When I see you crying
If your tears run out
I will lasso you a thunder-cloud
When you’re tired of trying
I won’t stay away
I don’t care what other people say
When there’s nothing left to do
I’ll pull you close and wrap my arms around you
No, I won’t let you slip
I’ll be your tourniquet
No, I won’t ever quit
I’ll be your tourniquet
When you’ve been forgotten
Labeled left for lost
Given up, knocked down, and written off
When you feel like dying
Think you won’t be missed
I will be there in an ambulance
When there’s nothing left to do
I’ll pull you close and wrap my arms around you
No, I won’t let you slip
I’ll be your tourniquet
No, I won’t ever quit
I’ll be your tourniquet
Jeremy Messersmith – Tourniquet
I glance over at Sookie. Her hand has went slack in mine. She’s asleep.
Not sure if that makes me feel better or not, but at least it’s an innocent reason for the silence. After six days of talking and laughter, the quiet has been deafening.
We’ve had a great vacation, but now there’s nothing but road between us and Bon Temps. No more stops or detours.
With every mile the Vette’s eaten up the quieter she’s gotten.
It makes my chest ache. I hate that fucking ache. Once this is over and we’re headed home, I hope I never have to feel it again. I know she needs to do this, but I wish to God she didn’t have to.
She’d been doing fine since we’d left Savannah. Great actually. I don’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a road trip or vacation more and she’d been just as happy as me.
On the way over to Destin, which took almost six hours–Savannah unfortunately is a long way from everywhere–we talked through how we were gonna start our lives together once we got back from Bon Temps. Where we were gonna live, what kind of wedding we wanted, if we both wanted to work or not.
It took some convincing on both sides–her that she was good staying where we were and didn’t need to start new and me wanting to live full-time at ‘The Marsh House’ as we dubbed it, instead of my townhouse.
I knew where I wanted to be, but I was worried the marsh house held too many memories for her. She assured me that there were now a lot more memories of me, and us there than any from her past. She was more than fine on making it ours if I was.
So I helped her see that while I’ve always loved my house, I just couldn’t see it feeling like home anymore. Her place is where we fell in love. All of our memories as ‘us’ are there, all of our firsts together. I didn’t just fall in love with her over the last few months, but the place too. It’s so peaceful. We’re secluded from all the busyness of town, there’s no honking horns, yelling people, or sirens to wake you up in the middle of the night. Just bugs, frogs, and the wind lulling you to sleep. It’s like an oasis to me. Close enough to zip into town and back, but far enough away you feel like you’re living a permanent vacation.
And I didn’t tell her this, but I don’t want the memories of the other women I’ve had in my house invading on us for the rest of our lives. I know she swore they didn’t matter to her, but they still bother me. They’re something maybe Claudine and I should talk about. I’d like to put them in the past and keep them there.
One of Sookie’s arguments was the marsh house being further for me to get to work, but I don’t care. It’s not so far that it matters. What’s another ten or fifteen minutes? Then she said we’d have to do some more updates–the master bath, the basement, add-on a garage, and maybe replace the roof and windows–but those aren’t a problem either. If they get too annoying to be living in the middle of I’ll just leave my house off the market so we can stay there until they’re finished. Six weeks tops should be all it takes to get them done.
It’s home now and I want it to stay home for good.
I didn’t mention this either–I actually had to bite my tongue several times– but if she’s open to having kids I’d much rather them grow up out there where they can run and play to their heart’s content than be stuck in the tiny yard at the town house.
Having our own babies is one subject we’ve both avoided. I know without a doubt it’s something I want, but I’ll understand if she can’t go there again. I’m not sure if I lost a child I would be able to have another. I don’t know if I could stand to risk my heart. She says she doesn’t see me as a replacement for Trey and I believe her, but bringing a child into the world is a huge decision even under normal circumstances, after Lucas I just don’t know.
But, at some point the conversation will happen. I’m just going to let her decide when that is.
