Chapter 06: Therapy
Eric had left Sookie’s side only once—when his bladder felt like it might explode. But he’d done his business as fast as he could before rushing back to Sookie’s bed. If his presence was helping her and their baby, then he didn’t plan on leaving them unless he absolutely had to. Eric had arrived a little before 3:00 p.m. At about 7:00 p.m., he heard a familiar voice at the door of the room.
“Do you mind a little company?” Claudine asked.
Eric looked up at his therapist. He’d continued to see her every week after Sookie left, and he knew that she was one of the reasons why he’d not fallen apart during his separation from his beloved.
“No,” Eric said, gesturing toward the only other chair in the room.
Claudine touched Sookie’s arm lightly. “Hello, Sookie,” she said softly before sitting down. “She hasn’t woken up at all yet?”
“Not yet,” Eric replied. “They were giving her medicine to keep her sedated. But they think she’ll wake up in the next few hours.”
The therapist sighed with relief, but then was silent for a few minutes as she studied the monitors.
“I knew about her being with Niall,” Claudine finally said.
“Bobby told me,” Eric returned quietly.
“Bobby’s beating himself up out there for not telling you about Sookie and the baby. I can’t say that I’m not doing the same.” She sighed. “It was difficult keeping it from you, and I’m used to having to operate according to the rules of doctor-patient confidentiality. But you and Sookie are much more than patients to me; you have become dear friends.”
Eric sighed deeply, “I admit that part of me was very angry when Bobby told me. It was easier than dealing with the fear that I might lose them.” He ran his free hand through his hair and took a deep breath. “But Sookie and Bobby were right. I would have tried to stop her from helping. And then Bobby would have sent her off to God knows where. She would have been all alone when she found out she was pregnant—instead of being with Niall. And if she had been alone when the preeclampsia started, God only knows what may have happened.” His voice was strained. “She could have died. The baby could have died. But she wasn’t alone. Will you thank your grandfather for me?”
Claudine nodded in affirmation and then leaned forward. “For the record—it killed Sookie to keep the baby a secret from you.”
Eric pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes tightly. “Appius would have tried to use our child, just like everything else I’ve ever loved. He will try to use him,” he said with a sigh. “I know why she did what she did. I don’t blame her.”
“For what it’s worth, Sookie was planning to tell you before the birth—no matter what. Isabel told Bobby about the arrangement you two made, so Sookie knew that you were planning to marry Isabel in mid-October.” Claudine sighed. “That’s also right around the time when the baby is due. Sookie planned to have Bobby bring you to Niall’s home on the last Sunday in August—whether they’d found out enough to adequately incriminate Appius or not.”
Eric exhaled deeply. “I just wish Sookie hadn’t needed to go through all of this. I wish that there had been no need for her to keep it from me—to take all of this on herself.”
“We all do,” Claudine said.
“The stress of it almost . . . .” His voice trailed off as he looked over at Sookie’s pale face.
“I know,” Claudine whispered.
They were silent for a few minutes.
“You’ve been coming to see her since she got to the Hamptons?” Eric asked.
“Yeah,” Claudine responded. “We were able to carry on with her therapy.”
Eric nodded. “That’s good.”
“That’s why I’m here now; I was driving up for our usual appointment and to have dinner with Sookie and Niall.”
Eric nodded and looked at the time. “Could you send Bobby back?” he requested.
Claudine smiled. “Sure,” she said, getting up and fondly patting Sookie’s arm one last time before leaving the room.
“Claudine says that you don’t hate me,” Bobby said as he walked to Sookie’s bedside and bent down to kiss her cheek. “But she’s an optimist and a shrink, so I’d rather hear that from you.”
“I don’t hate you,” Eric said quietly. “You did what I couldn’t; you kept her safe.” He sighed. “I cannot imagine anywhere that she would be safer than with Niall. Thank you,” he looked up at his friend. “And I know why you didn’t tell me, but . . . .” He stopped midsentence.
