“What?” I ask Sookie when I join her in the kitchen. I have my iPad in hand, ready to look up flights to Mexico.
“Detective Beck called. They picked up Debbie this morning during a raid on a meth lab,” Sookie tells me. “She won’t be getting out of jail anytime soon.”
“That’s… I don’t know how today could get much better,” I smile. I set my iPad on the table and grab Sookie’s face to pull her up for a deep kiss. When I pull back I wrap her in a tight hug. Something I haven’t been able to do for the last week.
“Me either, unless they start making chocolate air,” she giggles.
“Silly girl,” I chuckle and kiss her forehead.
I let her go and take a seat at the table. Sookie made coffee and gets me a cup before she opens the fridge to start pulling stuff out for breakfast. I start looking up dates and flights to Mexico.
“What do you think about August twenty-eighth to September first? I know it’s a little longer than planned, but I doubt you’ll want to leave.”
“Babe, I have over 300 hours of paid time off banked. Five days is nothing.”
“We can use some extra time to get settled into our new house,” I grin. I’ll still have to go to the bar once we’re back, but I’ll have all day and I won’t need to stay for more than a couple hours a night.
“Where do you want to look for houses?” Sookie asks.
“Somewhere close to the nursing home so we can be close to Grams and Gran,” I say, entering the dates on the site.
“Well, I’ll tell you my three main requirements for a house. I want hardwood floors, a carport and a porch swing. I can be flexible about everything else,” she tells me. “Oh! A guest room on the ground floor might be good in case one of our grandmothers needs to stay with us.”
“Carport or garage?” I ask. “I can fly us both to Mexico and back for nine hundred bucks. That’s a fucking steal.”
“That is a steal.” Sookie comes to look over my shoulder. “Garages are fine too.”
“I need space off the truck too.” I start to enter our passenger information and ask, “Are you putting your middle name on your passport? What is your middle name?”
“Faith, and Sookie isn’t my real first name but no one calls me by my given name, except Lafayette when he’s being dramatic,” she laughs.
“Care to enlighten me since it needs to go on your plane ticket?” Faith actually fits since she’s my angel.
“Susannah,” she supplies.
“Sookie fits better,” I say, filling out her passenger information.
“Why do you think I go by it?”
I nod and get up to grab my credit card. I punch in the information to pay for the plane tickets and immediately look for a resort. I stayed a three star resort the last time I went to Mexico, but Sookie deserves the best.
“What do you think of this?” I ask, showing her one of the five star resorts I’m looking at.
“Looks like paradise to me.”
“Get ready to spend five days in paradise, Susannah,” I smile as I start to book. I don’t like the way Susannah sounds coming out of my mouth.
She parks herself on my lap and whispers in my ear, “You can call the naughty room thief that.”
“Susannah is definitely a naughty girl’s name,” I purr, tilting to kiss her neck.
“I’ll put in for two weeks off.”
“Yay,” I smile.
It takes a few minutes to book the resort. The whole time I’m imagining Sookie in a teeny tiny bikini. This is going to be an excellent five days.
Sookie and I have looked at about seven houses so far. Each with their good and bad qualities. I know which one I want, but the final decision is going to be left to her. At the moment we’re sitting in my apartment packing and picking what of mine we’re keeping and what’s going. My bed for sure because it’s bigger and I have to scrunch up in her bed and my couch is in better shape. It’s also longer and again, since I have longer legs I can stretch out.
“I think you’re going to need a mancave,” Sookie chuckles when she gets to a large stack of porn mags.
“Yeah, I’m going to call that the master bathroom,” I smirk. “Wait until you find my DVD collection.”
She snorts and says, “Your days of your bedroom being your mancave are over, buddy.”
“That doesn’t mean I can’t keep my porn stash under the bed… And in the top of the closet. That’s where I keep the good stuff,” I wink.
Sookie shakes her head.
I walk over and wrap my arms around her from behind. I tilt down to nibble her neck and whisper, “I think our first night in the house we should throw one on and do all the dirty things they’re doing in one of them.”
“We’ll see,” she replies and tilts her head.
I suck on her neck the way I’ve learned she likes. “You know we’re never going to get anything done if you give in every time I want to nibble on you, right?” I ask, cupping her breasts.
