Chapter 19: Performing Brave

Chapter 19: Performing Brave

We become just by performing just action, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave action.”—Aristotle


Last Time: One of the last people to approach the casket looked at Sookie a little bit too long for Eric’s comfort; in fact, once Eric noticed the man, he realized that he seemed to be studying everything too much, and his expression didn’t look like it belonged at a funeral. Eric’s neck hairs immediately stood on end, and every instinct he had told him to get Sookie away from the man.

Eric caught Bobby’s eye; then he subtly gestured toward the stranger. Understanding immediately what Eric wanted, Bobby nodded and subtly pulled his phone out of his pocket. He turned on the video and held his phone so that no one would be able to tell he was filming. It wasn’t long before he captured the mystery man’s image.


[Friday, January 11, 2013 (one week and one day after the previous chapter)]

Bobby had to hand it to Eric. His friend’s hunch about the bad intentions of the mystery man at the funeral had been right—though Bobby wished the situation had proven otherwise.

While Bobby had been carefully making sure that the more obvious threats to the secrecy of Eric and Sookie’s relationship—Bill, Michelle, and Jason—remained silent, the real threat had slipped in right under his nose, with only Eric catching a whiff of him.

“Son of a bitch,” Bobby cursed to himself as he disposed of his cigarette. Needless to say, his New Year’s resolution to stop smoking wasn’t going well.

It had taken him a little more than a week to discover the identity of the mystery man at the funeral, and that right there had been enough to tell Bobby how cunning the man was. He ran his hand through his hair nervously as he walked into Carmichael Tower.

He had bad news to give, and he didn’t want to give it.


Eric could tell that there was something wrong with Bobby as soon as he saw him.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Where’s Sookie?” Bobby responded, answering Eric’s question with one of his own.

“She, Pam, and Amelia are looking through Sookie’s wardrobe to decide what she’s going to wear to the MET tomorrow night.”

“For the Northman Publishing party,” Bobby said, closing his eyes as if in a little pain.

“What’s wrong?” Eric asked again—this time more forcefully.

Bobby sighed. “Get Sookie. I’ll tell you both at once.”

Eric narrowed his eyes, but did as Bobby asked. He found a smiling Sookie sitting on the little ottoman in their closet. Her profile was to him. She was watching Pam and Amelia with great amusement. Ned was lying on her lap and watching the two women as well. From what Eric could tell, Pam and Amelia were quarreling passionately over what shoes Sookie should wear the next night. Pam was arguing that Sookie should borrow her black Louboutins. But Amelia countered that such expensive shoes would surely attract questions.

Eric leaned against the closest door and enjoyed the show for a moment. Despite his worry over Bobby’s behavior—or maybe because of it—he stayed quiet and focused on Sookie. It was Ned who gave away his presence with a loud meow.

Sookie turned to him, and her smile immediately fell as she recognized his concern.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

Eric sighed. “I don’t know. But Bobby’s here, and he’s not,” he paused, “Bobby-like. He looks like he’s about to get a root canal.”

Pam looked at Eric with immediate concern in her eyes as well. “Is he okay?”

Still holding Ned, Sookie got up, even as Eric shrugged in answer to Pam’s question. He took Sookie’s free hand and led her toward the kitchen, where he’d seen Bobby going. Bobby was downing a shot of tequila as they walked in.

“Bobby?” Eric asked.

“Let’s go to the lounge,” Bobby requested.

“You know I hate that room,” Eric said quietly.

“I do too,” Bobby replied, his voice also low. He poured and quickly drank another shot before leading Eric and Sookie to the gray lounge. By then Amelia and Pam had caught up with them.

“Can we stay?” Pam asked, taking in Bobby’s look and immediately knowing something was wrong.

Bobby nodded and sank heavily onto the couch.

“What the fuck is going on?” Eric asked impatiently as he and Sookie sat on the opposite side of the room.

Bobby sighed. “Franklin Mott.”


“Who’s Franklin Mott?” Sookie asked.

Bobby ran his hand through his hair, and Sookie suddenly realized that he had some gray in it. The thought that it might be new worried her.

“He’s a private detective by trade—a good one, though unscrupulous.” He looked at Eric. “He was the man you noticed at the funeral.”

