Hey guys! I see that Absolution doesn’t really appeal that much on here, huh? Oh well, can’t win them all! Onward! Chapter 11! You know the drill 😉
I paced the library, ignoring my long forgotten cup of tea that sat on the desk, and I paced some more. I had shunned Annabel earlier that morning in favour of torturing myself some more, alone, because I never did that enough it seemed.
I knew her position, Sookie’s that is. I knew hers and I knew mine and yet I wanted to disregard all I knew about my life, and what little I knew about hers and just say ‘to hell’ with it all and make her see that it would work if we wanted it to. I wanted nothing more than to be able to take her into my arms free of concern for what others might think of us, take her there and keep her safe. But, I knew things were a lot more complicated than that, and to simply ignore all I knew of society and her expectations – as well as what Pam had driven home in her little lecture, that it would indeed follow us and our children should there be any, forever. I hated that small but important truth. It was of no matter, I realized because no matter what I wanted – she didn’t want it… or me as it turns out. I was not so used to rejection, at least not from women, it had been a good long while since that had happened, and even longer still since it had happened with a woman that I wanted more from than simple carnal pleasures. I was also not so used to feeling so attached to a woman, a woman that I had only known a short while at that. It was a very confusing time for me, that’s for sure.
“Sir?” I looked from the window to see Amelia standing by the desk, a tray of fresh tea in hand.
“Oh, thank you, Amelia. Is it that time already?”
“It is,” she smiled leaving the tray down with a few sandwiches and another paper next to it. I really was spoiled here. “If there’s anything else?” She asked.
“No, that’s lovely, thank you.”
She curtsied and turned to leave, but I needed some information out of her first.
“Have you…” I cleared my throat lightly and continued, “Have you seen Sookie this afternoon?”
“No, well I saw her just before she left for town, but since there I’ve been busy as a bee in the kitchen, I think she had the bedrooms to do…which she’s done because well…they’re done. But I haven’t seen her, why? Need something?”
I looked at her and I wondered just how much Sookie had shared with her, if anything at all. I had to be cautious. Amelia was a nice girl, but gossip spread and soon became a guessing game with false truths.
“I… no not specifically, I was just curious.”
She smiled, it was a knowing smile.
“Forgive me for speaking out of turn, Sir, but you seem to be awfully curious when it comes to Sookie, specially.”
I nodded. So it was that obvious then?
“Yes, you could say that.”
“She’s not like some girls, you know? She’s not like Dawn…”
I closed my eyes, annoyed that everyone seemed to know and disapprove of that little detail.
“Yes, I know that too.”
“So then you know that she just wants to get on with things? She has no delusions of grandeur, Sir. Nor any romantic notions of whatever it is you’re feeling for her to become, and I know you feel something for I see it – we all see it – when you look at each other.
“Is this the part where you tell me that liking her is a terrible idea and that nothing can ever become of us because of our respective ‘places’ in society?” I sighed and she took a step back.
“I would but it seems you’re already well versed in that song, Sir.”
I nodded, sitting on the edge of my desk, and I motioned for her to take a seat by the desk, which she did. I took a large bite out of my cheese and ham sandwich, enjoying the taste, but with my mind still racing the enjoyment was short lived.
“I just don’t know what to do.” I said with a mouthful of food, it made her giggle.
“I’m sure she doesn’t either.”
“What has she told you?” I was curious to know.
“Honestly? Nothing at all. She’s been as silent as a church mouse on the subject of you, on a lot of subjects come to that. But, it’s as obvious to me as the nose on her face that she feels something for you, and let’s face it all those mysterious walks you two go on, well, it does get people talking.”
“We were just walking! I swear it.”
That made her giggle too.
“You don’t have to justify anything to me, Sir. But, others do talk, and those who don’t talk are still watching.”
I assumed she meant Niall.
“I know nothing of how far things have…advanced with you both, but, for both your sakes I would just advise you both to be careful. You’re a good person, from what I’ve seen of you in your time with Lord Niall. And from what I’ve seen of Sookie, well, she’s been burned before, and she’s a good woman and a good friend, and I wouldn’t like to see you…or anyone…” she added as an afterthought, but this was still very much a friendly threat, “to hurt her again. And if you care about her … I see that you do, you wouldn’t want to hurt her either, right?”
“Then I think you both need to figure out what’s best for both of you, in the long run, and whether that includes the other.”
She excused herself and left me with my tea, and my even more muddled thoughts.
I sighed and bit into my sandwich, and if there was sad way to bite, I was sure I achieved that sadness.
