Chapter 10: Chapter 10
For three perfect weeks, Eric and I lost ourselves in coupledom. It seemed in the times we were together, the rest of the world truly did melt away and let us be. I loved it. Rarely did we spend our nights alone. Even if one or both of us worked the late shift, we would find the other in our bed when we woke up the next morning. We exchanged keys a few days after that first night together. He told me that I’d taken a huge step in trusting him by allowing us to make love like we did. I knew he knew I had issues, just not to the extreme that he knew all the issues. He told me this was his step in trust with me, so that meant the world to me. I’d done so many things with Eric that I’d never done before, and trust was number one on that ever lengthening list. I switched on the news when I got home, usually the television was just white noise in the background, but when I heard his voice it peaked my interest. I dried my hands from washing the dishes as I made my way to the living room, and turned up the TV to find Eric talking to a news reporter about the array of deaths in the area in the last six months. All males, all similar patterns, all too clean on first glance.
My stomach lurched.
He went on to say that the police department were working hard to bring whoever committed the ‘vicious and sometimes gruesome’ murders, to justice.
My hands started to shake and my head started to spin. I’d put it out of my mind for so long, those photos that I saw in his office that day, the fact that I knew those victims, that I’d been the cause of those people becoming said victims. I pushed it out, but here it was in high def colour right in front of my face. My boyfriend, who I loved and trusted, and who loved and trusted me, was the head detective in the mass murder investigation, my murders.
After I’d finished throwing up, I showered, as if in some hope that the water would wash away my fears as it had washed away the blood of all those so-called innocent victims. I wanted to yell at him, shake him, and tell him that they were as far from innocent as a person could possibly get. But I couldn’t do that, for one he was on TV and that would have meant talking to myself – I might have killed people, but I wasn’t crazy.
Instead, I dried off and opened my laptop on my bed. I’d saved articles on Bartlett over the years, his progress in the judicial system, his personal life – he married, but had no children. Thank God for small favours, I thought. The wife died though, in not so terribly mysterious circumstances either, of course that was only the case if you didn’t know what kind of man Judge Stackhouse was. She died eight weeks after he made it as a judge, apparent accidental drowning in their hot tub.
Accidental, my ass.
She’d served her purpose I imagined, giving him his family man image that he needed to make it that last final step to state judge. I knew I had to do it, I just had to, I had rehearsed it for years, both in my mind and in reality, as I used the others are target practice. I had righted the wrongs done to a lot of women, and a couple of men. Wasn’t it time to right my own? To make him pay for the things he did to me, and God knows how many others? He took my innocence, he took my life from me and he broke a part of me that I’d spent my entire life trying to fix, and I had done a good enough job of it I thought. It was only when you looked close enough that you saw the massive heartbreaking cracks that sat just below the surface.
“Sook, you home?” I heard from the hallway. I hit the x button fast and slammed the laptop shut.
“Yeah, I’ll be right out.” I changed out of my towel and into my short robe, brushed out my wet hair and made my way out to him.
“Hm,” he said, standing at the kitchen counter. “Coming home with Chinese food, to my hot girlfriend who’s already all wet.” He looked me up and down and I knew I blushed. I think he got some kind of pleasure out of making me blush.
“You never stop do you,” I said, walking to him, letting him grab my waist and pull me close to him.
“Do you want me to stop? Because you know, telling you how much I want you might be difficult,” he said, kissing me. I got lost in that kiss for a short time, just letting that calm that came with Eric just wash over me before the panic set in again, silently.
“Food? You hungry? I wasn’t sure and you weren’t answering your cell so I just got the chicken thing you like with rice and some noodles.”
“Sorry, I was in the shower.”
“Damn,” he said. “I missed it.”
I slapped him on the arm. “This smells so good though.”
“Yeah I was fantasizing about food all afternoon, but we couldn’t really break for lunch or dinner, a few other detectives have been sent in from New York to investigate with us, so we had to seem… professional.”
“I saw you on the news,” I said, as I willed my hands not to shake as I dished out the food.
He sipped his bottle of beer and he nodded. “Yeah, I fucking hate talking to the press, but it was necessary. People were starting to talk since there was no official statement, so we had to make one.”
“Oh,” was all I managed to get out.
“Yeah, I mean we weren’t totally sure at the start, but piece by piece we’re getting there, we’re going to get this guy.”
“You think that one person is responsible for all those murders? Weren’t they all different?”
“Yeah they were, on the surface of it. It was hard to see it, but there is a small thread, and one we’re working on expanding. It took a lot of convincing, but Pam finally let go when she realized I had something dating back to similar murders in New York a few years ago. Similar but different, same thread.” He nodded, as if to himself more so than to me.
“What’s the thread?” I asked, knowing full rightly what the fucking thread was, it was that they were scum of the earth, child raping bastards who needed to be punished.
“I can’t really talk about that, not yet, not until we’re sure, you know? Besides, you hate talking about my job.” His brow raised, and I just did my best to shrug it off.
“It’s just sometimes a little hard to digest, you know?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry. Let’s talk about better things and eat, I’m starving.”
Suddenly I’d lost my appetite.
Files, crime scene photos, witness reports, family statements, friends, possible suspects statements and interviews, it all littered my office, one that wasn’t exactly tiny in size, but with all this shit teamed with bulletin boards and another desk, it was starting to feel extremely claustrophobic to me. Meeting after meeting was held for weeks, we all did our jobs to the best of our abilities, and then one night around one a.m., it was as if I’d gotten hit with a lightening bolt of inspiration. I knew where I’d seen similar murders, when and where exactly. That’s when I contacted an old friend, well, an old girlfriend to be exact.
