Chapter 9 – Big News
I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing. It had stopped by the time I sat up and rubbed my eyes. My neck was aching and the left side of my face was crusty with dried drool, but that’s what I get for not going to bed when my body told me to and falling asleep on my couch. I shambled across the room, wondering who was calling me at 8.30am, then I realised that this was Monday. And right now I was supposed to be at work. I had asked Sam for a week off, and I’d been given a week, but I couldn’t go back today. Not when everything was still so messed up in my head. Sam was a good boss; I knew that as soon as I explained what had been going on, he would be fine with me taking some more time. All I had to do was find a way to explain things. Just as I was about to dial his number my cell rang. I grimaced at the tiny screen as the name ‘Jason’ flashed across it.
“Sook, you didn’t tell me you were gonna be in the papers.”
Smashing a people trafficking/prostitute ring was huge but I had completely not considered that my name would be mentioned in the media when they reported on it.
“That would be because I didn’t know I was going to be in the papers. There aren’t pictures or anything are there?”
“Nah, you’re mentioned as being kidnapped along with some guy. You should sell your story; you’d get big bucks for sure. You need to strike while the iron is hot little sis.”
I groaned out loud, of course he wasn’t calling to see how I was. Of course he wasn’t calling to see if I needed someone to talk to. It was always money with Jason, the only time he ever contacted me was to ask for money.
“No, Jase, I won’t be selling my story and even if I did it wouldn’t matter to you.”
“Y’know, Sook, I could use some extra dough. Are ya sure ya won’t reconsider?”
“Definitely not, I have other calls to make Jason; I guess I’ll hear from you the next time you want to borrow from me.”
It was rude and it made me an awful sister, but I hung up without saying goodbye. Before he had the chance to redial my number I hit my speed-dial for Sam and waited.
“Sookie, Chere! Are you okay?”
“I’m not good, Sam, I know I asked for a week but …”
“Say no more Sook, I saw the news. You just come back to us when you’re ready.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sure I’m sure; we got a temp in to ease the load though. I never realised how much you do in here until you weren’t around!”
For the first time in what felt like a very long time, I smiled. “Thanks Sam, I guess you read the papers too?”
“No, I watched KTBS. I have to say, I was shocked as hell to hear your name coming over the TV!”
“Not as shocked as I would have been Sammy. I’m gonna go and get some coffee and something to eat. Thanks for being so understanding.”
“You just concentrate on getting yourself back together; I don’t want you coming back before you’re ready.”
“Okay, Sam, thanks again.”
“Bye Sook, take care.”
“You too, Sam. Bye.”
Before I had called Sam, I was still half asleep, now I was fully awake. I was also very hungry, very much in need of caffeine and missing Eric like crazy. While my bacon cooked and my coffee brewed, I wondered about calling the hospital to see if he was getting out today. Would they give me that information? I wasn’t related to him, or married to him, I was just his … just his … what was I to him? The smell of something burning interrupted my thoughts on the matter. I stared at the blackened meat in the pan and sighed. I’d been doing fine not thinking about what was happening between Eric and I, just letting things develop. Now I’d gone and ruined it. And then there was Pam. I couldn’t imagine going through what she’d been through, but her reactions were completely different to what I had expected them to be. She was cold, to the point of being almost devoid of emotion. Maybe it was shock, maybe she thought being in the hospital, safe, was a dream. Or maybe she had always been that way and I hadn’t noticed before.
I put some bread in the toaster and tried to think of a time when I had seen her laugh with abandon in happiness, or cry with sadness or scream in rage. I couldn’t. But that was why we were such good friends, wasn’t it? I was the emotional one who led with her heart and Pam was the logical one who led with her mind. Like two sides of the same coin, she kept me grounded and I kept her heart light. I cried as I buttered my toast, I couldn’t help but think that our coin had been snapped in two.
As suspected, Schumpert wouldn’t give me any information on Eric or Pam. I sniffled and snuffled to the shower, in the shower and while I was getting dressed. I managed to make some lunch without burning anything but my appetite waned when my phone rang. Four calls in the space of an hour, all from reporters wanting my story. None of them sounded sombre or sympathetic, they all just wanted a juicy story to get their teeth into. It made me feel sick that everything we had been through was just the next big sensation in the news. I refused to elaborate on anything they asked me, simply confirming the facts as they knew them and politely letting them know I was in no position to discuss the ongoing case.
