I’m talking to a customer, glancing over at Alcide and Lafayette. They’ve been talking at least fifteen minutes with no sign of Sookie. I don’t know if she went back to my office to relax. Maybe the champagne has gone to her head. I excuse myself and walk over.
“Hey, where’s Sookie?” I ask Lafayette.
“She said she was goin’ to the bathroom. Maybe she havin’ lady problems.”
“Or maybe she’s throwing up. Can you go check on her?” I’m not worried about Lafayette going into the women’s bathroom.
“I will,” Alcide offers.
“Fuck you, you don’t go near her,” I chuckle. “I should be calling you a cab.”
“I’ll go get her.” Lafayette stands up and heads for the restrooms.
“It’s getting late, do you need a cab?” I ask Alcide to clarify.
“Eric! Fuck, get in here!” Lafayette yells.
My head whips up and the look of horror on his face sets me in motion. I run out from behind the bar, pushing people out of the way as I sprint to the bathrooms. When I get in there I stop dead in my tracks. Sookie is curled in a ball in the middle of the bathroom floor. Her hair is a mess and what makes my gut twist is the blood and the bruising making an appearance on her beautiful face. I drop to my knees, touching her soft skin, checking to see if she’s awake.
“Call 9-1-1,” I snap at Lafayette. “Angel,” I whisper, brushing her hair out of her face. I don’t know who did this, but when I find out they’re going to die a slow, painful death.
Lafayette gets on the phone to have an ambulance come for Sookie. She’s breathing but not responding to me.
“Why did you let her come in here alone?” I growl. I know it’s completely irrational, but he was the last person to see her. “How long until the ambulance gets here?”
“I didn’t think she needed a bodyguard up in here, mothafucka,” Lafayette snaps back at me. “They be here when they get here.”
What kind of fucking answer is that? I don’t say that to him, I don’t say anything else at all to him. I don’t want to get in a fight with her best friend while my girl might be dying on the bathroom floor.
“Come on, Angel, wake up for me,” I whisper. I continue to stroke her hair back. “Lafayette, can you please go tell Felicia what’s happening. Tell her to direct the paramedics back here?” I ask as nice as I can muster right now.
He makes a noise and leaves the room.
“Come on, Sookie, open those beautiful blue eyes,” I say, stroking her eyebrows. I need any kind of response I can get. I won’t be able to breathe until she wakes up.
Lafayette comes back with a few towels from the bar and hands them to me.
“Thank you,” I say without taking my eyes off of Sookie. I push one under her head and wipe away some of the blood with another. I continue to talk to her as I clean her up. I don’t want to move her. I don’t know what the fuck to do.
I don’t know how much time passes before a man and a woman in paramedics uniforms walk in. I know better than to get in their way so I take a step back, but watch closely. I answer all of their questions to the best of my ability. About the time they get her on the stretcher I realize as the owner I need to stay behind to answer the questions to the police. I have to make sure the bar is closed and I suddenly hate owning this fucking place.
“Lafayette, can you go to the hospital with her?” I ask him. “I have… fucking owner duties to take care of.”
“I ain’t leavin’ til her ass wakes up,” he tells me. “I’ll call Gran. She gon’ wanna know ’bout this.”
“Eric…” Sookie says weakly from the gurney. Her eyes flutter open slowly.
“I’m here, Angel,” I say, leaning over, taking her hand.
She gives me a squeeze and whispers, “I love you,” before her eyes close again.
“I love you too,” I whisper. I lean down to kiss her forehead.
“Sir, we have to go,” the female paramedic says.
“Lafayette, I’ll call her phone when I’m on my way,” I tell him. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
He nods and follows the paramedics out of the bar.
By the time I leave the bathroom the bar is empty. The lights are on and Felicia is talking to the police. I go over to answer any questions I can. I go over my security tapes with them and I almost lose my shit when I see Debbie Pelt follow her into the bathroom. I didn’t even see her in the bar. I give the police all of the information I have on her and give them Alcide’s number. An hour later I’m on my way to the hospital to check on my girl.
When I arrive Lafayette is sitting across her room while Gran sits in a chair next to her bed.
“How is she?” I ask when I walk in.
“They checked for internal bleeding but didn’t find any. She’s going to have some nasty bruises, but she’s going to be fine. She’s just sedated,” Mrs. Stackhouse tells me.
I let out a deep breath and walk over to the side of her bed to take a seat.
“I went over the tapes with the police. I know who did it and they’re looking for her,” I say without taking my eyes off of Sookie.
“Who the fu– who would do this to Sook?” Lafayette demands.
“Alcide’s ex,” I sigh. “If I had to guess she saw them talking and lost her shi… lost it.”
“Well that’s just crazy,” Mrs. Stackhouse says. She leans forward and brushes Sookie’s hair back from her bruised face.