Isabel and I had dated in college, but broken up as I went my way and she went hers. At the time I’d wanted to focus on my job, and only my job. I wanted to make rank and do it before I was forty, she had wanted the same thing but at a slower pace, and she’d wanted a family. Little did I know that I’d regret denying her that when we were together, after what Sophie did to me. I’d often felt like it was a karma of some sort, paying me back for dumping a girl that just wanted to settle down and have a family. It took us a long time, but eventually we got back in touch again, emailed a lot, she had a son and got married, the son was adorable, the marriage was not. She and her husband broke up and she was doing the single parent thing on her own, as far as I knew. Harrison was cute, but looked just like her, which was a little unsettling when she’d show me photos of him. He was three, and apparently liked mud.
Isabel, and her partner Barry came down from New York, their case files all with them and we went over them and over them, and sure enough we found a thread. Every guy that had been killed in New York was gassed, had his throat slashed in a similar pattern, or had been stabbed – no real thread visible there ,you’d think, no, none at all really… not until you dug a little deeper and found they had had been arrested on suspicion of child molestation at one point or another, a few had even done time for rape.
I took my hunch and I ran with it, doing further background checks into the victims. Turns out they’d been taken in a time or two for domestic abuse too, but the charges were never followed through. That, sadly, didn’t shock me. I didn’t know why, and the others questioned me, but I was sure. These murders were related, by either the same group of people, or the same guy.
My spidey sense told me it was the same guy. But why? That was my first question to any case, what was the motive? These people weren’t related in any shape way or form, they were from different areas in the state, hell, different sides of the state all together in some cases, and now the killer was here in New Orleans. Why? Why leave New York? If it was simple vigilantism, why not just stay and take it out on the assholes of New York? No, there was a reason, and there was a person behind that reason I just had to find out who they were and what that reason was.
Easier said than done, right?
After a shit stirring mind fuck of a sixteen hour shift, I dismissed the guys’ invite for food and beer, in favour of Chinese takeout on the way home to Sookie. I wanted nothing more than to forget about the images seared into my brain, the details of corpses, and possible weapons. I just wanted to eat my favourite food and feel my girl next to me. I used the key, one of two we’d exchanged weeks before, to get into her place. I knew she was home, it was warm and inviting just like her, whereas I knew my place hadn’t seen a soul all day, and was probably cold and unwelcoming. No, this was a much better place to be. When she came out of her bedroom in that tiny thin pink robe, still damp from the shower and giving me quite an accidental show, I knew I’d made the right choice. Who needed sleep when there was that right in front of you.
We ate, and we talked, and again she got so jittery when I brought my work up. I hated that it did that to her, but this time, despite her jitters, she managed to be somewhat interested. I took her disinterest before as just a sign of not wanting to know more of the evils of the world – and really, if that was the reason it wasn’t one I could fault her for. Most people go through their entire lives blissfully ignorant of the evil that the police have to deal with, day in, day out. I assumed Sookie was just one of those people. But this time it was different, it was as if she wanted to know, but was afraid to ask. I wanted her to be as comfortable with me as possible so I encouraged her to ask if she had questions, and of course if I was authorized to, I would answer them. The one question she did ask, was the one that I couldn’t answer. We were sitting on our theories, but this one was an important one. I’d been looking into victims of sexual abuse and sex crimes in the surrounding area that day. If it took going to every support meeting in the Louisiana area, you bet your ass it was a start. Talk of sexual abuse wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend the rest of my Friday night, no, instead we finished eating and simply went to bed. The sex thing was still on somewhat shaky ground for us, though at least there was ground to stand on, I thought. After that first night, she seemed to loosen up considerably towards me, and for that I’d be forever thankful. It meant that we both could relax a lot more, we were more playful, the obvious shift in trust had been a huge cloud lifted from above both our heads. We continued to date, I’d see her on breaks from the restaurant, or we’d go out when we both had the time off. We discovered that my cooking was improving with her being there, teaching me as we spent time getting more and more comfortable. I made us my first fully cooked non- charred meal the week before. It was the best attempt I’d ever made and I have to say, the look of sheer pride on Sookie’s face … almost made me happier than the blowjob and the sexing afterwards.
I said almost, I’m not a total fool.
I was gentle with her though. There was just something in her being that screamed at me to be gentle with her, but physically and mentally, it’s not that I thought she was soft, in fact far from it, I just felt something in me that needed to protect her. Call it caveman instinct, call it sexist, call it whatever you like, but it was what I felt. So that night as we spooned under the extra blankets because it had gotten cold, I held her close to me, and hoped that that peaceful feeling that I was experiencing as she slept, would last. It was too good to be true.
Too good to be true, they usually are, right?
I pushed that feeling, the one I’d had since I’d met her, right out of my mind again. Not everyone was out to fuck me over, not every woman was Sophie, not every relationship had to end like ours did, or even end at all. I wanted to be happy, and she made me happy, why couldn’t I just leave things be?
Because I was a detective, that’s why, and it was sadly in my blood now to be inquisitive. The fact that she was so closed off about her past bugged me, even though I wasn’t really that forthcoming with mine either, the fact that she hated sleeping over at her place but loved mine, bugged me, it shouldn’t have, but it did. She got jittery when I spent the night at hers, but never when she was at mine, and I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand a lot of things when it came to Sookie, and I wanted to, I desperately wanted to know all of her, but then I thought if I pushed and she ran I wouldn’t have her at all, why couldn’t I just be happy with the pieces of her she allowed me to have?
Was I that much of a selfish bastard that I had to have it all? I’d never thought of myself as that kind of man before, but again, like the instinct to protect her, the instinct was also there to dig, to know more, even if for some reason I knew that whatever it was that she was holding back was something that had the potential to destroy us.
I hated myself in that moment, because I knew I’d have to dig. But I’d do it the old fashioned way first. I’d ask her to her face, maybe not what she was hiding, but certainly what she was holding back. If she trusted me, she’d tell me right?
“Do you know what kind you’re looking for?” I asked, changing from my uniform into some fitted jeans and a sweater, yanking my long hair into a quick braid, and swiping on some lip gloss as I came back fast into the living room to find him sprawled out on my couch – much too large for it’s tiny frame. I laughed.
