Chapter 08: Jump To
A steady rain fell outside of Sookie’s window at Niall’s home. She was feeling a little stir crazy, both due to the fact that it had been raining for three days straight and because she had been more-less confined to her bed as a condition of her release from the hospital.
Thankfully, Dr. Ludwig was due within the hour, and—if everything looked good—she’d be able to move around more, as long as she didn’t overdo it and her blood pressure stayed normal.
“Beautiful,” came Eric’s voice from the doorway as he took in the sight of Sookie lounging in the bed with Ned curled up right over the bump that indicated Johan’s current address.
“I could say the same,” she grinned looking up at him. He was wearing only a pair of dark gray track pants and a white T-shirt. In her mind, he was the very definition of hot. “You know—I’m going to be asking Dr. Ludwig about us having sex—right?”
Eric’s face clouded with lust and then concern. “We shouldn’t push things,” he said cautiously as he brought her the large glass of water Dr. Ludwig had ordered for her to drink before the ultrasound.
“Which is why we’ll ask to make sure it’s okay.” She grinned mischievously before taking a big gulp. “I’ve had to go through almost five months of horny pregnancy hormones all by myself—you know.”
Eric couldn’t help but to leer at the increased swell of Sookie’s breasts. “Why don’t you tell me what you did to curb your appetite, lover?” he purred. “Did you touch yourself?”
Glad she’d already swallowed her drink, she blushed and bit her lip. “Yes,” she answered, her voice raspy.
“Did you think about me when you did?” he asked, sitting down next to her on the bed and running the backs of his fingers over her collarbone.
“Oh, God, yes,” she whimpered, closing her eyes and licking her lips. “I thought about you—a lot.”
Unable to control himself, Eric leaned in and took those moist lips with his own. They’d been back together for almost a week, but he’d been very careful to only give her soft kisses and caresses up to that point, despite her various attempts to move things further along. Now it was his lips that were unyielding. Their tongues twirled together—not fighting for dominance so much as for sustenance.
They were so lost in their ever-deepening kiss that they didn’t notice Dr. Ludwig come into the room, but then again, she was quite the sneaky one.
The doctor cleared her throat loudly and banged the portable ultrasound machine against the bench at the foot of the bed just for effect.
“Oh!” Sookie cried out, her face immediately turning beet red as she pulled away from the kiss.
“Could you give me ten more minutes?” Eric groaned, burying his face into Sookie’s neck.
The doctor chuckled. “If all goes well with this visit, you can have all the time you want for hanky-panky, Northman. But for now, move your scrawny ass out of my way so that I can examine my patients.”
“Yes ma’am,” Eric said with a chuckle as he got up from the bed, using a pillow in an obvious manner to hide the erection that had sprung up during his kiss with Sookie. He’d not had the benefit—or curse—of pregnancy hormones when they’d endured their separation, so he’d not been in the mood to masturbate very often. And for the last week he’d been too worried about Sookie and their son to get carried away. But his passionate kiss with Sookie had stirred a lot more than memories.
“So—uh,” Sookie started, having composed herself a little, “if the tests go well, then I’ll be able to get out of this bed more often?”
“Yes,” Dr. Ludwig said sarcastically, “and you can do fun things in it too.” She winked at Eric and looked significantly at the pillow he was still holding. Eric had the audacity to wink back, even as Sookie blushed fire-engine red.
The doctor chuckled as she approached Sookie’s side of the bed and took a look at the log of blood pressure readings that had been recorded for the last several days. When Sookie was awake, Eric or Louise would take her blood pressure every two hours. So far, it was holding at about 115 over 75, which was within the range the doctor had wanted to see.
“I see the medicine is working,” Dr. Ludwig said, looking at Eric. The knowing look she gave him suggested that she didn’t think it was the tablets Sookie was taking that were helping her.
Sookie couldn’t have agreed more. She was even surer than the doctor that it had been Eric’s presence which had made her and Johan better. In fact, had it not been for him, she didn’t know if either she or their son would have survived.
Eric had been by Sookie’s side almost constantly for the previous seven days, thanks to an idea of Claudine’s.
Bobby had driven Eric back home at 4:00 a.m. the previous Tuesday morning as Sookie had slept and Niall had watched over her and Johan. With Henry’s help, Eric had snuck into Carmichael Tower with no one being the wiser that he’d been gone between Sunday morning and early Tuesday morning. The next step was for Eric to make some noise—a lot of fucking noise, even as Bobby snuck back into his own home and waited for a planned phone call from Eric—one that Appius would hear.
Eric had started his performance by throwing a beer bottle against the wall in the kitchen. Pans followed as he basically threw anything that wouldn’t break and a few things that would onto the kitchen floor. Of course, he avoided destroying the things that Sookie and he liked. However, a broken waffle maker met a very nasty—and loud—death. After the kitchen was a wreck, he went into his and Sookie’s bedroom and collapsed onto the bed, weeping.
