Sookie had chosen Gallery 684 for the day because it had been one that she’d planned on skipping—at least when she started visiting the MET each week. The gallery was one of the five rooms of the André Mertens Galleries, which were on the second floor of the MET. They housed musical instruments.
Omitting those galleries from her Sunday visits wasn’t because Sookie didn’t like music; on the contrary, she’d grown to enjoy listening to CDs or the radio very much since she’d regained her hearing. But the thought of seeing musical instruments—which she’d been mostly barred from interacting with because of her childhood disability—hadn’t appealed to her.
In fact—if she were being honest with herself—most musical instruments had frightened her.
As a child growing up in Bon Temps, she’d seen the usual assortment of musical instruments—from a distance, that is. She’d seen an old piano at school and an organ at church. She’d seen drums and trumpets and flutes and other common marching band instruments. She’d even seen a fiddle or two.
The only instrument that she’d ever touched before she played a note on Eric’s piano had been a guitar—her father’s. Sookie could remember a few times when he’d taken the instrument out of the hall closet on his days off. He’d placed the case carefully on the dining room table and removed the well-used acoustic guitar almost reverently.
Michelle hadn’t much appreciated Corbett’s playing, and Sookie had read mumbled words of dissatisfaction from her mother’s lips, though Michelle had never said anything loud enough for Corbett to hear. Sookie “read” that her father had once been in what Michelle called a “damned-waste-of-time band” and that he should be doing “better things with his time than trying to relive the so-called glory days of his youth.” Sookie was glad that her father had never heard her mother’s critical words about his playing.
Unlike her mother, Sookie had looked forward to the rare occasions when her father felt relaxed enough to pull out his guitar. When he played, a tranquil smile would touch his lips. She would always sit on the floor on the other side of the room and watch him—not on the area rug that covered most of the living room floor, but on the strip of uncovered wood next to the wall. From her seat, she could feel tiny vibrations from the music, especially when she’d lean against the wall and put her hands flat onto the floor.
She’d held the guitar only once—exactly one month after Corbett died. On that day, Michelle had ordered Sookie to carry the instrument to church, where Michelle was selling it to one of the boys who had always bullied Sookie. Michelle had told Sookie to take the instrument out of its case and had smirked as Sookie reluctantly put it into her classmate’s chubby hands.
With the exception of that guitar, Sookie had always looked away from other musical instruments she’d seen—until she saw Eric’s piano, that is. She’d imagined each one to be a test of her senses, a test that she couldn’t even begin to figure out how to pass. None of the instruments—apart from her father’s guitar—had spoken a language she could hear from the lips of the musician. Thus, they’d been a mystery to her until she was seventeen years old when she’d had the surgeries that removed the fluid that had been blocking her hearing and repaired the problem that had caused it.
In addition, she had another reason for disliking musical instruments: her brother.
Sometimes—when Sookie had been commanded into the corner by her mother—Jason had enjoyed taking his trumpet and sneaking up on her before blowing it into her ear. She’d been oblivious to his presence except for the vibration she’d felt against her skin and hair. And, of course, the pain. The vibration from the sound burst would always trigger a negative reaction in her inner ear, one that was quite excruciating. Jason had found the entire operation hilarious—especially when she would curl up on the chair and shake, fearing that he might do it again. He always did. Sookie couldn’t help but to wonder if Jason’s actions had led to the permanent eardrum damage that still hindered her from hearing sounds above a certain pitch.
Yes. It was safe to say that she’d been a little afraid of—and certainly unnerved by—the musical instruments she’d come into contact with.
However, her fears had all but dissolved when she’d watched Eric playing the piano the Tuesday before. When he’d started playing, she was at the other end of the long room—perhaps trying to maintain a safe distance from the large piano. However, she’d quickly become lost in his music—and in him.