“That sums her up,” I reply, leaning over to kiss Sookie’s head. My heart feels like it’s being squeezed in my chest. I can’t stand to see her like this.
“My Sookie is a fighter. She’ll pull through.”
“She has to, I don’t think I could live with myself if she didn’t,” I say, looking over at Mrs. Stackhouse. “I told her I love her this morning,” I smile weakly.
“That’s wonderful,” Mrs. Stackhouse smiles.
“She’s wonderful. You raised an amazing girl.”
A nurse comes into the room and says, “Mrs. Stackhouse, we’re going to release Sookie once she’s finished getting the fluids and we’re sure she’s making clean urine. Someone will need to stay with her for a day or two.”
“I’ll be with her,” I offer. I’d be with her anyway.
“We’ll take good care of her,” Mrs. Stackhouse says.
“Do you want to go home, Mrs. Stackhouse? I know it’s late.”
“I’m alright,” she says.
“Okay,” I nod. “Would you like something to drink? A blanket or something?”
“No, thank you.”
“Lafayette, would you like anything?”
“Sorry for yelling at you,” I apologize. “I was scared and… yeah.”
“Next time I whoop your ass,” he smirks.
“There won’t be a next time,” I assure him.
We all go silent for a few hours. Watching and waiting. We’re all exhausted, but none of us is willing to leave Sookie’s side. The nurses come through periodically to check her stats. My head is on the bed next to Sookie, Adele is in a recliner and Lafayette is in another chair they brought in that’s a little more comfortable than the regular chair I’m in. I have my eyes closed, but I can feel the sun coming through the window, hitting my back when I feel a light touch on my hair. Of course I jump. My eyes snap open to see Sookie’s big blue eyes looking down at me.
“Hi,” I whisper.
“Hi. How long have I been out?”
I turn to look at the clock before looking over at Sookie again. “Just over seven hours.”
Sookie nods and tries to stretch, but only succeeds in hurting herself.
“Do you need something for the pain?” I ask quietly so I don’t wake Adele or Lafayette.
She pushes a button on her bed and says, “I got it. They know I’m a nurse over at St. Catherine’s.”
“Good,” I smile. “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”
“Me too. I don’t even know who it was. All I saw was dark hair and yellow teeth.”
“I watched the video with the cops,” I sigh. “It was Alcide’s ex. I didn’t even see her come in or out of the bar.”
“She’s out of her motherfucking mind,” Sookie says.
“Yeah, I know. She’s not allowed in the bar. She was eighty-sixed four months ago. I can’t apologize enough.”
“It’s not your fault, Eric.”
The nurse comes in to check on Sookie. She helps her out of bed and walks her to the bathroom and promises to get Sookie some pain medication.
While Sookie is in the bathroom I get up to stretch my legs. I go down the hall to the coffee machine and get two cups of the nasty vending machine shit. One for me, one for Adele. When I get back Sookie is coming back into the room. She winces with every step, making my heart break all over again.
“I’ll be back with your pills and discharge papers,” the nurse tells Sookie. The nurse points to a little table and adds, “Your dress is in a bag over there.”
“Thanks,” Sookie says.
Lafayette and Adele are awake now. I hand Adele her coffee and offer mine to Lafayette. “I didn’t know if you drank coffee,” I tell him. “But you’re welcome to have mine.”
“Stunts mah growth,” he answers, waving it off.
“How are you feeling, honey?” Adele asks Sookie.
“Sore, but I’ll feel better soon. I have footprints on my back and stomach, but I’ll be fine.”
I growl quietly. I’ve always hated Debbie Pelt. Now I want to murder her. I grab Sookie’s dress for her and offer to help her put it on. I’m sure Adele and Lafayette aren’t going to see anything they haven’t seen before. It takes a little longer than usual, but we get her into her dress. We get the discharge papers, a prescription for pain medication and we all leave the hospital. Adele goes home, Lafayette goes his own way with a promise to stop by to see Sookie soon and we get in the car to make the thirty minute drive to Sookie’s house.
I feel like absolute shit. The body aches I had with my cold are nothing compared to this. Standing up or sitting down hurts like a motherfucker. Eric helps me into the apartment and I go straight to the bathroom to shower.
“Can you help me with my dress again?” I ask him.
“Of course.” He comes up behind me to unzip my dress and he slides it down my shoulders as gently as possible. “Do you need help in the shower?”
“I think I’ll be okay. I just want to wash up and comb my hair.” I grab my toothbrush and I hear Eric growl when he sees my back. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
“Do you want me to get you something to eat while you shower?” he offers after a moment.
“That would be great, thanks.” I get to brushing my teeth. They feel fuzzy, which is just gross.
