Happy weekend lovelies! Have at chapter 31! As always I love hearing what you’re thinking of this mess! 😀
She sat on the bed; her feet curled up under her skirt a sad, sorry look on her face.
“I didn’t really mean to get drunk. I just….had a few at Pam’s insistence before we left for the train, she said it would give me courage to actually get on the train – which it did…”
“Well, then there was drink on the train… a thing I like about first class they give you stuff.” She smiled. “But I was too nervous to eat anything so I just kept sipping and sipping more and more drinks… and well this is the result. I was scared out of my wits okay?”
“But why? They’re just people, they just have opinions like everyone else, and you know their opinions don’t matter to me not where you’re concerned.”
She smiled a small smile then.
“You’re far too sensible you know? I am just very un…sensible lately. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
With that, a knock came to the door a second or so later.
“Mr Northman, I left your soup and bread on the desk is that okay?” Came the voice behind the door and Sookie went three shades of white and her eyes widened. I walked to the door and poked my head out, just my head so she could not see inside.
“That’s so wonderful thank you, Millie. I was wondering if I could trouble you for something else?”
She was smiling big and wide at me, I knew she would not refuse me.
“Okay could I have maybe a couple of sandwiches? Whatever is downstairs is fine, just a couple of them and maybe some milk?”
“All that walking has made you hungry, Sir.”
She had no idea what was going on, I thanked whatever Gods were listening for that fact.
“It has, would it be –“
“Oh, more than okay, I’ll bring them right up for you.”
I thanked her again, and waited until I knew she was around the corner and on her way down the stairwell before I went back inside, I locked the door before I crossed the room.
Sookie was now lying on the bed.
“You shouldn’t want to marry me, I’m a mess.” She whined her hand to her head in a very dramatic and still very drunk manner. It made me chuckle.
“Really? Is that why I shouldn’t want to marry you?”
“No, I’m awful!” She cried dramatically then slapped her hands over her mouth. “And loud. And drunk.” She sighed again. “I’ll make a disaster of a wife and an even worse lady.” She sang out lady so it went on longer than usual, she really was drunk, but now I knew why.
She was scared of what was to come.
I joined her on the bed and kissed her quickly.
“You’re not any of those things you lush.” I smiled. “But I understand what you’re feeling.”
“You do?” She asked quietly.
“I do. And I don’t know if I can reassure you the way you may need right now, but what I am going to do is go to my library, bring us our food – you need something solid and maybe some milk to line your stomach.”
She smiled for a second.
“You need to eat, and then you’re going to take a nice nap before dinner tonight and we’ll sort this all out properly so we can be … proactive about how you’re feeling.”
“You’re too good to me.” She whispered and I pushed her hair a little, her curls were now covering her shoulders.
“There’s no such thing as too good, but I want to take care of you, Sookie. You take care of me so much that you don’t even realise…” I kissed her again but pulled back quickly before we got too involved.
“Stay there, I’ll be right back.”
I went as quietly as I could from my room down the long hallway on the upper floor to reach my library, thankfully, Millie had left the sandwiches without comment this time, and the soup had a lid on it so it would still be warm. I grabbed them all and made my way back to my room, sneaking around like a child, I thought.
I came back and she was sitting upright, and I handed her the tray carefully with the soup on it, and then gave her the sandwich too. She thanked me and dug in right away. I was glad she did, in the hopes of bringing her back to herself again and getting the silly feelings of inadequacy dealt with or at least begin to deal with them.
We sat and ate in relative silence, glances toward one another would happen of course, but for the most part it was comfortable silence which I liked, I liked that we could do that and not feel the need to fill every pause.
I looked at her two bags still sitting at the bottom of the bed, this meant she was not staying for long, and I knew that it was a thing of surprise to even have her there at all. Pam’s wedding was in a week; another surprise was Pam even letting her out of her sight, never mind to come all the way here.
“Pam’s mother arrive?”
She shook her head.
“She’s arriving tomorrow morning by boat; Pam is stressed beyond all stress about her clueing in that she and Claude are a fraud.”
With her rhyme, Sookie let out a little giggle, setting me off too because it was rather funny.
“I don’t understand how Maggie doesn’t know by now that Pam prefers women.”
“Me either, but she did say there were not very close, that she was closer to her father…so maybe it is not so far-fetched. I fear though, once she meets Claude she may realise he isn’t exactly the one keeping her daughter’s bed warm at night, or much else warm for that matter.”
I chuckled at that, because it was entirely true.
When we had finished I made sure to leave the tray outside the door and locked it again before I did anything else. The maid’s worked hard in this house and they were all amazingly prompt housekeepers.
“What do we do now?” She asked sleepily as I joined her on the bed.