“But?” Bobby asked.
“But—I would still punch you in the fucking nose if it weren’t for the fact that Sookie would be pissed,” he said with a little smirk.
Bobby sat down heavily. “I wouldn’t stop you or blame you. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Thalia will do the job for you when she finds out that I’ve been keeping Sookie’s pregnancy from her too.”
“So Thalia knows about Sookie being at Niall’s?” Eric asked.
Bobby nodded. “Yeah. She’s been helping me get video for Sookie to watch. Sookie’s been reading Appius’s and Andre’s lips—as well as anyone with whom they’re associating. She’s why we knew about Debbie Pelt and the surveillance equipment. We’ve learned some other things too, but nothing that nails the lid down on Appius’s coffin.”
“Is that your goal?” Eric asked, sitting forward a little.
“Our goal was to come up with enough information to send Appius to prison for a very long time. Our goal was to force Appius to leave you and everyone else you care about alone. But we were going to leave it up to you regarding whether to turn over the information we gathered to the authorities or to blackmail the hell out of Appius.”
Eric was silent for a moment. “She’s so brave.”
“She loved you too much to leave you behind,” Bobby said with admiration. “This was all her idea. And even if it would have taken years to get Appius where we wanted him, she was willing to work to do it. But the baby changed everything.” Bobby paused. “You should know that she was planning to tell you before your child was born.”
“Claudine told me,” Eric said quietly.
Bobby sighed. “What do you want me to do? I asked Thalia to go to your house and make some noise in the kitchen—like you were fixing food. And then she went and typed on your computer for a while, but the video camera in your bedroom complicates things.”
“I won’t leave Sookie and the baby,” Eric said. “Not now. The doctor said that they,” he paused, “got better once I got here.”
“I know,” Bobby sighed. “Eric,” he paused, “I’m ready to storm into your house and rip the goddamned camera down myself if you want. I’ve never practiced law in a courtroom, but I’m ready to do anything I can to defend you and Pam and Sookie if Appius releases the evidence he has. Or I’m ready to have some of my associates put a bomb into Appius’s car—if you want to go that route. Anything you want—anything.”
Eric contemplated for a moment and then got up from his chair. He walked over to Bobby and embraced him.
“I love you, brother,” Eric said quietly.
“I know,” Bobby responded as he patted Eric’s back.
Eric broke their embrace and stepped back. “I still want to slug you.”
Bobby lifted his hands up as if in defeat. “I’ve heard that’s what brothers do sometimes,” he smirked.
“Later,” Eric said before returning to sit next to Sookie.
“What do you want me to do?” Bobby asked as if in battle mode.
Eric looked at Bobby and took a deep breath. “I won’t be leaving Sookie and the baby—not until Appius has me arrested.”
Bobby took a deep breath and nodded in understanding.
“I’m going to liquidate my accounts and sell my house,” Eric said. “Can you help me with that?”
Bobby nodded again.
“I’ll make that money available for the people in my division. It won’t make up for the fact that they’ll all likely get fired by Appius without notice, but it’s something.”
“But then you’ll be left with nothing,” Bobby frowned.
“Not nothing,” Eric said, looking at Sookie. “And Mormor should sell her NP stock. I’m sure she would appreciate your help too. Once Appius learns that I intend to break the contract, it won’t be long before he takes control of my trust fund and, therefore, her home.”
Bobby sunk into his chair and pressed his fingers against his forehead.
“Would you ask Niall if he would look into Remy Savoy’s case?” Eric asked.
“Remy? Hunter’s father?”
“Yes. Appius has threatened to make sure he gets fired from his job. I know Remy’s got some money saved, but I’m mostly worried that Appius will do something to get him kicked out of the experimental drug treatment he’s on for his HIV.”
Bobby shook his head. “I won’t argue that Appius isn’t cruel enough to do that.”
Eric nodded. The two were silent for a moment.
