“Did you really mean what you said earlier about me being home?” Sookie asked once we were snuggled up- as much as we could be given her condition- in bed later.
My arm tightened around her just a little, squeezing her to me as much as I dared. “I meant it, Sookie, but it’s up to you. I hate the idea of you going back to your house. When you aren’t here it just doesn’t feel like home anymore.”
There were details to be worked out since she owned her house. “I could start moving some stuff over in the next couple of weeks.” Sookie suggested.
“Like hell you will.” I shifted slightly and tipped her chin up so she was looking at me. “You need to take it easy, Sookie. If there’s anything you want from your house, I’ll get it.”
“Eric, I can’t just sit here all day long. I’m going crazy.”
“Well, think of it as time to read all those books you’ve had piled up and never had the time for. Or you could finally watch all of the James Bond movies like you said you wanted to. I have them all in my collection. Hell, bake cookies if you want, but you can’t be up on your feet all day and you definitely can’t be moving boxes and suitcases from your house to mine. Leave that to me.” I insisted.
“I think I can handle getting some of my clothes.” Sookie argued. Stubborn to the end.
“Do I have to call your mother?” I threatened.
She gasped and punched me playfully. “Fine. You win.”
“Thank you. It wouldn’t be much fun for either of us if you weren’t healed enough to make the trip to Louisiana. Your Mom would have both our heads.” I reminded her.
She sighed and pressed herself against me. After a few minutes of quiet Sookie asked, “So we’re really living together, then?”
“I’ll make you a copy of the keys tomorrow.” I kissed the top of her head.
She giggled and said, “I already have a copy.” She did. She had Johan’s copy.
“Okay, then I’ll get you a shiny new keyring to put them on tomorrow. Brat.”
“Can we go by my house and pick up some of my stuff? There’s a few things I need-”
“Just tell me what you need and I’ll make sure you get it.”
Conversation drifted off after that. Sookie fell asleep next to me and I missed being able to curl up behind her. I laid there and stared up at the ceiling until I was sure she was in a deep sleep. When I was sure she was out, I slipped out of bed. My eyes, for whatever reason, wouldn’t seem to stay closed. My brain just wouldn’t turn off and that made sleeping impossible. I went out to the living room to find Jeter sleeping on the couch. If he heard me approaching he didn’t lift his head.
I went to the big window in the living room and smiled when I saw that it was snowing. It was only the first week of November. I wondered if the snow would still be there in the morning, though I doubted it would be. I started thinking about Johan’s invitation- it was more like insistence- to come visit him in Sweden the following spring. He’d planted a lot of ideas in my head. Actually, it was more like he’d shaken loose ideas that were already there but I was afraid to put too much thought into.
If Sookie were anyone else, I wouldn’t be so worried about fucking things up. Meeting her had been a surprise. Liking her had been unexpected. Falling in love with her was new territory for me. The idea that I never wanted to leave her? That was equal parts miraculous and terrifying. It isn’t so much that I didn’t want to get married and have a family of my own, so much as I didn’t think I’d find someone that intrigued and excited me enough to keep her around for that long.
But then Sookie came along and all of that went right out the window. I wanted it all with her and I wanted it now. I didn’t want to wait around for something I knew was right just because it seemed crazy to rush into things. I wouldn’t pressure her for something she wasn’t ready for but something told me that she was feeling the same way. She had been the one to suggest we live together. Obviously she wanted to get married someday since she’d been waiting for that ape of an ex-boyfriend to put a ring on her finger. Unless he’d soured her on marriage.
I had just gone into the kitchen to get a glass of milk when Sookie’s phone started to chirp on the counter next to mine. Being that it was almost midnight, I was curious as to who would be calling so late. I hoped to see Detective Twining’s number flashing, but instead it was Copely Carmichael. My breath caught in my throat. I flipped the phone open and pressed it to my ear.
“Hello?” I tried to keep my voice down, even though a surge of adrenaline had rushed through me in preparation for bad news.
“This Sookie’s boyfriend?” A haggard sounding man asked me.
“Right. Could you put Sookie on the phone?”