As for the wedding we both agreed wholeheartedly on going small. Neither of us are flashy people and our circle of family and friends is small too. Pam is not gonna be happy with us, but it’s our wedding so she’ll just have to deal with it. We’ve decided to do it Forrest and Jenny style out in the yard overlooking the marshes.
She was gushing like I’d never seen her before talking about it. It was hard to keep up with her. Her dress, my suit, the flowers, decorations, the music, the food. I just sat back and listened to her, smiling at her enthusiasm.
We’re thinking of waiting till the fall, maybe around my Thanksgiving break. We’d melt if we did it during the summer. The updates will be done on the house by then and there’ll be plenty of room for our tiny guest list. I think we came up with twenty-five people. It’ll be relaxed and intimate.
She thinks it’ll be that much more special to us that way. We won’t have to be rushed, or stressed, put on a show for anyone… Just us and our favorite people celebrating our love. I completely agree. I honestly don’t think you could get any better than that.
We made it to Destin late Friday afternoon and had an amazing time. Our condo was right on the beach. We got up and watched the sunrise every morning, had some fabulous after breakfast sex, then we’d hit the sand and waves for a few hours. I’d help her fix lunch, we’d rinse off in the shower and take a nap listening to the waves crashing. Two of the days we went back out and enjoyed the beach some more, the second day though we went out and played some putt putt.
She’s a competitive little thing. It didn’t take long for her to figure out I was letting her win. She wasn’t having that and threatened to whoop me with her club if I didn’t quit it. I still let her beat me, I just did a better job of faking it. I wanted to do go-carts after, but she was too scared to let me. She just knew I’d wreck and break my leg again.
I didn’t make her worry. My long ass body doesn’t really fit in those tiny carts anyway. We took a ride in a huge ferris wheel instead.
I took her out to eat every night. We even danced at one place. Both of us had a few drinks in us, our firsts together. She’s adorable when she’s buzzed.
We walked hand in hand back to the condo that night. The restaurant had been just down the beach from us. It was pretty much deserted at that hour. I think I saw one other couple, at least I think it was people. Hard to tell when it’s dark and you’re buzzing and all you can see is a shadowy blob moving around in the dunes.
I’d never walked on the beach with a girl before. It didn’t take much for me to figure out why it was considered romantic though.
She had on a sexy, little white sundress, her feet bare as she was walked along the edge of the water. The moon was full giving enough light that it almost made her look like she was glowing. Her eyes sparkled every time she would smile up at me, laughing at whatever stupid thing my half-drunk brain had let my mouth say.
Seeing her, how beautiful she was, how light she looked–it felt like I was with a Sookie that had never known pain or loss. There were shadows falling over her face, but they weren’t her shadows. Her smile was that smile. The one I’d seen on mom’s face all those years ago. I know it was dark and I was half-drunk, but it was that smile. I wasn’t seeing or imagining things. It was there and I felt completely drunk knowing I was the reason for it. She’d once again managed to make me even happier than I thought I could be.
Half of me wanted to stop us right then and lay her down in the sand and worship her for hours. My other half won out. I had scooped her up and swung her around in circles until she was laughing so hard she begged me to stop. I probably shouldn’t have done it, I made us both a little queasy and we almost fell in the water, but it was worth it to hear her laughter.
I did wind up worshipping her for hours though, I just got us to the condo first.
I saw that smile several more times while we were there. It even made it to Natchez with us. But last night it left and the shadows came back even though she tried her best to hide them. She knew vacation was over and what today would bring.
Memories. And not the good kind.
I didn’t press her to talk or even try to coax a smile from her. She needed space, so I gave it to her, staying her silent support. It was the first night in weeks we didn’t make love before bed. I just held her, stroking her hair until she fell asleep on my chest while watching TV.
She had a nightmare around four am. It was a bad one too. She screamed out for Lucas, scaring me awake from a deep sleep. It took me a long time to wake her, at least it seemed like forever. Usually I just hold her while she calms down and she’ll eventually fall back to sleep. This time was different.
To be honest, I’m still a bit shaken from it.
