Chapter 16: Say Again Your Last

NOTE 1: In the military, “say again your last” is a request for something—usually an order—to be repeated. In this chapter, I use this phrase to emphasize the swirling and sometimes repetitive nature of Sookie’s thoughts.

NOTE 2: Sookie’s slip-ups in thinking of Eric as “Eric,” versus “Captain Northman” come at significant times.

Thursday, September 30, 2010  3:00 a.m./0300 Hours)

Sookie POV

I looked on with discomfort as Jase struggled to move from his hospital bed to his wheelchair so that he could go to the bathroom. It was always a struggle for me to watch him fight for every little scrap of progress he made. His arms—though certainly stronger from his work with Dr. Lee—still trembled under his full weight as he maneuvered his bottom from the bed to the chair. I sighed with relief. That was the hardest part for him. He then got his remaining whole, but injured leg in place. What remained of his right leg—what my positive boy had nicknamed “Stumpy”—simply “followed along,” though its lack of symmetry with his left leg always seemed to surprise Jase or to throw off his balance a little.

The mother in me wanted to jump up from the bed and help him.

Likely, I would have—if I could have.

However, there would be no “jumping” of any kind for me for a long time.

I sighed lightly as Jase finally got settled into his chair and then began his groggy, middle-of-the night journey to the bathroom. I knew from experience that it would take him about ten minutes to pee, wash his hands, make his way back to his bed, and then hoist himself back into his hospital bed. I also knew from experience that the last part would be the hardest to watch without “help.”

Still, I feigned sleep, determined not to smother my son with my help and thereby take away his own need to do things for himself. I didn’t want him to become overly dependent, unable to function on his own.

Of course, I had given him the tools that I could so that he could be successful. For example, Dr. Lee had suggested a special kind of wheelchair that was more maneuverable than the standard and that would be easier for Jase, and I leapt (figuratively) at ordering one, despite the expense. Notwithstanding his difficulties, Jase was getting pretty good at navigating around in it—with the transition from the bed to the chair and back again being his newest (and still most difficult) accomplishment.

Still—it was hard for me to helplessly (and wordlessly) watch any struggle Jase had to endure.

Captain Northman was so much better at simply observing Jase as he worked to move around. When Jase was first learning to move with one broken and one amputated leg—before he had the upper body strength to do much and when his pain level was higher—the captain would help him to a certain extent. But now, he simply watched (whenever he was at the hospital), always there to make sure Jase didn’t fall, but never invasive about his presence.

I was a little jealous that the captain was in a better position to physically help Jase if needed; I was even more jealous that he could observe his difficulties with steel, rather than the trepidation that always threatened to overtake me.

I sighed a little more loudly now that Jase had closed the bathroom door behind him.

Despite my jealousy, I was more grateful for Captain Northman—Eric—than I could express. I laughed at myself for continuing to not be certain about what to call the man—even in my head. Not long after I’d woken up, I told the captain that he need not call me Mrs. Herveaux—that Sookie was fine. In turn, he’d offered that I call him Eric. However, we’d never transitioned to our first names, despite this permission.

I couldn’t really put my finger on why that was in my case, except to say that there was something almost other-worldly about him that seemed to set him apart from everyone else who had ever been in my orbit.

Maybe it was his command over his emotions in any situation he found himself in.

Maybe it was the way he made me feel safe—like he was some kind of guardian.

Maybe it was the formal way in which he carried himself.

Maybe it was the almost-professional way with which he addressed me most of the time.

Maybe it was the way he’d seemingly appeared out of nowhere—some kind of knight in shining armor. Tara had told me that Jase asked for him after the accident—when my little boy was barely conscious enough to say anything. He asked for me, and he asked for Captain Northman.

Tara confessed that she’d been worried that I wouldn’t make it; that, more than anything, had been why she and Ames had worked so hard to get a message to Captain Northman, eventually asking William Compton for help. My Senator and first father-in-law had come through for Jase.

