Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest. SeriousCrush puts aside her real life and always helps me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that! I also need to thank murgatroid-98 for her brilliant idea!
Chapter 10: Truth
The first day in the hospital was a complete blur, but by the following morning, Sookie was conscious enough to notice the police officer just outside her room. “Hey Kevin.” She touched her throat lightly. It hurt like hell.
Kevin jumped out of his chair and rushed down the hall, his shiny shoes slapping against the smooth tile. A few minutes later, he returned. “Sorry about that, Miss Stackhouse. I had to call Andy as soon as you woke up. Just following orders.”
She nodded. That hurt too. Her left arm was in a sling.
Kevin’s commotion got the attention of the nurse on duty. She popped in, smiling as she checked Sookie’s vitals. “You’re a strong lady. I can’t believe you’re up so soon.”
Just as the nurse finished explaining which button to push for pain meds, Andy drifted into the room.
“I’m glad to see you.” Andy’s face was drawn with exhaustion. “Does it hurt to talk?”
Sookie gave him a hint of a nod and hoped he saw it. He must’ve because when he started asking her questions he asked them in yes or no format. After Andy rattled off a dozen or so, Sookie held up her hand to interrupt him.
“Is he alive?” she whispered.
“For now. You cut him really good, and his skull’s broken in one spot. He won’t shut up. He admitted to everything. We had suspicions after Sam called, but we never thought anything would happen so quickly.” Andy patted her good hand. “You look tired. I’ll come back, okay?”
Sookie drifted in and out of consciousness. The pain medication helped keep her out, but not so much that she couldn’t acknowledge the stream of visitors. At one point she thought she saw Eric outside her window, but it was surely a hallucination. Vampires couldn’t fly, could they?
Gran and Jason came together, sitting carefully on either side of her bed. Gran talked about her plans to move home, just as soon as Sookie was feeling good enough to join her. In the mean time, she and Jason agreed she would stay with him, just in case.
Jason shook his head, his face contorted with grief. “He really messed you up, Sook. I didn’t mean to tell him. I swear I didn’t.”
It was her turn to comfort him with a tiny pat on his knee. She hoped her eyes conveyed her emotions, because she was still in no shape to talk. While they were there visiting, Arlene stumbled into her room. Her hair a red rat’s nest and her makeup smudged as if she’d slept on it.
She gasped at the sight of Sookie’s bloody and bruised body. “I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe he would hurt you. That he would hurt anyone.” Tears welled in her eyes, softening the edges of her mascara a little more into a raccoon circle around her lashes. “I’m so sorry, Sookie. I should’ve known.” Her body shook with sobs and then Jason had his arm around her.
He shushed her as he walked her out of the room. Even he could tell she was making a scene that Sookie couldn’t deal with.
Alone with Gran, Sookie whispered, “I’m glad it wasn’t you.” She swallowed the burning pain down her throat.
Gran dabbed the corner of her eye. “I’m sorry it was you.” She kissed Sookie’s forehead as she stood. “Get better quick and we’ll go home together, okay?”
“K,” Sookie whispered.
At one point, she received flower deliveries. Sam and the rest of the Merlotte’s employees sent a houseplant with big glossy leaves, which would be perfect in her kitchen, and Eric sent a floral arrangement like nothing she’d ever seen before. It featured an engorged, blood red flower like something right out of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. The note only had his signature. There was still no word from Bill.
Over the next two days, her regular visitors came and went, including Andy, who had more questions. Thankfully, it got a little easier for her to answer.
When Andy told Sookie that Rene had died, she cried like a child. It hurt too much to try and hold it back, so she didn’t.
Andy cocked his head. “Just when I think I’ve got you figured out, you surprise me. Before he died, Rene confessed to five murders and the attempt on your life. Maybe he didn’t fight to live because dying was the easy way out, a way for him to avoid facing the families he destroyed when he took their daughters and sisters.” Andy looked sickened.
Sookie’s tears stopped. She was blaming herself for his death, but at that moment she realized she hadn’t taken his life. He’d done that to himself.
On the third day she was in the hospital, Sookie used the toilet by herself and even managed to shower – with a lot of help. It was the most wonderful shower she’d ever experienced, even if the sight of her swollen skin was enough to make her cry.
She spent most of the day awake, and ate real food for dinner. The fever she’d been fighting was holding steady at ninety-nine, and the nurse told her that if it broke overnight, she could go home in the morning. That was incentive enough for her to get better.
As she sat in her bed, watching TV, willing her body to heal, Bill rushed through the door, closing it behind him.