I was panicking. I was also working at twice my usual speed because my mind was spinning and the only way I could focus my thought was to focus my hands on something to keep me from over-thinking. I managed to get all the bedrooms done in under an hour and I made a healthy start on the downstairs library. Those books got so dusty! I was halfway through the first cabinet when the doorbell went, and I heard Pam’s voice talking to Amelia who had opened the door for her. I hurried to the hallway to find her standing there, slowly shedding her coat, I noticed the basket I’d left behind was sitting on the floor.
“Sookie, you forgot this earlier. I would have brought it over sooner but I had errands to run before I get ready to leave for my trip. I’m here to see Niall.” She said as Amelia nodded, looking from both me and then to Pam, a look in her eye that told me she wanted to know later what was happening. After much pandering, Pam got Niall alone in his office and I stood at the crack in the door and I listened into the conversation, the conversation all about me.
“Really? Why not just hired from the agency, there are plenty of women looking for new work, Pamela.”
“Well,” Pam sighed, “You know how hard it is to find good help these days; with the war it’s every woman in petticoats thinking she can be a ladies maid, and we both know that’s just not true. There is a skill to it, and you have to have a certain temperament, Sookie and I get along, it’s a good match.”
“I see. Well it is true that you and she seem agreeable in your personalities, I suppose it helps you’re both flighty Americans.” I heard Niall smile and his seat squeak. “I agree to it.”
“Yes. She’s … well she’s a distraction for Eric too. A distraction he can’t afford to be indulging right now, so perhaps getting her out of the way will force him to see that his future is… elsewhere.”
My heart sank at his observation, but I cannot say it wasn’t an expected one. After all, it was something I had been thinking and saying ever since this thing with Eric began to take legs.
“And she’s welcome back when my –“
“Oh, yes of course, of course. A few months should be sufficient for me to get Eric on side, to make him see that Annabel is where he should be focusing his time and energy, not some servant girl.” I heard him stand, “But, as you said, it is a pain to find good help and she is good at her job – very good. She’s quick and clean, and she’s got manners that girl, which is more than I can say for most. It’s hard to find, so yes. Once I have things with Eric settled and put to bed – so to speak – it should be no problem to have her come back and work for us.”
I loved that he thought he could control Eric, as if he were some horse out to stud or something ridiculous, he had to have known that Eric wasn’t one to be pushed and prodded, he had to have known since I knew Eric only a fraction of the time his Lordship had, and even I knew that much.
“Well I don’t think –“Pam began but Niall cut her off.
“No, you’re right, it is a good idea, yes, I agree to it. When do you leave?”
“Uh, we leave for the ship tomorrow evening.”
“Excellent, more than enough time for the agency to send me another maid in the meantime I just ask that you bring her back in once piece, heading to France in a time like this. It can’t be safe, Pamela.”
“We’ll be fine, we’d be in no more danger there than here, they are everywhere now after all.”
I heard shuffling, and decided that it was best if I make my exit before they came out of the room. So, I headed to the kitchen, where I found no one but Amelia, crying.
Forty five minutes of comforting a forlorn Amelia on the subject of Sam and their relationship status, I was summoned by the room bell, to Eric’s room.
When I got up there, Pam was sprawled across his bed, a bored look on her face, as Eric stood by the window. He didn’t look at me as I walked in, and Pam merely sighed and rolled her eyes.
“He’s not happy I’m taking his favourite toy away,” She said as she stood.
“Pam –“ He chastised, his tone cutting.
“Oh come on, she knows I’m joking, she’s not a toy, and if she is she’s one that won’t let you play.”
He glared at her as I looked between them.
“I think it’s a good idea, I need to get some time away to clear my head anyway –“
“But…France? As in France where most of the war is being fought right as of now that France? It’s there where you must clear your thoughts?” He asked his temper no longer under control.
“It’s just for a few weeks, until I get the house and the contents – what’s left of them anyway, sorted out, then we come back to London safe and sound.” Pam interjected though I had a feeling she was merely repeating herself.
“Why go at all? Why not send one of your men to do it for you, I’d really rather you did that, I do not see the point in –“ He said.
“Eric I didn’t ask you for your opinions on my actions, it is my home and I wish to see it safe, and I have friends returned from war – some in pieces might I add – that I also wish to see safe, forgive me for not consulting you but it is none of your business. I’m merely telling you now because Sookie has agreed to accompany me for the duration of the stay, as my Ladies Maid since my own is now on leave until she has her infant.”
He looked to me, his eyes full of concern and possibly anger.
“You agreed? So you want to get yourself killed then?”
“Oh, Eric, calm the dramatics will you? It’s not as if we’re going to be digging the trenches for heaven sakes.”
“Well you may as well, travelling to Paris alone in this day and age and in the middle of a God damn war!”
Pam rolled her eyes, “You know of my house, you know my staff and you know as well as anyone how well protected we will be.”
I did not know anything about her forms of protection, but imagined money said a lot more in those circles than in most others, especially at a time like this.
