer. What ever happened to Hadley?” He asked.
I wasn’t sure if I should tell him about the fact that she’d been turned into a vampire or not. I decided to leave that part out.
“She married a man named, Remy, and they had a child named, Hunter.” I answered. “She was killed a number of months ago, so Hunter and Remy had been living alone. Remy eventually started dating this woman named, Kirsten. The three of them were like a family until…” I paused once again. I felt my tears spring to my eyes. “Remy and Kirsten were very recently killed. You probably heard about it on the news.”
“I’m not sure that I have,” he replied, frowning, while he thought about it. I could read in his thoughts, that he was trying to remember.
“Did you hear about the car accident near Red Ditch?” I prodded.
He thought about it for a minute or two. “Oh!” He exclaimed. “They were the young couple who died?” He asked, incredulously.
“Yes, sir,” I nodded my head. “Hunter was taken into foster care and he’s all alone.”
“I see…” Although, in his mind, he didn’t see how or why this had anything to do with the reason I was there that day.
“I want to become Hunter’s legal guardian,” I announced, expelling a deep breath. “I know that I’m unmarried. I know that I’m a barmaid…but I think that since Hunter is family…I’d be the best choice for him.” I didn’t want to tell him about the fact that Hunter had called me, begging me to take him away from wherever he was.
Sid was silent for a number of minutes. I wasn’t sure how long. I could read his thoughts going through his mind. Some of them bothered me, I had to admit. But it wasn’t something that I wasn’t used to. I’d heard a lot of things over the years that bothered me. I tried not to let it weaken my resolve. I steeled myself for what he was about to say. If I couldn’t read it in his mind, his body and mannerisms spelled it out for me-plain as day and night.
“I…we…” he stumbled, trying to find the right words. It was unusual, since lawyer’s were usually more eloquent than that. I could tell that if I wasn’t Gran’s granddaughter, he wouldn’t have been as nice. He would be much more blunt and honest. “We, at the firm…are extremely busy at this time of year.” He began, having come up with a reasonable explanation or excuse. “I’m afraid, that we’re not taking on any more new cases.”
“I see,” I replied, not sure of what to say. His thoughts had told me exactly what his reasons were, which was good in a way. It would save us a lot of time and money. I just wanted to get this over and done with so that I could go and find myself a new lawyer.
“Your grandmother would be very proud of you today, for deciding to take a little boy into your home.”
“I see,” I repeated. I felt choked up and couldn’t say anything else. It was all I could do, to keep the tears at bay.
“You have a very warm heart and not too many young people today would think about doing what you want to do.” He explained. “That’s lacking in today’s day and age, but…” He let his sentence drop, as he looked unsure once again. “I’m sorry, we just can’t do it.”
I gathered up my purse and stood up, wanting to get out of there as fast as I could before I started to cry. “Thank you for your time.” I replied, softly, then headed towards the door.
I walked out; stiff and quick. I practically ran out to my car. I opened up my car door, sat down in the driver’s seat, then leaned my forehead against my steering wheel. My tears started to flow. I cried and cried for awhile, as my sadness and frustrations got to me.
After a few moments, I collected myself and started up my car engine. I drove away from the lawyer’s office, lost in thought. I had to figure out a way to get someone to represent my case. I just didn’t know who. The two lawyers that I had figured might take my case, had refused. I didn’t know where else to go.
I drove to Red Ditch, with my tears now dry on my face. At least, I looked like someone who was going to a funeral, I thought, sarcastically. I had a good excuse for my dried up tears.
I pulled into the cemetery, where the funeral was set to take place. It wasn’t that hard to find because it was the only spot in the cemetery that had people and vehicles parked near it. There was a canopy covering the gravesite, as if rain was threatening to spill. I think they had it only for appearance purposes, but as I had found out in the last couple of days…there was a lot that I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that lawyers would refuse money or ignore someone’s cry for help. I didn’t know that some people still looked down on unwed women who wanted to raise a child alone. I hadn’t known that I would be refused, even though I was technically family to the boy that I wanted to adopt. What else didn’t I know?