He had left her awestruck—even more than usual. She was able to read the language of the music from his face, even as she listened to it. The muscles in his cheeks and around his eyes had moved subtly, and his body had tensed slightly and then relaxed as he began and finished each phrase—as if his body were writing sentences and his fingers were expressing the intonation of words as he played every note. Though somewhat timid at first, Sookie had been pulled to move closer to him. And he’d not even looked at her funny when she sat down on the wooden floor so that she could feel the vibrations in the room even as she listened with her ears and continued to watch his body and face.
He’d played “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven, and in the song, she’d heard Eric’s heart, tugging at hers and crying with hers. Somehow, seeing him play that music had gone farther in healing her than any therapy session she’d ever had with Claudine. The music conveyed—he conveyed—power and powerlessness all at once. It was joyful and woeful. It was everything that she knew Eric was and had been. And it was everything she knew he could be.
And it was her too. It was her right down to the bone.
Eric had played the piece through three times before she’d gotten up and sat next to him on the piano bench. She’d rested her head against his shoulder, which was moving rhythmically with his playing. He didn’t mind her presence, and she’d soon felt herself moving with him, being taken elsewhere by the notes. After he’d finished playing the fourth time, he’d led her to their bed, and they’d made love slowly, their bodies finding the same melancholic—though beautiful—melody as the song.
Sookie closed her eyes as she recalled how they’d fallen asleep after they’d both had their releases. It had been the best sleep of her life.
She sighed contentedly and looked down at her notes about Gallery 684. Of the five galleries that made up the musical instruments section, she’d chosen that one for its large size—since she wasn’t sure when Eric would be able to join her and she wanted to linger at the MET as long as possible. She smiled a little, vowing to put the numbers of the other galleries in the section into her jar as soon as she could since—suddenly—seeing and learning about the musical instruments didn’t seem worrisome at all. In fact, it seemed thrilling.
Sookie had been proud of herself as she’d walked contentedly through the gallery, learning the history of the various instruments, most of which were works of arts in their construction and sound. The museum offered headphones so that visitors could hear the various instruments being played, and—despite a bit of trepidation—Sookie had even ventured to listen to one of the trumpets in the gallery. The sound from the brass instrument had been a little rough and a little harsh, but it hadn’t been painful to her.
Though she’d taken notes on several of the instruments, she’d chosen the one for her picture as soon as she’d seen it. It was a harpsichord—both a musical instrument and a beautiful painting. It was Flemish and from the 1600s, and she couldn’t help but to imagine Eric playing it. When she’d heard what it sounded like—light tickling notes which seemed to laugh joyfully—she’d been even more certain that the piece was her favorite in the room.
After taking her time in Gallery 684, she’d gone to Gallery 823 to visit the Van Gogh painting that she still considered to be hers and Eric’s. She’d left the MET later than usual for lunch, but she figured that would make the afternoon seem shorter—as she waited for Eric.
As usual, Sookie had eaten her lunch in the park, jotting down additional notes about the harpsichord and the other instruments that she’d been interested in and wanted to remember. But mostly she’d thought about Eric. Her heart seemed to be drawn out of her chest that day, almost as if it knew that he was close and that he needed her love to be sent to him over the blocks that separated them.
She sighed. When she’d told Claudine during their Tuesday session that she was almost certainly going to move in with Eric, the therapist hadn’t been that shocked, though she had cautioned Sookie that the more she tangled her life with Eric’s, the more difficult it would be to untangle. Of course, when Sookie had admitted to Claudine that she was already in love with Eric—in a way that she didn’t think she’d ever be in love—Claudine had understood that Sookie was already irrevocably intertwined with Eric.
Knowing that Claudine wouldn’t say anything to anyone, even if doctor-patient confidentiality rules weren’t in effect, Sookie had—with Eric’s permission—confided in her that Eric was a prisoner in his own life. She’d told her of Appius’s scheming to get Eric to relinquish the Larsson legacy. She’d also told her a little about Appius’s treatment of Eric and the “meetings” that he’d been forced to endure for most of his life.
