Chapter 38: A Matter of Seconds, Part 1



4:03 p.m., January 14


Michelle didn’t know the name of Grace’s “delivery boy,” nor did she care. All she cared about was the briefcase in his hands. Her money!

Bill could keep his offshore accounts. Michelle wanted to see and feel her new fortune in her own hands.

“Mrs. Stackhouse?” the man asked as she let him into her hotel room. She glanced down to the hallway to make sure that no one was watching and then closed the door.

“Yes. That’s me,” she responded. “You got my money?”

“I do,” the man said.

Michelle smirked and turned to point to the desk. “Put it there. You can wait while I count it.”

Before Michelle could turn back around to look at the man, she felt something rough and hard being pulled around her neck.

The cigarette she’d been holding fell from her hand as she automatically tried to put her fingers under the strap around her throat. However, she couldn’t manage to take away the pressure.

She felt like she was sinking into quicksand as she realized that the breath in her body was waning. She was dying! She couldn’t believe that she was fucking dying!

Her eyes widened as if she were trying to take in air through them.

Her efforts to stop her attacker failed and then waned.

Her ability to maintain coherent thoughts escaped her.

But the last of them was a flash of her mother, looking at her with hot, hate-filled eyes.

And that was how Michelle was welcomed into hell.

5:55 p.m., January 14


Bill Compton had left a very satisfied Michelle Stackhouse at about 10:00 o’clock that morning. She was not her daughter, but for the time being, she was sufficient to satisfy his carnal needs. And she was useful; she’d introduced him to Grace Northman, after all. Michelle had been in New York since it had been revealed that Sookie—no Susanna—had married and had a child with Eric Northman.

Bill scoffed. He was done with this “Sookie” nonsense. He’d decided that one of the first things he would do when they were together again would be to convince her to go back to using her real name—instead of some ridiculous nickname he’d never heard until Northman had come into the picture.

He knew that Susanna would go along with his wishes—just as she always had when they were first together.

When she was unspoiled.

He smiled at that thought.

He just hoped that Susanna would be “understanding” when he explained why he’d had to get Lorena out of the way. Bill planned to tell Sookie that it had been Lorena’s idea to kill Northman and Johan. Bill would say that he—not Lorena—had been the one with the crisis of conscience. He also planned to blame Grace Northman for her grandson’s death. He currently carried two guns. One was an untraceable weapon with which he intended to kill Northman and frame Grace. The second was his service weapon, which he planned to use to kill Grace.

It was a shame that he wouldn’t be getting the money Grace had promised to wire to his offshore account following the successful execution of the plan that the Northman matriarch wanted him to carry out. However, Bill had his priorities straight, and Sookie was more important than money.

Plus, Michelle was probably getting her share of the payoff even as he was waiting for Northman to show up at his grandmother’s house. Michelle had already given him enough cash to help him get started with his new life, and he knew that he could manipulate her or blackmail her to be the source for more money in the future—if he needed it.

Undeniably, Michelle had been very crafty in procuring an income for herself, in addition to the money she was receiving from Grace Northman. About once a week, Michelle would pop up on a gossip television program to weigh in on something going on with Eric or Susanna or Freyda de Castro. And for these appearances, she was well paid. In fact, she was scheduled to appear on a show the next afternoon.

Bill smirked, knowing that money was about to be a non-issue for both him and Michelle—thanks to the Brigant fortune. Susanna—once Eric Northman was dead and he had been cleared of any wrongdoing—would surely ask him to help her to manage her fortune. After all, she would not understand how to behave like a proper heiress without him.

Michelle had long since sent Jason back to Louisiana so that he could enroll in college. One condition of the Brigant estate was that Jason wouldn’t inherit his money until he finished a college degree. Of course, Michelle had encouraged her son to do just that—and quickly.

However, Michelle had enjoyed the limelight and her D-list status in New York too much to leave the city. And Bill had been grateful for that—especially two nights before when he’d had nowhere else to go after being forced to kill Lorena.