Eric watches me for a few seconds in silence before he slips out of the bathroom. When I’m done brushing I move to the tub to turn on the water. Having to bend like that makes me whimper and tears fill my eyes. Alcide’s ex is a fucking psycho.
It turns out that showering is more painful than I thought it would be and about halfway through I end up bursting into tears out of pain and frustration. This is such bullshit.
I’m in the shower for so long that Eric comes to check on me, and I’m still leaned up against the wall, crying like a big baby.
“Sookie,” he gasps. He steps into the shower with me, still wearing his jeans and pulls me into his arms as gently as possible. “I’m so, so sorry, Angel,” he whispers, rubbing my hair, kissing my forehead.
“The… water… hurts…” I say between ragged breaths. I don’t know why that woman attacked me. I didn’t do anything to her.
“I know,” he says quietly. “I wish I could take all the hurt away.”
I know he does. I also know he doesn’t like it when I cry but it can’t be helped right now. He tries to soothe me and when I’m done crying, he helps me wash my hair and body. I wince and tense up when the water hits parts of me but I have to suck it up and keep moving. Eric turns off the water and takes off his jeans before pulling back the curtain to get us towels.
“Thank you,” I say once we’re in my bedroom. I put on a nightgown and nothing else.
“You’re welcome, Angel. I made soup and sandwiches. I’m sorry, my mind is all over the place and I couldn’t think of anything to cook.”
“It’s fine. Food is food no matter what time of day it is.”
“I’ll be right back.” He gives me a kiss and heads into the kitchen.
I climb up onto the bed carefully and lean against my pillows. It hurts but I don’t have much choice. My stomach hurts more than my back. I’m just lucky nothing was broken and I didn’t need surgery to stop any internal bleeding.
When Eric comes back he’s carrying a steamy bowl and a plate with three sandwiches.
“I made the can of southwest chicken and rice soup you had in there and a turkey sandwich,” he says as he reaches the bed.
“That’s perfect,” I smile.
He hands me the bowl with a napkin under it so I don’t burn my hand and sets down the plate with the sandwiches next to me on the bed before he sits at the foot of the bed.
“I’m not as good at the sandwiches as you are,” he says, grabbing one for himself.
“It’s alright.” I take a spoonful of the soup. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugs.
“You know this isn’t your fault, right?”
“I should’ve been watching the door. If I’d seen her walk in this wouldn’t have happened.”
“Eric, don’t do this to yourself. It’s not your fault,” I insist.
“Sookie, I’ve been wishing that woman’s death for the last twelve hours. I’ve never wanted to hurt someone so bad,” he says, shaking his head. “I’ve always hated her. Always. Now she does this unprovoked… It’s taking a lot more than a step back to count to ten to keep my temper in check right now. The only thing keeping me from hunting her down and strangling her is the fact that you need me.”
I set the bowl of soup aside and say, “Come here.”
He puts his sandwich down and lies down on the bed, resting his head on my thighs. “I hate this,” he sniffs.
I pet his head and say, “I’m going to be fine, Eric. I’m angry at Debbie too, but this isn’t your fault, you hear me?”
“Yeah,” he sighs. I’m not so sure I believe him.
“Babe, please don’t beat yourself up over this,” I plead. I don’t want to worry about one of his mistresses seducing him to the dark side.
“I’ll be fine,” he says, nuzzling into my thigh. “I was so scared, Sookie.”
“I’m right here, sweetie. I promise I’m not going anywhere.” I run my fingers through his damp hair slowly.
“I’m hiring a bouncer.”
“That’s not a bad idea.”
“I don’t think I could handle it if I lost you.”
I know how he feels.
“You don’t have to worry about that, babe.”
“I’ll move so you can eat,” he says as he shifts to sit up.
“Don’t go too far. I’m not done petting you yet,” I tell him.
“I’m not leaving your sight,” he promises. “You need to eat though.”
“I’m going to, Dr. Northman, don’t worry.” I pick up my bowl of soup and continue eating.
We sit together quietly while we eat. I understand his guilt. If the roles were reversed I would probably feel the same way he does. None of this is his fault though.
When we’re done eating Eric takes the dishes to the kitchen and comes right back. I lie down on my side so we’re face to face. I’m not all that tired thanks to the drugs they gave me in the hospital to knock me out. I reach up and gently stroke Eric’s cheek with my thumb.
“Go to sleep, babe. I’m not going anywhere.” I can see how exhausted he is. I move my head to kiss him and keep my head on his pillow so we’re almost nose to nose. “I’ll be right here when you wake up,” I promise.
“I love you, Angel,” he whispers.
“I love you too, babe.” I kiss him again.
His eyes close and his large hand settles on my hip. I keep stroking his scruffy cheek until I’m sure he’s asleep. For a while I just watch him. He looks troubled instead of peaceful or happy like he usually does.