And Captain Northman had seemingly moved heaven and earth to get to Jase’s side as soon as he could. So—yeah—to me, he seemed to be some kind of knight or angel or superhero or supernatural creature—my own personal Jane Eyre in some ways. He had clearly become an extremely important part of my world, even as he seemed separate from the world at large in most ways.

And that made addressing him by his first name practically impossible for me.

Only with Jase did Captain Northman become warmer, as if he were truly in the world with us. I closed my eyes as I thought of the captain; I’d never met anyone like him. Bill had told me some information about him, but even he’d said that the captain was a bit peculiar. Indeed, after telling me his full name only once, Bill had referred to Eric Northman as just “Northman.”

I’d always been able to tell that Bill had loved him though; indeed, he’d looked up to Captain Northman in a way. Bill had thought that he was a perfect complement to have as a friend, and now I could see why. While Bill was excellent at making people feel comfortable, the captain was undeniably—but likely unintentionally—intimidating. Even I’d known that Bill could be a bit “flighty”; on the other hand, the captain was unquestionably steady and solid. Bill was also prone to thoughtlessness; actually, it was more like he had a tendency to think first of himself—though I knew firsthand that he had worked hard to change that element of his personality. By contrast, I found myself wondering if the captain was even capable of thinking about himself before others. And—because he did not think about himself—it seemed hard to know what to think about him. I did not think he was cold as much as he was wary—reticent about putting himself out there.

With anyone other than Jase, that is.

I felt myself sighing deeply as I thought about how Captain Northman’s demeanor seemed to change at night—a change that I had been able to witness firsthand when the captain was staying overnight with Jase and me in the ICU. Whenever Jase had a nightmare, the captain would be up and at his side immediately. If Jase cried, the captain was there, a steady presence of comfort. The two would sometimes speak softly about the dreams, though I’m sure that they thought I was asleep and did not hear. And during those discussions, the captain’s voice had always been warm, calm, and reassuring—the complete opposite of distant.

From their nighttime talks, I knew that Jase had stayed conscious throughout most of the aftermath of the accident. After a while, he’d been the only one awake, for Hunter had passed out from his pain, and I’d stay conscious for only a moment after the impact.

Jase talked about the pain and the coldness he’d felt. He talked about seeing a lot of blood toward the front of the vehicle. He talked about yelling out to Alcide, me, Jackson, Hunter and Gran—but having none of us answer him. He recalled with shame that he’d wet himself. He talked about crying and hearing Hunter crying until he went to sleep. He talked about being scared that everyone in the car had died but him. He talked about how he was scared that he was dying, too. He talked about the reactions of the people who’d come to help them get out of the SUV. He recalled in great detail their words as they’d seen the crushed Jackson. One of the rescue workers had said, “He’s crushed. Don’t waste your time; just help the ones in the back.” Another had asked of Alcide, “Where’s this one’s head?”

I cringed and closed my eyes tightly for a moment, trying to keep my tears and the gruesome images my son had recalled at bay.

With the captain, Jase also talked about his continued worry that everyone he loved would die and leave him—just like Gran, Jackson, Alcide, and Bill had.

Sometimes Jase’s dreams weren’t about the accident itself, but about his amputated leg. He worried that he’d be rejected by others because of it. He worried that Jessica, the little girl he felt certain he was going to marry one day (not that I was supposed to know that), would reject him, though—to the girl’s credit—she’d visited Jase and hadn’t seemed to be upset at all that he was missing a leg. They’d talked mostly about how her and her mother, Alice Hamby, had been stopping by the farmhouse once a day to take care of our cats, Sarge and Pepper. Apparently, Jessica had “told” the cats all about what had happened and had made sure they were petted enough. She’d also made sure to instruct the captain about how to properly feed and pet Sarge and Pepper when he’d taken over their care.

“Captain Northman,” I whispered to myself, shaking my head a little.