In the end, Lorena had surprised Bill and had proven to be soft as she refused to be the one to kill Northman’s child—which was all he’d asked her to do!

On a rooftop across from the MET, Bill had lain in wait for Eric Northman all day the Saturday before, perched in a perfect position to take him out. Grace had arranged for him to gain access to the building, and he’d found the perfect “nest” in which to wait for the kill shot. However, Lorena had fucked everything up! She had called him approximately ninety minutes before Northman and Susanna were due to arrive at the NP party. She’d threatened to go to the police—to tell them his plans and his location—if he didn’t meet her in Central Park right then. He’d had to leave his prime position and his sniper’s rifle behind in order to go to her. And when Lorena had accosted him and accused him of wanting to take out Eric and Johan only in order to have a free path to Sookie, Bill had had to eliminate her much sooner—and much more publicly—than he’d planned to.

Bill sighed. Thankfully, Michelle had offered him sanctuary—in more ways than one.

In fact, he’d been buried in one of her sanctuaries just that morning. His cock twitched at that memory and he smirked. Michelle’s skills in bed almost made him want to rethink which of the Stackhouse women he wanted.


He looked at his watch. He’d been inside the gate of Grace Northman’s estate for more than ten hours, hiding in what seemed to be the abandoned chauffeur’s apartment above the garage and waiting for it to be 6:10 p.m., his appointed time to enter the home and to kill Eric Northman once and for all.

Bill was a very patient man, and he’d learned over the years that it was best to be at a location early—well before he was expected to be there—to get the lay of the land and to observe things. From his vantage point, he’d seen a couple of employees doing some work outside on the brisk January day, and he’d also seen Sigebert, one of Appius’s guards, entering the building.

That fact had prompted Bill to call Grace Northman, who’d indicated that she’d brought in Appius’s ex-employee to take out whatever guards Northman brought with him that evening. Bill couldn’t help but to be grateful for Grace’s foresight. When the elderly woman had expressed curiosity in how Bill had known about Sigebert being there, he’d hung up. Bill had learned that it was best to keep people guessing about how one had obtained information.

He looked at his watch. It was almost 6:00 p.m. Soon he would complete his first hurdle in securing Susanna once more, and—this time—he wouldn’t let her go once he had her.

5:59 p.m., January 14


Milos gave Miranda a curt nod. He knew exactly what he was expected to do that day. Like Eric and Miranda, he’d been fitted with a bulletproof vest, so he understood the danger of his situation.

However, despite that, he didn’t regret leaving the MET and becoming a personal guard for the Northman family.

Milos smiled a little. Almost two years before, Eric and Sookie had become a kind of “fabled” couple at the MET, and Milos had witnessed their love grow there. However, during the time that he’d worked for them, he’d realized that they weren’t a couple from the storybooks. They were—at heart—simple people, who just wanted the chance to love each other and raise a family. They were good people, and he had grown to think of them as family. And family was something that Milos appreciated.

Most of his own family lived in Southern Italy near Bovalino where his grandparents had made their home after leaving Sicily. He had quite a few aunts and uncles and many more cousins still there. His own parents had moved to the United States shortly after they’d gotten married. They’d had his older brother Dino about a year after that. Milos had come along ten years later.

Sadly, Milos didn’t remember his mom. She’d died in a bus accident when he was only two. Milos’s dad, an enterprising businessperson and a wonderful chef, had taken over the raising of the children. He still owned and operated two successful restaurants in New York—one in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn. Milos’s brother and his nephews and nieces helped out with the family businesses, and Dino would likely take over the business soon.

However, Milos had opted to do something else with his life and, with his father’s blessing, had joined the army at age 18. The MET job had come about by chance right after Milos decided that twelve years as a grunt was enough for him. A friend of his who worked there mentioned that the museum was hiring security guards, and he’d started working for Ben on his 31st birthday. At 36, he’d been glad to have another change in his life, and getting the offer to be the Northmans’ personal guard had occurred at just the right moment—when his long term girlfriend, a woman he’d lived with for four years, told him that she wanted to end their relationship.