“We are going to just lay here for a bit until you take a nap, I might sleep too actually, Thor has been keeping me busy these past few days, catching up on all his much needed exercise.” She smiled at that, she once feared Thor but now I think she knew he was just a big ole softie. After we laid down, Sookie was out in minutes, breathing softly but deeply. Finding herself snuggled under my blankets and looking very comfortable there too. I loved that she came, I loved that she fought through her fear long enough to even consider coming to see me like this, I knew how hard it was for her and how hard it was going to be but I also knew she could do it. She could do anything, I believed she could do anything she put her mind to, and the fact she put her mind to being with me? Well, it was just the icing on the already wonderful cake.
I must have dozed off because I woke up and it was starting to get dark, well, darker than the day had been thus far which in itself was not very bright to begin with. She looked so peaceful that I did not have the mind to wake her. Instead, I changed quickly and grabbed the car keys; I would take the car out for a bit in the rouse of picking her up at the station and then come back and park out front. That way I thought it would be properly done than her sneaking in, three sheets to the wind like some drunken hapless cat burglar.
No. That would just allow for more mindless chatter about her below stairs and I knew she did not want that.
I woke up to a dark room, and for a moment as it had been at Pam’s my mind wandered back to when Bill took me, those late nights and very early mornings of just lying awake wondering if I’d survive the day.
I wondered when those feelings would leave me, I wondered if they would ever leave me.
I also wondered where Eric was, but as I got up to wash and change, I heard his familiar sound fill the bedroom from where I stood in his en-suite bathroom.
“I took the car out for a bit, so if anyone asks anyone I went to collect you, you’re getting ready for dinner and we can just act normal from here on out.” He said opening the door slightly, on seeing I was decent he came all the way in, as I dried my face. I was fully awake and painfully sober now.
“Right, yes, that sounds…. Good.”
“You don’t believe that it sounds good though?” He asked looking at me through the mirror in front of us both.
“I want it to be good; I want all things where we’re concerned to be good. I just hope you’re right.”
“I am right, you’ll see. They might be a bit prickly at first, but these things pass I’m sure of it.”
I was not so sure at all, but for appearances sake, I smiled. I did not want him to worry any longer, and I knew he worried so much already.
We both were changed when the bell rang to announce that dinner would be coming up soon, my stomach flip-flopped all the way down to the dining room. Niall was already seated.
“You made it down for dinner, that’s a good sign, Niall.” Eric said as soon as we walked in, a smile on his face on seeing his friend make it out of bed for the first time in weeks.
“Yes, I thought tonight would as good as any to try and give the stairs another go. I made it down in ten minutes, shameful, utterly shameful.” He shook his head, clearly annoyed with himself before he addressed me.
“Sookie, it is very good to see you again. I am so glad you are well.” He almost smiled but it did not quite get there.
“Thank you, Ma’lord.”
“It’s Niall, please.” Then he did smile as we took our seats by his side of the table.
“Eric tells me you’re well or at least on the way to being well? I am glad, after all that has happened I am glad you are in one piece.”
I looked to Eric and then to Niall, wondering just how much the old man knew exactly.
“Yes, it has been … trying times to say the least, but there is always a silver lining in life and I like to think I’ve… we’ve found that.”
Eric smiled, he was proud, he was happy and he was like a kid on Christmas showing off his new toy. He really wanted Niall to like what he was showing him, I could tell. I could also tell that there was something restrained in Lord Niall before dinner came up, but after it did, he was really the least of my worries.
Dawn was serving with Trey and Remy. She had a face like thunder, Remy was simply stoic and Trey was beaming at me. I was frozen in my place with nerves, or fear, or both. I could not really tell which.
As they served Dawn all but shoved the serving dishes at me, but I ignored it and thanked her anyway.
Remy gave me a wink as he served my mashed potatoes, and Trey was still beaming by the time he finished with Eric. I could tell they all wanted to say something, but could not, it was not allowed.
On Dawn’s part, I was glad it was the case. I really did not want to hear what she had to say, I had no doubt it would only be hate filled and pointless.
Once they left and Eric had made it his business to keep me in conversation all throughout dinner, I began to relax a lot more. I soon found out that even though Niall was ill and in a considerable amount of pain, he was still an interesting man to hold conversation. He talked of his mother a lot, and soon his behaviour toward me began to make sense, he talked of her struggle to fit in here and in the circles, she travelled in with his father, and he talked of never wanting to put another woman through that. I felt it was a dig of sorts at Eric, but in truth, our time was nothing like his parents time, and I was not his mother. We could hold our own, I knew that much of myself, and I was sure Eric was as strong a man as he had proved himself to be to me in the past months. I reassured Niall that no ‘circles’ were going to keep us apart, and I meant it, even if the ‘circle’ downstairs still gave me anxiety like nobody’s business. There was much talk of the war, its losses and of course the armistice. My nerves were something I was trying to keep to myself; I hated being this way, being so afraid.
However, I was working on that.
By the time, we left the dining room, and Eric took over the nurse’s job to take Niall upstairs, it left me in the parlour alone for a little while. Of course, that is when Dawn decided to come up, as we always did after dinner here, to offer the ‘guest’ a nightcap.
