After I left Eric’s office I did my best to calm myself down. I had chores to do before I took my leave to go visit Amelia again.
“Sookie. Would you be a dear and go find Selah for me? I sent her for the mail roundup a half hour ago and that girl has no concept of time whatsoever!” Agnes rolled her eyes at me as she dried her hands on a towel.
“I have to get to the post office soon for the outgoing mail to be sent.”
“I can do that for you. I’m going to see Ames, so I can do that on my way.”
“Oh would you? Thank you dear, you’re very sweet. Save this old woman a trip on her very tired feet.”
“Oh hush, you’re not old.”
“Compared to who?”
“Jesus?” I smiled.
“Sass me child,” she threatened in a playful tone before slapping my bottom with her towel. “Please go find her before we have to wait till tomorrow?”
I looked for her all over. The basement for laundry, the gardens, the cells; she was nowhere to be found. But then I heard a noise coming from Bill’s office and I did something that I wish I hadn’t. I pushed the handle of the door and allowed it to open quietly.
There they were, at his desk. Him standing over her with his hand to her mouth, her bent at an uncomfortable angle over the edge of his desk—one which he’d forced me into not so long ago. He was inside her, but not in a welcomed way. Her eyes, as they made contact with mine, told me that. This wasn’t love, this was rape.
He saw me and shoved her aside, tucking himself into his pants as his face grew more and more filled with rage.
“Don’t you ever knock, Sookie?” he asked coming towards me. I instinctively took a step back. “What you saw, you didn’t. Do you hear me?”
“Sookie, I could and will make things very difficult for you if you open that pretty little mouth of yours about this, any of this. Do you understand?”
I looked past him to Selah, who was fixing her clothes as best she could—her face red and stained with tears.
“Are you alright?” I asked her.
“This isn’t your business, Stackhouse. You heard him,” she answered in a harsh tone. It matched Bill’s but didn’t match up with the emotions playing out on her face at all.
Who could I tell about this? Niall still wasn’t back to work; Geraldine probably wouldn’t care; and Eric and I … well, we were just about as guilty of our own misdoings. Who was there to tell who would actually help?
There was no one. And If she wasn’t willing to speak up, I knew it would be just his word against mine. It was useless.
I nodded and he slammed the door in my face. Suddenly it became clear why I’d been left alone for all those months—he’d found someone new to play with, in the sickest way possible.
I felt ill on her behalf and unsure of just what to do with this information. It was a vicious circle of lies and shunning responsibilities, one I had no idea how to break.
I made my way to Amelia’s. I informed the Sisters that it was for the benefit of my teaching that we have these “meetings” and that to not have them would only make my work suffer in the classroom. Sure it was a lie but at this point, a lie was the least of my worries, since I was a vow-breaking slut and all.
I loved Amelia’s place. It was so her, but so cozy and welcoming. I guess that was also part of her; that, and it was unlike anything I was used to at home.
She was acting extra spacey, and for Amelia that’s really saying something.
“Are you okay? Do you have photos of the dresses you wanted to look at?” I said taking my hot chocolate and sitting on the couch. She was looking to the bathroom door and back to me so much duing the last five minutes, I figured she really had to pee, or there was something wrong.
“No. Actually Sookie, I lied.”
“You lied? About what?”
“Why you’re here?” She bit her lip and managed to look more guilty than I’d ever seen her.
“Okay, why am I here?”
“To talk to me,” came the deep baritone, and I damn near spilled the hot drink all over myself. That, I was not expecting.
“What the heck are you doing here? Were you hiding?” I glared between both of them. “What the—”
“We needed to talk. Amelia decided to help.”
“I wanted to talk the other day, Eric! You weren’t having it.”
“I needed to get us away from that place. It affects you sweetheart.”
“AS IT SHOULD, I’M A FREAKIN’ NUN, ERIC!”
“Okay, so that’s my cue,” Amelia spoke up. She walked to her bedroom only to come back with a suitcase and her purse.
She saw both Eric and I looking at her.