By the time Eric Northman asked Ben if he had any suggestions for whom to pick as a personal guard, Milos had become restless because of the stationary nature of his work at the museum. Sitting at a desk and patrolling galleries was not an ideal job anymore—though it had been good right after he’d left the army and returned from Iraq. However, though he loved the people he worked with, he’d become, for lack of a better phrase, “bored as hell” at the MET.

Of course, much of his time with Eric and Sookie wasn’t very exciting either, but when it wasn’t, he’d been able to work on the college degree he’d decided to earn online. He’d also gotten close to Henry, Rasul, Tray, Calvin, Terry, Alcide, and the other security staff at Carmichael Tower. And Miranda, who had become the Northmans’ second private guard following the Appius incident at the hospital, had become like a sister to him, and her husband, Jarod, who was also a guard at Carmichael Tower, was fun to be around too.

And it wasn’t as if Milos sat around and did nothing all day! On the contrary, when he wasn’t shadowing Eric and/or Sookie, his time was his own. In addition to doing his schoolwork, he also spent quite a bit of time in the building’s state of the art gym where he’d met a nice woman who was a personal trainer. They’d begun dating about two months before, and so far, the relationship looked to be on the right track.

Eric turned slightly and gave Milos a nervous look.

Milos smiled at his charge, trying to convey that all would be well.

Eric gave Milos a grateful nod.

His senses heightened, Milos kept his steady pace so that he was walking slightly behind Eric, though he was ready to jump in front of him if need be. Both his army experience and his time at the museum had taught him to be vigilant. It still irked him that Appius Northman, Franklin Mott, and one of the “Berts” had gotten the jump on him at the hospital in the Hamptons. And, though Eric and Sookie didn’t blame him for Eric’s being shot, Milos blamed himself and was determined to make up for it.

Miranda was walking right next to him. Henry had wanted to come in with Eric too, but Sookie had asked the ex-Navy SEAL to watch over Johan. Miranda was also ex-military; she’d been in the Coast Guard for years. And Milos had come to respect her very much. Hell—from their occasional sparring in the gym at Carmichael Tower—he knew that she could kick his ass!

Milos held his breath as they approached the imposing front entrance of the Northman Estate. Knowing that they had back-up, his and Miranda’s job at Grace Northman’s house that evening was to keep Eric from immediate harm; however, they weren’t a hundred percent sure that he was even in danger. Most of what they were doing was based on a hunch Eric had. But Milos didn’t question his employer’s hunches. They proved true more often than not.

Milos looked down at a newly received text, even as Eric rang the doorbell.

Eric looked at him.

“Two in the parlor, one in the first floor living room, one above the garage, and six in the basement,” Milos whispered to both Eric and Miranda, giving them an update about where the people on the property were located. Agent Batanya had devices pointed at the property that were capturing the heat signatures of those inside. Another text came in. “One of the people that was in the parlor is headed this way,” Milos added.

Eric nodded and turned to face the door again.

6:00 p.m., January 14


Sigebert heard the doorbell. He was already in place in the living room. Now all he had to do was wait for Eric’s guards to enter the room.

Just as the boss’s mother had suggested, he was waiting behind a huge, eight-foot-tall and six-foot wide, hand-painted Japanese folding screen. It depicted a group of cranes, and Sigebert had been told that it could be easily replaced. Still, Sigebert hoped to be able to spare the piece when he killed the guard or guards who would be with Northman.

Sigebert was crouched down behind the large structure, and from his vantage point, he could clearly see the door to the room through the crack between two of the panels. He’d already determined that he was going to kill the guards before he was notified of Compton’s arrival. After all, a couple of minutes one way or another wouldn’t matter. He’d secured a silencer for his untraceable weapon in order to accomplish his goal quietly.

As soon as Grace had texted him that Compton had accomplished his mission to kill Eric, Sigebert would move to wait outside of the parlor, and Compton wouldn’t make it two steps out of the room before he was dead. The gun he would be using on Compton, unfortunately, didn’t have a silencer. However, it was registered to Grace and was in excellent working order. After Compton went down, he and Grace would both have to move quickly.