He hissed and moved to her side in a blur of movement. He touched her exposed skin, moving her arms and head so he could see every inch. When he pulled back the sheet, she stopped him. He frowned.
“Where have you been?” Her voice was cold and level. Even if she’d wanted to call him, she couldn’t.
“On business.” He straightened his back and put the sheet back in place. “Where is the man who did this to you?”
“Dead.” Sookie narrowed her eyes. “It’s a good thing I can take care of myself.”
Bill looked toward the door. Perhaps he was thinking of leaving.
Sookie stared out the window, furious. They were at an impasse. Again. As she collected her thoughts, trying to decide what she was supposed to say, Eric floated past her window. His handsome face framed by his blond hair. He smiled at her and motioned to come inside. He wasn’t a hallucination! She nodded her consent.
Eric slid through the open window as silently as a cat. Even still, Bill could sense his presence. Bill lunged protectively over Sookie’s body, making it difficult for her to breathe.
“Get off me. I invited him in.” Sookie pushed against him with her frail hand. Bill moved away slowly, remaining by her side.
“She’s mine.” Bill snarled.
Eric glared at him. He seemed to be waiting to speak. Waiting until he slowly unraveled Bill’s calm exterior.
It was working.
Sookie rolled her eyes, marveling at how much it hurt to do something so simple. “Eric has had my blood and healed me too. He has just as much a right to claim me as you do.” She was staring at Eric. She hadn’t been wrong about splitting her lip. As soon as she found out he was a vampire, she knew the truth. “Two years ago.”
A cocky smile slid across Eric’s face, making Bill growl.
“He was also there after Rene attacked me. He came to help me. He called the police,” Sookie said, hoping she was right.
Eric nodded slightly.
“Sookie, I was in New Orleans, attending to some very important business. I’ve been assigned a new job, Eric cannot tell us what to do anymore. I’m protected by the Queen.”
As Bill finished talking, Eric moved slowly toward the side of Sookie’s bed, his hands behind his back. “You’re not as protected as you think you are.” Eric stunned Bill into silence. “And this isn’t a new job, it’s the one she promised you if you ever completed your task. You had all the proof you needed the night you met her. Why did you wait?”
“Proof of what?” Sookie tried to sit up, but it took more energy than she possessed at the moment, so she just slumped back into her pillows.
“Proof that you’re the telepath Bill was sent to procure. That’s his job. He’s an errand boy.” Eric’s face twisted with disdain.
Bill moved as if he was going to attack Eric, but Sookie spoke first. “Wait. You knew I was a telepath?” She needed to hear the truth from Bill’s mouth.
“Sookie, Eric is taking liberties.” Bill’s eyes were wide.
“Am I?” Eric tilted his head. “Tell her why you waited. Tell her about the night she was attacked while waiting for you.”
“Bill, were you sent to procure me?” Sookie’s voice took on a hard edge.
“Sookie let me explain…”
“No. It’s a simple question. Yes or no.” Suddenly, the pain in her throat didn’t matter.
“Yes, but I—” Bill blubbered.
“So the night we met, you came looking for me? Did you set up the whole thing with the Rats too?” Her heart raced.
“No. They were going to kill me. If you hadn’t fought them off, I wouldn’t be here.” Bill looked pathetic.
Would that be such a bad thing? Sookie glowered at him. “Did you let the Rats hurt me so you could give me your blood?”
“I saved you,” Bill said.
“You were supposed to be there at one. Were you there? Watching and waiting for the perfect moment to save me?” Her eyes were wide as the pieces started to fall into place.
“Answer me!” she screamed. Angry tears started welling in her eyes.
“Yes,” he said so softly she barely heard him.
“You let them hurt me. Break my legs, nose, and jaw. Kick me hard enough to fill my insides with blood.” She raised her good arm and slapped him hard across the face. It stung her fingers. Tears slid down her cheeks.
Bill reached out to wipe them away, but Sookie stopped him.
“Don’t touch me. Ever again.” She held his gaze with a fury that boiled out of her. “I can’t believe I trusted you. I was just part of the job, wasn’t I? A piece of property you were supposed to collect so you could get the title you wanted.” She spat each word at him. “Get out!”
Bill didn’t fight or say another word. He just left.
“I’m so sorry.” Eric straightened his back slowly, and turned to leave through the window he came in through.
“Don’t go.” It wasn’t much more than a whimper.
Eric turned to face her. “I thought you deserved the truth, even if it was horrible.”
