Johan stopped by the hospital before he had to leave for the airport. I was glad I got to see him once more before he left. I really liked him a lot and I was sorry he was leaving. I knew Eric felt badly about not being able to spend more time with him and I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for sucking up so much of his time.
“Take good care of my lillebror for me.” Johan said when he bent to kiss my forehead.
“I will, I promise.” I kissed Johan’s cheek.
“If he makes it to Sweden in the spring I expect to see you with him.”
I gave a faint smile and said, “If he asks me, I’d be happy to go with him.”
“Oh, he’ll ask, I have no doubt.” Johan stood up straight and turned to Mom. “It was very nice to meet you, Mrs. Stackhouse. Have a safe flight back to Louisiana.”
“Thank you, Johan. Enjoy your visit with your parents. Hopefully we’ll meet again.” He squeezed her hand when she offered it and then walked out into the hall with Eric. “I really like them.” Mom smiled, watching the doorway.
“You seem happy, honey. Much happier than you were with Quinn.”
“Eric and I are a much better fit. I loved Quinn, but not the way I needed to for us to stay together.”
“I know. I’m just happy that you figured that out before it was too late.” Mom squeezed my hand and gave me a reassuring smile.
Shortly after that a nurse came in with my discharge papers and aftercare instructions so I could go home. Mom had spent at the hospital with me while Eric had gone home. He’d come back with the Comet since there wasn’t going to be enough room for the three of us in the Corvette. Not to mention I wasn’t sure I was in any condition to try and get myself in and out of that particular car. It was too low to the ground for me with the injuries I had.
I signed the paperwork that needed signing and Eric went to get the car while Mom stayed behind to walk down with me. Pam was kind enough to take Johan to the airport since Eric was busy dealing with me. Rather than going home to my own house, I was going to Eric’s. I had enough clothes in the bag he packed to get me through the next few days. We’d talked a little bit about the idea of living together. He’d looked surprised for a minute when I mentioned the idea to him but I quickly discovered it was only because he had been thinking the same thing as me.
Our conversation had been cut short by Mom coming back from the cafeteria but we could table the discussion until after she left. There were lots of things to consider in the whole deal and neither of us wanted to rush into something we weren’t sure of. Although, there was nothing about living with Eric that scared me. I knew what he was like in the morning. I knew he was horrible about putting his socks in the hamper. I knew that his least favorite kitchen chore was emptying the dishwasher. I also knew there was a lot to learn and I was excited to find out more of his quirks.
We were just stepping off the elevator when Copely Carmichael came rushing toward us. I braced myself for whatever he was going to say and I was sure he would try to strong arm me into blaming Tray for the accident in some way.
“Sookie, where’s my baby?” Copely about demanded.
“Copely, nice to see you again.” Mom stepped between Cope and I, acting as the buffer I needed.
“Michelle. Have you seen my Amelia?”
“Sadly, no. They wouldn’t let me in to see her since I’m not family. I hear that she’s about as stable as can be expected, given her condition.”
“I can’t believe this is happening to her. I told her one of these days that good for nothing boyfriend of hers was going to ruin her life.” Copely seethed.
“Don’t be silly, Copely. Tray has never been anything but good for Amelia. The accident was no more his fault than it was hers.”
“He was drunk, I know it. It was Halloween. They were at a bar. He was drunk.”
“He wasn’t drunk, Cope. Tray doesn’t drink much and he certainly doesn’t when he knows he’s going to be driving. I was there, I know.”
“You were drunk.” He accused.
“Yes, I was, but I wasn’t driving. My boyfriend would hardly have put me in the car with someone who was intoxicated. It was an accident, Cope. A horrible accident.”
“No such thing. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to check on my baby.” Copely stepped around us and began jabbing at the call button for the elevator.
“He’s a real piece of work.” Mom muttered as she pushed me to the entrance.
“You know, it’s got be difficult to be him. He’s got more money than he knows what to do with and not a penny of it is going to be useful in getting Amelia to wake up. There isn’t a person he can bribe to fix her if God has decided it’s not meant to be.” I hated to think about the possibility that Amelia might not wake up but I knew I needed to deal with it. Pretending like it wasn’t possible wasn’t going to do me any favors. It’s not that I was giving up, just preparing.
“Copely’s always been one to think that throwing money at a problem will make it go away. Did you know that he payed off that kid Amelia was seeing before you moved away?” Mom revealed to me.
“You mean Bob?” I looked up at her.
“He paid him ten thousand dollars to cut all ties to Amelia.”
“He didn’t!” I knew deep in my heart that Copely wasn’t above doing something like that.
“He did. Cope didn’t see me but I was sitting at the table behind his at some restaurant in Bossier City when he made the offer. The worst part is that Bob jumped at it.”
“That’s awful. I never knew.”