He had already prepped Grace about what he needed her to do. She would have to move to Sigebert’s location in the foyer and quickly fire the gun—preferably into the wall closest to where Compton had fallen dead. As if she were in shock, Grace was to keep the gun in her hands until the police found her. When they arrived, she was to surrender the weapon to them immediately.

And—when they asked—she was to tell them her story. She would say that she’d left Eric in the parlor in order to go check with Luther about the refreshments she’d ordered. There, she’d found her butler unconscious, so she’d grabbed the gun kept in the kitchen. She would tell the cops that she’d been afraid for Eric and had been returning to the parlor when she’d heard something that sounded like a “pop” and then someone falling. She was to conclude her story by saying that she’d caught Bill fleeing from the parlor and that he’d had a gun. She was to admit to firing her own weapon two times.

Of course, Sigebert was wearing gloves, so his fingerprints wouldn’t be on Grace’s weapon. Thus, the evidence would fit Grace’s story perfectly.

After Grace discharged the weapon, Sigebert was going to make sure Bill’s fingerprints were on the gun he’d used to kill Eric’s guards. Then Sigebert would plant that weapon next to the screen he was hiding behind and then slip out the patio door—before the commotion brought Grace’s servants up from the basement. Then he would leave through the broken garden gate and meet up with Wybert.

Sigebert checked the time on his phone: 6:01 p.m.—almost show time. Before he put the phone away, he noticed a text from Wybert. It said two words: “In position.”

Wybert had called an hour before to inform him that Michelle Stackhouse was no more. The woman had been more than willing to open the door to Wybert since she’d thought he was delivering money to her. Wybert had spotted a man’s belt hanging over a chair, and that’s what he’d used to silence Michelle Stackhouse for good.

Though Wybert wasn’t clever in all things, he’d done his fair share of killing before Appius had employed them. And he’d made sure to crouch a little so that it would seem as if Michelle had been strangled by someone shorter—someone Bill’s height.

Wybert had been in Michelle’s hotel room for no more than three minutes, and he’d managed to avoid the video cameras he’d seen monitoring the lobby and the elevators.

Grace had been pleased to hear about Michelle’s demise and even more pleased to learn that—since the maid service had already been through Michelle’s room that day—the woman’s corpse would likely not be found until the next day at around 10:00 a.m. By then, Sigebert and Wybert would be in Canada—if all had gone to plan.

Bill himself had become a slight problem right after Wybert had called. Bill had phoned Grace to tell her that he knew Sigebert was inside the house. Luckily, Bill had accepted the explanation that Sigebert was there only to take out Northman’s guards; however, the idiot had needed to be convinced not to enter the house until his appointed time. It was imperative that Bill seem to be following Eric—not preceding him. Otherwise, Grace would be implicated! Thankfully, the nimrod had agreed to stay put and out of sight, though—if he’d seen Sigebert—he was already somewhere on the grounds.

Sigebert sighed at the idiocy of Compton and smiled at the fact that he’d be able to put a bullet into his head soon enough.

Sigebert checked his watch again. It was 6:02 p.m. He was glad that Wybert had texted to let him know that he was in position. At 6:20 p.m., Wybert would move from his current position, which was about three blocks away, to the back gate. There, he would be waiting in the van they’d secured to get them the fuck out of Manhattan!

6:00 p.m., January 14


Kate Batanya had ten good agents ready to converge onto Grace Northman’s estate—and she’d had to argue for every fucking one of them since her superior wasn’t convinced that Eric Northman’s hunch was real. But Kate was. The hair on the back of her neck was currently standing up, and that meant trouble, which meant that Eric had been right.

That morning, she, Eric, Bobby, and Sookie had had a long conversation about how to deal with the possibility that Grace might mean to harm Eric—and about how she might have secured an asshole like Compton to do her dirty work. In the end, it had been decided that Eric would voluntarily walk into Grace’s home, for they knew that they likely wouldn’t catch any of Grace’s possible confederates otherwise. Kate just hoped that no one on their “side” would be harmed. Hell—what she hoped most was that Grace Northman had decided to stop being a cunt and that her apology was real.