“Then I better shut you down right now.” Sookie removes my hands from her tits.
“You’re no fun,” I tease. I smack her butt and kiss her cheek before I flop onto my bed. I’ve lived in this apartment since we moved north. I hate moving.
“Poor baby,” she smirks and turns to my closet. “Oooh! Hey, can we get rid of this now?” Sookie pulls a hanger with my old The Clash T-shirt with a few small holes in it.
“Angel face, you cannot get rid of my clothes,” I state matter of factly.
“But this is a dust rag with sleeves… or it was.”
“So? Do you want me to go into your closet and pull out the jeans with the air conditioned knees to throw them away? The ones you keep way in the back behind that cute little red dress I’m dying to see you in. They look like you’ve had them since the nineties.”
“They still fit and make my ass look good. You don’t throw away jeans that make your ass look good. Plus, I don’t remember you complaining when I wore them with that purple corset,” she says smugly.
“That’s because I don’t complain about your clothes. Leave mine alone,” I grumble. “Get out of my closet unless you’re going after the porn.”
“Grouch.” Sookie puts the hanger back.
At least she didn’t call me old again.
“Well if you don’t want me touching your clothes, I don’t know what else to do in here,” she says.
“We can stop for now. Come, take a nap with me,” I say, patting my bed.
“Nah, I’m not tired. We need to figure out which house to go with or all this packing is for nothing.”
“I like the last one, the one on Maple,” I say.
“Eh,” she shrugs. “I didn’t feel anything when I walked in there.”
“It has a big bedroom,” I shrug. “Which one did you like?” I have a feeling we’ll be going with her choice.
“I liked the one on Gillespie the most.”
“It smelled funny.”
“So does this place,” she teases.
“It smells manly,” I argue.
She laughs and says, “That’s not the five letter word I’d use.”
“Care to enlighten me?” I ask, tossing a pillow at her.
“Musty, for one.” She throws the pillow back at me.
“I’m probably the cleanest guy you know,” I say. When I throw the pillow this time it bounces off her head, making me chuckle.
Her mean face appears. “Jerk.”
I laugh. “I can’t take you serious, Angel face. You’re too cute.”
She narrows her eyes at me and hurls the pillow back my way. I catch it, only pissing her off more. I should really try to look upset or sympathetic, but it’s hard when her face gets all red like that. I just want to eat her up.
“So what about the house on Gillespie?” Sookie gets back to business.
“If we can get the cat smell out of there I’d love to live there with you.” I like the Maple house better, but I’m more worried about what she wants.
“I’m sure we can get rid of it. Pulling up the carpet in the living room and bedrooms will help.”
“Yeah, but… Do you really want to do that much work?”
“It’s not that much work. Jase and I pulled up carpet and installed the hardwood ourselves in Gran’s old house,” she shrugs. “Plus Hoyt is in construction and I’m sure I can get him to come and help us paint. That green in the master bedroom has to go.”
“It looks like all ninety-seven cats threw up on the fucking walls in that place. It needs new paint, new floors, all new appliances. The cabinets are falling apart…” It’s more than I want to get into.
“But the house has character,” Sookie argues. “The house on Maple has the bells and whistles but it looks like every other house on the block.”
“I don’t see anything wrong with that,” I shrug. “I like move-in ready. When we get back from Mexico I’d rather unpack and take a nap.”
“And I want a house that feels like it’s mine and not like I’m squatting in a model home to attract new buyers. The house on Gillespie needs work, but we can make it ours.”
“Come here, Angel,” I ask, holding out my arms.
Sookie climbs up on the bed. “If you really hate it we’ll keep looking. I don’t want you to live in a house you hate just to make me happy.”
“Hush and listen, woman. You want to make the Gillespie house ours?” I ask, taking her hands so I can tug her down to lie on my chest.
“Yes. I think we could be happy there. Maybe get a dog… someday bring a baby home there,” she says quietly.
“We’ll put in a bid. I’ve already put in my notice here and we can stay at your place until we can move into it,” I tell her, massaging her head. “We’ll probably fight about everything we do to the place, but in the end if it makes you happy that’s all I really care about. I won’t be settling, I promise.”