“Oh, did I forget to mention…” she made a ‘tut’ noise before she sat down again. “Right well, I rang the convent… Sookie, you’re helping our friend Amelia who just took very ill all of a sudden and needs you to stay with her until she’s feeling better—she has no family here you see. The nun I spoke to seemed to know that this Amelia was a teacher friend and thus aided in Sister Stackhouse’s learning and her teaching for them. Well, that and I was a tad dramatic.” She smiled then looked at Eric. “Then I got Trey to call saying that Father Eric was a most valued spiritual advisor and would be needed for pre-wedding talks, and that we lived in New Orleans now. We’ve just moved but are still just so darn attached to our dear sweet Father, and since it was such a long drive, you might be staying with us for a day or two.”
“Amelia what the hell?” Eric spoke up, alerting me to the fact that this hadn’t been part of their little plan.
“Well kids, have fun. The fridge is full, I have a TV, there’s a radio, the oven works, but I do so hope you find other ways of entertaining yourselves while I’m gone.” She winked causing me to blush just a little and Eric to roll his eyes.
“I can’t believe you’re keeping us here,” I said, defiant and crossing my arms in defense.
“Damn right I am. I’m tired of the angst babies. I love you both, you love each other. Extract heads from holes and talk to each other, please?”
“No Sookie, don’t do the big soft blue eyes at me. My daddy used to say, ‘you can’t ride two horses with one ass.’ Choose your horse… and for all our sakes, ride him right.” She wriggled them damn brows at me again.
“I’m going to kill you for this, you know.”
“Mmmhmm…” she dismissed me, going in for a hug. “I love you too, Sook. Eric, do your thing. I’ll see you both in two days.”
She left with a wave and a smile, leaving Eric and I sitting on opposite ends of the couch—both of us with our arms folded—refusing to face each other.
We spent a good fifteen minutes in pure silence before he broke it.
“I’m sorry I tricked you.”
“You should be.”
“Well, I needed to talk to you.”
“I … not when you’re like this. Not when you’re mad.”
“Well, you may talk now or I’m leaving. This is so stupid.”
“I want to ask you something. Something important. I think I know your answer, but I have to give it one last shot.”
“So, ask me?”
“No. I told you, not when you’re like this. When you’re mad you make impulsive decisions and that’s not what I need this to be. So, we’re going to sit here until you calm down. I’m going to make a sandwich, you want?”
“I … Yeah, sure.”
He nodded and got off the couch and went into the tiny kitchen section of Ames’ apartment. I heard the fridge open and shut, I heard him ruffling around in the drawer—probably for a knife—then, I heard him humming a song to himself.
He handed me my perfectly hand-cut cheese and mustard sandwich with a glass of coke. We both sat and ate in silence.
“She has a nice place. It’s a lot more … organized than I imagined for Amelia.”
“Since she’s so scattered as a person?”
“Pretty much.” He smiled.
“How’s Niall today?” I asked.
“He’s better. He’s off the oxygen which is great. Agnes has really been a great help to him. I think it helps to have people his age around him too, you know? They have years of memories to giggle over.”
“That’s good though. I mean, not just that he’s feeling better, but that he has a friend to talk to,” I guilted him. Since he was my friend and for the past month we’d not spoken a word to each other—probably my fault, but it’s not like it was something I requested.
“Eric, I’m sorry I hurt you.”
He finally looked at me this time. “I’m sorry you hurt me, too.”
“It’s not like I plan—”
“Well, I have to! I have to have you know this!”
“Know what? Know that you love me, but you love your faith more? Know that while you love me with your heart, your soul belongs to God and can never be parted from him? Know that even though we both know that that church and that convent is evil and it breeds and contains evil, that you still won’t even consider leaving it because of some foolish notion that you can change it? That you can help? It doesn’t work like that, Sookie. It never has and it never will. They will always have the power over you, and you … Jesus, you LET THEM!”
“I do not!”
“You do! Sookie, you aren’t happy there, you don’t belong there, and you know it!”
“Where do I belong then, huh? See Eric, unlike you I never got the chance to find out if I could deal with the world on my own terms. I never got out to see if I could survive on my own. IT’S ALL I KNOW! THEM, AND THEIR SO-CALLED EVIL, IT’S ALL I KNOW!” I started to feel the tears sting the back of my eyes, even if I was doing my best to hold them in.