In addition, Claudine and Sookie had talked about Michelle and the similarities they saw between Appius and Sookie’s mother. Michelle, of course, had never doubted Sookie’s DNA, but she had decided—even before Sookie’s illness had manifested itself—that Sookie was somehow unworthy of her love.
During the session Sookie had made a breakthrough—one that was heightened when she heard the story in Eric’s piano playing later that night. At least in his own mind, Appius had a “reason” for treating Eric so badly. It was an awful and spiteful reason, but it was a reason nonetheless. He’d punished a young child for his mother’s acts. And he continued that punishment even now. Did Appius have the right to feel betrayed by Stella? Yes—she’d lied to him. Did he have the right to subject Eric to his twisted bitterness? No.
That night, Sookie realized something essential. The defect was with Appius—in Appius. Eric had done nothing wrong.
Sookie had spent her whole life looking for the answer to two questions. “Why did her mother hate her so much? Why was she so unlovable?” Sookie had posited many theories. Maybe Michelle had not wanted to get pregnant a second time. Maybe she was a fussy infant. Maybe her father paid her too much attention. Maybe it was an acute case of the Electra complex. Maybe the disease that affected her hearing had caused Michelle’s jealousy to turn into revulsion. Maybe Michelle’s mother was the root of the problem. But—by far—the theory that Sookie dwelled upon the most was that there was something about herself that was so fundamentally flawed that even her own mother couldn’t love her.
Sookie realized that—like most children of abusers—she had been “trained” by her abuser to see all the “defects” in herself as the cause of her mistreatment.
Sookie sighed deeply. She hated to admit it, but finding a reason why her mother hated her had once mattered to her. But it didn’t matter anymore; indeed, she was done dwelling on the supposed faults in herself. She shook her head a little. Why didn’t matter! Having a why—after all—didn’t justify Appius’s abhorrent behavior, so no why in the world could ever justify or explain Michelle’s.
Just as Eric had done nothing wrong—Sookie realized that she had been innocent as well. She’d known that before—in her head. But she’d not truly believed it.
Now she did.
As she’d listened to the gripping, melancholic melody of “Midnight Sonata,” she’d suddenly seen things so clearly. Her mother was a child abuser—just as Appius was an abuser. It was just that simple. No reason could justify that. No reason could explain it away or make Sookie feel any better about it.
Michelle was the defective one!
Hearing Eric speak about his “meetings” with Appius a few nights before that had helped Sookie in ways she was only beginning to fathom. It had been like hearing herself in some ways. Eric had been scolded and talked to as if he were defective. And he’d been purposely isolated by Appius—not even having a permanent room in his family’s home. While Michelle had enjoyed tormenting Sookie every day, Appius’s torment had been in neglecting Eric for 363 days of the year and then berating him for the other two. But both parents had actively tried to make their children’s lives worse. Both had endeavored to keep their children detached from others—from the world itself. The abusers had tried to take away anything that might have given their children pleasure.
Or hope. Or connection.
And—even as adults—Sookie and Eric had remained isolated in so many ways, segregating themselves from the world.
Trying to protect themselves from more loss.
Neither of them had many friends, but Sookie realized that they “could.” She and Eric were both trustworthy, and—though she was still shy—when she tried, she found that others would be her friends. For his part, Eric was naturally charismatic and kind; those things had just been stifled in him—stunted because of Appius’s malignancy. Indeed, Eric might not see it, but people were drawn to him and willing to be loyal to him.
Bobby was an example of that. After just one meeting with him, Sookie already knew that he thought of Eric as a brother. But there were others too. It was obvious that Eric had inspired Henry’s and Thalia’s loyalty. Eric had told her about the staff at Appius’s estate too, and several of them obviously thought the world of him. Heck—even Ben’s crew at the MET sensed Eric’s inherent goodness enough to let him “stalk” her for months!
