Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest. All mistakes are my own.
The faint sound of birds chirping was the first thing she noticed. The second was the smell. This isn’t my bed. She sat bolt upright. The blankets that had been around her shoulders fell away.
“Where in the world am I?” she said to the silent house. She closed her eyes and listened. Wherever she was, she was alone. Or was she? A big blank spot lingered somewhere below the floor.
As she hopped out of bed, bits and pieces of the previous night started to come back to her. The sun struggled to get through the thick curtains, barely letting in enough light that she could see the splotches of blood on her dress. The same dress she’d worn when they were attacked. People died. Sookie watched it happen. Bill killed someone and then she left.
Her eyes widened. Eric! He had been in her car and they got on the plane together. Everything after that was gone. What happened?
Sookie tentatively opened the bedroom door and poked her head out into the hall. She passed a bathroom on her way to the beautiful front room. Rich leather couches spanned the length of the room, dotted with pillows made of jewel-toned velvet. The spacious room opened into a kitchen, and there, on the counter sat a cell phone and a piece of paper.
Sookie, Feel free to stay as long as you need. There is food in the fridge. You were too tired to take home last night. When you are ready to leave, dial the number below. He’s expecting you. E
Sookie scoffed. Mr. High and Mighty decided what was best for her, even though she explicitly told him she wanted to go home. She was beginning to understand that it didn’t matter what she wanted. Eric always seemed to get his way.
Her stomach growled on the way to the fridge. Thankfully, Eric had a microwave, which made the burger palatable even though it had obviously been under heat lamps for several hours before being stored in the fridge all night. It was after noon. No wonder I’m so hungry.
Despite how beautiful Eric’s house was, or how safe she felt knowing he was somewhere near, she needed to go home. She dialed the number Eric provided and gasped when the man greeted her.
“Would you like a ride, Miss Stackhouse?”
Sookie stared at the phone. “Um. Yes?”
“I’ll be there in five minutes.” The phone went dead.
She sighed. Riding with a stranger didn’t seem like a good idea, but neither did hiding in Eric’s house all day. She couldn’t think of anything to say to Eric besides thanking him for the food, so that’s what she wrote on the bottom of the note. She positioned the phone where it had been when she found it.
Exactly five minutes later, a car pulled into the driveway outside. A tall man in a black suit stepped out of the car and opened the back door for her. He moved like a robot and his face was unreadable.
Sookie took a step toward him and then paused. She listened to him to be sure she could trust him. After a moment of flipping through his brain she decided that he was just a faithful employee running errands for Master Eric.
“Thanks for coming to get me, um, what did you say your name was again?”
“Bobby. And you’re welcome. All part of the job.” He obviously took his job very seriously. He helped her into the back seat. “Where to, Miss?”
He nodded and pulled away from the vast houses in Eric’s neighborhood and headed toward her small hometown. Bobby wasn’t chatty, which was a relief after the over-stimulating night Sookie had endured. The car bounced down her long driveway and stopped in front of her house.
“Thank you, Bobby.” Sookie pulled a few dollars out of her purse. It wasn’t much, but it was all the cash she had on her.
Bobby shook his head. “That’s kind of you, but everything is taken care of.”
She blushed and tucked the bills away. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He nodded and then he left.
A blast of hot, stagnant air spilled out of her front door. After she deposited her purse on the kitchen table, she set to work opening windows and turning on fans. No one knew she was home, and that was fine with her. She wasn’t scheduled to work either. She had asked for the rest of the week off, and she intended to use the time to enjoy a little staycation. Two days to do whatever she wanted, starting with a little sunbathing.
Alone for the first time in days, she sprawled out on the old chair she kept by the side of the house in a big sunny patch on the driveway. Her tiny bikini revealed just how bruised her body had gotten during the bombing. The left side of her face and her upper body had suffered the worst. The warmth from the sun eased some of the pain.
She couldn’t fully relax, despite her comfortable chair and her exhaustion. She kept waiting for something to happen: someone would grab her, hurt her, bombs would explode, or she would have to witness her boyfriend being a vicious killer all over again. Her anxiety only intensified as the sun went down.
On the edge of her seat in her kitchen, Sookie attempted to read a book. Her eyes scanned the words but nothing penetrated her brain.
She closed her book and paced the worn linoleum floor. What if the police track me down? What if the Fellowship people get here first? What if Bill shows up on my doorstep? She swallowed hard. I’m not ready to see Bill.
With her purse tucked under her arm and her keys in her hand, she got in her car. Where am I going to go? If I show up at Merlotte’s, Sam will know I’m back from Dallas and he’ll expect me to work. Still recuperating from everything that happened, physically and emotionally, she really didn’t want to go back yet. She had to get out of Bon Temps.
She started driving and ended up in front of Fangtasia. Knowing Eric was within walking distance made her feel better somehow. For the first time that day, she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
* * * *
Sookie woke with a start when something hit her window, ripping her out of her peaceful slumber.
On to Stay: Chapter 4