I`m so thrilled to see that this story hasn`t been entirely forgotten. So many great reviews – yes, they put a huge smile on my face. I`m also glad that you chose to follow this story even if there is a huge change from chapter one to chapter two. It would be a pretty boring story if these love birds didn`t have any problems at all, right?
I want to thank Rascalthemutant for being such a great beta. Good luck with the studies!
“I told you I don`t need a doctor,” I said again but no one was listening.
Yes, maybe I shouldn`t have been out signing books so soon, but I wasn`t made for lying back and eating bonbons. I needed to work, do something. And since I couldn`t write, I didn`t have the attention span just now and my eyesight was acting up, at least I could sign my autograph.
Or so I thought. I wanted to scream, cry, kick something. Instead I tried to smile at the shop manager who was pacing back and forth like a lion in a cage. He`d tried to call Alcide, my manager, but he wasn`t picking up the phone.
Alcide had encouraged this. He felt it was wise for me to get back in the circus ring, as he`d called it. “Maybe the smell of sawdust will help you,” he`d said. I`d wanted him to accompany me but his girlfriend Debbie had made plans for them and who was I to get between two lovers.
Well, Debbie probably felt I`d gotten between them already. Alcide had spent some time sitting with me at the hospital and Debbie had hated every minute of it. I`d wanted to tell her that Alcide was all business. Even when he flirted it was as a manager trying to get his best client back on the money-earning train. But Debbie wouldn`t have believed me if I`d told her so I just listened to her rants and kept my mouth shut.
“I`m fine,” I said to the shop manager but I could see he didn`t believe me.
To him I was some weak little flower that had passed out in his shop and he wanted to make sure I didn`t fall over and die. Or sue him for neglect.
I just wanted to get back to the poor people waiting in line for my autograph and a smile. I owed it to them. They`d bought my book and they were paying for the butter on my bread. I didn`t want to send them home empty-handed. It was bad enough with all the cancellations these last months. I hated them. Each and every one. I could read the disappointment on my fansite.
Or rather, I couldn`t read them all because I was having problems with my eyesight. But just reading a few of them made me feel terrible. Some fans had booked hotels and arranged to meet other fans when I was coming to their nearest town to sign their books – and then I`d cancelled on them.
So I`d forced myself out of bed and told Alcide to set up something close to my apartment. Just to dip my toes in the water. Alcide had been thrilled. I could almost see the dollar-signs in his eyes, but I figured that if he made money it was because I made money and I certainly needed money with all the extra expenditures I`d had lately.
Yes, I`d had medical insurance and I thanked myself for having started to pay on that a couple of years ago. But I still had to pay for lawyers, nurses coming to my place every day and the remodeling of my apartment when I was still in a wheelchair. Even food is more expensive when you have to have people shop for you.
The book signing had gone well. I`d been in pain, of course, and my eyesight had been blurry. But I`d been able to smile, chat a little and sign people`s books – and I`d loved every moment of it.
Until he popped up.
First, when I was in the hospital, the memories of my Christmas with Eric were what kept me alive. Kept me sane. I`d been swimming in and out of consciousness but Eric had been in my thoughts all the time. Not Eric as such, but my week in his apartment. All the little details. Things we`d said and done.
Eric hadn`t been a real person when I was in my hospital bed – more a figment of my imagination, a dream, my own personal lifejacket in the stormy sea I`d been in. He`d been the safe haven I could seek when there were so many things I didn`t want to think about.
But when I came home from the hospital he`d turned very real. When I could finally turn on my computer and open my e-mails, there were hundreds and I couldn`t read them all at once, his shone like little beacons and I opened them one by one.
I could see why he was angry but I didn`t need six and a half feet of fury in my life – even if it was only electronically. I`d had more than my share of aggression and couldn`t handle more. Didn`t want to handle it. So in spite of Gran having brought me up to be polite and answer people when they wrote to you, I ignored him. And I didn`t even feel guilty about it.
“Where is the patient?” a female voice asked.
I looked up and into two very displeased eyes. It was the woman who had accompanied Eric in the line. She had a Scandinavian accent and was probably Eric`s new lover. Somewhere deep down I felt a vague pain but I shrugged it off. Hadn`t Eric said he`d studied to become a nurse because of all the women he`d wanted to meet? Apparently he`d met a doctor instead of a nurse.
She looked older than him. Not as old as me, of course, but older. Mature women were Eric`s thing, apparently.
“I`m Doctor Ravenscroft,” she said. “What`s wrong?”