He was watching TV. Distracted and far away. He’d been like that for days now, but I knew he was working long hours, on very little sleep, I knew that because I slept next to him, and when he was awake, he fidgeted a lot, and it kept me awake too. I desperately wanted to ask him what was wrong, but I suspected it was the cases he was working on, trying so desperately to find the killer of all those people… when in reality all I should have been asking him was how many years in prison should I expect once they find me out. So, I didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell me. And we went on blissfully in love on the outside, but I imagined that for him it was slightly more tormented on the inside. I knew at least from my perspective I was in hell inside my head and in heaven wrapped up inside his hugs.
“What kind of dog do you want?” I asked again.
“Oh. Well I want something calm, not one of those little yappy dogs either. A pet, you know?”
“Like a lab? I like labs,” I said, and I did, they were docile and sweet and very loyal. I met a girl in Florida who had one, and she told me so. I never knew, I was never allowed a pet.
“I’m excited,” I said as we got to the pound, and it sort of broke my heart seeing all those dogs, alone and unwanted, chained up and probably waiting to either be re-homed or die. It was a sad life.
“Why?” he asked, taking my hand. I loved when we’d hold hands. It made me feel connected to him, even if we were just walking, I liked that he wanted to be closer to me.
“I never had a dog.”
“Nope, wasn’t allowed one because my mother was allergic or something, and then when I lived with my Gran, it just … well it wasn’t allowed, either.”
Because Bartlett was a heartless bastard and hated animals, just like he hated little girls. Or did he really, really like little girls? That, I couldn’t decide. Mostly he was just a perverted sick bastard, that’s all I knew for sure.
We walked by all the dogs, little ones, big ones, old ones. ‘Til we found her, she was a sandy coloured Labrador and she was perfect. Jumped up and down when she spotted me, and took to me instantly. Dogs could sense evil, right? That was the old wives tail, maybe I wasn’t evil after all then? She didn’t seem to think so.
“She likes you,” Eric said, smiling as we opened the cage with the pound worker with us. He got down to pet her and she took to him too, licking and wagging her tail so fast.
“That’s Cash, she’s three years old, and her owners sadly had to give her up.”
“Why?” I asked.
“They lost their jobs and had three kids, and they couldn’t afford to keep her. She’s a great dog though, really friendly, quiet, likes long, long walks, or running, if you run?” she asked us both, and we nodded. I ran when I could, it kept me fit, Eric ran almost every day if he had the time.
With working such odd hours, Eric was weary of getting a dog, but he had, like me, always wanted one, so decided the pros and cons meant he’d just have to actually take his breaks properly at work and pop back and make sure she was okay. I knew he wanted the company of a dog, but more-so I think he wanted the excuse to start being at home more. It was nice.
“I think she’s the one,” Eric said as he finally got off his knees, but Cash didn’t seem to want to stop playing. I guess she’d found a friend. Paperwork was signed, and I guess having a badge and being a man of the law meant that the animal shelter people trusted Eric a lot more than a regular Joe. While his apartment was larger than mine, it had two bedrooms – one that I supposed was meant to be an office but was mostly just a total mess, and a lot more square feet than mine, I still worried about space for Cash, who he was allowed to take home the next day, after an inspection that the guys told him should have been fine.
“She won’t feel cooped up, will she?” I asked on the drive to the pet store. Apparently having a dog was a lot like having a baby, there was a whole mess of crap you were expected to buy.
“No, I mean I have plenty of space and I can come and walk her on my breaks, and you’ll be around right? And there’s Bill, he loves dogs and could use someone to talk to who he can’t really insult or her on her,” he smiled. “And besides, I want to take more time off from work.”
“You do?” That was new.
“Yeah, I think that after I solve this case…”
So he was confident in his abilities to find me then?
“I want to take some holiday time, I’m owed tons, I want to relax. Redecorate the apartment maybe… spend a lot more of my time with my girlfriend, you know, grownup stuff.”
I smiled as we got the cart and headed down aisle after aisle. We got her a big doggie bed pillow that looked comfortable if I do say so myself, doggie snacks, food, chew toys, it was a lot of fun actually. All his talk of the future, and how I was so included in his plans, it made me feel loved, and I loved that feeling.
“Sookie, how come you don’t talk about your family?”
I froze in the chew toy aisle.
“You know, growing up, the pains of adolescence, that sort of thing.”
“Oh… erm, isn’t it the same for everyone? All boring angst and over thinking things to death.”
From a padded cell sometimes when I refused to take the meds they were force-feeding me to ‘calm down.’
“Well, yeah, I guess, but we’ve never talked about your old boyfriends….” He tried to say it with a causal air, but he failed.
“Well, do you really want to hear about that? Because I don’t really know if I want to know about every woman you’ve been with, to be honest.”
“No… I don’t want to think about you with other women, okay? It’s… weird.”
“But it’s a reality.”
“Sure it is, but who says all reality is necessary? That you have to know every little detail about a person’s past to know them. I don’t feel that way.”
Even if I was trying to hide my past from him, I would still have felt that way. I loved him, I knew him, I loved what I knew, I didn’t need to know more.
“Oh…” he said, deciding between mint and super mint dog breath biscuits.
“Is this a thing? Is it a big deal?”
“I… no… you have a point I guess. I was just wondering that’s all.”
“Boyfriends, start off great, things go wrong, people break up. It’s the story of life, almost everyones life. Boring,, dull, and predicable.”
He looked at me then, nodding, before he kissed me.
“And you’re sure you don’t need to tell me… anything you think I should know?”
“No,” I shook my head. “Eric I love you, I know what I know about you, and I love what I know, whatever I don’t know, obviously doesn’t matter enough to be taken from the past where it belongs and slapped in the middle of our present. You know?”
