Chapter 4: Chapter 4
I stood at the crime scene in the pouring rain, looking over the body of the murdered construction worker. Stabbed in the side of the throat with a screw driver, twice. The pool of blood was almost as large as he was, though the rain had done it’s job and washed away most of the viable evidence. Again, something struck me as familiar, something was linking these murders, I just had yet to find out what. But it was niggling at my instinct and I needed to figure it out soon, since I was pretty set on this being the same person that murdered the other men. Again, no signs of real struggle, no signs of forced entry into his home, in fact he wasn’t even inside his home, he was outside it from the looks of things; he’d been smoking. Dope, it seemed, which might explain his delayed reaction? Or maybe he was baked and didn’t know what was happening? I had no idea, not until the blood work came back and told me.
I drove the two small towns over to the city centre again. I was starving and had to force myself to eat – though after witnessing what I had just witnessed, it was a little hard.
I walked into Merlotte’s, half hoping she’d be there so I could talk to her, half hoping they had that steak sandwich on the menu still, and when I walked in I smiled as I realized both were an available option.
“Hi,” she said, her eyes widened a little as if in surprise when she first saw me, but she quickly corrected herself, and managed a smile. I hope I didn’t scare her.
“Hi, how’re you?”
“Oh, I’m just fine, and you?”
“Yeah good, well, not so good, had a pretty gruesome case this morning.”
“Oh?” she asked, filling my glass with fresh water.
“Yeah a murdered construction worker, two towns over… you probably saw it on the news?” She faltered slightly as if she was dizzy, but grabbed onto the table with her free hand.
“Yeah, no, I’m good, I just … it’s close to my break, and I guess I was more hungry than I thought….”
“Oh… when’s your break?”
“In like, ten minutes.”
Take it, Northman, ask the pretty girl to have lunch with you.
“You wanna eat me?”
“WITH me,” I exhaled. “Eat, with me, have lunch… not by yourself? Or if you have other plans that’s no problem…”
Jesus, what was it about her that made me lose my grasp of the English language.
She looked hesitant for a second, really hesitant.
“Sure… I can’t think of a reason why not.” She smiled then. “What will you have?”
I ordered my much fantasized about steak sandwich with some fries. And she took off.
I had planned on going over some of the case files while I ate, but I had time for that later, for now I was just trying to remember what it was like to have a lunch with a hot girl.
I was so out of practice it was pathetic.
She came back ten minutes later with two plates and two diet cokes on her tray. Sitting down, we both tucked into our food. It was more than awkward to say the least.
“So, how are you finding the neighbourhood? No problems getting settled I take it?”
“No, it’s really nice actually. I’m just finding out where my favourite new places are, and exploring the city, it’s fun.”
“No pesky neighbours causing too much trouble then?”
She laughed, “Well, there is this one guy, but I think he’s not so bad. He’s a cop so I should be safe enough, right?”
“Unless it’s Bill, then I’m pretty sure their might end up being a sexual harassment case in his future.”
Her face froze, then she realized that I was joking.
“Sorry, nervous humour.”
“Why are you nervous?”
“I… don’t know. I don’t get out much, well, so Pam tells me.”
“Oh, Pam. No Pam here today then?” She looked around, mock looking for Pam, “I was so looking forward to hearing her thoughts on more free pussy.”
I burst out laughing, I really wasn’t going to live that one down, was I?
“I really am so sorry about that, she just says what she thinks and sometimes what she thinks isn’t always politically correct.”
“I get that, I mean I think it’s good that she speaks her mind, I think everyone should… maybe not all the time, but certainly most of the time, it might help things along. You know?”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Baking things, you’re awesome at it by the way, I think I lived on nothing but that pie for two whole days.”
She smiled, I really liked her smile.
“Really? Eric, that’s not healthy. You really should cook something…do you know how to cook?”
Toast, pop tarts, some various eggs – scrambled, burnt, fried, burnt.
She smiled, “You can’t cook, can you?”
“I just never saw the point, I mean I live in a city where the food is amazing and on your doorstep in less than a half hour, why would I want to slave over a hot stove all day.”
“Salads, steaks,” she nodded to my lunch. “A chicken dish or two, it could get you through and it might impress any potential girlfriends or… boyfriends.”
“I’m not gay… just… awkward,” I mumbled.
She laughed again, “I know, I’m sorry, I just… remembered your partners face when I said it to him, it was priceless. And I think you’re less awkward than you think you are.”
“I do date…I just don’t date well. Hence the awkward.”
She just shrugged, “I don’t either. I think it’s all a little bit pointless really.”
“Why do you say that?”
“It’s all bullshit, pretending to be something you’re not. It might be fine for yourself, fooling yourself is one thing, but bringing in another person and fooling them into thinking that you’re this amazing person with no flaws? It’s pointless, because the truth, it always comes out in the end.”
I actually agreed with her. My last girlfriend had turned out to be a stage five clinger to the extreme.
“I agree, I mean in the beginning it’s all false promises and high expectations. I think if people would be more honest things would run a lot smoother.”
I sighed, “But maybe too much honesty can cause just as much trouble too. In my line of work it’s usually that over the top honesty teamed with a violent outburst of some kind that leads to my crime scenes.”
She nodded, and I noticed then that she stopped eating.
“It’s hard to deal with, but I guess I knew that getting into this gig. It wasn’t for the faint hearted.”
“Is it … terribly gruesome, when you find them after so long?” she asked then.
“Sometimes. Yes, most of the time, actually.”
“I suppose when they first die, it doesn’t seem so bad, they still look relatively fresh. But I’m guessing in your line of work it’s a different perspective when you find them.”