Once more, Sookie sighed and shook her head. All of the “training” that Michelle and Appius had undertaken with her and Eric had paid off—for the abusers, that is. Eric and she had fallen into their parents’ traps and stayed ensnared for a long time. So frightened of losing something good if they got it, they had learned to hide anything that was special to them—especially from themselves—most often avoiding the things that would hurt if they were taken away. As children, they’d both kept the friends they wanted to hold onto a secret. Michelle had known nothing about Tara, and Appius had known nothing about Bobby. And as adults, they’d kept the friends they had at arm’s length. Furthermore, the romantic relationships they’d been in before hadn’t included true intimacy. They’d avoided attachment, protecting the most vulnerable parts of themselves—with one exception.
They had been unable to stay aloof from each other.
But Sookie’s real breakthrough had come when she realized that—though battered emotionally over time—neither Eric nor she had been truly conquered. In truth, they were the ultimate victors. They’d not become like their parents; they wouldn’t carry on the cycle. They were stronger than Appius and Michelle combined.
Of course, what had happened in the past would continue to stay inside of Sookie. However, she’d learned something very important; she might have to continue fighting her mother’s voice in her head for the rest of her life, but she could fight it. And that voice could only win if Sookie gave up, and she was too strong to do that. It was Eric who had shown her that.
Sadly, with Eric, things were more complicated. He, too, had protected himself from Appius in the ways that mattered most. Showing his inherent strength, Eric had become a good man, despite having a horrible example as a father. Though Eric was afraid to speak of love, he was certainly able to show it—to her, to his siblings, to his mormor, to his friends, and to every single person who worked for him. But he was also still trapped by Appius, and Sookie couldn’t figure out a way to get him free—at least not a way that would allow Eric to protect the many people for whom he felt responsible.
Sookie sighed, thinking about the deal that Eric had made with Appius. Something about that contract perplexed her greatly. The deal’s first incarnation—the letter that Appius had written by hand—showed his ruthlessness and cruelty. But even that document had included something that Appius had known that Eric wanted: the opportunity to be CEO of NP. And—even if Eric was to be “overseen” by Appius’s people—he would have had a livelihood.
Sookie couldn’t help but to wonder why Appius would agree to let Eric have anything good.
In fact, she had a lot of questions. Why wasn’t Appius planning to give the position of CEO to Nora, whom he clearly favored? Eric had told her that Nora had made clear that she didn’t want the job, but Sookie wasn’t sold. Even if Nora didn’t want the position, Sookie figured that Appius would want to give her the title anyway—and then prop her up with others, who could do most of the work for her.
Her instincts told her that Appius wouldn’t want Eric to have even a little happiness—and certainly not any real power at NP. So—why had Appius initiated the deal? And why would he have signed a contract that was good for Eric in a lot of ways? After all, the deal was going to allow Eric to run a company he loved; moreover, Appius would be forced to leave Eric alone unless Eric failed. And Appius wasn’t dumb; he had to know that Eric would likely succeed. There would still be the menace of those damned yearly meetings that Eric would have to face; however, he would retain the upper hand at them if the company’s profits continued to grow.
Sookie shook her head as she thought of what a miserable bastard Appius Northman really was. She didn’t trust him not to have other things up his sleeve for Eric or—at the very least—unknown motives for the contract.
On the other hand, maybe Eric was right; maybe he was too valuable of a resource for Appius to ignore. And the paradox that must have created for Appius was mind-boggling. He wanted for Eric to fail, but he now needed for him to succeed in order to keep the family legacy growing for A.J. In fact, if Appius didn’t know in his gut that Eric was going to succeed, he wouldn’t allow him to take over as CEO—would he? Yet he still harangued his son whenever he could. Sookie wasn’t one to curse much, but the situation was completely fucked up!
Appius Northman was bitter and egotistical. Sookie almost pitied him; Appius had the best person she’d ever met as his son, yet he had rejected Eric.
“No,” she said in a whisper. No “why” could ever justified Appius’s behavior. But her instincts told her that they needed to find out “why” Appius had wanted to establish a contract with Eric to begin with.