Eric deserved that!

Kate sighed. The infrared technology she had pointed at the estate was keeping her abreast of where everyone was. And, earlier that day, Pam Northman and Tamara Davis-Northman had provided her with a very detailed layout of the property.

There were currently ten people on the grounds, but only two of the signals concerned her—the two that had been stationary. One had been in the apartment above the garage since the agents had arrived—almost four hours before. This—in and of itself—was not particularly suspicious, for the signature could belong to a sleeping employee; however, when most of the signals had gathered in the basement of the estate, probably for the servants’ meal, that lone signal had stayed put. The other person she was worried about was the one in the living room; that signal had been stationary for about twenty minutes.

Agent Batanya was tempted to just rush the estate—warrants be damned. However, Eric Northman’s sixth sense was not admissible in court, and since her arrival at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon—which was, irritatingly, the soonest her task force could be ready—she’d seen no evidence of anyone coming and going from the estate except for Luther, though the butler had returned with an extra passenger according to infrared. But that—in and of itself—was not enough evidence to prove that there was anything amiss.

She just hoped that Milos and Miranda, both licensed to carry guns and trained for private security, would be able to neutralize any direct threat to Northman. It would be a shame to lose him.

6:00 p.m., January 14


Nora Gainesborough had no delusions that she was a “good” person. She could admit that she was a selfish. But that wasn’t her only character flaw. She was also a snob and quick to judge. And—as long as truths were being told—she would own to the fact that she was often lazy and apt to rely on others to bail her out when that laziness affected her work.

However, she wasn’t all bad. She was clever and had a sharp wit. And she was loyal—perhaps to a fault. No. Certainly to a fault—at least when it had come to her father—the only father she could remember, that is.

Her biological father had died when she was three years old—in a yachting accident with his mistress. However, Appius Northman had never treated her like a stepchild from a fairytale, which had been her earliest fear. On the contrary, he’d been her “daddy” from the start.

Nora had been five when Appius had married her mother; coincidentally, Pam had been the same age, and the girls had become like sisters right away. Of course, that had meant that they’d squabbled nonstop, but they’d stayed pretty close nonetheless, though geographical distance during their college years had changed things a little. Pam had gone to university at Stanford, while Nora had stayed close to home.

When Alexei had been born, both sisters had doted on the naturally charming child. Of course, Pam and she had been practically grown up by the time Gracie was born, but while the cute little girl had lived at the Northman mansion, they’d spoiled her rotten.

In many ways, Eric had been an afterthought to Nora as they’d been growing up. Pam would mention him only right after her annual summer vacations with her grandparents in Sweden, which was also the time when Nora was in England with her own maternal grandparents. They’d share stories about their travels when they reunited, and Eric was always a character in Pam’s stories.

And—of course—Nora would see Eric for three weeks out of the year when he came to the house for the winter holiday.

But he’d always been so introverted—though he’d been pleasant enough when she and Pam could convince him to join one of their games. Indeed, he’d been more like a friend at camp rather than a stepbrother—at least from Nora’s point of view.

According to the “family talk” she’d heard—information which she now doubted—Eric had been a below average student, requiring extra tutoring during some school holidays. And it was “well known” in the family that he insisted upon spending his entire summers in Sweden.

No—Eric hadn’t been around much. Of course, Pam had been closer to him, a fact which had made Nora jealous at first. But it was hard not to like the boy she’d first met when she was five and he was seven. He’d been nervous—pitiful in a way—like one of those animals in the commercials with Sarah McLaughlin. So Nora had tried to be nice to him when he was around.

Eric hadn’t made things easy though. He hadn’t liked the things that Pam and she had liked. He’d not played with toys; in fact, he seemed afraid to touch anything in the house. He would swim, however, so she and Pam could entice him to play Marco Polo or Duck, Duck, Goose in the indoor pool sometimes.