“Yeah it is, it’s hard to imagine that the remains of the people we find sometimes were in fact once people that lived full lives, some have families, little kids, plans for the future… and to have it all snuffed out because someone decided to kill them, be it on impulse or premeditated… it’s just sick. No one has the right to take someone else’s life.”
“No matter what their reasons?” she asked, a curious look on her face.
“No,” I said, firm. “It’s not right, if they’ve done something to wrong someone, let the law deal with it-”
“But the law doesn’t always get its guy, you of all people must know that.”
“True, but that doesn’t mean that the only other alternative is vigilantism, the law is there for a reason and I’d be a really shit cop if I didn’t fully believe in that.”
“It must be nice.”
“Believing in what you’re doing, knowing that it’s the right thing all the time. Even if the criminals are the ones that win and the victims are the ones that are left to suffer in silence.”
“Sookie, I -”
“I have to go, Eric, my break is over. Thanks for the company,” she said, before she took her still half full plate of food and my empty one off the table.
Yeah I don’t know how I did it, but I think I fucked something up here, big time.
I walked up to his house, the one that Tara had described to me in astounding detail. It was astounding because it had been twelve years or more since she’d been there, and yet it looked exactly the same. I walked up, as I always did. I felt the wave of calm wash over me, no nerves, no doubt. No fear.
He was sitting on his back porch, the nearest house was a bout a half mile away. Either way, I knew I was getting in and out of there unseen. But just to be on the safe side, I wore my red wig, cropped to a bob, and even though I wore a skull cap over it, I still looked nothing like me.
“Andrew Walden?” I asked the evidently stoned man sitting on the porch. I always liked to make sure, no point in killing the wrong guy, that would suck.
I didn’t answer, and he just shrugged, “Yeah pretty, I’m Drew Walden, what do you want?” He stood up as I walked up to the porch. He was taller than me, but nothing I couldn’t manage. Considering he looked like he’d had a few beers and more than one hit of the bong sitting next to him, I was pretty confident that even if he had any defensive skills, they were pretty dulled in that moment.
“I have a message for you.”
“Oh, and uh, what might that message be?” he said, laced with innuendo, as he looked me up and down so slowly that it made my skin crawl in disgust.
“It’s from that little girl you once knew. That little girl who’s innocence you stole and who’s life you ruined by being a weak, evil, useless bastard.”
“Look lady I don’t know what the fuck you’re -”
“Tara, Tara Thornton, does that name ring a bell, Drew?” I asked, and he got visibly shaken, getting up and walking off the porch, into his derelict yard.
“Look, woman I don’t know what the hell you’re doing here but I want you gone, do you hear me? I want you to get off my property, and get the hell out of here.”
“Why? Did I hit a nerve? Did I happen to just remind you of that little bit of your past that you’d rather forget, or did I just bring you back there? Huh? What you did to her, how you did it, how often you did it. Is it all starting to come back to you now, Drew?” I practically spat at him. He was a pathetic excuse for a man, overweight and drunk, my guess he’d spent most of his sad life that way. But not before he fucked her up – literally and figuratively, first.
“You a cop?” he asked as I walked towards him, knowing I had my weapon concealed gave me a certain air of confidence.
“No. I’m not a cop. You should be in jail though Drew, you should have paid for what you did to that little girl.”
“I was young okay? I was stupid and young and weak.”
“She was SIX YEARS OLD, how does that make you anything other than pure evil?”
“I wasn’t evil! I was just fucked up on drugs I didn’t know what I was doing.”
“LIAR,” I said, and I pushed him, in his woozy and baked state, he fell, before he got back on his feet I kept him on his knees and I kicked him in the face.
“I didn’t mean to…” he cried, and I snapped then and there, and I just did it. I stabbed him once, and he fell forward, grabbing my legs and forcing me down on the ground where he struggled but somehow managed to get on top of me. Fuck he was heavy and I was surprised by just how baked he must have been because I was able to stab him again and roll him off me, he was still struggling – to breathe, to live, to grovel. I just made sure my gloves were still on right before I noticed that he’d stopped moving.
My heart was racing as was normal after nights like that. I threw my screwdriver into the river, bagged the wig, the hat, and the sweater and threw them into the barrel fire that was keeping a homeless man warm as I walked the eight blocks to find my car. He thanked me for keeping his barrel lit. If he only knew. As I always did, I had spare clothes hidden, this time I’d left them in my car, changed and discarded the jeans along the side of the road on the way back into the city.
I got home that night, and did what I always did. Showered till I was red raw, then managed to bake three pies before bed. How I’d managed to sleep, I’d never know.
Pie and fries, fish and fries, potato salad and chicken, baked chicken, fried chicken…. The lunch rush was hell, and of course just as I was finishing up for my break, a much needed one might I add since I had been unable to eat from the day before, I got a walk in.
Only it wasn’t just a random walk in.
It was Eric.
I felt my heart speed up, and I had no idea if it was from the fear of what I knew I’d just done hours before, or if it was just seeing him again. Sitting there, his hair lightly gelled, in a simple black tee and a pair of blue jeans. I didn’t know, but either way I instantly felt the guilt set in, the guilt that hadn’t really set in the night before.
I liked him, I knew that much. He was a cute guy, and sweet too. What was there not to like? He was attractive, but in a way that you’d expect a certain level of cockiness, only there was none of that… at least not that I’d seen. He seemed genuine.
And that, in itself, scared the shit out of me.
Never mind the fact that he was a cop, and put people like me away for life on a daily basis. I hated that I was drawn to him, and I hated that I liked how he looked at me. I never liked how any man looked at me, it always made me feel like a whore, or like I was asking for this unwanted attention in some way. But with Eric, it felt … different.
