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Hello again! As promised the next chapter in a day, you can’t say I’m not good to you 😉 Reviews are my payment so.. gimme! Haha. xo

Eric:

I had questioned Pam for any and every detail that Sookie might have told her, even in her broken up state, she had to have recalled where she came from. Pam mentioned a street, empty, and something about a green door with no glass,and that she could hear Big Ben from where she was kept. I wasn’t so familiar with London on my own, but I knew two brothers that were.

“When we find him, you want us to … take care of it?”

My head was spinning as we took their motorcar to the area that I could only vaguely describe, though they seemed to know it. Turning corner after corner the regal and upper class areas faded and we entered what seemed like another world. One of streets filled with women, some with babies, some alone, all of them looking for something from the men that passed. More corners were turned and soon houses came into view, streets that I assumed were once littered with people, and families. Now though, it was empty.

“Consumption took over here a few years back, wiped out the whole neighbourhood, and with the war the money just hasn’t been there to clean things up and get people housed here. Such a waste.” Barry spoke as Thomas drove us, and we stopped in front of an abandoned house, what I was later to find was converted into smaller apartments, and it was there that we found the man that had been the bane of my existence. He was laying on the floor, still as the chair next to him.

“Is he dead?” I asked the brothers, one kneeled down, the other kicked him. He didn’t move. I looked around him, there was clearly a struggle, a struggle with Sookie. My heart tightened as I saw where she was being kept. There was chains for heaven’s sakes! I noticed the needles though, and I knew that was how he took her, it had to have been. She never would have went willingly with him.

“He’s dead.” Thomas said standing up. “Notice his coloring?” He added, and I had no clue what I was meant to be noticing.

“I…” I was at a loss, not because he was gone, but because he got to go before I beat the shit out of him.

“Heartattack. Ironic for such a heartless bastard that would do this…” he motioned to around the room, “to a woman.”

They might have been killers, lawbreakers and scoundrels, but they respected women. For that I was thankful.

“Your woman, is she going to be okay?” Barry asked.

“I… think so. I know she suffered, and she clearly fought her way out of here. The bastard.” I nodded at him, seeing him lay there he seemed so unassuming, but what he was was devious and evil. I was happy he was dead. He couldn’t hurt her any more.

“How do I take care of this now?” I asked both of them. Barry just shrugged.

“You don’t. We do.”

“How?”

He shook his head.

“Probably best if you don’t know, Mate. The less you know, the less you can get beat out of you if it comes to it.”

“It won’t come to it either, we can promise you that.” Thomas continued, “We’re very capable at what we do.”

“And what…will you do?”

“Get rid of him, here, the evidence. All of it.”

“He has contacts here, he’s been doing business. What if his co-workers come looking?”

The brother’s looked at each other, then to me.

“Then they’ll find this place burning to the ground, with him in it.”

I paced the room, it would solve everything and give reason for him to be found dead – if anything of him survived.

I nodded.

“There’s no way it will be -”

“No, and trust us when we tell you that John Quinn won’t say a word either, we know too much about him for that to happen.”

“What exactly do you both owe Niall so much that you’d be willing to risk all this for me, for him?” I had to go there, I had to ask.

They looked at each other again, this time Thomas spoke.

“Long time ago, he helped our father with a rather delicate matter… he worked for Niall ‘ere in London and he was accused of murder. Now, did he do it? That don’t really matter does it?” He smiled, “But, Niall believed in him in other ways, knew he had a wife, a family to look after, wasn’t about to let ‘im go down. What he did, saved our family from destitution, it means a lot. It means, this gets to go away for you, for ‘im, and for your Lady. If that’s what you want?”

I looked at the dead man on the floor, and thought of all the pain and suffering he had caused, the results he left on Sookie’s face and body – never mind the effect on her mind.

“Do it. Get rid of him… this…” I looked around. “Just make sure there’s no one else squatting, we don’t need anymore innocent people getting fucked over because of this …” I couldn’t even make myself refer to him as a man, for he wasn’t one, he was a monster.