Fuck. “Sure, give me a minute. She’s sleeping.”
“Well wake her up. This is important.” Who the fuck was this guy? I wanted to punch him through the phone. If he was going to make me wake up my girlfriend so he could give her bad news, I might just punch him anyway.
“How’s Amelia?” I figured it didn’t hurt to ask.
“Just get Sookie.” Copely’s voice cracked. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
I pushed the mute button on Sookie’s phone so Copely wouldn’t hear what I said. I sank down onto the bed beside Sookie and shook her gently. “Lover, wake up. Copely’s on the phone.”
Her eyes snapped open at the mention of Cope’s name. I told her I’d put the phone on mute. She pushed herself up slowly and took the phone from me. I grabbed her hand and squeezed, hoping to see an expression of relief cross her face. Sookie surprised me when she put the phone on speaker and then let Copely know she was there.
Copely wasn’t in the mood for mincing words, apparently, because he came right out with his news. “I’m taking Amelia back to Louisiana. I’m not convinced she’s getting the best care here and there are specialists in New Orleans that I trust to make my baby well. She’s going to be airlifted first thing in the morning. I wanted to let you know in case you wanted to say goodbye.”
Sookie’s mouth dropped open and she stared at me in complete shock. “Cope, are you sure about this?”
“Quite. I’m her father, Sookie. I’m acting in her best interests. Not only will she be in better hands but she’ll finally be away from that ruffian boyfriend of hers once and for all. Her flight leaves at eight. Be here before seven thirty if you want to visit. Goodnight.” Copely didn’t leave much room for conversation since he hung up right after that.
Sookie stared at her phone for a second before looking at me. “This is a dream, right?”
I shook my head and she finally pushed the end button on the call. “I’m sorry, Sookie.”
“Amelia is going to be furious with him when she wakes up.” Sookie’s voice railed with anger. “I have to call Tray.”
I nodded and squeezed her hand again to lend my support while she made that difficult phone call. Tray took the news even worse than Sookie. He was staying alone in Amelia’s house and would continue to do so. He yelled a lot and cursed Copely more than once, not that I could blame him. Sookie talked him out of going to the hospital when he threatened to go there and give Copely the beating of a lifetime. While I certainly understood the impulse, getting himself arrested would do him no good.
I took the phone from Sookie’s hands and set it down on the table next to the bed. She wiped tears from her cheeks and leaned against me. I didn’t know much about Copely Carmichael outside of the fact that he was a rich man who believed there was no problem that couldn’t be solved with enough money thrown at it. He didn’t see Amelia as his daughter so much as another piece of his property. She was a living, breathing representative of him, meant only to further his reputation. Amelia handled her father’s horrifying ideals with grace and dignity. As Sookie told me, Amelia ‘performed’ well. She tolerated her father’s antics only because he was her father.
The most I could make of it was that no one really liked Copely Carmichael, they were simply too afraid of him to tell him to fuck off. Along with money comes power and no one wanted to test just how powerful a man Copely Carmichael really was. Sookie sniffled and sobbed against me. She was upset to be losing her friend but she was also sorry for Tray. I tried to put myself in Tray’s position and figure out what I would do if Michelle had come here with the intention of taking Sookie back to Louisiana. I would have fought for her, that’s for sure. But I suppose that’s the big difference between a family like Sookie’s and a family like Amelia’s. Michelle wouldn’t show such blatant disregard for her daughter’s wishes, whereas it seemed the only person Copely genuinely gave a rat’s ass about was Copely.
Eventually, Sookie was able to calm herself down. I knew she was still thinking about the things she’d learned in the last twenty-four hours and it was obvious her brain was far too alert for her to relax and get to sleep. It was nearing one in the morning and if we were going to make it to the hospital before Amelia’s flight, Sookie would need to get a few hours of sleep at least. I was sitting up against the headboard with Sookie leaning against me. When she tilted her chin up to say something, I made my move.