Through all of Jase’s bad dreams, the captain had known exactly what to say—exactly what to do. I’d listened to him speaking, and I’d taken mental notes.

Once Jase and I were moved from the ICU, I’d made the difficult decision that the captain ought to go home at night, for I’d needed to reinstate some of my independence. Also, I longed to become, once again, the main person that my son turned to whenever something troubled him. Was that selfish of me? Yeah; I could admit that. But I needed to begin being Jase’s mommy again, not just another “broken human” who shared his room.

Plus, I had found myself feeling too dependent upon the captain. I’d found myself drawn to him in a way that made me feel incredibly guilty.

Thankfully, by the time Jase and I were moved to a regular hospital room, I could maneuver myself from the bed to my wheelchair to Jase’s bedside pretty quickly, so I was able to comfort my son through his nightmares, which now occurred only about once a week.

However, after the captain no longer stayed the night, my own nightmares had no salve, and they would occur almost nightly. Thankfully, I would generally wake myself up from them before I’d make enough noise to wake up Jase. But there was no one there when I woke up to comfort me.

I sighed again—again very deeply. Counting on the captain for relief during my own toughest times was what I felt guiltiest about. I’d felt bad about taking any comfort—when so many people in my life were now dead. And I’d felt embarrassed about using him.

But—to be frank—I’d needed someone during those long, difficult nights in the ICU, and he’d been there. Unlike with Jase, he’d never spoken with me about my dreams when I’d awoken from them. He’d simply held my hand and sometimes brought a wet rag to mop my brow when I had sweat a lot.

In the dark, especially at first when I’d been more heavily medicated, I’d almost been able to imagine that he was Alcide—or even Bill—offering me comfort. But Eric’s—the captain’s—hand was different from theirs. Bill’s hand was always a little cold—sometimes even clammy. Alcide ran hot, and holding his hand for too long was actually not that pleasant because his palm would sweat. He and I had laughed about it.

At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, I found that the captain’s hand-holding was “just right.”

Except that he wasn’t the right person. And it had felt wrong for me to think of his hand as so right.

Still I had been grateful to have him there.

But I missed Alcide and felt like I was cheating on him for just allowing the captain to stand next to me in the dark.

My thoughts were interrupted as I heard Jase open the bathroom door and begin his short trek back to his bed. He grunted lightly as he lifted himself from his chair to his bed. I counted the seconds as he ungracefully moved around so he was lying down.

I focused on Dr. Crane’s words: “Everything will get easier for him in time.”

The whirring of the bed as it rose in height allowed me a soft sigh of relief, knowing that my son would quickly drift back to sleep. He always did after his nighttime bathroom visits. For a while, after his catheter had been taken out, he’d peed in a little container the nurses would bring him. But I knew that being able to take care of his own “human needs” was just as important to my independent son as it had been for me.

As he’d said so eloquently, “Bed pans and pee jugs are nasty, Momma!”

I listened carefully until I heard his breathing even out and his slight snoring begin, and I felt my body relax a bit. And then my mind began drifting again.

I sometimes wondered if I were cursed, destined to never keep love for long—only long enough so that my whole heart would be invested before the loss. In my worst nightmares, Bill and Alcide both taunted me—telling me that I wasn’t worth sticking around for.

Dr. Crane and I talked a lot about survivor’s guilt and how I definitely had it. She also told me that the mild pain meds I still needed (but was—thankfully—tapering off of) were notorious for causing vivid dreams. But—in the moment of waking from them—nothing had helped, except for a hand that felt “just right.”

It had been so dark in the room that I’d never really seen the captain’s face when he was standing there—sentry—as I fell back to sleep.

Or—if falling back to sleep wasn’t possible, the captain would somehow know exactly when to “give up.” He would, then, let go of my hand, turn on the little light next to my bed, and read to me. My eyes could then close as I listened to his strong, steady voice. I might eventually drift away to sleep—floating on the cloud of his voice and the story, rather than remaining trapped inside of my remembered nightmare—or (if I couldn’t sleep) the captain would keep reading until it was time for Jase to wake up.