She held onto me and cried for a while, then she started kissing me. At first she kept them soft and gentle, but then she turned desperate. Her hands and lips were suddenly everywhere and she was begging me touch her as she tore at what little clothes we had on. I was in shock for a bit, I’d never seen her that way and couldn’t help but wonder if I had made her feel as out of balance the times I had been so frantic to make the thoughts and feelings go away. I didn’t like knowing I probably did.
But soon her mouth was erasing all my thoughts and I couldn’t help my body responding. Once she had me throbbing for her she climbed on top of me and fucked me harder than she ever had, screaming out my name. She was barely over one orgasm before she got off onto her hands and knees and told me fuck her.
We fucked like a couple of wild animals until we were both exhausted. I’m sure the people sleeping in the rooms next to us had very unwelcome early wake up calls. She fell asleep sweaty and draped across me. I laid awake and stared at the ceiling until well after dawn.
I was glad I was able to give her what she needed, but at the same time it left me feeling sort of empty. There hadn’t been any love involved and it reminded me too much of my manwhore days. I never wanted it to be that way with her. But I guess it’s unrealistic to think we would never have sex just for the sake of sex. We’re planning to spend the rest of our lives together, I’m sure in a lifetime of marriage there will be ups and downs in our sex life. I finally pushed it aside to think about later and fell asleep for a couple more hours.
This morning didn’t have me anymore centered though. Other than a quick kiss and a ‘thanks for last night’ she acted as if it never happened. I wasn’t hurt, but it didn’t make me feel good either.
But I’m determined to be here for her no matter what she needs. She always has been for me and I went off the deep end on her more than once.
“In two point five miles, take exit fifty-four to state highway nine,” creepy, disembodied gps lady drones.
I meant to turn that damn thing off.
Sookie starts to stir, rubbing her face and stretching out the stiffness you can only get by sleeping in a car. It takes her a minute but she finally wakes up enough to look over at me.
“Hey, beautiful. Sorry this thing woke you up.” I reach over, turning the volume off on it.
“It’s okay,” she murmurs. Her smile is still sleepy, but at least she has one. She stretches some more and lets out a huge yawn.
Who knew those could be so adorable?
After digging through her purse and finding her phone, she’s just staring at it, that bottom lip I love to suck on trapped between her teeth.
I concentrate on getting us off our exit and since there’s no one behind us I hold up at the top of the ramp. She’s still chewing on her lip.
“Bird? You alright?” I ask softly, reaching over to brush her hair over her shoulder.
She looks at me, her beautiful face scrunched up with worry. “Umm, Lala texted me. He wants us to come to Merlotte’s. It’s the local restaurant. Him and Tara are there.”
“You don’t want to go right now?”
“I do and then again I don’t. There’ll be so many people there. Ones I haven’t seen since…”
Her chin is beginning to quiver. I move my hand from her hair to cup her cheek. “It’s okay. Why don’t you just tell him to meet us at the house?”
“I don’t want to go there either,” she whispers, then dissolves into tears.
Fuck! Way to good dipshit.
There’s no good way to hold her in this fucking car, so I put it in park and jump out, running around and opening her door. As soon as I squat down she launches herself at me. I wrap her in my arms and stand us up, then lean back against the side of the car. She tries to slide down my body, but I hold her tight.
She cries pretty hard for a minute or two then quiets down to just sniffles.
“I’m sorry, I’m being so stupid,” she mumbles into my neck
“Hush, you are not. You’re about as far from stupid as you can get,” I whisper against her temple then give it a kiss. “I understand and if you want, I’ll turn this car east and we’ll go home. If you’re not ready, it’s okay. I can bring you back when you are. Just say the word.”
Her arms tighten around my neck and her breathing starts to hitch. “Do you have….any idea how much…I love you?”
“If it’s anywhere close to how much I love you, it’s a whole hell of a lot.”
Thank God that gets some laughter out of her, even if it’s mixed with tears. “It is.”