We sat, and we made very awkward conversation at first, but then it got comfortable, until it got very, very uncomfortable… for me. I’d realized that there I was, having an honest conversation with the guy, an anomaly in itself, but I was talking about honesty? And agreeing that it was best to be the most honest version of yourself that you could be? Who the hell was I kidding? As soon as he’d find out what my real self was like, I’d be locked up faster than you could blink.
I panicked,I felt that familiar feeling just creeping inside me, dread, fear, regret. And there he was, talking about his job, his most recent – cleaning up my murdering mess.
What if he knew, what if this was all a ploy to get me arrested, what if he knew that I’d killed that guy, and all those other men too? I felt so sick and I was so close to just blurting it out, something I’d never experienced before. I knew then I had to get away from him, and his puppy dog eyes, looking like I’d just kicked him didn’t help with the serious amounts of guilt that was setting in.
Jesus what was happening to me?
I booked it out of work as soon as I was allowed, being off for a few days was more than what I needed, I just needed to recollect myself. I had my reasons for doing what I did, good valid reasons. And I knew I couldn’t stop – I wouldn’t allow myself to stop, not until HE paid for what he did. It wasn’t that I was scared of going after him, not at all, I wanted to face him more than anything. I wanted to see that same look of fear in his face that I’d seen in the faces of all those other sick perverted bastards. I wanted it, I needed it, and he needed to pay for what he did to me just like all the others paid.
I couldn’t let whatever this feeling was when I was around Eric, deter me from doing the job that I’d been training myself for. He couldn’t matter more to me than that.
I needed to make sure of that, but before I could come up with a plan… or you know… move house. I had an impatient knock on my door.
I hated that I’d sent her off mad at me. I wasn’t so sure why exactly that I had pissed her off, but then again I didn’t understand women, so it could have been any manner of things. All I knew was that I wanted to fix it.
“Yeah?” she said, opening the door, still looking pissed … and a little paler than usual.
“For whatever it was that I said that got you so mad at me.” I handed her the flowers I’d bought, don’t ask me why I’d bought them I just figured it might help her let me apologize.
“Thank you… but it’s really not necessary. The flowers… they’re beautiful, really, Eric. And thank you for those too, but I’m just not -”
“What did I say that set you off?”
“Nothing, okay? I just… Nothing.”
“You don’t agree with the law? Or my belief in it?”
“I don’t believe that anything is that cut and dry. You say they get what they deserve, but we both know that’s not true.”
“They do, eventually. I mean yes it’s flawed, but most things on earth are flawed Sookie, we all just do our best. And sometimes our best isn’t good enough, you know?”
“Have dinner with me, tomorrow night?” I asked out of nowhere.
“Eric…” she looked hesitant, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea. I don’t think any of whatever this is, is such a good idea.”
“I just don’t, okay? Can’t we just leave it as it is? I mean we’re neighbours, and we can talk, but maybe anything more than that is just a bad idea.”
It hurt me that she was dismissing whatever we were before we even had the chance to be anything. I wanted to prove her wrong.
“I like you, Sookie, and I almost never like anyone,” I laughed, trying my best to lighten the moment.
She smiled, but quickly bit it back.
“I like you too, you’re a sweet guy, don’t get me wrong, but trust me. I’m no good for you.”
“Says who?” I argued.
“Says… I don’t know…” she struggled, “I just know that this, whatever it is, can’t end well.”
“Sookie, I think you’re wrong. Look, I know you said you don’t date, and well, neither do I… so really, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing here…” I walked closer to where she stood in the doorway. “I just know that for some reason, I’m drawn to you, and I want to see what that means, I want to see if… we could be something. If it’s just as friends, then, so be it. But I think we should at least try. I want to get to know you.”
She looked so unsure, and a little sad.
“Say it, say whatever is on your mind right now,” I asked of her, recalling our earlier conversation.
She sighed, “Just that… no one ever really wants to get to know me, not really.”
I smiled, “Well, how about we give me a chance.”
“Even if you don’t like what you might find out?” The sadness in her eyes was heartbreaking.
“Sookie, I don’t think there’s anything about you that I wouldn’t want to know.”
“I hope you’re right,” she said, the sad look fading, ever so slightly. And for now, that was enough.
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed it and thank you so much for the alerts and reviews! It’s been a really encouraging start! 😀
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
It had been three weeks since Eric and I had agreed to ‘hang out.’ We saw each other mostly every other day, with his work keeping him so busy it was just how it rolled. But when we did see each other, it would go from awkward to comfortable every time. I don’t know what it was, but when we parted and came together again there would always be initial awkwardness, a feeling for both of us that was obvious, but it would pass eventually, and we settled into somewhat comfortable conversations. I did my very best to keep my past where I liked it, firmly in the past. I deflected family questions enough that soon he just stopped asking. I always tried to keep the topic of family on him, not on me. I found out that Eric had what I imagined to be, the perfect family life. His mom and dad were still alive and living in Florida now. He was an only child, but he saw them at holidays and birthdays if his work allowed him the time off to go there, or for them to come here. His grandparents lived in Florida too, retired and happy. Listening to little stories here and there from his childhood made me mourn my own. Of course I’d offer a few stories here and there, mostly from my days of living with my parents, before they died. Well, what I remembered of it anyways.
I was still nervous and scared around him though, for many reasons. First of which was the fact that he was a cop and I … well we all knew what I was. I was terrified he’d find out, for reasons that were obvious, and some maybe not so obvious. The obvious were, well, obvious. Justice, jail, a life behind bars, because I knew that while I felt what I was doing was the right thing, the law would think otherwise. The other not so obvious reason would be Eric himself. I’d never wanted to get close to anyone, getting close meant lying – even little lies – watching my every word, my every step and I didn’t want that. But then he came along, with his sweetness and his awkwardness, and he made me smile, he made me want to be happy, the way he looked at me made me feel special and safe. These were things I’d never allowed myself to feel before, mainly because I didn’t think I deserved them, and I didn’t but he made me feel like maybe – even for a little while – maybe I did.