“Hired by my father?” Eric asked with barely controlled rage and a hint of fear.

“Yes,” Bobby answered. “I found a trail between Mott and Andre.”

Eric sighed deeply even as he placed an arm protectively around Sookie. It was an unconscious motion for him—an automatic response to danger.

“What now?” Pam asked.

“We have to assume that Appius knows about Sookie and Eric’s relationship,” Bobby answered regretfully. “Mott was at Adele’s funeral and saw Eric and Sookie together; he could have no doubts about their closeness,”

“I’m so sorry,” Sookie said in a small voice.

Eric pulled her even closer. “No, Sookie. There is nothing for you to be sorry about. Nothing.”

Her eyes brightened by unshed tears, Sookie looked up at him. Her eyes told him of all kinds of things that she was thinking—all of them negative things about herself. He could see that she blamed herself for their being caught by Appius. He could tell that she felt that her weakness—her need to have him near—was what had led to their being discovered. He knew that self-blame was always her kneejerk reaction to issues where she should feel little or no guilt—just as his first reaction to such situations was trying to stifle and evade his feelings. They had both been working to “change the narrative,” as Claudine liked to say.

Eric leaned toward her and gently kissed her forehead. “No, Sookie,” he repeated gently. “Change the narrative,” he whispered so that only she could hear. “None of this is your fault. Even if you hadn’t needed me there, I would have needed to be there with you.”

Sookie stifled a sob but nodded in acceptance. He watched as she took several deep breaths; he knew that she was thinking about her counseling sessions with Claudine. He kept looking at her and recognized the moment when she banished her guilt as the expression in her eyes changed from regret to resolution. He kissed her forehead again, feeling his pride and awe and love for her grow even more.

She gave him a little smile and a nod, signaling that she had—indeed—”changed the narrative.”

Eric squeezed her hand. “What’s your assessment of the situation?” he asked, changing his focus to Bobby.

Bobby shook his head. “I don’t know how Franklin found you in Bon Temps, given the fact that you and Sookie took the private plane, but we have to operate under the assumption that Appius knows you were deceiving him at least part of last week when you were pretending to be sick in Manhattan.”

“So he knows I helped,” Pam observed, sitting down heavily next to Bobby.

Bobby nodded. “Even if he’s not certain, Appius will be greatly suspicious of your actions from now on. He might believe that Eric was deceiving you as well, but it’s more likely that he will hypothesize that you and Amelia are both complicit in the situation.”

“He’ll also suspect that we are aware of his bug then,” Eric said.

Bobby nodded again. “Maybe. The last time that we staged something for him to hear, however, was on December 30. Mott would have seen you at the funeral on January 3, so it is possible that Appius won’t know that we are aware of the bug and have been using it all along to feed him false information. It is also possible that Appius will think that you are in relationships with Amelia, Isabel, and Sookie, but . . . .” His voice trailed off.

“But if Mott is any good at his job,” Eric continued and then stopped suddenly. He looked at Bobby with concern. “Appius already knows!”

“Knows what?” Sookie asked both Eric and Bobby.

“Likely, Mott will have already told Appius how much Eric loves you,” Bobby supplied simply.

“So that means that Appius will already be working on ways to hurt Eric by using me,” Sookie stated matter-of-factly, leaning her head against Eric’s shoulder.

“Yes,” Bobby said softly. “That’s what we have to assume.”

Everyone was silent for several moments.

“I got a call from Bill Compton late last night,” Bobby said.

“Bill?” Sookie stammered.

Bobby nodded.

“What did he want?” Eric asked.

“Surprisingly enough—to help. He gave me the heads-up that someone had asked him about Sookie. When I texted him the footage of Mott from the funeral, he confirmed that it was the same man who had paid him a visit. He also ran Mott’s prints—from a glass Mott used at the bar where he approached Bill. That was how I confirmed who Mott was. Compton said that he didn’t say much in answer to Mott’s questions—though he did indicate that he’d been involved with Sookie in the past. However, Compton told me that Mott seemed to know quite a bit about Sookie already.”

Sookie sighed deeply. “So he likely talked to my mother. She would have been the one to tell him about Bill.”

Bobby nodded. “I think we have to assume that.”

Sookie gasped. “Oh no!”

“What?” Eric asked, his concern growing.

