Life, Accidental 22-24

Chapter 22: Chapter 22


EPOV:

I’d spent the entire day at the bar after I left the house. I showered there and thankfully had clothes to change into aside from the sweats I had pulled on in order to get out of the house. I couldn’t believe how she had reacted, though, I probably should have known it was how she’d behave.

I tried to understand it but my anger, and more to the point, my hurt, took over. I didn’t know she’d heard me when I’d said it—hell, I barely heard myself. But she did, and it effected everything else. Did I mean it? I think I did; I wanted to mean it. It had been a long time since I’d felt anything like I felt when I looked at Sookie. I couldn’t explain it. The confusion I felt with that new feeling was more frustrating than I remembered. Maybe she did have a point about the family we were trying to build being at risk, but what couple with kids weren’t risking that family by being together? We weren’t conventional right from the start—that much was obvious—but that didn’t mean we couldn’t give it a shot at least. Thousands, millions of families managed with their non-conventional lifestyle everyday. Why should we be any different?

I knew Sookie was terrified of letting that happen—for now, at least. I knew Bill had an affect on her and God only knows what she went through when she was a kid and lost her baby. No one that young should have to go through that. Did that excuse her reaction? I wasn’t sure.

I’d nursed my ego in the office for the majority of the day, ignoring the fact that Tiffany was practically prancing outside the office trying to get my attention. It wasn’t going to happen.

I never had any intention of actually moving out when I drove back to the house that night. Maybe it was childish; maybe it was manipulative, but I wanted to scare her into thinking I would leave. If I did that, maybe she’d wake up and realize she didn’t want me to go. Call me crazy, but was it wrong of me to want her to fight for me? Maybe it was, since on the surface it seemed that I was so unwilling to fight for her. I wanted us to be together but I wouldn’t force it on her, and she seemed to want Sam. A fact that was reinforced when I went back to the house. I’d slipped in as quietly as I could and threw some things in a bag. I was willing to hash it out with her if I had to. I just wanted her to want me to stay, as pathetic as that sounds.

When I saw she was on the phone with Sam, all rational thought went right out the window. She was smiling and calling him ‘sweet.’ It pissed me off more than anything and at the risk of handing in my man card completely, it made me feel used. There she was, still dating him less than twenty-four hours after we’d fucked all over my bed. Then she had the sheer gall of looking wide-eyed and hopeful that perhaps we could talk. My ego took over and all I wanted was to get out of there.

I passed Jessica in her baby walker, engrossed in a Barney marathon. I kissed her on the head before I grabbed my sports bag and walked out the door. I didn’t want to leave her, either of them if I’m honest, but it was necessary in that moment. Our makeshift family was shattering, despite all of Sookie’s protesting to the opposite. I’d always be there for Jessica, but in that moment I couldn’t, nor would I, be there for Sookie.

Staying with Pam was worse than I imagined. It was like being sixteen and living with my mother all over again. While I agreed we’d keep our schedules as far as the baby was concerned, it still meant I had my nights free. Nights I was avoiding the office at all costs while I completed my assent into womanhood by wallowing in my heartbreak.

“Eric, you really need to get a grip… and possibly a razor.”

“It’s a look,” I said rubbing my newly bearded chin.

“It’s a homeless look. No one wants that; this isn’t Hollywood. They see you walking the streets like that here, people will be offering you a dollar for some food.”

“Funny.”

“You know what’s not funny? You. Looking like ass and feeling sorry for yourself and … what the hell are you watching?”

“The Kardashians.”

“Are you kidding?”

“No. Their asses are huge but my problems are bigger. Lay off Pam.”

“And you still won’t tell me what happened? It’s been more than a week, Eric.” She tapped her foot impatiently.

“What’s there to tell? Sookie and I don’t match. That’s it.”

“What a defeatist attitude. Who gives a fuck if you don’t match? You make the match.”

I just rolled my eyes at her.

“Get up and shave, please. You’re scaring the neighbors.”

“Like I give a shit.”

“Fine, sit here, wallow in your own pathetic mess. I am going to work. I expect my boss to be there.” She slapped my knee with the newspaper with an expectant look.

I, on the other hand, had no reason to move. A little wallowing never killed anyone, but if Pam didn’t stop bitching, I was pretty sure I’d seen enough re-runs of CSI that week that I could make her disappearance look like an accident.

Yeah…

I really needed to leave the house.

SPOV:

After he left, as much as I felt the urge to cry, I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I was done crying over men and my shitty choices where they were concerned. Instead, I picked Jessica up and got into bed, taking her with me for comfort. She didn’t seem to argue, as she cuddled into my duvet with her bottle of warm milk in hand. She was comfortable in minutes and in fact, she was out like a light as I read Sleeping Beauty not too long after Cinders and her Prince met their happily ever after. It was a welcome reprieve I used to text Sam. I told him I needed to see him at some point the next day. I didn’t say why. It wasn’t something I wanted to do over the phone, but he and I were done. I needed to get my shit together, starting with my love life.

Breaking up with Sam was easier than I thought. He said he knew it was coming but owed it to himself and to me, to make one last ditch attempt at trying to save what we had. Like most of our relationship, the ending was as nice and as amicable as could be expected. He was a good guy and the right one for someone; he just wasn’t the right one for me. I didn’t tell him about what had happened with Eric, mostly because—and not to sound too Ross and Rachel about this—but we were on a break, and it was none of his business now that we weren’t a couple anymore. Since I had wanted my first Thanksgiving in my new place to be a big thing, I’d invited everyone over—sporadic invites here and there. Sam’s still stood. No one should be alone on Thanksgiving. That was my Grans motto and even when I was in my tiny apartment, I’d have as many people over as my little kitchen could cook for. This year, I was practically in a palace and I intended to take full advantage. Eric didn’t need an invite, since I assumed he would still be living here by the time Thanksgiving rolled around. I mean, why wouldn’t I have thought that? But now everything was awkward and wrong and it was mostly my fault.

I could say it was all my fault, like I felt it really was, but in reality, he was just as much to blame. I had my reasons for my reaction and he had his, but really, who tells a girl they loved them for the first time post sex? Honestly, and if you think about it, he really didn’t even tell me. He told the room, and I just happened to overhear! If he had those kinds of feelings for me, why not man up and admit them?

I know I didn’t make things easy on him, but that’s life. It’s not easy… and if he loved me like he said he loved me, then he knew I was a stubborn bitch at times who needed to be shoved in the right direction. We’d known each other almost seven months. This wasn’t news to him.

Frustration is mostly what I felt when it came to all things Eric. We’d be civil when he came to pick Jessica up, or I’d drop her off at Pam’s; always civil for the sake of the baby. The baby who was asking why her ‘dada goes bye byes?’ when he’d bring her home. It continued to break my heart over and over every time she asked. Two weeks we’d managed to do the little dance and it was fine. Awkward, but fine. He looked like shit more often than not, and I worried he was ill or something. But no, Amelia informed me he was just embracing his inner homeless chic. Personally, I think she’d been spending too much time with Pam.