What we were doing wasn’t how it was with Alcide. There was no pressure for us to get sexual, he hadn’t even attempted to kiss, for which I was thankful and oddly curious about. I knew he liked me, I would catch him looking at me a certain way, or smiling absently while doing so, and it was clear that he liked what he saw, just as I did with him. The idea of sex, of intimacy, terrified me beyond belief, but that didn’t mean that I was blind or incapable of feeling something for someone. That fact surprised me too. He was everything I should have been running from, honest, decent, beautiful, a smart thoughtful and professional detective for God sakes. What was I even doing? Letting him make me feel these things, letting me get close to him like I was. I should have been running, sprinting in the other direction, but somehow I wasn’t. I didn’t even want to.
Instead, we had cooking lessons twice a week and he was, as suspected, a bit of a doofus in the kitchen, but we were starting off small.
“What’s on today’s menu?” he asked as I walked into his place, with an armful of bags.
“I was thinking we could try a little chili? It’s really so simple, and you can make tons of it and freeze it if you want, preference though? Pasta or rice?”
“What’s better? I like both?”
“Eh, well both are easily made it’s just boiling water and time… you choose.”
We chopped, we mixed and we boiled until we had a meal, one that wasn’t burnt to a crisp or boiled dry. I was impressed.
“See? You can do it,” I said as I set us out two places. He smiled, and looked a little proud of himself. It was kind of adorable.
“This smells amazing and you are right, it was so easy!”
“Of course I was right,” I mocked as we sat to each, the air free of the initial awkwardness that it used to have.
He just laughed and we went back to eating in peace, the sound of the TV coming from the living room, filling any dead air. It was nice to, at the very least, pretend to be normal, even for a little while. We made small talk, as we always did. My work and the colourful array of customers, all the problems and the sometimes funny life that was customer service. His work, and mostly all the fuck ups thanks to Bill.
He took a long gulp of his water, and I smiled, “Too hot?”
“No, it’s really good… I just… I um, was wondering something?”
“Yeah, there’s this jazz festival going on in the city this weekend, and I have tickets to a couple of things, and I was wondering if you’d maybe want to go, too? I mean, if you don’t it’s totally fine!”
Was he asking me out on a date?
“It’s not a date… I mean it’s not… we’re friends, right? And we hang out a lot, and I was thinking that maybe if we could hang out… but outside, and listening to some nice bands.”
“Not a date?”
“No. I told you, there’s no pressure here, it just is what it is.”
That made me smile. I was glad he still thought so.
“Okay, sure. I’ll see what my hours are like this week and cover it with Sam.”
“Cool,” he nodded and went back to eating.
Was it cool? I didn’t know. I didn’t even really know if I liked jazz music and yet here I was, yet again going against my self and willingly spending more time with him. It wasn’t a date, there were no date-like expectations on a non date, right? I wasn’t so sure. And I wasn’t so sure if I wanted it to be a date or a non date either. This was completely fucked up.
Of course it was a date. I liked jazz music, but really, what straight guy buys tickets to a jazz festival without a date? It’s just weird. Jazz is sexy music, or at least I thought so, and enjoying sexy music alone was just…. Well, kind of weird, too. She said yes though, and I saw the fear in her eyes when she wasn’t sure what it was, so of course I had to say it wasn’t a date. It wasn’t a date because I liked her, and I didn’t want her to run, which I had a feeling she was about to do if things between us changed too quickly.
I didn’t know what her deal was, but I knew better than anyone what it was like to have commitment issues, and I figured Sookie’s were just worse than mine. I liked spending time with her these last few weeks, she made me smile and I loved it whenever I was able to return the favour. I got to spend time with a new friend, and learn basic cooking skills all at the same time, it was pretty sweet. But mostly it was so I could spend time with her. I liked her and generally when you like someone close proximity was a good thing. Sure, she lived next door, but she also worked a lot and so did I, so when I saw the opportunity, I grabbed it. I just needed to broach the subject of the non-date maybe one day turning into a date-date.
Friday night came and she had texted me earlier in the day and told me that she had the night off. I was excited but also scared shitless. What the hell did a guy do on a non-date? I asked Pam, and really that was my first mistake.
“The hot blonde with the tight ass? You asked her out? And she said yes?”
“Kind of? How does one kind of say yes?”
“Well, we’re not … it’s not a date.”
She raised her eyebrows.
“No, it’s a non-date.”
“What the fuck is -”
“Look, I think she has commitment issues, and intimacy issues and… I don’t know, I don’t want to scare her away.”
She laughed, and laughed. Sometimes I wondered why the hell I was friendly with Pam, she was such a bitch.
“Pam, Jesus this is the last time I tell you anything.”
“I’m sorry, but Eric really, did that Sophie whore do such a number on you that she took your balls when she left? I mean, really? You’re hot, for a guy… that girl is fuck hot, and you’re pussying about with non-dates? Be a man! Ask her out, and end the night by hopefully get blown, like you desperately need to.”
“I hate you.”
“You love me, and you know I’m right. Look, she very well may have her issues, God knows we all do,” she rolled her eyes. “But, you want her, right?”
I nodded, there really was no use in lying.
“So? Be honest with her at least, and hey, if she doesn’t want you like you want her, that’s her loss. You’re an asshole, but you’re a lovable asshole and she’d be a dumb whore to pass you up.”
I stared at her, stunned. Did she really just say something nice… in her own way, about me?