“I don’t think Amelia did either so don’t tell her I told you.”
Might not have a choice, I hated myself for thinking like that. “My lips are sealed.”
“Good girl.” Mom bent and kissed the top of my head.
Eric pulled up a moment later. Mom fawned over the car, talking about how much Dad would love it. Dad wasn’t a mechanic by trade but he’d restored a car or two in his time. It hadn’t even occurred to me that he would love the Comet. Eric helped me out of the wheelchair while Mom got into the backseat. I was thankful the seat belt went over my lap only since I wasn’t sure how I’d do with a regular seat belt.
We stopped at our favorite diner in Schiller Park for lunch before going back to Eric’s house. By the time I got there I was in need of a nap. Eric tucked me into his bed and I snuggled as close to his pillow as I could so I could breathe in his scent. Being somewhere familiar and more comfortable made it much easier for me to relax. I dropped off into sleep while listening to Eric and my mother change the sheets in the guest room.
It took about three days after my Mom left for me to start feeling positively stir crazy. I wasn’t one for lounging around. When Eric come home for lunch one day to check on me to find me sweeping the kitchen floor he only half jokingly threatened to handcuff me to his bed if he had to before leaving for work in the morning.
“Handcuffs, huh?” I smiled coyly at him. It had been a week since we’d had sex. I think that went a long way to putting us both on edge.
“I’ll do it.” Eric’s eyes darkened with lust as he stepped toward me and took the broom from my hand.
“While that sounds like a lot of fun, I’m not sure that would be comfortable right now.” I backed up against a counter. Having the house to ourselves again was pretty much a dream come true and I cursed whomever it was that had caused the accident for keeping us from taking full advantage of it.
“Then I’ll just have to be more creative ways of keeping you in my bed.” Eric bent and kissed my neck on just the right spot to make my knees shake a little.
Not one to give up so easily, I asked, “Is that the best you’ve got?” My traitor voice was shaky at best.
I found myself being lifted up onto the counter and Eric’s lips crashed against mine. My legs wrapped around his waist to pull him closer to me. We spent the next fifteen minutes or so making out like teenagers and then he had to pull back. Stupid job.
“I have to get back, lover.” His forehead pressed to mine.
“Tease.” I giggled.
“I’m not finished with you, I assure you.” He trailed kisses down my face and back to my neck, making me whimper.
“You don’t play fair.” I pushed him away.
He had a Cheshire Cat grin on his face. “Always leave them wanting more, right?”
I stuck my tongue out at him and unlocked my legs from his back. “You suck.”
“Meet me in study hall.” He winked at me.
My laptop! How could I have forgotten? A grin lit up my face. Eric laughed at the expression and then kissed me once more before helping me off the counter. I walked to the front door with him. He issued me one final warning to stop doing housework upon various penalties if I failed to obey him. His threats sent a delicious chill through me and I nearly retired to the shower to take care of my little problem. My body was pulsing with want for him but I would hold back. I’d attack him later when he got home. Not that we were into rough sex, per se, but we would just have to be more careful than usual. We’d waited long enough as far as I was concerned.
We had yet to really discuss my proposition about us living together. We didn’t want to talk about it while Mom was in the house and there was enough going on with my transition home and the police calling to update us on their findings in their investigation into the accident. I didn’t know what to think when it came to the possibility that it might have been Bill and Sophie-Anne. How the hell would the two of them even know one another? True, I didn’t know a whole lot about Bill’s personal life. If I did, I would have known he and his wife separated from one another.
It just seemed that I would have seen Bill coming or going from Red Menace’s house given the amount of time I was spending at Eric’s place. I’d never seen him. Of course that didn’t mean they didn’t know one another. It just seemed a bit far fetched for me. Even though both Bill and Sophie-Anne had proven they were more than crazy enough to do something like it, I just couldn’t get on board with the idea that they were at fault. What good was I to Bill if I was dead? It was obvious to me the accident was meant to kill me. I wasn’t meant to walk away from it the way I had.
I had just fired up my laptop to spend study hall with Eric when my cell rang. Quinn was calling. I debated not answering but I assumed he’d heard about the accident. I knew it had been on the news and I was actually a bit surprised he’d waited so long before calling to check in on me.
“Hello, Quinn.” I said as brightly as I could. Sounding mopey or sad was the fastest way to have him tracking me down to try and cheer me up.
“Oh, thank God you’re okay.” He muttered with relief.
“I’m fine. Well, I’m not fine, but I’m fine.” I looked at the background picture on my laptop. It was from Halloween. Amelia had taken a picture of Pam, Johan, Eric and me at the bar all together. It was a cute picture and it made me smile every time I looked at it.
“I stopped by your place yesterday but you weren’t there. I was worried you were back in the hospital.”