She squirms enough I let her go and she wipes at her face. I gently move her hands away and grasp her chin in one of mine then wrap my other in my t-shirt and use it to clean up her runny mascara. Her big, sad eyes nearly make me start squalling.
Once I have her cleaned up she lays against my chest and we just stand there holding each other on the side of the road. It’s not till then I feel the sweltering heat. I thought Georgia was bad, it ain’t got nothing on this place. Louisiana in July is like an obscene phone call from nature. The air is moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh and it feels like it’s being exhaled into your face. With all the bugs and their chorus of noises it even sounds like heavy breathing.*
We’ve been out here less than ten minutes and I’m already soaked with sweat. I feel disgusting. I’m not moving until she’s ready though.
“Let’s get back in the car, it’s too hot out here,” she groans and pulls away fanning her shirt.
Thank you, God.
I get her back in then myself, cranking up the AC even higher than it already was the second I shut my door. She sucks down half of a fresh water and gives me the rest.
Now that I feel like I might survive I concentrate on her again. It looks like her tears released some of her anxiety, she seems okay now, but I don’t press her with questions, I just wait for her to tell me which way to go.
She leans her head back against the seat and closes her eyes for a second, taking in a deep breath and letting it out before turning and looking at me. “Thank you,” she says, reaching for my hand.
I lace my fingers with hers and squeeze. “There’s nothing to thank me for beautiful.”
“Yeah there is.” She pulls my hand up to her lips and kisses my knuckles then puts it on the gear shift. “Take a left till you dead end then a right.”
We make it to Merlotte’s about ten minutes later. If the parking lot is any indication everyone in Bon Temps must be inside.
“It’s the only restaurant in town. You either pack a sack or come here,” Sookie says, noting my surprised look.
I smirk at her. “Pack a sack?”
“You know, a sack lunch. From home?”
“Yeah, I’ve just never heard it put quite so cute before.”
She rolls her eyes, grinning. “You think everything I do is cute, you big sap.”
“Yeah I do.” I might also be doing whatever I can to make you smile again.
She turns to look out her window at the parking lot and that smile vanishes. “The panic attack I feel coming on probably isn’t gonna be too cute.”
“Cute or not, I’ll be right beside you. We can leave the second it gets too much. Your friends will understand and the rest of those people and their opinions don’t matter.”
She turns and looks at me, staring long enough my chest gets tight. “I love you, Eric Northman.”
“I love you.”
She blesses me with one of those smiles and winks. “I know. Now let’s go before I chicken out. The sooner I get in there the sooner I can leave.”
I turn off the car and climb out, then go around to help her out, but she beat me to it. She’s already bouncing on her feet when I get to her. She grabs my hand, lacing her fingers with mine and pulls me towards the building. Her palm’s calmy.
A cacophony of voices and noises bombard us the second I open the door for us. The bell jingles over our heads and everything and everyone comes to a standstill. Only Conway Twitty continues to croon from the jukebox about his Louisiana woman.
A good thirty to forty sets of eyes stare back at us. Some seem friendly, most are in shock. Then a man who could only be Lafayette jumps up from a booth towards the back. Sookie told me he was flashy. I didn’t realize how flashy she meant.
“Sookie!!” a woman yells, joining in on his excitement. Tara, I assume since she was sitting across from him.
They both rush us and nearly knock Sookie to the ground their hugs are so enthusiastic. I stand back and watch their reunion along with everyone else. There’s lots of laughter, hugs, and tears and just when I think I might get a chance to introduce myself half the restaurant decides they need to reunite with her too.
I stay close and watch her closer, for signs of panic or the wrong kind of tears, thankfully I don’t see any. She’s smiling and even laughing every once in a while. My breathing gets easier each time, I want her to enjoy this.
Suddenly my view is filled with a well-built, six-foot, bright and sparkly black man. Lafayette. He looks me up and down with his glittery eyes, licking his lips. “Mmmm, mmm, mmmm. You’s must be Eric. Sook told me you’s was fine, but she done hit the jackpot wit you,” he murmurs, batting his lashes at me. “The things I would do to you. Laaaw have mercy.”