“Tara! When I talked to her a couple of days ago, she told me that she’d met a man in Bon Temps—a man named Franklin. She said that he’d sort of swept her off of her feet,” Sookie reported. She sighed loudly. “She also said that he was great because he was so easy to talk to.”

Eric frowned. “Would this Mott hurt Tara?”

Bobby shrugged. “I doubt it. I’d imagine that he’s done with her by now.”

“Make sure,” Eric said stiffly.

Bobby nodded.

Eric threaded his fingers with Sookie’s as everyone looked at him—looked to him for what to do next.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them, he was looking right at Sookie. “We knew Appius would find out about us eventually,” Eric said softly. “And this changes nothing in regards to what I want. Does it change things for you?” he asked nervously.

“No,” she responded immediately.

“Good,” he sighed with relief. “He’ll try to break us up—to break us—once he learns that I’m going to break the contract on my thirty-fifth birthday.”

“He won’t succeed,” Sookie vowed.

“If Mott has talked to your mother, Appius may know all about you—your past.”

“He won’t know the important things,” Sookie said squeezing his hand.

“Still—Appius will try to use your mother to hurt you,” Eric said.

Sookie sighed. “Yes. But I’m not going to let her maliciousness and spite injure me anymore.”

The couple shared a brief kiss and looked at each other—Eric gauging whether Sookie was as resolved as she seemed to be and Sookie letting Eric know that she was going to stand by his side through anything that came their way.

Bobby cleared his throat. “If my hunch is correct, Appius may be planning to do something tomorrow—at the party.”

Eric nodded. “Agreed. He will have found out that Sookie works at Northman Publishing.”

“You were planning to take Isabel to the party?” Bobby asked.

Eric nodded. “I was. But not anymore.” He was still looking at Sookie. “It’s time I stopped being afraid of my father. So I’ll be taking the woman I’m going to marry—if she’ll go with me.”

“She’ll go with you,” Sookie nodded, even though her voice quivered a little.

“Good! Then she borrows my shoes!” Pam announced triumphantly.


A/N: Hello all! Sorry this chapter is a bit shorter than usual, but it was a necessary transition. I appreciate everyone who is sticking with this story and commenting upon it! I’m hoping there aren’t proofreading errors, given the fact that I rushed this one out a bit; I wanted to get you a third chapter this week.

Up next in this story? January 12, 2013. Do you remember how Comfortably Numb began? Well—guess what. In the chapters I’m planning for the next cycle, we’ll see what leads up to that scene. Many of you have speculated that Eric and Sookie were putting on an act to fool Appius. Soon you’ll know.

Until then,

Kat

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33 thoughts on “Chapter 19: Performing Brave

  1. you are an evil woman , leaving us in suspense… but i love you and the story… laughed at Pam’s comments about the shoes…. looking forward to what takes place before, during and after the MET…. KY

  2. As always a great chapter. The tension is building with Appius finding out, but I can’t wait for Eric and sookie to prevail over both him and Michelle.
    I love both your current stories and always can’t wait to get back to the next one!
    I was wondering if you were still going to go back to the back and forth universe with future stories?

    1. Hi! I’m glad you like the stories. I do plan to go back to the B&F universe with a third “long” story. I have about 100 pages of it written already (it’s called “Earned” and there’s a preview chapter available). However, I don’t plan to work on it for a while. (Too many other stories in the ol’ brain already btwn the two I’m working on actively and the occasional “Gift Horse” story. But I am still planning it.

      Thanks for the interest.
      Kat

  3. I feel a bit better knowing about whats about to happen now I know it wont be a complete surprise to them, I am hoping Eric can finally stand up to his father the way Sookie did to her mother. I am so loving both of your current stories and so excited to hear you plan on another part to Back and Forth universe, one of my all time favourites

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed B&F. Yeah–I’ve been planning the 3rd installment for a while now. I plan to get to it once I’m done with Touch the Flame or the Uninvited Series (whichever comes first).

      And–unfortunately–Appius will still have some surprises for Eric and Sookie…..
      Sigh.

  4. I really do wish that the discussion between Sookie & Eric, at the MET, was staged. But, it doesn’t read that way. Perhaps they had a plan in place to deal with Appius at the party, but i think it must have gone awry.