All I wanted was to distract her enough that she could get some sleep. My lips caught hers and at first, she pulled back. She looked at me with frustration in her eyes. Her lips parted in preparation to let loose whatever words were on the tip of her tongue but I kissed her again instead. The kiss was more insistent and hungry. Sookie fought it for a second but then she gave in. She shifted her body carefully until she was straddling my lap and twisting my hair around her fingers. Our heads slanted from side to side, both of us wanting to dominate the kiss. Our tongues tangled and battled one another until my hands slipped from her face to find new purchase under her shirt. I couldn’t wait for that pressure bandage to be a thing of the past. It severely obstructed and restrained my favorite part of her body.
The ripping sound of the velcro being separated wasn’t exactly sexy but it was necessary in order to gain access to her breasts. When she whimpered I pulled back to make sure she wasn’t in any sort of pain. She gave me one of those shy smiles where she bit her bottom lip. Green light. I dove forward and attacked her breasts with the same zeal I had her mouth and she held my head to her chest. Whatever had been on her mind had been chased away. Having accomplished my mission quickly, the rest would just be a bonus for us both.
While I busied myself at her breasts she untied the drawstrings of her pants. It became evident to me that while I had been in the one to initiate what was happening, she was the one running the show. She climbed off my lap, taking her breasts with her, and slid out of her pants. They found a new home on the floor along with her shirt and bandage. She lay back on the bed and pulled me down on top of her. Our lips met again and her fingers were back in my hair for a short time before trailing down my back to push my pants down.
I started to trail kisses down her neck, planning only to stop when I reached her center but Sookie had other plans. In a breathy voice she said, “Be sweet later. Fuck me now.”
Never one to argue with a woman who knows what she wants, I was more than happy to oblige. I divested her of her panties to find that she was ready- more than ready. My pants joined hers on the floor and I slid into that familiar spot between her warm legs. Her hands held my hips and she looked down to watch me enter her while I watched the way her face changed. Her eyes rolled back just a little bit when I was buried inside her and I knew all too well what she was feeling. There was that delicious combination of tension and relief that I felt only when I was with her. That odd mix of feeling like I was home but not quite close enough to her.
She moaned against my skin, urging me to move with a thrust of her hips. I was careful not to put too much weight on her. Her legs hitched up higher, allowing me to go deeper inside her. She cried out and scratched at my shoulders. Her hips jerked to meet mine while moan after moan tumbled out of her mouth along with my name. My forehead pressed to hers for a moment before I buried my face in the crook of her neck. Her hands went back to my hair and moved my face up to hers to kiss me. Her walls began to squeeze me, trying to keep me deep inside her as her orgasm tore through her.
She was still shaking and gasping for air when I came a few seconds after her. I had to remind myself not to fall on her the way I normally would. Instead, I remained hovering above her, enjoying the quakes of her aftershocks. I watched the heave of her chest as she fought to regain her breath. She groaned when I pulled out of her and fell to the side. She snuggled against me as best she could without rolling onto her side like she normally would have.
It was a while before either of us spoke but it was Sookie who broke the silence. “I’m still worried about Amelia.”
My hand found hers and squeezed. “I know. I just wanted you to have something else to think about for a little while.”
“It worked.” Sookie giggled and rose our hands so she could kiss the back of mine. “Thank you.”
“I think we both needed that.” I turned onto my side and pulled the blanket up over us.
“Yes, I definitely missed that.” Sookie pulled my arm down over her stomach.
A comfortable silence settled between us and I turned off the light on the bedside table. “You know the bright side is that we’ll be in Louisiana in a few weeks. You’ll be able to look in on Amelia and see how’s she’s doing. Hopefully she’ll be awake by then.”
Sookie nodded but pulled in a ragged breath. “I’m trying to be optimistic. I don’t want to give up hope that she’s going to be okay…”
“But you’re not so sure anymore?”
“I don’t know what to think but I know that taking her away from Tray isn’t going to make it any easier for her to come out of this. The doctors and nurses all say that she can hear everything and if she stops hearing tray, I’m worried she’s not going to feel like she has much of a reason to wake up.” I hated the sadness in her voice and the way her hand was shaking in mine.