She drummed her fingers against her notebook. Maybe she was looking for hidden motivations with Appius that just weren’t there. Maybe she was just trying to understand “why” she and Eric would eventually be driven apart. After all, the contract would also trap Eric into a marriage with a woman that he probably wouldn’t love. As much as she hated the thought of him being with anyone else, however, she hoped that Isabel or someone similar to her would agree to an “arrangement” with Eric. With someone like Isabel, he could at least have a friend as his wife. They could have children, and Sookie already knew that he would be an excellent father. Maybe he could even come to love his wife. At least—that’s what she hoped for him, no matter how hard it was for her to think about him loving someone else.
She sighed as she closed her notebook. She couldn’t blame Eric for making the deal he’d made with his father; she couldn’t even blame him for agreeing to the marriage clause. After all, he’d only ever witnessed one marriage based on love—that of his morfar and mormor. Most of the marriages he’d seen throughout his life were—for all practical purposes—merely contracts, not covenants. So the thought of marrying as a condition of a contract likely hadn’t seemed odd to Eric at all.
And—since the contract with his father stipulated that Eric had to be married only as long as he was CEO—he could eventually get a divorce if he wanted to. The custody of any children could be shared, and—as with any business arrangement—a “contract” could be drawn up to protect all parties.
The thought of having an arranged marriage on those terms was “cold” to Sookie, but it was also “civilized,” and Sookie knew that it was something Eric could live with. In fact, it had probably seemed “safe” to him when he signed the contract. In such an arranged marriage, he wouldn’t be required to feel; thus, he couldn’t be hurt.
And it wasn’t as if Sookie had had significantly different ideas about what a marriage could be like than Eric had. After all, she’d accepted Bill’s promise ring, and—even at its best—her relationship with Bill couldn’t have been called romantic or passionate. But, then again, she’d never hoped for a sweeping love. She’d wanted only acceptance and some measure of safety. Therefore, had Bill not been duplicitous, she wouldn’t have hesitated in settling down with him. She would have settled—just as Eric was planning to “settle.”
Of course, the wrench in Eric’s life was now her, just as he was the wrench in her life. She knew in her heart that he would give up everything for her—and for them—if it was just himself that he was considering. But it wasn’t. It was Pam and his mormor and Gracie and A.J. and Bobby and Godric and everyone else at NP.
Sookie took the last drink of her water. To a big extent, being under Appius’s thumb was the only thing Eric had ever known. It was his normal. It was a threshold of pain he’d become familiar with and learned to live with.
She could understand that well. The pain caused by her ear disease had become normal for her. Believing that she was defective had become normal. Being sat in a corner where her “funny uncle” could touch her inappropriately and her mother and brother could torment her had become normal.
What wasn’t “normal” for either of them was what they were now experiencing with each other. But Sookie couldn’t stop herself from craving that “abnormality.” What they felt—together—was as safe as it was anxiety-inducing. What they had was as beautiful as it was doomed. The hopelessness of their situation often hit her, but that strike was never quite as powerful as the hope and the strength that Eric instilled within her.
Sookie got up and walked toward the nearest blue trashcan. Though she’d been swept up in her romance with Eric, she was still no romantic. She had no illusions about their expiration date. She had no aspirations for a fairy tale ending. But she did intend to enjoy her knight in shining armor while she could, and she knew that he would do everything he could to make sure she was not a damsel in distress.
She smiled to herself. If all went according to plan, Eric and she would have years together—years to love each other and to be happy. And she knew that, at the end of those years, she would be healthier for having been with him—not because he’d “saved” her, but because he would help her to continue healing herself. And then—when their time ran out—they would part. There would be heartbreak, of course. But it would have been worth it.