“Nothing, really. I don`t know why they insisted on bringing me back here and calling for a doctor.” I shook my head and tried my 1000 Watt smile. It didn`t have the reassuring effect I`d hoped for because Doctor Ravenscroft crouched down and started looking me in my eyes and taking my pulse.
“You need to lie down so I can give you a more thorough check up,” she said. “Do you have a couch somewhere?” She`d turned her head and was now talking to the shop manager who looked even paler than five minutes ago. Maybe he needed the services of the good doctor more than I did?
I was half-carried to a couch in the next room. I couldn`t make out all the faces that were following my every move, which was probably all for the best. Who wants to be the person everyone stares at? I just hoped no one took pictures. I wasn`t a big celebrity, by far, but I had no desire to have my picture posted anywhere right now even if it was on friendly but concerned fansites.
Luckily the first thing Doctor Ravenscroft did when I was settled on the couch was to throw everyone out. Everyone but herself, me and… oh, I recognized that tall figure looming in the corner. The broad shoulders, the blond hair. I might not have been able to distinguish his features, but I would have recognized Eric in a dark basement, while being blindfolded and wearing sunglasses. If that was even possible.
“He needs to leave too,” I said to his girlfriend. It was hard to see her as a doctor when Eric was so close to her.
“He`s a nurse,” she said. “I might need his help.”
“He needs to go,” I replied. “He`s not a nurse yet and…” I was about to say that I didn`t want him to see me like this, but what would be the point of saying that out loud? If I`d learned anything from my time as a patient, it was to give doctors as few explanations as possible. Orders, they understood, explanation only made them want to argue with you. “He needs to go,” I said again.
I heard a sound of anger and a door that was slammed shut and then I released a breath.
“What did my brother do?” Doctor Ravenscroft said.
“Your brother?” I asked. My brain was working slowly but then I understood what she meant. “Oh. Eric`s your brother.”
She nodded. “Yes, I`m Pam. Eric`s sister. And what has my little brother done?”
I couldn`t see how that was any business of hers so I shrugged.
“Right,” she said. “They told me you`d fainted. Is there anything in your medical history I should know about?”
I sighed. “I`m fine.”
“Sure. But let`s be on the safe side, shall we?”
This was one of the reasons why I hated doctors. They never listened. And they always won any argument.
“Do you have any medical equipment with you?” I asked in the hope that her lack of stethoscope and medicines would deter her.
“No, but I have my eyes. I can see if you need further medical attention and I can make sure you get it. Now, is there anything I should be aware of?”
It`s so very easy to ignore people when you can`t really see them. My eyesight was more blurry than ever but I didn`t want her to know. It was bad enough that it had disappeared all together when I was in public. I hadn`t fainted. Not really. I had been temporarily blind. Well, I had been dizzy too but I hadn`t fainted.
“Are you being treated for cancer?” she asked all of a sudden.
“What? No.” I squinted, trying to make out what she was looking at and why she had come to that conclusion.
“Please remove your wig,” she said.
“No.” I hated my wig, I really did, but there was no way I would let anyone see what I looked like without it.
The wig wasn`t anywhere close to what my own hair used to look like. Even I could see that. But I hadn`t had the strength to buy one myself and had had to rely on Debbie to get it for me. I should have known that Debbie`s taste for cheap looks would make her buy the blondest wig she could find. Or maybe she`d just gotten me the ugliest one in the shop. I would never know.
Pam walked over to the door and locked it. “My brother never told me you were vain.”
“I`m not,” I said. I wasn`t vain except for my hair. And I wasn`t really vain about my hair either except when I missed big chunks of it.
“Then remove your wig, please.”
I swallowed something, probably my pride, and took off my wig. My real hair was fastened with little pins to my scalp and I knew I looked horrible. The bald parts stood out. And so did the scar.
“What happened to you?” she asked in that very efficient voice doctors have. They were never surprised or shocked.
“I was attacked,” I said. No point in elaborating.
She pulled a lamp over and removed the lampshade. “Close your eyes,” she said. “Now open them.” I did as I was told and I knew what she was looking for. It was therefore no surprise when she said that she didn`t like the way my pupils reacted to light.
“There was some damage after the attack,” I explained.
“Are you under medical care now?”
“I am.” I nodded like a good girl though I knew the medical care I was under consisted of a check up once a week.
“You should go to the hospital now, just to be on the safe side. Head traumas are nasty business.”
“Sure,” I said, knowing very well I was not going to go to the hospital. They`d already checked my head from every angle. Sometimes you need time to heal. And sometimes you would never heal entirely. I still didn`t know which category I fit in.
“But you`re not going to go.” Eric`s sister had read my thoughts.
“No, I`m not.”