But—despite the fact that he was performing—Eric’s tears had been very real.
For the first time in his life, Eric had allowed himself to freely cry all of the tears that he’d ever bottled up.
Eric wept to release all the anger and fear that he’d been holding in since Sookie had left. He wept for all the seconds, minutes, hours, days, and months that he’d not seen her face. He wept as he thought about what might have happened to Sookie and his son if Niall hadn’t been there or if little Ned—another hero in the story, as it turned out—hadn’t howled from the hallway. He wept as the thought of losing Sookie or Johan now—or ever—entered his mind. And he wept as he vowed to protect them with his very soul, even if he had to kill his father with his own bare hands to do it.
He wept for his mother—to cleanse himself of the ambivalent feelings that Appius had made him have about her. Instead of being able to love her, Eric had been made bitter at Stella Larsson-Northman because she’d set into motion Appius’s need for revenge. Finally, however, he could cry for her loss from his life with true sorrow.
He wept for his dead grandfathers, who had been so generous to him in setting up the trust fund and in other ways too. They could not have foreseen Appius holding it back from him; they had simply wanted to ensure his future, and had given him the most important things they’d collected during their lives.
He wept for Gran, who would miss seeing his and Sookie’s child. He wept because of the fact that Sookie wouldn’t have her grandmother around to give her guidance on being a mother.
He wept about everything that Sookie and he had been cheated out of in their lives, and that particular weeping had led to the destruction of the bedroom. He ripped the covers off the bed violently as he thought of all the pain and suffering Michelle had caused Sookie. He threw one of the lamps against a wall when he thought of Bartlett touching Sookie as a child because her mother refused to protect her from him. And the other lamp met the corner of the room as he thought of Sookie being forced to stare into a corner for much of her life. He turned the mattress over as he thought about the “meetings” he’d had to endure with Appius over the years. He toppled a nightstand as he wept about the hatred his father had for him.
Still weeping, he sank down onto his knees and buried his head into his hands, making the occasional muffled sob as he shed tears for every damaging word that his father had ever told him and every damaging act that his father had ever perpetrated against him.
Of course, Eric’s “breakdown” was planned, a necessity to his strategy to buy some time with Sookie so that she could recover and so that they could figure out what to do next. However, his tears were no less painful because they were part of a strategy.
No—they were the product of over thirty years of sorrow and loss.
However, his tirade through the room was serving an opposite purpose than what Appius would think. Instead of representing the crushing of his spirit, Eric was becoming lighter with every drop that fell from his body.
After about a half an hour of quiet sobs from his knees, Eric made his scripted call to Bobby. The call had been designed to seem like a call for help from a desperate and suicidal individual. During the short conversation, Eric lamented that he didn’t think he could live on without Sookie. And Bobby told him that he would be over in half an hour. In the meantime, Bobby sent Pam down to Eric’s home to make sure that he didn’t “hurt himself.” Pam had been prepped by Thalia beforehand so that she wouldn’t be too freaked out by what she saw.
Yet Pam’s tears while she held Eric were real too.
To Appius or to anyone else watching, the whole production would have seemed as if Eric had finally let his depression eat away at him to a dangerous and crippling point, a theory validated by the fact that Eric hadn’t been seen outside of his home by Appius’s minions for several days.
Upon his arrival, Bobby had insisted that Eric needed professional help and that he needed to get away from the house and the things that reminded him of Sookie. Bobby offered to let Eric stay with him, but Eric had angrily denied that request. Next, Bobby had “desperately” suggested his uncle Niall’s house in the Hamptons—where Eric could basically have a whole wing to himself and where he could be away from the city.
Again, Eric refused the idea, claiming that he needed to get to NP to work. After that, Eric had gotten up, inadvertently slicing his own hand on a piece of the lamp.
Though unintended, the accident had helped to solidify the overall effect of the “scene,” though, thankfully, the wound had required nothing more than a few bandages and a tetanus shot.
Pam finally “convinced” Eric that he should get out of the city for a few days—at the very least—and that he could work from the Hamptons and via phone with Clancy. She offered to cover any meetings he couldn’t do via Skype or video conference.
The next part of the plan involved its chief architect, Claudine. Bobby drove Eric straight to Claudine’s office. From following Eric for months, Franklin Mott already knew that Eric saw the therapist once a week, so it made sense that a visit would be in order after Eric’s “breakdown.” After spending an hour with Claudine and then collecting some antidepressant meds at a local pharmacy—all while being tracked by Mott—Bobby drove Eric to Niall’s Hamptons estate.