I climbed out of my car and walked towards the gravesite in my high heels. The spiky points poked into the ground, which made me look not very graceful. I approached the gravesite, not knowing anybody there. I hung back, so that I wouldn’t be noticed.
A few people spoke about the deceased. How much they were missed and how much they were loved. Some told a couple of funny stories, that seemed to bring brief smiles to the other mourners gathered. Through it all, I could hear muffled moans and cries. The families sat in the front row, dressed in black and with handkerchiefs attached to their faces. I could understand their pain. It hadn’t been that long ago, that I had been in the cemetery of Bon Temps, burying my Gran.
After the ceremony ended, mourners took turns putting flowers on the side-by-side coffins, then walked slowly away. I hung back, not sure if I should stay or if I should go. I stood next to a tree.
“Aunt Sookie!” A young voice called out, suddenly, breaking the silence.
I looked around to see where the voice was coming from. I couldn’t be sure if Hunter had called me in his head or aloud. Finally, I spotted him, holding onto someone’s hand. He was standing between a couple; a man and a woman. They looked at me with fear in their eyes. He was trying to get away from them. They both had a hold on his hands, refusing to allow him to run loose. His eyes fixed on me, earnestly, full of angst.
“Hunter,” I gasped. He was dressed in dark pants, a buttoned-up shirt and a tiny black tie. He looked like a handsome young boy and healthy.
“Aunt Sookie,” he called. I could hear the happiness and pleasure in his voice.
“Please…take me with you. Please don’t let me go back,” he pleaded in his mind.
I looked up at the couple who had eventually allowed him to approach me, but still refused to let go of his hands. They had tagged along behind him, as he had dragged them towards me.
“Hi, ya’ll,” I held out my hand to introduce myself. “I’m Sookie Stackhouse.”
Neither the man or the woman took it. They stared at my hand extended towards them, then back up at me. Talk about unfriendly, I thought to myself. It was like they were looking at me like I was crazy or something.
“They’re my dad’s cousins,” Hunter explained in his mind. He looked up at me, with a happy look on his face. I could tell that he was very happy to see me. “I’m staying at their house until you take me home with you.” He explained. “They’re bad…really bad people. I don’t want to live with them. Take me home with you, please?”
I couldn’t reveal that Hunter and I were communicating with our minds, so I started to talk to Remy’s cousins. “I’m Hadley’s cousin,” I explained how we knew each other. “And you are…?” I prompted, hoping that they would introduce themselves. I didn’t even know that Remy had relatives that were alive. How was it that they had custody of him?
“Oh,” the woman replied, her eyes narrowing. “You’re that crazy cousin that Remy told us all about,” she replied. She turned to the man standing next to her. “You know the one…” She made a motion with her hand, pointed at her head, in a circular motion.
The couple didn’t need to talk to know what each other was thinking, it seemed. I could clearly read their minds. They were convinced that I was completely crazy and was out to get them. But how could that be when I had never heard about them before now? I wondered. They were the crazy ones, I thought to myself.
I studied them, while they were deciding how to best get Hunter away from me. They were wearing dress clothes, sure, but they didn’t appear to have a lot of money. They looked like white trash, in my opinion.
The woman had a poor dye job in her hair. She was wearing tonnes of makeup that made her look like a cheap hooker. Her dress looked like it didn’t fit her very well. She was pencil thin and the dress hung off of her in an unflattering manner.
The man looked dishevelled and unkept. He had a beard and even with an out of date pant suit, he still wore a ball cap on his head. He had a pot belly. He looked like he had spent his fair share amount of times in bars. I could vaguely see a family resemblance, between this man and Remy, but it wasn’t glaring.
“Hunter, it’s time to go,” the woman told him. “We have that appointment to get to, remember?”