“I’m staying with Eric for a few weeks while I heal. I’m supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible and his house has less stairs than mine.” I explained as I clicked to load the internet.
“Do you need anything, babe?” That was Quinn’s way of saying he wanted to see me.
“Eric’s taking very good care of me, Quinn, I promise. I’ve got Jeter here to keep me company during the day. He’s a very good guard dog.” Jeter’s head lifted from the floor at the mention of his name.
As if on cue, the dog stood and came over to lay down next to men on the couch. He put his big head on my thigh and I scratched his head. Jeter really was pretty good company, even if he was back to licking my feet to wake me up. The first time it was cute. Now it was just getting to be an annoying habit of his.
“How’s Amelia doing? I heard she got the worst of it.” Quinn’s voice was full of concern. He’d liked Amelia and Tray quite a bit.
“Tray’s been released from the hospital and he’s been banned by Cope from going to visit her. No matter what anyone tells him, he thinks it was Tray’s fault that we got in the accident. There hasn’t been any change to Amelia’s condition. She’s still in her coma and there’s concern she might have suffered some brain damage because of the swelling. We won’t know how severe it is until she wakes up- if she wakes up.” I still wasn’t sure how to process the possibility that I might lose my best friend.
I knew Cope would keep Amelia on life support indefinitely if he had to. He wasn’t the sort to give up, especially when his millions might be the thing that saved his baby’s life. Not that I was rooting for him to pull the plug, but I figured after a certain time it would seem obvious as to whether or not she was ever going to come out of it. I also knew Amelia didn’t want to be on life support for an extended period of time. She’d put it in her will. I’d witnessed her signature.
The kicker was, while Cope had power of attorney over his daughter, she’d left everything she had to Tray, including the house. Copely had paid for that house but it was in his daughter’s name. If Amelia died, the house and all of its contents would go to Tray Dawson. For Copely Carmichael, that was reason enough to keep his daughter alive. I wished I could understand Cope’s vendetta against Tray. I couldn’t think of a single reason for him to be so hateful when Tray had never done anything but treat Amelia well.
“Aw, babe, I’m sorry.” Quinn apologized.
I shrugged, not sure what to say after that. “It is what it is. I’m hoping she recovers but I’m preparing myself for the opposite.”
“You know there’s no way Cope’s going to let anything happen.”
“Cope can’t exactly control whether or not she survives.” I reminded Quinn. “As much as Cope thinks he can, he can’t.”
“Do the cops have any leads on who hit you?”
“Not really. I didn’t see anything useful before the accident. I’d had too much to drink that night and all I saw was headlights before we were hit. The security tapes from the hardware store didn’t yield anything useful. Eric was walking into the bar when it happened. He heard the accident but he didn’t see it. He did see a car peel away but was too far away to see what kind of car it was. All he knew was that it was a dark color. There weren’t any witnesses. There isn’t a whole lot for them to go on.” I explained to Quinn.
He sighed and said, “What a weekend. Russell’s assistant was in an accident this weekend, too.”
That got my attention. “Lorena?”
Quinn didn’t know anything about Bill and Sophie-Anne being tossed from the bar as far as I knew. He would have no reason to think Lorena was connected to my accident but I was all sorts of curious. Rather than clicking to get into my email I clicked on my Google browser and did a search on Russell Edgington. I clicked on a link that took me to his company’s homepage. The company was out in Naperville. I searched my brain to try and remember where Bill lived. I ran through a mental list of every suburb I could think of. I knew he lived south, I just couldn’t remember where.
“Yeah, she got banged up pretty bad. Her face is all swollen and bruised up. She’s sprained her wrist and has a concussion, I think.” It was alarming how similar her injuries were to my own but it wasn’t evidence.
“Where’d the accident happen?”
“I’m not sure. From what Russell told me she was leaving a party and some drunk turned in front of her.”
“What kind of car does she drive?”
“I don’t know. Why?” Clearly Quinn wasn’t putting the pieces together like I was. “All I know is that the front end of her car was wrecked pretty bad.”
I couldn’t wait for Eric to get home. I had to tell him what I’d learned from Quinn. “Look, Quinn, I have to get going. It’s time for me to take my medications and I could use a nap before Eric gets home. Thank you for calling.”
“No problem, Sookie. If you need anything, you call me.” He insisted.
“Thanks Quinn. Bye.” I said and hung up before he could find a way to keep me on the phone any longer.
I opened my email and clicked to start a new message.
TO: Eric Northman
FROM: Sookie Stackhouse
SUBJECT: I think I know who hit us
I just got a phone call from Quinn. He told me Lorena was in an accident over the weekend. The front end of her car was wrecked. I think it was her. I think she’s the one who hit us. Thoughts?