I sighed as I thought about Captain Eric Northman; he’d become such a constant presence in Jase and my days—a new root to cling to. Or maybe he’d been in the ground of our lives all along—at least in Jase’s life. Indeed, I’d never asked him why he’d left Afghanistan without a thought. I guess I hadn’t needed to. I knew it was for Jase. And for Bill.

I also knew that not many people would simply drop everything to come halfway across the globe to take care of a little boy who wasn’t his own. But Captain Northman wasn’t like just anyone. I sometimes wondered how he got the Marines to simply let him leave whatever post he’d occupied in that faraway war. I knew on a personal level how hard it was for a Marine to get leave when the Corps didn’t find it convenient for him to; after all, Bill had barely made it to Jase’s birth and hadn’t been able to stay long at all—and he’d only been in training in San Diego at the time, not halfway around the globe!

I also didn’t ask how the captain’s month-long leave had turned into two and then three and then six months. But I’d been grateful for his extended presence, even as I’d refused to become too dependent upon it. For his part, he seemed to understand when I needed him to back off. And he seemed to understand when Jase needed space, too.

Years before, I’d found it odd just how much—and how quickly—Jase had bonded with the captain following Bill’s death, especially before Skype, since their relationship occurred solely through letters and phone calls. For a while, I thought it was because Jase needed someone—anyone—to help him deal with his grief for his deceased father. Alternatively, I speculated that Jase might have clung to the captain because he was a Marine, just like Bill had been.

However, as soon as I saw Captain Northman and Jase interact in person, I realized why they’d connected. They were a lot alike—personality wise. They were both quiet—contemplative and thoughtful. I remembered back to when Jase was a tiny child; he was quiet then too, only really fussing when he was sick. And—even then—he’d fuss only long enough for me to come to him. As soon as I did—no matter how sick he had been—he quieted. It was as if he trusted me—once I was there—to take care of whatever was wrong. He’d been a Godsend child—at least, that’s what Gran had always said about him. She’d pegged him as unselfish from the start; he’d slept well and eaten well—as if he knew that I’d had a difficult pregnancy and delivery. As if he knew that I was suffering from postpartum disease (albeit a relatively minor case). Of course, I was also dealing with Bill being at training and then on his first deployment when Jase was in his first year of life. He seemed to know that, too.

I recognized the same kind of contemplative sensitivity in Eric Northman. And I could easily imagine why Bill had pursued a friendship with him. Bill was the kind of man who loved to have an audience—an audience that cared. And Captain Northman was certainly that.

Indeed, it was sometimes amazing to watch Jase and the captain coexist in the same space as they played a game or worked on Jase’s homework. They would speak with each other warmly, but there were also long periods of time when they did not speak at all.

Fighting against his natural personality, Jase had been more boisterous with Alcide—clearly trying to please his stepfather. However, when it was up to him, Jase—though not shy—preferred more low-key interactions. He always had.

Captain Northman, too, was low-key. Despite being a soldier, it seemed clear that he was non-confrontational, and he’d quelled any building tension between my son and me more than once. I continuously worried that I was taking advantage of the captain’s giving nature, but he seemed always eager to take on another task, though he was extremely careful to make sure I still felt in control.

For example, he’d waited until after I’d asked how long he’d be staying in Louisiana before telling me about his extended leave and new duty station in Shreveport.

Later, he’d presented me with options regarding what could be done once Jase and I were ready to go home. Ultimately, the option I chose had him living with Jase and me—simply because I couldn’t ask anyone else to do it. Tara was about to pop out a baby, and Amelia was still a relative newlywed! And William and Sophie-Anne Compton had obligations in Washington, D.C., not to mention the fact that Sophie-Anne was learning to walk again as well—after her stroke. The Comptons had offered to have Jase and me come to live with them, promising us the best physical therapy and nurse care that money could buy. And, of course, they had maids and a cook who could take care of us.