“But we can change that. WE can change it. You wouldn’t be doing it alone, Sookie. I’d be there with you.”
“And what if you’re not?” I let the tears fall then, it was no use. If I was going to cry I may as well have gotten it out of the way. “What if, six months from now you realize I’m not what you want? Or I realize you’re not what I want? Do you know how utterly terrified I am of losing you? But now I find that by doing nothing, I’ve lost you anyway.”
“You could never lose me, Sook. Never. I told you once and I meant it. It’s not faith in God you need, sweetheart, it’s faith in yourself.”
I nodded, letting my emotions flow freely for the first time in … well… ever. I sobbed out loud for almost no reason at all.
I felt his arm slip around my shoulder, and before I knew it he had me enveloped in one of his fantastic hugs. I loved Eric’s hugs. They made me feel so protected and purely loved, and all it was, was a hug. I didn’t know how he managed to do it, but he did.
“I love you, Sookie. I’ve loved you most of my life, and really, I don’t ever see that changing.”
“Even though I’m nuts?” I sobbed, probably ruining his nice white shirt in the process.
“Yes, even though you’re nuts. You’re my nutty Stackhouse and I wouldn’t trade you for anything.” I heard him smile.
“You’re an angel,” I told him.
“Nah, we both know men can’t be angels. Besides, do you see a kick ass sword? I think not.”
I smiled. Of course, he and I were schooled on our angels to not expect the fluffy fat babies with wings. As nice as that would be… well nice, and a little bit creepy. Who wants flying babies?
“I love you too, you know. I don’t say it enough. I’m also sorry. For my crazy.”
“I’m used to it,” he deadpanned before breaking into a grin. “Are we done arguing now?”
I hugged him tighter and we fell into the big couch just holding onto each other.
“I think so.”
“Okay, good. Because Sookie, I have to admit arguing with you is freakin’ exhausting.” He laughed and cuddled me even closer. He smelled nice. Like the smell of fresh air when opening a window after a long day inside; and soap—he always smelled clean.
We laid down on the couch together, never breaking from our hug that turned into a cuddle. We both kicked off our shoes and just laid there, in sweet silence and privacy for once.
“You can hear the birds from here. I like that. We can’t hear the birds unless we’re in the garden.”
“Niall thinks Bill and Geraldine are hiding something. He’s doubled checked mostly everything—the finances, the orphanage, adoptions, funding—and it’s all as it always was. He can’t find anything and it’s starting to drive him a little mad. He knows they’re hiding something, but he doesn’t know what yet.”
“I know one thing for sure, Bill isn’t as pure as the driven snow as he pretends. He’s a bad man Eric, a really bad man.”
“He’s a douche; we know that much.”
“No, he’s evil.”
“What do you mean, Sook?”
I took a deep breath before I decided that I should tell him. In fact, I should have told him a long time ago—perhaps preventing this whole mess with Niall in the first place had I just spoke up!
“The day you came back to the convent, do you remember that?”
“I do. How could I forget the first time I got to lay eyes on you in three years?” He kissed me sweetly on the nose. It made telling him what I had to tell him, that much harder.
“Bill saw us together in the gardens. He didn’t like it. He was very … obsessive when it came to me. Before you came back, he was always hanging around when I’d least expect him to be. Always watching.
Eric’s body tensed. He knew by my tone that something else was coming.
“And he called me into his office that afternoon to tell me how much he didn’t like you touching me, or the fact that I had allowed you to touch me. He was manic. That’s when he… well, he…”
“What did he do, Sookie?” His tension continued, as he broke our hug and sat us both upright.
“He was so angry, Eric. I’d never seen that look in his eyes before. You’d think he owned me by the way he reacted to a simple hug… He tired to… to…”
“Oh my God! That rat bastard. I’m going to kill him!” he clued in, thankfully not making me say it out loud.
“No, Eric, no! You do anything like that and he wins. We can’t allow that.”
“Did he touch you?” The vein in Eric’s neck was his worst enemy. It always gave away his mood, no matter how calm his voice remained.