When it rang for a fifth time, I was ready to throw it in the garbage. But I was glad I didn’t. Agent Norris’ deep voice asked if I would be able to come and pick Eric up at the station since he had been released and had given his statement. I sagged in relief that Eric was okay and got myself together to go and get him. I tried to concentrate on the drive there, taking the corners slowly so I didn’t hurt my wrist, but my thoughts wandered.
I was excited to see Eric but something niggled at my brain that maybe things would be different now that we knew where Pam was. We knew she was safe, the search was over. Would Eric still need me? Would he still want to spend time with me? A sharp pain as I turned into the small parking lot made me let go of the wheel. Thankfully I was going very slowly or I would have bumped into a cruiser but I managed to stop in time and carefully made my way to a spot where I didn’t need to do any sharp steering to get in and out of.
The steps up to the door seemed steeper than they were before, harder to climb and more tiring. Or maybe it was all of my doubts and insecurities weighing on me. I walked through the door and up to the front desk. Before I could tell them why I was there, a pair of warm arms wrapped themselves around me and Eric’s voice rumbled against my hair.
“I’m so glad you came for me Sookie. I didn’t want to just show up at your apartment in a cab.”
I breathed his scent and relaxed against him. “You’re always welcome in my home Eric. Are you ready to leave?”
He pulled away and nodded. Just as we were about to walk out, Detective Fowler ran out and called after us. She handed me a list of names and numbers, therapists that specialise in PTSD, and stressed that we should pick one and make appointments. She even mentioned that going for a session together and with Pam would be a good idea too. We thanked her and went to my car.
“Do you need to go to your apartment for anything? I … you’re welcome to sleep over again if you want to stop off and grab a change of clothes.” I chewed at my bottom lip, wondering if I’d revealed too much of my own wants and needs with the request.
“I was about to ask if it would be okay for me to stay with you. Not just a sleep over but … maybe for a few days? I’m angry that I saw Pam almost every day but never noticed the changes in her and if I’m alone …”
“You’ll just beat yourself up about it. I get it and I’m here for you.”
“I’m here for you too. And we both need to be there for Pam. I saw her this morning, her eyes … they were the one part of her that could give away her mood but now they’re flat, like she’s dead inside.”
“She’s been through more than one person ever should, it’s understandable that she’ll be changed forever.”
“This is different. You told me in her last entries that she seemed to be planning on not giving in to them and not coming back … she was going to kill herself Sookie. What if we just put her plans off for a while? I saw her almost every day and I didn’t notice the changes in her, sure we didn’t talk much but I should have seen her wasting away.”
There was nothing I could say to that. So I just kept my own silent counsel, wondering if she still had the things she got from Holly stashed away somewhere – waiting to be used when she got out of the hospital. I waited in the car while Eric went to throw things in a bag, wondering if it was a good idea to go and see Pam at visiting time. When Eric came back I mentioned it to him and he told me that because Bill was gone and he was her business partner, she had listed him as her contact. I was relieved; it gave us some way of staying in the loop where she was concerned. The ride home was quiet, I didn’t even turn the radio on but that was mostly to avoid the chance of hearing our names mentioned.
As soon as I opened my front door, I headed for the coffee maker. I heard Eric drop his big bag in the living room and his footsteps behind me in the kitchen. I turned toward him and his arms wrapped around me, just like they had in the Police Station. But this time his mouth slanted over mine, taking me by surprise. His lips and tongue were insistent, hungry, fraught with need and I surrendered to him. He moved to kiss his way down my neck and I was thankful of the break so I could try and catch my breath but when he spoke I found myself more breathless than ever.
“I need you Sookie. So much. Tell me you need me too … please.”
Eric’s last word sounded choked, like he was struggling to hold back his emotions. “I do need you, Eric, I want you and I need you.”
