Chapter 10: A Very Small Place
Bobby looked down at his phone when it beeped. The message was short, but no less heartbreaking for it brevity: “Gran’s gone.”
Bobby crushed his finished cigarette into the ashtray he’d found on Adele’s porch and sighed deeply. About ninety minutes before, he’d gotten another text from Eric—one asking him to make sure that Adele’s home was secure until Sookie and he got there. Eric’s concern was that—once Adele was gone—Michelle and Jason would try to get into the home and strip it clean of valuables.
Extremely thankful for a task to keep him busy during the dead of the night, Bobby had immediately traveled to the farmhouse. As much as he liked to take care of things himself, however, he speculated that he would need “official” back-up in order to avoid being arrested for kicking the asses of Sookie’s mother and brother. Of course, he was tempted to knock them out and take them to “visit” their kind in the alligator farm he’d seen on the way to Bon Temps from Shreveport. But he knew that Sookie wouldn’t approve of that—no matter how unimaginably reptilian her mother and sibling were.
It hadn’t taken Bobby long to find the help he needed to keep Michelle and Jason away from the farmhouse—while at the same time ensuring that he would stay out of jail.
A call to a friend in the FBI in NYC had led to a new and trustworthy contact for Bobby. It just so happened that Bobby’s friend had gone to Quantico with an agent in the Shreveport office, Travis Fletcher. A call to Agent Fletcher had yielded a boon. Not only did Fletcher offer his “off-the-record” assistance—if need be—but also a cousin of the agent’s sister-in-law was a sheriff in Bon Temps, Louisiana, the very town where Adele lived.
Bobby smiled as he called Andy Bellefleur. If there was one thing that he had learned in his line of work, it was that the world could be a very small place sometimes.
After Bobby name-dropped Agent Fletcher, Sheriff Bellefleur promised to send a patrol car to make sure that Adele’s home remained unbothered, though he insisted that a “God-fearin’ Christian” like Michelle Stackhouse wouldn’t do anything of harm there since they were “family and all.”
Bobby didn’t believe that for a New York minute.
Bobby’s next call was to Sid Matt Lancaster, who’d left the hospital after Sookie and Eric were situated. Sid Matt agreed to hold vigil at Adele’s as well. Finally, Bobby called a car service and asked if a driver could be made available for Eric and Sookie when they were ready to leave the hospital. Luckily, the car service—though small—had something that would work, and for a little extra money, the driver agreed to go to the hospital immediately and to wait for Eric’s call.
Those tasks complete half an hour before, Bobby had simply been waiting on Adele’s porch for either his new allies or his new enemies or his “brother” and Sookie to arrive. He didn’t exactly trust the sheriff to stop Michelle—since she was “family and all.” And though Sid Matt seemed trustworthy enough, he was clearly on the north-side of eighty years old.
Fifteen minutes after Eric’s text about Adele’s death, a somewhat annoyed-looking Sheriff Andy Bellefleur pulled up, checked in with Bobby, and then took up a position near the end of the driveway. Five minutes after that, a weary-looking Sid Matt Lancaster pulled up.
“Have you heard? Adele’s gone,” Sid Matt sighed resignedly as he got out of his car.
“Yes, Eric let me know,” he answered as he took in the man. He could tell that Sid Matt was quite upset over Adele’s loss, and he couldn’t help but to wonder if the two had been romantically involved. Adele had spoken of Sid Matt a few times over Thanksgiving, and she’d blushed like a schoolgirl when she spoke of him at any length. Plus, there had been the knowing looks exchanged between Elsa and Adele when Sid Matt’s name had been brought up.
Bobby nodded to the elderly gent as Sid Matt spryly climbed the steps of the porch. Bobby couldn’t help but to hope that he was right about Adele having romantic “companionship” during the last months of her life. From what Bobby had gathered, it seemed that Sid Matt was worthy of Adele. Not many would have been in Bobby’s eyes.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Bobby said sympathetically. “I met Adele only a couple of times, but everything I knew about her told me that she was a wonderful woman.” Bobby lit up another cigarette.
“One of the best I ever met,” Sid Matt sighed. “You got another one of those?” he asked.