    Sadly, i think things are gonna get alot worse before they get better. Soooo, like the other readers, i’m just gonna have to pull up my big girl panties, and slog through the heartache.

    Oh, and i so wanna scold you for leaving the story at this point, for a whole week. It’s gonna be torure! 😛

    1. I didn’t mean to leave it off like that….[lies]
      I can tell you that Eric and Sookie are going to be facing quite a bit of angst ahead. Do hold on.
      Thanks for the comments! And for reading.
      Kat

  5. and the plot thickens…Off the subject, am I the only one who gets tickled by the fact that your Appius is Jeff Bridges and he turns out to be the Giver? Good casting!

    “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world”
    Marilyn Monroe

    Pam have the right idea! I am excited for more :Uninvited” but anxious for more of this – Will the next chapter be a reposting of the prologue or should we simply go back and read again before the next chapter?

    1. There are a couple more chapters leading up to the “first” one in Comfortably Numb. And then we will get that first chapter again with perspective shifts. So you don’t have to re-read it. Thanks for reading!
      Kat

  6. I am going nuts trying to figure out how Eric gets his hands on the codicile Appius is hiding from him…it is such an important piece.

    As an aside, I was merrily following along between your two stories when all of a sudden you disappeared from the radar. I waited a couple of weeks and then I started to worry about you…sooo I popped over to your WP site to send you a message to see if you were alright and wonder of wonders, there were a gazillion (larger than two…but perhaps a slight exaggeration for the drama of it all) chapters for both stories AND a lovely bonus in Enduring, which always made me sad before! I want to tell you I pigged out and read everything all at once. I am so happy you are ok and have written all this wonderful stuff 😍. My guess is that when you made adjustments to your WP site my follow status somehow got messed up…or it could have been some fluke on my side. Now I am paranoid and checking my status all the time in all the blogs that I follow!

    Thanks for being such a reliable and wonderful author…on to Uninvited.

    Linda

    1. Oh no! I don’t know what could have happened to make it so that you didn’t get alerts. Weird. You might re-click the follow the blog message at the side…
      I’m glad you enjoyed all the offerings for the past weeks.

      Best,
      Kat

  7. Well here goes. I went back to read the beginning that started all of this. It seems so real. Eric is not fighting for her. I really hope it’s just a plan. I hope they move to Sweden And Eric finds out about the other part of the will.
    Appius is ruined! His wife and boyfriend leave him. He’ll have nothing left and no control. Which I think would be the worse thing for him. NO POWER or Money.

  8. Another superb chapter. I can’t wait to see that SOB Appius get what’s coming to him. I have a feeling I’m going to be sitting on the edge of my seat reading the next few chapters and possibly biting my nails from nerves but I can’t wait!!!!

    1. You might wanna get some fake nails before it’s all over. 😉
      It’s funny. I hardly ever have to clip my nails b/c I’m endlessly typing and use a lot of my nail b/c I like the sound of the clicking. LOL.

      Thanks for reading. Glad you like it!
      Kat

  9. Oh this is great I love that Eric and Sookie will work together for their happiness but I guess it won’t be that easy …. loved Pam with her last line ..can’t wait for more take care Kat

  10. This leaves us at the very beginning of Comfortably Numb. Reading that intro now, in light of everything that has gone on, does not leave one with as helpless a feeling as before. There’s hope, resolve, strength, purpose…..and I want to see a two for one butt kicking of Appius and Michelle……and I think that Mormor should get her licks in as well…..
    Pat

  11. I have faith in you because I know that everything our Couple will go through will be worth it in the end. I am sure I will weep a river before the end. However that will only make their HEA sweeter.

  12. Franklin Mott ‘dating’ Tara? Meh.
    Appius finding out about Sooike? Meh.
    Appius possibly suspecting Pam? Meh…
    It’s ALL about the shoes! Lol. Love Pam.
    Look forward to the party! Finally 😉

  13. I’m a bit behind – I saw that you finished the story – but I’m still really enjoying it. I imagine things are about to get rough for these two. Thank goodness they’ve got such a great support system with their friends!

  14. ooh, more angst!!!….I love/hate it so much!!!…..thanks for writing such a fab story, I got a little behind but now I’m back and catching up with all the angsty goodness! x

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