I knew it wasn’t the right move for my son and me before William had even finished the offer, though I’d appreciated the gesture. The farmhouse was Jase and my home, and I knew we’d heal better and faster there.

According to Dr. Lee, I would likely be able to transition from the wheelchair to a walker or crutches fulltime within a month of returning home. Another month would see me using a cane most of the time. My goal at that point was to be able to get up and down the stairs before the captain had to move to Shreveport to commence his duties at Bailey. Based on my progress so far, Dr. Lee was confident that I’d be able to walk almost normally—without using the cane at all—within another six months or so.

However, at first, maneuvering myself and Jase around our home in wheelchairs was going to require help. I’d considered hiring Jesús fulltime. He’d done such a wonderful job helping Gran after her hip replacement that I knew he’d do a wonderful job with Jase and me. However, Jesús had already picked up several new patients, so fulltime care wasn’t something he’d be able to start right away, though he would be coming by the farmhouse four times a week to continue both my and Jase’s physical therapy—in consultation with Dr. Lee, of course.

Hiring a stranger was always a possibility. But I knew that Jase would prefer Captain Northman, and—honestly—so did I. Indeed, I found it incredibly difficult not to lean on the captain. And it was clear that he wanted to stay with Jase, too.

After putting aside my guilty feelings that I was taking advantage of the captain—as well as determining (with Dr. Crane’s help) that my own warm feelings about the captain shouldn’t be considered “cheating” on Alcide—I asked Captain Northman to stay with us at the farmhouse for the rest of his leave.

He’d immediately agreed.

After that, he’d taken on one difficult task after the next: first cleaning and furnishing the attic that hadn’t been used as an apartment since my father and Grandpa Mitchell had initially finished the space for my dad when he was fifteen. According to Gran, my dad had an independent streak—one which she said I’d inherited. My own brother Jason hadn’t inherited the same inclination; indeed, he’d never opted to use the little “apartment.”

Thus, I couldn’t imagine all of the dust and junk that had collected up there!

And then Captain Northman had taken on even more onerous tasks—and more personal ones.

I closed my eyes, pained by the thought that I’d not been a very good wife or granddaughter in the end. By the time I’d woken up, Janice had already made all of the funeral arrangements for both Alcide and Jackson. Of course, both Herveaux men had been so healthy that neither had gotten around to putting any final wishes down on paper. I’d asked Alcide what he wanted once, and he’d shrugged me off. Given the fact that I’d lost my first husband so young, I was hyper-aware of the need to let others know my own final wishes. Still, I’d not pushed Alcide to tell me his—or even to think about them; after all, he’d bristled at the subject of death. And I’d let myself believe that we’d have time to deal with things like that as we grew old together.

Alcide and his dad were buried the day after I woke up; of course, I could not be at the funeral. Janice visited and told me about the service, and we’d agreed to visit their graves together as soon as Jase and I were able. They’d been buried on either side of Alcide’s mother. I made sure to tell Janice that I thought both men would have liked that very much.

I’d cried for a while after Janice had told me that neither casket could be opened. And the nightmares that came from that revelation had haunted me many times.

I was now a two-time widow, and both of my husbands had died brutally enough that their caskets couldn’t even be opened. Yes—”haunted” was a good word for what I felt.

In addition to not being able to take care of Alcide’s funeral—or even attend it—I’d not been the one to pack up his belongings either. With Bill, I’d taken my time, going through every one of his belongings with care and letting myself remember him—grieve for him—as I did.

With Alcide’s belongings, that simply wasn’t possible. My bedroom needed to be adapted to accommodate my wheelchair, and that meant removing Alcide’s dresser from the room. And just thinking about all of his things in the closet—things I wouldn’t be physically capable of packing up for months—made me feel a sorrow I just wasn’t strong enough to deal with—not if I wanted to be strong for my little boy.