I was pulled down toward the floor as he sank to his knees. Eric pulled me onto his lap and rocked his hips against me, his mouth leaving patches of cold where my wet skin was exposed to the air. When Eric’s lips stopped and he held me closer, I realised that the wet patches weren’t where his mouth had touched me but his eyes. I threaded my fingers through his hair as he breathed heavily against my shoulder.
“Sookie, I …”
“Shh it’s okay.”
He nodded into the crook of my neck and sighed. “My feelings about what happened are all over the place, but my feelings about you are clear. I wanted you before we were taken and I want you now but everything else is so …”
“Confusing and stressful?”
“Yeah.” He laughed lightly and raised his head to look at me. “I’m confused about a lot of things but being right here isn’t one of them.”
“Good.” I kissed him softly, sucking lightly on his bottom lip before pulling away. “We can make things less muddled together. Why don’t we start with coffee and calling to see how Pam is?”
Eric frowned slightly before nodding and picking us up off the floor. He wandered off to get his phone and call the hospital as I made the coffee. A part of me was kicking myself at stopping our kitchen make-out session but for the larger part, I knew it was the right thing to do for both our sakes. There were too many negative emotions running through us and there was a fine line between comfort and using someone to escape everything.
The day passed slowly. My clock ticked loudly, counting the seconds until we had something to do, someone to see. Both Eric and I had turned off our phones; the deluge of calls was something we weren’t ready to handle. Eric wasn’t only getting calls from reporters but from Clancy at the bar wanting to know what he should say to the reporters that called there. My intercom even buzzed at one point and the tears pooled in my eyes with the stress of not being left alone.
But I wasn’t alone. Not really. I had Eric with me and I couldn’t imagine how I would cope without his presence.
There were a couple of photographers outside my apartment block when we left to go to the hospital. Another guy shouted questions at us as the cameras clicked and we walked as quickly as we could to my car. Eric drove to Schumpert to save me straining my wrist; he held my hand across the centre console as much as he could on the way there.
When we walked into Pam’s room, the first thing I did was search out her eyes to see if I could dispute Eric’s assessment but she turned away from us as we entered.
“Hi Pam. Are you … comfortable?” There was no reason to ask if she felt better or felt okay. It was obvious that neither were true.
“I’ve had some surgery. No, I’m not comfortable. I’m in pain, inside and out. I deserve that much.”
I perched on the edge of the bed, much like I’d done the day before. “You made a mistake and got in with a bad crowd. You didn’t deserve all of the things they did to you.”
She turned to me and I got that glance at her eyes. I wish I hadn’t. They were full of anger and hate. “Spare me your bullshit, Sookie. Up to a point, I knew exactly what I was doing. My husband is dead because of me. You and Eric got kidnapped because of me. I’m poison. Don’t dispute it; don’t try to convince me otherwise. Just get out and leave me be.”
I stood up, my mouth gaping at her comments. Eric squeezed at my shoulder and I saw Pam glaring at him behind me. “We should go. You heard Pam, she wants us to leave her be. Maybe she should have thought about that before leaving her diary and begging us to find her. She knows how to contact us.”
The pain on Pam’s face was heartbreaking but I saw Eric’s point. She was pushing us away after she asked for our help and we had to wait for her reach out before she would accept anymore.
There wasn’t anyone hanging around my block when we got back. Eric mentioned that they probably realised that they weren’t going to get a story out of us, so they went somewhere else. I crossed my fingers hoping that it was true but I felt like a bad person for wishing something even more shocking and awful had happened to someone else so they would bother other people instead of us.
I was still a little numb after our visit with Pam. Tough love wasn’t a weapon that you would usually find in my armoury but there was no point in hanging around trying to help someone who didn’t want your help.
Although it was fairly early, we were both exhausted and decided that everything would seem better after a good night’s sleep. As I curled up next to Eric, he nuzzled at my shoulder and let out a little sigh. I rolled over and searched out his lips with mine, our kiss was languid and soft. His hands were gentle but sure as he explored my curves over the soft material of my pyjamas. Eric’s thumbs grazed the bare skin of my waist where my vest had ridden up and pressed his forehead to mine.
“I’m glad you stopped earlier. In the kitchen, I wanted to lose myself with you. I kissed you for the wrong reasons.”