TO: Sookie Stackhouse
FROM: Eric Northman
I think you’re probably right. Did you call the police? If you didn’t, stop emailing me right now and call them. Pass along whatever info you have. I’ll see if I can find Bill and get any information about the condition Lorena’s in.
And stay off your feet. I’m serious.
I couldn’t help but smile at his mother hen warning and carefully moved to set my laptop on the coffee table before reaching for my cell phone to call the police. Our case had been passed from Officer Dearborn to Detective Twinings. I’d met him briefly the day after I was released from the hospital when he paid a visit to Eric’s house to go over my statements. I knew he was hoping I would remember something new but so far, I had nothing new to report.
Detective Twinings wasn’t at the station when I called, so I left a message for him to call me back when he got in. I emailed Eric to let him know I’d made the phone call and then told him I was going to take a nap. Jeter followed me to Eric’s bedroom and laid down on the floor next to the bed. I snuggled Eric’s pillow against me and breathed in his scent until I drifted off to sleep.
I woke to the most amazing smell filling the house. I yawned and stretched, quickly regretting my poorly planned move. My side screamed at me to knock it off, which I promptly did. I whimpered quietly for a few seconds before carefully getting out of bed to use the bathroom. I emerged to find Jeter waiting for me, ready to lead me out to the kitchen. Either he needed to go out or he just wanted to make sure I didn’t whimper anymore. I scratched his head and then started toward the kitchen.
Eric was pacing back and forth while talking on my cell phone. I cleared my throat to let him know I was awake. He spun around quickly and smiled at me. He held up a finger to let me know he’d be off the phone in a second and I wondered who he was talking to. Jeter went to go lay down near the vent in the kitchen floor so he could feel the heat rush up at his face. There were vegetables waiting to be chopped on the counter and a pile of what appeared to be browned beef was draining on a plate. I licked my lips at the idea of homemade beef stew and immediately began to wonder if we had the ingredients to make dumplings.
“Yes, Detective. Sure thing. No, absolutely. Right. Well, you’re in luck that Sookie just woke up. Yes, she’s doing better, thank you. Yes. Yes. Will do. Sure, just a minute.” Eric held out my phone to me as he crossed the room.
I tapped my lips with a finger before taking the phone from him. He kissed me gently and then went to get started on chopping vegetables while I talked to Detective Twinings. I told him what Quinn had told me. He asked a bunch of questions about Lorena, though I didn’t have a whole lot of information to provide for him. I told him where she worked and what I knew of her marriage. Although, I didn’t really know what to believe. For all I knew, Lorena was just as crazy as her husband. How was I supposed to know if she was telling Quinn the truth or not? That thought hadn’t even occurred to me until just then.
I had no reason to think Quinn was lying to me. Lorena, on the other hand, was another story. If she was as nutty as a peanut buster parfait, then it would make perfect sense for her to lie about the reasons she and Bill split up. Maybe she was just looking for someone to blame for the break up of her marriage. I didn’t know what the truth was but I sure as shit wasn’t going to go ask Bill about it. I was about as involved with either him or his wife as I wanted to be. I didn’t need to be in the eye of the storm any longer. How I’d even got sucked into it was beyond me.
I promised the Detective Twinings that I would report back any new information I was able to get and that I would stay as far away from Bill, Lorena and Sophie-Anne as humanly possible. Being that I was camping out at Eric’s, at least for the time being, at least I could see when she was coming and going from her house and who might be stopping by for a visit. Although if she was buddying up to Bill and they were the one responsible for my accident, it would make sense they’d lay low for a bit. By the time I got off the phone with the detective my mind was swirling.
“You want some help with that?” I offered, staring at the pile of veggies that needing prepping.
“Nope. You stay right where you are. You’re staying here so I can take care of you.” Eric reminded me.
“I’m not an invalid. I can chop onions.” I smirked at him.
“Yes, lover, and you are quite good at it, but tonight you just sit still and let me make you dinner. If you really feel the need to do something you could put some music on.”
I glared at him but got no response. Jeter followed me to the living room where Eric’s iPod was sitting on its dock. “What are you in the mood for?” I called back to him.
I grumbled quietly. I’d found out relatively quickly that Eric’s iPod nearly mirrored my own, only I had more indie bands listed than he did. I put on Dave Matthews Band and then went back to the kitchen to watch him cook. It’s lonely far from you oh, even when you’re right by me it’s only why I wait for you to take my hand… I smiled at the words as they drifted in the space between us. I walked up behind Eric and hugged him, nuzzling my face against his back. Slowly we started swaying back and forth and my eyes closed.
“I don’t want to go home.” I whispered to him, my fingers scratching lightly at his stomach over the soft fabric of the v-neck black sweater he was wearing.
“Sookie, you are home.” He answered.
It hit me then that I was. I was home. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was home.