“Oh, I think she’ll wake up just to tell Cope to shove it.” I moved over and kissed the side of her head.
Sookie giggled and said, “I hope you’re right.”
Her fingers trailed up and down my arm, both waking and soothing the nerve endings as she did so. It was a relaxing gesture that had me asleep in a matter of minutes.
Amelia’s departure was a tearful one that did almost as much damage to Sookie as it did to Tray. Since Tray was still recovering from his injuries and the surgery he’d undergone, Sookie was worried about him being alone all the time. As nice of a guy as Tray was, he didn’t have many friends. Sookie hadn’t been joking when she said Amelia was his whole world. It was obvious he was sinking into a pretty deep depression. Even with Amelia being in a coma, at least there was the comfort of having her nearby. Now that she was gone, he didn’t know what to do with himself.
We had him over for dinner every couple of days and on the weekends, Sookie would go over to spend some time with him while I did a lot of the packing for her move into my house. She had yet to decide what to do with her place. She was thinking about renting it out since she didn’t want to sell it. With the economy being the way it was it seemed like renting the property would be a better fix than attempting to sell. I could tell that Sookie felt a little bit of survivor’s guilt for how quickly- and easily- she was recovering from the accident. Her attempts at cheering up Tray were admirable, though I’m not sure how much good they did.
She fretted over leaving him alone for Thanksgiving but he had insisted she go back to Louisiana and had tasked me with making sure she got on the plane. “I need someone to go look in on my girl, Sookie, and we both know there’s no way I could ever set foot in Amelia’s room. I need you to be my eyes and ears.” Tray had told her three days before we were supposed to leave.
“I don’t want you to be alone.” Sookie pouted at him.
“I won’t be, Sook, I promise. I got an invite to have dinner with a friend from work. He’s married and has a couple of kids. I promise I won’t be spending the holiday alone.” Tray gave his word and Sookie seemed to lighten up a bit after that.
“You call me if you need anything, Tray.” Sookie fixed her gaze on him and jabbed him in the chest to make sure he got the point. Although what Sookie thought she would be able to do from Louisiana is beyond me.
“I wouldn’t call anyone else.” Tray gave her what was probably meant to be a reassuring smile but it just came out sad.
I stood back while the two of them hugged. Tray and I shook hands before Sookie and I headed back to her place to finish up her packing for our trip. We were leaving late Wednesday night and flying back on Saturday. We were looking at a four hour flight and barring any complications from the weather, we would be home by dinnertime on Saturday. We had to make a stop at the bar before we could go back to my place, our place, for the night.
Pam was staying in town for the holiday and planned to have the bar open for some Black Friday preparty at the bar. I could only imagine the sorry lot that would be turning up at a bar on a holiday designated for family and friends. I didn’t even want to know what she was going to do as far as staff was concerned. I’d tried to convince her to close for the night but Pam didn’t really have anywhere else to be. Normally she’d fly home with me and spend a few days in California soaking up the sun and the shopping. She got along exceptionally well with my father, of all people.
It was snowing when we pulled into the parking lot at the bar. Sookie stood outside the car and looked at the spot on Grand Avenue where the accident had happened. Her doctor had cleared her to only wear the pressure bandage when she needed it. Her stitches had been removed and she bruises were almost all gone. She would have a few small scars here and there from the broken glass that had cut her but other than that, she was good as new.
“I was supposed to be the one trapped in a coma.” Sookie said it so quietly I wasn’t sure I heard her right. “Lorena hit that car because of me.”
I gathered her against me and looked at the same spot she couldn’t take her eye off of. “Lorena caused that accident because she’s crazy. She was living under the assumption her husband left her for you. If you ask me, Bill’s every bit as much to blame for what happened as you are. What happened that night wasn’t your fault. You can’t blame yourself for it.”
Sookie sighed and rested her head against my chest. “It would be so much easier to believe that if Amelia would wake up.”
I kissed the top of her head and turned us toward the bar. “She will, Sookie, and when she does, she’s going to tell you it’s not your fault.”
Her arm snaked around my waist and squeezed. “I hope you’re right.”