“Aww Pammy, I didn’t know you cared -”
“I don’t. You repeat any of what I just said and I’ll have you on desk duty for a year. Understand?”
I decided to take her advice, I’d have to censor it though, I was no where near as to the point as Pam would have wanted. I put on a fresh white shirt, over a white v-neck and some dark jeans. This was a casual evening that I was spending with a new friend. My very attractive, friend, who smelled like heaven.
I was adamant that I was going to rush into anything, it had been a long time since I’d liked a woman enough to want her around, and I really liked Sookie. She didn’t force my awkwardness away or try to change it, she embraced it. I knocked on her door and waited nervously for her to open it, and when she did I was the one that was surprised. There she stood, her long hair that usually lived in a braid or in a pony tail, it was down in long soft waves that stopped on the bust line of her dress… and the dress. A white and red sun dress, showing off her new tanned legs perfectly but it covered up her chest to her neck and had short sleeves covering the tops of her arms.
“You look beautiful.”
She blushed, it was as beautiful as she was. “Aw, thank you, um, you look… you look nice too.”
Maybe I wasn’t the only one that was nervous?
“Shall we go? The concert starts at eight and the seats are good, so it should be fun.”
“Okay, let me get a jacket and I’ll be right there.”
I walked into her apartment, somewhere I hadn’t been since the morning we met. I noticed that she seemed more settled now. She had art work up on her walls and knickknacks on her shelves. I also noticed the serious lack of personal photos that most girls loved to show off. No family photos either which was odd for a woman her age living away from home like she was. Though it also struck me that I still didn’t really know where her ‘home’ was. I was determined to know her though. I felt like there was a wealth of history behind those eyes, I just had to find the right keys to unlock it.
My fingers brushed her arm and I felt tiny sparks of goosebumps from her as I led her to her seat. She smiled at me, and I took that as a good sign, at least she didn’t seem pissed. It was new ground with her, since most women were pretty full on when it came to me, it was odd, but it was the norm. I didn’t date because those women weren’t what I wanted. I didn’t need someone clinging to me for dear life. I wanted them to want me, of course, but I wanted them to know what space was, and to know the value of it too. That, and playing hard to get was really underrated with some women. With Sookie though she ticked most of the boxes, she liked her space – in fact she demanded it, and she wasn’t too full on, she was making me work and sweat for her affections. Maybe it was screwed up, but I liked the chase, it’s why I became a cop after all. And I was very much enjoying the game that Sookie and I had started to play. I just needed to know the rules. The music was, as promised, sensual and amazing, soothing and mind-blowing. To listen to those guys play with such soul and heart, it was an emotional experience. Sookie seemed to think so too. I saw the tears fall from her eyes a time or two, and when I grasped for her hand, she thankfully didn’t pull away, she did, however, just look at it. My hand, in hers, for the longest time. As if she couldn’t really understand it, but she wanted to, she didn’t let go though and I liked that she didn’t. She didn’t let go until the break so the audience could go get drinks, I almost hated to let her go.
“I’m going to go to the bar, anything I can get you?”
“Oh, a gin and tonic with ice, thank you. I’m just going to the ladies room.”
“Sure thing. Meet back here?”
“Yeah, definitely,” she smiled, and I stupidly let my hopes up.
I say stupidly because she didn’t come back.
It was fun, actual honest to God fun, the music was so beautiful and sensual without being over the top or corny. I loved it, and I loved knowing that Eric was interested in the music too, and not just trying to see down my dress. It would have been hard, I’d never been one to show off my body, not intentionally, but in the heat of a New Orleans summer night, a dress was called for. Even if most of my body was covered.
When he held my hand, a simple, innocent, sweet gesture, my heart skipped several beats. He was touching me, but not in an aggressive way, it was welcomed and confusing all at once. All I knew was I didn’t hate it, I liked it; what I didn’t like was when he pulled away and we had to part for the interval. But I would be right back.
Or so I thought.
When I saw him, I did my best to make myself invisible, but it was pointless and my heart sped up and I started to sweat and panic all at once.
Alcide Herveaux, standing less than two feet away from me. He spotted me, and I saw him do a double take before he left his date and came my way. I did my best to pretend that I hadn’t seen him, but it was too late.
“Sally? Sally! Hey! Sally, it’s Alcide.”
Right, to Alcide I was Sally Stranton from Idaho. Shitting shit.
I turned around and he smiled, big and friendly.
“Well it’s been a long time, Sally.”
“Alcide… How are you?”
“I’m just fine, just fine,” he said, his accent still as thick as ever. He was older now, buffed up like a bodyguard, and tan. “I’ve thought a lot about you over the years you know… I thought if I ever saw her again I’d need to know…”
“Why did you just up and leave, Sal, we were good real good together. Weren’t we?”
I swallowed, and suddenly it was as if my lungs got smaller or there wasn’t enough air, or both.
“Alcide it was not your fault, you should know that. It was all me, and my problems…”
“I could have helped you.” Still that good-hearted boy underneath though.
“No, you couldn’t. No one could have,” I whispered.
Not then, I thought, and not now. I thought of Eric and the mirror image of what was happening with him and what happened with Alcide. I didn’t want to break the heart of another good man. It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t fair.
“Sally come meet my wife, Debbie.”
“I would love to, Alcide, and congratulations, but I -” I spotted Eric at the bar, and I knew he hadn’t spotted me talking to Alcide since he was talking to the bartender, but it was just a matter of time before turned around, and it led to questions that I didn’t have answers for. Fucking hell. It was getting harder and harder to breathe.
“But I have to go… I’m sorry. Take care, okay?”
“Oh…. Kay,” he said as I all but scampered out of there.