“That’s rather deep, Sookie,” he smiled then, and I hoped the tension was broken.
“Well I’m as deep as the Mississippi, sweetheart, you just have to look.”
“Believe me, I’m looking.”
It wouldn’t be for a little while longer, but eventually the meaning of his words in the middle of that store would take on new meaning for me. A much worse meaning than they first appeared.
Just how closely he was looking would be rather worrying for all of us.
A/N: Still with me guys? 😉 I can’t even begin to tell you the fun I’m having with this and the guessing you guys are doing in reviews! Such fun and really inspiring to write more! I want to reply to the reviews but for some reason FF is a screw up – again – and I can’t! Hopefully it’ll work this update though, I really adored some of the theories you peeps have going here! It’s awesome!
Big thank you to Scribeninja and MsBennett881 for thier help and cheerleading of amazingness! 😀
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
“You’re slacking Sookie!” He yelled from in front of me, his super long non-human legs just sprinting faster and faster. Cash was having a ball, we were five miles in, with the five back still to come. I hated his tallness in that moment, because my shorter legs were a major hindrance. We stopped, finally at a bench for me to tie my laces and catch my breath and for Cash to rest too. Eric was still pumped up.
“How much coffee did you have this morning?” I asked. In the month since we had taken Cash home, Eric and I had ran with her almost every other day. My endurance was not what it used to be, that is for sure. His on the other hand just seemed to be never ending.
“Enough.” he said, slugging from his water bottle, before reaching for me, “are you pouting because I beat you?” he asked, a far too playful look on his face.
“Maybe.” I said, slightly pouting, I will admit. He hugged me then, both of us gross and sweating. ”
My tiny legs can’t keep up with you, you giant.” I muffled into his chest.
“Aw, you’re just so cute and tiny and miniature… and wee.” I slapped him and he just laughed.
“You tired?” he asked a hint of a smirk still there.
“A little, but I mean come on…”
“What? Eric, are you forgetting how you woke me up this morning?” I said as he put his arm around me and we began a slow walk back home.
Hm. I would think about that realization later.
“No, I think I forget, how did I wake you up?”
I nudged him.
“Ohh, now I remember.” he smirked no doubt recalling just what he and his rather talented mouth were doing at six am this morning.
“Mmm, now you remember.” I said.
“What? You didn’t like my wakeup call?” he looked at me, innocent but all knowing.
“You know I did. Much more fun than the shrill of the alarm… but now, I’m sleepy and you’re full of energy.””Ohh.” he said picking up the pace a little, my legs hated him. “I think I know what this calls for…”
“Hmm, what’s that?”
“Nap time.” he looked like a giant kid at Christmas.I smiled. I did love our naps. I wasn’t working until the late shift and he had the night off. I was so tempted to just call in sick and be with him. In fact, I decided I would do just that.
“That’s the best idea right now. You think Cash will agree to let us sleep?”She had been a playful puppy, especially when she first arrived, she had settled down a little bit but was not shy in waking either Eric or I up in the mornings when she had to go pee. Her howling might be heard blocks away.
We curled up in his bed, shutters closed, and some dumb movie on – the volume low. Cash was as beat as I was and curled up nicely in her big doggie bed the second we let her off the leash when we got back to Eric’s place.
I favoured his apartment over mine for sleepovers, it wasn’t just because his had more space, better light and a much nicer view, no, it was because there I felt calm, I felt like that girl, the normal one. Not the girl that sneaks back in after taking a life, scrubs herself red raw and bakes to calm her nerves. No, here I was just Sookie, odd but acceptable Sookie who Eric loved. I hated to see her go, and she went when I was alone again, in my place, surrounded by my reminders of the deaths I had caused and the reasons why I had caused them. No, I shut my eyes, inhaled his sent and listened to the familiar sound of his heart beating under my ear as I laid there with my head on his chest like we did.
“My mom is in town next week, she wants to meet you.” He mumbled, half asleep.
I panicked, why was I feeling panic, she was just his mother. She birthed this awesome human being; she wouldn’t be bad, right?
“Oh, really? Why?”
He laughed, still sleepy.
“Well, she knows I’m seeing someone and that someone makes her son very happy,” my heart skipped a beat at that knowledge, “and she’d like to meet the source of my new found happiness… only if you want though.”
“What’s she like?”
“She’s… I don’t know, she’s my mother, Sook. She’s tall, dirty blonde hair, blue eyes, likes to talk a lot I guess… she likes to garden, and she and my dad like to take cruises.”
I smirked, his family were just so normal.
“So she’s nice, then.””Yes, she’s nice. Nosy, but nice. We can do a lunch, that way she can go visit her friends here and leave us be afterwards.,” he mumbled pulling me closer and telling me to go back to sleep.
And I did, I would worry about everything later, for now I just enjoyed that increasingly familiar feeling of feeling so safe in his arms, and slept like a baby.
“You’re wrong!” Isabel said, her hotheadedness shining through as we argued the cases, repeatedly. It seemed that I spent my days arguing with her over this. She was convinced I was seeing evidence that was not there, I was convinced she was going blind.
“Jesus, Bel I know I’m right here okay can’t you just look at it for my perspective?”
She scowled, she hated when I called her Bel, well, and she used to love it – back in the day. Now though I guess it was an unnecessary reminder of what used to be. It was a hard habit for me to break though.
“So you’re telling us you’re set on the theory that this was all one guy? Eric there’s twelve murders here, across two states and six years… and you think it’s all the one person?”
“I do, and I’ve shown you my reasons for thinking it. You can see the patterns for yourself, I’ve shown you the family statements, notice that all of them weren’t exactly torn up over the fact that their father’s or their uncle’s or their brother’s got gutted? Doesn’t that seem strange? Top that with they were at all one point or another taken in for domestic violence or sexual assault. I think this was the one guy, Bel, and I don’t think it was a guy.”
She raised her perfectly shaped brow in my direction.