So I’d asked for the captain’s help. Of course, I could have had him store everything that belonged to Alcide. But—ultimately—after making sure that Janice didn’t want anything, I’d asked Captain Northman to pack up most of my late husband’s clothing to give to charity. I kept some things that I would always associate with him—his favorite flannel shirts and his well-worn work boots. The captain had boxed up those things and all of Alcide’s non-clothing items; he’d put them into the remaining storage area in the attic. I knew that going through them would be difficult. And—of course—there were many things of Alcide’s that would be found as I reestablished my life at home. But most were of the less personal variety—like the ledgers he kept in our shared office space or the DVDs he’d brought into our marriage.

Despite it not being possible, I couldn’t help but to feel shamefaced that I’d not been able to take care of my husband after his death. The same held true for Gran. Tara and Amelia had made the funeral arrangements for her, which were easier to do since she’d left detailed instructions with Mike Spenser and Sid Matt Lancaster. She’d been buried two days before I woke up. Tara told me that the whole town had come.

Except for me, of course.

I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose.

Captain Northman had also packed up Gran’s things in preparation of our homecoming, for Jase would need to occupy her old room for the foreseeable future. The captain had packed up her clothing—at least most of it—and taken it to Goodwill. He’d taken pictures of Gran’s personal things so that I could decide what to do with them. Most were in boxes waiting next to Alcide’s things

“Two lives boxed up in the attic,” I whispered to myself.

I glanced at the clock on the wall—illuminated by the lamp I had asked to be left on in the corner of the room since Jase had become a little afraid of the dark since the accident. I sighed. It was hours before my son would awaken for the day.

Ninety minutes before, I’d been woken up by a nightmare that was actually a memory of the crash. And I’d not been able to go back to sleep, as I’d thought about going home the next day. And then, of course, Jason’s bathroom journeys always left me a bit pensive. I sighed. I was anxious to be leaving the hospital—though both Jase and I had been well taken care of there.

But I needed to be independent again—at least, as much as possible. I needed to be home again.

According to Captain Northman, everything was ready at the farmhouse. Ramps had been built over the porch stairs; furniture had been replaced or moved to accommodate our wheelchairs; rugs had been taken up to allow for easier movement; and rods, handles, and seats had been put into the bathtubs. And when I’d asked how we’d get home—only thinking about transportation the week before—the captain had assured me that he had a van that would fit both Jase’s and my needs.

I was grateful for all he was doing. At the same time, I longed for a time when I wouldn’t need him. Again, I longed for my independence—stubbornly so. Maintaining my independence had been Alcide and my biggest point of struggle during our marriage—with him being quite old-fashioned in some ways. However, we’d compromised and worked things out, and eventually he’d come to respect that I needed a life that didn’t fully revolve around him. So—yes—I was looking forward to taking care of myself and Jase again. It was the logistics that I’d have to learn how to deal with. And the captain would help me to transition.

My most immediate worry, however—one that hit me like a steam engine the day before—stemmed from the idea of riding in a vehicle.

Dr. Crane had assured me that such anxiety was common after a serious car accident, and she’d prescribed both Jase and me anti-anxiety medication to take in cases of emergency.

It was one of those, “I hope I don’t need it, but I’m glad I have it,” things.

I closed my eyes, though I didn’t expect to sleep. My mind was racing too fast, spinning around topics again and again in quick succession.