Yes. She remembered Eric as a reticent, gangly boy—always reading in his room or disappearing for hours on end.

He’d stopped coming for winter breaks when he’d turned eighteen, though he still came for Christmas day; coincidentally, that was also the year that Nora had noticed that Eric had turned into a handsome young man, though he was still painfully shy. Obviously, however, he’d managed to overcome his difficulties with academics, given the fact that he’d gone to Harvard and then Harvard Business School.

When she was twenty-two or so, Nora had begun to think of Eric as something other than a brother—especially when he became a coveted lover among her peers. By the time Nora mentioned her attraction to her father in order to get his input, Eric was already well-known for his sexual prowess—not that that helped Nora out any. In that department, Eric had disappointed her.

Oh—the size of Eric’s cock had turned her on. Even flaccid, it was impressive, but Eric had been unable to get it up around her, and that had led her to give up on the idea of being with him romantically.

Nora sighed as her trainers hit the pavement in a rhythmic beat. Even after their failed romantic endeavor, she’d continued to like Eric—love him in her own way. Yes—he’d been a shy and introverted child. And—as an adult—he was much too serious for her tastes, in spite of his reputation as a ladies’ man. However, he’d offered her a lot of support, especially since she’d started working at NP. Knowing more about the events which had dominated Eric’s childhood, Nora now understood that the father she had adored had abused his own son. She still had a hard time reconciling that truth, but there was no doubting the fact that Appius had gone into Sookie and Johan’s hospital room with the purpose of killing more than one person. And—as far as Nora could tell—her father’s main motive had been that he didn’t want to see Eric be happy.

Nora picked up her pace a little. She loved to run, especially on cold evenings like this one. There was something so enlivening about the cool air flowing into and out of her lungs—sometimes creating smoke and sometimes seeming to freeze in her upper chest. She’d picked up the activity after she’d quit drinking the first time. And—though she’d fallen off the wagon several times—running was something that she could do to put herself back onto the wagon. Or, at least, to keep herself from losing sight of it.

She ran a little faster as she thought about the things that were driving her to want to drink these days.

Her father—evil bastard though he’d turned out to be—was dead. But she was still mourning for him. Sometimes she felt like the only one mourning. Appius had always made sure that she was happy—always. And he’d stood by her during the darkest days of her life—when her mother had died—when she had been told that the emergency surgery that had saved her own life had also taken away her ability to have children. As a teenager, Nora had been crushed by her mum’s death and her own losses. It was her daddy who had seen her through that time.

Nora had not known the full truth of her father’s obsessive and paranoid hatred for Eric until she’d looked into his office safe following his death. Information targeted against everyone Eric cared for—as well as against Eric himself—had made up the contents of that safe. That “evidence” had been catalogued into a ledger of sorts, along with all of Appius’s plans to use it—his contingencies for any “move” Eric made. In horror, Nora had realized that most of the evidence had been manufactured. And even the evidence that hadn’t been made up, such as the statutory rape information, was a product of her father’s hatred, for the “mature-looking” underage girl had been paid by Appius to seduce an unsuspecting Eric.

Indeed, her father had obviously lorded all of that so-called “evidence” over Eric’s head for years!

Disgusted and aghast, Nora had rushed to the bathroom and had vomited after she’d seen for herself what Appius had planned for Eric. And then she’d returned to Appius’s office in order to study the evidence, each piece of it ripping up a piece of the most important relationship she’d ever had in her life—each piece of it killing, once again, the man that had loved her and supported her more than anyone else.

Her daddy.

There was evidence against a man who had tried to protect Eric, Godric Burnham, Bobby’s father. That evidence, which accused Godric of being a child predator, had been completely fabricated. Appius had even kept records of the people he’d paid to accuse the deceased headmaster if necessary.

In addition to incriminating evidence against Godric, there was information that seemingly proved Pam, Sookie, and Eric guilty of industrial espionage—evidence which was obviously twisted. However, it could have been very damaging to them all the same.