“You think this was a woman?”Pam looked at me, Isabel’s partner Barry looked too.
“And I’m to assume you think that’s nuts too, right?”
She looked at the board again. Then to me.
“No, actually I don’t. Say you are right, it makes most sense. These crimes, they are vigilantism at its finest. But Eric, a partial fingerprint two of the crime scenes, doesn’t like the others.”
“I know that, that’s why I talked to the families, and I asked them in the days leading up to the deaths was there anything out of the ordinary that they could remember… and most couldn’t, but most of them told me they all partook in the same activity.””And what was that?” Pam asked then, breaking her silence.
“Victim support groups.” I smiled. I knew I was close, I could feel it. And I couldn’t wait, I had told Pam that after this big case wrapped, and I would be sure to wrap it up right nice. That I was taking my much over due holiday time. I think I had four years worth of holiday’s to take, and it was time I cashed them in to spend some times with Sookie. Maybe we would go on vacation, somewhere warm. I let my mind wander of thoughts of Sookie in a bikini before Pam snapped me out of it.
“I see. And what do you -”
“I already have two women on it, Selah and Jessica.”
“They’re just out of the academy Eric.”
“I know. They are young and perfect for this. No one would suspect them, if I walk in there, or you, or Bel? We practically scream ‘cop‘, I want them to get the lay of the land so to speak, ask around, and if they find anything, then we will move in and make it official. You can’t spook these women, Pam, they’ve been through a lot, you have to take your time and be gentle and just….”
And it hit me, like a bullet to my brain.
Her fear, her timid take on sex at first, how everything about her in the beginning of our relationship … it was just like how I was describing those women. I felt so stupid. Then I felt sick to my stomach. If Sookie was just like those women, it meant that something just like that had happened to her.
Jesus, no wonder she didn’t want to talk about her past.
“Um, guys will you excuse me. I have to go home.”
“Eric? You are on a roll here! The dog’s bladder can wait!” Pam said, but I wasn’t listening to her, instead I grabbed my keys and took off. I drove and those same thought repeated in my head, that this was what happened to her. I had to know. I don’t know why I felt the urge to know for sure, but it was definitely there and I needed to address it.
But when I got to my place and saw her snuggled up on the couch with Cash, who apparently disregarded my rule of not being allowed on the couch once Sookie and she were alone, I just, couldn’t do it. Her smile when she saw me, that genuine look of pleasant surprise… I just didn’t want to ruin that, by doing that she had avoided doing. Dredging up her past, and for what? So I could satisfy some morbid curiosity that I had and could not let go of. Did I really want to risk what I had with her by doing that to her? Just because I had to know?
“You’re home early; I haven’t even started dinner yet. Cash and I went to the market today, she was such a hit with all the vendors, and they were all gushing over just how cute she was.” She said the last two words in a baby voice as she smushed up to Cash’s face, who clearly loved it.
“Oh, that’s cool, no I um, I just … thought I’d come home early. Work wasn’t busy today so… the others could handle it.”
I lied to her then, for the first time, and I felt like shit for doing it.
I helped her with dinner, we ate, and we talked just like millions of other couples did at home. Only in the back of mind there was all those thoughts again, on how she was hurt, why, who did it, what exactly happened to her? But I still didn’t ask, instead I tried to lose my curiosity in her as we began fooling around on the couch again, at first Cash was confused and thought we were playing – which I guess we were, but she wasn’t invited, it took her a few weeks to learn that, or we just ended up in the bedroom anyway but with the door firmly shut.
“You seem a little distracted, Eric?” she said, and she was right, there she was straddling me in her underwear, and where was my mind? Not on the task at hand, that’s where. I felt like shit for it, too.
“Sorry…” I kissed her again and willed myself to forget work, forget what I was thinking, and just focus on her, and her willingness to focus on me. How could she let me touch her like this? Doing what we were doing, how was I not hurting her? I had been less than gentle with her recently, she hadn’t complained at all, why? How? Why would she even want me to touch her?”Okay, what’s up?” She said, stopping mid thrust, and I might have been distracted but damn once her warmth left me I knew it I had to slap myself out of it.
“It’s nothing, I’m fine.””Is it your work? If you want to… if you need to talk about it, I understand, it’s fine.”
“It’s not work, not really I’m just… You like sex with me, right?”
Smooth, really smooth.
“Eric, what kind of question is that to ask, mid fuck?”
A dumb one, a really fucking dumb one.
“I’m sorry I was just… checking.”
“Check-” she narrowed her eyes at me, “Are you drunk or on some kind of drugs?”
“No!””Then, did you fall down and hit your head?”
“Then, what the hell made you think something that made you ask me what you asked me?”
“Do you like having sex with me?” I could see her confidence shrinking, and that was the last thing I wanted.
“Of course I do, God, Sookie this last few months have been amazing… I just wanted to be sure.”
She rolled her eyes, “I know I took a long time, to warm up to the idea, but it’s not scary with you…”
Which meant it was scary with someone. Bastard, if I ever met him, or her, I would fucking kill them.
“And I trust you and I love you, and up until like, three minutes ago I thought you felt the same about me.”
“I do! I really do, God, Sookie maybe you’re right, maybe it is just work fucking with me.”
“I am sorry about that.” she said, rubbing my shoulders, “but you really freaked me out, you know?”
I rolled us over so I was slightly on top of her, pinning her gently underneath me.”I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.”
“You should never worry about my wanting to be with you, in any aspect of being with you. If I did not want to be with you, I just would not be with you. You know?”
“I like how honest you are with me. No other woman was like that.”
“I try. Now, shut up and finish what we started.” she kissed me again, and this time I was just about able to forget my worries and bury myself, quite literally in my girlfriend.
I was meeting Eric’s mother, I was stressing out and just about every thing in my wardrobe was now on my bed or on my bedroom floor.