I laugh because I can’t do anything else. I’ve had some looks from other men before, but this is a first. I pull myself together and hold out my hand. “Eric Northman, nice to meet you Lafayette.”
He slips his hand into mine, soft and smooth at first then grips it firmly. Almost too firm. “Let’s go get acquainted, she be wrapped up wit that bunch fo a while.”
There’s a hard edge to his voice now. Time to pass the best friend test I suppose.
“Alright, sounds good, give me just a sec.”
He lets me go and heads to his table. I focus on Sookie again and she’s still smiling. I catch her eye and nod my head towards Lafayette. She smiles bigger and nods back so I go join him. He’s switched sides in the booth, leaving the back open for me. I’ll be able to keep an eye on her from here.
“Thanks,” I tell him, acknowledging his gesture.
He nods. “She look good. Really good. Best I ever seen her. I guess we got you to thank fo that.”
I shrug, “I like to think I had something to do with it, but she should get all the credit. I’ve never known anyone stronger than her.”
“You’s got that right.”
A waitress with shocking red hair walks up to our table, cocking her bony hip and smacking her gum. She completely ignores Lafayette, her eyes checking me out just like his did. “Hi there, handsome. You new in town?” she asks, her voice pouring out like buttermilk from her smiling lips. Soured buttermilk. It’s sharp and gives me the urge to cringe.
I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling or cringing at her obvious flirtation.
“Arlene, dis is Sookie’s boyfriend, Eric. He’s firmly attached and he ain’t stayin around here neither. Take the man’s order and quit yo catin,” Lafayette sasses her, his perfectly waxed eyebrows raised, daring her to push him.
She snarls and rolls her eyes at him before looking back at me, not smiling near as much anymore. “What can I get you?”
“Two sweet teas, please. I’ll wait on Sookie for the food.”
She nods then spins around and stalks off towards the bar.
“Don’t pay her no mine, she a hot mess. So…. you is firmly attached, right?” he asks, those eyebrows daring me now.
I smile in what I hope is a reassuring way. “Bout as attached as you can get. She’s gonna need dynamite to get rid of me.”
He doesn’t seem convinced so I cross my arms and lean over the table towards him. “I love her, Lafayette. She means more to me than anything else, more than anything or anyone ever has. All I want is to make the rest of her life as happy as possible. There’s a ring ready to be picked up from the jeweler’s when we get back to Georgia. We’ve already got the wedding planned out. She’s it for me.”
He stares at me for a long minute, doing his best to weed out the truth. He finally seems to find it.
His expression changes to what could only be described as “sassy dominant” as he points his finger at me. “I’s gonna trust you fo now, but if you ever hurt that girl I swear fo God yo sexy ass be finding yoself knee-deep in some backwoods swamp. Dem gators loves dem some white meat. Is you feelin me?”
He’s dead serious.
“I’m feeling ya. I’ll throw my own self to the gators if I hurt her. Scout’s honor.”
He sits back, slapping the table top, his head weaving with attitude, “A’right den, we good.”
Red shows up with the sweet teas just then, plunking them down none too gently. She throws a couple of straws down with a curt smile before walking off.
We shake our heads and share a smile, then he turns solemn, leaning over the table.
“Seriously tho, thank you fo doing what we couldn’t. I thought I’d never see her alive again. It was the hardest thing I ever done, lettin her leave. You don’t know how relieved I is that she didn’t…you know?” He waves his hand in a circle, looking anywhere but at me. “Me and Tara, we was sick twenty fo seven thinkin bout it.” He looks up at me, his dark eyes full of guilt, he even looks smaller under the weight of it. “I can only imagine what you think bout us. But we tried everythin. Nothin worked. Not even dat “best center in da country” we sent her to. She was just sufferin. We didn’t wanna be the selfish bastards dat made her keep on sufferin. So we let er go and just prayed she’d make it.”