That bombshell was one I was still getting used to. Amelia, for so long was the girl who loved guys a little too much. Stage five clinger too much, if you get me… but now? She was chilled, changed and relaxed and I attributed most of that to Pam, and maybe the fact that she’d been totally honest with us about who she really was inside. Either way, she was happy and it was wonderful to see. Pam was back to speaking to me, though she gave me the side eye more often than not. I didn’t care. Pam I could handle, and I knew she’d eventually get over it… or at least I hoped. My private life was none of her business, nor was what she thought of my sex life. Water off a ducks back, as they say. That’s how that felt; I just didn’t care.

My one evening a week at work was still a Thursday, and for that night Jess stayed with Maxine, her husband and Hoyt. Jessica seemed to love Maxine. She was a kind, round woman, always there with a recipe or a word of advice. In many regards she was a typical southern woman, and she reminded me of my grandmother a lot of the time. She had that same warmth and I enjoyed her sense of humor, too. She believed in loving your kids but not too much that they were smothered by it. I’d seen it rub off on Hoyt, who was a boisterous little man. While not much older than Jessica, he still seemed oddly protective of her. I felt relaxed knowing my baby girl was in such good hands while I walked into the devils den.

I’d been job hunting on and off for weeks, but nothing decent was coming up. With the recession I guess it was to be expected. Those with good jobs were fighting to keep them, and those without were swooping in to get what they could. But that Thursday evening was my last straw.

Sophie was laughing, her head thrown back, her legs crossed in the direction of her companion. That companion, was Eric, who first of all, was shaven—that shocked me—but second of all, he was in a well-fitted grey suit and smiling, too. That just about pissed me off, but I swallowed it. Walking back to the office, I put down my things, signed my time cards and went on my usual route to check that the staff was okay.

“Oh, Soookie?” I heard from across the semi-filled restaurant. Sophie’s jarring voice couldn’t be mistaken.

I went to them, swallowing the fact that I wanted to slap her smug face the entire way there.

“You hollered?” I asked, not attempting to be polite.

She smiled.

“Could you be a dear and get us a bottle of wine?”

I furrowed my brows at both of them. She wouldn’t stop smiling, and Eric was looking anywhere but at me. Bastard.

“Excuse me?”

“White, preferably of a better standard than the house wine. Oh, and some menu’s, too.”

“I’m not a waitress, Sophie. Ask one of the wait staff to do it.”

“They’re busy.”

“So? Wait.”

“Are you refusing?”

“Sophie, it’s fine. I’m not drinking anyway; I’m driving,” Eric finally spoke up.

“No, Eric. Sookie is just being rude for the sake of it. She’s been insolent all week. Honestly, I wonder why I bother paying her sometimes.”

Eric looked at me, suitably embarrassed for me and mad at her.

“Yeah, Sophie, you know what, I wonder about that too sometimes. I mean, it’s not like you give a shit about this place,” I said, not caring who heard me. The rest of the customers most likely did. “It’s not like this place matters to you. All it is, is a playground for when Europe bores you, or when Daddy digs his heels in with the money, right? Or when the latest in a long line of billionaire boyfriends get bored with you and your shrill and irritating voice screaming at them for doing everything wrong. No, it’s not like it matters that I’ve killed myself for this place for three years; that I’ve built this place up from nothing to what it was before you ruined it. And I stood by and watched as you undid all my work; all our work. The staff here, Sophie, was some of the best. And the customers knew it. They loved this place, and you’ve taken everything I loved.” I didn’t mean to look at Eric then, but I did. Before I looked back at her, she was fuming and extremely embarrassed—as she should be. “And you’ve fucked it into the ground. So you know, I do often wonder why you’re paying me at all. You can ruin everything all by yourself.”

She cleared her throat before saying, “You’re fired.” I just laughed because, really, who the fuck was she kidding?

” Honey, you can’t fire me. I quit as of… oh, six minutes ago.”

I smiled at her fuming face before turning on my heel to go to the office. I found the majority of the staff standing by the kitchen door.

“Sorry guys, I held out as long as I could.”

A few of the waitresses nodded and went back to work. Lafayette just shrugged, “Well, that’s it then. I’m gone, too.”

“What? Lafayette, don’t be stupid! You can’t quit.”

“Oh, yes I can. I hate that little witch and you knows it. The only reason I agreed to work for her is because I wasn’t workin’ for her, I was workin’ for you. I ain’t sittin’ here for her to boss me around like this is Drivin’ Miss Daisy. Okay?”

I nodded. It was his decision and I knew he was just as stubborn as I was. I went into the office, grabbed my bag and my coat and walked to the staff exit where I found Eric waiting.

“Are you okay?” he asked as I walked up to him.

I’d been choking back tears since I walked into the office. I wasn’t fine but I wasn’t going to tell Sophie’s date that.

“I’m fine.”

“Really?”

“No…” I wiped a stray tear before I stubbornly looked away. “You should get back to your date. She’s probably pissed enough as it is.”

He laughed, “She’s not my date. This was a very bad idea, and also a business meeting. But definitely not a date.”

“You see what she was wearing? To her, this was definitely a date.” I laughed.

“No, I haven’t lost my mind just yet. If I ever do, I’ll be sure to call her.”

I looked out the staff door, and it was still pouring rain. But the tension between Eric and I was killer. It was between a rock and a wet place for me.

“Are you okay?” I asked him after we’d both gone quiet. He simply shuffled his feet before he answered me.

“I’m fine.”

“Really?”

“No,” he smiled, mimicking our previous exchange, before huffing a breath. “But, I will be.”

“Jessica misses you, you know?”

“I see her everyday…”

“I know, but it’s not the same, and she still does.”

He just nodded in acceptance.

“Is she… I mean, is she the only …” He stopped. Whatever he was going to ask, he changed his mind. “I’ll pick her up tomorrow.”

I laughed as I realized, “I have no job. I guess that means the schedule is out the window.”

“I’d still like to have her, I mean if that’s not—”

“No, no of course, Eric. I would never stop that, ever. I mean, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen with us, I’d never do that to you. Or her.”

He smiled.

“Good, I’m glad to hear that.”

The rain had finally stopped a little so walking to the car might not have drowned me.

“I should go make a run for it before the sky opens up again.”

“Okay…”

I’d made it just past the door when he called my name.

“Yeah?” I said holding my coat over my head.

“I was proud of you back there, you know?” he smiled and it made me smile.

“Yeah? Me too. First time for anything, right?” I said before I waved once and made a bolt for my car.