What did you wear to meet your boyfriend’s mother? I didn’t want too short or too revealing, or too… not-nice-girl-but-a-secret-murderer, either.
I was in hell.
Ultimately, I picked a navy knee length dress with three quarter length sleeves, grabbed my purse and headed to my car. I got a text from Eric just before I took off.
‘Change of plans, Sook. I was held back at the courthouse longer than I thought, mom is here and wants to have lunch here, hope that’s okay?’
“Fucking courthouse?” I said aloud, to no one. “Sure, Eric, I your serial killer girlfriend would love to spend her early after noon in a fucking courthouse surrounded by cops and judges… fuck.”Judges.
What if he was there?
My heart sped up; he wouldn’t be there would he?
I text Eric back, saying that it was fine. I had the fifteen-minute drive to calm myself the fuck down.
Since it was lunch, and apparently according to another text from Eric, his mother liked canteen food, that’s’ where we were. Part me loved that his mother seemed so down to earth and free of pretension that she was willing to eat in what was a cafeteria, basically. I was calm. I was collected, and that was all shot to hell when I walked through the doors, spotted Eric, and the woman that looked a lot like him, talking to a man that looked a lot like Uncle Perv.
My heartbeat was out of control and I knew for sure the colour had drained from my face. He was smiling at my Eric, patting my Eric on his shoulder and laughing. Eric’s mother was laughing. They were all laughing.
I stood to the side, beside a rather large fake plant and wanted the scene in front of me unfold.
Why was he talking to Eric? Where they really friends? God, I felt so sick. Seeing him in person after so long, it felt strange, as if I was someone else watching this happen. Watching the man I loved, converse so feely and so friendly with the man that ruined my life with such ease so long ago sickened me to my stomach, and I knew then that I had to do it.
I had to kill him, and soon.
What I couldn’t do, was go over there and pretend that life was fine, that I was that girl, normal Sookie with no problems, as much as I wanted to just be that girl… she was long gone and I was just grasping at straws with Eric. Pretending to be her, to be normal and fixed. Truth was I was broken a long time ago, by that man, smiling at my love, and I’d never really been fixed. He shook Eric’s hand, and made his way towards me, and I turned my back, not that he would recognise me after all these years, I thought. But I just assumed if I got that close to him in person, I’d reach for the nearest sharp object, and hack him to pieces.
No, I had better plans for Bartlett. Slower, more painful plans than that. And it was time I put those well thought out plans, into action.
I didn’t text Eric, in fact I turned off the phone all together. I went home, changed my clothes, and went about finalizing my plans.
Enough was enough.
A/N: Was going to leave this till tomorrow morning, but thought, ‘eh’ it’s done so here it is! Dying to know what you all think, as always 😉
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Pissed off didn’t even begin to sum up what I was feeling, as I left the courthouse after ending up having a late lunch with my mother, my mother and my mother alone. Why? Because my girlfriend bailed on me, again. Rage, that’s what I felt. Honestly if it was something that she did not want to do, she just had to say so, she knew me, and she knew I would not have pushed the issue if it were something she was uncomfortable with. But no, instead she tells me she is on her way, and then… nothing. No text, no phone call, nothing.
What the fuck was her deal?
I was about to find out. I stormed, stamped and rushed from my car, not even bothering to wait for the elevator, taking the stairs two at a time, and I pounded on her door. If she didn’t answer, I was just going to let myself in, but after a few minutes, she did finally answer. An unreadable look on her face, she simply opened the door to let me in, and walked to the kitchen without saying anything.
“What the fuck, Sookie?” She looked at me then, the same expression on her face, still silent.
“You want to explain to me what the fuck happened to you today? Huh? I mean, Jesus, we sat there for over an hour waiting on you, and you didn’t even have the decency to call? That is fucked up. If you didn’t want to meet her, all you fucking had to do was say so.”
“I know.” She said, finally.
“You know? Well, that’s great that you know, what’s not great is me, having to lie to my mother about some emergency bullshit to cover the fact that my girlfriend is a flake who apparently has an allergy to being in public with me.”
“That’s not it at all.”
“Then why don’t you explain it to me? Huh?”
She started to fidget, but then she looked at me.
“I just can’t do this, this, us, I just can’t. It was stupid of me to think -”
“To think what?”
“That I could be with you? I got there, Eric and it all hit me at once. That’s not me. To think that I could be that girl… the normal… it’s just not something that I can do, and meeting your mother just seemed like a step too far, way, way too soon.”
“Why didn’t you just say that then, Jesus Sookie, have I ever pushed you to do something you didn’t want to do?”
I yelled and she jumped. I hated that I made her jump, but fuck it, I was hurt.
“Then what the fuck? You have a mouth, speak up, and tell me these things. I’m not a fucking mind reader.”
“Fine! I have told you now, okay? I’ve told you and I’m… I’m serious, I can’t do this anymore.”
“Why not?” I walked over to her and invaded her personal space, and not one fuck did I give if it made her uncomfortable. She’d just have to deal right now.
When I was hurt, logic did not really feature a whole lot in my brain it seemed.
“I just can’t.”
“That’s bullshit if I ever heard it. I know you, Sookie and I know when you’re lying.”
She laughed a small, bitter laugh.
“Really? You know me, huh? That is… that’s just hilarious. You don’t know me, Eric, and I guess if you really did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
She marched past me and into her living room.
“And what the fuck does that mean?”
She sighed again and it was starting to piss me off even more, but it was clear she was angry too. What she had to be angry about, I had no fucking clue.
“It means that you can’t really ever know a person, not fully, just like I don’t really know you. Look, it doesn’t matter because I’m telling you now; I can’t be with you anymore.”
“And I’m telling you, I want a real answer as to why.”
“I just CAN’T.”
“Won’t you mean, and can’t and won’t mean different things, why can’t you? Is there something stopping you? Someone else?”
“There is no one else, okay? Jesus I know you’re a detective, but stop with the third degree already, fuck!”