I nod and take a big drink of my tea hoping the knot in my throat will go down with it and maybe it’ll cool the hot ball of anger that’s sitting heavy in my stomach. I still can’t believe they were just going to let her kill herself.
But, them letting her go brought her to me so…
“She told me last week it was divine intervention that we met. I’m inclined to believe her,” I tell him.
“Yeah. I sho believe dat. I probably won’t ever fogive myself, but seein her now? It’s mo dan worth that.”
I look over and check on her again. Her and Tara are headed our way so I scoot over to make room for her, putting my arm on the back of the booth if she wants to get close.
She does, tucking herself against my chest, her face in my neck. I wrap my arm around her and press my cheek to hers. “You okay?” I whisper in her ear.
“Mmmm, hmmm,” she hums, but stays right where she is.
Her breathing is good and I don’t hear any sniffling and she isn’t trembling or anything so I just hold her and wait. A few seconds later she takes a deep breath and lets it out before sitting up. I search her face for any signs of stress, but she’s smiling at me.
“I promise I’m okay,” she whispers then stretches up and gives me a kiss before looking over at her friends. “So, you obviously met Lala already. Were you nice to him?” she asks, pinning him with a stern look.
“Course I was, hookah. It hard not to be when de view is so fine,” he says, grinning at her then winking at me.
He is a hoot.
She looks up to me unbelieving. “Was he?”
“Yep, he’s been as sweet as a Georgia peach,” I tell her, winking back at him with my best smile. Two can play at this game.
I swear he blushes.
“Good God Almighty, Sook. You one lucky bitch,” Tara breathes out staring over at me.
I can’t help but laugh again, but now I’m blushing too.
“Shit, did I say that out loud?” she whispers.
“Yeah, bitch. You sure did,” Lafayette tells her, laughing too.
We all start then and it takes us a few minutes to calm down. It relaxes us all though and soon we’re chatting away having a good time. They tell me stories of when they were kids and Sookie and I tell them of our adventures.
We wind up staying a few hours. I got to meet a few more people and only one or two of those ever mentioned Trey and Lucas. It was a couple of old ladies. I’m sure they meant well, but me, Tara, and Lafayette were still quick to move them along to a new subject.
Sookie handled it all much better than I think she expected of herself and things went smoother than I thought they might too. I was worried some of the anger I had felt towards Tara and Lafayette would surface again, but seeing them with her and the talk Lala and I had helped.
But now we’re back in the car and headed to her house. She’s fidgeting like a three-year old in church and I got that ache back in my chest.
It only takes us five minutes and we’re pulling up the drive. I stop the Vette and put it in park, but leave the engine running. She doesn’t look like she’s ready to get out yet and I’m not really in a hurry either. I stay quiet and keep an eye on her as she stares out the windshield.
“I guess we should get out huh?” she finally whispers after a minute or two.
“Only if you’re ready. Do you want some time alone? I can wait out here for a while.”
She shakes her head, never taking her eyes off the house.
“You know, we don’t have to stay here tonight, we can get a hotel room if you want.”
She huffs. “No, we can’t.”
“Sure we can.”
She turns and looks at me, frustration written all over her face. “Eric, honey, Bon Temps doesn’t have a hotel. They don’t even have a bed and breakfast. It’s the house or we have to drive to Shreveport to find anything that isn’t infested with some sort of nasty shit.”
“Yeah, oh. I can do this.”
Fuck. Pissed off Sookie is not fun.
“That wasn’t what..”
She lets out a sigh, then covers her face with her hands, her head hanging. “I know it wasn’t. I’m sorry, I’m a wreck today.”
“It’s okay, you’re allowed to be. Anyone would.” I want to reach out and touch her someway, but I don’t. She’ll get sick of me running to her rescue eventually.
“I’m still sorry,” she whispers, coming out of hiding to wound me with her puppy dog eyes and killing my self-control.
I lean over as much as I can and pull her into a hug. “You don’t have to be sorry. I am though. The last thing I want to do is push you.”
“You weren’t. You’re being wonderful as always. Come in with me?” she asks, her voice small like it was when I woke up in the hospital months ago.