I was looking forward to getting back to Merlotte’s. The captain had been bringing me the books each day, as well as taking care of the money counts and deposits, but Merlotte’s had been my baby, and I often enjoyed filling in as bartender or waiting tables when someone got sick. Of course, I couldn’t help but to be grateful that being a waitress wasn’t my main livelihood. I hated to think about how far into debt I would have been by this point if it were. As it was, both Jase and I had excellent medical insurance. Jase’s was through the military—survivor’s benefits because of Bill. Mine was through Alcide and Jackson’s company. I offered medical insurance to my three full-time people at Merlotte’s, but—frankly—getting it through Alcide’s company had been much cheaper for me—since they covered more employees and their families and got better rates than I did at Merlotte’s. Now that Cal had bought the business, I would still be able to retain the benefits—since I’d agreed to keep doing the books for him. We’d negotiated a modest monthly salary for the work; however, given the fact that the insurance was the main reason I wanted to keep working there—along with a desire to stay attached to something that had been so important to my husband—I felt that the salary was more than fair. I was just glad that I’d transferred everything related to Herveaux and Son Construction Company to a computerized system two years before. It had enabled me to do most of the ordering and payments from my hospital bed, at least once I felt up to it.

Indeed, I’d already been doing most of the paperwork for the contracting company at home even before the accident.

Thinking of my husband and father-in-law’s business, I couldn’t help but to be sad. I knew that Calvin Norris was already thinking about changing the name of the company, and that thought—though it made sense—broke my heart a little. Still, I was glad that I’d be helping to make sure that the business survived, even if it didn’t bear the Herveaux name anymore.

I felt my thoughts spinning back around again to Captain Northman as I looked at my bedside table. On it was the book he’d been reading to me before Jase and I were moved from the ICU. He’d finished Jane Eyre, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. He’d been about halfway through with Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; that book—which, like the others, had been borrowed from somewhere within the hospital—had been moved with me and Jase and put on my bedside table. I’d not picked it up, despite having read many other books during my stay in the hospital. It didn’t seem right somehow to finish it without the captain though.

I sighed. Captain Northman was a good reader—more expressive telling a story than in everyday speech—and I still missed his voice keeping me company those many long nights when I could not go back to sleep after a nightmare.

I couldn’t help but to wish he was there even then. And—of course—that thought led me to feel guilty again. I continued to feel bad for taking advantage of him. And, despite Dr. Crane’s logic, a part of me continued to feel that—in counting on the captain—I was somehow betraying Alcide. Oh—it wasn’t that I was thinking romantic thoughts about Captain Northman, though I’d come to recognize just what a handsome man he was. It was that I’d let another man into my life in any capacity! Of course, I knew that Alcide wouldn’t begrudge my getting help. But I also know that—given his possessive nature—Alcide wouldn’t have loved the idea that that help was coming from an attractive man.

Especially the man that he’d been a bit intimidated of—at least in regards to his relationship with Jase—before he died.

And that thought did nothing to ease my conscience.

I knew, of course, where my guilt stemmed from. It was from the nights when I would welcome the feeling of Eric holding my hand or the intimacy of his reading to me. It was from the fact that I missed those things—even now—with almost the same ache that I missed my dead husband.

Yes—no matter what Dr. Crane, Amelia, or Tara told me—I felt that I’d betrayed Alcide on an emotional level because I’d let myself draw comfort from Captain Northman. However, I was determined to avoid such a thing in the future! Being honest, that determination had been one of the main reasons why I’d asked him to quit staying overnight at the hospital—and why I’d endured many nights of restless wakefulness since then.

I would always be grateful to Captain Northman for his help. However, I was determined to focus that gratefulness on what he was doing for Jase, who was grieving for Alcide, Gran, and Jackson as much as I was. He was also grieving for something I wasn’t—his leg. Oh, he was being quite brave about everything. But he was still hurting. Captain Northman had been there for him in ways that even I hadn’t been able to be.

Jase needed him. And he clearly had him.

I, on the other hand, was resolute not to allow myself to need anything else from Captain Northman—beyond the practical help he would offer to me until I was on my feet.

A/N: Many apologies for this being a day late; however, right before posting yesterday, I noticed a major flaw in the chapter that I needed to fix. Basically, I had started the chapter with the idea that Sookie was watching Jase struggle out of bed, but then I forgot that he was out of bed, and the next mention of him was that he was sound asleep. In other words—a big, illogical plot-hole! Anyway, I have only just now had time to deal with it.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter. And I really hope that you will comment if you have the time. I’m in another funk right now. Work is kicking my butt, and we are having to do repairs on our plumbing system—AGAIN. And the noise and the vibrations of the machinery is really bothering me. Those of you with migraines or fibro may have experienced similar issue due to being around heavy machinery. Anyway, all this to say that your comments always brighten my world a lot. And it could use better light right now.