It was true, rarely had I reason to feel proud of myself, but bitching out my bitch of a bitch ass ex boss, was pretty damn cool. You know what else was cool? A conversation with Eric with more than one syllable. Progress was progress, and in the spirit of progress and self-improvement, I decided to bite the bullet on something I’d been considering for years but always shied away from.

Therapy.

I’d made a call to a Dr. Ellis and made an initial appointment. She said it was free since she liked to see if her patients like her, her style and her rate before signing onto anything huge. Her office was bright and friendly with personal touches of her personality here and there, as well as a beautifully framed picture of her daughter on her desk. We agreed to meet once a week and we could make that more if I felt the need. She was open and approachable, and her office smelled like baked goods—what’s not to love?

After quitting my job, the initial freak-out lasted a day and a half. Jessica was clearly confused as to why I was around so much more, but it served us well. In the three weeks since the blow up with Eric, things between Jessica and I had vastly improved, as had her ever wonky steps. We were doing our weekly baking ritual when Eric came through the backdoor to pick her up.

“Sorry, I lost track of the time. We got a little distracted,” I admitted, glancing at the clock.

“I can see that. Is there a baby underneath all that cream?”

We both looked at Jessica who was perched on the kitchen counter. Her jeans and her sweater were covered in soft cream. She’d taken to dipping her fingers, hands and apparently, her arms into the mixing bowl.

When she saw us both looking at her she put her two hands in a ‘what?’ motion before she said, “I didn’t do it,” only it came out sounding more like ‘ah dent do eet’ than anything.

“Didn’t do what?” I asked her.

“Dis?” She held up her pink cream covered fingers to me. “Some?”

“No,” I said before she turned to Eric who was now next to her.

“Some, daddy?”

He took a tiny amount from her hand making a loud ‘nom nom’ sound making her giggle.

“Good thing I wasn’t here to screw this batch up, huh?” he asked, nodding toward the freshly made cupcakes.

“Little bit. Jessica is a mess though, just like you. So it was almost like you were here.”

“A Sookie cupcake was still the best cupcake I’ve had,” he said sticking his finger into the cream and licking it off, and God, Jesus and Judas help me if it didn’t go straight to my lady business.

“I found a place—”

“What…?” I may have zoned out.

“I, uh, found a place. It’s not that far from here. I can move in in a couple of weeks so… Should make things a little easier, having my own space again.”

“Oh…” My heart sank. Not that I didn’t think he was serious about being gone, I just thought maybe he’d want to move back in at some point. Guess that wasn’t happening now. “I guess so.” I grabbed Jessica off the countertop, before walking out of the kitchen. “I’ll be back in a second. I’ll get her cleaned up for you. Help yourself to … whatever.” I motioned to the table and the island, both covered in various batches of cookies and cakes.

I wasn’t so much eating my emotions, as Dr. Ellis would say. I was baking my feelings and handing them out to the neighbors.

I’d wiped Jessica down with a cloth before I changed her into some leggings and a blue denim dress. Her little black booties were just too cute. I handed her off to Eric, who had dabs of powdered sugar on his lips. I didn’t allow myself to think what that might taste like… not at all.

“Mama?”

“Yes honey?

“Come too?” She asked.

Before I could answer, Eric spoke up. “No, honey, mamma has work to do here. Next time, okay?”

“Pleeeease?”

“No, Jess, not right now. But you have fun with daddy, okay?” It was Tuesday. Tuesday was the park and since it wasn’t raining for once that week, they could still go.

“See ya, Sookie.”

“Wait. Eric?”

“Yeah?”

“I um, well, I’m still having that big Thanksgiving dinner I talked about ages ago. You’re more than welcome to come. There’ll be a ton of food.”

He stood, Jessica’s bag on one shoulder as he held her up high in his arms, and he seemed to contemplate it.

“Will Sam be there?”

And there was the rub. We’d gone three weeks without mentioning Sam and it had worked well. There was a hardness in his eyes when I told him that he would be there.

“Then thanks, but no thanks. I don’t really feel like sitting through a meal with you two being all… whatever you are.”

“It’s not like that, not at all…” I started to protest but he interrupted me.

“Yeah, like I said, no, but thanks.”

I guess progress couldn’t be made everywhere at once.

A/N: Big thank you all for the review love last chapter, between work and life, and trying to get the next chapter done I’m sorry if I didn’t get to reply to your questions and comments but know that I read and loved all of them, I promise! 😀


Chapter 23: Chapter 23


EPOV:

Why I agreed to it, I’ll never know. She didn’t have any business sense, though I’d met her father through various work functions in the city in the years since I’d opened the bar. She and I had only met once, and while she decided she wanted me as her new play thing, I wasn’t interested then and I was even less interested now. She was spoiled and nasty—no amount of designer perfume could cover up her stinking personality. Yet, I agreed to meet with her, at the restaurant of all places, and on the night I knew Sookie would be working. I tried to kid myself by saying I wasn’t there in the hopes of seeing her. No, I was there for a business meeting, and if I happened to bump into Sookie? Then so be it.

It was during our weekly date to the park that I realized I really needed to shave. I was scaring the kids and Jessica kept trying to pull at my beard because apparently her ‘dada was hide-y.’ So, I pulled myself, ever so reluctantly, out of my funk and took a long hot shower followed by a sharp shave. It was then that Sophie called, saying her business was in a ‘touch of trouble,’ which I knew was bullshit since Sookie had told me she was going under- and fast. She asked if I’d be willing to meet with her on business, one owner to another. I wanted to say no, but the prospect of maybe seeing Sookie again made it worth it. So I went. She flirted and in the thirty minutes I sat with her she’d barely mentioned the business, instead focusing on her giggle and stories of Europe. When Sookie finally stood up to Sophie, I was beyond proud of her. It had to be a long time coming for her. Sookie had, from what I’d heard from Amelia and Tara, worked her little ass off for that place and I knew it was killing her to have to give that up. But in all honesty, Sophie deserved it. If you didn’t treat your staff right they fucked around on the job. She was lucky to have had Sookie at all. Our talk before she left that night was the most progress we’d made in three weeks of grumpy exchanges and sarcasm. Was I still angry with her? A little, but that was mostly my bruised ego talking and I knew it.

When she asked if I’d still come over for Thanksgiving, I was willing to jump at the chance to be with Jessica, and her, if I was being honest… but then I remembered Sam.

I couldn’t sit at a table with friends, and possibly neighbors, pretending everything was A-okay between us when it just really wasn’t—not while they were still together. She told me she’d been seeing a shrink a few times a week, and while I was a little surprised, I felt it was ultimately a good move for her. She had her issues just like the rest of us, but it seemed to me her pride was something that kept those issues in place. I’d seen it with Pam a time or two—never willing to admit that shit was wrong and keeping it inside till she was about to burst. I’d hoped it would help her face her demons, in time.

