By the time I woke up the next day it was late. The house was quiet so I assumed that Gran was likely out and about doing whatever she was doing. I wanted to roll over and go back to sleep but my bladder wasn’t having it, so I rolled out of bed and went to the bathroom. There was no way I was in the mood to go to work and deal with anyone there, so I went downstairs to call Sam and tell him I wouldn’t be coming in that night. I didn’t want to deal with him, Dawn or Jason, all of them just chomping at the bit to tell me they were right about Eric in one capacity or another.
I knew I couldn’t hide forever, but I figured I was allotted one day to myself to deal with my feelings. I wouldn’t be any good to Sam as I was. When I got to the kitchen I stopped short. On the table there was a large bouquet of purple hyacinths that hadn’t been there the night before. The flowers were beautiful and they smelled lovely, but I knew who they were from without even reading the card that was sticking out of the bouquet.
I rolled my eyes at the flowers. If he thought those were somehow going to fix what he’d done, Eric was out of his damn mind. Sending me presents wasn’t going to fix anything, and he damn well should have known that already. There was nothing he could send me that was going to make up for what he’d done. Frankly, the longer I had to smell the flowers the more angry I got but for some reason I couldn’t throw them away so I pulled the card and took the vase to Gran’s room. Gran would appreciate having them much more than I would.
Back in the kitchen I went to the phone and dialed the number for Merlotte’s since, Sam would already be at the bar getting things ready to open for the day.
“Merlotte’s,” Holly answered on the third ring.
“Hey, Holly, it’s Sookie. Is Sam around?” I asked.
“He was here long enough to let me in and then he went back to his trailer. He looks like he got in a fight with a freight train and lost,” she told me.
I closed my eyes and leaned against the wall.
“What happened in here last night? I heard that some guy came in and Sam attacked him. That doesn’t sound like Sam,” she said.
“It’s a long story, Holly, but the guy that came in didn’t attack Sam. In fact, my brother pulled Sam off the guy so whatever happened, happened after I was already gone.”
“Well Sam wouldn’t talk about it so I assume it had to be something pretty big,” she said. “Shoot, customers. Want me to tell Sam you called?”
“No, I’ll call him at home. Thanks, Holly.”
“No problem, hon,” she said, and then hung up.
I hit the flash button and when I had a fresh dial tone I dialed Sam’s home number instead. I got his answering machine, which wasn’t such a bad thing, and I left a message.
“Sam, it’s Sookie. Look, I don’t know what all that was about last night but I was out in the parking lot afterward and I got attacked by a wolf, believe it or not. Actually, both Eric and I were attacked. I’m okay, but I can’t come in tonight. Since I’m off tomorrow I’ll see you the day after. Call me back if you need to talk,” I said, and then hung up the phone.
I wasn’t hungry so I went upstairs to my bedroom. The idea of lying in bed alone all day held more appeal than anything. I flopped back onto my bed and stared up at the ceiling. Laying about wasn’t my usual way of dealing with things but I just didn’t have the emotional fortitude to deal with all the questions I’d get at the bar.
Obviously people were talking about what had happened and answering Gran’s questions was going to be hard enough. I curled onto my side and pulled a pillow over my head. It didn’t take long for me to go back to sleep.
I fell into an awful nightmare where I was a child again, or at least it felt like I was. I was panicked, paranoid and screaming for help in my mind. The only time I’d ever felt like that was when Uncle Bartlett came looking for me. If I had enough warning I would climb up into the attic, and then the crawl space where he couldn’t get to me.
Uncle Bartlett had a bad knee from an old hunting accident that made it difficult for him to climb steps, and on cold days he had trouble lifting his arms much higher than perpendicular to his chest. If he came on those days I went up to the crawl space because I was safe there. I’d arranged a little cubbyhole for myself. At first I was too scared to let myself get comfortable until I learned he couldn’t get up there.
I probably could have just gone up to the attic, but I wasn’t willing to risk anything. The cubbyhole was the safest place in the house as far as I was concerned. I had a flashlight in there, a couple of books and I always brought some crackers and water with me in case I had to stay a while.
In my nightmare I was crammed into that little cubbyhole again, waiting for my uncle to either find me or leave. My knees were hugged to my chest as I sat in the dark, praying to God that I be spared. My prayers had never been answered as a child, and as a result I had gone through a phase where I wasn’t sure if I believed in God at all. It took some therapy and distance from my experience for me to understand that what had happened to me wasn’t my fault, but also that God had a plan for all of us. I couldn’t help questioning why God would let that happen to me. I was a good girl.
I cleaned my room, did my homework and chores, ate my vegetables and said my prayers. I did all the things I was supposed to do and I didn’t complain. I didn’t bug Gran for toys or clothes we couldn’t afford. I was polite and respectful to my elders. All the things the Bible said I was supposed to do, I did. So how could any of that matter if God still let me go through the things I did?
“Sookie,” Eric’s voice found me in my dream. “Sookie, come out. He can’t hurt you here. You’re safe with me.”
“You lied to me, Eric. You let me feel things for you without telling me who you really are,” I told him. “I would have fallen in love with you.”