I got the brothers to drop me off a few streets from Pamela’s home. I stopped by a small florist and picked up a modest selection of roses, small, but beautiful, and spent at least twenty minutes chewing the fat with the owner on the days news of the war. Everyone was smiling, happy, elated even, I could not have cared any less. It felt harsh to admit, but I just didn’t care in the moment. I was sure I would, eventually when my own worries and troubles at the present had passed, but as it stood, it felt like I was standing in a bubble full of worry. I managed a smile and a positive response or two before I left him and made my way back to the house. I found Pam was out, her new fiance was also not there, but I found Sookie in her room sitting on a soft chair by her window. She was cuddled up with a fleece blanket, her feet resting on a stool. She didn’t look up as I entered.

“Is he dead?” She asked a sad tone to her usually bubbly voice.

“Do you… think he is?”

“I hope he is.” She answered after a beat. “It may make me a horrible per-”

“It doesn’t.”

She nodded, still not looking at me.

“He’s dead.” I confirmed.

“Did you kill him? Or was it I that managed to do this time what I failed to do last time?”

Then she looked at me, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. I moved closer, slowly, I didn’t want to scare her. She saw the flowers and for a moment tried to break a smile, it faded as fast as it came.

“They’re beautiful.”

“They’re for you. Not that I expect them to do much other that provide you with something pleasing to look at…” I said leaving them on the windowsill and took a seat beside them.

“Bill is dead.”

“So I did it then. I murdered him.”

“Would it give you more peace of mind to know that I did it?” I asked causing her to look at me sharply.

“I… I don’t know. I had made my peace with it… sort of… once. I think I could deal with it again. Unless of course you did kill him, in which case I would need to thank you.”

“You never need to thank me for anything, ever. I only ask because I long to give you something… all things that you don’t have… but mostly I long to give you peace of mind on this matter. So, I ask again, would it be … better? If I were the one that killed him?”

She sighed, looking out the window again.

“The truth, above all else might set my mind at ease.”

With that statement she looked me dead in the eye. I couldn’t lie to her.

“In that case, I believe neither of us did it.”

“I don’t understand?”

“He died of a heart attack, Sookie. So, what you did to him might have not helped his state of being, but when you left him, he was alive… his heart just disagreed with such a notion.”

She blinked, confused, and for some minutes we were both eerily silent. Then she did something I wasn’t expecting, she chuckled.

“It’s just… rather ironic is it not? A man I deemed so heartless all his life dies of a heart attack…” she laughed, “I mean isn’t that just absurd!” She laughed harder, until her laughter disintegrated into tears, and then she began to sob. I moved to her side and thankfully she allowed my soft embrace, I recalled Pam’s warning of her injuries, and I didn’t want to go all ham-fisted to her and hurt her.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” She said, sobbing into my jacket as I held her, helpless to do much else for her pain.

“Never be sorry, my love, you’ve just been through something… I can’t begin to imagine how awful. Never be sorry.”

And so I held her, my one job for her that afternoon and I intended to do it well, so I held her, stroked her hair, and did my best to comfort her until she sobbed herself to sleep on my chest. I slid into the chair next to her, cramped but unwilling to wake her, and did my best to nap there until she awoke. I just didn’t want to let her go. No matter how much I felt her slipping away.

****

Sookie:

Bill was dead, and I had killed him. Even if Eric tried to rationalize what had happened to him, his heart gave out, his heart gave out because of what I did to him. The scariest of all things was how not guilty I felt, whereas before when I thought I had done it, the guilt almost consumed me. This time though, there was nothing but relief. I was not sure if it was just a gut reaction to what he had done to me, not just this time around, but in the past too or if I was just becoming a cold woman. I hoped I wasn’t allowing things to affect me in the long term, but as it stood, I really did feel numb. I didn’t really want to be around anyone, I didn’t really want to be around Eric either, he was being … too nice. Too nice, too helpful and too scared to say something out of place – so our conversations were stilted and awkward now. I had gone three days in my sick bed as it were, Pam’s staff were lovely, and she herself was nothing but understanding and welcoming, despite how awkward and ashamed I still felt at my presence in her home as I was. Her housemaid Mary was beyond lovely, and took great care of me while the other’s were out, we swapped horror stories of the job and I felt became friends of sorts. If only things were as simple in the big house in Scotland. Having to be helped in and out of a bathtub was a test of my dignity, thankfully Pam was around for that, making it slightly less awkward than had it been Mary, given our history and my history as her Lady’s Maid, she and I had little to hide from one and other.