On Thanksgiving Day our bar was open. I wasn’t born American, so Thanksgiving wasn’t really mandatory for me, but I had enjoyed it as a kid. Mostly it was like Christmas dinner before Christmas. Since it was my first Thanksgiving as a dad I really did want to be there with Jess, so I spent the previous two days kicking myself for saying no to Sookie’s invite.

“Get your ass in gear,” I heard Pam call from her bedroom.

“Why?”

“Eric, we both know you want to come, so just come. She invited you; she wants you there.”

“Yeah, but he’s going to be there.”

“So? What are you fucking twelve?”

“No…”

“Well, then, stop acting like it! Sam is a fucking pussy and the Eric Northman I know, would never let some little Dr. Pussy stand in his way.”

“You really should be a motivational speaker, Pam. For kids, too,” I quipped before she threw a black shirt at me.

“Wear this, open-necked, with that black blazer you have, and those dark jeans. Last time you wore those she couldn’t keep her eyes off you.”

“How the hell do you know?”

“Hello? I have an inside track with her best friend… well, I haven’t seen or spoken to her properly in a week. Which is why we need to go to this stupid dinner.”

Amelia had been out of town for a little over a week taking care of her sick grandmother in Texas. She’d be attending the dinner for Thanksgiving here and even though she didn’t want to admit it, Pam was excited to see her.

“You lurve her.”

“Shut up! I do not.”

“Oh really? So, you’re breaking out the Chanel perfume for no reason then? I know how much that shit costs—since I bought it for you—and I know you only wear it when you’re looking for some action… which you know Ames will give you… So this is something more. You lurve her,” I teased. She just glared.

“Yeah and the woman you love is currently going to be carving up turkey with a twat who doesn’t deserve her. Which one of us is the lesbian here? ACT Northman.”

By the time we’d gotten to the house, Pam had used every Dear Abby line she could on me regarding women and men and relationships, and why I needed one, and why it needed to be Sookie, and why she thought Sookie felt the same way and blah, blah, blah. I stopped listening at the last stop sign.

The house was busy; busier than it had been since Halloween, that’s for sure. I noticed the larger dining table was in the living room—it had lived in the garage for months being of no use to us three. Now it was beautifully set with a table cloth I knew belonged to Sookie’s Gran, six large white candles down the middle and an array of food that would make anyone’s mouth water. Pam spotted Amelia almost immediately and they were off yapping away, leaving me on my own. I had been three steps from the kitchen, having greeted the majority of our neighbors on the way there… before I heard it.

Daddy!”

Was it weird that it was still an amazing shock every time she called me that? She was standing by Sookie’s side in a pink dress and little black patent ballet shoes. Her hair, now a tiny bit longer and curling slightly on the ends, was decorated with various clips. She took wonky steps toward me before I cut her off by scooping her up.

“Hey, pumpkin, you look beautiful. Kiss?” I asked and we did our usual quick smack on the lips with a loud ‘muah’ sound. She had always thought it was hilarious, and I had no idea why.

“Hey, Sook.”

“You came,” she smiled, stopping what she was doing at the sink.

“Yeah, well, I figured it was our first… with Jess I mean. So I wanted to be here.” She looked beautiful too, though it wasn’t until she took off her giant white apron that I saw exactly what she was wearing. While it wasn’t her ‘sex’ dress, it was damn near close to it. Red, fitted, but family friendly… if you weren’t mesmerized by how her ass looked in it, that is. Her hair was up and off her neck making it that much more difficult to not plant my lips there, until she moaned. Snapping out of my lust wasn’t easy when she was looking at me like she was. Maybe Pam was right, maybe she did have a thing for fitted black shirts and worn-in jeans. She was gazing at my neck just like I was gazing at hers moments before. If I didn’t know better, I’d have assumed we’d been taken over by a couple of vampires, the way we seemed to preoccupied with necks.

“You look good,” she said, finally turning to stir whatever it was that was in her giant pot.

“You too. You smell good, too.” I mumbled.

“What?”

“The food… Smells, smells good.”

“Oh! Right, yeah, um it’s for the kids, mostly. I mean, I know Jess will eat her dinner but some of the kids are fussy, so we’re making mac and cheese as a backup. The turkey’s almost done so we can sit anywhere, whenever. It’s not formal.”

“You’ve been busy.” I noted the trays of food scattered around all available countertops. She wasn’t kidding when she said there would be a ton of food. I’d never really had a traditional Thanksgiving. My mother wasn’t big on cooking, and since we weren’t American, she didn’t think it counted. Pam and I usually worked Thanksgiving since her family lived out in New York and she didn’t like many of them, at least, not enough to travel and eat with them. So this… this was a nice surprise.

What wasn’t such a nice surprise was the arrival of Sam. He was talking with Maxine and her husband before he came into the kitchen—his smile faltering slightly when he saw me.

“Hey, Jessica!” he said after he’d said the same to both me and Sookie.

Jessica looked completely unimpressed. She was such a good child. Genius, really.

“Sam.”

He handed Sookie a couple of bottles of wine and asked if he could help. Of course he would ask that.

Sookie told him that most everything was done and to just mingle and relax. He seemed to take the hint that she was busy and retreated to the living room. It seemed that every time I attempted to actually talk to her, someone or something happened to get in the damn way. Everyone was vying for the host’s attentions with comments or questions. I’d have to wait until after dinner to maybe get her alone in the hopes of having the conversation that we needed to have.

The dinner was interesting. Sam was seated next to Tara, who was seated next to Sookie, who was seated next to me. Jessica was in her highchair wedged in between us both. Her pretty dress was covered in one of the biggest baby bibs I’d ever seen. The meal was delicious. Everything was cooked to perfection and everyone at the table seemed to agree. Small talk was tiring but everyone indulged. What else was there to do when you were stuck at a table with friends and basic strangers? Lafayette was waxing on about the meaning of colored candles by the time dessert rolled around, and as Sookie finished feeding Jessica, I offered to be the waiter. She smiled and sweetly accepted my offer. Something it seemed Sam didn’t like very much, since I wasn’t in the kitchen two minutes before he came in.

“Hey man.”

“Hey.”

“Need help?” he offered. His stony face told me he didn’t want to, but Jesus, maybe he just WAS one of those nice guys.

“Uh, yeah grab those plates for the pie and I’ll get the ice cream.”

“Eric, can I ask you something?”

“Why do people always ask that question before they ask another question? It’s annoying,” I mused trying to find the knife I needed in the drawer. “Ask away,” I said looking back to him.

“What’s going on between you and Sookie?”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

Nice.

“What’s she told you?”

“So there is something?” He pushed his lips together in frustration.

“What did she tell you?”

“Nothing. That’s the problem. She’s shut down. And she’s shut me right out. Things aren’t right.”

“Nothing’s going on, Sam.”

“But there was?”