Hunter looked up at her, then back at me. Hunter gazed up at me, beseechingly. “Please don’t let me go back there, Aunt Sookie,” he pleaded, in his mind and in his eyes.
My heart broke. There was nothing I wanted more than for that to happen. “Hang tight, little man. I have to do things properly so that you can live with me permanently.” I tried to explain, but still trying to keep his hopes alive.
Tears sprang to his eyes, as he looked away from me, disappointed. My heart broke, once again.
The couple started to drag Hunter away from me. They had moved a number of feet away, when Hunter suddenly turned around and sprang free from their grasp and raced towards me. It was his moment of freedom. He hugged me around my legs. I bent down and hugged him close to me.
We stayed that way for a number of minutes.
“I love you, Aunt Sookie,” he told me in his mind, as we hugged each other close.
“I love you too, Hunter,” I replied in mine, my eyes closed. “You behave like the gentleman that I know your father raised you to be,” I spoke aloud.
“I’ll try,” he replied back. “But I’m so scared…they’re really bad people.”
“I know, I’m working on getting you out of there, okay?” Aloud, I said, “Be good.”
We broke our hug and I stood up. The couple had moved closer to us and curiously watched our exchange. Finally, the woman grabbed Hunter by the elbow and started to steer him towards the car. Hunter winced, because it looked like she had grabbed his arm too hard.
I started to say something, but then thought better of it. That would be a really bad idea if these people were as bad as Hunter had claimed them to be. Hunter would be the one to pay for my actions. I watched, helpless, as she ushered Hunter into their car and closed the door behind him. It wasn’t a new car. It looked rusted and dirty.
He gazed out the window at me. I stared back, with what I hoped, was a hopeful smile on my face.
I waved to him, as they pulled away. He waved back, not excitedly, but slowly and effortlessly. The way that he was acting, made me think of someone who was walking towards death row. I stood there watching, until they disappeared from sight. I walked over to my car, climbed in, started the engine and drove away from the cemetery.
When I got home; I took a long, hot bubble bath, changed and curled up on my couch. I felt so depressed and disappointed, that I felt lifeless. There was nothing that I could do that would cheer me up. The sun went down and I knew that Eric was now awake. Don’t ask me how I knew, it was just a part of our bond.
He came out of my spare bedroom, freshly showered and dressed. He had a concerned look on his face, as he gazed at me. He must’ve known how I felt. That was the only thing that would make sense to me. I looked up at him, with a half-smile on my face. He watched me, curiously. I refused to let him into my mind.
“Lover, what’s wrong?” He asked, full of love and concern.
Where could I start? I didn’t have a clue. The day had been very emotional. “Nothing,” I shook my head. “Just hold me.” I suddenly knew that it was the only thing that would make this day more bearable for me. I climbed up off of the couch and raced into his arms.
He wrapped his arms around me, holding me close. We stood that way for awhile. The silence of his heart was bliss, because the day had been painful for me. My head ached. My heart ached. I felt like I’d been trampled on and abused.
“I take it that things didn’t go well at the lawyers’?” He tried to guess.
I nodded my head into his shoulder.
“And the funeral probably was not a happy occasion either…” He was dead-on once again.
Sometimes, we didn’t need to read each other’s minds to know what the other was thinking. That was how alike we thought. I nodded my head once again.
“What would you like me to do for you, lover?” He offered. “I could give you a massage. Rub your feet. Anything. Just tell me what you want me to do.” I could feel his helplessness. Eric wasn’t used to feeling helpless, I could tell. It made me appreciate him all the more.
I smiled for the first time that day, it seemed. “Thanks for the offer, but…there’s nothing that you can do.” I sighed. “Unless, you can find me a really cheap lawyer, who’s willing to help a single woman looking to adopt.” I attempted to joke, but my laugh came out wrong. It sounded shaky and weird.
“Even your jokes are sad,” he commented, shaking his head. “Wanna have sex?” He joked. I could tell that he was only said it to cheer me up. I was grateful for it, even though it wasn’t going to happen and I knew that he wasn’t being serious about it.