“He’s coming back with something for dinner, apparently our kitchen wasn’t apt enough for your healing process.” Pam smirked as I sat in my warm bath, easing my battered body, she was reading a magazine on a cushion on the floor, I still found it funny how at ease I felt around her.

“What?”

“Mmm. Apparently you need lots of red meat and milk and things to – and I quote ‘heal as fast as she can’. He’s just worried.”

I sighed. I really wish he wasn’t so worried, or so sweet, at this stage, I wasn’t so sure what to do with it.

“It’s not my breaks and bruises I’m worried about, in truth.”

She nodded.

“I know that, Sook. I think he does too, he’s just trying to do something. It’s the one thing Eric hates more than most things – feeling helpless. Not being able to help you? Kills him.”

“Did he say that?”

“No, but I know him better than most, it’s who he is.”

I closed my eyes, letting the warm water and bubbled cover me. My ribs still hurt, which was why I needed her help, that and the broken fingers didn’t help much either. My face was healing, slowly, and after the swelling went down, I found I had some vision back in my left eye. I was alive, even if I still felt like I was dying.

“He wants you to go back to Scotland with him, as soon as you’re ready, he’s waiting to ask you.”

I tensed.

“I… No.”

“No?”

“I can’t go back there… not like this.”

“I can see that, I think it’s just with Niall being unwell too, he’s torn. You’d be well taken care of there though…”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“Heavens no, you know I love having you… both of you around as much as possible. I just wish it was under normal circumstances, you know?”

“I can’t go back there, I’m not really sure I can ever go back there.”

She sighed.

“Sook, if this is a speech about how you’re not good enough -”

“It’s not, I just know how difficult it will be if I do, and to be frank, I’m not ready for anymore difficulty just yet.”

“How so?”

“I was one of them, sort of, in name at least. I had my place and I knew it well and I did my job… now I’m neither. I’m not one of you people or one of them, I don’t fit.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it.”

“To you, to you and how you run your house maybe, not there, not with those people. If he must go, he must go… in all honesty I wish him to leave, at least for a while. I feel sometimes when we sit together, I can almost hear his over-thinking and it’s smothering me.”

“Oh, Sookie…” She grimaced putting down her magazine. “All I ask is that you consider his feelings here too, as hard as it is with what you’re going through physically and whatever is floating around in your head… but please? He’s been through a lot too, remember that.”

“You think I don’t know that? I know that, Pam.”

“Hey. Don’t you get uppity with me, I’m just trying to help, damnit.” She rolled her eyes, getting up from her cushion. “When you’re done with your mood swing, I’ll be in my room getting ready for dinner.” With that she walked out. I guess I was yanking myself out of the bath tube alone.

Shit.

I got myself out and dried myself off, with one hand and more carefully than I remembered doing anything in awhile. I knew I would be needing more of the pain medications Pam’s doctor left me. One I was in the robe I knew belonged to Pam, I made my way to her room. She was sitting at her vanity, fixing her hair.

“Don’t you have a Ladies Maid to do that?” I opened.

She just looked at me through the mirror.

“I do, but I gave Deana the night off, her child is ill.”

“She new?”

“Yes, the one before you … her husband got a better job in Manchester, so, they moved. I was pissed, good Lady’s Maids are hard to find.” She said with a slight smile, I took that as a welcome sign and walked further into the room, and sat on her bed.

“I’m sorry for snapping, it wasn’t right.”