Sookie nodded, afraid to speak again because she knew words would bring more tears: tears of sorrow, disappointment, and anger. Bill wasn’t worth her tears. She took a deep breath in and when she let it out, she let Bill go with it.
“May I sit with you?” Eric asked.
She nodded. “I can’t move easily.” Eric cradled her weak body into his arms, lifting her and placing her back down toward the left side of the bed. He sat beside her, the bed groaning under his weight. “Here,” she said as she patted the pillow encouraging him to stretch out. His arm became her pillow.
Just as he was getting comfortable, the door opened, and the nurse poked her head inside. The second she saw Eric she barged the rest of the way into the room. “Visiting hours are over. I’m afraid you’ll have to go. Miss Stackhouse needs her rest.”
Eric’s body tensed as if he was about to get up, but Sookie put her hand on his chest. “Please let him stay?” she begged. “I feel better when I’m around him. Please?”
The nurse looked at them long and hard, and then her face softened. “Okay, but not a word to my supervisor, you got it?”
Sookie nodded. “Thank you.”
While she was in the room, the nurse checked to make sure everything was hooked up properly, and took her temperature. Before she left, she mimed locking her mouth and throwing away the key.
Sookie smiled for the first time that night.
“I make you feel better?” Eric said as Sookie nuzzled against his arm.
“Yep. Sure do.”
“I could’ve taken care of that nurse, you know.”
She gave a tiny shrug. “I’m very persuasive.”
He touched the bridge of her nose with feather-like fingertips. “Can I heal you?”
Sookie tilted her face up toward his. It was like Bill all over again.
As if he could read her mind, he said, “I’m going to set the record straight and tell you I didn’t arrive at your brother’s house until after you passed out in the driveway. I didn’t even see the fight, I just saw the aftermath.”
“You carried me inside.” It was just as much a question as it was a statement.
“What about Rene? Where was he?”
Eric touched her back gently. “He was near his truck, struggling to get inside. I made sure he wouldn’t get away.”
A light bulb went off in her brain. “His cracked skull?”
Eric shrugged. “You asked me not to kill him, so I just slowed him down and got him to admit what he’d done.” He exhaled an unnecessary breath. “I wasn’t waiting in the shadows so I could save you. You saved yourself.”
“I paid a heavy price.” She touched her painful shoulder.
“Let me heal you, just a little, so you can go home.”
“I want to go home.” She sighed. “But will this give you some kind of ownership over me?”
“Only if you want it.”
It was the perfect answer. “Okay.”
Eric brought his free arm to his mouth and his fangs pierced his skin with a wet pop. When the blood started to drip down his wrist, he thrust the wound toward her mouth.
Sookie took a deep breath and ignored her disgust. Eric’s blood coated her tongue, sweet and sticky. She closed her eyes as it pinged through her body, filling her with a euphoria she’d never experienced before. The aches in her body subsided and she finally had the strength to sit up.
“Sookie. Just a little.” He pulled his arm away gently, finally breaking her grasp. She had been holding onto him with both hands. He wiped her lips and sucked his thumb into his mouth.
“Thank you. I feel much better. How do I look?” The pain in her left shoulder was gone.
“Like you need more blood.” He touched her nose.
It didn’t hurt as much. “Can’t heal all the way, that would be too suspicious.”
“So, there’s a queen?” Sookie blurted out. That bit of their conversation had not gone unnoticed.
“Yes, and she wants to meet you. She wants to offer you a job.”
“What kind of job?” She couldn’t keep the hesitation out of her voice.
“A job that uses your gift.”
“Do I have any choice in the matter?” She swallowed hard remembering the night Bill was sent to deliver her to Fangtasia to help Eric.
“The Queen will not relent. She’s used to getting what she wants, but I have talked to her on your behalf.”
Sookie frowned. “Why didn’t Bill just ask me to meet her?”
“Because he’s a greedy fool. He was sent to collect you but decided to play with you first.” He cupped her cheek in his large hand. “I am neither of those things, and I have no intention of playing with you.”
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. What he was saying felt right inside her. She believed him. “Can I think about it?”
“Of course.” Eric smiled.
Sookie pulled the sling off and moved her shoulder. When she lay down next to him she nuzzled into his chest and hugged him with her healed arm. The excitement of the night was catching up with her. “I need to sleep. Will you stay?”
“Until sunrise,” Eric said as he kissed the top of her head.
There is only one chapter left, but I promise you this, you’re going to like it. On to Sookie’s Present: Chapter 11
Also, I’m working on part 2 of Take Me Now, You Big Viking (padore, I hope you’re happy…)