“You know I will.”
This time she stays put until I open her car door and help her out. The grip she has on my hand is much stronger too. It’s hard to believe her tiny hands can have enough strength to make me want to squirm away from the pain.
We make it up the steps and she points up at the top of the window beside the door. “The key’s up there.”
I step over to get it and she follows me, not letting up her grip on my hand for a second. I run my fingers across the windowsill and find the key. It’s covered in dust and comes with a nice chunk of insect laden spiderweb. I wipe it off on my shorts and hand it to her.
Her hand shakes as she tries to slide it in the lock. She mutters something to herself then pushes it home and gives it a sharp twist. Pulling it back out she hands it me. “Keep it in your pocket for me?”
“Sure.” I pocket it, then reach for the doorknob since she’s still showing no signs of moving.
As much as we probably both want too, we can’t stay out here all weekend.
I expected to be met with hot, stale musty air, but it’s cool, fresh, and clean, as is the rest of the house. Tara and Lala must’ve come by and gotten it ready for us.
I’m not sure how I thought it might look, maybe foreign and unwelcoming, but it doesn’t. I can easily see Sookie all over the place. The colors, the furniture, the knickknacks sitting around. It’s all her and it gives off a sense of home, and comfort. Something in me feels slightly betrayed by those thoughts, the rest of me squashes it down quick.
“It was my grandmother’s house,” she whispers, almost startling me.
“I like it. It’s …homey.”
“Yeah,” she answers, barely loud enough for me to hear, then she pulls me to the left. “Over here’s the kitchen.”
We go through a dining room then into a small kitchen. The appliances are fairly new, the rest is early nineteenth century farmhouse.
“I didn’t think, we need food. I’ll have to go to the grocery store,” she prattles, letting me go to look through cabinets, opening and closing them in quick succession, then she opens the fridge.
The cabinets didn’t have much, but it’s stocked pretty well. Tara and Lafayette again I guess.
“They didn’t have to do that,” she grumbles, flinging the door shut and going back towards the living room at a quick pace.
I follow her, easily keeping up with my long legs.
She cuts to the left at the foyer and goes down the hall. “Here’s the bathroom. We re-did it after Miss Connie…. You should’ve seen it before. It was so tiny. The bedrooms are here and here,” she says flinging her arms towards the two doors further down the hall, but not going near them. She spins around and goes back to the foyer and points up the stairs. “There’s more bedrooms up there, but they’re empty, just full of boxes. It’s too hot up there to stand it most of the time anyway. So that’s pretty much it.” She flings her hands again, slapping them against her thighs this time. She hasn’t looked at me once since we got out of the car.
I walk towards her, intending to hold her and hopefully calm her down. She stops me.
“I gotta pee something fierce, all that tea I guess. Why don’t you unload the car?” she suggests. She doesn’t wait for me to agree, turning around and disappearing down the hall. I hear a door slam shut a second later, then a muffled sob.
She may as well of took a hatchet to my heart. I hurry to the bathroom door, but stop myself from knocking or opening it. She obviously wants space, I need to give it to her, no matter how much it hurts to walk away.
I force myself back out to the car and pop the hatch. I could carry everything in in one trip, but I don’t, leaving enough for a second trip to give her more time. I put the first load in the foyer then go back for the other half. Once that’s done, I pull the car around to the garage at the side of the house. A little bit of breaking and entering at the side door and I’m in. There’s an old Harley in the smallest stall, then a black Tahoe at the other end, both covered in a thick layer of dust. The middle stall sits empty.
I hesitate to put my car in his spot, I’ve already taken his wife. It’d be like kicking a man when he’s down. And Trey couldn’t get any more down than he already was. This was obviously his place to get away, the bike, the work bench, cabinets probably filled with his tools. I shouldn’t even be in here at all.
There’s a summer storm brewing outside though and there’s lots of old trees in the yard just waiting for a big wind to help them destroy my baby. From what I know he was a car guy, he wouldn’t blame me for wantin to keep mine safe.