“You are either the sweetest man or the biggest bullshitter,” she says and kisses my neck.
“You only make your mad face when you’re passionate about something. And when I hit you with pillows,” I chuckle.
“Well now I know how to get rid of that rag with sleeves.”
“I’m passionate about my rag. It stays,” I say and kiss her forehead.
“Mmm, maybe you should wear it with those jeans…”
“I might as well walk around topless,” she snorts.
“And?” I ask, smacking her butt.
“Just saying.” She pinches my nipple.
“Oooh, do it again,” I tease.
Sookie snorts and climbs off of me.
“Come on, lazybones; let’s get a head start on the living room.”
“Fine,” I sigh dramatically. I get up from the bed follow Sookie to the living room. “Why are you eyeing my TV like that?” I ask.
“What are we going to do with this monster?”
“Put it in the living room, what else?” Duh.
“Babe, if we do that there won’t be room for anything else.”
“We don’t need room for anything else.” Just to see how she’ll react I add, “We can throw a bean bag chair in the living room with it.”
“And we can use milk crates as tables,” she rolls her eyes.
“I have an old piece of plywood at the bar we can put on top of two to make a coffee table,” I smile.
“And then I’ll make wallpaper out of Penthouse centerfolds.”
“Perfect housewife,” I say with a wide grin. “I’ll pick up smoking and drinking again. I can keep you barefoot and pregnant. Perfect life.”
“You take up either of those habits and the only action you’ll be getting is from Rosy and her slutty sisters,” she threatens.
“Angel, the smell of cigarettes disgusts me now. You don’t have to worry about that, I promise. The TV stays though. I don’t care what else you want to do. I want the TV and my bed.”
“The TV can go in your mancave.”
“It can go in the living room, where it belongs,” I argue.
“It’s too big,” she argues back. “It’s like watching a goddamn theater screen.”
“We can take out a wall if we have to. The TV stays.” I don’t ask for anything, ever. The least she can do is not argue with me on the television.
“It’s ugly and obnoxious. It can stay in the mancave with the video games–”
“Is this your house or our house, Sookie?” I growl. “I don’t want anything but the fucking TV. The rest is yours to do with what you want. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.”
“Why does it have to be in the living room?” she sighs.
“I don’t want to be locked away in a little room to relax and watch TV. I don’t want a mancave. I want to be able to have something I want in the living room. I don’t care about video games, Sookie. I want to watch a movie on a good sized screen that I can see from the fucking kitchen if I want. It’s not about being pretty, it’s about being comfortable.”
“But it’s not comfortable! The screen is so big I miss shit all the time because my eyes are focused on one part but way over on the other side something else is happening. It’s ridiculous,” she argues.
I look at her in silence for a good thirty seconds before I crack up laughing. “Sookie, come on. That’s all I want. The rest of the house is yours to do with what you want. We keep the big TV. I’m not arguing over this.”
“Fine. Then enjoy watching TV alone,” she shrugs.
“Are you kidding me right now?” I say, throwing up my hands.
“Do I look like I’m kidding?” She holds her arms over her chest and pops her hip out.
“Fine. Get the fucking house you want and everything else you want. I’ll just be hiding in my fucking mancave pretending I don’t fucking exist,” I growl. I feel like fuck Harry Potter living in a damn cupboard right now.
“Don’t pull that drama queen bullshit with me!” Sookie fires back. “What have I asked for that’s so ridiculous, huh? I told you we could keep looking at houses but what did you say? Oh, that’s right! If it makes me happy it won’t be settling! I guess now I know you’re a bullshitter!”
I pick up the remote control and throw it at the TV, shattering the corner, making her jump. “Happy now, Sookie? Does that make you happy, because I wasn’t fucking bullshitting you. I wanted one thing. One. But now it doesn’t matter, the fucking TV isn’t coming with us. The eye sore out of your hair.”
“Yeah, I’m fucking thrilled,” she glares at me as she walks past me to the kitchen.
I drop on the couch and cover my face with my hands. Despite what she might think that wasn’t my temper flaring up. I wasn’t kidding when I told her I just wanted her to be happy, but I didn’t think she would fight that hard over a television. If you ask me she’s being unreasonable. Either way, I’m done fighting over the TV. There is no more TV to even worry about.