Everything came back to me right then and there, as I hailed a cab back to my apartment. How I’d felt at eighteen, out in the real world, all alone and with so much anger built up inside it felt like I was burning from the inside out. I’d left Eric and I felt like shit for doing it, but the fear that they’d see each other and those questions would be asked… and my names wouldn’t match up for one thing. No, it was too much. When I finally got home I found my breath again. But instead of settling myself down, I walked outside and got in my car and started driving. I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew I was going somewhere.
I ended up at my Grandmother’s farmhouse in BonTemps. I sobbed silently to myself when I pulled into the road and up the old gravel path and saw the house. Now old and abandoned, it was boarded up in some places and smashed in others. I kicked in the side door and made my way inside.
It had obviously been used as a squat in the recent past. Empty beer cans and bottles lay all around what was my Grans living room. The paper on the wall was the same, but faded, there was still her old couch… the kitchen was still there, but covered in mud and dust and yet more beer cans. This house had been my home, It had also been the location of my own personal hell. I walked around, upstairs and into my bedroom, my bed was still there, well, the base and the mattress. The room, much like the rest of the house was dirty, old and destroyed. I remembered it all, all of what he did to me in that room. The sound of the creak in the floorboard right outside the door that let me know that that night wouldn’t be a night of peaceful safe sleep, no, he was coming for me and he wasn’t going to leave until he was done. I was angry, I was so fucking angry I marched outside to the trunk of my little yellow car, and yanked out the container of gasoline that I kept there for emergencies on the road. I yanked it out and spread it all along the porch, all inside the hallway and into the kitchen. I walked outside and I flipped open my lighter, lighting the rags I’d found in the old living room. I watched as it caught a blaze, slowly at first and then faster and faster the rest of the gasoline caught fire. Soon the porch was crackling, and the flames spread to the second story of the house. It was an old, wooden farm house, so I knew it wouldn’t take long for it to burn up, and it didn’t.
I sat on the hood of my car, watching it burn, for what seemed like hours, but in reality could have only been a minutes. That was my past, that was the place. And it didn’t exist any longer. I knew what I had to do, and I knew I had to do it soon. I had to finish off what I’d started. I was going to kill my uncle, the state judge. The devil to my own personal hell.
Maybe, I thought, if I finally got rid of him, like I’d gotten rid of that house, maybe the memories wouldn’t haunt me so vividly anymore.
There was one way to find out.
A/N: Dun dun duuuun, 😉 hope you liked the new update guys and thank you all so much for the reviews so far and the add, and the private mgs, it’s such an encouraging response! Dying to know what you think as always! 😀
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
The bar was packed, that was no surprise, but when I finally got served I managed to get myself a beer, and the iced gin and tonic for Sookie. I assumed like the bar, there was a long line for the ladies as well, so I went back to our seats, and I waited.
And waited some more.
Just as the band were making their way back on the stage and it was obvious that everyone else had come back to their seats, it was also obvious that she wasn’t coming back.
I’d been ditched, and it wasn’t even a real date.
Not wanting to force myself through the embarrassing misery of sitting through the second half alone, I simply got up and left, ignoring the looks from all the other couples that no doubt realized what had happened to me.
I hadn’t been stood up since I was thirteen, and even I’m pretty sure that girl had a crush on the other girls in our class. My pride was bashed, I’m not ashamed to admit. If she didn’t want to spend time with me she should have just said so, and she didn’t strike me as the kind of person that had trouble saying what she thought. Why lead me into thinking that she liked me, even if it was just as friends? I thought going slow was what she wanted, but it turned out she didn’t want that, and it appeared that she didn’t want any of it really. I was pissed, mostly embarrassed, but also pissed. I mean who just ditches a guy like that? She didn’t seem the type, not at all. But then again, what did I really know about her… not a whole lot the more I thought about it. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I drove myself nuts realizing that I knew next to nothing about this woman.
Well, that was about to change.
I walked back up to my apartment, side-eyeing her apartment door as if it was the problem. It wasn’t the problem, it was just a door, but chances are she was behind that door and in those moments I was angry enough at her to hate her. Except it wouldn’t really be hate, it would be hurt. She hurt me, and my pride, by bailing on me. I was in two minds, one to knock on the door that I was side-eyeing like it had kicked my grandmother down the stairs, or two, ignore the door and her for the rest of my life.
I am a man, and an idiot, an idiot man, I chose option one.
It didn’t matter because she wasn’t home, or worse, if she was home she just wasn’t answering the door.
I hated myself for knocking on that fucking door! This woman ditched me! I shook my head at myself and walked into my apartment. Maybe I should get a dog, at least the dog might not ditch me.
I heard the sirens in the distance and I knew that was my cue to haul ass. The house was in bits by the time I glanced back in my rear-view mirror, fitting, I felt since it felt like my sides were its mirror image. In bits of broken, burnt up pieces of what I used to be. The guilt washed over me then, not for what I’d done to my childhood home. No, that I knew I had to do, but what I’d done to Eric in my moment of panic. I knew I didn’t want history to repeat itself, I knew I wouldn’t let that happen again, somehow. I also knew he was probably pissed at me. I mean, we were on a non-date that was starting to turn very date-date like in nature, and I just leave without a word? That was shitty and he didn’t deserve shitty. He deserved an explanation, if nothing else.
When I got back to my apartment, I realized that my pretty dress and my freshly curled hair were ruined, I was covered in soot, and smelled just awful. I ran myself a hot shower that I planned to spend a long time underneath. I’d deal with my ruined clothes later.