“Before this is over,” Eric said, “I will probably be in prison. And I need you to do some things for me.”
“Eric—no. I will make sure . . . .”
“No,” Eric interrupted. “I want you helping Pam and Sookie. Appius has some kind of false evidence against them too. As soon as we know what that is, I want you to help them make deals with the district attorney. Blake can help us with that. I want Pam and Sookie to blame me for coercing them or blackmailing them into whatever wrongdoing Appius accuses them of.”
“Eric, they won’t . . . .”
“They’re going to have to,” Eric interrupted again. “It needs to be me that takes the fall for any crimes. Yes—Pam will be hurt by all of this, but I know Isabel or Russell will give her a job. And—Sookie—well, she’ll understand that this has to be done for her sake and the baby’s.” Eric raked his hand through his hair. “I need you to make sure they’re okay—safe from Appius—once I’m in prison. I know it’s a lot to ask now that you have Thalia and the kids in your life, but . . . .”
“But nothing,” Bobby said. “It’s done.”
Eric sighed with relief.
“I still don’t think Pam or Sookie would be willing to testify against you in open court,” Bobby said.
Eric took a long breath. “It won’t come to that. I intend to plead guilty to both their supposed crimes and mine.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry, but Godric’s name will likely be pulled through the mud.”
Bobby put his hand up. “It doesn’t matter. My father thought of you as a second son. He would want you to do what it took to be happy. But, Eric, you might not have to go to jail if . . . .”
“No,” Eric interrupted, “once Appius realizes I’m no longer complying, he’ll come at me with everything he has. I can’t imagine a scenario where he lets me out of the contract unscathed.” He sighed. “And my going to prison would likely be enough to satisfy him—at least to a certain extent. As long as I can keep Pam and Sookie from facing criminal prosecution, I’ll consider it a victory. I just wish . . . .” He stopped midsentence.
“I wish I could protect them all,” Eric said with anguish. “Appius will hurt everyone he can. Sookie, Mormor, Pam, Remy, Hunter, my team at NP, you. Hell! He even threatened Alexei’s acting career!”
“We’ll do everything we can to stop him,” Bobby promised.
Eric nodded and tried to smile. “We’ll try. But making sure that Sookie and our son get through this is my priority now. I can’t . . . .” he paused. “I won’t leave them voluntarily—not ever again. And I want as much of the stress of this kept from her as possible,” he said, gazing at her sleeping face.
Bobby scoffed. “You can’t keep anything from her.”
Eric sighed. “I know. But I can try to take the stress of it onto myself.”
“Meanwhile, let’s try to keep Appius in the dark as long as possible,” Eric sighed. “Have Thalia tell Henry and Blake what’s going on. If possible, have one of them go into the kitchen, living room, or office every few hours. There have been several nights when I haven’t gone to bed or even used my and Sookie’s bathroom. Let Appius wonder what’s up for now.”
“And tomorrow?” Bobby asked. “What about work?”
“I’m taking a sick day. From there—well—I’ll decide after Sookie is awake,” Eric said, looking down at his beloved.
Bobby moved toward the door. “You know I love you too—right? You are my family.”
Eric nodded and looked up at Bobby. “Of course I know; you are going to be godfather to my son, after all.”
Bobby’s eyes brightened with moisture even as his lips twitched into a little smile. “It would be an honor,” he said, his voice catching with emotion.
A/N: Sorry I’ve been tardy about getting you this chapter. I’ve been busy with work and with writing other things. Speaking of which—I hope you have checked out my new “novella” called Salt Water. It’s complete (and only 4 chapters + an epilogue—short for me). Also, I posted a new installment of the Gift Horse Series called “Boxing Day.” If you are following that series, I hope you’ll check it out.
Thanks so much for sticking with this story! I appreciate all the reviews/comments I continue to receive for this and all my other work! Your support means the world to me.
Up next: Sookie wakes up to find Eric in her hospital room.