I collect my phone, keys and purse and leave the apartment without a word. That was a stupid fight but throwing the remote was uncalled for. I get in my car and head home. If this is how he’s going to handle things every time he doesn’t get his way this isn’t going to work.
I’m just walking into my apartment when my phone rings. Eric, of course.
“What?” I snap at him when I answer.
“We’re never gonna work shit out if you run away every time we argue,” he says calmly.
“Well I’m pissed off at you right now. Your tantrums are ridiculous, Eric.”
“That wasn’t a tantrum, Sookie. I don’t care about the TV enough to fight like that,” he sighs. “I told you all that mattered was your happiness and I wasn’t bullshitting.”
“So you thought you would throw the remote across the room after you promised me you wouldn’t throw things?” He looked me in the eye and swore he wouldn’t do that. That was bullshit.
He sighs and says, “Sorry. It wasn’t in anger and I didn’t mean to startle you. I was just trying to show you how little the TV means to me compared to giving you what you want. I went about it the wrong way, Sookie. I know that.”
“Yeah, you did.”
“I don’t know what else to say other than I’m sorry.”
I sigh and shake my head.
“I’ll call you later,” I tell him. I’m not going back to his place right now.
“Right, okay. I love you.”
“I love you too.” I hang up and plop down on the couch. I scroll through my contacts and dial Gran’s number.
“Oh, hi, Sookie,” she replies with a smile in her voice.
“I need your advice,” I tell her. “I just got in a stupid fight with Eric and he threw the remote across the room at the TV and broke the screen.”
She sighs. “We’re you scared for your safety?” she asks.
“Yes and no. At first I was but then I was angry at him for breaking his promise not to throw things. He says it wasn’t out of anger but we were arguing and I know he was at least frustrated so he’s just splitting hairs.”
“Keep in mind that although he’s sober and has worked out his demons, he’s still an addict, Sookie. He’s going to always have these anger issues. Therapy and treatments can only do so much. At the same time you have to bend with him sometimes. I know how stubborn you can be. What were you fighting about?”
“The TV he broke. Like I said, it was stupid. We both dug our heels in. I’m more upset that he broke that promise to me. I told him I was afraid of him throwing something and it could hit me on accident. He promised not to throw things with me in the room. What if we have kids someday, Gran? I don’t want them growing up afraid of their daddy’s temper,” I tell her.
“I’m afraid that’s a gamble you’re going to have to take, Sookie. Your grandfather and I broke many, many promises to each other. It’s part of growing together. I know you love him, and lord knows in his eyes you hung the moon. You have to ask yourself if that love is going to be enough. Are you willing to fight side by side with him in the battle against his demons, or do you want to be just another girl that passed through hoping to change him, but bowing out when things got tough?”
“And if I get hit next time he loses control am I just supposed to look the other way because he has demons?” I ask her. That shit’s not happening.
“No, Sookie. You never allow him to hit you, even if it is on accident. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. He may never throw anything else ever again, or you may go back to his place and find holes in the wall and everything lying all over the floor. You have to figure out if Eric is worth the gamble, honey.”
“I just don’t want to be afraid of him, Gran,” I sigh.
“And now you are?”
“I trusted him to keep that promise and he broke it. It’s not like he forgot to pick up milk or put the toilet seat down. He knows he scared me once already…”
“Well, I guess you’ve made your choice, haven’t you?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” I whisper. I don’t want to leave him but I want him to take this seriously. Right now I’m not sure he gets it. I don’t have to live like this. I’m not going to live like this.
“Of course you have. You didn’t need to call me,” she says cheerfully. “You give him a call; let him know you don’t want to move in with him anymore. Let him know you’re going to move along, maybe start dating Hoyt. Oh, yes, that’ll be nice. Maxine will just love it…”
“That’s not helping me, Gran. If I wanted sarcasm I would have called Lafayette.”