We both stood there, invading personal space again like it was going out of style. I could feel the waves of rage coming from her; just like I was sure, she felt the same from me.
“I want a reason, Sook, don’t I deserve that much? Less than twenty four hours ago, you were telling me how much you loved me, how happy you were with me… what the hell changed in a day?”
And that’s when her anger turned to sadness, and the tears filled her pretty blue eyes. She was strong though, she didn’t let them fall, and she just shook her head and bit her lip.
“Please… don’t do this.” she said, “don’t make me do this.”
“Do, what? Sookie I don’t understand.”
“You cannot understand because I can’t let you in, not the way you want. I’m not the girl you introduce to your mother over lunch, and plan trips with and get pets with.”
“Yes, you are.”
She shook her head again and I tipped her chin in my direction, I needed her to look at me, if she looked at me, she might have less chance at avoiding me. Her eyes turned angry again.
“I want you to get out. Just listen to me, and get out.”
“Yes.” She pushed me, honest to God pushed me. I didn’t go very far, I was a lot larger and stronger than she was, but she was no weakling.
“No.” I said, more forcefully this time. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I wanted to know why she had changed her mind so suddenly. I deserved that much. Instead of an answer though, I got another push, she was pissed at something but it wasn’t really at me. She wasn’t looking at me, but she pushed me again, her fists hitting me this time, repeatedly on my chest, it hurt like a motherfucker but I let her do it because in all honesty it seemed like she needed to let whatever was eating her up inside her – out.
I did stop her though, I grabbed both her fists stopping her instantly, and then she looked at me. Her eyes just filled with tears and that look she had when we first started dating. Fear, resistance, and something else. Her anger was still there when she kissed me.
Confused, I kissed her back just as hard. But this was nothing like we had ever shared before. This wasn’t sweet or thoughtful, this wasn’t love or tender, this was rage and hate and fear in her all coming out through her actions.
It scared me a little bit, but I went with it.
Why? I have no real idea why. I should have stopped her; I should have made her talk to me. But I didn’t. I didn’t stop her rough, almost painful kisses, I didn’t stop her when she roughly reached for my belt, undid the loops and unzipped my jeans. I didn’t stop her when she yanked her tank over her head and stepped out of her jean shorts, undid her bra and slid off her panties. And I didn’t stop her when she pushed me onto her couch, straddled and began to get me hard and ready for her and what she wanted.
I should have, but I didn’t.
The sex was the complete opposite to what I had been used to with her. She didn’t seem fragile, she didn’t seem scared, she seemed scarily in charge and dominant. But, she also didn’t feel like my Sookie, the look in her eyes had changed and that’s what scared me most. Because I longed for the day when I wasn’t afraid to touch her in case I’d hurt her or rush her into something, I longed for her to seem strong and in charge and confident with me like she was in other areas of her life. But this? This wasn’t that, this was almost like she was a different person altogether, I started to get a little scared, but not scared enough to stop it, like I know now, I should have.
Angry sex wasn’t something that I’d experienced a lot of in my lifetime, but when I had it wasn’t so much about the underlying anger, it was more the frustration of not being able to communicate those feelings in any other way, only sex. Rough, passionate, almost painful sex. And as we continued to fuck each other senseless, with no real regard for the other’s feelings either physical or emotional it seemed, we finally made it to her bedroom, before round two.
Worn out, and still just as confused as I was when I walked in the door, I began to speak but she stopped me in my tracks, for a second there was that peaceful look, the Sookie I knew, but just as quick it was replaced by her hardened resolve face, she shocked me by getting up out of bed and throwing on a pale blue dress that was laying across the chair next to the bottom of her bed.
“Where are you going?” I asked her, wrapping the sheet around myself, it was cold in here when you weren’t engaged in wild sweaty sex, apparently.
“Leaving. If you won’t go, then I will.”
“No. This was… a mistake.” she said tying her hair back out of her face, “please don’t be here when I get back.”
Well, fuck you very much.
With that, she grabbed her purse, and walked out the door, leaving me naked and feeling like some kind of sex toy. I’m man enough to admit, she didn’t just dent my ego, but she broke my heart in the process.
When I got to my car, I let it go, and I just sobbed. Alone, in the dark, parked outside my apartment building, sitting there like a fool, I just choked and sobbed for everything that I couldn’t fix or control. I’d tried so hard to be the girl that Eric assumed I was, but truth was, I didn’t know who I was, and I sure as hell didn’t know if I was that girl he loved or not. It was too hard, having him look at me how he looked at me, knowing what I knew – or what I thought I knew. No, it would be easier for him in the long run if he hated me now. At least when he found out who I really was, if he already hated me, then it might hurt him less in end.
At least I hoped.
The last thing I ever wanted for him was to feel hurt, or pain, or sadness because of me, but I realized then, that that hope was a unrealistic one. He was going to get hurt, sooner or later, why not try and cut the ties now? Silly of me, maybe, but I needed him as far away from me as possible. Because I loved him.
I started the engine of my car, and through my clouded eyes I began to drive and I didn’t stop until I found myself outside his house.
State Judge, Bartlett Stackhouse had made a very good life for himself, if his home was any indication. Large lawns, large… everything. And there was his black and silver Audi sitting outside his door, behind two very high steel gates and a old fashioned high stone wall. And there I sat, for hours, just… thinking. Remembering mostly.
Why couldn’t I just have let it go? Millions of other women go through the same thing, as sad as that is, it’s a sickening truth. Why couldn’t I just have let it all go when they let me out, started afresh, became that girl, that Sookie girl that Eric loved? I so badly wanted to be her, for myself and for him.
But I was torturing myself because I knew that now that just wasn’t possible. My body count was almost as high as my age, that meant a very long time in prison if and when they caught me. I had no illusions on if I’d eventually get caught, because you see I knew, and as Bartlett was about to find out.
The past, it had this nasty little way of catching up with you.