“Not really any of your business,” I snapped. I didn’t like his tone.

With that, Sookie came in looking extremely apprehensive.

“Um, you two okay?”

“We’re fine,” Sam answered and I merely shrugged.

“You sure? I don’t want trouble between you two today. Got that Eric?” she raised her brow to me, and of course, it would be my fault.

“We’re just talking.” I reasoned.

“Yeah, that’s what worries me,” she said, grabbing one of the uncut pies from the island before going back into the living room.

Sam continued, “Just give it up, man. Really, this hostility of yours is so unbecoming. Having you around upsets her. Can’t you see that?”

“Is that right?”

“If you can’t see that, then you’re blind.”

“I’m blind? Oh, that’s rich.”

He laughed, but there was a bitterness behind it.

“Get it through your head man: she doesn’t want you. She chose me. I’m the one that’s here with her; I’m the one she loves; the only reason you’re here is because of Jessica, and we both know that. Give it up!” I wasn’t going to have this argument with him—not in the house at least. I would keep my word and not cause a scene. So I walked him out to the backyard.

“Loves you? You’re amazing, you know that? Kidding yourself to such a degree that you’ve convinced yourself she loves you. She doesn’t love you, Sam. She’s with you because she thinks she should be, but it’s not what she wants. You’re not what she wants, not deep down, and when she realizes that, you’ll be gone. So don’t get too comfortable.”

“It’s jealousy with you, isn’t it? You can’t stand that I’m the one that’s with her. I’m the one that’s with Jessica when you’re not! I mean, I can’t say I blame you. She’s an amazing woman and Jessica is a wonderful kid. Like I said, she chose me and she’ll continue to choose me, every night.” He rubbed it in. Little bastard.

“Yeah, but not really every night, right Sam? In fact, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of nights that you’re cock-blocked by your own girlfriend. You see, she might have chosen you now, but once was all it took for me.” I raised a brow quickly and thankfully, he got the point I was making. “You see Sam, I have it on good authority that you… well, you’re nice—a nice guy and a nice lay. Ouch, right? I mean, we all know what a woman really means when she says nice. She means boring… You fail to… hit the spot, quite literally. Or so I’ve heard.”

His face changed. He’d gone pale, the cocky stance failing.

“I, on the other hand…” I grinned, “You can tell though, can’t you man? When she’s faking it? Sookie’s a great little actress but you have to know she’s faking it. Or are you so self-involved you just don’t give a damn? Is that how it is? As long as you’re satisfied, to hell with her needs? Maybe that’s why she came to me.”

“She…”

“Yeah, and believe me, she didn’t have to pretend a thing.”

He stood there with clenched fists, and I swear, he was going to attempt a punch. If he hit me first, it was open season, but he didn’t.

“Then why come back, huh? Why invite me here? If you where so … why?”

I shrugged. “She’s a good person and deep down, she’s not the type of woman that cheats. She felt bad, and like I said, you’re the nice guy she thinks she should be with. But we both know differently.”

“Know what? She should be with a douche bag like you?

“See it how you want, Sammy, I don’t care about you.” I took off down the lawn. “Oh, and happy Thanksgiving.”

I went back to the bar. I had to. Had I not, I more than likely would have punched Sam’s smug little face in, thus ruining Sookie’s Thanksgiving. I didn’t want that. We were open—on limited staff for the holiday—but some people couldn’t stand their families and the extra cash was a good incentive to stay here and work. So they did.

I, on the other hand, walked straight through to my office and opened the bottle of Jack that was calling to me.

Three swift shots and the rage I was feeling began to gently subside. I hated him; I hated her; I hated the whole damn situation.

Well no, I didn’t hate her. I fucking loved her and that was my problem. That’s why I didn’t get involved with women. They were game playing, mind-fucking, fucked up messes I just didn’t need in my life.

Except that her, God help me, I wanted her in my life. But Sam was right, she’d chosen him even if neither of us could understand why. Until she woke up, I couldn’t, nor would I, convince her to be with me. I’d never had to convince a woman to love me. I shouldn’t have to, and I wasn’t about to start with her.

Twenty minutes later I heard hard heels on the tile outside my office, swiftly followed by my door being swung open.

“You fucking bastard.”

Sookie, and she was beyond pissed.

“Hello to you, too.”

“How could you do it, Eric? Huh? Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t give me that shit! You did it because you could, and because it gave you something to hold over him. You did it to hurt me.”

“I didn’t do it to hurt you!”

“Then why!”

“I don’t fucking know why. Impulse?”

“Impulse!” Her eyes widened as she wiped away a tear before turning away from me and the door and walking closer to my desk. “Fine, you want the truth? Here it is. I didn’t love Sam. There? Happy? I didn’t love him but I tried to love him, and I couldn’t. I wanted to, but every time I got close, there was just something in the way. That something was you. And you, you I can love, you I do love, but I’m so terrified of what that means! If I love you, and I allow myself to fall…what then? What happens when you get bored with me and want someone else? What happens when we break up? What happens to Jessica then? Does she become yet another statistic? Fuck that! Alcide and Hadley wanted the best for her… and a broken home is NOT what’s best. So yes, I love you. Not sure when it happened, but it did, and I miss you SO much that sometimes, it actually hurts to see you and know you aren’t coming home. And to see that Jess misses you just as much…” her voice broke. “When we slept together…” she rolled her eyes before wiping away another tear, “It was stupid and dumb, and the only time in my life I remember feeling so fucking alive it almost broke me.”

“But you ran! You ran back to him.”

“I WAS SCARED, OKAY? I saw how much you … I saw in your eyes how damn happy you were and that terrified me. It would have been so easy to just let go and let it happen but once I did, we’d be screwed. So I stopped us and I tried to run back to what I thought was safe and simple and right. Except it wasn’t right at all. I couldn’t look him straight in the face before I broke up with him, because I knew I’d cheated on him! Eric, before you I’d never even thought of cheating in a relationship before in my LIFE. And yet I did, with you, so easily…”

“Ever wonder why?”

“I was horny?” she deadpanned.

“Liar.”

She didn’t answer so I pushed her. Damn right I wanted to know why she had slept with me. It’s not like forced her into it.

“I don’t know why. I was tired of denying it, denying that I wanted you so much. Denying that I wanted to see if we… Well I was just sick of denying it.”

God, I wanted to kiss her tears away so badly, but I wouldn’t. Now wasn’t the time for that at all.

“And after?”

“I told you, I freaked out.” She wiped her tears away quietly.

“And now?”

“I don’t know…”

Truth was, I didn’t know either.

“Did Sam break up with you?”

She glared at me.

“I just want to know because if you’re here just because he broke up with you, you can leave. I’m nobody’s second choice, Sookie. I never have been and I sure as hell am not starting now.”