Bobby smiled a little and handed the older man a cigarette and his lighter.
Sid Matt took the offered items. “I haven’t touched a cigarette in almost forty years,” he chuckled after he coughed following his first inhale. “Once the health risks were known, my wife nagged me till I quit.”
“I’m good at quitting them,” Bobby smirked. “In fact, I quit all the time. Sadly, I’m just as good at starting up again.”
Sid Matt chuckled and looked at Bobby’s finger. “You just need a wife to nag you.”
“The closest I’ve ever gotten to that is Eric’s sister—and she prefers other women,” Bobby intoned.
“No wonder you smoke then,” Sid Matt kidded.
Both men chuckled. Sid Matt settled down into the porch swing, even as Bobby sat down on the steps of the porch. Seemingly becoming lost in his memories, Sid Matt stared into the woods surrounding Adele’s home. Bobby was happy to give the older man some silence. And he couldn’t help but to hope that the peace surrounding the farmhouse would remain in place for Sid Matt’s sake—even though he was craving a little action and the opportunity to “justifiably” knock out at least Jason Stackhouse, if not Michelle.
A half an hour after Adele had died peacefully in her sleep, Halleigh returned to her hospital room. The kind nurse had left after Adele passed away in order to give the couple some time alone with the woman they’d lost.
She walked to the opposite side of the bed from the couple. Sookie was cradled on Eric’s lap in the small room’s only chair. The young woman still held her grandmother’s hand in hers, and Eric’s chin was resting on Sookie’s shoulder.
“If y’all are ready,” Halleigh said softly, “I need to get Miss Adele ready to be taken downstairs.”
Sookie seemed startled by the nurse’s voice and sniffled loudly.
“We’re keeping you from your job,” Sookie said apologetically.
“Not at all, Sookie,” Halleigh said with a compassionate smile. “I don’t mean to rush y’all.”
“It’s okay,” Sookie said as she looked at Gran. “I know she’s not here anymore. It’s just that I want her to be.”
Halleigh reached out and patted Sookie’s hand, which was still over her grandmother’s. The nurse noticed that the young woman’s other hand was tucked safely into the grasp of her man. She couldn’t help but to sigh a little as she took them in.
Eric Northman looked like he’d stepped right out of a Hollywood movie. In fact, he’d been the talk of the ward that night, but since Halleigh was happily involved with someone—albeit a balding, middle-aged someone with a bit of a gut—she’d just appreciated the handsome man silently.
“I knew Miss Adele a little, even before today,” the nurse shared. “That’s why I wanted to be assigned to her and stayed on with her after my shift officially ended.”
“How did you know her?” Sookie asked.
“I recently moved in with my boyfriend in Bon Temps,” Halleigh responded.
“Who’s your boyfriend?” Sookie asked.
“Did you grow up in Bon Temps?”
Sookie nodded in affirmation.
“Then, I reckon you know Andy Bellefleur—right?”
“Yep,” Halleigh answered, her voice conveying her pride in her boyfriend. “I can’t say I’ve met too many people in Bon Temps nicer than Miss Adele. I haven’t socialized much since I work 20-hour shifts three times a week, but Miss Adele always made me feel real welcome at church whenever I could get there.”
Sookie smiled. “That sounds like her.”
Halleigh returned Sookie’s smile. “At church, she talked a little about her granddaughters—about you and your cousin. I could tell she was real proud of both of you.”
“Thank you,” Sookie said, turning her hand over to squeeze Halleigh’s. “I’ll be sure to tell that to Hadley too.”
Halleigh’s smile faded, and she looked at Sookie a little regretfully. “Before he left, Sid Matt dealt with most of the paperwork—with the hospital bill and whatnot. But—I’m sorry. There are a few more papers you’ll have to sign before you go. But I’ve told Sally that you’ll be there soon, and she’s got everything ready so y’all can get in and out.”
“Where will . . . .” Sookie’s voice shook as she stopped midsentence.
“Where will Adele be taken?” Eric asked, intuiting what Sookie was going to ask.
“Sid Matt made the arrangements that Miss Adele asked for,” Halleigh said softly. “I’ll take the tubes and such out of her, and I’ll clean her up a bit. Then she’ll go to the morgue until someone from the Bon Temps funeral home comes to get her tomorrow. Then they’ll make her look her best for the funeral service.”