Nora had been grateful when Eric had wanted to destroy the contents of Appius’s safe. She’d been glad to have the proof of her father’s madness burned from the world.

Nora glanced at her watch; it was just past 6:00 p.m. Her run had brought her almost to her grandmother’s home, and Nora took that as a sign that she needed to confront Grace. The Northman matriarch was clinging stubbornly to the notion that Eric was to blame for everything that had gone wrong—even Appius’s death. But that simply wasn’t true—no matter how much Nora wished it could be in some ways.

Eric wasn’t to blame. It was her father who was wholly responsible—for all the hurt and all the pain.

Nora closed her eyes and said a quick prayer that—this time—her grandmother might listen to reason regarding Eric. It was time that the remaining Northmans banded together. And it was high time for the hatred that had driven her father’s actions for decades to dissipate.

Nora wiped away a tear. Her daddy had died for that hate, and she thought that was enough loss. She just hoped that Grace would listen to reason. She glanced again at her watch again: 6:02 p.m. She was just half a block from her grandmother’s house, so she quickened her pace and steeled her resolve.

6:00 p.m., January 14, 2014


“Pam is going to disapprove,” Bobby said gently was he patted Sookie’s knee.

“What?” Sookie asked.

Bobby gestured toward the fingernail she’d just been chewing on.

“Oh!” Sookie said, pulling the nail from her mouth. Bobby reached out a hand for her to hold onto.

“I don’t like this either. If I didn’t think it would raise the old hag’s suspicions too much, I would have gone in there with him,” Bobby said fiercely.

Sookie nodded. It had been difficult to talk Bobby out of doing just that.

“I don’t know why the fuck he’s even going in there,” Bobby said with frustration as they watched the video feed of Eric knocking on his grandmother’s door.

“He needs for all of this to be over,” Sookie whispered. “And—if his feeling is wrong and his grandmother really does want to reconcile, I know that he wants to try.”

“That bitch isn’t worth it,” Bobby fumed. “I don’t know why he even gives a fuck.”

Sookie smiled a little and squeezed Bobby’s hand. “Have you met my husband? He can’t help but to give a fuck about things like this.”

Bobby squeezed her hand in return. “I know.” He sighed. “I’m just worried about him.”

“Me too,” Sookie said quietly. “But the fact that he still wants to give Grace a chance shows what a good man he is. It’s one of the reasons I love him so much.”

“They’re going in,” came Agent Batanya’s voice over the intercom. “Be ready,” she added to her team.

Bobby and Sookie held their breaths as they watched Eric, Miranda, and Milos enter the house.

Without argument, Agent Batanya had allowed Sookie and Bobby to sit in the “control van” while Eric and the others were inside the house. However, she’d told them that the agent currently sitting with them in the van and monitoring the various feeds would shoot them if they tried to leave before it was safe to do so.

That agent, whose name Sookie had been too nervous to remember, turned up the volume on the wire that had been planted on Eric. Footsteps against the marble floor could be heard.

Not being able to see Eric anymore, Sookie closed her eyes and tried to pick up every sound, even as she tightened her grip on Bobby’s hand; she knew that she was likely hurting him, but she couldn’t help herself in that moment. She was just glad that he didn’t pull away.

A/N: So many of you all wrote such supporting comments after the last chapter that I wanted to get you this one ASAP. It’s longer than the last. I just hope that—in my rush—I found all the typos!

Anyway, I don’t say this enough, but y’all are the best!

By the way, I’ve decided that—since there are only a few more chapters of this one left—I won’t be transitioning to Uncharted before I complete this one. Two more chapters and then an epilogue—and then that’s it for this world. Wow! That’s so hard for me to believe it’s almost done. But the remaining chapters are pretty long, so there’s that.

Until the next one,



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Luther (2)


Miranda (3)



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21 thoughts on “Chapter 38: A Matter of Seconds, Part 1

  1. I was about to go to bed when I got the alert for this and I seriously got that lovely “Christmas morning” feeling! Such a good chapter–so I’m going to hazard a guess that Nora will sacrifice herself for Eric out of love.