“I…” She sighed a tired breath before she looked back to me. “I broke up with Sam, three weeks ago, Eric.”

Oh. That I didn’t know.

“He was only there today because … I don’t know. I felt bad about the whole situation, okay? He’s not a bad guy. No one deserves to be alone on Thanksgiving. So, I invited him for dinner with the rest of my friends, and you. Was it a smart move? Probably not, but I’m human. I’m full of fuck ups and I’m learning to accept that.”

“Are you willing to talk this through with me, then?” I asked, finally sitting on the edge of my desk.

She smiled. “After all this, you still want to have that conversation?”

“Yeah, I do.” I smiled back and she nodded, standing up and almost brushing up against me. I felt so on edge it was palpable.

“I do want to sort this out once and for all, Eric, I do, but I have to call Maxine to make sure Jessica is okay. I was so mad I marched right over to my car—in the pouring rain, might I add—to come… bitch you out. She had her; she still has her.”

I looked around for mine and forgot that in my anger, my phone was across the room—smashed.

She simply raised her brow at me before smiling. “Temper?”

“Little bit.”

“Charming,” she sassed before she moved between my legs and reached up real quick and kissed me on the cheek.

“My phone is in the car. I won’t be long.”

“And then we’ll… talk?” I asked reluctantly, not wanting her to step away.

“Yes, we will, we need to… and I guess anything else we feel like doing after that is fair game.” She grinned wickedly before walking slowly out my office door.

Needless to say, that’s not how I envisioned the conversation ending.

SPOV:

The roads were a mess. They had been for days. It made driving an absolute nightmare. The rain had just barely stopped and it was grating. I ran from the bar and unlocking the doors with a familiar beep from my car. I reached in to grab my cell and noticed the battery was dead, which forced me to get inside the car. I rooted around the glove compartment to find the charger to hook it up, taking note of the sound of the water bouncing off the cars as they swished by on the main road next to the bar. I finally got it charged up enough that I could turn it on and make the call. Maxine answered on the third ring, still at my place.

“Oh hi, honey. No need to worry. She and Hoyt have just tucked into dessert. I promise to have her nice and hyper for you when you get here. Why’d you go hollering out of here like that anyhow?”

“Long story, but I’m at Eric’s bar. He and I have some… things to work out.”

“Finally…” She sighed.

“Excuse me?”

“Oh, sweetie… It’s more than a little obvious you two have something a lot more than … what was the line? Co-parenting? Going on. Personally, I’m shocked it took you both so damn long.”

“Oh…”

“So you go on and fix whatever needs fixin’ to bring that man of yours back here where he belongs, you hear?”

“Uh, sure?”

“Excellent,” I could hear her smiling. “I’mma just help myself to some of the ice-cream cake, if you don’t mind?”

“No, not at all.”

“Good, good… You take your time, dear.”

“Oh, I don’t think I’ll be much longer—”

“No, really. You and Eric … take… your… time,” she emphasized with a smile evident in her voice.

“Maxine! It’s not like that.” I looked up through the thundering rain beating down on the car and saw a blurry Eric standing with his coat over his head. As I waved to him from the car, I saw him moving. He was moving toward me but I heard a car breaking—the screech of the tires hitting the road was deafening—before I saw it. The car slid, the car … slid into Eric.

“Sure it’s not honey, sure it’s not.”

My heart stopped as I hung up on Maxine, and lunged out of the car. The rain was pouring down even harder now; so hard that it was almost difficult to see. But I managed to see enough.

The red Audi had slid and smashed sideways into the wall of the bar. The wall Eric was in front of.

“ERIC?” I screamed.

With my phone still in my hand, I ran to him. There was a large gash on the side of his face, his arm was bleeding, his eyes were closed… and he wasn’t breathing.

A/N: Hey peeps! I reached 1,000 reviews on this baby the other day and it took me totally by surprise! So a biig giant Viking sized thank you for responding to this story in such a way, it’s amazing to me! Since this only my second story, it’s mindblowing! Lol! 😀 Yeeah, I left it on a little bit of a cliffy, and I’m not even a tiny bit sorry for that, we all need a little drama to spice things up don’t we? Do you really think I’d kill this Eric? *raises brow at you*. Till next time, loves. Xoxox.


Chapter 24: Chapter 24


SPOV:

Forever.

That’s what it felt like, absolutely forever before the ambulance arrived. I managed to feel a pulse as the driver of the Audi got out—a shocked and shaking, Sophie.

She started to scream, and I wanted to reverse her car and run her over.

“Shut the fuck up, Sophie! Dial 911!” I threw her my cell phone while I ran and grabbed my coat from the car in an attempt stop the pouring rain from hitting Eric. Only, my coat was very small and in case no one noticed, Eric was a big man.

“It’s okay… Okay, Eric, it’s okay… everything’s gonna be okay.” I heard Sophie rhyme off what had happened to the operator and give them our location. When she hung up her hands were still shaking.

“Sookie, I didn’t mean to. I swear I didn’t. I was coming to the bar… I wanted to see him but my phone rang… it rang and the road was slippery, and I lost control of the car. I didn’t even see him standing there.”

“Just… shut up. Okay. Just. Go sit in the car, or something.”

I looked at her and her forehead was bleeding, probably from where she hit her head on the steering wheel.

“Eric? Sweetie, can you hear me? I need you to listen to me, okay? If you can hear me, please just squeeze my hand or something, okay?” He was breathing now only, it was shallow and almost non-existent.

He didn’t squeeze my hand. His forehead was still bleeding and we were both soaking wet. The patrons, as well as the staff, began to shuffle outside upon hearing the commotion. One of the waitresses, a hysterical girl named Tiffany, was screaming and crying. I told her to shut up and get us some blankets or something to keep us from getting even more soaked until the ambulance arrived. She didn’t take too kindly to my tone with her, but frankly I didn’t give a fuck. I tried to keep him warm, though it was impossible since I was in nothing but a dress and heels and the freezing rain hadn’t let up at all. The ambulance finally arrived and when they loaded Eric up, I insisted on going with him. Sophie was seated in the back, being treated for shock and her cuts. She’d be fine.

Eric, on the other hand, was on oxygen and a heart monitor.

“How fucking fast were you driving, Sophie?” I aimed at her as she was getting cozy under her medical blanket.

“I don’t know.”

“Fast enough to skid off the damn road and into a building!”

“Miss, please calm down,” the paramedic said, then went on to ask if I was injured, which I wasn’t physically. Emotionally, I was pretty damn screwed.

By the time we got to the hospital, I was a shivering mess. Eric was taken in by two more doctors to the ER. Sophie was sent for stitches while I was taken by a male nurse to change into some scrubs he’d found for me. I was drowning in them, of course, but they were warm and dry and that’s all that mattered. When they protested my entry to see, or find out about Eric, I told them the only thing I knew.