“No, he was going to… He had me… right where he wanted me, but thankfully Niall interrupted us just in time to stop him from … hurting me. But my point is, I think Geraldine knows. Look, we both know firsthand that she has no issue hurting people she deems beneath her, and he’s the same. She uses a whip … he uses his di—” I stopped myself before I said it out loud… “But my point, is they know what the other is up to and they do nothing. Hell, Niall has known for years what she’s done to those kids and even he did nothing. I hate that so much.”
“You know we have no say over the convent, or how the nuns handle discipline. Believe me, I’ve tried to change the policy, but in some cases I might actually make it worse. Can you imagine what might happen if Bill were in charge of disciplining the kids?”
I felt sick just thinking about that. If that’s what he’d do to a defenseless woman, then a kid would be a walk in the park.
“I walked in on him today. With Selah. At first, with them I thought it might have been something consensual. She’s had something of a crush on him I think, where as he… well he’s just evil. But that look in her eyes, Eric told me it was not consensual.”
Eric’s face went even whiter than before as he ran his hands through his ever lengthening hair.
“It’s disgusting. Why …why would you force yourself on anyone, I don’t get it?”
“Because you’re a good man, and not a monster. I thought we had that covered?” He held me closer.
“I can’t let it go on, Sookie. It’s not right. If he had touched you… if he had touched you in that way, would you have ever told me?” he asked in all seriousness.
“Honestly? I don’t know. Eric, when he did what he did to me—or tried to, anyway—I felt so utterly powerless and at fault. It was paralyzing. So, when you said that I let them take the control…”
“I didn’t know about that Sookie, and that’s not what I meant. I meant in terms of the nuns. But when a guy decides to take away a woman’s right like that? That’s a whole other ballgame. One that I can’t let him get away with.”
“What can you do?”
“Inform the Bishop maybe? Tell Niall? He’d never stand for that sort of shit, not while he was in charge and if you’re right and old Geraldine does know… well, she’s as guilty as he is. She’s meant to protect her nuns.”
I scoffed. “We both know that word means nothing to her. She was and is meant to protect those kids too, but we know how good she is at that aspect of her job.”
“True. Either way, I’ll do something. I can’t not, you know?”
“I know. And it’s one of the reasons why I love you.”
“Yeah.” I smiled looking up at him, his two day old stubble looking more and more attractive from every angle. “You have an amazing heart.”
We laid there for well over an hour. Just being together and falling in and out of our nap together. By the time both of our stomachs told us that they were feeling neglected, it was well after six, and almost dark.
Cooking with Sookie was an experience. She let me do things I’d not been allowed to do in the convent kitchen. We made pasta and chicken with some spicy sauce Ames had told Sookie to try ages before—she never had, and she was glad I was there in case she hated it.
She didn’t. She did however gag slightly at the sight of the cheese that I was melting onto my pasta. Apparently, her stomach hadn’t been approving of dairy for a few days.
We tucked into that and some of Amelia’s homemade bread, as well as the wine she’d left in the fridge labelled “Dutch courage.”
“She’s hilariously insane.”
“Yes,” Sookie nodded sipping her white wine. “I mean, she means well—she really does—but honestly, sometimes I want to shake her.”
“She just wants to see you happy.”
“I know. I know and I love her for it, and I’m so glad I have a friend like her. I know people who are sorely missing out on someone like her in their life.”
“Like her dad?”
“Yeah, he and she don’t talk because of Trey. It’s so horrible. He’s the one person in the world that Amelia loves and her dad is some rich snoot who just can’t deal with the fact that Trey isn’t some blue blood or whatever. It’s snobbery at it’s worst.”
I agreed. Love was love and it was hard enough to find without her old man standing in her way.
After dinner, we raided her freezer for a rather large tub of honeycomb ice cream. We ate half of it in front of her TV before Sookie suggested we light the fire. I wasn’t a master of lighting fires, but I figured that if a caveman could do it, I could manage it. And since there were things there to ensure it kept going, I was confident in my abilities. We were enjoying the glow of a nice warm log fire, in … well, I’d say no time at all but we’d know that might be just fibbing a little bit.
Thirty minutes later, Sookie and I were all full and toasty and since she was big on the snuggling now that we finally could, I was taking full advantage.
“I think my dad would have loved you,” I said out of the blue.
“Really? That’s good. I think I’d have loved him too, if he were anything like you.” She petted my chest slightly laying her head back down on me again.