I don’t know how I dealt with it, all of it, the things that I’d seen, the things that I’d done, the things that had been done to me. I often wondered how I was still standing. Part of me had wanted to die, and for a very long time I felt dead on the inside, so what did it matter if my body died too? But then I started to spend longer in each place I’d run to, and the longer I spent there the more people I would inevitably meet, and I knew, thanks to these people, that not all the people in the world were like him. Some were good, and pure of heart and soul, and just wanted to help others if they couldn’t help themselves. Sure, in my line of work I met a lot of assholes, hardly anyone is really nice to wait staff, but there were a select few that were kind, and that restored my faith. I knew though, not to get too close. If I got too close then I had more chance of slipping up and fucking up, and having to run again. But he was different, I knew he was everything I should have been avoiding, but there was that something in his eyes that made me want him, in more ways than just company and friendship. I wanted him, like a woman wants a man, and I’d honestly never experienced that before. I’d never allowed myself to go there. But with him … with him I wanted to go there.
I knocked on his door late the next afternoon, unsure if he was even home or not, but I knocked, and I waited, and ultimately decided that he was either in, and ignoring me, or he was at work. So, I did the next best thing. I sent him a text.
‘Can we talk?’ was all I said, and I waited for his response.
It took well over an hour, but I finally got one back, it was short and bittersweet.
‘Your exit told me everything I need to know, thanks.’
I sighed, but I wasn’t really willing to give up. If there was one thing I knew, when I got something in my head, I didn’t stop until I’d got what I wanted or accomplished the goal.
As uncle Bartlett would soon realize.
I didn’t have to work that day, so I got dressed in some jeans and a pretty top, left my hair down and did my makeup, playing up my lips. I liked my lips, they were the easiest feature to do when doing my makeup. I was rubbish at doing smoky sexy eye makeup, but lips I could manage. I grabbed my purse and my courage, and I went to see Eric at the last place, I, of all people should have been stepping foot – the police station.
“May I speak with Detective Northman please?” I asked the lady cop at the desk.
“Regarding what exactly?” she looked me up and down, and damn she was hostile.
“It’s a personal matter, I’m a friend.”
“Sookie Stac – Sookie Sanderson,” I coughed to cover myself. Good one, Sook.
I saw her dial the phone and speak, she nodded.
“Go on back, second office, the one with the cracked door.”
I walked into the station were there were various police men and women at desks, a few drunks in cuffs in the waiting area, and a area of offices by the big windows. The one with the cracked door contained Eric.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he asked, sitting at his desk with what appeared to be a mountain of paperwork next to his laptop.
“I needed to see you.”
“Funny, you felt the opposite of that, last night,” he said bitterly, and he had every right.
“I am so sorry I did that, Eric. Believe me.”
“So then why did you?”
“Honestly? I freaked out.”
“Why? Sookie, I told you, I wasn’t going to push it.”
“I know, and you were perfect, you really were, it’s me that fucked up. And I’m sorry, I just panicked. Everything was so… good. And I wasn’t really sure how to deal with that.”
“So you just left me there.”
The pangs of guilt hit me hard. He really had done nothing to deserve me being such an utter bitch to him. I hung my head before I lifted it again to look him in the eye like he deserved.
“All I can say is that I am sorry, and I mean it.”
He shifted in his seat and closed his laptop, standing, his height rising in all its intimidating glory.
“I don’t know, Sookie, I mean … you just … ditched me. And not to sound like a twelve year old, but, it hurt …”
“I know, and I feel like shit for doing it … I just … panicked,” I said truthfully, as I looked around his office then, noticing the crime scene photos on a board – I tried not to panic again when I realized that I recognized some of the victims. Shit.
He just nodded, unaware of my jumbled and highly insane internal dialogue.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve … liked someone, Eric, but I like you – and I almost never like anyone.”
I repeated his words to him and it made him smile. I wondered why, over and over again, why was I doing this? I should be running for my life – and yet – I wasn’t. And I didn’t plan to. Not with him.
“I’m scared, I won’t lie to you about that. I am so scared, but it’s not fear enough to put me off you. It probably should,” I laughed. “But it hasn’t, and I just hope that you can forgive the mistake and maybe even let me make it up to you?”
He was standing next to me now, I looked up at him as he stood there in well worn dark blue jeans, his badge on his belt loop, and his blue shirt with no tie, crisp and fresh.
“Make it up to me how, exactly?”
“Let me cook you dinner. I know you like my cooking. Maybe some wine, I don’t know, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a date-date, Eric, I’m not sure what to do.”
“It would be a date-date?” he eyed me, curiously.
“I’d like it to be, if you would.”
He didn’t say anything, and I started to get more and more freaked out that he was going to reject me. Had I fucked it up so badly?
“If you don’t want to -”
“I do,” he said, quickly. “I just …”
“I want to know you, is that so wrong? I feel like it’s wrong.”
It wasn’t wrong, not at all, and I guess in the real world where I didn’t have a fake name and a fucked up past, it would have been something a girl would dream of hearing from someone like him. I, on the other hand, lived in a world where my entire life was a lie. And as much as I didn’t want to lie to him, I knew then and there that some lies, they were necessary.
“It’s not, it’s normal. And I want to be normal.”
“You aren’t already?”
“Is anyone ever really fully normal?”
He laughed then, “No, I guess not.”
No, I wasn’t normal, but that didn’t mean I didn’t get a shot at trying to be.
I had typed her name into the data base, and I was just about to hit search when I got the call that she was here, in the station, looking for me. I told Doris to let her on through since curiosity got the best of me, I had to admit. Sure, I was pissed off at her, and I wasn’t going to make any more moves – but this … this was a pretty big first move for her, right? I mean, I wondered, but then again I wondered if she was just coming now to dump my non date – dating self in person. I saw her walking through, her gorgeous hair bouncing as she walked, full of determination and confidence. God she was beautiful.
No I was pissed at her, I didn’t think she was beautiful, I thought she was a bitch.