Her smile faded, and she shivered despite the warm temperature as she looked in the direction of Central Park East. She thought about Eric being stuck in Appius’s house, and a part of her wanted to run to that opulent estate—to burst through the gilded doors and take Eric away from there. But she knew that if Appius found out about Eric and her, he would do whatever he could to force them to separate sooner than they’d planned. Unfortunately, Appius had a lot to hold over Eric’s head to make him do just that. Plus, there was her job to consider. She had no doubt that Appius would make sure she lost it if he found out about her relationship with Eric.
For what must have been the hundredth time, Sookie thought about the possibility of becoming Eric’s mistress after he was forced to move on and marry someone else. He’d already made it clear that he wouldn’t ask her to do that—that he wanted her to move on and to find happiness with another. But could she really give him up if she could, perhaps, retain a part of him?
She closed her eyes. The thought of holding onto only a small piece of Eric while he was married to and had children with someone else made Sookie’s heart ache. And—in that moment—she knew that she couldn’t do it. Moreover, Eric wouldn’t let her do it—no matter how much he might want to keep her. That kind of “sharing” wasn’t in either of them—especially not after the profundity of what they’d shared. They could “settle” with others—but never with each other. Plus, she feared that they would eventually resent each other if she became his mistress; he would hate himself for hurting her, and she might come to hate him because he was tied to someone else. And those thoughts terrified her more than any others.
Sookie was pulled out of her musings when she heard the Delacorte Musical Clock singing out its tune to signal that it was 3:30. Purposely, she’d walked south, instead of west, to have her lunch that day, knowing that that was the direction Eric had taken. She couldn’t see the street from where she was inside the park, but she hoped Eric was walking to the museum even then. He’d not known when he could slip away from the family get-together, but she couldn’t help the skip of her heart when she imagined him already on his way to the MET. With this in mind, she began her trek back.
As she walked at a steady pace, Sookie thought more about her week living at Eric’s house. They’d fallen into a comfortable rhythm, both on the days when they didn’t go into the office and on the days when they did. They’d had long talks about serious and light topics—and everything in between. They’d curled up together and watched movies. They’d lain against each other and read together. They’d gone for walks in Riverside Park. They’d continued Sookie’s swimming lessons. Every morning and every evening, they’d spent some time on the balcony, enjoying New York as it transitioned into summer. And they’d made love—a lot. She reddened a little at the thought.
They’d also made plans for their trip to Sweden. Sam had been able to give her the entire two weeks off since Pam was insisting that so many projects be finalized before she took her own vacation. And Sookie was already ahead on her current projects; in fact, she’d been purposely holding onto a couple of them to keep her performance rate similar to the others in her department.
Gran had also agreed to travel to Sweden—but just for the first week—since she had an event for the Descendants of the Glorious Dead planned for the week after that. She’d been excited about the prospect of spending time with Sookie, and—though she was a bit hesitant to let someone else pay for her ticket—she had eventually relented after Eric had spoken to her. Gran would actually be arriving the day before Eric and Sookie, so she’d have one day alone with Mormor—and Pam.
Sookie fisted her hands nervously as she picked up her pace a little. She couldn’t help but to wonder what Pam would say when she found out that the peculiar girl from the office was dating her brother—let alone living with him! Pam wasn’t, after all, a member of the Sookie Stackhouse fan club. Far from it—in fact! With difficulty, Sookie put that thought aside for the time being as she took a few deep, calming breaths. She knew that she could do nothing to control Pam’s reaction, and Eric trusted his sister, so Sookie had to as well.
Sookie made herself focus on other things as she turned onto the trail that would lead her back to the MET. She couldn’t help but to blush a little as she thought about the appointment she’d had with her gynecologist the previous Wednesday morning. She’d gone ahead and gotten her yearly pap smear completed since she needed to get tested for STDs anyway. Bill and she had always used condoms, but she was making Eric double check, so she would too. She also got a prescription for birth control pills.