“My mom too. She wasn’t overly fond of a lot of people—”
“Is that you’re way of saying she was a cold woman?”
I laughed; Sookie could always read me well.
“A little. But she loved whoever made her family happy. And you make me happy.”
“I make you crazy,” she corrected
“No, you are crazy. I am just fine,” I teased her again.
“Oh, right, right. I forgot.” She poked me in the ribs for effect.
I was content, just sitting, talking, occasionally snuggling. So when I felt her lips touch my neck, I was on full alert—all of a sudden, all of me was on full alert. I all but froze when I felt her hands creep under my shirt. This would be on her terms. As much as I wanted her, I knew that it wasn’t really my call. She called the shots right now, and I certainly wasn’t going to force her into sex just because we were alone and safely behind closed doors. Instead of talking or arguing or angsting our way to a decision, she simply stood up, took my hand and led me to the one bedroom at the back of the apartment.
“Well, that’s a big bed,” I noted, ever so smoothly, making her laugh.
“It is. Will you lay with me on it?” she asked, holding her hand out for me to take if I’d wanted. I wanted.
I went to lay down on one side, while she scooted up and laid on the other. It was then I felt the crumpled piece of paper.
“Dear young lovers, if you’ve made it this far one can only assume Eric somehow managed to un-mangle Sookie’s brain and her panties, and you two are about to go do things that I’m sure you’ve heard only nice married couples do. Well, first of all bravo, well done, get some, all that good stuff.
Second of all, that married thing? Total bullshit. Trey and I have been doing it for years. But that’s not what this is about. This is about you, and really, if you’re about to have sex, why is one of you still reading this?
There is a hamper in the bathroom. Before I come back, I’d like my sheets and covers in there please. Along with anything else you two might see fit to do it on. Please be kind and bleach when you’re done.
Much love and orgasms,
By the time I was done reading, Sookie was laughing so hard I thought she was going to fall off the bed.
“I really do love her,” she managed to say in between giggles.
“She seems to think my skills for getting you naked are rather high. I’m not going to dispute that.” I laughed too, before flopping on my back to lay side by side with Sookie again.
“Eric?” she asked softly, sitting up on her arm.
“What you’re going to ask me? I think I know what the question is, and I think… no, I know, that I … that the answer is yes.”
“It is?” I knew I was beaming.
“If it’s what I think it is, then yes. I want to leave.”
“Can I ask what changed your mind? I mean, this morning you were pretty set on—”
“I know, and I’m still scared. But today was something… it pointed out to me how we could be if we were a normal couple. Peaceful naps, cooking together, just being together without that constant fear looming over us. I hate that fear, Eric. And today showed me that it doesn’t always have to be there. I love you, I see that you love me—you’re willing to give up your entire life too just so we can be together, and you don’t get enough credit for that—and just because I’m scared doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, right?”
“Right.” I couldn’t stop smiling. “You know, I hoped I’d wear you down eventually.”
“You didn’t have to wear me down. It’s just me, it’s like something clicked. I mean, yes it’s my life I know and I love my kids —God Eric, I do love my kids, and I love the work we do… but if I had to choose between you and how we feel for each other, or the possibility of being the next Selah? You better believe I’m leaving.”
“Is the fear of Bill the reason you’re really leaving?” I had to ask.
“No. It’s a tiny part, but it’s mostly you and a possible life together that until today didn’t seem all that achievable. But I want it all, Eric. I want it. I want you, and I want us, and the white picket fence and the dogs and the cats and whole deal.”
“Sure! Kids too. I mean, the dogs will need someone to play with,” she teased me.
“You know, we don’t have to have kids, not right away anyway… We could just enjoy each other for a little while.”
“Oh really, and how exactly would we do that?”
I kiss her slowly, threading my hands into her hair and massaging her scalp until she whimpered.
“God, you can kiss, Eric.”
So I kissed her again. This time sliding most of myself and my body weight on top of her. She welcomed it, sliding her legs open ever so slightly so I could rest between her thighs.