“Now I want to find myself with you.”
I was glad that he went back to kissing me right after he said that. Any comment that came out of my mouth would have ruined the moment and thinking about the way he was caressing my hips and thighs was so much better than thinking of clever, sweet things to say in reply to such a lovely statement.
He deftly removed my vest, gazing at my breasts for a while before cupping one and stroking his thumb over the nipple before lowering his head to take the hard, rosy bud into his mouth. I arched into his touch, placing one of my legs between his and pressing my thigh against his stiffening member. Eric made a noise that was half-growl, half-moan and a complete turn-on; he released my nipple with an audible pop and looked into my eyes as he continued to pinch the taut peak.
“I know we’re both clean but do we need …”
“No, I took care of that after the last incident. Just in case.”
He continued to hold my gaze as his tongue darted out and swirled around my nipple. “It’s nice, being able to trust someone like this. More than nice.”
I cleared my throat as his hand stroked down my stomach and dipped beneath the waistband of my panties. “Definitely more than nice.”
My legs parted for him without prompting and Eric’s eyes fluttered as his fingers slipped easily along my folds. I could tell from the lack of resistance that I was soaking wet. Eric licked his lips and covered my mouth with his, muffling my gasp as he pushed a finger inside. His lips sucked lightly at the juncture between my neck and shoulder and I whimpered when he withdrew his hand and moved so he was hovering over me.
When he licked my essence from his fingers, he closed his eyes and I heard a rumble in his chest. Eric tugged at my shorts and I lifted my hips, anxious for the next treat he would bestow on me. He stroked gently from my knees to my thighs, I could see his arousal straining against the fabric of his sleep pants. Lifting my legs, I hooked my toes into the band that sat low on his hips and pushed at them. Eric leaned down to kiss and suck at my breasts as he kicked off his pants and when he straightened up again I inhaled sharply at the sight of him.
Eric parted my legs, exposing all of me, and a wanton sound of appreciation escaped his lips. “It’s been a long time since I wanted to do this, I may be a little rusty.”
He winked at me and lowered his head to lick and kiss his way up the inside of my thigh. Rusty was the last word I would have used to describe Eric’s oral skills. The sensations of him sucking and licking my pearl as he curled his fingers inside me had me on the precipice of ecstasy in a shorter time than I knew possible.
“Look at me, Sookie. I want to see you unravel, Lover.”
As soon as my eyes met his, I was done. Watching him draw that little bundle of nerves between his lips, seeing the look on his face as I moaned his name, the fact he seemed to be enjoying it almost as much as I was had me shuddering in completion.
He left me no time to recover, Eric’s mouth was on mine and his shaft was deep inside me as I was still having aftershocks. I clawed at his shoulders as his hips pumped in a steady rhythm, hitting that special spot with every thrust.
Every inhale was a gasp. Every exhale was moan. I cried out in pleasure as the coil in my stomach tightened once more and rocked into him, meeting every grind until he buried his face in the pillow next to me. Eric held on to me tightly as he increased his pace, his pelvis rubbing against my clit until I exploded in climax. His breathing was laboured but when I came and felt my muscles clench around his girth, Eric grunted and moved harder and faster.
Eric raised his head, his brow furrowed as his orgasm sped toward him. The tendons in his neck strained and he screwed his eyes closed, pressing his forehead to mine and groaning out my name as I felt his seed flow into me.
We moved gently, panting, sweating, euphoric, until Eric rolled a little to the side and collapsed on the bed. It took a good five minutes for the shaking in my legs to subside enough for me to shuffle to the bathroom to clean up. I brought a warm wash cloth for Eric and tried to tame my sex hair with a brush as he wiped himself down. We didn’t speak until we were back huddled under the blankets, whether it was because the experience had left me blissfully speechless or the fog of orgasmic rapture prevented my brain from coming up with anything adequate to say, Eric spoke first.
“I never knew the difference between sex and making love before. Now I do. Thank you, Sookie.”
I looked into Eric’s still glazed eyes and knew, without a doubt, that whatever I’d felt for any other man I’d been involved with paled in comparison to what I felt for Eric.