Taking a chance I try the door on the Tahoe and luck out. It’s unlocked and the keys are laying in the floorboard. I put it in Trey’s spot then park the Vette in Sookie’s.
Hopefully that’s not pushing my luck as much. I’ll probably wake up and find an entire live oak crushing the whole garage.
When I go back in the house I find her standing at their bedroom doorway, looking in, her fingers over her mouth. I probably shouldn’t but I walk up behind her and wrap my arms around her, laying my head on top of hers. I keep my eyes closed, seeing their bed is…
Well, I don’t know what it is, but I know I don’t like it. Knowing we’ll be sleeping in it in a few hours doesn’t help.
I’m sure that makes me a dickhead, but so be it.
She sinks back into me, laying her arms over mine. I glance down at her, seeing the long lashes of her puffy eyes laying on flushed cheeks. The sight’s another blow to my heart from that hatchet.
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel anymore, you know? Should I be a sobbing mess? Should I be over it?” she whispers, her voice hoarse from crying.
I swallow, trying to get my throat to loosen up and squeeze her gently. “I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to feel. Just feel what you feel.”
“That’s the problem, I don’t know what I feel.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s okay too.”
She turns around in my arms and looks up at me. “How do you feel? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, beautiful. Don’t worry about me alright? This isn’t about me,” I tell her, reaching up and brushing some damp hair off her face and behind her ear.
“But this has to be uncomfortable for you.”
I shrug. “I can handle being uncomfortable. Being here for you is all that matters to me.”
She buries her face in my chest so I pick her up and carry her to one of the couches in the living room. We just sit there for a long while, so long I thought she fell asleep.
“I don’t think I can stay in there tonight,” she mumbles.
My relief is so palpable it’s a wonder I don’t float us off the couch. I quickly try to divert her attention just in case she noticed.
“You’ve got two great couches here. Why don’t we just push them together and make us a cozy nest?”
“But your legs, they’ll hang off or be up in your face,” she protests.
“Nah, I’ll just keep em wrapped around you all night,” I try to tease her, tickling her ribs.
There’s silence as a response then some sniffling. She pulls away enough to look up at me, two tears sliding down her cheeks. “Eric, last night I….”
My stomach lurches. More tears are bad enough, but not this. I may have been unsettled about it before, but seeing the pain and guilt on her beautiful face erases all of that. If she needs rough, mind numbing sex to get her through this, she’ll have it. Whatever it takes. I’ll gladly provide it so I never have to see her look this way again.
“Shhh, it’s okay.”
She shakes her head violently. “No, it’s not! I used you and I hate myself for it,” she gasps. “I’m so sorry! I’ve felt awful about it all day.”
I force down the lump in my throat then slip my hands into her hair and gently pull her face back up. She won’t open her eyes.
“Sookie, please look at me?”
Nothing but more tears.
I pull her back into my arms and rub her back. “Please Bird, please don’t be upset about this. How many times were you there for me in the exact same way? You never let me feel guilty. What kind of asshole would I be if I held it against you?”
Of course she doesn’t answer so I do.
“I’d be the kind to win an award for the world’s biggest asshole, that’s what kind.”
When she lets out one of those laughing sobs one of the many knots in my stomach loosens. It’s a step in the right direction. I give her a few more seconds then try to get her to look at me again.
Thankfully this time she does.
“I know I haven’t made this promise out loud and in front of a bunch of people yet, but I’ve made it to myself. I love you for better or worse, good times and bad. No matter what, I’ll always be here. I’m never leaving you and I’m never gonna stop loving you either. Not on the good days or the bad ones either. Especially not on the bad ones.”
“I don’t deserve you,” she sputters out, using my shirt to wipe at her eyes.
“Yeah well, you’re stuck with me now, ” I tell her pulling her against me and kissing over her wet face.
“There’s no one else I’d rather be stuck with,” she whispers.
“That’s a good thing.”
*Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume (with just a tiny bit of tweaking)
Especially for Estrella 🙂