Eventually I went back to my apartment, and he wasn’t there. What was there though was his spare key, sitting on my coffee table. I thought back to earlier that night, with him, how I’d treated him. How he’d let me treat him. I felt so disgusted with myself in how I’d used him and the ashes of our relationship to vent my anger, not at him, but at Bartlett, and all the things he stole from me. I felt myself wanting to sob again, just wanting to sob until I died and maybe then the pain could finally cease…
No. No more tears.
I was the one that caused this mess, I just had to do my best to clean it up.
I didn’t sleep, and shutting off my screaming alarm at seven am, I got up, I showered, I dressed… I quit my job before noon, made it back to my apartment, reached under my bed and dug out the old trunk that laid there. In it were old photos my Gran had sent me when I was fifteen. Of me as a baby, my parents, her, my grandfather. For a long time I could never look at them, but that morning I did. I missed that smiling little six year old in her dad’s arms. I missed who she could have been.
But no, the time for tears was past, as I pushed past the photos of my history and reached for my knife. It was special, thin and as sharp a blade as I could find, it fit perfect in my hand, and up my sleeve. It would do maximum damage if used right. And I did plan on using right.
Time to face my fears.
I walked into my office the next morning, with Cash on her leash, I was unsure of what to do now, since I got her, she always had Sookie most days or me if our shifts were odd hours, but she always had someone at home with her, now, she had no one, because not only had Sookie dumped me, she’d dumped Cash, too.
The heartless bitch.
Yeah I was still mad, really mad actually, and working on like an hours sleep and half a bottle of Jack. I was in no mood to be at work, but as always duty called.
Not only duty, but my nosiness, that I apparently inherited from my mother, called. I opened up the data base and did what I should have done months ago.
I typed in Sookie’s name.
And I waited, and waited….and waited some more. Cash was busy sniffing out every corner of my office, and I got odd looks from passers by through the glass windows when they saw the dog.
Screw them she was the only solid female relationship I was going to have from now on. Nice, normal sane and friendly. If she’d just stop chewing my shoes, we’d be golden.
The laptop beeped indicating the end of the search. I expected her picture from some ID, or her fingerprints from something, some kind of information in the system.
But no. The only Sookie Sanderson that I found, in the entire police data base, died in 1943.
What the actual fuck?
It threw me for a loop, so I rang Bill. Why, I don’t know, but I was hoping he had some idiotic words of wisdom for me. He bounced into the office ten minutes later holding a file.
“Glad you called I’d been meaning to give you this.”
“What is it?”
“Everything your amazing friend William here could find on the gassed druggie guy in the trailer, and I just finished printing it off, dude you won’t fucking believe what I found.”
“I found something really interesting, too.” I added, almost bitterly.
“My girlfriend doesn’t exist.”
He furrowed his brow, understandable confused.
“Sookie… she isn’t in the system.”
“Bullshit, ever… you’re not bullshitting me. Your face, you look like shit, did you sleep last night?”
“Not bullshit, thank you, and no. I didn’t.”
“She broke up with me.”
He stood, mouth agape.
“Bitch.” He said.
I rolled my eyes. “Bill she’s not in here.”
“Did you try maybe a middle name?”
“I don’t know it…”
“Well Sookie, it’s short for Susannah, so maybe try that.”
She said it wasn’t short for anything, then again she also said she loved me, clearly she had issues with her truths.
“How do you know that?” I turned to him, from my laptop then.
“Oh, it was something my mother mentioned at dinner that time, about it being an old southern name , but like a nickname. I was curious, so I googled.”
Guess what, she did not exist either. Well she did, but I’m pretty sure my Sookie wasn’t collecting her pension in Florida right now.
“The file.” Bill indicated, “I’ll tell you right quick, since it seems you’re looking for something to occupy your mind today, I have to go out with Barry to the forensics lab to get some shit signed, but look it over, turns out your Sookie is inadvertently involved with gassed druggie.”
“What?” he nodded.
“You didn’t think to maybe, oh, I don’t know, LEAD with that? What the fuck are you talking about Bill?”
He rolled his eyes, “Nothing concrete, but druggie vic had an ex wife that died of an OD, had a kid who was not even nine at the time, Megan.”
“So… Megan went awol a few years back. Apparently, there was a domestic, and police were called and a complaint was filed, and a noise complaint from the neighbours, too. Megan would have been maybe just into her teens. Turns out, Megan didn’t surface again until recently. Until her passport was used from the airport here, on a flight to Canada.”
“Guess who paid for her flight?”
“One and the same, though now you’re telling me she doesn’t exist which makes her credit cards a little questionable.”
He smiled, in a way that I wish he wouldn’t. Yes it confirmed to me that that case was much more than just a simple accidental death, it also confirmed the sinking feeling I had actually meant something. Megan was Judy, and Judy’s father had raped her, Megan fell into prostitution and Sookie found her and her secret at dinner with us that night.
Bill left to go accompany Isabel’s partner, and I locked my office door. The thoughts swirling around in my head teamed with the insane hangover I was experiencing was just too much to deal with.
She lied about her name, it’s clear she had an abusive past, and now she was pushing me away from her. Either that or she was bipolar or something… but this. This was too much. Megan and her flight out of the States, then mysteriously her father is found dead, under less than ideal circumstances – less than a month later?
I thought back to our last conversation.
“I got there, Eric, and it all hit me at once. That’s not me. …”
She got to the courthouse, in my rage and confusion I’d missed that little detail. If she had got there, why would she change her mind like that? What made her change her mind? Was it me, my mother or… someone we were talking to?
It hit me, almost like something from a cartoon. I felt the shivers go up and down my spine and the hairs rise up on the back of my neck, as my brain just clicked everything into place, like building blocks or a puzzle.
I hit the search engine again, and this time, instead of Sookie Sanderson. I typed in Judge Bartlett Stackhouse.
What I found changed my life forever.