When Eric is released I’m relieved, I know he is too. The last couple days have been extremely stressful for all of us. I haven’t left the hospital once. They gave me a toothbrush to use so I’m still in two day old clothes. Audrey brought Eric a pair of sweats and a T-shirt to wear home, but he still stinks like smoke.
As soon as we walk in the door I take his bag of clothes and head toward the laundry room. I’m still pretty shaken from the whole ordeal. Eric is clearly distraught over Godric, and I’m not surprised. I don’t think I’m fully processing what happened just yet. I’ve cried, but inside I don’t think any of it has really hit. I’m scared for when it does.
“We need a shower,” I tell Eric when I come out of the laundry room.
“Yeah we do,” he agrees. “I feel like my head is disconnected from the rest of me.”
“I’m sorry,” I pout. “You can go first. I’ll get your towel for you.”
“No sponge bath?”
“Would you like me to come in and bathe you, Mr. Northman?” I ask. I wasn’t even thinking like that.
“I wouldn’t object. Is the tub big enough for two?”
“I’m sure we can fit.” My one prerequisite was a giant tub, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
I head back to the room, with Eric right behind me. My clothes start coming off, leaving a trail down the short hallway. I feel gross.
“Are you sure you can handle seeing me naked right now?” I ask over my shoulder. His eyes are trained on my bare ass.
“That head wasn’t injured,” he smirks.
“I see.” When we get to the bathroom I bend at the waist to turn the hot water on so it can heat up.
I hear him make a noise behind me, but then there’s a thudding kind of noise. I look back to see him stumbling toward the door to catch himself.
“Eric!” I gasp. I race over to him, wrapping my arms around him to help keep him up. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just got a little dizzy,” he says like it’s no big deal.
I sigh internally. “I’ll fill up the bathtub for you. I’ll shower once you’re clean.”
“No, you go ahead. I think I need to lay down for a minute.”
I’m sure he doesn’t want it, but I help him to the bed. Once he’s sitting I run to take a shower really quickly. At least it’s meant to be quickly. I end up leaning against the wall crying, hard. I could have lost him. He’s so strong, but he looked so frail at the hospital. Now is no different. I just want him to be safe and I know there’s nothing I can ever do to make sure he’s safe at all times, but I want to. It’s just… I can’t lose him. As horrible as it sounds, I’m so glad it was Godric and not Eric lost in the fire. I don’t know what I would’ve done if it was the other way around.
I finally pick myself up to finish washing my hair. When I’m done I turn off the water and reach out to grab my towel. I see Eric on the bed, his head is facing the bathroom, but his eyes are closed. My heart hurts so bad thinking about what might have been. I can’t think like that, though. Audrey told me to focus on the man I have with me and not what might have been. Be thankful that he’s still here, and I am. I’m so very thankful.
I finish drying off and go to the dresser to find an oversized T-shirt to go with my sleep pants. I have the rest of the week off due to a family emergency. Eric isn’t technically family yet, but principal Pryor understood when I explained what happened.
I go to the bed to sit down next to Eric. I can tell he’s awake.
“Are you hungry?” I ask quietly.
“No, just tired.”
“You want me to leave you alone?” I’m sure he’s sick of me hovering, but I can’t let him out of my sight just yet.
“Good,” I whisper. I shift on the bed so I’m lying next to him. My head rests over his heart, listening to the loud thump. Eric’s arms wrap around me in a tight hug he wasn’t able to give at the hospital. If I wasn’t scared to hurt him I’d be lying on his chest.
“I’m okay, babe,” he whispers.
“I know. It’s hard to believe that when I see my big, strong man look so… tiny in that hospital bed,” I whisper back.
“I couldn’t look tiny if I tried.”
“I just want to keep you safe. I know I’m being crazy but I want to wrap you up and keep you locked away all the time. You’re out there keeping the city safe, but who’s keeping you safe?”
“Things happen, babe. I’ve been on hundreds of calls. This is my third trip to the emergency room. I’ve been fortunate not to be seriously hurt any of those times. It probably won’t be my last injury either. You’re not crazy for wanting me to be safe. Unfortunately, there aren’t any guarantees with my work. It’s why I understand if it’s too much–”
I stop him with a kiss. It’s a sweet, lingering peck that lasts a few seconds. “I don’t ever want to hear you speak those crazy words,” I tell him when I pull back. “You’re stuck with me, for as long as you’ll keep me.”
“Okay.” He rubs my back.
I shift so I’m lying on his chest. He wraps me in a tight hug as I listen to the sound of his heart thundering in his chest. We lay there quietly for a while before I eventually drift off to sleep.
When I wake up again we’re in the exact same spot. Eric is snoring lightly under me, which I take as a good sign. My tummy starts to rumble so I gently extract myself from his warm embrace. All he’s eaten is hospital food for the last couple days so I head into the kitchen. I was planning to make chicken and dumplings the night Eric went to the hospital, so grab all of the ingredients from the fridge. At the last minute I decide to make pot pie instead. It’s hearty, so it’ll be good for him when he wakes up.