I unbuttoned her dress slowly, once I knew for sure she wanted to go further, which she assured me of when she started to unbutton my shirt claiming to she wanted to touch me. Far be it from me to deny her such a thing, I made quick work of the shirt and the tank underneath, before I began to rid her of her clothes. I kissed my way up her flat stomach, dipping into the ample valley of her breasts, two things I knew I’d never tire of seeing. Men, we really were simple creatures. So amused and awed by such simple and natural beauties. And Sookie was one natural beauty I’d always admired, even from afar.
Sookie and stockings. They were such a grown up thing, that grown up ladies wore while being all grown up and lady like. This was the second time I’d caught a glimpse of Sookie in thigh high nylons. I’m sure it was a common occurrence for a woman in the late 1950s to wear them on a daily basis. But they just served to remind me that Sookie and I weren’t kids anymore, that she was very much a grown up woman—one who was writhing on a very big bed in need of no one else but me. It was the best natural high a guy could get as far as I was concerned. There was this beautiful amazing and slightly crazy woman, and she needed me and all I could offer her in that moment.
“What are you thinking about?”
“You seem awful far away for nothing, sweetheart.”
Was it wrong that my heart skipped a beat like a moron when she called me that? I liked being her sweetheart, because she was definitely mine.
She unhooked her bra slowly, laying back down on her back again before pulling me towards her. I was topless but I still had my trousers in place.
“Too many clothes…” was all she said with a giggle before yanking off my trousers in a very unladylike manner.
It was when she held her ground when I tried to take over that really impressed me. I ended up on my back with her gorgeous self hovering over me. I took her breasts in my hands, making sure each got gentle and equal attention.
We kissed and explored each other’s mouths in the most gentle and completely thorough way than I’d ever been kissed by anyone, for what seemed like hours. Feeling the soft skin of her back flex and move with her as she pressed herself against me again and again as we kissed and teased each other into a frenzy.
“You know how much I want this, right?” I asked her, and not just referring to the sex.
“I know.” She looked me in the eyes and I thought she knew, but I needed to make sure.
“But you know that what I’m offering isn’t some whim; it’s life together and all that that means. I wanna marry you, Sookie Stackhouse. I think I always have.”
She smiled, big and real, her eyes twinkling in that way that only hers can.
“I know. And you know that by leaving with you, that’s what I want right? It’s not some whim…” she replied and I nodded in acceptance.
“Eric, I love you, I’m in love with you,” she said sweetly before all the blood rushed from my brain to my dick as she straddled me. Taking a very deep breath she began to guide me inside her.
“You… you sure?”
“Be gentle. I’m still kinda sore.”
“Wait!” I said before we went any further. I didn’t want her in pain, not this time. I moved us around so that she was facing the left window as I slid in beside her. I lifted her leg gently to place it on top of mine allowing me access to her, without any of the pain—I’d hoped.
“OH. Oh my—”
“Does that feel good?”
“Feels… different,” she said as I began to fuck her—slowly at first, then faster and faster as I felt her getting into it. She was just so wet and so ready for me, but knowing how she pushed through the pain the first time, I didn’t want her to have to do that again this time. This position worked for both of us. We were still new to this game, but she knew enough to grasp tightly to my thigh—so tight that her nails were definitely going to leave a mark. Her breathing was shallow and faster than I ever remember hearing it.
I felt the goosebumps breakout on her skin as her breathing got more erratic, the faster I went.
No? No meaning not good?”
“Want to stop?”
“No… I can’t, I need to see you. I can’t see you.” She wasn’t panicking, but I knew she was close to losing it. So I stopped as gently as I could and even though she winced as I pulled out of her, she grabbed me instantly and kissed me until I was on top of her again.
“I missed seeing your face … I like feeling connected to you like that and even though that way was good I—”
“I understand, it’s fine. It’s fine, okay?” I kissed her sweetly trying my best to reassure her.
She kissed my cheek before she made her way up to my ear—God,that felt amazing—before she told me she was more than ready for me again. This time I brought her knees up higher, allowing me much more access inside of her, and before I knew it her legs where trembling and she was mumbling words that I just couldn’t make out. My hips snapped faster and faster as I moved and filled her so completely. Then it happened. She screamed my name before I felt her muscles inside tighten, and she did it. She bit me.
And to be totally honest, I kind of liked it.
That was new.