She looked at the scars on my scalp. Then she turned my head up and looked at my face. “It looks like you took quite a beating? Reconstructive surgery?”
“Uh huh.” It was all I could say since she held my jaw and turned my face this way and that, but it seemed adequate. What else can I say about the physical signs of the worst night of my life?
Her eyes searched my face a little more then she pulled up my shirt and checked the scars on my chest and back.
“Is this the reason why you ditched my brother?”
I looked at her. “I can`t see how that`s any of your business,” I replied. Eric was a thing of the past and I would like for it to stay that way. I didn`t need him, his sister or any of his anger in my life right now.
“Of course it`s my business. My brother liked you.” She rolled her eyes at me like I was a little girl.
“And now he doesn`t. Let`s leave it at that.”
Pamela Ravenscroft looked at me for some time, big sister and doctor at the same time. Then she shook her head. “Very well.”
To my big surprise Doctor Ravenscroft got up, handed me my wig, let me put it on and helped me adjust it, and then she walked me out.
“Ms. Stackhouse needs a taxi,” she said to the bookstore manager who looked like he was having a nervous breakdown.
“No, I can finish up in the store. I`m fine.” Those nice people in the line had been waiting long enough.
“You are not fine and you`re going home. It`s either that or the hospital.” Eric`s sister was adamant.
I hate doctors.
Somehow I managed to get home and crawl into my bed. I slept until the next morning, woke up and was back to feeling miserable.
I couldn`t write, I couldn`t read and apparently I couldn`t even meet my fans. I was recently divorced, I had no significant person in my life, I couldn`t do my job – I felt like I had no purpose in life. I didn`t even have a cat.
The only thing I could do was to think and I really didn`t want to do that. There were too many things I wanted to forget, or rather, there was one big thing I didn`t want to think about and now I was left in a state where I couldn`t forget it. My brain circled around it like a vulture over a half-dead animal.
So I did what I`d done at the hospital before I got Eric`s angry e-mails. I thought of my time with him. My Christmas in Scandinavia.
Seeing Eric had been terrible. The expression on his face matched the tone of his e-mails to me. He`d been so angry, so mad. But it had been good to see him too. Eric was truly a handsome man. No, sexy. He was the picture of sexy. Or maybe it was just me, remembering what Eric could do with that tall body of his.
Now that I knew I was never going to see him again – I`d prevented that with my brush-off today – I could look back at my Christmas with him and enjoy it over and over again. I lay back on my couch, took a deep breath and took my mind back to his little apartment with all the Christmas ornaments and the smell of all the food he`d made.
And the sex. Remembering the sex we`d had, made me forget everything bad that had happened after I`d left him.
It made me forget Bill. His anger when I`d filed for a divorce. His rage. And what he`d done to me. I hadn`t even known he was back in the country when I`d opened the door and he was outside with his very special greeting.
No, I would rather think about Eric. Eric had been angry too, but he was a thing of the past now and I didn`t have to worry about him. Which meant I could just enjoy the memories.
Or at least that`s what I thought when I relaxed on my couch, a smile on my lips.
The sound of my doorbell brought me out of Happyland and back to my apartment. I wasn`t expecting anyone and after Bill, I`d grown wary of people coming by without me knowing about it in advance. So I stayed where I was. If they wanted me to open the door they could have called me in advance.
The doorbell rang again. And again.
After the fifth ring, I tip-toed to my door to take a peek out of the spyhole. Maybe it was Alcide with some more fanmail? I`d told him time and time again to call me before he came over but he kept forgetting. I suppose Alcide never really remembered anyone but Alcide. And the only reason why he brought my fanmail home to me was because he wanted me back in the saddle. I was his meal-ticket and he knew I felt bad when I didn`t live up to my promises to my readers. So he made sure I never forgot them.
Alcide couldn`t wrap his brain around the fact that I would have written 10 books if I`d only could. If my brain had worked the way my brain was supposed to work. But it didn`t. And I hadn`t written a word since January.
I held my finger over the hole when I slid the mechanism to the side – just to make sure that whoever was on the other side didn`t see any changes in light in the hole. No need to announce that I was actually home before I knew who was on the other side of the door.
Cautiously I closed one eye, got up on my toes and peeked out with the other eye – and took a step back in shock when I realized who was there.
Doctor Ravenscroft. And behind her – Eric.
“Just open the door, Sookie,” Eric`s sister shouted. “I want to check on you.”
That was sweet of her, of course, but I had no desire to let Eric into my apartment. Or to let him see the way I looked without a wig or makeup.