He’s been through a lot in his life. We both have. The fact that he’s even here at all is a bit of a miracle, to be honest. Right this moment I’m thankful that he’s cuddled up with me instead of bellying up to a bar or getting balls deep in another woman.
My phone rings in the kitchen but I’m not getting up to answer it. A detective accompanied me to the hospital last night but I couldn’t give them much information about my attacker. All I remember is dark hair and bad breath. I was too busy trying to protect myself to take a description of her.
I’m definitely pressing charges if they catch her though. Eric seems confident that it was Alcide’s ex-girlfriend, but I have no idea why she would think I want her man. I was shooting him down right and left. I threatened to break his nose, for fuck’s sake. That’s hardly a green light. Maybe Alcide took it as me playing hard to get, I don’t know.
Debbie should have kicked his ass for flirting.
Apparently she missed the part where Eric and I were slow dancing and kissing on the little dance floor. Then again, I don’t suppose there’s any arguing with crazy. She decided I was screwing her man and that was the end of it. I don’t know if she was crazy high or both, but that loony tune needs to be in some sort of guarded facility, preferably in four point restraints.
Eventually, my eyes close and I doze off too.
The bruises are nasty three days later. Eric gets angry all over again every time he sees them. I’m lying in his bed with him watching ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. My head is resting over his heart and my hand starts to move down his stomach and into his pants. We haven’t fooled around since my birthday and even though it’s only been four days, I miss him.
Plus I’ve seen this movie before.
I tilt my head up and kiss his neck while my hand wraps around his shaft and begins to stroke him.
“What are you doing, Angel?” Eric asks quietly. He reaches down to stop my hand, but doesn’t remove it.
“What does it feel like I’m doing?” I lick his neck and tug on his earlobe with my teeth.
“I know what it feels like, but I also know you’re still in pain.”
“This doesn’t hurt. In fact, it feels pretty good.” It’s sweet that he’s worried about me, but I’m fine. “Do you want me to stop?”
He sighs and let’s go of my hand. “The part worried about your wellbeing does, my dick is screaming for joy,” he admits.
“Then quit cockblocking me,” I smirk.
“What if I hurt you? I’m twice as heavy as you and you’re not in any shape to be on top,” he tells me.
“Babe, giving you a handjob isn’t going to hurt me.”
“What if you accidentally elbow yourself in the ribs?”
“I won’t, but if you’re going to keep– nevermind. I’ll stop.” I let go of him and take my hand out of his pants.
Eric drops his head back for a second before he turns to look at me and says, “No, Sookie, it’s okay if you want to. I worry, I’m sorry. I don’t want to upset you, and my hand has gotten boring,” he finishes with a little smile.
“Yeah, well, the moment passed,” I huff and roll onto my back even though it hurts to do it.
“Angel, don’t be mad,” Eric sighs, rolling to his side to look down at me.
“I’m not mad.” Yes I am.
“Yes you are,” he says, calling me out.
“I’m a big girl, Eric. I don’t need you mommying me all the time. Plus, in case you forgot, I’m a trained medical professional. I don’t need you telling me what my limitations are,” I fire at him.
“I didn’t forget, Sookie, but you didn’t see the shape you were in lying in the middle of the bathroom floor less than a fucking week ago. Yes, I’m worried; yes, I’m babying you. Forgive me if I’m having trouble getting a fucking hard-on.”
“Well don’t worry, I won’t touch you again,” I promise. “I hope you and your right hand are very happy together.”
“Seriously? You’re mad because I’m still scared to hurt you? This is bullshit, Sookie.” Eric flops on his back and throws his arm over his eyes.
“You’re damn right it’s bullshit! I tell you I’m fine and you just can’t accept it. No one was holding a gun to my head!” I push myself to a sitting position and get off the bed. “Enjoy your movie.” I don’t want to be near him right now.
If he thinks he was the only one that was scared in that bathroom he’s got another thing coming.
“Sookie, don’t…” Eric sighs. “I don’t want to fight.”
“I don’t really want to be around you right now,” I tell him as I pick up my bag.
“Where the fuck are you going?”
“I don’t know,” I shrug. “Home, Lafayette’s, Gran’s…”
“Sookie, stay.” He gets up from the bed to stop me, taking my bag from me.
“Look I’m sorry that me getting beat up by a psycho was such a huge fucking trauma for you, but I just… I need to not be here right now. What happened to me isn’t about you,” I say angrily. I don’t need that bag to leave. I turn and walk out of his bedroom, and pick up my purse on the kitchen counter.
Suddenly I hear Eric’s bedroom door slam just before I hear something hit the wall, making me jump. I don’t go to investigate it. If he wants to throw a temper tantrum, he can do it without me. I pull out my keys and leave his apartment quietly. Eric can call me when he chills the fuck out.