Niall’s estate had surveillance cameras all around the perimeter; plus, Mikey and Sean were like pit-bulls, guarding both gates with German shepherds and monitoring the video feeds carefully. In fact, the siblings had made a game out of spotting the swarthy man—”Where’s Franklin?” instead of “Where’s Waldo?” And then—once they had hours of recorded footage of Mott trying to see through the thick foliage surrounding Niall’s estate—Mikey, as the winner of the game, called the police about a “suspicious peeping Tom in the area.”
Given the amount of footage they had, the police had more than enough to question Mott and to search his vehicle, where they’d found an unregistered gun. That had led to several days of jail time for Mott before he was bailed out. After being released, Mott had been spotted back in Manhattan following Bobby, and no one seemed to be watching Eric in the Hamptons.
Still, Eric had been very careful. Given the fact that Niall was so involved in the hospital that bore his name, it wasn’t suspicious that the elderly man went there often, and after Eric snuck back into the hospital with Niall, he’d simply stayed there until Sookie was ready to return to Niall’s house, which she did in his limo, which had conveniently tinted windows just in case someone was trying to watch them.
Meanwhile, all of the footage of Appius still being collected by Thalia and Bobby showed the elder Northman to be jovial, and nobody needed Sookie’s skill to tell them why that was.
“Ready?” Dr. Ludwig’s voice asked Sookie, breaking Eric from his thoughts.
Eric moved to hold Sookie’s hand as Dr. Ludwig gave her a quick pelvic exam and then set up the ultrasound machine.
“This is the portable machine, so you won’t be able to see the baby in as much detail as before,” she explained, “but I’ll be able to see what I need to, and that’s the important thing.”
Sookie and Eric both nodded.
“So—any cramping, spotting, nausea, dizziness, headaches?” the doctor asked.
“No,” Sookie responded.
“Good,” the doctor responded as she put gel onto Sookie’s belly. “This is going to be cold,” she said with a smirk after she’d already put the goo onto Sookie’s body.
A gasping Sookie glared at her. “Why must you do that every time?”
Dr. Ludwig cackled as she grabbed the wand and then turned on the rich sound of Johan’s heartbeat.
Eric and Sookie both sighed at the sound.
“How is his movement?” Dr. Ludwig asked. “You should be feeling him quite a bit now.”
“I am,” Sookie confirmed. “In fact,” she smiled, “whatever you’re doing is making him move right now.”
“I see that,” Dr. Ludwig chuckled, examining the screen. “He seems active enough, and his heart rate is right where it should be.” She nodded with satisfaction and then turned the portable machine so that Sookie and Eric could see their child.
Eric chuckled. “I think he’s trying to do a somersault.”
“Better get that out of his system now,” Sookie grinned. “Soon it’ll be too cramped in there.”
“Oh—he’ll manage,” Dr. Ludwig said, “probably kicking against your kidneys and bladder when he does.”
Sookie cringed a little even though she kept smiling at the screen.
“So?” Sookie asked after a little while. “Are we okay?”
“You and Johan are both doing well,” Dr. Ludwig answered, turning off the machine and cleaning the gel off of Sookie’s stomach. “You can resume light exercise, which means walking and a little swimming, but if you get tired at all, listen to your body. And I want you to keep up with the blood pressure checks. If that bottom number goes above 90 at any time, I want you to come straight to the hospital.”
“And sex?” Sookie asked with a little smirk.
“No circus tricks,” the doctor chuckled. “But the resumption of a healthy sex life will be good exercise, but—again,” she looked at Sookie, “listen to your body. If it wants sex, give it sex. If it wants rest, give it rest.”
“Right now, it wants strawberry ice cream with butterscotch syrup and Oreo cookies,” Sookie said with a sigh.
Dr. Ludwig and Eric both chuckled.
“Well,” the doctor chortled, “then Daddy here needs to jump to.”
A/N: I hope you liked this chapter. It’s one of those that I almost cut b/c it’s mostly “fluffy” and transitional, but I thought a nice “break” for Eric and Sookie would be a good thing. And I wanted you to know of Claudine’s plan to make Appius think that Eric had had a breakdown. And—frankly—I wanted Eric to have his chance to break down. I think he deserved it.
By the way, to the “guest” reviewer who thinks that Eric is behaving like a “pussy”/woman? I’m going to take that as a compliment! Women are strong and brave. And if tears fall, it is because we understand that being emotional is not a weakness. If this Eric understands that too—I think he’s the better for it. My Erics are never going to apologize for emotion (even if that emotion is generally considered “feminine”). WHATEVER! Masculinity v. femininity is a limiting construct, and—if there’s one thing fiction shouldn’t be—it is limiting.
Now for the rest of you: So many of you commented (positively) about last chapter! Thanks so much for that. I’m so glad that you liked it. You are right that Appius isn’t done being an ass yet, but—as you can see—I’m giving Eric and Sookie quite a few powerful allies of their own.
Up next? I’m going to give them another ally. I plan to do one more chapter of this story before I switch to Uncharted, so stay tuned.