As soon as I have the top crust on and I’m sliding the pie into the oven when my house phone rings. Not too many people call that line.
“Hello?” I answer on the second ring.
“Hi, honey, it’s Audrey,” Eric’s mom says. “How are things?”
“Okay,” I sigh. “He was going to take a shower and almost fell over when he got dizzy.”
“Uh oh. Everything okay? He didn’t fall, did he?”
“Close, he caught himself on the wall. I know he’s going to be fine, but it’s still scary, ya know?”
“I do. Keep an eye on that. If he keeps having those kinds of spells you should take him back to the emergency room,” she advises.
“I will. He’s sleeping now; at least he was when I left him. How are you doing?” She can’t be having a good time knowing her favorite is hurting.
“I’m doing alright. I’ve got four casseroles in the oven to take over to Russ and the firehouse.”
“Oh, hell, should I be doing something? I don’t know how to be a firefighter’s girlfriend.”
“You’ll learn,” she chuckles. “It’s kind of like an extended family, honey. The other wives of the guys in Eric’s house will become your best friends. I tell you, I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for Stan’s wife after I lost Jack.”
“I haven’t met the other wives yet,” I tell her. “I’m sure I will soon. Maybe I should make something for the house… I’m making a pot pie for Eric now. I’m sure he’s going to be hungry after living on hospital food for two days.”
“I have no doubt. Anything you make will be appreciated. They’ll be busy preparing for the funeral and whatnot in the next few days. Eric looks so handsome in his dress uniform,” she gushes a little, but then she takes a labored breath.
“I’ve yet to see it and I hate that losing Godric is the reason I will be seeing it for the first time,” I say as I lean against the counter. I can make a few more pot pies in the morning to take over to the firehouse.
“Sadly, it won’t be the last time,” she says. “And it doesn’t get easier.”
“I believe it. Is it bad that I’m thankful it wasn’t Eric?” I feel like a terrible person for that thought.
“Honey, I’d be more concerned if you didn’t feel that way,” Audrey answers. “It’s the thing every wife thinks when this happens. You’re not alone, and it doesn’t make you a terrible person for thinking it.”
“Thank you. I’m glad I have you to talk to about this. I’m sure Eric appreciates that we get along too.” At the mention of his name I hear the toilet flush in the master bathroom.
“He does. He’s crazy about you, Sookie. I’m glad you’re sticking around,” she tells me.
“I’m crazy about him too. He couldn’t get rid of me if he tried,” I chuckle. “Speak of the devil. Eric’s here if you want to talk to him.” Eric comes walking into the kitchen, scratching his balls.
“Oh sure, thank you. If you need anything, you call me anytime. Got it?”
“I will,” I promise. “Here’s your boy.” I pull the phone away to hand it to Eric.
“Mom?” he asks as he takes the phone. I nod and he puts the phone to his ear. “Hi, Mom. Yeah, I’m okay. Sookie got me home safely and tucked into bed. No, not yet… Yeah… No… Mom, I’m fi– I know. I know. Mom, I’m okay, just a little diz– Okay. Yes. Yes, ma’am. I love you too. Bye.”
“She’s a smart lady,” I smile. “How’d you sleep?” He sets the phone on the counter as I reach up to wrap my arms around his neck.
“Better than I have in days,” he answers. “I think I’m going to give the showering thing another try. I just had to come in here and find out what smells so good, other than you, of course.”
“Chicken pot pie in the oven,” I smile. “I’m going to make a couple more in the morning to take over to the firehouse.”
“That’s nice of you,” he smiles. “The guys will wolf them down no problem.”
“Good. I have to learn fireman’s wife etiquette. Your mom is very helpful on that front,” I chuckle.
“Oh is that what you’re doing?” Eric kisses my forehead.
“A little, a little like I need to help in whatever way I can,” I sigh. “If cooking for you guys is all I can do, I’ll happily do it.”
“Well so far you’re doing a pretty good job taking care of me,” he tells me. “Mom didn’t even try to talk me into coming home with her.”
“I’ll take that as a huge compliment,” I chuckle.
“You should,” he nods. “You know that scar on my shoulder? I had to have stitches and I dislocated my shoulder one time. Mom practically ran the girl I was seeing at the time out of town because she didn’t know how to make me a grilled cheese.”
“No offense, but I don’t blame her. I’m glad you wised up and upgraded,” I say seriously.
“Good. Go wash your stinky butt,” I say, dropping my arm to smack his ass. “Unless you still want that sponge bath. The pot pie has another thirty-five minutes.”
“I think I better stick to a shower for now.”
“Good call. Keep your blood in the head that holds you up.”
“That won’t be easy with you around.”
“I can send you to your mom’s…”
Eric gives me a playful growl before I kick him out of the kitchen. I keep an ear out as he showers. I’m worried, and I suspect I’ll always worry. This is just the beginning of a long life of bumps and bruises that are going to scare the shit out of me. I’m in it for the long haul though.