She was a beautiful bitch…
I listened to her apologize, I listened to her try and gain my sympathy, and I wanted to buy it. I wanted that second chance. Was I a glutton for punishment? I just might have been, but I was also alone, lonely, and thirty-five, so the girl might have been a flake but she was a flake that I was interested in. I hated myself instantly for giving into her so easily, but it still stood that I was all of the above, and she did seem sincere. And I still wanted to know her. So, I said yes to dinner, and I showed up to her place again. At least this time she couldn’t ditch me, since she lived there and all.
I walked into a very tidy apartment, she had music playing from her iPod in the kitchen, as she finished up whatever it was that she was cooking. This time she was in jeans and what looked like a really soft blue sweater, it brought out her eyes… sometimes I was glad no one could hear my internal dialogue, it was so gay. I had a beer, since I wasn’t all that fond of wine and she had a vodka tonic and lemon before we sat down to an amazing roast chicken dinner, followed by coffee on her very comfortable couch. We managed to talk more about her, which I was really pleased about, since after she interrupted me in my office, I knew it would be wrong to research her. It was a rule, never check out the possible criminal record of the woman you’re dating. Of course Bill did it all the time. To him it was as simple as checking out someone’s facebook profile… but it was so much more than that. It was a breach of trust. I figured if she was trusting enough to want a second stab at whatever we were, and to open up more about her past, then I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
“And my dad, I remember him just being so full of life you know? Always dirty though, always under the hood of car, but he loved my mom so much, her eyes would light up when she saw him and she’d smile… it’s one of the memories of them that I try and hold on to, you know?”
“I do. It’s important to hang onto the good stuff,” I said, and she nodded, we were both seated next to each other on the couch, she’d let me flick through her iPod earlier in the evening and I’d teased her mercilessly for her completely shit taste in music.
“I need to fix that iPod of yours,” I commented again, when some indie sounding whiny girl came on.
“Excuse you, I’ll have you know that my taste in music is awesome, it’s gotten me through some very hard times.”
“Uh, huh. I mean, I believe music is the most amazing thing, it can help you through anything… but really, Sookie, the Evita soundtrack?”
“Shush you,” she snatched it, and opted for some not too offensive – though I’d never tell her that – Coldplay.
We talked for ages about our favourite music and I eye rolled playfully when she went into depth for her love of certain classical pieces. I felt rather vulgar in admitting I’d never heard of most of them, since I really only knew the famous old dead composers. She laughed, and promised to send me some, to ‘chill me out.’
“What makes you think I need chilled out?” I refused to use her use of finger quotes.
“You just seem wound very tight, and trust me Eric I’M a tightly wound person, I know what tight like a violin string looks like… you should smile more -”
“My mother says that.”
She laughed then, it was a sweet genuine laugh, and I loved it instantly.
“Well, your mother is clearly a smart woman, and besides this,” she ran her index finger between my eyebrows, “crease is cute now, but soon it’ll deepen and oh, oh,” she gasped.
“I know,” she nodded, and I grabbed her hand before she snatched it too far from me. She seemed taken aback by the contact, but in a good way. She froze at first, but soon her breathing went back to normal and I was just sitting there, drawing circles on the top of her hand, knowing full well what effect that had on me and maybe secretly hoping it would have the same effect on her. It was simple, and innocent on the surface, but underneath it I hoped it was doing the trick. Because I really wanted to kiss that girl.
I had no idea what to make. Though I had gotten to know his giant appetite over the previous weeks, I was still a nervous wreck. I settled on good old fashioned roast chicken and all the trimmings. I knew what I didn’t eat I could pack up and give to him. He was huge, and his appetite matched him perfectly … though where he put it all, I couldn’t tell. He was firm and solid in the few times he and I had accidentally touched anywhere that wasn’t hands or arms. It made me want to know more about his body, and I’d never felt curious about anyone’s body before Eric. I’d turned that part of me off, almost, if it was possible. For a long time, sex was this terrifying thing, this evil, dirty thing that I had wanted to avoid since men made me feel wrong, and I saw Bartlett in the face of every man that hit on me, or felt me up.
The most terrifying realisation of all of this was… when I was with Eric? I just saw, and heard, and felt Eric. Not Bartlett, not Grans voice telling me how I was a devil child with my lies and my evil and my wrong. No. I just saw his honest blue eyes and his confident smile, teamed with his goofy laugh. He was an enigma, and I was stunned. I was even more stunned when he touched my hand, just innocently, and yet I’d felt more turned on than I had … possibly ever. It was sneaky, and I kind of loved his ninja idea. He looked at me, I looked at him, I looked away, and he looked away – we both looked back and the air felt different, it felt charged. Almost like there was this shock of electricity just about to go off right through the both of us. He leaned in, and in a low, incredibly sexy voice he asked me a simple question.
“Can I kiss you?”
I blinked, I swallowed my fear and my worries, and I just nodded a simple ‘yes.’ He smelled amazing, he felt… soft and manly all at the same time as he leaned in and kissed me gently on the lips. Once, twice, three times. Before he moved in close to me, and I moved in closer to him, allowing us both to taste the other more deeply, more passionately than before, and before I knew it, I felt his hands on my back as I clung to his broad shoulders. Was I… Were we making out? It sure felt like it, and you want to know the best part? I didn’t think of Bartlett or anything or anyone else, not once, the entire time.
It was amazing.
A/N: Almost makes you wish she wasn’t a cray cray serial killer, doesn’t it? Hehe. Hope you’re all still enjoying it, as nuts as it might be! Reviews are of course welcomed and any real questions you have I’ll try and answer! Thanks to scribeninja MsBennett881 for their epic cheerleading skills in all this! 🙂