Eric had gotten a last-minute appointment with his doctor on Tuesday afternoon, and his test results had already come back negative. Now they were waiting for hers to come back—which was supposed to occur on Tuesday or Wednesday. She’d started her period the night before, and her doctor had told her that if she began taking her pills the Sunday after her menstruation began, they would begin working right away. However, the GYN had also suggested that Sookie use a back-up method for the first couple of weeks she was on the pill—just to be safe.
Friday night, Sookie and Eric had had a frank and blush-inducing conversation—at least for Sookie. They’d decided that they’d use condoms, along with the pill, until they got to Sweden, which would mark the beginning of her third week on the pill. Then they’d forego the little pieces of rubber which had, thus far, kept them from being fully connected.
They’d also discussed Sookie’s discomfort with the idea of having sex during her period, and Eric had respected her preference. Of course, that hadn’t stopped him from suggesting that they consider shower sex—if she was ever feeling frisky during that time of the month. Sookie had laughed at his apparent eagerness to make love all the time, and he’d been more than happy when she told him that her period generally lasted only three days.
Sookie couldn’t help but to smile. That discussion had certainly been the longest one she’d ever had about the nuances of her menstrual cycle, and it had been awkward for her. However, she couldn’t help but to be happy that Eric was open to talking about any topic. And—miraculously—she seemed to be able to talk to him about anything. The word “perfect” hadn’t been used by Sookie much in her life, but—where Eric was concerned—she found herself thinking it more and more.
Heck—the night before when she’d been having cramps, her “perfect” man volunteered to give her a back rub, which led to a foot rub, which led to a leg rub, which led to some very enjoyable above-the-waist petting and kissing. When she’d unzipped his jeans to give him a release with her hand, his hand had joined hers around his erection. Hands together, they’d slowly stroked him to completion. Despite not having an orgasm of her own, touching Eric—even as he touched himself—had been one of the most erotic things she’d ever done.
Sookie reddened and then grinned as she saw the MET coming into view. Throughout the week—through the moments of embarrassment, through the emotional conversations, through the quiet times of just sitting in the same room, and through the growing pains of learning how to live with someone—Sookie had been the happiest she’d ever been. She was on a road with Eric that most people would have told her not to take, but she’d been labeled “abnormal” all of her life, and—for once—she was glad she was.
As Sookie re-entered the MET at about 3:45, she waved at Milos and John, whom she’d learned liked to be called by his nickname, Jack.
Milos called her over to the guard desk with a gesture of his hand and a wink.
“We sent your man up to the gallery you was in this morning,” Jack said in his thick North Jersey accent.
“He’s been here five minutes,” Milos grinned. “Ben said that if you wanna turn the tables and watch him on the monitors for a while, I could take you to the control room.”
Sookie shook her head. “No—but tell Ben I said thanks.” Now that she knew Eric was there, she was itching to go up to him.
“Sure thing,” Jack said as Milos nodded at her congenially.
Sookie smiled at the two guards as she took her leave of them and quickly crossed to the stairs that would lead her to gallery 684.
Had her legs been as long as Eric’s, she would have taken three steps at a time, instead of just two.
A/N: Hi. Sorry it’s been a while. I’ve had a lot of grading to do (as it’s the end of the semester), and I’ve had a horrible sinus infection that has come with vertigo. NOT FUN! And not conducive to writing/reading. So—I know that there’s not “action” in this chapter, but I wanted this alone-time introspection for Sookie so that she could really think about the choice she’s made to be with Eric. I also wanted to show you glimpses of their week together. This chapter demonstrates the strides Sookie has made with her mental health. And we’re going to continue to see this stronger, happier Sookie. She’ll have her setbacks, where the damage Michelle has done to her will rear its ugly head, but this chapter and the epiphanies she thinks about indicate that she won’t become “lost in herself” again no matter what hardship may come.
I appreciate everyone who has commented on and favorited/followed this story! You make me want to keep writing, and I appreciate that so much. Next up—dinner with Pam (and Bobby). But it will be a few days because I have to fine-tune my story for the Secret Santa exchange.