“He’s my family; he’s the father of my daughter.”

They told me he’d fractured his shoulder on impact, as well as broken two ribs. With the head injury there was a cerebral edema—swelling on his brain- due to the impact and the lack of oxygen those first few minutes after the accident. The nurses tried to break it down into layman’s English for me, but all I knew was my fingers were crossed that he’d come out of it okay. First things first, we needed him to wake up.

I’d been seated in the waiting area maybe half an hour when Pam came rushing through, throwing her umbrella to the side and embracing me in a hug. Very un-Pam-like.

“Anymore news?”

“No. They said they were waiting to see if the swelling goes down on his brain. If it doesn’t, then they’ll need to operate to relieve the pressure.”

“I’m going to fucking kill that little bitch,” she said taking a seat with me.

“I felt the same way but the cops came to take our statements and I do believe her, that it was an accident. Apparently there was an oil spill near the bar, and combined with the rain and how fast she was going was disaster enough. Team that with her being a complete idiot… and well…”

“Why was he even outside?”

“I was calling Maxine to check on the baby, and I guess he got tired of waiting on me and came looking for me.”

“Jesus, impatient bastard. I’m gonna kick his ass, too,” she said with a half smile. “He’ll be okay, Sookie. He’s strong.”

“I hope so. I just… two hours ago I was so mad at him that I could spit. Then, then I just wanted everything to be good again, and it was on it’s way… I told him I loved him.”

Her eyes widened. “What about Dr. Boring?”

“Sam.”

“I don’t care.”

I sighed. “I broke up with him shortly after Eric and I slept together. Then when Eric moved out, it was sort of the shock to my system I guess I needed. That, and I’ve never cheated on anyone. I think if you cheat, or want to cheat, then something’s very wrong. And it was wrong with Sam.”

“And you think it’ll be right with Eric?”

“I want it to be. I want to be with him, properly, and not just for Jessica. I know no matter what he’ll be there for her, but I want to be there for him. I want him to be there for me. I want us to be a family again. Only this time, honestly and open and true.”

“How poetic.” She smirked turning it into a genuine smile. “Did you tell him all this?”

I shook my head, no.

“I was going to. We were going to sit down and talk it all out. But then… Well…”

“Right.”

Pam and I waited it out as long as we could before we broke down and went to the cafeteria. The coffee was awful and the food was even worse, but it killed some time if nothing else, and distracted us both from worrying—a little. She regaled me with stories of Eric and his adventures before last summer. How she’d moved to California for University—and to get as far away from her family as she could—and how she met Eric on one of his trips to see his mother. They’d become fast friends mainly because she said if she’d been straight, he’d have been just her type, at the time—grunge surfer guy with a naughty glint in his eye.

The idea of Eric on a surfboard was intriguing.

She told me how they’d decided to go into business together when she graduated with her business degree. She had wanted to go out on her own, but working with and for Eric had proved too much fun, and he had become like the brother she never had over the years. I could see that in their interactions with one another. It got me thinking of my own brother and how I never even saw him anymore.

By the time we’d gotten back to the waiting area, nothing had changed and everyone from Amelia, Lafayette, and Maxine called just to check up again. I’d called everyone when I’d arrived to let them all know what happened, and of course to make sure Maxine could keep Jessica until I got back. Thankfully, she was an amazing neighbor and babysitter.

By nine thirty, Pam and I were both drained and still waiting when one of the nurses came to talk to me.

“Miss Stackhouse?”

“Yes?”

“We’ve contacted Mr. Northman’s emergency contact but it seems she lives out of state. You are family, correct?”

Sort of, right?

“We both are,” I said nodding to Pam, who shocked the hell out of me by grabbing my hand.

“How is he? He’s okay, right?” I asked.

“The swelling has shown signs of retreating but not as fast as the doctor would like, so we took him into surgery.”

“Oh my God.” Pam said, “And?”

“And it went well. We were able to alleviate the pressure successfully and Mr. Northman’s vitals all look promising.”

“So… basically yes he’s going to be, okay? He’s going to wake up?”

“He should. We’ve done everything we can for him, and like I said, all the signs are currently pointing to him making a full recovery. Other than that, he has a few bruised ribs as well as a few breaks that we’ll need to be looking at again, but the worst is over.”

“Oh, thank God,” I exhaled, slumping against Pam. “When can we see him?”

“Well, he’s in recovery right now. He won’t be awake from the anaesthetic for a couple more hours. You can see him then if you’d like.”

If I’d like? He was kidding right?

“Yes, definitely. Thank you.”

He turned to leave, leaving Pam and I sitting on those incredibly uncomfortable chairs again.

“You should go home for a few hours, maybe sleep?” Pam suggested.

“No, I want to be here. I mean, I should probably go check on Jessica I know, but she’s in safe hands with Maxine and I just… I don’t want to leave.”

She nodded.

“Well, I’m going to go get us some real food and bring it back here, and I’m going to get you some real clothes. Hospital scrubs aren’t hot on anyone.”

“George Clooney rocked them sexily,” I commented.

“Fine, one person in the world rocks scrubs. You aren’t him. Any preference?”

“Jeans, and my black cashmere sweater. They’re on my bed. I was going to change into them after dinner…”

“Okay. I’ll be back soon.”

I curled myself up on the chair, attempting to watch the television that was on in the waiting room. I’d managed to zone out for twenty minutes when the nurse came to talk to me again.

“We’ve moved him to the ward now. There’s one other person in there, but he’s a coma patient.”

“That’s no problem. Thank you so much,” I said as he led me to the sterile, white room. That hospital smell was never less appealing than that moment.

Eric was laying on the bed, still and pale. He was also missing half his hair on one side.

“We had to shave it to operate. He wasn’t too attached was he?” The nurse smiled at me.

“He’ll get over it, if it means he gets to live.”

Once he left, I walked to the chair beside the bed. I didn’t know if I should talk or just let him enjoy his drug induced sleep. But I thought what it might be like if I were the one laying there, and If i could hear and no one talked to me… I’d feel so alone. I didn’t want Eric to feel alone, so talk I did.

“Hi. Thank you for not dying.” Was the first thing I said before I burst into tears—tears I’d been holding in since I saw him laying on the ground outside of his bar.

“It’s stupid to cry, right? A stupid girl thing to do, I guess,” I said before I grabbed his hand. He was colder than he usually was.