“Do I—uh—need to do anything?” Sookie asked tearfully.
“No,” Halleigh comforted. “I overheard Sid Matt talking with Miss Adele earlier, and she pretty much had everything planned for—just in case. I reckon Sid Matt will call you tomorrow to make arrangements to pick up the dress she wanted to be buried in, but you shouldn’t worry about anything tonight,” Halleigh said kindly.
“And the paperwork downstairs? What is that for?” Eric asked.
“Mostly—it’s so that Miss Adele’s personal effects can be released to you,” Halleigh informed. “She didn’t come in with much, and her nightgown had to be cut off of her, but I think the paramedics grabbed her purse and keys for her, and she had a wedding ring on.”
“Thank you,” Eric said.
Sookie stood up straight, and Halleigh could tell that the strength that had been an inherent part of Adele Stackhouse had been inherited by her granddaughter.
“We would like for you to come to the funeral if you can, Halleigh,” Sookie requested.
“I’d like that,” the nurse smiled.
Eric stayed next to Sookie as she signed the papers she needed to sign in order to claim Adele’s property; then, he texted the number for the driver Bobby had arranged to take them to Bon Temps. Eric was grateful that Bobby had thought about the fact that he would want a driver. Eric could have driven, of course, but all he really craved was to hold Sookie close as she grieved her great loss. He could tell that she was exhausted—drained both physically and emotionally—and he wanted to get her to Gran’s home as soon as possible.
Once they were in the car, Sookie fell asleep against him quickly—something that Eric was very relieved about, especially when he received a text from Bobby after they’d been on the road for about fifteen minutes.
Upon reading the text, Eric quickly dialed his friend.
“Are they still there?” he asked quietly so as not to disturb Sookie.
“We just got rid of them,” Bobby responded. “The sheriff had to threaten to arrest them, so it took a little while, but they’re gone now. Adele was right. They were definitely intending to break into the house. They were each driving a fucking truck, Eric!”
“Was it Sheriff Bellefleur that got them to go?” Eric asked.
“How’d you know his name?”
“Halleigh, Adele’s nurse, mentioned him. She was,” he paused, “kind to Sookie. She’s dating Bellefleur.”
“Small world,” Bobby observed as if to himself.
“Do you think they’ll come back?” Eric asked.
Bobby sighed. “Probably not tonight, but I’m guessing they’ll return tomorrow. Sid Matt’s being here helped a lot. As Adele’s attorney, he was able to spur Officer Bellefleur into action by telling him about the last request Adele made of him.”
“Which was?” Eric asked.
“Do you want the quote?” Bobby asked, his voice conveying amusement.
“Yeah,” Eric returned with a small smile of his own.
“Adele told Sid Matt to keep everyone but you and Sookie out of her fuckin’ house. Of course, she also told him to make apologies for her language—though she made clear that she was certain that God would forgive her in this case.”
Eric chuckled softy so that he wouldn’t disturb Sookie. “That sounds exactly like Gran. So—will Bellefleur keep an officer there all night?”
“He’s staying until 3:00 a.m., and then he’s sending someone else until noon tomorrow,” Bobby reported. “By then Sid Matt with have filed an injunction banning Michelle Stackhouse and Jason Stackhouse from entering the premises. He left right after Michelle and Jason did in order to get the paperwork started. Plus, I have a call in to a private security firm so that we can get some guards here beginning tomorrow.”
“Good,” Eric sighed. “We’ll be there in about thirty minutes, and I don’t want Sookie to have to deal with any of this—not tonight.”
“She won’t have to,” Bobby promised. “And I’ll be here keeping watch too.”
“Bobby?” Eric said.
“I don’t tell you this enough, but you’re probably the best friend I’ve ever have—the best one I will ever have.”
“There’s no probably about it,” Bobby said with certainty. “And we are not friends, Eric. You are my brother,” he added before hanging up the phone.
A/N: Well—here’s my fourth chapter this week. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and a busy first of the week, so this will be it for this go around. You can expect this story back sometime around March 5.
Thanks so much for the continued comments and support!