The thick layer of makeup that Alcide`s girlfriend Debbie had decided I needed to go to the bookstore hadn`t been pretty, but the bruising I had on my face certainly wasn`t either. You just can`t restore a broken cheekbone or a nose without getting black and blue – no matter what the plastic surgeons told you in their pamphlets.
I counted to ten in the hope that they would go away but when they were still there, I began to unlock all my security locks and opened the door.
And immediately regretted it.
I could take anger in Eric`s face. Admiration, love and horniness, of course, they were all good. I could take indifference too.
But not pity. I did not want his pity.
Pity was exactly what I got. Well, first shock and then pity.
He was quiet all the way into the living room and he even offered to make the coffee. Probably to think up some excuse to leave as quickly as he could.
Pam gave me a thorough examination while Eric was in the kitchen. This time she had all those fancy little doctor things with her so I didn`t have my lamps shoved in my face.
Eric came back carrying my coffeepot and three cups. I wanted to tell him where my cookies were but my voice wasn`t up to the task.
We all sat down. Pam was being efficient, packing up her stuff, but Eric and I just sat there, not knowing what to say.
Finally he broke the silence.
“Why didn`t you tell me?” he asked and gave me a puppy-dog look.
“Like your ass was what she had on her mind when she was struggling for her life?” Pam said in a dry voice.
Actually his ass had been on my mind. A lot. But I knew what she meant and I was thankful for her pointing it out.
“Yeah, but…” Eric started. He didn`t strike me as a man who would lack words but I suppose my situation was just that bad.
“When I came home from the hospital, I was met by a mail that said `fuck you` in the topic…” I started to say.
“How could I have known?” Eric interrupted.
“You couldn`t have known, Eric, but that still didn`t stop you from assuming I was a b… that I`d….” Apparently I lacked words too. How do you explain to your former lover that you were offended by him assuming that you had hurt his feelings on purpose?
“I would have been on the first flight if I had known,” he said.
I had no idea what to say to that so I was happy when his sister answered instead.
“You`ve been a dick, Eric. Why don`t you just own up to it and move on? Sookie doesn`t need this kind of aggravation,” she said to him in a casual voice. I was beginning to like her a lot.
“Pam!” Eric said, but then he looked at me. “So how can I help you now?” he asked.
How could Eric help me? That question threw me off a bit. I wasn`t very good at relying on anyone`s help so why should I ask someone who`d only known me for a week, if one didn`t count e-mails and phone conversations, for anything?
I wanted to say that the best help would be if he walked out the door but somehow that got stuck in my throat. So I just shrugged.
“I think we should let Sookie get some rest,” Pam said and got up. “Is it okay if we check in on you tomorrow?” she asked.
“Tomorrow?” Eric exclaimed. “We`re only here for two weeks. We can`t wait until tomorrow. Can we come back tonight, Sookie?”
“Tomorrow will be fine,” I answered Pam with a smile.
“Great!” she said, showing me all those pretty teeth of hers. “And you know, if you want an older and more mature version of that.” She pointed at Eric. “One without testosterone,” she added. “I would love to take you out on a date.”
“Pam! For fuck`s sake!” Eric shouted.
“See,” she pointed at Eric. “Testosterone.” Then she pointed at herself, totally calm and with a huge smile on her face. “No testosterone.”
I couldn`t help laughing. It was the first real laughter I had had in ages and it did me a world of good.
“I thought women had testosterone too,” I said when I could breathe again.
“Damn,” Pam grinned. “You know too much.”
And with that she shoved her brother out of the door and closed it behind her.
I hope you liked this chapter and would love to hear your opinions.
I`m so amazed with how quickly we assume our friends and even our loved ones are doing something bad on purpose – just to be mean to you. When I wrote this chapter I was watching a show on TV where a guy was waiting for his future wife to arrive on plane from Russia. When it took her an hour or more to get through customs, he immediately assumed that she`d just taken the money he`d sent for her plane tickets and was having fun with them back in Russia – while making fun of how naïve he`d been to all her friends. It never even hit him that she was having problems in custom. This was his future wife!
Well, this was great inspiration for this chapter and how quickly we assume that we have been used or tricked.
I want to remind you all of the Home Sweet Home contest. Write us a story about any or all of the SVM-characters – only bring them home to your country or your home town. I proudly host this contest with Suki59 and you can follow it on Twitter @ HSHcontest
And if you`re fast, you can still send an entry to the Saint Eric contest. Write a story about how perfect Eric isn`t or an ironic story singing praises to his perfections. Make Sookie an angel or a devil. Peppermintyrose is hosting this contest and you can follow it on Twitter @ Saint_Eric