She came in with the small silver cart that was used to store the drinks; it would be brought in and out to various rooms based on the needs of the guests. I never understood why they did not just have a bar there in one place, but that was just me.
She did not say anything, and neither did I. For a good few seconds we just looked at each other.
“Whiskey, Brandy or Port, Ma’am?” She asked with her mouth tight, her tone even tighter.
The idea of her addressing me so formally didn’t sit well with her, and in all honesty, it didn’t sit well with me either.
She glanced at my hand and I could almost see her face drop with the emotion of spotting the ring. I didn’t hide it though, it wasn’t something I was ashamed of and I had to remember that. This whole thing was nothing to be ashamed of, I had to stop feeling such things. I knew Eric was right, I knew I had to live my life for myself, but it did still bother me because all I had ever wanted was their approval. I never got it when I was employed there, and I knew for certain now I wouldn’t get it as long as they thought me some gold digger yank itching to get my hands on the fortunes of their men.
“Can we speak freely?” I asked her and she looked away.
“Other than your choice of drink, Ma’am, I don’t much think we have a lot else to discuss.”
“I think differently.”
She quirked a brow at me, and I knew in her head she had probably killed me five times since she had entered the room.
“Eric tells me you’re leaving.”
“I wouldn’t exactly call it that, but yes, I am. In a few weeks as a matter of fact, not sure where yet, but my number’s up here and now I really know why don’t I?”
I did not like her, she did not like me but I also did not like the idea of her out there without a job and a home. I had hoped Eric would sort something, if he did not, maybe Pam could.
“You know he’ll make sure you’re taken care of…”
“He used to really make sure I was taken care of.” She jibbed and her insult did not go a miss on me. “But now, I suppose he has someone else in mind for that position.”
I stood up, utterly exasperated with her.
“You know, I do not know why I even bother to try with you.”
She stood emotionless but for that defiant look in her eyes, and I for one had had about enough. I was either going to drag her by her hair all around that room, or scream so hard I hurt my throat. It seemed neither very sensible nor very sane to me and certainly not at a time like this.
The tension between us the hate or the anger, or whatever it was, was truly palpable. I did not have the energy for it then, so I decided to defuse the situation.
“I don’t want a drink; I’m going to bed now, with my fiancé. I won’t be needing the drink to keep me warm tonight, perhaps you should have one instead.” With that, I turned and left the room.
If she was going to be wicked and insulting, she had best prepare herself. I was tiring of restraining myself, and it ended. Now.
“You’re angry; I can almost feel the tension from here.” Eric said as he undressed at one side of the bed, and I on the other. I was angry, beyond angry – but more at myself than anyone.
“She’s so damn insufferable.”
“Yes. I tried to talk to her, to sort of attempt in some way to clear the air, but no. She was not having any of that, no sir she was just going to stand there and wind me up and just … ugh!” I threw one of my stocking down, not that it made much of an impact being as light as a feather, but I just needed to throw things.
Namely Dawn, out a window.
“You shouldn’t let them get to you, her particularly. She will be gone in a few weeks, I have a friend in Yorkshire who runs a large haulage farm, he is always’ in need of new staff. They have nine children.”
I smirked then, the idea of her surrounded by nine children every day.
I felt sorry for the children.
“I am glad she has somewhere to go… if she chooses to go there that is.”
“Well, she cannot stay here. She has proven to be… unstable at best. She knew the situation between her and me and just how non-existent it was besides that one time, and yet she continued to –“
“Yes okay, I know… can we please not go over all that again?” I stopped him quickly putting my hand to his mouth; I really did not want to relive those details again. Once was more than enough.
He smiled, kissing me on the cheek as we got in at our respective sides properly, snuggling under the layers of blankets, glad to be out of the cold. Even with a fire, roaring in the corner the room was like ice!
I never missed home more than I did when it hit winter in the United Kingdom.
He pulled me in close, pushing my hair from my eyes sweetly.
“She’s leaving, and after that things will settle down eventually. I know they will.”
“I wish I had your faith.”
“It’s only faith in you that I have, everything else can go to hell, but my faith in you is something I know for sure will keep me going.”
“Those few drinks at dinner talking?”
He shook his head.
“You know I don’t need drink to ramble on like the sap I can be.”
With that, I kissed him, he was not the typical man of his time, and he needed to know I loved him for his uniqueness. The fact that he showed no fear in laying bare his emotions was one of the many things I loved about him.
“I’m freezing!” I said in between kisses, making him chuckle.
“Let’s see what I can do about that then, huh?”
Before I knew it we were kissing still, more feverishly, more wanton as the seconds turned into minutes and time ticked on. Soon my nightgown was undone, his underwear was around his ankles and we were finding many ways in which to keep the other warm that night.
I secretly hoped Dawn heard us, just to be spiteful!