14 thoughts on “Chapter 16: Say Again Your Last

  1. Great chapter again! So much struggle for Sookie, physically, emotionally. Grieving plus all the real life issues of dealing with the aftermath of death and loss. So sad that she feels she must shut herself off from any feelings for Eric. Between her guilt and Eric’s guilt about being attracted to Sookie, the widow of his friend, these two are a mess. Hopefully they will grow to be at least more friendly and of course we always hope for them to have a HEA.
    Sorry to hear that things are difficult for you , hope it gets better soon. I am struggling with a sick husband who is stubborn and a doctor who isn’t taking things seriously. We have tickets to the first showing of Avengers Endgame tonight that we got the first day they went on sale but he may be too sick to go and I no longer drive so we may miss out.

  2. Great chapter, it read wonderfully. Please tell me you are heading to a HEA. Hope the plumbing gets taken care of soon for you and the noise goes away.

  3. Sorry to hear things aren’t going too well for you. Hopefully things will pick up.
    I’m tentatively following this story as I’m not usually into AH E/S stories and especially not ones with a lot of angst/slow-build, but because it’s you (and I love everything else you write) I’ll give it a genuine go. I’ll only drop in occasionally though.

  4. I really liked Sookie’s POV .
    She is indeed struggling with her emotions.
    I’m sure Sookie &Eric will become close friends at first then maybe….
    Looking forward to more of this story.
    Take care Kat

  5. I think every mother can relate to Sookie’s feelings at the beginning of this chapter. Watching your child struggling and wanting desperately to help him, but realizing he needs to be given the space to deal with what has happened to him. It’s interesting to see how Sookie is reacting to Eric in their lives, how much he is helping and caring for them, at the same time feeling guilty about Alcide (and to a lesser degree now, Bill) and how he would feel about Eric being there to support them, physically and emotionally.

  6. I’m really enjoying this story. They are both so broken. Hopefully they both overcome their guilt and realize how much they have in common.

    Thank you for continuing to share your gift with us.

  7. Appreciated reading Sookie’s POV, knowing she has some attraction to Captain Northman will make the slow boil of their romance easier.

  8. Love this story. I think most, if not all, women who loved their deceased husband would feel the same way in this situation. Hope things get better for you!

  9. sorry to hear about the migraines and machinery…. i feel your pain. as for Sook, she has PTSD as much as Eric does. Her feelings are justified but at the same time she is pushing him away which is furthering her guilt. She will figure it out and in due time, and when she does figure it out things will get better for her. This is one of the chapters that made me cry, only because i have been in her shoes somewhat. It is tough to reconcile this type of guilt but she will get through it and it will be with the help of her friends and of course Captain Northman that she will come out the other side a new stronger person. As for Jase, he has his Uncle Eric and that is what will get him through everything. KY

  10. I’m so sorry you’re struggling. I hope you’re feeling better soon and that your plumbing is repaired soon as well. These last two chapters have been so heartbreaking. I didn’t comment last chapter because I was in a hurry when I read it, but Eric never being called by his first name made me cry. Now Sookie’s thoughts are so sad as well. I can understand her feelings, but it’s such s shame that she’s pushing Eric away out of guilt. Finally, I agree with Valady’s comment above – watching (and letting) your child struggle is the hardest thing in the world, but she’s definitely doing the right thing. Thanks again for sharing your story. Feel better soon.

  11. Amazing chapter as always. Sookie is having such a hard time with her emotions, fortunately she is talking with Dr. Crane but it will take time.
    Hope you feel better soon and plumbing issues are taken care of quickly and quietly.

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