“No…I guess that’s what happens when you’re in the depressed mood that I’m in,” I quipped back.
“I’m sorry, lover. I’m sorry that you had a bad day. I’m sorry that things are not turning out as well as you had planned.”
“Thanks.” I replied, relieved to know that someone felt sorry for me. I raised my head. “I want to try to think about happy thoughts. How about you tell me something that happened with you? What happened with that situation that interrupted us the other night?”
He looked down at me, debating whether or not to tell me. “That isn’t very happy.” He replied, hesitantly.
“Yeah, but at least it might take my mind off of my own troubles for awhile.”
“True.” Eric sighed. “But I’m sorry, I can’t get into it right now. In fact…I have to leave.”
“You do?” I asked, surprised that he wouldn’t be staying around for very long.
Eric nodded his head. “Yes, I need to see Bill. I want him to do some investigating for me,” he explained. “But when I felt your pain…I knew that I had to comfort you first-to see if you were okay.”
My heart fluttered at the thought of him putting me above his business. I had always known that he would put me first before many other things, but never his business. “Oh.” I didn’t know what to say.
“I’m sorry, lover. I wish that I could help you. To tell you the truth, I was curious to find out what happened today. Sometimes, I wish that I could spend the days with you.” He frowned, disappointedly.
“I wish that too…sometimes.” I admitted. It was a hopeless thought, I knew, but I still thought about what it would be like from time to time. I sighed. “I saw Hunter today. He looked good, but he didn’t want to leave with the couple who brought him to the funeral. Did you know that Remy had a cousin? Hunter isn’t in foster care, after all. He’s staying with them.” I explained, shaking my head. “It was heartbreaking. He pleaded with me to take him home with me. And the couple dragged him away. I felt so helpless…” Tears sprung up once again, as I remembered. “As for the lawyer…he refused to help and I don’t get it.” I shook my head, in dismay.
“He made up some excuse about not taking on new cases,” I continued. “But I heard his mind; loud and clear. He didn’t want to help me because he was scared of what people would think of him helping a single woman get custody of a little boy. I can’t believe that people still think that way.” I shook my head, in denial.
“You would be surprised by how little time and technology has not changed people’s minds over the years,” Eric replied back, trying to reassure me.
“I know that I shouldn’t get discouraged but…I can’t seem to help it. I want to help him. He needs me. If only I could find a lawyer who wasn’t scared of what people thought.”
“Well…maybe this is not meant to be,” Eric said, in that cold way of his, that I sometimes didn’t like or understand.
“Well…maybe I’ll just have to do some more digging. I’ll look in the yellow pages if I have to.” I refused to allow myself to think that Eric might be right. “There’s got to be someone who would be willing to help.”
“Well, I don’t think you’ll find them tonight,” he replied back. “You need rest. You should go to bed. Would you like me to put you in bed?” He offered, hoping to help me out.
I laughed. “And what else do you have planned for me there?”
It was Eric’s turn to laugh. “That’s for me to know and you to find out,” he winked.
I laughed once again. “You’ll never change.” I shook my head. “But if you could just hold me until I fell asleep…?” I suggested., instead. Sex, even with a master like Eric, was the furthest thing from my mind. I just couldn’t let myself think about doing anything pleasurable until I had found a solution to my adoption dilemma.
And Eric, being Eric…refused to decline any kind of situation that put him in the same bed as me. He smiled, then picked me up and carried me into my bedroom. He pulled the covers down and helped me climb underneath. He sat down on the edge of the bed, took off his shoes, then laid down on the bed next to me.
I rested my head on his shoulder, my hand reached across his chest. I curled up against him and closed my eyes. The feeling of contentment and safety consumed me. I wondered if Eric might have been projecting those feelings on to me, so that I could rest easier.
“Thanks for being here,” I told him softly. “This is what I needed the most.”
Eric squeezed me and kissed the top of my head. I fell asleep in his arms, feeling safe and warm.