A few more exchanged glances later, and Pam excused herself leaving only Eric and I in a room filled with unsaid words. He ran his hand through his short blond hair, his brow wrinkled as he paced the floor. He liked to pace, I noticed.
“Sookie, you don’t … you know have to go. If this is one of Pam’s crazy ideas, and you’re just going along with it so you won’t upset her, just know that if you say no, she won’t be mad.”
I folded my arms, the thought that he thought I could be so easily led, annoyed me.
“It’s not that.”
“Is it because of me, then? Because of the things I’ve said? The things we’ve done?” He said, an air of uncertainty in his voice, an air I was not used to hearing from him. He was always so self assured and confident in his speech, even when sad or angry, but this, he just seemed confused.
“Honestly, it’s partly that, partly… I just need some space. It’s not often girls like me –“ and I was a ‘girls like me’ girl now, I always had to remind myself I wasn’t the girl that grew up on a small plantation farm, with money and nice things, with two successful working parents. I was the maid, and if I wanted to keep my job and my freedom, it was a maid I’d stay.
“Sookie, if you want to travel all you have to do is say –“
He turned and looked at me, his eyes so full of disappointment.
“We cannot keep having this conversation, it’s hell, on both of us. I don’t want to be saying these words anymore than either of us wants to hear them, but we need to hear them. The reality of the situation is, I’ve been offered a job for a time, one that allows me to see a little of the world.”
“That is at war, or have you forgotten?”
“No, I haven’t. How could I forget? But, Pamela assures me we’ll be safe, and it is just for a short while until she squares everything away. Besides, you do have other concerns, much more pressing and relevant concerns if I recall correctly, like taking a suitable wife.”
“Please don’t start that again, I just…can’t.”
“Fine,” I sighed in return. “That’s fine. But you know it’s expected of you now, and fooling around with me –“
“It wouldn’t be fooling around, this isn’t a joke to me, Sookie.” He said with a serious look spreading across his ridiculously handsome face as he came closer to me.
“I know that…” I whispered. “Or at the very least I hoped it wasn’t.”
“So, then you know that I’m saying this and acting like an idiot because I… I just don’t want you to go.” With that he ran both his hands down my arms, sending a shiver through me. I wanted nothing more than to fall into his arms, and stay there. But, I knew I couldn’t.
“Eric, you’re very sweet.” I tried to reason; I knew I had to go. Now just because of the upset that may have happened if he and I carried on, but the complete mess that would arise if Bill found me, and in turn ruined everything anyway.
“I’m also very serious, please, just stay, just stay and let Pam go off on her stupid trip with her friends herself. I’m sure there are suitable Lady’s Maids in France still. Stay here where you’re safe.”
He was truthful in his requests, and the earnest look in his loving blue eyes told me more than anything else. I wanted nothing more than to spare his heart the pain of my lies, and if that meant going, then it was what it was.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Eric. It’s the last thing I want. And if we continue this way, I know one of us; perhaps both of us, will end up hurting and in the end resenting each other for things –“
“What things?” He asked, still holding my arms in place softly, rubbing his fingers up and down in a slow comforting motion.
“Lots of things, things that –“
“May or may not ever happen. We don’t know, and that’s what this is about, Sookie. The unknown.”
I shook my head, his idealistic notions were romantic but I was a realistic woman.
“I haven’t been truthful to you and I can not in good conscience continue …this.” I motioned, backing away slowly. “I’m sorry.”
He looked hurt, and even more confused if it were possible.
“I don’t understand…in what ways have you been deceitful?”
“Too many to count. Which is why this ends, and I go. And when I come back…” If I come back, I thought to myself.
“You’ll be with Annabel on the way to a life that is acceptable.”
He narrowed his brows at me, his expression turning angry.
“How dare you tell me what I am to do, are you just like the rest of them? Are you? Giving me orders like it is your right!”
“No, but you know I am right, this will never work don’t you understand? No matter how I feel about you inside, it doesn’t matter because everything else smothers those feelings with … fact.”
“And the fact is you’re just a lying servant girl, is that right?”
His words hurt me, so much so that I felt tears in my eyes. But, if what it took was for him to hate me, then so be it. At least he would hate me for my own reasoning and not my lies, my deceit, and then there was Bill who was still very much alive despite my earlier thinking. It was a disaster, and I had to get away from it, getting away from it meant keeping Eric out of it too, so it had to happen.
“That’s exactly it.” I said as I turned and left him for the second time that day. I would keep out of his way until I had my things packed and my transportation arrived to bring me to Pamela’s townhouse, from there we would leave, and by morning I would be a country away from Eric Northman, my worries and pains however, they travelled with me.
What was next for me, I had no idea, but I was willing to find out if it meant keeping those I cared about safe from the pains of my violent past.