    As much as I love the Un-series, I’m relieved that you’re going to give us the rest of this first. Thanks for the surprise update too! You’re the best!

  2. Whoot! 1/6 right so far! Michelle is DEAD!!! *Sings* “Ding-dong the witch is dead. Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.”

    Now, to see if my other 5 guesses are right! *stares at inbox for next update*

    Thanks for getting this to us so quickly!

      1. The Berts, Bill, Nora and Freyda just coz I want her gone. Yes she suffers from a mental illness so I sympathise with her, but I want her nowhere near my Eric!

        However, a real guess would be one of the ‘Red Shirts’ (aka unnamed FBI angent)

  3. Oh my god!!!! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what’s going to happen!!!! This story has sucked me in and I’m more than a little sad to see it coming to an end. You are a fantastic story teller and this story has such heart that it makes you pull for the good guys, while hoping ALL the bad guys are provided with incredibly painful deaths!!! I’m so glad to see that Michelle is now gone, and can no longer hurt Sookie with her hateful ways, she was truly evil, and she deserves what she got! I hope our wait isn’t long!! More please!!! 😉

  4. Oh my god I’m eating my finger nails right now! Ok Michelle is dead but I think Nora will be of the victims too! I’m really really sorry this “Comfortably Numb Universe” is about to end…It’s been one of my favourite stories….
    Can’t wait for more!

  5. The stage is set, everyone is in their place..and now the reveal. I would hate for any of Eric’s team to be killed, they are all special. And thank you for the quick posting..

  6. So I got out my trusty calculator after reading the last chapter… and now I’ll go back and finish what I was about to post lol.

    Hmm. All the deaths after Michelle happen between 6:11 am 6:19.

    And there seem to be quite a few people lined up to be in the crossfire.

    I’m trying to remember a start trek reference. I think, you pitied the guy in the red shirt (that you’d never seen before) because he always died. That’s what I thought about Milos. I thought ‘oh he’s lovely. …. He’s going to die 😦 ‘ lol. Of course I could just be paranoid.

    Nora is going to be in the line of fire. … just when she is getting her head on straight!

    Geez. This is going to be bloody

    1. So my predictions… altered with new info…

      16:06 Michelle kicks it – a Bert DONE

      18:11 & 18:11:03 Milos or Kate dead, the other kills Bert

      18:17 & 18:18 – agents have stormed in, Bill gets dead, finally, and the Butler is killed, or the Butler kills an agent

      18:19 Struggle over the gun… Nora kills Grace

      Or maybe Grace accidentally kills Nora, and I go back to my original ending that Eric shoots Grace.

      So many possibilities!

  7. Thank you for the update! I don’t even want to hazard a guess as to who the remaining 5 are. I’m just doing an early morning happy dance that Michelle is finally dead! That evil, wicked piece of trash is gone! Hallelujahs!!

  8. Oh god it’s so hard to wait for the updates! Love this story and got sucked into it from the very beginning so will be hard to deal with it ending soon, sigh. So glad Michelle is gone, just need delusional Bill gone and Grace and her minions too. Hope none of Eric’s people get hurt too badly though.

  9. Jason will be the only one to mourn Michelle. Though Sookie might grieve for the mother sHe never had. Looks like Nora is about to be in the middle of it. Thanks for another chapter so quickly.

  10. Ugh…so much suspense! Love it! OK –one bad guy down –buh bye Michelle, hope you become Hell’s “Mother of the Year”……
    Well, this is fiction –escapism –I really hope that all the good guys get out unscathed and all would be a HEA –gads, we could sure use it! But….I’m afraid CK may have a good guy or two give up the ghost….but I can keep my fingers crossed that won’t be the case……


  11. catching up on my reading, this is awesome and i am on pins and needles and WTF is Nora thinking, Grace won’t listen t he , she is gonna screw up all the plans, i kind of like it. KY

  12. ooh does this mean nora may be killed?…..bill definitely has to go (fingers crossed!!!)….. x

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