“Well, you’re talking like he’s an evil, malicious man. Some things are worth giving second and third and even fourth chances. He’s scared you, I know. I’m sure you’ve scared him a time or two, but I saw the way that boy looks at you. Hurting you is the last thing he wants to do.” Gran pauses and takes a deep breath before she says, “I didn’t ever want to tell you this, but I had an affair, Sookie. Your grandfather found out and I promised I wouldn’t do it again, but I did. Time and time again, but Mitchell stood by my side because he loved me, and in his eyes I was worth it.”
My stomach turns violently. I never thought Gran was perfect, but this just… it goes against everything she preached to me growing up.
“But you didn’t love him enough to stop cheating? How could you do that, Gran? After all the lectures you gave Jason and me about being loyal and faithful, and now you’re telling me you’re a big hypocrite!” This is too much.
“It wasn’t like that, Sookie. I’m not telling you to get a lecture. I’m telling you because good people do things they shouldn’t sometimes. That doesn’t mean you give up on them.”
I feel sick.
“Maybe Grandpa could turn a blind eye but I can’t. You taught me that there are some things that are unforgivable. I have to go, Gran.” I can’t talk to her anymore right now.
“Sookie,” she sighs. “I… didn’t mean to upset you.”
My laughter is bitter. How could she expect me to be okay with this?
I don’t know what else to say so for the first time in my life, I hang up on Gran. I feel like I’ve been lied to about everything. It’s one thing to slip once and never do it again; it’s another to cheat over and over again like it doesn’t matter. And Grandpa is no better because he let it happen. I thought marriage vows mattered to Gran, but obviously not if she could have affair after affair like it was nothing.
My stomach eventually settles when I figure out what I’m going to do. Grandpa may have been willing to look the other way and blindly love Gran but I’m just not built that way. I have limits. I have every right to want to feel safe with the person I marry and raise children with and right now that person isn’t Eric Northman.
I use my key to let myself into Eric’s apartment. He gave me one last week. I thought I’d be keeping it longer. Instead, I slide it off the ring and set it on the kitchen table. I take a deep breath and find Eric lying on his bed.
“I brought your key back,” I tell him.
“Why?” he asks, sitting up.
“Because I think it’s best if we don’t see each other for a while,” I tell him, blinking back the tears in my eyes.
“What are you talking about?” Eric asks, this time standing up from the bed.
“I’m talking about needing some time to think about things. You broke a really big promise to me today. I can be patient and understanding about a lot of things, but not this.” My voice cracks as I talk and tears run down my cheeks.
“You’re breaking up with me?” he whispers.
“I love you, but right now I don’t trust you; I don’t feel safe with you,” I admit.
“So, you’re breaking up with me. This is all over a television.” Eric is watching me and I can see his own tears begin to well in his eyes.
“It’s not about the TV,” I sniffle. “It’s about the promise. I don’t want to be afraid of you. You’re supposed to be my safe place.”
“Have I ever done anything to hurt you?”
“It’s knowing that it could happen, Eric. You’ve done it before–”
“Done what, Sookie? Hit a girl? Is that what you’re thinking?” he snaps.
“It’s the truth,” I whisper. I’m not making this up.
“It was almost twenty years ago and she was attacking me. I was fucking defending myself. I was high as a fucking kite. I. Don’t. Hit. Anyone,” he says. “Not men, women, dogs, certainly not the woman I’m in love with.”
“I want to believe you but that’s the thing about trust, Eric. It’s so easily broken. You knew how I felt and you made me that promise to put me at ease. I trusted you to keep that promise and you didn’t. So what other promises could you break? Gran told me to decide if it’s worth the gamble. Right now, I don’t know the answer to that.”
“Trust goes both ways, Sookie. I foolishly trusted that you weren’t like every other girl I’ve dated.” He walks over to pick up his keys. He pulls my key off of the ring and brings it over to me. “Go. I have things to do now. I have to find somewhere to live.”
In spite of everything I just said, I want to hug him because it kills me to know that I’ve hurt him.
“Eric, I’m sor–”
“Don’t Sookie. Don’t stand there and tell me you’re sorry. If you were sorry you wouldn’t give up on me so easily. Now go, I said I have shit to do now,” he finishes quietly.
I turn and walk out of his apartment, closing the door softly behind me. My stomach hurts and my chest feels like there’s an ice pick in it. I get behind the wheel of my car and sob. I don’t even have Gran to comfort me. I’m alone.