“I’m not mad at you for snapping, Lord knows what you’ve gone through you’ve the right to be a bit on edge. I just… I care about you Sook, but I care about Eric too. He’s been a good friend to me over the years, and I don’t want to see him get hurt anymore than he already has.”

“The last thing I ever want to do is hurt him, Pam. I love him.”

“Then let him know that, make sure he knows that. He’s a big boy we know that, but his heart and his ego are as fragile as any China.”

“I know…”I whispered, feeling beyond bad about myself and my thoughts. “I love him, and I thank him for doing all he did, all you’re doing too. I’m not blind to it, I just wish we had a little more space, that’s all. I need to wrap my head around a lot of things and having him there, by my side all the time is suffocating me!”

Of course as timing would have it, I turned and saw Eric in the doorway. I closed my eyes at his pained expression as he stood there, books in hand.

He looked to Pam, who simply just excused herself, passing me, and then him, and heading down her staircase. Neither of us spoke, but he did come in and close the door.

I felt cold and terrible and just an all around awful woman in that moment, as he stood there silently.

“Eric I -”

“Is that how you really feel?”

I was silent.

“Well?”

“The last thing I want to do is make you think that I don’t love you, or appreciate what you’ve done for me -”

“But I’m suffocating you…?”

I ran my hand through the free part of my braided hair, hoping that my words sounded how I meant them to sound.

“I’m confused, Eric. Confused about a lot of things, things that I can’t even really wrap my brain around. I know you mean well, with the flowers and the cards and the books… I do love you for it. I just can’t think when all I can think about is if I’m being too quiet for you, or too sad, or too tired. I need to think about me, about my life and what I just survived, to make sense of what comes next, and I cannot really do that worrying if you’re okay in the process.”

No, I was sure those words made me sound like an ungrateful harlot.

He furrowed his brow, leaving the books on her nightstand and taking a seat next to me.

“I was going to ask you to come home with me, to Scotland. I see now what a mistake that would have been.” He added, calmly. He was calm but he sounded sad.

“Eric I’m sorry.”

“I told you before, you don’t have to be. I … in truth am a little hurt.”

I closed my eyes. I didn’t want that.

“Last thing I want is for you to not want me around…. Since I love you an all, it kind of puts a damper on that if I’m not wanted.”

“You ARE wanted. I just… need some time, that’s all.”

He nodded.

“I’m a little hurt, but also if I’m totally honest… a little relieved. I don’t know the right things to say, or do, or be. I only know how to be me, and if what you need is time away from that to sort your feelings out, then I agree.”

Now it was my turn to look confused.

“I don’t -”

“I love you, Sookie, Susannah, whatever you want to be called. But I also know that sometimes love can be ill timed, perhaps ours is ill timed.”

I felt the tears spring to my eyes.

“Are you breaking -”

“No!” He said turning to face me then, cupping my face softly. “No. I do love you, and if you love me as you say, then some space will mean nothing to us when we’re at our best together again.”

I breathed a sigh of relief, I never wanted to lose him forever, I just needed to make sense of myself first before I could move forward. I was healing on the outside, but inside I was still a terrified mess. He didn’t deserve a terrified mess, and neither did I.

“You’re a smart woman, Sookie. I like to think I have my wits about me too.” He smiled a sad smile. I took his hands in mine, softly since I was still sporting some rather fresh bandages.

“You do, your wits are one of my favourite things about you.” I smiled.

“Good, I am glad. Though, I hope they are not all you favor of me.” He grinned, making me blush.

“No, certainly not, your inappropriate sense of humour is rather enjoyable too, at times.”

That caused him to laugh, and with that laugh I felt the tensions of the previous days melt away.

“Good, that is good news. Sookie, I will return to Scotland in a few days. Niall is still not himself and I feel he would benefit from my being there.”

I nodded.

“But I will return when I hear word from you.”

“Yes. Please.” I nodded. “I just need -”

He kissed me softly on the nose. It was very sweet.

“Time. I know my love, I know. The good thing about all this now? Time is all we’ve got.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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