“I have been so stupid, Eric, and for that, I’m sorry. I haven’t really treated you like I should have, mostly out of fear. You were that guy, you know? That hot, cocky guy I thought I’d never mesh with. On our first date, it was all I could think, and it was mostly the reason why I was such a bitch to you. I didn’t think you should like me, so I made sure you didn’t. Stupid, huh? It was pretty stupid, but all the other men in my life had sort of ingrained that message in my head. After that, I stopped thinking I deserved what I really wanted, never mind actually getting it… But then fate happened, or kismet, or whatever you wanna call it, and we got thrown together and … Jesus, I was so scared. There were so many things against us, and stacked up on us when it happened… Losing Alcide and Hadley… it made me not want to get too attached to anything; to anyone. I think it’s why it took so long for Jess to warm to me. It was because as much as I knew I should love her and embrace it all, the fear kept me back. I did love her, I just held it in, and it’s like she knew. Then everything happened with us and you left, and it was just her and me. I wasn’t so scared of her anymore, and once I let go and let it out… She embraced me. Freaky, right?”

I was rambling. I knew that much, but I was tired and emotional and well, I was surrounded by two guys in a coma. How annoying could I be to them?

“I’m tired of keeping it in; how I feel about you. I know I’ve said it once today, but that was in an entirely different mood. But I meant it. I do love you. And I want you to wake up so we can see if we can do this thing and not screw each other over. It’s a realistic goal… one I think we could work on… if you wanted.”

His finger twitched, then his hand, and then his eyes flickered.

“Eric?”

He was groggy, but he spoke. “Schedule,” he whispered, his voice hoarse.

“What?” I asked scooting closer to him.

He coughed once then licked his lips. Movement! It was a start!

“Will there be a schedule?”

I realized he meant for us trying to be together. He was mocking my need for a structure! He had sarcasm! He was still in there.

“You know, I’ve spent hours worrying your sarcastic ass might die, and now you’re mocking me?”

He coughed again, this time attempting to smile.

“It’s what I’m here for,” he said, his voice still gruff and low. “What the hell happened, Sook?”

Thank God, he remembered who I was.

“Sophie being a idiot, that’s what happened. There was water on the roads, and an oil spill not far from the bar. That, plus her A.D.D. attention span and your unlucky as fuck timing… you ended up smooshed.”

“How smooshed?”

“Well, they had to drill into your head to keep you alive for one.”

“Explains the headache,” he said with a frown.

“And you have a few breaks—shoulder, ribs…and ankle.”

“Shit. Trade me in for a new model. Save yourself,” he said in jest. I just squeezed his hand harder.

“Not on your life, Northman. I want you, broken bones, half shaved head, holes in your brain and all. Got it?”

He smiled, before he frowned, and it was obvious he was in a great degree of pain.

“I’m gonna go get the nurse or someone, okay? I’ll see about getting you some pain meds or something.”

“No… Stay for a little while.” he said, gripping my hand. Stay I did.

EPOV:

I paced around my office. Wondering just what the hell she and Maxine could be talking about. I was anxious, excited and scared. I was in love. I wanted so badly to hash everything out with her, once and for all, with no interruptions. I felt like I was waiting forever before I decided to go look for her.

Bad idea.

The rain was falling heavier than I’d recalled in the week of non-stop hail, but I could see her form through the raindrop covered windows of her car. She was talking, and she waved to me. That’s when I felt the thump, and not a whole lot else.

Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I fell into dizzy sensations of pain before everything went black.

The next thing I recalled was Sookie’s voice.

I’m tired of keeping it in; how I feel about you. I know I’ve said it once today, but that was in an entirely different mood. But I meant it. I do love you.”

I knew I couldn’t be dead because I could feel the throbbing pain in my head and I figured heaven should be pretty pain-free. That’s when I felt her warm hand in mine and I tried to grab it. It seemed like all my movements were slowed down. I wanted to do them faster, but somehow my body wouldn’t cooperate. And then it did, slowly.

I was in various amounts of pain all over my body. Whatever the hell happened had hit me badly.

She told me when I asked and after the initial shock of wondering why the hell Sophie was even coming to see me… I told her that after how she treated Sookie, I never wanted to see her spoiled ass again. It seems some people just can’t take a hint.

I reluctantly let her go that night, but she was dead tired and looked like she needed a world of sleep. Between her and Pam, I was exhausted myself. The pain medication helped a ton in letting sleep take me.

Later I was awakened by my nurse—her name was Ali, and she was from Texas. She told me how well my surgery had gone and that they’d been very happy with my progress overnight. She blushed when I thanked her. Not bad for a broken dude with a half head of hair.

Sookie insisted we go the full whack and shave it all off. My hair had been various lengths over the years from a grunge inspired chin-length, to preppy parting, to midway between the two, but never a buzz cut. Maybe it would be a good thing? I decided to go for it and by the next afternoon I was able to sit up, hair-free.

Sookie came around the door with Jessica—at my insistence. I’d wanted to see her and hoped she missed me just a little bit. Her eyes widened.

“You hate it?”

“No! Not at all. I … wow.” She wasn’t the only one shocked, since it took Jessica a second to even recognize me. She clung to Sookie, so unsure of who was speaking to her at first.

“Dada?”

I nodded and smiled and she scrunched her tiny brows as she looked me over before petting my face.

“Boo-boo?” She touched my stitches.

“Yep, daddy had a little accident.”

She looked to Sookie who took over.

“There was an accident when Daddy was gone, sweetie, but look! See? The doctors made it all better!”

“Hurts?” she asked me.

And I told her no. Why worry the kid?

It took her a little while but she warmed to me again, carrying her book and her favorite Bunny—who was called Bunny. As it goes, she decided she wanted a cuddle from me.

Sookie was apprehensive and told her no, but I had one good arm I could use. Sookie laid her on the bed beside me softly. She was very careful as she noted my other arm in a cast and how my leg was all stitched up. Her little eyes were wide, as her hands went to my hair, or rather, my lack of hair.

Ohh…” she said, rubbing it before she smiled.

“I think she likes it,” Sookie commented.

Jessica opened her book to read, or as she called it, ‘weed.’ Personally, I thought it was mostly just pretty pictures to her.

“Do you, though? That’s the question. I mean, I can’t have my girl hating my looks, now can I?”

She blushed before she laughed.

“No, believe me, I like. I more than like. I mean, with this and the cuts and scruff? It’s a little sexy.”

“Really?”

“Mmm. Lil bit,” she agreed before offering me some water. I declined.

“The doctors said you should be allowed home in the next day or so… I mean… you are coming home, right?”

I hadn’t really thought about where I’d go when I got out.

“If you want me to.”

“I never wanted you to leave in the first place.”

“But you understand why I did?”

“I do now. I just… well, it’s your home. Not some stupid apartment or Pam’s place. You belong at home… with me.” She smiled.

I loved how good that made me feel, and her smile assured me she was being totally honest in her request. If she wanted me with her, then that’s just where I’d have to be.

Home.

A/N: Now really, did you doubt I’d kill him? Tut tut. I’m evil, I’m not THAT evil (…yet.)

So sweetness was sweetness, and I figured after the last chapter we all deserved a little break from the angst. And I hate to say it, but I think we’re winding down on Life, accidental.



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