“Please come out of there, Lover,” he pleaded. “Let me take care of you, protect you from those that would hurt you.”
“You’re what I need protection from,” I argued. “You and my stupid heart.”
A large, pale hand appeared at the entrance of the crawl space.
“Just reach out and take my hand. I promise that nothing will ever hurt you again,” he said.
I wanted to believe him. I wanted to be able to take his hand and figure out a way to get past what had happened, but how? How did I let go of a betrayal that was still so fresh and stung so deeply.
“Trust me, Sookie,” he pleaded. “I only want to love you.”
My heart melted and got the better of me. Slowly I uncurled my body and inched closer to the edge of the crawl space. When I got as far as I could without falling out I took Eric’s hand. His hand grasped mine and held it tightly. I looked to the right to catch his eyes.
“You look stunning, my pet,” he said, and I looked down to see that I was in a crimson version of the Princess Leia slave outfit, complete with a chain hanging from my collar.
Before I knew what was happening, that chain was being jerked and I was pulled the rest of the way out of the crawl space. Eric had a sadistic look on his face as he dragged me toward the stairs.
“I have a surprise for you, pet,” he said as he pulled me along. I tried to fight him, but then he just picked me up and carried me. When I kicked he slapped my ass hard. “Stop fighting or I’ll punish you in ways you can’t imagine.”
When he got me down to my old bedroom he dropped me on my bed and began to restrain my arms and legs so that I was defenseless. My legs were open wide and with his immense strength, Eric tore off the bottom of my costume, leaving me exposed to him.
“Such a lovely, smooth little cunt you have,” he said and reached out to touch it.
“Eric, please don’t do this,” I begged. “Please, I don’t like this.”
“You will,” he said, and his fingers dipped into my folds. “Let’s see if I can get you sloppy wet.”
“Please stop,” I squeezed my eyes closed and begged him to stop over and over again.
When I heard the sound of a zipper opening my eyes opened in the hope of one final plea being enough to change his mind. Instead of Eric it was Uncle Bartlett beside my bed with his hand between my legs, just like when I was a little girl.
“Doesn’t it feel good, little Sookie? Don’t you want Uncle to love you?” he asked in that creepy as fuck voice of his that had always given me the chills, even before he started molesting me. “I can’t wait until you’re old enough to get wet for me, little Sookie. Then I can touch you inside, too.”
My stomach turned and I was about to throw up when I closed my eyes again. The touching between my legs stopped and the restraints on my wrists and ankles were gone. I was free. I was also in my adult room that was free of any memories of being molested. My eyes closed again with relief and I was just starting to feel relaxed when I got that sense I was being watched. My eyes opened to see Eric hovering above me, fangs bared and ready to attack. Before I could scream for help he covered my mouth and descended on me. I screamed against his hand as his fangs sank into my neck, and that was when I woke up, panting and sweating like I’d just run a hundred miles.
I was safe in my own bed, present day, without Eric hovering over me, waiting to bite me. All the same, my hand lifted to check my throat for bite marks. There was nothing there. I turned my head to check the time and saw that it was after five. I’d slept for most of the day. It was a good thing I’d called in sick.
I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. My stomach rumbled, demanding to be fed. I hadn’t eaten in more than twenty-four hours. After doing my business I brushed my hair and teeth. For all Gran knew I was at work. I was supposed to be. When I got downstairs I found Gran in the living room with a ball of yarn in her lap while she crocheted something.
“Oh, Sookie, you’re home,” she smiled when she saw me.
“I called in sick,” I admitted.
“What’s wrong, honey?” she looked at me with concern.
“I’m just not feeling well,” I said.
“Does it have anything to do with those lovely hyacinths that ended up in my bedroom?” Gran asked as she resumed her crocheting.
“Eric and I aren’t seeing each other anymore,” I told her. “I found out that he lied about some pretty important things and I can’t trust him anymore because of it.”
“I see,” she nodded, but offered nothing further.
I was a little disappointed that Gran wasn’t offering me any advice, or encouraging me to reconsider whether or not I could find a way to work things out with Eric. She continued to work on her project and stayed quiet until I turned around to leave the room.
“You know, Sookie, in the old days folks used to convey their feelings or send messages with flowers,” Gran said from behind me, and I stopped walking. “It wasn’t just the kind of flower that mattered, but the color. A pink carnation meant something completely different from a white one. A Calla Lily meant something different from a Day Lily.”
I knew Gran had a point and I was curious to hear what it was.
“So what does a purple hyacinth mean?” I asked her.
She looked up from her project with a faint smile and said, “Sorrow, please forgive me, I am sorry. I don’t know what that young man lied to you about, but he obviously put some thought into his choice of flowers. My guess is that he regrets what he’s done.”
I smiled at that. Not because Eric’s message warmed my heart, but because it gave me an idea for how to return my feelings.
“Gran, do you have a book about the messages flowers send?” I asked her.
“I do,” she nodded. “It’s on the shelf over with the others.”
“Thanks,” I said, and moved over to the shelf to find the book in question. Once I had it, I went back upstairs to my bedroom.
I had flowers to order.